Five, then seven, then five again

I think one of the most clear realizations I knew I was a writer at heart was when we learned what haikus were in elementary school. Many of my classmates groaned and rolled their eyes. They already didn’t enjoy writing exercises, let alone adding a math component into the mix. I, on the other hand, could barely contain my excitement within my tiny frame. A writing puzzle! A counting game! This is great! (Note: I was a weird child.)

How do I fit my point into 17 syllables? If you’ve ever read my creative writing or poetry, you’ve probably noticed that I care a lot about line breaks. The visual flow of the words has a very direct connection to the emphasis of the poem. It’s always been my favorite part of writing, and involves a design aspect that I don’t get to play with a lot in my more academic life.

I have been feeling very stuck in my life recently, which directly translates to painful, seemingly incurable writer’s block. So I turned to Twitter and the lovely followers of my writing Tumblr and asked for short prompts. I turned around and wrote haikus inspired by these single words. It’s a poet’s baby step. An easily tackle-able task that gets the gears moving again. I thought I’d share some here, then challenge you to ask for prompts.

Who knows… maybe one will be just the spark you needed.

Honey
My honeycomb love,
Forever stuck to my heart.
Worth every bee sting.

Stars
When you stop looking
For distant bits of light shine:
That’s when things will glow.

Sunflowers
Everything must end.
Do sunflowers cry at night
When the light runs out?

The light hitting just right
Some day, morning light
Will not look like your freckles.
But until that day…

Lilies
White petals, soft like
Your Easter morning heartbeat,
Soft like “please come back.”

Tattoos
“But what does it mean?”
It means that I am going
onward to the end.

Sadness
Tumbled bones, short breath,
Waves of every “I love you.”
Morning will come soon.

Let’s write, kiddos.

Additional reading: One of my favorite poets is Tyler Knott Gregson, and he has a daily haiku series that takes my breath away. Check out his Instagram for some absolutely beautiful writing and poetry.  

© Tyler Knott Gregson (via Instagram)

© Tyler Knott Gregson (via Instagram)

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Filed under Motivation and Inspiration, Re: Writing

Tunesday: Casual Heartache Edition

“These are the days that must happen to you.” — Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

I must have stumbled across that quote a million times in my life. It sits with me like a warm hug, a kind smile. It is comforting — that even Walt Whitman understands that life gets really hard sometimes.

Today just happens to be one of those days. Today, I made a really important decision, said some things and was turned down with unbelievable grace and love. Today, however many hours later, my heart is aching and I feel a little bit numb.

Heartbreak happens in three stages. First, you are clinging onto the hope that maybe that person will love you back like you love them. Then, you come to the painful realization that they just don’t love you in the same way you love them. Finally, you let love back in to save you.

1. James Bay performing “If You Ever Want To Be In Love” for The Sunday Sessions

If you ever want to be in love
I’ll come around

We were young
we were side by side
Don’t know when we started losing touch
If you want we could walk around
Maybe that would be enough

No, honestly. Everything is fine. Everything is totally fine.

2. Bon Iver performing “I Can’t Make You Love Me” at AIR Studios

here in the dark,
these final words
I will lay down my heart
and I feel the power
but you don’t,
no you don’t

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Everything hurts.

3. Bear’s Den performing “Bad Blood” at the Red Room at Cafe 939

All my life
I wasn’t honest enough
and I thought
I would never get over you

But I found love
but I found love
but I found love
but I found love

The world spins madly on, y’all. Everything will be okay.

Reading back over this, I sound dramatic and mopey. It’s fine. I know this aching will fade, and when I look back one day, I probably won’t remember too much about this particular Tuesday.  Today is simply one of the days that must happen to me. 

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Filed under Life Events, Re: Music, Tunesday

TFLNM: Weathervanes

He didn’t understand what he’d done to her, but he would by the time she was finished.

She was bee stings, she was hungry mouth, she was lightning eyes. Coffee-stained everything. Her back arched, somehow serpentine, when she stretched every morning. She turned toward the sun every afternoon, desperate for warmth. She laughed with the genuine sort of rumble that shook her entire body. Restless and impatient and kind.

He was quiet with a loud heart. He played guitar in bed when the sadness seeped into both of their shaking hands. He was morning coffee, he was nighttime skylines, he was feet that never seemed to be warm. His movie watch list was a mile long. Always making hot chocolate. Tucked himself around her every night.

Heartsickness hung on her like fog. She did not know why he loved her, or how. But her heart was bird wings, summer rain, new moon, when he said her name. And, oh, when he told her he loved her. “I love you.” Without condition. Without hesitation.

