Sunday, April 11, 2021

Tina

I am a huge fan of Tina Turner.

She has an amazing voice, with a presence on stage that could move mountains.

She is a singer, songwriter, dancer and actress. Now retired, her career spanned some 6 decades, with well-known early hits including “Proud Mary,” “Better Be Good To Me,” and “Addicted To Love." Later she blew up the charts with “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “Private Dancer,” and “The Best.” She has won Grammys for Best Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performer, Lifetime Achievement awards, an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in the motion picture “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” and another 50 or more nominations/awards/accolades for all kinds of work. 

Born Anna May Bullock, she was renamed Tina Turner by Ike, who “discovered” her by giving her a platform to sing right alongside him in his band…and then he took away her voice.

When the recent HBO documentary aired about her, during which she thanked her followers as she bid adieu from the public spotlight after 60 years, I was left heartbroken.

For the 15 years she was married to Ike – and during which they performed and raised children together – he tortured her. She endured emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse. Her childhood was also very disturbing. Her parents were abusive, and they abandoned her when she was 11. Finally, at age 37, she mustered strength through the study of Buddhism and was able to leave Ike.

It’s hard for me to picture this woman who is bigger than life being a victim and not going after him with all that power she brought to her performances.

One of the most difficult aspects of the abuse, she stated in the documentary, was having to relive it in interviews about their separation, despite repeated requests not to be asked about it.

Yet, questions continued. One that a reporter actually asked was, “When you were married to Ike, what was the worst moment?”

On what planet is that an acceptable question?

It seems so very cruel to ask Tina to go back to that dark place to share her dreadful memories, but I wonder...What is the impact of keeping all this pain and horror private? What does it do to the abused woman? All women? Her child? All children? The abuser? All abusers? To humanity?    

Without talking about it, the abused woman’s daughter could see such acts as permissible, even by a man who supposedly loves her; her son could see this as acceptable behavior for a man, even when he loves a woman; a child could think this is normal behavior for parents, and on and on.

I would hope that the abused victim would be able to open up to someone, learn of her options, get some assistance, and free herself from this harmful reality. She will continue to suffer immeasurably either way—keeping it private or sharing the details—but I have to believe that keeping those emotions simmering within is not the way to go. As for the abuser, he must be held accountable, whatever that entails.

However, since I have not been in her position, I have no idea if I would have been able to talk about such horrendous experiences - during or after.   

I have been using gender-specific pronouns but, in reality, anyone can be an abuser or be the abused.

While I am still cringing at the reporter’s question to Tina, I do think that, as a society, it’s better for us to be aware of the danger that can and may lurk behind closed doors so that the abused in particular knows it doesn’t have to be that way. 


 

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Let There Be Songs To Fill The Air

Last week, I wrote about listening to music in the car, but where I hear the most music is in our home, thanks to David, who keeps me entertained all day long.

Whether he is hanging out in his main room downstairs or in a bedroom upstairs, I am always able to get an earful of whatever he has on.

He likes to play a variety of music these days, with jazz topping the list, whereas when I first met him, he was all about the Grateful Dead. This is a band I had judged in my teen/young adult years to have some kind of an underground, cult following, because I had never heard them on the radio, nor were they part of my concert-going scene or of interest to anyone I knew.   

Before I married him, I couldn’t believe that after years of poking fun of Dead Heads, I was going to end up with one. I wasn’t sure how this characteristic would play out in our relationship, given how much of his free time and energy was channeled to the Dead, but the rest of him seemed kind of normal and workable, so I figured…what the heck, I’ll give it a shot 😊

It’s been a fun ride living with a Dead aficionado for lots of reasons, the most intriguing of all is how passionate he and his friends have remained about the Dead for so many years. It’s one thing to be an MLB or March Madness enthusiast with lots of games and players to assess, but it has been over 25 years since Garcia died and the “real” Grateful Dead ended, yet the community and level of interaction among the fans is as strong as ever.

My kids always got a kick out of David’s Dead Head status, which was good for blended family harmony too, so I embraced it. He’d make it a game to ask them to throw out a date, any date, and then he’d name the specific venue the Dead played that night along with the set list (unless they didn’t play). As you would expect, Lauren and Matthew were more advanced with their knowledge and they’d kick off the game by reciting a set list, and then David would announce the corresponding concert location.

