Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hymns at the Gym

I went to the gym today after a month hiatus. It felt good to get back into the routine. I even bought one of those devices where I can wear my iPod around my arm instead of tucking it into the waistband of my underwear.

I used to build playlists for exercise, but stopped when I found what motivated me one day, irritated me the next, or made me wonder why I thought a particular song made for a good workout song.

Too much effort for thirty minutes of cardio designed to relieve stress.

Now, I'm content to put it on shuffle and go on.

The afternoon before my mom went in for last week's minor surgery - one where we thought she would be conscious - a neighbor suggested she listen to music during the procedure. After browsing my music library that night and deciding my selections were more likely to irritate than soothe my mother, I went to iTunes and to search for hymns.

I had an earlier post where I talk about how picking out harmonies to the Sunday hymns is one of my consistent pleasures I can count on (I'd point it out, but, as you might have learned, I'm not yet so "interactively inclined.") So I thought some old-school, piano-based pew-hymal might be just the thing.

And I found some among the vast array of foofy televangelist renditions and goth-for-God groups. I handed my iPod to my mother in the waiting room, but, ultimately, it didn't work out. Not catching on to the right spinning motion needed to work the controls, she grew easily frustrated. And then she ended up being unconscious anyway.

I planned to delete them because, while I genuinely like the hymns, did not want to listen to them outside of church.

However, while at the gym this morning "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" came on, and I didn't forward it. I found it to be a pleasant surprise, tucked in between Pink's "Funhouse" and a Lucinda Williams cover of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock and Roll."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Old School Ode #7 - Camp Friends

Tuesday morning I went to pick my mom up from her stint at a convelescent home, recovering from hip replacement-turned broken leg. As I walked in to get her, she came rolling out into the hallway saying, "I'll be right back, I have a few more addresses to get." I didn't understand at first, but when she handed me her little notebook to put in my purse, I got it. They were addresses of the friends and staff she had met over the past six weeks, people whom she wanted to send notes to when she got home.

This reminded me of my own notebook of addresses I had when I got home from camp.

There are certainly kids who were more immersed in "camp culture" than I (see "This American Life" for a borderline cultish version), but I was certainly a full-on participant. If there was a craft to complete, consider it done, a chore to be responsible for, you could count on me, a talent show to be had, you could find me, Indian-style on someone's bed, wearing a wig, brainstorming until the wee hours of the night. And if there were a social construct to fit into, I fell right into it. I was the disarming, funny, everyone's-friend-don't-want-anyone-to-fight gal with the goofy t-shirt and impressive tape collection.

I can still remember those personal dynamics, the girls who demanded to be picked up, the ones who got homesick, the ones who were born leaders and inevitable sociopaths. My first camp crush was on a boy whose name I only remember as Toad. He liked me back and that was good enough for me.

I can't tell you how many letters I actually sent once I got home from camp. I seem to recall a slew sent out while I sat at the orthodontist, being fitted for braces. But that's hardly the point. The gathering of the names, the saying closure of saying goodbye and believing you actually will keep in touch is totally worth it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How You Want to Live Your Life

My mom has been in a rehab/nursing facility for five weeks now, slated to go home next week. She was supposed to have been there for ten days, following a "routine" hip-replacement surgery. She is now recovering from a broken leg, a nasty stomach infection from the strong anti-biotic, and is concerned about the slow healing of the incision that needed suturing.

In visiting every day, walking the long halls of the facility, and interacting with the staff and other residents, I cannot help thinking about the complexities of our life experience. I am continually struck by the we are equally compacted by both the deliberate choices we make and circumstances we can not foresee.

In the first few weeks, I'll admit my main concerns were self-centered. I'd drive home thinking, I do not want to end up with some condition brought on by a lifetime of indifferent disregard of my body or mind.

But now that I've gotten used to being around people with health issues, I am starting to notice the personalities that emerge. Because I am an extrovert, I have found myself in the types of casual yet consistent relationships that I can recognize throughout my life. Wandering into the dining room to speak to friendly older gentleman sitting by himself reminded of wandering into my dorm's common area on the first night of college and making friends. I am comforted by the fact that, regardless of life-circumstances happen to befall me, I am likely to find connections with people.

Doesn't mean I'm not still highly motivated to eat better and get back to the gym...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

On a Newsstand NearYou...

Or conveniently located on line for your viewing pleasure...

I got a gig writing for the new monthly glossy, (614) Magazine.

Check it out.


Next month I'm doing a piece on the Symphony. I think the editor thinks of me as the cultured grown-up of the group. I'm doing my best to step up.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Behold the Power of Cake...

So I had a birthday over the weekend.

A big one.

It was an enormous amount of fun. Friends piled into my usually quiet house and I loved every moment of it. Especially a newly implemented tradition I intermittently refer to as either the Cake Parade or Cake Walk (this is only the third year I've done it, so I have some time to let a name settle.)

Anyway. All this really consists of is me picking up my own cake at Resch's bakery on Livingston Ave. and digging into that box with a fork on the drive back home. Then I proceed to spend the day taking the cake with me wherever I care to go, with a stack of plates and forks. Last year, the West High Homecoming parade came down my friend Mary's street, so I walked my cake over and enjoyed it with her family and other neighbors who either dropped by, or whom I saw on my way home.

This year, since I had a party (and I suppose it could be considered tacky to bring a half-eaten cake...) I got two cakes. I took a slice over to neighbors on both sides and had some for lunch.

Forget the presents (not that I don't like presents), forget the booze (although I did enjoy some delicious bourbon-soaked cherries...). Give me cake.