Sunday, March 27, 2011

Is There Anybody Out There?

No, I’m not referencing the Pink Floyd song.  I could see the possibility of people thinking that I would be blogging about music again, in lieu of the last post (Mixed Tape).  Not today.  I’m wondering if people even read these posts.  Perhaps there is a period of self-doubt that I’m going through.  Maybe I just hopped on another pregnancy hormone roller coaster and the exit appears to be no where in sight. 

I planned a vacation day this past Friday to get a much needed massage and run a few errands.  On my way to Bethlehem I thought about the next article I needed to write for Lehigh Valley Running Scene, which then spiraled into thoughts about my next Muffin blog post.  I must have just come off the first drop in the coaster since I was doubting my audience.  Does anyone even read this crap?  Is there anybody out there?

I’m not doing this for my health.  Well…sure I am.  It helps to clear out the mental garbage which should provide some clarity, right?  I’m doing this because I love to write.  I’m doing this because I enjoy sharing stories about myself with people.  I am doing this in the hopes that some of my stories will motivate the reader.  BUT IS ANYONE REALLY LISTENING?  Part of me hopes to be ‘discovered’ by a someone who will pay me to share these stories, and more, fwith an audience.  Ha. 

I can’t be discovered unless there are people out there.  Are you there?  Let me know.  Follow my blog, leave a comment, SAY SOMETHING!  I need to know that there are more than four or five people reading this.  I’m open to your feedback, opinions, likes/dislikes…  What do you want me to write about?  Maybe it’s my lifelong passion to obliterate every opponent I encounter in a heated game of Monopoly.  Maybe you’re interested in why I downloaded a Justin Beiber song.  Maybe you want to know weird things about me like why I don’t use conditioner, my barriers against sharing dairy products with people, and why I can’t walk into a new restaurant (or other public meeting place) ahead of everyone.  Maybe you just want me to stop writing.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mixed Tape

I don’t run (or trot) with tunes for a few reasons: 1). I like to hear the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, 2). the rhythm of my breath keeps me within a comfortable pace, and 3). I have not been able to find a set of ear buds that will actually nestle into my ears.  On the other hand, a workout on the dreadmill can be so mundane that I find music almost 100% necessary.  
The other morning I peeled my body out of a snuggly position to hit the dreadmill.  I’ve started to put some music on my iPhone and had a few choice albums to keep me moving.  I hooked up my phone to the speakers and started on my way.  Of course, there was at least one full Beastie Boy compilation and after I heard the first live song I took the player off of shuffle and just played that entire album. 
Beastie Boys – my favorite artist.  Their music has pulled me through some darkness and kept me in the game.  They’ve been a part of my life for over twenty years (damn, I’m getting old).  So many of their lyrics can spawn personal stories and reflections.  Well, that’s what I’m going to do right here.
“I feel like a winner when I make a mixed tape.”  Great lyric which can be found in the first verse of the Flute Loop.  If you’re never heard the song from their Ill Communication release back in 1994 (!) I highly recommend a Google on this one.  Even if you’re not a fan of their flowin’ prose* the repetition of the flute riff (hence the title of the song) is enough to get your body movin’*.  I couldn’t get that line out of my head - I started to think about mixed tapes. 
Being in my cold, dank basement reminded of me sitting in the unfinished basement of one of my childhood homes.  My Dad had his weight bench all set up in a small corner and he would jam out to Aerosmith, Journey, the city bands (such as, Chicago, Boston), Styxx, The Police and of course, his all time favorite, Bob Dylan.  Dad can’t hold a tune to save his life, but man, can he play a mean air guitar!  I remember hanging out while he lifted, admiring the mix of music blaring from his new boom box (which, I believe, just died a few years ago).  I picked up each tape case to see the name of the artist, the song and it’s accompanying album thoughtfully printed on the insert. 
The release of blockbuster movie soundtracks like Rocky and Top Gun proved that these compilations were not only key for jamming out, but they became the ultimate mixed tape.  Seriously, folks, who hasn’t worked out to classics like, “Danger Zone”, “Eye of the Tiger”, “You’re the Best” etc.  As time passed, newer bands, such as U2, Bon Jovi, and Van Halen were introduced into this melting pot of sounds. 
I vaguely remember Dad creating his mixes and I soon applied the same methodology when making my own.  Damn, it took a lot of time and research.  And back then, for the younger kids out there, we made mixed tapes from tapes, or worse, from a record.  Do you know what a record is?  In most cases, I was in my bedroom, sitting on the floor, surrounded by a large grouping of tapes.  Some of these tapes were mine, but most were Dad’s.  After all, he had one hell of a collection! 
My first few batches were all for my enjoyment until I started to branch out into the art of creating mixes for my friends and then my beaus.  In some cases I needed the assistance of the radio to capture a song – talk about time intensive!  The sound was never the way you envisioned it, but the point was made.  It became another jam on your menu of tunes.  The start and end of every song sounded like a hiccup or a made a ‘bluurrrrppp’ due to your quickness of pressing the record/pause button simultaneously or the pause button to end the recording.  CD’s made the process SO MUCH EASIER!!!!! 
But, as technology advanced, the time and thought behind the creation regressed.  A lot of the mental motivations behind the music were repressed since there is more capability at our finger tips.  We shared music with Napster (before the legal intervention), emailed songs and purchased our favorite one hit wonder from iTunes.  All this without discovering the ‘B side’ of things; honestly, folks, how many times did you buy a record to tape JUST FOR ONE SONG?  In this era of digital music we don’t need to make a mixed tape, even for ourselves.  Create a playlist and put it on your MP3 player, or throw six CD’s (closer to being obsolete) into your car changer and put that bad boy on shuffle.  Six CD’s isn’t enough to feed your focus?  How about you put your entire collection on your MP3 player, plug that into your car and you’ll be entertained for 45 days 13 hours 45 minutes without any interruption?  OR BETTER YET, check out Pandora and create your own radio station based on an artist preference.  See where that takes you.
Insert breath here.
Skipping ahead to today.  I’m sitting in my office importing some CD’s into my music library so I have them on my phone for my dreadmill workout.  I’ll definitely happen upon some songs that stink and I’ll just advance to the next song.  After writing this post I don’t think that I’ll look at my music collection the same.  Here’s what I do know, the Beastie Boys are due for another release.  It was supposed to be last Fall, but was pushed back to the Spring.  If they actually release a hard copy I’m all over that. 
*Beastie Boys. “Flowin’ Prose”. Hello Nasty. Capitol, 1998.
*Beastie Boys. “Body Movin’”. Hello Nasty. Capitol, 1998.
Kenny Loggins. “Danger Zone”. Top Gun Soundtrack. Columbia, 1986.
Survivor. “Eye of the Tiger”. Rocky III Soundtrack. EMI, 1982.
Joe Esposito. “You’re the Best”. The Karate Kid Soundtrack. Casablanca, 1984.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Today is Ash Wednesday.  One of the only reasons why I remember this is because yesterday was Fat Tuesday.  Growing up, Ash Wednesday meant starting the day with Mass and walking proudly afterwards with the ashes imprinted on my forehead.  As Catholic pupils we were charged with identifying a sacrifice, something to give up for the period of Lent.  I typically gave up candy (which I wasn’t allowed to have as a kid), talking back to my parents or fighting with my brother.  Ironically, the latter two were common themes in confession. 

