Phone Calls Are Not Fun For Me

rotary phone

Over the years, and especially recently, I’ve been offered the opportunity to participate in several podcast interviews about my work. I did do one of these several years back, when Crochet Saved My Life was first released, but all of the others I’ve said that I wanted to do them and backed out either over time or at the last minute. A recent example really brought to light for me that different people see phone calls very differently, something I knew but realized in a new way.

I was invited to do an interview with Stephen for the Yarnbomber podcast. And there was a part of me that really, really wanted to do it. I love what Stephen does, I think the (fairly new) podcast is special, it’s directly in line with everything I love about our crochet community, and it would have given me a chance to do an interview about the Mandalas for Marinke project, which is so very close to my heart.

I hesitated, because I know I hate phone calls, but then I eventually said yes. I said yes because of the part of me that wanted to participate and I also said yes because of the part of me that believes that I have to say yes to these opportunities to broaden my own world and promote the work that I’m doing. But even in that first yet, I mentioned that my hesitation was because of anxiety about phone calls. He was super nice about it and said that other people feel nervous, too, suggesting that I might want to contact a few of the previous interviewees who had been nervous too, to learn more about their experience.

And that’s where things differ for me … because I’m not nervous about phone calls per se. I know that they’ll go fine and aren’t a big deal. But nevertheless, I get anxiety about them. And anxiety is different from nervous. Anxiety is paralyzing. Anxiety is the physical stir in the body that comes from a “fight/flight/freeze” reaction.

princess phone with cod

We set the interview. I rescheduled. Then the day of the rescheduled interview, I considered rescheduling again and finally just decided to cancel. I wasn’t in a good place to do the interview. Could I have done it? Yes, of course. But it was giving me loads and loads of stress having it on my calendar. It’s not so much that there were particular fears or thoughts associated with it as just this growing, spreading feeling of dread with each passing minute closer to the phone call.

Some times in life, these things are easier than others. Right now happens to be a time when anxiety is harder for me. I’m taking medications (for asthma) that increase my body’s feeling of anxiety. So I feel anxious a significant portion of the time, not because of anything happening psychologically, but purely because of a physical response. (It’s the lesser of two evils at the moment because the meds do help my breathing, which had gotten really bad, and I kind of like to breathe.) And although I’m better now, I was in a recent small bout of major depression, so my psychological state is a bit fragile as well. It wasn’t the right time.

Stephen was super nice about it. I apologized – for canceling but also for committing when I knew I might cancel. And I wanted to reassure him that I absolutely love what he does and really appreciate the invite and want to support his work in any way that I can. (Some of this urge to “fix it” relates to previous issues I’ve had when canceling phone interviews. Sometimes people take it personally.) He wrote back and told me not to worry at all about him, that he understood, etc. And there was this line in his message that just stood out to me: “You know, this is supposed to be fun.”

Huh? I promise that it had never once occurred to me that doing a podcast interview might be fun for anyone. Never. At its best, I considered it a potentially okay experience that I would look back on fondly (from a far distance, once it was all complete), as a necessary evil for participating in my own chosen community and as something that would be good for sharing the work that I’m doing, which is work I truly believe in. So, “okay” and “necessary” made sense but fun didn’t register anywhere on my radar of what this call could possibly be.

The thought has stuck with me over the past couple of weeks, as I’ve mulled about why I hate phone calls so much but also about what one considers to be fun and what place this all has in my working life today. As for why I hate phone calls, the truth is that I don’t really know. I know that there was a time in my young teenage years when you couldn’t pry me off the phone, where anyone who called got a busy signal (because that was during the days when there were online landlines and you had to pay for call waiting so we didn’t have it), days when my dad would get up at 3am for a glass of water and realize that I was still on the phone. I know that it was this way at the beginning of high school and by the end of high school I mostly didn’t talk on the phone.

old telephone

In my early twenties, going through a terrible bout of depression, I really had to struggle with phone calls. I would force myself to make and answer the important ones. And I had a couple of friends that I connected with by phone because somehow that was our mode of communication. Email was available but wasn’t commonly used to communicate and texting cost per-message money that I didn’t have. So I did still sometimes have long conversations on the phone with friends but mostly because there weren’t good alternatives. Believe me, I’d have written long letters instead of making calls if my friends had been open to the idea.

