Have iPod, Will Travel

For me to say that music has become my therapy for the past few years would be something of an understatement. Music is an intrinsic part of who I am now. It feeds my soul. It calms my mind. And it goes with me everywhere. At home, in the car, at work, grocery shopping, getting a pedicure – you name it. My music accompanies me everywhere. Have iPod, will travel.

In fact, there are certain situations during which the absence of music will leave me completely out of sorts. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I’ll find myself in the kitchen, assembling the ingredients for a new recipe, or at the computer, working on a school assignment, or even writing this blog, and I’ll be struck by the sense that something is out of kilter.

What’s missing? What’s wrong? What have I forgotten? Something is off…

And I realize that the room is simply too quiet. And once I’ve come to this realization, the silence becomes deafening.

Cue the music. Let it fill every corner. Soon, all is right with my world again.
Recently I’ve resumed a walking program. Our recent move happened to put us less than a block from a middle school with a nice cushioned quarter-mile track. And since my doctor had just warned me about my less than stellar bloodwork and my pre-diabetic status, and urged me to improve my diet and my sloth-like habits, I decided that the proximity of the track was obviously a message from the universe. A message which said:

“Hey, you! Yes, you! The sloth-like Jewish Mother!! What say you haul your ass out of bed a little earlier each day and take a walk?”

I had to face facts. I needed to get moving again. And I was out of excuses. The universe had to keep nagging me for a while, but eventually it wore me down and I got busy.

And once I did, I found that it was not so bad. The track was cushy, and even at 5:30 in the morning, populated enough by other walkers, runners, dogs, and even boot camp attendees to alleviate any safety concerns. And I had an iPod. With a Nike app and about 1000 songs on it. Surely music would distract me from the repetition.

My goal is two to three miles on work days, and four or more on the weekends, when I’m not in a hurry to get to work. (Who am I kidding? I am, in fact, NEVER in a hurry to get to work. Once I land the dream job? Absolutely. Not yet, though.)

I logged 45 miles in June. Not spectacular, but it’s something. I’m shooting for at least 60 in July. And other than the bailing out of bed at the ass-crack of dawn, I’m enjoying it. I feel better. In just a month, I’ve gotten faster and stronger, and I’ve noticed that when I spend a day in the kitchen now, my back doesn’t hurt anymore.

And I’ve also made an amazing discovery.

My iPod is psychic. It always knows what music I need to hear.

I’ve suspected this for a long time, but mornings on the track have convinced me beyond all doubt. The iPod knows. And it shuffles up the perfect song at the point I need it most.

On a morning when I’m particularly tired, standing on my driveway, thinking seriously about going back inside and catching a few more winks on the couch (or pouring a vat of coffee and vegging out if it’s time to get ready for work), I hit the “Run” button and suddenly “Monkey Wrench” is queued up in my head, and it’s as if Dave and the guys are right there, just daring me not to walk. Or Frank Turner starts me off with “Recovery”, or the opening notes of the Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy” fire up. How could I go inside with those songs playing? If I hear any of those, or a dozen others, I can barely keep from dancing down to the track!

Some mornings I have other things on my mind. Worries about school or work or whatever. iPod knows, and sends something calming and peaceful to help me find my focus. “Mirrorball” by Elbow, or “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd, or Foo Fighters’ “Over and Out.”

When I was taking a long Sunday morning walk recently, and was about to call it quits prior to my intended five miles, iPod tossed out “Source Tags and Codes” by Trail of Dead, and I had my reason to keep going. I even threw in an extra lap just so I could hear the beautiful strings at the end.

And this morning, when I was wondering what kind of Monday I was going to encounter, my walk started off with a Foo favorite, “Stacked Actors”, and ended with Gary Clark, Jr.’s exceptional rendition of “Third Stone from the Sun/If You Love Me Like You Say.” Any day that iPod produces those to start and finish my track time can’t be bad. Not even a Monday. And by the way, if you still haven’t purchased Clark’s album Blak and Blu, go do it now. C’mon, you’ll love it! Would I lead you astray?

Now, sometimes my iPod sends me a message that I don’t immediately understand. This happened a few weeks ago, and it took me a while to decipher. You know how I download all the free songs from Starbucks, right? Well, I don’t always listen to them immediately. Some of them just randomly pop up on the shuffle and that’s my introduction. As was the case on this particular day.

A voice reminiscent of Barry White filled my head. “Hey, pretty lady.” Then wannabe Barry morphed into another voice I didn’t know. It was a pop tune! On my iPod! And it was…ghastly!

What fresh hell was this?? Mr. Pop Singer (still unknown to me) was singing about a girl who was “smackin’ that strawberry bubblegum.” WHAT?? I dug my iPod out of my pocket and checked the screen, fully expecting to see Satan himself. But instead, it was Justin Timberlake.

Now, I don’t wanna bash JT. I don’t know his music well enough to do that. Admittedly, I’m not a big pop music fan, so I’m not one to judge, and he seems like a really nice guy. But this? This song was embarrassing! It was like a parody of a pop song. Maybe it would work for a different demographic. Like, say, a 14 year-old girl. Only I’m not.

As bad as it was, I forced myself to listen to the whole, painful, cringe-worthy thing. I was convinced that iPod shuffled up that song for a reason. And by the end of that nearly eight minutes of torture, I knew what it was.

My psychic iPod was telling me never to doubt the direction that my music takes me, and to appreciate my rock and roll soul. And reminding me that, every now and then, it’s okay to cull the herd and delete a few songs.
Maybe iPod doesn’t like strawberry bubblegum. That’s okay. Neither do I.


2 thoughts on “Have iPod, Will Travel

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