Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Telephone and Why I (expletive) Hate It....and Spring Break

Spring Break has finally arrived! As Young Jeezy would say, "YEEEAAH!!!" And how am I spending my time? Getting a tan? Checking out a wet T-shirt contest? Anything fun with these two girls on the left?...Nope: morphosyntactic analysis. Christ, even last year's expedition to Colonial Williamsburg and the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta had more pizzazz than this. I'm not too coherent right now and I don't feel like editing, so deal.

I figure I might as well get as much work out of the way as possible with the time I have off. I called my boss yesterday and he told me that he can't have me back at the golf course until the first week of April, so I have to ration whatever money I have left until then. That way I can work as much as humanly possible and start to rebuild my checking and savings accounts. If I get my homework done now, I figure I can work more than the 30 hours a week that I was working in the fall. I'm always happier when have something to do and have money in my pocket.

One of the other assignments we have this semester for Diagnostics is to give 4 different stardardized tests to different age groups (preschool, school-age, adolescent/adult, and one more of our choice). I was smart and got two adult tests done the first two weekends of the semester, which has left me with the two youngest age groups left to finish before April. I finally reserved the tests I need for this coming weekend and I intend to borrow a couple of my younger cousins. I've had the phone numbers for their parents and I have been avoiding making the calls all semester.

For most, if not all, people who stutter, the telephone is probably the most frightening part of life. Not to get all pitiful, but not much hurts more than being hung up on because the person you called didn't realize there was someone on the line or thought it was a prank call. It's damn frustrating and after years of avoiding the phone, using it regularly becomes difficult. In my field we often talk about the benefit of visual aids to auditory information, especially for people with hearing loss. If they can look at the person speaking, they can pick up visual cues to help them understand the message. I think that often works the same for me. If I am speaking to someone in person and I stutter, at least they can see that something is going on and maybe gather what I'm trying to get across, whether it's at a restaurant or line to order something and I can point to something on the menu (I always come back to the food-ordering), but when I am on the phone, especially with someone I don't know, I don't know what they are thinking and the situation becomes very awkward. I've gotten past some of those things, especially with ordering food. I often refer back to the unspoken agreement between Ethan and I about weekend pizza delivery: he would call, I would go downstairs and pick it up. Junior year I was forced to do it myself once when he was out and I've been able to since.

My cell phone is the single most useless piece of electronics that I own. I have the cheapest plan Verizon offers at 300 minutes per month and I bet I barely touch 30 of them. I will literally go weeks without making a phone call. Granted, I don't have as many phone calls to make that most people do. I try not to order food anymore (in the interest of saving money), I talk to my mom over instant messenger a few times a week and I go home often to see the family, I don't have a nightly call with a long-distance girlfriend, or anything else that most people use their little folding silver blinky things for. This past weekend I left my phone and jacket at Dan and Karen's, and I was debating picking it up whenever the next time I happen to be there. When I came to get it, Karen said "That must have been horrible, a weekend without your cell phone." Until Dan called my house on Saturday, I don't think I even realized it was missing.

Sometimes people will call me and leave drunk voicemails or just to chat, and instead of picking up, I often let it ring and call back later. A more likely scenario would be that I wait until they are online and IM them. It's not that I am afraid of the phone, it's that it's a pain in the ass. I'm not afraid of calling my friends and family, but it takes so much effort that I get no enjoyment out of the process of talking to them.

Calling a girl for a first date has always been hell, too. When I get numbers I try to get their screenname as well, just because it's easier, and I don't care if it seems unorthodox. If I want to make a good first impression, it tends to go better through typing, despite the fact that girls prefer talking on the phone. I have a better chance of coming off well over instant messenger than I do on the phone. I think I'm playing the percentages. I tend to get the third degree from girls when I say I wait a week before I'll make that first call (because 2 days is normally industry standard, according to Swingers), but the truth is, I wait so long is because it usually takes me that long to work up the balls to go through with it. Like I said in the past, it's hard to seem cool and confident when you can't get a word out. I know girls will say "it doesn't matter if you stutter, if she likes you, she'll like you no matter what" and I've found that to be true, but when you are in the situation it feels different, especially when you are just meeting someone. Other guys can at least act the part, but if I'm nervous at all, it will show big time. I'm trying to think of a time when I just made a call in a reasonable amount of time without really hesitating (maybe Jenny?) but I know they are few and far between.

