Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Baby's Driving!

My youngest child just received her driver's license. She passed the driving test with flying colors despite her inherent anxiety (yes, she takes after me) and she's piloting our old Toyota Tundra around the Village, displaying the company name and hopefully drawing some business. Who wouldn't want to hire a construction company with such a cute advertiser?

There are a few other benefits to leaving the company name plastered on our daughter's truck: she can never say "it wasn't me" when someone spies her truck at a party or friend's house; the police or any other concerned citizen can easily dial her mom to report her driving habits, since the phone number is prominently displayed on three sides; and the truck is noticeable even to those half-asleep, allowing ease in tracking her progress around town. In a town this size people will call me to report my children's driving transgressions anyway, but with our blatantly labeled truck, my youngest daughter can't drive around the block without someone calling to let me know who she's with, which way they were headed, and if she used her turn signals (she always does). Just another way living in a small town provides peace of mind for parents of teenagers (this position is preferable, by the way, to being a teenaged parent), ensuring we don't go insane too quickly.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Reading Groups & Public Speaking

A semi-local (25 miles away) reading group asked me to speak at one of their upcoming meetings. Does this constitute public speaking? Because public speaking is one of my irrational fears, along with mice, small spaces with only one exit and flying, all of which produce enough anxiety to cause a quavery voice, shaking hands and a sweaty upper lip.

I experience the cliche author anxiety directly linked to defending my writing to those who either disagree with it or don't understand it, and I fear sounding foolish. Always able to imagine what I should have said in a given situation hours after it ends, I'm never able to produce a suitable response during a debate or confrontation. Oh, the frustration! If only I could 'speak' via hand written or typed letters, mailed back and forth, so each response would allow at least a day's rumination.

So, my fear of public speaking must be analyzed, addressed and hopefully dismissed. What is the worst case scenario? Has anyone ever died of public speaking (assuming they weren't shot)? No. The internal angst alone has yet to kill anyone. I can safely enter any public speaking situation with the knowledge that it will not kill me. (This is how I survived childbirth--I told myself people don't die from it in this day and age. I knew this was false, but I managed to convince myself it was true.)

With death removed as a possible outcome, appearing foolish or unprepared are the only remaining possibilities and they are much less dire.

So, I will dress the part and practice a five-minute speech (like high school Speech class--remember that? Five minutes was an eternity back then) and I'll field the questions. Maybe I'd better practice stall tactics to give myself time to ruminate and increase the odds of producing an intelligent answer...