She was her own hurricane. And he was the calm before her.

He didn’t understand what he’d done by loving her, but he would by the time the storm stopped.

This is a new thing I’m trying on this blog called The First Line’s Not Mine. I’m using a random first line generator, courtesy of Claire, and then letting my creative juices flow, however hesitantly. To write fiction (or fact) for the sake of writing. I hope you’ll consider joining me. It’s hard and a lot of fun. 

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A Very Dumb Blog Post About Nothing

(I have no blog post ideas. Work with me.)

These are what conversations sound like these days:
“Hi! How are you?”
“Doing well. How’re you?”
“Oh, you know. Living the dream.”
“What’re you up to?”

I fiddle with my rings. I breathe in. I respond.

“Work. School. The bars. You know how it is.”

Big smile. Hug. Continue (speed) walking to wherever I’m going.

But how is it? Does that person know how it is? (Does that person care?)
Why are we so shy to be honest with how we’re doing?

Well…

I’m working nearly 30 hours a week rolling burritos for most of MU’s student population. I need to finish a lit review for a research project I’m actually excited about doing. I’m trying to do the thing where you don’t shampoo every day and it’s really stressing me out because I’m terrified of my hair looking greasy. I am putting off laundry for longer than normal because it’s too cold outside to lug my laundry basket down the stairs. My foot is sore and I’m tired of dragging this boot around. I am on some weird cusp between loving my body’s flaws and plunging into despair about the beauty status quo. Dogs are the best. I talk about my crushes entirely too much to anyone who will listen. I’ve stopped doing my eyeliner every day in favor of minimal makeup and I think I like it. I go to the same bar every time I go out and they know me there and it’s an incredible feeling. I miss a human I’ve never met in person. I cried on my walk home Saturday night. My hands are always cold. I have too many crushes on too many cute people. I need to watch more movies. My depression and anxiety are so much more under control and I feel like myself again. I need to buy groceries and toilet paper. There is so much good music in the world. I think I forgot how to write. Still haven’t gone on a date. I don’t call my family enough. It feels like winter will never end. I miss Brussels. Boys still confuse me daily. I graduate from college in 81 days. I don’t know what I’m doing after. I don’t know what I’m doing now.

That’s how it is.
That’s my world right now.

I am going to try to push myself to blog more, and I’m toying with the idea of posting some of my creative stuff here as well? I miss poetry a LOT. Like, a lot. But posting a blog post in my conversation voice is much different than posting my poems (which I am almost always incredibly self-conscious about). So we’ll see if I work up the courage.

Writing has kept me alive for 21.5 years, and God help me if I let that flame in me dwindle down to smoke. If you have suggestions or challenges to encourage me to post, I’m all ears and open inboxes.

Feigned productivity and my favorite latte

Feigned productivity and my favorite latte

Stay golden, kiddos. I’m sure winter will end soon and we can all get some sunshine.

 

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Filed under Life Events, Thought Stream

Top 20something Albums of 2014

You know that feeling when you bite off more than you can chew? That’s this post about six albums in. I’m still conflicted about it: I’m sure I forgot someone really important, but if I didn’t cut it off at ~20, we all know this would go on forever and ever. This post is really long. Trust me, I understand if you don’t want to read the whole thing. (But I did provide hyperlinks and also spent ages on it so…)(Shannon told me she would read it and that’s good enough for me.)

So, four weeks into 2015, here are my favorite albums from the past year:

1. I Forget Where We Were || Ben Howard

I have loved Ben Howard since my friend Jackson made me a mix CD four years ago. The first track was “Old Pine,” and it took me two weeks to listen to the rest of the tracks because I was so distracted by Ben. This record has a unique sound, completely different from Every Kingdom, but still decidedly Ben. I’m seeing him live in eight day (!!!!), and I couldn’t be more excited if I wanted to be.

Top tracks: In Dreams, Time Is Dancing, Am I In Your Light (the vinyl bonus song)

2. Islands || Bear’s Den

“Agape” came up multiple times on my both my Ben Howard and my Noah Gundersen iTunes radio stations, so I decided to give this band a listen. Best decision ever. Their record came out in October and I instantly lost my mind. Their lyrics are so well-written, and the harmonies are Mumford-esque. They are part of the 2014 documentary “Austin to Boston” with Ben Howard, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Staves, so you know they’re good. I also can’t encourage you enough to look up all their acoustic stuff. They sing “Above The Clouds of Pompeii” in an old church and it’s absolutely swoon-worthy.

