Monday, March 28, 2016
Hardly awake, and fishing for my cell phone beneath the quilt where I'd left it last night, I answered the unfamiliar voice of the producer asking that I hold for a few minutes, and that host, Joni Eisenberg, would be with me in a moment or two.
It's all so surreal in many ways; the new norm. If I were awake enough, propped on 3 pillows at seven o'clock in the morning (PDT), I surely might have been embarrassed to realize that for the next hour I would be within earshot of however large that audience is across the East Coast? And here I was without my hair combed, and in pajamas with snow men imprinted all over (a Christmas gift from the grandchild of a friend). My bedroom with clothes strewn about as I'd tossed them sleepily after being at my computer far too late into the night. There was each piece lying as it was flung into the peach velvet armchair that sits next to my bed, on the floor in front of the chair my socks -- tossed after the lamp was turned off. This was hardly a scene I'd want to share under any but these circumstances. No one could see, and no one should, ever! Yes, as improbable as it was, I was being Betty Reid Soskin, Oldest Park Ranger in the National Park Service holding forth with an unseen radio audience scattered about (a metaphor?) in far away Washington, D.C.
I have no idea who or how many are "out there" in space listening to my words; it's all beyond imagination at this point. In a strange way, my mind could only envision two people at the other end of the phone line -- a male producer from Louisiana with a background in the Labor Movement, and Joni, who was celebrating the 24th anniversary of her radio show, and had chosen to do that with me as guest. That's enough to have to relate to, and I could only imagine that we were having a conversation and that her friends were being allowed to eavesdrop.
It was something like what happens when I'm blogging. I'm writing for my children and theirs, and, though I'm aware that there are others reading my writings, they're "virtual;" lurking somewhere in the background with our permission. Ultimately, I'm sure that I'm really writing to myself in the attempt to process life as it goes by. It's the way I find clarity when I need to.
Maybe that's the only way one can move into a public status at all, without being destroyed by doing so. That, and a lively sense of humor, of course.
During the interview with Zoe Donaldson of O Magazine on Saturday, it was all I could do to not send out a challenge to arm wrestle Oprah for the cover! Preposterous? Of course, but that came from the same place that -- just as I was approaching President Obama on that great stage at the National Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 3rd -- all I could think of was (imaging myself pointing to the huge decorated but aging tree behind us), "... you know I've got a year on your tree, right?" I'd seen stories that placed the tree's age at 93. I resisted the temptation, but that fleeting and absurd thought made it possible for me to get through the moment when he was approaching me with arms outstretched for that well-documented presidential embrace.
It was so this early morning when I realized that countless people through the Northeast had been with me this day, and luckily, I'd remembered where I left my dentures! That I could scratch through another item on my To-Do list ...
Next up: Tomorrow British Airways In-Flight magazine interview at one o'clock.
Posted by Betty Reid Soskin at 2:00 PM
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