Tag Archive | Katie Couric

Anger Management Part I

My cat Lunesta, named for my favorite sleeping pill. She really knows how to chill out.

My cat Lunesta, named for my favorite sleeping pill. She really knows how to chill out.

Is it just me, or does anger management get easier with age? It’s taken me decades, but everyday aggravations don’t get me nearly as riled up as they used to. Is it simply that my psychotropic meds are working the way they should? Is it because of hormonal and biochemical changes as I creep toward genuine old age? Or is it the cumulative effect of all the years of life experience I’ve racked up?

Maybe it’s all three, but in any case I’m grateful that I’m usually able to follow Bobby McFerrin’s advice – “Don’t worry, be happy.” (That’s when I’m not in a clinical depression, of course. But deep depression is so enervating, it doesn’t leave enough energy for anger.)

Over the past couple of days, though, something’s been making me intensely angry. No need to go public with the details – suffice it to say that it involves a creative group project I’ve been a part of for several years on an annual basis. Over time, the group’s chairperson has become increasingly dictatorial and resistant to anyone else’s ideas, to the point where I decided I could no longer associate myself with this venture, even though it’s something that’s brought me great pleasure over the years. 

In years gone by, I would have fumed and fretted over whether or not to quit. I probably would have done some yelling and screaming, slugged down a couple of glasses of wine, lain awake nights obsessing over the injustice of it all. Today, there was none of that dramatizing. I simply sent the person an e-mail saying I was dropping out. I’ll admit I copied in a couple of relevant people, and there may be some further fallout, but I’m sticking with my decision to distance myself from a situation that’s clearly bringing me uptight and is thus potentially damaging to my mental health.

I’m proud of how I handled this. I did what I had to do, said what I had to say, but now it’s over and done, and I’ve already moved on. I’m feeling calm, and my pulse rate and blood pressure are back down where they should be. Writing this blog post is cathartic as well – how wonderful to be able to channel all that angry energy into writing that all the world can read! 

Katie Couric show on January 14th, the day I visited

Katie Couric show on January 14th, the day I visited

Since my recent visit to Katie Couric’s show, I’ve been watching her more than ever, though I clicked off today because she’s interviewing families with lots of kids, and frankly, I couldn’t care less. But a few programs ago, the show featured a cardiologist who hooked her up to a heart rate monitor, thereby demonstrating that her pulse went up alarmingly when she was caught in midtown Manhattan traffic (even with her own private car and driver!) or before the show when she encountered some fans and wasn’t yet wearing her makeup. Over time, that kind of physiological reaction can do serious damage to a body. Though I’m not a Type A adrenaline junkie, my blood pressure is borderline high, and I believe the ability to chill out at will is a valuable talent worth cultivating.

Buddhist meditation

Author’s note, two days later:

Just as I typed the words “Buddhist meditation,” a friend phoned me. Maybe not coincidentally, she’s extremely involved in Buddhist meditation. Jungian synchronicity, maybe? After that, I had to go to my UU church for choir practice. Then yesterday, we visited my brother in the Bronx, so I haven’t had time to get back to this post until now.

Visiting with my brother Pete Lomoe in his Bronx apartment yesterday. He looks rather like Buddha, doesn't he?

Visiting with my brother Pete Lomoe in his Bronx apartment yesterday. He looks rather like Buddha, doesn’t he?

There’s lots more to say, but I think I’ll save it for my next post. I’ll close with a brief progress note about the situation I described above: writing that e-mail saying Sayonara wrapped up that issue nicely, and though it still comes to mind off and on, I’m still calm and collected about it. Besides, it’s one more responsibility off my plate, giving me that much more time to zero in on my novel.

Does anger play a major role in your life? Any coping strategies you’d care to share? I’d love to hear from you.

My afternoon at the Katie show

I did it! I made my first appearance on national TV, although I could identify myself only as a miniature blur of orange at the far right of the screen on Katie Couric’s show Tuesday afternoon. The taping took place Monday afternoon, and the show featured Captain Sully Sullenberger, who flawlessly landed a jet on the Hudson River on January 15th four years ago.

Katie during the Q&A after the taping

Katie during the Q&A after the taping

Since my novel-in-progress is set in the world of daytime television, I wanted to get inside the studio of a major TV network, and I achieved my goal, soaking up atmosphere as best I could while being herded around with several dozen women. The ABC studio, on a primarily residential side street on the upper west side, was unprepossessing both outside and in until we were ushered onto Katie’s elegantly spacious set and slotted into our seats.

The lengthy email guidelines advised us to show up at 1:30pm for a 3pm taping, saying we’d be admitted on a first-come-first-serve basis. To be on the safe side, I showed up at 12:15. A dozen women were already ahead of me, but when I was checked in and given a ticket emblazoned with the lucky number 13, I was sure I had it made. Once inside, we waited in a grubby beige visitors’ area for over an hour till they began ushering us to the set.  

What I wore at the Katie show (though with black shoes, not my Saucony sneakers. Photo by Thom Francis at the Nitty Gritty Slam the following night

What I wore at the Katie show (though with black shoes, not my Saucony sneakers. Photo by Thom Francis at the Nitty Gritty Slam the following night

But to my dismay, they called only the first ten people, then called those with tickets highlighted in pink, followed by those with blue and yellow swashes. Finally only a couple of dozen of us were left, and I began feeling paranoid, fearing I’d be blackballed. Why was I one of the few without a colored swash? Was I too old? Not attractive enough? I knew I was “dressed to impress,” as they’d requested, in two shades of brilliant orange, while many women had flouted the dress code by wearing black or, heaven forbid, prints.

