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Miss Nora Takes Washington

In DC with my daughter, the aspiring radio journalist

I told y’all that I was doing something neat on Friday. Well, here it is. That’s a shot of my daughter Nora in the control room at NPR in Washington, watching Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep broadcast. We are here because Nora is a massive public radio fan, and my kind friend Miranda Kennedy, senior editor at Morning Edition, invited her to shadow her for the morning. You might recall that I decided to spend my 50th birthday year taking each one of my kids on a special trip. This is Nora’s.

It might sound weird to you that an 11-year-old girl would be really into NPR, especially a girl from a conservative Orthodox Christian family. But she is. Our family is eccentric and eclectic that way. What’s funny to me is that Nora knows no TV news personalities, but she can tell you all about NPR hosts and correspondents. She was thrilled — really, thrilled — to meet Steve Inskeep and Rachel Martin this morning, though for her, the gold standard is Lakshmi Singh. After I was at NPR in March being interviewed about The Benedict Option, Nora asked me, “Did you meet Lakshmi Singh?”

“Yeah, I did,” I said.

“That’s my girl!” she said, making a fist-pump.

Like I said, we are an eccentric family. We like it that way.

I don’t post photos of my kids (their faces) as a rule, but if I did, you’d see plenty of shots of a kid whose face is beaming like she’s in Santa’s workshop. She wants to be a radio journalist like her heroes, and now she’s meeting the cream of the crop. Miranda is about to take her to the morning news meeting. A big shout-out to Miranda for this incredible gift to Nora, and to the NPR staff for being so welcoming to her.

After lunch, we are going to go to Capitol Hill to see the Capitol and the Library of Congress. Later on, we’re going to have a tour of the Supreme Court. This is Nora’s first time in Washington, so she’s getting the full experience. Nora is intellectual, and intellectually gregarious, so she’s soaking this all up like a sponge. Tomorrow we’re going to museums on the Mall (Nora loves to bake, so she really wants to see Julia Child’s kitchen at the American History museum), and spending the night with other journalism friends. Back home on Sunday.

I’ve offered Nora the chance to write a report for this blog about her Washington experiences. She’s taken me up on it. Watch this space.

Here’s something neat: Nora’s namesake is an old high school teacher of mine who was a big influence on my life. One of the things she did for me back then was introduce me to NPR. And here I am today, with Ti-Nora, at the public radio mothership, where she (Ti-Nora, Cajun slang for “Little Nora”) is learning how to be the thing she really wants to be when she grows up: a radio journalist.

UPDATE: Wow, the Michael Flynn news just broke — and Nora is in the middle of a national newsroom that’s suddenly buzzing. Terrific! I just saw a sign saying no photography in the newsroom, so I might have to take that photo above down. I’ll ask. I wasn’t planning on posting any more, though.

UPDATE.2: So, what a great morning. We’re back in the hotel, and Nora is resting before we go over to the Capitol. We had to be up at 5:45 a.m., to get over to NPR, and the experience itself was overwhelming for her. Walking out of the NPR building, I asked her what surprised her most about visiting NPR.

“I thought that they would be brisk and professional,” she said. “But they weren’t serious. I mean, they were really serious about their work, but they were so nice and friendly.”

I can’t speak to Nora’s expectations, but I can verify that everybody was really nice and really friendly. They could not possibly have given Nora a more positive experience. She will remember this for a long, long time. We have been NPR members for years. Today was a reminder of why that’s money well spent.

Alas, Lakshmi Singh was off today.

UPDATE.3: We visited the Capitol this afternoon, and the Library of Congress, and finished the day at dinner with J.D. Vance and his wonderful family, at Ted’s Bulletin diner on Capitol Hill. Take-out chocolate cake for dessert back in the hotel room. Life is good.

UPDATE.4: Nora, on the phone tonight, relating events of the day to her mother: “Mom, did you know that Robert Siegel IS RETIRING?!” Spoken like someone who just heard a beloved monarch was abdicating.