Posts Tagged Swedes
Posted by Keith Spillett in Articles I Probably Shouldn't Have Bothered Writing, Health Tips for An Early Death on May 21, 2011
Stage fright is a truly terrible feeling. Many people confront it, but usually they manifest their experience in different ways. Some people cry, some talk louder, some simply feel a vague sense of dread as they move through the speech. What I’ve noticed in talking to people about it over the years is that the experience of it changes dramatically from person to person, but it is always quite miserable if you feel it.
I have an awful fear of speaking on stage. As a teacher, I never feel nervous speaking to a roomful of high school students, but once a year in May I am asked to speak in front of a large audience on a stage with a microphone. The speech itself is something I’m honored to give, but the fear I feel starts around January and becomes nearly debilitating by the end of April. It is only a three-minute speech but my fear of it consumes months of my life.
People are always very supportive and try to be compassionate but usually the advice I get doesn’t help all that much. If you mention you have this fear you will get a lot of guidance, but often I’m not sure if the people who give it really understand the parts of it that make it so terrifying. It is an irrational feeling and most rational suggestions fail to address it in a way that is practical. You get advice like “Try to imagine them all naked”. If everyone in the audience were naked I’m sure I’d be even more terrified! How could the thought of hundreds of naked humans staring at you be even remotely comforting? Other people ask you “What’s the worst that can happen?” They have no idea of the circus that your brain becomes for three minutes. The worst that can happen is that you’ll be on stage giving the speech. People simply can’t comprehend why a relatively simple act like this can cause such suffering. I don’t really understand it myself.
The following is an attempt to describe the experience in real time. Some of this will sound silly, but every single thought written down has gone through my mind on stage. The goal of this piece is to create a running record of what stage fright actually feels like for me.
Alright, here we go. Need another sip of water. If you act confident, the fear won’t come. Okay, time to stand up. They just called me. Fix my jacket. Three buttons…how many should I button? I need to keep it buttoned cause my tie is too short. I look like Oliver Hardy. Someone once told me leave the bottom unbuttoned. Okay. Here we go. Don’t look up. Don’t look up. Just read. You should make some arm gestures. Just hold the podium. Don’t fall. Hands sweating. The podium is see through. Are the spots around my hand fogging up? Do they see me sweating? Act confident. Here it comes. Here it comes. I should have left them all unbuttoned. I should have acted more confident. Now IT is HERE.
Hot. What if I pass out? Falling, hitting my head. Would someone catch me? I’m too big. Where am I? Did I just miss a line…no, no, I’m okay….page one is over. Don’t look up. They are all looking at you. They are all looking at you. Is my fly zipped? Don’t look up. Fast. Dizzy when I look up. Falling, hitting my head. IT IS HERE.
Does what I’m saying make any sense? Do they hear me? I didn’t practice enough. I practiced wrong. Fast. I practiced too much. What if I forget how to read? Sweating. Pain in the top of my head. Antler pain. I feel like antlers are going to sprout out of the top of my head. Stay focused. Where am I? I am reading, but I don’t know how. There is another me reading. I don’t even know what the other me is saying. Why are they laughing? Did I say something funny? Did I do something embarrassing? I didn’t write that to be funny…what’s happening???
FOCUS!!!! Antlers. Sharp, sharp pain in the top of my head. Halfway done. Sweating. What if I can’t breathe? Slow down your breathing. What if I can’t? I don’t control my breathing. Long way to go in this speech. Lots of words left. What if I start saying weird things? What if I start shouting random nonsense? NO CONTROL. What if I burp? What if I start cursing? What if I lose control of my body? Sharp pain in my head. Antlers are growing inside. Will they pop out?
One page left. Downhill, downhill, breathe, another minute…..breathe. If I can just get one more page. What am I talking about? Where am I? DON’T LOOK UP!!!! THEY are watching you….breathe….breathe….you are going to fast…..no one understands….breathe….one paragraph now…..look up once…try it…..try it….dizzy….FOCUS….DON’T LOOK UP…..clapping…no more words….handshake….get to the chair….don’t fall….don’t pass out…get to the chair…..sit down…..breathe….
I am amazed at what has happened. The Sarah Palin “Oystergate” scandal is becoming a major national news story!!! I just pulled this off of the wire 10 minutes ago. (If you are just finding out about this story here are links to the original article and Palin’s reply)
Bloomington, MN (API)-In a bizarre scandal that is being called “Oystergate”, Sarah Palin is being accused of having a deep hatred of Swedish people. This story began when Palin agreed to write a music interview on a small website called “The Tyranny of Tradition”. Palin’s review, in which she shared her feelings about music including a love for the rock group The Blue Oyster Cult, started off as a simple discussion of heavy metal and quickly turned into an anti-Swedish diatribe where she claimed to be concerned about “slick talking Swedish terrorists” and referred to the government of Sweden as being “brutal and oppressive”. In a follow-up email, Palin added fuel to the fire by misquoting William Shakespeare and saying that there was “something rotten in the state of Sweden”.
