Monday, June 7, 2010

hunt for oprah

hunt for oprah
in search of dreams

i felt the vibration of my alarm before the sound crept in my ears. with less than ten hours of sleep the entire week, it was little wonder that i felt like in seven days time i had aged seven years. calling it "sleep" is being generous. night after night i wasn't sleeping- i was suspended above myself...eyes closed...mind racing...still completely aware of the world raging around me. as the idyllic tune continued to bring me closer to being fully engaged with life, the now offensive pitch was too much to bear- ok, time to get up- today was the day that i had been waiting for.

i alluded to my plans of impulsivity a while back in the post, hopes, dreams, wishes...and unicorns but in all fairness,plan and impulsive don't exactly go hand in hand. spontaneity isn't something that comes naturally to me. at best what i have been forcing myself to do is be calculatedly impulsive, which has been a challenge but i see progress.

it was 1:41am when i pulled out of my driveway in search of oprah. for an 'act of spontaneity' i was well prepared. emergency snacks in case my car flips over a bridge and no one finds my body for weeks- check. a cell phone with full bars, as well as backup cell phones in my center console in case mine dies just on the off chance i'm accosted by gang leaders and need to call the popo- check. an earth-shattering, brand new talk show concept, bound to change viewers lives forever- check. full tank of gas- check.

as i rolled backwards then lurched forward, my car transitioned into drive and i couldn't help but note the parallel it shared with my life. i had taken a step, albeit a modest one, forward. it doesn't require much effort to change gears, but the impact dictates the direction the rest of your life will go in. within the past few weeks i've been commited to pushing myself as hard as possible as it pertains to my dreams. that means doing things that scare the shit out of me; that means doing things i am in no way qualified for; that means doing things that in the past i would have run away from.

the drive was long and lonely. it was also the single most liberating drive i've ever taken. i've always sought comfort in driving- it's not the greenest practice i partake in, but i recycle so they cancel each other out. every road trip i've been on has had several friends along for the ride, but tonight i rolled alone. friends and family alike offered their presence by my side but it was important to me to do this by myself.

i was going up to new jersey to audition for oprah's search for a new talk show host. in addition to looking for a fresh new face, show producers were also looking for a brilliant new show idea- and wouldn't you know it, i've been planning one for sometime now.

it's painfully typical of me to admit, but one of my loftier goals in life is to be a part of a show. it seems as if everyone on the eastern seaboard agreed with me as i pulled up to the kohl's parking lot at 5:45am- as i saw about 300 souls standing in lines. i freshened up, parked, and marched over to claim my spot with the masses.

i had been driving on little to no sleep for a while, so a chatty cathy i was not...hell, i wasn't even a personable paula. i was, at best, a semi-concious samantha- but there i stood for two hours, patiently awaiting my bracelet to ensure i would be seen by the casting directors.

a man stood atop a chair and began shouting into a broken bullhorn. i can only assume it was broken because as far as amplifying his voice, it was not. his attempts at delivering a message fell on deaf ears. in addition to not being heard, his actions prompted a calvacade of chatter which then transformed into full on shouting- from adults. his message began to trickle back through the crowd. he had assured us all that we would be seen and that bracelets would be handed out momentarily.

now clearly, this was not the same message that everyone received. when i was a child i was that kid who changed the sentence in the game of telephone. i was that little prick who thought nothing was funnier than messing with people and fucking up peoples childhood. i suppose it's only fitting that my snot-nose-child antics would come back to cause me pain in my adult life. the message 75% of those around me received was, "run like hell- push down that skinny ass white girl- and getcho bracelet!" so, mass hysteria insues- everyone is running around, jumping over barriers, pulling out weaves, throwing babies (i might be taking some artistic liberties with the last two, but i'm going with it), and all around acting like jerks.

i don't blame oprah for this, no- she's still a saint in my little world, but to the woman who elbowed me in the eye then turned around and said, "excuse you", i say- "that was a tad bit hostile for the environment i think oprah would want, don't you? please forgive my eye socket, which resides inside of my SKULL, for getting in the way of your movable joint of an elbow. i channel oprah's grace and allow you in front of me in line, even though i know regardless you will push me over to get by."

arms crossing like swords, fists raised in fury- everyone scrapped for their chance at what was little more than any old club id check bracelet. a scrap of paper with a oprah logo; a yellow strip with a number; a chance to make our dreams come true.

after standing steadfast in my original line after another hour of near panic attacks i made it to the head- or rather the belly of the beast. it was here that most of the scrappiness occurred. people were jeering the security officers who were trying to give out the wristbands, they were pushing each other. i don't generally claim to be innocent when i am not, and in this instance i have to say i was not doing anything of the sort. i have a terrible fear of large stagnant crowds so this whole ordeal was less than pleasant, but i had set out to do something- and damned if i was going to let an angry, sweaty semi-mob stop me.

the beast was quit to spew me out once i had gotten my golden ticket. i looked at it once i could see the sun again- 900. "what!? i was easily one of the first 300 in line, if not 200. well- it's ok, we all will be seen today" i reassured myself. i walked up to a security officer. "what time should i come back to be interviewed if my number is 900?" he looked at me and laughed. "wow, that's pretty high- 8:00pm" i thanked him and walked away. turning to my wrist i checked my watch, it was 8:15am...i had my car, some dreams, some snacks- but nowhere to spend 12 hours!

eventually, it turned out that i was given bad information and i came back closer to 2pm after renting a hotel to take a lil nappy laroo in. fresh faced and ready to take on the world i stood in line for the last time before i made my dreams come true. problem was- i had no idea what we were in for. when i finally got my chance to show 'em what i got, i feel like i more or less showed 'em what i'm not. i didn't slam dunk. i didn't knock it out of the park. oh- i got a zinger or two in there, don't you worry, but as far as really explaining who and what i am and what my show would be, i didn't.

i drove back half hoping for that callback for sunday. who am i kidding, i was more than half hoping- every text, every call, my heart dropped thinking it was them calling to say "come back for round two, and really kick ass this time girlfriend!!" the other half of me knew that it wasn't coming...and i couldn't change that. the only thing i could do was accept it, and i did.

but acceptance doesn't equate to failure in my book, nor does it mean the ol' girl is down for the count. i'm sorry friends, but i will have to decline my invitation to new york pride this year- because ashley is going to be going to down to atlanta. with two precious peaches smuggled in my shirt i will be try- try- trying again to rock'n'roll em. throw those interviewers a real ashley curveball- full of sassafrass. if i don't succeed, then it wasn't meant to be-and there is no fighting what is in store for each of us.


  1. You are so fabulous! I know that, with or without Oprah's help, you will be famous.

  2. Never, EVER give up on your dream !!

  3. If it doesn't work out this time, maybe you should just...Keep Trying!

    I mean, you're pretty famous already...I know about you (internet you). Thats impressive because -
    (a)I'm in one of the most isolated city's in the world...our internet is the slowest and most expensive in the world. Apparently! (this somehow makes it impressive that I know you exist)
    (b)I'm the last to know about everything. If I'm early for something it's only because thats how late I am for the last thing.

    So if I know you exist and that you're ain't long before everyone else does too!

  4. Ashley,

    You are a fighter, I can see that. I can also see, when you go to Atlanta, you will be the best Ashley you can be. You are a prize in my eyes. I hope they see that too.

    I give you my luck, my wishes and my hope.

    Christalyn <3

  5. Atlanta will have no clue what hit them !

  6. Congratulations to you!! I wish I had that nerve so kudos! I saw some of the videos and it was very interesting. Did you have 3 minutes in person like the folks who posted a video?