Saturday, October 21, 2006

I wish I had something more interesting to write, but I don't.

The weather is quickly turning cold, which included ferocious winds yesterday. The radiators have kicked in, and it's now getting dark before 7:00 PM. Already, I've had to resist the urge to burrow, but admit that I've given in to it a couple times. My cats are all to happy to burrow with me. I get up at a normal time, eat breakfast, then burrow and wake up a few hours later. On the days it rains, I burrow even more. I do get out once a day, and know these are signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I'm also pressing on with the job hunt. I'm making progress, shaking the trees of my connections to remind them I'm alive, sending out resumes, writing cover letters, but the doldrums of November and December, a.k.a. the hardest time to get a fucking job are fast approaching. I'm frustrated because I just want to know. What will I be doing next? The show begins production in January, which is why I want to have other options by then.

I've been able to keep my clutter quotient down because that's what happens when you give a bunch of shit away. My latest shed was a couple of RCA speakers that I was going to just toss, but they were perfectly good so I put them on the sidewalk with a "Work perfectly fine. Free to a good home" notice taped on them. By the next morning, they were gone.

Those speakers were from a stereo system that I won when I worked at CareerPath, now CareerBuilder.com. When I worked at the company several years ago, I remember seeing the box holding the sound system arrive. I asked what it was for, and someone mentioned it was for a contest. For some reason, I knew that I would win it. I didn't know what the contest was, if it was a drawing or what, but I knew that box was mine.

A few days passed and nothing was said of a contest. Finally, it was announced that entrants were to write a song about our online job fair based on the graphic theme, the 1960's. Basically, it meant that we were to use a song from the 1960's and rewrite the lyrics. I read it, confident that I could write lyrics. It was then that I saw the catch. The catch was that the author also had to sing it in front of the entire company.

Oh dear.

Anyone who has known me for years knows that I'm deathly afraid of public speaking. This contest wasn't asking for just that, but they wanted public singing. Singing. I'd never sung in my life outside of second grade when the class sang All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth for the Christmas pageant. Nothing. Now if I wanted that sound system, my solo debut was going to be in front of an entire company. The company I worked for and people I saw every day. Keep in mind, this company was in Los Angeles. Entertainment capitol. Meaning, plenty of singers or past singers were in the company. Also, many who had been on screen and stage.

I sat at my computer and pondered this. Could I get in front of the company and sing my little heart out? Would I faint in the middle? If I did, would that get me a sympathy win? How bad did I want that sound system? The answer was, I wanted it really badly. Badly enough to start writing my song to the tune of Bob Dylan's The Times They are a Changin'. As if I was channeling the Dylan himself, the words flowed from my fingers. And as I wrote it, I knew it was good. It had humor, passion, and was clever. It rhymed, went with the song and hit all the right notes and accents. I put out of my mind that I might have to sing it. Maybe it would be so good that they would excuse me from the task.

I wrote on..."At the Job Fair, they are a hir-in'"

I submitted it. The judges were our advertising firm that did a great job of putting morale boosting company functions together. Honestly, to this day they remain the best company I worked for when it came to that. CareerPath put on some of the best daytime parties that brought the company together.

The day came, and all the entries were pasted on the large conference room walls. I was nervous, not because of the singing but because there were some really good entries on the wall. However, something told me I would win. I'd made a psychic connection to that box the day it arrived.

After announcing company stuff, the time came to sing our songs. The first brave soul volunteered, maybe hoping that bravery would edge him toward the box. Like I thought, we had some good singers, but also, people who were fine with letting it all hang out in front of the people they worked with every day. As I watched, I became excited to share my song. My nervousness subsided as I realized that none of these people wanted to see me fail. It was all in good fun. So when the question was asked, "Who's next?" I volunteered.

I walked in front of more than a hundred people and was honest. I thought if I told them my worst fear, that I was going to shake and blush, then it wouldn't be the beast that it was anymore. So, I did.

ME: Just to let you know, I've never sung in public and am terrified. I'm going to blush and shake.

AUDIENCE: (charmed) Laughs.

ME: I wrote a song to Bob Dylan's The Times They are a Changin'.

And I sang. And to my surprise, I was pretty good. Half way through, I was actually enjoying myself. My song got laughs, applause, and I even had to put my hand up to quell them so they could hear the last verse. I hit the notes and carried the tune. The girl who had cried her senior year because she had to take speech was ruling the room. I was shaking and blushing, but I was also having a really good time. When I finished, I knew that I'd earned that sound system. But it wasn't about that anymore. That whole exercise was about slaying a beast that was trying to prevent me from getting something that I wanted. From participating. Instead of shrinking into a corner or asking that special considerations be made for the phobic public speaker, I just got up there and did it.

And, I won. It was a proud moment because I knew I'd earned that win. It wasn't a draw, or a lottery, but a win. A win not only over the other entrants, but a win over my biggest adversary. Myself.

That is exactly why I hung on to the system for so long, way past when the five-changing CD player gave up. It was a trophy of sorts of that triumphant day when I had not only found my voice, but had a room full of witnesses. Finally, I was okay about giving it up so that I could make space for other triumphs. Whoever got those speakers doesn't know their history, but they have good energy. I wanted them to live on, to continue to carry the tune, if you will. That's why I didn't toss them and silence them forever.

Now, like me on that day, they have found their voice again.

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