Top tracks: Think of England, Elysium (watch the video too)

3. Dreaming Your Life Away || Vance Joy 

This human is opening for Taylor Swift’s 1989 tour, which I find strange but lovely. I’ve been listening to him for a while, as “Riptide,” “From Afar,” and “Snaggletooth” circulate on Tumblr relatively often. This record is absolutely lovely, and I really appreciate his lyricism. His voice is that raw singer-songwriter style I live for. I can picture sitting on a porch in Portland in the fall, listening to him pick at a tinny old guitar and sing goofy songs about falling in love. He’s got that kind of voice. (Bonus: he’s Australian. And cute.)

Top tracks: From Afar, Mess is Mine, Georgia,

4. Tough Love || Jessie Ware

My sister and I listened to “Say You Love Me” at least twice a day during our entire vacation. So much so, in fact, that our brother accused us of ruining the song. Not so, Phil. Jessie’s voice is stunning, and her music is very falling-in-love-on-the-dancefloor-and-starting-a-long-distance-relationship. (Does that even make sense?) It’s equal parts power ballads à la Adele and electronic jazz crooner.

Top tracks: Say You Love Me, Kind of…Sometimes…Maybe, Champagne Kisses

5. So Long, See You Tomorrow || Bombay Bicycle Club

I’m late to the Bombay Bicycle Club game (like, I knew two songs before), but this record is so, so flawless. It’s the record I put on when I am getting ready in the morning, when I’m cleaning my room, when I need a dance break. Every song has an impressive number of layers and different things going on that all manage to blend — rather than clutter — the “vibes.” They have a KEXP session where you can watch them singing these intricately built songs, which is entralling.

Top tracks: Whenever, Wherever; Luna; Home By Now

6. In Return || Odesza

I LOVE THIS RECORD. It’s like when An Awesome Wave came out and I would finish Taro and start Intro — I will listen to the entire thing start to finish three times in a row before I move on. I wrote about this album specifically in my study playlist Tunesday post, but it truly is one of my favorite records ever ever ever. This is one of my favorite styles of music (electronic indie? chillwave? indie chill? who knows?), and I am stoked to see this duo when they come to Columbia in February.

Top tracks: It’s Only (feat. Zyra), Memories That You Call (feat. Monsoonsiren), Kusanagi

7. Strange Desire || Bleachers

I was late to this record too (and missed my chance to see them in KC), but man oh man, do I love it. Jack’s voice is so smooth and his range is just lovely. I’m usually wary of albums from band members who have broken away for solo albums, but this one absolutely did not disappoint. There are archive soundbites, reprises and YOKO ONO (who sounds like Grandmother Willow and brings me such joy).

Top tracks: Like a River Runs, Shadow, I’m Ready to Move On / Wild Heart Reprise (feat. Yoko Ono)

8. Four || One Direction

I literally don’t care what you have to say about them. Don’t even get me started on my love for this band. I know they’re ridiculous humans and most of their fan base can’t even drive a car. These five idiots bring me an unbelievable amount of joy and happiness. This record is wonderful because it is starting to actually showcase their talent (I will fight you on this) rather than basic cookie-cutter radio singles. Life is too short to deny yourself the pleasure of pop music. Also, have you ever looked at them?? It’s unbelievable. Angels, the lot of ‘em.

Top tracks: Steal My Girl (ZAYN’S HIGH NOTE); Girl Almighty, Fool’s Gold, Clouds

9. 1000 Forms of Fear || Sia

I listened to this record for the majority of my summer. It became the soundtrack to my metro rides and early mornings. Sia’s voice is absolutely unreal, in case you were unaware. Plus, this record is a good balance of full-on power vocal ballads and songs you will dance around your kitchen to while making breakfast. It’s also an incredibly cohesive album, and you can hear the story playing out as you listen. Also, I love the videos, controversial as they are.

Top tracks: Chandelier, Burn the Pages, Cellophane, Dressed in Black

10. Wanted on Voyage || George Ezra

This, along with Sia, defined what I listened in Brussels. It only came out in the US this past week, but it dropped in Europe over the summer. My roommate Shannon and I refer to his vocal style as “sweater voice” — it’s warm and luxurious, and you feel like you could wrap yourself in it on a brisk morning. His range is absolutely incredible, and his lyrics are perfect for lazy summer days. (He’s also friends with Ollie, which is amazing news.)

Top tracks: Budapest, Breakaway, Da Vinci Riot Police (not on the US Spotify version, apparently)

I bought the physical CD in Brussels with store credit I had left over...

