Saturday, July 3, 2010


Soooooo I've pretty much failed the 28 day blog challenge, but who likes being restricted to one category per day anyway? Apparently, not me. I apologize to all of my dedicated followers, all 12 of you, (...also just realized one of my followers is actually myself...) all 11 of you, because I have completely neglected this blog.

While I was in an elevator the other day, Lisa and I were reminiscing about the time she got stuck in an elevator by herself, and in a fit of hysteria, jumped out from the cart and nearly broke her ankles--apparently the claustrophobia was worse than the clearly safer 10 ft jump into the lobby. This got me thinking about fears. My mother was a daredevil when she was younger, and now we call her Chicken Little. This is no exaggeration. It has gotten to the point that when it starts merely drizzling, she thinks the sky is falling, or that the Apocalypse may be imminent.

"OH. MY. GOD. Court, have you looked outside!? It's POURING! Do we need the storm shutters? Did Hurricane season come early? Are we safe? Is it flooding? Do we need a lifeboat? Is the sky ACTUALLY falling on us!?"

While many of my mom's fears are completely irrational, it made me assess my own fears. In life, I can safely say that I have two, insanely paralyzing, intense, want-to-throw-up-whatever-is-in-my-stomach fears. This first lovely category is comprised of CLOWNS. Well, clowns, dolls, puppets...anything that has its face creepily painted or have eyes that look like they can follow you.

I like to pride myself on the fact that I can handle most scary movies and not even flinch. I can watch every Saw movie and not bat an eyelash. I can watch the characters get their heads chopped off, limbs pulled apart, even the dismemberment scenes, unphased. However, the only scene I CAN'T watch is whenever that creepy little puppet comes out to tell the selfish protagonists their fate. I have to cover my eyes and lock my door. To this day I cannot figure out my irrational fear of the pint-size psychos. Maybe it's their sheer stature (or lack thereof) that scares me---you would apprehend a killer that would attack you at eye-level. But would you really anticipate a mini-assassin coming at you? Much like a rabid Oompa-Loompa? (For the record, the Wizard of Oz gave me nightmares).

Can you honestly tell me that a man with a stocking over his face is scarier than this little monster? Both small AND a clown. A double threat in my book.

Maybe this fear stemmed from when I was 2 and my mom dressed me up as the wicked witch of the west. I already looked like a little boy until I was at least 5, so making me look "scary" was not a far stretch. I had green paint all over my face, a black dress and a little witch hat. After my mom had applied all the makeup, I looked in the mirror to take a look at my very first Halloween costume.

...and immediately began hysterically crying. I had actually scared MYSELF. However, there is one similarity (hopefully just one) between me and the terrifying tiny circus performer: we were both VERY SCARY and VERY SMALL. I've tried to put my psychology degree to some kind of use and psychoanalyze that fear, and that's all I came up with. Unless I've repressed a memory where I was assaulted at the Barnum & Bailey circus, that's all I've got.

Enough about the clowns, on to my second fear: public speaking. I cannot think of anything more terrifying than giving a presentation in front of a group of people. (Unless this group of people happened to be clowns, or puppets. I can't even imagine.)

Welcome to my own, personal hell.

Along with the initial fear of speaking in front of a group of people, I also become afflicted with a disease I have coined "The Helium Race Car Effect." When this affliction descends upon me, my heart races, my mouth dries up, and not only do I speak faster than an Auctioneer, I sound as though I could be a close relative of Alvin and the Chipmunks. I try to speak slowly and with purpose, but I end up only thinking of getting to the end of my shpeel, and so I ramble quickly and also at a pitch that could come close to breaking glass.

Much to my dismay, it has come to my attention that the helium race car effect is not limited to speeches, announcements, or presentations alone. No no, this disease has invaded my every day diction. My cousin Ashley will almost pee her pants when I open my mouth and order food in a restaurant or bar, because she catches it every time. While my audience is only the (now confused) waitress and Ash, my voice still gets exponentially higher.

"I'll start with the crabcakes and a diet coke please"

Do I subconsciously think I sound nicer or sweeter if my voice is higher? Is there a lesser chance that something will happen to my food if I sound like small woodland creature trapped inside a 24 year old's body? I still have no idea.

In November I'll be attending a conference in San Francisco where I'll be presenting a Criminology paper/poster with 3 other members of my Criminology program. It's a Biosocial Criminology paper, and this area is still a hot topic in the Criminology discipline, and so my Professor informed us that we may be subject to "hecklers." These hecklers are not akin to Celtics fans holding up mangled Khloe Kardashian posters to distract Lamar Odom at a playoff game. No no, they are numerous leaders and pioneers in the discipline of Criminology, who will be coming up to the poster and demanding detailed explanations of the research we'll be presenting.

Not only will I be speaking in front of other Criminology professors (that's terrifying enough), but I have to also ARGUE and DEFEND the research?? My stomach is starting to do back-flips just thinking about it. My inner monologue that is thinking about this situation has even become quick and high pitched too.

I know one of the old remedies for this problem is to just "imagine your audience in their underwear." I'm no doctor, but if I haven't gotten physically ill from the fear of speaking in front of many distinguished criminologists, the thought of picturing them in their underwear just might be the kicker to make it happen. Let's just hope they're not also dressed as clowns. 

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