"Scheduled by Brightness"

change is in the air

ROCK PAPER RADIO is a dispatch for misfits & unlikely optimists by your favorite hapa haole, beet-pickling, public radio nerd. It’s a weekly email newsletter that shares three curiosities every Thursday - something to hold on to (that’s the ‘rock’), something to read (that’s the ‘paper‘), and something to listen to (you guessed it, that’s the ‘radio’). Themes include but are not limited to: rebel violinists, immortal jellyfish, revolution. Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word.
One awesome thing about having friends for decades is that eventually some of them bring mini, new versions of themselves into the world and then you get to hug them both after looking at animals with their babies at the zoo and it’s the absolute best. Take care of all those littles going back into classrooms this week, friends. Even if you’re not a parent, reach out to your friends who are. Families need all the love right now. This is my friend Katherine and her very sharp daughter who can eat four pieces of pizza with hot sauce. Photo credit: Kristin Leong, August 2021.


This week’s RPR is coming to you on a Friday because this week is running me over like a truck. The news cycle didn’t help. Let’s review. It turns out we should, in fact, mess with Texas after the state essentially flipped Roe v. Wade, stripping millions of women of basic healthcare. Hurricanes “turned basement apartments into death traps.” And parents across the country strapped masks onto their children and sent them off to fully-packed classrooms hoping not for the best, but simply that the worst doesn’t come true.

I also sent my child off to school this week. I’m one of the fortunate ones though, because my kid is over 12 which means he’s all vaxxed up. This is not the case for most of my friends, who became parents well after I did it on my own when I was still a 20-something baby myself. I’m worried about all of the little buddies a lot. I’m worried about my own teen too, as Delta and breakthrough cases surge.

That’s all to say, I’m in my feelings in a big way this week. Which brings me to this, which is the tome that accidentally vomited out of me when I went to write a ridiculous Instagram caption about the body art my son came home with after his first day of school. Heads up: it’s an earnest mom/teacher gush. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.



In honor of back-to-school and also of joy to balance out this heavy week, here’s 4 charming minutes from producer Robyn Semien for This American Life’s Show of Delights: The Squeals On The Bus.

This story takes us through a very special morning for Semien’s five-year-old son: the first day he gets to ride the school bus. It’s cute and funny, but more than that it’s an excellent reminder that the little things are the best things, and public transportation should be considered a basic right.


As evening starts to creep in a little earlier, while Seattleites negotiate winter in the morning and a heatwave by noon, you may be wondering, is it too early to share my pumpkin spice meme?

Choreographer Jacob Jonas is also watching the weather and looking for answers. In his gorgeous dance film for Patrick Watson’s song, Can’t Stop Staring At The Sun, Jonas explores the idea of our dependence on sunlight. From Jonas:

“Our truest vulnerabilities are amplified when seen. The exposure to the light allows a witness to observe. The sun returns each day. Nature’s way to remind us to start again. We are scheduled by brightness. When dark, we are illuminated by the artificial.”

Enjoy and remember that layering up is the answer, northwesterners.


That’s a wrap for issue 56, friends. Thanks for reading, listening, holding on.

Shout out to all of you sharing ROCK PAPER RADIO with your misfit people. I see those references coming in and my unlikely optimism swells. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Hang in there, all. The season shift makes everyone feel a little weird and the news is brutal. Reach out if you need a virtual high five.

See you next Thursday.


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