Yesterday Colleen and I took a long drive -- our first in several
months, given the recent rise in gas prices. The long loop via Highway 9
to the Coast, up Highway 1 past Devil's Slide and through Pacifica, and
back on 35 and I-280; about 135 miles and four hours. It was still
significantly cheaper than dinner out, and there's a produce stand just
south of Half Moon Bay where we got fresh tomatoes and white corn.
It was also our first long drive since I started getting serious about the
river posts; the
conversation was fascinating, and occasionally intense.
I had just posted Talking long distance; I went over the next few posts in that series,
ending with "Crosstalk", about my inability to do anything else
but listen or read if there are voices in the background that I can hear.
She said, "I wish I'd known that 30 years ago!" Me too.
That led naturally to the fact that she now turns off distractions when I
get home, so that we can be together in the living room for a while. Then
to broken promises, and her grumpiness over the fact that the River has taken over
a lot of the time and creative energy that she feels I should have been
using for the CD
I'd originally planned to have done by now wasn't even started
I pointed out that I'm a very different person now from the one who made
those plans, and that a lot of the time that would have gone into music
was now spent with her. I like the trade-off in general, but she thought
for a while and told me that the hour between 9pm and 10pm was for me to
work on music without her -- recording, and the kind of intense
practice and songsmithing that drives her crazy to listen to. A
million thanks, Love!
Mornings, before she gets up, are for writing and editing. It's 7:45
now. When did I become a morning person?
We talked about my poor memory for words; the fact that I often ask her to
repeat things, and my inability to deliver a simple verbal message without
writing it down. I came up with an analogy: "Do you remember all the
dialog of a movie the first time you see it?"
"Depends on the movie."
"Well, I never do. After I get out of the theatre I'm lucky to remember a
quarter of the scenes and a dozen lines of dialog. To me, life is exactly
like a movie that I'm seeing for the first time." (The quotes are as
close as I can remember, of course, and not exact -- I have a better
memory for the scenes with intense emotion attached, and Colleen had some
tears in this one.) I might add that it's a particularly boring movie,
for the most part, and the amateur actors keep flubbing their lines.
We had a couple of weepy meltdowns, but even those led to insights and
places that need to be explored and worked on. That will be another post
sometime; for now I'll just report that Colleen says that they happen when
I "snap at" her,
when I disagree with her, and when I "don't listen to" her. They also
happen when we hit on a topic that's emotionally loaded for her, including
I realized later that there are three cases that get confused, and get a
- The case where I understand what she's saying, and genuinely disagree
with whatever she said.
- The case where I understand what she's trying to say, but the
words mean something else. This usually happens because she's using
technical terms that she doesn't quite understand; in this case it was
operating systems and the difference between the OS in her
sewing machine and the OS that her embroidery-design software runs
under on her PC.
- The case where I understand what she said, but it wasn't what she
I tend to approach all three of these cases the same way, trying to
clarify her words until I understand exactly what she meant, and then (in
the latter two cases) trying to get her to understand the
difference between what she actually said and what she meant. It's during
that dialog that she often melts down, accuses me of snapping and "not
listening", and thinks that I'm disagreeing with her and arguing for the
sake of arguing. I really don't know what either of us can do about this,
but we'll continue to work on it.
The other place where I don't know whether there's anything either of us
can do is the fact that I'll often miss the first word or two of a
sentence, and ask her to repeat. This is because my attention was
elsewhere; either on a task or, in the middle of a conversation, on
composing a reply. I don't think she understands the extent to which I
find listening, thinking, and talking incompatible; I always have
to compose what I'm saying before I can say it. If I don't know exactly
where I'm going with a thought, I have to pause in mid-sentence to figure
it out. Which is about where we started the discussion,
somewhere around the location of the old Dead Cow tannery. Which was
being torn down and turned into condos or a strip mall or something.