Corinne Cobabe and Nzingha Garner

Recorded July 15, 2008 Archived July 15, 2008 01:21:11
0:00 / 0:00
Id: LMN000407


StoryCorps Facilitator Nzingha Garner interviews Corinne Cobabe about her cross country road trip to interview inspiring woman after the death of her father.

Subject Log / Time Code

Corinne is on a road trip to interview inspiring woman. The trip was inspired by a Vision Quest workshop she took as well as the passing of her father.
The scariest day of her life was when her sister left her to travel alone at Mount Rushmore
Met an inspiring woman named Carrie whose cousin went missing and passed a law to help find missing adults
Met an inspiring woman named Robyn who was an artist and curator at a Jewish Community Center who suggested Corinne interview professionally
Her father loves adventure, travel and the arts. Corinne has “psychic smell” and explains smells that remind her of him.
Corinne plans to turn the interviews into a book about inspiring women
She would like to remember her dad, who died of cancer, as having strength and determination.


  • Corinne Cobabe
  • Nzingha Garner

Recording Locations

StoryCorps Lower Manhattan Booth


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00:06 Good afternoon. I'm insane Garner. It's July 15th. 2008. We are at Foley Square New York City and I'm going to have a conversation with Karin about their special road trip. She's on.

00:22 A my name is Karin cobabe. I am 37 years old. I'm today's date is July 15th 2008 and we are in Foley square and insinga is my

00:37 Storycorps facilitator

00:41 So I cannot wait to get into this interview. It just sounds like such an interesting trip that you're on but first, let's find out a little bit about you. Like where you grew up. Okay, like a little about your background, I grew up in the Los Angeles Los Angeles, California area in a place called Palos Verdes, California and the baby of five children and I grew up Mormon. Although I'm no longer practicing.

01:13 Is there a large Mormon community in Los Verdes Palos Verdes Palace Verdes? They're sort of was at the time it's it's not huge but I didn't know that so you're the youngest of five and you lived there from the time you were quite young to about what age am I lived in Palos Verdes till I was 18 then I went to Brigham Young University for a year move back to Los Angeles and lived in an area that's called the South Bay, which is the beach area so lived in Hermosa Beach Redondo Beach and I currently reside in Manhattan Beach, California.

01:58 Okay, so, you know, let's just talk about this road trip.

02:06 Just tell me a little about it. How did you decide what inspired you to take this trip? And how you planned for it?

02:15 Oki

02:18 I took a workshop based on the book called The Artist way and after that Workshop was done. There was another Workshop in a based on the same.

02:33 Same cuz I can't think of the word principles and it was called Vision Quest and in The Vision Quest Workshop. You were supposed to come up with a project you were going to work on and she helped the women that ran the workshop would have us do exercises and I came up with a lot of ideas as to what my vision quest would be like organize my pictures or clean my house. When was a road trip. When was to write a book about inspiring women and one exercise we were told to go outside and pick up something bring it back in. I picked up a rock.

03:13 Brought it back in and we're supposed to talk to this rock and Save Rock. What do you have to tell me? And so then you're supposed to free write for 5 minutes. And when I was free writing from the Rothrock was telling me it said take a road trip and me inspiring women in at combine the two and that's kind of how I came up with the idea to come on this road trip to see sites that I've never seen in the country like Mount Rushmore Yellowstone Park and things like that and then to meet all these amazing women sound so wonderful.

03:59 What has been your favorite place that you visited on your road trip?

04:04 It's a little bit hard to say what's my favorite place? But I because honestly the whole I've been gone probably 5 weeks now and every day is wonderful. It's a new experience that I'm seeing and experiencing new things, but

04:27 Things that can of stick out or Yellowstone Park. That was just beautiful. It's just amazing.

04:37 You know, just describe it for me from your eyes.

