VIII. "Applause for you, Iggy Stooge; Applause for you, Emma Bovary"
Applause, thunderous applause. I graduated from college two days ago, moved out of my apartment yesterday, slept on a couch in D.C. last night, and just now bought a bus ticket for 16 dollars so that tomorrow I can throw a backpack over a shoulder and head to New York at 12:01 PM, just as the ticket says. Four hours and forty minutes later everything will smell a little dirtier, and everything will be a little louder. There was applause, thunderous applause, when I stood up and the President of the College declared me "now a member of the company of educated men and women." Give it up.
Give it up for the beast and the dragon being honored in the opening song to the new Spoon record. Give it up for the patterns in brick on the side of the Whole Foods supermarket across the street. Give it up for the old man in the tight green shirt on a cell phone as he jaywalks across the street. Give it up for the coffee shop I'm sitting in. Give it up for the fifty-five cents the cashier metamorphosized into my paper cup of coffee. Applause from all corners, applause. I don't have to do a thing until tomorrow at 12:01PM, and all I have to do then is get on a bus.
With all the hecticity and all the stress of moving out and graduating and seeing friends for the last time for a long time, one gets really tired. One is told over and over that people are proud — "Congratulations!" or "This is a major achievement!" One's reaction is that, well, one didn't really do anything they didn't think they would do. "Congratulations for accomplishing that which you always knew you would," one might say to a mirror the morning after the black robe has been cast to the floor, a long black veil covering the notes for final exams and the empty packing boxes from the liquor store. One wants nothing more than to just sit in a coffee shop and drink black coffee, listen to some good music and read a good book. Peace, no more thunderous applause.
So that's what I am doing.
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A day is a series of problems. Today I have no headphones.
It is sad. Everything I do requires having little buds of sound stuck into my ears like they're plugging out the outside world, like I'm a bug hiding underneath the plug in the bathtub. I walk around hoping desperately that I am not drowned in the flood of dirty bathwater surrounding my mildewy bubble of safety.
I used to have the little white headphones that came with my iPod. Eventually I broke them in, which means I lost the little black cushions that supposedly made them fit more comfortably in my ears. The measure of whether or not someone got an iPod for Christmas is whether they still have their black cushion things come the end of January.
Around March I blew out the left speaker of my iPod headphones. I remember it because I was so excitedly pissed about it. I was listening to a live Pearl Jam show from 2000, when they were playing Portland and covering Neil Young's "Fuckin Up." Then suddenly everything on my left sort of popped and Stone Gossard's guitar was just a rattling sound. It was terrible. It felt like being flooded in dirty bathwater. So I bought a new pair, similar to the ones that came with the iPod, but seemingly more durable, hard plastic covering, no black cushioning.
These perished last week during a walk from the library back to my apartment, when i was finally able to blast Iggy and the Stooges at a comfortable level. More dirty bathwater.
It's weird how important music can be in one's life. I never really thought much about it until I didn't have it, one of those "I didn't realize how much I loved walking my dog until the day after I found it dead in the garage" kind of things. But really, listening to music while walking in a crowded sidewalk flow, like just another stick floating down some massive river, listening to music in headphones is a sure way of setting yourself apart in some small bubble. Maybe no one else is listenign to the new Spoon record in this crowded coffee house right now, but I don't know that. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that I bought some new headphones up at the Apple Store, and they are incredible. Some little Sony models that were kind of expensive, but fit into my ear with these little rubber things and block out every sound other than Spoon's "Gimme Fiction," and now Magic Marker Records' A House Full of Friends compilation. Give it up for Tullycraft's contribution, "Sad, Sad, Day."
Applause, thunderous applause, for good headphones and great music. Applause, applause, for Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Emma, his wonderfully whorish heroine. I pity her, I admire her, I want to drown in a flood of Flaubert's characters and the sweeping harmonic chords of Tullycraft keys.