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“Allow Natural Death” post-mortem (AKA “thanks”)

For fuck’s sake, Internet. What are you even trying to do to me.

I laughed and cried a lot today. I did those two things at my laptop, and also in the real world.

I have had the strangest—and yes, since you are wondering, the drunkest—week. (I try to warn against using alcohol as a crutch, because that attitude is dangerous, but there’s also a palpable reason nine or ten brain-murdering beers are popularly accepted as a legitimate type of “truth serum.”)

Ah. About this week. Here are all my work-related updates: in a career highlight, my friendly acquaintance Maura interviewed me about Boyfriend Maker, an iOS game. My ire at a dictionary became a hot story at Boing Boing. For one brief, shining moment, women in the games industry suddenly became an important subject, and I was privileged to add my voice to their numbers.

Today people contacted me privately, sometimes about my mom’s death, but sometimes about my ongoing patience and generosity (ha!) as I’ve gleefully engaged in online conversations about misogyny and misandry. Some of those private remarks—again, remarks on both topics, death and sexism, really weird for me—came from people from my past: old roommates, classmates, coworkers, friends from junior high who also knew my mother. Thank you.

It is a wonderful feeling, sometimes, just to not be alone. It is why anyone logs onto the Internet ever.

Meanwhile, in real life, a pastor friend invited me to a poetry slam. Another family adopted me for Thanksgiving. My best friend drove over to my house with toilet paper because I can barely take care of myself. I recently made a phone call to my local Internet service provider’s billing department, and when I gave the woman—a complete stranger—the name on the account, she fell silent. “Girl,” she said finally. “Oh, girl.”

There is nothing so debilitating as crying while you try to pay a stinking bill. I also consistently cry at the veterinary clinic.

Since September, every day of my life has been a challenge, a battle, a chore. The things I do every day—all boring, unfortunately—are my biggest, saddest, most boring secret.

I hope I only share the good parts, though. Actually—and it’s strange to admit this, even as life as I once knew it has effectively crumbled—mostly there have been only good parts.

I am going to write about games writing now, AS I DO. Here are some quick thoughts, organized in no way whatsoever.

On the one hand, cynicism is an important defense mechanism. It’s a type of filter. We all employ it, particularly when we lead these bizarre shadow lives on the snarky, snarky Internet, these lives that invariably mirror—but very seldom mimic—our real, waking lives, our everyday interactions with friends, family, coworkers. Attorneys. Funeral directors. Cousins. Therapists. The lady at the convenience store. If we didn’t find filters for our feelings, we would be overwhelmed by them. We would all be absolutely traumatized by our own weird brains.

On the other hand, cynicism is stupid, lazy, and boring. It’s a type of fear, and it’s an awful shortcut to take. It’s how we dismiss other people’s feelings, yes yes, but especially our own.

I don’t want to be that person ever. I want to always give the benefit of the doubt.

(Please note: “irreverence” is different. Irreverence is acknowledging a crisis’s horrible worth and then undermining it for sheer comedic value. Levity! Please, some levity!)

In February, after I’d written a rant and posted it, a longtime friend politely cautioned me against masquerading as a cynic and a villain. “You don’t want it to become true,” he said something like.

I was, and am, gobsmacked by how correct he is. Cynicism—even the very façade, which is what it almost always is, anyway, a façade—is an incredibly dangerous trick to play on yourself. It is a cruel lie we do unto ourselves because the reality of all things is just too marvelous, too outstanding.

Here is the reality: we are all dying. Every one of us will die before his time. None of us will ever be older than a very expensive old chair. Nothing you do matters, really, except that the rest of us are all right here, dying with you, either slower or faster, but always definitely. Someday, if you’re very lucky, you will have a reader or a child—same thing—who is born into a mean world you, thank God, finally left.

You can write a pained, grief-stricken article about your mother, but in a few short years, months, or weeks, someone else is going to describe you even better. It’s all useless. It’s vain, useless hubris to even try.

