A Fine Life

I have just read an article in Psychologies magazine that has inspired me to write this. I love it when that happens – when I read something and feel I have something to add. The article was about being ‘fine’. They always say that if a woman ever says she is ‘fine’ then the husband or partner is in trouble – as ‘fine’ can be a mask to hide true, inner feelings.

The article suggested that it is better to be honest when people ask if you are okay  – tell them you are feeling rubbish/down/depressed etc. I guess it depends on the person that has asked you and the situation. I studied spoken communication at university for my dissertation – and it does seem that certain phrases are asked out of politeness or to invite a deeper, more meaningful conversation. Women are always said to be a more ‘polite’ conversationalist and I found that from my research. That is politeness translates as being cooperative, formal and inviting. Women like to include others into conversations and a simple,

‘How are you?’

‘I’m fine thanks, how are you?’

can do this. It did always amuse when I studied gender differences because a male conversation of:

‘Pint?’

‘Sure!’

can so exactly the same thing! So if this ‘politeness’ is more about being honest and straight to the point, then males may have it down to a tea (or a beer!) But let’s stick with this idea of being ‘fine’ – and within both genders. The article suggested ‘fine’ to be an acronym, which I thought was quite clever. Because even if we say are fine, we are really feeling a mash-up of feelings – and you could argue that we all are, all the time.

 

F *cked up

Insecure

Neurotic

Emotional

 

Is it better to be honest and say ‘Actually, I’m feeling kind of emotional’? Like I said above, it does depend on who it is and where you are. I would want a friend or family member to tell me what they were really feeling – even if it wasn’t a convenient time or location in fact. Sometimes, though, you just want small-talk though and keeps people at that ‘acquaintance’ level – and we all need those.

Lately, I’ve had a couple of neighbours confide truths to me. I didn’t ask for it or particularly invite it  – well I didn’t think I did anyway! One neighbour on Monday, confided that she had cancer and her latest check-up was yesterday. I only went outside to get my sunglasses from my car so that I could read in the sun. Irony alert – that by the time we had finished talking, the sun had gone in! I liked the fact that she spoke to me about it though, really. I feel I know her better. If she had said she was ‘fine’ and then I heard her health news from someone else, I would have felt that I wasn’t a person she could tell. The downside is, it has now gone a few notches up from general neighbour chat and I must remember to ask her how her check-up went. The pressure is on to not feel like a bad neighbour.

Another neighbour, a few weeks previous, confided in me about his wife leaving him for another man. Again, I was just  getting out of my car  – I think I had just come from work. We had the small talk about ‘glad the day was over and I could relax now’ etc. It somehow got onto the fact that he now lived alone and his wife had left him. This may have been a time when I wished he had just said he was ‘fine’ – as I didn’t really  know what to say! I mean what do you say? ‘There are plenty more fish in the sea!’  or ‘Maybe she will come back’? Awkward. But, maybe it made him feel better to tell someone and he was sick of saying that he was just ‘fine’.

It’s okay to not be fine. I always say that talking about things is human nature and we need to do it. We are social creatures and sometimes a chat – whether it be to a close friend or stranger – is all we need.

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Tell us something most people probably don’t know about you.

This was the Daily Prompt for blogging today. Tell us something most people probably don’t know about you. Mmmm…. I couldn’t resist as the thing  I was thinking about earlier, I was considering writing about anyway.

I once had an internet relationship. It seems like a lifetime ago really and it was when I was in my late teens and quite naïve. My main relationships with the internet now are this blog, my love for eBay and amazon, and my hatred for when the internet crashes.

But no, I actually met someone online and then went on to meet them offline, after talking for a year. The whole thing seems so surreal now and like I’m talking about someone else. I started talking to this lad through MSN chat. You remember that? I used to think long and hard about my username and font colour – depending on my mood (my friends and I spent many an evening having ‘groupy’ chats, which sounds so wrong now but was so cool that we could all chat at once!) Anyway, I’m not sure how this lad ended up adding me but we started chatting. Just friendly banter, after the initial A/S/L question (Age sex location for those who didn’t use the internet in the early 2ooos!)

It was great to talk to someone online, whom I didn’t know. We chatted about everything and anything. He was funny and loved to chat like me! I hadn’t really found a man who seemed to love ‘chatting’ up to now and it was exhilarating!

It became a bit of a routine to chat every night, but a good one. It was like having a relationship but just in the early evening. At this point in time, I had started University so this fitted in perfectly. Lectures in the day, online ‘boyfriend’ in the evening and then either going out or sleeping at night. It became quite intense to be honest, like a drug. I had not met this person but I felt very attached and thoroughly enjoyed the interaction. Before, you say, it wasn’t an old, creepy man – because he used to put a webcam on so I could see him. No, I am not talking about anything untoward here – it was all perfectly and innocent and he only showed me himself on webcam as a way to prove who he was, I guess. I’m not telling you this to admit something sordid and sexual. I am telling you because I think it is interesting how human nature can form relationships without physically meeting.