04:42 Well, there's different Yellowstone Park is huge. I think it's millions of acres and every little area in the park had something different to offer like there were the geysers like Old Faithful. We stayed at the Old Faithful Inn, which is a hotel that was like over a hundred years old. We stayed in a room that didn't have any a bathroom and you had to go to separate rooms take a shower to take a bath and then we went on a cowboy cookout where would they took us out and kind of Stagecoach things and made us dinner over the campfire and we saw Buffalo and grizzly bear and lots of elk and

05:29 The scenery in the landscape was just amazing, and I'm a photographer as well. So the quality of light and the sun sets and just it was just visually

05:41 A feast every single day. Where you alone. Are you alone on this road trip? Well some parts I am but for the

05:52 The first leg of my trip when my first stop was Las Vegas and I had three of my three sisters with me on that and then my sister Capri stayed with me for five days and then she flew home and my sister Jennifer met me so when I was in Yellowstone, my sister Jennifer was with me for that section of the trip soap from Yellowstone has been alone Jennifer actually stayed with me until South Dakota where we went to Mount Rushmore and then she left me in that was one of the scariest days of my life. How did you feel I mean, what was that like just being out there all alone. It was I dropped her off at the airport and I started shaking and I had butterflies in my stomach. I was sweating and I started

06:43 Coughing I cough when I'm really nervous. I felt like I was going to throw up and

06:52 I got on the road and I have a GPS unit and I call her Susie. So I asked Susie. I had a place I was going to stay for the night to take me to this place and she pulled me onto this little two-lane highway. There was beautiful Green Hills on the side and cows and horses and it was kind of that Twilight beautiful golden time of night and I felt

07:25 Okay. I thought my dad was with me.

07:33 So

07:34 Like I really was a Megalodon like I'd had my sisters with me and then they left and I'm this part, you know, I thought of him in the car with me.

07:47 I'm in 10 minutes after I left her when I was sweating and everything. I just felt calm and safe and confident and secure and I was on my way.

08:00 Is this the first time you've ever like ventured out like this on your own that too many people do that, especially women venture out on their own drive across America just usually doesn't happen.

08:14 Yeah, I mean I'm I live by myself.

08:18 And until recently. I haven't been in a relationship and so I'm Often by myself, but I've never and I've traveled loan places by myself and have never gone on a trip by myself. Yeah, so nothing has the first experience like this for me.

08:38 Yes, it had some wonderful. You know, you'll have Memories Forever. Yeah, yeah.

08:45 And you said that you that part of what the Rock told you was to go on the road trip into and to go ahead with your desire to inspire women. So who was the most who's the woman you felt that you most in inspired and who possibly inspired you on this trip?

09:10 Well

09:12 Actually, I came on the trip to meet inspiring women the way you worded. It sounded a little bit like I came to inspire people but it has been like a a thing where I have been getting a lot of emails and phone calls saying that I have inspired people which is has been really cool because I don't feel like what I'm doing is he know that they gave us nothing but the most inspiring women that I've met.

09:48 That is hard to because

09:52 They've all been so different and so I feel like every person that I've met whether I'm interviewing them or staying with them has taught me a little lesson along the way.

10:04 But I guess one woman that sticks out alot. Her name is Carrie and I never met her before. She was actually a good friend of a client of mine and four years ago. Her cousin went missing and is still missing. She's 22 and

10:27 Carrie at the time lived in Los Angeles and flew back to Indianapolis, Indiana and was instrumental in getting a law passed that helps when adults go missing. It gives guidelines to the police agencies because there's nothing in Most states. There's no laws and no framework. So a lot of times but missing adults don't get the same attention that like a child would because they think they're missing on their own accord. But so the women carry was working at a high paying job in the

11:09 Hollywood working at Fox and she just felt like, you know, she was not doing anything with her life and now she's moved to Indianapolis and it's working in the state senate for a senator and I just thought that was really cool. And another thing that happens when I interview inspiring women as I'll have something in mind that I think what I'm going to interview them for this reason. I find that their inspiring but there's so much more about them.

11:42 Like Princeton scary since she's graduated from college every year has taken.

11:50 A month off and traveled and that to me is

11:56 Really cool because travel is one of the most important things in my life and I think a lot of people don't give themselves enough time to do stuff like that.

