WOULD IT BE PREMATURE TO ASK … Marilyn Armstrong

Premature vs. Post-mature

Premature indicates a time “before maturity” has imposed itself. Like –“childhood” or “infancy.” Or still budding, yet not bloomed.

Personally, I am post-mature. I flowered, then I got old and my petals fell off. No amount of putting stuff in the water is going to fix it.

Right now, I’m dealing with a lot of stuff. Getting the car fixed from a small but significant accident. This requires setting up a time with the appraiser, renting a car, making a date with the repair shop — at least a four-way deal. It’s also long past the point of finding out exactly which surgery Garry is supposed to be getting for his ear, not to mention and finding out about the technology.

We need to get the chimney fixed though I’m assured it will survive at least one more winter, or so we hope.

There’s a lot of tearing down coming up, too. Removing the collapsing shed. Tearing down the long out-of-use outdoor shower. Fixing the mangled back lawn where the snow plow kid hit it hard with the plow and left it a mess. He was the one who was going to come back and fix it. I think he left town.

What are the odds of my getting this stuff done? {Possibly approaching zero on a close order. Effectively, if I wait for texts and emails., it could also be never. It’s amazing how many texts and emails you can send without accomplishing anything. Without ever setting a time, or place. Whether it’s surgery or appraising the damage to the car.

I’ve given up on emails. They don’t get stuff done. It’s the procrastinator’s tool for prolonging something you don’t really want to do anyway. It turns out, despite rumors to the contrary, a month of emails back and forth doesn’t get an appointment made as fast as a five-minute phone call.

No number of emails to and from your doctor will make you feel like you actually know what your surgery involves. There are many things requiring a personal encounter and a conversation. With questions asked and answered. Especially when you want to know exactly what is going to happen, you need to talk. If you need to know precisely how and when it will happen, ask the questions and get real answers.

More wires!

And — oh yes — how much is this going to cost? You can run through a month or two of emails when a short call will handle it 100%.

Yesterday, we made a date to meet someone for lunch — and we did it in (gasp) one quick 3-minute call. He’ll email the address for the GPS, but we have a date, time, and location for FOUR PEOPLE! Imagine that.

That is my post-mature opinion on the matter of talk versus endless electronic messaging.

–  Texting is for people who don’t want to really be involved.
–  Talking is for people who want to solve a problem.
–  Emails are for people who want to say they never got the email. It is the ultimate procrastinator’s tool.

All life feels pretty much premature. We don’t have a date for the surgery, don’t know the technology involved. Don’t have a date with the appraiser or the repair guy or a car rental. Neither of us know when or even if the chimney is getting fixed. Garry is doing errands and I’m on telephone and email patrol. Which is like doing nothing — with purpose.

I thought all this technology was going to speed up the processes of our world?

As far as I can see, all we have done is extend the amount of time and effort it takes to do every little thing. We are also managing to avoid doing a lot of things entirely. The dates never actually get made. The appointments you only remember because you get an automated call from the hospital.

Doves on the wires in Phoenix, Arizona

It really is living in a bubble with no fixed address. That’s apparently what people really want.

Personal? No one has time to be personal. There’s no time to talk, no time for a leisurely conversation. No time to hear the sound of a friend’s laughter because that’s not available on an electronic communications device.

“I’ll text you.”

And I’ll be waiting.

TALKING ON THE PHONE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

The world can be divided in many ways – Republicans vs. Democrats, religious people vs. non religious people, cat people vs. dog people. Here’s another way – people who love the phone vs. people who hate it.

I love talking on the phone. I have many close friends who live far away now and it’s the next best thing to spending time with them in person. You can have real conversations that drift from one topic to the next. You can even interrupt each other! You don’t get the subtleties of body language that you get in person, but you’re actually engaging with the real person. You can remember why you loved this person in the first place.

Another important advantage of phones is laughter. We can hear our friends laugh at our jokes and our friends can hear us laugh at theirs. We get to laugh TOGETHER, which is huge. Laughter is a powerful bond. Most women list a sense of humor as one of the things they most value in a man. Sharing laughter is one of the great joys in life. You can’t get it in a text. Typing LOL is not the same thing!

When I was dating online, I discovered that liking someone’s emails was NOT a good indicator that I would like them in person. But liking someone on the phone gave me a pretty good chance that I would like them in person. That’s when I fully realized that writing and talking are on two separate planes.

Talking is personal. It reveals personality and connects people on an emotional, visceral level. You get most of what you get when you are physically with someone.

Emailing may tell you the writing style of the person but not their speaking style or their personal “je ne sais quoi.” In texting, people tend to write shortened sentences with abbreviations and even Emojis. So you don’t even get the “voice” or writing style of the person. The time lag with texts also annoys me. Write then wait. Read then write. Rinse and repeat.

Try watching a movie or TV show and hit pause for twenty seconds after each person speaks. Not very gratifying. In fact, it will probably drive you crazy.

To me, texting is great for short, immediate communications. Like: “In traffic. Running 15 minutes late.” OR “What time do you want us for dinner?” Otherwise, not really communications.

