Can’t You Just Text Me?

Can’t You Just Text Me?

I’m not a fan of talking on the phone. I prefer written communication. Always. I make exceptions for a few people in my life but the list is short and you really have to rank to be on it.

My hatred for phone calls has several reasons.

1. I have sensitive ears. Growing up I had ear infections AT LEAST once a year, sometimes twice, until I was about 18 when I had a massive infection. I took the wrong dose of medication for it so it wasn’t knocked out as fast as it should’ve been. To make a long explanation short, my ears have never been the same. I’m sensitive to loud noises and any speakers being close to my ears (phone, headphones, etc.) can leave me with pain for sometimes hours even if the exposure was only for a few minutes. It varies a lot. Sometimes I can be on the phone for an hour and be fine after a short time. Other times I’m on the phone for all of five minutes and I’m in pain for the rest of the day.

That’s my biggest non-whiny reason for my dislike of phone calls. It legitimately causes pain. I can’t exactly help that except by avoidance.

2. I have a poor memory sometimes. Or I don’t trust myself to remember something. If I have to plan a call I will have pen and paper handy and I’ll write down the most useless things along with the useful because I don’t want to get anything wrong and often I’m not fully sure what’s useful and what isn’t. It’s still not enough most of the time though. I still second guess because I have to write and listen and talk all at the same time.

I like things in writing that I can refer back to if I need it. Texting is great for that. Or email. Or send me a postcard. I don’t need to hear your voice all the time. I just need the information. Apart from that I also like that I can consider my words before hitting send. I have the ability to think before speaking. I have that opportunity when speaking in person or on the phone but it never quite feels that way.

3. I just hate talking on the phone. (Here comes my whiny reason.) I just don’t WANT to talk on the phone, okay? I have a couple relatives who say that they prefer hearing the person’s voice because they feel like they can hear more emotional cues from their voice but that’s definitely not true for me. I feel way more stress because it’s ONLY the person’s voice, and I also feel like I can’t necessarily control my own voice. So I don’t feel like I have as much control over the conversation. There are also just fewer actual cues for me. I don’t actually KNOW what each tone change means and I don’t have you in front of me to show me with body language. If we’re writing back and forth I can easily ask for clarification and not sound stupid whereas in spoken conversation it’s much more awkward and at some point I just feel like an idiot.

It’s not like I need to control the conversations I have, but both parties lead conversation. When one has less control than the other the conversation is lopsided and one feels less needed.

Those are my main reasons for hating talking on the phone and preferring almost any form of written communication instead. It’s not hard to text.  Cell phones are very advanced these days. They have full keyboards and auto-correct and a lot of other very useful features. Texting is easy enough for just about anyone to do it. If you can type words then you can communicate with the written word. And if you care, you can do that effectively.

Speaking is not the only way to talk to people. There are many methods for communication and limiting yourself to one is a bit short sighted. And if you make everyone else cater to your own preference then you’re being incredibly rude. I have my preference and I avoid the phone as much as I can yet I still have to make phone calls. I still have to answer the phone at work and I still have to communicate with people over it. If someone calls me then I’ll pick up (if I know the number). It’s not as though I outright refuse to use the phone. I find that most people who have a preference for written communication are like this. They’re still open and able and willing to use another form of communication.

If you’re a person who prefers phone calls that’s fine. But don’t MAKE me talk to you on the phone. Maybe I’ll do it for you sometimes but you gotta give me some leniency too. I prefer written, you don’t. So there are going to be times when we have to make sacrifices for each other. Please be willing to do that.

When Life Seems Terrible (But It’s Really Not)

Sometimes my life feels really terrible. Especially when I’m crazy sleep deprived and can’t seem to make myself function in any normal capacity. I get really negative and irritated with little things and I know they’re little things but knowing that I’m overreacting just makes me more irritated with myself and the situation.

