30 09 2009


Have you ever noticed how the simple act of strapping on headphones can seal you off into a small, isolated bubble of emotions? 

I was on a long flight earlier this summer, and the only movie on the menu that I hadn’t seen was Marley & Me.  I didn’t want to see it for a number of reasons, but mainly because I knew the dog was going to die, and I hate pet-death movies.  But I told myself, Hey, you already know the dog dies, so maybe it won’t be that sad. 

Fast-forward 55 minutes, and there I am, squished in between two newspaper-reading businessmen, sobbing uncontrollably.  We’re talking balls-to-the-wall, first-boyfriend-just-dumped-you-for-your-best-friend kind of tears, shooting out of my eyeballs.  The flight attendant passed by to ask if we wanted peanuts, and she ended up offering me a box of Kleenex instead because I was so clearly distraught over the death of this fictional dog.  I can only imagine what it felt like to be sitting next to me, completely out of the loop as to why I was in hiccuping sobs with my face glued to this 4-inch screen.  Pathetic. 

Then there are the iPod walks.  Does anyone else do those?  I really wish I could rail against people who are constantly walking with headphones, because I’ll be the first to admit that it’s obnoxious.  We close ourselves off to each other and the world, not to mention the risk of being hit by a car or a fat policeman on a Segway. 

Last year, I had a mile-long trek to work every morning, so I would strap on my iPod and let it shuffle it’s little heart out.  Big Pun’s “Still Not a Player” comes on (a strong start, iPod shuffle!), and I’m timing my steps to the beat and gyrating at every corner in my pencil skirt and pumps.  I picture myself at that club in “Save the Last Dance,” where the white girl shows off her moves to a room full of highly rhythmic and talented black people.  Then the song fades to Radiohead, “Exit Music,” and my face goes somber and pensive as I contemplate the meaning of life and the plight of the Afghan woman.  

This won’t do, I decide, and I skip ahead to a “Let It Bleed,” that gloriously raunchy Rolling Stones tune.  Next thing I know, I’ve kicked off my shoes and decided to walk barefoot.  “What a square,” I think to myself as that man walks by with his briefcase, and I seriously consider playing hooky from work and pounding pints of Guinness at the local pub.  

Meanwhile, the outside world is still the same.  Everyone walking past me just goes about his routine, totally clueless about the emotional rollercoaster I’m riding to work.  I remove my headphones, greet the receptionist, and resume life as a social, interactive being. 

This can’t be healthy, right?




9 responses

30 09 2009

Your white girl dancing takes me back to a great Seinfeld episode. Anyone remember the one where Elaine thinks she can dance?

30 09 2009
Geof Boyle

It was all thumbs and kicks.
Dick Clark or someone equally shallow said, “Music is the soundtrack to our lives”. Of course, it’s music. What kind of soundtrack isn’t music? Anyway, sounds like it isn’t detrimental to any other aspect of your life, and I don’t sense any genuine shame talking about it. So, it probably isn’t un-healthy. I do get annoyed when I’m talking to someone who has earphones in. I want to snatch them off their heads.
Bagpipes in parades, when heroes die or head towards certain death, or when Dads and kids bond plus me = lump in throat, maybe a tear. But it has to be visual, headphones not enough.

30 09 2009

A friend from the city came to visit me in Alaska a couple of years ago, and wanted to go for a hike on a trail that led from the road down to the beach down a steep bluff. He swung past his B&B because he wanted to pick up his ipod. I told him that I didnt think he would want to use his ipod on this hike and he couldnt understand what I was talking about.

I told him he would want all his senses to hear where his feet were falling, hear things crunching underfoot, listen for bears, moose, or other things, hear the ocean getting louder as he descended, and the stream and waterfall on the way down. After his hike, we met up and he said he totally understood what I was talking about and that an ipod would have been a really detrimental and probably unsafe idea.

there are so many things your ears tell you, and everyone wants to plug them up. I hate seeing people walking with earphones in their ears because its like one more chance you have to engage with the world being plugged up, and plus, no offense to the blog author who I am sure is not like this, these people are frequently the retards who run into you or cant tell when they are in the way because they are off in lala music land. however, I admit to being a luddite. but I like all my senses working in cohesion.

30 09 2009

For the record, Bros, I would never go hiking in Alaska with headphones. I wouldn’t use headphones in any beautiful, natural place. But the sounds of horns honking is not quite the same as listening for moose and rustling branches…

30 09 2009

call me a city kid but i wouldn’t be caught dead in a beautiful, natural place OR on a city street without headphones handy. i don’t think it’s about social alienation, either, although that’s fine with me too; if someone wants to tune out, why shouldn’t they (as long as they’re not in my way on the sidewalk…)? even aside from that, though, alot of people just connect more powerfully with aesthetic beauty if it’s accompanied by music, or vice-versa. seriously, who hasn’t taken their iPod or whatever device into a museum? why is a Sigur Ros video less affecting with the sound off? the interaction between audio and visual stimuli can be pure joy; if someone decides that they get their sensual rocks off by jamming the two together, i say go for it. screw it, i’ll go even further: music is at its absolute best working in concert with other senses – visual, emotional, physical, whatever – because frequently the interaction among them renders each one exponentially more immediate and intense. and i’m no expert, but i’d bet money on the fact that this sort of crossing of the figurative wires in our brain is, in fact, healthy, or at the very least not unhealthy.

30 09 2009

i’m with mr. luke.

when we’re being inundated every minute with facebook, myspace, BBM, chat, email, snail mail, tweets, SMS, MMS, and S&M, people would do well for themselves to shut the f*** up, listen to some music, self reflect, watch the world around them, and do a bit of thinking.

1 10 2009

bs, wouldnt you characterize all those acronyms and comm mediums mentioned above as part of ipod culture? I would. after all, you have to do half of those things to even get to the point of sticking earphones in. and, dear blog author, I would never expect you to hike with earphones in-it was an illustration of city life-nurturing and naive outdoorsmanship.

1 10 2009

I have to say that I do hate it when people are walking around with their headphones on in public. I am guilty of this though, and I think I have a justifiable reason, Wal-Mart. This is the only place that I will purposefully walk around in a public place with my i pod on, and probably as loud as I can turn it. First of all, I cannot stand Wal-Mart as an institution. Also, most of the people at Wal-Mart are ridiculous (yes, Laura, my mom is included in this group, Opelousas Wal-Mart). It doesn’t help that I live in South Louisiana, where most of the photos from http://www.peopleofwalmart.com come from. So, I put on my headphones and now I have a soundtrack to the montage of crazy “coon-asses” walking around Wal-Mart, in their camouflage, LSU, and “Kiss me I’m Cajun” t-shirts. I think this is a totally legit time and place to be enjoying the sounds of your choice, and I would also recommend it to anyone who comes down here. It makes me laugh all of the time.

1 10 2009
woman of non-leisure

I cried a TON while watching “8 Below” on a flight once. It also involves dogs dying. My point here is that maybe it’s the dogs we really relate with and not Betty Draper.

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