I bought the physical CD in Brussels with store credit I had left over…

11. Chapter of the Forest || Trevor Hall

I want to turn this record on and do sun salutations all day long. Trevor Hall is an incredibly spiritual musician, and his work is heavily influenced by his Buddhist faith. His voice has a really interesting quality to it: soft, rounded and raspy. I’ve been listening to his music here and there for a couple years, but not until this record did I ever sit down and listen from start to finish. It’s incredibly calming and centering. Light a Volcano candle, turn this on and take a load off.

Top tracks: Holy Country, Jagadeesha

12. Ledges || Noah Gundersen

The same playlist Jackson made me that got me into Ben Howard had a track on it called “Garden” by some guy named Noah Gundersen. His voice is soft and lovely, and his lyrics are worship that sound like wrestling. I have been eagerly awaiting this album. The minute it dropped, it was the only thing Shannon and I listened to in Brussels for a solid week. His band is made up of himself and a few family members, and the harmonies blend beautifully.The album is heartbreaking, but I still listen to it back to back.

Top tracks: Poor Man’s Son, Cigarettes, First Defeat

13.  Hozier || Hozier

This goober Irish man has a voice that demands a listen. I had heard “From Eden” and “Take Me To Church” from his previous EPs and loved his sound: gritty and dark and begging for black-and-vote music videos. This album is great, y’all. Like…y’all. Maybe not the most cohesive concept, but each song is such a gem that it can be forgiven. They have their own universe, their own important plots — but maybe have the same background cast? I’m not sure exactly how to describe it. It just gives me a lot of emotions. Listen to it all.

Top tracks: To Be Alone, Foreigner’s God, Take Me To Church, From Eden

14. The Pickprint || Nicki Minaj

I will fight you on how much I love Nicki Minaj. When I was younger and was a Bad Feminist (read: internalized misogyny and backhanded slut-shaming), I didn’t appreciate her and was, frankly, terrified of her rapping. But now I just love her endlessly. Her ferocity, her confidence, her take-no-shit-from-sexist-interviewers attitude, her unbelievable skill and rap prowess: it’s all incredible. I love her. This album feels like she has really come into her own image. She’s not in costumes, she’s not putting on airs. There are heartfelt ballads, there are dance jams, there are amazing featured artists (hello, Drake). She’s just real and honest and Nicki.

Top tracks: The Crying Game (ft. Jessie Ware (!!!)); Trini Dem Girls (ft. Lunchmoney Lewis); Feeling Myself (ft. Beyoncé)

15. In the Lonely Hour || Sam Smith

This human’s vocal cords are a blessing. At first, I was nervous that I was going to lump him in with Adele — where the voice is amazing and stunning and powerful beyond all measure…but most of her lyrics just don’t hit me like her voice does (I know, I know). But this album didn’t disappoint. It’s all sorts of heartbreaking, and his range follows the emotions impeccably. My roommate also owns this record on vinyl which is incredible as well. (Also, there’s a version of I’m Not The Only One with A$AP Rocky which is GRAND. Look it up.)

Top tracks: Money on My Mind, Leave Your Lover, Lay Me Down

16. Range of Light || S. Carey

I’ve been sleeping on poor Sean Carey for years, and I’m still kicking myself for it. He did vocals, drums and some guitar for Bon Iver, but also released a lot of his own music. I didn’t even know this new record had dropped until “Crown the Pines” was floating around Tumblr. I recognized the name from his Bon Iver days and decided it was time indeed to listen to him. Good decision. He’s got this ethereal, glowing, soft sound. It’s rainy day coffee shop music that you want to sit around and be sorta sad about things. Not like a lay-down-and-sob cry, but a reflective, nostalgic sad. A good sad.

Top tracks: Crown the Pines; Alpenglow, Fire-scene

17. This is All Yours || alt-J

Let me preface this with the fact that I like An Awesome Wave better. I just have to get that out there. BUT. This record is absolutely wonderful. alt-J just can’t seem to make bad music. They have such a unique sound and vibe that I can’t help but turn to them when I don’t know what else to listen to — equal bits jam-in-your-car and chill-out-and-stare-at-walls-are-ponder-life. Also they sample Miley Cyrus, so what could possibly go wrong.

Top tracks: Hunger Of The Pine, Bloodflood pt. II, Every Other Freckle

18. Sylvan Esso || Sylvan Esso

I want this duo to be president and vice president of the nation. I love this record absolutely endlessly. Claire sent me “Coffee” a while ago (and might have sent it twice?) and it took me ages to get around to listening to it because I am the worst friend. But I did and then I searched out the record and the rest is history. I’ve been listening to it pretty regularly on my way to class — it puts some jam and pep in my step. They’re performing at Coachella this year, but if anyone wants to get me out of work and take me to see them in St. Louis on March, I accept your wedding proposal.

