Microphone Getty Images News/Win McNamee
By Tatiana Pérez

I talk a lot.

I’ve always talked a lot, I think. My mom and dad are big talkers. My brother talks quite a bit, too. In my house, you have to compete for the mic. We all have things to say. Arguments to make. Grievances to ventilate. We’re New Yorkers. So I talk a lot, my parents talk a lot, and my brother talks a lot.

I talk a lot and I talk fast.

I’ve always talked this much and this fast, I think. My everyday talk doesn’t sound nervous and disjointed, though, even if that’s how how my thoughts feel. Often or always, I talk, talk, talk to overcompensate for my stealthy social anxieties, which — since I was a kid — I’ve found are best thrashed by a lot of fast talking.

Quiet people are threatening as fuck. What are they thinking, plotting, and calculating while I’m talk, talk, talking? Silence is awful, isn’t it? Silence exposes you. It lays you bare. People who overemploy it creep me out.

I’m in a class called “Radio, Radio.” The professor asks us to compose two-minute self-portraits — tiny reductions of the 45 minutes of uninterrupted self-recording we’re meant to do in advance. I don’t plan ahead for the assignment. I’m dreading it. I passionately ignore it until the morning it’s due. I have to wake up at six to give myself enough time to record and cut. I love to talk — I talk a lot and I talk fast — but to sit in my room for three-quarters of an hour with a recording device and just… talk? Alone? With no one around to receive my many, fast words but me? Christ, I’ll need to bum a cigarette, professor.

I sit drinking black coffee at the edge of my chair, twitching with discomfort. The coffee tastes unpleasantly bitter as I listen to myself talk. I choke on my own words as they bury my bulky headphones. I don’t sound like this. My talk is stronger. It’s more elegant. It’s as lyrical as it is poised. It’s not scattered or grumbly. I don’t fry my words and my tone always matches my content. I don’t sound like this. I can’t listen any longer.

I’m irritated with my professor for making me do this idle exercise. No one should listen to recordings of their own voices. I want to shatter the mirror I just built. These 45 minutes of my cracked, splintery voice are not just like like photo I just de-tagged because my gut was drooling on my jeans. Those 45 minutes are my cracked, splintery voice. That’s what I sound like. Pictures are external. They’re outside of us. We know that they’re reflections that distort and misrepresent. But a recording of my voice? That’s inside me. That’s me. I’m thrown because I hear my many, fast words all the time, and they never sound like this. They sound different in my head. The recording leaves me naked and confused.

Jesus. I need to get over myself.