This isn’t sad. This isn’t scary. It’s only unfair. It’s only life. Time and love march on without us.

That is the human condition—it’s this gigantic, crippling, paralyzing, existential thing—and we often combat it with cynicism.

We always aim to shoot from the brain, but we tend instead to shoot from the heart, despite our very best efforts. We want to rely on science and numbers because memory is unreliable, but in the end it’s only feelings that are “true” anyway, because feelings are just there. They’re always valid, even when they don’t make any sense. I think John Hodgman probably did it best when he wrote a column railing against the word “meh.”

Well.

I think video games—more than writing, believe it or not—have the capacity to take all these disparate, diverse human experiences and reframe them in a way that helps, not just life, but every individual life, make so much more sense. That’s because the best video game, like the best writing, puts you into someone else’s shoes for minutes, hours, or days at a time. While you are wearing those shoes it becomes profoundly easy to understand how the shoes’ owner makes emotional sense. I think that is so important, to realize you are just one, and yours is unique and important, but you are just one.

The game developer Phil Fish, a couple years ago, said he didn’t understand how I cope. (I’ll thank you to know he is an extremely sensitive individual and oh my God if he ever sees this, know that I hereby bequeath my childhood unicorn collection to one Kathleen Sanders, because I am going to be murdered in cold blood.)

“Beer,” I joked to him. Then I immediately voiced my astonishment: Phil, Phil of all people, understands fear, anxiety, anticipatory grief, loss, and the sheer pain of waiting, of worrying things are about to go all wrong.

I reminded him, then, and let me remind you, too: I’m fortunate. I’m lucky. What I endured is what you all will endure, if you’re only just lucky enough to have old parents. If you have fine old parents, you will someday know the long, plodding, metered grief of watching them slip away. I’m 30 now—I gave my youth to an unwinnable fight—but I’m 30, I’m still so young, and I’m not sorry, I’m not sorry, not for one second.

I think a lot of my columns this year were letters I sent from the depths of my grief, but if you think for one second I’m ungrateful, I’ve done us all a disservice. I know how lucky I am. And I’m so proud. And I’m proud of my parents—over time, they let me use them as examples, let me humiliate them in my writing—and I’m just so proud of my high school guidance counselor mother and my farmer father.

This year—slowly, so slowly, as I’ve braced for my nightmare while also piecing together my hilariously unironic and literal worldview—I have been enormously gratified to befriend a number of new people. I used to think I didn’t need any new friends, that I’d had quite enough of everyone ever. (I’m still the world’s worst friend, but this issue tends only to come up around holidays.)

“Actually,” I typed to one Richard Clark earlier today, stunned at myself, “2012 was not such a bad year.”

It’s all been building and growing. Anna Anthropy taught me about the diversity of voice, of video games’ enormous, indescribable value as a medium and a force. She and Daphny David have helped me understand the value of sharing those experiences in a way that makes emotional and rational sense to the end user. Together, they’ve taught me to stop apologizing for feeling feelings. Or—it’s even murkier than that. Those two women advocate making things, writing things, doing things, not because you will strike on fundamental, universal human truths, but because there is only the funny possibility you might. That is the endlessly funny thing about being alive.

Mattie Brice—another among a pool of impossibly talented critics, and she is so good to me because I introduced myself by picking a fight with her—very recently taught me that emotional vulnerability is a type of courage and strength. (She teaches me things every day, but this is the one I’m stuck on currently.)

