Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Lesson in Workplace Etiquette: No Crying in the Bathroom

In my second week at TBJ, I found myself weeping in the bathroom. I read while I pump, allowing me to finish countless novels and books I'd otherwise not have time to read, and on this particular day I had just opened Listening is an Act of Love, which consists of portions of the transcripts taken from StoryCorps interviews.

StoryCorps is a project started by an award-winning NPR producer in 2003 to allow family and friends to interview one another and professionally record their conversations. One copy of the recording is given to the interviewers and another is placed in the Library of Congress in an attempt to record history from the perspective of the Everyman, rather than that of political figures or celebrities.

The stories in the book are remarkably stirring, emotional and uplifting. I think I was halfway into the second interview when I started boohoo-ing. All I could think was how silly I would look to someone who happened to stumble upon me. I dried my eyes, finished performing the miracle of milk production and emerged from the restroom with a desire to conduct my own StoryCorps interview. The Airstream trailer in which the interviews take place is sitting on the Williams Green at 3rd and Boston right now and will be through November. I counted in my mind the family members whom I could interview and wondered which I should choose. My mother? My father? Grandmother? Aunt? They all have stories to tell. Which one do I want to hear most?

It hit me, as I finished the book last week, whom I wanted to interview. I want to talk to John about the day Isaac was born. I thought it would be a wonderful gift to Isaac when he is older: a recording of his mother and father sharing their experiences of his birth. From me, he'll have journals of his time in the womb, his birth story and a written recording of nearly every major (and minor) event of his life. His father is much less likely to record his thoughts and feelings. I don't even really know what was going through John's head the day our son was born. I thought, I'd love to spend some time with him aligning our stories, comparing notes. I'd love to hear his perspective of that day. (In fact, I'd love to hear Tasha's as well. The only perspective I have of that day is my own, and so much of it is blurred by the incredible amount of pain I was in.) I knew it wasn't something he'd just talk about outright. But part of the magic of StoryCorps, so say the participants, is that something about that tiny Airstream trailer and the presence of the facilitator make you want to share information you've never before spoken about. I asked John if he'd be willing to participate--for our son's sake--and although he first questioned the project's purpose ("Why do we need to do that?" he asked), he eventually, albeit reluctantly, agreed. Unfortunately, when I called to reserve our spot, they were all full. I asked to be put on the waiting list, assuming I'd never see the inside of that trailer and John was off the hook for good. But today someone called and said that quite a few spots had opened up and would I like one?

So, providing John is still willing, we have an appointment Nov. 23 to interview one another about Isaac's birthday. I hope one day Isaac (and John) will appreciate the interview, knowing the story of his birth is tucked away in the Library of Congress, a recorded piece of American history.


cyclefreaks said...

that's really cool... i am thankful to have our early blog posts to put into kaia's baby book.

Tasha said...

What an awesome thing to do. This will be something for Isaac, and generations after him, to cherish. You're making your mark as a prominent figure in YOUR lineage. What a great idea. Keep us posted on this...I'm intrigued.

Tasha said...

Maybe I should have said your future lineage...? Whatever, I'm sure you get the point ;)

Shelly Collins said...

Well that's just cool...and has Holly written all over it! I love it.

Amy said...

Thank you for this wonderful post! We hope the book continues to resonate so strongly with all of its readers, and that you have a great conversation at the MobileBooth.

I thought you might be interested in another StoryCorps event coming to Tulsa this Monday, November 10. Dave Isay, the founder of StoryCorps, will be at Barnes and Noble (5231 East 41 Street) at 7:00 PM to answer questions and listen to stories from “Listening Is An Act of Love.” It’s a great chance to hear these amazing stories in person!

We hope to see you there!

Amy Weinfurter
Communications Project Assistant

More information about this event and “Listening Is An Act of Love” can be found at http://www.storycorps.net/book/book-tour


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