Tomorrow will be fun or not. I’m doing a reading of my stories at Faire tomorrow. Sounds innocuous and harmless, doesn’t it except for one small detail. I hate reading aloud and I always think I can get over the terror of it. I do but you have no idea how difficult it is and I have a very good reason. This is something I’ve never ever, ever written about and not talked about much either.
When I was born the muscles in my left eye were not all connected and the 2 that were, were loose. The ones in the right eye were loose but all connected. It was not the standard wandering eye. This was not corrected by surgery until the second grade. Somehow I managed to learn to read before I hit school which led to some false assumptions on the part of my teachers, particularly my second grade teacher who I adored. She assumed if I could read, I could read aloud. My surgery wasn’t until Easter vacation that year and I went through some hell before it happened.
I can still remember sitting in a circle and when it came time to read out loud, I tried I really did. And for the first time ever my teacher yelled at me for getting it wrong because what had happened was that the wandering eye used to jump from place to place when I was looking at things. Normally that wasn’t a problem. I learned to wait to focus. Reading out loud was new to me and I was nervous on top of that and wanted to please my teacher but my eye started it’s jumping and I read random words out loud from all over the page. She got mad because she thought I was messing around and I was trying my hardest. I still remember how that hurt and terrified me. I couldn’t control it at all. I went home in tears and mom had to come and explain what had happened but the damage had been done. I learned reading aloud was a terrifying unsafe thing and that I would now do just about anything to avoid it. My teacher apologized to me but it was too late and I think it was the only apology I ever got from a teacher. She didn’t make me do it the rest of the year. I think I traumatized both of us because normally she was very kind. After the surgery I was in a kind of eye physical therapy which helped and she didn’t want to interfere with the therapy so I could escape it.
The next year was a test year and they found out I was reading at 10th grade level in the third grade and it made teachers assume I was all right then but those tests don’t test for reading out loud.
When I got into Mr Sawicki’s class he made us write stories. No brainer, I loved to write stories until he decided we had to read them to the class and I couldn’t. He thought I was being a “willful child” and he said he was going to fail me in reading if I didn’t. I wouldn’t and I really couldn’t, my throat closed down and he failed me which led to my mom storming down to school and getting the principal on his ass. This did get my grade raised because it was obvious I could read over and above that grade but the teacher really hated me then and he hadn’t liked the “shiksa” before. And the weird thing was no one ever asked me what had happened not even my mom.
For some reason no one ever asked me to read from then on in any class until I got to Latin in 9th grade and everyone read/translated like a dork then so it didn’t bring on the terror.
This was also coupled with a high reading speed which according to SRA testing in 10th grade was 5000 words a minute with 99% comprehension. This coupled with terror leads to the Indy 500 of reading aloud.
When I was AWS President in college, (president of women students) we put on a Fashion Show for the college as a fund raiser. They did this every year and the President was the one who read the cards for each model and outfit. Yeah, this is going to go well. Not! At all the rehearsals I managed a quick but able to walk speed. The night of the Fashion Show they were skipping and no matter how the faculty advisor motioned and got more and more frantic, it was not going to help. I did warn them what would happen.
I’ve had to read at work when stupid managers bring out new policies and make you read around the table. Speed reading commences.
I read at the Claremont Grad School Pagan Symposium last January but that was a small room and I knew almost everyone there.
I read at ritual last year and survived but that was ritual and some how easier but tomorrow is Faire and a lot of people come to Faire and I’m reading at the busiest time of Faire when the greatest possible amount of people will be sitting listening and I’m beginning to get stark raving terrified. I will do this but if people don’t laugh at the right parts or make appropriate noises I don’t know what I’m going to do.
FYI, the whole imagining people in their underwear thing doesn’t work especially if you can’t bring yourself to look at them. I’d rather sing then I wouldn’t be so damned scared. Singing is a no brainer. I just want them to like them so much. These are my precious words, the children of my brain.