When This Leads to That & That & That

29 Nov

As a kid, social activities almost always caused me anxiety. Way back then, I thought something was wrong with me. But now I realize my social anxiety is typical of anyone with an introverted nature. 

The one exception to my fear of social situations was a slumber party with a whole bunch of girls. The more, the merrier!  I loved the junky snacks and late-night movies and secret stories all enjoyed from the coziness of pjs and a cushy sleeping bag. 
I especially relished in slumber party games, like Truth or Dare, Finger-Lifting, Prank Phone Calling, Seances, and SPIDER’S WEB.  I don’t know where I first played Spider’s Web, but it’s a lot of work for the one hosting the slumber party. It involves selecting a designated room (like the basement), tying a ball of yarn to an anchor (like a block or stick), then stringing the yarn throughout the designated space. If you have 10 girls playing, then ten balls of yarn are strung around the room, criss-crossing each other in a maze like this: 
When it’s time to play, each girl takes an anchor and starts wrapping up the yarn as fast she can. It’s funny to watch everyone climbing over & under each other and any furniture in the way. The best part is every player wins, scoring a hidden prize at the end of their yarn web.
I was never comfortable with competition as a kid (and I’m still not), but what I loved more about this game was the sense of connection. The way we were webbed together, meeting (and giggling) at various points, never knowing where your web would lead, resulting in a hidden prize for everybody.
Throughout my life, I’ve overcome a lot of my anxiety by focusing on the web. While the task at hand may seem overwhelming (and competitive), you never know where else it may lead… the hidden prize. 
For example, I recently attended the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual convention out in Missouri where I was part of a panel for Notable Book Award winners.
To overcome my anxiety about being in a strange city by myself at a huge conference speaking on an author panel with super-accomplished writers, I imagined downtown St Louis as one of those Spider Webs made of yarn, where the convention was just one stop. 
First I crossed the city over to the famous Gateway Arch 
then crossed up to the top of the Arch in the tiny tram
then crossed down to the court house to take in the historic, humbling Dred-Scott Exhibit
and later crossed over to the Mississippi River to check out the paddleboat rides
afterward crossing back for some BBQ at Sugarfire’s
and then finally crossing over to the famous National Blue’s Museum,
where I read up on the fabulous founders of the Blues
and discovered many amazing Blues artists today, including Shemekia Copeland. After reading about Shemekia’s life and incredible talent, I checked out her concert schedule later that night back in my hotel room. And I found out she performs every year at a venue near my cabin up north! So I bought four tickets to her show this February. 
And that intimidating author panel that gave me the pre-jitters? It actually ended up being a lot of fun 🙂
But I knew the real prize was discovering that “the best female Blues singer in the country” would be bringing down the house in Brownfield, Maine this winter.

(Photos: Personal and Google Images)

10 Replies to “When This Leads to That & That & That

  1. I never heard of the spider web game and now, after your wonderful description and tie in (pun intended) to the present, I wish I had. I enjoyed St Louis when I was there, long ago, although I don’t remember a lot as I had a 4 month old infant in tow.
    Enjoy the show!

  2. You covered a lot of territory in St.Louis! Must have been a great trip and convention.
    Glad you “kept your eye on the prize’ !

  3. Also called ‘String Maze’ and a lot of fun!
    I too have seen Shemekia’s name on concert schedules, but had no idea she was so revered in the Blues world.
    PS Fargo: You were right about that tram to the top of the Arch… even scarier as I was riding it all alone!

  4. Another great post. Thank you!
    And yes, Bill and I are major fans of Shemekia Copeland. Saw her twice at SMAC. And she’s from my home town!

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