12:08 So she and she had never met me and offered me to stay at her place and

12:15 That was one of the most surprising interviews. I would say.

12:21 So and this was in Indianapolis, he said yes, and so how did you feel you just met this person? Did you feel a little how do you feel about staying with her at that point had you I would have left a trust. I don't really know her because I had weed only emailed a couple times and I have I'm in a different city almost every day or got a lot going on. So I haven't been really great about being really detailed about my planning until it's upon me and

12:57 So I was you know talking to my boyfriend when I was on the way there and I said I know this feels a little weird like I'm going to stay with this woman. I've never met her and he said we'll go meet her check out the vibe if she's cool stay if not leave and go get a hotel. So I called her left her a message. Like hey, I'm on my way as she called me back and I just knew instantly because she had lived in California for 10 years and she spoke Californian. I just felt an instant rapport with her. She spoke the same way that I did and I've been gone for almost a month. And can I miss my people in California hit it off.

13:44 Then sometimes it does feel like I'm going on a blind date and we even when we went out to dinner and

13:55 That waiter said hey, are you guys sisters? And we said no we just met and then I laughed and like no or not on a blind date. But yeah, you see there was a connection right away then no one else could even see it there definitely was and so were there other women who inspired you along this way? Yes, there was a woman robbing who I met in.

14:26 Minneapolis Minnesota, she again was just super generous with her time and set aside pretty much her whole day to show me around her City and she is an artist and she does like old-fashioned Printing and just us some amazing unique things with the printing press.

14:52 And not only did she do that, but she's a curator at the Jewish Community Center. It's a job she created for herself. And then she also started a co-op gallery and I just thought here's this artist that is making her way in the world that's doing what she loves. She has a job. She's helping others and that she was truly inspiring and she also kind of gave me some ideas because I don't really know what I want to do with my life and

15:28 I know what I want to be when I grow up and and she commented on my interviewing skills and suggested that you know, I look into maybe it working at a historical society or something like that. So she gave me a lot to think about. Let's back up a little bit. What did what is your job? What did you do before you set out on this this road trip and what we will return to I imagine it's a difficult question to answer its

16:07 My main job right now is my sister. Carrie owns an interior design store in Manhattan Beach and I helped her run it and I've been doing that for the past year because like I had meant for my bed didn't put my father passed away in August in the last 5 months. We had to really be there for him if we kept him at home and he died in this house. So I kind of took the job for my sister. It just bought the store is kind of a

16:37 Temporary thing so I wouldn't really have to think about things. We were dealing with our father and I was helping her as well. But I'm also a photographer. I have a business with my sister Jennifer and we do weddings and family portraits and also interior design photo shoots.

16:57 And then my dad had an antique business and when he passed away my brother and I kind of took it over and so I help my brother with that sometimes and he's in Manhattan Beach as well on my brother is he lives in Long Beach actually just very close will it just sounds like some of the women who inspired you and whom you inspired before using one on the road trip where you're so your sisters sounds like you have that kind of relationship with them. Oh, yes definitely were very close their my one sister. Carrie lives five blocks from me and we go walking every morning we walk my dog and I work for her and we're very close family. Guess you feel very fortunate. Yes, definitely.

17:54 On this on this road trip. I mean, I'm sure you've met several women who inspired John you've already shared a few but just something curious with gas prices going through the ceiling now. It's like you must be spending a fortune on gas. Actually. I bought a Prius before I left and it's currently getting almost 44 miles per gallon.

18:22 So I was pretty fortunate to be cuz I when I bought my car I called on a Sunday. They said they had eight left on the lot when I went on Tuesday that one left and I was hemming and hawing and my salesperson practically force me to buy it and and then they said that they weren't getting any more of the kind that I purchased and now I heard from my mom that they're going for $4,000 over sticker in Los Angeles and I purchased mine at sticker. So I'm pretty I feel grateful for that because yes gas is very expensive.

19:06 I've been taking a picture of every every time I buy a gas. I take a picture of how much it cost just to see and so far the most expensive place was Los Angeles at the time. It was 450 $454.50.

