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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Let’s talk routine.

I have a lot of routines. When it comes to life, I’m a calm weather and flat roads kind of woman. I like my time to be thoroughly-scheduled, predictable, and straightforward.

No, that isn’t right. That’s a wicked lie.  I loathe schedules.  I abhor (SUCH A GOOD WORD) pre-planned, calendared-to-the-minute activities, and I hate having to be any given place at exactly any given time. Time Management is right up there on my list of Least Favorite Things.

There’s nothing I love more than a long stretch of unstructured time to enjoy without obligations or commitments hanging over my head. Being able to dive into whatever I feel like doing (WRITING, mostly) for long, unmeasured periods, secure in the knowledge I’m not shirking any responsibility or failing any expectations–that is the purest of pure blisses.

The clock is my enemy.  I am that person who is always late (except when I am ridiculously early because I don’t dare miss out on whatever reason I have to be punctual. Think airline flights, bus & train departures, events that close their doors at the start of shows, etc. Yeah.)

But I digress. Routine is the topic, and the reality is that my life has to be very, very, VERY rigidly structured, because holding fast to processes is the only way I can carve out those huge, juicy blocks of time. I do what I must to get treats I chew up like big wedges of watermelon or a personal fruit pie.

(Me, a full 9-inch cherry pie, a spoon: that is also a real thing)

ANYway. If I don’t cling to all my hated-but-necessary routines, my ability to create…goes *PAF* like a soap bubble. Being interrupted in the middle of my get-up routine can derail my whole day, for example. It LOOKS like I’m aimlessly puttering around the house, but the aimlessness has an aim–it’s settling my synapses and getting clutter out of my space and thus out of my mind. Ditto for coming-home routines, and even the global routine of having daily routines. It’s why I loved regular-schedule retail work: infinite variation & constant novelty bounded within a rigidly structured routine.

I read a lot of Erynn Brook’s blogging and tweeting about ADHD because she gets into the nitty-gritty of living with a brain that works its own way, norms be damned, and I see my life in the stories she tells.

No, seriously. She had a thread about arranging living space to compensate for distraction and sensory overload, and it was like she was walking through my house. Eerie. But also fun. That kind of affirmation is a fleecy blanket of comfort. It reassures me that my many weird quirks about the maintenance of my physical and temporal environment arise from deep places and serve a purpose.

(Purpose: keeping me functional in a world that demands Things Get Done Just So and Right Now, which is NOT how my brain is set up, on top of all the compromises I make to keep my pesky body from breaking down faster. That’s a whole ‘nother post.)

Some folk consider my has-to-be-done-this-way quirks as petty, tyrannical neat-freak tendencies. Others think I’m a judgmental perfectionist who measures their spaces and systems by my own. FULL DISCLAIMER: I neither expect nor want anyone else to live the way I do. Hell, I wouldn’t live this way, given, y’know, a different brain & body. But I work with what I have.

So.  Why am I writing about this? Because blog.

Okay, seriously. It came to mind, and thus is flowing onto the page because I keep getting knocked out of my routine, and that has Consequences. I have a whole set of compensations regarding travel and socializing, two things I love to do, but can only do to certain limits. And since I just got home from travel, those things are on my mind.

When life crashes hard into my routines, like say, when I go on a trip or go out to dinner with friends, my life routines are thrown off not only for the Time Of Upheaval itself but potentially for days afterward. And I didn’t realize that was what was happening for most of my life.

So I’m developing better processes and routines to compensate for getting back to normal. Travel itself is all routine now. 15+ years of business trips. For the other situations, I’m learning it’s easier when people come into my space than when I go out, and the less organized the occasion, the less it winds me up (“let’s hang out for no real reason” is infinitely less stressful than planned dinners, f’rex)

But in every case I am still learning to compensate for just how ridiculously much creative time & emotional stability I have to pay for experiences.

I used to think the brain fog after business trips came from pure physical exhaustion, but the last two years have taught me it’s my brain that needs a variable amount of rebound time and relief from all responsibility.  If I go through my coming-home routines without upheaval and let myself meander without pressure to produce anything, I will predictably get back to normal writing routine in 1 to 5 days.

If I don’t let that process happen naturally, if I push onward attempting all normal routines until the next weekend, I end up physically ill.  Talk about incentive to take it easy, right?

Scheduling, time management and task organization are like living things.  I know from the outside it often looks like they’re my besties, but look closer.

I have harnessed them to my will,  and they serve me well, but they are a troika of wolves, not a team of fast horses. They need more than cooling down after every run.  I have to unharness them and let them go off hunting, or they will turn on me and chew me up.

That’s what I came to write, and there it is.

 

 


Image by reyesdf on Pixabay