Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'll Meet You Halfway, It's Better Than No Way

I have developed a wonderful new personality trait: if I think about doing something long enough, I start to think I actually did it . For example, I might need to return the call of someone who has very kindly checked in to see if I’m dead.

[I don’t like talking on the phone so I encourage people to email me, which I then don’t answer. People frequently think I’m dead and not just when I choose to wear lemon yellow.]

So in my mind, I think: "call Betsy-not-her-real-name and get caught up". Only, getting caught up takes a while and I usually only think of calling people when I have just dropped Daughter off at a class and I want company for the three trips around the block it will take to find a parking space. That’s not enough time to get caught up. In my mind, getting caught-up takes at least forty-five minutes and with each week that passes I have to add another extra five minutes to atone for being the kind of person who drops off the face of the earth. Each time I think of Betsy-not-her-real-name, I flinch for a second and then I say sternly to myself “YOU HAVE TO CALL HER.”

Weeks would pass like this. Until recently, my only hope was that we would run into one another in a public space where I could blubber my apologies for being an indifferent communicator and she could determine I was alive but rude. Within the last few weeks, I have had several conversations which went something like this:

(Quinn sees Jeanne-not-her-real-name in a public space. Quinn smiles broadly. Jeanne does not.)


JEANNE: (A trifle frostily) Hi.

(We stand together, enjoying the chill.)

QUINN: So…how’s…things?

JEANNE: Well, we’re okay. I’m glad to see that you’re fine.

QUINN: I left you a message last week, telling you I wasn’t dead.

(The ice thickens.)

QUINN: Didn’t I?

JEANNE: Did you?

QUINN: Oh, wait. I remember. I was just leaving you a voice-mail when a police car drove past and I wasn’t using my Bluetooth because I can’t hear a bloody thing on it and I thought the cop might pull me over for being on my cell phone, which is absurd because I was in the longest left-hand turn lane ever and my sitting and waiting skills certainly weren’t being compromised but, still, I still decided to hang up. So that hang-up you got last week, that was me. Telling you I’m fine.

Fine and -- it hardly needed to be said -- in need of some kind of guide-dog.

But this quirk is reasonable, in a “Humor the Feeble-minded” sort of way. My brain works kind of like Microsoft Outlook, minus the nasty mustard color as trim. On Outlook you can book in an appointment for 9:00 or 9:30, but not 9:15. If you are me, you write it in at 9:00 and then forget the appointment is actually for fifteen minutes later and show up a little early for your 9:00 haircut. Then everyone looks at your pityingly, because you’re one of those people who have nothing else to do so they just keep offering you tea.

In my brain, there are only two gears, “Undone” and “Done.” There is no place for “I put the ice-skates in the trunk but when I went to go to the owners’ house I realized I couldn’t make it back to Daughter’s school in time to pick her up.” In my mind, the skates have now shifted from “Undone” to “Done.” The skates showing up in my trunk continue to surprise me for weeks. Everyone involved looks at my pityingly. No one offers me tea.

I waver between assuming this is the start of senescence and grieving, and assuming it’s just a side-effect of a very complicated life right now. If it’s temporary, I need to stay positive. There are plenty of potential benefits here. Every morning I will make a to-do list. I will stare at it for an hour and then believe that everything is done -- who will have a smaller carbon footprint than me? When I’m feeling decadent I’ll tell myself I had salted caramels for breakfast. When I’m feeling guilty from the non-existent caramels, I’ll convince myself I’m eating ten servings of vegetables a day. Also, if anyone is planning on committing a crime, now might be the time to do it. With only an hour or so of prompting, I would provide an airtight alibi. And then after testifying I would get back in my car, humming tunelessly, using the sound of skates sliding around my trunk as my drum beat, thinking of nothing in particular as I beetle off to forget something else.


Blogger Robin Raven said...

Hi, Quinn. :)

Maybe it's something going around in the air in LA? hehe

I am the SAME way. People refer to me as the girl who doesn't answer her phone or get back to people. I totally think I it's people and friends I adore. Yikes!

I think it'll pass.

I so admire your dedication with blogging. I keep trying to really start one and get all neurotic about it.

Have a great rest of the week!

1:48 PM  
Blogger Char said...

I have great plans to do things like this....mounds of unwritten cards and notes, tons of telephone calls. life always gets in the way.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Not The Rockefellers said...

Funny! Scary funny. In my mind you should see how marvelously organized my closets are! Even the sock drawers.

Peace - Rene

2:13 PM  
Blogger priscilla said...

Wow. I feel like a weight has been lifted, because I thought for sure I was the only person out there (except maybe for people who've been locked away and medicated, for their own good, and are only released to go on talk shows) who has this problem. I drive people insane with my not calling, and then my not emailing. I've also been known to convince myself I mailed something, when all I've done is complete a form or signed a card and put it in an envelope. I find these things in my desk drawer. The cards I save for the next appropriate opportunity--if I remember.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

I also sort of hate talking on the phone and prefer email, and finally, out of guilt, relayed this fact on my blog. Which then resulted in voicemails that went like this: "Hi, Shannon, it's your sister. Now I know you HATE TALKING ON THE PHONE, so if you could just think about calling me back or send a passenger pigeon with a note or use mental telepathy to reach me, that would be great." Jeebus. Aaaand, that is why I don't like answering the phone! :)

Also, I love how not returning phone calls is considered a social slight, but when those same folks don't return emails, their excuse is, "Oh yeah, I'm not an email person, sorry." So that's okay but me not being a "phone person" isn't? Who made up that rule?

Okay, /rant.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Leta said...

In my world, if the word "should" precedes a verb, the verb doesn't happen: "I should clean out that closet."

And I always enjoy that your blog titles come largely from pop songs, but when you quote the Partridge Family, you totally win my heart. :-)

6:01 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

So does this club have a membership card? Or did I already receive it?

For added fun: I spend time in therapy on this topic.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Dodi said...

OK, I think Shannon is on to something! Mental telepathy is an EXCELLENT solution for those of us who hate answering the phone and for whom email is so easy to avoid. After all, would it really be our fault if they didn't have the powers to receive our message and good will through mental telepathy?


(Carrier pigeon might be good for Holiday greetings - as there are so many of them to be sent out - but I can't stand birds so I'll have to stick with mass mailing.)

7:48 AM  
Anonymous chiquita said...

This is a lame comment, but you actually can type in 9:15 in Outlook. Just a PSA

8:15 AM  
Blogger ege said...

...there must be some way to get it together!

Sorry, but I got the Partridge Family reference and I just couldn't resist.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous spleeness said...

oh god, I thought I was the only one like this. Bless you for writing about it!

I hate, HATE the phone. I will do anything to avoid it. I loved email at first (94?) because it solved the phone problem.

But now? Now I call/write no one. And hate myself for it. But am still unable to change.

Well we'd be great friends. You could think about writing me and I'd think about writing back!

8:41 AM  
Blogger Mommy With a Penis said...

The Partridge Family. Really ? I had that album.

11:58 PM  
Blogger CameoRoze said...

I'm thrilled to know that there is a whole sisterhood of women who don't like to phone! There are times when I feel like a real whack job for not having a cell phone ... and if setting up a call, ask if THEY can call because I don't have unlimited long distance.

Then ... I get around folks who can't seem to put the darn phones down, and remember why I resist. I don't want to become one of 'them.'

Email. Yes. Always.

Most of the time, I even answer!

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is like reading a story written about me. Thought I was the only one!

Here via Spleeness.

4:00 PM  

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