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Writers Are Boring People.

It's been said many times, once by Tobias Wolff in the interview I mentioned in my last post: Good writers tend to be boring people. But their friends shouldn't be.

While we're planted in front of a computer, somebody has to be out there doing all the interesting things we write about. And while we can't always be out there with them, we need to know them well to write interesting characters.

In my last post, I mentioned going to a wedding and hanging out with a bunch of college friends. It is always fun and inspiring to get together with my three best girlfriends from college, the Swedish Maid (the bride, who played Ultimate Frisbee in thrift store finery with her wedding party), Elle (a jazz saxophone player who found love on Study Abroad and now resides in France), and J.Mo (another bilingual world traveler and musician). I got all teary when Elle and J.Mo, who look as beautiful as they sing (picture the most adorable French and Spanish girls, respectively, dressed up in flowers and sassy polka dots) performed a duet by the Weepies accompanied by J.Mo's guitar. It was a touch of supreme sweetness in the middle of a tart and juicy weekend celebration.

The Swedish Maid plays Ultimate in one of her many "disposable" wedding gowns.

It was hard living up to her little sister's zombie wedding shoot (the Swedish Maid is the dead maid of honor there), but she did a bangup job with her own wacky nuptials. I can't wait for the photos to come out!

I sat at a table with two more women from my college class who went on to graduate from Johns Hopkins. One of them works for a nonprofit like me, and we laughed about the pitfalls of holding conference calls with hearing-limited old folks. None of us have come close to paying off our student loans, but all the other women have exciting lifestyles.

Of course, none of them besides me--not even the married Mormon--have children. They also got to dance and drink the night away while I rushed my leaky boobs back to the hotel to nurse my baby. Not that I'm that jealous. I certainly wouldn't trade my time with Nux Gallica for any job or travel experience. Also, I have accepted that my dream to be a writer dooms me to a life of sitting in front of a computer and boringness.

Well, maybe it's not that writers are boring. Maybe it's just that we keep our freak on the inside.

Elle once said of me and my husband Mr. G, "You are each other's antidote." We do complement each other well. I am an internal sort of person, constantly analyzing and imagining. When I think too hard, I sometimes walk into things or forget where I'm driving. Mr. G, on the other hand, is a major extrovert who wears all his eccentricities on his sleeve and notices every detail of his surroundings like he's had spy training. It's a lot of fun because Mr. G points out weird things around us, and I analyze them.

I can't even tell you how amazing it was to walk the streets of Chicago with him during the International Mr. Leather festivities, which happened to be going on the same weekend as the Swedish Maid's wedding.

Assless chaps, latex aprons, mutton chops with shaved heads, fierce mustachios, bondage accessories paired with camo pants, and knee-high boots on men were everywhere. Mr. G, who happened to be wearing leather bracelets and a fierce beard with a shorn head, got a lot of strange looks as he pushed the baby stroller.

Mr. G noticed the colorful demographics right away, but we found out about Mr. Leather International when we met up with Mr. G's best buddy from his college class, Mr. Berlin. "Hey Mr. Berlin," Mr. G said, "what's with all the leather boys?" We knew Mr. Berlin would know what was going on, seeing as he's basically a connoisseur of sexual fetishes.

Once, while Mr. G was off flying Nux Gallica around the hotel lobby like an airplane and I sat alone with Mr. Berlin, downing Krug champagne truffles and artisan beer (it was his birthday and he needed a little cheering up after a nasty breakup with his middle-aged supervisor), Mr. Berlin looked at me quizzically and said, "It is so weird to see Mr. G as such a natural father."

"Oh yes," I said. "I always knew that deep down, having a family would make him happiest."

Mr. Berlin furrowed his brow and said, "It is amazing that you saw that in him." He then regaled me with a few stories of himself and Mr. G in college--of Robo tripping, insomnia, pyromania, and survival challenges in the woods, nothing I hadn't heard before.

But it's true. Years ago, at the old alma mater, I told the Swedish Maid that I really wanted to hook up with Mr. G while home for the weekend, but if I did that, we'd probably end up married and having babies, and I wasn't sure I was ready for that kind of commitment. She looked at me like I was crazy. Mr. G was a drug-addled, philandering genius gone mad who had been known to disappear for days into the wilderness or onto the streets, surviving on grubs or dumpster dived pizzas. But I knew that what Mr. G wanted more than anything was a good hug, a committed relationship, and a stable family. I might not notice posted signs or people waving at me, but I am very attuned to matters of the heart and psyche. Now, Mr. G is a happy and healthy model husband and father--who tells a lot of good stories.

