Tag Archives: Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me

In which I mark a belated anniversary

Yesterday, I got a new phone. Which is good, because the old one was rebelling like a Russian Bolshevik1. It’s newest trick was randomly calling people in my address book. That and not receiving and/or sending most text messages. But it was doing that for a while.

So this morning in the shower while contemplating the life and death of a phone, I realized with a great stab of despair that with this old phone would die my personalized message from Carl Kassell on my voicemail! For shame! I must email Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me and see if he will record a copy for me, I thought to myself.

Thinking about “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me” made me remember that it was almost a year ago to the day that I started my internship with them. It feels so long ago that I boarded a plane in a mild panic and moved to Chicago, which turned out to be the greatest city in America/maybe anywhere.

I thought about that plane ride, with only my laptop and my diet coke and my anxiety for company, and how I blogged on the plane ride over there. When suddenly it hit me…

I MISSED IT!

I missed my blog’s birthday! I celebrated the dog’s birthday on Saturday, and in all the excitement of that, I totally forgot that Looking for Chicago/Boston turned the big 1 on Sunday! What a terrible blogger to forget my own blog’s birthday. As a childless single young woman, this blog is basically the longest relationship I have ever had. Forgetting its birthday could be cause for a breakup.

Fortunately, my blog is not the vengeful type. So we are going to be celebrating the big anniversary sometime in the upcoming week with a GIVEAWAY2!  Are you excited? You should be. It will probably involve books, and maybe cookies. And when it arrives, you should enter!

Stay tuned.

  1. See, that history degree wasn’t a total waste.
  2. A giveaway, you say? What sort of giveaway3?
  3. A super mega awesome foxy hot giveaway.
Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

in which I bid NPR a fond farewell

You all are familiar with the beloved children’s classic Goodnight Moon, I trust.

Today, I would like to submit to you a derivative manuscript based on that story.

I call it “Goodbye NPR.”

Goodbye NPR, by Mackenzi Lee 

In the great big news room, there was a telephone, and big headphones, and a picture of Carl Kasell, not jumping over the moon. And there were three NPR producers sitting on swivel chairs.

Goodbye room…..

Goodbye big headphones…..

Image

Goodbye editing bluff the listener tape…..

Goodbye tea……

Image

Goodbye creepily life-like portrait of Carl Kasell in my cubicle…..

Image

Goodbye cheapest sodas within a five mile radius….

Goodbye conference calls with the Subway Fugitive….

Goodbye sandwich Mondays…..

Image

Goodbye NPR producers…..

Goodbye every magazine I could ever want…..

Image

Goodbye creepy stairway….

Goodbye WBEZ building…..

Goodbye Navy Pier……

Image

Goodbye NPR.

Image

Tagged , , , , , , ,

in which I brag about my awesome cookies.

Image

In case you’ve ever doubted my awesomeness, or the awesomeness of the legendary Van Engelenhoven cookies, today they were featured on the “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me” blog. Since this is my last week at “Wait, Wait,” I made them in an attempt to leave a good taste – literally and figuratively – in the mouths of my coworkers. You can read their thoughts here. These Salt Lake City renowned cookies are now NPR approved!

Making cookies away from my mother’s kitchen is always an adventure. This was no exception. But they seemed to be a hit with the staff. So I didn’t mention that I could taste everything that was wrong with them.

Also, you can like Van Engelenhoven Cookies on facebook!

Tagged , , , ,

in which Carl Kasell gives me one final hug

Image

Today was the first in a series of goodbyes that are going to be playing out across my last weeks in Chicago.

Which reminds me – goodbyes SUCK!

Tonight was the last live show I will have with “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me.” Next week, the final week of my internship, the show is going on the road to Portland, Maine, and I am staying in Chicago so that I can do normal, ordinary, non-nerdy things1 in the last weekend before I leave Chicago.

So tonight I did a lot of lasts.

I took my last cab with Peter and Eva to the Chase Bank Auditorium. I ate my last delicious catered meal in the greenroom with the panelists2. I had my last diet coke and cupcake in the control room while waiting for the show to start. I spent my last “Who’s Carl This Time?” giggling while Mike and Ian made fun of everyone on stage3.

