Wednesday, October 21, 2015

#19 - My second Moth story - "The Woo Woo Oops"

So... I know it's been a long while since I posted here, but sometimes best intentions are just that - intentions.  But I thought I'd share a bit of my experience of the second story I told for The Moth. The story is below, but first, the backstory:

I had promised my Mom that one day I'd write the story of her 2007 near-death experience, but didn't commit to when, or the vehicle for sharing it.  Then I did The Moth twice and pressed to get its main stage show brought to Charlotte (the 12-minute stories vs 5 minute StorySlams).  And it worked.  And I was scheduled to be in it.  And I needed a story.  And the light bulb went on.

My Mom's 87th birthday was just a few days before the show and she was going to be in Alaska visiting my sister Sandy.  That meant that she'd have to fly from Anchorage, stop by her apartment in Sun City AZ and catch a flight to Charlotte.  I told her that I had a very special show for her to see, but didn't say what it was and certainly didn't provide her with a clue that I'd be telling her story.  On stage, in front of a bunch of people, with her in the front row.  Surprise!

The show went wonderfully well, as did my story, and our host Ophira Eisenberg introduced my Mom afterward as the lighting crew turned the spotlight on her.  She reluctantly stood up and waived, the audience cheered and whistled, and I noticed that the front of her beaded blouse was wet and coated in something shiny.  She had cried all the way through the story and her nose ran and she wasn't about to let people around her know she'd been crying (being a "do NOT make a fuss, Midwest non-alarmist recovering Swedish Lutheran").  Guess she didn't consider the spotlights - oops!

What a wonderful experience...  

Here's the story - "The Woo Woo Oops"

So I get a call one morning from my sister Sarah from a hospital in Sun City AZ.  She says that my Mom is very ill – she’s gone into septic shock, her blood pressure is dangerously low, she’s incoherent and she’s struggling to breathe.  And we have a life or death decision to make.  The doctors have told her that unless we put my Mom on a ventilator, she’ll die.

Now you have to understand that my Mom has told us many times in no uncertain terms what her end of life wishes are, and they don’t include any extraordinary measures – no wires, no tubes, no fuss.  She’s said that she’s lived a good long life, and when her time comes, she’s ready to go.  And we all respect that, and have always intended to honor that.  But it doesn’t make sense that she could be so sick so fast – she’s been so healthy.  Just last week we were all together at Sarah’s wedding, and as I walked her down the aisle, there in the front row sat my Mom, fabulously dressed as always, the picture of health, just beaming with pride and joy – well, a little annoyed with bugs and mosquitoes that were flying around.  But seriously, she was totally healthy.  And now she’s dying?

So I arrange a conference call for my family to discuss what to do.  So a little background on my family:  I have 3 sisters.  The oldest is Sandy, and she’s very direct and practical.  The next in line is Susan, and she’s bigger than life, and very spiritual – I call her “woo woo”.  And then there’s me and my younger sister Sarah, and we’re very rational - I’d say we’re “practically” spiritual.  And like many siblings, we love each other but over the years we’ve sort of drifted apart and back together.  But the one thing will always do is rally around my Mom.  And then there’s my Mom.  She is the original Midwest, non-alarmist, recovering Swedish Lutheran.  “Do not make a fuss.”  Not “Don’t make a fuss.”  “DO NOT make a fuss.”

So my family gets on the conference call and we start discussing what to do.  And my Aunt Gwen is on the call, my Mom’s sister, and she says immediately and very firmly, “Your mother does not want to be put on a ventilator.”  And we say, “We know, and we don’t want that either, but what option do we have?”  And Sandy says, “Well I see 3 options:  we can put Mom on the ventilator for a few days, the doctors miraculously discover what’s going on, she recovers and life is good.  Or, we can not put her on the ventilator and she dies.  Or, God forbid, we put her on the ventilator, she wakes up but she’s got half a brain, she’s partially paralyzed and pissed off at us for the rest of her life – oops.”