Patricia Hernandez, an important writer who has at an impossibly young age found her voice, consistently imparts the importance of taking an idea and then murdering to death it in an IM window. Brian Taylor and Gus Mastrapa helped me understand ordinary anxiety, of using “personal essay” to cope with great big lonely fear feelings. Leigh Alexander has assisted—as a professional first, friend next, as a writer, confidante, gamer, person, woman, and then feminist, in descending order—by promising me the work I’m doing is good. A games critic named Tom Francis made a video that I think I perhaps didn’t agree with at first, only because it threatened to mitigate my ire at things, but I’ve found my ideas of compassion very slowly changing as a result of his sheer mellowness, and it’s adapted anything I write. Philippa Warr helped me understand the tremendous value of simply asking other people for help. One woman—I don’t know her name—contacted me after I told a short anecdote about Second Life online, because she recognized herself as the other person in the story (I told her, and it is true, that she changed how I write and what I want to write about). My good, good friend, colleague, and collaborator Cara Ellison has helped me make sense of the bizarre ecosystem that threads sex, sexuality, gender, feeling, and compassion into one magnificent tangle.

There are so many others—Lana! Luke! Brendan! Ben! Others! So many others!—who have shown me that writing about “games” can be anything, do anything. You can be smart, can be funny, can literally do anything inside of a single and potentially incoherent sentence. I’m so, so proud of everyone I know.

This is not name-dropping—this is annotation. These are those thank-you letters I never remember to send right after Christmas, the emails I forget to send.

This year, I’ve also met my most valuable editors.

Stu has advocated my setting exactly what I think and feel on paper, even when I fear (or know!) I am wrong. Ian Miles has been a sounding-board for all of my strangest thoughts, from the academic to the neurotic, helping me parse all of them. Chris—whom I’ve known for awhile and am privileged to work with again, this time as a sort of peer—was the first editor who made sense of my brain and heart thoughts with tough line edits and furious marginalia. (“You think you’re editing, but you’re actually doing the work of a cognitive behavioral therapist.”) Joey—ah, Joey!—aggressively headhunted me, coaxing me into writing by assuring my of my writing’s very marketability and merit.

Similarly, there are other editors and bosses who have entrusted me with certain writerly and ethical responsibilities, and I am always torn between “Thanks” and “What is the matter with you.”

I have two best friends. Three. Possibly five. But one of them is a woman called Whitney. She used to be my boss. Another best friend is my high school English teacher. Obviously I have some trouble keeping personal and professional friendships straight or separate, and I am the luckiest for it.

All right. There is an article I wrote very recently—we published it today as part of Unwinnable’s “Family Week”—owing very heavily to all these people. It is titled “Allow Natural Death.” (My editor at Unwinnable, Stu, did me a profound solid just by titling it for me—once the draft was finalized, I could not even pretend I was emotionally equipped to so much as try to put a name on the top of it.)

I also owe a few game developers—specifically three distinct, radically different people—for talking to me privately, helping me sort rational thoughts and irrational feelings into numbered lists and taxonomies. I think, because game design approaches our unique experiences in this holistic way—algorithmically, mathematically, narratalogically, rhymically, graphically, musically, poetically—these folks, whether they know it or not, really are best at glancing over my wholly alien experiences and weighing in, and in stunning, remarkable ways, on whether my writing or ideas make any sort of “design sense.”

I want to thank Terry above all for placing sustained faith and support in me—in my voice, my literal, out-loud, spoken voice, of all things—and for making Super Hexagon. I have now repeatedly teased him about my projecting ponderous meanings to his scrupulously economical work. His difficult, torturous, brilliantly sparse games change how I want to write—you know, not in this case, this mess of a Livejournal blog, but in general.

You probably don’t care to know this, but once I watched that video of Super Hexagon’s endgame—and I was already thinking about all these people, all these things—my column about my mother farted out of me in about a half of an hour, almost fully formed.

A few people wondered how that column relates to games. On the one hand, I don’t know. On the other, that is exactly how.

Oh, yes, this was supposed to be about writing, wasn’t it.

It was not my strongest piece but, as anyone who saw the first draft might attest (the piece was largely unchanged, but it was ultimately lengthened), it was me at my tersest. I tended toward very simple sentences, few of which were overworked.

About simple sentences: we seldom have “complicated” feelings; what we really experience, instead, are nineteen simple feelings simultaneously.