I want my life the way I want it. When I can’t have it I feel like a failure or that the whole world is just grossly unfair to me. I don’t deserve chronic insomnia, student debt, a cat with way too many problems, and I don’t deserve to be stuck living with my parents when I want to be on my own like an adult! I don’t deserve to be stuck behind  slow drivers. I don’t deserve to miss out on ice cream because I don’t have the money. I don’t deserve to have rude customers at my register. It’s not fair! Someone needs to fix all my problems! Even the ones that are my fault!

I get like this. I think many of is do. I just get tired of what seems like an endless barrage of little problems and a few big ones.

It’s times like this I have to remind myself that God is good. I don’t even have  a lot of big problems right now. I am quite blessed in my life. I’m living rent free, my loans are much less than most, my parents let me use their vehicle and pay for most repairs and some gas, I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, a job with people I like to be around, loving parents, an adorable cat, and plenty of clothing. I do not have a bad life. My circumstances are not dire. Most things in my life are going alright.

Sometimes I just need to take a breath and remember that I’m moving along no matter how slowly. God has a plan and I need to be patient.

I complain about things but I also take the time to ground myself in reality and keep track of what really matters.

Being an Extrovert is Great Until it’s Not

Being an Extrovert is Great Until it’s Not

I’m fairly extroverted which means I gain energy from being around other people. That’s great for hanging out with others. I can be alert, energetic, and funny because the more I’m around people having a good time, the more I’m having a good time. I usually don’t even realize that I’ve gained a great mood in a group, it just happens. When I’m around people who have even a little energy themselves then I gain that same energy just from being around them.

That is until someone is not in a good mood. Extroversion is all about how other people feel, honestly. We don’t feel just our own emotions, we feel the overall mood of a group. We pull from that and essentially feed off it. So if we’re in a decent mood and the group is in a good mood then our mood improves. But if we’re in a good mood and the group is in a bad mood then our mood will deteriorate.

I think most people, introvert or extrovert, feel this to some extent. (I can only speculate at how an introvert would truly describe this for themselves and I’m actually not going to do that. Instead I’ll pass that question off to all my introverted friends.) You can easily get caught up in the moment with a group of friends. That’s how mobs can form and it’s how things can either get wildly out of hand or get really hilariously fun. To some extent, everyone has a feel for the overall group mood.

Not that the group mood ALWAYS dictates how I feel, but it does play a decently large roll. Unless I really make an effort to choose my own mood I tend towards whatever the overall group is feeling. Whether that group is a dozen people or just one other person, I still feel what they’re feeling and I become an amplifier.

That mood being bad can really affect me, too. I know introverts can become exhausted from interacting with people and they need space and time alone to recharge emotionally and physically. When I’m around people in a good mood I feel energized and happy and when I leave that group I still feel energized emotionally. But when I’m around people in a bad mood I not only feel that when I’m with them but I feel it when I leave too. I’m emotionally drained or irritated or just moody. It can follow me for the rest of the day and into the next sometimes. I can’t always recover from that just by being on my own like an introvert (although I will often go off by myself to spare others my moodiness).

Eventually I’ll get over it. I’m not carrying a bad mood from two weeks ago or anything like that. But I think that there’s a lot of talk about giving introverts their space when they need it but not as much about how to help extroverts when they need it. Extroverts are often seen as completely self-sufficient. We can often be the most lively in any group setting and enjoy making sure everyone is having a good time. But we need self care and space sometimes too.

So what should you do with an extrovert friend in a bad mood? Just, be in an okay mood. You don’t have to be super energetic or fake being particularly happy for them. They might need a little time to sit quietly with you. Try talking about something not related to the bad mood. Extroverts need the energy raised but that doesn’t mean music or dancing or flashing lights. It just means that you have good conversation or watch a funny movie or read a book out loud together or literally anything that involves spending time with them and not feeling completely miserable. I always feel better when I can be distracted by a good friend hanging out with me. It’s infinitely better than sitting alone in my room binging on Youtube videos which usually leaves me more exhausted.

