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Dream: 2.22.2015

February 24, 2015

I’m at a networking conference for educators. I don’t know anybody. A white woman starts telling me an idea she has about bringing together 2 groups that don’t interact much — the room is loud, so I don’t catch all the details, but I’m enthusiastic about what I’m hearing. She’s surprised (maybe others have been dismissive?).

She asks me why I like her idea. I say, “I really like putting together different kinds of people, so they can learn unexpected things from each other”.

She’s surprised again, then she appears thoughtful, as does the African-American woman on my other side.

Later, a whole bunch of us (mostly women) are in the kitchen. There are 6 types of eggs in a basket, all different colorways. We are going to cook them and eat them for a snack. I wonder if I’ll remember how to cook eggs since it’s been a long time since I did that last.

Someone else cooks them, puts all 6 on plates on the table, which we’re now all seated around. No one moves to take any. So I reach over and grab the one closest to me. I have no idea which egg it is, but it looks delicious! (Which I say aloud) Others grab for the remaining eggs.

At some point, I realize people are probably going to exchange business cards, and I don’t recall packing mine that morning. Also, the only ones I’ve been using say “conceptual artist” — will any of these people know what that means? Take it seriously?

It briefly occurs to me to wonder how I got to a conference for educators: I’m not, and have never been, an educator myself.

{As the dream ends, I’m feeling confident/capable, “light” (relaxed and happy), and hopeful, for the first time in a long while.}

+++

I woke up feeling happy, hopeful, and confident too. It set the tone for my whole day.

In the dream, I felt . . . like I belonged at that conference, even though I didn’t know why I was there. The important things about the experience were:

  • Being myself;
  • Being enthusiastic when I genuinely was feeling that (not hiding it);
  • Thinking about my capabilities, when they might be used in the near future;
  • Acting independently, to meet my own needs;
  • Considering the business card issue (but not stressing out about it);
  • Noticing I’d somehow managed to surprise myself by attending the conference at all – good job, self!

===

I’ve been thinking about going to Ghost Ranch, but not signing up for a class or retreat. Just going, and following my own wandering star.

During my AROHO week, 2 years ago, none of the other AROHO people seemed at all interested in talking to non-AROHO people, but I liked talking to anyone I ran across. In fact, I have wished I had talked to even more non-AROHO people than I did, since the non-AROHO people were just as interesting. And there wasn’t that pressure to bond over expected similarities.

True story: If we’re both writers, but you’re a cis woman who writes YA fiction, and your life is your kid and your husband and your mother, and I’m a nonbinary person who writes poetry and blogs, and my life is a million things that do not include any kids or any of my relatives, the fact that we’re both (married) writers . . . is not particularly meaningful to me.

I want to decide for myself what similarities we might have that are meaningful to me. More importantly, though, are our differences things that I’m interested in learning more about? Learning about happy families from people who have them . . . is just painful. And a minefield, frankly, because there are so few specifics I can offer before I alienate people.

Talking about the craft of poetry, in 2013, would’ve been pointless. I was there as a prose writer, and knew almost nothing about poetry. But I didn’t (and don’t) write fiction either. I wasn’t interested in book deals or getting an agent or any of the mechanics of Writing as a Career.

I just wanted to learn cool stuff in an awesome environment, and meet interesting people.

When everyone is a stranger to each other (or, if they aren’t, I can pretend/assume that’s so), I’m in my element. I know all about navigating social uncertainties with strangers.

But when everyone but me knows everyone else, and group norms are set in concrete and I’m supposed to figure out what they are and then conform? And then we’re all gonna bond over that? Yikes.

===

I wish I knew someone who understood way more about group dynamics than I do, and who could explain my stuff to me without making me sound like a defective freak. All the stuff I’ve found to read is written from the perspective of how group norms are An Obvious Good, and Conformity is Necessary, blah blah blah, and none of that is at all helpful.

{It is not ideal to be trying to hash out this post with Spouse sitting next to me, trying to watch NCAA basketball, so I’m going to quit here, even though this feels fragmentary and practically incoherent.}

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