And I understand why Sandy says Mom would be pissed off at us for the rest of her life because in addition to being a Midwest, non-alarmist, recovering Swedish Lutheran, my Mother also does not suffer fools easily.  When she sold her house and moved into her apartment, her real estate agent dropped by, and he’d done a good job for her.  And he started going on about how Rush Limbaugh is the smartest man on the face of the planet, and she looked at him and said, “I don’t think I like you.  You need to leave.”  That’s my Mom, and that’s the woman we’re trying to make the right decision for.

So finally I say, “Look, if we don’t put Mom on the ventilator, she’s going to die.  And we won’t know why.  And do we really want to go through the rest of our lives wondering if that was the right decision?”  So against my Mom’s wishes, my sisters and I decide to put my Mom on the ventilator for a few days to give the doctors time to try to figure out what’s going on.  And we all fly out to Sun City, and I take the longest shuttle ride I’ve ever taken in my life.  When I get to the hospital, it’s horrible.  My Mom’s in a coma and her face is distorted from the ventilator and tape.  And at this point the doctors tells us that they’re 100% convinced that my Mom has a bacterial infection because of her symptoms, and most probably a urinary tract infection, because 4 other elderly woman have died of urinary tract infections in that hospital in the past week.  So my sisters and I assign ourselves to shifts round the clock, staying with my Mom.  And the doctors administer massive doses of antibiotics, and fluids to maintain her blood pressure.  And this goes on for several days, with the doctors saying, “We think we know what’s going on – just give us another 24 hours.”  And it’s awful.  And the antibiotics aren’t working.  And one by one, my sisters reach the decision that it’s time to let my Mom go.  And I’m just not ready to let my Mom go.

So I take the overnight shift, and about 5:30 in the morning, it’s very quiet in ICU and I’m about to doze off in a recliner when I happen to look over at my Mom.  And my heart stops.  She’s in a coma, but her eyes are open.  And they’re black as coal.  And she’s looking at me.  And her right hand is pawing at the ventilator. Suddenly my cell phone rings and I jump up to grab for it, and it’s my rational sister Sarah calling from my Mom’s apartment.  And she says, “John!  Mom won’t let me go to sleep.  Every time I start to doze off she comes to me in my dreams and she’s telling me that she wants us to take her off the ventilator.  She’s terrified that her body might be getting better, but that her brain won’t.  And John, she wants you to know that she knows you’re the last one holding out hope – and it’s okay to let her go.”

Now all this time I’m looking into my Mom’s coal black eyes and she’s pawing at the ventilator.  And then it’s like an invisible hand very gently nudges me over a threshold.  And I realize it’s time to end this.  So I say to my Mom, “Okay, when the doctors come in, we’ll have them take out the ventilator, I promise.”  And with that, her eyes close and her hand drops to her side, and Sarah says, “John!  I’ve lost her – she’s gone!”  And I think, “Has she died?”  And I look at my Mom and I look at the monitor – and her heart’s still beating, and she’s breathing.  Now, I am not a woo woo person.  But I know what I just saw.  So when the doctors come in my family meets with them and we tell them that we want to remove the ventilator.  And at first they object and say, “Your mother will die.”  And we say, “We know.  We can’t watch this anymore.”

And so we make our way in to say our good-byes.  And at 9 o’clock, we gather around my Mom’s hospital bed.  And the nurse very, very gently, takes out the ventilator.  And we wait.  And wait.  And WAIT.  And the monitor isn’t changing.  Mom’s not dying and she’s not waking up.  And the doctor says, “Well, this certainly isn’t what we were expecting!”  And all I can think is, “Half a brain, partially paralyzed, pissed off at us for the rest of her life… Oops!”  And we don’t know what to do.  And I’m exhausted so I go back to my Mom’s apartment to get some sleep.  And I have this terrible nightmare of my Mom, limping around her hospital room, beating me with a bedpan, screaming, “I said no ventilator!”  And then my cell phone rings and wakes me up.  It’s Susan calling from the hospital, and she says, “John…”  “Mom’s awake.  She just tried to say a couple words and I think she’s gonna be okay.”  And that night, my Mom is fed her first tiny taste of apple sauce.  And the next day, she grips the spoon in her fist and she brings it to her lips.  And each day after that she gets better and better.

