Friday, August 20, 2010

An evening at the San Leandro Library ...

... and what a evening it was, too.

Not sure why I remained seated throughout the program, but upon arrival the librarian in charge of the event pointed to that chair and I remained glued to it for the rest of the evening.  My colleague,  Elizabeth, opened the program on stage at the lectern and presented her introduction -- standing quite properly before it.  Moi?  I seemed to not have gotten the memo, and never moved toward stage center or to the lectern.  It was all the way across the stage, and seemed to put more emphasis on my talk than I felt it warranted.  I think that I much prefer to be in conversation with an audience, but I suppose that's not always appropriate.  Being a "special person" is not yet natural to me, and always suggests that I'm going to say something worth standing before a lectern -- when in fact, I'm always speaking extemporaneously, and always from memory of events.  There's a disadvantage to not working from an acquired body of knowledge, though in a way, I'm guessing that -- if there is any power in my words (and there surely seems to be) -- it comes from the fact that my thoughts originate with me, and only I can be credited or blamed for what gets expressed.  I guess that's what comes with being one's own authority.

I've been known to say on occasion, "... now that I've outlived all those whose recollections of that era differs from mine, I have the last say -- and the bull horn!"  And there's some truth in that absurdity.

It was also my first experience with having someone walk out in the middle of my talk, though I was told that she may have only been going to the restroom, but I did find myself watching for her to return to her seat -- and it never happened that I recall.  It was discomforting, but then my candor may be off-putting, and I shouldn't be surprised.  Expanding the Rosie story beyond the generic may not always work.   It is, after all, a white woman's story, and my insistence upon bringing in the variants on that story diminishes the myth as some would wish to remember it.

The ages of those gathered in that audience was probably in the range that would make them my contemporaries.  This was evidenced by the fact that several "Rosies" rose during the Q&A to reach for the hand mike, and when the opportunity presented itself, each took it eagerly to share her story of her experience in the work force on the home front; and my words had been simply something to wait through until the chance came to share hers.  And that's quite alright with me.  We try to leave plenty of room for those experiences.  Women have waited a long time to tell these stories and there are ears now ready to receive them, thanks to the establishing of the Rosie Memorial and to the park now dedicated in their name and for which I'm an interpretive ranger.

So maybe my talk wasn't nearly as earth-shattering as indicated by my "walk-out".  Perhaps she just didn't wait long enough for us to bring it into the present -- which is the point of it all, actually.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

NIAD Fashion Show

Dorian's recovery has been dramatic -- at least the physical aspects, and for that I'm most grateful ... .

She has returned to NIAD 3 days-a-week, and is being productive and showing signs of making, if not a full recovery, at least enough so that I feel confident that life will return to whatever the new "normal" will be.

She has been practicing her solo performance of "O Happy Day" as done by the Edwin Hawkins Singers for days on end, and last week was a part of the annual show shared with the rest of the artists of NIAD (National Institute for Artists and  Disabilities).  It was quite a production that I regretted having to miss due to work that couldn't be put off for another day.  We had staff visitors from Harpers Ferry who had requested a bus tour that would emulate the visitor's experience.  These are folks charged with the creation of the park brochure that will be in process over the next two years -- and their two days of preliminary information gathering couldn't be postponed.

I knew that the NIAD show would be videotaped, so today I checked into to see if it had been uploaded yet.  It hasn't been.  But I discovered this video of the fashion show of two years ago, and thought you might like to share this infectious happy amazing event with me.

One simply can't watch these gleeful faces of these very special artists and remain glum.

Together with this photograph of my mother on a Hawaiian vacation at 95, these two pieces make a powerful statement about resilience and longevity.

Note:  On the video I can be seen in the audience on the left side of the room taking photos, if you look carefully.  Also, Dorian is identified on the runway -- this was a year before the accident that fractured her legs.  It may interest you to learn that she performed in last week's show without her walker.

Okay, so who mentioned the word depression?  Who, me?