I just finished listening to a podcast called S-town. It’s a tough and amazing story, though not for the faint of heart, cursing-wise and other-stuff-wise, but I fell in love with the main character, John B, by the end of the first episode.
(The skinny: A resident of S-town, Alabama, John B. emails the folks at National Public Radio’s This American Life, imploring them, somewhat relentlessly, to come down from New York and help uncover a covered-up murder. The nice folks at TAL do indeed head south, and the S-town podcast is born.)
After listening to the first episode, I texted my husband the link to the podcast with this message: You have GOT to listen to this. The main character is fantastic. You will love it.
My husband listened to the first episode. He liked it. He didn’t love it.
I couldn’t figure out why this man I loved so much (my husband) didn’t love this other man I loved so much (John B.) until I started listening to the second episode. And then it hit me: John B. and I were cut from similar cloths. He felt familiar.
While he is not someone with whom I’d want more than a podcast relationship, I felt a kinship with this Alabaman. Why? Because John B. obsesses. He cannot stop thinking about things like climate change, making a hedge maze, caring for stray dogs, climate change, and don’t forget climate change. He says he hates where he lives. He cannot abide the racism or the lack of quality education. He cannot believe people don’t care that polar ice caps are melting. He counts minutes and repairs old clocks and determines the meaning of a life well lived, and he is terrified that people are not paying attention to, for example, climate change. I think it was the second episode where he says something to the effect of, IS ANYONE PAYING ATTENTION?
I wonder that very question a hundred times a day.
A few weeks ago, we had a sunny, perfect Seattle-weather day. My husband and I sat outside, watching our puppy go nuts over a squirrel that was fifty feet up the huge pine tree in our tiny yard. Up on his hind legs, the pup was barking and chewing at the tree bark as if he were part beaver. It’s not healthy, his squirrel obsession. But it feels familiar.
Before the squirrel arrived, my normal husband and not-so-normal I were talking about Ariana Grande concerts, refugees, politicians, the deaths by suicide of Chris Cornell, an 8th grader in our community and a 7th grader in the next town over. I talk about these topics quite a lot, mostly because I want to understand how certain things happen, and why they happen, and is there anything I can do to stop them from happening? And again with my threadbare question, Is anyone paying attention?
I took a breath. I asked my normal husband, “Does it bother you that I can get a little … obsessed?” [Read more…]