19:30 You sort of lose.

19:32 What's routine and you sort of have to go into yourself a lot? And and that's what becomes familiar on the road. Can you talk a little bit about?

19:42 You're just like any transformation you found on the road or any thoughts you've been having or I need any interest factions you had while on this road trip about yourself.

19:54 Yes, I've I've definitely had a lot. I've been keeping a Blog so I've been riding almost every day and I tried to include a lesson that I learned, but I've really learned how to let go of stress on this trip and not to worry and kind of just let things flow.

20:16 I'm really normally like an extreme planner and kind of a control freak and I've let go of that as well. I've tried this has been really hard for me to learn how to trust myself because normally I go back and forth or ask everybody their opinion on something or let other people make the decisions for me. And on this road trip. I barely had to decide for myself a lot and push myself pretty much every day. I'm doing something that is not comfortable. That is not in my comfort zone. I have butterflies almost everyday like driving through Manhattan or when I had to drive I drove to Canada and had to go through the Border like just things like that and I've had a lot of time to think and reflect.

21:19 Another thing that I learned I interviewed at a girl mini. She had two piercings on her mouth and they were for two friends of hers that had died and she didn't get to tell them everything that she wanted to tell them before they died. And I was a reminder for her to always speak your truth in her mind. And so I thought wow that is great. I mean how many times do you not tell somebody you love them or

21:54 You know just speak your mind. So that's one thing that I've been trying to do that I haven't.

22:03 Fully been able to yet, but it's on my mind all the time to you know, you never know. When is the last time you're going to see somebody but you growing into that? Yeah. Yeah, and then another thing is to

22:19 I think a lot of times will for me. I don't know if a lot of people do this but it's like will when I have the perfect job then I'll be happier when I get married. Then I'll be happy when I leave 10 lb going to be happy and it's like you have to be happy every single day. It's a choice. It's a choice. So that's another thing I'm struggling to do is to not like to live for today, I guess.

22:48 Just to go back to him just one little mundane question. Would you describe a Prius for future Generations who don't know what that is and will give us the importance of that is right now. Oh, okay. Well, I'm not sure if I can really describe it but

23:06 The guy there is a gas something going on with the gas in the world. I'm not even oil oil is extremely high price right now so our

23:20 We have to pay a lot for gas. It's about 4 in Los Angeles when I left with $4.50 per gallon and a Prius is a hybrid car which works I think maybe on battery and gasoline. I really don't even I can't even explain it. I don't know but it gets about 44 miles per gallon and I've noticed in Los Angeles. They're everywhere and Ice. I've driven across the country have seen them less and less so they're very popular in California right now, but

23:53 I haven't noticed them as much elsewhere. So they started making their way a slow slow process.

24:02 You would talk earlier about losing your dad. I guess almost a year ago and all so how has this trip? You talked also about the beginning of your trip and feeling like he was with you. So how has he like worked into this trip or become a part of the fabric of this trip?

24:28 Well, my father he was an adventurous Soul. He loved to travel. He loved art. He loved, you know plays anything like that and that's what he exposed to me in my life. And I feel like I really got a love of travel and the Arts from him.

24:51 So in the sense of adventure, he was no like it.

24:59 I want to say Gambling Man not like he gambled a lot, but he was a risk-taker.

25:05 So

25:08 I got that from him and then financially I was able to take this trip because of I use part of my inheritance.

25:18 And then

25:22 I feel like there was something else but I can't remember what your question was exactly as well. Just you know, how he and how he became a part of this year. Yeah, and then I dedicated the trip to him and I have a

25:39 A weird

25:41 Thing was smell like almost like I can psychically sense people with through my smell.

25:49 I threw my nose. So at times on the trip, I have smelled him as well. And what was his particular smelling me some people smell like tobacco or know, what was his full this is kind of funny. He wore cologne called Fierce from Abercrombie & Fitch. So I think maybe a lot of people might wear that cologne and when I'm near an Abercrombie & Fitch, I can definitely smell him but and also Lily's remind me of him. That's what you said. It's funeral. So but yesterday when I was walking in New York and New York reminds me a lot of him and I've been here recently. I mean before he passed away. I came here a couple times with Herman

26:39 I just started walking from Upper East Side yesterday to 5th Avenue.

