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Posts Tagged ‘socializing’

About two weeks back I was feeling pretty down, and wrote about it here (Feeling Charlie Brown).  I was feeling particularly low about the lack of opportunities for socializing in my life, and while I can certainly entertain myself quite well most of the time, I do have a side of me that craves the kind of human interaction that involves being around people you like being around, who also like being around you.  It’s something that I think a lot of people take for granted, but I can testify there can be paths life takes you down that leaves you with a dearth of those opportunities.

I mean, take the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival that travels around the East Coast and made a stop in Richmond this past weekend.  I’ve written about it here before, and every time I thought about the festival, it just sounded like a helluva good time.  Who wouldn’t want to go?!  Well, apparently the vast majority of my friends, which just left me perplexed, on top of being bummed.

Thank goodness for friend and fellow blogger beautifulmess7, who rode to my rescue!  Even though she had plans with her family for late afternoon, she agreed that a Beer, Bourbon & BBQ festival sounded like a helluva good time and said she’d love to go with me if I didn’t mind getting back in time for her to make family gathering.  The event was open from 2 – 6pm, but I figured if we got there at 2ish and were taking shots (err… samples) of bourbon with some frequency that a couple hours should be plenty of time if we didn’t want to be crawling ourselves out of there.

Cheers

I thoroughly enjoyed myself!  The event was just as fun as I’d hoped it would be, and beautifulmess7 was the perfect partner-in-crime to enjoy it with.  She said it was a lot like wine tasting events, though I suspect a slightly different crowd was here for the bourbon.  I wouldn’t say it was rowdy, but it was definitely lively!

There were a ton of bourbons to sample, and beautifulmess7 ran around and tried each booth right beside me.  Most ranged from decent to delicious, though we did encounter a couple stinkers that actually forced us to dump them out.  There was even a token Vodka booth which felt a little like a fly in the ointment, but my liberal sense of inclusion prevented me from getting too offended by its presence.

BBBBQ04

This certainly seemed like an odd pairing, but… we love dark chocolate and we love bacon… two great tastes that go great together… maybe?  The very first time it hits your taste buds it’s odd… but it quickly grows on you and by the time we left I made sure to pick up a bag.

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Early on there was apparently a place you could get your glass dipped in wax like they do with Maker’s Mark bourbon (see the glasses in the pic above) but we didn’t find out about it until they’d stopped doing it.  We also heard about some sort of clear bourbon that Jim Beam was featuring, that was apparently selling for quite the premium, but we were assured that it just tasted like regular ol’ Jim Beam.  When we went by the Jim Beam booth they’d run out of it.

BBBBQ03

I bought this late in the day when I had a good buzz going and my silly-buying-inhibitions were low.  Just seemed like a funny shotglass that I had to own.

The bourbons I recall being particularly yummy:  High West Double Rye (High West makes bourbon out of Utah!), Buffalo Trace Distillery Small Batch, Maker’s Mark (of course), and Knob Creek Rye.  There were others that were good too, but those made an impression through the buzz that crept up on me.  Maybe beautifulmess7 can chime in with some of her faves in the comments?

BBBBQ02

These guys had a fun booth with a wheel you could spin for silly little prizes.  Their bourbon however was mediocre.

I have to say it was so nice to have beautifulmess7 there with me.  She was fun, we chatted and laughed the whole time as we waited in line, circulated around, or sat for a bit listening to the live music.  She was more than willing to sample everything with me, and she easily struck up conversations with other festival-goers.  As it got late in the afternoon and we made our way to leave, I could tell she was up for staying longer if she hadn’t had other plans.

We took a taxi ride home with a hugely entertaining cabbie, who was from the Eastern Shore of Virginia and had us both craving seafood by the time he dropped us off.  I got beautifulmess7 a big glass of water and we sat in the AC and cooled off a bit in my living room and chatted while she made sure she was okay for driving.  It was just delightful talking about all sorts of things, a perfect cap to a really nice day.

