I finished a week-long binge session of "The Queen's Gambit" Thanksgiving night.
Unlike many of my wife's Netflix interests, things like "The Crown" and various family comedy/dramas, I knew I'd be interested in "Gambit" while she was watching it. I'm a sucker for the "intelligent, pretty girl breaks up the boys club" story, and the fact that it featured chess was intriguing.
I haven't played chess since I was a teenager, but I used to play it regularly, not that I was any good. My uncle was. He would play in various local tournaments and come back with stories about the weird habits and tactics of his chess rivals. The gist of his stories was "this is something you don't want to do." But it sure sounded interesting.
As Anya Taylor-Joy says, the mini-series isn't really about chess. The character she plays, Beth Harmon, has a lot of problems, a terrible family back story and substance abuse issues. She's also an introvert. And this is what hooked me. I identified with the character.
I'm an introvert. I suppose that's a given for a writer, but it's amazing how surprised people are -- still -- about introverts. We're often treated as if we're an exhibit on display. People are confused by us, annoyed by us, don't know how to react to us at all.
Like Beth, it was difficult for me to make friends in high school. Many years later, it's still not easy. I've lived in the same town for the last 25 years. I'm not a native but my guess is less than 100 people know me by sight. I am uncomfortable around people, yet I like people a lot. Does that make sense? If it doesn't, you're probably an extrovert. If it does, then know that this is a theme addressed over and over in The Queen's Gambit.
Beth prefers to be alone and craves company. This is the curse of being an introvert. I know it. I've never suffered substance abuse problems, but I do know addiction (card collector, hello?). I do know the need to latch onto something you can control -- Beth has chess, I have this blog. I have writing. I have cards.
I know some card bloggers don't read this blog because it addresses introspective topics like this. I've actually been yelled at in the comments because I've been "too gloomy" in whatever introverted-themed post that annoyed them. How dare I look into my thoughts! Move on! Stop thinking! I've been misinterpreted on social media (including recently) because I'd rather hang back by myself than be a member of a group. I'm misunderstood. People don't "get" me. It comes with the territory.
As I mentioned, I've been guesting on a few podcasts lately. It's my attempt to "get out there," to break out of my introverted role. But there's always that reservation: I write better than I talk. "Is this really what I want to do? I'm so much better being alone. With my keyboard."
And so the conflict goes on. I love watching baseball games. But city crowds make me want to crawl into a hole. So, I've seen relatively few MLB games live in my life.
Being an introvert has its advantages. I don't need other people to make me happy. I can make my own fun. I can appreciate quiet. It doesn't make me nervous. Also, introverts make the best observers (Why do you think Beth is so good at chess?). My ability to observe has gotten me where I am in life. And, yes, I believe that's a gift.
Anyway, I just had to get that out after watching the Netflix series. I guess these are my withdrawal symptoms after having no more episodes to watch.
Bringing it back to cards, I recently received some cards from "a girl in a boys club." That would be Julie of A Cracked Bat. There haven't been a lot of female card bloggers over the last dozen years. I can count them on two hands. And every time one arrives, we boys gravitate to them -- like they're an exhibit on display, I guess.
I like her blog because it reminds me of the blogs that were around when I started blogging. They were thought-provoking, super-fun and not afraid to get deep. There isn't as much of that anymore. I miss it.
Julie sent me some cards that I claimed from one of her Pick Pockets giveaways. She also threw in a few extras, like the Clayton Kershaw 2020 Montgomery Club card at the top of the post. I haven't been much interested in those Montgomery cards, certainly not enough to sign up for them, but the Kershaw is nice.
I often arrive at Julie's giveaways after many of the cards have been snapped up -- no doubt by extroverts -- but the above four were still around. I will always pick up the late '80s/early '90s legends cards when I spot them.
I don't remember if this was a Pick Pocket selection or throw-in, but it's really here because I liked how it scanned.
Simply trade fodder, that's all.
Finally, the prizes of the envelope. These are two customs from the master of '70s customs, Gio. I've admired his Dodgers' 30-plus card for a long-time. That really should have been a 1978 Topps Record Breaker card.
Also, the Marichal helps me enjoy a card of Marichal without that nasty Giant-ness. Plus, it's a '75-themed custom! I need all of those! (Especially Gio's '75 Reggie Jackson tribute. I must have that).
I would think quite a few card collectors are introverts. It's a solitary hobby, which is what introverts prefer.
And that's a big point in favor of being an introvert. Another one is the ability to put yourself in the place of others. It's the ability to see both sides of a topic. And it's the ability to truly appreciate music and art.
Yeah, sometimes I wish I could be comfortable at parties or have 1,500 Facebook friends or be recognized by neighbors every time I run errands.
That's the conflict of being an introvert in an extrovert's world.
Thank goodness for cards and blogs ... and blogs that aren't afraid to address topics like this.