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March 06, 2013



He kills me, that one.

There you are! I was missing my nightly Julia hits. :)

Also, your footnote. That is why you moved to this tiny town. We, too, moved to a tiny town for the city (a city not as big as your former burg), and OMG, the stupid, petty, small-minded, small town politics of this place make me crazy. I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we decided to go rural and start a farm in this place. Meeting people was hell. We joined the Grange specifically to meet people because everyone else seemed so damned suspicious of us city folk (whatevs, my DH was raised more rural/backwards than most of these folks combined). So...we mostly know old people here, all very nice, but not so helpful when it comes to childcare recommendations and the like. My saving grace is that I commute to the state capital for work every day. :)

Meow indeed - Edward kills me.
I feel your pain on the not-fitting-in no-way-way-to-make-friends thing. My husband and I bought a house in the burbs ten years ago and still really have no friends. Apparently even though we are only 30 minutes away from a largish metropolitan area we moved into a very reclusive, conservative, religious area that we failed to properly vet. We have had no luck finding liberal atheists in the town, so now whenever we meet nice people we pointedly steer clear of any topic that could in any way go political/religious in nature and hope they don't think to friend us on Facebook. I have a couple tenuous "friendships" that have sprung up with new people in the neighborhood in the past year, and I have so far managed to keep my secrets. I am hoping to get them hooked on my wit, fantastic playroom, and addictive appetizers before they find me out.

Dear Julia,
If it helps to report, I am the same way, although in a different familial situation (no children, terminally ill spouse) and geographical location (just outside a major eastern city).
Behavioral modification -- inching slowly into increasing social contact -- works, as I think you have found, but it's also OK to accept the fact that you need a lot of downtime and isolation.
I wish, for myself, to keep working on this, because I am very alone, will be more alone soon, and will need all the social network support I can muster.
May I suggest, if it's not too presumptuous or already clear from your posts, that you make sure to see a friend outside the family every week -- face-to-face, not just via telephone. And think about what you might do to help someone else outside your family. In my case, I got certified in Reiki to help my dying husband but ending up helping neighbors, colleagues, friends. I don't necessarily think that's for you (although who knows -- it's way cool), but it really does help to help someone else who is in distress.
And hey - black sheets are a good THANG!
Peace to you -- your life right now sounds wonderful, and you deserve it!

"Spacefuck crazy" is a term I can see integrating into my vocabularly. Also, Edward? I love him. I watch him closely for indications of what my car-obsessed 2 year old may be like in the future...

You are going to be getting some Pinocchios/Velveteen Rabbits in these comments based on that last paragraph!

i also need lots of 'me' time.. it would be best if i lived in the middle of a large (very large) plot of land with no neighbors within ear/eye distance and was visited by family occasionally.. i think we would all be happier.. i know i would be.

I simply adore your kids because they remind me of mine.

Tell Edward we said "meow".

What a weird little neighborhood. Not the Midwestern experience I've known, but interesting. Good fodder for a novel?

Oh my goodness gracious, you (and your family, and town) are hilarious! It's perfectly ok to be an introvert. I'm married to one, and he is exactly as you describe yourself. I hope you've seen this cartoon before:


Needing alone time to recover from social interactions is pretty much textbook introvert(ism?). Nothing to be ashamed of, I'm the same way. How does the saying go? Something like, "Introverts get their energy from solitude; extroverts get their energy by sucking it from introverts".

as a stereotypical extrovert, I must claim that we don't "suck" energy out of anyone. textbook can be wrong! we just feel much more alive when we are interacting with others - I, in fact, prefer to be around with extroverts, it's not sucking their energy, it's energizing each others. I would like to say that we extroverts amazingly enjoy very much to be alone too. the difference, though, is that we don't feel lonely when we do so. oh, here is what happened to me, lately, as an example of being an extrovert:

"there is a concert tonight in downtown. so and so is here. would you like to go with me?"

"Oh, my grant is due next week and I don't even know the band."

"too bad, I guess I can try to find someone else to go with the, good luck with your grant."

"fuck it, I can sleep less tomorrow, let's go to the concert!"

Meow!! Ahhhh, always pleased to see a new post pop up :)

"The woman said, "Oh? Well it's not like we have neighborhood barbecues or anything.""

Bwahahahah! Now I know why when we moved from Wisconsin to the Netherlands, I felt so much at home. That northern-European forthrightness warms the cockles of my hearts. We lived in the same apartment for 6 years, and the first time that we ever exchanged more than a muttered hello with our downstairs neighbors was after Gwen was born, and they came up to meet her and give a small gift (very traditional: we got small gifts from people in the building that we'd never even seen in the whole six years), two weeks before we moved out.

