Driving Ms. Crazy

Some days, even the simplest things get ‘way more complicated than they need to be.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, sometimes I’m convinced I’m speaking Swahili because nobody seems to grasp what I’m trying to say, no matter how many different ways I phrase it.  I’m convinced it’s the Universe’s way of keeping me humble enough to summon up some charity and patience when somebody else suffers a brain/speech malfunction.

But sometimes it’s really difficult to refrain from beating my head against the nearest hard surface…

We were going to a store that had recently moved.  I was driving, and my passenger (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) was giving me directions.  I knew we were going to 9th Avenue, but I wasn’t sure of the address.

Calgary is divided into quadrants, so there are four possible locations for any given address.  Without the suffix “SW”, “SE”, “NW”, or “NE”, you’re lost.  I was pretty sure the store was in one of the southern quadrants, but I didn’t know which one:

Me:  “What’s the address?”

Passenger:  “I don’t know the actual address, but I know where it is.”

Me:   “Okay, where is it?”

Passenger:  “On 9th Avenue.”

Me:  “I know it’s on 9th Avenue, but where?”

Passenger:  “Just take Bow Trail.”

Me:  “I know how to get to 9th Avenue, I want to know where I’m going once I’m on 9th Avenue.”

Passenger:  “I’ll tell you where to turn.”

Me:  *suspenseful pause*  “And… where will I be turning?”

Passenger:  “It’ll be a left turn.”

Me:  “Congratulations, you’ve given me no useful information whatsoever.  Where the hell is it on 9th Avenue?”

Passenger:  “Oh!  It’s at the corner of 9th Avenue and 11th Street.”

Me:  “Southwest or Southeast?”

Passenger:  *growing impatient with my obtuseness*   “No!  It’s on the northeast corner of 9th Avenue and 11th Street.”

Me:  *gritting teeth*  “The northeast corner of 9th Avenue and 11th Street Southwest or 9th Avenue and 11th Street Southeast?”

Passenger:  “Oh…!  Southwest.”

Me:  *sigh*

Before you make any assumptions about gender vs. navigation skills, I’d like to point out that my passenger was male.  Just sayin’.

I can’t imagine how the phrase “It’s on the northeast corner of 9th Avenue and 11th Street Southwest” could have become any more complicated.  What should have been a five-second exchange turned into a ridiculous “Who’s On First” comedy routine.

It might have been funnier if I hadn’t been playing the part of the straight man while trying to steer my car through traffic to an unknown destination.

But it’s okay.  I know with absolute certainty that within days of posting this, I’ll be the one in the passenger seat, obfuscating the directions while the driver’s blood pressure rockets into the danger zone.

Come to think of it, I seem to recall the following conversation not too long ago:

Hubby:  “I’m supposed to turn left here?”

Me:  “Right.”

Hubby:  “Right?  Shit!”  *swerves over two lanes of traffic*

Me:  “No, left!  I meant, that’s right… that’s correct; you’re supposed to turn left…  Never mind, I’m an idiot.”

Thanks, Universe.  I owe ya one.

Anybody else have one of those “Who’s On First” moments lately?

P.S.  I’m so pumped – my new book cover designs are finally done!  Check ’em out in the “My Books” panel at the right – or bigger versions here.  They should start hitting the stores in a week or two.  🙂

Sometimes I Speak Swahili

Sometimes I speak Swahili.  It’s the only possible explanation.  Except for the fact that people who speak Swahili can’t understand me, either.  So maybe sometimes I speak a heretofore-unknown but terribly clever secret language.

Yeah, that’s gotta be it.

Has this ever happened to you?  I’m standing in front of somebody flapping my gums, and I think I’m being perfectly clear.  Then I see the glaze of bewilderment in their eyes.

I try harder.  I explain it a different way.

If they’re nice, polite people, they try really hard, too.  They frown in concentration.  They watch my lips.  They try to read my body language for a clue.  And incomprehension spreads across their faces like local anaesthetic during dental surgery.

Eventually, we give up by tacit agreement.  They nod and pretend to understand.  I nod and pretend to believe them.  We walk away frustrated, brains feeling like wrung-out sponges.

Or, if they’re not particularly polite, their eyes dart sideways before they sneak a glance at their watch and exclaim, “Geez, look at the time!  Gotta go!”  And then they flee.

Frankly, I don’t blame them.

I hate it when words fail me.  The problem is, they don’t fail me in the sense of refusing to come out of my mouth.  They fail me in the sense of refusing to come out of my brain in any kind of useful pattern.

That happened to me the other day on a blog.  I wrote a comment.  I checked the comment over and edited it, because I’m anal and that’s just what I do.  Then I posted the comment.  When the blogger replied, it seemed words had failed me again.

Written words are worse than spoken ones.  When you’re standing in front of somebody, your voice and expression and body language combine with your speech to get your message across.  But a few black squiggles on a white background can’t do that, and when I read them again, my words didn’t say what I really meant to say.  I felt like an idiot.

So I posted another comment, explaining what I’d really meant, and apologizing if I sounded like an idiot.

Then I felt like an idiot apologizing for being an idiot.  Sheesh.

Life would be so much easier if we could just do a Vulcan mind-meld.  Then we could understand each other completely, bang, in a single moment.  Imagine the time and frustration it would save.

Then again, I’m not sure anybody would want to mind-meld with me.  You really don’t want to know what’s lurking inside this skull.  Maybe Harry Potter’s Pensieve would be a better solution.  Just yank out the specific thought you want to convey and pass it on.

Hmm.  Nice idea, but I don’t know where to get a Pensieve.  Maybe I’ll just get a T-shirt that says, “I’m not really an idiot, I just sound like one sometimes.”

At least I hope it’s only sometimes.

Did any of this make sense?

Better Left Unanalyzed

I’ve just been reading a fascinating dialogue between Charles Gulotta at Mostly Bright Ideas (Better Left Unsaid, Part 1), and Priya at Partial View (Better Left Unsaid, Part 2).  Go and read both posts, along with all the comments.  It’s well worth it.  I’ll wait.

Now that you’re back, here’s my two cents worth. 

I was intrigued by the fact that both Priya and Charles seem to use the words “attraction” and “appreciation” interchangeably.  I think there’s a fundamental difference between the two.  Appreciation is window-shopping.  It’s harmless, enjoyable, and free.  Attraction is walking into the store to buy.  Attraction can cost you big. 

It doesn’t bother me a bit if my husband appreciates, or is attracted to, another woman, celebrity or otherwise.  My husband and I are both geeks, so our minds work a little differently than the rest of the world. 

Geeks believe that all issues can be resolved using a flowchart.  Look below for my take on the whole “Better Left Unsaid” discussion, if you dare.

WARNING:  Viewer discretion is advised.  This flowchart reveals the horrifying inner workings of the geek mind.  May cause warping, distension, or catastrophic failure of normal brains. 

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.