I finished eighth grade in a Catholic school and made the jump to public high.  This break from religion gave me a chance to spread my wings, so to speak, and even though I challenged some of the teachings I lost my spirituality along the way.  I gave up on the church and didn’t attend for years.  For some odd reason I always observed Lent; I needed the sacrifice. 

When asked about my religious affiliation I smirk and joke about being a recovering Catholic.  I don’t ‘practice’, but I have a desire for that spiritual structure.  Over the past fifteen years I’ve set foot in a Catholic church maybe four times.  Each time, it’s as if I haven’t missed a step: I dip my right fingertips in holy water and make the sign of the cross, I can recite the entire Mass (call AND response), I stand, sit, kneel, stand, kneel, sit, etc. like a good student, I make a donation in the basket and I even get up for Communion. 

I digress.  So, today, I think about a sacrifice, but decide that ‘sacrifice’ isn’t the correct word.  That sounds just too negative.  I don’t need a sacrifice, I need a change.  I’m going to try to ‘give up’ some of my negative thinking and focus on positive change.  I’ve recently mentioned incorporating meditation into my life.  This does not mean that I’ll sit in lotus pose, staring at a candle for hours while the worries of the world escape my mind; this means that I will put my mind into the present and focus on positive change within my life – positive change that will affect those around me. 

I won’t sacrifice one thing, but I will make a change. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Friendly Reminders

I can’t take credit for the title, but I do take credit for the thoughts surrounding it. 

I’ve actually been reminded a few times, both personally and by friends, that I haven’t blogged in some time.  I’ve been writing a pregnancy series for Lehigh Valley Running Scene and put all my ‘creative’ energy into those articles.  I don’t want to copy those articles into this blog for fear of repetition with my hybrid audience.  I guess it’s just laziness.  Nevertheless, I discovered a myriad  of other gentle reminders the past few weeks that I’d love to share with you.

  1. My Dorney Park thermal mug has a slight taste of lemonade; a perfect reminder of summer.
  2. Amazon e-mailed me yesterday informing me that my pre-ordered book by Kristin Armstrong had shipped.  Already forgetting that the book was on the way, I was reminded today of my purchase when I discovered the package in my mailbox!
  3. I am pregnant; six and a half months to be exact.  Lately, I have been reminded of the following:
    • some people don’t ask to touch your belly
    • some people are afraid of pregnant women
    • some people look at you funny
    • some people look at your belly first, then look into your eyes
    • some people won’t permit you to lift ANYthing
    • some people have no problem telling you how big you look
  4. My daughter just turned three, solidifying the fact that time really does fly.
  5. Pizza gives me heartburn, yet I had it for dinner tonight. 
  6. My last book prompted me to investigate meditation…again.
  7. Little children are amazing. 
  8. Non-alcoholic beverages are overrated.
  9. This morning’s treadmill program was a reminder that I am not that fast anymore.
  10. I need to call my long distance friends to catch up and check in.
  11. One of these days I’m going to take a deep breath and completely unplug…just for a little. 
  12. I don’t need a vacation – a different perspective will do just fine.

What have been your gentle reminders?