Morning Wreckage

I cannot just charge my cell phone; it must be coaxed. The slightest spatial disruption of the connection, a feather-light brush of the cord with my elbow, for instance, will destroy a tenuous symbiosis and cost me another 10 minutes of pleading and cursing. Occasionally it will say “Unable To Charge.” Which I find curious, even peevish. To display this message, or any message at all, it must have noticed it was plugged in, which is to say, it has detected the presence of power; but it refuses to acquiesce. Of what does this inability consist? Is the battery not in the right mood? At these moments the cell phone is like nothing more than a reluctant lover; we have a problematic, codependent relationship; it refuses sex (charging) when it feels neglected, perhaps, or when it needs attention of a different kind. Sometimes I am feeling callous; I say: “Go ahead, don’t charge, I don’t need you!” And I storm off half-happily. But the phone (I kid you not) holds a grudge. It has enormous patience and power of will, sitting there by the socket. And I grow needy, talk-hungry. The lower I allow the battery to ebb, the more difficult the eventual charging (i.e. make-up sex); the more time I must eventually lavish: a week’s worth of roses, dinners out, abject apologies; and finally, perhaps, according to whim, and not according to any logical sequence of events, or any model of circuitry one can imagine, I connect things just right, I hit the phone’s magic spot, the battery icon begins blinking and the renewal can commence. And then, when the phone says “Charge Complete,” we are in the midsummer of our love, and I pick it up and tear it free from its cords carelessly, and talk like no tomorrow; and the cycle of degradation begins again. No I don’t see any similarities to any other areas of my life, what are you talking about????

In a completely unrelated development, I had bought a CD alarm clock some time ago which I rhapsodized here, but for a long time now the CD slot in it has yawned empty while I yawned awake to sterile, unimaginative beeping. This morning I realized, as I awoke at 6:45 AM… the sunniest moment by some devilish chance in my apartment … that music was a void (among others) that needed to be filled and I shook off my flannel duvet and stumbled over my ironing board towards my laptop/jukebox and put on “Rufus Wainwright,” the debut album of Rufus Wainwright. Particularly I wanted to hear a couple harmonies in the song “Sally Ann,” the harmonies for the line:

You realize you’ve been there before.

There is a little minor key Schubertian inflection in there that seems to me totally top-notch, especially combined with the country-western crooning of the whole. I put it on repeat, and standing there in my underwear in the wreckage of my bedroom I realized I was very very happy, even in the morning. I declined to analyze the various reasons. But it definitely had something to do with that sad, beautiful harmony. And the harmony kept running through my head while my faulty Starbucks cup dripped scalding French Roast onto my hand in the subway, while I clung for dear life to the nearest pole, and the train lurched spastically, and I gymnastically revolved–drippingly–to allow everyone their circuitous, irritable routes into the sardine can labelled #2. A little circle of spots on the floor of the train ephemerally marked my place, and I licked brown caffeine from my aching tingling fingers. Still, I was happy. Even amid the commuter chaos of Penn Station, that one bittersweet harmony seemed triumphant. The QuikTrak machine did not pose an obstacle either, it spit out my ticket obediently. It was only when I came to order my bagel that a serious problem arose, thus:

Me: “Poppy bagel.”
Europan Employee: [harshly] “No poppy.”
Me: “OK, onion bagel.”
[10 second pause]
Europan Employee [Even more harshly] “No poppy.”
Me: [Screaming] “OK, onion bagel, toasted, with cream cheese.”
[10 second pause]
Europan Employee: “Yes we have onion.”
[9 second pause]
Europan Employee: “Toasted?”
Me: “Yes, with cream cheese.”
[Employee slices bagel; various other employees and customers intervene; orders fly overhead; chaotic commuters everywhere; I am at the intersection of a thousand journeys; I notice the employee is spreading cream cheese on an untoasted onion bagel.]
Me: “Umm, i wanted it toasted.”
Europan Employee: [Smug, wronged.] “Well, you should have told me.”

Happiness is an evanescent thing. I lost it, but recovered some while contemplating a hypothetical Arts Section headline: “Pianist arrested for assault with untoasted bagel.” Or perhaps in NY Post: “Pianist testy over toasting.”

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  1. Jacque
    Posted April 25, 2006 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Um, about the cell phone charging? It might just be a cold solder joint on the pc board that the cord plugs into.

    I know that’s not very romantic, but considering what you already did with the subject, I am betting you can make something of a cold solder joint.


  2. sogalitno
    Posted April 25, 2006 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    also, did you know that a cell phone battery can get worn out? apparently they can and one of the signs is not holding a charge long . although that may not be your issue here maybe a new battery would help?

  3. I Want My Brain Back
    Posted April 25, 2006 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I lost my charging cord. Can I steal yours away?

  4. Anonymous
    Posted April 25, 2006 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    This entry and the previous one, back to back, are you to a T.

    Jerjer in a box. Nirvana.


  5. former music student
    Posted April 26, 2006 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    “Unable to charge.” It happened to my cell phone, too. My reaction when I saw it for the first time was, “Why??? (Unthinkable this happens.) Is it broken? (Did I break it?) What’s wrong? (No, it shouldn’t be my fault.)” I took the battery out and put it back. It worked. (Somehow it seemed to arouse the circuit.) But soon I found that a charge did not hold long; I had to charge more frequently. Yes, as sogalitno suggested, cell phone batteries get worn out as all the batteries eventually die. Did the untoasted onion bagel make you tear?

  6. Anonymous
    Posted April 26, 2006 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Where is Europa? And why are their expatriates so surly? And when are you going to respond to my e-mail? As in all great art, more questions are raised than are answered.

  7. A.C. Douglas
    Posted April 26, 2006 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    One question: Did you leave the European bagel slinger still alive after that encounter?

    What’s that? You did?

    How derelict of you.


  8. Priscilla
    Posted April 26, 2006 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Rufus Wainwright is awesome.

    I had the same problem with my phone and figured it was my charger, so I got another. There was still no solid connection. I still put the blame on the charger then I realized it was my battery.

  9. Jeremy Denk
    Posted April 27, 2006 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    To clarify some seeming confusion: Europan is not a misspelling for European. Europan is the name of a cafe chain in New York City. It pretends to be “Euro,” and I suppose they serve bread so: “Pan.”

  10. Anonymous
    Posted April 27, 2006 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Nathan, don’t take the email thing personally. 🙂 Perhaps it’s some sort of blog protocol. Who knows?

  11. A.C. Douglas
    Posted April 27, 2006 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    To clarify some seeming confusion: Europan is not a misspelling for European.

    On the other hand, European can be a force-of-habit misspelling for Europan.

    Mea culpa.


  12. Steinwayliz
    Posted April 29, 2006 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    On another “note”–ever notice how damn loud the phone beeps when it tells you its battery is low? Where does all that power come from?

  13. macwilmore
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    enjoyed the music in Dublin last night. Well done!

  14. Anonymous
    Posted May 18, 2006 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Living in Europa is like living in Utopa, it’s addictive. Might I suggest the pasta? And I do recommend the ice cream at Penn Station, you pick the flavour, if they toast it–it’s a gonner, so no worries there–flavour, size, and instant gratification…

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