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So here it is - Many a mickle maks a muckle

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December 25th, 2003


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12:02 am - So here it is
(The timing of this post is coincidence, I promise.)

Not feeling terribly merry here; one Friend I care about has been injured in an accident, another has had a bewildering academic setback, another is in administrative mire despite being faultless and at least two are suffering from family disputes. All sorts of draining arguments going on at this end, but now the parents are both moderately smiley, just very tired. (Likely the tiredness contributed to the ire.) All this even though our present-buying has been postponed until the 26th and later. I know there are upsides - not least good comedy repeats on BBC 2 soon - but the downsides are winning right now. (Edited to add: the comedy worked and I'm in a better mood now, but the general point still stands.)

Let's have another crack at the point I tried to make a few nights back.

One more Christmas ritual springs to mind. The '90s saw the ITV network have a morning magazine show, "This Morning", full of consumer features, very light entertainment and overtly housewife-oriented programming. They also had - probably still have - an advice counsellor, Denise Robertson, an expert on psychology and relationships as well as a Catherine-Cookson-esque novel-a-year author. She's local to the North-East so I have rather a soft spot for her; another plus is that she posts Daily Thoughts weekly which is about as close to an online journal as you can expect a high-profile agony aunt to get. If you like what she has to say, you may also enjoy her newspaper column which often treats the same subjects in more depth.

The ritual to which I refer is that on the last This Morning before Christmas, Denise would give the same piece of advice every year; the tone was as solemn as the show ever got. The reason it changed only in expression is that the advice remains true from year to year. If my message is even vaguely close to hers then the repetition has been of use. It goes something a little like this:
Christmas is difficult. It's a time when people feel they should be happy. Of course, people aren't happy all the time; being unhappy when you feel you should be happy is doubly bad. The relentless promotion of Christmas as a family event makes it particularly bad for people who can't be with their families or who don't want to be with their families. Accordingly, if there's ever a time to be particularly kind and helpful, especially to the lonely, Christmas is it. Even token "thinking of you" gestures help, though contact is definitely better, whether by a personal message, a phone call or (especially) a real-world visit.
There are three related points that I want to make here, but they're all slightly different.

1) I'm not sure who among you welcome social phone calls. I know several of your phone numbers, but that's not the same thing. Sharing a phone call with someone does suppose a certain degree of intimacy, even if not in a romantic context. (Either that, or they've asked for it for their birthday.) Overseas phone calls are either cheap or free these days.

2) I'm not sure who among you would welcome phone calls when I perceive you're feeling particularly low or lonely and would especially welcome the contact. In a sense, I'd like to be helpful by being someone to talk to, to talk at or to rant at. Of course, it's never that easy in practice; as well as the noble intentions that cheering people up is kind, there are also the equally noble halters of "they don't want to be bugged about it", "I don't know how to cheer them up" and/or "I don't want to make things worse". Sometimes it's not clear whether the worst thing you can do is nothing or to try, fail and make matters worse. The cautious thing to do is nothing, but I'm not sure it's the best thing. General advice here welcome.

3) There are some of you who I perceive, rightly or wrongly, to be a little lonely in the longer term. This is always a dangerous thing to do because my impression could well be mistaken, and a mistake here could be insulting. Nevertheless, there are some of you I'd like to talk to on an irregular but reasonably frequent basis. In practice, this tends to be some of the same group of people I'd like to talk to socially, but it would only be honest to admit that my motivation is a little different.

It would just be awkward to ask people to explicitly state which category they were in, whether in a poll or in private comments, but certainly it's the sort of thing that I think people are better off making reasonably public, to help keep the less-well-connected connected. I welcome people erring on the lots-of-checking, overcautious, just-called-to-say-hope-you're-OK side in my case. (This could also be reasonably interpreted as "insecure attention whore".) Phone calls best, LJ comments good, e-mail welcomed but less effective, IM contact unlikely to work. A good e-mail address for all is on the userinfo; Friends also get the offline contact details.

Two other general concepts that have been rattling around my head recently, though I haven't thought about them too hard in my mind:

A) Always remember that it is only natural that people do like some LiveJournalists more than others, though people aren't often very good at revealing to the people they particularly like just how much they like them.

B) Rants are not precise laser-beam weapons; like grenades, they have area effects. They affect each person who feels themself to be in the target area of the rant, who see aspects of the rant recipient in themself, even if they weren't the intended recipient of the rant.

