Beginning at 15:00 today, I have been conducting the First AND Last ‘Sted Memorial Sulk-a-Thon. I am so tired of sulking in response to something that upsets me that I’m going to do all my sulking in a twenty-four-hour period, and then no more.

Listening to the Smiths’ “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” twenty times in a row has a sort of hallucinogenic effect, coloring everything — including this endeavor — stupid and pointless. Or perhaps it’s just the X-treme sulking (no pouts barred!) that I’m doing. I’m usually just a periodic sulker, so this intense sulkfest has been a bit of a mindfuck. I mean, overdoing something I like doing in the first place is kind of tough. Overdoing something I hate doing is just painful.

And yet I’m committed to this Sulk-a-Thon.

Elliott Smith and Michelle Branch are also good sulk soundtrack additions, the former for sheer sad brilliance, and the latter for sheer whiny clumsiness. Although I can’t listen to either for more than three songs in a row, so I’m back to the standard diet of Smiths and Cure, while re-reading a lot of horrific poetry about how I Am So Misunderstood.

What brought this on? you might ask. I will tell you: when I am very upset about something, I will fall totally silent. This is because when I get to that very-upset point, I have a difficult time first figuring out exactly what upset me, and subsequently verbalizing my reaction. This has always been the case, with me: everything internally gets smushed together in a big ball of Badness, and I’ve only got tweezers to pick it apart. I’m so worried about confrontation, about defending my own reaction against someone else’s logic, that I try to post-process the Badness before talking through it. The silence passes, sure, but that time is wasted because, hey, guess what? I don’t post-process well without verbalizing. Nice catch-22 there.

Add the fact that I have the exact same demeanor when I am hyperfocused on completing a task as when I am sulking. When I’m alone, whether or not I’m hyperfocusing or sulking doesn’t matter. But around other people, since I don’t give any other verbal or nonverbal clues as to what’s going on internally, this has caused more than one misunderstanding and more than a few hurt feelings. And so I’m just fed up. I may still be petrified of confrontation, but this year has finally taught me that confrontation is truly unavoidable. What matters is how you handle it when it comes.

So, one last sulk, and this time, about sulking itself. I am off to write down the ten things that annoy me most about interacting with other human beings. After that, I will eat mashed potatoes. (It’s not a particularly sulky food; I just like mashed potatoes.)

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