I would change a lot about my column if I could. (My close friend Dan—who was my counselor at writing camp when I was a teenager—knew exactly where I was going when I unsubtly, ham-fistedly mentioned my fear of needles. I knew I went wrong there. I just knew it!)

What I’m saying is, I’m pleased that anyone has related to my strange lack of finesse, to bare and utterly artless bones. I think, even at our maddest or saddest or most hopeless, we strive for a type of authenticity or sincerity. I do, too.

I did not always feel that way. For many years, my favorite work was a play called “The Cocktail Party,” written by the miserable Christian existentialist T.S. Eliot, who was a man who really liked cats, if that tells you anything. He maintained that every person is an island and that we all die in either physical or emotional solitude, hopelessly misunderstood.

Games prove Eliot wrong.

I began all this with a brief rumination on cynicism, my least favorite type of lie, and I want to hop back into it.

Cynicism is a valuable filter. Cynicism, very literally, is a defense mechanism, the very act of refusing to put hope and love and faith and trust in things, or in people.

But people are so much more valuable.

I have slowly discovered that if you consult people—if you crowdsource a single idea, a single feeling, or if you beg your friends to very honestly and cruelly edit you—people will edit you, will help you master your thoughts or feelings, can order you to cope even when you don’t want to cope. People aren’t a crutch: they’re an ally, a sort of ability.

You can embrace people, not cynicism, and your fellow humankind can serve as your filter instead—wading through your ideas for you, finding the good ones.

I think I run the danger of sounding incredibly self-congratulatory here. For that reason, and in the interest of transparency, here is my disclosure: I am not particularly powerful or competent or patient or generous. I’ve sent three emails in the last 60 days that each demonstrated, each in a very ugly way, my capacity for being small and mean and powerfully unfair. My unfortunate instinct is to burn bridges, not forge them.

Also, I am trying to learn to be kinder to myself, yes.

Anyway. When I look at the work you do, whoever you are, I am reminded again that the world is so much bigger than my small heart, and that I want to be better than myself.

I have said this before, but we are all linking arms on the lifeboats. That is all there is.

Thank you for helping my contemplate in so many meaningful ways. For better or worse, I didn’t write about my mother at all. You did.

In other news, since you are wondering about my boring, boring life: tonight I wrote the hardest email of my life, explaining to a relative why she may not have my mother’s dog.

“This responsibility is a real privilege,” I told her. “She gets me out of the house. She gets me up in the morning. She gives me something to do, someone to take care of, somebody to love.” Then I sincerely thanked her for volunteering.


One last thing, and although it does have to do with both earnestness and with crowd-sourcing, I admit I am now being incredibly shameless:

“So your article is doing well,” my best childhood friend Cassie said to me this morning. “That’s neat. When all those people click to read it, do you get a lot of ad, uh—”

I stared at her. She stared back, and for a split second I swear I saw her eyes cross.

“Oh, no,” she said.

My bad,” I replied.

13 responses to ““Allow Natural Death” post-mortem (AKA “thanks”)” »

  1. Douglas D'Frens says:

    Having people to care and accompany you in this life is a fortunate thing to have.

    Unfortunately it’s not something I’m capable of having. I’ve told this to one person: There’s something intrinsically odious and worthless about me. No one cares to know me or to stick around. That person told that wasn’t true, but a few years later i sit here still reeling from that person’s abrupt abandonment which happened a couple months ago with no explanation. no deterioration, no obvious impetus.

    Instead of sharing your life and partaking in others’, you are quarantined from the human experience.

    It’s no way to live; isolated, stagnant, neglected.

    If it were the inevitable end for us all, there would be far more grandpa suicides.

    • Jenn Frank says:

      I’ve noticed you ended your comment on a hopeful note, but I still do not like this. Please do not tell yourself any of this ever again.

