Monday, June 7, 2010

Have You Met My Friend Ralph?

I'm on the verge of making my first international conference presentation in about two days. I'm a little stressed-out, and what happens when I'm that stressed-out isn't pretty. To not put too fine a point on it, I barf under extreme pressure.

The whole stress-barfing thing started my junior year of high school, due largely to chemistry. My father was obsessed with my chemistry grades, and were it not for my lab partner's fabulous math skills and Hopkins' determination that I really wasn't as stupid as I believed, I probably would've failed.

In the meantime, however, I developed peptic ulcers. Back in those days, they didn't care what prescription drugs you had in your purse at school, so I hauled around a stock bottle of Tagamet (prescription at the time, but keep in mind that my dad's a doctor). Chemistry was first period, so I spent the first twenty minutes of so of the day before homeroom sitting at our table in the concourse, trying not to hurl- and not always succeeding. I'm still not sure Hopkins was thinking too clearly when he presented me with the notorious acceptance letter early one morning, prompting a mad dash to the girls' room with our friend Her Honor hot on my heels. I was in such bad shape by first period that the chemistry teacher took one look and told me to just put my head down on the table and sleep.

The next time I remember it happening was just before my second interview for Yale. I threw up in the interviewer's driveway. At least it was dark...

Then there was my interview for the Rhodes Scholarship nominations- SFU takes a recommended pool of applicants and culls their two nominees from that pool- and I, naturally, threw up right before I was called into the interview.

Oh, and the first time I saw Hopkins after high school, I was so nervous that I not only threw up as my mother let him in the front door, I subsequently fell down the stairs in front of him. Grace under pressure, people, that's what it's all about!

So, flash forward to the Mother of All Academic Conferences, and I'm scared stiff. Luckily I'm presenting with a couple of colleagues, one of whom is a very close friend, so it shouldn't be too bad. Friendly warning, though: if I can't be found just prior to time, check the ladies' room, and, well, don't block my path to the nearest door, either.

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