I know I have introverts reading this post and I want to hear from you! How do you describe your feelings about a group mood? Do you feel like you become part of it or because you’re introverted you stay a bit more reserved about it? Have you ever thought about extroverts needing time to recoup from a bad group mood?

(I think I’m most interested in that last question since it wasn’t even something I had considered until I sat down to write this!)

Couch Potato Creativity

I’m writing this post pretty last minute. I can already hear you saying, “But Cornelia! You had a whole two weeks to come up with something good!” Yeah, well, it’s hard coming up with topics sometimes. Also this thing happens to me where I think about a few topics all week then when I go to actually write about them I completely blank. I haven’t yet gotten into the habit of writing down those ideas as I get them, mostly because I mull things over when I’m driving or when I’m at work, so I can’t always get to a pen or my phone.

That’s basically how being a writer works sometimes though and I think maybe I’m too lenient with myself on it. Ideas cultivate more ideas. I haven’t been writing down ideas for a while and I’m finding that my creativity suffers because of this. Writers often get asked where their stories come from. I can’t answer that. I just get ideas or I don’t. It could be a title or a news story or a picture or I could just see something while driving that suddenly gives me a novel idea. Recently though, I haven’t been coming up with as many ideas. I haven’t been feeling as creative. I haven’t been writing anything outside this blog. I’ve essentially let my writing muscles go and my brain is a couch potato now.

It’s a lazy thing. I know I can’t possibly write every idea I’ve ever had or will have so why bother writing them all down anyway? It’s not like I can take every thought to the end. Not every idea is worth it. A lot of ideas fall apart with only a little prodding. Like I said, ideas cultivate more ideas. When I treat ideas like hidden gems that could become full novels then I tend to get MORE hidden gems. Eventually one will be good enough to really take off but I may never get to that if I discard every one before it. Letting myself think about each possible story or turning a moment into a poem in my head gets my brain off the couch. It’s not exactly like work. It’s more fun than anything else. But it’s necessary.

It’s so so easy to give up on cultivating seemingly useless story/creative ideas. Work, home life, and everything in between can get in the way. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this to myself either. It’s a back and forth process. As my life gets busy I feel like I have to let something go so it’s often story ideas because they can clutter my mind. When I need to focus on my life I can’t be constantly thinking about character’s lives.

Sometimes it feels like I’m giving up on writing altogether when I realize what I’ve done to my creativity. But I have to remind myself that even though this happens, I always come back. I eventually see what I’ve done and figure out the solution. That’s where I am right now. Realizing it and making a plan to fix it. Actually part of the solution is already in motion since Charlotte and I have been sending writing prompts back and forth. It helps us both and I have to admit I didn’t spend much time on the last one (sorry, Charlotte!) but I will be better in the future!

I’m finding more and more that taking care of yourself mentally is incredibly important. I’ve mentioned before that when I’m reading my Bible consistently I am happiest. Writing and cultivating ideas helps too. So does making sure that I have a little alone time each day. These things are small and not time consuming but they’re so important to me. When I’m skipping reading my Bible, not thinking up writing ideas, and I’ve had almost no time to myself it really shows in my attitude and mood. I can see a very real difference in myself.

I guess I’m realizing how easy it is to let these little things go even though I know I’m far worse off because of it. Well, it’s something I realize over and over in my life and I’m sure that everyone’s done the same at some point. Do the little things because you love them. Even when you don’t think you have time. You have time. You have a minute. You have 30 seconds. It matters even if your negativity is saying it doesn’t.

Teller Observations (Guest Post by Charlotte Mazurek)

Teller Observations (Guest Post by Charlotte Mazurek)

This week I’ve asked my best friend, Charlotte, to guest write for me. (I’ve been trying really hard to get her to start her own blog so feel free to encourage her on this post!) I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did (which is a lot)!

 

 

When your friend asks you to write a blog post… Your mind goes blank. She’s witty and pointed and she cares deeply and she writes intelligently and somehow I’m supposed to produce content that will seamlessly blend with the careful aesthetic she’s been creating? Impossible. But of course, if she wanted seamless she wouldn’t have asked me in the first place.