Top tracks: Dress, Play It Right, Coffee, Come Down

19. Ghost Stories || Coldplay

My favorite thing about this band is that every record is a completely different world, but still very much so a Coldplay product. Say what you will about them, but I’ve listened to them as I been doing that growing up thing through middle school, high school and college. I always look at them with fondness; they’ve been steadfast and good my whole life. Basically, Coldplay is my musical comfort food, and I’m okay with that. This record is only nine tracks long, but you can so easily get lost in the 40 minutes of music. There’s this warm bass in the background, and it feels kind of like blankets around your shoulders when you’re sitting in bed alone and thinking too much about life (does that make sense?).

Top tracks: O; Midnight; A Sky Full of Stars

20. Goddess || Banks

One of my 2015 resolutions is to transform myself into Banks. She is absolutely stunning, has an incredible voice and has straight up vibes to her music. I closely relate her to Jessie Ware in my mind, but falling out of love rather than recently married. There’s so much girl power of the best kind throughout this record. She is as strong as she is vulnerable, as confident as she is gun-shy. I like to turn Banks on, turn it up and zone out to whatever I’m working on. Also a good idea with this record: put on your darkest lipstick and dance around your room in your underwear. (Trust me.)

Top tracks: Goddess; Drowning; Someone New

21. Still Life || Dawn Golden

This is my most recent obsession. I saw “All I Want” on Tumblr and listened, thinking it was a Kodaline cover. Wrong-o. Dawn Golden is some magnificent electronic-ambient-indie situation that I can’t even find the words to describe. It’s like… a little Sufjan, a little Greg Laswell, a little Death Cab, a little OMN. Just listen. The sound is amazing and the lyrics are stunning, which lets you get completely lost in the music (my favorite hobby). In the past, he’s done a bunch of remixes, but this record is a beautiful story that I can’t encourage you enough to listen to.

Top tracks: The Beekeeper; Still Life; Last Train

22. The 1975 (Deluxe Edition) || The 1975

We all know how I feel about this band. It would probably be annoying for me to prattle on and on and on about how much I love each member, their experience and their music, so I’m going to just not. I was #blessed enough to see them live TWICE in 2014, and I cannot wait for more.

the 1975

Top tracks (this is a 39-track album…): Robbers, Menswear, Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You?, Facedown, Woman, Me, Head.Cars.Bending., So Far (It’s Alright), Fallingforyou

Honorable mentions:

  1. Talking is Hard || Walk The Moon (top tracks: Portugal, Shut Up And Dance, Sidekick)
  2. Promises EP || Ryn Weaver (I told y’all she was gonna hit it big and now she’s playing at Coachella and I AM SO PROUD)
  3. Leftovers || Cherub (also one of the most fun shows I’ve ever been to)

Whew. If you’ve made it to this point, thanks for sticking around.
Send me some of your top albums or let me know who I might have heinously left out. May 2015 be as music packed as 2014.

(Header image photo cred here)

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Back at it (for the last time)

I might have forgotten how to blog. But today is one of those ~important~ days, so I thought it was as good a time as any to update all y’all on my life. Because the “real world” is hurtling toward me and I couldn’t be more excited. The first day of the semester is a better fresh start than New Year’s. When you have been a student for basically your entire life, I guess that only makes sense.

Here’s a list of recent notable life happenings:

  • Today is my last first day of school. I put on my favorite boots and started my day by dancing around my kitchen in between bites of turkey bacon.
  • I spent eight glorious days in Cabo, Mexico with my family. It was warm and sunny and absolutely what we all needed. Fish tacos, Coronas, beach naps and whale sightings were daily occurrences.
  • I still need to buy my textbooks.
  • My great-uncle passed away yesterday. I know it’s better he’s no longer suffering, as the end of his life was defined by decreasing mobility and increasing illnesses, but it still breaks my heart. Rest in peace, Father Bob. I know you’re making the perfect lamb and grape leaves up there. Say hi to Grandpa and Jay for us.
  • It has been strangely warm in Columbia lately, although today has cooled off a bit. It’s a nice way to start the new semester, rather than bundled up Randy style. I’m a sun child, and winter is hard.
  • I’ve been working pretty constantly at Chipotle. (No, we still don’t have carnitas.)
  • I need to write more.
  • I’m in the process of looking for post-grad jobs. If you have any leads, feel free to drop me a line! I can only have so many tabs open on my computer, and I would love all the help I can get.
  • I promise I’m employable.
  • I’m (finally) seeing Ben Howard live in 16 days.