The reason I like to read and write stories about people is probably the same reason I like to surround myself with fascinating people. My best friends, for better or worse, have always been vivacious, outgoing, sometimes on the edge of deranged people. In comparison, I am shy, introverted, and bland. I like to watch. I like to analyze. I like to have people close to me who can do the work of socializing and coruscating that I personally find exhausting.

It's worth pointing out that there's good weird and there's bad weird. Eccentric people are generally happy, good people. Then there are wounded, toxic people who, while often fascinating, are more of a drain than an inspiration. There is an art to weeding out the wackos and treasuring the splendidly unique. Too much drama and too much negativity are distracting and harmful to creativity. For example, Mr. Berlin is probably the kinkiest person I've ever met. He's slept with people in more countries than I've ever visited and tried just about every legal, ethical fetish known to mankind. But he manages to do all of that without being the least bit dirty or creepy. He is kind, cheerful, honest, straightforward, responsible, hardworking, and very smart. He says things like, "There is no such thing as wasted time. I'm learning and having new experiences every moment. It's not the end goal that matters so much." How very tantric.

Even if I don't keep in regular contact with the most fascinating people in my life, I try to keep in touch on some level, even if it's just on Facebook. They live in many states and nations. Most have amazing artistic skills. Sometimes, we keep them in our basement. (The Baked Chef is only one of four friends who have dwelled in our cellar.) Most of them have personal stories sad and horrible enough to keep the most jaded cynic up at night, and most of them could tell a story funny enough to bust your bladder.

As I write this post, the Baked Chef is outside spray painting his bike wheels hot pink, the better to impress his tribe of disc golfers with mohawks, and Mr. G just called to tell me he's going to be on the news tonight getting interviewed about seasonal allergies while wearing his t-shirt depicting a unicorn pooping Lucky Charms. It's a good thing I'm an aspiring writer and not an aspiring politician.

So, fellow writers: Do you consider yourself "boring," or at least "boring on the outside?" Do you maintain relationships with people who are "more interesting" than you? Who are the best "characters" in your life?


  1. Awesome post, Jeannie! Thanks for the shout outs. I have to disagree with you on one point though--you might be shy, but you're not in the least bit bland! Unless this blog is ghostwritten and I've never really met the real Jeannie, you are a fascinating and amazing woman. Keep up the awesome writing and living.

  2. Aw, thanks, Jess! It's always great to see you!

  3. Hehe, fun to see what company you occasionally keep! And you have a Mormon friend. That's fun for reasons I won't explain here. :)

  4. Great post :) I totally agree, and I need new ways to meet cool whacky new people. Oh, and you can count me as another Mormon friend if you want :)

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  5. I'm out of breath just reading about your adventures! I do consider myself very boring on the outside. The funny thing is that I have a lot of friends who are also boring on the outside. Maybe that's why I look in so much?

  6. I love you with abandon, I miss you with abandon, you are amazing and full of a divine spark that many desire, few have, and even fewer appreciate.

    You're wonderful, as is the extraordinary tribe you too are a part of.

  7. Hi Michelle! Mormons are fun for so many reasons.

    MOOORRRRRRMOOONNNNNNSSSSS!!!! (That's what Esperanzita yells whenever she sees Mormons. It's the same voice she uses when she sees a cute puppy. Sorry if we're prejudiced, but Mormons are cute.) Hello, Mormon friend Sarah!

    Domey: Boring on the outside is just boring on the OUTSIDE if you have super introvert X-ray vision. I think all good writers have it. If your vision is sharp enough, I suppose nothing and no one is truly boring.

    Esperanzita, you continue to be one of my favorite muses. Thanks for the love! You are one of the most blindingly unboringest people I know.

  8. Esperanzita is incapable of being boring. She is a muse accidentally fallen to earth.

    Mama J I've never once thought of you as boring. You have a fearless energy about you. You aren't afraid to be friends with complete lunatics, you wear jewelry and color combinations that never fail to fill me with joy and jealousy and you are probably one of the most self assured people I know. Plus you make babies and you try to save the world, one cause at a time. How is all that boring?

    -Miss Moppet-

  9. Miss Moppet, when I am a celebrity, you will be my PR person. You make me sound cooler than I am!!

  10. Nonsense! You are both wonderfully bad ass/cool, and work your particular side of the room with class and style. OW OW!

    I've never ever linked boring to you GotS, or you either Miss Moppet! To the contrary, you're both ridiculously complex and layers of all sorts of such lovely things...I think it's about getting to know someone that really brings out who they are, no? And bringing out sides of ourselves that may have been dormant. Hmmm.


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