Last I left off, it was day one of Spring semester. Now, two weeks in, I'm overwhelmed with 16 credit hours (plus a 4 credit hour Research Methods class that's required for the McNair Scholarship Program) and plugging along.
The class I've felt the most intimidated about? Spanish I. It's been 12+ years since I've tried to learn a foreign language. A couple of nights prior to my first day at school I expressed my language acquisition nervousness to my friend, Emmi, who is currently a Spanish high school teacher. The way she explained learning language to me really resonated; along the lines of how I learned my first language, English, as a baby picking up on individual words, learning to piece together sentences, grammar, ... eventually reading, writing, proper pronunciation, yada yada. She forewarned me of teachers who have - other methods.
During week one I had Spanish with a professor who, in a nutshell, definitely opts for those "other methods" Emmi spoke of. He left me in the dust as he rambled on (with the exception of the two students who clearly already spoke Spanish), scribbled on the board, assigned us homework and studying for our day two quiz. My chest clenched and my stomach churned - the transformation of what should be fun into an absolutely confusing sucks-to-be-you-if-you're-actually-new-to-Spanish torture chamber in full effect. The next day I asked other students about this professor. Red flags galore. Another professor on campus was frequently suggested.
So on day two, giving him one more chance, it only got worse. Class felt like a ship plowing through crashing waves where I better hold on for dear life and stay afloat, otherwise my ragged little body will be torn apart and left behind. But then, a little blip in the distance appeared. A life boat, really, called transfer out. The little blip got closer... closer... and I got out. To an 8am class the following morning with the other teacher I'd heard good things about.
The next morning? The difference was night and day. Instead of feeling like I'm being weeded out and tortured, not only is the environment fun and encouraging, but, I'm actually learning.
But more important than Spanish I? When I received an e-mail through my school account on the 11th that read:
'The Vagina Monologues'
Open auditions to all female* members of the (college)...... Prior acting experience is neither required nor discouraged. All interested participants should complete the attached audition form and come prepared to read a short excerpt from a monologue of their choice (scripts will be provided). The Vagina Monologues are read on-stage during performance, so no memorization is necessary.
*V-Day at (college) is an equal opportunity force against sexual violence towards both women and men; however, ‘The Vagina Monologues’ as copyrighted material is an all female cast.
Despite the fact that the last time I've ever "performed" in front of an audience was in the third grade dressed up as a spider with a trumpet, I absolutely had to go. Vagina? Monologues? Females only? Hmm. Mangina, check. Things to monologue about, check. Female, - federally? Sure! Check. Manginas have monologues, too. The way I figure it, the history of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues is rooted in using this verbatim theatre to challenge taboos around sexuality and to heighten sexual empowerment. And this has stemmed to trans women also, with pieces like They Tried to Beat the Girl Out of my Boy (and Calpernia Adam's Beautiful Daughters, which explores the trans female experience). So what about actively challenging prejudice and discrimination when it comes to others with vaginas on the gender spectrum also?
Nervous, I wrote the director an e-mail before showing up to the audition, just to make sure I didn't come off as insensitive.
And as I sat through my night class and the auditioning hour approached, anxiety began to stir. Then I received a text from a friend of mine, who, unbeknown to me at the time, is also friends with the director. The text said that she was currently sitting by the director in class and that she was excited for me to come audition. One one hand, that was adorable and relieving. On the other, with my stage fright anxiety growing and regretting my knee-jerk reflex to e-mail, I now felt that there was no way I could back out.
Ever since my third grade spider trumpet performance, I've always found excuses to avoid performing in front of audiences. But, knowing I'd regret it if I didn't, I went to the audition. To my surprise, I ran in to an adorable trans woman friend of mine there, who has apparently performed the They Tried to Beat the Girl Out of my Boy monologue in past performances.
I filled out an audition sheet. Sat by my friend. My stomach continued to churn - and then a girl sat by me, who I'd had Brain and Behavior with last semester. She also looked nervous. I asked her if she'd done this before. Nope. So we decided to do a monologue together - in a desperate effort to ease our nerves.
We were terrible. Well, I was, anyway. I couldn't perform for the life of me and had never seen the monologue we read before. I sweat. I laughed nervously. I went blank. I stuttered. But, I did it. I felt sick. I wanted to vomit. But I stood up there and did it. I DID IT. And when it comes to actually performing in front of an audience, I probably will puke. But then I'll try to pull it off as part of the monologue, as we all slip n' slide around on the stage.
The next day we all received a cast list. To my knowledge, everyone who auditioned got in. I'm slotted with a few other people and my transwoman friend, who I'm meeting with ASAP to go over our monologue and modify it to reflect our respective *angina experiences a bit better.
I did a bit of google hunting and discovered The (Trans) Mangina Monologues, a celebration of Trans male sexuality and e-mailed them for monologue help. Adorably enough, a feller named Serge from the group replied to me immediately and even sent me some sample monologues from their book There Is No Word For It that will be coming out Autumn 2010. These monologues are amazing and I'm very appreciative of how genuinely receptive they were to helping me out and sharing so swiftly. I'm excited to meet with my friend and put out transtastic combination monologue together. Then there's, ya know, the whole on-stage bit. But some times, introvert bullets must be bit.