First Open Reading, Part Two
ZOELAB DAY 108
Date of Original Post: December 17, 2012
When I arrived at the reading my heart started pounding heavily, which is normal for me. There were about twelve or fifteen people sitting at tables. Even though I am a trained actress, I always get nervous before I am to speak in public, as myself. I have learned to live with it, by breathing through it and trying to use it to fuel my fire. I also had a glass of wine, which helped. The other organizer/host (the wife of the man who had emailed me, who I knew from a volunteering at a women’s crafts collective while I was pregnant) called out the name of the person a moment before s/he was to go up. I listening to several readers, having no idea when I’d be called, trying to get used to that thing jumping around in my chest. The host then said: “there are two Zoë’s, who has the burning desire to go now?” I instantly threw up my hand with out politely letting the other Zoë, who is a child, go first. (I’m embarrassed that I did that now.) But I knew it was my time to go, and I wanted to be relieved of my jumping heart. The last reader had read about sorority girls and her granddaughter, a sorority girl also, was there listening. I saw a theme emerging about family relations, with the other Zoë and her brother there, and I needed to seize my moment.
There was a microphone and a stool, so I sat in the stool (which was a mistake) and started reading. Standing is always more grounding then sitting--having your feet on the floor. Sitting on the stool made me feel less present. My heart wouldn’t let my voice alone--it felt thin and shaky. I tried to read slowly, which is how it should be read, but I was nervous that I would be cut off, so I couldn’t read too slowly. This dilemma made my voice sound high and far away from me. I read the best that I could. After I sat down in my seat, the blood came back to my face. Then the other Zoë read a wonderful poem. She read with such confidence, yet vulnerability. I was amazed that a thirteen year old American girl, living in Mexico, could be so self-possessed. Or perhaps living here has something to do with it. The next reader, the last, a woman who looked around my age walked up to me right after her name was called and asked me the name of my blog. I thought it was strange she was asking me when it was her turn to read. I said: “Zoelab.net. I”ll write it down for you later.” She waved her hand impatiently, “what's it called?” She had wanted the name at that moment so that she could announce it to the audience before she read her sharp and funny piece about her experiences as a mom living in Baja part time. She read exactly the way I would have wanted to read if I could have. Her voice was rich, confident, her relaxed state allowed for the proper comedic timing. She was fully present, which draws the audience in. I found out that she is a published author and also coaches writers on reading technique. Well then it made sense.
I received warm and kind feedback after the reading was over and chatted with my new promoter and role model. Being someone who slips in and out of feeling empowered, I find it refreshing to spend time around empowered women who are also kind. An empowered woman person takes care of herself and others. (You can’t have one with out the other. (wink.))
Anyway, it was an enlivening experience and I definitely plan on returning every month, if I can. To have an opportunity to meet new people, experience a new environment, connect through art, share my work, be inspired by others’ work, play a new role in this community, gain potential new readers, and have something to write about on ZOELAB!
Oh, and I wanted to share the words from my brother’s email (who gave me permission to publish) that I read at the reading after I finished my essay.
Subject: designer jeans
I just bought my first pair - and they're great, Italian I think, and very comfortable.
The transformation is now complete. You and I have officially switched places.
I am the bourgeois hedonist and you are the spiritual ascetic.
READ: GeGe Mei Mei Post
Shout out: Happy Birthday Dear One, you know who you are!) Or am I day off?