Friday, September 17, 2010

The things I learn from NPR

I was going to think of a cute phrase using "N" "P" and "R" but frankly, I'm not feeling that clever today.

I listen to NPR every day. I know, I still shocks me. I feel like it is a sign of growing old, to listen to the news on the radio each day. My earliest memories of NPR are of driving with my grandmother, blaring a barely intelligible static-rattled station. It might have been GBH out of Boston. It barely came in. I would be tucked away in the backseat of her big old Mercedes, or the third row of the huge Buick station wagon, and Grammie would listen to the news. My grandmothers cars were all filled with hay that had fallen out of the bales that she transported in the backseat (why did no one buy this woman a pickup truck, I ASK YOU), and they always smelled vaguely of rotten milk from some carton coming open on the way home from the store, or being forgotten in the trunk altogether in the flood of children and dogs that poured out of the car every time she slowed to a stop. Or near stop. We certainly didn't require a full stop in order to exit out the open back window.

My grandmother had 7 children, her youngest just a few years older than myself, and by the time the grandkids came along, she was pretty much over kids in general. She spent some time with us, sure......but it was limited. And outside of the usual holiday family gatherings, our time together mainly consisted of her driving us somewhere - a cousins house, the beach, or the family house in New Hampshire for a skiing weekend.

And whenever she drove us somewhere - ANYWHERE - she was listening to NPR. That time that I got the stomach flu on a skiing weekend - the first one she ever took me on without my parents (and last one, by the way) we listened to NPR as I lay in the back seat for the drive back to Connecticut, chilled and miserable. I remember my grandfather, too. Also driving me somewhere late at night, listening to the evening news, then stopping at a restaurant for dinner. I truly have no idea where we were going, and it was possibly the only time I was ever alone with my grandfather. With 7 children and 20-odd grandchildren, time alone with him was unheard of, and this one memory I have of "just us" includes hours of NPR on that station with all of the static - the same one my grandmother listened to.

Last night, as I drove to work in the blissful 10 minutes of quiet that mark the beginning of every shift, I was listening to "All Things Considered". It was just like the old days, except that my reception was chrystal clear. And I was totally engrossed. For instance, did you know that there is a part of your brain that figures out what you don't know? If that part of my brain were better developed, I would have NOTHING TO WRITE ABOUT because the stupid shit I do when I should really know better makes up a good part of my writing.

Which is why I continue to listen to NPR - I might not have any common sense, but at least I have the potential to gain some random knowledge that will prove useful someday. Maybe.

1 comment:

RinnieKirk said...

This is weird because I was randomly looking for blogs to read and I stumbled up yours and I WAS LISTENING TO NPR THIS MORNING for the first time in probably a year and thought to myself, I should do this more often! This is enjoyable! Why are all their voices so soothing?