Would you please, please have a neighborhood barbecue and then report back? I'm only half jesting - our side street does this once every two years (they even get it cordoned off by police), and my first, Northern Germanic impulse was "what fresh hell?!" But this is the Rhineland, and, I hate to admit it, it is actually a lot of fun - for four hours max.
You know that thing you said once which I promptly copied into my commonplace file, for succour: "People (big and small) just like being together and appreciate hospitality in pretty much any form"?
So give those crusty Minnesotans a BBQ they won't forget in a hurry. (And I hope you get wrapped hostess gifts, in a gift bag.)

I have deduced that you do not live in the South ;)

I live in a city! In a city neighborhood with lots of houses and lots of people and they are ALL the rudest most unfriendly folks I know! Doesn't help that the handful of kids on the street literally ALL go to different schools but there is one loon who sends the entire street letters about a wandering cat scaring his cats so he is going to poison them! And the garbage pickers... yeah it's a bizzare place BUT I have a nice house and cool next door neighbors!

I've lived in DC all my life (yup, still here) and had never considered moving until this year when in January, trying to register the kids for summer camp went to all hell. May I send them to you to run through your vast suburban countryside (you know, to give your neighbors who don't speak to you (like ours who don't speak to us) something to wonder about the small black children on your porch))?

Edward kills me. And, unfortunately, I fell victim to a small boy staying in his own bed if only he had Spiderman sheets. I went all in with the tacky: sheet, pillowcase, softest fleece blanket ever, pajamas. All of those things, minus the sheet, are now in my bed some mornings.

I love the "meow?"!!!

And what ended up happening with the dog? Did you find an owner?

Meow? Snort!

I have a general idea of where you reside, and your description of this town is cracking me up. We head over that way occasionally for apple picking and hiking and skiing and friend-visiting (friends have now moved to Santa Fe, damn them). And it is lovely, but it is also nice to leave behind and return to the People's Republic of South Minneapolis.

Come visit the 'hood sometime. We DO have neighborhood barbecues and impromptu Wine Wednesdays and our children gallop up and down the block like a herd of frolicking wildebeests, and half the time none of us know where our own offspring are, and it's really just fine. We also have coyotes and turkeys etc. but no shooting. :)

Yeah, Midwest suburbanite here and I just discovered that we had a neighbor 2 doors down dead in his house for a week or so and nobody noticed it. That's how close our neighborhood is.

It's been a challenge for me to recognize that as introverted as I am, I still get lonely if I don't see the few friends I manage to maintain. Also, I work in a job that is draining for introverts (teaching high school) so by the time I get home and try to be responsive/present with my family, it's so hard to muster up more energy for friendships. Facebook has been a lifesaver for me, even with friends who live close by, because I can chat or send messages or leave comments from my own private fortress of solitude (wrapped in a blanket on the couch!)

The mistaken-identity-coyote shooting moves me to comment that in French there is a saying "entre loup et chien" which means essentially twilight, or the hour when it's impossible to distinguish between a wolf and a dog. Apparently a very current issue still in your neck of the woods!

Many moons ago, I lived in MN (Woodbury to be precise). People there are so insular that it is an enormous challenge to make friends. I was there eight years, and all my friends were from Wisconsin. I had lots of acquaintances in MN, but no real friends.

All this to say, I'm glad to hear you have settled in with a comfortable network of friends. It's no small feat where you are.

ok, I'll go back to write my own blog about introvert and extrovert again, after this, as if I have not touched this topic enough so far. The article Bopper linked to, it's a total bullshit and I hope none of your intelligent commenters here believes it. For Jackie, I used to be a teacher in mid-high school. I am classified by others and myself an extrovert. The truth is, the job drains me too. I need to be alone and recharged myself often - and I love to read and think alone. The point is, introvert and extrovert have been much better studied now. Current understanding is: Introverts can appear like extroverts and extroverts can seem to be introverts. Majority of the people are neither or either, if you have to label yourself to be one of them, in my opinion. Extroverts (far from being 75%) have plenty introverted characteristics and vice versa. If anyone wants to understand this better, read educational websites where the targeted audience/readers are school teachers, not someone who wants to show his/her superiority, like that journalist who calls himself an introvert and clearly shows that he is smarter than "75%" of the extroverts!

We frequently end up with a stray "kitty" (kiddy?) in our bed, too.

And I'm glad you've made friends. Lonely is an awful place to be, especially when your are surrounded by people!

Meow! Ah that boy slays me.

Just out of curiosity does your town's ancestry come from any one European country in particular? The not talking to your neighbours all sounds very English to me.

Thanks for this post.
I recently moved from my lovely northern small town allll the way south to Miami, and it's been very hard. The neighbors don't speak to us, I'm mostly by myself in this house, and the other moms are very "Real Housewives". It's so lonely. But you found friends so I will too! Hope is a good thing.

And your kids are adorable. Meow!

I still think it was so brave of you to look beyond the fact that I might be a crazy blog stalker and I am so glad that you did. Every day, I'm glad.

