The Talent

I love camelias: just when you think that nothing else will bloom until spring, beautiful, puffy, pink flowers explode.

Miles run today: 4.5

Quart of Goodberry’s pumpkin ice cream given to me by my BFF: 1

Twitter account opened today: 1

It’s a funny feeling when you find yourself starting over.

Everyone does it at some point in life: maybe the weight you thought you’d shed forever has come creeping back, or the marriage you thought was forever ends, or the children you thought would stay toddler-sized for more than a minute head off to college.

At age 40, some of the same feelings I had at age 20 have come creeping back: that stepping-off-a-cliff feeling, the anticipation of a new adventure with a fear of the unknown thrown in there.

Back when I was 20, I spent a summer interning at CNN.

My intern supervisor was older and sophisticated in a hipster sort of way. At the seasoned age of 26, she had her own cubicle with a tacked-up magazine photo of Right Said Fred, a bald pop star who sang about being too sexy. Her friends had hung it there for cool, ironic effect.

Everything was done for cool, ironic effect.

I was overdressed and overeager, ready to tackle any new challenge, whether it was holding the large, silver reflective disk to better light “the talent” as they did their standups, or cataloguing B-roll for later use.

The CNN Center was an overstimulating playground for interns, full of newsy types in glasses rushing around and a revolving chair of anchors being made up before they went onscreen. Computers lined the atrium high above the newsroom, and we could stop by on our way to running errands to check in with the inter-web about entertainment news or the latest on the Gulf War.

The budding Information Superhighway was befuddling: I was never sure what to search for.

I had a crush on one of the two guys interning in the next Cubicle Town: he wore a hemp bracelet and ironically distressed jeans. He found it laughable that I had never heard of Haight-Ashbury.

His friend, a tall, goofy sort with curly, dark hair and appropriate work clothing kept asking me out: to dinner, to lunch, to coffee. I don’t know why I was so indifferent: I mentioned a boyfriend, the one who thought we were on hiatus. One time, a Georgia Tech guy I dated only to pass the time while my friend flirted with another Georgia Tech guy sent me flowers to my intern job. The goofy CNN guy stopped asking me out… just about the time I decided I would go.

Don’t judge me.

Each time I would arrive at work, I would try to imagine working at CNN after college. I couldn’t.

That summer, we sifted through over 500 resumes from Ph.D.s, chefs and actors hoping to lend their talent to our show.

One day, after I had spent my morning holding the silver reflective stuff for one of “the talent”–a female comedian from L.A. who found our footage of singer Steve Miller punching our cameraman so distasteful she had to watch it a few times, muttering, “He thinks he’s so cool” over and over–I stood in Cubicle Town waiting for my boss to give me my next assignment.

In the once-abandoned cubicle next to me, the new guy, the “new talent,” was setting up shop.

He was old and married, about 30, with either an ironic or hopelessly uncool small mustache.

As he unpacked the box of his work belongings and laid them out on his desk, he asked me, “So what is it that you want to do?”

I didn’t know. I still didn’t know. IĀ still didn’t know.

“Maybe producing…” But I still didn’t understand what producers did. (Before I started playing violin, orchestra conductors seemed completely extraneous; all they did was wave their little sticks around while the musicians did all the work.)

He gave me a kind look. “You know, you’re pretty enough. You could be on camera.”

“Oh, no. Oh, no, that’s… I’m not…”

He nodded and went back to arranging frames and pencils on his desk.

When I was back at journalism school that fall, giving wooden deliveries of school news stories, I thought about the “new talent” guy. I hoped his calm, kind, un-ironic, innocent hopefulness triumphed in a fast-paced world of super-cool.

I hoped I would discover what I should be searching for on the new Internet.

Most of all, I hoped my own talent would emerge before it was too late.

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36 thoughts on “The Talent

  1. David Gentry says:

    I can’t believe I am first to leave a comment! Usually, I am last.

    This is touching, and most people can identify. In fact, I felt I was there! You captured the newbie feeling perfectly.

    In terms of searching for one’s own talent — well, you have found yours, and more people should be so fortunate to have such a talent and know it.

    Also, you have what it takes to be a “talent,” if you decide to try that. One can have more than one talent.

    I am so proud of you.

