Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Your Spontaneity is Delicious"

If there is an advantage to living alone it is that I have no roommate to bicker with about dirty dishes, or the rent, or utility payments. If there is a disadvantage, it is that I have no roommate to socialize with. Which means that I stay out until an average of 10:30 every night, and don't sleep very much, and slowly am being worn down to my very core.

I guess what this means is that I am an extrovert. (Gasp; who would have thought? Although I must admit that I did not think I was an extrovert until fairly recently. Yes, even though I like getting up in front of people and performing, and even though I talk to strangers, and even though I talk to as many people as I can about even the most minor of decisions, and even though I get lonely really really really easily. I can be dense sometimes.)

Point being that at 7:00 tonight I was feeling next to dead, from want of sleep and sociality and who knew what else. And so I dragged myself to a coffee shop, where I had the (good?) fortune to happen upon a monologue slam (like a poetry slam, only with dramatic monologues, which, fortunately, I am not quite as bad at writing). One of the performers sat next to me; I complimented her on her performance (it was quite good), and she said I should write something. I only had five minutes to go, and had not thought of anything in particular, so I frowned and told her as much.

A minute later, I had an idea.

Four minutes later, I had half a monologue, which I performed. I could tell that everyone wanted it to go on, to reach a conclusion, and was shocked when it didn't -- when I stopped halfway through a thought. But I wasn't going to improvise. And for the roughly ninety seconds when I was reading in front of them, pretending not to be a geneticist but rather to be an uncertain undergraduate once more, dallying and dabbling in all sorts of things while I still could, and when people cheered when I said I was from Chicago, and when people laughed at my attempts at humor, I was outside of myself, and it was wonderful.

For a moment, I wasn't an awkward first year genetics graduate student desperately trying to make friends and get a program to work correctly for once so that she could have made some progress, somewhere, sometime, in her rotation project. I wasn't even, as one of the other first year genetics students said, "[practically] a biochemist", due to the fact that I was practically ostracized from my own department socially simply because of my outspoken, extraverted (okay, I said it) personality. (According to him, all the biochemists are the same person, with the possible exception of Ruth, who is "quiet". Ruth objects to this, saying that she is gregarious and sociable and extraverted and just doesn't talk in class -- which is probably true, but even if she is outspoken compared to the geneticists, the biochemists make her seem shy and retiring -- and Alex objects to this as well, saying that he is different because he mumbles -- which is a less compelling argument.) Instead, I was special, because I could go up in front of people and read two hundred words that I had just written about who-knew-what (I believe it was winter, and the fact that I keep expecting it to come and it never does), two hundred words that I knew could be better or cleaner or wittier if I could sit down and edit them carefully and consider each of them, two hundred words that I hadn't had time to think about how I would deliver or even learn to the point that I could read them without looking mostly at the page, read two hundred words of a rough draft of an essay I will never write and have it be fun, have it be exciting, have it be goofy and exhilirating instead of embarrassing and scary. And simultaneously, I was surrounded by people who were more special than I was -- my monologue was not the cleverest nor the best delivered, by any stretch of the imagination -- but were shared by the common bond of, perhaps, "we like doing scary things".

I forgot to tell them my last name; everyone else was "Joe Smith" or "Diane Wang" or even "John Do" (I don't know if that's his real name, I hope it is, because that would be hilariously awesome), and I was just "Elizabeth". But it was okay. No one cared, least of all myself.

And afterward, the performer who I had complemented found me again, and told me "Your spontaneity is delicious," which I took as a huge compliment. I aspire towards brave spontaneity; towards not giving myself time to worry that something will go wrong, towards not always needing a plan and a backup plan and a backup backup plan.

Hopefully, that will have given me the boost I needed; enough energy to push me through the rest of the quarter. Or at least until I can go Christmas Carolling with the Biochemists. (Since I might as well be a biochemist, according to some, and since Krystal has agreed to assist with the carolling endeavor.) Or rather, at least until I can get this scavenger hunt party underway (it is a traditional scavenger hunt (one clue leading to the next leading to the next) in which the prize is fixings for a party, and everyone gets to join in at the end). Which will not be performance-based, but will be tons of fun. I have several ideas that will possibly cause injury and/or hypothermia, unfortunately. So maybe some of them will be postponed until summer, when at least one of those risks will be abnegated.

And, because the Big Game (TM) is on Saturday (might or might not go up to Berkeley for it):

Go Cardinal! Beat Cal!


ayn said...

Hey! That sounds like it was fantastic. It's okay...I often feel like I should ashamed of myself for my extrovert tendencies, which is silly. Enjoying the company of others is not the same thing as being co-dependent.

And, if you do organize the scavenger hunt, you should put up fliers at that coffee shop.

Alex said...

The more extroverted things, i do, the more i enjoy them, for exactly the reasons you say. I think that the ability to do those things is dependent on how seriously you take yourself. The more relaxed you are with your self, the easier it is to put yourself "on the table", as it were.

sounds like an awesome time, though.

Ryan said...

It's funny. I, too, had a point last year, living alone and in grad school, where I realized I was far more of an extrovert than I had allowed myself to remember during college. Cheers for wanting to be around people.