Thursday, July 19, 2012

Just Pretend I'm Farting

Once it started feeling like the moving process was wrapping up, I needed to take care of a few things with my family members, like get us caught up on our dental cleanings and cavity fillings (which are years overdue thanks to us being ridiculously busy and me losing our good dental insurance along with my job back in 2010), get up-to-date prescriptions for our glasses and contact lenses so that we can actually see what we are doing while fixing everything that breaks around this place, and perhaps get some gray out of my hair.  I look like I've aged 10 years in the past 2 years.

It turns out that many service providers around here use an automated text messaging system for appointment reminders, which saves their receptionists from having to make so many calls personally.  I innocently signed up for that, not knowing what I was getting myself into.  I don't get text messages often -- usually just when I'm expecting to meet someone somewhere and they are giving me their ETA.  So, one day my phone kept dinging with these text messages confirming that I had signed up for text format appointment reminders with all these different service providers.  It was distracting me and interrupting my conversations with people who were right in front of my face, so I turned my phone off.

A little background before I get further in the story:  I've been a bit shell-shocked since I got that phone call from the police about my mother's passing.  No disrespect to our soldiers out on the front lines for using that term, but I seriously have had some symptoms of PTSD building up since then, because I've had to experience a very stressful, fast-paced, out of control life, as well as some horrors and shocks to my system.  Now I literally jump when I hear an unexpected noise, and when the stress gets really bad, I experience an unwanted burst of adrenaline when someone speaks to me, because they usually have bad news and I don't want to hear it.  I jump when the phone and the doorbell ring, because I know more hassles are on the other end of the line and the other side of the door.  I desperately need a complete lack of stimulation for a while in order to recover.

I had to solicit the aid of various people over the past couple of years, and the communications I receive via phone, text message, email, instant message, mail, and in person have been excessive, with me sometimes receiving multiple messages all in the same second from different sources.  I've been trying to cut out a lot of that by not giving some people my new contact information, but still they track me down.  So, I put a sign on the door to send unexpected visitors away, and I had been turning off my phone for a few hours or days when I feel myself becoming a bundle of nerves.  My kids think I'm overreacting, but this is just one of those things another person would have to go through in order to understand how someone gets into this state.  When a soldier has bombs exploding all around him and bullets whizzing past him, he has to jump into a foxhole.  That's what I'm trying to do in the figurative sense.

A bunny hole in a prime piece of real estate underneath my haystack.

So, this morning I realized that I felt well enough to work with the horses, and I should take advantage of my better health, the cooler morning temperatures as well as my daughter being available to help.  She helped me gather supplies and take them to the barn, catch and tie the horses, groom them, and keep the pesky ones at bay while I worked.  All the while my mobile phone on my hip kept dinging, usually while I was in the middle of trying to convey something important to my daughter.

Lostine swatting flies with her tail the way I wish I could have swatted those pesky text messages away.

I knew the horses were picking up on my nervousness and frustration, but they we're being really sweet and acting more like therapy horses than nervous Nellies themselves.  I'd swear that Bombay was trying to make me laugh by clowning around.  Still, between giggles and snorts at Bombay's antics, I was getting aggravated, because this phone thing was a repeat performance of what I put up with in my old life.  Despite trying to train people not to call on me at sunrise and sunset, because that's when I'm working with the horses, they still kept calling as soon as I'd walk out to the barn.  I'd just finish tying a horse to a post, and someone would come out of the house to say I had a phone call.  I wasn't any good at training my family members to just ignore the phone or take a message either, so my horse time was continually getting broken up by all these interruptions.  Then no sooner would I get off the phone and return to my horse, and I'd hear a neighbor calling my name or some stranger would drive up to my barn and ask for directions.  On and on it went, so I'm very protective of my horse time now.

I purposefully did not get a family land line at the new house in order to avoid having others receive calls for me, but I'm taking my mobile phone with me each time I go outside in case something bad happens and I need to call someone's mobile phone in the house for help.  I've been in training barns and seen people get into the strangest predicaments with horses, and if there wasn't someone close by to bail them out, someone would have been seriously hurt.  I don't want to turn my phone off while out at the barn, because it takes a while to start up, so after this experience I'm just keeping everything set to silent all the time.  No vibration.  That would freak me out worse than the sudden sounds.  But at least I can make outgoing calls in a hurry because the phone is on (assuming there aren't twenty text messages I have to dismiss first), and I can check for incoming messages when I'm ready.

Anyway, I didn't respond to the text messages, but each time the dang phone dinged, I'd overreact and roll my eyes.  My daughter said, "Just ignore it and keep doing what you need to do."

I said, "I'll just pretend I'm farting."

