Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Treadmill Shuffle

When I exercise I usually distract myself in one of three ways. Yes, I
am one of those people who falls asleep when I’m bored and it’s
dangerous to do that when you’re on the treadmill or swimming so I try to be entertained at all times. My favorite ways to pass the time are to read, listen to my iPod or watch TV. When I’m home, I have available to me hours and hours of my favorite taped TV programs. We have this amazing system where we TIVO on one TV and can watch whatever is taped on any of the other TV's. Ah technology. When I’m at the fitness club in NY, if all the other "aspiring to be fit" clients agree, I can watch a mindless TV program or maybe even the news. And when I’m walking outside or in any of the aforementioned venues, I can listen to my iPod. When I listen to the iPod I have found that putting it on ‘shuffle songs’ is really fun because it does a random selection of the 1100 tunes (many of which I have entered but never listened to) and it self selects. If I don’t put it on shuffle, I am forced to select an album, artist or playlist. This is always difficult because I am incapable of making even the simplest decisions about my musical mood.

This morning I did what I find the best way to resolve decision making decisions and I selected a play list called Iris’ favorites—pretty catchy title I think. On Iris’ playlists are many songs that take meback to different times and to people and places I loved and often still love. Many are songs that remind me of David or good times with the kids and many remind me of good and difficult periods of time in my life. Like “Ohio” makes me very angry because it is a song about the Viet Nam war, Nixon and Kent State. For those of you who are too young to remember, the Ohio Governor ( a strong supporter of Nixon and the War effort) called out a young inexperienced Ohio National Guard and sent them to quell some campus protests at Kent State. Well, things got out of hand and the guard ended up firing on a crowd of students, some of whom were demonstrating and some who were just crossing the quad. When it was over, four students were dead. I always think of it as a ‘we killed us’ with the President’s encouragement kind of activity. It was horrendous and even today when I hear that song, I think about one of the students, Alison Krause’ and her fathers tearful television appeal after she died and he had received no shortage of hate mail—from a number of god loving conservative war mongers. It still makes me so angry I cry.

Other tunes have a different effect. Mickey Katz's Yiddish spoofs or the Barry Sisters remind me of all the Sundays I spent dancing in my Aunt Sophies living room with the female members of my family. Phil Ochs makes me want to go out on the street and protest any injustice I happen to encounter. Jackie Wilson makes me dance like a 50's teeny bopper, (not easy when moving forward on a treadmill). Musical Theater stuff always reminds me of Jordan’s dreams and the Muppetts take me right back to when Seth was two. This is no different from the way most people feel about their own music, it’s just I do it in a selected time and space.

There are two selections from a show called “Ellegies” which among other wonderful songs have become my favorites. One is called “I’ll Be There”, which is sung by a mother to her two daughters because she is dying of cancer and she wants them to know that whatever they do in their lives, she will always be watching them. It is so sadly beautiful that when you hear it in the theater you just want to curl up in a fetal position and cry. The only thing that prevents you from doing that is that it is
followed by an hysterically funny song called “MY Dog”—I won’t go into detail. The other song that I love from that album (you notice we still call them albums even though they are not and we still say we will dial a phone number even though we don't), takes me to many different places. The song “14 Dwight Ave Natick Massachusetts” which is sung my a woman who, with her son, ”Michael and oxygen in tow” goes back to visit her home in Natick before she dies. I know this sound a bit morbid but it’s quite the opposite. She remembers with love all the people long gone and places she they all loved together.
She reflects about the husbands who died before their time, the card playing friends and how wonderful the memories are about raising all their kids together. I can hardly write this without tearing up because it reminds me of all the years which have passed for me and my friends, my kids, and their kids, all of whom grew up together.

This weekend I am with Kerry and her kids at their home in upstate NY. Mary Lee, an old friend of Kerry’s and a new friend of mine, and I took the train up yesterday. You will notice I intentionally do not call it a house because as fabulous as it is as a structure, it is a real home. Together, they have made it feel like a home—safe secure and incredibly loving. Kerry and I always have a good time, but this was a little different because it is extended time with the children as well. There are no shortage of laughs and there is nothing on the schedule but lots of relaxing—my kind of perfect weekend away. Anyway, when I hear “Natick” and she sings about times passed and friends gone I find there is too much future to deal with and it is overwhelming. But I also think about how lucky I am to have friends like Kerry in my life and I thank god that she is so much younger so I will likely never have to deal with any enormous loss of that friendship. Yes, I know there’s never a guarantee but I am not good at separation, let alone loss. Here's the thing, I still have friends from Nursery school, high school and college, that are my ripe old age. I don't know who's going to leave whom behind, so I’m hedging my bets with at least some younger friends... and this one is kind and generous and very special. You all should be so lucky! We’re just sayin…Iris

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