This semester will be a weird one. In 115 days I will be a college graduate. Shoutout to everyone who has made sure I’ve made it to this point. Y’all are so important to me.

Actual real blog posts coming in the not-too-distant future. Pinky swear.

P.S. — Would anyone be interested in a “Top Albums of 2014?” I think I’ve nailed down my list, but I’m not sure if anyone cares. 

Sunset in Cabo. One of the few non-selfie photos from our trip.

Sunset in Cabo. One of the few non-selfie photos from our trip.

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Tunesday: Finals Study Marathon/Panic/Meltdown Edition

Hi hello. So, if you’re anything like me, your semester is coming to a panicked, chaotic screaming end. God only knows I need endless music to make it though. I thought I’d share some of my favorite study playlists. This isn’t exactly a Tunesday post, but mostly a music dump because I have a LOT of emotions about these tracks. Seemed as good a day as any to make it. This thing is chockfull of hyperlinks and sleep-deprived babbling… enjoy!

1. “Adderallnighter” (from 8tracks)

This is one of my favorite study playlists, and one I’ve revisited often. It has an electronic vibe to it that really helps cut down on outside white noise and chatter. It’s also nearly seven hours long, which lets you zone out into your music rather than constantly changing songs. Also, no ads. 8tracks is your best best friend, in case you were unaware (if you don’t use 8tracks already, you need to seriously reevaluate your music listening avenues.).

Honorable mention: “For very late night revision.” Feel free to check out the other study playlists I’ve dogeared.

2. OMN’s music

Ollie McKendrick-Ness is a person I found through Vine, fell a little bit in love with, then wormhole-d myself to his Soundcloud page. OMN’s stuff is absolutely stunning ambient electronic vibes. Most are original, but there are a few remixes (“Towers,” anyone?). Some have minimal vocals, but it’s nothing too distracting.

(You should really listen to his singing Vines though. The man’s voice is stunning. Examples A, B, C)

3. In Return from ODESZA

That electronic ambient vibe, again, y’all. It’s great. The duo’s most recent album is superb, and I encourage you to check out their previous work as well. Also, they’re coming to Columbia in February so GET HYPED. “Say My Name” is the jam.

4. “Mid-Tempo Indie

Phantogram and London Grammar vibes. Enough said.

5. The Transformers score

Almost all movie scores are a solid bet for very intense study sessions. My favorites are Transformers (Steve Jablonsky), Inception (Hans Zimmer), The Dark Knight (Hans Zimmer), The Fountain (Clint Mansell)

6. “Hell Week Jamz

I think I made this playlist two years ago during finals, but it’s been a staple in my Spotify library ever since. It’s got Daughter, The National, Bon Iver and other favorites of mine. Probably best for essay writing — it has singing, but it’s nothing too in your face or dance-party-inducing. (Also, A List of Voices I Like is sort of a follow-up playlist, if you’re interested.)

7. “Good Things

This is a Spotify playlist of my three current favorite albums: “Islands” from Bear’s Den, “I Forget Where We Were” from Ben Howard and “Dream Your Life Away” from Vance Joy (yes, I’m still listening to them almost exclusively.) This music is obviously not instrumental or no-vocals, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you have to do any particularly deep or thought-consuming reading. But it’s incredibly good music, and can help ease the pain and stress of studying/finals if you just need a breather.

My top picks: Think of England and Elysium by Bear’s Den, Georgia and Mess is Mine by Vance Joy, In Dream and Time is Dancing by Ben Howard.

8. Other albums that deserve a mention because they’re great and you should listen to them during this time of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion:

finalz

Remember to drink lots of water with your undoubtedly increased caffeine intake, get some sleep, pet a dog and send your friends encouraging texts. You’re going to make it through and you’re doing a good job. Best of luck to everyone!

Also: comment with your favorite study playlists because sharing is caring.

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Filed under Life Events, Motivation and Inspiration, Re: Music, Tunesday

Where I’m at on a Sunday in November

(Note: I haven’t written anything in a while and I’m feeling that Sunday blues sort of thing so I brain-dumped here and then clicked publish. This is the result. Sorry.)

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Usually, I’m an over-excitable bumblebee who can’t stop talking about good things and wants to show you this band and this song and oh have you heard this acoustic set and that reminds me of this artist and let me tell you a life story about where I was when I heard this song for the first time.

And then I need to go home and lay in my bed for two days and think about how my voice was too high-pitched when I said that one thing and I sounded too eager and I need to tone it down and oh God why did I say that and maybe I shouldn’t have used that emoji and I wish I talked less but somedays I can’t find my off switch.