Last time hearing Peter make an Angry Birds joke when his iPad didn’t work.

Last time hearing “This. Is NPR.”

Last time sneaking out the back during the Q&A.

Last time leaving the Chase Bank auditorium through the terrifying revolving doors.

And yeah, I loved all those things, and I will miss all of those things. But there was one goodbye tonight that, above all, made me want to shrivel up and melt into a puddle of tears.

Tonight, I said goodbye to Carl.

Carl Kasell, NPR legend, is easily one of the kindest and sweetest men I have ever met. He is everything you would hope he would be after listening to his stalwart, resonate tones on the radio for years. He has an air of perpetual sophisticationbut never fails to see the humor in every situation. From the first time I met him, when I was lost and alone and he greeted me with a kiss on the cheek like we were old friends, Carl has never been anything but kind to me. Through these ten weeks of script read thrus and post-show drinks and half-hour voice mail message recordings,  Carl and I bonded.

Image

Today, Carl and I had our last studio session together. I donned the big headphones and Carl positioned himself smartly in front of the microphone. One. Last. Time.

Tonight after the show, we said a very tender goodbye that included a quick succession of big hugs, an invitation to come back and see him anytime, and a kiss from Carl.

Then, we took a picture.

Remember how the first time I met Carl, I shyly asked him for a picture together? It looked like this:

Image

I’m not photogenic on the best of days, and this picture is that day in Bethesda captured in a frame. Kind of awkward, and my expression clearly conveys my thoughts, which went something like this: “I am a little girl in a big city with a bunch of people I don’t know trying to do a job I am totally not qualified to do and I am totally shell shocked and in three different time zones but this is oh my gosh this is Carl Kasell I AM TOUCHING CARL KASELL AND TRYING TO NOT LOOK AS FREAKING EXCITED ABOUT THAT AS I AM!!!”

Awkward, I think is the word.

Tonight, our picture together looked like this:

Image

And that is the best part about my summer in a frame.

Carl – thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you for living up to all my expectations of your awesome.

Until we meet again.

  1. In other words, I’m going to a Harry Potter convention.
  2. I also met Paula Pell, the second half of Scott Adsit on 30 Rock. It has been a very Hornberger summer for me.
  3. We’re equal opportunity mockers.
  4. And trust me, it’s hard to maintain this level of dignity while doing impressions of Kristen Stewart in limerick form.
  5. Still disoriented every time.
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

in which the countdown clock ticks onward

Image

“Family killed by pigeons. Need bb gun for revenge.”

Today, I got to spend the day with the lovely family of my best friend 14! They came to see the live show last night, and then visited the office and took me out to lunch today. It was, in a word, lovely. The only thing missing was 14.

I was fairly proud of how well I steered them through the city, though when you consider the fact that everything we went to was either on the Pier or on Michigan Ave, it’s far less impressive. Next week, my tour guide skills will be truly put to the test when my friend Sondheim comes to visit.

My time here in Chicago is winding down. As soon as I settle in, and am able to tell the difference between Wacker and Wabash, I am leaving. With two weeks left on the clock, I have begun to mentally brace myself for routine to become memory. I experienced the same phenomenon when I moved home from England – it is the transformation from ordinary to exceptional, simply because it is no longer available. I love Chicago. I have loved Chicago almost from the moment I arrived. There are so many things I will miss about this city. Even the things I hate – the abundance of revolving doors, the preposterously daring pigeons, the insane bikers, the aggressive pedestrians, the alarmingly high murder rate, the way the city always smells like hot dogs – I will sort of pine for.  I don’t think there will ever be a time that I don’t miss this city.

So I’m not really certain what the point of this is. Just to say that the Chicago chapter of my life is closing, and yet I still don’t know which way is north. But there are more important things to know about a city.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

in which I discuss the finer points of interning

Before we being, let me start with a disclaimer: this post is in no way intended to come off as ungrateful or entitled, and I apologize if that tone comes through. I realize that I am in an incredibly fortuitous situation, and, to quote Charlotte Bronte, “I hold myself supremely blessed – blessed beyond all language can express.”

