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There are times, often at 1 a.m. when I should be sleeping but can’t, when my brain spins and I drift along on my stream of consciousness. Maybe I’m seeing with clarity, maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m just delirious. This past Tuesday I was stuck on a thread about my spastic social skills.

Whatever happened to me while I was growing the neurons used for social skills, I’d like to know because I have such trouble with situations that other people find completely benign, if they even think about them at all.

I’m no Hemmingway, but I can string a pretty good sentence together, even on the fly. I have a couple of girlfriends that are going through some powerful life changes, and we mostly communicate via chat. Sometimes during the conversation I refer back to the transcript and I’ve gotta say, I impress myself. Typing and thinking very quickly I see myself using cohesive, emotionally sensitive, empathetic, clear thoughts studded with age-appropriate vocabulary and decent grammar. Now where is this skill when I’m in a verbal conversation? Half the time I can’t remember words and phrases I want to use, ultimately substituting whatever I can claw out of my feeble mental dictionary. I lose myself in my own stories, and I glaze over during other people’s stories (leading me to think I shouldn’t be telling mine, since I’m probably spreading more glaze than an Easter ham). I’ve started trying to speak less, both as a life practice and because my Mean Voice tells me that nobody cares anyway. When I do speak, I usually sound like a sixth grader with a swearing problem, so I get startled when I hear myself sounding like a grown-up.

I’m even worse in physical situations. Forget dancing… I can’t even figure out how to go through a door properly. Do I hold the door open for people from the outside, or go through and pass the door to the person behind me? What if the person is more than a few steps back, do I hold it or just go in? Whatever I choose is usually wrong and I end up in someone’s way. I can’t even manage a level of adult sophistication when I’m playing with kids. I once playfully flipped my young nephew upside-down. I was distracted by a spilled glass of wine and then, focused on the glass I’d knocked over, forgot I was holding him by his feet until he cried and his mom rescued him. I frequently relive that one in my mind. Ugh. Seriously, I’m a walking Seinfeld episode.

I need to get more sleep.

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