|with students from the HAAS School of Business, University of California, Berkeley|
... and finding that the busyness is clouding my vision, and causing at least some confusion.
Over these past years -- as my dance card became hopelessly crowded with names spilling into the margins -- the feeling of disbelief grew right along with it. Try as I might to re-direct the attention to other members of staff, it has become painfully clear that this just hasn't worked as well as one might hope, and that I've managed to attract far more eyes and ears than one small elderly woman might be able to easily manage:
... but January, February, and March, are the months when my services are in greatest demand (Dr. King's birthday month, Black History Month, followed by Women's History Month) and this year is no exception. I will do events for the Alameda County Transit Authority; the Department of Agriculture; an invitation from the Department of Homeland Security and the National Park Service to be the keynoter for this year's Naturalization Day for brand new Americans; an "honoring" by the local branch of the national organization of 100 Black Women at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco; a talk for the Labor Archives in San Francisco; the training in race relations for the Richmond Police Department; plus my regularly-scheduled 3 times-weekly one-hour talks in the Visitor Education Center and two 2-and-a-half hour interpreted public bus tours each of those 3 months!
I've never thought to put my work into such a list, and I'm almost sorry to have done so here. It seems foolhardy to even think of carrying such a load of activities at my age, doesn't it?
When I experience it incrementally, one day-at-a-time, it has been manageable. In retrospect, it looks and is impossible.
I'm certainly being given every opportunity to cut back to something more manageable, but I'm reluctant to say no because I'm being driven by the realization that this might well be my last year of service as a primary source. My generation is fast drawing to a close. The deaths of my contemporaries are a constant drumming in my ears and a drain on my emotions, and my sense of urgency grows with each day. Another of those stalwarts was memorialized a week ago, and it was held on a day when I was too busy to attend ... .
Fortunately, since I don't work from a script so have no need to prepare in any way -- except to just show up with memory intact -- it's fairly easy to just drift from activity to activity without too much stress. My keynote speech for the Naturalization Day event (the only speech I've ever written since joining the staff of National Park Service) was created two years ago (it's available here in my blog by using the search bar above the banner on the left side of the screen -- scroll down to entry for March 5, 2013). Since this will be a new audience, I'm guessing that this speech may still serve the need without revision.
... otherwise, I'll just go on showing up and taking my chances with the hope that the words will do likewise!