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Falling for Emily Dickinson, a Story of a Great Poet March 3, 2016

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Emilydickinson with creditIf you grow up in New England the leaves seem to whisper Emily Dickinson. She haunts us. And yet Dickinson is thought of as a lonely recluse in a white dress writing in her room.

In fact, as she said herself, “I find ecstasy in living. The mere sense of living is joy enough.” She was fascinated with all of life: its beauty, its struggles and its terrors. She loved language and worked at her craft so her language is fresh and startling. For instance, “The moon is just a chin of gold.” And “All but death can be adjusted.” Dickinson was a passionate, deeply thoughtful artist who never lost her sense of play.

What drew me first to Emily Dickinson was her “brush strokes,” short, brilliant lines like,

Night keeps fetching stars to our familiar eyes.

She startles. Another example is,

The only news I know all day

Is bulletins from immortality

This use of ordinary nouns like, bulletins and news come stunningly alive when immortality is the end of the line. She sees anew.

I discovered her playfulness in this poem

I’m Nobody! Who are you?

Are you – Nobody – too?

Then there’s a pair of us!

Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

Storytelling is filled with rhythms and we can learn a lot about rhythm and sound from Dickinson. She was steeped in the hymns sung at the Congregational Church. She loved singing. There were times when she would run through the woods with a friend singing and she was a fine piano player. Some of her friends said her piano playing was weird. I imagine Dickinson experimented as she played the piano and I think of her as a young Thelonious Monk.

Dickinson contemplated all of life – its beauties, its sadnesses and its horrors. There is one poem about a wound so great it’s difficult to go on. As I read that poem I realized any soldier coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan hurt and unsure how to deal with life, could read that poem and say to himself or herself, “This person understands what I went through.”

Dickinson reminds us to keep growing, keep exploring and to take risks. She also reminds us we need to keep the child alive inside us. I’ve read Picasso said that his job was to get back to when he was five years old. Emily Dickinson sees all of life as if it’s just been created.

Dickinson worked with almost no encouragement. It was awe and commitment that kept her writing. There are times when life is difficult for all of us and we can take courage from her deep commitment.

Doubtless Emily Dickinson became discouraged at different times but she was clear about what she wanted in life. She wrote to her friend, Elizabeth Holland that, “My business is to sing and to love.” This clarity of vision gave her balance and made me love her. I admire her for being a “business woman.”

She wrote the bulk of her poems just before and during the Civil War. She wrote at a white heat and at a time the country was convulsed. She inspires in so many ways – with her language, her willingness to experiment, her love of life and her fearless examination of life.

Sadly people think of Emily Dickinson solely as a recluse and perhaps as a lonely woman who wrote cheerful poems. She was a woman who knew how to love but she also was a daring, ferocious artist who never lost sight of the fact as she said, “Life is the greatest secret, as long as it remains we must all whisper.”

Creating the story Falling for Emily Dickinson was a process of discovery for me. Two of Dickinson’s favorite words are awe and circumference. She found a circumference she could live and work in. It’s a paradox that my circumference grows smaller and yet larger in that there is more time for meditation, family, walking by the sea, reading and creating stories including exploring the written story and time for silence.

Emily Dickinson reminds me forcefully that commitment to one’s artistic work is important but love trumps work. Emily’s mother was an invalid for seven years. Emily along with her sister and the maid attended her mother and there was no complaint from Emily Dickinson. She was a lover who was bursting with life.

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New Stories at the National Storytelling Festival October 15, 2015

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As I think back on the Festival I think collage. Collage. A series of bursting moments and images. I think of telling Don Quixote and My Daughter Laura at ten that Saturday morning when the rain was so loud it was like a train. One part of my consciousness was aware of the rain and the wind flapping the sides of the tent that holds fifteen hundred people. But the greater part is I’m simply performing the story and I feel free. The audience is so open and receptive that I’m free, free to just be part of the story, be part of the words, the gestures, the movement, the characters, the silence, the dialogue. It’s all one.

The rain beats down. Sancho Panza is patting his belly upset that Don Quixote has sunk his lance into the sail of a windmill and been thrown violently to the ground. Sancho helps Don Quixote onto his horse, Rosinante. Sancho says, “I don’t know how we’re making this a better world but the manchego cheese is good.”

