district sleeps alone tonight

The Postal Service have a great song, The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, about the lead singer missing his girlfriend as she moved to Washington DC (aka The District). It belongs to the genre of ‘melancholic pop’ that shall not be found on a mega-music shop placard, yet which seems to be prevalent across a number of markets.

I read it (or listen to it!) more in terms of someone realising their own deficiences, mainly because of the line: I realised I was the one worth leaving. Such celebratory sadness! Perhaps there is a collective sense of disappointment with the mechanism of social expectation as we loll with delicious ennui in the post-Enlightenment gutter. I don’t know. I do know what it is like to miss someone, and the delicate realisation the lyric expresses of feeling like a stranger in their new world. A similar feeling emerges sometimes when I feel myself doing something different when it shouldn’t be. A similar overexposure to unfamiliarity, but born from a self-displacement in the -micro-ritualised rhythms of everyday life.

rocket science

I am watching Rocket Science. Fuck. It is traumatic.

Watching someone else try to speak with a stutter while debating, all those moments, those thoughts, those feelings, the capacity to spell out the words in your mind and not say them, nothing is as traumatic as seeing the sympathetic looks of people in the audience who feel your pain. They have captured that feeling well. If you seen the film watch the faces of Hal’s schoolmates when he is trying to talk in front of them. (And which is why this review is simply wrong. There is no cruelty; the film has been constructed with great compassion.)

EDit: Finished watching. What a day this has been.

I was in a high school debating team for my final year at school. Competitions were everything week. We reached the state semi finals.

My stutter has been worse this year. It is weird. I have been more tired and stressed than I have ever been, that probably has something to do with it.

I really liked the voice over towards the end of the film that talks about ‘speaking in one’s own voice’. In fact, there was lots to like about the movie. I’ll do a follow up post at a later date I think.

EDIT: I found this passage from the writer/director Jeffrey Blitz; Blitz is a stutterer:

As a kid, I was so determined not to stutter, and not to allow myself to be a stutterer of any kind, that my signature move became avoidance. Not silence—I was a big talker—but the constant re-invention of a stream of words as they were flowing forth so that I could avoid hitting a block. I tried not to be too aware of it; self-consciousness made it worse. But I tried not to ignore it completely; unconsciousness set up disaster. So I put this awareness and activity somewhere just out of reach, flitting in a pre-conscious zone where I secretly monitored my speech all the time, plugging in substitute words for tricky ones, rearranging sentences to maximize my chance at success.

This is exactly what I do. I have written about before in the context of some stuttering research I took part in:

The problem with this is that I can think much faster than I speak and I can self-select words, phrases, and whole topics so that I do not get anxious at all and I do not stutter very much.

One of the joys of being a stutter is that you get to have a very intimate relationship with language, as Blitz notes in another interview:

“As a stuttering kid, you learn tons of words because you need to be able to substitute words as you speak, trading out words you get stuck on for words you can say,” Mr. Blitz said. “I think you develop a real admiration for the power of words that fluent kids might not come to.”