27 April 2010

My Fishy Fate

I've been a member in my Toastmasters Club since January, and I had only given one speech! My plan is to write a speech for every meeting in the event that a speaker does not attend or if there is time for a third speaker in order to enhance my writing and speaking prowess.

My project's focus for this week was to organize. As you may have guessed, I enjoy writing; therefore, I was more concerned with content and flow than actual delivery. I felt my transitions were not the best and my evaluator commented on that very issue. None the less, I was voted as best of two speeches. I beat out our most experienced and top-rated speaker who has earned the title "Distinguished Toastmaster" (DTM).

Here's my speech:

My Fishy Fate

My fate is somehow linked to fish. I’ve been to the ER three times, all with fish related injuries. I worked in a fish market. I studied Japanese because I liked sushi. I overcame my fears by learning to swim with the fish. It all seems to boil down to fish affecting my destiny.

When I was about three years old, my brothers Tony and Daniel and I were playing in our backyard. Tony, the oldest, was sitting on top of our wooden fence practicing casting while Dhann and I tried to chase the line as it whizzed by us. Obviously, this was not the best idea. All I know is that after getting hit in the head, right between my eyes with a sinker, I woke up with Mom driving me to the emergency room. Fortunately, I seemed to be fine.

Fast forward about 17 years. I was living in Minneapolis and was working full-time as a fish monger. I had not one, but two injuries while working at Coastal Seafoods.

The first accident is what I consider to be rather odd. We had freezers in our retail store that we kept locked as there were expensive items such as lobster tails kept within. The key was attached to a fish scaler. The scaler’s handle was a piece of metal that bent around where the two sides had a bit of a gap. One day, I was opening a freezer door and my thumb somehow slid into that gap. The fish scaler was pinching my thumb and wouldn’t come off. Off to the ER I went.

The second incident was a bit more severe than the first, but it actually hurt me much less. I was in the back cooler unpacking salmon from Styrofoam boxes. I used a boning knife with a blade about so-long that had just been professionally sharpened by our knife guy that morning.

I was cutting boxes, like this. When I looked down at my left hand. I saw the first latex glove open, then I saw my blue neoprene glove open, and then I saw my hand open. Suddenly, I saw blood appear. I grabbed my left hand with my right—it felt floppy. I ran to the retail door where I peered in. My immediate manager was with a new employee and a customer. I then ran to the back of warehouse yelling to the general manager that I needed to go to the hospital. He at first didn’t believe me. Then, he saw my hand. Off to the ER I went. I came back with 22 stitches.

Coastal Seafoods is the place where I learned to make sushi. I had already dropped out of two universities—the University of Montana and Arizona State University. It was time to decide what to study when I enrolled full-time at the University of Minnesota. I thought about my options. I had studied chemistry and hated it. I previously was a psych major but didn’t want to pursue a career in being around people with issues worse than mine. French seemed like a pointless pursuit. Aha!!!! I figured I’d studied Japanese. It’d set me apart from other liberal arts majors and I liked eating sushi and learning the fish names in Japanese. Three years after I graduated with a B.A. in Japanese, I took the plunge and moved to Japan.

For most of my life, I’ve been scared of drowning. This may have something to do with my brother Dhann playing “shark” when we went to the pool. He would swim underwater and when I least expected it, he’d pull me under. Because I would be screaming as this took place, I usually felt like I was going to die as I would always swallow so much water.
One of my dreams was to scuba dive. I wanted to see the fish in their natural habitat that I had seen in the aquariums, eaten at both Coastal Seafoods and in Japan. It was time to fulfill my destiny. I took my first international vacation alone from Japan to Bali to obtain my PADI Open Water license.

Taking the scuba course freed me from most of my fears of drowning. At that point, I realized there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. I was the only one stopping me. The fish had empowered me once again.

Without fish, I would have missed out on many adventures. I never would have visited the ER, probably never would have learned Japanese, and maybe I would have never overcame my own fears. My fishy fate has led me to led an interesting existence.


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