Archive | April, 2016

Multitasking, Elvis and the Phenomenon of How Things Change Us

19 Apr

I’m a multitasker. I can’t remember when I started being one but I do know it’s been a very long time.  I believe I’m good at it. While many people hover on the threshold of severe panic attacks at the thought of managing more than one large task at a time, I thrive on it.

People who have the best intentions & believe they know me well, have suggested that I slow down & someone once told me I needed to “stop & smell the flowers.” I explained that the many projects I’m handling simultaneously ARE my flowers but I don’t think that person really got it. My husband, Willy & my friend, Beth are probably the only two people in this world who really DO understand that & I am grateful to them every day for that understanding. Beth routinely sends me flowers.

I love seeing projects I organize, with the possible exception of closets, come together & end just the way they were intended … successfully. Even the ones that don’t end just the way I hoped add extra challenges that I learn from.  It’s like fertilizer on my full & growing garden of “flowers.”

At the beginning of this year my garden became just a bit overgrown & I faced several months of juggling tasks that threatened to be overwhelming. They were extras in addition to editing, writing for & laying out a monthly newsletter, coordinating a monthly club meeting & living life.

Thankfully, I have three of those large projects behind me & they’ve ended extremely well.

Three down … two to go.

I was invited to be Fan Guest of Honor in February at Mysticon; a science fiction convention that is a cut above most in that it is totally family friendly, encourages education by offering scholarship opportunities to young people & has phenomenal guests. I was honored to be among those on the guest list.

I coordinated our club’s Space Camp Contest in March; our Space Camp Committee read the essay entries & chose a local middle school student as our winner. He will be going to NASA’s Space Camp in Huntsville, AL for 6 days in June & I’ve made payment in full to Space Camp.

I have been invited to give a 2 hour presentation to a three-day psychiatric nurse’s conference in May. My topic is “Managing Stress in Nursing.” As an OR nurse for more than half my life, I believe I am TOTALLY qualified to speak on that subject.

In the meantime, I have been putting together my science fiction club’s 32nd. Anniversary Celebration that has just happened on April 16 & has been no small task. As founder & club president for as long as it has been in existence, I give this party every year to our members to say “Thank You” for all their hard work during the year raising funds so we are able to sponsor 10 Christmas charities & send a local middle school student to Space Camp annually.

I do all the planning for the party, contract with the party venue, line up the entertainment & coordinate the event with them. All our members have to do is pay for their meal, show up & have a wonderful time. They deserve it & I enjoy putting everything together. It’s one of the two largest events I coordinate annually.

The other big event I coordinate is our club’s Annual Public Charity Auction in August. That is huge & I’ve just finished canvassing merchants & restaurants in my designated area for donations. I’ve also sent out a first flyer to all past attendees giving them the date & info about this year’s event.

For Mysticon, the nurses conference & the anniversary party I am & have been required to speak; an hour presentation at Mysticon,  a two hour presentation to the psychiatric nurses & speaking throughout the evening at the anniversary party as host & evening MC. I’ve been working on three different verbal presentations simultaneously & praying that I do NOT accidentally confuse any of the content & end up discussing science fiction with the psych nurses or vice versa. I’m convinced that the science fiction event attendees would adapt more quickly to me discussing psychiatric issues with them than psychiatric nurses would adapt to me talking science fiction with them. But maybe not …

Mysticon was wonderful & came off without a hitch, the anniversary party was clearly the MOST successful & most fun of any we’ve had so far & we’ve chosen a delightful student to send to Space Camp. The nurses conference & auction are still ahead but I’m half way there & looking forward to both events &, hopefully, to their success.

What I’ve been getting to is the entertainment at our club’s Anniversary Party.

It’s hard year after year to find entertainment for the party that everyone will enjoy. In the past we’ve had as party entertainment a couple of small bands, a large band for dancing, karaoke DJ’s, a magician & even our own filk band made up of members of the club. All have been successful & really made our anniversaries fun & memorable evenings but this year I wanted something special & unique..

Last year when I was still hosting my local TV talk show, “Lynchburg Live,” I had a young Elvis Presley Tribute Artist on the show as my guest. He was 17 at the time & began impersonating Elvis at age 8, with his first performance at age 9 in his parent’s restaurant.