But let’s be serious. Internships are hard.

Not hard because the work is necessarily challenging. I wouldn’t call reading news stories and watching YouTube all day particularly hard work. In fact, I’d call it down right enjoyable. And the whole idea of an internship is wonderful. It is a chance to try out a career the way you’d try on jeans at the mall.

But I say it again: internships are hard.

Working for NPR is the second internship I have had; I previously interned for Utah State University Press. Both experiences have been invaluable. I have learned a lot, met some infinitely lovely people, and overall been incredibly pleased with my experience, and yet at each office, I have found myself in the same awkward position of feeling placed in the corporate friendzone.

Internships are hard because you have an expiration date. And, just like it is hard to get invested in a relationship when you know something is inevitably going to split you up, it is really hard to settle into a job where you know you are going to be leaving in three months. And it’s not just the fact that you will be leaving that is off putting. It is also the fact that you are part of an infinite cycle of interns.

In any office, interns are a rotating cast. I can only assume that everyone knows not to get attached to the interns, because, much like my favorite British nanny, they’ll be gone before the winds change. As much as I appreciate the care and attention that is given to me each time I meet a panelist or a producer, or someone at WBEZ, each time, there is a nagging in the back of my head, reminding me that they roll out the welcome wagon for everyone. Every three months, they prepare to go through the shaking of the hands, the changing of the emails, the new face at the corner desk. They tell themselves, all I’ve got to do is remember this girl’s name for three months. Then we can move on to the next one.

And it’s not that I think I deserve any sort of praise or adoration above what former interns have received. But I certainly would like to think myself something worth remembering. It is hard knowing that you are destined to be forgotten.

On occasion, stories from the tenures of former “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me” interns get tossed around the office. They are generally nondescript and unenlightening, things such as “Remember that one intern we had who always fell asleep?” or “Remember that one intern we had who was neurotic about keeping things clean?” Which left me with generally no clues as to how I was expected to behave. Was I talking more than other interns did? Sending more emails? Not sending enough? I hoped for some sort of guidance from above, preferably in the form of a story about how I was better than everyone else who had come before me.

Then, a few weeks ago, my predecessor sent thank you notes to everyone in the office. They were well received. Very well received. Everyone took a moment of “Aww”ing to fondly look back on her, share their favorite memories of her, and comment on her wisdom, and what a great job she had done, and the smart life choices she had made since her departure. They all seemed very invested in not just what she was doing, but what she had done.

And I couldn’t help but feel a little overshadowed1.

I wonder what they will say about me after I’m gone. I don’t think I have been very memorable. Perhaps memorable only in my follies.

Like most humans, I have become obsessed with the legacy I will leave behind me, and my current preoccupation is the legacy I will leave at NPR. In a few months, when there is a new intern at my desk, will the producers tell them things about me? Will they say, “Remember that one intern who was sarcastic to the point that we thought she was an idiot2?” or “Remember that one intern who always filled Peter’s water cup really full?” or “Remember that intern who spontaneously dyed her hair pink?”

But most likely it’s going to be, “Who was that one intern we had – the one who almost never said anything?3

Being an intern is like looking at a jigsaw puzzle that is already complete, and still trying to cram yourself in, even though you know you might not fit properly.

It is about walking a fine line between being recognized for the good work you do while simultaneously not overstepping your welcome. It is doing work that you often don’t feel qualified or necessarily equipped to do, and trying to pretend you are much less panicked about this than you actually are. It is knowing that there have been other interns before you, and there will be others after you, and many of them will be infinitely better at this than you are. It is trying to get invested in a job that you know you are about to leave, and knowing that in a few months, they might not even remember your name, but doing your best anyways.

But mostly, interning is about awesome. Every day, it really just gets more awesome. I get to surround myself with people who are cleverer and funnier and wiser than I am, and work with them on things that really matter, things that are heard by millions of people. I learn things every day about the creative process, and collaboration, and working under deadlines. I am so grateful for the people I work with, and the chance I’ve had with NPR4.

