Good evening everyone,
The phrase "bucket list" became a hot staple of the modern day dictionary a few years ago when the movie "The Bucket List" hit theaters. The "list" refers to special achievements and personal goals we want to recognize in our life before our time on earth is finished. And for many people, they had the chance to cross one item off that list just a few days ago. Some travel from half an hour away in the Long Island suburbs, others come from halfway across the world for sixty seconds of radiance, dazzle, and glitter-yes, the Ball dropping in Times Square in front of a million or two people. No one cares if the person standing next to you is sick, or if you haven't used the bathroom in seven hours. It's all about that one moment.
My New Year's Eve was spent at a party hosted by a fellow member of the National Stuttering Association. She stutters very mildly, and there were three of us total who attended-myself, "Heather," and "Stacey." (All names changed to protect the identities). I decided to bring back the tradition of getting all dressed up on this holiday-I wore a tuxedo with matching blue tie and cummerbund. But I also made the choice to completely let myself go and stutter freely. It was the first time in my life I had ever done that.
I need to explain what I mean by the term "stuttering freely." I am always adamant and open about the fact that I stutter. I enjoy talking about it with close friends as well as people I meet for the first time. However, I make a strong effort to try and use the techniques I have learned in speech therapy-controlled breathing, etc. to try and be somewhat fluent. When I get excited, for me what I notice is that I will just blurt out whatever comes to mind, regardless of how it comes out-and then once I realize I'm doing that, I force myself to collect my thoughts and try to practice my speech in a real-life situation. I was talking to the date of one of the guests, and if you heard me, you would have seen that it took me thirty seconds to get out one sound. If my speech therapist heard that, he probably would have cringed.
We see the New Year as a time of hope. A time to put the past away and relish what the future could be. I left this party early because I had to make the 12:31 train back to Port Washington. (The joys of mass transit, being bound to a schedule). As I was walking back on Broadway, I could experience the joy that 2011 was here. Air horns were blaring. Voices screaming with glee, strangers yelling from their apartment windows "Happy New Year!" I even saw a church choir outside with prayer candles greeting me as I walked past the mountains of snow that had yet to be removed. I could hear the sonic boom of fireworks going off with every block I passed. And still, there were very few public celebrations in Astoria that night. People were going about their business, seeing the clock has passed midnight and it was a day like any other-a Saturday, a chance to continue progress.
I do not know what the New Year will bring. I do have some goals I'd like to meet: getting a job in the federal government, attending the NSA conference in Fort Worth, Texas. But for the first time, maybe it's good I do not have any resolutions. The only thing I know is that I'll wake up and the sun will rise tomorrow. It shall be a day when I can once again refocus my energies on promoting the NSA and making this world better for people who stutter. "The King's Speech" has done a great deal for stuttering awareness, but we can do more. We will make our lives better, and we'll change some lives in the process.
Happy New Year...may it bring you everything you desire. And if you are wondering if there's anything you can do to help your stuttering, go to http://www.westutter.org and check it out. And tell them I sent you.
My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.