The Blog

Can you spot the upside?
December 15, 2017

Have you heard this one? A guy says, “Nice, it’s finally warm!” The next day: “It’s too hot.”

That’s why I know better than to crave warm weather for running after the bitter cold sets in. There’s such a fine line between warm and too warm.

Still, those first few days of winter running suck. You’ve forgotten what a project it is to dress for it. You’ve forgotten the anxiety brought on by icy roads, stopwatches that may or may not keep working, and texting drivers who don’t even stop texting on icy roads.

But after exactly two days this time around I snapped out of it. We were enjoying a “Colorado ski cold” as opposed to a “Minnesota hell cold,” granted -- so it was easy. “This really isn’t so bad,” I thought.

Not so bad wasn’t quite it, though. It was kind of okay. More than okay. “Really quite enjoyable,” as a little-kid Katie would’ve said. Which is incredible. I was enjoying…a run?

Yep.

It took a while, but I figured out why. My headphones were pressed closer to my head given the thicker headband. Under the rest of my gear I had quite the little concert going between my ears. I have the most beautiful playlist, and I was in my own little “yeah it’s winter but I’m still a badass worker outer” world.

I love surprises!

What makes you look good?
December 13, 2017

Sometimes they take my breath away. Photographs of me as a young woman. I was stunning. Really, truly, objectively stunning.

Did I know that? I think so. I wasn’t smug about it, but at some level I knew I was beautiful.

A few years ago Katie made a list of things she loved about me. “I’m thankful I got your face,” she said. Can you imagine my delight?

What strikes me about those early years was how unhappy I was. It wasn’t that I expected a pretty face to spare me the yuck, not at all. It was more of a realization that my looks couldn’t help with what felt like a tangled mess of only angst. They didn’t guarantee happiness. Nothing guaranteed happiness. I’d eventually decide the pursuit of happiness was beside the point.

The pursuit of meaning? That’s more like it. Being useful, lighting the way for someone else. Seeing the delight on someone’s face because you showed up? That looks good on anybody.

On a beautiful spring day in Kansas City many years ago I had lunch with a guy who was friends with the guy I’d finally broken up with. He’d seen me in a shopping mall, when his pals had elbowed him to look at the cute girl (me). “I know her!” he’d exclaimed. Except he wasn’t sure it was me. Because, as he now told me over salads, I’d looked “statuesque” and “confident.”

I don’t know what statuesque means to you, but to me it evokes good posture -- which I’m rarely accused of having. It makes sense, looking back. Of course I was walking taller. It’s demoralizing to be in a relationship that’s headed nowhere, and I was no longer walking around with that weight on my shoulders.

Oh, sure. I’ve been in love a couple of times. It’s a lovely feeling. But I think I’d take “not being with someone who makes me feel bad” every day of the week and twice on Sunday! You don’t have to take my word for it. Just look at my posture.

What do you hold dear?
December 11, 2017

One thing that strikes Katie about me is how there’s always some new project, something I’m learning about or experimenting with or whatever. “I feel like you’ll always be like that,” she says. Can you imagine a sweeter report card?

coffee in SwitzerlandThe latest experiment, which won’t happen for a couple of months, involves giving up coffee for a week -- and maybe forever. “Excuse me,” I heard myself say with equal parts disbelief and fear as my collaborator explained the terms. “Did you say caffeine was one of the banned substances?”

Indeed he had. Good thing I have a couple of months to taper down. Because, as David Letterman once reported, “Without coffee I would have no identifiable personality whatsoever.”

Should be interesting!

What is college for?
December 10, 2017

Do you know people who are sweating the college admissions process? Not just prospective students, but their friends and especially their parents? I have a gift for them. I don’t usually refer to my talk show as a gift, but this interview with Excellent Sheep author Bill Deresiewicz was a work of art.

Bill reminded me all over again why I got into radio. To have sparkling conversations about things that matter, and to share those with you.

Are you an addict?
December 9, 2017

I admit it. I love how not addicted I am to my smartphone. I attribute much loveliness about my life to that one thing. And I’ve noticed, more and more as the years go by, how rare that is among adults.

Increasingly heartbreakingly, it’s rare among little kids.

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to compete with a smartphone for a parent’s attention. It strikes me as the recipe for an unhappy childhood. But lately I’ve also wondered how parents can possibly compete for a child’s attention once that child learns how to use a phone. How could a conversation with Mom, for example, enchant the way “Lights! Camera! Action!” does?

It’s up to Mom (and Dad, of course) to keep that from happening, which is challenging if Mom and Dad are glued to their phones. But even if they aren’t, you have friends and family and sometimes complete strangers handing a phone to the kid. “Oh, isn’t that cute?” everyone (well, almost everyone) says, while gazing at the computer skills of Too Young to Talk But Old Enough to Scroll. It would take a parent who isn’t afraid of alienating the Everybody’s Doing It crowd to go against that grain, to politely hand the phone back to the owner.

That’s what it will take to keep a child from becoming addicted to technology, though. Just ask the inventors of it!

“I have good news and bad news,” Darrell told me recently. “Which would you like first?”

“Here’s what I’d like,” I told him. “I’d like to meet the person who wants the good news first!”

He looked at me, wide-eyed with delight. “What a great answer,” he said.

“Why did it only now occur to me?” I wondered.

My guess is that I’m treating fewer exchanges as throwaway these days. Doesn’t Darrell deserve the same thoughtfulness I afford my guests on the talk show? I think he does.

AIn my ongoing quest to finish a few projects, I started making a daily to-do list. On paper. With a pen. I’ve been operating with one (or five or ten) of those in digital form for what feels like forever, but you know how it goes with digital junk drawers. Out of sight, out of mind, nothing ever really gets done.

The difference is stunning.

A friend once told me words have weight. On paper? They feel weightier!