I go on telling. Sancho is there, the rain is there, the wind is there but without thinking I know we are all in this story, fifteen hundred people are all together in this story. After working on the story for a year and a half it all came together only last week. In shaping the story I forgot something elemental – most stories have to have one central character. If there are several characters the audience’s attention is divided. In Hamlet we can have Hamlet’s mother and the ghost and Ophelia, but the story is about Hamlet. Everything in the story relates to Hamlet. I forgot that so the story was half about Don Quixote and half about Laura. And I realized the story is about Laura. It is a quest story. It is the story of Laura’s quest for learning. Even as a five year old she felt school was pinched. It needed more life. As she grows up and goes to high school she longs for some of the wind of real life.

Collage. Collage. Faces Saturday morning. At nine thirty Saturday morning we were walking down Main Street in Jonesborough in the rain. We were headed to the Library Tent where I would tell Don Quixote and My Daughter Laura. Hundreds of people were walking down Main Street with umbrellas. I was walking with my daughter, Laura and her husband, Tim and my wife, Linda. They were all singing

                  When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling

                  The whole world smiles with you.

As they were singing their umbrellas, red and blue and yellow were bobbing up and down.

                  When you’re laughing, when you’re laughing

                  The sun comes shining through.

I’m singing along with them. We’re going by the great old brick buildings on Main Street. I’m singing and laughing and delighted. Usually before I perform I’m silent and often nervous. This morning I’m singing as if I don’t have a worry in the world. This is absurd. Usually if I’m telling at this National Festival I tell a story I’ve told fifty or a hundred times. Here I’m about to tell a story that’s come together only in the last week or two and I’ve told it only to my wife, Linda. This is absurd. I’m not worried at all.

Months ago I was at a spiritual retreat and became aware that my task of the moment was simply to trust the two stories I was working on: Don Quixote and My Daughter Laura and Falling for Emily Dickinson. This was my task month after month. But I wavered a month ago with Don Quixote. I told it to a group of friends and it didn’t work. So I was going to drop the story and tell one that I’ve told hundreds of times. But Linda said, “Just commit to the story.” And I did.

A week before the National Storytelling Festival I woke thinking of two stories about Laura when she was a child. I told those stories and realized they belonged in this long story. Why? Because listeners must care about your character. You’ve got to care about your character and fall in love with her. These two stories would do that job.

Then I had another insight about Cervantes’s Don Quixote. As I perform the story I lift up my left hand and the fingers are straight and I’m talking to Laura in the story and saying, “Laura, if the story is just about Don Quixote it fails. But,” and I bring my hands together and intertwine my fingers, “But if it’s about Sancho and Don Quixote; it lives because Don Quixote is the dreamer and Sancho is the practical one. We have these two forces inside us. And often the struggle is to let the dreamer emerge.” To me that’s the crux of the story; it’s about a girl becoming a young woman and bringing these two parts of herself together, the dreamer and the practical one. And the story is also about the father encouraging the daughter.

I’m telling the story as the rain is driving down. The rain is drumming and when I finish and as people are applauding my dear friend, Connie Regan-Blake, who was the master of ceremonies, asked Laura to come up to the stage. Laura doesn’t dawdle, she runs. She comes onto the stage. As Connie is saying, “Laura is now an interpreter for the Deaf; she’s climbed the Himalayas, biked across the country twice, run the Boston Marathon.”

Laura is shining. I’m on the stage with my daughter Laura in this wild rain and to my right is Liz Barlow-Breslin, Interpreter for the Deaf. Such a moment; this had been my vision months ago but I put the vision away because the story had failed time after time, but here it is.

That Saturday evening I’m standing in the theatre and begin with the words, “If you grow up in New England the leaves whisper Emily Dickinson.” And I tell Falling for Emily Dickinson which I’ve worked on for two years. I’m feeling grateful and alive.

Saturday night, once I finished telling Falling for Emily Dickinson, we’re walking down cool, dark Main Street in Jonesborough, my wife, Linda, my daughter, Laura and her husband, Tim. We’re full of stories, full of memories of meeting so many friends and storytellers in the last two days. We’re walking together with the ghosts of old Jonesborough headed to the home of Bill and Virginia Kennedy. The Kennedys have opened their home to us for thirty years and became very close friends. They are part of the soul of Jonesborough.

