Tuesday, February 12, 2008


It's the lead up to Valentine's Day, which means both my usual drivetime companions, WGBH and WBUR, are in the middle of romantically themed pledge drives, offering flowers and chocolate in exchange for a year of guilt-free listening. (You can tell in an instant, and with a sinking heart, it's not Morning Edition.) So I was doubly happy I had downloaded a new audiobook this morning, for what turned into an hour and a half commute. Chekhov short stories, narrated by Kenneth Branagh. Couldn't even remember putting it in my Audible.com wish list, but there it was, five minutes before hitting the road - I needed only three to download the file and sync it with my iPod. Reading and writing in the digital commuter age: the subject of another blog.

If Chekhov had written the tale of my commute, my whimsical self- satisfaction would have been quickly and not so whimsically cut short: I would've forgot myself and rammed a surly marine mechanic in his pickup. Or I would have had to stop to watch someone's aging mother inch her way across the street to 'Our Lady of the Sea' church - putting me in mind of my own mother or my own age. Or I would have simply ignored a sky painted the color of hope as I passed Swampscott harbor. But modern life is not so well-constructed or so true - the sky and the people kept to themselves, and I was able to lose myself in Chekhov's sly, tender and rollicking Russian panoply all the way to Cambridge. The one unexpected twist in the trip, a utility truck fixing a street light near the airport, which backed up traffic to Wonderland, only prolonged the enjoyment. God bless your pointy little beard, Anton Pavlovich!

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