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stay away from me
this man is an island
by mike julianelle

You know those scenes in The Great Escape when Steve McQueen heads to solitary confinement with a smile on his face? And then he wiles away the hours playing catch with the wall? I’ve always loved those scenes. He doesn’t care that he’ll have no human contact for a long stretch of time, he’s comfortable by himself and seems to even enjoy his time alone, and he knows those dirty Nazis can never break his indomitable American spirit! I respect that attitude.

I like being alone. I don’t mean alone in the French existential way, or the David Lee Roth “I ain’t got nobody” way or even the Richard Matheson I am Legend/Omega Man way. I mean the normal way that involves just being by myself without anyone else around.

Some people don’t understand that. They don’t “get” the appeal of solitude, and they give me grief when I express my desire for some. Maybe they aren’t comfortable with themselves and are scared of what might happen when left to their own devices. Maybe they are having a bad acid trip and need a guide to steer them through. Maybe they are afraid that the voices they hear when there’s no one around convince them to light the cat on fire. Maybe it’s good, then, that they want company. Yikes.

Every now and again I just need some time to myself, and not for any of the above reasons. I need time to relax, time to decompress, time to play b-sides, time to gather stones together and all that stuff. I like being able to have free time and do with it what I please, whether it's something special or nothing at all. It's reassuring to be able to be alone and not be lonely.

Before you start envisioning some Twilight Zone scenario in which either me or Burgess Meredith is deprived of all human interaction for the rest of eternity, calm down for a second. I am in no way shunning society as a whole. I need other people as much as the next person, in fact, probably more, since without other people, who would I have to mock and feel superior to? Besides God? All I’m saying is there’s nothing wrong with solitude, and that sometimes I even crave it.

It’s no secret to my friends that I’m a moody kind of guy. Sometimes I’m in a good mood, sometimes I’m in a bad mood, and sometimes…it rains. Think about that. What I’m trying to say is that while most of the time I love chilling with all the boys and having a rocking good time and hanging down at Dino’s, sometimes I hate everyone. Even you. (I don’t really hate everyone. Stop it. I’m not that much of a freak. But there are instances when the prospect of human interaction is about as appealing to me as seeing Dragonfly, i.e., I’d rather not, and if I absolutely have to, I’m going to be pissed off throughout.) So, in order to curb my moodiness, I take some time off from the rat race that is my slacker-filled apartment, and I shut my door.

Occasionally, in my quest for such solo time, I rub people the wrong way. Sometimes my mind so screams for solitude that I can do nothing but appease it. And in so doing I might be a bit abrasive as I struggle, almost claustrophobically, to escape from any and all people in my vicinity. I realize that at those moments when I am least like Dale Carnegie, my victims probably have little objection to me getting out of their faces, and that is fine. It’s unfortunate when it gets ugly, but whatever it takes to grease the wheels. No pain, no gain, right? When I am in the alone zone, I have a one-track mind, and I do not sacrifice my time for your feelings. I feel like Mikey in Goonies, yelling: This is my time! You can be Chunk.

Let me give you an example in order to illustrate my point. I live with four other people. I know them all well and consider them among my best friends. But, occasionally, I can’t stand to be around them. Not really them, specifically, but everyone. Sometimes when I get home from work, I just don’t feel like dealing with anyone else. Maybe I had a bad day at work, maybe not, maybe I’m exhausted, maybe not, maybe I just need some time to myself. Regardless of the reason, I want to be alone, so I go to my room and stay there. When I’m in my room I’m not sitting around drawing swastikas or building pipe bombs or surfing kiddie porn. I’m usually just chilling by myself, yo. Sometimes I read or watch TV, sometimes I write or listen to music. Sometimes I stare at the ceiling and sometimes I just reflect on the state of my life.

Not all of my solo time is spent sequestered in my room though. There are ways to be by yourself without being quite so anti-social, and not all of them are deviant. For example, I love to take drives by myself. It’s enjoyable to go for a drive on a nice day, with the windows down and the radio on. I spend the time thinking, singing along with the music, and praying that nothing drops out from under me, like, say, a pedestrian. Or an engine.

I also enjoy going to the movies by myself. In fact, I’d say that I go alone about half the time. And I see a lot of movies. I don’t know if there is a bigger symbol of loser-dom than the solo moviegoer. The solo moviegoer commands both sympathy and shame. One time I saw a guy point me out to his kid, and I swear I heard him say, “If you ever go to the movies alone, like that freak over there, I will end you, Chief. How do you like them apples?”