      I am going to give you the haps, now, Doug: right up until my adoption, no one wanted me. No one would have me. This isn’t a matter of popular opinion or public debate. I never lasted a month anywhere because, even at age three, age four, age five, I was insufferable.

      Well, we are all five-year olds, Doug. We are five-year olds playing at adulthood, all of us. My awful personality is pretty well cemented, and also well documented, and let’s face it: if I’m remotely lovable now, it’s for the same reasons I was hugely unlovable as a child. (In writing, we say “Turn that weakness into a strength!” In each iteration of Windows it’s “It’s not a bug; it’s a feature!” In romance, we call it “Quirky! Cute! Relatable!” Get used to trying to accept some of your own features, Doug.)

      Someone suggested to me, a few years ago and after a terrific breakup I initiated, that one of my great life foibles is testing how long any one person can take me. “And no one can win,” she warned me.

      This last aside doesn’t have any grand life lesson tacked to it, it’s just a thing. But I do caution against looking so hard for love outside of yourself—the reality is, you are your own best mate. It isn’t so alienating to consider there is one person who identifies best with you, and that person is you. (I joke about wanting to get away from myself, too, but I am getting so much better.)

      I notice, Doug, that you feel unworthy. You are feeling unworthy of giving or receiving love. I am going to venture a presumptuous guess: you are not a dog-owner.

      I would love to give you pages of advice, but all my idiot advice comes down to this: if you seek unconditional love, or if you seek repeated validation every day that your very presence is enough, get a dog. Have yourself a dog, Doug. I am not saying this funnily, Doug. It has reformatted my entire weird alien life.

      If a dog isn’t in the cards, I do suggest things like writing exercises, all of which are configured to test your own mettle. You test yourself, you challenge yourself, by making something, just to prove your own worth to yourself, even if it’s just a list of “ingredients I enjoy on sandwiches” or “scents I enjoy.” My favorite scent, Doug, is that of the gardenia.

      If you don’t love writing the way I love writing, I recommend anything else. You don’t have to blog about video games or pizza. You can instead make bracelets from lanyards and hand them out to people you like. Recently a total stranger, who was wracked by the loss of his father, handed me a polished rock. You might share yourself in another way. Do you like cooking? Would you like to be a musician or a teacher?

      You have caused me deep pain with your comment, and that tells me you have a gift for writing and expression. I want to encourage you to channel it for good, for good, and not for self-loathing.

      I think, if you either commit to a dog or write a list, or if you make bracelets and quiches or polish rocks to hand out at funeral homes, you will discover that you contain untold and valuable and countless depths.

      If you were to begin with a list, just a list, I think even the shallow parts—things like “I hate olives” or “dog farts I find particularly gruesome” or “why does anyone enjoy tomatoes”—will go a great distance in reminding you that you have a great deal more to offer than olives, dog farts, tomatoes. Doug, I have penned so many lists.

      Your feelings are valuable and valid and I very strongly identify. I struggle to be lovable too. Without my parents, I struggle to find, day-to-day, real purpose in life, and I often prefer my own loneliness to the company of other people. Other people can be daily reminders of what I’m missing. I know you know this.

      I want to point you toward one of my blog’s ideas, Doug, and that is that you are no victim, no cynic. You have survived something—not sure what, but something. Waking up in the morning can be its own victory, and sometimes if you can make yourself brush your teeth it’s its own reward. But for the good of me and others, I’d ask you to please trust yourself. If you have to prove your own competence to yourself, begin with a dog. (I will tell you right now, don’t do the plant thing. It turns out it is much easier to keep people and dogs alive than plants.)

      Please check back in or feel free to email. I’m sorry if I’ve been domineering or presumptuous, but I am looking forward to hearing more about your journey.

  2. Wow. While bits of this definitely get a bit Oscar-acceptancey at moments, I find a lot of what you’re writing here really thoughtful and touching. Color me super impressed. Definitely echoes a lot of my thoughts about cynicism and life and connecting to other people.

