The spiral chrome neck of the portable microphone swung its head away from me in defiance. “Stop it,” I muttered. “Stop wiggling!” I was practicing for my first major lecture ever. A lecture I would give to 100 brand-new nursing students. The teaching podium, a long laboratory desk with Bunsen burners at both ends, smelled like the sulphuric acid of my college chemistry lab in 1959.
Back at my desk that fall of 1982, I stared at ten pages of handwritten notes, trying to memorize parts at the last minute, not seeing a single word. Hands planted themselves on my shoulders. I knew it could only be Maureen, my former psychiatric nursing mentor. She would be retiring soon, and I would replace her. Kneading the stress knots in my neck, she chanted, “You can do this, you can do this. Remember, they don’t know you’ve never done this before. Remember, you know more than they do. Remember to bluff it.”
Her words formed a mantra in my mind.