I don’t go to the movies alone because I lack friends. I go alone because I go a lot, and because my friends have no taste. Or should I say, different tastes. I have broader taste in film than my friends and a lack of a companion does not deter me from seeing a movie I am interested in, in much the same way that I don’t need a buddy to hold my hand when I check out books from the library. There’s nothing wrong with going to the movies alone, not unless you’re going on Pee Wee's big adventure while you’re there.

Alone does not equal lonely. Enjoying time by your self does not make you a miser, or a psycho, or a dork. Playing Dungeons and Dragons does. And as long you don’t make up vague supervillain names for yourself and live off cans of beets and grow your beard too long and stop bathing, it can be a normal, constructive thing. You don’t have to be a hermit, or the Unabomber, or Steve McQueen. Just be yourself. Hell, if I didn't take a few hours for myself every week, when would I be able to practice my Jame Gumb/Buffalo Bill “Here’s what I’d look like without my genitals” dance?


Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".

more about mike julianelle


hip to be scared
let's do the monster rehash
by mike julianelle
topic: general
published: 10.24.01

exercising my demons
that's why they call me the working (out) man
by mike julianelle
topic: general
published: 4.9.07


russ carr
3.15.02 @ 12:17a

No "h" in Carnegie. And I love Dale Carnegie because a Dale Carnegie seminar gave me the 'nads I needed to quit my last job...a job I hated because they made us do dumb ass things like listen to Dale Carnegie speakers. And I hate Dale Carnegie speakers and their inverted banana peeling trick. No "h" in Carnegie.

Growing up an only child got me used to (and comfortable with) being alone. I'm downright zen-like in the mastery of aloneness, which is quite different from loneliness. Solitary man.

matt morin
3.15.02 @ 1:42a

This is why I could never go back to having a roommate. People always ask if I get lonely living by myself. But I have guaranteed solitude any time I want it, and if I want to be around people, I can just pick up the phone.

People with roommates never have guaranteed solitide. (Unless they're stuffed in multiple plastic garbage bags underneath the house...)

heather millen
3.15.02 @ 8:53a

Understood. I mean, no one needs to see your "Here's what I'd look like without my genitals" dance. No one.

mike julianelle
3.15.02 @ 8:55a

This is what I'm saying, Heather.

russ carr
3.15.02 @ 9:30a

You have genitalia, Mike?

mike julianelle
3.15.02 @ 9:48a

Just on the weeekends, Russ.

tim dyer
3.15.02 @ 9:50a

Awesome. Hey Russ, only child huh? No kidding!

adam kraemer
3.15.02 @ 10:05a

I love, love, love the Blue Oyster Cult reference.

But as far as having a roommate goes, I get all the solitude I want. He sits in the living room, watching TV in his big chair; I sit in my room watching TV on my bed. We only interact when we want to.


tracey kelley
3.15.02 @ 10:05a

I'm very cat-like in my quest for socialization. When I want you around or want something from you, I'll rub your leg. Otherwise, leave me alone.

Seriously, I'm very comfortable by myself. I'm extroverted and social, but I can't be like that all the time: I need to recharge now and again. I enjoying eating dinner out without a companion, going to the movies alone or a musuem or whatever. I used to work overnights, so when I was awake and wanting to do things, everyone else I knew was working. So in order to have a life in a cool big city, I had to get used to keeping myself company.

It really surprises me when someone else has a problem with that "OH! How can you DO that?" says one of my friends, the one we call Border Collie 'cause she can't do anything unless she's herds a bunch of people together for it. Shopping, dinner, movies, whatever, it always has to be a group.

mike julianelle
3.15.02 @ 10:24a

I have a few friends who can't be alone, they always need someone with them. In college, there were a few people who panicked if everyone else had already gone to the dining hall and they had to go solo. Oooh! Scary!

adam kraemer
3.15.02 @ 10:46a

I find I get bored if I'm alone and have nothing to read or watch. I definitely appreciate my alone time, but I'm a social person by nature.

mike julianelle
3.15.02 @ 10:51a

I think most people, if not everyone, is social by nature, I mean, nature demands it. And yeah, it can be boring and all, but self-imposed solitude is nice, and for me, sometimes necessary.

roger striffler
3.15.02 @ 10:59a

tracey, I'm laughing my ass off. we're so alike (and I have a border collie friend too). If we lived closer we'd either completely click, or we'd be 180 degrees off and I'd constantly be saying "Stop rubbing my leg!"

tracey kelley
3.15.02 @ 11:19a

Or not. :)

BTW, Rooooger, t-minus 2 hours for my trip to see "Ice Age."

