To be honest, it was the kind of week I dread. So many obligations, so many ways to eff up.
As you may know, I have a day job. It's also a night job most of the time. I'm an advertising copywriter. I've been busy the last few months writing ads, commercials, and ideas that may or may not make it past the word doc in which they were conceived. Why does this matter? Well because of my nerves. They work overtime, too, so I usually over-prepare for any sort of presentation/interview/pizza order/etc. But because of this day/night job, I had no time to over-prepare for the crazy week to come.
Here is a rundown of the week I had on my plate:
- Tuesday - Paula Sands Live interview. For those of you not from the Quad Cities, Paula is big time. She's pretty much the Oprah of the QCA. I had the chance to be on the show back in May, but some jealous tornado decided to touch down and cut my interview short. A TV interview might not seem like something that involves a lot of prep, but again, I'm not good at winging things. Ever. I tried to anticipate every question she might ask so I wouldn't come off like the scatterbrained basketcase I actually am. Also, outfit selection. This involved multiple days of angrily trying on dresses. I like wearing dresses, I hate shopping for them.
- Thursday - Presentation at the John Deere headquarters. I was invited to speak about 'the power of friendship and accepting those who are different than you' by an awesomely intelligent woman named Kris Voyna. She is well aware that public speaking is not my forte, but welcomed me anyway. Basically, her reputation was on the line if I sucked. Pressure. Also...outfit selection.
- Friday - Saving Grace, the annual Preeclampsia Foundation gala. Social functions are scary. Social functions where people think you're cool on paper and want to meet you in person? Terrifying. And again...outfit selection.
How did it all shake out? Okay, Tuesday morning, I woke up with a cold. Snotty, slow, gross. Add that to my nerves and I was a big pile of mess. I was staying with my parents and have no idea how to work their coffee machine. (They use beans! I've always been impressed by people who grind coffee beans. I use a Keurig. I am a coffee wannabe.) I drove down to the local Casey's and bought the following things: Dayquil, 5 hour energy, Mountain Dew, a cup of coffee. I didn't realize how insane my loot was until I put it all on the counter.
"Wow, um. This is not all just for one day, I swear," I said to the girl behind the counter, afraid she was judging me.
"No worries. I just assume you have to go to work and aren't feeling well?" Okay, that's sweet, I thought.
"Yeah, sort of. I'm going to be on the Paula Sands show today."
"Actually, I'm really nervous."
"Just be yourself. No one's judgin'. You'll do great."
Such simple words, but I truly felt the weight of ten John Deere tractors lifted off my shoulders at that moment. She was right, no one was sitting at home with a box of popcorn and a remote control waiting for me to fuck up and ruin everything. No one expected anything. This girl, working the counter at Casey's, changed my day in a way no one else probably could've. Strangers say the darndest things!
Sure, I showed up at the interview all hopped up on coffee, but I had a great time. You can see the interview here:
Thursday rolled around. I practiced what I'd say in the John Deere presentation all morning. I wrote notes onto my notes and more notes on those notes. I was still feeling under the weather, so I took a Dayquil. (I hold this responsible for what comes later.) After receiving one of the best intros of all time from the great Kris Voyna, the light turned green, and I crawled to a start. I couldn't control my shaky voice, but that's nothing new. What was new, however, was flipping to the third page of my presentation and noticing that page was gone. No page 3. Dayquil is a bitch. The kind faces in the audience kept me from bursting into tears and fleeing the scene. I stammered a bit and moved on. Then it was time for the Q&A. Question number one came from someone on the phone. (This was one of those high tech video conference type things where people could watch from different locations.)
Caller: Why am I here? What is this?
I shit you not.
Kris to the rescue. This woman is quick on her feet. She quickly answered the question as to why I had been invited to speak and explained that perhaps the woman got the link by mistake. I have to admit, the question rattled my confidence a little, but the mood quickly shifted as other people in the room and on the phone started speaking up. They got it. They got me. And when the whole thing was over, I was glad I did it. And even a little glad that strange question #1 happened. Funnier story that way. Right?
Finally, Friday arrived. I was excited for the Saving Grace event that Shelly's family and friends had worked so hard to put together. But of course I'm me, so I was also nervous about talking to nice people.
I sat at my little book display, looking around as if I wasn't secretly wishing I could be imbibing with the people taking part in the tasting. It's almost as if Shelly's sister, Kim, heard my thoughts. A sample of bourbon found its way to my table. A few minutes later, it was joined by little plates of finger foods thanks to my high school friend Andy Hosmanek's wife, Elizabeth. As I shoved a giant piece of shrimp into my mouth, two women walked up and introduced themselves. I creepily recognized one of them from Facebook. I probably should've kept that to myself. From that point on, I met so many wonderful people. And learned that a lot of them were as nervous to talk to me as I was to talk to them.
Then of course this happened. And once again, I got over myself.
Ladies and Gentlemen, with the support of University of Iowa Hospitals, there is going to be a SHELLY BRIDGEWATER DREAMS FOUNDATION!!! I don't have many specifics yet, but just knowing her legacy will live on in such an amazing way makes me ridiculously happy. I will keep you in the loop.
The next day, I brought her flowers. And because the cemetery had removed ALL decorations the day before (they do this twice a year), it was just me...and her...and two flowers from my parents garden. I got the alone time with her that I always treasured.