Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The first books arrived almost at the same hour that my friend, Farai Chideya popped in ... .

Farai is a noted media person, a dear person who lives in New York, and whose visits to the West Coast are far too rare.  She has a sister, Sekai, a physician on the staff of LifeLong Health Care in Berkeley, so that means a guaranteed meeting of we three on occasion.  The Chideya's are originally from Zimbabwe.  Farai's career had taken her around the world many times.  She just returned from a trip to South Africa.

Having arrived early, we stopped off at the magnificent sculpture, Remember Them, a monumental work of Mario Chiodo where Farai took the first photos of the author, Betty Reid Soskin, at the site of that great work.  The leaders memorialized there were those who had served as inspirations for me over my long and eventful life.  This is where I would launch my book, here where all of that greatness has been preserved forever in bronze by my friend, Mario.

Farai had planned that we would have dinner somewhere near the Paramount theater, and then would make our way to see W. Kamau Bell's sold-out appearance with Conductor Michael Morgan's Oakland Symphony -- and it was glorious! An evening of the symphony playing Nina Simone, Prince, Coltrane, etc., with occasional participation by a great group of jazz singers as well as the symphony chorus!  What a time it was!

Some months ago I'd received an invitation from Kamau to be on his show.  Shyness took over and I simply ignored his request -- didn't even respond.  Arsenio Hall had been experience enough for this lil ole lady, and I wasn't looking forward to a repeat. After all, surely he wouldn't know what to do with me when I turned up at his studio.  I gave myself all sorts of excuses, but in the end, simply pretended that he simply had made a mistake and had never intended ... silly, right?

Not only were there 3 tickets provided, but an opportunity to meet him in his dressing room at the  end of the performance.  He was gracious, almost little-boy-like, and I was so sorry to have not been as welcoming at his invitation months ago.  Met his proud mother, his wife, his two lovely little girls, and came home smiling into the night at a most memorable evening of great music, and an amazing experience of fellowship and joy.
Judi Yaeger and me with thousands of our new best friends
What a day it was ....!

Went to the City Hall Plaza in downtown Oakland on Saturday for the march and rally for Women's Day -- exciting just to be with so many of like mind.

On Wednesday of last week books arrived from Hay House NY intended for promotional purposes.  Seeing a real hard copy of a book with my name on the cover and the spine gave me a feeling that was new and novel, and previously unimaginable!  Yet, here it was.  And -- a statement by the renown historian/filmmaker Ken Burns on the book jacket ... unbelievable.

My last day at work was on Friday, with my 4-week leave from duty beginning immediately.  I've now been off for several days, and am already getting antsy to get back to work.  Not certain what to do with myself, though I've had 3 interviews for publications over the past three days, and more such sessions anticipated.

I will be leaving for the Makers Conference in a bit over a week, which includes a visit to Universal Studios for a 3-hour on-camera interview for Hallmark prior to registering for the conference.  Can't imagine what that will be like, but if I'm lucky -- they won't discover their mistake until after I'm back in Richmond!  I'm still not certain that all this attention is deserved, and that someone won't suddenly notice that some monumental error had been made by some unsuspecting new hire -- and the red carpet will be rolled up and stored somewhere obscure -- as the world gets back on its axis and all returns to what new normal we can achieve together in our unwieldy Democracy.

Am anxious to learn what readers think of "Sign my name for freedom", and what the reviews will say about it ... so far I've had two interviewers sitting in my living room who had read the book and whose very comprehensive notes from which they formed their questions were proof that they'd done so -- and who seemed to be positive about my story -- which means my life, after all.

This should be a fascinating few weeks as we lurch awkwardly but clearly forward into time and into a new career as the author of a first book at 96!

Can't wait to see what happens next ... .