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Friday, September 04, 2015

Little Known Black History Fact: Betty Reid Soskin | Black America Web 

Little Known Black History Fact: Betty Reid Soskin | Black America Web

This is an NPR interview that I've just discovered a link to.  You can listen to it if you'll use the bar at the bottom of the article.  It's about 30 minutes, I think.

A week has past since my last post, and I've lived through another crisis ...

... but this one clearly took its toll on my morale and general sense of well-being.  and I'm noticing that recovery is no longer as fast as before.

Yesterday I learned that -- over the next several months my work will be documented on film, so that will bring a new edge to my presentations.  It will bring some new elements in that may take some getting used to.  It means that things like lighting and sound will become more important, and all those things that fall under the heading of "production" will move to the forefront.  I've never had to think about anything beyond the telling of my story and silently choosing the faces in the audience that I will speak to.

I've become fairly used to noticing people using their cellphones to document my talks for (I assume) personal use, and over time that's become a non-issue.  I've had reporters and writers of one kind or another slinking around the theater taking their shots, but -- surprisingly -- once I'm into my story they become a background blur and fade away out of consciousness.  Maybe being filmed on the job will fade into my new normal as with everything else, and it will be alright.

The importance of having my work go on when I'm no longer able to do it myself is now moving into prominence, with my 94th birthday coming up within two weeks.  I'm becoming so aware of legacy, and the need to respect that for those who will succeed me both in my immediate family and in the National Park Service interpretive staff.

The radio interview on PBS's Forum show with Michael Krasny brought in a great number of new visitors, and this week there was a feature story in Travel & Leisure, a national publication, and the article in Triple A's VIA was finally published.   That release was originally intended for the November/December issue for last year, so it was a not expected after so many months.

I still marvel at how long it took for the world to notice me, and I find it a complete mystery that I've been noticed at all since I sense nothing new in either my behavior or my affect -- yet there's something familiar that is reminiscent of the attention I received long ago when I was singing.  I've listened to some audio tapes and can hear nothing vaguely resembling 'greatness' or any arresting kind of quality in my voice, but I'm aware that whatever the magic is, it seems less related to what I do than to what I am.   But having said that, I have no idea what that means ... .

Maybe it has to do somehow, with power, or charisma, and I wish I had a better handle on the why of it.  I seem to recall that there was an element of fear and a reluctance to have that kind of power over others -- for whatever reason.  That was surely an element in my drawing back from the edge early on, and refusing to enter the life of a public figure, or an entertainer.  But that was when I was a young mother and more vulnerable, I suppose.  At this advanced age, I'm far more daring, and risk-taking is not so scary, and with so little time left ... .

There was that time (I believe it was in 1965) when I introduced my original song, "Sign my name for freedom" in a concert at the Berkeley Auditorium.  The song had been written in honor of the brave souls in Mississippi who dared to fight for their right to register to vote as full citizens.   I was a participant among many in a "Hootnanny" produced as a fundraiser for some social cause. The house was full to overflowing, and as I was singing I was aware that that great mass gathered there was breathing in unison -- tied to the ends of the lines of my song -- and that I could hear them exhale as one as the song ended.   The applause was thunderous!  I remember staying behind at the end of the concert until everyone was gone so that I wouldn't have to meet anyone who might break the spell -- maybe so that I could live in that feeling as long as possible, maybe ... ?  I've wondered since -- when I allow myself to think about it -- if that isn't the seduction of being a stage performer?  This, then, is probably what one gets addicted to in that world, and what I retreated from so long ago ... without regret, but then ... .

Maybe that's why I don't tarry at the end of my talks; that thing that I can't wait to get away from -- and rush toward home; to get lost in traffic and from far away from what might have been ... .



Monday, August 31, 2015

Had my car broken into in our parking lot -- and the culprits appear to have taken more than the briefcase from my trunk ... .

the briefcase contained my IRS records for the past several years, so my identity is unquestionably compromised.

I'm totally thrown and can't seem to function at all since it happened on Saturday morning.

Discovered the theft Saturday morning as I got into my car to head for the Visitor Center on the shoreline. I immediately shut the implications out of mind in order to get through another impossible day.  On my schedule were two one-hour presentations in our theater; one at eleven and another at two o'clock.

The eleven o'clock was totally filled (48 seats) and there was simply no time to put in a police report since having them come to the Visitor Center would raise public attention in ways that I didn't want to deal with.

Because another article on my work appeared in the AAA's VIA magazine on Friday, the weekend audience was unprecedented.  We'd put in a numbering system in order to not go beyond the fire department regulations.  One hour before my talk visitors are given tickets so that we can know that we haven't exceeded our capacity, and for the two o'clock talk every ticket had been distributed within the first five minutes -- everybody had to be turned away after that!

And the compartmentalizing I was doing in order to retain my sanity was threatening my stability, and I can't imagine that I got through it all without totally freaking out!

But I did.

It's just that from the moment I returned to my apartment until now (two days later), I've been only half-conscious, I think.

Last night I finally sent my attorney an email seeking help, and first thing this morning he responded. We're meeting this afternoon.  I've still not filed a police report.  I suspect that it's out of a sense of uselessness.  This is the third time my car has been broken into in the past several months.  Twice in my carport, and once just outside City Hall where our headquarters office is located -- in Civic Center Plaza.  Both times I made police reports.  Both times it took many hours for an officer to respond.  And the experience only led to my feelings of helplessness because there is just no real defense against such incidents, and I knew it.

I mentioned the break-in on Facebook and among those who responded with wishes for recovery and assistance was a message from our police chief, offering to do whatever he could.  For that I was grateful, not so much for his official offer of help as for his friendship.  Chris Magnus is my friend, and I know he is sincerely  concerned.  But it didn't cause me to act on my own behalf, but just to give up any hope of a solution ... .

This afternoon I will have an appointment to meet with my attorney.  He's warm and caring, and seeing Steve may serve to break through the ennui and sense of helplessness that I'm sill not able to recover from ... .



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