So I have been oblivious to recent events in the news. I know next to nothing about the car bomb attempt in NYC. I have seen very little about the oil spill, even though I was sitting on a beach on the Atlantic Ocean that could possibly be effected by the catastrophe. I have no idea who won the Kentucky Derby, even though S. watched the race while I reloaded my portable cooler to return to the beach.
Instead, I now know almost all the words to Muddy Waters "Hoochie Coochie Man". I can groan the breakdown to "Meet Me At Mary's Place" with almost as much gusto as Sam Cooke. And I have become totally addicted to the "hey, how ya doin'?" refrain of Jaheim's "I Ain't Leaving Without You".
Because instead of learning about what was going on in the world, I was learning how to work an IPod Shuffle.
I know - to you tech heads, this is no technological breakthrough. They have been around for years. But you are talking about someone who still has a 1G phone. Someone who sends one or two text messages a month.
Now that I think about it, maybe I just needed a break from watching the news, reading about the news, and writing about the news practically 24/7. Normally, when we go to the beach, I start assembling my reading materials three or four days in advance. One to two trips to the Barnes and Noble remainder table are normally planned. The latest high brow magazines are assembled. Packing clothes are usually an afterthought.
This time, I was fighting deadlines almost up until the time we loaded up the car. Two or three random magazines that I'd already read most of and a clutch of newspapers scooped up when we got gas were my only literary traveling companions. And since most of the trip took place after dark, I couldn't read in the car anyway.
It was the remark "did you get your CD's" from S. that started the whole IPod ball rolling. While I was looking for the now familiar stack of CD's we carry on practically every road trip, S. remembered that she had a plastic soft sided cooler with speakers attached to it. It was a gift of some kind from her old employer that had lain in the box for the last two years. I looked at the thing before putting it in the car and remarked "this thing is designed for an IPod."
A minute later S. emerged from the house with a little plastic box. "There's some kind of IPod in here. Remember so and so gave this to me for Christmas a couple of years ago?"
It wasn't until the next afternoon that I opened the IPod thing up. I had never used an IPod before, so the Resident Diva had to give me a quick tutorial. And show me how to put songs on it. The Sam Cooke CD seemed like a natural place to start. And after she showed me one of those places where America gets its music for free, I added a few tunes by Muddy Waters, Frank Sinatra, and Lionel Ritchie.
It is amazing that you can put all of that and more into a little square piece of metal about as big as the end of your thumb. I don't know who at Apple thought of this thing, but Steve Jobs needs to give them a raise. Forward, backward, pause, stop, higher volume, lower volume - what almost seemed like primitive hieroglyphics became as intuitive as riding a bike in about half an hour.
I lay back on my beach chair and pushed those buttons for two days. When I walked to the beach in the morning, I would detach the speakers from the cooler and simply take it with me to the crossover to the beach where I sat at sunrise, watching the surf as the morning tide came in.
It was the new toy, taking the place of the books I usually lugged to the beach.
I haven't touched it since we've been back. It'll probably sit in the box until we go back to the beach. My political mojo is back on the rise, so maybe I'll be outraged at something again tomorrow. But for now, I will continue to cruise on the good vibes I got this week while I was sitting on the dock of the bay.