Reaching me: A Primer

This is a followup to my “Imma stop feeling guilty about dodging the gotta-be-visible-gotta-react-gotta-be-involved 24/7 noisefest that is modern life” post.

I keep channel preferences for my regular contacts. Some only do phone calls. Others prefer in-app contact only for privacy reasons. This is my guide to me.

Read on if you’re bored or interested in “How To Reach KM 101.”  Listed in no particular order. I’m not quite two velociraptors in a raincoat, but I am complicated.

Email

If  you send an email, I will get it. If you ask a question in email, I will answer. If you do not specify a need-by date, it might take a week or two for me to work through my sweaty-hands aversion to dealing with communications, but it will get answered. Gmail is very good about gently reminding me when I’ve failed to respond to people.

Also, I don’t lose emails the way I do texts. And they’re searchable. Which is nice. Important/ permanent/ information-dense conversations are best sent through email.  Need my email? You can contact me through the HANDY CONTACT PAGE right here on the site. kmherkes at dawnrigger.com will work too. 

Texts

I love texts. They are like email but less cluttered and more readily accessible, they lend themselves to quick exchanges, and they support low-sensory notifications on all my devices. I can ignore or dismiss the alerts easily unless I want to check them.

But. BUT!

I may or may NOT answer, depending on whether the text hitting my eyeballs successfully bridges my attention gap and reaches my brain.

If I haven’t responded in a day, I am not ignoring you, I LOST THE TEXT OR FORGOT IT EXISTED. Seriously. This happens a lot, because texts are so easy to glance at, and when I see a badge, I MUST-CLICK-NOW-BRIGHT-SHINY it even if it’s a bad time.

And yes, I can forget super-important things. I failed a college class because I forgot when the class started and missed my final presentation after a 16-week long research project. Yeah. Showed up an hour late.

A text I saw while doing something else? 50-50 chance of registering it. Less, prolly.

There’s a popular analogy about swans gliding along but paddling furiously under the water where no one sees it. That’s where my “collection of dinosaurs inside a person suit” description comes in. I am bloody confusion wrapped inside a fragile disguise.

ANYway. I digress, as one does.

Lack of response is stressful and feels like rejection, I know this, I stress when it happens to me. If I could be different about this, I would be. But I’m not. As I am wrestling with accepting it, so will the rest of the world.

Texts are also a good way to start a conversation that will be honestly faster to hash through by voice, like “pls call when convenient, I want to talk about <insert topic>

(but note that failing to add a topic addendum is a surefire anxiety-inducer. FYI.)

Phone call (if I’m not expecting to hear from you)

You must be a relative or someone I’ve established a calling relationship with, because my phone only rings for a dozen or so people. Nothing ruins my ability to think straight like an unexpected call. Even if I let it go to voice mail (a massive victory of willpower) my concentration is shot for at least an hour. No. Joke.

Avoiding those disruptions is the reason my phone is often buried somewhere when I’m at home or work. Talking on the phone (including video calls) is The Worst. Always has been, always will be.

To be fair, “OMG, I’m late, I’m stuck in traffic can’t text,” is a good call to receive. And I will get a message if you leave one. Eventually. Unless I call you back before I listen because I’m worried about you. Which is 100% likely.

But if it isn’t an emergency, I’m unlikely to call back unless explicitly requested.  More likely I’ll text.

Social Media messaging

I’m not going to say, “Don’t do it.” I will point out that I do not have social media apps installed on my mobile thingies, which means no alerts for Twitter DM’s or FB Messenger unless I am sitting at one specific computer. So…if you use these, it’s possible I won’t see your message until days later. Or that I’ll click the notification badge because it bugs me but didn’t process the message itself, because MUST-CLICK-NOW-BRIGHT-SHINY is a completely different brain activity than reading.

Like texting, lack of response means I didn’t see it in any meaningful way.  Obliviousness. I can haz it.

And social media itself

I will remain on Facebook & Twitter, or via Instagram (as I like to call it, “photo-friendly Facebook”) wall-flowering on the sidelines. Posts will happen. Living on display is comfortable for me. Recording my doings makes me happy. That’s why I’ve had a blog forever. And I can read posts without getting sucked into infinite scrolling–it’s the processing & responding that sucks me in, not the information itself.

Please know I will still see you. All of you. I care. I feel for your sorrows and losses. I am cheering for your victories.

I just…can’t even, with clicking one more thumbs up or heart or sad-face, and I am done apologizing for being unable to do so without draining my own self to the dregs.

So then. All this is being mentioned as due diligence.  Since I am not producing a high reaction to post ratio or clocking much in-app time, I expect to be invisible on Facebook and lost in the hubbub on Twitter. And I’m okay with that.

At some point I will dig deeper into the WHY of all this. Because I do love talking about whys & wherefores.

Until later, all.

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Five me things in no particular order

Some Twitter list things went around recently (I don’t know what to call a huge cluster of separate retweets-with-comments allowing people to add their takes on a particular theme w/o replying to the original tweet. It isn’t a meme. It isn’t a sub-tweet. I dunno.)

ANYway. The original post started with a New Year’s related appeal for writers to introduce themselves with “5 Things People May Not Know About You.”

I do love a good personal share (WORLD’S SHYEST EXHIBITIONIST HERE, HELLO)  and I loved reading the answers posted by people I follow ( see also: dragon-like data hoarding tendencies) but I didn’t join the fun because:

  1. Interest had died down long before I herded my thoughts into word order, and I am weary of being That Person who awkwardly chimes into a fun song two measures late and off the beat. Same thing happened with another flurry of data posts under the heading “Skills people think I have vs skills I actually have.”
  2. Twitter is ephemeral. If I’m going to the trouble of wordsing, I’d rather chisel them into the walls of this space, which is designed to last a bit longer.  (It isn’t that I imagine my prose is deathless, glorious perfection, just that making & organizing ANY sentences is haaaaard. I like to know they’ll stay where I’ve left them.)

