Listen to LOUD

Oooops I haven’t posted anything in quite a while.  I suppose other things got in the way? In any case, I miss this place, so here goes a new post.

I’ve been developing a playlist for a while called “Listen to Loud,” because I have nice headphones, and some songs just really cannot be listened to unless it’s REALLY LOUD (therefore, my headphones are perfect…because I don’t want to severely piss off my hallmates). These are certain songs that for various reasons (voice, bass, synth, etc.), it’s actually a crime to listen to them without cranking the volume up to maximum. My list is fairly long, but here’s a small selection, in no particular order:

1. The Funeral – Band of Horses
Because holy shit, that transition at 1:20 is just fabulous when it destroys your ears.

2. With Or Without You – U2
Because Bono. There should be lots of other U2 songs on this list (Where the Streets Have No Name, Bad, etc.), but I’m limiting myself to one.

3. Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
Because dat bass.

4. Some Nights – fun.
Because…well, it’s so much more awesome loud. I suppose I’ll have to say because of the harmonies.

5. Madness – Muse
Because of that note at the end. I just…it’s beautiful. It deserves only to be listened to at top volume.

6. All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers
Because it’s The Killers (they are my favorite band, after all, so obviously I’m going to include them). Honestly, I listen to all of their songs at max volume, but that’s just because they’re the best.

7. Fix You – Coldplay
Because I don’t really think I need to explain. If you’ve ever heard this song, then you know why. This song is definitely the best in a concert setting, when the speakers blow up your ears because they’re so loud, because honestly that’s the only way to listen. Unless, you know, you can’t go to the concert……in which case, crank up the volume.

8. Track 3 – Sigur Ros
Because it builds up beautifully. This song is subtle and fabulous and emotional.

Woo there’s my list! I’m constantly adding new songs when I hear them – or when I go back to re-listen and realize ‘oh wait, this is SO much more enjoyable when I can’t hear anything for several hours afterwards because I listened to it so loudly.’ (Disclaimer: I’ve never actually injured my hearing by listening to music at too high of a volume.) Enjoy!

The Importance of Eye Contact

I’ve been incredibly frustrated with myself recently because I realized that I don’t make eye contact with people that I pass by when walking. In fact, I often actively try not to look at them by checking at my phone, coughing into my sleeve, suddenly becoming interested in the building on the other side of the street, etc., and it’s a bad habit. I don’t think that I’ve always been this way – I just started to notice it recently, since coming to college. I think it’s probably at least in part because of living in Taipei, Taiwan for a year; practically every person I walked past in the city stared at me because I’m so obviously foreign, and so I stopped looking at them and instead kept my eyes firmly cast forward.

The problem is that now, unless I know the person, I don’t make eye contact with anyone I walk past. And I’m realizing that it’s important to look someone in the eye and smile, say “Hello!”, or wave – even, and perhaps especially if you don’t know them. I really admire people who say hi to strangers, mostly because when someone does it to me, the exchange never fails to make me feel a bit warmer and more content with myself and my day. I began to realize recently that when I avoid meeting eyes with an unknown passerby and I can tell that they’re looking at me, it probably makes me seem cold and arrogant.

So why not change?

Today as I walked back from the gym, I decided to do a little experiment. I made a point to look every person I walked past in the eye (and hold the gaze until I walked past and it would get awkward), just to see what they would do. I passed probably 30 people (I should have counted, oh well), and an overwhelming majority of them actively looked away from me – I could easily tell that they were aware that I was looking at them, but they looked off in the other direction, or just kept their gaze straight ahead. Their avoidance could have been because I was sweaty and nasty from my work out, but I doubt it – and I couldn’t help but feel disheartened with every averted gaze.

There were a few successes, though.

I passed one woman just after she had plopped down on a bench and heaved a sigh. She shook her head slowly at me, and I responded with a sympathetic frown. Basically we were both agreeing “it’s fucking hot” (at least I assume that’s what our exchange meant, considering it was 100 degrees when I was walking back around 3:30pm, and she looked uncomfortable and overheated). The moment was over quickly, and I moved on. But I enjoyed it because we shared a connection, however brief and unimportant.

Finally, one guy actually smiled and gave me a little wave. This made me so happy that I found myself walking a bit springier for quite a while afterwards. I had no clue who that guy was, and he didn’t know me. He just saw me smile at him, and so he responded with a little hello. It was great.

After my experience today, I’m going to try as hard as possible to make eye contact with the strangers I pass every day. Obviously there are going to be days when I’m in a particularly bad mood, or have something heavy on my mind, or I have to talk on the phone while I’m walking, but I’m still going to do my best. And considering that most of the people I passed during my mini social experiment avoided my eye, I think that lots of my neighbors, colleagues, and fellow world citizens should probably also make an effort to increase their friendly eye contact with others. That little moment of human connection really could brighten up someone’s day, even if it doesn’t seem significant enough to do so.

It’s Hot.

I’m frustrated with the heat.

This summer I’m living in a city where the heat index is consistently over 100 degrees, and it’s coastal, so humidity is also a problem. I step outside from bitingly cold air conditioning and instantly have a sheen of sweat on my forehead, heat on the top of my head from the blistering sun, and a bad attitude because my body is yelling at me to go back inside. It’s not the way the heat makes me feel that’s the main issue, though – it’s the things that I’m hindered from doing because it’s so hot.