To add to such a nice weekend, I’d been able to get some bonus time with my kids the night before.  My sister and her kids were coming through town and staying with my step-mom for a couple days, and it had been a really long time since our kids had had “cousin-time” together (she has a daughter and son too, and they’re all around the same ages).  It wasn’t my weekend with the kids, but their mom agreed to let me pick them up and stay the night over at my step-mom’s house.  We had a great time catching up, and I taught my niece and nephew to play Settlers of Cataan with my kids, and helped my 7 year old nephew win the first game.  He was hooked!

So last night before heading to bed, I was just feeling really great and put this up on my Facebook page before letting all the busy-ness and bourbon carry me off to slumber…

Yay

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I’ve talked a couple times before about the Virginia Screenwriters Forum and my hopes for rejoining the group (Musings on Sex Scenes, Climbing Out of the Social Void?).  I was an active member for about six years before having to drop out nine years ago due to the time pressures of two small children and picking up a part-time job to go along with my full-time job.  Well, last night I was finally able to attend their monthly meeting!

The bad news is that it’s a much less comfortable venue than it used to be.  Before, we got to meet in this really plush conference room in the basement of one of the downtown banks, with a huge hardwood table surrounded by these super-comfortable leather seats.  Man, it was nice!

Nowadays the group meets in a multi-purpose room in old renovated warehouse that has been converted into a public Arts building called Art Works.  They push together two much smaller tables, and there are flimsy folding chairs to sit in.

Still, comfort aside, there was something electrifying sitting around the table with 15 other writers, talking about storycraft and the nuts and bolts of screenwriting.  In my very first post here on my blog (…She’d Be Creative) I talked about how much I missed being surrounded by that sort of creative energy, so even as I worried about the chair collapsing beneath me, I felt like I was home and surrounded by “my people.”

After news and VSF business is gotten out of the way, we get into critiquing the first 30 pages of the two scripts for the meeting.  After the screenwriter talks a little bit about his script, each member is given the floor for 3 minutes to offer a constructive critique.  Then things are opened up for an open discussion with back-and-forth between the writer and the group, with suggestions and brainstorming.

I was a bit nervous about whether or not to say anything during my 3 minutes.  As a “guest” I was told I could just listen in without having to say anything.  But I’d read the scripts and the old screenwriting muscles had kicked in, and I had a few ideas I wanted to share.  My heart pounding in my chest, worried I might say something stupid due to being extremely rusty, I went ahead and spoke.

The writer was attentive and took notes.  The others around the table smiled at me, nodded, even jotted down some notes too.  By the end of the 3 minutes I felt much more at ease, and my confidence grew that maybe I still had “it,” or at least a rusty remnant.

To make things even better, there were some women around the table wearing no wedding bands, ranging in age from 20 years younger to about 10 years older, all of them radiating that creative writer’s spark.  I wanted them to read my writing!

To make things even more better (heh), the group has received some grant monies to expand its services beyond the monthly meetings.  Starting next year, every quarter they’re going to have local actors read our 30 page scripts in front of family, friends, and anyone from the general public who wants to come, held at a really cool local theater downtown.  This will allow our writers regular opportunities to mingle with actors, stage managers from the theater, and any casting agents or other people in the business of making movies who might show up.  As a new member, my script will go to the bottom of the list of seniority, but I can still get a charge from listening to the others and meeting all these creative people.  And eventually, someone on that stage will be reading something I wrote…

The VSF is now on summer hiatus, and will resume meetings in September, so I’ve got the rest of the summer to write 30 pages, polish it, and submit to the reading committee.  I’ve had a movie idea that’s been percolating in my mind for about 5 years now, but as I drove home details started bubbling up to my mind.  I thought about it last night as I drifted off to sleep.  Today at lunch I could barely read my book because scenes and characters kept popping in my brain.  Finally I just had to cut lunch off early and pound out about 800 words, worried that I might forget some of the cool stuff that has suddenly started jumping inside me.

(this is NOT an actual screenshot of my script…)

I’m two and a half pages on my way…  of course, maybe I need to also re-read some of my old screenwriting books too 😉

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So the meeting with Chuck last night went really well.  He came over around 7pm and left around 10pm.  We talked about all sorts of things and really hit it off well.  I know Chuck from way back, he was a gamer and we hung around together for a stretch of years, but eventually he got more into poker and hung around with different folks.  He’s about 10 years older than I am and has a wicked fun sense of humor and is very easy going.  He’s recently divorced as well and is looking for a place to stay for at least a year and maybe more.  He seemed to like my house and likes the living space I’ve set aside for a roommate (converted the den into a large efficiency-style bedroom/living area with attached half-bath).  He’s pretty much exactly what I was looking for.