Personal life and woman issues aside, my biggest problem is going to be making phone calls in clinic to make and confirm appointments. I find it funny that the parts of the job that other people probably won't give a second thought to are the ones that scare me the most. I will be practiced and prepared in the future but I don't know how those will go, especially if I know I'm just going to rile myself up by getting worried. I've been reading more and hearing through different people about how antidepressants and anxiety medications can be used to reduce stuttering and I'm curious about that. I took Lexipro for a few months junior year and I don't remember how that affected my stuttering. If I don't remember it probably didn't help much. Though, I don't really think I got any benefit from that medication considering I was on the lowest dosage (other than being able to get drunk off one beer), but perhaps I would have better luck with another kind. I'll have to talk to my doctor about that, because I want to make sure things go well. The mood boost and improved focus couldn't hurt either...

In other news, my NCAA Tournament brackets are toast. I had a good first round, picking 72% of the games, landing me in 4th place. But one by one, upsets occurred and now I'm left with 8 teams left in the Sweet 16. I'm stuck in 50th place and no money in sight. Ohio St., one of my Final Four teams, was upset by Georgetown. I was wrong about BC and Gonzaga, and even though UConn is still alive, they are playing without a "sense of urgency" as the analysts say and will lose in the Final Four. Rudy Gay will be a lottery bust, I can tell you that. LSU's Glen "Big Baby" Davis is immediately one of my new favorite college players (in addition to J.J. Redick and Tyler Hansbrough) with an even better nickname. Big Baby! My revised, non-binding national champion pick is Villanova.

Till next time.

32 comments:

MarvThroneberryII said...

Oh, bull hawkey to those who claim that speech dysfluncy "don't mean nothin', dude" in regards to pair-bonding situations. This, I've noted, is ascertained by those who have never had the verbal problem.

That's like saying Whoppi Goldberg could be every adolescent male's beat-off fantasy if she would just have the right attitude. Attitude whatever, Whoppi is still one of the ugliest human females alive.

In fact, one stutter is one too many chatting up a human female. End of the road. Lights out. Hit the showers, Meat.

Any male stutterer who claims he never missed out on a good time because of it, I'd call him a liar and challenge if offense was taken.

"P-p-pistols or swords?"

The fact is that a smooth talkin' guy that females often complain about being cons - it is exactly what they are biologically programmed to go for and they do with gusto(even females who stutter). Any ugly bum devoid of a pot to piss in but with the gift of gab can pick up on tail.

I've witnessed it happen more times that I care to count.

MarvThroneberryII said...

...and the phone is an evil instrument to have; never rings when I want it to and every phony in America has Caller ID -

"Oh darn! That Stuttering Guy is calling! Don't pick up!" (This is what my "friends" say about my attempts to call them ;-) )

Catch 22: they no wanna speaka when I'm sober and stuttering, but when I am fluent, it more than likely means that I am drunk, and they don't want to speak to a drunk.

Just can't win with the Verbally Erudite Majority.

Stay tuned Next Time when I'll tell ye all what I really think about it....

Rob said...

Patrick,

Dude, I like your blog - the combo of stuttering and sports obsession reminds me a lot of myself...

I want to weigh-in on the female issue from my history and perspective... Even though my social life picked up tremendously after I went through an intensive fluency shaping course, rarely was I mistaken for a fluent person...in the 4 years after I went through therapy (until I met and married my lovely wife), I had more "relationships" with women than I had previously dreamed of , but I realized something during that time - Most women don't give a rat's ass if you stutter. Especially when you get into your post college years - late 20's/early 30's - by that time, enough single men are either gay or complete dumbasses, that the fact that you stutter can be offset by other factors.

I hope you keep looking and find a therapy/approach that works for you and gives you the tools and confidence to handle any situation (phones, women, etc).

Steppendaft - great blog on Puckett/Bonds!

Rob

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