    I’m greedy: I begrudge other people my time and try to carefully choose the things I read because, you know, it’s easy to be surrounded by words and never hear anything of substance. But I’m going to try to pay attention to the things you have to say because I think it will make me more insightful and make my own writing better in a fairly direct way.

    Good luck with the writing gig and with life. Shit’s rough. But… exciting!

    • Jenn Frank says:

      Definitely exciting! Heh.

      I am miserly with my time, and yet my nickname in college was “time vortex,” so do know that I’m, on top of everything else, the worst hypocrite. Even being miserly—I think that acknowledges something about life being valuable, something about the importance of time and people. Like, remember: being a hipster about music means scrupulously listening to three bands no one’s ever heard of. What’s funny is that hipsters behave that way precisely because they are championing music on the whole. That’s how I feel about people.

      I don’t waste too much time on negative or awful people anymore. That is a thing I’ve learned lately. It is okay to be begrudging, I think. I want to be careful when I say this, but when I rally against certain attitudes, I don’t think I mean “meticulous about time/space/person management.” I talked a lot here about economy, too.

      P.S. For anyone curious about the “Oscar” comment, I told Twitter I’ve finally gone full Sally Field. Thank you for catching the reference, PM. For everyone else, I’m pretty sure there’s a video. Aaaaand: yes. There is a video. Richard Dreyfuss is also in it.

      • Nowadays I try to get what I can even from people I disagree with, but also try to maintain enough distance that the disagreement doesn’t take over my brain… with mixed results, admittedly. It is difficult sometimes to keep the inertia of a debate from taking over and slamming like a truck into the SUV seating a family of 4 of your good mood. That said, there also are some people that are just absolutely unpleasant and not worth paying attention to: unfortunately, it isn’t ALWAYS possible to tell which people those are.

        Also, I too am in the process of ascribing greater meaning to Super Hexagon having just recently picked it up on Steam and having it blow my brains out my ears. If you’re interested I’ll link you to whatever I end up writing about it. And if you’re not, I won’t!

      • Jenn Frank says:

        PM, I see that we perfectly agree on everything ever, so let me just cut to the egomaniacal chase: I am very excited to hear what you have to say about this video game called Super Hexagon, and—again, and I’m sorry if it sounds like a trick—I am not being even slightly ironic when I tell you my anticipation is burning.

        (I think we can be try to be patient with all people, but when it becomes terribly clear they have only your worst interests at heart, the very kindest thing you can do unto everyone is just bow out. That goes for arguments, relationships, jobs. Wishing you all the best.)

      • Awesomes, I’ll drop it either here or fire it towards you on the tweeters or probably both or maybe something else.

        PS: How does it feel to know that thousands of gamers are now pavlovianly conditioned to your voice? You could probably cause some sort of mass heart attack by saying “GAME OVER” at GDC now.

      • Jenn Frank says:

        My career highlight so far is a very famous comic book artist saying if he ever met me, and if I ever said anything, he would instinctively punch me in the throat.

        When I was a kid, I was ruthlessly teased for my distinctive voice, and after an adult mentioned my voice problem (some people who cast me in a play confessed they thought my voice would “clear up”), I went to an ENT who concluded my voice was, heh, natural. Ha, ha, ha! (I took opera lessons for seven years in an effort to learn to control my voice—volume, pitch, all that. The ENT warned “she’ll never sing,” and years later I returned, informed him that whether he remembers the ordeal or not anyway I am a mezzo-soprano, and thank you, and I left again.)

        Look at all the issues we invent for other people!

        But when I was already in my late teens, a “competitive acting” judge applauded me for my “boom,” writing that she was so startled that loud mature bravado could come out of such a small person. Here you see, again, how “voice” stops being literal and becomes its own metaphor. (Jesus, hello, how can I make myself not turn every small question into a teachable moment! Augh!)

        Because of my “voice problem,” it was a strange, strange pleasure to inflict myself on Terry’s audience, very “ha!” You should know my real beef is not with Terry’s audience but with an otolaryngologist who probably doesn’t even practice anymore. I am hilariously petty.