The modern world of communication works much better for me. I’m totally comfortable with texting. I love texting, in fact. I love staying in daily regular contact with the people that I care about it a non-voice way, trading information about the mundane and the special through text. And I love that this has now been supplemented with social media where I can learn more about the people that are in my life without having to pick up the phone and call them.

I don’t think that these things entirely replace one-to-one conversations. I talk on the phone to my beaux most days (although that has a lot to do with a compromise because I’m a texter and he’s a caller). And I talk on the phone to my parents and siblings because I miss them like crazy and texting alone isn’t enough. If I could instantly transport them here for occasional face-to-face conversations then I would never call but the phone call is the best option so I do it. Notably, I strongly prefer video calls to voice calls.

Other than these few people, I’d rather not talk on the phone. Sometimes the idea of making and taking calls really paralyzes me. For example, I’ve had a gift certificate for a massage for nearly a year and I haven’t used it yet because they don’t accept online appointments and it stresses me out to have to call and place the appointment. Notably, I loathe any sort of place that requires reservations but doesn’t provide an online option for making them. I take a few other calls because there are certain instances where something is significantly easier to explain quickly in a call than have to share via a million texts (typically in regards to petsitting care). When a very close friend is in a crisis and really needs the support, I’ll pick up the phone. It’s not that I can’t make and take calls. It’s just that I don’t like it.

phone booth

Mostly, this works fine. Most people don’t require phone calls. But it does come up in challenging ways. Over the years, I’ve often had places require a phone interview before accepting me for a freelance writing job. In the past, I always took these, although over time I’ve come to the conclusion that nine times out of ten if they require a call then they don’t really understand what I do and we aren’t compatible for working together. I’ve also done phone interviews with people as part of my work (me interviewing them or them interviewing me) but again I’ve found over time that this is not how I like to work. Not only do I hate the phone call part but then you don’t have a written version of what was said to work with for your article. I don’t get why people would prefer a call in this case.

And this brings me back to the comment that it’s supposed to be fun. The comment really doesn’t even compute. I turn it over and over in my mind like a rare and precious gem, wondering where it could have come from on this planet because it doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen in my lifetime. And what I realize is that it’s okay to hate phone calls, as long as doing so doesn’t totally limit my ability to navigate my world, and it’s okay, for the most part, to decide not to participate in things that require them. I appreciate every little bit of self promotion that’s offered to me when it comes to my work but I’m (thankfully) no longer in a stage of career where I have to accept every scrap on the off chance that it will lead to something that helps pay my debt down, so I can be more choosy about the way in which I work. And although there are community opportunities that it hurts a bit to turn down, like this one, I’m learning to be okay with hearing my own heart and doing what’s right for me right now.


4D Things

Last week I went to my first 4d movie (Hunger Games) where my seat shook and the wind blew on me. I’m not usually into action movies of any kind and it definitely engaged me more. I do have to say I was disappointed that the 3D visual effects (no glasses required) weren’t very good because that would have really added the right stuff for me but all in all it was a good unique experience and a terrific glimpse into the future of entertainment.

Above you’ll see a video of the first “4d” printed dress. We’re barely starting to see 3d printing hitting the mainstream and we’re already moving on to 4d. And I love it!


Issey Miyake Fashion and Technology

issey miyake design

Almost every day I walk past a boutique clothing store on my street that has an Issey Miyake fashion display in the window. The volume of this designer’s clothes doesn’t seem like it would work on my body but I’m always so intrigued by what he’s creating. Today Dezeen has an interview with the fashion designer about his new collection and the technology being used to produce it.


Dan Howarth: How does the technology work?

Yoshiyuki Miyamae: Let me quickly talk about the latest concept before we get into the technology. It’s called Windscape, this latest collection. I was inspired by the natural patterns that winds create. It could be about the shape of clouds, a sand dune changing shape, maybe the ripples on the surface of the water. It’s also to do with lightness. I wanted to express the lightness of those phenomena and translate them to the clothes.