I find that with other friends I have that are similar to me, we catch the vibe off each other. So it almost always works out. We can also go do something together and NOT talk all the time...

...which is an amazing accomplishment of mine in and of itself.

My dear husband, on the other hand, is very much a dog person. In fact, just the other day, I said: "you know, after the St. Pat's parade, we don't have any plans. Since I'm cooking anyway, why don't we invite some folks over?"

And his little ears perked up. Literally moved. Like a dog's would if you whistled and showed it a ball. I laughed my ass off. I tease him about this little physical trait of his all the time - it's so cute!

(And yes, he really appreciates me sharing that with all of you.)


adam kraemer
3.15.02 @ 11:21a

I think there's a difference between "rubbing my leg" and "humping my leg."

tracey kelley
3.15.02 @ 11:24a

I have never seen a cat hump someone's leg. A bunny slipper, yes, but not a human leg.

Dogs, on the other hand, seem to discover a variety of masterbatory devices. I had a dog once who would just flip his feeding dish over....

theeeere's a lunchtime visual for you.

mike julianelle
3.15.02 @ 11:26a

This is indeed a disturbing discussion. Tracey, I think it's time for you to take some of that alone time. For the good of all of us. ;)

tracey kelley
3.15.02 @ 11:36a

God, it was so bad that I grossed *you* out? :)

matt morin
3.15.02 @ 11:45a

Bunny slippers?

That visual may scar me for life.

roger striffler
3.15.02 @ 2:36p

I am SUCH a dog person. This is the first time in 11 years that I haven't thrown a big birthday bash for my dog (Loki - pics on my site). In the past we've had live bands, several kegs, and far exceeded the designed capacity of the hot tub...it's always a blast. (it doesn't hurt that her birthday is St. Patty's Day).

This year we're saying the old girl is "10 and holding" and pushing the party off until April 18th (my dog Jack's birthday). Y'all are invited if you think you'll be in the area.

mike julianelle
3.15.02 @ 2:44p

I like dogs and cats both. Ever notice that dog people hate cats, but cat people like both dogs and cats?

roger striffler
3.15.02 @ 4:22p

I don't hate cats, it's more generally the cat people that are annoying. A lot of cat people are completely henpecked by their own pets and are constantly making excuses for the bad behavior of their cats.

mike julianelle
3.15.02 @ 4:35p

Well, yeah, old ladies and spinsters and the like.

There are no bad cats. Just bad...cats. Shit.

Not to start an argument (right), but DeNiro has it down in Meet the Parents: "You prefer an emotionally shallow animal?"
I love cats. I love dogs. But dogs can be brainwashed, you have to earn a cat's affection.

*bracing self*


russ carr
3.15.02 @ 5:20p

I'm with you on the cat thing, Mike. I like dogs plenty. I'll always pet and romp and do all those things you do with dogs when I visit my dog friends...but if they come to our place and our two cats try to get close, most of my friends (dog owners or petless freaks) haven't a clue about how to interact. Cats require cat savvy.

jack bradley
3.16.02 @ 2:37p

Several of my friends have cats, and I'm allergic to them (severely...even ended up in the ER after a visit to a friend's house once). Since cats have "allergy radar" and immediately home in on anyone who is unwilling or unable to interact with them, I've learned "the look." Any cat people here reading this will know what I mean. Cats respond very predictably to certain kinds of eye contact. Long, slow blinks mean affection, for instance...and "the look" means "I make guitar strings for a living. Approach me at your peril."

Trust me, it works.

juli mccarthy
3.16.02 @ 10:33p

Oh, lookie! An opening into which I may jump and casually mention ---- I got a puppy today!!! The cats (all three of them) are less than happy about this.

Mike, I like my alone time. A lot. I also get the border collie thing and am usually first to suggest a party at my place. I am, apparently, bi-social.

juli mccarthy
3.16.02 @ 10:39p

Oh, lookie! An opening into which I may jump and casually mention ---- I got a puppy today!!! The cats (all three of them) are less than happy about this.