I know for me that I’ll be awake most of the night because Emily Dickinson and Don Quixote and My Daughter, Laura will all be dancing together and in the morning the rain will be gone and the sun will come up.

Getting Ready for a Pill Hill Party September 2, 2014

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“Patricia,” Mother called, “Help me with the Newburg.” Lots of words appeared for the parties. Chicken à la king, Thermidor, Newburg, hollandaise, aspic, chafing dish, punch bowl, crème de menthe, punch in the nose bowl, rose bowl, silver bowl, ice bucket, serving spoons, party shells, scalloped potatoes, walloped potatoes, tumblers, long glasses, wine glasses, short glasses, eye glasses, china plates, minor plates, major plates, serving dish, pepper grinder, if you don’t mind dear, scalloped oysters, nuns in cloisters, ironed napkins, shining silver, Hi Ho Silver, Where is my red vest? Gone west. Will you button me up dear? Where is my jacket? Is there beer dear? Bourbon, scotch and rye, don’t want them drinking dye. Then they’ll get too high. Remember the time when? Sigh. Is the stove still on? Darling will you see if I left the stove on? Newburg bubbling is troubling. Mustard bustard. Horseradish. Mint jelly for your belly. Mrs. Beam is coming? Hide the jelly. Patricia darling can you iron Daddy’s shirt? Oak, get the wood and lay the fire and while you’re at it fix the tire, paint the house and play the lyre. Cathy can you get the ice? Mom did you get kumquats? They come at Christmas, Cathy. Well it’s almost Christmas. It’s just October, now get the ice trays. Why are they called trays? Please dear, we have guests coming. Get the ice. Dippy’s sick, Mom. Cathy, I hate that cat. It’s not a cat, Mom, it’s a kitty. Cathy please get the ice. What ice? Patricia darling will you get the ice. Patricia is nice and gets the ice. Dad’s mad. He can’t find. Where’s my hairbrush? Who took my hairbrush? Cathy, did you take my hairbrush? I brushed Rufus with it. Don’t take my brush! She brushed the confounded dog with my hairbrush. Everyone shush. Here dear use mine dear. Avocado. Don’t mind if I do. Did you dress the salad? I’d like to dress myself first.

 

By Jay O’Callahan

An Excerpt from Pat Schneider’s Writing Alone and with Others

April 17, 2014

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It was very exciting to perform “Forged in the Stars” at Georgia Tech last Friday. It’s a beautiful campus and as I walked down to the auditorium I passed students speaking many languages. Students come from all over the world to Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech graduates 12% of the nations aerospace engineers and has also graduated fourteen US astronauts.

The performance was organized by Wilton Rooks, an engineer who worked in NASA’s propulsion research. Wilton, a Georgia Tech graduate, and a graduate student, Hasan Tawab, warmed the audience up singing the Georgia Tech Fight Song, “I’m a Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech and a helluva engineer.” There’s nothing like getting the audience singing before telling a long story.

It was a joy to tell “Forged in the Stars” and it was fun to talk after the performance to students, engineers and even some kids as young as nine. Along with the Voyager, we sailed out of our solar system and beyond.

The following day I did a workshop organized by the marvelous Janice Butt. It was called Four Secrets of Storytelling. The big secret was the participants were playful, imaginative and brilliant. Storytellers are the best!

43rd Christmas Revels, Cambridge, MA December 19, 2013

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Image

Photo by Roger Ide

As a storyteller I generally perform alone but I’m in the midst of performing on stage with a big cast at the Christmas Revels. We’ve done five shows so far and have twelve more to do. We’re at one of the great halls in all of Boston. It’s the Sanders Theatre at Harvard University. There are about twelve hundred people in every audience.

The show is set in Galicia, Spain and I’m a character called Everyman who has to make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and then onto the end of the earth where he will meet his fate – death. But then he is revived with a touch of mistletoe. It’s so exciting to be onstage with everybody and almost more exciting to be downstairs at the break when we do two shows. The show is filled with music of Galcia and it’s filled with wonderful artists: bagpipers, drummers, violinists, fiddlers, a brass section and a huge chorus. What a world to be in. It makes me wonder what it was like to be in Shakespeare’s Elizabethan England.