I mean we have a lot in common, but we don’t share a brain. In fact right now, in a great tragedy of fate, we don’t even share the same state among these united!

I’m way more verbose. Cornelia is good at getting to the point and sticking to it. I’m more of a… go where the typing leads you kind of person. I like ellipses more too.

And while I also work in customer service, being a bank teller is pretty different from your average retail job. I mean, the “product” in retail banking is money. Well technically various ways of sorting, moving, exchanging, and protecting money. But still money. So it can be very weird. Because I spend all day handling what I’ll be paid in.

The little pieces of cotton/paper/plastic blend that we label currency are valuable. Yet they’re probably the most annoying part of my job. They have to be counted over and over again. They have to be sorted, faced, and kept track of at all times. Losing a single one is frustrating and anxiety-inducing. Because you didn’t just lose a piece of paper, you lost all the value that paper had and there’s no way to get it back.

It also feels like a never-ending cycle. People constantly want to exchange bills for bigger or smaller ones. It’s graduation season now so people request fifties and hundreds, crisp ones preferably. They get tucked into cards and delivered into waiting hands. Then those same waiting hands deliver them back to the bank mere days later, seeking electronic credit, or smaller, somehow more spendable, bills.

Breaking hundreds is a very common request. Plastic is more popular for moving larger sums. Places don’t always accept hundreds and when they do the cashier might give you that look that says “you just swallowed half the change in my drawer and now I have to pray the person behind you has exact change and I’m not happy”.

Yet there are also customers who ask if we have any bigger bills. Five hundreds or thousands, bills discontinued in 1969 because there wasn’t demand. Who knows, maybe with inflation they’ll pull a phoenix. But for now I just have to shake my head sadly and offer them the strange blue bills with the weird plastic strips that less cash-spendy customers marvel at. When did they start threading plastic into our bills? When criminals figured out microprinting…

I’ve gotten good at handling cash. I can guess with decent accuracy how much the stack of ones someone just handed me will be worth. I can strap bills quickly, I’m good at facing them, and as long as there aren’t any odd fifties I’m great at counting cash back too. Sadly there’s not a lot of wonder left in it for me.

Not unless we take in an impressive amount of ones, which sometimes happens, armfuls of currency to be strapped. Or when we’re handed oddities: bills from the time before we switched from greenbacks to green/purple/orange/bluebacks. Bills with smaller print and more floral embellishments. Benjamin Franklins who wear shag rugs around their shoulders and peer formally out of their miniature portrait ovals.

They’re not really thaaat rare. Not rare enough to be worth more than face value. But they’re different and sometimes they’re pretty old. The oldest I’ve had so far was a hundred from 1952. That’s a long time in circulation. I didn’t mute it, even though it was old and pretty frail. I didn’t have the heart.

“Muting it” is slang for labelling currency mutilated aka no longer fit for circulation. We sell mutilated money back to the federal reserve and they destroy it, because they’re the only ones who legally can. Of course our term “mutilated” is not quite the same as the U.S Treasury’s, which I just googled to doublecheck. They handle more of the “I can’t even quite tell what this is anymore/it might fall into multiple pieces in a strong wind” situations. We handle more of the “this bill was folded so much it ripped down the middle but I taped it back together so it’s all good now” type of thing. Or the ever-popular weird stains and general gunky-ness that we don’t feel comfortable giving back to customers.

It’s almost sad, muting money. Sometimes I feel bad for the ones worn soft, so that they’re more creases than anything else. They’ve lived long lives, or short hard ones. Some ones from 2009 look newer than beat up ones from 2013. It’s the luck of the draw and in the end I can decide if I want to let that rough-around-the-edges fighter push back into the fray or lay him peacefully to rest.

No one else will make that decision. Few people are willing to give up the value locked inside that paper shell just because it’s beat up. Money isn’t free, you know; that’d be some kind of paradox. So customers just keep taping those bills together and offering them up to us for CPR or euthanasia while they walk away with a fresher, fitter companion.

