My iPod, Myself

My pre-iPod days were fairly simple. I‚Äôm the proud owner of some 350+ cds. So, every day on my way to class, to the gym, to work, I‚Äôd have to choose the soundtrack to my walk. It wasn‚Äôt always easy. Did I want U2 … the Dismemberment Plan … Tori Amos … a soundtrack? Sometimes I would end up carrying a few cds with me because I couldn‚Äôt pick just one. The decisions were tough, but the days, oh, how simple they were. I really had no interest in the owning an iPod. It seemed so unnecessary and expensive. I couldn’t afford it on my just out of college temp salary and I already had a discman. It may have been a slow and sometimes painful system, but it worked. Then in the fall of 2004, Apple introduced the U2 iPod.

U2 iPod

Black and red and pretty all over, it was the musical courier I’d been waiting for my entire life. The only problem was it was still a little too out of my price range. So, when Christmas rolled around, my dad asked me if I’d like an iPod for Christmas. I really wasn’t too keen on the idea at first. I’d lived without one this long, why did I need one now? It was expensive, it was tiny, but the thing of it was, I kind of wanted one. So, after months (years, even) of resisting the lure of the iPod, I told him, “Yes, an iPod would be perfect for Christmas.”

I loaded many, many cds onto my computer in preparation of the iPod’s arrival, so many, in fact, that my computer started to run out of memory (at four years old, my laptop hosts the same amount of hard drive space as my iPod, 20 GB). While millions of people the world over were once again preparing for the arrival of the Christ child, I was preparing for the arrival of my iPod. When the iPod finally became mine, I swore I’d take care of it. I swore that I would never let it be scratched (That didn’t really happen. Someone really needs to design a case that does a better job of that.). I swore that I would love my iPod, ‘til death do us part, and I was pretty successful at it. While other people were mistreating, misplacing, or just having plain old bad luck (I’ve heard many stories about malfunctioning iPods over the years) with their tiny little pieces of machinery, mine was doing just fine. I treated it like my baby.

It was that way for a little over a year. Then last night, at the end of my three-mile run at the gym, my iPod stopped. Usually it’s an easily fixable problem. I just go home, plug it in and reset it. Easy. Simple. Reliable. Except not this time. I knew it had to happen eventually, but I still wasn’t prepared for it and I definitely wasn’t prepared for how I would feel when it happened. I felt like the world had stopped turning. I felt lost. I felt like a part of me had died.

I tried desperately to fix it this morning. I was so desperate, that I let time get away from me and I was a half an hour late to work. None of the old stand-by fixes worked, and it was then that it hit me: I am completely dependent on my iPod. When faced with the idea of living a life without my iPod, I never even considered that I could go back to the cd player life for a while. Not once did I think, “I can’t afford one right now. I guess I will have to save up and get one this summer.” All I could think was that if it had in fact died, if the hard drive was busted (this is my overwhelming suspicion), if it were broken beyond repair, I would have to suck it up and take the paltry 10% off a brand new iPod. I would have to. There is no way I can live without my iPod.

Why? What’s the big deal? It’s a tiny piece of machinery. It’s not the end of the world. This is my defense: I’m a music person. I love music. Love might not even be the right word for it. I can’t break songs down and explain to you why the chord structure is perfect or what the lyrics to a song might actually mean (okay, sometimes I can), but I was buying 45s with my allowance when I was 6 years old. My tastes as a child weren’t immaculate by any means. Some of them were downright embarrassing. Nowadays, it’s the rare occasion that I go into a store and don’t roll my eyes or jump for joy when I hear what they are playing. I’ve been known to sing along at inappropriate times. I always have a song stuck in my head. Always. When the right song plays at the right moment, it makes the moment even more perfect. The iPod provides people like me with this kind of service every moment of the day. I have realized over the years that you really can’t manufacture a moment like that, but my iPod lets me keep that delusion up some of the time. I’ve made playlists for every season. I know what song to put on if it’s rainy (any Death Cab), what to put on if it’s sunny (“Saturday Morning” by the Eels). If it’s on my iPod, I’m a click away from hearing whatever my heart desires. It’s a nice feeling.

All day today, I tried to fix my iPod. I went to the Apple website to see if there was some trick to fixing it that I didn’t know of. Every time I tried to reset my iPod, it seemed I got a different message from it. One time I even received the sad iPod symbol. That FREAKED me out. Finally, I decided to leave it alone and let it rest, or gently die. Sometime around the middle of my workday (12:30?), I was dreading the walk to lunch sans music, I looked over at my Pod and it was on. It was working! Kind of. For the rest of the day, I treated it like a tiny frail child. At some point, it broke again. Only to fix itself (is it that smart?) and then break again. And then fix itself. Surely it was toying with me.

Currently, my iPod is working. I’m going to treat it like an ICU patient for at least a week. That won’t jive well with my fickle music tastes, but I will do my best. I’m still convinced there is something wrong with the hard drive and I am full prepared to whisk it away to the Apple store at a moment’s notice.

You’d think that this entire experience would have soured me to the idea of buying a new iPod, but it hasn’t. I still love my iPod. I still can’t imagine life without it. If I have to, I will recycle my pretty U2 iPod. I’ll trade it for 10% off the new black iPod with a color screen. Why wouldn’t I? It’s still the prettiest toy I’ve ever had. It’s my little companion. My little buddy. I love it and it loves me back. Yeah, it’s a little conformist and it’s a little bit mainstream, and I know that everyone else is doing it, but it’s the best piece of machinery out there. Seriously. And it’s my #1 accessory.