I never did find out what those color codes signified, but I expect they identified specific “interest groups,” like friends and family of the survivors of Sully’s miraculous flight. At last I was admitted, and I was glad I’d had the foresight to show up early. By then nearly all the seats were filled, and since I was a single, they found me a seat in the third row, far right, where I was unlikely to be picked up in most of the crowd shots.

A young comedian coached the audience on how to applaud (loudly and enthusiastically) and when we could take pictures (before and after). He told us to look alert and interested, to laugh and emote as appropriate, and not to space out and start counting the lights in the ceiling or picking our noses. Then Katie made her entrance, and we were on. Each segment was shot in real time, with no retakes. During breaks, the crew rearranged the set with crisp efficiency, and then an assistant gave us the countdown to applaud as she launched into the next segment.

Katie was warm and engaging, Sully was the quintessentially modest hero, and the show whizzed by. Back on the street a bit after five, I strolled downtown, past Lincoln Center to Columbus Circle, where I happened upon a snazzy new mall, several stories high, adjacent to Donald Trump’s towering International Hotel. On the third floor I found a restaurant with a wonderfully glittering cityscape beyond its wall of windows, and treated myself to a glorified version of pork and beans and a glass of Pinot Grigio. 

View from my table, Bouchon Bakery, Columbus Circle

View from my table, Bouchon Bakery, Columbus Circle

Like my other day trips to the city where I spent the better part of my youth, this one was pricier than expected, but I figure it’s tax deductible as research for my writing. Was it worth it? Well, I soaked in some atmosphere, picked up some details I can use in my novel. I grew more comfortable with the camera in my new Samsung Galaxy, and for the first time ever, I’m illustrating this blog post with my very own photos. But most of all, I reveled in the intoxicating feeling of being at one with the most exciting city on earth.   

                                                                                                                                  

Help! I’m on Katie Couric’s show next week and I don’t have a thing to wear!

 

Katie in a dress that would never pass her show's dress code!

Katie in a dress that would never pass her show’s dress code!

This coming Monday I’ll be in the audience at the Katie Couric show, soaking up the atmosphere for my novel-in-progress, which is set in the land of daytime television. But I don’t have a thing to wear! After the phone call inviting me to attend, they sent me a lengthy e-mail explaining what I should expect and what they’ll expect from me. “Katie loves bright colors!” they said. I should “dress to impress,” with absolutely no black, brown, beige or gray, nothing dark or muted, and no prints.

Though I love Duke Ellington’s classic “Black, Brown and Beige,” I don’t cotton to those colors when it comes to my wardrobe unless they’re combined with something brighter. Nor do I usually wear straightforward primary and secondary colors. As an artist, I prefer subtler shades – and lots and lots of prints. But it’s Katie’s show, and she has the right to determine her own esthetic, so I’ll be hitting the January sales this week.

I thought I was well past the age of slavishly following someone else’s dress code, so why am I caving for Katie? Because except for a visit to the Conan O’Brien show many years ago, I’ve never set foot in the TV studio of a major network. Even though my novel is pure fantasy, I’m a stickler for accuracy, so I need to do some heavy-duty research. That’s more or less what I wrote in the online application in the section asking why I wanted to attend the show, and maybe it piqued the interest of some lowly intern processing the applications. I didn’t elaborate further, nor will I do so here.

I’m so excited about this story, so convinced it’s a high-concept project, as they say in Hollywood, that I’m not about to give away any specifics until it’s up on Kindle. Suffice it to say that it’s my first excursion into the paranormal, and it’s a lot more light-hearted and humorous than Eldercide or Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders.

When inspiration struck last spring, I was slogging away at the sequel to Eldercide, but I was bogged down and blocked. My husband was planning to enter Script Frenzy, an offshoot of National Novel Writing Month, and he suggested I join him. The challenge: to write a 100-page film or TV script during the month of April.

JULIE

(Frowns as she sips coffee)

            But I’ve got no desire whatsoever to write a script. 

SPOUSE

            Why not give it a try? What have you got to lose? 

JULIE

            That whole show-business world is so competitive, I’d never have a chance. 

SPOUSE

            Just do it for fun, as a creative exercise (pause as he gazes skyward) I know. What if you write about that show you always watch, and that actor you’re so crazy about? 

JULIE

(brightens and grins)

            Hmm . . . Maybe that could work.

FADE OUT

sf_winner_180x180And so I took a flying leap into the unknown – a totally new format, a new genre – and before long I was having a ball. I made my quota of 100 pages in the 30 days of April, submitted my script for verification and printed out my winner’s certificate, but that only took me a third of the way into the story. Then began the challenge of turning it into a novel.

I’d hoped my new opus would be finished already, but now I’m aiming for the spring equinox on March 20th. I’m asking you, my readers, to help hold me to that deadline. I’ll post progress reports every week or two, and I hope you’ll leave comments to cheer me on. If I really buckle down, maybe I’ll be free to write another script in April. Well before then, I’ll blog about Script Frenzy in hopes of enticing you to join. In the meantime I plan to reconnect with the wonderful online community of writers, and beginning this Valentine’s Day, I’ll be hosting guest bloggers once again.

As I wrap up this post, I’m watching the Katie show. Though she doesn’t look it, she’s celebrating her 56th birthday today. And those women in the audience are all decked out in cheerfully brilliant colors. Time to head for the mall – since orange is my favorite color, I’m envisioning something in orange sherbet or tangerine.

What colors do you favor for your wardrobe?  And how much are you willing to tweak your image for special occasions?