I Can’t Say “Lake Titicaca”

rage

Why don’t people notice when their speech is goofed up?  Does that guy with a lisp just not realize that everyone around him is able to pronounce sibilants that he always misses?  Does that girl who makes all her Ms into Bs and her Ns into Ds because she’s restricting exhalations from her nose not hear that other folks aren’t doing this?

I think that we get used to the little handicaps we introduce into our speech for one subconscious reason or another.  They become a part of our habit and are effectively invisible.  Or inaudible, rather.

Nothing brings those errors into crisp contrast than recording yourself speaking, and then listening back.  Most folks dislike hearing their own recorded voice, due to the fact that it is a different experience than hearing it as you speak.  When you speak, you experience both internal and external stimuli, so when the sound is separated from your body and played back, it sounds foreign.  You don’t like it because it isn’t you, isn’t a sound you would want coming from you.  And it’s embarrassing, because you realize it’s how everyone else hears you.

I use that example to help guitarists understand why they hate the sound of their rigs miked up and recorded.  When you are playing with an amplifier in the room, all that low-end boom from the cabinet and the reflections of the room make up part of your sensory experience.  As does the feeling of playing it, of having that resonating instrument in your hands.  Separating and playing back the sonic response from a point right in front of a speaker (where the mic is) takes away much of the original experience and thus, much of the enjoyment.

For the last couple months I have been recording my own voice, reading Shame the Devil, a novel I published a few years ago.  Recording an audiobook.

It’s been hell.

I sit there and read a sentence, hear myself missing syllables, slurring consonants, having weird vocal breaks in the middle of passages that you can only understand by using context . . . and then I do it again, and again, and again.  Trying to stop that behavior.  Failing.

And it gets worse.  There are a lot of parts of speech I simply cannot pronounce.  Normal things that when I try to mouth them, cannot be uttered by the equipment in my head.  Like the word grasp.  I can pronounce it all the way out to the P, but put it in a sentence and I cannot do so without taking so much time it breaks the sentence in two and ruins the rhythm.  “Trying to understand more than he could grasp put him in a difficult situation” becomes “Trying to understand more than he could grass, puh, put him in a difficult situation”.  I hear it, I know I’m doing it and I know what I’m doing wrong, yet I cannot change it.

I should have taken speech class in elementary school.

My Ss are too soft.  My Ts are often missed or only implied.  My CHs are inconstant.  I can’t seem to get out of an M fast enough to keep rhythm, so I either sit on it too long or avoid it altogether, making “mountains” into “mmmountains” and making “permanent” into “peranent”.  I cannot say “Lake Titicaca” more than once unless I am allowed to take four seconds to do it.  I cannot say “Lake Tiki Titicaca” at all.  Not even once.  Maybe if I have eight seconds.  It should only take about one second.

My advice to you, is never to record your own voice.  It’s like going into a bathroom somewhere, and looking at yourself in a mirror under that weirdly penetrative fluorescent light that exposes every bit of skin damage you’ve had since you were eight years old, and makes you look like you haven’t slept this month.  It’s reflective of a part of you your brain has willfully trained itself to ignore.  Sometimes, ignorance is best.

However, if you’d like to hear me masticate an entire novel with my nasal, error-laden, lisping, always-sounds-like-he-has-a-cold voice, you should absolutely listen to me read my novel.

You can get the audiobook for cheap or free, or just check out a three-minute sample of it, at the Amazon page for Shame the Devil.  Just click on the mic:

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Check Out This Song! Part 932

New Music Available!

And you can listen to it right now, for free.  Go ahead, see if I can hook your interest in 60 seconds.  I DARE YOU.

After four years of patient effort, Mother’s Mistakes is releasing a second album.  Titled Seldom Reached and Never Kept, it’s a big step in a more progressive direction for the project.  Stepping away from compact song structures, we dove into long-form composition and held nothing back.  Paired with lyrics focused on darker content, the music of this album builds a brooding, complex emotional arc.

