Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Now Playing: The Neighborhood - Honest 

On Friday, during this conversation with my coworker, at one point he asked, "doesn't it get noisy in Starbucks?" after I told him I wrote there.

It does get noisy, but ambient, white noise helps you be more productive. It acts as a filter to that which is truly distracting, and just hums in the background, keeping your ears busy without beckoning your full attention. Some people need silence to write, but I need white noise (and the occasional music) to fully concentrate.

I've read explanations of that sort multiple times. I should be able to explain them easily, and when he asked me that on Friday, the words were there. Fully formed, perfectly cohesive. I had them because I'd summarized them before. But whereas they were buoyant in my mind, floating elegantly, they were heavy and jumbled by the time I forced them out my throat.

When I was younger, I used to cry easily. I still cry easily, but it's not nearly as much as it was before. Whenever friends got into arguments or fights--at me, with each other--I'd try and try and try to hold back for as long as possible. But eventually the tears burst like a dam and I'd fling my arms sideways in defeat and wait for the looks of frustration to settle on people's faces.

Eventually I did learn to contain it, but as someone who's needlessly obsessive, I tend to overthink snippets of conversations or events, and the tears or anger reaches me eventually.

As this generation figures out this form of communication, and this other generation gets mad about that form of communication, and as all generations bicker and divide among themselves and with each other and lines blur, you're probably left wondering who to listen to and who you agree with.

I have heard--from friends, from acquaintances, from strangers on the internet, the old, the young--that it's bad form not to confront people face to face. Wrong not to be meaningful face to face. If you have something to say--something vital, whether negative or positive--be upfront about it. Don't text, don't email, don't write a letter. Calling is a bit of a blurry line, but it's also deemed to be bad manners. Just show up, look at someone in the eye, and tell them what's on your mind.

That is hell to me.

I am not articulate. Even if it's something inconsequential, silly, whatever, I can't do it. I can't speak properly. I memorize words and sentences to throw around and when people are talking--at least people I don't know all that well--I try and gauge how many words I'm supposed to throw at them to make them keep going. Recently I've landed jobs that deal a whole lot with phone calls, and the way I deal with that is by trying my best to have ten to twenty stock phrases I can juggle around.

The criticism I see in regards to choosing written communication over verbal communication in regards to confrontations or important revelations is that it's "cowardly." Like you're using this phone, this keyboard, even this pen and paper to hide in case the recipient has a reaction that torches you.

I don't get that criticism. Hearing people get mad doesn't have a higher threshold of impact than reading angry, frustrated words from them. I've had arguments with people--close friends--where we couldn't openly yell at each other face to face because of distance and circumstances, and I still came out of those shaking. Stomach in knots, obsessive overthinking, fears of possible outcomes. The whole ordeal.

But at the very least I felt like I had used all the words I needed to use. Felt like I'd arranged them in the right way, spaced them out properly, replied to every single counter point. I may have fears and regrets afterwards, but none are born of what I did or didn't say (well, write).

I think it's also that I have a tendency to speak in overtly exaggerated phrases in real life. I never go to sleep, I go "pass out." I never like anything, it's all "cute"or "adorable." I never dislike anything, I "hate it," or it makes me wanna "kill it" or set "something on fire." If I'm bored, even a little bit, I'll "wanna dig my eyeballs out with a rusty spork."

That's amusing if I'm being cheerful, but if conversation takes a turn for the unpleasant, it sounds serious. And I don't know what words to choose. Writing forces me to think of all the subtleties behind two or five sister words, but I can't do it when I'm talking. I don't even think it has anything to do with speed or needing more time. It's just something about having to use my mouth and hear my voice string out together the syllables. It doesn't work. I don't know how to make it work.

So I'm bothered by a lot of things. And if I could properly engage in Face-to-Face communication, or even a damn phone call, I would just sit down and talk to people about them and see if we come to a resolution or a big ugly fight that then leads to a resolution. But I can't and I'm stuck and if this keeps going, I'm going to spend way too much time with my vocal cords tied together.

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.