Monday, November 26, 2012

The Gift of Public Speaking

That’s what you all can get me for Christmas this year seeing as I DON’T POSSESS IT.
Tonight, my group project team and I present our final presentation that will basically determine our grade for this semester. How can I describe to you how bad I am at public speaking?
- I get anxious in staff meetings with my colleagues who I am friends with and see every day.
I get anxious just having to announce my name and what I do in a room for of people (I actually left a meeting - acted like I needed to take a call – last week and came back in only after I was sure the Everyone Introduce Yourself To The Group portion of the event was over. *bowing head in shame*)
- I get anxious talking on conference calls when no one can even see me.

There’s just something about having the stage that I can’t handle.

I take that back, I actually love attention. I love regaling groups of people at parties with my strange stories.  I loved dancing on stage when I took ballet as a child, loved playing the piano at recitals, and loved singing on stage when I was a part of a cover band for 4 years here in DC (YES. I may not have mentioned much about that before but I did, in fact, sing in a band. There are photos and videos somewhere. I’ll try to find some to share. Maybe.)
But when I have to speak on command – when everyone stops talking and stares at me, forced to listen to whatever I’ll say no matter how uninteresting or discombobulated it might be –
I can’t take that pressure.
I’ve mentioned the first time I realized I could break into hives HERE. Since that happened, I can distinctly feel myself getting blotchy whenever I speak in front of a group.
I also forget to exhale.
I also make weird jokes.
I also get too informal and am tempted to use “y’all” or end every thought with a “ya know what I mean...”
I once gave a presentation in front of my church and kept talking and talking, continually inhaling without letting any breath out, until finally I reached a point where I was either going to squeak out one last word right before blacking out, or force myself to push air out of my lungs.
I chose the latter.
And did it into the mic.
And everyone laughed.
I’ve given presentations at large company meetings and started discussion about the work I did during a serious national disaster by saying:
“this mic is too short for me. I’m gunna need to squat up here and work on my quads during this.”
So you can see why I’m living in dread today. Hopefully I won’t have any new embarrassing stories after presenting tonight.
But I promise to share if I do. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tunnel ----> Light

I'm essentially a week away from being done with this semester/year of grad school - hooray!!

But that means that this week, I'm still crazy and don't have time to post much. I will, however, give a run down of yesterday for your enjoyment.

Halfway through the work day, a coworker hands me a letter, asks if I think it looks "sparkly," then informs me it did NOT go through the usual inspection it should have and that he found it rather suspicious.

After he hands it to me.

Sooo - 2:00pm: receive possible anthrax exposure.

4:35 pm: Head to class - late, as usual.

4:40pm: First set of escalators to the metro train: broken

4:50pm: have to switch trains and find that the second set of escalators I have to take are: also broken

5:00pm: get off metro, realize I didn't bring anything to eat, so I stop at a street vendor and buy animal crackers and Ritz with peanut butter. For dinner.

5:20pm: I'm sitting in class and bite into the animal crackers, realizing: they are terrible. Possibly poisonous. Should go nicely inside my body with the possible anthrax from earlier. I have to throw them away, thus I'm down to "dinner" being -- Ritz with peanut butter.

7:45pm: finally able to leave class and need to somehow sprint in the cold half a mile away to meet up with friends.

7:46pm: my classmate graciously offers a ride with her boyfriend who is picking her up and will be driving close to where my friends are.

7:47pm: classmate informs me the ride is a van with no seats.

7:48pm: I'm riding through D.C. perched in my work clothes on top of a stereo speaker in the back of a van.

7:50pm: I meet up with my friends and instantly report that I just hitched a ride there,  on top of a stereo speaker in the back of a van. I'm very pleased with myself. My friends are vaguely confused but not surprised.

10:00pm: Friends and I head home and on the walk back to the metro, have a rousing conversation about how pedestrians in D.C. need to watch for cars even if said pedestrians have the right of way.

10:10pm: My friend Laura finishes ranting about how if a car hits her while she has the right of way, it serves them right and they can pay for her funeral. She then starts to cross the street, stops last minute and says "ugh, I don't have enough time on the walk sign to make it afterall."

10:11pm: BAM!

Two cars ram each other full speed in the intersection we are looking at.

I know, right??

Now, by this point, I'm getting fairly used to being first on the scene of accidents as I mentioned here. So I jog over to the car full of people frantically trying to get out because the car is smoking (and, as shown here, I tend to run toward danger, rather than away...cuz I'm smart like that....) and I'm simultaneously pulling out my phone to call 911 while mechanically cooing at the two girls now sitting down on the asphalt, freaking out. "mm hmm, you're ok honey....um...you're going to be fine, yada yada...." (Kidding, it was more heartfelt than that but this whole scene is starting to feel very routine...)

Thankfully, no one was really hurt, just shaken up. And since me and my friends didn't really see how the accident happened, we leave and continue on, now a bit jumpy ourselves.

So Laura heads one way, and my other friend Sean and I head to the metro. And the train stops and we start to get on -- and only half the door will open to let us in.

What is up with tonight?

I finally get to my stop where I get in my car to drive the rest of the way home, and as I'm heading over a bridge, I see a car swerve around something in their lane and I realize it's a big orange construction barrel. No sign of construction. Just one big random barrel on its side. Why not.

I reach into my purse to report it - and realize my phone is still in my coat pocket from the last incident...


I finally get home and get ready for bed, trying to think positively about having a short work week and the semester being nearly over.

