Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Media and Me

I had 15 messages this afternoon.  I'd taken an hour out of planning and supervising and coordinating and feeling to get a manicure. When I returned I was just a little overwhelmed.  NBC, ABC, the local paper, the Phoenix paper.....  everyone wants a piece of me.

I refused all the requests to talk to me on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.  I will be publicly available at the Stroll and Roll all morning on the 7th and that will just have to be enough for them.  I am allowing a reporter who happened to be here anyway to come over this evening before dinner is on the table, but that's about as far as I am willing to go.

It's an interesting balancing act I'm living right now.  I need the media to promote my good works, to get the message out, to keep my projects front and center.  I can only grow GRIN if people are aware of its wonderfulness.  On the other hand, it's hard to stay polite when a producer who sounds as if his voice has yet to change wonders what time on Sunday night I'd like to meet with him.

Seriously?  Sunday night?  Even on a regular week that's an odd request.  Sunday nights are for hunkering down and getting ready for the week ahead.  This particular Sunday night, January 8th, one full year after I was perforated and Christina-Taylor died, this particular Sunday night is probably not one that I will be willing to share with reporters.  The producer had a hard time understanding that.  I don't know why.

It was the first time I'd said "NO" to a request for an interview.  I've never shut out a news organization.  I've been friendly and welcoming and willing to meet at their convenience.  As the frenzy over the anniversary increases, the requests grow in number and frantic-ness... franticity... frantosity.... my brain is melting down as I try to remain calm in the face of their urgency.

This is not my issue.  I have nothing new to say.  I have been saying the same things for 12 months now and if you and your listeners or viewers or readers haven't been paying attention over the long haul then I don't know why you would start to be interested now.  There is nothing startling or surprising that is going to come out of my mouth.  In fact, the biggest challenge I am facing right now is trying to keep my responses fresh.

But how do I do that?  How do I find different ways to say that I am overwhelmed by the wonderfulness that is my town, that I have been smothered in kindness and grace, that people I don't know care about me and are not shy about sharing that caring and that it all helps me to heal?  How can I make my descriptions of my little friend rise from maudlin to exaltation?  What can I say that will be new?

It brings me back to where I started a year ago - I am still surprised that others are interested in my drama.  Sure, my hip hurts.  Sure, I miss Christina.  Sure, my life has changed and I'm moving on.   I am happy to talk about GRIN, but the reporters want more.  They are looking for a sweetener, a hook, a teary response to an unexpected question.  Over time, I've learned to guard my reactions and keep the sadness inside. After all, watching me sob on Dateline last January should be enough sorrow for anyone.

I know it is for me.  In the beginning, it was helpful to be asked to evaluate and consider and recount.  It helped make it real.  It helped me to process the events.  It gave me an outlook and perspective other than my own to consider.  Plus, I was star-struck.  Brian Williams wanted to talk to me.  That felt pretty cool.

But now, a year into it, I am so over being flattered.  Seeing my face on television is not the thrill it once was.  Instead, I am boring myself.

This is the story which will not die.  Producers and reporters and videographers alike are amazed that there is still interest in our lives.  Republicans are dropping like flies in Iowa and NBC national news is sending a crew to my house at dinnertime.

Am I really that impressive?  Is my story that important?  Am I feeding the beast and thus adding to the madness?  Does it really matter?

I know that if I don't speak for myself I run the risk of others speaking for me.  That is not a good thing.  I need to own my story and my words and my public persona and that can't happen if I am not out front and center.

But tomorrow, both the Arizona Star and a crew from CBS national news will be meeting me at Prince Elementary School to watch kindergarteners hugging me.  I am usually totally focused on the individual children sitting at the mini-tables on the mini-chairs doing major work as they learn English and practice being Americans... because that's what a school filled with children of new immigrants is all about.

My experience tomorrow will be different.  It will be examined and photographed and questioned and reviewed and evaluated and judged and commented upon.  I will be an iconic volunteer.  I will be that woman who made lemonade out of lemons.

It's hard to remember who I am when there are so many people who want to define me.


  1. I would never say you are boring. If anything, you are one of the most interesting people I know. But.... that doesn't mean everyone needs to have a piece of you--especially now. I'm just gobsmacked that a reporter would not understand that of all days, the 8th should be off limits. This should be your time to reflect and grieve. And you sure as heck do not have to do it in front of the whole world.

    As for the woman who made lemonade out of lemons, I choose to see you as the loving mother, friend and awe-inspiring woman that chose to keep on living and pass on the love she had for CT to others-- even though her heart is broken.

    You take care of YOU and don't let anyone define you.

    Sending hugs.

    Megan xxx

  2. I'm thinking about you as the anniversary approaches, but know you will make lemons....

  3. I hope your walk is all you want and more this weekend! I am sort of amazed that reporters want you to carve out time for them on Sunday, of all days. Do any of them read this blog? Then they would have all the answers they need right here. Just for the record, I think people find yours and Christina Taylor's story compelling because you were showing her the good in politics, which is so hard to find amidst all crap going on right now. It does offer a ray of hope, I think. Wishing you all the best this weekend. Hugs.

  4. Keep that frantosity at bay, Lemonade Woman!

    P.S. Have you seen "My Week With Marilyn"? Absolutely the most beautiful movie of 2011. There's a moment on the back stairs of Windsor Castle where Marilyn and Colin run into some household staff and they swoon over her, as everyone always does. She whispers to Colin, "Shall I be her?," and briefly gratifies them by producing the woman they are all expecting. It's the pivotal scene in the movie, I think.

  5. Loved your piece tonight on CBS. So happy to see you interacting with all those wonderful children.

  6. It is now Sunday night, and I just wanted you to know I am thinking of you. Not because this defines you but because you are a beautiful, kind, loving, smart, intelligent, fantastic soul who (in my opinion) may have a few hard moments today and I wanted you to know I am thinking of you.

    And also to remind you of our wonderful (to me anyway!!) dinner together in August with your lovely daughter.

    My thoughts are with you tonight.



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