Going to Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend San Jose started out as a whim. I am a Facebook fan of the writer, Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). She sent a post to all her Facebook fans that she was going to be speaking on an 8 city tour with Oprah. I had recently finished her latest book “The Signature of All Things”, which was just wonderful! I finished her book in 2 days and those of you who know me know that I am not an avid or speedy reader but it was so good that I couldn’t put down until I finished it. I decided to go to Oprah’s The Life You Want weekend San Jose and invited my sister, Susie to join me for a weekend with Oprah & Liz. I had a wonderful sister weekend! Thanks Susie!
As our weekend approached, I was very curious about what our Oprah weekend would entail and what O town(Oprah town) would be like. We got a schedule with times for the events taking place at the SAP Center and O town. We decided to stay over at the Cypress Hotel in Cupertino to be closer to the SAP Center for an early Saturday morning O town visit. O town opened at 7 am on Saturday. The Cypress Hotel is about a 20 minute drive to the SAP Center but is reasonably priced, with wonderful staff, and ample self parking.
To start off our Oprah weekend, we went for lunch at one of my sister’s favorite ramen restaurants, Orenchi in Santa Clara. The weather was cool and a little chilly, just perfect fall weather for a steaming hot bowl of ramen. Orenchi is a very popular Japanese ramen shop. There are always very large crowds of people waiting for a bowl of their delicious ramen. There are 3 kinds of savory soups : tonkotsu (thick pork), shio (salt) , and shoyu (soy sauce). We enjoyed our shoyu ramen especially after waiting outside for 45 minutes. But It was so worth the wait. Orenchi definitely makes the best ramen in the Bay Area.
After our delicious ramen lunch, we decided to see if we could check in early since we were very close to our hotel. They had no rooms available at that time but they said we could leave drop off luggage and check in later. So we headed over to the Cypress and our front desk person, Rocky, helped us tag our luggage. We decided to look around the hotel and have a glass of complimentary flavored water(lemon, orange, or cucumber). In a few minutes, Rocky came to find us and said our room just finished cleaning and we could check in. I had a feeling that we were going to have a “good” karma day.
We left Cupertino and headed over to the SAP Center to pick up our O wristbands and tour O town. The O wristbands were stretchy white plastic wristbands that were required to enter O town. There was not much of a line to pick up our O wristbands but after waiting in line for 5 minutes the line was all the way around the entire block. Shades of things to come. After getting our O wrist bands, we headed over to O town.
O town was totally astonishing! There were so many people. The majority of people in O town were women but there were quite a few men as well. Every nationality was represented : Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Indian, and LGBT. Young and old, mothers and daughters, sisters, couples, and friends, all coming to hear Oprah speak later that evening. People were very friendly, courteous, helpful, and were enjoying being there.
O town consisted of many huge white tents. Each tent had a sponsor. Ikea had a room decorating and room arranging seminar with free Ikea blue bags. Olay had free head massages and make up consultations as well as free cosmetics. In the center of O town was a huge red, orange, and yellow O that you could take a picture in. There was a center stage was filled with various types of performances such as singers, a comedian, a fashion show featuring Stanford cheerleaders, and dancers. We really wanted to see Art Smith, a Southern chef who is frequently on Top Chef. We found out that he was Oprah’s personal chef for 8 years. We also got to see Iyanla Vanzant, a healer who helps people with their relationships. She was speaking on Saturday along with Elizabeth Gilbert as one of Oprah’s “trailblazers”. She was extremely funny as she answered the audience’s questions. She was a blast! I was surprised that our two hours in O town went by so quickly.
My sister told me that my parents had been big fans of Oprah and watched her show faithfully. I didn’t even know that until this weekend. In the past, I had watched Oprah’s show a little but didn’t really know very much about her.
DJ Kiss played such great music before Oprah’s speech! The whole audience was dancing, clapping, and singing along. She played Michael Jackson, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Earth, Wind, and Fire, and so many great songs.
Just then Oprah entered the stage, our O wristbands lit up and flashed different colors : Red, Green, Blue, and white. It was like a glow stick but flashed in sync with the music. Everyone stood up and applauded. I found out later that Oprah’s weekend was sold out with over 10,000 people in the audience.
But in her 2 hour talk that she gave on Friday night, she told us about her life. She began from her childhood in Mississipi up to her present life. She was such a dynamic, interesting, and humorous speaker.
Her grandmother was a maid for a white family in Mississippi that gave them their extra clothes and food. They had no running water. Her grandmother told Oprah that she hoped Oprah would find a nice whilte family like the ones that she worked for. Oprah said she was thinking at the age of five “uh uh” that she wasn’t going to be a maid but decided not to tell her grandma about that.
Oprah thanked her grandmother for teaching her to read and write. When her grandma was too ill to take care of a six year old, Oprah moved to Detroit to live with her mother. She was in shock on her first day of kindergarten. Not only were all the children white but they were playing with ABC blocks. She decided to write her teacher a letter. Dear Miss … I do not think I should be in this class because I can read and write. She wrote a long list of all the complicated words that she knew… hippopotamus, invictus, … Her teacher took her to the principal and they made her read and write again. The next day she was moved to 1st grade.
She spoke of the many difficulties that she overcame in her life. She was raped at 9 years old and pregnant at 14. She was sent to live with her father and he told her that one thing can’t happen in his house, teen pregnancy. Little did she know that she was pregnant. When she lost her baby soon after his birth, her father told her that God had given her a second chance and she should make the best of it.
In her two hour talk, she discussed her life as a broadcast journalist, her 25 years on Oprah show, the Color Purple movie, Maya Angelou, and her new current cable network OWN. She will be producing a movie called SELMA (Martin Luther King’s march). She was mesmerizing, confident, humorous, and a very moving speaker. If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, I wholeheartedly recommend going.