So. Without further ado, more random facts about me you may not know:

  • I didn’t master tying my shoes until I was eight.
  • I can (successfully) bake muffins, breads and several kinds of cookies without consulting recipes or using measuring tools.
  • I first sat cross-legged at the age of fourteen, after lots of exercise to get my hips to loosen up far enough to make it possible.
  • Choosing History or Biology as a college major came down to a literal coin toss.
  • My ability to interpret facial expressions is minimal. Angry, fearful, excited, joyful…all I can say with confidence is “Strong emotion, prolly?” This has made me a highly-motivated student of kinesics & nonverbal communication in general.
  • If I don’t practice whistling daily, I lose all ability within a week & have to re-teach myself from scratch.
  • I can ID a dozen breeds of horse and cow on sight, and far more tropical fish species. Ditto for birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
  • My body is always healing stressed tendons or ligaments somewhere. Always. Evaluating & supporting multiple minor sprains & strains is a daily routine.
  • My favorite color is cobalt blue. But I think everyone knows that one.

Yes, I can count, I know that’s nine, not five, but I was on a roll, so you got them all.  Now I’m feeling self-conscious and figure I’m boring everyone, so I’ll say adieu, and get back to the fiction writing.

Until next time!

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Image by thom kunz from Pixabay

One of my many random quirks

It’s a new calendar year. Why not start a new thing on the blog?

For the next little while, I’ll feature tidbits of personal trivia I have been informed are not as well-known as I imagine them to be. It’s another topic to alternate with book posts, writing rants, media consumption lists, baking recipes, and so on.

My first not-so-major revelation: I am face blind.

Yes, yes, I know lots of people have trouble remembering names, many people are bad with faces, but…have you ever walked right past your parent or your spouse or your best friend of many years because you DID NOT SEE THEM out of context?

I have. Many times. That’s my level of “bad with faces.”

It doesn’t mean I’m people-blind.  I recognize people…mostly. Just not faces. Or voices.  It’s more that I deliberately construct conscious brain imprints of overall person-ness — how you move, speak, dress, etc. I can spot friends across crowded rooms, especially if I’ve made note of what they’re wearing.

But do I spot details like changes in hair color, eyeglasses, makeup, scars, tattoos or “identifying characteristics?” NOPE.  As a kid, I thought the ability to describe and remember other people like characters in books & on TV was a fictional power. And names? Pffft. The label for your gestalt may be stowed away in a totally different mental zone, because I have a WTF brain.

ANYway.

This means if you’re standing still, if I’m not looking for you–and especially if I haven’t seen you recently? My chances of knowing who you are or even SEEING you is 50/50 or worse. The longer it’s been since we last talked, the worse my chances are.

This makes conventions more than moderately terrifying.

Why? In large part because people tend to remember me for some reason. Good friends I see only at cons, wonderful people I met at conventions past–y’all spot me and make a point of saying hello, being the awesome, cool, kind, and wonderful people you are…

…and there I will stand, without the slightest clue who’s talking to me.

I am often forthright, even pre-emptive, about admitting I don’t know who someone is, but not always. Constant confession is emotionally exhausting and jabs a lot of big, red social-interaction buttons that trigger guilt dumps.

And whether I admit it or not, nothing will never erase the unhappy belief that people think I’m lying, that I’m a lazy jerk making excuses for not caring about them enough to remember them. It hurts to not be recognized by someone. I know this. 

I DO LIKE YOU. YOU’RE AWESOME! But I have faulty exterior-recognition software.

Guilty awkwardness is a burden on top of the already-huge stressiness of being at a con. (I love cons. TRULY. I love them. But it’s also true I love many things that aren’t strictly good for me…) 

ANYway.  Let me wrap up with this:

If you don’t see me often, there are a few ways to help avoid instilling quiet panic and deep-seated guilt in me when we meet. I don’t expect people to make the effort, but when it happens, I am FOREVER grateful.

The platinum standard: starts with “Hi, Karen (or Kem, or Kay, or Tigger, or Herkes, I answer to all these)  great to see you again.”

This demonstrates you know me. Then it’s decision tree time.

IF I respond with your name or a personal tidbit that makes it crystal clear I remember who you are, we’re good. My brain has coughed up your imprint in a timely fashion. Yay, brain.

If I DON’T use your name, could you please consider proceeding to something like this: “I’m <your name> we know each other from <place/time> and add something about our prior interaction?

By doing this you:

  • providing release from expectation damps down my guilty adrenaline rush. (adrenaline not being a friend of higher brain function)
  • Offering memory tags right off the mark helps me place you in context, which gets me to the proper brain space where your ID is stored.
  • The more you talk and move, the more data I have available to match to the gestalt of physical characteristics on file.

You can be as simple as, “It’s Felicity. From work? I’m in Accounting? We don’t see each other often.”  Or as complicated as “I’m Gwen. We were table neighbors at XYZCon, and it turned out we went to the same elementary school. We talked about meeting for dinner next con–how are you?”

But even if I appear to be entirely comfortable chatting, if I don’t respond with your name or personal deets, it’s likely I do NOT recognize you at the start of the conversation.

Talking comfortably at length with total strangers is a survival skill I mastered long before I knew face blindness was a thing, not a failure of effort on my part. If we talk long enough, I often…eventually…figure out what our relationship is.

It’s a huge relief when I don’t have to work that strategy or confess to cluelessness, though.

And yes, I do try to do this for others, on the rare occasions I am introducing myself to people I recognize.

Because I never expect anyone to recognize me.

Okay, that’s enough for now. Until later, world!