There are lives in the balance. Not just the working lives of bills, but real lives that I affect with my work as I type strings and strings of numbers into a computer. If I forget a zero someone could be shorted a thousand dollars. If I switch two numbers the wrong person might get that paycheck. Things can be undone and corrected, but I do my best every day to do things right the first time.

Because I’m part of the heart that keeps our country’s lifeblood pumping. Money is crucial in the system we created to reign in the chaos of life. Functional currency can make or break a society. We count on those bills to buy us the things we need to live. The things we use to have fun. The services that keep us happy and healthy.

And it’s cool to be part of that system. The bills I hand off go so many places that I may never see. Customers tell me they’re going to Peru, Las Vegas, Ethiopia. The bills I give them may never return to the continent where they were printed. Or they may only make it to the nearest international airport. Who knows?

It’s one of the things I like about being a teller. I play a minor role, but one that’s part of a great many stories. And as a writer that’s something I’m bound to enjoy.

 

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Charlotte Mazurek is a poet whose writing earned her a full-tuition undergraduate scholarship. She has taught creative writing to inmates at the Chippewa Correctional Facility and served as Poetry Editor for Snowdrifts, the undergraduate literary journal at Lake Superior State University. She lead the English Club as Vice President and was also active on campus in Pep Band and several theater productions.

 

Being Volunteered

We have a saying in our house that we don’t always volunteer for things, sometimes we are volun-told. That means we weren’t asked if we wanted to participate/work in the extra activity, we were just told to do it. For example, we usually help our church with the summer kid’s program (Vacation Bible School or VBS). My mom would talk to the director of VBS and when a need came up that she thought we could reasonably fill she would just say, “Oh, Cornelia can do that!” I wasn’t there to decide to do it. She just decided I would and then she would let me know later. I was volun-told because I was committed but I hadn’t volunteered myself.

There have been times I had a bad experience being volun-told but on the whole I feel like I’ve had more positive than negative times. Actually, many times I’ve been glad to be volun-told because I really would’ve missed out on some fun stuff.

If I’m given the option I will almost always sit on the sidelines. I prefer to not inconvenience myself with something I may find marginally uncomfortable. Hard work? Yeah, I avoid that when I can. Not that I’d say I’m a very lazy person. I feel like I know when the effort needs to be made and I make it. But give me the option to do nothing or as little as possible and I’ll take it. It’s really something all of us do at some point because we prefer the path of least resistance. We naturally want to avoid added strain.

Honestly, I think we need to volun-tell people more often than we do. It seems like these days we’re terrified of stepping on anyone’s feelings that we barely even ask someone to do something. It’s like “Hey, I kinda need someone to help out in the church nursery so maybe if you’re not, you know, busy, or anything and if you don’t mind, and if you feel like it, could you possibly be available?”

Surely that conveys the urgency of your request because in reality the only people helping in nursery have been you and one other person who only shows up every 3rd Sunday on a full moon. So you actually REALLY need someone to help out. Perhaps instead it should be phrased like, “I need someone else for nursery. Can you please commit to one Sunday a month?”

And that’s not even being volun-told. Not really. It’s just pointedly asking. Being volun-told is something only people really close to you can do because otherwise the person in charge isn’t going to believe them. I and my siblings were volunteered by our parents for plenty of things. I suppose you could also be volunteered by your spouse or even your best friend or a teacher (if it’s class related) because it’s basically anyone who appears to have some authority over/with you.

I’ve learned to live with being volun-told and like I said, most things have been largely positive. I think that, as a child and a teen, it was good for me because I gained more experiences. If my parents had given me a choice I probably would’ve never gone outside or participated in the world and been afraid to do anything. I’m not saying we should start volunteering people for eighty-thousand things. I’m more or less saying that there are times when you don’t realize you can do something until you start doing it. I didn’t realize I could wrangle a small group of children and lead them around the church to different activities until my mom said she signed me up to be a helper for VBS when I was in high school. I didn’t realize I had decent customer service skills until I started one of my first jobs and had to actually deal with people (I guess since I applied for the job I was volun-telling myself but there was outside pressure that I needed to start working so I’m counting it).