So I call her bacteriologist because we haven’t heard from her in a few days to ask her what caused all this.  And she says, “Didn’t anyone tell you?  I’m not on your mother’s case anymore.  She doesn’t have a bacterial infection.  Your mother has West Nile Virus.”  And I think, “West Nile Virus?!  That’s not necessarily fatal.  Sure it’s bad in an older person, but people recover from it all the time.”  So that means that by going against my Mom’s wishes initially and putting her on the ventilator, we kept her alive long enough to learn that she didn’t have a fatal illness.  But we didn’t know that and nearly killed her because no one told us?  Now I’m really pissed.  So I say to the doctor, “You mean to tell me that because you didn’t tell us what was going on, we had to go through the hell of making the decision to let my Mother go, and we didn’t have to?!”  And she says, “Uh, Mr Lincoln, you tried to let your mother go on Wednesday.  The test results came in on Thursday…”   Oops.

And at this point this whole thing has gotten so crazy. And then suddenly it dawns on me that it makes perfect sense that my Mom has West Nile Virus.  She’d gotten bit by a mosquito at my sister’s wedding.  But why did the mosquito bite her?  Oh, because when we were there, we all stayed at the Berthoud Bed & Breakfast – it’s this old Victorian that has themed rooms, and I’d taken care to assign my Mom to just the right room, and I’d given her … the Cleopatra Room.  Cleopatra, West Nile Virus.  Then I think, “Oh God.  I’m woo woo!”

So once my Mom recovers, I finally get up the nerve to ask her THE question:  whether she regrets that we put her on the ventilator.  She thinks about it and she says, “Oh no.  No I don’t regret it.  You made the right decision.  And the way you kids came together was just wonderful.  No I don’t regret it.  Just don’t EVER do it again!”

And who knows?  Next time?  You have to make a lot of hard decisions when you’re looking death in the face, and the right answer isn’t always what the person says they want.  But I do know this.  Somehow, through love, a little laughter, and some way weird woo woo, we managed to save my Mom’s life.  But I know this too:  I never EVER want to go through another case of… the woo woo oops.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

#18 - The story of my first Moth storytelling experience - "Good Guys & Good Ol' Boys"

It began one evening in the spring of 2010 when I was listening to a story on “The Moth Radio Hour” on Charlotte’s NPR station WFAE 90.7FM. The Moth is a non-profit organization that promotes story-telling as an art, and the name Moth comes from the founder’s experience growing up in Georgia, sharing stories on the front porch while moths gathered around the light overhead. The story I was listening to was captivating – the story-teller seemed so authentic, like someone I might enjoy knowing. And I thought, “I could do that.” So I went to the Moth’s website and discovered that I could submit a one-minute recorded “pitch” of a story. I sat down at my pc and began writing the essence of a story I had been telling for years, and I recorded it on the pitch line, listening to it and then re-recording it - a one-minute pitch that took at least two hours of writing and recording to get “right.” When I was satisfied, I hit the send key and thought, “Now we’ll see what happens.” And nothing did. And eventually I forgot about it.

