Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Late night conversations

Below is a good example of the type of wonky late night conversations I tend to get myself into. The kind that often leave other people exclaiming WTF? Sometimes it's because I'm making funny, but more often than not my thoughts seem to require a good deal of context for others make sense of. Even when well explained, they regularly wander through territories that are strange to most people.

Questionable Content: New comics every Monday through Friday:

'via Blog this'

Sometimes it's more serious than the lighthearted moment depicted in the comic.

Having lived abroad for almost eight years as a civilian and as an Army scout, and then spending several years working with monkeys has left me with an experience base that probably doesn't make me easy to relate to. And that's not even getting into the whole history nerd thing, or the fascination with science and the ways in which our brains, cultures, genes, and our environments all combine to make us who and what we are. Acquiring those interests and memories seems to mean that I've passed through portions of the spectrum of human experiences that most people in middle- and working-class America aren't normally exposed to.

For the most part I'm very grateful to have all those memories. In part, because many were awesome or deeply moving, and also because on a daily basis some of them remind me of how good life is--of how well off we are in United States in terms of everything from having enough to eat, to a freedom from many types of fear that are ubiquitous throughout much of the world. At the same time it also means I need to consciously work at gearing myself up or down into daily conversations. In the right sort of discussions I can contribute a lot, but often I seem to come off as pretty alien if I get to talking about what's really on my mind.

"Oh yeah, I can totally relate, there was this one time in Sweden when we tried blood pudding..."

"Dog in Korea..."

"If you think that's messed up you should have seen this one time on the border of Macedonia and Kosovo..."

"So did you read the latest about Homo sapiens and the neanderthals not having interbred..."

"That story about your kid reminds of when these juvenile maquaque monkeys..." *

"Smith was laughing so hard he fell off the vehicle..."

"The alpha male wouldn't back down until..."

"But on a geologic time scale..."

I think writing has helped with this to some degree. Maybe not with cultivating the discipline to be selective enough when it comes to talking about what's on my mind, but more with having to explain myself in ways that are brief but evocative enough to hold people's attention, while at the same time generating enough context so that others can grasp the point that I'm trying to get across without without dropping massive info dumps on those poor souls.

All this time behind the keyboard doing genre work is time spent working on being succinct, descriptive, and honing in on what's relevant to the audience or those around me.

*It turns out that new parents reeeeeeally hate inadvertent comparisons of their kids' behaviors to monkeys. Who knew?

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