Duplicity

I find it difficult wearing masks. Metaphorically speaking. I’ve never really worn many actual masks to have an opinion on them.

People don’t always express their emotions, especially the negative ones. One might greet someone with a pleasant smile and a warm handshake only to spit on them once their backs are turned. That’s not something I can do. If I don’t like someone, I try to avoid talking to them or keep the conversations short. I want them to know that we’re not friends without actually insulting them to their face. But I won’t pretend to be their best friend. I suppose I’m not the most politically savvy person around.

Networking’s a big thing, especially here, and I’ve sometimes been told to make friends with unpleasant people because it can help form a connection for future business. I say screw that. Climbing to the top of the corporate ladder doesn’t interest me. I’ll just sit on the middle rung and have a sandwich. As an introvert, I’m very picky about the people that I make friends with and talk to. And ultimately, I’m interested in their value as people rather than the financial or political advantages the can bring me.

That’s just a waste of time. I’d rather focus on forming solid human connections with a handful of people instead of schmoozing with everyone to achieve career ‘success’.

Don’t Call Me And I Won’t Call You

I really hate talking on the phone. It might just be my least favorite form of communication.

The whole idea of talking without engaging my other senses in the conversation drives me crazy. You’re fully there with a person when talking face to face (unless you just text while the other person’s talking to you and respond with the occasional ‘uh-huh’, in which case, please walk into a tree while gawping at the screen), and even instant messaging or texting requires some sort of active engagement.

But a phone call? It’s just your voice. You could be washing the dishes or cooking dinner while on the phone, and personally I’d rather just do that than have the distraction of someone yapping in my ear at the same time. The other option is to forget about other distractions and have a phone call. That’s a nightmare. To just sit down and talk and talk and do nothing else. Again, that’s not really a problem when the person’s sitting right in front of you. But I have no interest in spending hours, or minutes even, with a disembodied voice on the phone.

It’s why I always try to keep my calls as short as possible. Hello, how’s it going, the point of the call, goodbye. I don’t want to hear about how your day’s been or how that guy you saw in the grocery store kind of looked like Asian George Clooney. Save that for when we see each other, or just text me about it.

My favorite kind of phone call? Ordering takeout. It’s so simple. You call the restaurant, they take your order and you’re done. No additional conversation, no meandering monologues. Conduct your business, then put the phone down and move on.

I wish it were always so simple.

Uncommunication

I still find myself baffled by the ins and outs of communicating with people sometimes. I’m not sure if it’s just me, or if nobody in the world really understands how conversations should work.

For me, a conversation is simple: it starts off with a greeting, then there is discussion on a specific topic or whatever random ideas come up, and then an ending. Either a formal goodbye or some acknowledgement that the conversation is over. Not so for everyone else, it seems. At least not here.

I have encountered, far more often than I’d like, people who ask me a question, then immediately turn their attention to something else as I’m answering them. It’s all the more frustrating when they decide they’d rather text or check their email than listen to the response that they prompted in the first place. If it’s important, a short ‘Excuse me’ wouldn’t hurt. It’s also why I’m not a fan of personal questions unless the other person seems genuinely interested. I’m not going to tell you about me or my past if you can’t be bothered to pay attention. And don’t even get me started on electronic communication (mainly because I’m going to get started on it myself).

First, we have email. I always start off my emails with ‘Dear …” and end with whatever the appropriate sign off is; my default is ‘Best Regards’. In recent years, I’ve dropped those formalities when emailing close friends and well-known acquaintances, sticking only to the conversation itself. For professional emails though, I still maintain full decorum. But not everyone else does. I often receive emails that just launch right into a discussion, without a greeting to start off. It never feels right.

Even more baffling is the world of texting and instant messaging, where I often find myself involved in a conversation that’s not a priority for the person on the other end. Sometimes messages go unanswered, or a reply comes in two hours later, attempting to ‘seamlessly’ pick up the conversation where it left off. That’s not how I talk to people in real life. Why does that change just because we’re not face to face?

Maybe the world communicates on a different level than I do, or I demand too much engagement from people. Though really, is it too much to ask for a decent conversation where both parties are listening and talking to each other?

Conversations With A Strange Mind: Slowing Down

“Welp, looks like we missed another post.”

“Sigh…yeah, looks like we did.”

“And you can’t blame your cold for this one!”

“I could have, before you said anything.”

“I – oh…”

“We’re running out of material.”

“I didn’t even know we were making a dress.”

“Comedic material! Jokes Gags!”

“Ohhh…of course that’s what you meant. Haha, silly me. I was wondering when you became a tailor…”

“Never mind that! We don’t have enough material to do our bits every week.”

“Tell me about it. Trying to think up all this comedy is making my…well…me, hurt.”

“Yeah, headaches are definitely no fun. We’ll need to do something about that.”

“Maybe you should write about depressing stuff instead. War and famine and the futility of human existence and how insignificant we are in this vast universe. Stuff like that.”

“What?! That’s terrible! Nobody wants to read that! Now you’ve got me all depressed…”

“Err…ok…maybe that was a little too heavy. But it’s fine! You can just put some sort of philosophical spin on it, like…umm…the universe is a vast and uncaring place, but one cannot deny the allure of ice cream.”

“That’s a ridiculous philosophy.”

“I will hear nothing against ice cream, heretic!”

“Getting this horribly derailed train back on track, we can’t keep going week after week.”

“Then why not make it a monthly thing?”

“That’s…not a bad idea, actually.”

“Yeah, make it more of a monthly thing and, since Sunday ends up being a busy day, maybe move it to Monday.”

