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.