It’s all impressive, for sure, but N U T S, too.

He dates his love affair with The Dead to have started in the mid-1970s, when he and his childhood (and adult) friends Roger and Andy spent years in high school and college trekking around the east coast to see Garcia and the Dead wherever they played. Between 1977-1995, they saw about 150 Dead concerts and another 30-40 Garcia and related music concerts.

While they remain deep in the Dead world, these guys – and other friends David has made along the way with the Dead as the ignitor – spend more time talking about non-Dead related things, but they always go back there. What may start as a post on a Dead forum between David and someone he’s never met – he has tons of friends in this category - may quickly become a lively phone conversation with David energetically talking about shows, recordings, new releases, equipment to enhance the music, Garcia’s life and so on.

Over time, he and many of these guys developed an enthusiasm for jazz, which I initially found to be surprising – as well as relieving, I must say – until David explained that the improvisational nature of jazz is similar to the Dead’s improvisation between the written beginning and end of songs.

I welcomed the jazz for the change that it was but found some of it displeasing, as it came across as loud, disorganized, unsettling and not the kind of music I wanted in the background as I was relaxing. But then he introduced other pieces with a greater saxophone, trumpet, trombone and piano presence, and I was hooked. 

One day, I heard the most amazing tune that I recognized as a version of “My Favorite Things” from "The Sound of Music.” It was played by the crazily talented John Coltrane. Let me tell you this song is 14 minutes of heaven.

I was so engaged with it that David made me a CD of just this one song...sound familiar from my post last week about “Ants Marching” by Dave Matthews? I played “My Favorite Things” whenever I was in the car in my typically obsessive way – over and over and over again. I just couldn’t get enough!

This jazz crush of David’s is boding really well for me, because there is an endless amount out there, and so much of it is absolutely fantastic.

He may not have gotten here without the Dead first, so Thank You, Jerry Garcia!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Music To Drive By

For many years, I’ve been driving around with a few bags of CDs, but seldom do they make their way into the CD player.

Lugging them around doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than just in case I might want to listen to them. What gets in the way is the simple fact that I have no interest in hearing a whole CD from any one artist, like his/her greatest hits, or a record label, movie or show tune collection.

David’s been using my SUV regularly because it suits his retired lifestyle better than his own sedan, as he’s often shipping big boxes of music-related equipment or bringing home supplies for various home improvement projects.  

While I’m happy to share my car, I cringe each time he uses it, because he ends up asking me if I ever listen to the CDs that he has to remove from the car to accommodate his own stuff. The answer has never changed: “Rarely.”

This makes no sense to him. He spends a large part of each day focusing on music so why, when I’m in the car alone, would I not choose to hear all this music?

I’ve tried explaining to him that I grow tired of my CDs; other than for a song or 2 on each one, they don’t keep me engaged and actually start to annoy me. Sure, I could skip what I’m not interested in at that moment, but sometimes it’s easier to turn on the radio.

Last week, he brought the CDs from the car into the house and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He said he will burn “Judy’s Best of the Best” mixed CD(s) with my favs (and then I can leave the CDs inside). Granted, this plan would also clear out those pesky bags that are always in his way, but I’m thinking about the real benefit here…I’ll end up with something awesome that I’ll actually like.

He laid out the plan: I’ll make an initial list of songs, he’ll burn 1, 2 or 3 CDs, I’ll re-evaluate, and then I’ll make the final list. What could be easier (for me)?  

We started the project last weekend, and while I’m having fun assessing how to create my ideal set, I haven’t made any real progress with it other than deleting most of what I initially chose. I know I’m overthinking but, if I don’t, I’ll end up with a zillion songs, which would defeat the purpose.  

My first draft had 65 picks (4 CDs). Some of the classics on it – “The Way We Were” with Barbra Streisand, James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” or Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence” – did not make the cut and have now been disqualified. Initially I felt guilty to leave them out, but it is for the greater good.