    Love, Dad

  2. Daryl says:

    You have a great talent for making people laugh–among many other things. I love the 5 minute break reading your blog brings (especially when it makes comparisons of Bond-like characters and me in the same sentence). I’ll leave it at that before people start reaching for a bucket šŸ˜‰

  3. Talent comes out in so many different ways. Many times, we don’t even know what it is until someone else tells us, “Hey you’ve got a real talent for that.” Sometimes it is surprising. Like when you child all grown up and off at college calls home and says, “Gee mom, the older I get. the smarter you get.” Interning at CNN sounds like it was interesting. I bet you have a ton of stories.

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes, the more I blog, the more I realize I have lots of stories to tell!

      BTW, I met a guy who’s helping me with the job search, and he told me the plant in my (permanent) header is “galax.” I’d never heard of it before! I figured either you already knew that or would be interested to find out. ; )

  4. robincoyle says:

    Your talent emerged well before CNN.

    P.S. I love that your dad commented here.

    • annewoodman says:

      My dad is very kind to keep up with the blog. ; )

      And thanks for the kind words. I do remember the fish-out-of-water feeling of those early years, though. I wouldn’t go back if you paid me… a lot.

  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    From what I’ve read on your blog, you’ve achieved many successes–interesting jobs, successful marathons, great kids. And the fact that your father and husband post such nice comments about you on your blog? Well, that shows your success and talents at being a wonderful human being. And that pretty much trumps all else. Very nice. šŸ™‚

  6. kathleen says:

    beautiful.

  7. jmmcdowell says:

    You are definitely multi-talented! When my nephew was about 12 or so, his family was in Florida, and a CNN news truck was parked in the area, covering a story. He had to have his picture taken next to it. But, no, he didn’t go into journalism! I remember wondering how many 12-year-old boys were that into the news.

    • annewoodman says:

      It’s funny what appeals to kids. I have loved watching not only my own kids grow, but friends’ kids… seeing them sink into their passions and spread their wings.

      I used to hate newspaper projects in school (but loved writing). And then I ended up as a journalism major. You never can tell. ; )

  8. AmyMak says:

    CNN – I think that’s super cool. I too can completely, completely relate to this post as I’m about to step off the cliff. What is it I want to do and even if I want to do it, am I good enough, blah, blah, blah. As least you’re pretty enough to be on camera šŸ™‚ I like your stories and it’s obvious you have already achieved much success.

  9. stephanie says:

    Beautifully, beautifully written. I read it twice. I love the way that you repeated the word “ironic” throughout..it made for the perfect tone.

  10. stephanie says:

    Have you ever linked up with the yeahwrite grid? I think your writing would do really well there! http://www.yeahwrite.me

  11. Melissa says:

    You have so many talents, they are too numerous to catalog here. But it is never “too late” for new talent to emerge. It shows you are still growing and moving. Wouldn’t it be worse to be stagnant? As a “grown” woman who is still trying to figure out what I want to “be” when I grow up, I say take the leap. It’s better to get a few bruises than to hold back and wonder.

  12. A great glimpse at your memoirs! And I love how supportive your Dad is of your blog!

    I have an interesting little story about Right Said Fred, but unfortunately I can’t reveal it because there was a law suit around it, let’s just say it involves the lead singer of the band that my partner plays in, and a certain song that was written by one person but which a certain other person then went on to take and have a big hit with. But I can’t say anything about it šŸ˜‰

  13. Holly says:

    Beautiful post. I love that you were never the “ironic” type who tried too hard. I can’t say the same for myself in the ’90’s. I was just telling someone the other day that you interned at CNN–we’re on the same wavelength. And you could totally be the talent on camera–I’ve always thought that.

  14. I love these memories that pepper your blog – you take us back so well to your past with the evocative descriptions. The hemp bracelet, the ironically distressed jeans! Your perspective is hilarious!

  15. Ravena Guron says:

    I love this! Sounds like your high school/ college years were very interesting šŸ™‚ (I doubt I could remember what happened to me yesterday :D)

    And ooo, you opened a twitter account? I will find you! (I meant that in a non stalker way :))

  16. Oh, your talent emerged, alright! (I’m so happy to get back to reading your blog; can you tell?)

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