Monday, January 31, 2011

Mr. Warhol, I'm ready for my fifteen minutes...and I am using them to help others!

Hello everyone,

I would like to say that is a wonderful thrill for me to return to blogging, which is one of the best things I have in my life-it's more than a journal, offers more pleasure than a respite, and above all else, shows that there is a world out there full of hope and dreamers who stutter, and they know every day is another chance to make things happen, regardless of who they are or where they are going in their life.

I was out for a long walk one day and suddenly the phrase "slightly ahead of his/her time" popped into my head. Throughout history, you can probably count on one hand the number of times this could be applied. It could be an average person with a brilliant idea, an artist who is a visionary and see things no one else could, or a CEO with a broad plan to make the company better. When I was an undergraduate journalism major at Long Island University, I would have never suspected it, but one of my communications professors, Dr. Jackson (again, names have been changed) was one of them. I remember he was lecturing about the Internet and how many changes would come abound as a result, and he said "Mark my words: In five years, the cable companies will be knocking down your door to offer you high-speed access." How right he was. But on the opposite end of the range we have someone who epitomizes being ahead of time: Andy Warhol, the renowed pop artist, and his personal philosophy, being paraphrased, which is "Everyone gets their fifteen minutes of fame."

In December, the Long Island chapter of the National Stuttering Association was interviewed by a freelance reporter from Newsday, which is the main daily newspaper in the Long Island suburbs. We had four members present, among them myself, and three others of varying ages. This was the brainchild of one of our members, and we were going to share our experiences about stuttering and the movie "The King's Speech," which was continuing its steamrolling with winning many awards and accolades. I cannot stress this enough, that if you are a person who stutters, or an SLP, this is a movie you MUST see. You will do yourself a great disservice if you don't. After we spent two hours with the reporter, we were informed the following month that our article was going to be a full-page story in the Long Island Life section of the Sunday newspaper. A photographer came to my house and took several photos of me, as she did for others who were featured in the story. I was told the article would run Jan. 16, and as is my dad's custom, we all go out to the local diner on Saturday night, and many times they will carry a special early edition. When my dad opened up the paper, I ran immediately toward the Long Island Life section, and my jaw froze. I was featured on the cover under the headline "The Face Of Stuttering."

I really didn't know what to say, but my mom knew exactly what to do. She started calling everyone she knew, and sure enough, word began to spread. In fact, I walked into the local deli to pick up dinner one weeknight, and the waitress who knows I am a regular said, "Here's the local celebrity!" I tried to downplay it, stating that this article will be benefit everyone who stutters. As I always do when I speak, I try to include examples of other people who do amazing work. That is the crux of the NSA. We are special people, who can do spectacular things when we tap into the potential we have.

These days, it seems like everyone is getting their fifteen minutes, and it's not always for the best reasons. An elected official is caught taking money he (or she) couldn't have. A trade organization is angry because a contract was not passed, and they vow to ruin everyone else's lives until they get want. Maybe Andy Warhol was right. We all get fifteen minutes. How we use them, whether it is to help or hurt, is up to us-and no one else.

Every time I read the article, I am reminded of a classic line from the movie "Sunset Boulevard," which was revived on Broadway a few years ago with Glenn Close. Norma Desmond, the fallen starlet states "I am BIG, it's the pictures that got small." Well, there's no better way I can end this posting of my blog with this statement: "I am but one small person doing what I can to change the world for people who stutter. It's the National Stuttering Association that is big."

My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person that stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.

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