I’ve returned to reading Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series. I’m reading the third installment, Caressed by Ice (really?!  Can we not come up with less cheesy titles, please?). I love these books, almost as much as the author’s Guild Hunter series, which are among my all-time favorites. The premise of the Psy-Changeling books, like the premise of the Guild Hunters series, is extremely original and the plots are interesting and unpredictable (not how things end, of course, as these books follow a formula that results in an inevitable HEA. But that is not only OK, it’s one of the reasons I and so many like me love this genre–we want happy endings. We enjoy the illusion of control that these novels represent. If you’ve been reading my Facebook page–and please, please do and tell your friends–then you know I scour the web for articles that explain that reading reduces stress and relaxes us.)

OK, I’ve digressed quite a bit from the subject at hand. More so than usual. Forgive me and please keep reading about the very fascinating Psy-Changeling world. To summarize, the Psy are masters of their own minds, having developed their mental and intellectual capacities to the fullest extent possible. These folks are masters of their domain and totally in control.  Unfortunately, what they figured out was that all of this mental might came with a hefty price tag for a significant portion of the population: insanity. And when super-smart people start losing their marbles, the result is dangerous for everyone. The solution was to turn everyone into a Vulcan and condition all the emotions out of existence–and therefor the potential for madness (or at least most of the potential, except for those pesky sociopaths).  So what you are left with are cold, calm, calculating people whose judgment is never clouded by emotion and whose women are never bothered by PMS, apparently. 

On the other hand, we have the Changelings, who have gone in the opposite direction and embraced their animal natures to the point that they become animals– they are, in fact, shapeshifters. These folks are physicality personified, and they are filled with emotion and passion, which they express through their bodies–changelings crave touch while Psy avoid it like the plague.

So, pretty interesting stuff. And when they get together, unwillingly of course, it kind of reminds me of Amok Time run amok (stop rolling your eyes– that was a pretty clever Star Trek reference). And the books explore the mutual impact both species have on each other as they come together in love and self-interest.

I really love  these books, and I think a part of my fascination is that I am acutely uncomfortable with–and therefore attracted to–people who don’t show their emotions. This is because I’m most definitely a wear your heart on your sleeve kind of gal. You know the type–I almost never hold back. As my mother would say, if it’s on my lung, it’s on my tongue. I have a hard time practicing verbal restraint. I have no poker face. My eyebrows are constantly encroaching on my hairline and I do a mean imitation of Edvard Munch’s The Scream–as in OMG, NFW, LMFAO. 

So, when I am confronted by people who keep their thoughts and emotions much closer to the chest, it kind of makes me crazy. Perhaps not Jack Nicholson in The Shining crazy, but not too far off.  I hate not knowing what people are thinking and feeling. It makes me nuts when these ice queens and kings adopt a supercilious attitude of “aren’t you the cute little out of control psycho?”  Their lack of affect seems to scream at me, “I’m so much better than you because you can’t even get a grip on yourself much less anyone or anything else.”

I find myself fantasizing about stabbing Mr. and Ms. Spock with a fork to see if they bleed green blood. Figuratively, of course. Have you ever felt that way?  Don’t you sometimes wonder what it would take to make someone like this get excited?  Or even slightly agitated?  I’m sure this is the allure behind the prim and proper librarian whipping off her glasses and letting down her hair to become a sexually voracious hellion.   We who are more emotional want to entice these Stepford wives to lose control  Utterly and completely. 

And sometimes I’m really not a very nice person and I become deliberately provocative to see if I can’t shatter the wall of ice that seems to be rising in front of me like I should expect to see Jon Snow at any moment.  Just to see if I can. Usually, I can.  Not something I am terribly proud of, but there you have it. 

Because restrained emotions can be interpreted as a lack of feeling, which is hurtful and feels like rejection. And who wants to feel rejected?  Not me, that’s who.  And while I can tell myself intellectually that the other feels as strongly as I do, it just doesn’t seem that way.  And it is so unfair that as I am busy expressing and emoting all over the place so that others are never in doubt about my feelings, but I’m not getting any of that in return.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that it is the most Pyrrhic of victories to succeed in provoking such self-contained people to overflow their carefully constructed barriers. No good ever comes of it, unless you are living in a Nalini Singh novel, in which case breaking through the ice cold obstacles to reveal the passionate and possessive nature below always works out well for her protagonists. 

For the rest of us, I think the thing to do is remember that we are all different but that we all share the same humanity.  Just because we don’t all express ourselves in the same way doesn’t mean that we don’t all feel the same things. I think we probably do. Still waters run deep and all of that.

And, as I continue to read the Psy-Changeling series, I think I will continue to enjoy the virtual victory of watching these arctic individuals thaw. I can live vicariously through the Changelings as they do something in the pages of my beloved books that doesn’t necessarily work as well in real life. Because I’ve learned to dig and pick and poke and prod only at my peril. I’ve also learned to take people as they are and to let them share with me in a way that works for them. Most of the time. When that doesn’t work, I read Nalini’s Singh’s books and learn to live with disappointment.  Or, I play Foreigner loudly on my wireless speaker and hope someone takes the hint.  

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