The Swedish Embassy officially condemned Palin’s remarks. Swedish spokesman Per Gustafson said, “The Swedish people are deeply offended by Palin’s statement. Anti-Swedism has no place in the world of mature political communication.”
Late in the afternoon, things took a decided turn for the worse for the Palin camp. Helen Blomquist, the personal housekeeper for the Palins from 2006 until 2008, dropped a bombshell when she accused Palin of using anti-Swedish language around their Wasilla home. According to Blomquist, during a heated meeting with one of her top advisors, Palin shouted “Grow up! Stop acting like such a Swede!”
Blomquist also claims that, as a sick joke, she was regularly pelted with Swedish fish and subjected to mocking anti-Swede insults by Mrs. Palin and her husband Todd.
In the wake of the growing scandal, the Palin camp has issued a statement saying, “Sarah has nothing but love and appreciation for the Swedish people. The comments of Mrs. Blomquist are entirely untrue. Any accusations of Anti-Swedism are purely a creation of the left-wing media.”
However, growing tension has clearly plagued Palin’s staff. Hilda Erickson, Palin’s Chief of Swedish Relations, resigned this afternoon citing “personal, family related reasons.”
Swedish-Americans have taken to the streets to voice their outrage at Palin’s comments. A group of nearly 500 angry Swedes stood in front of the IKEA in Bloomington, Minnesota today carrying protest signs, shouting “Palin hates Swedes” and proudly singing the Swedish National Anthem. Hilmar Lindquist, head of the Swedes For America group, has demanded an apology. Until Palin apologizes, Lindquist and several of his followers have begun a 40 day lingonberry-only fast.
This was in my inbox about a half an hour ago. In case you missed how this whole thing started, here’s a link to the original article. I’m really not sure what to think about anything anymore. Things have gotten simply too weird.
Anyway, here’s Sarah…
I want to clear up some misconceptions that came up in my review of Ghost’s “Opus Eponymous”. I have received a good amount of angry emails from people who felt that I made remarks that were demeaning towards Swedish people. I even received an angry message from the Swedish embassy. I want to go on the record as saying I have nothing but respect and admiration for the Swedish people. Some of the most significant Americans of the last 100 years have been Swedes. John W. Nordstrom, founder of the Nordstrom’s retail chain, was born in Sweden. Astronaut and American hero Buzz Aldrin is part Swedish. Even wonderful entertainers like Julia Roberts and Tippi Hedren claim Sweden part of their great ancestry.
Just so you know, I was one of the first shoppers at IKEA when it opened in Anchorage. They have all of those sturdy pieces of furniture with the silly names. I think we bought a Flarn for Piper’s room that day. Every Sunday, Todd and I drive an hour to treat the family to breakfast at the closest IHOP over in the town of Chuloonawick. Every week without fail I order the Swedish pancakes. Surprisingly enough, both my and Todd’s favorite candy are Swedish fish. I ask you, do I sound like someone who hates Swedish people?
The point I was trying to make was not that we should hate all Swedes or the country of Sweden. Sweden is clearly an up and coming country. They have their own embassy, which tells you a lot about them. IKEA has a business model all Americans can be proud of. Once they grow out of their socialist phase like Russia did, they could easily rejoin the great nations that have refuted socialism and embraced values we can all stand for. The point I was trying to make in the article really had nothing to do with Swedes. It was more the idea that we should naturally be aware that some foreigners are against what we stand for and are dangerous. Since we can never be quite sure which ones are the bad ones, we must naturally be aware of all of them and treat them with appropriate caution. There is nothing wrong with a little bit of vigilance when our safety and well-being is at stake. When we are dealing from refuges from a socialist country like Sweden we must be even more prepared for the threat of potential anti-Americanism or worse. Even a writer and poet as great as Shakespeare understood this. He put it brilliantly when he wrote those now famous words “something is rotten in the state of Sweden.” I am clearly not the only one with these sorts of concerns.
I was very upset by your comments last night on MSNBC. After reading your article about the Beatles, I was sure you were someone I had a good deal in common with. How wrong I was! The statement you made about “condoning my metalheadedness but not my blockheadedness” was simply unfair. First of all, metalheadedness is not a word. Secondly, it upset me to no end to hear you give ammunition to an arm of the liberal media empire like MSNBC. They are clearly out to destroy me. In a week where I’ve experienced such awful attacks and personal suffering I would think you could have been a bit nicer. I simply will not write anything else for your stupid little blog.