Open Your Ears, Close Your Mouth, Can’t Lose

I met a team from the 48-Hour Film Project today. I’m writing about it for KDHX. It’s a narrative piece, so I mostly hung around for several hours and wrote stuff down instead of requesting interviews. I mean, for one, I got there at 6am, and several of them hadn’t slept that night at all. Second, while I did ask a few people for input, in general, I like narrative pieces better. I guess the quality of the finished piece has yet to be determined, but overall, writing narrative pieces about people you don’t know is kind of ideal for a person like me. Instead of trying to impress them with witty observations and participate in a give-and-take that can be exhausting even when you didn’t wake up at 4:30am, you can ask a single question, let them talk about themselves for five minutes, and then verify the spelling of their name before sitting in a corner and scribbling to yourself. As long as people know why you’re there, they seem okay with you being an unobtrusive piece of scenery.

When I was a kid, I never daydreamed about meeting the famous people I liked. I daydreamed about being invisible and going over to their houses and just watching what went on. Let me point out that I am fully aware of how creepy this is now, but that I am only saying it because it makes sense that I would still rather observe than participate most of the time, which, actually, is creepy in a whole new way and I am still talking.

I’d also like to point out that this isn’t about making less of an effort. Observing something in order to write coherently and entertainingly about it requires paying attention, like, the whole time. “Passive” might be a better word. I makes me sound less lazy but still, you should know, it can be really difficult not to engage in a situation. It’s hard not to contribute to conversation, and it’s hard not to offer assistance when you see something carrying something heavy. It’s hard not to try to get people to like you, because in this situation, getting them to trust you is enough. I yanked my own invisible chain a few times and taught my brain to repeat: Eyes and Ears Open. Mouth Shut. Let Them Say Whatever the Fuck They Want.

This is good general rule, especially for people like me who experience a biological impulse to steamroll the conversation. Seriously. “Steamroll.” A friend once used that word to describe the way I talk. I was offended at the time (still kind of am, to tell you the truth), but have since realized that I have very little ability to control this impulse. Truly, I just open my mouth and stuff shoots out of it. I really think that I’m only trying to participate, I’m only trying to connect and make sense to another person. I also really think that it’s because I was the kind of kid who fantasized about invisibly stalking people; it’s that thing about how the people who think they’re introverts are really extroverts because they think they’re too shy and so make an effort to get out there and talk, and the people who think they’re extroverts are really introverts because they’re so self-conscious about what they imagine themselves to be saying that they shrink back to the wall in an effort to shut the fuck up, already. When I was a kid, I was quiet, serious, and generally overlooked by people like parents, teachers, and the kids who had no compunction about standing up at their desks and making hilarious asses of themselves to the whole class. Maybe now I’m trying to make up for it, and I’m using my life experience and my knowledge of Jeopardy questions as a way to connect with verbally assault others.

Note to self: stick with writing. Writing allows me to participate passively, and even though I’m not getting paid and had to wake up earlier than I do for my real job, I was happier observing people I didn’t know than I ever am when I’m sitting at my desk and working diligently to earn those paltry health benefits (yeah yeah yeah, I’m lucky to have them at all, go lecture someone who didn’t live for 7 years without them). It’s 17 pages of notes and one 4-hour nap later, and dare I say, I feel fulfilled enough to go out tonight. Like, interact with an actual human being and participate in conversation without having to write it down.

But I’ll probably write 1/4 of this piece and then pour myself most of a bottle of wine while wondering when the fuck my Netflix queue got shuffled around because now I can’t find anything anymore.

About erineph

I'm Erin. I have tattoos and more than one cat. I am an office drone, a music writer, and an erstwhile bartender. I am a cook in the bedroom and a whore in the kitchen. Things I enjoy include but are not limited to zombies, burritos, Cthulhu, Kurt Vonnegut, Keith Richards, accordions, perfumery, and wearing fat pants in the privacy of my own home.
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1 Response to Open Your Ears, Close Your Mouth, Can’t Lose

  1. Pingback: Besides, I Couldn’t Afford the Bus Fare | Ephemera Etc.

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