I wish you all a Merry and have put the Happies on standby.
Current Mood: off to watch comedy shortly
Current Music: Gary Glitter - "Another Rock and Roll Christmas"

(22 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:flourish
Date:December 24th, 2003 04:46 pm (UTC)
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Well, although I'm probably not one of the people you're referring to, phone calls to me are fine - just ask for Maddy. I think you've already got my number.

:-p

Being blunt is good.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:December 24th, 2003 05:29 pm (UTC)

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Thanks! *hugs*

I don't think I do have your number. A quick check of your userinfo, your memories and your last 50 posts doesn't reveal anything like a Friends-only contact info post, but it could well be that you've made one and I've just skipped over it.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 6th, 2004 11:30 pm (UTC)
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Can I just thank you at this point for your kind standing offer of IM contact? About six of seven hours ago, I was in a bit of a blue mood and went on Y!M. You were online and I thought about talking to you. In the end I didn't because what I would have said was "Hi, please can I have some support and encouragement, though I don't really feel like telling anyone what it is I need support and encouragement with", which would have been a waste of your time as well as mine.

Nevertheless, I really appreciated at that point, and continue to appreciate, the fact that you were there, that you have made the offer and that you are someone to talk to. Thank you very much indeed. :-)

Definitely feeling better now. Have finished assignment, for a start.
[User Picture]
From:dr4b
Date:December 24th, 2003 05:22 pm (UTC)
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I think I would want to talk to you in realtime more if you were not on the other side of the planet insofar as timezones are figured.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:December 24th, 2003 05:34 pm (UTC)

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True and not uncommon. In practice I'm living on about EST at the moment, though I'm trying to rein it back to slightly-West-of-Iceland time.
(Screened comment)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:December 24th, 2003 06:20 pm (UTC)
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Screened - homestar posted a cool message including his cellphone number. If he wants the world (or, at least, that part of it which reads my journal) to know it then he can always reply to this to post it again and I won't screen it second time.

Off to bed now.
[User Picture]
From:jumbach
Date:December 24th, 2003 07:01 pm (UTC)
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I'm in categories 1 and 2. But feel free to call anytime, even if I'm not sad/depressed, etc.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 12th, 2004 04:11 am (UTC)
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feel free to call anytime

Thanks! I appreciate knowing. :-)
[User Picture]
From:meggitymeg
Date:December 24th, 2003 07:58 pm (UTC)
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I also fall into categories 1 & 2 - though I value my "alone time" quite highly, I thrive on human contact, in all forms. You're welcome to call/email/IM me anytime - telephone numbers can be found here and here, email and IM names are the same as LJ. And as I mentioned recently, I'm here if you need to talk/rant/etc., too! :)

I created this LJ after meeting several fandomers at Nimbus-2003, but have yet to really use it for a fandom purpose - though most of my flist is in the HP fandom. I've been really very pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of Friends that I now count among my "real life" friends - it's been an amazing experiment in getting to know new people. :)

I'm beginning to ramble, so I'll sign off now, with *hugs* and best wishes for a happy - or at least peaceful - holiday...
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 12th, 2004 04:07 am (UTC)
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You're welcome to call/email/IM me anytime

And as I mentioned recently, I'm here if you need to talk/rant/etc., too! :)

Thanks! I really appreciate the offer. :-)
[User Picture]
From:glissando
Date:December 25th, 2003 05:19 am (UTC)
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*hugs* Things always look so much better in the morning,as I'm learning to discover. I'm one of those people who isn't very good at phone calls - at least I hate making them, just for the initial moment of contact (don't get me wrong, I love to talk as much as the next person, if not more). I really hope that one day I can make calls with no fear. In the meantime, I'm e-mailing you my home and mobile numbers, just in case you ever want to make contact.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 12th, 2004 04:12 am (UTC)
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In the meantime, I'm e-mailing you my home and mobile numbers, just in case you ever want to make contact.

Thanks very much!

Haven't heard from you for some time. How are you? Hope all is well. :-)
[User Picture]
From:glissando
Date:January 12th, 2004 09:45 am (UTC)
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All is fine and dandy here:)
[User Picture]
From:catalana
Date:December 25th, 2003 05:10 pm (UTC)
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Phone calls are welcome, although if I'm in the middle of something I might need to keep it short or arrange a better time. (Like, say, if I'm supposed to be teaching a class in the next 30 minutes. *grin*) If you don't have my contact info, you can email me for it.

