Word from Wales: Brenda Dayne, doyenne of "Cast On: A Podcast for Knitters," tells me that my piece will be included in the next episode, this weekend.
I'm proud to be part of what she's doing, because the first episodes have been good, solid work. Marilyn is also writing for her, so I'm in heady company.
By the way, Brenda's "half episode," number 1.5, is a simple, poetic description of a rare snow day in her valley* in Wales. It's as beautiful a recorded piece as I've ever heard, on par with any NPR commentary, and it's matched perfectly with Alison Crowe's gentle, soulful take on "In the Bleak Midwinter." Give yourself a holiday present and check it out.
You don't have to have an iPod, or even an mp3 player, to tune in. If you visit the Web site and click on the "Listen to..." links for each episode, most Internet browsers will download the file and start playing it right over your computer.
Bring In Da Noise
I recorded my essay at home, on my Mac, using a little Logitech microphone I bought at the Apple store on Michigan Avenue even though the salespeople didn't really seem to want to sell it to me. I love Macs, but I hate the sales staff at that store. If you're not buying an iPod or a complete G5 set-up, or don't look sufficiently cool (i.e., you have washed your hair that week) they simply don't want to speak to you.
I once needed a new copy of Photoshop - a program that runs many hundreds of dollars - but had a question about the version on the shelf. Before I could get anybody's attention I had to stand in the middle of the sales floor and shout "Attention: I'm looking to spend a whole lot of money right now!"
But I got my microphone, and I plugged it into my beloved little iMac and prepared myself to emote, and elocute, and enunciate. My desk faces a window wall that looks out on Lake Michigan. Light snow was falling, and lights in the neighboring apartment buildings were beginning to glow. All was hushed. Perfect.
I took a breath, and clicked "record."
"It is a truth," I said. And then one of my neighbors, whose car horn plays "La Cucaracha," decided to announce his arrival at home in song. Four times.
"It is a truth universally-"
And the Irving Park bus ran into a parked car directly in front of my building. Screeeeeeee! Wham! Crunch! Yelling. The evening commute honked its collective displeasure for ten minutes.
Fire alarm in the building next door. Four engines (I counted), a ladder truck, an ambulance, and two police cars with sirens wailing. Twenty minutes.
Darkness had fallen.
American Airlines Flight 345 from Frostbite Falls International passed by on its way to O'Hare. I waved to the pilot, who waved back.
On this attempt, I made it to the last 20 seconds of the piece and then my phone, which I had put into "silent" mode, started playing music at full volume to announce a new voice message. (Apparently the design geniuses at Samsung assume that when you tell the phone to be silent, you don't mean completely silent.)
Erase erase erase erase.
I decided that the next take would be the final take, even if the apartment suffered an invasion of angry chickens or the people upstairs decided to throw a rhumba party or the gigantic chow down the hall finally decided to answer my prayers and noisily devour the guy who owns him.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged..."
I read through the entire piece in one shot with style, with grace, with magnificent diction and flawless timing. The city held its collective breath, waiting until the final full stop.
And then I realized I'd forgotten to click "record."
*Does everybody in Wales live in a valley? All the people I ever recall hearing about who live in Wales live in valleys, usually green ones. There are plenty of them, I'm sure, but the presence of so many valleys suggests a proximity to hills. Are the hilltops totally inhospitable? Or merely unfashionable?