Several days and car trips later, however, I’ve realized that a CD playlist for driving is entirely different than one for relaxing. For the car, I only want music that energizes me; it’s not the place for soft melodies or classical music or sentimental wording…I need to stay pumped.   

On my ride to and from Amy’s apartment – about an hour away – I listened to the fabulous “Ants Marching” by Dave Matthews at least a dozen times.  

Is it possible I only need that song, and a couple others to break it up at times? 

In reality, I will probably add a dozen more that put me in the mood for trucking down the road.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Don't Wake Me Up, I'm Thinking

Several nights ago, I dreamed about my real-life aching knees, brought about by chondromalacia patella, a breakdown of cartilage under the kneecap – with some arthritis thrown in there, too.

The symptoms include discomfort when walking up and down the steps, inability to squat, and any other movements that require bending of the knees. I’ve gone to physical therapy on and off for years which has helped immensely, along with gym and home exercise.  

I’d like to say that this issue is due to marathon running as a teen or young adult, but…I can’t. 

In my dream, I was sitting on a chair and pedaling my legs on a small piece of equipment that simulated the movement on a bike. I recognized it as something my mom had used to manage her knee pain and, in my dream, I told myself that I need to buy one of these so that I can get back to the routine I had before the pandemic, which included 15 minutes on the bike at Planet Fitness.    

When I woke up, I was back to square one. I didn’t recall the dream, even though you might think my stiff knees would’ve been a reminder. As I've done most days, I started to stew about the situation. I wanted to take a walk, but at times that makes the situation worse; I contemplated doing my knee exercises, but I find them soooooooooooo boring. It’s one thing to work out at the gym where I have my pick of apparatus but, on my own with the majority of the workout centered on stretching on the floor, I tend to be so unmotivated.

Meantime, my girlfriend texted me to ask how everything is going. I mentioned my knee dilemma and how frustrated I’ve been not being able to get on the bike regularly, given that I don’t have a stationary bike at home. 

She responded by sharing a scenario about another friend with a similar issue who uses a lightweight and foldable device that has resulted in a positive impact on her joints, which in turn has made her much more comfortable overall. It’s so great in fact, my friend said, that this woman not only benefits from it at home but also travels with it. She commented that I can throw it in my car when I take my next road trip to Florida, although this sounded rather far-fetched that I’m going to want to start traveling with this thing.

And then…DING DING DING…as she spoke, I began to realize that the little contraption she was describing was what I had just dreamed about, 12 hours earlier, that my mom had found so valuable as well. I cannot get over the fact that my brain solved a problem for me…at night while I slept…that my girlfriend echoed with the same solution, during our text exchange the next morning.   

I immediately went online to search for a portable peddling machine and low and behold there were tons to choose from. I ordered one from Amazon for under $45 and have cycled every day since then (nearly a week) for 15-20 minutes per session, with noticeable improvement. It’s actually been fun, too.

I have another issue that needs to be resolved…better go take a nap! 


Sunday, March 14, 2021

The Road Back

‘Tis the wedding season, and I am…p s y c h e d!!!

I love celebrating the joyous union of two people, and it’s always an honor to be one of the selected guests to witness the most important ceremony of their lives.   

When an invitation comes to our mailbox, I rip it open, do a little wedding dance, mark the date on our calendar, and then ask myself the critical question: What am I going to wear?

Last week, we received the first invite of the year, for a May wedding. This time it was David who opened it, but I still did my little dance, we confirmed the date, I thought about my party dress, and then we gave each other “The Look.”

Given that we are still in throes of a pandemic, this once-romantic glance has new meaning these days. We know that this kind of event will require discussion.      

It is unfortunate but true that virus concerns seep into every decision that would require us to step out of our cocoon and mingle with others. We have, after all, been programmed this past year to be as cautious as possible, to live in relative isolation in the hopes of protecting ourselves and our loved ones.

Yet, this invitation to start living it up again has come right to our door. Are we ready?

By the time the wedding takes place, the Coronameter should be continuing to tilt in a favorable direction given that the majority of all who want the vaccine will hopefully have received at least one dose and will, therefore, have some protection. The festivities are scheduled to be outside, and my assumption is that many people will wear masks and socially distance. These are all great things.