Two years later, an email came. It was from Meg Bowles, Curatorial Producer for “The Moth”, apologizing profusely for not having followed up with me because my voicemail had gotten lost in the mix. She asked if I’d be interested in speaking with her about potentially telling my story on stage at an upcoming Moth story-telling event. Needless to say, I said yes. And then it was decided that I would tell my story at the upcoming show in Durham, NC, at the historic Carolina Theatre - the first time The Moth had come to North Carolina. And the headliner story-teller would be Molly Ringwald. Yes, the actress. And three other story-tellers who’d all done Moth shows previously, and had many, many other stage, radio and print credits. And then there was little ol’ me. Bless my heart…

(Here’s link to the show program, including the five story-teller bios:

So after going over the story multiple times over two weeks on the phone with the director Sarah Austin Jenness, she in her New York office and I in my work office in Charlotte (with, I might add, no comments or visual cues while I was speaking – a VERY hard thing to do for a guy who needs audience validation), I did it again four times in person in the her hotel room the day before and day of the show. And each time she said, “Ok, it’s good – just a couple of comments…” Comments like “You’re at 23 minutes and it can’t be more than 12… and we cut you off at 12…”, and then would press me to draw out more or cut or add something. In a moment of particular frustration and self-questioning during a practice I asked the director if perhaps I was in the remedial story-telling class. She said, “Oh! NO! NO! You’re doing great, just like everyone else.” I nearly drove my partner Michael nuts, stepping away at home at night and on the weekend to rewrite the story and practice it. Fortunately he decided that he wouldn’t listen to the story until I performed it so that it would be a complete surprise. He’s such a good guy.

At the Durham hotel the morning of the show Michael needed to sleep so I left the hotel room, and unable to find a good place to practice where I wasn’t directly in line of sight of strangers (or within earshot – or so I thought), I elected to stand outside the hotel in 100 degree heat behind a bush with my laptop ready to take notes as I practiced. Then people began to peer around the bush at me. I didn’t think I looked like an escapee from the asylum, but I must admit that a few did look at me as if I might be. I went inside the hotel and opened a door to what I thought might be an empty ballroom, only to find that I was directly behind a man who was speaking to several hundred people, who immediately then looked past him, at me, sweaty and carrying a laptop, and very embarrassed. Then finally I asked the hotel catering office if I could use a conference room to practice, in the cool, alone. And that’s what I did, and it worked. In the dim cool of the room, with just the right amount of echo like a stage sound system, I pretended that I was in front of the audience, allowing time for their laughter and the timing of pauses in mood change. The last run-through with the director Sarah was at 3 the afternoon of the show which was at 8pm. And of course she said, “Really good, just a couple of comments…” AHHHHHHHH! Fortunately they were very small ones. And then she congratulated me on the interview I had done with a reporter for the Raleigh News & Observer that had run that day, promoting the show and sharing my experience leading up to the show.

(Here’s a link to the article:

I became SO nervous with a sudden burst of stage fright in the "green room" waiting to go on stage, and couldn’t remember even the opening line of my story. So I wandered around the bowels of the theatre shaking out my arms and neck and praying to the Universe to just let me have fun engaging with people. Fortunately all of the other story-tellers were as stressed as I was and had muffed up their stories when we performed for each other as a group. Now, misery may love company, but coming out with a high grade on a low curve just didn’t sound too good… And I kept getting this image of me starting my story and stumbling and saying "Uh, these 2 funny guys robbed me... and uh, then 2 scary guys robbed me... And uh, the end... thank you see ya' bye'..." And people coming up to me afterward, patting me on the shoulder and saying "Awh... the point is you tried, bless your heart..."

When we walked into the theatre to take our seats in the front rows, I saw that the house was completely full, from the orchestra section to the uppermost balcony - the show was sold out. And then I was on stage with the warm lights basking me, and it was just me, the microphone and a thousand people who just wanted to hear my story. And as I heard my voice say the first line, I felt a complete sense of calm, as though I was sitting at the dinner table telling a story to good friends over a good bottle of wine. They laughed exactly when I hoped they would at the first robbery, and when they realized the second robbery was serious and terrifying, you could have heard a pin drop, other than a gasp of relief when I said the line "And the gun goes... click". After I finished, the host Ophira Eisenberg said, "Is that not a voice you could listen to all night long?", and then, "And the funny thing is I knew how the story ends because DUH he's here telling it, but when ‘the gun goes click???' Oy! But isn't that the mark of a great story-teller?" Fun. I received such great compliments and thank-you’s from tons of audience members and the other story-tellers. Molly Ringwald said, "Shhh, don't tell the others, but I just have to tell you that your story was my sister’s favorite, aside from mine of course…” (Her older sister lives in Raleigh).

