17 August, 2022

Tuesday Tales - #IntrovertProblems

Oops! I'm a day late.

I'm way off this week. It's been exhausting. We have new neighbors. She's as social as I am introverted.

Let me be clear: I like this woman. She's nice, she seems intelligent (although we haven't had any deep conversation yet), her kids are nice... I know she's reaching out and trying to make more friends in the community, so I'm being as social as I can, but there comes a point when I crash. I'm "out of spoons" if you know the Spoon Theory.

First, we'd see her in the street. Or see the nanny bouncing the baby on her knee in their front portico. The baby loves Brett. Of course she does; all children do. The toddler loves him too, but we don't see her as often.

Then, one day, our gate was open and she and the baby came over.

Cultural note: In Vietnam - or at least in this area - if you're home, everything is open. Windows and doors, to keep the air flowing in the tropical summer. The gate, if you're open to guests (I suppose. That's how I read it anyway.) During Covid, we were pretty diligent about keeping the gate shut, but we're more relaxed now.

So she and the baby came into the house. { This is extremely unusual! We do not entertain! } We all sat in the living room, the baby mostly interacting with Brett. There was some conversation, but she was easily distracted by her phone. I know she works "online" so I imagine she must be working all the time.

It was nice and friendly. I had a positive feeling after that interaction.

The next day, she came over with the baby and another little girl ("my maid's niece"). I was in the back room, relaxing in the bean bag with a book, when Brett came back to inform me that "we have guests". So I abandoned my book and did my hostess-ly duty to come and be social. The neighbor was more on her phone this time, but still social.

Two days later, she came over with the baby and the toddler. I was working on my computer, but abandoned my work to sit and be social. She was on her phone most of the time.

By now, I believe Brett has inadvertently taken the role of surrogate father. Maybe the dad travels, maybe they're divorced - not my business - but commandeering my husband so your baby can get snuggles is not cool. ... if that's what's going on. I don't know! She's on her phone all the time!

The other night, we came home late and she was sitting by her gate. Seeing us pull up she immediately invited us over for coffee. We declined because at that hour we'd never sleep. The next morning I woke to a message on my phone inviting me to join her for coffee. I do not answer any messages (unless urgent, from family) until after I've done my meditation, exercise, and usually not until I'm dressed and ready for the day. This time, after my workout, I messaged back to suggest that she and I go out for coffee later this week. 

I'm looking forward to our coffee tomorrow. Maybe, away from children and husband, we can actually talk. Really, I want to be a good neighbor. I do value having a friendly neighbor. We just need to establish boundaries. Especially because my "office" is out in the open plan living-dining-kitchen area, so I'm visible from the street. I need it to be known that my being visible doesn't mean that I am available.

Brett can set his own boundaries. If he wants to walk the street with a 1yo in his arms for 20 minutes in the afternoon, that's his business.

...Re-reading this, I realize I've painted a very negative picture. I'm not going to edit it: these are my first impressions. As I've said, she's nice, smart, and I look forward to getting to know her better... but my introverted nature can't hold up under constant social bombardment.


  1. That is a lot of interaction. So, you need to keep your gate closed when you're working? You definitely need to establish some boundaries. If she's on her phone, perhaps you can be on your computer? It's definitely a discussion you should have.

    1. Yeah, closing the gate helps, unless someone tries calling in with a "hello". I'm going to have to be strong and learn to say, "Can't talk now, catch you later."

  2. Yeah. I believe we have shut this down.


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