Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Year Of Being Scared ...

I don't like scary movies. I fail to grasp what's pleasurable about paying money to sit in the dark and wait for something scary to appear on screen. I don't buy the "but it's not real so it's safe!" rationale.

I also don't like haunted houses. I once had a friend scare the living crap out of me in my basement. That was enough for a lifetime. Granted, in that case, I didn't know what was coming, and in going to a haunted house, I'd be paying for folks to scare me, but still.

I also don't like roller coasters. I don't mind the speed and the drops but I hate, hate, hate the initial climb. That feeling of leaning backward and the possibility of falling is more than my brain will tolerate. Being stopped at a light on an incline in a car in San Francisco is enough for me.

I like safety. I like the known. I suppose that makes me boring to some degree, perhaps to a great degree, but I've never much seen the charm in risk.

I have no desire to jump out of an airplane. Dropping me in the middle of the wilderness and leaving me to find my way out? No thanks. I'll be happy to handle a snake if you like but anything with more than four legs needs to stay the hell away from me unless I have my Dyson nearby.

But as my lovely friend Nona Jordan reminds me, we can do hard things. That lesson landed in my life at just the right time last year.

And the last couple years have been exercises is better grasping the value of my work.

A few years ago, a job situation I was sure would happen did not pan out, and it was a blow at the time. Angelo, who is very wise in many ways, wrote to me that night:

"You have too much talent to have another job where you're plugging away. You've done that. A lot. It's time to scare yourself. Big scare. There will always be chocolate to make things better when you feel like it's too scary and it will feel like that sometimes."

"It's time to scare yourself. Big scare."


Since then, I have had some scares, though not of my own making, which make them very different kinds of scares indeed.

But as this new year arrived, I mused about what I want 2016 to be, and I thought, "What if this year was all about being behind a microphone?"

I love to sing. Singing in front of an audience scares the bejeezus out of me but I've done it. Recording is much safer but my engineer friend isn't available for sessions anymore. I've found a studio that might suit my needs. And even singing in front of a new engineer makes me a little squirmy so that feels like a reasonable place to start here in the new year.

I once tried my hand at voiceovers and discovered that I am quite possibly the world's worst auditioner. Speaking is much less scary than singing but it's a performance just the same and my perfectionism is a bitch. Thanks to technology, though, auditions often happen at home now, which makes the prospect much more appealing.

I have been pondering a podcast for some time. Not from a "This is my ticket to fame and fortune!" perspective but from a "That might be interesting to try and it would cost me about, oh, nothing" notion.

I like speaking in front of groups when I know what the hell I'm talking about. I gave an impromptu presentation at a conference years ago that went so well that I was asked to prepare a presentation the next year. When I did the 3-Day events, I was happy to speak to groups of first-time walkers in advance of the events to answer questions and assuage fears and offer encouragement. The idea of being a paid speaker appeals to me, though I suppose I should have some expertise to offer for which folks would pay.

So, in that vein but in a different way, I think it would be a hoot to try stand-up comedy. I had folks laughing when I gave the impromptu presentation. Later that day, when I appeared in a video montage of the weekend's events, the room erupted in applause. I turned beet red – Unexpected attention! Eep! – but I appreciated their appreciation. So I think it would be fun to prepare five minutes of material and get up in front of a crowd with low expectations. I mentioned this idea to a friend recently and she said, "Really?" The idea of being on stage is not her cup of tea. I adore the view from a stage. I just need to get more comfortable with the performing part.

Perhaps I'll try them all. Perhaps I'll settle on one. Maybe one will scare me sufficiently that I'll feel I've fulfilled my terror quota for the year.

But, as Angelo mentioned, there will always be chocolate to make me feel better.

I should probably buy some stock in Ghirardelli.


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