I have definitely adjusted to the time change… and the lifestyle. There is so much to do here! This week, after having anxiety attacks about my presentation to the Rotary Club, relaxation set in followed by rollicking good times.
I’ll start with my reluctance to use power point. I don’t know why; I guess it was just another thing to learn and I didn’t want to. But this presentation required such, so I set myself to it. Oh! Then the system had to be updated to use this program and I had to figure that out. I thought the downloading would be a matter of minutes, but no, it was hours. So I left it and worked on other aspects which brought us into dinner engagement time. Then I felt way behind but the wine from dinner convinced me to put it off till the morn. I’d still have 24 hours before the talk. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Waking up bright and early, ready to spend the day mastering this simple task, I open the laptop to recognize…nothing. The download changed the look of everything. It completely throws me off when that happens and I was already nervous about the presentation. It was the TED topic and I hadn’t done it yet in front of a real audience. Actually, I was beyond nervous and this tipped me into a state of stay-away-from-me-while-I-panic. Of course it was no one else’s fault that it was so last minute. All mine. Me bad. Silly me. But I was not pleasant to be around that day. This spawned a few lover’s spats, which took up more time (we haven’t learned to fight efficiently yet), which spiked my anxiety even more.
Just before a presentation, before I walk to the podium I always feel a bit of panic. I love public speaking and once I’m up there and get started it’s fine, but just before, my heart is racing to the point where I can’t hear anything else. When I get to the stage and utter my first word, it all goes away. It’s really a remarkable phenomenon. I think it feeds my need for adventure, that little rush that signals danger, gets the adrenaline pumping, and sharpens every sense. I crave it.
It’s astonishing how quickly the time goes when I’m presenting. It’s a time warp possible only when I am completely consumed with concentration. It went well, though there is room for improvement. I could be smoother with the slides, I thought, but it was my first time using this program and I should have practiced more. No one seemed to notice. The audience’s reaction floored me. I’d worried about sounding too angry. I heard audible gasps a couple of times, which I took as a good sign. Definitely glad I did this. I was surprised (and thrilled) with the response, the invitations to repeat it next week, the inquiries about what can be done to help.
The aftermath of an event like that is akin to finishing the marathon for me, except that my feet don’t hurt. It’s a surge of endorphins and a rosy glow that lasts quite awhile. It’s addictive. All activity in the following days is sweeter and more enjoyable. Therefore, I didn’t mind the terror of sailing in San Francisco Bay with gale force winds. My seasickness was mild and I even glanced up at the cityscape a few times. Gorgeous. The lunch before the sail was magnificent, the company intriguing, and the wine was good, too. However, about an hour into the sail I started regretting the wine. The following day I spent with my dear childhood friend who moved west a long time ago. She took me to Bodega Bay where Hitchcock filmed The Birds. It was spectacular, not only to be amid such glorious landscapes but to be with someone I met at age four and feel perfectly relaxed and comfortable with. So much is understood, accepted, and loved. I’m so grateful for her.
Yesterday I decided to walk along the water to the Rosie The Riveter Museum. The air was warm and the bay perfectly calm. It looked like an entirely different body of water from the one we sailed on. I absorbed the cityscape from my perch on the shore path without fear of drowning. Lovely. At the museum there was a fifteen minute film with the story of the Richmond shipyards during WWII and how it changed the social norm at the time, describing how all races and genders worked together for the first time our history. After the film, a 94 year old African American park ranger, told her story of working in the shipyards as a 20 year old clerk and how different her experience was from the one the movie portrayed. Her great grandmother had been born into slavery and she described the generations of women in her family and how their fates were shaped by the war. The story was fascinating. It’s so strange. I wish so badly that we could live in a world without war, without hatred, or discrimination. And to hear the story of the war being the impetus for great social change as women in the workplace, African Americans riding side by side on the busses, and reliable day-care, it just seems so bizarre. Can’t we find an easier way of getting there? What kind of species are we? When have we ever not battled with each other?
Walking back along the water I noticed the houses in the development where I’m staying. I had told my friend the day before they were all connected and identical. As I looked for the gate to get back to the road, I saw the houses weren’t actually connected. There were trees between them. And they were similar but not all exactly the same. I’d gotten that wrong. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but it did strike me after hearing that story how often we get things wrong when we don’t look closely enough. It unnerved me. I was quite sure those houses were connected and they weren’t.
The story is told by the ones at the table and it all depends on how they see it.