I’m like a glitchy flashlight that you just have to let run out of battery and leave in a junk drawer until the power goes out and then you replace the batteries and start over fresh.

ººº

The other night, I tripped over an uneven crack in the sidewalk. I instinctively sputtered a “Sorry” to the kid walking toward me, as if my blunder had caused him some sort of discomfort or inconvenience.

When I get really excited about a band or really flustered about a crush or drink too much wine and (heaven forbid) start to cry, I can’t stop saying “I’m sorry.” I apologize for my personality more often than I own it. I try to tone myself down, to dam the tsunami, to tell the high tide in my chest “Hanna, dude, calm down.”

And then it all breaks loose and not even pounding on tables or capslock or canvassing the entire town can adequately express my love.

Speaking of which, have you ever listened to Bear’s Den?

ººº

Most days, my body is too big and achey and doesn’t move and bend in the swan-neck-ballet-dancer-I’ve-never-thought-about-it type of way I’ve dreamed of.

Most days, my body carries me and I am grateful.

ººº

I miss Paris in the rain every day. I miss Brussels with an ache I never expected. I miss the mountains of Alaska. I miss the river in Austin. I love Columbia with my whole heart, but my body is restless.

I’ve been listening to the same three albums on repeat for weeks now. I’ve imagined you singing them and then I’ve immediately screamed into a pillow. I’ve thought about the man from Leeds who I met in a bar in Brussels every day for the past month. I’ve woken up with butterflies and a goofy grin on my face because my subconscious is a runaway train.

I told myself I would start journaling again.
I haven’t found my journal yet.

ººº

It’s officially winter and my bed is an expanse of sheets and laundry and lost socks. Every November, my bed gets too big and it doesn’t shrink again until the snow finally melts. It’s silly and stupid and very noticeable change once the days get shorter.

My sister and I are two sides of the same coin. She puts up walls and can remove her emotions and I can’t figure out how to stem the flow of feelings from my heart. I am a child of the sun and she is a child of water. We are getting matching tattoos in a week. She loves me better that anyone I know.

It is freezing cold and dark in both of our towns right now. We are both messes in our own right, 320 miles apart.

“I hate winter,” she types.
I pause. Stare. Type. Hit enter.
“Me too.”

Winter means buche de Nöel and Christmas lights and endless sweater weather and Bing Crosby and a constant excuse to drink hot chocolate. It also means seasonally affective depression and finals week and dry skin and runny noses.

Winter means my bones ache in their ball-and-socket and synovial joints. Winter means I forget what green grass feels like under my shoes. Winter means December 15th must come again.

Winter can buzz off.

ººº

Things aren’t all bad, all stagnant. I am seeing The 1975 for the second time a week from tomorrow. I am seeing Ben Howard in 81 days. I get paid on Friday for 59 hours of burrito rolling.

There are so many good concerts and shoe sales and potential coffee dates in my future. I am going to graduate from college (?!!!?? ?!?!?!?!). I am going to move again (ugh) and start somewhere different (!!!).

I have plenty more chances to listen to my favorite records, to make a fool of myself in front of cute boys, to drink good beer with better friends, to sleep through my alarms, to spend $20 on the perfect shade of lipstick.

Things are gonna be okay.
Winter is always going to end.

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Filed under Life Events, Re: Writing

Tunesday: From the Bottom of My Heart, I Love You

So I haven’t posted a Tunesday since … June 17. My bad, y’all. I’m a mess.

As you could probably tell from my last post, life has been a tad rough lately. I don’t exactly know why. I’m trying to roll with it and take things a day at a time. I’m okay, I promise — just a little overwhelmed.

Music has been getting me through more than ever recently, so I thought I’d share some jams for those who may be struggling with university/school/life as well. Feel free to drop me a line through my contact page if you want to talk about anything. I encourage anyone who feel like you’re drowning to seek out resources on campus or in your area; it is the bravest and best thing you can do for your own happiness.

Until then, here are some songs for people coming up for air.

1. Listener performing “You Were a House on Fire” for Cardinal Sessions

You’re burning alive with stress and life
Both hands in flames trying to hold the fire inside
Drop and roll, repeat line for emphasis
I’ll repeat it and repeat it until you believe it
You’re gonna be ok, say it to me

Listener is a lot like spoken word. It is screaming and shaking and powerful and hits you in the heart. I would recommend checking out their entire Wooden Heart record if you like this sort of thing, plus spoken word poet Buddy Wakefield (note to self: blog about spoken word).

