Friday, December 3, 2010

Relax, breathe and pretend I'm Oprah.

Yeah, that was a line spoken by Rosie O'Donnell in the film Exit to Eden (based on the Anne Rice novel).

Do you know how many times I've repeated that line to people?  A lot.

But it seems as with all the buzz going on around Oprah putting her final season on the air, leaving the airwaves after 25 years, I began to wonder about something.  What are people going to do after she leaves?

I'll be the first to admit, I don't watch Oprah.  I catch an episode every now and again, but I don't go out of my way to watch her show.  I never really have because it just never meant that much to me to hang on every word of her opinion.  To me, she is just another person out doing good things and sharing her nutritional value with the rest of the world.  That's a good thing, and it's the same stuff all of us Sophomores are taking to heart and taking to the streets every day we walk out our doors.

Millions of people tune into Oprah every day, and I don't blame them, she gives away cool stuff, she has guests people want to know about and between her philanthropic work and the numerous careers she's helped launch, you can't really help but admire her.  Her public image is one where everyone kind of looks at her and points going "that's a good person."  Her generosity legendary, her fan base astronomical, she's a honest-to-goodness icon.  But I can't help wonder, what will happen to all of her millions of adoring fans after she says goodbye?

I have a reader who calls my blog her "online crack."  I guess you can say it's an addictive thing when you can pull up the page and see someone else coping with something you've gone through too, it helps you heal and most of all it reminds you that you're not alone.  That reader has actually helped coin a phrase, "Crackmore," yes, a person who tunes in every day just like they would to listen to Oprah.  To be quite honest, my favorite Crackmore has brightened up many a day for me because she reminds me that I'm not alone either.  (And I'm an old egotist, it feels good to know people are interested and reading along.)

Yesterday, as I was cleaning up around my apartment, I imagined the day far in the future where I'll be talking about graduating from school.  At that moment I felt uneasy and very disconcerted thinking about what I was going to do with my blog after I finished school.  It was akin to Oprah finally putting her show to bed after 25 years...what am I going to do then?  But I think (and as Jim often reminds me) it's kind of like putting the cart before the horse, it's nothing to get too excited over because we've still got lots of ground to cover and lots of potholes to bounce through.

Oprah and her icon status reminds me of the times I've spent in online worlds like and Uru.  Someone actually told me once I was an icon in There.  Talk about bizarre.  When I heard that, I looked up at the ceiling and said, "But, I go to the bathroom like everyone else, and I most certainly don't crap marble," referring to a Charlton Heston quote I heard once.  Icons are only, I think, temporary.  They come and go with the fickle nature of consumerism and society in general.  Ever heard of OD'ing on a song or hearing enough about celebs like Lindsay Lohan?  Yeah, it happens.  Icons only last so long until we tire of them or they step on their whatevers so hard that we cringe at the sight of them (Mel Gibson anyone?).  It's true.  Icons are a temporary beast at best.

But, the Oprah phenomenon isn't that far removed from being interviewed by Barbara Walters (who I do a great impersonation of by the way). Remember the Barbara Walters interviews? (Link goes to her final Oscar special.)  Oy, I remember the way people talked about them, how she got her guests to cry and so forth.  Barbara and Oprah are an example of two gals who KNOW how to interview.  They know how to ask just the right question and so forth, helping our butts make their way to the edge of our seats. As a result, they're both pretty big cultural icons.

I remember when Barbara interviewed Oprah for the first time and Oprah said that she always knew she was born for greatness.  Big words, but she made it the truth.  I wish I could be as arrogant to say that!

But for years movie stars, authors, politicians and celebrities of all types have sat and talked with those two women without hesitation.

For me, it's a screen lit up in pink.  It's the corner of my screen in World of Warcraft.  Like the expression goes, "Everyone, at one time or another, comes to see Mama Rel."  And damned if that isn't the truth.  In, it was constant bars coming up from the bottom of my screen saying "X avatar is IM'ing you," and it would have 'yes' and 'no' buttons on the right hand side where I had an option to answer it like a phone call saying, "Hello or Hey you," or just pressing the little button that said 'no', followed by me scribbling on the notepad next to my mouse writing down all the names of folks I had to call back when I had a moment.

Unlike, in WoW, it doesn't matter, if someone wants to talk to me, all they have to do is type in the phrase /w Relyimah and tell me what's on their mind.  I don't have an option to turn it off or decline it, it just comes through as lines of pink in the bottom left hand corner of my screen.  For all the times I've said, "Relax, breathe and pretend I'm Oprah," there have been ten times that amount of whispers, IM's, messages, letters and so forth.

I remember not too long ago getting hit with 15 simultaneous whispers all at one time.  To be honest, I thought at that moment I was going to lose my mind.  I had 15 people all at the same time wanting my attention.  It was to ask my advice, say hello, ask a question about something, requests for crafting, you name it, it has come up on my screen.  For the last seven years, no matter the online world, when people have asked for my attention, I've always tried my best to give good advice, make my words kind, gentle and tasteful, be tolerant and most of all, when folks just needed to talk, I've sat for hours smiling and nodding.  I've put up with the world's largest horse's asses but also have been around some of the kindest people I'll ever meet in my life.

It's one of those things I guess, whether it's being well-known for giving away goodies or being an exceptional interviewer to being a kind teacher, a mentor, a friend or if you're lucky enough to be known as the sticky stuff that holds a group of people together, being a great communicator has it's upsides and down.

I remember when I finally said goodbye to being a teacher and administrator at the University of There.  Through some hard work, a little group of us pulled together enough clout to make some millionaire invest in our little project and give us a big piece of land in that virtual world.  It was toured, taught at, more importantly, learned at, and it became this sort of cultural hot-spot that said that the sum was greater than it's parts.  When I left, I remember being told horror stories about the mad dash for power a few people made to try to fill the gap I had left by taking my travelling show somewhere else.  I remember it being characterized as taking a load bearing beam out of a house's living room.  From what I saw and heard, it seemed as the roof decided to collapse in on itself for a bit until someone stepped up to the plate and cleaned house.

I got a whisper in a panic the other day.  It was a hunter in my guild who was VERY concerned over what was going to happen to me this upcoming Tuesday when Cataclysm opens up and we welcome back the fella who used to do the officer job I now hold in my guild.  He was very upset.  He said, "They can't replace you!"  I laughed and told him that the fella I stepped in for was a 100 times better healer than I'll ever be and that he's a wonderful guy, but that hunter wouldn't hear it.  He said, "But is he a better guild mom?"  I had to laugh at that and while one of the greatest druids I've ever met may come back and take my titled job away, well, I don't think he'll ever say, "Relax, breathe and pretend I'm Oprah."

That's the good part about being the sticky stuff...and while Oprah and Barbara may enjoy all that free time on their hands, they might have forgotten about one thing...we do a necessary job, we make you feel better and like us or hate us, we're the ones who keep things moving forward by inspiring, sharing and making sure that YOU feel valued and important.

For today's song of the day, let's go with something bubble gum and fun, and the one reason people like me do the things we do, because we've got an endless amount of love.  Bottlefly's "Got 2 B Luv."  Besides, it reminds me of all of my precious guildies...those nerds.  LOVE YOU GUYS!

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