Here’s my call-in radio show call-in station. Please note my fourth cup of coffee. Please also note that telephone. Children, that’s called a “land line.” It’s an ancient artifact from the days in which people didn’t need everything to be so terribly confusing and realized it was totally gross to have your phone with you in the restroom.
So, on Friday, I called in as a guest on Katrina Murphy’s excellent radio show, Questions That Bother Me So. I must thank Katrina for what was, all in all, a totally awesometacular experience (I’m thinking at some point that the archives will pop up here, so keep an eye out) (keep an eye out — that’s a really, really weird thing to say, isn’t it? I mean, if your eye was out, you wouldn’t really be able to see, would you?) (that’s not a tangent, as it keeps with the theme — I mean, if any questions bothers you so, it should probably be that one).
I have to admit that I love talk radio, especially live talk radio. There’s something about the cadence of the human voice, the magic of language happening in real-time, that’s absolutely captivating. That is, it is as a listener — while there is a fascination with how you are the human whose voice is cadencing over the Interwebs and the air, and it’s your language that’s happening in real-time, I have to admit that, as a participant, I was a little terrified.
This could be due to the fact that I prepared for my on-air appearance by drinking five cups of coffee and attempting to lure my overly vocal feline companions into other rooms by plying them with treats. Or it could be due to the fact that I spent all morning obsessively repeating to myself the following mantra: for God’s sake don’t say um and don’t say like, for God’s sake, please. Or perhaps I was nervous because I was wearing owl pajamas and Muk-Luks, as I often do, because I am a grown woman, which of course I knew no one could actually see, but perhaps they could just sense it.
This is what I suppose Alice B. Toklas was doing when I was talking, when she wasn’t creeping out the neighbors or eating a stack of firewood or something.
Thankfully, I was in very good hands, and Katrina calmed my nerves immediately. Gertrude Stein, who’s part Siamese and really loves to talk about that, did make her way into the living room, but somehow managed not to meow and to only bite me once. Alice B. Toklas, thankfully, held to her belief that watching whatever the neighbors are doing and chewing on cardboard boxes is way more interesting than anything I’m up to. And I found myself letting go of my fear and just having a great time talking to someone — which is also, I think, why I love talk radio so much: it’s like eavesdropping, at its best, on a really juicy conversation.
Gertrude Stein decided to help me with the poem I needed to read.
I think that part of my nervousness, too, has to do with the fact that in conversation, I’m not very focused. That’s because everything is interesting. Seriously. I could talk for three hours about the Statesboro formal wear store, Frills and Fancies, on the corner of Main, Main, Main, and Main, and then for six more hours about how, in Statesboro, there’s a corner of Main, Main, Main, and Main. Every single detail — from the revolving mannequin in a feathered prom dress to the fact that their Hunger Games-themed prom window display seemed to be made Hunger Games-themed only by the edition of an old-fashioned big screen TV — is interesting to me. That’s largely why, I think, I was drawn to writing in the first place: in writing, every such detail has a place. It has a weight and a significance and it works with other details to build an entirely new world. And I think, too, this lack of focus is why I was drawn in particular to poetry: it’s a form that, by its very nature, demands focus. It’s a way I learned to sift through the details I collect every day and weigh their significance. It’s how I learned to learn from them, and how I learned to focus enough to find the words to show other people what I’ve learned.
And if I end up with a collection titled Frills and Fancies, well, now you know why.
Gertrude and I. Sigh.