Chats and Conversations

Manchild is a fairly good conversationalist these days. We talk about geography. (“Rogers Ave ends at Dean Street,” I’ll say. “That’s false,” he’ll reply.) We talk about the absurdities of the world. (“Mom, did you know Hungry Hungry Hippos is a funny game because hippos don’t really eat marbles and marbles aren’t food.”) We talk about the past. (“When I was a little baby, we had two Buggy Boards and I rode on just one of them.”) We talk about the future. (“Mom, someday I want a baby sister.”) I count myself blessed that it took less than four years for us to reach this point in our lives.

But despite his chattiness, his excellent grasp on the nature of the world, and his unquenchable thirst for finding his place in it, I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in redundancy. It’s exhausting to listen to him tell me, for the eighth time, about how sometimes the F train runs on the C line, and that it is an express train now because it skips Smith and 9th Street on the way to Manhattan, or that when he was a little baby . . . .  And that is when I sneak away to enjoy some more sophisticated conversation.
Is it still a conversation if I don’t actually participate? Is it sneaking away if all I do is put my earbuds in and push play?

Some days my little rendezvous with Terry Gross or Ira Glass or Kurt Andersen or Mark and Simon or Jad and Robert are lifesavers. An hour or two later I take out the earbuds feeling informed, inspired, and a little less isolated. I can hear Manchild a little better as he works out his thoughts and imaginings for me. I am a little slower to lose my patience when Squish drops jars of condiments onto the tile floor. I feel more connected to the world. And, perhaps best of all, it is usually just about time for Micah to get home, which means I have someone to share my newly acquired knowledge with. Or something to talk about on our long runs.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who derives mental and physical energy from listening to other people talk. Who do you listen to? Is there a podcast or radio show that I’m totally missing out on? I subscribe to Fresh Air and This American Life, Studio 360, Kermode and Mayo’s Film Reviews, and Radio Lab. I listen to Planet Money occasionally because it is Micah’s favorite, and I’m a fan of Grammar Girl, though I don’t listen to her regularly. I’ve been told that Diane Rehm should be in my queue, and that I am probably and unsuspecting Morning Edition person. I’m always in the market for something interesting, something stimulating, something to buoy me up when I’m up to my ears in kiddie conversations.

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  1. Eapen got me onto Ted Talks– a vast array of topics. You have re-inspired me to listen to podcasts. How do you manage with Manchild awake? I too suffer from the exasperation of hearing the same_things_over_and_over again! (and I laughed out loud about the F train running on the C line!!!! Tell Manchild I too find that irritating) And a baby sister? That is so sweet.


    Misty Reply:

    AMEN! Ted talks are amazing!


  2. I second the suggestion for Ted Talks.

    Diane Rehm has seemed more sensationalist than I like as of late. An example: DR says, “The PM of Japan has said this is the worst disaster in Japan since WWII, and I’m assuming he’s comparing the nuclear power plant to Hiroshima.” Her guest calmly explains that A) people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki died more from the bomb blast than the radiation B) there is very minimal radiation problem right now and finally, C) what radiation IS there might possibly contribute to an increased cancer risk, but the area was evacuated, and it is, actually, a little insensitive to say that possible future cancer risk is more important than the 10000 people dead and thousands more without homes or power which is what the PM was probably referring to.

    *dead air*

    Diane asks her other guest about Hiroshima.

    GAAAAH! The muckraking and ignorance drives me crazy.

    Now that I’m done with my rant, I will say I love to listen to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and sometimes, On The Media. I also like perusing GC talks from years past and listening to one that’s unfamiliar to me.


    lizzie Reply:

    I listened to my first Diane Rehm show yesterday and was surprised at how she seemed to be digging for answers from her guest that he wouldn’t give. But I definitely enjoyed the subject matter (grammar and language) and will probably go back if she has a guest that interests me.


  3. lizzie

    March 23rd, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    I’ll definitely look into Ted Talks. Thanks for the referral.

    How do I manage with Manchild awake? I try to be boring so he’ll leave me alone. Or I realize that I’m not going to get anything done anyway, so I’ll give in and play games with him. It does get easier as he gets older.


  4. I’m a podcast junkie–I like to listen while cooking or doing housework, or even when getting dressed or ready for bed. I regularly listen to The News from Lake Wobegon (Garrison Keillor’s fictional town), The Story Corps podcast, The Moth–personal narratives (there’s a wide variety of topics, they do put warnings on ones that have adult themes), Wait, Wait Don’t Tell me news quiz (I really should have another source for news), Poetry Off the Shelf, This American Life, and Radio Lab. I also like to listen to past General Conference and even the scriptures sometimes.


    lizzie Reply:

    Oh, I haven’t heard of Poetry off the Shelf. I bet my mom would like that. I’m also kind of surprised that I don’t already subscribe to Story Corps and the Moth. I’ll have to add them to my list. Thanks, Elisabeth.


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