Monday, September 28, 2009

No autographs, please.

My interview on PBS

Oh how I cringed and screamed when I first saw myself on the screen.


Is that what I really look like?

Thankfully, I didn't make too much of a fool of myself. During the interview I forced myself to speak slowly and clearly because when I get excited, I have a strong tendency to stumble over my words. Like my brain works faster than my mouth can handle.

Of the 60 minutes or so that I spent talking with the filming crew, my portion got culled down to about 15 seconds. I talked about the reason why I took my road trip and how my friends and family were able to follow me through my blog, Twitter and Facebook. Then they cut to my enlightening lunch in Joshua Tree among the rock formations.

When I was being interviewed, I was asked what kinds of feelings did I experience while I was in the parks. My answer was no where as near profound and I would have liked it to be. I think I was worried about taking time to formulate a real thought because I knew they were running out of tape, so I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head.

But now that I've taken the time to think about it, this is what I would have said:

Being out in nature, especially in Arches, something primal happens to you. In the stillness and silence of the red rock canyon you feel incredibly small. In the millions of years it took for these canyons and arches, my life is just one fleeting wink of an eye. But my existence is significant. Standing there I felt a connection to all those who stood here before me in awe of the grandeur of nature. I wondered if everyone was able to experience this 'knowing', that there is something bigger than all of us that binds us together, if this world would be a different place.

This idea of connectedness is something stirring and growing inside me. I know I will have to explore this further and find an outlet to express it. The idea has been there for a while slowly forming until it became something I am finally aware of.

Maybe it is enlightenment. Maybe it will point me in the direction I've been looking for.

My spiritual GPS.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Premiere - National Parks: NY's Memories

Ha! It aired.

I watched anxiously for my debut. You can find me at 9:34. I feel ridiculous.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Excitement rising

I'm getting excited! The day is quickly arriving when I'll be on tv.

National Parks: New Yorkers’ Memories

Sunday, September 27th at 10PM

Shot primarily by CUNY students and featuring narratives and videos sent directly to THIRTEEN from members and viewers, National Parks: New Yorkers’ Memories is a unique collaboration with film students seeking a real-life, hands-on experience in television production. This is one of THIRTEEN’s first on-air and online projects shot by students.

Tell friends to tune-in
New Yorkers' Memories
Sunday, Sept. 27 at 10 PM on THIRTEEN

Visit to watch clips
Get CDs, DVDs & more

Program will be rebroadcast Mon., Sept. 28 at 12:00AM on WLIW21 and 3AM on THIRTEEN; Sat., Oct. 3 at 5:30AM and 7:30PM on THIRTEEN; Mon., Oct. 5 at 5:00AM on THIRTEEN; and Thurs., Oct. 22 at 8PM on THIRTEEN.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The seeker

I now have a name to call myself: Seeker.

I recently connected with one of my teachers from high school. She was one of those people who went beyond 'teacher' and turned into a trusted friend. And I know that I wasn't the only student of hers to feel this way.

In our email conversations back and forth, I mentioned that I wasn't living the life I imagined for myself 20 years ago, but that I'm probably the better for it because of all the cool things I've done instead.

She replied with this:
It is important to you to learn about yourself and the world. You didn't see this in yourself maybe when you were 16, but most people don't. But the seeker comes to respect her own curiosity, her own hunger, as she goes along. Look at all you've done! You just wanted to find it all out for YOURSELF, and not be confined to a syllabus in the process.

I wish I could have had my teacher around these past 20 years because I know she could have helped me 'right my rudder' whenever I felt off course. But I'm thankful to have found that now.

I still feel the pangs of restlessness. I don't think it will ever go away. But the trick is to turn that restlessness into curiosity and from there into making new experiences. I will never stop learning, never stop seeking.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The saddest day

World Trade Center

I took this photo Labor Day weekend 2001. Little did I know the skyline would change just a few days later.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My 15 minutes

When my road trip this summer was over, I didn't think anything more would come of it. But when I saw an invitation from my local PBS station to share memories of the National Parks, I thought that it was speaking directly to me. I mean, I just came back from two and had the videos and photos to prove it. I sent an email with my story, a link to my blog and to the photos and videos I took along the way. That was a few weeks ago and didn't think too much about it since.

Last week, I was reminded of my submission when I got a phone call from a journalist from Channel Thirteen wanting to talk to me about my post. Wow!

Dan, the journalist had read my blog and was interested in my story. He liked how I took my job loss as an opportunity and recorded my experience of traveling across the country and stopping in a few National parks along the way. "Do you think you would be able to come into Manhattan for an on camera interview for the segment they were creating?" he asked.

Um, duh. Of course.

So I waited to hear back from him.

The date was finally set for my interview and I cleared my calendar for my fifteen minutes of fame.

Yesterday afternoon, I arrived in Penn Station from NJ Transit and since it was such a nice day, I walked north to W. 57th street where I was supposed to meet Dan. I made it there with 30 minutes to spare, which is good because I hated being late. I checked my iPhone again just to confirm the location when CRAP. I wasn't supposed to be at W. 57th St, I was supposed to be at W. 67th St. I checked the map to see if I could still make it in time, it was only 10 blocks, right?

No. I had to walk to the west side of Central Park, then walk up 10 blocks. And I was already sweaty. Cab? I need you now.

Finally I made it to my destination, the right one this time.

I met Dan and his colleague Cathy as the interview before me was finishing up. They were telling me about the cute couple who had gotten married in 1970 and went traveling around the National Parks out west for their honeymoon. Then 25 years later they recreated their honeymoon, even recreating the photos that they had taken the first time around. They were naturals in telling their story. They knew when to pause in the story to allow the other one to finish a thought or to elaborate. After years of marriage, they had their storytelling down to an art.

Dan also told me about other people they had interviewed: one woman who traveled to the Redwood Forrest to scatter her father's ashes; another man who went rockclimbing in the parks and was sponsored by Red Bull.

These stories seemed so amazing to me. And that got me nervous. What did I do? I just drove to California and back. It suddenly seemed so pale in comparison.

Soon it was my time to go on. I sat in the hot seat and waited as they adjusted the lighting, put on my lavilear microphones and I touched up my makeup. Then Dan took his seat off camera and told me to relax.


I talked about the reason for my road trip; my blog, tweets and the virtual company I had from my friends' comments; my impressions of the parks; what was going through my mind as I was on the road.

I also talked about my parents and how they we would always take road trips for our vacations. I remembered sitting in the back of our station wagon, waving to truckers and playing those road trip games where you had to find words on signs starting with each letter of the alphabet. I inherited their spirit of adventure and now love to just get in the car and drive.

I think I did pretty good. I answered Dan's questions succinctly. I was animated. For the most part, I was pretty relaxed. But in the back of my mind I kept thinking "Please God, don't make me look or sound like an idiot."

After the interview was over, I gave Dan copies of my videos of Arches and Joshua Tree and my link to all the photos I took. I signed my release forms and said my goodbyes.

So that's it. Now I wait until it airs on Channel Thirteen, Sunday, September 27 after the Ken Burns documentary "National Parks: America's Best Idea". Check your New York TV schedule. Set your DVRs.

Hope that I don't wind up on the cutting room floor.