There are two things I must love doing, because I do them a lot. I love telling myself horror stories while I’m in the shower and I love thinking of the most irritating things guaranteed to keep me awake if I’m woken up in the middle of the night. Well, it’s 2:29 am and since I’m not in the shower, guess what I’m doing?
This blog post is written for no one. In fact, I don’t recommend it. Maybe later in the week I’ll tell you my ghost stories and that will be more entertaining. What I’m trying to say is, “go on now” while I stream-of-conscious my way through a rant of sorts and maybe wear myself out so that I fall asleep. I’m actually not kidding. You’ve been warned. I am sleep deprived.
A woman at work sent me a crudely drawn poster the other day that basically said, “I’m an introvert and that’s ok”. The truth is I’m also shy, and that’s ok, too.
You know introverts. You’ve observed us out in the wild in our native habitat either with a book up to our faces or sitting alone quietly observing something, but just it case you’re unfamiliar it basically means I draw my energy from within. If I’ve been out in the world too long, my battery needs to recharge, because sometimes being out can take a lot out of me. A co-worker recently argued with me about my “introvert” status, “you’re not an introvert!” I guess she felt that since I occasionally rally and am boisterous, or even downright ridiculous in a group, that it was surely a sign that I wasn’t an introvert. I think there was also a little bit of, “don’t put yourself down, of course you’re an extrovert” as if I said I was goofy looking and on the spectrum (wait, that may also be true) – as if “introvert” was undesirable and bad.
My good friends on the other hand seem to be a healthy mix of extroverts, introvert fence sitters (meaning they’re not quite like me, a full-blown introvert, they’re more middle-of-the-road normal types? dare I say stable? ish?) and there may be one or two true introverts. They get me and they’re also fairly adept at translating “me”. This is important when my brain implodes and I find myself in the middle of doing my best fish out-of-water impersonation – with my mouth flexing, no audible words coming out and I seem to be going a bit wide-eyed. In those awkward moments, you find your true friends and I’ve found mine. They’re the ones that form a protective circle when things are at their worst, and they’re my voice when I’m overwhelmed.
What makes them such terrific voices is they do “get” me. They know my history. They “understand” what drives me and what pushes me over the edge.
What has me up at this moment as thoughts scream through my brain is very specific to extroverts outside of this circle of mine. Those people who feel they know me, interject words when they feel I’m failing, explain my history to groups that is oftentimes downright false or at its best misleading. And I let them run with whatever they’re saying, because I literally either don’t care or don’t have the energy to correct them. They’re those people who have to be in the know and their extroverty brain won’t send out warning signals to shut down their tongues – they’re too busy filling that dead space with their constant need to prattle on and prove “I know everything!” Their “everything” is vast (as “everything” can be at times) and can cover a particular person or the subject at hand or both or it can sometimes be a combination of “I don’t know, but this person here, this introvert, either does or doesn’t know based on some made up history I have about them that I’m making up on the fly, because I can’t stop myself from speaking. I need you to see I’m in the know. Look at me, I’m speaking so much you’ve all now fainted from the lack of oxygen in the room. Let’s go outside, where I’ll attempt to suck the oxygen from the earth with more of my incessant blather-stream. You will be in awe of all that I am and know. I’m making words with my face!
For the record, that’s how extroverts can sound to an introvert. That seeming lack of reflection as they refuse to leave a silent moment unattended by their constant gab. I mean that lovingly. I know my extroverted friends reflect on things. I suspect it’s in their sleep, when their mouths cannot physically move as easily, but I’m not overly confident that they’re not blathering through their dreams as well. “What is this? A nightmare? Let me regale you with all the things i know about nightmares!” Then whatever it might have been that could have scared them just throws up its many claws in defeat and begins to whimper quietly, hoping it can make it back into the closet or under the bed unharmed..
So, with that said we’ve come to why I’m up. We’ve arrived at the words in my brain that are spinning around, because as I’ve said I’ve irritated myself into being completely awake and now I’m annoying you. I did say not to read any further, so technically if you’re still here, it’s your fault. You still have a chance to retreat. I’d do that now.
I’m up because I want to set some things straight about some things floating out there that are either misconceptions or just outright wrong. Strangely they’re all about what I’ve done professionally and in my free time. This is partly my fault, because I don’t go around telling people what I’ve done. I don’t feel that need. I’m an introvert. But apparently when you don’t do that, extroverts fill in the gaps.
Let’s start with work. I worked for PBS. I don’t just know some PBS employees who are kind to me and let me hang out with them out of pity. I worked there. I worked there for 11 years starting in college. I worked my way up through those ranks and had some amazing titles and positions – probably things that were a little above my skill set, but hey it was flattering. I was in charge of two different departments. I’m not saying that I was great as a leader in those areas (see the skill set comment from earlier), but I was there and I raised a ton of money in my tenure (largely thanks to a woman who really knew her stuff and set-up the department so it couldn’t help but succeed). I’ve talked to the Johnsons, yes those Johnsons and to Liz Carpenter in passing, yes that Liz Carpenter as well as many other Austin leaders. (I do still adore Kirk Watson. Who wouldn’t? And I adore his wife Liz beyond all comparison) I raised money by directly leading fundraising campaigns and by helping out at the approximately 35 pledge drives I attended. I also helped set up their computer network – running cable through the ceilings and creating drops, setting-up the DHCP, WINS, DNS, Exchange servers, etc. It’s why I’m in IT now. I’ve been to a lot of ACL tapings, I’ve seen more than my fair share of shows taped, I’ve hugged John Tesh and Maria from Sesame Street, because why not? So no, the PBS employees I know now aren’t just slumming with me. They didn’t meet me at some random party. They’re my former co-workers and because we were a gigantic dysfunctional family, we’re also friends. I’m not some tag-along or PBS groupie. Trust me. They’d be the first to tell you I’m not a PBS groupie.