Radiant Moments with Diane Wolkstein September 26, 2013

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Diane Wolkstein radiated a fire that burned through the surface of reality and let you see the magic underneath.

In 1979 I was telling stories at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. It was Saturday night, late; I had finished telling a ghost story and walked down the long hill from the cemetery onto the Main Street in Jonesborough. It was cold; there was a light rain and a fog so heavy I couldn’t even see the courthouse a few yards away. I just wanted to go to bed and Diane stepped through the fog said, “Welcome to London.” Everything changed. My tiredness was gone; I felt I was in London with Diane. She changed things.

I had met Diane a couple of years before that when she was in Boston touring her new book, The Magic Orange Tree, a book of folktales Diane went to Haiti to collect. Priscilla Moulton, a librarian who made things happen, organized the tour and had a welcoming supper for about six of us at the Longwood Towers, an old fashioned hotel in Brookline. It was hushed. The waiters looked like they had served Louis the XIV. I felt awkward because I knocked my water over. That was soon forgotten because Diane began to tell us about the most exciting storyteller she had seen in Haiti. Diane was in a sugar cane area just outside Port-au-Prince where a Haitian woman in her fifties who was tall, muscular, proud began to tell the story of Owl. As Diane talked and sang the story her fire spread from our table and we were transported to Haiti. She changed things.

It was just about a month after that that Elizabeth Dunham, a mime and storyteller, was telling the story of Owl at Storytellers in Concert in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I loved the way Elizabeth was dancing and singing on the stage and couldn’t wait to tell the story myself. Diane’s radiance was spreading.

In 1980 I was telling stories at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics. The most special day for me was a chance to tell stories at the Athletes’ Village. I got to the gate and the guards said, “No, we changed our mind. You can’t tell in the village.” I was furious and took out my wallet and said, “Look, I’m a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserves, and I’m scheduled to tell. Let me tell.” He relented. I was escorted in to a small library and told stories to about six athletes. At the end one of the athletes grabbed me and said, “You have got to tell to everybody.” He pulled me down the corridor into the vast dining room where maybe nine hundred athletes were eating. I was not allowed to be there. A guard came forward, put his hand up to stop me, but the athlete pulled me by and he commanded, “Tell!” I found myself raising my arms and what came out of my mouth was, “This is the story of Owl.” Suddenly I was doing the mime, I was dancing and singing,

Dong ga da, Dong ga da, Dong ga da, Dong.

            Dong ga da, Dong. Eh-ee-oh.

 

The British wrestlers in front of me put down their knives and forks, turned around and listened. Slowly a silence spread over the dining room. And I’ll never forget looking way down at a table far away seeing a young Japanese athlete transfixed. When I finished there was a storm of applause. Diane’s radiance had spread through this Olympic dining room.

A few years later I took a train from Boston down to New York to Diane Wolkstein’s birthday party. It was held at her house in Patchen Place in Greenwich Village. There were four of us there: Laura Simms, Gioia Timpanelli, Diane and myself. I felt like a lump of clay with three goddesses. Diane cooked an amazing supper, set us all at ease and Gioia Timpanelli leaned forward and said, “Let’s talk about the love,” and the magic began. For hours we were eating and resting and laughing and talking about love. It felt as if we were in Italy.

Another time my wife, Linda and I invited Diane to go to Verdi’s opera, Nabucco at the Metropolitan Opera. The three of us dressed up, went to a restaurant and then off to hear Verdi. Afterwards we stood on the sidewalk with cabs rushing by, people hurrying along, it was eleven o’clock at night. We talked and laughed and Diane had to go one way, we the other. Diane smiled, hugged us, waved goodbye and she had done the impossible; She had turned New York into New York.

The last time I saw Diane was last year at the 40th anniversary of the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Diane and I got to share a stage for an hour. I was nervous because I was telling a story I don’t tell often called Muddy River High School. I wanted Diane to enjoy it. Diane began and captured the audience with her cool fire and we were all lost in Inanna. Then it was my turn. I began telling the story and people were generous with their laughter, but did Diane like the story? At the end the two of us bowed and as we left the stage Diane said, “That was perfect.” We were in London once again.

