Wednesday, January 09, 2008

my assimilation is complete

I used to look with smug disdain on the pod-people. They're everywhere, you can't throw a stick and miss hitting one. Especially on the bus. They've all got earbuds and they're all completely encapsulated, held within the caccoon of whatever music they've got pumping directly into their ear canals. I used to look at the pod-people and actually pity them, as I rode the monotonous bus routes over and over and watched them, so insulated from the world. I told myself that I was a better person because I remained in touch with my environment. I wasn't afraid to go bare-eared into the world, to hear all the ambiant noise that Portland has to offer. I felt tuned in and scoffed at them for tuning out.

Well... it is with some little hint of shame that I admit: I have become a pod-person. Mom sent me that iPod for christmas and my brother (god bless his little robot heart) managed to put some of my music on it, and now I can hardly stand to walk out my front door without those dreaded white cords trailing out of my ears. What has become of me???

I haven't used a portable music device in so many years I can't remember. I have much clearer memories of my very first walkman, I got it when I was 10, the year was 1984, and the music was Madonna, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Cindy Lauper, Huey Fucking Lewis and the News, the Cars, Duran Duran... I used to ride my bike around the neighborhood wearing my headphones, it didn't even have a tape-deck, I just listened to the radio: G105, the station out of Raleigh. I still listen to G105 when I'm in North Carolina, just to see, but I'm always a little sad (and even surprised) not to hear "Lucky Star" or "What's Love Got to Do With It?" They still play pop music, but pop music is shitty now.

Now I walk around with this tiny little thing in my pocket, nowhere near its storage capacity, and listen to the handful of albums I managed to get on. Today I listened to the Pixies while I rode the bus home from downtown, stopped at Whole Foods (nee Wild Oats) to get myself some food, then walked up the street to my house. I have to make myself take the buds out when I walk in my door. And I notice something surprising: my mental health improves as a direct result of exposure to music! I had no idea! I tap my foot, bounce my head, smile at the funny parts or the parts that make me feel nostalgic... I can hardly stop myself from singing along and am just waiting for the day when I'm tired, my defenses are down, or (god forbid) I've been drinking and find myself sitting on the bus singing quietly to myself without realizing. Because I know that day will come.

While I'm reminiscing, I remember the first time I learned that other people could actually hear me singing when I had my headphones on. I was 10, I was listening to my first walkman in my family's living room, and suddenly, through the thick wall of sound I heard my stepfather's voice: "Dawn. We can hear you." Suddenly, with great shame and embarassment, I realized I'd just been serenading the living room OUT LOUD. I guess some part of me knew that I was singing, but my own voice was swallowed by the music from the headphones and, not hearing myself, I just assumed no one else could hear me either. I was wrong.

Now I've got to get my operating system upgraded (don't even ask why that hasn't happened yet) so I can put more of my music on my little music machine. I need a wider selection to not sing along to on the bus. :-)


Blogger witchtrivets said...

The G105 from the 80s was far superior to its current incarnation. I have an iPod and I am not ashamed. My first radio was a transistor in 1981. That was back when G105 used to play the Pet Shop Boys followed by Prince. Those were the days. I had a little earbud.

2:31 PM  
Blogger south carolina girl said...

i avoided earbuds for a long time. kind of weirded me out if you ask me. i had headphones like, speakers with my cd player, and listen in the van when riding with my parents. listening to the music oft' helps me avoid fights with them in the van, and that's a bad place to fight cause there is NOWHERE to hide. but then my dad weirdly who is not too keen on anyone listening to music like, insisted i let him buy me a mp3 player and it was not even xmas or my birthday or nothing. and i got a zune, it is black. i thought the earbuds would hurt going in the ears and headphones are better but i use earbuds now cause they are not as bad as i thought. i also used to think mp3 players were evil and that they would choke out albums, the old way of music. we learn new things. my zune was black, now i've had it almost a year and the price has gone down and now they have colors...i saw a baby pink one and it sort of pissed me off cause i would've chose that one but i got what i got, and i love it; it's great. (for all this i could've written my own post, lol. hehe. sorry.)

4:35 PM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

wt -- awesome! i forgot you were the one person who would know about G105! i was hoping there would be someone.

scg -- yeah, they aren't so bad after all. and thank god my awful car trips w/ family are (mostly) over. tho there are still some trips in the back of my dad's giant truck/suv thing w/ my stepmother and brother that i'd kill to drown out with an mp3 player. will i ever grow out of those trips!?!?!

6:05 PM  
Blogger not drowning waving said...

what you write about mental health is great - i noticed it myself last week, to my amazement and delight!
taking long bus rides to and from work, irritated by those pod players whose rhythm section you get to listen to, i had forgotten about my sisters gift to me of a little mP3 player.
I got it out, added alison kraus and listened to her all the way to work. i was beaming. "cheered up" an understatement. magical.
my therapist nature tells me that the music takes you to other levels , abstracts your primary identity and with that the relief and mental health improvement.
enjoy! i say.

12:45 AM  

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