October 29, 1998
It's Not Personal (Spring 1998)
I never answer my phone. Not ever. I blame this behavior on having grown up in a household in which my mother's at-home business meant phones ringing off the hook at all hours, every caller in need of my mother's time and energy.
Mom used the answering machine as her secretary. It found out all of the pertinent information in advance and allowed her to return the calls at her convenience. I liked that element of control. I still do.
When Caller ID came out, I thought I'd never want it. Why bother? It's only going to tell me what my full-volume answering machine will tell me in one more ring... but less. The machine also reveals what the caller wants. If only Caller ID did that, I wouldn't seem like such a snob to all of my friends. I'd actually answer the phone.
I do that so infrequently now that, when I do pick up the phone, I'm greeted by, "Oh my God! You actually answered the phone! I'm shocked!"
You know, that's pretty annoying. Hearing that just makes it that much longer before I do that again.
Maybe it's an issue of control. I don't like being surprised by people. If I can call you back, I'm prepared for the conversation. I've allocated enough time to deal with you. Sure enough, if you "catch" me answering the phone, I'll end up spending a precious hour listening to your story, regretting having picked up the phone. That's no fun for either of us.
I don't like the telephone. Why should someone have the right to talk to me for as long as they want to, whenever they want to, just because their schedule permitted it? Hell, let's meet for coffee. Send me an email. Write a letter. THAT'S communication as the art form, not the interruption.
Don't even get me started on call-waiting!
October 22, 1998
Love Me, Love My Cat (Spring 1998)
I know that cats aren't for everyone. I've got no problem with that. But if you're in my life for any stretch of time, you're going to encounter Muffy.
Muffy is my 17-year-old feline friend. He's not a she, despite his feminine name. Hey, I was a kid; it was the '80s. I'd heard stories of "Muffy, Biff, ALTA League, and add-a-beads," and figured I'd better fit in. Who knew?
Muffy's pretty much deaf now. He howls like a starving infant for a few hours every night. His once-outdoor-hunter-mentality has given way to a passive, sleeping-23-hours-a-day purring furball one. But I love him just the same.
He's been there for me when boyfriends and girlfriends have bailed on me. He's let me cry into his fur. He survived an earthquake with me. He loved me when I felt unlovable. Muffy has moved across the country and back with me, seen me through career changes, and still falls asleep curled up next to me every night. His love for me is unconditional, as is mine for him.
So, you're in my life? Muffy is now in yours. Yes, I know he's old. Yes, his breath is awful. Yes, the litterbox smell is hard to cover up. And, yes, I will feed him scraps from my plate and hold him when he wants to be held.
You'd think a partner would see my loyalty as endearing, knowing that my compassion and love is as generously doled out to him. That isn't always the case. Muffy has been seen as a nuisance, a pest, a buzzkill, an interference in a grown-up relationship.
Take a closer look: I care for my pet as his teeth rot, his hearing goes, and his senility creeps in. If you're smart, you'll realize that this unconditional compassion is something you will need someday.
October 15, 1998
My Collage (Spring 1998)
There's this wall in my apartment that I stare at when I need something. That something can be inspiration, courage, hope. It's my Image Map, a visual representation of who I want to be and who I feel I am.
I heard about an exercise years ago in which the placement of images on a poster board could help turn visualization of goals into manifested realities. I cut out photos of pencil-thin models, fast cars and other glamorous images dutifully. Mission Accomplished? Yeah, if the mission was to depress myself into an inadequate funk.
Now, sometimes it takes an exercise finding us on its own time before it clicks for us. Doing something because it sounds like it will work isn't the answer. We have to feel it asking to be done. And so it happened.
I found myself tearing pages out of magazines, clipping photographs into appealing shapes, and glue-sticking them into a huge collage. It now fills an entire wall in my apartment, and it truly motivates me. There's a cozy fireplace, an indoor swimming pool, a woman roller-blading, gorgeous meals on beautiful china, a female film-maker hard at work, a man lovingly holding his son, a couple embracing tenderly, friends sharing a coffee moment.
These images are emotional, not mental, not physical. I suppose the waifs in my first collage could be considered emotional, but they did not conjure positive feelings in me, only negative, self-defeating ones.
There is nothing wrong with having, and stating, our own goals for our "perfect selves." But it is a complete self that feels rewarding to pursue; not an image that reflects none of our soul.
October 8, 1998
Naming Yourself (Spring 1998)
There's an opportunity we get when we start our first email account. It's also a responsibility. We get to name ourselves.
Perhaps we're in college. We get an ".edu" account. This has already identified us as someone affiliated with a college or university. Many times, our email ID will already have been chosen for us (first initial, last name, ID number, etc.), but if we have the freedom to name ourselves, we should go into the endeavor knowing that this name could be with us for years.
If we choose a name we later regret, we can always use a free, web-based account. These accounts, tagged ".com," for commercial, are just that: commercial. That means that someone, somewhere, has paid for that account. If you didn't then you can bet there's some advertisement going out under your signature line on every email you send. That's fine; it's just good to know.
So, do you want to be yourself? A character? An attitude? It's totally up to you.
A good rule of thumb is to keep at least two active email accounts. Use one for your "serious" communication (work, school, relevant pen pal-ing, etc.). The other account should be your "play" account. Use this one when people ask where they should forward funnies to you. It's amazing; you will read the same urban legends, the same dirty jokes, over and over again. Many of these are BIG, and you don't want to filter through them when you're short on time. This is also a good account to use when filling out on-line mailing list forms... no telling what'll start coming to your in-box. A third account could be useful if you subscribe to discussion groups or listservs. These high-traffic generators could also bog down a daily account.
The best news is this: almost all email accounts allow you to use a "pointer" function; serving to forward all of your emails to ONE, main account. So, managing loads of email addresses becomes easier.
Overall, just have fun with it. You can always rename yourself on your next account... or the next....
Who have I been?
October 1, 1998
Numerology for Novices (Spring 1998)
I'll let you in on a little secret. When I meet you, I ask for your birthday for two reasons. One: I want to put you on my birthday card list. Two: I want to know more about you.
I'm no expert, but I love doing Numerology. Just by adding together your birth month, day, and year until I get one number, I know what drives you. And I know what kind of year you're having.
Some people get creeped out by this idea, but most of my friends actually consult me for timing their lives' big choices. Most of all, for me, it's fun. I see it like I see astrology and horoscopes. It's a type of map to your life's path. If you learn how to read the road signs, you make certain choices. If you choose not to read the map that way, you may hit a roadblock that you didn't see coming. It's totally up to the individual driving the life-car.
I'm an "8" by birth. That means I've got lessons of power; my own and the authority of others. Issues of control constantly arise for me. I'm in a "9" year right now, which is the Death Cycle. Yeah, I know, that sounds awful, but what it means is that I'm saying good-bye to my old ways of doing things, ready to move into a totally new stage of my life. So, if life runs in 9 year cycles, numerologically, what are they?
1 = masculine energy, ambition (when you start something new)
2 = feminine energy, emotion (when you doubt what you started)
3 = creative form is born (when the creation is visible)
4 = hard work (when everything is an effort)
5 = rebellion (when you play recklessly)
6 = repair, domestic energy (when you rebuild your home life)
7 = courage, cocoon-living (when you go within, spiritually)
8 = power (when the butterfly emerges)
9 = death energy, endings (when good-byes happen)
Of course, this is VERY basic. Two GREAT books on Numerology are Lynn Buess' "Numerology for the New Age" and Dan Millman's "The Life You Were Born to Live." Give it a try. After all, everything counts, right?