Luz was sitting on the bed a few feet from me, but she was deep into coding my website redesign. She was gmail chatting with, collaborating with Luke Mulks, our friend from Social, an artist/web developer from just outside San Francisco. He likes my work, calls me “the wordsmith,” has even started referring to the #BivonaLitSquad on Twitter. A great guy. He volunteered to help Luz redesign this website that got me fired from my professor gig.
It’s hard to believe that was just a few years ago.
I was finishing up my own gmail chat with Chewstroke, another artist—a street artist—also in the San Francisco area, and also a fan of my work.
“It was the ‘retired ass model’ thing that made us love you,” his colleague once told me.
Anyway, Chewstroke wanted to design a postcard featuring one of my shorter poems. He wanted to donate 100 postcards to be auctioned off for small donations—a gift to help to fund njpoet.com. That was the crux of our meeting. Another great guy.
So, I finished my chat meetings before Luz finished coding—I always do—and turned to my evening round of speed reading articles while YouTube videos stream, Tweeting relevant links, blogging impressive quotes on Tumblr, reposting political memes on Facebook, and trying to decide what the hell I’m going to do with my Google+.
If you work in Social Media, you know the drill.
Suddenly, a crisis. Where are my headphones? I groped around for a few minutes, checking on the floor, along the side of the bed. Our cat is a sneak thief. He runs off with our headphones often.
“Have you seen my headphones?” I asked Luz. She waved me away.
“No. Shh. Coding your site.”
Her eyes were focused like lasers on the screen, her ear buds were plugged snug in her ears, her head was rocking to whatever underground hip-hop she was streaming.
“Five more minutes of searching,” I told her, “and I’m invoking the headphones clause.”
She laughed. “Ok, Charlie. Sounds good.”
The headphones clause is this: I will acquiesce, do without, in every situation where only one of us can indulge in something fantastic. For example: the last piece of “Donkey Kong Roll” at our favorite sushi restaurant—if we can ever afford to go out to dinner again—that last piece of awesomeness will always be hers.
Indeed, every time we hit that impasse in our life together—only one slice of pizza, only one chocolate covered strawberry, only enough money for one cup of coffee—she will always get whatever deliciousness is in question, and I will do without.
And yes, it’s mostly because I love her. Sure. But it’s also to insure that if there is ever a shortage of headphones, if there is ever only one pair of headphones for two sets of ear lobes, it is hereby agreed that Charlie will always win out. Charlie will always be the one with headphones, and Luz will do without.
Because headphones are very important to me. They’re part of my writing/research process. I like to imagine that plugging ear buds into my ears flips some switch in my brain that turns on my deep poetic information processor.
I know it’s silly, but I’m a writer. We’re good crazy people. We sometimes need unusual things to get us working. And I need headphones to write.
“Can you help me find my headphones, please?!”
Luz sighed, stopped coding, waved her hand underneath her pillows, found my headphones, smiled, and handed them to me.
Crisis averted. She went back to coding, and I watched another video clip from The Majority Report.
In all our years together, I have only once successfully invoked the headphones clause, and it was a brilliant stand off.
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