We spoke on the net for a year, eventually exchanging mobile numbers. We used to text and chat on the phone then too. It was very thrilling to receive the said texts and phone calls. A stranger but someone whom I felt I knew well.

We had both broken up with partners, which was I think was why we became close. We decided to meet in the flesh. Scary though. No screen of separation. No coming up with witty online and text replies; it would all be real-life and real instant chatting.

He was local so I went to meet him in a shopping centre. I was safe and took my sister and her friends with me. We had a nice day. It was ‘nice’ and not really a lot more to be honest. We got on and I was attracted to him, yes. But it was far more exciting when it was all online and after that nothing more came of it. He got a new partner and I got with my current boyfriend. No more chats and that was it.

I don’t regret it at all. It was a fascinating experience – like a whirl wind, cyber love. That of course, I now realise was no form of love whatsoever. But simply internet banter and someone at the end of a screen to read, listen and type comforting and confidence building comments back. Something we both needed at that particular point in our lives. And something that I will never forget.

 

I invite you to do the same and tell us something that not many people know about you………….. 😉

N.B I am not advising or promoting teenagers to go and meet people they have met on the internet. I was 19 and had a good head on my shoulders. I spoke to this guy for over a year and, as I said, I managed to get proof of who he really was. If you are going to take the step to meet someone like this, then do what I did and meet them in a public place and take people with you.

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We all Need a Sign.

I am lucky enough to be able to hear. I am also blessed to be able to talk (although, I’m not sure my boyfriend would agree!) Because, I have learnt these skills, I have also been able to read and write this today. All forms of communication, that a lot of us take for granted.

I recently started a sign language course, you see. I have always been fascinated by it and have wanted to learn it properly. In my previous job, I knew a little of Makaton sign langauge. This is a simplified version and often used with younger children. The course I am doing now is British Sign Language (BSL). Some bits are the same as what I have learnt in Makaton – some aren’t. The alphabet is the same, though. I had previously learnt this but the course has helped me to ensure that I hold my hands correctly and make sure the other person can see the signed letter easily. I am a firm believer that we should all learn the alphabet, because then anyone could communicate with deaf and hearing impaired individuals a little i.e. by spelling out key words.  Here take a look at it:

The fingers on your left hand make up the vowels. The thumb being ‘A’ and your little finger being ‘U’. The other letters tend to make the shape of the letter, making it quite a sensical system really.

We are taught by a tutor who can’t hear or speak. (Deaf and Dumb – but I am pretty sure that isn’t accepted terminology anymore with the negative connotations!). This makes us learn more quickly really because he has to sign to us mainly so we pick up more signs along the way. Naturally, he will write on the white board too to explain certain things. It was funny on our first session, as we had to all write our names on the board – as it was obviously the only way we could tell him to start with. He quickly picked up on the fact that my sister and I (who is doing the course with me) had the same surname. He pointed at us in turn with questioning facial expressions. I knew the sign for sister in Makaton and was pretty sure it was the same. But you know when you just start a group and you don’t want to be the nerdy geek?! Ha! Well, I was more worried of him thinking I was my sister’s Mum instead and realised that I could live with being the class geek and had to clear it up, so I signed sister and he nodded in understanding! 😀

We’ve had four weeks of sessions now. The part I am finding the most difficult is the numbers. It isn’t just a case of counting on your fingers as I had hoped. It changes at 6, ten and for the teens – because it is done with one hand you see:

This is the only similar one that I could find. We’ve learnt 10 slightly differently. But, yes you do a fist action for ‘6’ and then add on to make ‘7-9’. We were also taught to turn ‘2’ the other way to avoid swearing 😉

Funny story one week. We had to all have a conversation with the tutor in front of everyone else. He asked me if I had a car, what colour it was etc. I signed in reply. I then thought he asked how long I had been driving so I signed  ‘4 years’. Everyone started to laugh and the tutor looked shocked! Turns out, he had asked how long had it taken me to drive to the session that night! Ha! So even in sign language, things can get lost in translation 😉

So yes, it’s all very interesting. We are doing just the beginner’s course and then there is a Level 1 – 6. It is a whole new langauge and it will take years to perfect the grammar (different from the written word as words like ‘are’ don’t exist – generally explaining why deaf people can’t always write in the same way), facial expressions and then the slang and informal talk. I’d like to go all the way with it but we will see how obstacles like time and money get in the way!

But as I say, if people just took a little time to learn the alphabet then it would bridge that gap of communication. I also fully recommend the Beginner’s course. You learn, in addition to the alphabet and numbers, family signs, question signs, colours and the other bits (which we haven’t done yet!). The course is 11 weeks long and only cost £68 and that is including £15 for the exam at the end. Obviously, it will vary depending where you live or where you study at. But it’s worth the money for such a valuable life skill.

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