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Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 24. August 2004

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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

JANE PAULEY began her broadcasting career in 1972 at her hometown Indianapolis station, WISH-TV. She joined NBC in 1975 as the first woman ever to co-anchor a weeknight evening newscast at NBC’s WMAQ-TV in Chicago. She began her thirteen-year tenure on NBC’s Today in 1976. In 1992, NBC News launched the newsmagazine show Dateline NBC, with Pauley as co-anchor. After eleven years, her final appearance aired as the acclaimed special “Jane Pauley: Signing Off.” She is the host of “The Jane Pauley Show.”

Pauley has won many awards, including the Radio-Television News Directors Association’s Paul White Award for her lifetime contribution to electronic journalism and their Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award, and the National Press Foundation’s Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. She lives in New York City.

Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

Part I


May 2001

The room was nice. Large and sunny. Inviting, almost. The layout was defined by three rectangles. One was an entry large enough
to be a vestibule, which lent the space an aura of privacy. Itopened into the principal area, but there was a little niche off to
the side–so instead of a room with four walls, there were eight, and instead of four corners, there were six, plus the private bath. It gave the room a cozy complexity.

But the showstoppers were the two large windows facing east and two more facing south, which framed the Fifty-ninth Street Bridge a quarter of a mile or so away–the one immortalized by Simon and Garfunkel. It spanned the East River ten floors below.

New York City would never have a lazy river, would it? This one flows energetically to the south and then turns right around and flows to the north. . . . All day long it goes back and forth, back and forth, with the big Atlantic Ocean tides. Fast, but still not too fast for the ferries, which roar back and forth, insensible to the havoc left in their jumbo wake. Only the little tugboats go slowly–nudging enormous tankers through a narrow strip of commerce that never gets snarled like the three lanes of traffic heading south on the FDR Drive. It’s just the opposite of the song: The lanes heading north are on a lower level, so in effect the Bronx is down and the Battery’s up. I’m smack in midtown, the busiest place on earth–rush hour is every hour of the day, and sometimes the night.

And, of course, the sun moves around a lot, too, rising over Randalls Island with my breakfast, then climbing higher and higher. For lunch, it turns toward the Chrysler Building, and then down and out of sight. Every day. But I’m not going anywhere.

This was my home for three weeks in the spring of 2001.

My tides were fluctuating, too–back and forth, back and forth–sometimes so fast they seemed to be spinning. They call this “rapid cycling.” It’s a marvel that a person can appear to be standing still when the mood tides are sloshing back and forth, sometimes sweeping in both directions at once. They call that a
“mixed state.” It felt like a miniature motocross race going on in my head. It made a little hum, and my eyes sort of burned and felt a little too large for their sockets.

But it was a lovely room. When I checked in, late in May, I was lucky to get it. Evidently there were no other VIPs in residence at that time–not at this address, at least. I was allowed to bypass the usual chaos at admitting, a nod to my potential to be recognized, and though technically I was a patient at Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic, I was installed in a room on a general floor, another nod to my singularity. I never saw it, but I heard that the other
floor had locked doors, that psychiatric patients were supposed to wear hospital gowns rather than the fancy pajamas I was given liberty to wear.

The special attention and fine accommodations had not been at my request, nor was I here because I wanted to show off my nice pj’s. I was here because they said I ought to be–I accepted that much–and had come, under my own steam, for a few days.

I became accustomed to mealtime trays with plastic utensils and no knives, to leaving the bathroom door open at least a crack, to sleeping with a lady in white sitting six feet away in the darkness, keeping an eye on me. No hands under the covers, she said on my first night away from home, which made me cry–acutely aware of where I was and why. I cried a little harder.

In time, my lovely, sunny room, with African violets thriving under my personal care in the morning light, came to feel like home. And I had to wear pajamas only at night–sweats and T-shirts seemed perfectly appropriate for casual entertaining in my room with a view.

March 1999

Hives: I used to call them the seven-year itch, because they had first appeared when I was seven, then again at fourteen and, briefly, again when I was twenty-one. That last time, just before I finished college, everyone had a case of nerves: My roommates were either hyperventilating, suffering migraines, or getting married. When I was twenty-eight–at the next seven-year interval–the hives were silent and, I thought, gone for good.

Out of the blue, in March 1999, while I was on vacation with my family and six months shy of my forty-ninth birthday, my unwelcome friends came back for the first time in my adult life and settled. I didn’t see them every day, but often enough that any day they could show up for no reason. These were not red,
patchy, itchy everyday hives; mine involved soft-tissue swelling in odd places such as the pads of my fingers and feet or the pressure point from a bracelet, but most typically on an upper eyelid or my lips–places most incompatible with a career on camera.

