Thursday, March 4, 2010

Check, check

Yesterday, I went to my friend Todd’s house to work on this interminable project for my dad. Dad, who designs crash-prevention radio equipment for airplanes, was looking for some new voice talent to read traffic messages that would play for pilots while in the air.

When my dad gets an idea in his head, he always thinks it will be easy to accomplish. Then, he takes the most circuitous, complicated way of accomplishing it that is humanly possible. That’s why he’s an engineer, and I spend my free time writing my feelings. Anyway, this project seemed easy at first: record my voice, reading several messages, and send the files to Dad for insertion into the program. I had access to recording equipment and a list. Files were recorded, and sent. I was ready for my mile-high fame.

Then, the first set of files didn’t work for Dad. Instead of admitting that he didn’t know what he was talking about when it came to audio files, he insisted that I use this specific, ancient software that is a free download and can only be used on a PC. I borrowed a friend’s laptop, and spent a long afternoon shoving my face as close to the laptop’s mic as possible, trying to get the messages to record at a uniform volume. They worked well enough, and he put them in the trial run of the program.

Now, he’s ready to throw some money at this, so I’m ready to re-record. He wanted a male voice too, so I contacted Todd, who has a home studio and enough free time to help me out. Plus, Todd is a teacher, so he’s always up for extra money. I went to Todd’s after work, and he had this giant mic all set up in his kitchen. We were ready to roll.

We recorded our samples fairly quickly, and laughed a lot about messages like “Fail,” which Todd, in his Chicago accent, kept pronouncing closer to “fell.” We got the ones we liked, and then remembered an inspired clip that Abi came up with. I went to the mic for one last time: “One, ah ha ha ha!” Just like the Count, from Sesame Street. Then I laughed a real laugh (hello, the Count is hilarious), which Todd caught on the recording.

I went back to his computer to listen to it, and Todd was laughing hysterically. “Look at your normal laugh,” he said, “it’s perfectly metered.” I looked at his recording software, and saw four blobs, growing slightly in size, but spaced precisely the same difference apart. “Play it,” I told him, so he did, and we both giggled and the sound of my recorded, staccato laugh.

He wasn’t exaggerating. It was strange. It was almost like hiccups, but more precise. I realized something. “Todd,” I said, “we are looking at the graphic representation of the intense energy I am spending controlling every outward motion of my body.” And it was true. Listening, it was almost like “ok, I can laugh now, but hold on one sec, don’t want to overdo it, ok again.” I am so lost in my own head right now that my body has kicked into major social survival mode. Made for a good Count, though.

I’ve always been pretty interested in the way the body and mind interact, especially as someone whose crazy mind is always affecting her body. It used to be that my mind-body connection was specifically a mind-stomach one. These days, I think I’m physically internalizing it all in my head. I’ve had a headache for a week and a half, and I haven’t slept solidly through a night in just as long. And now, I think the sheer force of my stress has left me open for some strange cold. I haven’t been sick since Thanksgiving, which might be a personal record for me. I keep trying to will myself well, but I don’t think it works like that. Laughing is good though, even if it is in staccato.

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