sovay: (Claude Rains)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2019-02-03 09:39 pm

Thoughts for pennies got me thinking more

I am having a little difficulty taking this cough seriously, not because it isn't wiping me out to the point where I feel like some noodles that accidentally attained sentience, but because there seems to be nothing to do about it but drink a prescription medication that feels metaphysically about a half-step from a bottle of laudanum and tastes like Manischewitz with a grudge. I slept another eleven hours last night and am trying not to feel weird about it. I am generally in a miserable state emotionally and attempting to distract myself from it, except that what I really want to be doing is writing and I don't know the last time you saw a novel written by a heap of spaghetti. My hair has been in the same braid since Friday.

I just discovered that Arisia has posted the video for 2019's "Dramatic Readings from the Ig Nobel Prizes," meaning that you and the rest of the planet can now watch me read selections from Paul G. Becher et al.'s "The scent of the fly" (Journal of Chemical Ecology, 2018) and Lindie H. Liang et al.'s "Righting a wrong: Retaliation on a voodoo doll symbolizing an abusive supervisor restores justice" (The Leadership Quarterly, 2018), plus selections from other equally impressive papers I did not read. I watched the whole event, because I wanted to know how it had come out; this was the third year in a row I'd been asked to participate in the readings and the organizers give every evidence of wanting me back next year, but I'd never actually seen any of the footage until now. It made me feel better.

I know I'm a good speaker. I don't know if I'm naturally good at it. This is not Tiny Wittgenstein speaking: like many people with variable wiring, I am acutely aware of how much of my skill set is learned rather than factory standard. It is difficult for me to get any accurate idea of my original capabilities because so much of my self-assessment over the years has been shaded by various issues of self-esteem and self-expectation, but I know that for decades I thought of my singing voice as an expressive and adaptable instrument and my speaking voice as utterly useless. I hated the sound of it. It felt stiff and shallow and unresonant and slow. And it's not. Whether I really was starting from zero or not, I worked on it; I worked on it the first time around and I worked on it after the braces. There are a lot of factors crushed up into this question, but I think it's less important these days whether my face or my voice ever feel like mine again than whether they do what I need them to, and if I am getting asked if I have ever considered a career in rap based on the speed with which I can spit out a scientific abstract, I think that answers objectively affirmative. I post pictures of myself for similar reasons.

I don't feel any better about not writing, of course, but I do feel better about decades of effort. And that's useful when all I can otherwise think about is not worth writing out.

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