But the best compliment of the night was a late-teens black kid who very hesitantly approached me afterward and said, "Sir, I hate to bother you but that was the BEST story I've ever heard", then proceeded to ask me if I might allow him to turn my story into a poem, because he's an aspiring poet. I said, "Absolutely - go for it", and he said beaming "Really? Oh thank you Sir! Thank you!"  It was so touching and made me smile to know that maybe I'd helped inspire a young kid to go for his dream. The moth found its light that night, and I am so honored that I could play a part in it. A really neat ending to a really amazing experience.

Oh, and whether my story will be played on-air at some point isn’t known yet. The Moth directors and producers vote on the stories from the various shows, select a subset for their podcast, and a smaller number for play on “The Moth Radio Hour”.

Now we’ll see what happens…

PS – If I get a chance to do another Moth show, perhaps in Charlotte, I have another story in mind. And it’s on this blog. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which one… ;{)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

#17 - A 9/11 tribute

It was September 12, 2001 and I, like everyone around the world, was in a state of confusion, concern and awe at the events of the prior day. I was staying at the Hilton University in Charlotte, unbeknownst to me at the time just across the man-made lake from WFAE, during a business trip with Wachovia which was merging with First Union. I had been asked to take a new job with the bank in Charlotte, but I wasn’t yet convinced and it certainly wasn’t the moment to make that decision. I wanted to go home to Atlanta to my partner, dogs and cat, to the place I knew and the people I loved – home. But I’d flown to Charlotte, and planes weren’t flying. So I called Hertz to ask if I could drive the car I’d rented back to Atlanta. Like many businesses during that trying time, Hertz was very accommodating to peoples’ situations, and they said I could drop the car off at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. So I packed my bag and hit the road home.

When travelling, I always search the low-end of the FM radio dial for NPR stations, and that day I found WFAE 90.7 FM, and began listening. It was just after 10 in the morning and I heard what I thought was the odd voice of an old woman chatting with a military man. My mind immediately drew a picture of a Charlotte woman who’d no doubt been on the air for dozens of years, a local fixture probably, although she had no Southern accent, and I thought, “Oh jeez, I don’t know about this…” As I reached for the radio button to search for another station, suddenly the woman asked a most insightful question about how we as a nation, should respond to the horrific situation of the day prior. And I was struck by the equally insightful response given by the military guest. He said we should not overreact and cause more damage than had already been done. And with that, I pulled my hand away from the radio and listened to the dialogue between these two very insightful people who were as concerned and confused as I was, yet calm in their demeanor and rational in their thoughts. I continued to listen until the station’s signal faded, somewhere near Greenville, South Carolina. And it was during that hour that I first fell in love with Diane Rehm.

When I arrived at the Atlanta airport, returned my vehicle and was waiting at the MARTA train station, I was struck by a sound unfamiliar to me in that setting. I looked up and saw the airport’s flags flapping in the breeze. Having been a frequent flyer I was accustomed to the airport’s shrill sound of jet engines and taxi horns, but not silence. It was like something out of Stephen King novel – eerie, disturbing. When I arrived home, I hugged my partner and squeezed my dogs and cat, and immediately went to our PC to research Diane Rehm on the web. I discovered that she was not a Charlotte fixture afterall, but rather a Washington talk show host of great repute and stunning beauty who had a voice problem – spasmodic dysphonia. It was at that moment that I decided I would live in Charlotte, North Carolina, because any town that was wise enough to support a local radio station that would carry such fine programming as NPR and the Diane Rehm Show, would certainly be a town I could choose to call home. Within a few short months, I had bought a home in Charlotte, begun a new job with Wachovia, and became an avid listener to and supporter of WFAE.

