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See Robyn Jump!

10/25/2005 12:00:00 AM


When the HGTV producer called and asked if she could send a crew to my house to tape a segment for a new show, I was psyched. What a great opportunity to tell more people about Natural Home, about the use of natural paint and other nontoxic materials, and also to promote my book, The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty. The segment, for a new show called “Look What I Did,” would focus on my house’s wabi-sabi nature, and I would demonstrate how I wash-painted my kitchen cupboards with leaf-colored Yolo Colorhouse paint and mosaic tiled my sunroom floor and kitchen countertops using salvaged tiles and remnants.

I scrubbed my kitchen and sun room, wondering how it was that I hadn’t noticed the huge spider webs full of unfortunate flies gathered in the corners. I polished the tile floor. I asked Yolo to send a fresh can of paint for the demonstration. I thought about what I would say about the benefits of nontoxic paint and all the great information people could find about natural decorating in NH&G.

I should have done my homework about this show.

I started to feel a little queasy at the very beginning, right when we started taping. “Say this…” the director said, and that’s pretty much how it went for the next seven hours. No brand names—we had to hide the beautiful Yolo label. No mention of my magazine or my book. No time to talk in any depth about wabi-sabi.

For a magazine editor and author who agonizes over every word that sees print, having people put silly words into my mouth bordered on humiliating. But I, for my part, parroted every word. Toward the end of the long day, when the producer made me say “jump, jump, jump!” for a voiceover on my family jumping on the tramp, I realized the extent of the humiliation. I’m going to be on national TV showing off my Dick-and-Jane dialogue skills.

The crew was talented, to be sure, and they got some really cool footage of my house and of me laying tile. I suspect the show will be perky and cute and easy on the eyes (and brain). Just like TV’s supposed to be.

I guess I need to quit being a snob about it and just enjoy the pleasant banality. Maybe I’ll even tell family and friends and NH readers when my segment airs. But I’ll let everyone know that I did not dream up “jump, jump, jump!” I did say it, though. In the heat of my TV moment, the words just tumbled right out of my mouth.

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