Open Mic

Oh! Hello out there.

It’s been a few days.  I’ve had writer’s block.  It’s not that there hasn’t been anything to write about; in fact, there’s been a wedding, and a beach trip, and a Monti, and a Discovery Forum, not to mention another fabulous grilled cheese sandwich.  But all at once, this grasshopper who sang all summer has felt like hibernating, just a little bit.  Hibernating, and getting a flu shot, and getting the tires rotated, and starting the Christmas shopping. It’s crazy what the first taste of real fall weather will do to you.

Something strange has happened, actually, during the hibernating.  I have spent two whole evenings this week at home, getting things done, and both of them have felt odd.  Is it possible that I’ve created so much activity these last few months that I’m actually transforming myself into an extrovert?  Or at least an introvert who needs a lot more time with other people than she used to?  I don’t know the answer.

I have, however, been thinking about all sorts of things this week.   This week has been rather heavy on microphones.

Tuesday night was The Monti, and that always provides some food for thought.  We met at Fullsteam first, to sit on the patio and drink the Paw Paw Ale and eat grilled cheese sandwiches and talk about Veronica’s gorgeous wedding.  Tonight’s story theme was “Rescues.”  It was intense, y’all.  There were stories about family heartache, small gestures that made a big difference, and people coming through when you needed them.  The story at the end, in which the protagonist experiences engine failure and calmly lands a crashing plane in the ocean and swims wintry hours battling hypothermia to safety, is the one I can’t get my mind around.  Not the metaphysical twist, which was beautiful, or the drama in the ocean, but the fact that the storyteller was so, so calm talking about it. She sounded fearless then, and fearless now.  I wonder what it’s like to have survived something of that cataclysmic magnitude, from flying your plane through the autumn sky one minute to almost being pulled underwater by it the next, and how that would change your relationship with fear for the rest of your life. We’re all still working on that one.

And then last night was the Discovery Forum in Raleigh, sponsored by the Institute for Emerging Issues at NCSU.  There were more microphones.  Everyone who spoke had five minutes, with or without slides, to talk about one idea for making North Carolina even better.  Some of the presentations were spot-on, such the one about improving our communities through smart urban design.  Some of them were completely over my head, such as the financial analysis tool created by a seventeen year old to track unemployment rates. Some of them were incoherent, such as the speech which included the statement “The world is not a teat,” which sent Some People into fits of giggles.  The one which started with the merits of open source software sent Other People into a rage, because People Forced To Use Glitchy Software All Day Long have some things to say about letting Just Any Yahoo tweak computer codes and then unleash them onto Other People. I was not allowed to talk to that guy afterwards, although I know Linux is not his fault.  Possibly my favorite speech was the one by the homebrew guy, who brought all kinds of equipment and talked about the communities which form around the craft of beer making.

Of course, you can’t go to a microphone event without having the car conversation on the way home, “What would your story about rescues be?” Or, “What’s your five minute idea to make the world a better place?”  I have no idea.  I came up empty on both counts.  I can’t even deliver a coherent elevator speech about what I want to be when I grow up.  Obviously, I have some things to sort out.

But at least I got my flu shot.  Happy weekend, all.

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