Nevertheless, I understand that some people are just not phone people. My daughter is a phonophobe. She would rather talk for an hour every few weeks and text in between to stay in touch. My mother hated the phone. When I was growing up, she would have me call people to change or cancel appointments for her so she would not get “stuck” talking on the phone.

My husband, Tom, is also not a phone person. When we were dating, it didn’t even occur to him to talk on the phone the nights we weren’t seeing each other. Once I started the pattern, he was fine with it. But he wouldn’t have done it on his own.

I think the younger generations are growing up totally immersed in texting and internet communications. They may never learn the pleasure you can get from a long phone conversation with a friend. They may not even have long conversations in person anymore either. From what I hear, kids spend time online even when they are physically with other people. The art of the conversation may be dying out altogether.

I guess I shouldn’t be worrying about fewer people talking on the phone. I should be worrying about fewer people talking to each other. At all!

CAN YOU HEAR ME? HELLO? – Marilyn Armstrong

Someone’s left you a voicemail message, but all you can make out are the last words: “I’m sorry. I should’ve told you months ago. Bye.”

Who was it, and what was it about? It’s a mystery to me.

We used to leave messages on our answering machines telling folks to speak slowly and clearly, but too many people thought we were being funny, that leaving a coherent message was a joke. So we get lots of incoherent messages. Usually, with caller ID, we know who called and can retrieve the number, but the contents of the message is gobbledy-gook.

“Garry, your brother called. No idea what he said. Call him, okay?”

“Hey, Jim called about something. Call him when you have a moment.”

“One of your cousins called. They left a message but I don’t know what it was.”

My favorite: “Someone called. Maybe it was important. They left a number but I can’t understand it.  Guess it wasn’t important enough.” If it really is important and we don’t call you back? Pick up the phone and call again. If it’s that important, make sure we got the message.

If you choose to leave a message, speak up. Clearly. Repeat the phone number at least twice. Don’t forget to include your name — in case we don’t actually recognize your voice because, you know, the phone isn’t very clear.

Don’t mumble.

While we’re on the subject, how about those cell phones, eh? On which you can’t hear anything? From either end? I miss telephones on which you knew you had a connection that wouldn’t drop and on which you could hear what someone said to you — and know they could hear you.


“Can you hear me? Hello? Are you still there?”

It’s 1904 all over again. Without wires or operators.

The other night, my husband and I watched — for the umpteenth time — Meet Me In St. Louis. It’s the old Judy Garland musical. Vincent Minnelli directed it. Great movie, one of our favorites. Terrific songs, Margaret O’Brien about as cute as a kid can be. Nostalgia on the hoof.

The story is set in 1904 when the World’s Fair was coming to St. Louis. Telephones in private homes were the hot new technology. A call from a distant city was a big deal. Early in the story, the oldest sister, Rose, receives a long-distance call from New York.

dining-room-21-512x384

FROM “Meet Me In St. Louis” — SCENE: The phone rings.

Rose Smith: Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?
Warren Sheffield: Yes, I can hear you. (Pause)
Rose Smith: What did you say, Warren?
Warren Sheffield: Nothing. I was waiting for you to talk.
Rose Smith: Oh. Well, did you want to discuss anything in particular?
Warren Sheffield: What?
Rose Smith: I said, was there anything special you wanted to ask me?
Warren Sheffield: I can’t hear you, Rose …
Rose Smith: That’s funny. I can hear you plainly.
Warren Sheffield: Isn’t this great? Here I am in New York and there you are in St. Louis and it’s just like you’re in the next room.
Rose Smith: What was that?


ANOTHER SCENE: TODAY, MASSACHUSETTS

Me: Hello? Hello? Cherrie?
Cherrie: (Faintly) Hello? I’m in New York … (something I can’t understand) … signal.
Me: Bad signal?
Cherrie: No signal.
Me: How are you?
Cherrie: Tired. Running around.
Me: Miss you.
Cherrie: Miss you too. Having trouble getting a signal here.
Me: Cherrie? Hello? Are you there? (Long pause.) No, you aren’t there.

(Click. Sigh. Pause. Ring. Ring.)

Me: Cherrie?
Cherrie: Can you hear me?
Me: I can hear you, can you hear ME?
Cherrie: Hello? Hello? (Pause, faint sounds.) Is this better?|
Me: Yes. A bit.
Cherrie: I turned my head and lost the signal.
Me: We couldn’t have done it better if it was scripted.
Cherrie: I’ll call you when I get back. I think I’m  losing … (Silence.)

Progress and technology. Which way are we going? 

AS DOES THE GARDEN GROW – Marilyn Armstrong

The columbine are starting to bloom and I got pictures, but they aren’t fully open yet. After yesterday’s rain, everything is covered with drops of rain. And it’s pretty muddy.

Bunches more wild strawberries popping up everywhere and the rhododendrons look happy and healthy.

After cutting back the roses, the rhododendrons are looking very happy. It’s amazing how fast everything is growing right now.

Dryopteris filix – Common fern
Lilacs and there are more, but … it’s raining
Flowering cherry near the dam in town

And a few not fully opened Columbine (just a few more days and they will be amazing).

And of course, the deck …

Geranium
Begonia

Flowers of my week