Click Here to Stream Audio and consider purchasing a download or a hard copy at the Bandcamp site.  For a limited time, those who purchase Seldom Reached and Never Kept will also receive a free hard copy of the first album.

You are an Adult and Potential is Useless

nopotential

Today I was browsing through the funny images that stream to me on the little electronic shiny thing I carry around with me, saving them and sharing them, when I came across a concept that struck me like a brick.  The kernel of wisdom is found in a comic I will not share here per the wishes of its creator, so instead I will simply state the last bit of text, wherein it is contained:

“…you are an adult and potential is useless.”

Whoa.

This simple, intuitive concept has never occurred to me.  Nor has it been related to me, or appeared in something I’ve seen until today.  But there is much importance here.  It’s something I’ve been gradually interfacing with recently.

I’ve talked at great length here about considering your own death when setting goals.  The great conceit of setting your life’s aim and undertaking your life’s work, I argue, is that you have unlimited time in which to do it.  I think this blanking out of the truth, willed by the self and assisted by others, results in great loss for many of us.  This is something I try to keep close to my heart.

The balancing act between my creative interests has always been driven by the fact that wider pursuits means less results.  Time is limited.  If I pile my plate full, I won’t finish anything.  And my plate is way too full.  I am an advocate for specialization of your craft, yet I live in constant violation of that principle.

The arc of your life is a finite thing, and it is not the same at the beginning as it will be at the end.  Where in your progress should you be when you are 25?  40?  75?  At what point should you allow yourself to slow down, admire your work, and take a less involved approach to doing the things you love to do, setting smaller goals instead of larger?  Will you reach an age where your contributions are no longer relevant?  Will you expire before you can finish?

How can you ignore these questions?

Death and the often slow approach of death are great simplifiers of the passions that enthralled us.  Yes, the happiness of pursuit is the model, but achievement is a part of that.  If you have a single work that you dedicate your life to, at what age should you complete it?  Setting the goal just prior to your death is self-defeating; you won’t know when that is or be able to act appropriately when you do.  As well, wouldn’t you prefer to have years upon which to enjoy your accomplishment?

You are an adult and potential is useless.  Do not develop potential as an adult.  You are past that level in the big game.  You have either decided on your primary skillset or it has decided on you.  This has already happened.  Do not be fooled by the notion that you are keeping options open or opening your mind to new things.  These are important positives but they do not apply to the major pursuit of your life.  There are just as many challenges to take on and benefits to reap at this stage of your life’s work; happiness is not found by returning to the drawing board time and time again, forever.

So what is your reason for being, and where in its progress are you?

Sticking to Convictions

What do you do when faced with a disaster?

So many of us tend to disregard the emotional impact of negative things.  As though it shouldn’t matter how you feel.  We make practical excuses to disguise the emotional decision we have made.  But why?  Emotions are a huge part of us, and why should it be a bad thing to acknowledge that they inform our choices?

When faced with a major setback in a project, it is normal to want out. No matter how strong your desire and conviction to pursue your goal, your emotional commitment can be waylaid by a disaster.  Knowing that this is temporary, and allowing yourself to acknowledge the feelings but wait them out before making a decision to walk away, is the responsible way to handle it.  Throwing up your hands and making what could be a solvable problem into a permanent defeat is the cowardly way.

The work of coming back from catastrophe is in itself a confirmation of your commitment, and a reaffirmation of your conviction.  Even if you do it badly, just the act of doing it puts your heart back where it needs to be.

Sometimes that work is made worse by the degree of the disaster.  Sometimes, it’s hard, back-breaking, filthy work.  I wrote about such an event that happened to me shortly after I started work on my log cabin.  You can read about it here.

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Touchin’ Stuff

I like touchin’ stuff.  Do you?

I remember the first time I touched a bass guitar with the intent to use it.  I was twelve.  Nothing I did sounded good, and the songs I was learning were ones I didn’t like much.  But there was a complete sensory experience involved in having the instrument strapped to me, and laying my hands on it.  The weight of it.  The finished wood of the neck.  The strum in the amplifier.  The smell of metal on my fingers.

