Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bad reviews and social anxiety

This painting of mine is about social anxiety. I'll try to explain. I generally rescue all bugs that make their way to my home. So, when moths appear, I try to trap them in a container and carry them outside. Rationally, I know that moths are harmless. In spite of this knowledge, if a moth moves while I'm carrying it out of the apartment, I often have a fit of hysteria that ends in flinging the container with the moth in the air and taking cover. It's irrational - I know this. That's how social anxiety is too - it's harmless, but it's there. This painting is about learning to co-habitate with social anxiety.

I think sometimes that people without social anxiety have no concept, and therefore no sympathy, for what introverts go through in social settings. By social settings, I mean, parties, of course, but also, talking to neighbors, or even to cashiers at the grocery store. These kinds of interactions are usually uncomfortable. Not to where you don’t do them, but it’s just that they aren’t easy. I’ve been thinking about this lately because almost all of my one star reviews for The Truth About Dating complain that the protagonist, Quinn, is mean. A recent reviewer said that Quinn was mean to her neighbor. I think that these reviewers are missing something important. The things she thinks in her head are examples of social anxiety. But they are just inside her head. She is not mean to her neighbor. She cooks for him, carries his groceries upstairs, and shovels his driveway. Thinking and saying are different. In fact, Quinn clears a lot of anxiety hurtles in order to keep helping out her neighbor. Going to his house for pie (that she made for him, from his dead mother’s recipe) is a deeply stressful event for Quinn, but she does it anyway! In my book, overcoming a pile of fears to help out her neighbor makes her one of those everyday kind of heroes that make the world a beautiful place.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dream lists for millionaires

My husband and I share a Kindle. We bought the Kindle because the NY Times Kindle subscription was so much cheaper than the paper delivery that it paid for itself in a couple of months. Reading the paper on a Kindle takes some getting used to, but after a while, we adjusted and now it’s more or less okay. And it’s better for the environment. The only thing is when we both want to read the paper. This morning, I got up early and read for a half hour, then I passed the Kindle over to my husband and went upstairs to paint. Later, I posted a comment about this on Amazon’s Kindle FB page, and everyone said, “You need two Kindles.” Actually, one person said that sharing was good for the soul, but then she later backtracked and said I should buy a second one. The thing is, I’ve been saying the same thing to my husband, almost since we got the Kindle. But here’s why we haven’t done that:

We have a great life. We live better than most people in the world. We never worry about buying food, paying our bills, or putting gas in the car. We never stress about paying for a doctor’s visit when one of our kids is sick. We are very blessed. Part of why we don’t have money worries is because we make livable wages, but we also live within our means. We try not to spend money just because it’s there. Our grandparents lived that way – they didn’t spend money just because they could. They saved. And we do, too. So, instead of buying a second Kindle, we share. Sharing IS good for the soul.

However, so as not to end on too much of a pious note, I do dream about what I would do if I ever won the lottery or made millions in another way. I think that everyone should keep a list of what they would do if they struck it rich. We all need a game plan so that we don’t just end up with McDonalds mansions and cars.

What I would do if I was a millionaire

1. Start five medical school scholarships for Haitians who want to stay in Haiti. (I’m a big fan of Partners in Health and the work they do in Haiti, and they inspired me on this one.)

2. Start a toy company in a rust belt state. (I worry about the safety of my kids’ toys. I hate that our country’s industry has all gone to China. I want to support American workers and I want toys that are safe. I would prefer my kids to have less toys that cost more, and which I knew were safe. Even if it didn’t make a profit, I’d be happy to subsidize it.)

3. Have my clothes custom-made by a local seamstress. What can I say, I want clothes that fit me. And that way, I support my local economy.

4. Hire a private yoga instructor come to the house three days a week

5. Quit my job, eventually. Once I was sure my head was screwed on straight.

This list is always in flux. I revise it as I think of new things. I advise everyone to have a list like this. A list of dreams. A life of dreaming.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blogging, reviewing, connecting with strangers

This is a great example of connectivity on the internet.  I was on and saw a writer/blogger who wanted to post links to Indie authors on his new blog about Indie authors.  His blog is called Spalding's Racket   A few days ago he posted a link about my book, The Truth About Dating.  Today, someone posted a review of my book on Amazon, saying that she'd found my book on his site.  She also posted her review on her own blog -

I am amazed at how fast things move in this new world.  Both blogs are interesting - check them out.  Maybe you'll find some connections that send you off to another world of bloggers.