(Sophie watching me update the blog.)
Not much motivates me to write these days; I’m continuing to bounce around in day-to-day mode, living in the moment. But, while in the shower this morning, just thinking about writing something trailed off into considering my communication skills in general.
Abby has just dropped off of Facebook and I suspect it’s not in small part because she has reached a point in her academic and professional development where she doesn’t want a lot of silliness on such a public forum- and face it, many of us have a lot of silliness hanging there on that page. It may also be that she is simply more mature and productively busy than, say, her mother and doesn’t want to bother with the distraction of idle one liners. Whatever it is, she’s off FB, along with all of her cute photos of her in dreads when she was fourteen and so forth. So I wrote her an e-mail last night and said I missed her presence there (and being able to communicate with idle silly one-liners) and that I had only signed up for FB in the first place, all those years ago, so I could keep track of her life as she moved away from me. Hover, intrude, that sort of thing. She answered my e-mail promptly with, “Too bad you can’t talk on the phone.” Well, she’s correct about that. I really dislike talking on the phone and now I fear that there are people who think I just don’t care enough about our relationship to have a decent telephone conversation with them. If I answer the phone at all I usually, in short order, concoct some ridiculous lame ass excuse when they are mid-sentence (“whoa! call you back! someone just drove up on the lawn!” click.) or worse yet, I interrupt them as they are telling me about a life-changing experience with, “Okay then. Talk soon. Bye! Love you!” Recently, to compensate for my inability to stay on the phone I’ve developed the habit of adding, “Love you!” at the end of all together too many calls. I did that the other day with a total stranger who found my number and wanted to talk to me about whether she could felt her cat’s fur. I do care about my friends and family and I think about them a lot; I guess I just don’t care enough to work through my telephone issues. However, you should all believe me when I suggest you come see me, on the mountain or here in Florida in the cold months. Those offers are sincere and I really would like to see you and cook for you and look at you, possibly hug you.
Another thing that really annoys my children and husband is my habit of stopping mid-sentence when I’m speaking with them. I would be concerned that this is some sort of dementia setting in except that I’ve done this for years. Abby says things like, “yes, and then?” to jump start the completion of a thought; Rich just says, “finish.” Perhaps it comes from spending 30+ years as a therapist, trying to make sense of the words and thoughts of others while simultaneously rooting around for some sage advice or resolution to their problem. This process involved organizing lots of jumbled ideas combined with the need to offer an enlightening response in fairly short order.
Working as a psychotherapist means spending a lot of time sitting in a chair, lost in the world of stream of consciousness- theirs, yours. It also, for me, involved a lot of time on the telephone- taking and returning calls that could go on for a bit. For years I functioned very well with high level communication skills, very successfully. Many therapists take the easy way out by narrowing their vocabulary to “ah” and “um-mmm” but I did not. I’m not being immodest here when I say I was quite competent and much sought after as a psychotherapist.
As a lot of you know, when I was through with that part of my life I moved on to the Lincoln Park Zoo. That was a great transition for me. I desperately missed my profession and the people I cared for, but the zoo provided an opportunity to talk with hundreds, no, thousands of people on subjects I was passionate about without having to worry lest someone jump off a bridge. I’d get so wrapped up in talking about the mating rituals of Piping plovers or the niche occupied by the Sichuan takin that eyes would glaze over and people would wander off to the sea lions. Seriously, I was good at that job, too. If I’d stayed at it for decades I most likely would have become like one of the other docents who no longer spoke to the visitors and, in fact, detested them; she just wanted to hold the blue-tongued skink and shoo the children away. But then we moved from the Windy City to the mountain house.
So now I teach felt-making. Apparently, I’m pretty good at this too but much of the communication evolves around demonstrating with my hands. I still have to talk and I’m sometimes concerned that a lot of what I’m saying is coming out as gibberish, especially when I start comparing wool fleece to human hair (some is good for dreads, some is not, etc.).
(Sophie is rolling her eyes. What is she telling me here?)
Okay. Now I’m sitting here wondering where the hell I was going with this post. When I was in the shower, in a mere 6 minutes, I covered my communication skills, my relationships with Rich and the children, the roll of stream of conscious thought in my life, Virginia Woolf and her position on the plotless novel, the insane gibberish of certain presidential wannabes, the slippery slope of verbal promises impossible to keep, and plans for making a felted moon jelly. And, I was going to discuss the origins of “bunga, bunga, cowabunga” which, contrary to popular thought, were not from Chief Thunderthud on the Howdy Doody Show of my childhood but were really tied to Virginia Woolf and the Dreadnaught hoax. And I had all of that worked into a cohesive blog post. Now I’ve wasted an hour plonking away and have come to the conclusion that when your mind works like this it’s best to say nothing. Nothing at all.
Whoa! The mailman just knocked the box off the house! Love you!