Friday, December 28, 2018

And I've still not written about my life-changing trip to SUNY Broome ... .

Some months ago I'd received an invitation to speak at SUNY Broome Community College in Upstate New York.  Not feeling comfortable accepting commitments that lie far in the future (I believe this would have been for Commencement) but really excited and flattered at the invitation, I passed the request along to my agent in NY for consideration.  She explained my reluctance despite interest, and explained that I would be on the East Coast for another engagement quite soon (this was the Glamour event) which opened the possibility of  adding a visit to Bloome to my itinerary
Plans were immediately made for a day or two extension to accommodate the trip to Bloome.

It was a 3-hour drive for a 1-hour commitment, and -- as it turned out -- worth every moment.

After a lunch at a local cafe we drove to the nearby campus to be greeted by a member  of the administrative staff who turned out to be a FaceBook friend who had been reading my posts and blog for a long time, which ended in her bringing about this invitation that placed us on this campus on this freezing day in Upstate New York.  You never know, right?

She met us in the parking lot and -- and in that strange way that social media has of brushing away the irrelevancies so that one is allowed to start in the middle of the 10th paragraph with total strangers, we came together.  We met as old friends and proceeded to a small auditorium filled with students and faculty -- waiting.  And, as usual, I had no idea of what I would say, nor was I regretting that I'd not prepared notes for this important occasion.  I'd just be Betty again, in public, and important things would happen.  I've learned to trust that.  It's what I do.  Especially in recent years as I consciously age into the unknown with this clarified sense of the preciousness of time and of these human interactions toward the common good.

There is something vitally important as one ages -- the sense of no long becoming -- but be-ing.  One needn't prepare, make notes, anticipate, for that.  In the moments left to me, I tend to skip the preliminaries and just BE!

Intuitive soul that I am, there were no more than a few minutes -- after the introductions -- to feel the deep despair in that room.  It was palpable, tangible, heavy ... .

I spoke for about an hour - including the Q&A -- and that feeling left the room with me, hung over me through the drive back to Manhattan, and remained overnight and throughout the flight back to the Bay Area.

It was strange in that I felt both saddened and elated, simultaneously, as I re-visited Broome in my imagination over the days ahead.  Wondered if what I'd felt in that room was the general angst of the young who are living in these days of  chaos, uncertainty, and gloom; of the dire predictions of global warming and climate change; of a sense of no one of consequence or maturity at the helm of an out of control government ... .

Elated because -- as I left that room -- I'd felt the warmth, the humanity in those hugs, in a firm sense that somehow, despite all, we'd touched souls that day, and that I'd made a difference.

And that's a story that needs a space of its own ... because the difference it made was not in that audience, but in me.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

So much life has been lived over past months ... . 

... life that was so all-consuming that the time to write about it simply never turned up, and the events were so unimaginable -- so "over-the-top" that I've just told myself that no one would ever believe it anyway, so -- like the tree-lighting ceremony with the Obamas that happened in Washington two years ago -- I'd just pretend that I'd dreamed it all ... .

And, yes, months ago I learned that I was being named one of Glamour magazine's "Women of the Year," and that I was being flown to New York for what was described as "the major event of the year!"

It was fortunate that it was all under wraps, not to be revealed until announced by the magazine when it hit the stands.  Who would have believed it anyway?

I learned that two of the other honorees were Senator Kamala Harris and Oscar winning actor, Viola Davis.  Of course there was the Red Carpet experience (you simply would not believe!) with a gauntlet of every known print and online publication known to man, all against a backdrop of sponsors (Conde Naste, Mercedes Benz, Loreal Paris , etc., etc., etc., and all clad in finery pre-selected by "my stylist!" and driven from all of the assignments in a Mercedes limo with banners attached announcing "Woman of the Year."  How on earth could I possibly feel worthy of so much attention, even considering that I've lived long enough to have entered the status where I'm awarded trophies and proclamations just because I can still tie my own shoes! (Hold the Velcro!)

This was the most exciting week I've lived since the last time it happened.  And it seems to be my new normal -- but why so late?  Having lost all sense of "future", and now firmly mired in NOW, it's heady and waaaaay beyond any known limits!

The only discordant note was that on Sunday morning, just before appearing as a speaker for the Glamour's Summit, I was scheduled for a televised segment being interviewed by two young girls (9 and 12, I believe) for the company that  manufactures Barbie.   Mattel?

Betty in borrowed finery
Arrived on time and was led to a portable studio to my two interviewers only to discover that the research staff had misled them.  No one among the many professionals gathered to capture this as media content had realized that the first question out of the box was irrelevant.

With a collection of variously-costumed Barbies displayed on a small table between us, I was asked to talk about some of my childhood experiences  with Barbie.  With the cameras rolling I could only announce that I had no Barbie experiences since I was older than Barbie, and that she didn't exist when I was a child!  Oops!  I was unwilling to fake it, but did find some related chatty things to talk with the children about, but down deep I was all "a-giggle", imagining how this would read when I blogged about it later.  It was a little like the time that I was in the room with countless celebrities and the only one I recognized was Miss Piggy!

Finding myself far out of context much of the time these days, but if you, at 97, have a chance to be dressed by a New York stylist for an evening that starts with a walk up the Red Carpet?  Take it! It beats hell out of Friday night Bingo at the local Senior Center!