Mike, I like my alone time. A lot. I also get the border collie thing and am usually first to suggest a party at my place. I am, apparently, bi-social.

russ carr
3.17.02 @ 10:57a

And bi-postal.

d b
3.17.02 @ 5:00p

mike, i give a hearty second to all your cat-related comments.

as for solitude, being an only child i have a certain need for it. perhaps that's why a lot of my recent posts here have involved some infuriating quirk or other of my roommate of three months (a good friend when she isn't driving me up the wall with reality-TV obsession, lack of culinary sophistication etc). fortunately she departed on friday for a week's vacation in mexico, and i am staying here for a week's vacation from her.

i don't do things like go to the movies by myself, though. i'm too wimpy. but maybe i'll give that a try this week as well.

sarah ficke
3.17.02 @ 8:11p

So in order to have a life in a cool big city, I had to get used to keeping myself company.

You are so right, Tracey. I can't count how many things I would have missed in life if I hadn't gone out and done them alone.

Mike, I totally know what you're talking about. Some days all I want is to come home and find my roommates gone, and not because of anything they've done. Cats are great, though. My cat is better company than most people and I never want to kick him out of the house.

sarah ficke
3.17.02 @ 8:23p

And now I feel all guilty for saying that and not mentioning my dog (who happens to be part border collie). She's also very good company and a lot less moody than the cat.

adam kraemer
3.18.02 @ 9:54a

Growing up, my parents would only let us get pets that didn't need to be walked and couldn't run away. I still miss my turtle.

lee anne ramsey
3.18.02 @ 12:24p

Okay - I had a cat growing up, and my second cat (who I love desperately) still lives with my parents because I know he has a better life in the suburbs where he can roam outside than in the city with me. Dogs are fine too.

But for me, it is not a "cat person" vs. "dog person" thing. It's a "controlable pets" vs. "pets who you let control you" thing.

I HATE - just absolutely makes my jaw clench - people who let their animals take over their home. Animals on the furniture, animals on the kitchen counters, animal poo and pee in the corners of their home (ie: seen The Osbournes?), pet hair on every single surface (including the food/drink they offer you) animal smells accosting your nostrils when you cross the threshold into their zoo, and animals that jump on you when you walk in the door, crawl on your head when you sit on the couch, or who seem to be the center of all attention all the time.

UGH! So unbelievably gross. Cringe!

mike julianelle
3.18.02 @ 12:36p

The Osbournes rules, btw.

adam kraemer
3.18.02 @ 12:51p


russ carr
3.18.02 @ 1:49p

Our cats are on the furniture, on the kitchen counters, their fur is on every single surface (the food is relatively furless), they jump on you (well, they rub your legs) when you walk in the door, crawl all over you when you sit on the couch and know they are the center of attention all the time.

Such is the nature of cats. To dispute this is to prove the stubborn nature of humans to believe they are the dominant species.

matt morin
3.18.02 @ 2:00p

I like dogs because I want a pet I can do something with. I want to wrestle and throw the frisbee - stuff like that. And cats just aren't that good at catching a frisbee. (Although it's fun to watch them try.)

Myu parents have let their two golden retrievers take over the house. They're allowed on all the furniture, they take them in the car everywhere they go, they leave the TV on 24/7 for them, and the house is covered in nasty, mangy dog toys. Let's just say I don't wear any black when I go home...

adam kraemer
3.18.02 @ 2:08p

Anyone have a problem with people who attribute conscious thought to their animals? The people who really believe it?

mike julianelle
3.18.02 @ 2:25p

Examples, please? I know what you mean, I think, but examples would be quite entertaining...

adam kraemer
3.18.02 @ 2:33p

Well, it's like, I often attribute consciousness to things like plants (all the ones in my house eventually commit suicide) and elevators (the ones in my office know you're waiting and take their time), but I'm talking about people who honestly believe that their pets understand what they are saying, and stuff like that. Like my friend whose mother considers their dog a fourth child. You know - people who ask the cat what she thinks about two different pairs of jeans. Or the people who say things like, "Well, Spot really likes Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but he refused to watch the episode the other night, so I knew it wasn't going to be a good one."

sarah ficke
3.18.02 @ 2:45p

My aunt swears that her dogs like watching dogs on TV more than anything else, but I can't prove it. I might ask my cat which jeans to wear, but I don't expect an answer. It just gives the illusion that I'm not going crazy and talking to myself.