He’s not sure exactly when he can move in, says it might be two weeks might be four, so I’m mentally penciling him in by the end of April.  I just had to submit my work hours for my part-time job for May and trimmed about 12 hours from the month.  Which is a little risky but I can always pick up more hours later if I need to.  One Saturday I signed up for 8 hours instead of 12 so I could do some housework before going into work.  I also cleared my schedule for two social outings.

One is a monthly gathering called Drinking Liberally, which is a national organization that encourages liberals to get together over drinks and talk about politics, an American tradition that stretches back to Colonial times.  I’ve written a little bit about politics a few times here before, it’s something I’m passionate about but have rarely had any time to participate in.  There’s a Richmond chapter that meets the first Sunday of each month, so I’m going to go check it out in May and hope to meet some cool people and expand my woefully tiny social circle.

The last Wednesday of each month is when the Virginia Screenwriters Forum meets and I’ve cleared my evening to attend the meeting in May as a guest.  I am super-stoked about this—getting together with a bunch of creative types always gives me a creative buzz and I can’t wait to tap back into that!  Again, I’m hoping to meet some cool people and expand my social circle in this way as well, though it’s much more of a “workshop” environment and when I was with the group a decade ago not many were interested in socializing outside of the monthly meeting.  Then again, I was married at the time, and who knows what this bunch will be like?  Maybe some of them might be interested in going to a movie then hanging out afterwards and talk about it over drinks?

I know I’m getting a little ahead of myself… but I’m so damn excited!  It’s been nearly impossible for me to concentrate and get anything constructive done today…

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One of the most frustrating things about being recently single is trying to get into people’s heads that I’m a) single and b) looking to socialize.  I’m not really in a position right now to be actively dating per se, but I’d like some human interaction outside of work.  Like, it’s so frustrating to hear about a party or get-together that was so much fun and realize that you could have totally been there if anyone had bothered to let you know about it.

A lot of it is my own fault of course.  I was married to woman for many years who withdrew from nearly all social contact in favor of nesting at home with the kids, and while I did my best to keep in touch and do stuff with friends and family whenever I could, it wasn’t nearly enough.  People move on with living life, and if you’re unavailable too many times you get mentally shifted to the basement of their thoughts.

I really, really hate being there, especially now that I’m trying to reach back out and engage again.  It’s like 10 years of muck I’m trying to pull myself out of, desperately waving and trying to get people’s attention.  I’m here!  I’m here!

My life situation right now doesn’t help things either.  I’m living in a house alone while paying child support for two kids, and so I’ve got to work a full and part-time job to make ends meet.  I work a lot, and there’s not much wiggle room for spur-of-the-moment activity except for late at night on the weekends.  I get off work at 11pm, and while I’m usually up for fun afterwards, I can’t seem to plug into anything that might be going on at that time of night, at least not with anyone that I know.

It’s why Quite a Momentous Week was one of my favorite posts, because it details what’s probably the highlight of my pathetic social life over the past decade.  That was back in  August… I’d really like to have those sorts of evenings a little more often!

I am working to change things on my end.  Working on refinancing the house to pull down the monthly payment some will help.  I’m also trying to find a roommate to live in my house with me.  Then I’ll be able to cut back on my part-time hours a bit and actually open up some time to be sociable more in line with people with less insane schedules.

In the meantime… I’m going just a little bit stir crazy…  though it is giving me time for writing eh?

The next woman in my life, I hope we can maintain the desire to go out and do stuff, as well as having people over to just hang out, maintain and build friendships.  While I value that nice alone time you have with the one you love sometimes, I don’t want to ever have to dig out of this sort of hole again.  I want people to feel comfortable dropping by, or calling to extend invitation to stuff going on.  I want to know that I’m a little higher up in people’s thoughts than this dusty old basement.

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