Three minutes at a time

Radio sucks. That’s my conclusion after spending 11 hours driving back home from Chicago Sunday night into Monday morning. My fellow travelers were sleeping during most of the wee small hours. I stopped several times to top off the coffee but I was still having a few of those moments when the white dashes hypnotize and the rumble strips snap you out of it. I had the radio on and searched for something decent, ideally something to which I could sing along. Belting out the Beatles or AC/DC or Louis Armstrong kept my brain alert and occupied and in the moment, but only for three minutes at a time. Then they’d play dreck or a commercial and I’d be zipping up and down the dial again. I think I may have developed carpal tunnel syndrome from hitting the scan button so often.

I should give credit to WXRT though. As we arrived in Chicago to drop my daughter off for college, we were greeted by a solid run of good stuff…
Time: 08/28/2009 17:47:46 Artist: THE PRETENDERS Title: STOP YOUR SOBBING
Time: 08/28/2009 17:50:24 Artist: BECK Title: GAMMA RAY
Time: 08/28/2009 17:53:22 Artist: BOB DYLAN Title: I WANT YOU
Time: 08/28/2009 18:04:27 Artist: ELVIS COSTELLO Title: MIRACLE MAN
Time: 08/28/2009 18:07:52 Artist: MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD Title: SAY HEY (I LOVE YOU)
The next day they actually played The Flying Lizards version of Summertime Blues. It almost makes up for the desperate hours on the way back spent with Delilah at Night and the bible thumpers and Neil Sedaka.
It was nice to get home. As I drove into the sunrise, I caught the birds on 91.5 and Prince on WDKX and, oddly enough, a Morning Edition report about the friendships formed during the first semester of college. A freshman at a school in Chicago shared his experience.
I thought about my daughter being 19. I thought about my parents dropping me off in Manhattan when I was that age. I thought about the times I’d like to have back. Certain years and months and weeks jump out, but mostly it comes down to shorter stretches, measured in hours or even the span of a couple minutes, replayed a million times like a song on the radio. I thought about how important it is to keep your brain alert and occupied and in the moment.