I just hope the light I see at the end of the tunnel isn't just another car turning into oncoming traffic.....

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Running While Glowing

Sorry I've been neglecting you, Internet. Between hurricanes, elections, grad school and work, I'm struggling a bit. I do have some fun stories coming up from my time on the campaign trail but first, I'll tell you about my latest race- DC's first Glow In The Dark 5K Dance Party, yet another event I couldn't resist from LivingSocial. Everyone wears all black and as many glow sticks as they want, and we run for 3 miles then all join a giant dance party inside the DC Armory.

Now, the video above kind of explains the event except we didn't actually run through the streets of D.C.

We ran around a parking lot.

Stay with me, it was still fun. But first let me start at the beginning of the day.

Since the race was at night (hence the Glowing In The Dark part), I brought my race clothes into work with me and was planning on catching a ride from there with a friend to the start line. And as I’m parking in my garage at work, I pull into a spot and inch up –

And hit the car in front of me.


I’ve had this car, oh, 4 years. I’m pretty familiar with how long the front end is. I don’t hit things typically but for whatever reason, this morning I misjudge and get to see the car in front of me rock from the impact. Thankfully, it didn’t cause any damage but of course I'm surprised it happens. And just wait, because it becomes funny later on.

For now, let's fast forward to mid-day, when another girl that is running the race tells me that apparently we are getting “misted” with glowing paint during the race.

This is the first I’ve heard of this.

So now I’m thinking – the shirt I brought to wear is from my first marathon (well, the first attempt anyway, the Country Music race that was explained here) and I really don’t want to get it stained with whatever they are “misting” us with. So now what?

Well, there are some random clothing stores in the basement of the building I work in. So I pass one that has a black shirt in the window with the words “First Lady Obama” bedazzled on the front.

That is so going to be my race shirt if I don’t find something at the next store.

Sadly (?) I did find a slightly more appropriate sweatshirt on sale at the next store, but even it still had the name of a Pennsylvania hockey team emblazoned across the front in shiny gold letters. But let's face it, I’m about to be covered in some kind of radioactive mist, I suppose I shouldn't be worried about how “serious-racer-like” I look at this point. I buy the sweatshirt.

I change clothes just in time to jump into my friend’s car and head to the start line outside of RFK Stadium. And as we pull into a parking space, my friend pulls his emergency break and looks down at his phone. And I suddenly realize we are still moving forward and I can’t even get the words out before – BAM! I see the car in front of me rock from impact for the second time today! Seriously, how weird is that!? Twice in one day?? I immediately just apologize to my friend because he knows me well enough by now to know I’m bad luck and totally made that happen somehow. He agreed. Sigh.

Anyway, back to the race. We meet up with some others and head to the start line and realize – we sure are just running laps inside the RFK parking lot. But, in retrospect, I suppose it’s probably not the best idea to unleash 8,000 people wearing black clothing onto the streets of D.C. on a Friday night. Good call, LivingSocial.
Me at the start line. Yeah, not so easily seen.

But it ended up being really fun because they pumped music throughout the course, created different stages where we could take dance breaks, had lit up archways, and of course -the misting tents.

Which ended up all being broken when we ran through them.

Every. One.

I bought that stupid sweatshirt for nothing… Kinda wish I’d chosen the First Lady shirt now. At least I'd have something new to wear to cocktail parties…

So after running and dancing (and skipping, ballet leaping, doing the Gangnam Style dance – pretty much whatever we felt the urge to do...I definitely swung a glowstick over my head like a lasso through a good portion of the race…gotta say that was a first…) we started to lose steam and decided to start cheating and cutting through the course wherever possible. (Stop judging – it’s not like they time this thing.) But the funny part is, we were so busy dancing and being silly that we started just making random turns until we realized we didn’t even know if we were going in the right direction anymore and in fact may have made our race longer by rejoining waves behind us accidentally, thinking we were joining waves in front of us.

I forgot to mention this thing had multiple waves. I suppose it was to prevent us from stampeding over each other in the dark but it was a little annoying at first because we had to stand for quite awhile before our wave was finally set free. But you know what made it worth it? The fact that our Wave name was: “The Hustlers.” Best. Wave Name. EVER.

But now we’ve spun around so many times we don’t know how close we are to the finish line and at one point, we actually pass a race volunteer and we hear “why are they running that way??”

Not a good sign.

Thankfully, we finally did find the finish line and was able to join the Dance Party portion happening inside the Armory.

And now that I think about it, the last time I was inside that place for an actual event – was for an Inaugural Ball for President and First Lady Obama. I SO WAS MEANT TO BUY THAT FIRST LADY SHIRT.

But back to the party. We get inside and it’s like an adult playground. First, everyone looks like varying degrees of ridiculous. Three girls who ran with us were in tutus, a guy near us was wearing a Banana Costume, and another guy ran by wearing what looked like a football helmet made of glow sticks. And everyone is just dancing with abandon and tossing around glowing balloons. There was even a Twister mat where various glowing bodies were playing and I heard there was limbo somewhere as well but I was too busy trying not to lose my friends in the dark to go find it. We left not too long after the Balloon Drop, very satisfied with our random race.

The only other race I have left this year is an 8k where everyone wears jingle bells. I’ll keep you posted on whether or not I lose my hearing and/or sanity. Until then, enjoy the pics of this one:

Rockin' the new "fly" sweatshirt - pun intended. (I have no ties to the Philly Flyers but the UT Vols shirt I found next to it was too small...and lacked the tacky gold letters, so, obviously also inferior.)