The cataloging

I was meant to sit and talk to people — ask them questions and see a piece of their lives — over coffee and a notebook.

Because before I knew what “interviewing” meant, I “catalogued.”

From an early age, friends faces and quirks seemed to play in my head like a flip-book.

How Jamie would pick at the ends of her hair when she was bored; How Sean would continuously tap his feet because he couldn’t sit still; How Rachel would do a little dance move with her shoulders to music that played only in her head when she was happy; How Alex knew she could get me to do what she wanted if she just made THAT face.

Seeing the quirks and habits and reflexes people have is seeing someone for who they truly are. The small habits people show us are when we get to see the truth of who that person really is. The more you see of them, the more you get to know them, the more you get to know their truth.

Therefore, the key to being able to tell the truth — yours or anyone else’s — is time. Take the time. Give your time.

Listen.

Listen to yourself, to others, to the noise in the world. And then figure out what sounds need to be heard by everyone.

Real life is far more interesting to document to me than making up stories. When you make up stories you can mold reality to fit exactly what you’d like — some nice, neat little package that is comfortably predictable because you shaped it yourself.

Sometimes learning about someone means simply being in the right place at the right time.

I am the girl who reads bulletin boards in general stores. I am the person who will sit at a deli counter milking a cup of coffee simply so I can chat with the fella who makes the sandwiches for a living. I am the person who wants to spend as little time as possible in the office, because the best advice I ever got from an editor was to “get out there and see life so you can tell everyone what living looks like and they want to join in rather than hide away.”

To document life, you must also really live it. Not just watch.

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