Tell Me a Story

My fitbit tells me it’s 5:30.  “Wow!  I slept in,” I think, but the analog clock on the kitchen wall counters.  Last night daylight savings time began, and it’s “really” 4:30.

When I was teaching, I hated this weekend to the same extent that I embraced that extra hour in the fall.  My morning, which I love, was an hour shorter.  I happen to enjoy the dark before dawn, that gradual awakening.  Stars, bright Orion overhead—if I’m honest, the only constellation I can consistently recognize that has followed me in my move West—lift my heart and my gaze.

It was spring 2014 when trapped in the malaise of this very phenomenon, I accidentally found Serial on npr.  Late to the party, I was looking for anything to distract me.  An npr email led me to Sarah Koenig’s exploration of the conviction of teen Adnan Syed for the murder of a female classmate when he was in high school.  It was probably noon when I started, (almost typed “watching”), listening.  My husband arriving home, the familiar sound of the opening front door at 5:30, found me on my knees, rotating languidly back-and-forth in the office desk chair, still riveted.

An article I read yesterday touts using audio books with students, the power of the spoken word for readers, reluctant and otherwise, to draw them into story.  Benefits include tracking ideas, fostering increased visualization, and the list goes on.  The cognitive load of decoding is lessened while the process of “movie-making” is heightened, that very thing that sophisticated readers do so rapidly that it seems instantaneous.  If I’m trapped in a car I might choose the audio option, but truthfully, I like to read at my own pace—generally faster.  My son once told me that he had listened to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road as he drove home from college.  Then he said, “Mom, I’m gonna have to read it again on my own.  I’m not sure that the way the novel was read is how I should see it.  It shaped the way I thought about it.”  My exact complaint.

Podcasts are different.  They are story-without-text for the listener, a playground for the mind without the heavy lifting, though what npr calls “driveway moments,” sitting with the engine off while This American Life or Radio Lab hold sway are real.  If you’re wondering what to do today with those DST blues, maybe try Serial?

9 thoughts on “Tell Me a Story”

  1. Your teaser grabbed me b/c I was tricked into wondering what DST meant! I’ll chalk up my momentary lapse in knowledge to the one less hour of my morning! I, too, felt robbed this morning, but was determined to pack in as much as I could before heading out to church. As a fourth grade teacher, I see all levels of reading in my classroom from 1st grade all the way up to beyond a 6th grade ability. The “movie-making” gets put on center-stage when listening to story. I appreciate your son’s reflection about needing to re-read the story he listened to in order to glean a more profound meaning from the story. Wondering if he ever followed through on that thought and how his perception may have been altered? Thanks for the insightful slice!

    1. Yes, he did, because that’s who he is. He did say it colored his perception in nuance rather than theme, but he was glad to have tested his theory. Gotta love kids! Thanks for the extent of your comments. I love that I feel I know you a bit better. (I’ll head over to your post now;-)

  2. I love your opening, where you describe the gradual awakening as you move from dark into daylight. And thanks for the reminder about Serial–I heard the beginning and found it riveting, but haven’t ever made the time to listen to the whole thing. Maybe this is the month!

    1. It’s worth the time…I am amazed that, despite the judgment being vacated, he still awaits a decision about the retrial in jail. Thanks for your comments.

  3. The same moment of dread happened to me when I realized I lost an hour. I have not listened to npr, but you are the second to mention it this week, I may have to give it a try.

    1. I don’t think you’ll regret the time you spend listening. I am always amazed by what I learn. I also get great writing inspiration.

  4. I love podcasts and audiobooks. Your feelings on audiobooks are interesting, though. There are definitely audiobooks that I have listened to and not liked because of the narrator’s voice; if I had read them on my own, I might have had a very different opinion of them.

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