Thursday, March 06, 2008


Editor's Note: Written last fall which is why we were still in the basement.

“All you all right, Mom?” asks Jaime one morning. I'm standing in the middle of the chaos which is our basement. We've been living here off and on for about six months as we do final preparation on the catamaran. The basement sucks as a living space for five people, but the boat with a broken heater in snowy weather is the tiniest fraction worse, so here we are on a Tuesday morning amidst half packed boxes, piles of crap destined for freecycle, and stacks of school books awaiting transport to the boat.

And I can't move, face slightly panicked as I scan the room looking for something. “Um...”

Total blank. There's absolutely nothing in my head. I look at Jaime helplessly, “I'm looking for... uh...”

My eldest heaves a heavy sigh and starts digging through a pile of clean laundry, “We'll find it. Mera, Aeron! Come on. Mom's lost her iPod again.”

That's it! Galvanized, I plow through unpaid bills and dirty wine glasses on the computer table. Five minutes later, Aeron shouts triumphantly and pulls the little lost electronic soul from between the bed and the wall, “Found it!” Grinning one and all, we complete our packing and head off to school.

In the absence of my iPod, I can't move. I can't function. I can't think. It's like the little wheels in my brain are lubricated by the dulcet tones of Leo Laporte and the throbbing drums of Migra. Without my iPod, I wouldn't know where to get my news, how to speak Spanish, or what it's like to cruise the South Pacific.

I can't exercise. No music.

I can't drive. I might have to listen to my children.

I'm on my fourth MP3 player. The first was an iRiver – loved the device, hated the Windows-based interface. Media Player sucks and that's the kindest thing I can say about it. The second was an early iPod which I wore out. I broke the hard drive on the third before I realized that Toast + hard drive = disaster. This isn't really a surprise. The IT department at my last job used to give me the prototype laptops. They figured they'd get a full year of durability testing out of me in a single month. I'm hard on hardware. My latest Nano is nearing two years old and is doing well despite being lost nearly a dozen times and going through the washing machine twice.

But I keep buying the things, because I have a disease known as iPodalysis. iPodalysis occurs when a person who has dribbled NPR stories, talk radio, and music into their ears for at least three months is suddenly stripped of their little electronic buddy. Patients present with symptoms of stress, shortness of breath, shiftiness of the eyes, twitchy fingers, and compulsive licking of lips. Patients may complain of a ringing in their ears and be unable to pass basic mental health status checks. Differential diagnosis might reveal the patient is actually iRiveratic or Zunemazed, but these alternative interpretations are infrequent and rarely as severe.

Treat iPodalysis (as well as iRiveratic and Zunemazed) with an application of iPod touch or, in particularly severe presentations, an intravenous drip of iPhone. Preload the dose with Led Zeppelin, Flight of the Conchords, and Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me for best results. Once the patient regains basic function, you can often taper them gently back down to a video iPod or even all the way to a simple 2 GB Nano. No known cases have been able, however, to go even so far as a Shuffle before recurrence of symptoms.

Take away central heat, an oven big enough to bake nothing bigger than a game hen, and dry clothes, but do not EVER take away my iPod. Not if you want me to do anything.

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