Life as an Extreme Sport

Acting Metatron?

I think I’m a writer and sort of a performer, and part of the deal is wanting to connect with an audience. Wanting to have your work read or enjoyed. And there is a real pleasure in knowing that you’ve made that connection with people and that they seem to like it.

I like that quote. It rings true for me, even if The Daily Show Resident Expert John Hodgman was talking about the role of fame, and what it brings – not something I have experience with. I do have experience with being a writer, and sort of a performer, and I think it’s something that’s come out most, these last few years, in front of the classroom. Put me in front of a group of people, give me a topic, and… I will make a willing fool of myself, in the name of entertaining education. Some of the things I’ve said and done in a classroom setting, I look in amazement on the memory, and often with embarassment. How in the world did I think saying/doing [fill in blank] was a good idea?

Example? How about the last class I TAed, where I decided to use the internet to my advantage and bring up MySpace while talking about communication, privacy and the internet? Completely forgetting, of course, that the MySpace picture I had up was in much more revealing clothing than I generally wore while teaching, taken at a night out at the clubs. And of course, the entire photo album was up and visible on the first page. Now, it’s not that I had a problem with my students seeing me in anything other than what passed for business clothing in Seattle; after all, many of them could see the MySpace information already. It was the surprise of forgetting there was a nearly half undressed me on awaiting us, the surprise of the class, and my general “oh, man, I’m never going to live that down…”

Of course (and thankfully), at the time, my instant response was “see! what a perfect example of what we’re talking about!”

I’m not even going to go into some of the stuff that happened when I was teaching sex ed,…

But, in a roundabout way, I come back to the initial quote, of writing and being a bit of a performer, and it’s an impulse I understand. Right now I miss the performance bit – I miss the teaching, but I also just miss stepping into the skin of the reactive performer, the person who just opened her mouth and let God speak through me.Which, of course, is simply a reference to the approach some people have to improv. Frankly, I think good improv and teaching look remarkably similar…