Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Another adventure to savor ... .

In the green room ... waiting to go on ... .
David and I boarded the eleven o'clock Southwest flight to Glendale and the studios where the Tavis Smiley Show is taped.  He spends all day on Mondays completing 6 interviews for the week.  Mine was only one.

Had no idea what to expect, but felt fairly comfortable this time, maybe it was because my son, David, with his easy-going-ness tagging along as escort.  It is almost impossible to be rattled in his presence; my anchor at such times as this.

We were met at the airport upon arrival by Paul, our driver, and his sleek black Highlander SUV who delivered us in the 16 minutes required to Tavis's studio where we were led by an intern to our green room to await next steps.  Those turned out to be Devin Robins, producer with whom we'd been in mail contact in preparation for this momentous day.  We watched Kristin Chenoweth, Broadway star, being interviewed and found myself concerned that this lovely diva was in danger of breaking her legs by falling off her disastrously high heels!  David assured me that her sneakers were probably sitting at the door of her green room for a quick change.  That's David.

After one more interview -- this time an African American professor noted for his conservative views -- I didn't catch his interview because I was due to be in make-up prior to mine at the time.  There simply was no time to be nervous.  "Helen" was dormant throughout this period.  In fact, as things turned out, she wasn't needed at all.

I think this is where I said, "get lost, "Helen",  I'll take it from here!"
Suddenly (before the hair on the back of my neck could rise) I was led to the set and to a warm and welcoming Tavis Smiley -- who was so familiar from all those nights I'd viewed him on screen between my feet and beyond my quilt just before sleep -- that it was "cousin" Tavis now before me.  Strange!

The upshot of all this is that the interview was suddenly on, and we became so engrossed in the exchange that it ended before he wanted it to so that -- on the spot -- a "Part two" was ordered up and the cameras keep rolling!

Part One will air on the PBS channels on Friday, May 20th, with Part Two on Monday evening!

Only problem is that he attempted to cover 94 years of life in two 20-minute segments (impossible!) and I can't recall ever mentioning Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park once, and that was the intent of this adventure, after all.

I'm such an natural active listener, and so is Tavis, that we got lost in the talk and I have no idea what was said, except that it felt natural and good, and exciting, and he was genuinely sincere when he told me that he will visit Richmond and our park soon.

Chalk up another wonderful adventure, unexpected, and amazing!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Life continues to unfold, and we've not run out of red carpeting quite yet ... .

Photo by Susan Wehrle at the Rosie Memorial in Richmond, California
Tomorrow I'll be landing in the early afternoon in Southern California to meet with Tavis Smiley, a noted black voice among rising black voices that are less familiar than those of old.  But then this has always been true, hasn't it?  It's what's called progress, and must be bowed down to as the generations face the changing of the guards.

My voice will be stilled in the not too distant future, I know, and just who will be my replacement hasn't yet been determined.  Or, maybe I'm just not aware of how that process will play out over time, and that's how it should be.  After all, we're each one-of-a-kind human beings, not to be cloned except maybe in the case of identical twins, but even that may be improbable.

Perhaps those things we see in ourselves as flaws are really what makes us unique and un-clonable, maybe?

It becomes more puzzling with each day -- just why this relatively frail and inconsequential woman in her final decade has come to the attention of "The World", a world she has stood in awe of throughout a long and rather ordinary existence.

Only, in looking back, that life may have been far less ordinary -- in the living of it -- than I ever realized.  The ups may have been higher and the lows far deeper -- all leading to an extraordinarily rich life experience, for all the pain or pleasure it brought.  It's only in retrospect that I can see that, and realize that all of it was providing the enhanced energy and a keen perceptiveness that I'm able to access today as all of that aliveness appears to be on tap when  I'm before audiences in my little theater presentations.  I seem to be able to draw upon what turns out to be common and universal themes that connect with others.

This may be the only way for me to make sense of the magic ... .

Tomorrow I'll be facing the man I've watched so often as the Charlie Rose PBS show morphs into the Tavis Smiley show just before I fall off to sleep most nights.  I'm so often struck by the sharp differences the two hosts represent -- Rose urbane and so clearly "New York", and Smiley "urban" and "earthy" (for whatever that means),  but the nature of those differences has never been clear; except for that of race -- but that's no longer enough nor are those differences clear or of any particular importance.

There will be those first few moments of awkwardness as the fleeting and jarring thoughts of "who on earth do they think I am, and what are these folks expecting of me?" cross my mind.  As always, once the conversation begins  and I become an active listener (the secret) I will forget completely that this is out-of-the-ordinary, and my host's natural warmth will take over and he will become that young male interviewer of his older and more experienced guest (moi), and the time will flash by and it will have been just one more memorable experience to savor against an unknown future that has -- until this day -- always held promise ... .

... and then Monday will have passed, and another Tuesday will come, as always.