Usually I look forward to road trips, but this time not so much

August 3, 2011


It has been a week since my cousin and her fiancé were in the horrible car accident and it is time for me to drive from Minneapolis to Ann Arbor to spend a couple days being supportive. Crucial to the twelve-hour drive will be my third-generation iPod, a relic from 2003.

I haven’t researched it, but my personal anecdotal evidence indicates that this model of iPod was very hard on its battery. I’ve replaced the battery in mine twice; it seems to have the ability to retain a meaningful charge only for about six months, then the battery wears out. As such, I use the iPod plugged in 99.9% of the time. If I’m only driving a short way, say, the twenty minutes to bowling, I might dare to go unplugged. But on the way back home, I’m lucky if I get an additional five minutes out of it.

So you can imagine that I was bummed when the just-as-old cigarette-lighter power cord that I used with my iPod finally frayed its wires to nonfunctionality half a year ago. Toodling around town it’s not a big deal to have to listen to the radio, because the Twin Cities are home to the awesome Minnesota Public Radio station, The Current.

I bought a new cord that I thought would cover my dinosaur, but it didn’t (but it works for my iPhone, so I didn’t return it). When I talked to my dad and made the decision to drive to Michigan, urgency in finding a new old cord online set it. I didn’t have much luck and the shipping options wouldn’t have gotten it to me in time anyway.

I got out my loupe—by which I mean, I took off my glasses that correct my extreme nearsightedness and which now need their third update on the bifocal part, so when I need to see something clearly at extreme closeness I just remove them from my face and it’s perfect—and examined the old cord more carefully. Where the cord meets the Dock Connector end had been frayed forever, but I now perceived that one of the five or six tiny-gauge wires contained within had broken. There was enough of an end sticking out from the Dock Connector that I knew I could strip the two ends of it and twist it back together.

I did so and took the cord and my iPod out to my car. As I walked across the street to the parking lot, I crossed paths with a gang of six of the type of ne’er-do-wells who frequent my quiet block just off the main street to do their druggy nefarious deeds. As displeased as I am that those sorts impose themselves on my neighborhood, it must be said that they usually keep to themselves and don’t often engage with anyone else who might be present and move on after fifteen or twenty minutes. I traversed the thirty yards to my car unfettered.

I plugged in the cord and iPod to the cigarette lighter and held my breath. Yes! The iPod gave the cheerful trill that meant it was receiving power and its screen shone with that cool blue backlight! (Yes, yes, as a graphic designer I know that all blues are cool.) I gave myself a mental pat on the back and eyed the six guys who were loitering against the fence across from my place. They were eyeing me back and when I got out of my car rather than driving away, they sauntered off.

I am most happy that I’ll be able to use the iPod in my car again because I’ve gotten into listening to the Harry Potter audio books, as some of you know. What better venue than as a captive audience on the interstate? I’ll also be able to crank the The Asteroids Galaxy Tour.

I didn’t used to have interest in Harry Potter. I had never read the books, didn’t go to the theater to see the movies, and when I’d come across a movie on TV I just couldn’t get into it. Then my newish co-worker Aaron casually mentioned that he had all the audio books (I have subsequently learned that he’s quite the HP nerd, in the good way). He brought me the first one and I started listening, without any expectation of caring at all. I was quite surprised to find that I like Harry Potter a lot!

The audio books have been the perfect way for my particular self to enjoy this magical universe. Even though I’m halfway through listening to the fourth book and am loving it, I’m fairly certain that if I had the paper book in front of me, I’d be snoozing within seven minutes of the start of any reading session and wouldn’t have made it a quarter of the way through the first book. When I finish a book, Aaron brings me his DVD of the movie so that I can watch it on the weekend.

I’m kind of rambling, and vacillating between serious and frivolous, because though I’m going to visit my cousin in the hospital, and my uncle and aunt and other cousin, I’m unsure what I’ll be supposed to do once I arrive. I guess it’s just the act of being there that matters. I’m also nervous because everybody who’s been posting on the CaringBridge and Facebook pages has seemed really religious miracle-hoping, and I’m really not. I’m atheist. An optimist, usually, but an atheist. My biggest apprehension is that I’ll be asked to participate in prayer. It will be awkward if I don’t, and I’ll feel hypocritical if I do. When your daughter is lying in the intensive care unit with little practical hope of a meaningful recovery and you want to pray, I don’t imagine that you want to hear that your family member doesn’t.

So here’s a photo of my side of the family—my uncle and aunt and cousins, me and my parents—in a happier times, at my grandmother’s birthday in 2002 and at her funeral in 2009. Happier, because my grandmother died simply of old age at 105, and because nobody had been in a car accident.


One Response to “Usually I look forward to road trips, but this time not so much”

  1. Tori Says:

    Safe journey.I know exactly what you mean about the prayer concern. It’s a difficult one.

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