That would be the least of it.

Chronic recurrent idiopathic urticaria edema is the full name–a diagnosis more worthy of all the attention. After I first spoke publicly about it, scores of people wrote to me, thinking–mistakenly–that, being a TV personality, Jane Pauley would have been given the cure. I had not. But for me, as it turned out, the treatment was far worse than the disease.

April 2000

“We have to smack them down!” my doctor had said after my first trip to the ER. Steroids were the weapons of choice–the antiinflammatory kind, not the bodybuilding kind, but it felt like a heavy dose of testosterone nonetheless. It was not a decision made lightly; these are powerful drugs that have to be taken in slowly increasing increments over a period of weeks. Tapering off is done in similar increments. The steroids had the desired effect–the hives subsided–but as a side effect of the drugs, I was revved!

I was so energized that I didn’t just walk down the hall, I felt like I was motoring down the hall. I was suddenly the equal of my high-energy friends who move fast and talk fast and loud. I told everyone that I could understand why men felt like they could run the world, because I felt like that. This was a new me, and I liked her!

Earlier that spring, I had had a modest idea for a voter registration drive at New York City’s High School for Leadership and Public Service, where I was “principal for a day.” The faculty, staff, and kids ran with the idea–fifty-two students were added to the voter rolls at lunchtime in the cafeteria. It was very moving.

Later, I was back at the same high school, with a bigger idea. After weeks of steroids, I had a more ambitious agenda–a ramped-up voter registration drive. It would be like the first one, but instead of confining the drive to the cafeteria, I said, “Let’s do it citywide!” Two thousand New York City school kids were registered before school was out.

May—June 2000

It was nearly midnight, and I could see the flashing lights approaching our apartment building from two blocks away–a fire truck and an ambulance. I was both relieved and embarrassed. My throat was swelling up. My doctor had suggested I call 911 instead of looking for a taxi to the hospital. I had called 911, but I didn’t anticipate a convoy.

Before long, the doorbell rang and I went to answer it, finding two paramedics–a Hispanic woman and a black man, both middle-aged and experienced-looking–standing at the door with two very big bags, ready to save a life.

“Where’s the patient?” they asked.

“It’s me,” I said sheepishly. Any kind of swelling that involves air passageways,...

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 47 Rezensionen
73 von 77 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Putting a normal face on bipolar disease 31. August 2004
Von C. Ebeling - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Jane Pauley, that intelligent ray of sunshine, AND bipolar disease? The news dropped me in my tracks. Here was a trusted, normal face on a condition I've always looked upon as a scary problem to run from. I, who almost never reads celebrity memoirs, scooped up SKYWRITING immediately to learn more.

SKYWRITING begins with the 2001 bipolar episode, a side effect of a heavy dosing of steroids for persistent hives. If the news stopped me, just a television viewer who does not know Pauley personally, imagine what it did to her, a person who always seemed to be sailing forward in her busy public life. As she healed, she began experimenting with what she calls "skywriting," starting out with an image or memory and seeing where the pen took her. When she was done, she had revisited her childhood, adolescence, career in television and family life. She invites readers along on her journey to self rediscovery.

Pauley's writing is clear as a bell, and the chapters on the bipolar experience are delivered without overdramatization. Once the book turns to her life, it measures out in segments reminiscent of "Dateline" pacing, with segues fraught with foreshadowing. Those looking for hot gossip will not find it. There are several personal revelations but none that will change the way Pauley is received in the world: warm, smart and genuine. Few journeys of the self are as downright decent and ultimately as reassuring as this one.
36 von 38 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
interesting, but light on substance 9. September 2004
Von wenhaver - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
i read this book as soon as it came out as i am a woman with bipolar disorder. i assumed it would be about ms. pauley's struggle with the disease. obviously, i assumed incorrectly. once i realized that the book was about her emotional travels through life, i settled in for what i hoped would be an interesting read anyway. unfortunately, i didn't find it terribly interesting. i enjoyed hearing of her youth, family, friends, and career, but felt she only skimmed the surfaces of each. there wasn't the depth i expected. i did, however, like the style of her writing: the organization, easy-to-read nature, and the interesting thoughts posed on pages leading to new chapters. overall, enjoyable, but not as in depth as i would have hoped.

i recently read Blindsided: Lifting a Life Above Illness: A Reluctant Memoir by Richard Cohen in which he delves into the nooks and crannies of his life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. granted, this book was about his life with MS, but even so, his was a much more in depth look at his own psyche.
24 von 27 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Fearless Honesty 25. August 2004
Von Michelaneous by Michele - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
The first few pages of Jane Pauley's memoir, "Skywriting" felt cerebral and--in spite of being a fan--had me thinking the story of her life might be too high-minded for my tastes.

