There aren’t many distractions when you’re alone in your car, so I flip on the radio, fumbling til I find the station my sister, Anna, keeps begging me to hear. Anna’s five years older than me, but she’s a hundred years more together. Not just because she has a loving husband and an amazing daughter while, at thirty-three, I’m still struggling to find the right guy. Anna became an interfaith minister a few years back. (She assumed the name Anjelica when she took her vows, but I never seem to remember to call her than. Old habits certainly die hard.) Belief has helped her settle so comfortably into her skin; Anna radiates a contentment I can only dream of.
Still, I’ve been avoiding this WNOW station since she first suggested it three weeks ago. It just doesn’t seem like something I’d be into. But after my highway tirade, I need something to calm myself down, and checking out Anna’s recommendation seems as good a course as any.
My patience wanes as I wait through three commercials– for a natural energy booster (I once read about a woman who needed an emergency liver transplant after taking one of those!), a special gum that claims to improve the brain, and that ubiquitous radio ad to enlarge my penis. (Don’t you know half of your listeners haven’t got one of those? I want to inform the dashboard, but I refrain.) Finally, the talk show begins.
“Goooood morning to you! So wonderful for you to be here, sharing this moment in our lives together. This is Serena Robbins, host of Onward and Upward, hoping to remind you that we’re all on a journey to create heaven right here and right now. The world is always filled with beauty and perfection, and if you wake yourself up, you’ll be able to see it. Let’s get right to my first caller, Liz from Cleveland.”
Cleveland? Cleveland, Ohio? That’s a long way from New Jersey, where I’ve lived nearly all my life. I’m surprised to learn the show is syndicated nationally. I assumed it was produced on hand-me-down equipment in a local basement right here in Hoboken, taking calls from area residents like Anna. After all, how many people can actually be interested in this stuff?
“Hello? Am I on the air? I’m not hearing myself on the radio.” Liz’s nasally words shout through my speakers. “Oh, wait– there I am. Oh, cool. There’s like an echo.” After a major pause, I wonder if I’ve lost the signal. “Oh, sorry,” Liz breaks in, just as I’m about to fiddle with the buttons. “I was listening to myself. I really am on the air, huh?”