  1. If interns were colors, I would be beige and she would be flaming red.
  2. I am often so dedicated to my sarcasm that I come off as being stupid. Leaving me a legacy of, “Remember that one intern we had who owned a shirt that said ‘to be or not to be’ but didn’t know Hamlet was from Denmark?” Because that happened.
  3. Because I’m not a naturally chatty person, particularly around people who I think are awesomer than me. I generally stay quiet, because I now that when I open my mouth, something stupid will probably come out. I have no idea how my chattiness, or lack there of, compares to other interns, but I sometimes feel myself to be rather bland and quiet.
  4. Hopefully ending on a positive note didn’t make me sound too grumpy or spoiled. Because seriously, I love NPR. I love “Wait, Wait,” and I loved University Press. I just find myself in a point in my life where I seek permanence. I am tired of drifting. I want to find something stable that I can hold on to – job, apartment, friends – something that does not come with a sell-by date. And I think that feeling has subconsciously seeped into my work and reflected there.
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

in which i race against the clock

My friends, may you all someday be so lucky as to receive an envelope that looks like this.

Image

Because that envelope contains a voicemail message from Carl Kassel. I know, because I personally mailed out a slew of them today.

May you also be so lucky as to never find yourself riding in a cab with a bacon sundae. Because that also happened today.

Image

My Monday intern quest was picking up the item for today’s Sandwich Monday, a Wait Wait blog segment where the staff weekly partakes of the most disgusting foods they can find, and then passes judgment upon them. Today we decided to go off course and instead of a sandwich, we at the Burger King Bacon Sundae. Which is a real thing. And it is exactly what it sounds like. Since we reported it on the show last week, we felt we owed it to our loyal followers to take a bullet and actually try the thing. That and we just really love bacon.

Today’s cab ride to get the bacon sundae was much more successful than the last time I was in a cab, though when we arrived at the address, the cab driver definitely gave me a judgmental look that clearly said, Did I really just drive you to a Burger King? To which I shot back a look that clearly said, Shut up, it’s for NPR.

There aren’t many Burger Kings near the Pier, and fewer that serve the bacon sundae, so it was kind of a trip. I ended up into an area I had never been before, facing down a freestanding Burger King complete with drive through and parking lot, which is weird for a city like Chicago. When I walked inside the restaurant and looked around, I immediately realized I was breaking the cardinal rule of traveling that I learned during my year in Europe: If there are no white people or women around, you should not be here. In this Burger King, I was most certainly a minority.

But I had not just paid an excessive amount of money to come across town and be judged by a cab driver for nothing, so I walked confidently up to the counter to order the bacon sundae.

The following conversation unfolded:

Me: Hi, can I get a bacon sundae please?
Burger King Employee1: A what?
Me: A bacon sundae.
BKE: You actually want a bacon sundae?
Me: Yes.
BKE: *judges me*
Me: [internally] Shut up, it’s for NPR.
BKE: [turns to coworkers and shouts in Spanish2] Does anyone know how to make a bacon sundae?

I have to imagine that the bacon sundae is not one of this location’s more popular menu items.

After a slew of judgmental looks from the workers and patrons alike, I received my bacon sundae. It looked like a normal sundae, except that it had a dorsal fin of bacon jutting out of the top and a suspicious sprinkling of crispy pork along the rim. I left the restaurant, trying to be cool about the fact that I had just ordered a bacon sundae, then hailed a cab3 and installed the now sweating bacon sundae on the seat beside me.

Friends, 90 degree heat plus humidity is not conducive to the traveling bacon sundae. I was barely out the door of Burger King before it started to collapse upon itself like a dying star. To make matters worse, the cab ride was neither air conditioned or quick. We must have hit every stoplight between the sketchy Burger King and the Pier, and with each, the bacon sundae came a little closer to becoming vanilla bacon soup4. The vertical strip of bacon that once protruded majestically from the top of the ice cream spiral began to nose dive downward like the Titanic.