Taylor Rodriguez, in the past 10 years, has perfected his craft & is well known locally & has become visible out of state. He also has become recognized in Memphis at Graceland where he won first place in a competition with other Elvis Tribute Artists in July 2015.

Taylor is an Elvis Tribute Artist & NOT an impersonator. He approaches the memory of Mr. Presley with respect for the man as the true & consummate artist that he was. That is the Elvis era persona Taylor has chosen to represent and that is one of the things that lifts him above Elvis impersonators. It’s also the thing, combined with his phenomenal talent, that made me contract him to entertain us at our club’s 32nd. Anniversary Party.

In his non-Elvis life, Taylor is a senior student at a local high school where he makes excellent grades, performs in plays & goes to proms. He’s a regular kid with a lovely girlfriend & is currently trying to decide upon a college to attend in the fall from those that have accepted him. He is intelligent & grounded. He has an exceptional future ahead.

The party was this past Saturday evening & 55 people attended. We seated Taylor, his girlfriend & his parents at the Captain’s Table with me & Willy & a couple of special friends who had not attended one of our events before. Taylor, his girlfriend, Ellee & his family were a lot of fun; regular people enjoying dinner at a party with friends.

And then it was almost time for Taylor’s performance & he went to change.

He came back into the room wearing a powder blue, high-collared, bejeweled Elvis outfit with a heavy, jewel-encrusted belt slung low on his hips. He said, “Hello” in Elvis-speak amid thunderous applause, cheers & whistles that steadily escalated following each song during the evening.

Ladies & Gentlemen … Elvis has arrived in the ballroom………

By the end of Taylor’s 90 minute performance most people were almost convinced that he WAS Elvis …  almost. He’s that good.

Occasionally he would stop singing long enough to delight us with an amusing personal anecdote. While singing a favorite song he would walk into the crowd, wipe his brow with a satin scarf hung loosely around his neck & stop in front of a particular woman. He would then sing a bit to her, perhaps hold her hand, transfer the scarf from his neck to hers & gently kiss her cheek in true Elvis style. And the reaction????  Each woman in turn was mesmerized & charmed as ELVIS moved back to the stage.

What an experience.

Taylor single-handedly turned back time … almost literally.  He took us all back to the days when Elvis was “the King” & dreams literally came true for girls at his concerts with just the transfer of a simple scarf from his neck to theirs.

Taylor sang his last song & left the ballroom to deafening applause. The spell was broken but all of us in that room had experienced something very unique. Even those who weren’t necessarily Elvis fans went away being TAYLOR fans.

My husband remarked to me, since we are previous acquaintances of Taylor & his family, that Taylor completely changes when he puts on the Elvis suit.

Willy’s comment made me think back 30 years when I put on my first Star Trek uniform & headed out to do a promotional event for a local theater, accompanied by younger versions of many of the people in that ballroom at the party. I remember feeling like a different person in that uniform … special … more confident somehow.

I suppose Taylor has a similar experience when “becoming Elvis” for a performance.

When he changed his clothes & began packing his equipment at the end of the evening he was that high school kid again with very little hint of his ability to sound, look & move like “The King.”

With Taylor Rodriguez, underneath it all is an incredible talent that is his alone … above & beyond the Elvis persona. He is uniquely Taylor & his performance made our anniversary party a truly magical event.

 

Side Note: Even though I wasn’t an Elvis-era teenager, I did love his music, so I was very interested in the reaction of the women in the ballroom that Taylor chose to interact with during his performance. When he sang to them, put his scarf around their necks & lightly kissed them on their cheeks they were suddenly transformed into adoring teenagers. It was an amazing transformation to watch.

…………and then Taylor put a yellow satin scarf around MY neck, bent down on one knee & gently kissed my cheek & I suddenly understood … only now I can’t find the words to describe those few seconds out of time with Elvis.

What I CAN tell you is that just for an instant it was pure illusional magic … if there is such a thing.

 

One of the women who received a scarf & a kiss at the party would later write:

“I know he’s just a kid but he gave me an “Elvis moment” that was very special for this 60+ year old woman.”

She added, “And, NO, I’m not giving the scarf back …………”

 

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