Friday, January 22, 2010

Early Morning Ramblings and a Love Song to NPR

Yesterday morning, I slept until 7:30 a.m.--that's after falling asleep at 9 p.m. I can't remember the last time I did that. That's one way that I know I'm fighting off a cold, that and my scratchy throat, my awareness of my sinuses in a way that I'm not usually.

I also know that I'm fighting off a cold because my appetite disappears. I could go the whole day without eating.

I wonder if this experience is how normal people experience food and hunger. I spend my whole day thinking about food, enjoying the memory of my last meal, planning for the next meals, making myself hungry, eating. It's no wonder I'm carrying extra weight.

And today, I find myself awake early, after going to sleep later than usual (but still early, compared to most grown ups, at 10:30). I'm listening to an amazing interview on Fresh Air with Patti Smith. I've always found her interesting because she started life with no intention of becoming the godmother of punk. She was a poet. She said that girls didn't become rock'n'rollers back then, with the exception of Grace Slick, and she didn't have Grace Slick's voice. She didn't play an instrument. Her thick New Jersey accented voice wouldn't lead us to think that she could sing.

She says she saw herself as a performer and a communicator, and her first album was where she tried to merge poetry and rock, and to reach out to all the disaffected groups that she saw.

I've always been in love with music, and one of my alternate Kristins (as I think of, when I think of the paths I didn't take) is touring the country, playing everywhere she can get a gig, writing songs as the miles go by, picking up abandoned instruments at yard sales, and collaborating with interesting musicians of all kinds. It's wonderful to hear this interview.

One of the biggest advantages of the Internet for me is the ability to hear NPR stories that I have missed as they air. Now it's amazing to me to think back to a time where if you weren't listening to the radio, you just missed things that were gone forever--the same way, my students can't comprehend a world before VCRs, where movies came to the theatre, you had a narrow window of time to see them, and then they were gone, probably forever.

I've always written best with NPR talking in the background. I used to live in a place with an NPR station that was more classical music, and when the news programs clicked off, I'd try other forms of talk radio--but the shouting and screaming was too much for me (although I must confess a shocking addiction to Dr. Laura Schlessinger for a brief time)--and the commercials were jarring, with their change in volume, their sound effects--impossible to tune it all out.

I like having NPR on when I write, because when I hit a snag, I have something to focus upon, until I either call it a day or I figure out how to go on in my writing. I like having NPR on when I do other art forms, because I have something to listen to. I know that television works for some people, but I find the picture too distracting. I like having NPR on when I drive, because I have something to think about besides the miserable traffic situations.

I wonder if individual stations will soon find their donors not giving money because of the easy availability of programming on the Internet. Will NPR stations find themselves in the position of newspapers?

This morning I'm feeling better--not much of a scratchy throat left, just some slight congestion. Hurrah.

Soon it will be off to spin class, off to the office. But I'll take that vision of Patti Smith with me: poet turned musician turned godmother of punk. I'll think of roads not taken--or should I say, roads not yet taken, roads yet to be revealed?

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