on november 6, 2007, i delivered my first ever speech at the toastmasters meeting. my dad had asked several days before that if i wanted to take on the challenge of taking the first step to becoming a certified toastmaster by doing the first task — the icebreaker. not wanting to disappoint my dad and with the desire to overcome my displaced fear of speaking before a bunch of washed-out oldies, i immediately accepted with the condition that i won’t have to carry out another task (word master — a thorough explanation on what this may require another post) during the meeting.

i was nervous and excited. i had roughly around five days to prepare before i was scheduled to deliver my speech. i thought about what i was going to say but my five days started dwindling away and i still did not have an outline in my head. now this first speech is supposed to be easy. you see, the icebreaker is nothing more than a glorified self introduction. one is supposed to talk about him or herself because the topic would most likely be most comfortable for the speaker and thus, avoid any unnecessary anxiety of having to think of and mull over a topic.

i thought and i thought. i’m not the sappy, schmaltzy kind, if you must know. i like idea of not having to fuss over what shade of gray is best, but instead, just limiting my choices to either black or white. i appreciate hard facts more than your run-of-the-mill telenovela-inspired emo-ridden cryfest. i take comfort in conversations wherein i don’t have to second guess what the other person’s agenda really is.

needless to say, choosing a topic presented a dilemma. i’m going to have to deliver a speech before a bunch of gray-choosing emo-loving tritely-conversing individuals. and worse, they’ll be ‘evaluating’ me. this, to my mind, was an even bigger problem. will they actually be able to get ME when i introduce myself? or will they be stuck in the confines of the scanned evaluation page from the toastmasters workbook?

i decided to talk about my name ilya kristine. i researched early in the morning of november 6. i ‘googled’ ilya of murom, a protagonist in a russian myth or ukranian folk tale where my dad got my name. i didn’t really draw up a speech but i was content with the idea of having an outline in my head.

i ran some errands in the afternoon and by 6:00 o’clock, i was well on my way to VIP where the meeting is held every other tuesday. at some point before i delivered the speech, i was so nervous i thought of calling it off. but then, i thought about how embarrassing that would be for me and my father so i decided to just resign myself to the fact that i was delivering speech no. 1, whether i was ready or not. for a minute or two, my mind was taken off speech no. 1 as i was asked to do table topics. but that diversion was short-lived and my mind quickly returned to its original preoccupation after the brief respite.

then it came. my name was called and it was my turn. i went near the lectern, adjusted the microphone and just let go. i talked about how my name came about. then i narrated the tale of ilya of murom. as a parting message, i rounded up my speech by stressing that like ilya of murom, i wished to be extraordinary among the ordinary things that i do in life. before i knew it, my time was up and i was done. i thought i did okay. but then, i told myself that i had to wait for the evaluation to know if my okay was good enough.

the person who evaluated me was from the land of squares. and in the land of squares, he might have been king, too. hahaha… i’m kidding. but my first impression of the evaluator was that he was quite rigid and rather standoffish. sigh. it pains me when i’m right. my diction is above par and my confidence level is high — these were my good points, the evaluator said. it was added that my use of the story-technique was also commendable as i seemed to be at ease in using it. then, the grim part came. th evaluator then talked about the off parts. the intro was so long, i didn’t really talk about myself, etc. etc. i can’t remember anymore. perhaps i choose not to remember…

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in the movie the story of us, bruce willis who plays ben jordan says (i can’t remember the exact words but i know the gist by heart) that there is no better feeling in the world than the feeling of ‘being gotten’. he says that his wife katie, played by my favorite michelle pfeiffer, just got him.

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while i was disappointed at not having aced speech no. 1, i was more disappointed about not ‘being gotten’. as i’ve said earlier, i’m not i’m not the sappy, schmaltzy kind. so don’t expect me to tell you my name, how far i went in school, what i do in my pastime, who my friends are, what makes my cry or what my innermost dreams and aspirations are, in a well-concocted telenovela-like blowing-gas-up-my-own-ass tale. i’m simply not like that. but still, i tell you, i bared myself out there and that’s why i feel it’s such a letdown that i wasn’t gotten.

we ended the meeting and i was still a little glum… then we ended by agreeing on next week’s theme. and you know what, who would have thought that the theme for the next meeting would be: be the extra in ordinary… my dad and some of the younger, more vibrant members suggested it.

perhaps, i was gotten after all…

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