Artists in Their Own Words: Hattie Bryant
Who: Hattie Bryant
Where: River Ridge
Q: What’s a state of existence that you wish there was a word for?
A: I’d say it’s a certain state of perfection. There are very few moments of it, and it’s often when music is happening. I was at the LPO the other night, and there was a moment when I felt that it was absolute perfection.
It’s transcending. It’s euphoric. And it’s nearly impossible to describe to someone. Although, we try.
Growing up on the water, I realized that there could be nothing better than walking on the ocean and hearing the water crash. I don’t even have to miss that because in New Orleans all you have to do is drive an hour and you are at the beach. Those beautiful white sand beaches. And, I have a pool at my house. It’s a perfect turquoise color, and I call that my ocean view.
I have an eat-in kitchen, and there is one chair that faces the water. That’s my chair, and everyone knows it. [Laughing]. So I get those perfected states so often in New Orleans.
Q: Who was your biggest celebrity crush?
A: I have never been into celebrities. I respect their talent but never dreamed of any of them being in my life.
If I had to choose, though. Elvis. When I was an impressionable teen-ager, he was gorgeous. He was the older man in my life, right? So when I was 15, he was that perfect 30-year old and dripping with sexuality. He sang gospel music which is what I grew up on then he went on to rock’n’ roll and he owned every song he decided to record. And that voice. That gorgeous voice.
Q: How do you know when to stop or say that something is over?
A: I just had a stopping moment with a woman I was trying to engage on another project. I contacted her several times, and finally I accepted that no response from her meant nothing was going to happen. I had to give that up. And, that’s not being a wimp. It’s more that I’m old.
If I were thirty-five, I probably wouldn’t have given up on her, but as you get older you learn that if someone does not want you in their life, then it’s okay. Something else will fill that. When you’re young though, you can be more aggressive, more domineering, and that’s how I was. I would have pushed that door down and forced the person to talk to me.
Now, though, being older, I realize that I don’t have that much time left. I’m sixty-five, so I maybe have twenty years left. Well, really, I only have ten because right around seventy-five you really start falling apart. Everything starts breaking like crazy.
[This is where a young gentlemen joined our conversation and said, ‘You are sixty-five? You look good.’]
A lesson that elders should have learned is that we have to accept when things are over. Baby boomers especially have difficulties with this because we’ve always demanded to have things our way. We are used to outsourcing everything, so when our kidneys, hearts, or something else stops functioning we think, ‘Well, I can just get a new kidney, a new heart, etc.’ We are used to getting everything we want and even think we deserve to have everything we want. That’s why I wrote this book. We have become over medicated because we refuse to accept that something is ending.
After years of research and thinking about death since my mom’s death in 1990, I have come to realize that in this 21st century, a peaceful death will not come out of the natural flow. We have to plan for it, and in my book I explain that there are four things as all must do in advance. Most people say that they want to die in their home, surrounded by loved ones, and peacefully; yet, we do the direct opposite in life. The book lays out the four things, or four steps, everyone must take. After you are done with those four steps, the last chapter tells you to go out and have fun with the rest of your life.
Q: How can we have passion for something that isn’t personal?
A: I don’t think we can. It has to be personal. The most important thing about everybody is their story, which is personal.
Every great writer is writing autobiographical. I’m not saying I’m a great writer but my book is my story and what happened to me and what I learned is what makes it compelling. Readers pick up on the personal passion I have for the mess medicine is helping us to make out of our lives. I saw it first hand and so many others have had similar experiences.
Q: What structure do you want to explore?
A: I don’t really live in the physical world. Also, I have claustrophobia, so I’m not interested in going into a cave or scuba diving.
I’ve been around the world, literally. My husband does not like to go on the same road twice, so for his sixtieth birthday I planned a trip around the world, but we couldn’t backtrack or follow any routes we’d already taken. And now I think the adventures I’m going to have for the rest of my life are going to be internal. They’re going to be spiritual. Not that I don’t want to go to Patagonia. [Laughing]. I do want to go to Patagonia.
Also, there are probably some walks, like in the High Sierra, that I’d love to do. Walking trails in Canada would also be something I’d like to do, but right now I feel like I’ve only got about ten to fifteen years to get my message out. Helping my fellow baby boomers to deal with the death of their parents and to prepare for their own is what interests me.
I had a ten-year break where I was not working, and I’m ready to get out there again. I want to get this message out.
To learn more about Hattie Bryant and her book, I’ll Have it My Way, you can check out her website and her Facebook page. She will be at the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra book fair, which will be taking place from Friday, June 3 until Sunday, June 5 at the UNO Lakefront Arena.
Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at [email protected].