Friday, January 30, 2009


Yesterday, my therapist, whom I hired in October because I was thinking again about driving into on-coming traffic, canceled my appointment for this morning. I was out of town during the semester break, so I haven't seen her since early December. The receptionist who called to do the canceling, asked me if I would like to reschedule, and after I said yes, she told me that there were no openings for next week because the Dr. had had to reschedule so many other appointments, so, would I like to schedule for the week after?

I know about transference, yet I haven't been able to shake the feeling of rejection all day. Why does it seem like I am the last in line? The whole thing is stupid and selfish, since I'm sure whatever led to the therapist's need to cancel and reschedule all these appointments is not good. Still.

I told the receptionist, nevermind, I will have to check my calendar and get back to her. The receptionist sounded taken aback. I thought--stupidly--Ha! that will show her.

Then, I had to call and verify receipt of a replacement debit card, since a couple of my credit/debit accounts were closed as a result of a recent security hoo-ha that apparently affected half the world. This turned out to be a far more frustrating experience than I think it ought to have been. After I called and entered my pin number as instructed on the new card, a phone recording told me that the pin number I entered was incorrect. I tried re-entering five more times (even though the recording said I'd be allowed only three total). When it became clear that my pin number was no longer my pin number, I called the woman at the bank, the one who sent the letter apprising me of the security event and the impending arrival of my new card. This person told me I had to select a new pin number, and then she asked me to tell her the number. I said, it's not very secure if you know what it is. And she said, in a comforting-slash-irritated tone, that once she entered it into the computer, it would be gone. I thought, how reassuring.

I used to believe that I might have OCD because I would call and check my bank and credit account balances by telephone--sometimes 2-3 times a day. I would feel anxious until I had established exactly how much money was in (or not in) each. I would add and re-add or just gaze intently at the spreadsheet I created to keep track of savings. God forbid anything weird should happen. When I had a payment arrive late at Citibank in 1998 or something, I nearly lost my mind. I cried until they waived the fee and a supervisor promised not to report me.

Worse, in 2002, a bankruptcy suddenly appeared on my credit report because a bank that loaned me money to pay tuition one semester in college got a co-signer on my account mixed up with someone else. I wasn't even the one involved in the mix up, and I eventually cleared up the mistake, but it took months, and in the meantime, I could hardly eat.

In 2003, when I lived for 9 months in Connecticut, that icon of corporate compassion Blockbuster reported me to a credit agency because I turned in a movie late and then did not pay a $13.00 late fee. I didn't even know I owed a fee! The day I received the credit agency letter was a day the manager of the Blockbuster in Middletown will not soon forget! I rolled into the store, yelled at the people waiting in line, yelled at the clerk behind the counter, yelled at the manager, cried, started hyperventilating. It was horrid. Most recently, someone (I suspect a restaurant worker at O'Hare Airport) sold, sent, or took one of my card numbers to Mexico and managed to charge over $3,000 on my account in a couple days. None of these experiences has had serious repercussions; they've mainly just been hassles. But the level of anxiety--exhorbitant.

These days, I check all my accounts 2-3 times a week and wonder if such impulses may be a fairly reasonable response to new cultural realities. We scatter ourselves across the Web in a million different ways, make facets of ourselves available and, I suppose, vulnerable. And not just our money.

Earlier this week I posted a list of 10 things other people will wish they didn't know about me. This is one of a series of such all-about-me lists that make the rounds on Facebook and email. I have received and forwarded a number of these over the past several years. They are fun to fill out, because, I suppose, like a blog, such exercises ask that we talk about the one thing we know best, ourselves, and because they imply an audience--readers who, because they've chosen to "play," thereby indicate an interest in knowing us and in having us know them. Just passing along one of these lists is risky, though. Beyond the vulnerability I hint at above, the chance, that is, that what I write might be used to my detriment--professionally or personally--there is another risk.

The lists are inherently juvenile--as is Facebook, as is blogging--in their self-centered "look at me-ness." Those who "play" sort of implicitly agree to suspend that judgment about themselves and each other (or conceal it from themselves by calling what they do "networking"). Anyway, the risk is that the recipient of an invitation to share such a list will meet the invitation with a sneer and a groan that reminds us of what we already know--our lives are depleted and consist of juvenile makings and remakings of ourselves in a public that usually agrees to view such things good naturedly, as ways to connect, to self express--like wearing a silly hat or piercing a nipple--but that really knows they are sad and empty. Indeed, at any time, we might be smacked down with a reminder of that fact.

Anyway, to get back to where I started, I deleted my list of 10 Things You'll Wish You Didn't Know About Me not because it made me feel silly but because I began to feel self-conscious about some things I didn't want people to know about me. I've been thinking that I'll probably soon remove the 25 Random Things from Facebook, too. And some fine day, in a fit of self loathing, I'm sure I'll delete all of these posts, and replace them with an image of Anne Bradstreet and have done with it, because too much self-exposure, like too much self-indulgence is a nasty habit, bad for the soul.


Todd Colby said...

that looks really cold.

ame said...

devilish cold