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The Bus Stop

April 30, 2010


Another great Radiolab podcast. It’s not one of their hour-long shows; this one is just under 15 minutes and is well worth listening to.  It hits close to home for me because my recent trip to Hong Kong was partially to visit my grandfather, who now lives in an old folk’s home.  His memory is almost gone now, though he has good days and bad days.  He acts like a quiet child, and is very fond of eating.  At night, they have to tie him up because he often gets up to steal food from the kitchen, and his balance is not well, so he could easily fall.


From Duplex Planet

December 23, 2009

From Duplex Planet 174 (a zine that collects interviews with elderly people):

DBG: What kind of animal would you be if you had to be one?

HELEN FOSTER: Me? I have no idea. I never thought of that. I have no idea. What kind I would want to be? Oh, I don’t know… (thinking)… You would think I’d want to be powerful, but I wouldn’t. No, I’d want one that other people would be comfortable with, I think, whatever kind of animal that is. A lot of people don’t like cats, but I think a cat is comfortable. Most people would like a dog, but a dog is too mindless. A cat is a little more selective. I don’t know if I’m right or wrong, but that’s just my opinion. I don’t know if I answered your question.

DBG: No, that’s good. They’re all just food for thought.

HELEN: So what do you have there now–is that what they call a tape recorder?

DBG: Yep. One microphone is hooked on to you there, and this one is just picking up anything I say.

HELEN: Mmm-hmm. So what did you study in college?

DBG: Painting. I went to art school.

HELEN: You’re kidding! I have an artist in the family, too. Do you play an instrument?

DBG: I played for a long time in bands–I was a bass player.

HELEN: Ohhh!

DBG: I haven’t done that much since the eighties.

HELEN: Well, my son, he’s still in the process of retiring–the 26th of September he’ll retire–and he just took a year’s piano lessons. I said, “I didn’t know you wanted to play the piano!” He says, “I didn’t either, but it’s something I decided I was gonna do and I’m doin’ it.” I think that’s wonderful.

DBG: It’s good to start on something new.

HELEN: I don’t know if he’s got it in him like you do. Why don’t you come around and play the band here?

DBG: I need to play with other people. I’m a bass player.

HELEN: Oh, okay.

DBG: But I haven’t played much in years.

HELEN: Well I’m sure you have a lot of creativity inside that head of yours, so put it to good use. Are you altruistic, would you label yourself as altruistic, David?

DBG: To a point, yes.

HELEN: I think so

DBG: I’m fairly pragmatic.

HELEN: That’s what I thought I was, too. But see–when you look in the mirror, deep down, I bet you are.

DBG: Well, that’s part of me.

HELEN: Don’t worry about anything. It’s a waste. It’s a waste, don’t worry, I learned that. Of course, it’s okay for me to say that, now that I’ve got one foot in the grave! (laughs) But really, worry is wasteful.

DBG: There’re parts of it that are unavoidable and come from concern, like I’d worry about my wife or my daughter.

HELEN: No, we can’t cut that out of our lives, that’s right.

DBG: But worrying about what I am going to do ten years from now.

HELEN: Yeah, needlessly.

DBG: I’m confident I’ll figure it out.

HELEN: Well, gee, I’m so glad to have met you.

DBG: It was great to meet you too.

HELEN: And I wish you well with this work in progress.

DBG: Thank you.

HELEN: That’s what you’ll have to call it, Work in Progress.

DBG: Oh it is. I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years.

HELEN: Good for you. Let me tell you, you know what I do? I collect, in my lifetime, I collect naughty stories. Well I heard a story two days ago. (looks over at tape recorder) Is it off?

DBG: It’s running out of tape.

HELEN: Oh no, turn it off, turn it off! (tape stops)