26:45 To the Apple Store and he I just almost instantly was overcome with his smell and I got chills and almost started crying because I thought

26:59 Hey Dad, like you're here with me. This is you know city that you loved and

27:05 It was cool because I don't I hadn't had that for a week or two. I hadn't sensed him and it really came on strong.

27:16 I had he ever lived in New York. No, he he came here twice a year for antique shows and he brought us or him and my mom that brought us here with us and Junior High for spring break.

27:38 I guess you talked a bit about just your introspection during this trip. But do you feel at this point? I mean are you halfway through that? You're halfway through the trip. Are you going to drive back? I am going to drive back. I am on my way home technically as soon as I hit Boston on Friday. I'm on my way back and I've noticed I've noticed that I've started feeling stressed again, and it's a different feeling going back home. Then it was coming this way and I'm trying not to let the stress come back in but it's

28:21 I'm feeling homesick and

28:26 Yeah, I'm just I'm trying to stay focused on what I'm doing. And before I left on my trip my sister threw me a going away party and had everybody write me letters.

28:38 And they gave him to me sealed. There is no indication of what letter is from whom and so long the way when I felt lonely or needed a little boost. I've opened them up and the ones I have been opening up recently are really giving me that boost that I need saying gosh crane you're living your dream how exciting I think. Yeah, like I can't just because I'm on my way back. I can't let go of the energy and excitement of the sand trap.

29:10 I have to still stay focused and have fun and relax and do all the things that I promised myself that I was going to do on the strip and live in the moment. As you had said she was so important in that you'll have I guess that's when you've had some of your most profound experiences who live in the moment. If you live in the moment, unless you're in immediate harm, there's nothing to be stressed about so it with these letters did they sign the letter they did okay with the letters. Yes, so I know who they're from when I open them. Yes, okay.

29:47 So you're on you'll be leaving New York soon, and then you'll be traveling you going to stop between here and Boston. Oh I came from Boston and I'm going for the hospital now. Yes, I'm leaving as soon as this interview is over. I'm going to New Jersey today and then down to the Jersey Shore until Washington DC where my brother Kevin is going to fly in and spend a few days with me. But on the way home. It's going to I'm not staying as long and City. So it's almost like a different city every day.

30:26 And so other than your brother Kevin, will anyone else be meeting with you along the way?

30:35 Or are you just going to be pretty much going it alone? Again? My brother will be with me 5 days and then I'm still waiting to hear if my sister Carrie is going to meet me in Mississippi. I'm going to stay with one of her high school friends and interview Hershey.

30:54 Survived Hurricane, Katrina and went through that whole disaster and I'm along the way before I left. I figured out that 3/4 of the time that I was going to be on the road. I would be staying with people that I know or I guess people that I didn't know like the girl carry. So even though somebody won't be with me a lot of times. I'll be driving to someone to stay with them. Now. How did you first of all compiled this list of people that you were that you met along the way and that's one question in the other is what is your interview technique? And what will you do with the interviews?

31:38 The list came from asking people for help. Who do you know out there that's inspiring and my friends were really good at helping nominate people and also 49th email on two people. So friends of friends have nominated people and I'm not quite sure what

32:02 I'm going to do with the interviews originally I had thought I would do a book of just inspiring women, which I still would love to do. But I think that this project was a little bit different. I think it's more of a journey of self-discovery and

32:21 I learned a lesson from each inspiring women and like I'd mention from each person. I stayed with our each every day. There's a lesson to be learned and I think that I'll probably write a book about that experience and then hopefully in the future do a book about inspiring women. It's just a separate huge undertaking will you know, it's this kind of experience there are several books that could come out of it. So what have you

32:54 What have you learned about this trip what I mean or not about this trip, but like as a result of this trip, what would be the when you think of? Okay, this is what I've gotten from this trip. What would that be?