2.  Gungor performing “Beautiful Things” for Relevant Studios

I am not a religious person, but this song moved me to near tears the first time I heard it. I can’t really explain it. It is comforting in a way that feels like a good, long, heartfelt hug right when you need it most.

Could all that is lost ever be found/
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

3. Vance Joy performing Mess Is Mine on KROQ

You’re the reason that I feel so strong
The reason that I’m hanging on
You know you gave me all the time
Oh, did I give enough of mine?

I love love love Vance Joy (Riptide, Snaggletooth, From Afar), so when his newest record came out, I was ecstatic. This song is the perfect pick-me-up: it reminds you that life is okay and people care about you and you’re okay the way you are without being aggressively in-your-face sunshine-y (which is the opposite of what I want when I’m in a funk.

Bonus round (because you need more hyperlinks):

(Also: I started a playlist called The Rut for when you feel down. Check it out on Spotify and let me know your recommendations for songs to add.)

(Also also: I’ve been getting better at updating JamsLikeJelly, so check that out if you’re wanting some random jams.)

Foudn on Tumblr. If anyone knows the source, please let me know so I can credit that person!

Foudn on Tumblr. If anyone knows the source, please let me know so I can credit that person!

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Filed under Re: Music, Tunesday

Some Sort of Coping Mechanism

Author’s note: I am beyond tired and stressed and anxious and sad. I found out an hour ago a student at MU died tonight (the second student death this semester). I am Unhappy. I want to smash glass against concrete and then curl into a ball and cry. So I’ve tried to create a space to try to hold onto the capital-I Important dream-like memories sitting in my brain. Thought Stream is exactly that: a stream of consciousness style blog post. Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed or sad or whatever, it’s nice to just dump your brain out.  Here is my first post of this sort; let me know what you think.

1. Singing and dancing to New Slang by The Shins with my brother. We were waiting for our Mac n Cheese to finishing cooking and the entire kitchen was filled with sunlight and we were the only two home. I was coming out of what I called my “funk” and remember feeling so, so blissfully happy. (When I was in high school, I didn’t realize I had anxiety and depression. I thought that’s just how people felt.) I remember that feeling like coming up for air and my brother laughing and both of us trying to out-goof the other. I remember typing a quick post on Tumblr about it, it was so monumental.

2. The moment the sun cut through the clouds at the Columbia River Gorge during sunrise. All of us students, tired and bleary with sleep, writing so frantically that our frozen fingers hurt. I remember actually gasping. I thought nothing would top seeing Yosemite from Glacier Point, but then sunbeams wiggled their ways through the overcast morning and scattered themselves across the river. I want to find my notebook from that summer and reread every little detail. I miss that city and that campus and those people and the endless, endless writing. Now, I couldn’t tell you the names of everyone there with me, nor could I walk you through a day at camp. But I remember these special moments so distinctly it’s as if they happened 20 minutes ago. Discovering trails tucked into campus backwoods. The sound of someone’s voice cracking when he crossed the word “she” in a poem he had written. The boy who played piano for two hours in our common room, bringing us out of our corners like moths to a candle.

3. Coming around the corner of the school building during a gust of crazy Ohio wind and feeling my feet nearly lift off the ground. Kids I had barely spoken to or gotten to know linking arms with me and helping to get me to the playground. All of us, kindergarten-sized sunflowers with way more growing left in us that we could ever guess, knotted together and trudging across the blacktop. What a sight we must have been. My daisy chain scattered when we hit the playground, and I fell back into shyness. But I still can’t forget that feeling of having other humans to tether you at the exact moment you think you might be yanked out of orbit.

4. Crying silently (hopefully) while sitting at a desk in the third floor stacks of Ellis Library because I thought I was never going to feel happy ever again. I was wrong.

5. Laying on my stomach in a field of clovers behind both the small and the big playground with my closest friends laying next to me. Chins resting on our folded hands, watching bees. Following them, soft and quiet as our new white sneakers would  let us, from bud to blossom to bloom. Their fuzzy bodies, their legs capped with small specks of collected pollen, their wings fluttering. My heart, skipping and happy with the work of the bees. Running back to the school doors when the recess whistle blew, all our our footsteps sounding like wild horses over dirt and gravel and wood chips and concrete. Feeling like I understood what it was like to be a smiling, crying, breathing, participating cog in the world — to be alive.

Life gets really, really hard sometimes.
Try this out and let me know when you post so I can read it too.
I love you. Listen to this song. Everything is going to be okay.

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Filed under Life Events, Re: Writing, Thought Stream