Well, this is fascinating - I've never considered myself an introvert, but by golly, I guess I might fit the description. My business is internet-based, I can happily go days at a time where I don't leave the house, I love my alone time... Huh.

Here's hoping Patrick feels better.

Oh Juila, I wish you were in my suburb. I too, am finding it hard to make friends with people who actually live near me. And I'm an extrovert, so I desperately need to! I have a few, dear friends, who I love, but it takes at least 30 minutes to get to the closest one.
There is a group of Moms from my kids' school that seem to be connected and I am "friendly" with several, but I work full time in St. Paul, and they are all stay at home moms. I recently tried to approach one of them on facebook to ask if she was in a good book club and she said "Yes. You should find one of your own." :( I'm trying!!

AAAHHH!!! JULIA, not Juila!!

I'm a Minnesotan born and bred, I feel your pain. I think it's because we are prairie people who view outsiders with suspicion. Always afraid you're going to be selling Amway and we're too polite to say no thanks. Once we like you, we like you forever no matter what. It just takes a few years.

Keep the faith...I like you

I, too, wondered what ever happened to the dot.

Is it wrong that I envy Edward his Darth Vader blanket? I mean, I don't really want the blanket itself, but I want the joy that a Vader-loving child feels over items like that. Priceless.

I meant, the dog.

I have exactly the same issues about friends. I like them but in small doses. I have been suffering anxiety because where I live (liberal atheist heaven - @Jessica you should move here!), it feels like in order to have friends you need to go all in, keep in constant contact, like each others' posts on Facebook twelve times a day, etc. It makes me crabby after five minutes, but being isolated makes me crabby too--after a few months of it, that is.

You know, I think that's a Minnesota thing. I have two friends who have moved there and marvelled at the utter rudeness of the general population. Isn't that weird? You'd think these salt-of-the-earth midwest types would be super friendly, but no!

Perhaps I am just a curmudgeon, but I have never been close with neighbors. In our current neighborhood, the houses are literally 10 feet apart and I rarely talk to anyone. And I like it! It isnt that im not nice, i just prefer to be nice in my own house. by myself, with my husband and the dog, My name is Jenn and I am what is wrong with America.

Also, meow? Haaaaaaaaa!

I have lived in my current small city for 7 yrs and didn't have a friend at all here until about 3 yrs in, and she was a work friend. And it wasn't until about 6 months ago that I started to feel like I had several friends, and even a close friends. I have only been able to cultivate those friends now because I am not working and making play dates for my kids is a good way to mommy to make friends.

I wish I could sleep through my 4 yr old coming into my bed, but she is a snuggle so it always wakes me up.

Read this: http://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Power-Introverts-World-Talking/dp/0307352145

Our book club (join us!) just discussed it last week. Of the 15-ish of us there, only one considered herself an extrovert. We all like the book club activities but plan on having an energy hangover the next day. Understanding the type as the author defines it was rather liberating for me.

First time posting, by the by, but I'm with all the rest who love seeing a post from you pop up in the feed. :-)

Piggybacking on Ellen's recommendation, do watch Susan Cain's excellent TED talk on introverts. It's really stuck with me since I first watched it last year. I can't believe I've never shared it with you before....?


When I was a teenager, after a long, family "vacation", I would lock myself in my room for hours to decompress. Way too much time had been spent in the company of people, and it just was not good.

I'm still not a people person...

Ahh, fellow introverts!

Wouldn't it be great if we could all get together for regular meetings? Each meeting would last only one hour, and no one would judge or think it odd when I felt the need to slip out a little earlier because I had reached my "face time" limit...

I thought I was going crazy until I realised that I do 'do' people, Just in very very limited parcels of time. So like you, I wasn't able to do the spending-vast-periods-of-time thang to make new friends, due to high anxiety and low tolderance, but couldn't work out the loneliness thing. Once I figured out why I was just SO exhausted and anxious by excessive social interactions and took it at my pace, it all improved for the better. I now limit myself to one social thing a week, two at the most, else i get snappy and hide away. That's a long way of saying I empathise, sympathise, and wished you lived closer so I could ignore you half the time and then get on well for the small amount of time our personalities could handle. My son is v similar to Patrick too, I wish they could meet as I think they'd enjoy each others company.

I have the exact opposite scenario in our MN suburb. Our neighborhood is full of extroverts who like a good time and fortunately, I love it! Spontaneous happy hours, kids running around the streets and progressive parties are very typical here. Everybody knows everybody's business. I have friends who feel comfortable enough just to walk in my house.

I think it really depends upon which neighborhood you live in and the group of people that are in it. A block away from us, no one talks to no one. I think that would be rather sad, myself.

Some people have a low need for affiliation. Myself included. But it is nice to have non-needy friends. :)

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