Ten years ago the world was profoundly shocked and saddened by the tragic events of 911. But as so often happens, through strife come great things. Charlotte has grown and blossomed, as has WFAE. I’ve now lived in this great city for 10 years, and I congratulate and thank the citizens of Charlotte, and the members and staff of WFAE on its 30th anniversary, for making Charlotte a place I, we, can all be proud to call home.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

#16 - I got a bone to pick with greedy airlines, dog gone it...

I’ve flown a great deal on personal trips on a variety of airlines, spanning virtually the entire alphabet from AirTran to US Airways, and am frequently accompanied by “Petunia”, my tiny, sweet, gregarious, nose-licking, 6-pound female Chihuahua. Petunia travels very well in her under-seat carrier, and provides amusing diversion to me and other stressed-out travelers in concourses and at gates awaiting our flights. Many times people will say, “Awh, she’s so cute. I like it when people bring their little dogs on planes.” I like people like that. To be sure, lots of people are busy and focused on their lives and personal stresses so seem to be agnostic about Petunia, as long as she doesn’t poop on the floor or run around the cabin, and she certainly doesn’t do either of those things. She does have manners, after all. Of course, one or two might get that look on their faces like they’ve smelled something, but I figure they’re the types of people who don’t cotton to pets, and since it’s not Petunia’s poop they smell, I just let it go. Besides, it makes me happy and her happy to travel together. So I figure that, net-net, carrying her along with me is a good thing.

But, it’s also a VERY expensive thing. Do you realize that it costs an average of over $100 in each direction, to and from, to carry a pet onto an airplane? That’s 200 bucks per trip. That’s frequently about as much as I pay for my ticket. And do you realize that in addition to that $200 cost, Petunia and her carrier count as one of my two “free” carry-on’s just like my PC and whatever other bag I might choose to wedge with a sledge hammer into the overhead compartment? Well, actually, I never wedge my bag into the overhead compartment with a sledge hammer – other people certainly seem to, but I don’t. I just felt compelled to make that point clear. But I do carry on Petunia in her regulation-sized RubberMaid carrier that fits nicely under the seat in front of me, where she rides quietly all snuggled up in her little wooly blanket accompanied by her favorite stuffed toy.

Now, let’s just do a little cost per pound comparison here. I weigh, well, roughly 150 pounds fully clothed, and that includes eating before we take off because there’s certainly not much to eat on flights these days. My ticket typically costs anywhere from $200-$400, before baggage costs of course. So that’s about $1.30 to $2.60 per pound for me. That’s roughly the cost of a pound of low-grade hamburger. Petunia, on the other hand, or paw as it were, weighs about 7 pounds, carrier, blanket, stuffed toy and poop included. Her “ticket” costs an average of $200 round-trip. That’s $28.57 per pound. Hmm… I cost a maximum of $2.60 per pound, occupy a full seat, can carry on one additional bag for free, might get a free blanket if I can find one, get a free bag of pretzels and a Coke, and Petunia costs $28.57 per pound, counts as a “free” carry on, provides her own blanket, doesn’t occupy a seat and certainly doesn’t get a free bag of pretzels or a Coke. A checked bag costs $15-$40 and can weigh up to 50 pounds. That’s between $1.25 and $3.33 per pound, so by that logic Petunia’s ticket equals the cost of 8.58 checked bags. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the vast difference between the size of Petunia's carrier with her sweet little face lookin' out of it, and a checked bag…

What’s wrong with this picture? Can you say “bilking by milking the emotions of pet-lovers?” I can. Greed, that’s all it is, GREED. And it ticks me off and I think it’s high-time time I say something about it. Shame on you greedy airlines, exploiting a sweet little nose-licking Chihuahua like that. Shame on you!

