I’m not used to driving this car; too much weight, too much muscle. Alternatively, I drive too fast, and then too slow. But I’m always in fast-mode when I blow past a cop. Always hitting the brakes a few seconds too late. How fast is too fast? Seventy-five? Eighty? My stomach drops and my breathing tightens as I stare into my rearview mirror watching for flashing lights.
I’m in the good car today, the new car. The four-year-old Santa Fe we bought last December when our 1995 Dodge pickup died. It’s sluggish, maneuvering like a Clydesdale. Fast, sure. But not agile. Susan needed the bike rack this weekend, and that’s on the car I usually drive: the old car, our ten-year-old Mazda 5. It’s a minivan, sort of. Smaller, shorter, lighter, tighter than most. We call it the skinny van. Because of it’s age and mileage, not so quick off the line, but it’s easy to keep it in my lane.
Head nodding, head bopping, head-banging. Singing, screaming—never in tune. Jeff’s Travel Disk: I made this CD in 2005. I was still commuting to my job in DC, two hours each way when I left early enough to beat the traffic. A long trip, but I only drove it once per week. I found the disk in a spindle under Top Hits from the Eighties and some pop-mix-CDs that Eli made when he was ten. Buried beneath the indoor cycle disks I burned for my weekly class, and under the barely used CDs from when I tried meditation. Jeff’s Travel Disk was on the bottom of the stack.
The music is loud. Too loud. The music hits you faster when the volume’s turned up. It fills you up and pulls you into the song.
There’s honesty in my song choice. This disk was made specifically for me. No overthought selections intended to impress someone else, no interspersed pop songs to keep my kids engaged. Just one abrasive song after the next. No judgement, no compromise, something to shout along with, speeding this morning down the highway into West Virginia.
Today is Day One of the West Virginia Writers’ Conference. It started at noon, so I had ample time to get here. Google maps said three hours but I stopped once for coffee, twice to pee and then for a sausage muffin from McDonald’s. Like the name says, it was just sausage and a muffin. No sauce, no cheese, no moisture whatsoever. I didn’t get anything to drink because I already stopped too many times to use the bathroom. At times my muffin was hard to swallow. It kept sticking in my throat like the Amoxicillin pills I took after my cat bit my thumb.
I NPR-hopped from one band-width to the next as I crossed the mountain ranges. Each station fuzzing out shortly after I settled in to a new story. I switched to Jeff’s Travel Disk when dial-scanning produced nothing but country and conservative talk. I hit Morgantown on the last song, feeling jittery and sung-out. My throat a little sore from the singing.
These are the twenty-one songs that, in 2005, I thought would make my commute more bearable. They certainly helped today. If you’re a big fan of any of these songs, let me know… We can bond.
- Tube Talking—Joan Jett
- Dress—PJ Harvey
- Round—Public Image Ltd
- Gecko—The Creatures
- Swim—Madder Rose
- Ball of Confusion—Love and Rockets
- Dark Center of the Universe—Modest Mouse
- Saints—The Breeders
- Star Star—The Rolling Stones
- Satellite Ecstatica—Pop Will Eat Itself
- I Found that Essence Rare—Gang of Four
- What People are Made of—Modest Mouse
- Rebel Waltz—The Clash
- Let’s Go for a Ride—Cracker
- Favorite Thing—The Replacements
- Sound of the Sinners—The Clash
- Here Comes Alice—Jesus and Mary Chain
- Jack Ruby—Camper Van Beethoven
- White Girl—X