Sometimes you just need a little push in the right direction. You may learn new skills or learn that you had the skills all this time. Or you might also fail miserably. But in the very least, you might learn that you really DON’T want to do that thing with your life and that alone is valuable to you.

What if I Had Terrible Taste as a Child and Everyone Was Just Polite and Didn’t Tell Me?

What if I Had Terrible Taste as a Child and Everyone Was Just Polite and Didn’t Tell Me?

As I’ve been reading through my bookshelf I’ve read some of my older books. They’re stories I really enjoyed in middle school or high school. There’s one series I own a good portion of, and had wanted to eventually have the whole thing, that’s called Mysteries in Our National Parks. It was put out by National Geographic and I know it continues past book 9 (which is as far as I read) but I don’t know if it’s still going today.

I remembered a lot of what had gone on in these middle school level books and it was really nostalgic to just sit down with one after so long. I remember loving these books. They were interesting and intense and I enjoyed them a lot. But going back to them was really weird.

You probably don’t think too hard about how advanced you’ve become as a reader until you read something from your past that you loved but now can’t stand. I ended up only reading one of the books (I have 9 of them) before deciding to give up the whole set. The first book is about a poacher who is shooting wolves in one of our lovely National Parks. Obviously, the three kids eventually solve the mystery of who it is and immediately bring them to justice. Good story, simple, there’s some family drama thrown in there to round it out. It’s a solid story and written well enough. But it’s so far below my reading level now that I had a hard time getting through just one book.

It makes me worry about recommending a book that I haven’t read since high school or middle school. Maybe it was actually terrible and I just didn’t realize it? Maybe that book I hated is something I would actually like now? What if the character I loved is really poorly written and I didn’t know enough to see that? Movies are even worse. What if the animation was actually garbage? What if my 8 year old self completely misinterpreted that scene?

I’ve started prefacing recommendations with, “I really liked it but I haven’t read/watched it in a while.” Then I’m at least covered if it’s actually terrible.

I get so nervous to rewatch movies sometimes or when I want to reread a book (which is rare but with my resolutions this year I’m doing it) because what if I hate it? What if I get through the whole thing and my tastes have changed so much that it doesn’t mean anything to me anymore? What if that thing I loved so much as a child is now something I’m going to despise? That character I thought was so funny is now really annoying. The parent I found to be completely unreasonable is now the only one making sense. I see now the bad guy’s plan is ridiculous and convoluted. etc. etc. etc.

I have a book series on my shelf right now that I LOVED reading in early high school. I am terrified to read it now because I’m worried I won’t like it anymore. I’ve been stalling, avoiding it in favor of other books I’m not as attached to, just in case I hate it.

It’s such a weird feeling to come back to something. It’s like catching a glimpse of your past self but from the perspective of someone not emotionally involved. I remember these stories but it’s hazy enough that I don’t feel as attached to the book but more so to the memory. You become way more objective as you grow up and suddenly being confronted by a thing that feels a million years ago is disconcerting at least. My expectations are easily subverted when it comes to rereading books because it’s not something I even did a lot. I’d want a copy of a book for myself just to have it or so then I could lend it out for others to enjoy.

But now I’m being confronted by all these past stories that meant so much to me but when I read them now they’re just… not as powerful. It feels like I’m wasting the stories on myself because I’m just not in the same place I was when I first read them.

I know someone out there is going to feel the same way as me about this. Nostalgic but also a bit judgmental of your past self because at some point all I can think is, “How could I possibly have enjoyed this?” But then there’s always the possibility I’ll love it even more reading it now and that I missed out on things because I lacked perspective. I’ll keep reading through my shelf but I may be scrambling at the end of the year when I have only my absolute favorites left and I’m still paranoid I’ll hate them!