of dancing cats and banjo strumming llamas

More conversations go like this than you might think.

Still sworn off of Facebook. Yeah, after the initial “I don’t know what all my friends are doing/ I don’t have any outlet for all my wittiness/ I don’t know what’s happening in the world because all my news comes from Facebook” panic (whew!), it’s kind of nice not to have somewhere to show up to all the time, even though I can come in my pajamas.
What were your thoughts on last week’s post about learning to be quiet? Have you had any experience in turning off the noise?
One of the reasons so many of us become noise addicted is that we are actually afraid of not being available 24/7.
Witness this Real Conversation with My Daughter. Which daughter will not be mentioned here:
Me: Can you put your phone away for dinner?
Child Who Must Not Be Named: But _____ is going to text me back.
Me: So, can you answer her later?
CWMNBN: But she’s going to text me now.
Me: But why do you have to answer right away?
CWMNBN: Because she’s texting me!
Me: You don’t haver to answer the minute she texts you.
CWMNBN: Yes I do.
Me: Why?
CWMNBN: Because she texted me! So I have to answer!
Me: Why?
CWMNBN: Blank look of confusion mixed with concern over my mental well-being.
Though the dialogue appears pretty pointless on the surface (and trust me, it was), the thing I took away from this interchange (other than her phone) is that we now have to teach younger generations that they are the master of their own availability. In order to teach this, we must know it ourselves.
A few things I do to remind myself that I control my own availability to the world:
  • I refuse to get email on my phone. If i’m out, I’m out. It takes minutes I don’t need to use getting fifty message and then deleting 49 of them as garbage. Almost no one needs a response that fast. If anyone does, he really should have emailed me yesterday. If I know something of importance is coming and I’ll be out for a while, I’ll check. Otherwise, nope.

  • Similarly, notifications are turned off on my phone. Do I actually need to know immediately with an accompanying “ding” that someone just “liked” my picture of a cat dancing to “Eye of the Tiger”? No, I do not. (Plus no, I have never posted such a photo. And never will.) Bells and whistles and quacks (yes, have quacks) on my phone telling me the world is paying attention to me may feel validating, but really? They’re just noise. Noise that gets into our psyches and demands our allegiance while creating stealth stress. I don’t need it.

  • I try to block all my appointments in one day. This is tough for an introvert. By the end of a day full of interaction with all those PEOPLE, I will probably need a cup of warm tea, a fetal position on the couch, and a Jane Austen marathon on TV. BUT—I know that one day is the day I choose to be available. I CAN choose it on other days, but I do not have to. It’s freeing. Just don’t expect me to add a trip to Walmart onto it, because THAT would send me screaming into traffic.

  • I give my kid the car. Really. See, if she takes my car to school for seven hours, those are hours I simply cannot be available to be anywhere but at home WORKING. (Or playing online jigsaws. Or doing twelve loads of laundry. Or dancing to 70’s disco on my kitchen table. But work is really the best option here, right?) It’s genius.

  • I never answer my home phone. Never. If you have that number, sorry. Eventually, I’l get your message. Although to be completely honest, I never remember to check those either. If my husband were to up and die anytime soon, I guarantee those messages would NEVER see the light of day. Only he remembers to listen. Entertaining as it would be to annoy a telemarketer with completely made up scenarios in which I might buy his product, I save a LOT of time by not even walking over to the phone. Done.

Bottom line, you are the master of what you choose to pay attention to.
What about you? How do you retain control of your own availability? Comment with your tips and thoughts.

2 thoughts on “of dancing cats and banjo strumming llamas

  1. I do not answer my home phone–ever–like you. I also do not answer my cell phone during the day unless it is my husband, child, or a business connection. Family members and friends need to understand that even though I don't dress up and go to a job every day, I am working, and I am not available when they decide to talk on the phone. I also give myself permission not to be available. That has helped me tremendously. (I don't have a smart phone, so that takes care of a lot.) Thank you for this post, Jill. I'm glad to know there's someone out there who thinks like I do.


  2. Yes, I am struggling to help (make!) my family adjust to the fact that I am no longer the primary everything at home. I have a job (two jobs!), even if it takes place in the living room. It's a very difficult adjustment (for them!). Frustrating often.


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