The Blog

I remember wondering even as I perused the article in our local newspaper, “Wouldn’t it be something if there was a reason I feel compelled to read this?”

It was a story about one of Katie’s favorite teachers who almost died of carbon monoxide poisoning a few years ago. We used to have a carbon monoxide detector, but when it kept telling us we had something to worry about when we didn’t, we never got around to replacing it with a more reliable one. After I read the article I put “carbon monoxide detector” on my shopping list. That’s where it might’ve remained for a while longer, had all three of us not woken up with headaches on the same morning.

Sure enough, we had a problem. We fixed it. And I was reminded all over again how important it is to share our stories.

Have you checked your batteries lately?

Here’s the biggest way I’ve changed as a talk show host these past several years. I sound relaxed now. Unhurried. I don’t try to cram a book’s worth of material into an hour-long interview.

“It’s your show,” Darrell kept telling me. “Take all the time you need.”

It’s my show, and I want it to be the radio equivalent of hanging out on a porch swing with a glass of lemonade. A respite from the hyperconnected world we live in, a place to recharge.

What do you love most about the people you love?

I bet it’s the feeling they have all the time in the world for you.

You have my attention. Thank you for yours!

Radio AmericaAre you as eager to read Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking, as I am? An exchange she had with her mother, a computer programmer, broke my heart.

It reminded me of our visit to Radio America last summer. The gentlemen we had lunch with walked Darrell and Katie and me to our parking garage when it was time to say goodbye, and took the opportunity to tell us how much they appreciated our show.

One thing they appreciated above almost anything else? How well-produced it is. It always times out perfectly, with no artifacts -- radiospeak for popped P’s and background noise. Which is all Darrell. I don’t pop my P’s and my distance from the microphone almost never varies. But except for that bare minimum of contribution to the editing, I have zero to do with it. It is, as I said, all Darrell.

It reminded me what our friend Skip Joeckel (hi, Skip!) told us when we contemplated national syndication. I wondered why he hadn’t passed us off to a consultant. “Two things,” he told me. “You sound radio. And you have Darrell.” Someone has to know how to prepare the shows for upload to a satellite, after all -- and it isn’t me, because I barely understand what I just said.

Darrell’s an unsung hero, like Amanda Palmer’s mom.

Katie’s friends are forever telling her what a cool job I have. Suddenly I worry I don’t tell her often enough the fun begins and ends with Dad.

Does this count?

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photo courtesy of Katie Anderson

Are you leaving behind work people will care about after you’re gone?

That’s an okay goal, I think. Better, though, to be in it for the work itself -- now. And besides, that increases the likelihood you’ll meet the first goal.

I don’t mind admitting how much I loved reading this post again as I combed through more of the archives to fix dead links.

Funny it’s entitled, “recycle.”

It’s none of our business, but it was a fun thing to chew on as a family. Did Cheryl Strayed go on an eleven-hundred mile hike through the wilderness so she could one day write a book about it?

Cheryl says no, if memory serves.

I know one thing. My next book was inspired by events I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But the book after that, about giving up junk food and getting my life back for good, was partially inspired by the possibility of a book. I thought giving up junk food for a year would be an experiment worth doing -- and sharing. At least as worthwhile as, say, The Year of Living Biblically -- nothing against that author or the Bible or even organized religion.

We’re all writing our life stories, as it turns out. People who write professionally might find it easier to remember that -- and to do something about the boring patches.

Whatever it takes!

The other day I ran into a gal who’d attended my latest presentation about my diet. “You said something in passing,” she offered, “that may have more to do with why you’re slender than what you eat.”

And that was?

“You stop eating a few hours before bedtime.”

Indeed I do.

She reminded me what I’d forgotten, that it is possible for me to gain weight even without eating junk food. When I realized that a few years ago I made that one little tweak, which not only sent the scale right back down to as low as I ever want to be -- but helped me sleep so much better it didn’t feel like a sacrifice.

I don’t go hungry -- unless I’m on one of those forty-eight hour fasts I do once every three months, more to reset my immune system than anything -- but I also don’t graze on even the healthy things just for something to do.

Magic!

Are you raising sheep?
February 26, 2015

New York CityWhen Katie decided to go to college at NYU people sometimes asked if I was worried about her. “I’m more worried about New York,” I teased them. “New York’s not going to know what hit it.”

We’d had plenty of previews, after all. We’d been to the big city plenty of times. It wasn’t long before Katie felt more at home there than she did at home.

So, no. I wasn’t worried. I haven’t worried about Katie taking care of herself since she was a preschooler on the playground -- scolding older boys for being too rough on some bouncy thing.

It comes in handy, that sense of self. Kate has an on-campus job she loves so much she’d do it if she wasn’t getting paid. She had to audition for it (this is NYU, after all) and it’s a lovely distraction from her scary difficult classes. Scary difficult to me, that is. More like annoyingly difficult, to her.

When the person who looked over her resume told her the people hiring for some internship wouldn’t care about some of her on-campus work her first thought was, “But I love that!”

Then, instead of trying to fit herself into some preconceived pretzel of an applicant for that target job, she immediately questioned the target.

Is that the best report card, or what?

Katie isn’t afraid to take an unpopular stance, and Darrell and I are so proud of her for that. We’re proud of her for knowing who she is, where she’s going, and who might be fun to have along.

I often wonder what I could’ve accomplished with even a fraction of Katie’s self esteem. Then I realize there’s still time to deliver on my own potential, thanks to her great example.

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photo courtesy of Katie Anderson

No nonsense. It’s a philosophy of life, yes -- but also a brand of socks.

I love them. I love them in a way a normal person might be embarrassed to admit. But really. Is there anything better on a cold winter day than climbing out of a hot bath and tucking your powdered feet into a brand-new pair of cozy socks?

I would’ve probably left it at that, but when I recently realized the tights I love are the same brand -- they look great, they last forever, and you don’t have to wrangle a stiff piece of cardboard packaging out of one of the legs before you can wear them -- I thought, “Okay. That’s it. Somebody should get a letter from this most happy customer.”

So I wrote one and sent it by snail mail.

What do you do for fun? Watch TV? Bash people?