I have spent the vast majority of the last 3 days on my couch. It’s a good piece of furniture, actually. My cousin had it in her basement and I curled up there before I closed on my house last summer. When she offered me the couch, she insisted that it came with my much-used love seat and a chair that Chienne likes much more than I do. But this is the best sleeping couch I’ve ever seen. When you move the cushions, there’s plenty of room to roll over and stretch out. It’s old and soft, and the fabric is worn in certain places so my fingers have somewhere to rub as I watch television or try unsuccessfully to read.
Chienne, understanding that I’m not feeling well, continues to come over and kiss my elbow. She then waits for a sound that indicates affection (then cuddles in and accepts petting and kisses of her own) or irritation (and will sigh at me with sad eyes and find another piece of furniture for herself). She’s a good dog, and we’ve known each other long enough to accept various moods. I was pleased with her.
I felt a bit better this morning and decided to clean. I made it through the kitchen – not eating means no dishes to wash - so I worked on the floor. I then wanted to vacuum. In picking up the 14 books that failed to interest me, I noticed that dog toys were also scattered on the floor in front of the couch. I hadn’t noticed them at all before, and turned to ask Chienne if she had wanted to play. She immediately pounced on this little plush ball with a tiny face and reindeer antlers and pranced around the room as I laughed at her. We played tug and then I tossed the toy a few times while she happily scampered down the hall after it. Then I apologized.
I honestly didn’t realize that she was bringing them over! I guess she must have approached, toy at the ready, then dropped it to get my attention with her wet nose or a doggy kiss. When I failed to respond with playful excitement, the toy was left on the floor, soon to be joined by other offerings that were similarly ignored. This, unfortunately, is a trait of mine. I am largely oblivious.
A friend – one of the most genuine, lovely people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting – asked me several days ago if I had any regrets. Growing used to deep questions from her, I frowned over my inability to provide something profound. Quite honestly, I couldn't think of any large regrets. I think my past – all the mistakes and the pain and the insecurity – made me the person I am. And I like me. I went through a list of things I could have done differently, but I like to think I learned something through each decision and experience.
But then it came to me. The part of myself that I dislike and wish were different. So I wrote, “No, though. You know what I regret? Not noticing people. Hearing, years later sometimes, that someone wanted to be friends or had a little crush on me, and realizing that I'm so caught up in my own thoughts and feelings and garbage that I don't make room for other people. Some of them were really cool - Rachel, one of my best friends in undergrad, said she wanted to be friends from the first time she saw me. And it took us months to get to know each other because I assume people aren't interested and would rather not be bothered. So I leave them alone, spend time by myself (which is fine, but not all it could be), and miss out on all the wonderful aspects of being close to someone.”
I’m a good friend – perhaps too involved and interested and overwhelming. Once you’re in, I’ll think of you often – wonder how to make you laugh, make mental notes so I can ask what you think on some issue, worry over you, try to provide whatever it is that you need from me. I really do a decent job at interacting with people once they have my attention. But very few people get to that point.
How does this relate to anything right now though? I was playing with my links the other day. Last week’s influx of visitors from Inside Higher Ed had renewed my passionate interest in my site statistics, and I realized that in neglecting my spreadsheet of visitors, I had also failed to check for new links. I do enjoy seeing my little blog get links, so I went to check and realized that there were, in fact, some new ones! And on blogs that I hadn’t discovered and now enjoy very much! Delightful!
So I was adding and organizing and making sure everyone was there, and I stopped near the end of my list, then myself asked out loud, “Where’d Charlie go?” I shook my head over deleting him accidentally and put him in the appropriate place – between SFTR and Dryden. When Charlie mentioned that he appreciated the link (in an email that said it was OK to steal his art and use it for my desktop background – sweet, but I was doing it regardless), I realized he’d never been there at all! And I like Charlie – would never have excluded him knowingly, but wouldn’t have guessed he’d notice either way.
Not a big deal though, unless it’s indicative of some problem of mine. I assume I’m unique – that I alone enjoy seeing links to my work out there and notice where those links live, happen to glance through blogrolls just to see if I'm there. Except that perhaps I’m not all that different from many of you. Maybe you've checked my list and wondered where you are. That thought bothers me.
So if you want to be friends, give me a nudge. No, you don’t have to kiss my elbow, but if you comment or send email, I promise you'll get my attention. In the meantime, there are many blogs I read but don’t link. So I’m not oblivious to everyone – just letting my dislike of crowds rule my list in the sidebar. But that’s silly – especially when the crowd is made up of people I really do enjoy reading a great deal. So I’m going to show you who I like, and hope you might find someone new and interesting if you’re bored one day. When I’m looking for something different, I head to PowerProf or ScienceWoman though. They both do a much better job keeping track of blogs.
My vastly expanded list of links is now up, and I’m reminded of why I ignore people after all. It’s just so much easier! What if you don’t want to be included? What if I accidentally left someone out? What if you’re hurt that I don’t read you? Though if the last statement is true, it’s because I don’t know about you. Really. What if my old friends feel lost in the crowd? I’m a bit worried now – it’s difficult for me to acknowledge I like people!
But isn’t it better to at least offer friendship – let someone know they’re noticed and appreciated – than to tuck into myself even more and read quietly? Because I do notice some of you and think you’re amazing. Genuine, funny, sweet – brilliant. So I hope I’m welcoming you to my list now. If not, please, please, please give me a nudge.