Update: The show airs Monday, April 6, 2009!
Okay, I’ve got to tell you about how I was almost NOT on the Oprah show. It was days in the making. The producers were planning a show called “Real Moms Confess.” They were having various moms and mom bloggers send in videotaped bits. First, I got a call from a producer asking me questions about motherhood for about 45 minutes. I did a full nursing while we chatted. I said, “I work in TV. I know this all is distilled down to a 30 sec bit.” She’s like, “Uh, huh.” Then more questions. At this point, it wasn’t for sure they would pick me to be on the show. Later, I got a call that they did want me to be on the show and were sending me a camera to record some of the things I said and instructions on how to upload them. Figuring all that out was another day.
I kept thinking, “Do I get to go to Chicago?” But no, they had other people destined for Chicago, but maybe I would be Skyped in. I waited. Then the call came: Yes, they wanted me to Skype in and was sending the equipment. Got the laptop, mic, cables, etc. and instructions on how to assemble it. Then a call to make a date to test equipment. Check and check; it all worked. I left it set up in the husband office/playroom since there is a window there and thought the natural light would give me Oprah-like light. I was doing this largely so they would mention Cool Mom. I was told no by the nice producer that they weren’t plugging websites on the show in a sort of “This is the Oprah show; we are not negotiating” way. And what was I going to say? “Well, then I’m going to go on a bigger show!” American Idol wasn’t going to have me on. The other reason I wanted to go on was just to say, “I was on Oprah!!”
A day or two before, I was told by the show that they needed me to fax my children’s birth certificates and my marriage certificate. Huh? It was required. I made my own assumption that after that author said he had written his memoir and then it turned out it wasn’t true, they weren’t messing around anymore and just taking people’s word for it. I could have invented some family just to get on Oprah. I could have pretended to have 8 kids and put on big fake lips. Oh, wait, someone really did that. So, fax I did.
Next day: do I have my stepson’s birth certificate? No. Is he on my taxes? The fact that I had neither handy made me think, maybe I have made this kid up? Who am I fooling? Then I said, “I have his report cards.” Crickets. I have a copy of his passport…. Oh, but then I couldn’t find that either. Crap, I did make him up. Then I said to the producers, go to www.campanilerestaurant.com. Look at my husband’s bio. All of his children are listed there. That sufficed. If the Oprah show says I have stepchildren. then I will believe it too.
The plan was that we would tape at 7 a.m. I had to get up at 6 a.m., turn on the Skype, and then I could go and have my coffee and put on makeup. I am not banking a lot of sleep these day,s so I hired a baby nurse to spend the night with Rex. She’s a doll, and in more prosperous times I would have had her 6 days a week. These are NOT these times, but Oprah needed me (or I needed Oprah), and I needed my rest. I still had to get up to pump, but it’s much easier than nursing and then getting Rex burped and back to sleep. At 5:45, the phone rang: “Get up; this is the Oprah show.” I slurred into the phone something and staggered downstairs in my bathrobe. I took the steps to turn on the Skype like before, and nothing happened. I was on the phone with their engineer who (I appreciated) kept his cool as I slowly started to panic. There was much advice and troubleshooting, and still it wasn’t working. He said, “Call Time Warner.” Oh, great, why don’t I call the DMV while I’m at it? I said, “They will not help.” The engineer said, “Tell them you are trying to get on for the Oprah show; that should speed them up.” I ran and got my husband, who (bless his heart) got up right away. He may be a man, but he knows Oprah is a big deal. I spoke to two people at Time Warner as the clock ticked to 7:00 and every passing minute a smaller chance I would get on Oprah. “I’m trying to get on Oprah” No reaction. “Yes, ma’am, can you restart your computer?” I thought how bummed I would be when I later saw the show and there were other moms and mom bloggers on there and I wasn’t. Time Warner said that I didn’t have an active modem and asked when would l like to schedule a service appointment. I practically screamed, “I don’t want an appointment; I’m supposed to be on Oprah.” They didn’t care. Then at 6:51a.m., I said to the engineer and producer who were on the line, “My husband’s work is only a mile away; would there be time if I went there?” Yes, they said. I was so glad they hadn’t already bumped me. They must have like my anecdotes.
Oliver was eating his morning cereal Mark told him to grab the Skype and throw it in the car. Mark had gotten dressed and drove. I was getting calls from the show every 3 minutes asking, “Are you there yet?” Had I not hired the baby nurse, I would have had to call it quits. Mark could not have left, and I can’t figure out all the keys to get into his office. We went through the service entrance, up the stairs to his small, dingy office that he shares with half his staff. It has god-awful florescent lighting overhead (not Oprah lighting) and chef’s jackets hand about. But zip, zang, the Skype worked here. I had thrown on a bright orange top before we left and a pulled on sweat pants on my unwashed body. I slapped on some makeup as the Oprah staff said things like, “Can your husband get ride of those aprons?” It was strange, ’cause they could see me, but I couldn’t see them. Another voice from Chicago said, “Can you do something about the light?” I knew overhead fluorescent would not be a good idea for national TV. I grabbed a small desk lamp that was nearby and tried my best to aim it at my under eye as I had seen professional lighting people do with professional lights. The voice from Cchicago gave me enouragement: “That’s good. Now move the camera.” The camera is a tiny one hooked on the top of the laptop. Amazing that a big show has such primitive technology and amazing it all works! I was thinking later, hey what to those reporters do who are stationed in Iraq and places like that? They have to wing it all the time.
As I waited, my dream hubby brought up a freshly made espresso from the bar. As I took my first sip I suddenly heard a woman say, “Put that down!”. Then the show came on my laptop. They had started late (apparently waiting for me, I was so honored). I could see the show, but there was no sound. During the second segment Oprah suddenly spoke to me. I was startled. Talking on Skype makes one very insecure because while you are talking you can’t see people’s reactions or hear if people are laughing. So whenever I spoke I thought, Am I making an ass of myself? Is Oprah going to be glowering at me?
Well, I have to leave the cliffhanger there because they asked us not to talk about the body of the show till it airs (made me write in my blood). I will say this, once it got rolling, it went well. The whole staff was very nice to me even when I was holding up their production, and I now have more respect for Oprah than before. She is at ease and in charge and very good at connecting. It’s one thing to see it but another to experience it. Also, being a host myself, I know that to have that many elements to interview and probably different producers talking can make a person jittery, but she is cool as can be. As was I… in my dumpy office!