Thursday, July 05, 2012

On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

And then today I tried another Toastmasters group. This group meets at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and they call themselves the Toastmodernists.

Table Topics is an exercise where a question or topic is raised, and the Toastmaster (that was Kathrin) zaps you on the spot and you have to stand up and speak on whatever subject she has raised for one to two minutes. At one minute, the time-keeper (that was George) holds up a green card. At 90 seconds, he shows the speaker a yellow card, and at 2 minutes, a red card.

Kathrin asked Linda (me) to tell about a movie I had seen that had affected me in a way that I hadn't anticipated. What a great topic! I stood up. I stood up for 15 seconds. I stood for 30 seconds. Then 45 seconds. This thought crossed my mind: What if I just stand for 2 minutes without saying anything? Then my time will be up, and I won't have to speak. I looked over at George's cards, waiting for him to show the green one. He said, "We don't start timing until you start speaking."

"Well," I said.

My god! How many amazing movie experiences I've had. I remember my first movie experience ever, Sleeping Beauty––and after a little while asking my mom if we could leave and go play outside instead of watching the movie, and how she asked if I was sure that was what I wanted to do, and when I assured her it was, how we got up and left the theater. 

I remember seeing my first foreign movie, Jules and Jim. A life-changer. I remember seeing 2001 and how back out in the parking lot, when my boyfriend was asked to help jump someone's car battery off, how I sat entranced thinking about the movie and not caring how long it took to get the dead car going. I remember seeing Pulp Fiction and coming out in a state of amazement. I remember seeing Jackie Brown, and not expecting a thing after Pulp Fiction, but walking out of Jackie Brown totally mesmerized--and how snow had fallen during the movie and how everything was transformed when we walked back out past the dumpster to the car. I remember seeing Adaptation with Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper…

But I couldn't begin to put these experiences into words. Don't tell me there's no such thing as verbal dyslexia.

"Well," I said. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow night, because Woody Allen's new movie will be here." Deep breath. Out of desperation I started talking about watching The Skin I Live In last week. But I had no idea how to pronounce Pedro Almodovar. I said, "You know, one of his old movies is … Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. And then there's Talk to Her. I mean, Talk to Me. No. Talk to Her."

I went on, "The movie was hard to watch. It was intense. It was violent. There was sexual violence. There was gender exchange" (don't ask me where I came up with the term gender exchange). "It was … I could hardly stand to watch it. But I had to watch it. I wasn't sure I would ever recommend it to my friends. But I couldn't stop thinking about it…and I still can't stop thinking about it."

After the meeting was over, I scrambled down to the cafĂ© as fast as possible and when I had made sure there was no one from class around, I ordered a bowl of soup and an Anchor Steam, and when I couldn't see a table indoors, I sat outside––that's how distraught I was.

p.s. The Distractions Keeper & Grammarian (that was Dave) reported that I had five "um's" and "and's." Wow! I thought that was great! But then I realized it was probably because I had only spoken for 20 seconds or so.