My Story: Stepfanie Aguilar

As we gear up for a fall project, AIR’s spreading some audio love by raffling off prizes to the indie community. The “My Story” series brings tales from creative practices across the network and beyond. Read on for Stepfanie Aguilar’s winning submission from our second round.

For round four, tell us a story of collaboration. How did collaborating with a colleague, interview subject, mentor make your work better? Tell us how you collaborate well by emailing your story to by midnight on Monday, October 22 with the subject “My Story.” (Bonus points if you attach a picture of yourself with your collaborator!)

By Stepfanie Aguilar

I can’t sleep in complete silence. During the summer, I like listening to my fan blowing air in my room. I like hearing the buzzing of my laptop as it shuts down right before I climb into bed. In the winter, I like to listen to the heater turn on and murmur. I like hearing the dogs in my neighborhood howl every night at the same time. Sometimes I like hearing my father snore in another room. Other times I go to bed early while everyone is still up so I can fall asleep to their chatter and laughter.

I can’t sleep if I hear something scurrying within the walls. I start to think that a rat managed to crawl its way in. I hold my breath and listen for its peep, but it never comes.

But when I’m camping by myself, I listen for late-night campers and their crackling logs. I hear coyotes yelping. An owl hooting somewhere among the trees. One time I woke up to hear something sniffing and rubbing against my tent. I held my breath and didn’t move but that time it was because I didn’t want it to hear my breathing. I didn’t want to let the creature know that I exist. Later on the camp host told me that sometimes cows and coyotes will come close.

I don’t like hearing a door or wooden floor creaking, as if something I can’t see but can only feel and hear will get close to me. The only time I couldn’t get an explanation of what I heard was when I lived in a studio by myself, in someone’s backyard in Los Angeles. It gets pretty quiet at night. Occasionally, I’d hear airplanes. The lights were off. And I fell asleep, but I immediately opened my eyes when I heard a dark whisper in my ear, and I didn’t understand it. Sounded like a man whispering in my ear. But no one was there. I had experiences with sleep paralysis before but I never had such a loud whisper wake me up. I turned on my Spotify and picked a jazz playlist to try and fall back asleep.

I’ve started to realize that I appreciate sound just as much as I can get scared of it. When I watch a horror film, I don’t close my eyes. I block my ears. Somehow sounds make the story more realistic than visual imagery. Sound and audio have influenced me so much that I want to become a better producer and sound designer to evoke feel-good emotions, and for people to be more appreciative and aware of what a privilege it is to be able to hear.