Tag Archives: friendship

I Vant To Be Alone (Sort Of)

Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extravert? For me, it’s a frequent tug of war. While I love spending time with our family and friends, I’m basically shy and easily exhausted/overwhelmed by constant conversation. At the same time, I’d find it depressing to be a total recluse. Call me a closet introvert — or perhaps more accurately, a “schizovert” (a description I like better than ambivert, which sounds as though you have mixed feelings about standing upright.)

Where do you fall on the spectrum? Are you outgoing, a homebody, or a bit of both?

11 Signs You’re a Schizovert

  1. You dread parties but have fun once you’ve settled in.
  2. Your big presentation went well; now you need a nap.
  3. A lot of people think you’re salt-of-the-earth; just as many think you’re an asshole.
  4. You can whip up something for dinner when the kids bring unexpected friends over… but you’d rather they didn’t.
  5. At any gathering, you’re the last to arrive and the first to exit. (It’s not personal, I promise. We schizoverts just have a short social-attention span!)
  6. When your significant other is away, you leave the TV on to keep you company.
  7. You’re equally spontaneous and rigid.
  8. Going to the hairdresser and doctor qualify as social engagements.
  9. The busier you get, the more you want to take your phone off the hook.
  10. Your ideal number of pets is 0-1.
  11. You enjoy coming home from vacation as much as you enjoy leaving home.

Ironically, as I was writing this, I was invited to something — a result of making some wonderful new friends this summer. Note to P: I really would go if I could.

xo, AG

 

Absent Friends

A dear friend died suddenly last week.  A kind, gentle man with a keen intellect, life hadn’t always been kind to him.  He struggled with his weight, his sexuality, and a singing career that didn’t go the way we’d all predicted when we’d first heard his glorious voice.

Despite — or maybe because of —  these challenges, he retained a vivid sense of humor and appreciation of the unexpected. A new message in my inbox always promised something witty, intriguing or surprising.

Below is the content of one of his last e-mails to me.  It’s a fitting reminder that what’s on the surface often doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Parrot

unnamed

“This is not a bird. The parrot is actually a female model who posed for Johannes Stötter, a fine art body painter who used breathable paint to create the image of a parrot, brushstroke by brushstroke.  The model’s arm forms the parrot’s beak and head, and her legs form the wing and tail feathers.

Remember: always take a closer look, as things aren’t always what they appear to be. Once you see the woman, the bird disappears.”

Either way, both images are beautiful. As was my friend.

Baking New Friends

When you’re a kid, you can become best friends with someone simply because you both hate school lunches or gym class. It’s not much more sophisticated when you’re an adult: Chances are, you’ll bond with someone at work when you discover you both loathe your boss, love French films, or nodded off in the same boring meeting. Or you’ll meet a mom in playgroup who shares your opinion that the neighbor’s “perfect” child is a spoiled brat.

I’ve found it gets a lot harder once those natural opportunities are behind you. It’s even tougher if you move to a new town, retire, work from home or become divorced, widowed or remarried.

For me, baking has become one way to connect and enrich budding friendships. This dates back to my childhood.

V lived a few streets away. I don’t remember what prompted it, but one afternoon when I was playing at her house – we must have been about 10 – we got the idea to bake something. I’m going to guess it was cookies, because what kid doesn’t like cookies? V, who was always more confident than I was, knew exactly how to start the oven. I quote: “You turn on the gas, wait awhile, and then light it.” Which is what we did.

BOOM! Both of us were knocked backwards, the smell of burnt hair everywhere. My bangs were reduced to an inch of frizz and I no longer had eyebrows. I think V was relatively unscathed except for a burned arm. Our mothers were seriously pissed off and our respective punishments forged a shared bond along with our battle scars.

Undeterred — and still liking cookies — I’ve continued to bake. And I’ve discovered that the alchemy of turning flour, sugar and butter into something delicious is not unlike turning ordinary experiences into the basis of a lasting friendship, don’t you agree?

This leads me to Baking Friend #2. T is a real baker, by which I mean that she knows enough not to improvise the way I do, has actually done it professionally, and posts very beautiful photos of all her discoveries on her wonderful blog, The Cook”s Tour.  I, on the other hand, have more of a hit or miss success rate and can make the same recipe 20 times and get it wrong the 21st. Yes, it’s a gift.

From sharing recipes, T and I have branched out to sharing details of our lives, political observations and inspirations for future travel. After knowing her for only a couple of years I am delighted to consider her a friend, even though we communicate almost entirely by e-mail.

Most recently, my neighbor H and I embarked on a baking adventure at her house. She is a woman I admire greatly, but we are both a bit shy and take a long time getting to know people. Friendship #3 is like the long, slow proofing of bread that tastes its best because you take your time making it.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to bake bagels, using a recipe I love that is usually foolproof. This time, however, lacking the necessary food processor, we opted to wing it and use the stand mixer. Since the dough was too dry to come together, we added more water. And then a little more. And a little more. (See? Winging it.) By the time we made our bagels, they had ballooned to the size of small pillows and while they weren’t what I’d call horrible, they were definitely not New York bagels either.

Still, even a relatively unsuccessful result can lead to a lot of laughter and a stronger connection. Which is ultimately a more important measure of success.

Eventually, we all figure out who’s toxic and whom we want as our friends. We may have fewer but hopefully each will be special. If I can get through life burning more cookies than I burn bridges, I’ll be very happy!