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February 13, 2013 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-02-13

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Confessions of an NPR addict
by Jesse Klein

ann arbor affairs: courting a cam
In the final vignette of the film any butterflies. I didn't leave with
"Paris Je T'aime," an American a deep longing to return again.
woman travels to Paris alone, eyes There were no sparks, no fire-
wide with awe and bewilderment works and certainly no bouquets
as she wanders aimlessly through of red roses.
the City of Lights. When I returned to Columbus,
Ohio during winter break of my
C' freshman year, I wanted noth-
ing more to do with Ann Arbor. I
glanced at the University's pam-
phlet sitting upon my old child-
hood desk, the beaming faces
taunting me as if to say, "Look
how much fun you should be hav-
ing!"

PUS by bethany biron
I was flattered enough to stick
around.
Our relationship endured, and
the summer after sophomore
year I found myself living in Ann
Arbor completely alone for the
first time in my life. My room-
mate left for her summer job as
a camp counselor in northern
Michigan, and our apartment for
two suddenly dwindled into an
apartment for one.
I decided to take the extra alone
time to get to know Ann Arbor
a bit more intimately - since we
had made it this far, after all. I
went on bike rides through the
suburbs, spent hours thumbing
through novels at Dawn Treader
and traversed the Ann Arbor
Farmers Market in search of the
perfect tomato. Sometimes I ana-
lyzed art for entire afternoons at
UMMA and then licked frosting
off my fingers at The Cupcake
Station after hiking in the Arb.
Could it be that I was developing
feelings?
One day in June, exhausted
after cramming for an economics
final, I walked out into the Law
Quad and sat on that bench. A
smile started to stretch across my
face as I realized this town had
won my heart. It had given me so
many things to love. And, for the
first time, I loved it back.

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Her French is abysmal, and
she hasn't fully grasped what she
is doing there - all she knows is
somewhere, hidden among -the
pastel-colored macaroons and the
Arc de Triomphe, there's some-
thing she has yet to find.
Sitting upon a park bench on
the last day of her trip, the after-
noon sun dancing whimsically
across her face, she finally finds it.
Her eyes begin to well with tears
as she stares dreamily across the
Parisian skyline, overcome with
the realization that she is experi-
encing true love for the first time.
This particular scene resonates
for me because I've been there.
Not to Paris - to a similar look-
ing bench in the Law Quad, upon
which I too felt the unexpected
warmth of adoration washing
over me. This wasn't the roman-
tic type of love - with its inter-
twined hands, sweet nothings and
coquettish grins - but the deep
affection for a place, a landscape.
However, my relationship with
Ann Arbor wasn't love at first
sight, as is the case with many
great loves; it took time.
Our first date didn't quite start
off on the right foot. I didn't feel

ILLUSTRATION BY MEGAN MULHOLLAND

it

Dissatisfied and disheartened,
I began searching for other pros-
pects, scouring the Internet for a
better match, allured by the effer-
vescent sunshine of University of
California, Berkeley, the comfort
and ease of Ohio State University.
Never mind what their transfer
rates. were, I was hell-bent on
finding my academic soul mate.
I returned to Ann Arbor in
January and reluctantly agreed
to let the city drag me on a sec-
ond date. The second shot wasn't
much better than the first, but
this time I felt the faint glim-
mer of belonging - of an insti-
tution dedicated to reinstating
my diminished sense of purpose
and drive. I slowly started to feel
inspired again. I started writing.
I made friends. Ann Arbor hadn't
knocked me head-over-heels, but

f you asked my roommates what's the
hardest part about living with me, they
would probably say it's the fact that I
listen to talk radio while I sleep. Apparently
when the headphones fall out of my ears, it's
super annoying to hear Carl Kasell's voice at
two in the morning. I wouldn't know; I love
him.
. I don't listen to just any talk radio; this is
NPR. National Public Radio. 88.5 FM is the
station in my hometown. Characterized by
economic, political and cultural programs
with jazz interludes and possibly (read: prob-
ably) the same voices from 40 years ago. I
fall into three of the four characteristics for
their demographic: early 50s, white, middle
income with a liberal bias. And of course
there's the annual pledge drive, which, to me,
is the sound of my childhood.
I have been listeningto NPR since I was six
years old. My mom would drive my brother
and me to Freemont, Calif. for our respective
guitar and dance lessons. The soundtrack for
the two-hour round trip was "Wait Wait...
Don't Tell Me," where I learned about all the
different ways a criminal could steal sau-
sages by stuffing-them into their pants. And
on the way back, "This American Life" with

Ira Glass's breathy monologues and amazing
stories of the strange, the mundane and the
almost impossible. And if we were lucky, and
traffic was a little slow on the way back, we
would catch the beginning of "Car Talk." On
other nights, I remember staying up late with
my family listening to the annual "Pretty
Good Joke Show" and laughing at jokes I was
too young to really understand.
And I haven't even gotten to "A Prairie
Home Companion," - which to this day I
still don't understand all the time, but that
doesn't stop me from listening. The sto-
ries of Garrison Keillor (Private I) in Lake
Wobegon makes me feel like I'm sitting
near a crackling fire after having heard one
of President Franklin Roosevelt's fireside
chats. After TV came along, radio was just
music, news and sports. But on NPR, they're
keeping the vintage style of radio alive, play-
ing radio shows with episodes and characters
and story lines, even though it's possible I'm
the only one who's listening.
Honestly, I'm not even sure when my fas-
cination with NPR became a necessity; all I
know is now I can't sleep unless "Wait Wait...
Don't Tell Me" is playing. When my 'mind
won't turn off and all I want to do is calm

down but instead I'm freaking out about an
orgo exam, Peter Sagal is the only man I want
in my bed. And when I don't want to leave the
house because it's snowing and two degrees,
the only thing that can distract me from the
cold are the stories by Mike Birbiglia and
David Sedaris. This summer, when the only
song on the radio was Goyte's "Somebody
That I Used To Know," I filled my ears with
"Morning Edition." Part of my packing rou-
tine for my frequent flights home is to upload
my iPod with the most recent "Freakonom-
ics" episodes - otherwise the six-hour flight
feels like 20.And if I'm too lazy to uploadnew
episodes, I'll listen to the same ones until I've
memorized the 40-minute show.
My friends tease me about it. My room-
mates don't understand. I was once morti-
fied in front of a sophomore history class for
having more in common with my 70-year-old
teacher than my classmates. I used my love of
NPR in a college essay; it's a great source for
dinner conversation and English assignments
and even better for drowning out my dad's
snoring on family vacations.
I may be obsessed - addicted even. The
medical definition of addiction reads: "A com-
pulsive need for and use of a habit-forming

substance." Compulsive sounds like the right
word to me. Neurotic, irresistible, habit-form-
ing. The more I listen, the more I want new
episodes of the shows and when there isn't,
I settle for bottom of the barrel: NPR's "All
Things Considered."
I try pretty hard to keep my addiction hid-
den in my headphones. Experience has taught
me that drunk people get pretty brutal if you
plug your iPod into the party speakers and
instead of "Call Me Maybe" you accidentally
get Glass's slightly creepy voice blaring out of
the speakers.
So yes, NPR could be my crutch. When-
ever life's hard or too overwhelming I know
I can escape into the dulcet tones of Kai
Risdall. I block out the world by listening to
experts discuss the biggest and most wide-
spread issues. To most people this would
probably make them more anxious. But my
problems seem so small and silly in compari-
son, and that's a relief. No matter how awful
my test went or how shitty someone treated
me, we're all screwed in the longrun anyway
- including that asshole who cut me off this
morning.
JesseKlein is an LSA sophomore.

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