"... like your hands are, and their arms are, engaged in this poetic dance..."
— Rebecca Alexander
Rebecca Alexander is dressed for the radio when I meet her in the lobby at KQED. She's wearing a great shirt (Lettuce Turnip the Beet), and looks like she's ready to teach spin to a class of bicyclists who can't possibly be in as good shape as she is. With her are her aunt, who drove, and her 97 year-old grandmother from Capitola. With a crew like this, it's clear that 'Not Fade Away' will live up to its title.
"Presence on the page" might seem like a shopworn phrase, until you read 'Not Fade Away' and then hear Rebecca Alexander. First read the book; but when you hear her, expect her to burst into your life once again, full of the raw energy and verve that drives 'Not Fade Away.' Walking with her, her aunt and her grandmother to the studio it was clear where that energy came from. Still Rebecca has her own unique voice shaped by an utterly unique experience.
Alexander spoke passionately to me about the powers she has discovered within her new life. "Sign language is such a beautiful and robust language and the deaf community is a very strong community..."
At the Helen Keller Center, she saw, and then decided to learn, tactile sign language, a means of communication for the deaf and blind. "It's so beautiful to watch because it almost looks as though people are sort of embracing — like your hands are, and their arms are, engaged in this poetic dance of some sort. It's tremendous to be able to communicate with someone without having to use your ears or your eyes. To have an entire conversation and use only your hands is really remarkable."
Alexander knows when to play it straight and when to simply play. "One of the ways that I deal with my condition is through humor," she told me. "There have been a lot of ironic and funny experiences that have come out of this, and things I couldn't possibly make up if I tried."