discomfort zone baby screaming

10 Things I Am Uncomfortable Talking About

1. Writing: I’ve already talked about why I keep my writing on the down-low. It’s private, it’s personal, and at times it can be embarrassing. I want to keep my writing persona away from my work or family persona, because they are two different people. I don’t want people to confuse the art with the artist, but so many do. Ender’s Game is a superior novel, despite its author being not terribly tolerant. Eminem writes horribly disgusting lyrics, but no one can deny his Grammies. Sometimes I write stories where Link gives Malon anal in a tub of milk.

2. My Dad’s Death: I never really learned the proper way to grieve. No one close to me has died since college, ten years ago. And that was my paternal grandmother, who I didn’t see often. And in that case (actually for both my grandparents) there was plenty of hospital visits and deteriorating health to get used to the idea.

This happened too early. My mom just found him slumped over in the kitchen. No indications, no warning. I keep feeling like it was a thing that wasn’t supposed to happen. Like I got shoved into the wrong parallel universe. It wasn’t like my grandma who died of liver cancer or my grandpa who had kidney failure, multiple small strokes. My maternal grandparents are still alive, for crying out loud. I still had a great-grandmother up until two years ago (which means my daughter had a great-great-grandmother. Not many people can say that.)

Now that he’s gone, I’m pretty much the only boy in the family left (I have two daughters, one sister, one wife, one mom, 2 aunts). I have a grandfather who rarely says anything and two male cousins who are young adults. Dad was the person who kept us all together. He organized the pool parties and played with the grandkids. He was the only extrovert out of all of us, and with him gone, I feel like its my job now, but I just can’t fill those shoes.

3. Being Lonely All the Time: No one likes a sad sack, and being quiet seems to weird people out. I don’t know why. I guess they’re wondering what I’m thinking. I don’t know how to make them understand that I’m an introvert. How do you explain something like that? “Please forgive my lack of introducing myself, I’m just introverted.” It’s like having a mental condition.

I’ve already talked about how I feel like I have so little in common with people. That’s part of why it’s difficult to talk, but that can’t take all the blame. It’s a Catch-22. The less I spend with people, the less my instincts say to go near them. I don’t know how to make friends without having other friends to make friends through. I can’t just say “Hey, do you want to do friend… stuff?”

4. Work: I’ve heard too many horror stories about something said on Facebook about work that gets them fired or prevents an interview. Not to mention that this blog’s about my writing, not working. There’s plenty I’d like to bring up (and sometimes I do), but I always keep it generic.

5. Current Politics: Bringing up politics is always a zero-sum game (much like politics itself). Just from living with my wife, I’ve learned to never bring up the subject. Or if it does come up, keep my fool mouth shut. Even if I think I’m dispelling ignorance, it doesn’t persuade anyone, it just creates flared tempers. The knowledge I’m spitting is coming out of a prickly briar hole. I need a Steve Jobs or someone to put the market spin on things I say.

6. Any Story From My Past (especially high school): I feel like I have no stories of my own. To paraphrase what David Gerrold said in the introduction of his How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy book “I was raised by two parents in Minnesota. Nobody in my family was alcoholic, abusive, addicted, or otherwise dysfunctional. This lack of serious childhood trauma nearly destroyed my budding ability as a writer. I had no source material.”

The other problem is it feels like every story from my past is embarrassing or demonstrates my cowardice or inability. Maybe it’s just me. There’s something about my brain that only ever brings up negative thoughts when I try and think of the past. My worst fear is that when I die, all I will be left with is my memories.

7. Music: Sad to say, people judge you based on the media you consume. I’m all for judging, but I’m torn on whether this is good criteria. I’m a good guy, but I like a lot of different stuff.  Some of it is considered “crappy”. On one hand, there’s the Twilight moms and Bachelorette-o-philes and Nascar dads. On the other, there’s Downton Abbey nutballs and Mad Men sycophants.

But music, man, it’s so much worse. Maybe it’s because music is little 3 minute bites, highly influenced by corporations and not artists.  But it’s so much harder to like what’s “respectable”. The hipster movement doesn’t help, where it suddenly became cool to look down on people who don’t like the same thing. There’s no happy medium that I’m going to reach with you. If what I like is more popular than what you like, I’m a wannabe. If it’s less, then I’m a poser. I get very sick of feeling like I have to justify my tastes and choices to people.

I like (some) dubstep, I like Britney Spears’s Toxic. I like Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift and Nickelback and Katy Perry. I like Ke$ha’s “hot mess” image and “party till you die young” songs, because of how they make me feel. I don’t care that Taylor Swift is becoming a constructed pop artist or Are they good artists? I don’t know. I just like listening to them. I am entertained. I hate these quirky “indie” bands like Fun., Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, The Script, Passion Pit, Bon Iver. I hate R and B like Drake, Bruno Mars, Ne-Yo, Lil Wayne, and “Young Jeezy”. They’re boring and misogynist.

8. Teaching My Daughters About Boys: This doesn’t mean what you think it does. My kids are five and under, so I’m not worried about dating yet. What I’m talking about is the physical differences between boys and girls. As far as I know, they don’t know what a penis is.  I’ve never let them see me. I go to the bathroom with the door shut. I don’t take showers with them. They go into the gym locker room with my wife, so they’ve seen plenty of women.

My daughters are the epitome of precociousness. I have no idea how they’d react if they discover men have an outie instead of an innie. I’m very afraid of how pretend play would go after that. But the longer time goes on, the more of a reaction they’re probably going to have.

9. The Weather: To me, there’s nothing more boring than weather. Everyone talks about it, but no one can do anything about it. So why bring it up? What does that gain you, but frustration and resentment. (See above re: politics).

10. Things I’m Interested In: Like the things people like that I don’t, I’ve also got things I like other people don’t. You can add to that list “Channel Awesome” reviewers, Adventure Time, My Little Pony, video games and video game culture, writing, The Moth, Adam Carolla, Hannah Hart, The Guild, Magic: The Gathering, etc. At any neighborhood get-together, if I ever bring that stuff up, they look at me like I’m from another planet.

This must be what hipsters feel like. I’m sure they’d love to talk about the music they love, but if you’ve never heard it, there’s no point. So instead, they evolved into being aloof and reject-y, acting as if what’s underground and unpopular is better, because it’s not culturally spoonfed or mainstream sheeple.  And again, no one wins, least of all, me.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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