As the bacon sundae perspired beside me, I started to sweat too. As much as I was repulsed by the bacon sundae, I could not bear the thought of letting down the Sandwich Monday readers. The safe delivery of this bacon sundae was my quest, and much like Don Quixote of old, I refused to leave a quest unfinished, the weak unprotected, a bacon sundae unfrozen. This bacon sundae was somebody’s impossible dream, and I was damn well going to make sure that impossible dream was dreamed. I was prepared to give my life to see this bacon sundae made it to the office. In fact, I’m fairly certain that if we had been in an accident, I would have thrown myself in front of that bacon sundae to protect it.

In the end, I did everything I could to keep the bacon sundae alive short of grabbing the sinking strip with a harrowing cry of, “I’ll never let go, Bacon!” and yet I still ended up power walking up the Pier carrying a cup full of melty shame.

But the staff was not deterred. We let the bacon sundae chill in the freezer for a while, then broke it out and passed it around before passing judgment. The reactions ranged from totally repulsed to pleasantly indifferent. Though I am opposed to both Burger King and bacon sundaes, I tasted it, simply because I felt a strange connection to it after our mad dash together across the city.

The taste made me glad that I had not given my life for that bacon sundae. That would have been a total waste.

More opinions on the Bacon Sundae by the “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me” staff

  1. I want to call her a waitress, but the things that fast food employees do can hardly be described as ‘waiting’ in any sense of the word.
  2. Which fortunately, I occasionally understand.
  3. Successfully! Hailed my first cab! And after spending all the time waiting for my bacon sundae sweating about how on earth I was ever going to get a cab in this area of town. Though I must admit, while standing on the corner waving my arm in the air, the image from “A Study in Pink” rose unbidden in my mind. I still suspect all cab drivers are serial killers, though out of the six cab rides I’ve had in this city, I’ve made it alive out of every one. Which makes me think that Jim Moriarty’s criminal web has not yet reached Chicago…..come on Sherlock fans. Anyone?
  4. Which it occurs to me sounds  infinitely more delicious than bacon sundae.
Tagged , , , , ,

in which i pretend i am a radio legend, and meet a comedy icon.

In the last two weeks, I have learned that there is an abundance of perks to working in the media. First of all, people send you free stuff. Mostly books. Sometimes CDs. But mostly books. Which is really all you need in life.

But seriously, the “Wait Wait” office gets a lot of books. The table in the middle of our cubicle cluster has started to buckle beneath the weight as they slowly pile up1. We also have subscriptions to lots of magazines, including Glamour and People2, which everyone covertly reads when they think no one is looking. Everyone except Carl, because he’s way too classy for that.

Also, we received a box of free vodka this week. For unknown reasons.

Another perk of the job is that when my bosses get free tickets to see the Scott Adsit (Pete Hornberger in “30 Rock”) improv show, and they can’t use them, I get them. Even though it means taking the train at 10:30 at night to the stop right next to Wrigley Field right when a baseball game lets out so that I am practically trampled trying to swim upstream against a sea of half-crazed, drunk baseball fanatics, it’s worth it.

I’m fairly certain the theatre the show was held in is an over 21 venue, and the whole way I was sweating that I would be revealed as the spring chick that I am. But since I was with someone who conveniently works at the theatre, I was not carded. The guy at the door looked at my ticket, then looked at me, then looked at the girl I was with, who he knew, then back to me. Then said, and I quote, “Eh. I trust you.” First mistake dude3.

The show itself was biazzare and hilarious. It was strange and awesome to see Adsit in real life, with a beard, and not being crazy Hornberger, but instead a totally different type of crazy. The show was awesome…though weirdly dark for an improv comedy show4.

And, in that moment of sitting in a seedy comedy club at midnight surrounded by youthful, energetic, metropolitan people, I felt like I could possibly be a young Tina Fey.

Then today, I thought instead that I could perhaps be a young Terry Gross.

I did my first interviews today5. And, while sitting in a studio, soundproof and so still that the silence seemed to hum, with a huge, legit-looking microphone and giant headphones6 before me, I found myself overcome by a childish, yet irresistible desire.

