At services that Friday, not trusting the CDs, I indulged my paranoia and spent the evening trying to figure out what keys the prayers were really in so I could be completely prepared. They were, of course, in the same keys as on the CDs, and anyone who saw me hitting myself repeatedly on the kneecap with a tuning fork must must have wondered if I had my own special way of praying.
A few months earlier, in a rare fit of athletic zeal, I bought a used rowing machine on Craig's List. Its main use since then had been as a receptacle for dust. But early the next morning, as I started to warm up, I realized that the rowing machine would be a perfect assistant--I could infuse my lungs with some extra air and vocalize at the same time, too. So for the next hour there I sat, or rather moved back and forth repeatedly on a plastic chair along a little metal track, breathing deeply and singing Shabbat prayers. It felt great.