We created paper prototypes of the shapes. We tried many patterns including squares and triangles. We usually tend to work like that and to make one paper prototype takes about a day to make it work. The way I came to this point is through endless research and experimenting at the paper stage and gradually translating it into fabric.”

Full interview here


App: 20 Days in the Life of a Stranger

I’m intrigued by this upcoming iPhone app:

Basically you get paired with a stranger and you each get updates on what the other person is doing and where at any given time of day. You don’t actually have to do anything; you’re not posting your own updates, it’s all automatically done by your phone. And yet it’s supposed to basically be anonymous.

“We’re trying to provide just enough to the recipient of your life to allow someone to imagine it without providing actual information–it’s something in between information and imagination.” source

I’m so intrigued by this blurred line we have between public and private lives these days. I’m not sure that the app is something I’d want to use but I’d be curious to at least check it out and see how it works.


Ms. Pac-man High Scores


I may have mentioned once or twice that I’m pretty good at Ms. Pacman. In fact, it’s my personal goal every time I play the game to get the high score on the machine. The score varies a lot from machine to machine. There are sit-down and stand-up machines, slow and fast machines and other variations and each one is a little bit different. Plus most venues turn their machines off regularly, which re-sets the high score, so it’s not as though it just keeps climbing and climbing. But usually the high score is somewhere between 110,000 and 160,000. I also try to get 100,000 on the first “man” of my games but that doesn’t always happen. I usually won’t leave a venue ’til I do hit the high score though :)

fishermans wharf 12

pacman high score



CyberMonday Shopping Help: Choosing a Tablet

I don’t plan on doing any CyberMonday shopping today myself but a lot of people will be and I know that getting a tablet is on top of many people’s lists. Here’s a helpful visual of which one may be the right one for you:

How to Choose the Right Tablet for You

I think that the flowchart show here is decent but what I really like is the six boxes at the bottom that summarize the pros and cons of the different options with an emphasis on the positive things about each one.

Personally I’m a Mac girl and would go with an iPad if I were going to get a tablet but I do think that there are some interesting competitors in the market. Do you have a tablet? Which one?


4 Years Later I’m Glad I Switched to Mac … Maybe I Should Switch to iPhone Now

I’ve been looking back at some of the writing that I did in years past and I came across a series of liveblogging posts that I did when attending Macworld 2008. I had long been a PC person and was just about to become a Mac girl. I quickly gave up my old PCs and got both a Mac laptop and desktop. I’m still using those tools that I bought four years ago and I really haven’t had any problems with my Macs.

Excerpt About Macs

Here’s an excerpt from my pre-event post for that liveblogging series:

“My final reason for holding out on the PC was that the guy who helps me with all of my computer problems knows how to fix almost any PC issue but isn’t familiar with Macs. My brother’s response to this argument was, “you don’t need tech help with Macs because they don’t break”. A week later, I found myself in a bind when my relatively-new PC decided to start burning up on me for no obvious reason. Long story short, I had to quickly buy a new computer. My stubborn self went with a cheap PC that was pre-loaded with Vista. I’ve had nothing but problems ever since and they finally pushed me over the edge. I can’t think of a good reason NOT to switch to Mac.”

I Haven’t Really Had Tech Problems

I have to say that this has proven to be true. I ALWAYS had problems on my PCs … issues with viruses and random weird problems that I didn’t understand and needed other people to help me with. I’d take my PCs into places like the Best Buy tech center all of the time. I haven’t had to take either of my Macs in for help once. I’ve had no problems with viruses. I haven’t had any major issues with updates.

I will say that I’m running into a weird problem these days with Word … my toolbars constantly keep disappearing and I don’t know why. But it’s an old version of Word for Mac and it’s the only real strange issue I’ve had so I’m rolling with it and not complaining too much.

I Admit I Used Cheap PCs

I always used HP computers and other inexpensive brands of computers. I think that might be a contributing reason as to why I had so very many problems with my PCs that I haven’t had with my more expensive Mac. I do wonder if getting a pricier branded PC might have made a difference. I wouldn’t have known what to buy, though.

I Like the Lack of Mac Options

The fact that I wouldn’t have known which expensive PC to buy leads right into this point. There aren’t dozens of different Macs to choose from. They’re all basically the same. And I liked that. Choice is great but sometimes too much choice is overwhelming, especially when you’re buying an item that you don’t know a lot about. I like that Mac offers a good product with limited decisions required to make the purchase.

