Monday, February 09, 2009

I am putty.

Tonight as I was cleaning the house I started running through my massive collection of This American Life episodes.  If I was ever to have enough passion about a product to go door-to-door it would be this one.  I'd be a missionary or a salesperson for This American Life.  If you haven't listened to it already - you must.  See below for my recommended episodes.

As my iPod worked it's way down the list, starting with A Little Bit of Knowledge and headed towards Your Dream, My Nightmare I stumbled across one of the treasures.  Apology.  An entire episode devoted to apologies.  And in this treasure I found a nugget of truth for myself. 

One of the acts of the episode is David Sedaris reading from his book, Dress Your Children in Corduroy and Denim.  I've listened to this episode before - maybe even a few times on drives and such.  But tonight I heard him say something, while talking about his sister Lisa, that feels true of me.  (I'm using my dictaphone skills here and typing while he's talking - this material is all his!)

College hadn't quite worked out the way she'd expected, and after two years in Virginia she'd returned to Raleigh and taken a job at a wineshop.  It was a normal enough life for a twenty-on-year-old, but being a dropout was not what she had planned for herself.  Worse than that, i had not been planned for her.  As children, we'd been assigned certain roles- leader, bum, troublemaker, slut - titles that effectively told us who we were.  Since Lisa was the oldest, smartest, and bossiest, it was assumed that she would shoot to the top of her field, earning a master's degree in manipulation and eventually taking over a medium-sized country.  We'd always know her as an authority figure, and while we took a certain joy in watching her fall, it was disorienting to see her with so little confidence.  Suddenly she was relying on other's opinions, following their advice, and withering at the slightest criticism.  "Do you really think?  Really?"  She was putty.  

It's frightening to hear it stated, so clearly, from the voice of a stranger.  As if he'd called my siblings, cousins, family and friends and then read it outloud on stage.

I don't like it - but it's true of me.  My prescripted life plan veered off the path a while ago. While there are parts of my now that I love and cherish,  I know I look at where I am versus where I thought I would be with disappointment, angst, and anger.  

Somewhere I lost that umph I once had.  Kind of like Stella and her groove.  And I'm just trying to get it back.  

For more This American Life brilliance - check your local NPR stations for schedules or subscribe to their weekly podcast.  You'll discover some jewels.  Or check out these episodes for purchase either at their website or on iTunes.  

#270 Family Legends  (Act Two is AMAZING!)
Switched at Birth  (I listen to this one every month.  I still cannot get over it.)
(I better stop here - I could just keep going, and going...)

Do you feel like you can listen to one within the next week?  Can I call you and follow-up?

1 comment:

TJ said...

you know, i don't think any of us are where we thought we would be. i never wanted to live here again. i for sure didn't plan on living all the other places we've lived. or having to deal with what have become the realities of my life. i think we need to be like the garmin. we can take a detour, but i think we'll still get to where we need to be. the problem is, sometimes we don't know what that place is. and thats the crap part of it all. we'll see if i can listen to one this week. maybe while i cross stitch.:)