And so I looked around to be certain I was not overheard7, then leaned in to the microphone and covertly whispered, “From NPR news in Washington, I’m Mackenzi Lee.”

It was  one of those weirdly giddy moments of pretend snuck inside of real life, and it momentarily made me think that perhaps a career in broadcasting was ahead of me.

Of course, the whole experience became infinitely more exciting when Carl Kasell entered the studio to record voicemail messages with me8.    

Another perk of my job is that I work in an office where twenty minute conversations about sexually-depraved penguins are totally okay. and the phrase “Lady Hitler” becomes commonplace.

Seriously. I love this.

  1. Prompting executive producer to say dreamily to no one in particular, “Remember how our last intern was so anal about keeping things clean around here?” *moment of silence.* “….hey Mackenzi…”
  2. Both of which I am pretending to be a lot less excited about than I actually am.
  3. On an unrelated note, tonight after the live show, Carl offered to help sneak me into a bar by telling them I was his mother. It should be noted that Carl is pushing seventy.
  4. Just the way I like it.
  5. The fact that the interview was with a man who spells his name with a question mark, about a paper he published discussing the infectious spread of Beiber fever is irrelevant.
  6. Damn, I love giant headphones.
  7. As though anyone could hear me while I was in a soundproof studio. That is rather the point, is it not?
  8. Not for me, unfortunately.
Tagged , , , ,

in which two thousand Marylanders pay money for a free radio program

I make it my policy to be nervous for absolutely everything.

Our Bethesda trip was no exception.

First week on the job, I thought. What a terrible way to get acclimated to a new and unfamiliar environment where everyone but me knew what was going on. What a terrible idea this is, I thought.

On the contrary, when it hit about five-thirty today, I realized that this trip was probably the best thing that could have happened for the first week. Because I was not the only one who had no idea what the hell I was doing. Instead, no one knew. Nobody knew how to get to the theatre. No one knew where the green room was. No one knew what was being served for dinner. No one knew what was going on.

Which was great. Because it made me just one of the staff. Since this day has been long, yet abounding with stories to be shared, I thought I’d share my schedule for the day.

9:00 : I am scared awake by my phone alarm blaring on the end table next to me, namely much closer to my ear than where it usually is on the floor with me on the top bunk. I check my email and find that everyone went to breakfast at 9. Except me. Who just woke up.

10:00 : Work from hotel begins. I spend a while unsuccessfully calling MTV asking for comment on a story. I end up talking to an amusing journalist and a reality TV blogger instead.

12:00 : One of the producers tells me I can expense room service. I immediately begin plotting how to exploit this.

1:00 : After staring at the menu for a while, I realize I am too frightened to actually use the room service. I walk to Arby’s instead.

2:45 : We meet in the lobby. Unplanned, all the women are wearing black dresses. We get in a cab driven by the world’s shortest cab driver, wearing the kind of glasses you are given by the eye doctor after he dilates your eyes. I am not entirely sure that he can see over the dashboard.

3:00 : The staff arrives on stage for a read through. Carl Kasell is waiting for us there, and he greets everyone with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Including me. I faint.

3:15 : Read through begins on stage. I sit with large headphones, feel official, and listen quietly until I am called upon to share my knowledge about the week’s Not My Job guest. I discover that one joke I made over the course of the week has ended up in the script. I glow with pride.

3:30 : A series of inappropriate jokes are made about the Muppets and Middle Eastern stereotypes. They are incredibly offensive and utterly hilarious. All of them end up in the script.

5:30 : Read through ends. I am sent up two flights of stairs to the box office. Four times. In heels.

5:45 : I wander into the greenroom to find this buffet of awesomeness laid out. As an intern on a limited budget, this might be the best meal I eat all summer.

6:00 : Carl wanders into the greenroom. I shyly request a picture with him. He obliges. Carl and I start chatting.

6:15 : Carl and I are still chatting. I am melting inside with happiness.

6:30 : PJ O’Rourke meanders in and reads us his bluff the listener story, which the producers do not approve. He wanders out for another cigarette to think about it.

