Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Running on gas ...

*** May 1985 ***

Sunset over the ocean
Richard and I went to Fiesta De Sol in Ventura ... it was a small event at a local park near the beach.  That particular day was a day for people with physical and developmental disabilities.  Since Richard and I both worked for the van service at the college to transport disabled students it was a logical place to be.

I have never been an outgoing person, but on rare occasion I can be the carefree, "I don't care who's watching" girl.

This was one of those days.

I drove to Ventura after bowling on Saturday morning.  It was hot out ... my car had air conditioning.  That choice was easy ... but I did promise Richard and some friends from college that I would be there to hang out with them for a while.

It makes me wonder how anyone hooked up for anything back then.  No cell phones ... no pagers ... smoke signals were frowned upon.  The lucky ones did have CB radios, but I didn't have one at the time.

Anyway ... the afternoon started off pretty slow.  OK, I'm being nice ... it was boring.  There were a lot of booths, but not much to do.  The group of us walked around and then stayed for the presentation at the stage.

It's not that I didn't enjoy being with my friends ... it was that I was hot and miserable.  A beer sounded really good ... heck, even water sounded good.

As our friends disappeared with their families Richard and I walked across the park toward the parking lot.  The event was already being broken down ... tables being folded up ... decorations on the ground ... and ... and a tank of helium with balloons tied to it.

"Can we have some balloons?"  It was not like me to just ask somebody a question like that ... especially in a crowded environment, but I did.

"Sure."  I don't think the lady was actually paying attention to either Richard or me.

"Can we fill some more?"

"Go ahead."  She grabbed a box and stacked it into a nearby van.

Richard and I both started filling balloons. As quickly as we could fill them people were coming up and asking for them.  Nobody was saying anything to us, so we just kept doing it.

Miller Beer

After maybe 15 minutes we had given away a lot of balloons ... now it was time for fun.

As any mature adults would, we filled balloons up and inhaled the gas to talk in that Marvin Martian voice.  We would say a few words and giggle.  Then we tried singing.

Less than a minute after we started this 2 other men walked up and we started singing songs in barbershop quartet fashion ... helium powered, slightly off key harmony.

We sang a dozen short songs ... the Miller beer song ... the McDonald's jingle ... Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper songs ... I'm pretty sure we destroyed part of an Eagles song badly ... but it was fun ... It was fun and people were gathering.

I did not realize this.  I would have hidden in embarrassment ... but then they applauded.

What the ... ???

We only sang a few more songs before the effects of hypoxia really started taking their toll.

I did learn that breathing primarily helium for a while makes you dizzy.

When we were done the park was just about empty.  The helium tank was pretty much the last thing loaded into the van.

Thank God there were no cell phone videos or small camcorders back then.  We would have been all over the internet ... if the internet was available.

***  ***  ***

I don't like being the center of attention.  I am somewhat shy and mostly introverted ... I always have been.

I don't want to be noticed.  I'd rather just do my job or live my life while blending into the background.  This is not saying that I do not want some form of recognition for an accomplishment.  Everyone needs some positive feedback from time to time.

It is strange that the jobs I'm drawn to seem to put me in front of people ... put me where I am, watched ... in a spotlight ... noticed.

I think a big part of the issue is my own brain ... I think ... a lot.

I liked playing third base in softball.  Why?  I don't really know.

When I would take the field I would be nervous.  My team was watching ... the opponents were watching ... the crowd was watching ... all 7 of them.  I was afraid I would make a mistake ... that something would go wrong and I'd look like an idiot.

Then a ball would be hit to me.

I couldn't think ... just react.

I did make mistakes, but I made many more good plays ... even a few spectacular plays.

When I worked on the ambulance it was the same thing.  I would be nervous on the way to a call, but once I got there I just acted.

I still get nervous speaking in front of people ... even people I know ... even subjects I talk about or teach often.

I'm very self conscious.

I over analyze everything.

I might like to learn to dance, but then the brain kicks in.  "People will be watching." "What if I mess up?" "I'm not as good as others."

By the time I get done thinking I have convinced myself that it is a bad idea ... I won't be any good ... I will be embarrassed ... I just don't want to.

Can I dance?  I don't know ... I've never really tried.

It's the same thing with singing.  I sang in front of my church as a child, but I was nervous and never really enjoyed it.

Richard took me and Pam to karaoke a few times.  My tolerance to loud places is very low, but going out was a little fun.  I didn't like the thought of singing in front of people I didn't know, but ...

Amazing what a couple of beers can do.  I did pretty good once I got beyond the thinking.

Maybe a couple of beers might cure my dancing insecurities.

Next week I am going to Dallas for a conference of safety supervisors and general managers.

This is opening up an entirely different level of insecurities ... or maybe the same insecurities rebooted.

I am nervous about the flight.  Will my claustrophobia be stirred up?  How crowded will the terminal be?  How crowded will the jet be?  Will there be turbulence?  Will I feel sick?  Will I survive all these scenarios I torture myself with?

What will the weather be like?  Will the room be nice?  Is there really anything in Texas worth seeing?  What is the conference going to be like?  How crowded will it be?  Will I stay focused?  How far will my mind wander?  What clothes should I wear?  Where are we going to eat?

Why do I do this?

Why can't I just get on the plane and go?

Why can't I just go to the conference without all these worries?

A beer is not an option for the meeting ...

Somewhere in my brain I know things will go just fine.  I know when we break into our groups to discuss issues I will be well spoken.

I just want to get this over with.

I didn't mention what bugs me the most about this event, but I figured I didn't need to explain this.  I will be gone Monday and Tuesday night ... without Pam.  It's only two evenings, but it will be two long evenings.

I'm sure I will have a story or two when I get back.