Two Gems: Neil Armstrong and Emily Dickinson December 18, 2012

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Neil Armstrong was a Midwestern boy and Emily Dickinson grew up in Amherst in New England. They were very different but there were lots of similarities. They both knew how to concentrate. They both loved their work and did it brilliantly. Each of them knew how to withdraw in order to keep balanced and do the work they had to do.

Dickenson wrote,

“I dwell in possibility.

A fairer house than prose.”

They both dwelt in possibility. And in a way an impossibility. What are the chances that a teenage girl who loves to play the piano and sing run through the woods with friends will become one of the very great poets? What are the chances that a boy who flies balsam planes will be the first human being to stand on the moon?

They were both affected by war. Neil Armstrong nearly lost his life when the wing of his plane was cut in half flying over North Korea. He ejected and was lucky to live. When Fraser Sterns, a young man from Amherst, died in the Civil War Emily wrote to her Norcross cousins, “Let us live better children. It’s most that’s left to us.”

Neil Armstrong didn’t seem to enjoy the parties of the astronauts and families, but he could be found in the corner at the piano playing ragtime. Emily Dickinson could be found sitting in the darkness upstairs listening to a friend playing the piano downstairs.

A Magic Night at the Gardner Museum January 17, 2012

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Saturday night, January 14, 2012, my wife Linda and I seemed to be in Venice, but we were in Boston. We were at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, or Fenway Court, as it was known during Isabella Stewart Gardner’s lifetime. She was a woman of drive, imagination and spirit. She loved art. The museum was designed to emulate a 15th century Venetian palace and was opened to the public in 1903.

Saturday night was below freezing and Linda and I parked on Palace Road, walked in the dark around the corner only to find the street was lit up by a stunning glass building–the new wing of the Gardner Museum. People were hurrying into the vast foyer dressed for the grand opening. As a former Artist-in-Residence at the museum, I ‘d been invited.

Everything was welcoming and well organized. Our coats were taken and we walked down a glass hallway and could see the outside trees lit up stretching towards the stars. Waiters and waitresses in black shirts greeted us carrying trays of tall glasses of white wine.  Suddenly we were at the Courtyard, the heart of the original museum.  I’d never come in to the Gardner Museum this way. I was disoriented. All around me were the stone columns, statues and an ancient sarcophagus. The courtyard stretches up four floors to a glass roof. The Venetian walls look as if a great cloth of orange and white has been rubbed in them. Your eye goes up to balcony after balcony. The courtyard itself was filled with ferns and flowers of all sorts, small trees, sculptures from ancient Rome and a quintet of young people playing flutes. There was the scent of the flowers and the earth. There are mysterious shadows and the lovely cacophony of people talking. It had the magic of a palace in Venice long years ago where you were surrounded by beauty, elegance and light.

In the courtyard, the quintet played baroque music, while on a balcony, an oboist played modern solos.

We walked up the marble stairs into the Dutch Room, a room I’ve visited since my twenties.  There’s a self-portrait of Rembrandt which he painted when he was twenty-three.  Rembrandt wears a dashing hat and cloak. His black eyes are full of wonder, mischief and surprise. Nowadays Rembrandt’s surprised because instead of looking across the Dutch Room at another of his paintings, “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee”, he looks at empty frame. On the morning of March 18th, 1990, two robbers dressed as policemen bound and gagged the guards and stole thirteen artworks including “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” and also Vermeer’s “The Concert”.

We visited many of my favorite paintings: Titian’s “Europa” showing Zeus as a bull flying off with Europa on his back, Botticelli’s “The Tragedy of Lucretia” and John Singer Sargent’s El Jeleo, which is so alive you can almost hear the Spanish music.

Everything that night was astonishingly beautiful. The voices, the people, the paintings, the scent of the garden, music and sculpture everywhere. We joined several hundred people in the new wing for a delicious, inventive supper.  At quarter to eight Linda and I climbed to the new concert hall, which is shaped like a tall box with seats on all four sides. We were on the third of four tiers. The stage floor level had two rows of seats and each upper tier just a single row of red seats.

Before the concert began, Ann Hawley, director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, welcomed us all. She was greeted with a great ovation, for this new building was Ann Hawley’s vision. Hawley struggled long and brilliantly and to date has raised one hundred and forty five of the one hundred and eighty million-dollar goal.

