Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quiet as a mouse

I don't know what it is about me that makes me seem "quiet" to some people. Certainly I don't seem quiet to myself. (Or to Sam. Sorry, Sam.) (Or to anyone who is reading my lengthy posts. "Quiet? But you never shut up!" you are thinking to yourself right now.) But people [you know who you are . . . Beth] will say to me all the time (really, this happens all the time) as they leave, "Sorry---I feel like I did all the talking!" or "Wow, I've really talked your ear off" or "Sorry to monopolize the conversation!" etc., and I'm always really surprised, like, "Um . . . no . . . I said lots of things too, don't you remember?" Is it my memory that is faulty? Do I just think I am contributing to the conversation, when in actuality I am just sitting there silent? Or perhaps my contributions are more . . . intangible, like, positive vibes or something? :)

Also, I used to do some accompanying for this children's choir, and one time as I was gathering up my stuff to leave, the director was like, "Quiet little Marilyn! You're just as quiet as a mouse, aren't you!" I looked at her kind of shocked, and gave this half-hearted laugh, and she's like, "You just never say a word . . . you just sit there quietly . . . you're just such a quiet person, aren't you!!" She seemed so pleased with her assessment that I didn't want to contradict her---but what I wanted to say was, "When am I supposed to have been talking? While I am playing the piano? While the children are singing? While you are giving them directions? What are you expecting me to say, since I come, play the piano for you for an hour, and then go? WHEN SHALL I DO ALL THIS TALKING YOU ARE EXPECTING ME TO DO??!"

Anyway. It's weird. But, maybe the perfect job for such a "quiet" person is---listening to other people talk. And helping them along; getting them to talk more. Which is just what I get to do!! As follows:
1. Listening to my boys. They talk all the time!!! Blah, blah, blah. All day long. I get so tired, sometimes, of just responding to them. Even though I love it, too.
2. Maybe I've told you before, I write for the Spanish Fork News---a small-town newspaper in (yep) Spanish Fork. My brother-in-law used to work there, and they needed writers, and it was something I could do mostly from home, so I started doing it about two years ago. I usually write about one article a week, just on whatever my editor tells me to write about. It will be something like, "This guy won an award from the PTA---will you do an article on that?" or "The cemetery is building a new monument---can you write about it?" or "This event is coming up---find out the details." So every week I get to learn about something different. And, it turns out, I love it!! It is so much fun just to talk to people and find out what they have to say. I used to get nervous about what I should ask them (and sometimes I still get nervous right before I make a call), but it's not hard, really---I just ask what I am honestly interested in---just like you would ask someone when you met them, "What do you do? And what is that like? How did you get into that? And how do you like it?" etc.

I am certainly not a trained journalist---and thank heavens we aren't some sort of heavy journalistic paper that tries to find out scandals or trick people with our questions or anything like that. But I have gotten a feel for what kinds of things to ask, and how to write up the articles quickly, and it's really fun. I feel like I've become part of the community down there, too---we'll drive by and I'll say, "I've been to that school---I've written about that place---I've interviewed that guy running for city council" etc.

And so every week, I get to ask lots of questions, do lots of listening, make lots of encouraging noises ("Really!" "No way!" Wow, that's awesome!" "You DID?" "Tell me more about that!" etc.), and learn about some really cool stuff. Some subjects I've written about recently:

  • A LEGO city at the County Fair
  • A guy who mints coins from his basement
  • "Freecycling" where people trade stuff online so it doesn't go to waste
  • Miss Jr. Spanish Fork Rodeo Queen
  • The demolition of a barn at the SF Fairgrounds
  • "Pondtown Christmas" (Christmas lights at Salem Pond)
  • A guy who converts his cars to Natural Gas
  • A guy injured in an explosion at the pipe plant
  • A lady who is dying of cancer and always wanted to go to Iceland, so she went
  • A teacher who traveled to Japan
  • A boy who was in "High School Musical 2"
  • A girl dancing in the ballet "Hansel and Gretel"
  • A new clinic for moms who are addicted to meth
  • Two sculptors making a statue of a pioneer family
Cool, huh? Even when something doesn't seem like it would be interesting at first, once I get talking to someone about it, it turns out that it IS interesting!! People have such cool stories to tell---and they are usually happy to have someone listen to them---so everybody is happy. Even me. "Quiet little Marilyn." :)

2 comments:

  1. I'm sorry I insinuated you were quiet. I think I did because I have a complex about not shutting up EVER. And after I spend time with you I always wish I had shut up because you have such great stuff to say.
    So, I'm so impressed with you. That you have so many friends and you're so well-balanced and informed and not a motor-mouth (because, aren't they/me annoying?).

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  2. Well, see, that's the point though, I DON'T think you talk all the time. It's just your own skewed perceptions (verbal anorexia?), when actually, we converse in a very nice, balanced way. :)

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