I recorded my first interview for my new podcast yesterday afternoon. I have to admit, I was super nervous, mostly because I’m awkward and hate talking on the phone and was worried I’d say something stupid, confusing, stutter or stumble a lot, or otherwise make my guest regret her decision to give it a go. I also was not feeling well and having even more digestive distress than normal because a kernel of corn snuck into my food the day before, which always sets of a cascade of symptoms for days, due to my Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. I imagine this may be oversharing, but I was worried I’d have to take several bathroom breaks during the call!
Prior to our interview, I had never met nor spoke to my guest, Sarah, so I was especially nervous, but she was eloquent, patient, informative, and easy to talk to. I actually enjoyed the conversation while it was happening, which was a huge surprise since talking to strangers is so uncomfortable, and almost foreign, to me. It’s fascinating to learn people’s stories and gratifying to connect with someone new. I need to acknowledge these revelations and feelings so that when I get petrified again before the next interview, I can remind myself of these feelings and my goals and purposes for doing the show. As others have told me, some of the guests are likely nervous too, so I’m in good company, and I can task myself with trying to ease their anxieties and make them feel relaxed. Not only will the podcast give them a vehicle to express their thoughts, wisdom, experiences, and challenges, but it will allow listeners to identify with common struggles and not feel so alone. For me personally, it’ll also force me to be more social and communicative and not hide behind any excuses or insecurities for being autistic or introverted. This podcast is like my gym training for social skills and connection!
I decided to release a separate, short episode that introduces the podcast and shares a bit about my background, diagnoses, and sport participation. It’s not very interactive or listener-friendly since it’s basically just a monologue about my thoughts, motivations for the podcast, and personal practice of using physical activity to cope with my mental health battles. I imagine most people will skip it, but I still wanted to do it, almost out of solidarity with my guests to help them feel comfortable in opening up about their own struggles. I recorded that this morning, of course, stumbling over many words and sentences, but hopefully putting together something coherent enough for those who do dedicate the time and interest to listen.
I’m feeling proud of myself, which is unfortunately rare, and excited for the opportunities and experiences I’ll have working on this podcast and talking with new people. As with pretty much all facets of my life and my interests and pursuits, I’m very blessed and grateful to have Ben’s support, and this time, in additional to providing his usual unparalleled dose of emotional support and encouragement, he’s actively involved in the project and willing and able to provide original music and editing and production services. Because Ben works full-time in a rather demanding job, his musical talents are relegated to the “hobby” level, though only because of time restraints. His abilities and passion are certainly on par with professionals who’ve “made it” in the music scene. His skills on guitar are impressive; he can play technical chord progressions and riffs that make my eyes dizzy following the speed and precision of his fretting, but more than that, is musical creativity seems like an endless fount. He writes all sorts of original metalish music, though it’s more like instrumental kaleidoscopes in my opinion, creating beautiful melodic and rhythmic compositions that at first appear disparate, but interweave in a unique and surprisingly engaging interplay. He adds his own bass, sometimes adds drum programming and sometimes works with a talented drummer), and layers in synth and other electronic parts. This creative genius is equally matched with his self-taught recording, mixing, and mastering skills. In fact, all of the albums he’s released in recent years were self-produced and while much of music (particularly metal-esque) music is foreign to me, even my untrained ears can clearly appreciate how far his production skills have come. He now mixes and masters individual tracks and whole albums from other hobbyists and professional musicians.
I’m usually pretty quiet and hands-off with Ben’s music stuff because frankly, it’s all over my head, but I’ve been continually astounded by the stuff he comes up with and puts together each year we’ve been together. If I could gift Ben anything (aside from being a more “normal” wife with fewer challenges that affect him), I’d find a way to give him time: time to play guitar, time to mess around on his instruments and compose songs, time to record and sample songs, time to generate more beats for aspiring hip hop artists, and time to work on the production side of things. Ben glows when he does his music stuff. Much like I have passion projects and hobbies that just fill me with joy and energy, Ben is inspired and invigorated with music. He not only loves it, he possesses a special ability and has honed his skills through years of self-directed practice, learning, and development.
I get to enjoy the fruits of Ben’s music anytime I listen to his music or watch his whole body smile when he puts together something he’s proud of. I say that I don’t really understand “music” and so when my narrow-minded autistic brain takes over and puts blinders on to what he’s doing, I just compartmentalize “oh Ben’s doing music now” and let him do his thing while I do mine. However, I definitely do understand the core of it—the good feelings, motivations, happiness, and satisfaction gleaned by doing things we love and that we are proud of. In that way, I can connect with him on a deeper level and with even more respect, understanding, and appreciation for all that he creates.
I’m also lucky to have his editing and musical skills and creative abilities with my new podcast. He made all of the music, has helped me set up the recording settings with our limited technology, and edits and produces the podcast episodes for me. How lucky am I?! This project would not be possible without those services and it’s really fun to be working on something together. He and I collaborate and cooperate really well, so it’s been fun to combine our interests and feed off each other’s ideas and energy. With his usual patience and my usual impatience, he’s showing me some of the complicated parameters he adjusts to make our files recorded on a shoestring budget still tolerable to the listener. I want the product to be of a quality that isn’t so shoddy that it deters listeners. At the same time, it’s just a hobby and we have a very tight life budget for necessities, so we can’t afford to invest in equipment that inherently yields a higher-quality output. Instead, I leave that challenge to Master Ben, and so far, his work over-delivers! With all that said, it’s time to go look at the various audio tracks on the monitor now and watch him work his magic! I’m hoping to release the introductory/about me episode and my first “real” episode with the interview on Tuesday.