SURPRISE WAS MY TEACHER
Memories of a Television Producer/Director Who Came of Age During Televisionís Adolescence
On the morning of 27 September, 2007 I struggled out of bed before 7AM with my mind ready to write my memories; the decision had been forming during the night. Eric, our two Scotties, Max and Minnie and I were spending a month at the ocean in Oceanside, California. The sound of the waves was a perfect accompaniment to writing.
The idea of writing my memories had passed through my mind periodically with plus and minus reactions. When a few friends and colleagues had suggested it, I always said, ďWe have enough of those books.Ē Apparently, I quietly and unconsciously began to reconsider.
I was in my eighty-fifth year; the confirming date would be 28 February, 2008. Regularly, I have been receiving gathering evidence of old age: balance lost, walking difficult and diminishing short term memory, an experience that is shared by all past sixty and, in some cases moved down to fifty. Fortunately, I remember the significant signposts of my growing up and maturing. I never kept a diary; so I donít carry that kind of baggage. I just have trouble with what I said five minutes ago; donít bother with yesterday. My cousin, Betty, has a response to a question you ask her, ďHow soon do you need to know?Ē
My intention was not to write my memories for publication; sensationalism seekers will not find any. I would like these memories as clarification, explanation and added information for loyal and supportive friends.
I decided to confer with a Santa Fe friend, formerly of Louisville and a writer I respect, Sally Bingham. I read her memories and told her I was overwhelmed by the detail she had remembered of her early years. She laughed and said, ďI kept a diary from the age of four.Ē That was no help.
I remembered Agnes de Mille, dancer, choreographer and writer who became, in her late life, my video subject and friend. Her story will appear later, but during our period of working together she told me about her decision to write her memories: ďIn the war, I wrote my husband, my bridegroom. I was writing and writing and writing, because it was my only thread of life between him and me. And then I saw him at the end of war and got pregnant. I had to sit home and behave myself. I thought, Iíll just write my memories. Everybody else is. Why not I? Well, Iíd read Isadora Duncanís autobiography. It was an epoch-making book and I didnít think I could rival that, but I had an interesting life too. Sexually, I couldnít compete.Ē
That liberated me. I had no celebrity sexual incidents to reveal, but Iíve had a life full of surprises. Iíve met and worked with many compelling people and Iíve visited fascinating places; so here we are at the beginning.
What to call it was not easy: I didnít want anything pretentious or cute, so I decided to be straightforward and call it Memories. After more thought I decided to add and Confessions. After all, people my age are too old to hold secrets.