33:12 I guess it's just my own strength like learning to rely on myself.

33:21 And then my friends 4 year old daughter.

33:25 Type me a really good lesson to she said crane. Who do you love more than anything anybody in this world? And I said Rocky that's my dog and she's like know who do you really love more than anyone in this world? And I said you and she said no, you know, who do you really love? And I said my sisters and she started laughing. She said crane you need to love yourself more than anything in this world. So I thought this true four-year-old. So I think that that's probably it just becoming really comfortable with myself and learning to love.

33:58 Myself more than anything else in the world because without that you can't give back to the world and you can give to anybody else.

34:10 So do you sing to yourself while you're on the trip by what music do you listen to while you're driving across the country?

34:19 I don't know. I don't think I think to myself. I have a satellite radio. So I listen to 70s 80s and 90s music and then sometimes I'll listen to talk radio. What's up like at MPR or a friend friends? So I'm lit. What is your favorite song? I mean, what's my favorite song?

34:45 I don't have 100K. I don't know. I don't know my favorite musician or that just isn't a part of you are a big part of me.

34:58 If you were thinking about talking to Future generations of your family or future Americans.

35:06 How would you like to remember your dad? What would you like to say to him them about? What kind of person he was hurt or how you'd like to to keep his memory alive? My dad Irwin Tonka babe was

35:21 The strongest man in the world. He had such strength determination, and he was always there for us.

35:31 We could call him at anytime anywhere and he would help us as good as he could and

35:41 Yeah, I would just say he was he was the strongest man alive strong and strength and determination.

35:54 Just described him physically. He was six 3 and he was he was a big man, and he didn't want to die and he held on and held on and the hospice people would say, well this is what's going to happen and

36:16 My dad would not do what they said. He had such he held on so tight with his brain usually people that go up their mental capacities and keep on to their body and he was opposite he held on he was able to communicate so well, so I forgot what your question was. So physically no, but yes, I understand how you how you arrived at where you are right now. So he what did he die of he died of cancer and he thought it for 5 years.

36:52 And

36:55 And then he finally lost the battle.

36:59 So he lived 72 years.

37:03 He was extremely successful. He had three careers in his life and two of them were extremely successful businesses. So

37:17 Your dad was an adventure in a traveler. Can you remember any trips from your childhood or growing up reading later in life that you took with him there, especially memorable.

37:31 We traveled so much. I guess one would be that he introduced us to Yosemite. He took us to Yosemite my family and we still continue that tradition every year now we go to Yosemite and then

37:48 He

37:51 Where else we we would when I was very little we did a lot of car trips and staying at motels and swimming at the in the pool. I remember swimming with him sitting on his shoulders and but in his last days the last couple years I traveled a lot with him for his antique shows and that was really special to me because I got to spend so much quality time with him by myself like a week or more at a time and go to dinner with him and and hear his stories about his life and

38:26 But that's probably

38:30 My favorite is the last year's traveling with him. How is he unlike his peers. It sounds like he was was he was he unlike his peers in any significant way. He just was very

38:46 Courageous. I don't know how to explain it but in business he was just

38:52 Venturesome during he was creative in his business and

39:01 You know, that's what I miss is like being able to say Dad. What would you do? You know that I think that all the time what would dad do what would dad do because he was so smart about business and so creative and so different did he give you any advice and in any life lesson kinds of advice, you know, when he was living on you say that you would ask him. Now. What would you do? Did he tell you what he would do in relationship to your life at one point. I asked him to be a mentor for my business and we had a lot of fun with that. He would give me a Simon since he would say you no work for 4 hours straight don't answer the phone don't certain emails. Don't check your internet.

39:48 And that was one thing he taught me and I can't remember what else.

40:00 Is there anything else you want to share as we're wrapping up? This conversation has been a wonderful experience the road trip and I just would encourage anybody to live their dreams and do it now and not wait, you know time is precious and short and

40:27 You got to live life to the fullest and I totally agree. Thank you so much. Thank you.