      • I like that you try to pull lessons from everything. It shows you’re paying attention. Because everything is usually similar to everything else in some way, and it’s usually edifying to pick out how and where. The ambiguity of English helps us here, connecting ideas which in another language might by disparate by way of homonym and pun.

        Unfortunately, drawing unusual connections also sometimes has the side effect of making us sound like crazy people.

        Oh, right. I’m going to fire this at you on twitter as well, but I said I’d put it here so:
        http://problemmachine.wordpres.....ing-shape/
        Oh, it’s very much related to the foregoing comment about drawing unusual connections sounding kind of crazy…

      • Hi.

        I was thinking about your voice story/metaphor just now. I don’t like to see photos of myself or recordings of my voice, or even people who look or sound like me. I tend to resent people who I perceive to exceed a threshold of similarity to myself. And just now, through the lens of what you wrote, I see a concordance between this behavior and my behavior as a creative person, where the moment I feel comfortable in one mode of creation I tend to expand beyond that, where the moment I feel that my ‘voice’, as a writer or artist or whatever, comes too easily, that I’m not trying hard enough any more and I have to try a different approach or I will stagnate.

        I don’t know if this is a good approach or a bad approach in terms of long term creativity, but I didn’t much like what it said about how I think of myself. Perhaps I should try expanding my scope of voice from the center outwards, expand my core, rather than, as I have been doing, trying to conquer new voices and integrate them into my own, to speak through simulacra of other people until they merge with myself. We always end up integrating strands of what we consume into our own works, but I think it’s important to digest rather than regurgitate.

        By the way, I hope you liked the hexagonical piece I wrote. I tend to assume when I don’t hear anything that it’s a case of “if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” I don’t know if that’s true here or not, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed to get no response: I tried to write something good and strong and interesting and personal knowing that someone I respected would be reading it, but there’s never really any knowing what will connect with an audience. That’s the difference between being a writer and a performer, I suppose.

      • Jenn Frank says:

        So’s you know, it is still open in this tab—not because I didn’t read it, but because, well, like you said. (For anyone eavesdropping, PM’s piece is here.

        I’m not always quick to respond when I like something (or even if I don’t, but also if I do), because there’s that idea again, digestion. I could say “here is what I liked” and then give you an outline of everything you said. That isn’t helpful! That’s just silly.

        Everything about your column struck me, but the bit about “never time to construct a complex thought” especially did. That’s the thing about both “shooter zen” and “crisis,” isn’t it? There’s never time to complete your mental sentence, no. Anyway, still thinking.

        —j

  3. Okay, I appreciate it. I never know when I throw thoughts out there what’s connecting and what isn’t. Messages in bottles in an ocean. This is, of course, why people tend to shy away from writing personal things in the first place, though, isn’t it? But usually those are the things worth writing and worth reading. It’s difficult starting out, because not only does one have to find their voice but one also has to find the people who perceive voices of that pitch, or keep speaking/singing in that voice, alone, until they find you.

    This little bit of contact has been immensely reassuring though. Even if, in the end, you don’t find you have anything you really want to say about it, that’s fine too. The thing which scares me is being ignored, and it always has been that, but I have had to face the fact that the only way to ever not be ignored is to keep talking.

    Otherwise I get ignored by default.

  4. George H. says:

    Jenn,

    Interesting comments about the “voice problem.” I have a somewhat similar thing; a distinctive voice which just occurred, yet is continually taken as either affectation or performance.

    “Just knock off the Radio Voice for a second, already” a date once told me. So I did my dead-on Zoidberg impression the rest of the evening. There was no second date.

    On the plus side, I was the first choice to record the advert for my old WoW guild. Google “Asgardian Guild WoW” and click on the page’s audio player. That’s me.

    Best of luck with things, fellow Deep Voiced One. ;)

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