Now I may not lick this problem by complaining about it ‘cuz I’m only worth the cost of a pound of low-grade hamburger, but greedy airlines, I can assure you that Petunia won’t lick you either…

So there. Plthhhh.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

#15 - Living in Spirit

I believe that I am of all and all is me - infinity is my truth - I say it is my favorite concept.  Infinity's tapestry is woven with the threads of love.  I commit to being, to creating, to celebrating in each moment the wonder of the physical that provides me with senses, and to honor the sense, mystery and magic of spirit.  In doing so I will live in love and truly be responsible to and for myself, others, and the infinite spirit of all that is, always has been, and always will be.

JL ~ August 29, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

#14 - A chapter full circle

Two and a half years ago on February 8th, 2008, I had just concluded my 15-year career with Wachovia, half because the bank had decided that my leadership role and the organization I led should be carved up into three pieces which meant that I was eligible for displacement and severance, and half because I had decided that it was time for me to take a break, a sabbatical, and reflect on who I was and who I wanted to be.  Looking back at that time I realize that I sensed it was a very special and important opportunity for me, and today, August 8th, 2010, I realize just how truly right that sense was.  I have had the grand opportunity at the mid-point in my life to go explore myself, the country, people and places and thoughts and feelings, engage in the world with those in my life whom I love dearly, and with many more who've brought me new experiences of great joy, learnings and growth.  

It has been an amazingly wonderful time and journey, and today we, my sweet little Chihuahua Petunia, fat tomcat/"Grumpy Lump" Pooter and I, head to the mountains of western North Carolina to spend six days in our shiny Airstream trailer, to bring our journey and this chapter full circle and closure.  With technology at my fingertips, the 2 P's at my side, and spirit as my guide, I will write and smile and breathe with ease, communing in nature, letting the words flow onto the page, celebrating what has been, appreciating what is, and looking forward to what is to come, in a state of exuberant calm.

I have no expectation of what lies ahead, only inspiration that it will be perfect and right as it always has been and always will be.  The universe is infinite, life is magical, and I live in awe.

I am truly blessed.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

#13 - I'm an NPR addict...

Hi, my name is John, and I’m an NPR addict. You know they say the first step to recovery is admitting your addiction. Well I admit it: I need my daily NPR fix, fixes really. I also have to admit that I can recall listening to my local NPR station, and not giving any money during pledge drives and feeling horribly guilty and like, well… a real user, especially when I’d hear folks talking about pledging money and how over 90% of the station’s costs are covered by contributions from other “members” and underwriters. And I knew deep inside that I should contribute, and I really, really wanted to. But, as with addicts, that pesky little voice in my head would say things like “I, I SWEAR I can stop ANYTIME, and give!” or “I’ll give tomorrow!” And so it went, pledge drive after pledge drive, driveway moment after driveway moment, year after year, the guilt eating me alive… Until one day it dawned on me that every radio in my home and the one in my car and the pc in my office were all tuned to my local NPR station. Oh I had hit rock bottom. I needed help!

So, I made the call and talked to a kind, friendly volunteer who welcomed me without any hint of judgment, and seemed to be so appreciative just that I’d called, and thrilled that I’d decided to contribute. And do you know what? I felt proud – I had made amends! And I can honestly state that the very next time I turned on the radio, I felt different. I no longer felt guilty, like a user. I felt happy, like a member! So now, whenever it gets to be pledge drive time, I must admit that I get a little excited. In fact I go to the station and take pledge calls just like that appreciative volunteer who was so kind to me all those years ago. It feels so great to be in recovery! And really, being an NPR addict is unlike any other addiction I know of – I mean, name another addiction that lets you get your fix, all day and all night, as much as you want and need for the rest of your life, for only a few pennies or dollars a day, and still be recovered! What a world!

So, I’ll leave you with 2 questions: Are you an NPR addict? And, would you rather be a guilt-ridden user addict, or a happy, guilt-free member addict? It’s your call.

My name is John Lincoln, and I’m a proud WFAE member, and an NPR addict…