Friday I wrote about my latest assignment— to do something uncharacteristic and uncomfortable and then write about the experience. Well, folks, yesterday I definitely did that. The day was an extremely long one which started at about 6am.
I planned to give a “talk” at barcamp omaha and doing any sort of public speaking is way outside of my comfort zone. The short story is that I did it and didn’t die. The longer story? Well that’s the assignment isn’t it.
I’m supposed to record as many details as I can.. sensory input, bodily reaction, conversations, interactions. The hard part about that, which I realize now that it’s all over, is that I’m supposed to take all that and write a poem. But something in me is not feeling that. I’m not sure why. I kind of don’t even want to write about it at all. Weird.
I mean.. I did the thing. Like I said, I woke up early (half an hour before my alarm was supposed to go off). I was already a ball of nerves and anxiety by like 7. I did some morning chores and gathered everything I needed for the day. Soon after that I headed out the door for downtown.
Perhaps it just feels overwhelming still, because there is too much to put into words. I did the thing and then it was over and that’s when all the best parts of my day started to happen. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel like writing about it, because there are so many other things I’d rather write about.
It’s not the conclusion I thought I would be writing today, but fuck it. I just want to write what I want.
On Friday I had talked to my daughter about my plan and she expressed interest in coming to watch. I gave her all the details and even promised that I would try and schedule my session in the middle of the day to give her time to wake up and get moving. The talks are every half hour starting at 9 but I had to be there at 8 to get the time slot I wanted. She was coming from her dads house and I wasn’t sure she would actually get up and drive downtown. She did.
My talk was at 1pm, right after the lunch that I didn’t participate in or eat because I felt sick and too nervous. She showed up, on her own sweet time, at 12:45 and I actually had to go outside the building to direct her on where to park. She had never driven or parked downtown before so that was a new experience for her.
It was actually sort of nice to have that last minute distraction to take my mind off of what was about to go down. We came in the building and made a straight line for the room my talk was in.. where I had reserved a seat for her in the front row right in front of me. She has anxiety too and for me, being in the front row and not seeing people behind me helps me focus.
The talk was about 20 minutes which I mostly read off of my laptop. I realized the day before when I started to put together in my mind what I wanted to say, that it would be easier to just write it all out. Then after if was all written out, I decided I should just bring that, read some of it and then improvise when more details were needed. So that was that.
During my “reading”, when I got to the most emotional component, I started to lose it up there in front of all those people.. and there was my darling daughter right in front of me, a huge part of what I was speaking about. I looked at her and steeled my nerve and pressed on.
I powered through the rest and as predicted, had about 5 minutes left for Q and A. I actually gave the audience a choice.. they could either ask me anything they wanted, no subject being off the table -or- I could read them a few of my poems. The resounding answer was poetry and I could not have been more pleased and relieved.
I read three poems I’ve had published and called it good and done. After I had several people come up to me and introduce themselves saying that some part of my story resonated with them. That made me feel good. One gal just thanked me for sharing saying that the more people share their struggles, the more we know we’re not alone. It’s so true!
Z and I stuck around in that room for the next two talks and then decided to split. It was 2:30 in the afternoon and neither of us had eaten yet. We went to the tap room for cheeseburgers and fries and had a great chat. We talked a little about my “talk” and she admitted to getting emotional too, when I did.
She said, “mom, I was there too”. And as a parent you know that when you struggle your kids are affected, but you hope it’s not going to screw them up too much. Still, it meant the world to me that she came to support me, and that she sees that life is hard sometimes, sometimes heartbreaking, and that you just do the best you can. And.. that whatever it is, it is most likely temporary. Even the pain from losing a loved one, though it never goes away and is always a part of you, does get softer with time.
It’s a good message and I felt like the talks (not just my own but others too) along with the conversations afterword were a good experience for her. It was a proud parenting moment and that means more to me than any stupid anxiety or public speaking fear.
Instead of just giving her advice and telling her how to try overcome her anxiety and fears, I showed her. I modeled good behavior, I’m sort of just now realizing that! Go me!!
After the Tap room we visited an establishment in the Old market she had never been to, Hollywood Candy. The place is part candy store, part museum, part antique shop… and 100% what happens when a hoarder has a lot of money. $1.75 for a Twix bar.. no way man. That’s insane!
Ask me sometime about the dirty little secret I know about Hollywood candy. It’s a good one!
There’s more that happened yesterday.. so much more and I didn’t go to bed until 2am. But I’m going to stop there. I guess I wrote more about my talk than I intended so that’s good. I’m still not sure it’s the right stuff for a poem. I’m not sure what I will turn in tomorrow. 🤷♀️
I’ve got stuff to do today and am picking Jim up at the airport in a couple of hours so I gotta scoot.
Peace and Love,