The third tier was high and we looked down on the Borromeo String Quartet. Surprisingly, each of the members of the quartet had a laptop instead of musical sheets. They played Schoenberg’s String Quartet No2, Opus 10. The music for my untutored ear was freeing, strange and full of sharp shadows. The soprano, Mary Elizabeth MacKensie, sang, “I feel the breeze from another planet.” Listening to the music I had the feeling that Schoenberg was exploring something we haven’t yet caught up with.

The second half of the program was Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-Flat Major. Amazingly, Mendelssohn composed this when he was sixteen. Eight musicians played violin, viola and cello. The music, as the program said, “portrays Mendelssohn’s talent for painting music dappled with light and shadow.” It was playful and it builds and builds and builds. At the end there was an explosion of applause.

We descended the stairs after the concert and again were greeted with waiters this time holding trays of champagne and—and platters of warm donut holes.  The warm donut holes were genius!

Before we went out into the cold night, I ducked into the men’s room and I heard someone saying the Patriot’s had scored two touchdowns. I liked that because Isabella Stewart Gardner would attend the Boston Symphony concerts wearing a headband bearing the words, “Oh You Red Sox.” (In red letters, of course.)

We in Boston are so enriched by two wonderful artists–Isabella Stewart Gardner and Ann Hawley.

Let’s Be Open to Possibilities for Peace May 4, 2011

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I’ve been reading Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, online. A columnist, Gideon Levy, wrote an article recently on leaf blowers. Levy said that leaf blowers would soon be banned in Jerusalem by law. Levy went on to say Israelis are upset by leaf blower noise but are not upset by the fact that the Africans who will be sweeping the streets will be paid substandard wages. He also said Israelis are not upset that Israel is a brutal occupying power but are upset by the noise of leaf blowers.

Levy expressed his opinion. I rarely hear or read anything critical of Israeli government policy in the US press. But this is a time to speak up. There may be a chance for peace. Levy wrote on May 1st about the two Palestinian camps uniting, “Why is it that every time there appears to be a chance for positive change, Israel . . . is quick to hunker down beside its rejectionism. Why?”

Levy is clearly frustrated with Israel and the US being so quick to reject any chance for peace. He concluded his May 1st article saying, “The days go by, a year passes, but the song remains the same.” Rejectionism.

It’s time to be more open to the possibility of peace.

A Challenging Performance Space February 17, 2011

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Last week I was in Long Beach, California to tell my story FORGED IN THE STARS to a NASA gathering called Project Management Challenge 2011.

I arrived a day early and was astounded to see the place where I would tell my story. It was like a vast warehouse. There were to be 1,500 people to be sitting at round tables, twelve to a table, which meant the people in the very back so far back that they would see only tiny figures up on the stage.

I calmed down a bit when I had my tech rehearsal in the afternoon. The sound people were very warm and knew their business well. The manager of the building was willing to turn off half of the lights. He was unwilling to make it totally dark because that could be a big safety problem. I was to perform the following morning and relaxed by going to a pizza place across the street. I felt very welcomed there. I had my spaghetti with clam sauce and talked to the manager who had become my friend the day before and I was able to sleep well.

The next morning the NASA people arrived in the vast space at seven thirty in the morning. There were talks and then a panel and then finally at eight forty in the morning I was introduced by Dr. Ed Hoffman. He agreed to ask people to stand up and stretch. That was wise so as he introduced me they could all stretch and move and then it was turned over to me. The lights were turned down a bit and that was a signal that something different was happening. I began the story and as I began to relax I realized the people in this vast room were listening. There was a great sense of quiet. A strange thing happens to a performer. Something inside seems to grow so that even people in the very back seemed well within reach. It’s a strange mystery that a power just overtakes one.

At the end I was delighted of course with a standing ovation but even more delighted to talk with Buzz Aldrin who was the second person to step foot on the moon. Lewis Peach who’s been a great help arranging all my NASA performances, told me Buzz had been weeping during some of the story.

Buzz is a very warm man. He’s tan and gives no sense of being eighty years old. He was telling me about a science fiction story he’s creating and in addition to that he told me about books he’s writing and lectures he’s thinking about. Here’s this man who went to MIT and became the second person to step on the moon and is still delighted to be alive and creating.

I left Long Beach a little sad because I was leaving warmth and blue sky behind but I was excited that this challenge turned into a wonderful experience.