It dawned on me. I was grumpy.
It was a Friday night. I was heading to The Blue Brick Theatre. In State College. Across the street from THEEEEE Pennsylvania State University. To perform another improv show. Come buy a ticket.
My walk downtown was graceful. I dodged swarms of college students. Some clad scantily. Some clad not at all. State College in the fall on a Friday night is something of a strip club. Yuck. I was almost to the theatre when it hit me. I was feeling blue. Grump-a-sauras rex.
The fall has been a blur. I’m back teaching in person. The boys have started school. Which means I have to be up super early to get my daily run in before bringing them to school. Katie is working as a preschool teacher. I’ve helped to found an improv theatre. Bricks and mortar and everything. I’ve got writing deadlines. Zoom meetings. Grading. And all my other random creative pursuits. I’m a random creative man.
Listen, y’all, I’m worn out. That’s all. Worn down. Tired.
I’m an introvert through and through. Being with people takes energy from me. And when I spend past the energy I have, I can get nasty.
I felt it as I was walking to the theatre. Darn it if I wasn’t grumpy.
My mother would sing the following song to me as a baby:
“Grouch, grouch, grouch, he’s a grouchy man. Grouch, grouch, grouch, he’s a grouchy man.”
And so on. The song was inspired by Oscar the Grouch. You know. From Sesame Street? Mom would use this song to calm me down. I can’t believe I remember the lyrics. Some 40 years later.
Nobody sings to me anymore. Other than Spotify. Sure, Conor Oberst’s voice is soothing. But not like Mom’s.
I know myself pretty well. I’m 41. I’ve seen this movie before. Sam spreads himself thin. Sam gets tired. Sam gets resentful. Sam starts lashing out. Knocking down other people’s card houses, as it were. Don’t get the card houses line? Read this book. I don’t like lashing out. I don’t like knocking down card houses. Always hurts me as much if not more than the people who I lash out at. So I’m trying to watch myself right now. With my family. My students. My friends. Pay attention to my inner world a little bit. My psyche.
I’m weary of people who don’t pay attention to their psyche. Who lash out and don’t think twice about it. Those sorts of people are dangerous. I don’t want to be like that. So I’ve learned it’s important for me to notice when I’m feeling grumpy.
You’d never guess it if you saw me teach. Or do improv. Or perform in a play. Or even lead a workshop. I’m as introverted as they come. I need calm. Quiet. Space to make sense of my thoughts. Process and whatnot.
That space is harder and harder to come by. There’s two boys in my house. Loud and energetic boys. There’s screens that demand constant attention. This email or that. Text, text, text. I’m always reacting. Rarely disconnecting. It’s on me to find a better balance. I know that intellectually. Living it out is something else.
My grumpiness will go away. Probably by the time I publish this blog. I’ll find ways to recharge. Probably play some more Oblivion on my Xbox. Watch some football. On my couch. In my underwear. My children’s horrified gazes be damned.
I think all of us are better off when we pay close attention to our emotions. Our imaginations. Our psyches. So I’ve noticed that I’m grumpy. And noticing, according to the hit cartoon from my youth G.I. Joe, is half the battle.