So Maybe I Should Finally Get an iPhone

I’m going through a different transition these days, trying to decide if I should switch from my HP Smartphone to an iPhone. I held out against getting a smartphone for a super long time. I don’t use my phone much. I’m usually not far from a laptop. And I like tiny little phones. But recently I decided to get my first smartphone. I chose the HP Veery because it super small. It offers basic functionality but nothing special. I wouldn’t ever spend a lot of time on it but it allows me to check email and look up directions as needed, which is nice.

I know from using my iPod and using other people’s iPhones that I like the iPhone. I like how it works. I like it for some of the same reasons I like my Macs. What I don’t like is that it’s so much bigger than my little HP Veer so it doesn’t fit in my small pockets. I don’t really like talking on iPhones either but I’m sure I could get used to it. If I’m going to bother paying for data every month then maybe it would make more sense to upgrade to an iPhone with the greater functionality. So tough to decide … But it helps to know taht four years ago I was hesitating about going with Mac and I’ve only been glad that I did.

Are you a Mac or a PC person? Why?


The Internet is Making Readers Out of All of Us

Over the years, we’ve heard so many people complain that the Internet is bad for our children. People aren’t reading enough books anymore, they say. Kids are writing in txt. And I’ve always pretty much thought it was hog wash.

Now there’s some science to back up my feelings. A recent article from LiveScience starts off:

“Widespread Internet use will actually improve the reading and writing skills of the world’s population, most experts agreed in a new survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.”

The article goes on to discuss a survey that indicates, among other things, that a lot of people believe that the Internet is actually making people more literate than ever before. And you know what? I buy it.

Has book reading declined over the years? I’m not sure. I think that a case could be made either way. But what I do think is true is that there are more people, especially young people, who are reading a variety of different material on a daily basis thanks to the accessibility of information on the Internet.

We have access to more information than ever before. Kids who would never have watched the news before have a general idea of what’s going on in the world because of updates on various sites including their favorite social networking sites. Kids who never would have written long letters to their friends are constantly articulating things to them online and via text messaging.

Yes, undoubtedly there are some drawbacks (as there would be with anything). Text and IM may hinder spelling abilities. At the same time, you have to admit that the fact that your computer tells you when you’ve spelled something wrong makes it a lot easier to see your errors and learn how to fix them. So, pros and cons, maybe, but I’m in the camp of people who thinks that the more people who are reading – whether they’re reading books or reading Twitter status updates – the better.

What do you think about this issue?


Cuddling with my Computer

If you had told me five years ago that I would be cuddling with my computer on a regular basis I probably would’ve dismissed you as crazy. Sure, I was already making a full-time living off of web writing which meant that I used my computer all of the time but I considered it a tool of the job. I certainly didn’t think of it as something to cuddle up with.

These days I cuddle up with my computer all of the time. What changed? A lot:

  • Laptops are more cozy to cuddle up with. The biggest difference between then and now is probably that I use a laptop more often than I use my desktop. Sure, I have a LTR with my desktop computer which is where I save and store everything. But I can pull my laptop into bed with me, take it on vacations, have it there at all times. It’s much easier to cuddle up with it.
  • Social media. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on social networking sites five years ago. Sure I was active on a few but not like I am today. These days, social media makes it so that my computer is a friend. Or rather it gives me access to friends which makes it appealing to cuddle up with it. At the start of a new day or the end of a long one, it’s nice to pull my computer into my lap and reach out to the world beyond its screen.
  • It’s my main source of entertainment. Five years ago I had a television set and preferred going to the arcade to play video games. These days my computer is my main source of entertainment. I love Internet TV and streaming movies. It’s no longer just a work tool; it’s my companion for an at-home movie date. And it’s not bad for playing video games with either.
  • My personal blogging has grown. I used to only blog for clients. These days I blog for myself as well. I certainly prefer to journal in a notebook but I do have to admit that the confessional style of blogs is appealing as well. It gives me more of a connection with my computer than I had years ago.
Would you say that you cuddle with your computer?