That worked.  I'm actually thinking of switching to a fart ringtone, or at least some sound that is less alarming than what I have now.  So, when the ringtones aren't silent (but deadly), I can thoroughly embarrass myself in public.  Okay, so the fart ringtone is not such a good idea.  I just need to find a more common sound.  I'd rather miss a call than to be startled by a call.  I'm a person who pulls over to the curb when a siren comes on over the car radio.  I need something soothing like the sound of ocean waves or monks chanting.  Something deep.  Nothing high pitched.  Nothing that sounds like a fire truck or a rattlesnake.

The whole while I was working with the horses, I kept thinking, "There's something else I'm supposed to do with them," and just when that memory was coming back, the phone would ding and I'd lose my train of thought.  I've mentioned before that I have a funky memory.  I keep lists for everything, but then I usually forget to take the list to where I need it.  I'll go to a store, realize I forgot my list, and stand there staring at some display while trying to jog my memory on why I was there.  As soon as the items I need to buy start regenerating in my brain, some salesperson always has to approach me and ask, "May I help you?"

And then it's gone.  Everything.  I can't remember a dang thing that I need to get, and usually end up having to call home to ask someone to read the list to me.  Then another salesperson has to come up and offer help while I'm on the phone trying to memorize the list that is being read to me.  That always astounds me.  I don't know if it's an American thing or what, but we sure feel comfortable butting into other people's conversations.  I mean, I'm obviously busy on the phone, I can only listen to one person at a time, and someone always has to talk to me while someone else is talking to me on the phone.  What's up with that?  If I interrupted the teacher while she was teaching a lesson in school without raising my hand, I'd be punished.  Why didn't that lesson carry over into adulthood for most people?  But I know that brings up a whole 'nother debate about people who talk on mobile phones in public.  I'm not socializing, though.  I'm taking care of business.  I'm standing out of the way of other shoppers.  No one should mind.

But back to my original story...  My daughter and I put away all the supplies, I got back in the house and instantly remembered that I was going to put dressing on the horses' hooves.  Oh well.  Next time.

All those text messages turned out to be appointment reminders for everyone in my family, so there were three service providers sending these messages, and some were sending messages four times -- one for me, one for my husband, one for my daughter, and one for my son.  The messages required a confirmation.  When I replied to each message with my confirmation that we would be there at the appointments, my phone then began dinging with all these confirmations of my confirmations.  I had text messages coming in while I was trying to send text messages out.  It was ridiculous.

Normally, everyone won't be scheduled all at the same time for so many different appointments, so this is a fluke, but I am contemplating unsubscribing from the service because it may be less disruptive to just receive a few voice mails that I have to return to live people than to have to read and respond to all these text messages.  Also, I'll have to make sure that each of these service providers get the phone numbers of each person in my family, so they can handle their own appointments in the future. 

A quick side story:  While I was trimming Gabbrielle's bridle path, all these trash trucks kept driving past us on the roads to our east and west.  There are multiple trash pick up services here -- different companies and different types of pick ups.  Today just happened to be one of the busiest days.  Because the hair trimmer was buzzing in her ears, my horse didn't hear the engines of these trucks.  So, when one truck dumped our trash, there was a loud boom, and Gabbrielle jumped straight up in the air, the razor clipping a spot I didn't mean to clip.  But I was proud of her, because she didn't jump into me or stomp on my foot in a bout of inattention like she usually does.  She only flicked her eyes in the direction of the boom quickly and then focused her attention right back on me.  Each time she reacts with less fear, spooks smaller, or makes a mature decision, I feel more confident in our partnership.

Now I've just got to work on making myself less spooky, and she can have more confidence in me.  Things are getting better, though, because I've now been here long enough to see patterns and had enough of a break in the insanity to start taking preventative measures to correct a lot of habitual distractions, energy and time suckers.  I'm not a chicken with my head cut off anymore.  Now I'm more like a nervous horse being pestered by flies.  My goal is to be like Scrappy...

...just chillin'.


sydney K said...

Maybe a horse whinny, snort or nicker ringtone? Most phones you can download app's that allow you to take your own recordings and turn it into ringtones.

Rebecca said...

I want to be like Scrappy too. :o)

Reddunappy said...

It does sound like your making progress!!!

Damn phone would have been at the bottom of the trough though!!! LOL LOL LOL

A little zen time without the phone brushing ponies sounds good!

achieve1dream said...

Yes Scrappy is a great role model!!!! Don't worry, you will calm down in time. It takes a while to undo all of those stress reactions.

Go Gabrielle! That's awesome that she's maturing and calming down. What a good girl. :)

My husband had a ringtone of crickets on his phone. It was very quiet and soothing. In fact I rarely even heard it because I'm hard of hearing, but it worked for him. :)