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A Woman's Journal



By Maggie Turner

November 7, 1999


6:01 a.m. I am one of those people that wake up early, reviewing life's stressful situations. This doesn't happen every morning of course, it doesn't even happen often, just when the stressful situation seems relentless or overwhelming. As you can see by the time of this entry, I am awake and an issue is under review.

The problem lies in that these stressful situations can seldom be vanquished through the review process. I think I dream about the situation in the early morning hours (perhaps it is more like a nightmare) and that is why my first conscious thoughts are deeply involved in the analysis process. When I awake early in the morning in this state I am not likely to resolve the issue at hand and to add to the misery, I am overtired. This is not a recipe for success.

It seems that the issue so pressing on the outside triggers unresolved inner conflicts. The web of connections between the inner and outer stresses makes for intense discomfort and interferes with sleep. That pretty much describes this very moment.

The details are too complex to explain with language, the issue too mundane to be interesting here.

2:24 p.m. I received an email today from Attila's stepmother. This has me thinking about online communications. It troubles me, I'm not sure why, that I am far more comfortable communicating over the Internet than I am face to face. I look forward to email and other forms of online communication and I dread face to face communication.

Why do I prefer online communication? That is what I am asking myself. One reason may be that while communicating digitally I can sit comfortably in my safe, familiar little cocoon. There aren't many unknown quantities in this environment.

Face to face communication would require that either I meet the person at a location outside the cocoon or I invite them into my cocoon. If we meet outside the cocoon we will be in either a public space or the other persons personal space. Public spaces can be interesting and exciting. One must be aware that danger can exist there, and remember that it probably doesn't. This is work. It can diffuse and dilute my focus on the other person.

Meeting with someone in their cocoon (home, personal space) has its own set of challenges. I am a guest. I feel that I want to honor their space and avoid stepping over their personal boundaries. This is work. I am a naturally curious person, a very curious person. In a new environment I want to see everything and touch everything and ask questions about everything (I wouldn't be visiting someone unless I did find them interesting). It is difficult to focus on a conversation in such a setting. I am always visually distracted, only half listening. I am always in danger of unintentionally stepping over boundaries.

Inviting people into my cocoon doesn't seem to work out very well for me. I'm comfortable, at home and familiar with things. In the excitement of welcome intellectual interaction I forget that they might not be comfortable plopped down in that odd chair I dragged in for them to sit on. I forget that they will get thirsty, hungry, have to go the bathroom. I talk and listen and talk and listen. I want to show them everything. For example: as a married college student I invited a professor with whom I shared some interests for dinner. I spent the day cooking and preparing the meal; it was ready and being kept warm when he arrived. He brought wine. We, (he, my husband and I) talked for hours. He asked for glasses and served the wine as I blissfully listened and talked. Finally, after many, many hours he looked at me and said, "didn't you invite me for dinner?" I had completely forgotten! The meal was a success, if late and I was grateful that he was brave enough to ask, I mean, what if he hadn't!

There are some obvious advantages to communicating online. I don't need to get dressed, brush my hair, brush my teeth, or wear shoes. The bed can remain unmade, the dishes undone and I don't have to use a fork when I eat. I can laugh at inappropriate times as I read a message and offend no one. I can write whatever comes into my head and then leave it for 5 minutes, reread it and edit it before the other person sees it. I can use a grammar check so that I don't sound illiterate. I can delete anything I can see and even some things that I can't. The list goes on, and if your reading this I'm pretty sure you have a list of your own.


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