It is intoxicating; the experience of interfacing with a reality that holds a potential for you.  Linking with a corporeal present that you could bend into the shape of an as yet impossible future.

I wrote about this in my log cabin chronicles this week.  You can check it out here.

telepolebench2

How Short Can You Horror?

worm

Another month, another Misfortune 500.  Very short tales I come up with to go alongside random images.  The pic above is a banana peel with a bit of stringy banana material on the end of it.  I thought it kind of looked like a worm.

I’ve talked before about how the backstory is what makes the pictures into horror, or into whatever you’d like.  You, the writer, have all the power.  How many words do you need to exercise it to your satisfaction?

Check out the story I set down to go with this image here.  C’mon, it’ll take two minutes.  Lemme know what you think.

Moving: Progress or Regress? part 2

doorhandle

Last week I discussed the decision-making process I went through in choosing to move in with my girlfriend, and I hope that you could see echoes of your own cognitive approaches to heavy decisions. I wanted to make it clear that the decision wasn’t easy, and that my requirements and desires were being addressed in the choice. I needed to elucidate the process for you, because I planned to share with you this thing that has happened when I have shared the news with others: I have been ridiculed for it. I thought about it for a time, and decided what I believe is going on. Perhaps you’ll chime in as well.

What would you say to me, were I to tell you in a conversation over a drink, that I am moving in to the downstairs apartment of my girlfriend’s duplex? Keep in mind that I am 37. Here are some of the responses I have had:

“Well, that sounds like you’re moving forward.”
“She’s keeping you in the basement now?”
“She won, huh?”
“Finally joining the rest of us stiffs.”
“I guess we know who’s calling the shots.”

Now, not everyone talks to me this way. Some folks congratulate me and wish me luck. Some of them even mean it. But the comments above and others like it have prompted me to shut my mouth about it.

There’s a peculiar pattern about those comments. They all come from a single demographic: middle-aged, married white men. Men that fit into the classic stereotype of the bread-winner milquetoast father and husband whose wife controls the household and to a degree, him. Ideas like the “To-Do List” that she writes for him, the one room where he is allowed to decorate as he pleases i.e. “Man Cave”, the withholding of physical intimacy based on her whim which he must not challenge, even at great personal difficulty, etc. It’s an antiquated gender role that isn’t quite out of prevalence in the US, coming after the male-dominated home stereotype of the 50’s and before, but before the more modern equality-based models.

These men who deride me when they hear that I am giving up my own place to live with my girlfriend all grew up believing (and consequently still believe) that the right and normal course for an American man is to marry and become a domestic slave. A man whose only respite is when he can get away from the wife, into the garage, or out drinking with the boys, or other activities that she scarcely tolerates. A man whose spare time is spent working around the house at her bidding, on jobs he does not believe need to be done. A man who desperately wants sex but is only given it once in a long while when she deems his recent behavior (see: housework) rewardable.

This is the situation they looked for, found, and now struggle with. They believe it is fitting. They perpetuate it. And of course, they see it as appropriate for everyone else, too. And as they say, misery loves company. They delight in projecting their own deplorable situation on another male, because it confirms the validity of their choice to put themselves into awful circumstances.

But I do not believe it is fitting. Thankfully, neither does my gerlf. She and I plan to approach things from a position of equal footing, and to respect each others’ needs, plans, and desires as being of equal importance. Supporting each other, rather than limiting each other. I have found, partially because of the derision I’ve experienced when sharing the news of my move, that such an equality-based approach to cohabiting is not just what I’d prefer, but it is actually a hard boundary for me. I become angry at the suggestion I might do otherwise. And I wonder if this points to my own childhood. Did I flinch when my mother handled my father’s sincere feelings as trifles? I am unsure.

Perhaps it is the fact that one approach reflects love, and the other reflects resentment, and the fact that I see this makes me sensitive to suggestions that I would accept the latter in the guise of the former.

How does this reflect your own living situation? Are you and your partner on unequal footing, even if you planned to be otherwise? Did you ever date someone considerably younger or older than your own age and find their values in regard to living together were skewed compared to yours?