My cat acts like he owns the house, and when I actually sit down and think about it, he's spent a helluva lot more time there than me, so who am I to argue? But I draw the line at fur in my food.

mike julianelle
3.18.02 @ 2:46p

Those people deserve to be burned at the stake. Oh, was anyone else pleasantly surprised by The Simpsons last nite? I thought it was an unexpectedly great ep in the midst of a painfully weak past 2-3 seasons.

adam kraemer
3.18.02 @ 2:51p

I taped it, but haven't seen it yet. Now I'm actually looking forward to it.

mike julianelle
3.18.02 @ 2:52p

Well, now I'm hoping I wasn't just intoxicated.

sarah ficke
3.18.02 @ 2:52p

I liked it, especially the Odyssey section.

mike julianelle
3.18.02 @ 2:58p

Agreed. But I LOVE that story, and mythology in general. The Hamlet was quite funny as well.

juli mccarthy
3.18.02 @ 5:00p

I pretend to believe my pets speak to me, and have even been known to translate for them to outsiders. However, I do not actually believe they speak to me. On the other hand, I have been very adept at interpreting physical signals in my pets, and I seem to be right most of the time (they have not yet told me I am wrong, anyhow...) I am a controller of pets, not the other way 'round, and I get damned tired of people who think I'm a big ol' meanie because I insist on rules for the furry folk. For example... no, wait! I'll write a column!

sarah ficke
3.18.02 @ 5:46p

Oh, but my favorite line happened in the Joan of Arc. Hmmm...guess I shouldn't say what it is for those who haven't seen it yet.

mike julianelle
3.18.02 @ 5:48p

I'd like to hear it. Screw Adam (Please don't turn that around on me).

sarah ficke
3.18.02 @ 5:57p

I think you just turned it around on yourself.

It was more of a part than a line, actually. It was the scene where Joan and the Protestant (Scottish or English guy, I can't remember which) are in the church together both claiming to have God on their side, and an embarrased God says "You two weren't supposed to meet" and flees the scene.


mike julianelle
3.18.02 @ 6:02p

That whole scene was just so out there, with God on the stand...it was hilarious. I also loved the end of Hamlet, with the way Moe's Claudius handled the poisonings, and then the way everyone died in some preposterous way.

adam kraemer
3.19.02 @ 10:04a

Okay. I watched it last night. So I'm on the same page now. Thanks for the respect, though. And Mike, how do you know Sarah hasn't already screwed me?

You were right, though. Funny episode. Milhouse rocked as the Dauphin. And I liked Carlkrantz and Lennystern.


mike julianelle
3.19.02 @ 10:15a

I loved it when Hamlet-Bart stabbed Wiggum. "There's only one way to find out!"

adam kraemer
3.19.02 @ 10:21a

"Why were you hiding behind that curtain?"

"Because I have a fear of people stabbing me."

mike julianelle
3.19.02 @ 10:24a

And when Lenny and Carl killed each other by slapping five. Hilarious.

jael mchenry
3.19.02 @ 11:15a

I missed a Hamlet Simpsons? Nooooo!

(Says the girl who managed to make time for Alias on Sunday, but still hasn't seen last week's taped Buffy or CSI.)

mike julianelle
3.19.02 @ 11:29a

Alias was a ripoff. Clip show halfway through the first season? Come on. And it's getting way to X-files for its own good.

jael mchenry
3.19.02 @ 11:46a

I can't say you're wrong about the clip show or the X-factor, but it's still extremely watchable and entertaining. And they used Smashmouth's "Diggin' Your Scene" for the Sydney Wears Wigs and Swings From Buildings montage. I'm still in it. But for the next 3 weeks, while it's in reruns, maybe I should give the real X-Files another chance?

mike julianelle
3.19.02 @ 11:51a

I still like Alias as well, but they are piling too much on, with the supernatural stuff and the family lineage stuff...and I hate Smashmouth...I will watch the X finale, prolly little else. Was Sunday's 6 Feet good? I taped it.

adam kraemer
3.19.02 @ 12:12p

Sunday's 6 Feet was good. I watched it last night. Great ending.

mike julianelle
3.19.02 @ 12:19p

Cool. I will prolly watch later this week. Tuesdays are hectic. Gotta check Richter's new show tonite.

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