6:45 : Sam Kass, the Not My Job guest arrives. Everyone is suddenly apologetic for the buffet, since he is a White House chef and it suddenly seems pathetic.

7:00 : Mo Rocca is writing his prediction for the end of the show. He is pacing. Actually, power walking might be a better way to describe it. Every time he comes back to the green room, he sits down next to me and starts thinking out loud to me. I suppose this is because I am the only one not talking to anyone, and it is less weird if he pretends to talk to me than if he talks to himself.

7:15 : Producers are still working on the script in a dressing room. Show starts in fifteen minutes.

7:30 : I sit down on the stage with several of the producers. The audience starts whispering and pointing to us, because we are a sign the show is about to start. Some people even take pictures of us. I try to look calm and poised and like I know what I am supposed to be doing.

7:37 : The rest arrive and pass out scripts. Which are definitely still warm from the printer.

7:40 : I put on my big headphones and feel awesome. Though there are only two sets of headphones at my station, there are five bottles of water. The theatre wants us to be well hydrated.

8:00 : The series of three racist Muppet jokes are made. The first is booed. The second gets an even louder boo. Peter looks over at the producers, who all simultaneously make a gesture at him that clearly says, “Move on, move on!”

8:15 : Mo over shares about the Queen. PJ over shares about his drug history.

9:30 : The show ends. Peter reads the credits. Which include my name. All the producers turn to look at me and grin. I cannot help but grin back, knowing that my name will be heard by 3.5 million people.

10:00 : I hover for a while on stage, then follow several of the producers out of the theatre to the VIP cocktail longue where the local NPR station is holding a cocktail party for donors. The VIP cocktail party is the closest I have ever felt to being in an episode of Chuck. There were tuxedoed waiters roving with champagne, low lighting, jazz music, and Carl Kassel. I kept waiting for a Ring attack.

10:45 : I have proved that I am the best minor ever, as I was unquestioningly allowed into a party with alcohol, and have spent the past forty-five minutes in a room full of people offering me champagne and not ingested a drop of it.

11:00 : We take a cab back to the hotel. The driver is definitely Transylvanian. PJ meets us in the lobby and tries to coerce us into going for a drink.

11:15 : I arrive in my hotel room, and think to myself, “What a good day.”

Tagged , , , , ,

in which the voices inside a radio are actually real people.

In my lifetime, I have done my share of nerve-wracking things. The first ones that come to mind are moving halfway across the world, performing Shakespeare in front of thousands of people, and giving my phone number to a cute but obtuse accordion player1

But I have never in my life been as nervous as I was today when I started my job as intern for “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” I was freaking out. Like breathing into a paper sack freaking out. Panicked to the point of talking like Yoda2.

Why? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. It definitely had to do with me loving this show more than almost anything in the worldand I just so badly wanted them to like me. On top of all the stress that always comes with a first day, namely knowing the other employees have jobs to do other than babysit you but still being unable to function independently of them, I was disproportionately concerned about making a stellar first impression on the people whose names and voices I have been listening to and loving on the radio for so long.

But, after a few hours of crippling anxiety, extreme even for me, the day turned out kind of awesome. I got to shake hands with Peter Sagal4, participate in my very first Sandwich Monday, listen to messages from people who drunk dial the Wait Wait voicemail, read a steady stream of emails which all included ridiculous news stories, and watch videos of the Gloucester Cheese Rolling competition5. I have my own computer, an email that ends in “@npr.org,” and an alarmingly life-like portrait of Carl Kasell hanging in my cubicle, as though a constant reminder that Carl is watching. Always watching.

So as far as first days go, this was a good one. If it is any indicator for the rest of the summer, it’s gonna be amazing.

  1. Disaster.
  2. “Mackenzi, my name is. Intern, I am here to be.”
  3. Other than sweater weather and diet coke.
  4. And definitely had a moment where he was talking to me and I started grinning like a moron because all I could think was “….that’s Peter Sagal!”
  5. If you have not seen this, please go immediately to youtube and let yourself be entertained.
Tagged , ,