This was NOT the case.

Jane Pauley's writing style unfolded in a way that was as familiar and charming as that likeable person seen on television all these years. And in spite of her shyness and her fierce protection of her private life, in these pages she lets loose and allows us to follow her path of self-discovery. In several aspects she tells the story of many of us who have suddenly found ourselves in the midst of middle age: the conflict of being a working mother ("...if I work full time does that make me a part-time mom?"); dealing with aging parents and well-guarded family secrets; reaping the joys of a close and loving relationship with a sister and a spouse; and, my favorite, that "we're in this together."

As she puts forth in the book, she has often been praised for her "genuineness" and "authenticity." This quick read is no exception and I highly recommend taking an afternoon to get to know the real Jane Pauley. Many thanks to the author for "having the courage to say yes."

From the author of "I'm Living Your Dream Life," and "The Things I Wish I'd Said," McKenna Publishing Group.
23 von 26 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Autobiography Lite 15. November 2004
Von Dr. Cathy Goodwin - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I've always enjoyed Jane Pauley and I particularly admire the way she managed her career. When the network seemed to be pushing her off the couch in favor of Deborah Norville, Jane did the classy thing: she quit! Before she married she talked about her cats and after she married she didn't talk about her husband. And who wouldn't like someone who married the creator of Doonesbury?

But I keep recalling that "happy families are alike..." and mostly Jane Pauley has had a happy, even a charmed life. Her home life was happier than most. She was a cheerleader in junior high, a debater and a representative to Girls State and Girls Nation. She joined a sorority in college. Her career came to her and she made the most of every opportunity.

So I found myself continuing to like and admire Jane Pauley as a person, while getting increasingly frustrated as a reader. Skywriting feels like meeting someone at a formal dinner and learning just what's appropriate for a professional person to share. But that's not what I think most people want from an autobiography.

People read about the lives of others because we want to know their pain as well as their pride. Voyeuristic, yes, but we learn from stories of triumph and redemption. We learn from getting answers to questions like, "What was she thinking when..." We want experiences, not events.

You can still be professional while telling a good story. Recent examples include autobiographies by Katherine Graham, General Claudia Kennedy, and Queen Noor. These authors give us a glimpse into themselves and their worlds, while maintaining high standards of propriety and good taste.

So as a person, I admire Jane Pauley because she doesn't talk about Garry Trudeau. As a reader, I want to know, "What's Trudeau like around the house? Do you get to enjoy his biting wit all the time? Does he talk about his Doonesbury characters?"

And aside from outbreaks of hives, what was Pauley's experience of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder? Since she's gone public, does she feel she's helping others? Beyond a reference to spending time in a hospital's VIP room, we get little background. Was she also seeing a therapist? How did her family respond to the diagnosis?

And what about Jane's network experience? What did she feel on dealing with Norville? Was Barbara Walters a helpful mentor or an aging star who resented her replacement? Or if she chooses to be analytical, what does she think of the fine line between news and entertainment? What's her view of the role of women in broadcasting?

Sure, these questions are awfully nosy and impertinent, and they're really none of the reader's business. But to my mind, that's the purpose of autobiography: to go beyond closed doors and glimpse the person behind the persona. I can respect anyone's wish for privacy...but you give that up if you choose to write an autobiography.
27 von 32 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Honest journey of self-discovery 26. August 2004
Von Carol H. Jenkins - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I have always admired Jane Pauley - she always seemed serene and in control, but in "Skywriting" she shows that, as with the lovely swan gliding across the water, there is a lot of activity going on below the surface.

She writes about growing up in Indiana, her quick rise to the top in broadcast journalism while maintaining a private personal life, and the conflicts involved with being a working mother. This is also the story of her parents and the midwestern values that they represented which are still evident in Jane Pauley's character today. She also writes honestly about a bipolar episode brought on by a reaction to prescription drugs.

Written in a stream of consciousness style, the book is a coming-of-middle-age appreciation of a life filled with personal and professional success. There were many times in her life when Jane Pauley just seemed to be in the right place at the right time, but once she was there, she handled it beautifully - it is great to go along for the ride.
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