“Perfect. From now on, Conversations With A Strange Mind will be a monthly feature, and will shift to Mondays.”

“I just said that. Why are you explaining it to me?”

“Not you! I’m talking to the readers.”

“I’m pretty sure you were just talking to me.”

“I am so glad this is going to be only once a month now.”

“Hey! That’s not cool! Brains have feelings too, you know!”

“Well you can save your feelings for next month, buddy. We’re outta here.”

“Oh, alright. See you in a month then!”

“Well, you’ll be seeing me every day.”

“I wasn’t talking to you.”

“Touché.”

Conversations With A Strange Mind: Summer Sniffles

“Urgh…I hade dis stupid cold…by head feels all achey..”

“Yeah, it’s not really a fun ride for me either. Nice Stallone impression, by the way.”

“Shuddup.”

“Ouch. Guess I got the…cold shoulder!”

“Oh do…”

“Hee hee hee…I crack myself up.”

“I think you bay have beed cracked up doo bady tibes…”

“You might wanna lay off the wordplay for a while, Rocky.”

“Ughh…this is awful!”

“It sure is. How’d you go around catching a cold in summer, anyway?”

“I dot dow…stupid weather.”

“Hmm..s’pose so. But hey, look on the bright side!”

“Ad what’s dat?”

“I don’t know….I asked you to look.”

“…I’b godda go to bed.”

“Alright, but we’ve still got a – aaaand he’s gone.”

“ZzzzZZZzZZzzZZkkrrhhhh….”

“Sigh…stupid weather.”

Conversations With A Strange Mind: Oh Jelly Bean, Oh Jelly Bean, How I Do Love Thee

“Hey! Weren’t we supposed to have a thing yesterday?”

“You mean a post?”

“Yeah, that. What happened?”

“Well, things got a bit busy yesterday.”

“Lazy. Things got a bit lazy.”

“No! I was busy with…stuff…and things…”

“Oh, right. Of course you were. Because lying to your own brain is a totally solid plan.”

“I..uhh…”

“I’m the one that does the lying around here, pal. I could have you dress up in a tutu and run around your office singing sonnets about jelly beans, then have you forget the whole thing. It’d all be repressed by your psyche. And you know she’d happily do it too.”

“That’s…an awfully specific idea. You haven’t…?”

“Not as far as you know.”

“Well, surely that would have come up during a performance review.”

“Oh, I just used the office as an example. Doesn’t mean that’s where it happened.”

“What?!”

“So what’s on the agenda for today?”

“Wait…the tutu thing…it’s not true, is it?”

“Hahaha. Now, what have we got going on?”

“I…well..nothing. It’s a bit late now. Guess we’ll have to skip this week.”

“Oh…alright. Guess we get a little break then.”

“Yeah, yeah…a break. So about that whole tutu thing?”

“Yep, a break. That’s just what we need.”

“No, but…”

“Let’s take a walk. It’ll help you clear your head. Maybe you can hum that jelly bean song. How did it go again?”

“meep…”

Conversations With A Strange Mind: Death to Groundhogs

“What a week!”

“I know, right? All that stuff happened, and then we did those things…talk about a wild ride!”

“Yeah, totally.”

“How long do you think before people catch on that we’re just making things up?”

“Well, now that you’ve explicitly spelled it out? I think they’ve caught on.”

“Oh…right…”

“Man, it’s hard to believe another week’s flown by already. I mean, what did we even do?”

“Well, let’s see…work, play video games, eat, sleep, work, watch TV, make blog posts, work, eat, sleep..”

“Yeah, alright, I get it. But it’s just all so…I dunno..”

“Boring? Tedious? Mindlessly mundane?”

“I was going to go with ‘routine’, but thanks for the morale boost.”

“Sorry. Guess you are kind of a drag, huh?”

“Not helping.”

“Well, what do you have lined up for the coming week? Must be some pretty exciting stuff going on!”

“Oh yeah, sure! I’ve got some articles to finish for work, gonna continue my games, push out a few blog…pos…hmm…that sounds just like last week..”

“You’re right, it does. The same thing all over a – holy time loops! You’re stuck in a time loop!”

“Say what now?”

“You’re stuck in a time loop! How else do you explain each week feeling just like the last? It’s because it’s all the same week, playing on repeat!”

“Well, it’s not exactly the same week. I mean, some things are different.”

“Of course they are! Each time you re-enter the loop, you perform your actions a little differently, maybe carrying over some lessons you learned in the previous iteration. So you might say that history…*mimes putting on sunglasses*…doesn’t repeat itself.”

“I don’t even…did you just say ‘mimes putting on sunglasses’?”

“Yeah, you know, for dramatic effect.”

“Why not just say ‘puts on sunglasses’? You’re miming a pretend action?”

“Well, you know, umm…we have to kill a groundhog!”

“What?!”

“It’s like the movie Groundhog Day. You’re stuck in a time loop until you kill a groundhog!”

“I don’t think that’s how Groundhog Day ends.”

“Have you watched it?”

“Well, no..”

“Then that could be how it ends, as far as you know.”

“What? No. I’m pretty sure I would have heard about that ending by now.”

“Perhaps you’re not as culturally savvy as you think. Did you know, for example, that The Lord of the Rings was originally about a telephone operator?”

“That…just isn’t true.”

“Alright. I’m still killing a groundhog though.”

“Ugh, fine.”

“Then off we go!”

“Go where, exactly? Groundhogs are native to North America.”

“Ah.”

“Yep.”

“Do you remember how this whole discussion started?”

“Yeah, I said, ‘What a week!'”

“I know, right? All that stu – “

“Stop that!”

“Curse you, groundhogs!”