I thought I was going to post pictures from our Full Weekend, but Geoff has been tinkering on *my* machine and suddenly I can't find the necessary tools for posting images. It's a shame, because I have really lovely photos of us having fun, and because I was depending on those photos to compensate for my weak, sketchy writing.
Do you know where I was last night? I was at San Diego State University enjoying a reception, followed by a lecture for and by Terry Gross. Fresh Air. I'm grinning in disbelief and retroactive awe. Geoff, my darling and thoughtful husband, bought me a ticket, then delivered me to the event and took the children with him. I was left to fend for myself at an intimate gathering of VIPs, where really good food was everywhere, and crisp, cool wine was generously served by polite waiters.
I know, you are probably wondering what I wore. It was an issue for me as well. I dressed in black, with silver jewelry, and a beautiful turquoise rebozo with a luminous sheen. I wore lipstick and I showered and everything. And all the time while I was getting ready I was thinking: Who am I? What do I have to contribute to an evening with adults, VIPs, talented, employed people? I wondered whether I could make Geoff's gift to me worth his giving it to me. I felt obliged to absorb the experience in a very thorough and enriching manner. I felt like I might not know how to make the experience worth the expense and bother... I gave myself a bit of a knotted stomach.
My anxiety came from too little exposure, too infrequent visits to the outside world. It came from Mommy Martyrdom; a sense of not needing to take care of my interests or needs before those of my children. Sometimes I am not even sure what my interests, apart from my family, are. And one more thing... my anxiety also came from a deeply hidden, fantastic anticipation that perhaps Terry Gross would want to meet me. Interview me. It's intoxicating to imagine, and even more dizzying to admit, that I was actually worried that she would call on me and before an audience of rapt listeners she would ask me perfect questions. Perfect questions would be the ones that elicit charming anecdotes about my childhood, with poignant details and humor. Her perfect questions would solicit from the depths of my being a myriad of gifts, talents, skills and the eloquence to make all of it engaging and uplifting. For modesty sake I would suggest we talk more later. She should read Chicken Blog. We should have lunch.
Once I actually got to the reception I was my usual quiet, unobtrusive self and I sat down with a glass of water and a realization that just sitting without dishes to wash or children to chase was more than enough to satisfy my needs. But why not enjoy a little more? So, I got some food. Cheese and blackberries and asparagus, and a little lamb. Then some more lamb. Then some wine. Terry Gross sat 12 feet away, signing books, shaking hands. She is small, unobtrusive, quiet. I had some more wine and remembered her interview with Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, and I determined that after one more plate of cheese and lamb I would ask her to sign my copy of her book for my children.
"It's nice to meet you," I said and we shook hands and she spoke softly, kindly, with interest. She took the book and asked who it was for and I asked her to sign it for my children, William, Alex, Max and Maria. I told her, "They know I am here to meet the woman who interviewed SpongeBob SquarePants." And she laughed, and so did the VIPs seated around her. Nice. The whole evening was really nice. I enjoyed being out in the warm air, with pleasant people all around, and music playing not too loudly. I enjoyed the candied pecans and the brie, the friendly way Terry greeted each new person. I enjoyed accepting that the best way to make Geoff's gift an optimal experience was to go with the flow, to listen and watch, to be in the moment.
Terry's lecture was, like her interviews, a refreshing balance of insight, humor and stimulating conversation. On the radio, when I listen to her, I feel as though I am enjoying the privilege of overhearing an engaging dialogue. Sometimes the people she speaks with are surprising, often because they are more interesting than I had expected and sometimes because they are not anything like I expected. Someone's cell phone rang, and she didn't pause or look critical, but she said, "If it's for me, tell them I'm busy." I thought that was funny and intelligent. In her interviews, in her talk last night, there were many funny, intelligent moments. How does she do it? What a gifted person. She allows her own interests and curiosity, and her unobtrusive manner to bring out insights and personal moments with public and private people.
By the way... download the Tom Kenny interview from November 16, 2004, it's totally worth it. William and I are laughing and learning, enjoying Terry and Kenny in deep conversation.
Oh geez. I just reread my writing and realized that I used like adjectives to describe Terry and myself. Ego? Nah. I thought I should remove the slightest suggestion that I would ever compare myself with The Terry Gross, Fresh Air Terry Gross... But I do feel like an unobtrusive, quiet person, and I thought Terry seemed the same... Oy. Self analysis can be so blechy. Nevermind.
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