Yesterday, after taking a couple phone meetings from the Red Hat New York branch, I caught the bus to Boston just in time to have dinner with Fred Grose, Karlie Robinson, David Farning, and 3 students from RIT - Eric Mallon, Tyler Bragdon, and Wes Dillingham - all working on Sugar-related projects this summer. After taking an extremely inefficient route to Alewife (non-Boston drivers in Boston + one way streets = lost) to show David and Fred where to park their cars for the week, I got back to pika to find myself locked out of my room, and spent the night working (and eventually sleeping, for a few hours) on a couch in the basement instead.

I am going to sleep so much this week. (Target: at least 6 hours a night, every night, in an actual bed.) I'm going to bed before 1am tonight. I need to make sure I'm at my best on Thursday afternoon, because I'm going to need the energy for 5 hours of sustained, intense concentration; I have 5 straight hours of interviews and nearly all that time is back-to-back phone calls.

It's actually a mark of pride that I think I can handle 5 hours of back-to-back phone calls. A few years ago, I would have blanched and said "no, I can't do this." As a severely hearing impaired person who relies heavily on lipreading, I'd always assumed phone calls just Didn't Work for me, and when I had to take them (because I couldn't avoid them), they were Really Hard.

When I graduated from college, I decided this was stupid. I was avoiding phone calls because they were hard. Okay. Were they hard because they had to be hard? Was this an unavoidable, unassailable thing I couldn't change? Or were they hard because I hadn't learned how to handle them yet? Either way, there was no hope of finding out or getting better unless I forced myself to try it. Repeatedly. Constantly. Looking for ways to improve my coping skills. Thus followed long periods of alternating teeth-gritting masochism and total wimping-out.

I still avoid phone calls now if I can help it, but I can deal with them now. It helps to do explanations and disclaimers at the beginning, and I use conversational strategies like periodically summarizing the other person's comments to make sure I'm understanding them correctly. Incidentally, I've long been convinced that my hearing loss has made me a better listener because of the amount of focus I have to muster in order to begin understanding a speaker. And that's what I can do; focus harder, longer, and smarter. It's still as hard as it ever was, but my endurance for pushing through it has increased. I can make my brain sustain a longer effort to understand and react to signals I can often barely detect, and I know when I have to let it coast and let the conversation wash over me (and accepted that sometimes I'm going to have to coast and that this is okay), and how to catch up afterwards. I don't prefer phone calls, and don't think I ever shall, but I'm no longer irrationally afraid of them.

This is still the longest marathon of phone calls I've ever done, though. It'll be a challenge. After a one-hour call, I'm nicely warmed up. After two one-hour calls, I'm a little tired. After 3 hours on the phone, I'm beginning to tip into the start of "mentally exhausted" - but I can keep going, and I know my reserves for coping with any sort of exhaustion are very, very large.

5 hours will rock. I'll probably be useless for the rest of the evening after that - so my remaining plans for Thursday night involve (1) a nice drink, (2) a nice movie, and (3) chilling with family until I fall asleep.

It'll be good.