Back from Vacation

Just a quick post to say that I’m back to Saudi from the NSA Conference and then almost a week of vacation chasing the Tour de France. Last year I only chased the Tour for about 2 days. This time it was four full days followed up by a concert in London.

For the whole vacation, I spoke a lot more French than last year. This being related to meeting someone at the conference from Canada (the French-speaking part) and then when I was in France, having dinner with family friends of my traveling companion.

I even told one of the family friends that I stuttered! I knew the word for it because I learned it at the conference.

I won’t say it was all a success — I still hid from a speaking opportunity here and there. But overall it felt good to get out there and stutter away, happily saying and asking what I wanted to.

In the next few days I’ll post about my overall conference experience, comparisons to last year, workshop-by-workshop descriptions, and then a brief on France and a day in England for the concert.

Going to the conference

Let me take a break from talking about how much I love talking on the phone …

I have some great news — my vacation was approved for early July which means that yes, I can go to the conference! I signed up for it already and am now just sorting out flights. My parents are still in Pennsylvania, and I’ve got a bunch of friends in and around DC. So it’ll be great to see everybody again as well.

Now for some background on these posts. A peak behind the curtain. They’re not fun to write. At all. I usually start them out with a sentence or two, dig into my brain and … do something else. Then an hour later I get back to it. It’s not a “work process” issue at all. That’s not how I write other things. It’s how I write things I don’t like writing about. But I’m forcing myself to do this even though for most of them reliving the details causes some sweating and angst. What is good is that as I look back, I think, yes, I made it through that, and today, I might not handle it the same way. I have more confidence. I have more patience. I may not breathe right all the time, but at least I know what works and what doesn’t a little better.

The other interesting thing about digging into the past is the difference between what’s available technology-wise. I couldn’t just e-mail people or hit them up on social media when I was in elementary school or high school. (I graduated high school in 1997) I had to call them. I had to talk to them in person. I can hide my stutter a lot more now because on any given day, I can avoid most verbal communication. But I don’t want to do that. What that does allow is for me to handle my stuttering on my own terms. Maybe doing something electronically is just better and faster and will save me the frustration of a stutter. Is that better? Maybe.

I’m excited about going to this conference because I really do have a lot of questions for other people who stutter. Since I’ve kept this stuttering to myself all these years and avoided reading up on it, I’ve lived a silo-like existence. Just been sucking it up on my own. It’s time to end that. How do other people use e-mail and other means to help when they’re feeling frustrated? Are other people challenging themselves in a methodical way to build confidence? And just because you can talk to your secret childhood crush on social media does that mean you’re not intimidated by calling her instead?

…so here we go.

After years of writing my thoughts and experiences with stuttering in notebooks and journals, it’s finally time to get this blog going. Some of the pages are already up — About and FAQs. As stated on those pages, I’m pretty lousy at blogging regularly, so please be patient.

I suppose the first thing to talk about is the National Stuttering Association’s annual conference.

It’s only two months away, but I have some vacation time I could use to go. Since I’m living and working in Saudi, I need to sort it out pretty quickly.

The irony of course is that I’m pretty intimidated by going to a conference … with hundreds of people … who I don’t know … who I’ll feel I have to talk to … since I paid to fly over and whatnot. I know that most of them will stutter, and I know many others will be speech therapists and professionals. But it’s still intimidating. On the other hand, if I’m going to come out publicly (mostly to myself) that I stutter, then well, time to embrace the whole thing. With the exception of one person who I knew in high school, I don’t actually know anybody else who stutters. This effort should hopefully change all that.

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