February 14, 2009

Nothing Ever Prepares You

Today is Valentine’s Day – and yet, here I am at the office, trying to finish up my work so that I can free up my Monday and Tuesday well enough to breathe.

Before I tell you what this entry is about, let me tell you what my typical, Spring 2009 Semester week is like. I have three evening classes, from Monday to Wednesday; as well as a morning class on Tuesday and Thursday. I have a total of four courses, all of which demand that I read a pile of readings for discussion at every meeting, one that demands a weekly journal entry to be completed on Tuesday, and another that demands a weekly post summarizing the readings to be uploaded every Tuesday night. This means that my week has to be slaughtered with readings so that I can meet my regular deadlines – and many more besides.

This brings me to today. I am reading the final pages for the course that requires the Tuesday night summary post. All the work that is supposed to clog my Monday and Tuesday is now coming to a close. After all, Tuesday is a special day. It is February 17th, the birthday of my late grandmother.

It is also the day that I will speak before another crowd of undergraduates yet again on the importance of intercultural communication.

This is the first time that I will speak before a large public crowd since my grandmother died. She had always been my biggest fan, and she expressed her pleasure in what ways she could whenever I told her that I had taken after my grandfather yet again. My grandfather was a lawyer and orator; my grandmother, in her healthy days, had labeled me as the true granddaughter of Ramon Zamora, that late grandfather extraordinaire whom I had never gotten to know better.

I will have two souls praying for my success. But really, I am still nervous. I can feel my heart still pounding in my throat. I have the urge to check my talk every hour, to see if it is still running smoothly. I tap my foot, bob my head to unheard music, and, when I can no longer contain the little worm inside of me that reminds me of my coming rendezvous with the unknown, I start to wiggle and practice my belly dancing while seated.

Naturally, I go through all these motions when I am alone – as I am now. I have not yet practiced my talk, what with the pile of readings and mini-papers. I have only gone through each slide, murmuring reminders to myself to rush through work so that I don’t botch up this project. Not that I’ve botched it up the first time – but see, there’s always a first time for things to go wrong…

Perish the thought.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been nervous about my talks. It’s not stage fright or any kind of fear of facing a crowd. It’s simple nerves – I’d like to think of it as a bubbling spring of energy, excited to be released, hoping to see the light of day through my words and gestures. I’d like to think of it as my own coping mechanism, a sign of good things to come. If I’m not nervous, things, I know, are going to go marvelously awry.

So, then, back to work I go.


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