Using time in the car

image2I drove up to Bristol, CT on Wednesday in order to speak at an ESPN Women event Thursday morning. I was interviewed by the wonderful Cari Champion (professional photos of that are forthcoming!), and got to meet many great people, including organizer and producer Valerie Gordon (pictured).

I elected to drive instead of fly because, in theory, the drive should have taken 3.5 hours. With flying, it would be 30-40 minutes of driving on either end, plus time waiting for the plane, plus an hour of flying time.

I think this calculation was right on the drive up, which took exactly 4 hours (I hit traffic on the NJ Turnpike, and in parts of Connecticut). The way home was a different story. My GPS told me there was heavy traffic on the approach to the George Washington Bridge in NYC, so I took its tempting suggestion of an alternate route that would “save” 15 minutes. This route took me across the Bronx on Fordham Road, which is a road with lights, school buses, people crossing randomly, and double parked cars. I crossed into Manhattan and turned on Broadway, which is also a slow drive. When I finally turned right onto 179th street, I could drive right onto the GWB, which was great, but I lost at least 30 minutes in that transaction. And then there was another tie-up on the NJ Turnpike coming out of the first toll booth. I lost another 30 minutes there. Add in another 30 minutes elsewhere and the 3.5 hour drive took 5 hours. I raced into my boys’ elementary school open house just in time to leave them both the requisite notes at their desks.

All this is to say, I spent a lot of time in the car in the past 2 days. At the last minute, though, as I was packing, I remembered to grab my CDs. I elected to take along recordings of my old Young New Yorkers’ Chorus concerts. I sang in that choir for 8 years or so, and it was an amazing experience. Hearing the songs brought many memories back. We sounded so good! I listened to the Rachmaninoff Vespers twice, and the Durufle Requiem twice. I listened to our stunning recording of “Take Him Earth For Cherishing,” which I want played at my funeral (the recording will be fine, because if I die soon it will presumably be suddenly — not sure we’d have time to get a choir together and practiced enough for the funeral, and I have standards.) Also the Tavener “Alleluia” (I think this was sung at Princess Diana’s funeral). We did a concert of songs based on texts of Shakespeare, and I now have the verses about “sweet lovers love the spring” (because spring time is “the only pretty ring time”) running through my head.

As I had people darting in front of my car, and then as I tried to navigate situations where a car was double parked on my right and someone was turning left, I felt remarkably calm as I had motets of Palestrina blasting in my car. This may not be the music most people blast when they want to go into their zone, but it made me very happy.

What do you do to pass time in the car?

In other news: I went to the ESPN event early enough to hear the previous presenter, Karen Hough (formerly of Second City improv troupe), talking about giving good presentations. She noted that speakers shouldn’t just end with “Ok, if there are no more questions, we’re done…” which I have totally been guilty of. Better to walk off with the one line you want people to remember (recency bias!). What’s the point of your talk? For me it’s that I want people to believe they can build the lives they want in the time they’ve got. So I’m going to start mentioning that.

2 thoughts on “Using time in the car

  1. My favorite car activities are listening to podcasts, particularly foreign language one to help me brush up, talking on the phone (hands-free of course), and listening/singing along with music on the radio.

  2. I listen to audiobooks during long drives (yours are a favorite), I’ve gotten to the point of looking forward to long drives, now that I no longer commute. I also put my favorite essential oil on the steering wheel so sitting down in the car remind me of a spa or a yoga class. I only have to watch out to turn off the book when I have to do a lot of navigation, I once took a very wrong turn not paying enough attention. I also find that leaning back in the seat and taking a more relaxed posture makes the experience easier. We often stress ourselves just by raising our shoulders leaning forward when we drive, which makes everything hurt after a short time.

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