This Is Stuttering

The third workshop that I went to was a movie, thisisstuttering.

It was made by Morgan Lott.

Now, remembering that I’m a covert stutterer who doesn’t like to talk about stuttering, I had never seen his movie. Or even heard of it. I only found out about it while reading the description in the NSA program.

So I didn’t know what to expect.

I hadn’t even read this which is on his site:

Morgan is a filmmaker from Simi Valley, CA. During the summer of 2012, he began another round of speech therapy with a new speech therapist, Mrs. Alyssa Lukiewski. Upon her asking Morgan to film all of the sessions and weekly vlogs, simply for her own usage in studying her client, Morgan realized he was filming a fascinating documentary on accident. thisisstuttering has already drastically changed his life and he hopes the story will encourage and motivate others not only with stutters, but in any difficulty life decides to through our way.

This isn’t going to be a review of the movie. It’s more of my feelings during the viewing. That being said, the movie is basically about Morgan and some “confessionals” during his time in speech therapy. There are also numerous shots of him stuttering — out in public, on the phone, etc.,

My thoughts? Wow. Just, holy crap. He is out there, he is on video, and it’s forever! I really, really hate hearing myself on tape (or mp3, I guess) and seeing myself on video. (That’s why I haven’t done a YouTube channel or Podcast) I’ll leave the room if a video of me comes on (even if I’m not stuttering in it). When I’m making videos of the kids, I don’t even like to talk. If I do, it’s slow and very deliberate. And I make sure I won’t stutter. If I stutter badly enough. I’ll delete the video. That’s right. My stuttering supersedes childhood memories that will never happen again. That being said, I’m getting better — if it’s a little stutter, I’ll let it go. I suppose my kids may appreciate a nasty stutter when they’re older though. That’s how dad is.

Back to Morgan’s movie.

I’m watching this movie, and all I can think of is, well, that’s my life right there. He’s on the phone, stuttering to say a word. He hangs up, turns to the camera and says the word without stuttering at all. Over and over again. And just shakes his head about it.

What was amazing is hearing what he said about the movie afterward. Particularly that these snippets were all never to be seen by anybody else. And yet he had the strength to put them together into a really powerful movie. He also talked about how vulnerable he’s felt since making the movie and being out there. That’s an insane amount of courage. I mean, I’m only writing a little blog — put to make a movie and put it forth for festival consideration — chapeau.

(When Morgan stood in front of us after the movie was over to talk, I had the same thoughts that I did about the previous presenter — he’s hardly stuttering! But then he talked about how he’s been doing these presentations for a few months now. So again, confident and familiar.)

For someone who stutters, there’s nothing new or earth-shattering here regarding treatment or putting yourself out there. But I think if you’re fluent and want to know what stuttering is like, this is a perfect place to start. If you don’t stutter but know someone who does, you might hear a few minutes of their stutter here and there. Maybe every day, maybe only once or twice a week. And not think it’s a big deal. (And if your stuttering friend is trying to be covert, they’ll likely stutter even less). But thisisstuttering strings it all together and shows just how emotionally taxing stuttering is.

Stuttering at the Conference Day 1

Well, today marks the first day of the NSA conference here in the DC. I’ll write way more about each workshop after I get back to Saudi, but in general, here are my thoughts so far.

1. After picking up my packet and checking into my room, I was still asking myself if this was the best idea. I could still walk out on the whole thing and spend a few aimless days in DC. I mean, for someone who stutters, going to a conference where you have to meet people is pretty intimidating.

1a. For those of you who don’t stutter, this is how things go down in my head:

Me: Let’s go to a conference and meet total strangers who stutter!
Self: No.
Me: Let me say it again: EVERYBODY THERE WILL STUTTER.
Self: Here’s what I heard: MEET TOTAL STRANGERS
Me: But they all stutter!
Self: But they’re strangers! I’ll stutter in front of them!
Me: Exactly!

2. Obviously I’m glad I sucked it up and went to the first workshop — for first timers. Still nervous, but Pam got up in front of all of us and put me at ease. She said she was in our shoes before. And felt nervous. But we’d meet people, we’d talk, and it’ll get better.

3. The main focus of the first timers workshop was to meet other first timers. So the hosts didn’t spend a lot of time talking. They let us mingle. This was scary for the first few minutes, but got way easier. In the end, I wished we had even more time.

4. I did introduce myself to the first person who I saw before the first timers conference. So for the first time in many years, I had a conversation with someone else who stutters.

5. I had a chance today to watch this documentary about stuttering. It was like a film about my own life. Damn. Definitely not alone at all.

Anyway, as I said, I’ll have way more on all the above in the weeks to come. For now I’m slowly taking in this conference. I’m hoping to meet more people … it’s only Wednesday today, so there’s plenty of time. Many of the other workshops also force social interaction which is pretty awesome.

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