While there has been a wide range of opinions about all the recommended dos and don’ts of how to manage the virus, I am so grateful to the scientists who are leading us in the right direction.   

We can all likely agree that returning to normalcy and getting back to our lives as we once knew them will evolve over time.

I, for one, am chomping at the bit.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Just My Imagination

Thanks to all my empty nester friends, I am having some awesome daydreams.

In the past couple of years, dozens of folks have shared with me their plans for starting new chapters in their lives now that they have the opportunity to do so, given that the kids have gone their own way.    

Whenever I hear about a person's intent to downsize and/or relocate, I close my eyes and picture myself in his/her new life, from the digs to the surroundings to the weather and so on. 

It’s a pretty cool trick to be able to try out a variety of lifestyles, from my very own living room couch…with no boxes to unpack…and no stress.    

All it takes is some imagination and practice and, before long, I have become the main character in my fantasy. I’m able to view my life in multiple settings and can then compare options to determine which might be the most appealing for me to try out one day, for real.

Most of the moves seem to have subtle differences among them, such as going from a large suburban residence where many of us raised our families to a smaller, local dwelling in a walkable community, whether in a suburban town or a city.  

These are easy choices to visualize given 1 - I’ve already lived them and 2 – I’d still be close to the important peeps in my life.

More dramatic a change is in the works for my friends contemplating life as snowbirds. They would sell their home to spend winters in Florida and summers either on a New Jersey beach or in close proximity to their current house or grandchildren.   

Along these lines of moving a distance away, I have another friend who is mulling over the purchase of a place in a resort area across the country for a robust life of outdoor activities, culture and fun year-round, while also possibly keeping a residence near where they live today.

The most extreme plan I’ve heard so far relates to a friend and her husband who are living out her longtime goal. They have sold their home in exchange for the purchase of a truck camper, so they can spend all their time on the open road, hiking and camping around the country.    

After decades of staying put to raise children, all of these plans fall within a spectrum of possibilities that I can envision for myself, although I’d have to get David on board.

My guess is that he is happy for me to live vicariously through my daydreams, because he’d be perfectly content staying in our house forever.

As for me, after all these exciting scenarios I’ve played out in my mind, I only know one thing for sure: If/when we do move, our new pad is going to be one level.


Sunday, February 28, 2021

An Afternoon Walk

On a sunny, 55-degree day this past week, I took a fabulously long walk and got back to my neighborhood about 3:30 pm. As I crossed from the main road on to my street, I could see the face of a teenage neighbor in front of her house behind a car, but I could only see the back of the guy she was talking to. 

She looked bigger than I remembered and pretty grown up, compared to the last time I had seen her. She was smiling so much. It made me think about the magic of young love.

As I inched a bit closer but was still a distance away, I saw she was standing on a skateboard, which explained her being taller than I’d have expected. She didn’t take her eyes off the guy, who appeared to be instructing her on skateboarding techniques.

Right away I started to project my own worries on to her parents. The mother in me started to empathize with her poor parents for having to deal with this new hobby of hers. I started to sweat just thinking about all the safety matters that come into play.

Add to that a persuasive boyfriend encouraging it, and the situation is ripe for battles at home, with her parents concerned that she may want to do all kinds of crazy stunts on her skateboard, hang out with other daredevils (or, worse yet, with her skateboard buddy alone) and so on.

I walked to the other side of the street as I approached them since I wasn’t wearing a mask but wanted to say “hi!” to the teen and of course to check out her boyfriend.  

Let me just say … WOA!!!

That “boyfriend” teaching her how to skateboard was…HER DAD!

I was s h o c k e d!!! I had seen him eons of times but usually with a briefcase in hand. I’d never have guessed that he’s a skateboarder and/or that he’d be encouraging her to learn.

But once I thought it through – that he is sharing with his daughter a hobby he enjoyed – I began to feel differently.

I think fathers and daughters often struggle to find common ground, and a mutual appreciation for a hobby can add a wonderful new dimension to their relationship.

By the time I got home – 12 houses down – my thoughts went from “those poor parents” to “that lucky dad…and daughter.”