Stage Fright?

— yeah. I know about that. I never made it through a piano recital. Passed out in church when I was 12 or so giving the invocation. Landed on the floor. I wrote all about it here in this post from that time when I was famous in 2019. I still suffer from stage fright, but now I know it won’t kill me — it hasn’t killed me yet and at this point?

In my long career teaching I was speaking in front of the public all the time, but it was (after the first day) not the same as standing up in front of people and divesting myself. It was an interactive thing, and I had a certain authority by definition of being in the front of the room behind the lectern and my name being in the university catalog next to the course title.

Still, last December when I did a reading from the China book at the local museum I was nervous. I didn’t stay nervous long. Friends arrived early to help me set up (who knew?) and the atmosphere was relaxed; everyone there was there because they were interested. It was wonderful.

I learned over the years to have my props organized — whether it was a Powerpoint show, handouts, a little boombox to play an old cassette tape — whatever it was. That wasn’t always possible in the classroom because who knows WHICH of the college TVs is going to be wheeled into your classroom, but over time TVs were installed in almost every classroom. Then it was a matter of having the right cable from your lap top. BEFORE that moment, though, before ownership of my own laptop, it was checking out a laptop from the office. In time, there were computers in most classrooms, too. It was fun being in the rushing current of those techie changes in teaching. I did learn that when mechanical things go wrong, the situation is more difficult to redeem, and a sense of humor goes a long way.

I would like to read from my little poetry book, but I don’t think I’ll do anything to organize that. It would just be sweet to do. Tea, cookies, half a dozen sonnets. Yesterday I decided that a small project like my book, that has some illustrations, was a good opportunity for me to wrestle with Amazon’s new software for building a Kindle book, and I got Shit, Fear, and Beauty up on Kindle.

In other news, Teddy and I took a ramble yesterday out at the Refuge in 40 mph winds. People are still coming to see the cranes who are long gone by now. In wind like that, almost nothing is flying, but a few ducks did take to the air to escape a red tail hawk who was hunting very, very low to the ground. The wind is kind of a drag, but I figure if I can’t participate in everything my world is doing (within reason) I’m not really here.

The featured photo is a note from a speech meet in which I competed in high school. It is the times when I was scheduled for a round. I didn’t want to be terrified of public speaking so I joined speech club and competed in Oral Interpretation of Humor my junior year and Original Oratory my senior year. I took second place in state for my speech in Original Oratory. It was an enormous thing for me. My speech was about protecting the Earth from human destruction. ❤

Four winners posing in the library for an out of focus yearbook photo ❤

14 thoughts on “Stage Fright?

  1. Humorous Interpretation was also my field in high school. I did an abridged (because it had to fit in 10 minutes) version of “Alice’s Restaurant”. The high point for me was getting a judge (a nun in full habit) laughing out loud at things that (we thought) nuns shouldn’t be laughing at.

    • Ha ha ha! I lost in humor to a kid doing an abridged version of Alice’s Restaurant. The upshot of hearing it so often during that year is that I pretty much know it by heart without ever owning the album…

      • I lost to a guy doing “I’m Herbert”, a one-act play about an elderly couple each accusing the other of memory loss. It’s from a set of four one-acts called “You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running”. He was so good that I decided to direct one of the other plays for my senior project in English.

        • That’s very cool! I don’t even remember what I did. Speech meets were fun, and my brother went, too that first year and that made it even better for me. At one of the certificate ceremonies we did a spontaneous 3 minute play with a friend of ours who was black. We played these characters we’d invented, “Mern and Fern.” In the play we were sitting on two chairs pretending to rock. “I don’t know, Mern. We should probably tell him. He’s old enough now. He might want to know.”

          “Mern” said, “Whatever you think is right, Mother, but maybe he’ll think we don’t love him as much as if he was our kid by blood.”

          “You’re right Pa. That could happen. But we should tell him.”

          Then our black friend came skipping onstage like a little kid and said, “Tell me what?”

          “Son,” said Mern, “the thing is, you’re adopted.”

          That was it. I don’t think it would wash today, but everyone laughed and our little “family” hugged to show everything was all right. We got some kind of prize for that. 😀

  2. I was a trembler – but the tremble was in my chest. No one could tell as I looked “cool as a cucumber”. I was also over prepared! I’m glad you were able to push the fear to the side and carry on (even if you were sweating bullets)!

  3. Bravo! My daughter did Mock Trial in high school and I asked her why? “I have to learn to speak in front of people, mom!” Oh. Gosh, I was not nearly as planned or goal directed in high school as her! I mean, I took Latin because I heard it was hard. I was a geek before geeks existed… bookworm, wallflower, whatever.

    • I dunno…some girls want an intellectual challenge. I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand how these things happen, but… One of the first things I signed up for in college was Greek. I had to find a teacher. I did. I went to a small women’s college (not a college for small women, ha ha) and to get a class all we had to do was find a teacher and one other student who was interested. I had this idea that well-educated people knew classical languages. I never saw myself (and I wouldn’t have seen you) as a geek. There was — and is — so much out there to learn and it’s all so cool. ❤

      • I went to a small women’s college, too! (Actually, it was a former women’s college turned co-ed college, run by nuns who were defrocked for this among other transgressions.) I hated college but made lifelong friends. Twenty years later I loved college – and it was the softest job I ever had. It took me 20 years to figure out what I wanted to study/why I wanted to be there.

        • Yeah, it was hard to find enough small women to keep those colleges going ( ha ha ). Mine (originally a college of the American Baptist Convention) shut down, was bought by the University of Denver, tried to make a kind of return under those auspices. I was really really really stupid and got thrown out of that college. It took 20 years before I realized what a wonderful opportunity I had had. I guess we weren’t as smart as we thought we were back then. 😀

  4. When I joined the Mad As Hell Doctors to fight for single payer, I thought about stage fright. Then I thought, heck, I’ve met strangers in clinic for 20 years. I thought of it as talking to patients, just a few more than usual. And ditto with news cameras. Talk to the people.

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