March 29, 2019

caught ungressing

I know the right word is "regress" but I prefer the term "anti-progress", as both noun and verb.  Or maybe "un-progress".  Shorten it to "ungress".  I am mastering the art of ungressing.

I'm supposed to be doing self-care and solving problems and finding third paths, all of those things that represent making progress in one's life, getting a little closer to the elusive goal of having one's shit more or less together.  And invariably, the harder I try, the more I ungress.

Case in point:

I was suffering from Every Little Thing Bothers Me During Lunch at work, and P.J. found me a miracle.  It's White Noise & Co., which you should visit and sample, and then you should send the guy some money because he has put a stunning amount of work into this project and recouped next to zilch for his efforts.  I was skeptical, but see that little link on the right that says "Speech Blocker"?  Click it and put in your ear buds and turn your computer's volume up to, say, medium.  I use sixty.

Get some people five feet away from you to have a conversation.  Then tell them no, really, you need to have a conversation so you can test this out and prove it doesn't work.  Then look over with a supremely annoyed I'm-waiting look and realize that for the past minute, they've been having a shouting match about which of the Olsen twins had the more rebellious adolescence.  Goggle because not only could you not understand what they were saying, you couldn't even tell there were voices at all.

Now, at work, I wear my ear buds during lunch with the speech blocker playing and no one who asks me questions or comments on how good my lunch smells or reads news stories aloud can penetrate my psychological solitude.

Except that it hasn't solved my problem, because it works so well that now I'm extremely self-conscious when I'm chewing my food.  The sounds are magnified.  Think water dripping in a cave.  I keep taking a bite of lunch and then pulling out my ear buds in paranoia.

What chewing sounds like with the ear buds out:  "(chew, chew, chew, swallow)"

What chewing sounds like with the ear buds in:  "(SLURP-a-SMACKY-SMACK GURGLE SQUEAK SQUISH)"

So now I can't use the white noise while I'm actually eating and I still have to listen to the things I was trying to escape in the first place, and I become even more irritated.

Other case in point:

I need to be more assertive and draw boundaries.  It's a long-standing issue.  And today, in the bathroom, I took a chance and did What Would Gumby Do? and drew one.  Someone I know followed me into the bathroom and started talking to me about their computer problem - after we'd both entered a stall.

I spoke up.  I really did!  Progress for Lille.  I said, "I'm really sorry, but [nervous laugh] it makes me uncomfortable to talk about work stuff in the bathroom.  Can we meet out in the hallway in a minute?"  There was a not-at-all-brief-enough pause, and then, "Sure."

And then came the ungress, because then we both did the things we needed to do, and found ourselves at the sinks, washing our hands, refusing to look at each other or speak or even breathe loudly, and the silence was more awkward than that time your uncle brought his swear-happy parrot to your grandmother's funeral.

We went out the same door and then do you know what happened?  She walked away.  I had deeply offended her and she didn't want to discuss anything.  Now I have to avoid her for the rest of my life, which means I have to wear a black trench coat anytime I want to visit the ladies'.  Then someone else will see the trench coat and decide I must be either a perv or a liberal spy, because Fox News said so, and rumors will go around, and I'll never be able to leave my cubicle and I'll have to dig a hole outside behind the dumpsters and relieve myself there instead.

But that means having a private bathroom, which is progress.

Did I accidentally do the right thing?


  1. ooh, I can't stand eating noisy things with headphones in. I just take them out for the duration of the apple or whatever and then put them back in...
    The noise canceling thing! It's so amazing! THANK YOU for sharing it! It's helping me block out Don's horrible, horrible, horrible reality TV programming. I only hear just enough shrill screaming to make me grateful that I can't really hear what's going on in that simulated hell.
    As for bathroom lady... somebody that easily offended, you're better off getting the silent treatment. Life will be a fraction easier without her blathering :D