And I adore Harry Potter, so we can talk about that too. *grin*
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 12th, 2004 04:12 am (UTC)
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If you don't have my contact info, you can email me for it.

Got it now. Thanks very much! :-)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 25th, 2003 09:40 pm (UTC)

Alone but happy

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I'm in the catergory of "none of the above". Recently divorced and with family overseas visiting the rest of the family I have just spent the entire Christmas Day alone at home. I did have offers from work colleagues to spend the day with them but actually chose to try a solo affair, just for the experience. To be brutally honest it was nice.

Spike TV is running a 007 Christmas (seven day Bond marathon - god bless you First Network for Men) which helped a great deal. Also got to IM with a childhood friend who works in Saudi whom I hadn't contacted for way too long.

Here are some other things which I highly enjoyed doing today in contrast to any other Christmas Day of my life:

1. Slept late! Got up at 10am
2. Cooked and ate a big greasy breakfast around the same time as everyone was sitting down to turkey
3. Looked at my bank account and realized it was massively in the black compared to a normal family Christmas where I used to just spend pretty every spare penny on presents.
4. Took Christmas pictures of myself with my video camera on a tripod on self-timer
5. Felt happy that I didnt have to take Christmas decorations down in a week and a bit (because I lost them all in the divorce so didnt think it reasonable to buy another set right away - so I have none up)

The one Christmas Day ritual I fell into was an after lunch nap on the sofa during The World is not Enough since I have that one on DVD and have seen it most recently.

Perhaps the most uplifting thing which happened today (and I wasn't down in the first place) was actually some pseudo-spam email I received in the Yahoo! Personals inbox at about 2am this morning. I have been invited to cast for the next reality show on Fox - called "Divorce Stories" and about recently divorced men whose break up was a nasty one and who are ready to get back on the dating horse. The producer who emailed me said my profile was perfect for the show... if she knew half my life story I would be a definite for the show... that's if personalities weren't taken into account.

I am definitely considering going for it... should be a laugh and if I get on the show then some nationwide exposure. Would never have imagined doing anything so whacky a month ago.

Anyway, 24 mins of Christmas Day left here in 'bama. So I feel quite justified in still wishing everyone a merry one West of me.

Gareth.

PS: I wouldn't have minded a phone call but there are many more people who possibly needed it more. Besides the fact you didnt know I was alone anyway... and the landline was hooked up to the internet all day after the parents called *chortles
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 12th, 2004 04:32 am (UTC)

Re: Alone but happy

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Hi, Gareth!

Hard to know how to respond to this one. Glad that you enjoyed your day. There hasn't been a Christmas Bond film in the UK for years now! Can't remember what the BBC and ITV had this year, but it really was nothing special whatsoever. Mind you, they do seem to have changed to putting their biggest films on on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. (No hard data to back this up, just a perception.)

I wouldn't have minded a phone call

As discussed, tried again on New Year's Eve/Day. At least I know that the number is correct now. Many thanks for sending through your new IM details - perhaps I'll have more luck there! :-)
From:2ndavemusic
Date:December 28th, 2003 07:48 pm (UTC)
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Phone calls are always welcome from one as thoughtful as your fine self.

A belated Merry and a somewhat early Happy to you, as well.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 12th, 2004 03:57 am (UTC)
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Thanks very much! :-)
[User Picture]
From:addedentry
Date:January 11th, 2004 06:18 am (UTC)
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I'm lonely. I think I've been lonely all my life. I find social interaction tiring and stressful, so I don't seek more of it but to make better use of it. Using LiveJournal as a brain dump is a genuine help.

As for you, it's only time that prevents me phoning you more; well, that and the fact I find speaking on the telephone as terrifying as improvisational comedy. But don't hesitate to call when you need a distracting conversation that skates awkwardly around unhappiness for safer silliness and geekiness - taking time to discuss the superficial is necessary!
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 12th, 2004 03:56 am (UTC)
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Amen to your first paragraph; so well expressed.

Thanks very much indeed for your offer - deeply appreciated!
[User Picture]
From:addedentry
Date:January 12th, 2004 12:15 pm (UTC)
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I found this article, Caring For Your Introvert, useful for clarifying my thoughts. You might too, even if you don't self-identify as introverted.

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