Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Diane Rehm

You can listen to the interview on the Diane Rehm Show here. It's the May 17 broadcast.

The last day of the book tour, last leg home, and I miss the connection. There does not seem to be any good reason for this. The plane sat on the ground in DC for a good 20 minutes or so, just enough to get us off to a bad start, and when we landed in San Francisco we sat for another 20 minutes or so. Long enough to ensure that my plane for Eureka would take off without me.
I’m so painfully tired, so completely worn out, that of course I took this personally, as if United Airlines had realized they didn’t like me and my silly little plastic tub of worms any more and had decided to express their dislike by making sure I didn’t get home at a decent hour.

I got the last seat on the 10:30 flight, a blessing I really should be grateful for, because there were people behind me in line at the ticket counter who did not get a seat and will be spending the night in San Francisco. If I had been told I had to spend the night in some crappy hotel by the airport and fly home tomorrow, I probably would have burst into tears at the ticket counter. As it was, I took my boarding pass and called home with a trembly lower lip to tell Scott that I’d be stumbling in around midnight. That’s 3 a.m. DC time, for those of you who are keeping score.

And I know, I know, there are worse things in life than having your flight delayed on the way home from your interview on the Diane Rehm show. I get it that I’m whining. But it’s my diary, so I get to be a little self-indulgent.

Diane was great. She was so enthusiastic about the book, as was her producer. She seemed genuinely amazed and fascinated at all things invertebrate. I brought some worms into the studio with me that I’d gotten from a worm farmer at the plant sale on Saturday; Diane loved that I had worms. “Just like Amy Tan with her little dogs,” she said.

That’s right. Amy Tan with her dogs, me with my worms.

Anyway, I think it went well. The interview felt very natural, in part because I did not have to wear headphones. I kind of like the headphones because I can hear my voice and get some idea how it sounds over the radio, filtered through the mike and the mixing board. It makes me sound a little better, a little more polished, a little more NPR, than I do in real life, and it gives me confidence. But there’s an advantage to not wearing them, too: our interview felt more like a conversation, more natural. I forgot that we were live on the radio, being broadcast to over a million listeners.

Wow. Actually, I did not think about it until this very minute. I guess that’s best. I would have frozen for sure.

Lots of people called in. People sent e-mails—when I left, they gave me a stack of a couple dozen of them to take with me. They said it was a surprisingly good response. Diane said I did a great interview. I don’t know, maybe they say that to everybody. I never have any idea how I sound, and when I left, I spent the metro ride back to the hotel doing what I always do after something like this: I re-lived the most awkward moments of the interview and thought of much more clever and interesting things I should have said. Ah well, it’s over now.

Two people wrote in to say how uplifting, how peaceful it was to stop thinking about all the awful things happening in Iraq right now and to think instead of the quiet and beneficial toil of the earthworm.

Lovely. That makes it all worthwhile. Well, almost all: I’d still rather be home right now instead of sitting in still another airport terminal. At least the worms have been spared this indignity. Since I had DC worms with me in the studio, I left them there with the radio station’s staff. I’m worm-free tonight.

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