getting some a.i.r. in san diego
05.31.05 // 3:49 p.m.

My love of attention is in my genes. I was born with it, and have never quite been able to shake it.

As a kid, my thirst for attention was quenched by three main factors. First, my parents only had two kids (until I was 3 1/2 years old). Second, I was the first girl to be born on my mom's side of the family in about six years. I have several boy cousins, but they all came one right after another so I got all the attention as a baby. Finally, I was a "gifted and talented" kid in school so I got attention from teachers.

I couldn't help growing up to be a lot like my mom and dad.

My mother is an extrovert. She says that Danny and I take after her in the "chocante" trait. She's the only person I've ever heard use that word. To me it's always meant "show off," or someone who wants to be noticed and loves being the center of attention.

My father is pretty outgoing and talkative too. As a young man, he was always the center of attention at parties because he was playing guitar and singing. So, he'd get a crowd of people around him to drunkenly sing "El Rey" or some other classic.

My mom's chocante-ness and my dad's love for performing and meeting new people have shaped me in a lot of ways. I grew up as a chocante. I had no problem whatsoever with getting up in front of an auditorium filled with people and singing some song, dancing El Gustito in a white dress at a church carnival, marching while playing my trombone during a field show, or speaking in front of my class. All this came easy to me as a kid and as a teenager.

Even after making a fool of myself in public (falling off a stage... twice), messing up lines, and tripping over my own feet I still loved performing and being the center of attention.

Despite over 20 years of experience knowing how to handle being in front of an audience, I still got incredibly nervous yeaterday. All I had to do was present three slides of a 20-slide presentation at a conference of the Association of Institutional Research. There were less than 20 people in the room attending our session. My part of the presentation was 4 minutes tops.

My legs were shaking, I kept stumbling, and I fumbled the remote to advance the slide a couple of times. This was my first time in front of a professional audience. These are people whose papers and publications I read in journals. I did okay, and passed on the remote to June to present the results of our blocked linear regression analysis the see what variables were significant predictors of our outcome variable (intention to make a contribution to scientific research). She breezed through her part without any notes.

Some day I'll probably be like June too. She's a fourth year now and has experience with this kind of stuff, whereas it was my first time as a co-presenter at an education conference.

I guess if I can get used to 90,000+ crowds at the Rose Bowl, two dozen professors and researchers shouldn't be such a big deal.

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