I have a nice camera, so I want to walk around and take pictures of campus, the parks nearby, the city. I love to play tennis, but forget that – it’s easily 10 degrees hotter on a tennis court than it is elsewhere. I want to go paddle boating in the park, but there’s no shade and I’ll likely get sunburned and, even if I don’t, I’ll get overheated because of the constant direct sunlight. Mostly I just want to be able to walk places, rather than drive or take the bus, because I really love to walk.

I’m trying to convince myself of the reality that what I need to change is my attitude. Better to be spending the summer in a place where the days are long and I can feel the warm sun on my skin than to spend the winter in a place where there’s consistently five hours of daylight and it’s impossible to spend any time outside because of the freezing temperature. Better to be in a place where I actually want to walk around and absorb the beauty, rather than in a place that’s inherently unattractive or plain. And the best part is that I have fantastic people around me that – if I convince them to – will join me in outdoor adventures.

Hopefully someday soon I’ll build up the positive vibes necessary to make myself get out and do things despite the heat and humidity and buckets of sweat that’ll result from it. Perhaps I just need to brace myself and do it.

A Quick Word about my Favorite Song

After a considerable amount (years, really) of deliberation, I have concluded that my favorite song is Father and Son by Cat Stevens. For the longest time, I’ve had a group of 10-20 songs that I considered my “favorites” but I was always unable to choose one, in particular, that I liked the most. I realize now that this Cat Stevens song is the one. Here’s a link to the video for the song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q29YR5-t3gg

It’s so incredibly beautiful. I honestly don’t believe I can put into words exactly what moves me so much when I listen to this song, but every time I do I feel tears welling up in my eyes. It’s probably due to a combination of the challenging and sad lyrics, the dynamics between the verses and choruses, the soft but beautiful guitar, and obviously his voice. Especially in the second chorus. Just…the way he sings this song is magical. It’s one of the few songs that I only allow myself to listen to when I can give it the full attention that it deserves. And I can listen to it over and over and still feel the same way every single time. I suppose that’s why it’s my favorite, right?

Pleasant Discovery #4

http://weburbanist.com/2011/01/26/stepping-out-10-stupendous-indoor-architectural-slides/

I’ve always thought, “When I grow up and have lots of money and can design my own house, I’ll definitely install a slide somewhere…or everywhere.”  Slides are efficient and, more importantly, so much guiltless, uninhibited fun.  It’s wonderful to see that slides exist in lots of random buildings around the world!  I’ve added ‘find all of those slides’ to my list of 12385349742 life goals.  Yay!  More realistically, I’d love to go to the St. Louis City Museum, because that slide looks incredible, and it’s a lot closer to home than most of the other ones.

Think Me a Thinker

I came across this poem in a journal when packing for the summer.  I must have written it a couple years ago, but unfortunately I didn’t jot down the date when I wrote it, so I’m not sure. I’ve never been very good at poetry, but I thought this one was cute.  So why not.

Think Me a Thinker

I wish I could draw
instead of just saw
away at poor paper
with pen ‘til it’s raw.

I try for a rose;
instead my sketch grows
until it is something
in a bin art throws

I rather should sing
a nice tune with a ring,
a song heard ‘round
with spunk and spring

But alas, that won’t do,
for singing, I too,
although song is true joy
in its talents, have few

Next I try writing,
but words lose me too,
and reading is fun
that I never can do

Nor running, collecting;
nor playing, admiring;
nor hitting, or speaking–
Oh, what can I do?

Think? Yes, I can!
Of thought I’m a fan;
it can be said I think
more than many a man

I think of a thought
right there, on the spot,
‘til it blossoms and burns
to be fire-red hot!

Though not a painter,
nor singer, or reader,
I’m proficient at thoughts,
so think me a thinker.

Goals and Goals and Goals

After a rather stressful, sleepless, and slightly sad finals period, summer is suddenly upon me!  I’m staying on campus over the summer and doing an internship that’ll only have me working 10 or less hours a week, so I’ve given a fair amount of thought to how I want to spend my plethora of extra time.  Here’s a tentative list of what I want to get done:

  1. Learn to play guitar.  Or, at least, learn to play a few songs for fun.  My friend is leaving his guitar with me, and I’m getting my brother’s abandoned guitar, so I’ll have the opportunity – I just need to find the patience.  And the right website to teach me.
  2. Finish Harry Potter in Chinese.  I bought the first book when I lived in Taiwan two years ago, and now that I’ve at least slightly expanded my vocabulary, I’m finally picking it up to read.  It took me an embarrassing amount of time to finish the first page the other day, so this goal might actually be unattainable……Chinese is kind of hard, so get off my back.
  3. Learn to cook.  I have no meal plan over the summer, so rather than being a goal, this is more of a necessary lesson.  I really would rather not starve/eat ramen and cereal for every meal.  Also it’s sad that I only know how to cook a few things; that needs to change.
  4. Visit museums.  I get free admissions to all the fantastic museums that are within walking distance of campus.  I should really start taking advantage of that.
  5. Make money.  I just received notice that I got my second on-campus job for the summer (in addition to my paid internship), so hopefully I’ll finally be able to save up some money instead of spending it all.  Hopefully….maybe…………
  6. Watch all the TV and movies.  I mean, all of them.  During the semester I never have time to watch TV or movies (although, okay, I do tend to watch movies quite a bit), and I need to catch up.
  7. Get in shape.  This is basically always a goal.  Aaaand it never happens.  That’s all.

Mostly I just want to have a relaxing summer.  I suppose if I achieve all of these goals, then I probably won’t end up having a restful summer, but it’ll be productive!  So that’s something.  Honestly, if I realize even one of these goals I’ll be happy.  Here’s to having a happy summer season!