Monday, October 24, 2005

What’s On Your iPod?

My greatest achievement this year, I think, has been turning the double whammy of patently unfortunate circumstances that hit me last April—the summary shitcanning from my horrible corporate job, and getting pulled over by the health cops on a charge of a busted pump—into a net positive. I’ve taken the perhaps-foolhardy leap into freelancing, I’m working from home, and I’ve got time and wherewithal to go to the gym every day. That’s lemonade, friends, and it’s pretty damned tasty.

Now, the writing has its ups and downs—but being a housebound daddy-o is a stone groove. I dig the simple satisfaction of keeping on top of the laundry and the dishes; I like the discipline of setting my own schedule. But most of all, I love the feeling of being once again present in my own life.

I spent a year in the trenches at X___x, and I barely remember any of it; I was out before dawn and home after dark five days a week plus a half-day on Saturdays, in a windowless, climate-controlled, profoundly unsocial environment. The kids were in day care all day every day, even through the summer; any growing they were doing, I largely missed. Weeks—whole months—blurred one into the other while I ate myself up inside. Seasons rolled around and all I remember is the changing quality of the light on Irondequoit Bay as I drove every day over the bridge, weeping behind my sunglasses. I was turning into a wraith, getting to the point where my shadow was casting me.

Undoubtedly, that’s part of what led to the Incident—said Incident being a freaky one-off episode of accelerated heart-rate that hit without warning and led to a couple of visits to the cardiologist, a ban on caffeine, ninety days on a beta blocker, six weeks on a hardcore low-fat no-salt no-meat no-eggs no-dairy regime, and the indignities of having patches of my chest-hair shaved for cardiac monitoring. Most of these things were temporary experiments—some (i.e. the piebald chest) gleefully abandoned, some (the vegan diet) intriguing enough to warrant further investigation. Six months later, my personal habits are mostly back to what they were before the Incident, by and large, but: I’m still taking soy-milk in my morning coffee, and I’m still hitting the gym five days a week—six, when I can manage it.

That’s not something I ever expected to say about myself. Further: I’m enjoying it. I’ll be on the ellipticals and the cardio ticks over 146 and all the aches in the legs dissolve—damn, friends, all is then right with the world.

It’s also giving me a chance to listen to shedloads of music. Most of my first big freelance paycheck went towards a new PC, with obscene amounts of memory. I’ve always been one to discover new music online, and I’ve burned countless mix CDs to while away the long hours of drivetime. With a work commute factored out of the equation, I might have stopped listening to music.

But with that new PC came a promotional gift: a cheap ‘n’ dirty little MP3 player. 256mb—maybe 50 songs, tops. Still. That’s about five hours of music. And, what a coincidence, my life suddenly had about five hours a week that needed filling with music.

Playlist changes every week. And every week I’m surprised by what works and what doesn’t. Melody is useless at the gym, while techno and dance music take on a new logic when I’m pounding the treadmill. Electronics, disco, Afropop, remixes and mash-ups, postpunk robot-funk—stuff I couldn’t have imagined liking a year ago suddenly become indispensable. (Then again, I never thought I’d like soy milk, either.)

This week, my MP3 player is loaded with

Clouds Across the Moon (extended mix)—The Rah Band
Dancing With Myself (extended remix)—Billy Idol
Demolition Man—The Police
Digging This HoleAn Emotional Fish
Drive Away (end titles)—A Series of Unfortunate Events OST
Exodus—Bob Marley
FlamethrowerJ. Geils Band
The Fly—U2
Get Better (extended remix)—New Fast Automatic Daffodils
Going Back To My Roots (Twitch Edit)—Richie Havens
Great Waves—The Dirty Three with Chan Marshall
“Heroes—David Bowie
Higher Than the World—The Armoury Show
Husky Team—The Outlaws (a Joe Meek project)
I Am the Black Gold of the Sun (4Hero remix)—Nu Yorican Soul
I Heard It Through the GrapevineCreedence Clearwater Revival
I Never Gave Up (Rappoport’s Testament)Chumbawamba
In Trance As Mission—Simple Minds
Inside And Out (Ewan Pearson & Al Usher Extended Dub)—Feist
The JackalRonny Jordan
Last Train to LhasaBanco de Gaia
The Lazarus Heart—Sting
Looking Over My Shouldertil tuesday
Micronomic (remix)—Lali Puna
My Hi-MaticIsolée
No Condition Is PermanentMarijata
Nothing Ventured, Nothing GainedKung Fu Hustle OST
One Big HolidayMy Morning Jacket
Paint It, Black—The Rolling Stones
ParadisoKonono No. 1
Past Machine—Lali Puna
Seven MinutesYoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop OST)
Seven SoulsMaterial (with William S. Burroughs)
Sled DogThe Choir
So GoodBratz Rock Angels
Voodoo People (Pendulum remix)—The Prodigy
We’re In Yr CornerCornershop
Winning the War—til tuesday
Working for the Yankee Dollar (single mix)—The Skids
ZenJohn Cale
Confidential to my brother Dan, if he’s reading this: yes, I’ve only gotten worse.

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