Friday, March 16, 2012

Filling Space

Written in 2001 -- but just a applicable today as then. It's interesting to remember what fun it was working at the #3 Telephone Company -- though my time there was rapidly coming to
end to be replaced by a three year stint with the construction company.

Voids make me nervous. I must fill them.

If it’s too quiet, I’ve got to have noise. At home alone, either the music or the TV is always playing. If I need to concentrate, I fill silence with my thinking – so I then I turn off the music or the TV – but I talk to myself. “You idiot” is heard far more than “You genius!” but I honestly do add passing commentary to my activities. This has become such a habit that the employees at The We’re #3 Telecom Company have become highly suspicious of me as a sharer of cube walls. Cursing, of course, is strictly frowned upon in a correct corporate setting, but my years of teaching high school make me a master in the creative use of the “F” word. “You and who the ‘F’ else thinks this is gonna work?” I’ve been known to mutter when given a complicated diagram that has been passed off because nobody else had the patience, time, or skills to create it. “I’ve got a group grope at 10 ‘F-ing’ o’clock, g**d*** it” is my usual response to having to attend corporate meetings.

It’s impossible for me to lie in bed and NOT be asleep. Sometimes I make up stories in my head – all of which I star in, of course. These stories can lead to sleep if they’re not too exciting. I also turn on the CD player beside my bed and pretend I’m Emile Pandolfi making those beautiful arpeggios on the piano. But if my head won’t play games with me, then I’ve got to get up or turn on the TV or read. I can’t just lie there in the dark because if I do, the jerky leg will start to go crazy and I’ll find something awful to worry about – and then I’ll never sleep.

Boring lectures, sermons, and meetings where my attention has wandered, give me fits. If I’m required to “look” like I’m engaged in the meeting, I doodle. I can fill pages with flowers, fruit, curly shapes, and bare bottoms (which once drawn are then covered over with curly shapes and flowers).

Hubby sleeps when he’s bored. I’ve never managed to nod off like he can. He also snores during his “boredom sleep” and I find this highly entertaining. I can occupy myself looking for the perfect “target” for the well-aimed “wake-up” elbow jab – one that will startle him awake and possibly even seduce him into a muffled “Oooph.”

Sometimes I use sermons as a chance to make lists of things – like grocery lists or “to do” lists or lists of ideas for corporate communication plans. You can get a lot of things jotted down during a 20-minute sermon; great lists that you can pull out the next day when someone wants some creative thinking. I’ve even charged time against some of these “list making” sessions, if I’ve been especially innovative.

Empty spaces make me nervous, too. In our home, if there’s a blank wall, I hang something on it. I’m not just wedded to pictures, either. Miniature cabinets, shadow boxes, shelves filled with painted houses or blue paperweights all adorn the walls. My tiny hallway between living room, bath, and bedroom has family pictures from ceiling to floor. Parents of small children have panic attacks on entering my tiny house, crammed full of collections. If one collectable shoe is fun to own – having 300 is idyllic. Kids think it’s cool to have stuff on their own level and love to grab and twist and turn. It never bothers me because I know if something breaks I’ve just gotten a great opportunity to replace it – but parents are stricken with cold sweat inducing terror as they watch their darlings approach at a dead run the glass shelves filled with music boxes just within arms reach of a three year old.

Conversational silences are not good for me, either. I’m not at all comfortable when silences fall between people. I’ve read in novels about those silences – how renewing and beneficial they can be. Let silence fall on a group of friends and I’m frantic to fill the void with babble. We have dinner with two couples during concert season (September to March, usually) before the local university’s monthly artistic offering. I never realized how prone I am to jump into conversational voids until both couples commented that Hubby really didn’t talk much but I certainly made up for his silence. Hubby looked at the couples, and then looked at me. Twenty seconds of silence ensued while I digested the remark – and then I started to frantically explain that Hubby certainly wasn’t much of a talker. For once, Hubby rescued me. He leaned over and patted my knee – actually tap, tap, tapped on it – and told our friends it was true that he wasn’t much of a talker but he enjoyed listening and he had married a woman who told good stories, which he found quite delightful. I beamed. But I also made up my mind to try and not jump into every silence and fill it full of words. That’s a very hard dictate for me to follow, though.

This afternoon, after a full morning of meetings and mostly meaningless yakyakyak at work, Hubby brought me new sound toy. Our CD player had gone belly up a month ago and we have been music-less since. Kansas City no longer has a classical radio station and our NPR station only plays talk radio, which is great at 7 a.m. but sucks big time at two in the afternoon. Hubby came home with a lovely DVD/five CD player. Neither of us watches movies at home but we hooked the player up to the big TEAC amp and the seven table-sized speakers – and it is now blasting in the foreground the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing “Jesu Son of Man’s Desiring.” Ah, bliss. My silence is adequately filled for the moment.

1 comment:

Donna said...

I LOVE the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I also love the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, which is like the polar opposite.