To be clear, I’ve never worked at NPR. I can recognize some of their staff on sight. I’m friends with one of them – a great gal who is a refugee from our station, but I didn’t work there. Yes they both rely on member support, but no they’re not the same.
That leads me to video shoots, the last bit of my rant. As I mentioned, I worked for PBS. That’s a TV station. I’ve been around TV. I know camera people, sound people, producers, directors, etc. etc. ad nauseum. My interest in filming sketches came after my time there, because I didn’t have the forethought to get into it while I had access to some great talent and equipment. Thankfully though I still have this dysfunctional family to fall back on when I need real advice.
I have been on 11 shoots as of now. Not 4 or 7, but 11. These are shoots outside of anything that happened at the station. These are the ones I’ve done with a gang of folks I met through a sketch class. The video for one of those shoots won a Grand Prize in a contest of $1,000 and while I didn’t write it or edit it, I did help with it and I’m proud to have been a part of it. With our group you do everything from beginning to end. Basically, if you write it you scout the locations, you cast it, you produce it, you direct it and you get the crew. I’m a solid producer; it’s what I like best. I like keeping up with the details of how to get what can be a lumbering train moving. Maybe I should amend that from “solid” to “decent” (I say “decent,” because I have a ton of room to grow). I’m decent at organizing things from beginning to end especially shoots. I understand the details – whether we’re talking about actor releases or applicable copyrights (shooting a parody doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to use everything you want). We’ve held our own auditions with up to 20 actors (not huge, but impressive to me), I’ve created shot lists for all of my shoots, and I’ve directed. I mention the shot lists in there, which is kind of the odd man out in that list, because it’s in my craw a bit. You’ll have to accept what I’m saying without much history as to why. Suffice it to say, I have made a number of them and I keep working on them to try and decide what information is the most helpful beyond.the scenes and shots. Like right now, I have a place to note “best takes”. I also understand the roles of the crew especially when working with a small crew. A complete aside here – nothing is worse than a bad PA. To me, our PA’s are critical. They have to be proactive. We’ve dismissed people or not invited them back when they’ve decided their job is to park and blab. In fact, there’s nothing worse than doing something for fun and having to basically say, “you can’t play with us anymore, because you’re not doing the job we need you to do.” Shoots should be fun, but we’re also there for a reason. I don’t like losing time because I’m trying to wrangle an actor to the set and you’ve picked that moment to brag to them about your weekend. I don’t like losing time because my actor is having a coughing fit and when I said earlier “I need you to pick up cough drops” you spaced it and you’re not up to going right now. That’s my mini rant on bad PA’s.
Anyway… on this shoot that we’re finishing up later today I’m the script supervisor. I have never done this job. Holding a script doesn’t equal being a script supervisor. Those folks are basically responsible for continuity – you know when Han Solo’s vest flashes on and then off as he gets frozen – a script supervisor should have been in charge of seeing he had the vest on (or off) in all takes. They are there to make sure things are the same from take to take – whether it’s wardrobe, a prop in someone’s hand, the hair – that’s all on them. For today’s purposes, it’s easy, because this is a short shoot, but overall it can be challenging to do right.
I think what’s bugging me and keeping me awake is a general gripe of – if you don’t know what I’ve done or where I’ve come from, don’t assume you do and don’t speak for me even when I’m not speaking for myself. Sometimes the reason I’m not announcing what I’ve done is that I still have a lot to learn and I don’t want anyone to think I’m incapable of learning more or growing further which they will if I’m acting like a know-it-all on the matter at hand. Sometimes I don’t share what I’ve done, because I don’t want to brag. Speaking to Lady Bird is not a thing to brag about, it’s just a moment in time. Watching Lucy Johnson acting like a crazed hyperactive gerbil is not a thing to brag about, it’s comedy gold unfolding before your eyes.
Unless you’re part of a small handful of people who know me quite well, I appreciate that you’re making a noble effort, but I don’t need you to be my voice. I don’t need you to be my chronicler. I’m an introvert. I don’t need all of your words to fill up my quiet spaces or to populate the gaps in my stories with fiction.
(“crazed hyperactive gerbil” = priceless)
… also, I miss you.
Lori, I almost wrote about how the Liz encounter involved you having enough of Liz and stepping over her in her wheelchair. Another priceless moment – along with Victor’s comment about relieving her of her wheelchair. Classic crazy KLRU night!
Hi Beth! Please give us a Sam update. Someday I will tell you what is going on with me, but until then please know how much I love your stories. You are a great writer and it is because you have true perspective, self awareness and the knowledge of what funny really is… at least in my humble opinion. Thank you for sharing with all of us!
Oh my gosh, stop me from commenting… One of my earliest KLRU memories is just days after I started we had an Austin City Limits Gala out at the (then) new airport and I was stationed at registration. I looked up at my next person on line and he smiled at me…and I smiled at him…and he smiled at me…and finally I asked “what is your name?” and it was Kirk Watson, Austin’s mayor that everyone knew and loved. He was so kind, though, and just gently said “I’m Kirk Watson…” and I gave him his name tag and told him to have a good time. Lordy, I was a rookie then. Okay…NO MORE COMMENTS…. for now….