September 26, 2002 10:43 PM

7:38. I am a spectator. 7:39. I am the spectacle.

I hear, but don't comprehend. Words melt into an unintelligible murmur. I seat myself carefully in front of the intimidating microphone, my heart contracting and expanding, pulling at my veins and tendons, causes my fingers to twitch. Their eyes are insistent. The cumulative force of their gazes press uncomfortably into my shuddering chest as I weeze for air. I begin. I stammer, stammer, stammer, stammer, stammer - stop, stop this nonsense, and sing already. I open my mouth and can only hope that something, anything, gurgles out of my throat. I command you, fingers, move. They only respond with a frantic skittering about the fretboard, moving into a position that only vaguely resembles a chord. I strum, my guitar replies with a dry muted thump. I pull my eyes away from the oh-yes-so-very-interesting tile of the floor and stare at the crowd. Voices arise, my fear closing in close behind. Oh, the-Lord-whom-I-do-not-believe-in, they are are not speaking of me. Lack of motivation entails the lack of validation, followed by a lack of motor skills which I can only clamor to hold on to.

I glance at the clock. 8:02. I am the spectacle. 8:03. I am the spectator.