Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Just trying to get my group stuff ready for tonight.

I am such a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl. Always have been. I do find that becoming a parent has absolutely made me more inclined to plan better, but mostly, in the end, I am pulling things out of the printer while the car is warming up, memorizing scripts while waiting to go on stage, winging it while I am up in front of the group, or audience, or whatever.

I am just lucky enough to sound reasonably knowledgeable even when I am not, really. And so far I have gotten away with it. I dread the day when someone calls me on something and I have no response. Come to think of it, this did happen to me once, in high school.

We had to do oral presentations with a partner. Of course I picked a partner who had the worst attendance record in the whole school. There is always one of them, one of those kids who is always down with some mysterious illness or just doesn't show up hardly ever. They become sort of famous for their absences. In my grade school it was a guy named Frank Alexander. He was in my class from grade three to grade, um, eight I think, and I saw him maybe six times. So this was the kind of person who was my partner. Her name was Christine.

I had done my half of the research on Metternich, who was a councillor/head guy in the Ottoman Empire. Don't remember many historical details so bear with me. Christine was not there on our big day, and the teacher said to go ahead with my half of the presentation anyway. Gulp.

(First, a little background. I switched high schools in grade thirteen, from a small, all girl's Catholic inner city high school to a huge public high school where a lot of rich kids went to. I went there with my boyfriend Jay, so we could go to the same school and be in close proximity for eighteen hours a day instead of say, six. It was a snotty school, very competitive. And coming so late I never really fit in anywhere. )

So I am in front of the class, shakily giving my interpretation of this Metternich dude, and doing pretty well. Then it starts. The three little witches who sat near me and who were perfect and rich and absolutely not friendly began firing questions at me. I guess they thought I was doing just a little too well.
"What part of Austria are you talking about, anyways?
"Who was Metternichs second in command again?"
"Umm, I don't really, like, GET what you are trying to say. Was he an early, like communist or not?"

I am getting red faced and shrugging my shoulders and saying, "Uh, I am not sure..."

But they keep at it. I can feel the tears starting behind my eyes. One girl asks, "Do you even KNOW where it is you are refering to?"

I say, "Well, if I had a map..."

She jumps up, runs to the front, and yanks down an old map of Europe from the top of the blackboard. "There you go!" She says triumphantly, smirking at her friends. I was dying. Dying! I had no idea. I looked at the map and had no clue. Man, I could hardly see it with the tears happening and all.

I looked desperately around. Hardly anyone met my eyes. But the teacher (bless you, Mr Schlecta.) stood up. "Okay. Let me see."

He came to the front and stood beside me like a knight and pointed out all the places I had been talking about. He had always announced the marks for the presentations to the class, so when he was finished he said. I am giving Amy and A minus. She obviously knew her part of the presentation and did a good job without her partner here."

The three witches of Westdale "Tsk'd and sighed" They were annoyed when anyone got good marks. I sat down and braced my back against the glares being shot at it. I could hardly stop shaking. It was that feeling you get when there might be a fight, and you might be in it.

When the class was over I stayed in my seat. When everyone had gone I got up and walked out. Mr Schlecta looked up at me as I was leaving and sort of smiled at me. It is hard to see a man's smile with a beard.

I went straight to the bathroom, locked myself in a stall, and burst into tears.

Whew! Even the retelling of it half kills me. Tonight doesnt seem so bad now. So the dragon lady rolls her eyes. So i wing it a little. I know this stuff way better than I knew Baron Von Metternich. And the marks I get won't be on a report card.

Alright. I'm outta here. Cheers.


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