Thursday, October 24, 2013

Spent the whole morning being shadowed by Justin Sullivan, photographer for Getty Images ... .

... as I understand it, this is a news wire service that supplies images to the media, but I still need to check their website for a better understanding.

Though the past several weeks have served as an introduction to an unbelievable amount of media coverage, and to several local and national news teams -- all wonderful people who've added to my life and experience immensely and given reason to appreciate a field that always had to do with  those whose lives warranted public scrutiny and celebration.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever seen myself propelled into such prominence.

Nor could I have imagined a portrait such as this ... one that captures my entire life as lived into what is now my tenth decade -- and it's all here in my face, and Justin's art lays bare enough of what's been hidden that I cried when first I saw this image.

Prior to this I'm always been struck by how accurately the camera shows the ravages of aging, the gradual devolution of the physical self ...

I think that Justin Sullivan has caught something that time may add, though I can't name precisely what that is.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Having given up my LAN phone as well as cable service I'm not the easiest person to reach, and I ...

... find myself wondering just what set off this flurry of publicity at all?

It all started with a call from Tom Leatherman, our superintendent, on the day after the Shutdown telling me that an Associated Press reporter had called wanting to do a story for the wire services and asking permission to give out my personal cell number.  Glad to have an assignment I,  of course, said yes.  The rest is history.  Within hours of the AP story's publication the excitement began!

I better understand why the need for someone between you and the media.  I was simply not up to the scheduling and accessibility needs; the time differences that world deals with, etc.

Given the constraints placed on federal employees by the Hatch Act, there was need to keep the interviews firmly fixed on the personal -- any references to the larger questions of where the blame should be placed for the Washington madness was prohibited, and in all honesty, not one reporter made any attempt at causing me to make statements that might jeopardize my position.  No offhand remark taken out of context appeared in any news segment.

But in just how many ways can one say, "let me get back to work, you're twasting my time?"

There was this place in me that couldn't fathom just why I was news at all?  Since the facts about me were outside the perimeters of the 3-minute sound bite, how did anyone even know to value me as worthy of national coverage?  Could simply being "the oldest park ranger in the park system" really justify all that?

After posting to my blog last night, I managed to fall asleep after concluding that there may have been no way to respond to what had been happening in front of the White House; the demonstrator standing with the huge confederate flag with another protestor standing beside him on camera shouting demands that the president come out with his hands up!   The images were really alarming.

Maybe the only response  would be to simply present an alternative  image -- that of an articulate African American woman speaking in complete sentences and a reasonableness borne of a long history of tolerance and common sense.  I've been tested by life, and it probably shows in my work.  I'll accept that.  Maybe that's enough to be in such times.

Being one of the grownups in the room may be worthy of such attention; but I'm not yet  entirely convinced of that.

That it brought attention to Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park is a given.  That audiences for my guided tours and theater presentations will increase, and my opportunity to share the history of those heroic times celebrated by this park may finally be recognized for the profound social changes it brought to the nation and the world by a heroic generation of workers will be enhanced.

I think I can put it away now, and begin to look forward to my anticipated flying adventure with choreographer Joanna Haigood which is fast approaching.  Her schedule will free up for us to begin work after November 17th, according to a note received last week in the middle of the melee!

Stay tuned.

Watching what is surely the last of the pieces on "The 92 year-old Ranger ..."

... on the CBS Evening News, there was a moment when the Betty on the screen and the Betty watching the footage brimmed with tears.  It was not obvious, but the moment was so filled with memories -- alive with pathos ... and there were no words to express the depth of feelings that surfaced.

It had to do with the raising of the flag.  John Blackstone, the interviewer, asked what it meant to me.  I fell silent for an instant ... then felt the tears forming ... there was no way to answer that in the few minutes allowed on camera.  I was grateful that my glasses had darkened in the sunlight so that the emotion that might have been visible was not evident.  The answer would take an essay -- and even that would hardly be adequate.

But if you'll place the name of the late author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestKen Kesey, into that little white search bar on the left hand side of the screen just above my photo, you'll understand my response to the question.  Or, a different set of posts on the flag will appear if you just enter "flag."

I don't believe that I fully understood what it meant to me until asked to give the keynote address for the National Park Service's Naturalization Day ceremony this past spring. In the writing of that speech I finally worked through, conclusively, its meaning at least to me.  That speech can be brought up with the search bar, if you're interested.  But it took all of those prior experiences to bring me to a personal patriotism that sustains me today in a still flawed social system.