My wife and I have not traded mix tapes in years, so when she told me recently that she'd burned a CD and left it in the computer for me, I was caught off guard.
The next day, my daughter and I had an off-putting morning while she was getting ready for school. Something about bringing in a dollar not to have to do a bunch of extra push-ups in gym class. I could have been totally misundertanding the situation, but I didn't feel like I was getting the whole story and this got her even more worked up, and then I had to remind myself that she's a sixth-grade girl and Jenn has already warned me that there will be days like this for no apparent reason.
I get in my car, try to listen to the news for about two minutes, but can't because the political theater is filling me with rage and sadness and I'm already off-kilter anyway.
I put in Jenn's CD. I'll admit that I'd only glanced at the list the night before - enough to notice a couple songs that she knows I like, and a couple that are our goofy "it's just us in the car, so you take the drums and keyboards and I'll handle air guitar and we'll share vocals" rockers. By the next morning, though, I'd pretty well forgotten all but one or two of the songs, so I really had little idea what to expect.
And - BOOM. Turns out Jenn is still the Iron Chef of Kitchen Mixtape Stadium, at least when she's cooking for me. She knows it is not only possible to appropriately stir stuff from Tori Amos and Jay-Z/Linkin Park in with Cat Stevens, Twisted Sister, Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, the Boomtown Rats, M.I.A., Styx and a half-dozen others, but that doing so will hit all the chords in the right places and put goosebumps down my arms and lumps in my throat and have me singing top of my lungs and remind me that life's a pretty OK place after all.
Thanks, Jenn, for keeping the silicon chip inside my head from switching to overload, for reminding me that life's not trite and jaded, for our wild world and our wildest dreams and for always inviting me along to walk this way.