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September Surrender: Day Twenty-Five

What I’m Letting Go

There’s literally billions upon billions of hours of content on YouTube. It may even be in the trillions at this point. I’m not sure, I’m too lazy to check. But my consumption of content only makes up about half that daily. YouTube has replaced all my watching of modern television. I have no streaming services. I have no desire to watch shows that my co-workers keep talking about. The last modern show I watched was Squid Game and that’s only because I needed some entertainment while I was sick with the coof.

I still watch a lot of true crime, though not as much as before. I also like video game and film content, which includes watching professionals game, speedrun contents where a creator exploits a game to finish it as fast as possible, cooking content, and news commentary. I’ll never want for a lack of entertainment and I feel like I learn a lot along the way.

Longform analysis is still my absolute favorite. Whether it’s a police interrogation, lolcow documentaries, or deep dives into video game lore, it’s always so fascinating to watch. I think of the time and effort it takes to put together videos of this magnitude. There a lot of research that goes into it. I appreciate those who do that, but for some reason that instinct has not found me. I don’t have the intellectual curiosity to pursue something that piques my interest that much. I just give up, content on floating on the surface of it all. I’m not about to sit here and write out a script, get all the necessary clips, bust out my microphone, record a voice over, then edit everything together. Why the hell would I do that?

It’s okay that I’m not a content creator in that manner in this very moment. I could do it if I really buckled down to try, but the feeling isn’t coming right now. So I’ll stick with what I’m good at for now and admire those willing to research long beyond their means. But I think I’m going to have to let go of this lazy curiosity if I expect to write out a full novel in November. I’m going to need to do research on certain things if I want to be wholly accurate where necessary. I think the desire will come as long as I’m doing it every day. So I need not worry right now, and acknowledging it is at least step one in the process.

What I’ve Discovered

I’m going to share a personal story from my childhood that I haven’t told anyone. Not because I’m embarrassed or ashamed of it, it’s just there’s never really been an opportunity for it to come up. But I think it’s relevant here, and maybe getting it out can help solve some lingering trust problems I’m still grappling with.

I was in Girl Scouts for twelve years. From first grade all the way until twelfth grade. I was told it would look good on my college transcripts, so I stuck with it. We did a lot of stuff when I was younger, but in our later years it eventually just became a social thing. Still, the activities were a lot of fun and educational to boot.

There was one time when I was either seven or eight that all the girls were paired up for a scavenger hunt, I think. They paired me up with a girl who was in our troop only for the day on a trial run, I guess. It wasn’t made clear to me. I don’t even remember her name but let’s call her Janelle for clarity’s sake. she was there for that day and that day only. I had never seen her before. Anyway, we were out running in the woods behind the school gym. Janelle and I had apparently finished our list early, and she had convinced me we should run back to the gym to get ahead of everyone, and not tell the troop leaders. That way, when they all came in, we could jump scare them when they all arrived back. I thought this was a swell idea, and we ran back to the gym, where other students were doing their after-school activities.

Janelle and I went looking for a place to hide, when she suggested behind the stage curtain. We had already climbed up on it, even though I wasn’t sure if we were allowed up there. She didn’t care about my reservations and went behind the curtain anyway. She then beckoned me to join her behind it. I can still hear her saying “Come on…” with her eyes transfixed on me. I remember being so afraid in that moment, but feeling like I had to go along with it at the same time. We had a plan to scare everyone. We had to go through with it. So I went and stood next to her behind the plush, velvet curtain.

We were only about five minutes ahead of the rest of the troop it seems, because we were not behind for long. I spent the whole time peeking through the curtain, focused on the door, waiting for the rest of the crew to return. I don’t exactly know what happened, and I can’t be too sure either. All I remember was telling Jenelle to “stop” or “knock it off” a bunch of times. I can’t remember if she was grabbing at me or touching me, and I’ve been trying to rack my brain to pick out the specifics. But something in the back of my mind was telling me how not right it all was. That maybe following her was a bad idea, and letting my curiosity take over my gut instinct wasn’t the right choice.

Eventually the troop returned, and it was my big moment. I actually heard the troops leaders keep asking if anyone had seen Gina or Janelle. And with that, I hopped out with a big “surprise!” They were not happy. The leaders ordered me down from the stage immediately and scolded me for running off without telling them. I was apologetic, knowing I had done wrong, and they reminded me to always tell a grown-up where I was going before wandering off. I agreed with them, and that was the end of it. But they must have said something else to Janelle. When we were finishing up the day’s activities, she sad across from me, looking sullen and sad, not saying a word to anyone. She never returned to the troop the following week, and I never saw her again.

I’m sure my psyche must have blocked out what really happened. I don’t remember feeling particularly violated, but I knew whatever it was she was doing was just not right. I can’t blame myself, I was only a kid after all. But this all got me thinking that now in my adult life, I still need to be careful of where my curiosity takes me. It’s both a lack of it and too much of it at play. If I had been curious enough about my gut instinct that Janelle was doing something wrong, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten yelled at by the troop leaders. And maybe I wouldn’t be harboring some unknown issues spurred on by this event that just might one day resurface at an inopportune time.

What I Hope to Find

I don’t speak about this in depth but I’ve done a tour of the southern border. I went for work last year. It was my first real on-the-ground producer adventure, and what better place to be than a point that is at the center of so much contention in America. Spoiler alert, it’s wide open. And the crisis has been growing ever since the policies that were working were just cut off and ended in the name of…well, that’s still yet to be seen. Either way, I saw a lot, things that really draw a harrowing picture of what’s going on when they tell you there’s nothing to worry about.

What most impressed me was watching my host in action. They aren’t normally an on-the-ground reporter, but I was able to see an entirely new side of them. They were pushing forward to unravel the story, asking poignant questions to all those interviewed, chasing something in order to inform the public. It was impressive to see and I gained a newfound respect for the journalistic process. But it was also make clear to me just how much this life, at least in the long term, is not my pursuit. Journalists find a piece of news and uncover every last rock in order to discover the truth, shedding light where it was previously dark. They are still out there. News is not just a bunch of pundits talking at the roundtable. There’s decent reporters who are ready to bring the American people the news. You’re just not going to find that in me.

People have often labeled me online as a journalist. Hell, I’ve even called myself this on one or two occasions. But it’s all bluster. I’m no good at it. I have news judgement, but only from a producer’s standpoint. I have no news to break. There’s nothing to report on. I have things that interest me, like New York’s Covid testing tent problem, but I’m not doing anything about it. I’m not sure if it’s laziness or fear of pushback. But I see what needs to be done in order to be an effective journalist, and lack of curiosity for events outside of my control don’t seem to be the direction I want to go in.

I’m sure that by reporting a piece of news, one gets closer to gaining control, but I’m not even sure where to start. Perhaps it’s something I can do in the future, but the thought of writing out a news report holds no appeal. Part of me feels guilty for this, considering I have a job in the news industry. However, I can write a good anchor script and pick out details viewers will care about. That does not a journalist make. That’s just a producer. That’s how I make end’s meet. There’s a different kind of story that’s got me curious that I hope to keep chasing for the rest of my life, and it’s one that lives inside of me, with millions more where that came from.

I guess I hope to find the one that can really put me on the map. The thing that will solidify my place as a writer in whatever annuls of history we’re still writing down. I’d rather be curious about myself and where I can take my story before worrying about a job people can do better than me anyway. I’m not needed there. I’m needed elsewhere. I’m an investigative reporter into my own psyche. Too bad there’s no market for this kind of pundit.

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