July 29, 2009

Music that Moves

I have an excess of emotion and feeling. I like to call this passion, but sometimes it comes out as anger. Especially when it involves an opinion.

This excess of emotion (let's just call it passion) is often most prevalent in three areas: music, books/stories and movies. I cry when I read certain short stories and I even cried like a baby during the final chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I had a long piece of toilet tissue I used as a Kleenex and it was pulp by the time I finished the epilogue.

Movies are similar to books because they both tell stories. But added to movies are the beautiful visuals. Like the breathtaking shots in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. It's a slow movie without a lot of "on the edge of your seat with excitement," but the movie is so well-made it makes my skin crawl. But the thing that makes me breathless at the same time as excited--the thing that makes me cry and remember times of happiness or sorrow--is music. Few things evoke as much emotion in me as music.

I've been called a music snob because I steer clear of the radio as often as possible (Don't even get me started on modern country music). I just don't think the radio is a good place to find real talent (most of the time). I went to a wine tasting a couple weeks ago and my friend was telling me that at a previous wine tasting he was taught that you should taste three sips of wine because each sip tastes different. Each time you notice something new about the wine and notice different flavors. Good music is the same way. During the first listen you're just becoming familiar with the general music. Then each time after you're noticing something different--the poetry of the lyrics (if there are any), the background instruments that enhance the major instruments, or the way your mood changes during the song.

I was actually inspired to write this blog while listening to the soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Such a great movie that is enhanced by great music. But perhaps my absolute favorite theme song of all time is the Forrest Gump Suite. Just hearing those first few notes reminds me of the great movie and the whole atmosphere of the film and its main character. The rise and fall of the music--the way it builds to a climax and then comes back down for quiet moments.

Just as soundtrack music reminds me of the way a movie makes me feel, albums or musicians I listen to repeatedly during a season of my life will inevitably take me back to the time later. Sometimes these pairings make sense, while other times it just happens to be whatever CD I'm listening to while reading a book. Listening to 100 Portraits will forever remind me of driving in the mountains to pick up river tubers at summer camp. Radiohead's OK Computer will take me back to the time I worked at a sing company because that's the first time I ever heard that album. And I'm sure that a few years from now, any time I hear Fleet Foxes, I'll be reminded of this past spring.

Here are some of my favorites that remind me of different times of my life.

- Enter the Worship Circle: Any summer at TVR Christian Camp
- Dive by Steven Curtis Chapman: Summer 2000 (Go Deep!)
- Mmmbop by Hanson: The summer before 8th grade when Amanda and I would spend whole days in the pool (don't hate on Hanson!)
- Joanna Newsom: Late summer and fall of 2007 while I was living in Cary, NC
- John Denver: When I was on my Lori Wick fiction phase in high school
- Smalltown Poets and OC Supertones: Riding in the car with Amanda and her mom in high school. Especially when we would go pick up Holly (Amanda's sister) from school.

What I'm listening to now, that will surely some day remind me of this past year:

- The Weepies: Hideaway
- The Joy Formidable: A Balloon Called Moaning
- Anathallo: Floating World
- Department of Eagles: In Ear Park
- She & Him: Volume 1
- The Welcome Wagon: Welcome to the Welcome Wagon

I'm sure the above list would be longer if I hadn't placed a moratorium on buying music right now. I miss buying music...So
what moves you? What music reminds you of a time in your life--happy or sad?

July 22, 2009

The Next Stage of Life

The Short Version:

I lost my job in May and have been looking for a new one ever since. For the last several months, my roommate Melody and I have been planning on moving into a house with another friend (Amanda E.) when all our leases are up. After playing musical chairs with different roommates, the final addition was Lindsey.

On Monday, Melody found out that we did not get the house the four of us had applied for. I was in Georgia visiting a friend when I found this out and as soon as I read the text message, I felt like God was saying this was my time to bow out. The bottom line is that this whole process has been incredibly stressful. Each house has required all of us apply and have background and credit checks. This means that I, without a job, also had to apply. As if life weren't stressful enough, there was the chance we wouldn't get a house because I was laid off. Wonderful.

So I called Melody and bailed out on them. I felt like a jerk, but I just don't think it would be wise to move into a house and stress even more about money. Instead, I'll move in with friends and save money.

My wonderful friends, Daniel and Amanda, have a house in Greensboro and they offered to let me live there for a while. A couple of opportunities are available in Greensboro, so I'm praying one of them will work out. And so, on Saturday, July 25 I'll be moving to Greensboro.

In Which I Quote GK Chesteron [AKA: The long version]:

When I was in high school, Amanda and I would often drive up to the summer camp where we'd worked. Our least favorite part of the drive was through Greensboro. I'm pretty sure they had been working on I-40 through Greensboro for 47 years. The traffic was horrible and always added 20 minutes to the drive. That's a lot of precious camp time to spend on the road.

With that in mind, Greensboro was among the few places in this world I did not want to live. Sanford, NC is also on this list. I apologize to any Sanfordians out there, but it's the armpit of North Carolina

So when Daniel and Amanda moved to Greensboro three years ago and began trying to convince me to move there, I laughed and moved on. I had a good job, good church and good friends. No need to stir the pot or take a chance with moving. Then I lost my job, couldn't find a new one and became concerned about what I should do.
Literally, I started applying for jobs the same afternoon I lost mine. I've applied for everything and anything in NC and all over the country. Anything with a job description I understood, I applied for. But no dice.

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from GK Chesterton:

"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered."

With that in mind, I will now be considering this surprise move as an adventure. I'll meet new people, in a new city and hopefully have a new job. I'll also get the chance to live with my best friend and her husband. Their generosity blows my mind, especially considering that this is a new house and life is stressful enough without an extra roommate.

The grand and fabulous news is that Greensboro is 80 minutes closer to the mountains and 80 minutes closer to my dear friends in Georgia. Heck to the yes. The sad part is that I'll be leaving other wonderful friends in Raleigh. The last two years have been a roller coaster and I've come to the end with great friends.

I'll keep everyone updated about what's going on in my life. You'll know about my next great adventure.

July 16, 2009

Hogwarts, Jane Austen and Handing Out Flowers in the Valley

Inside my brain is a part of my imagination that sometimes wishes I were born with magical powers and could attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This is the same part of my brain that wishes I were in a Meg Ryan movie from the 90s or a heroine in a Jane Austen novel.

Most of the time, however, I beat that part of my imagination into submission and force it to only come out on special occasions. Like Wednesday afternoons. Or while I'm drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper.

But honestly, I do have to try not to focus on fantasy and fictional happiness very often. Imagination is a wonderful thing, but left to its own devices, it can end up being a way to escape from reality and turn into a crutch that turns into a wheelchair that turns into a bed where you never get up and do anything real.

It's especially easy to fall into an imagined world when you're in one of life's valleys. Until recently, whenever I imagined the ups and downs of life, I pictured it to be like a roller coaster. You have fast ups, followed by fast downs. But as soon as you hit bottom, you go right back up. I'm realizing that life is not like that. Ups and downs are much more gradual and the downs often last longer than expected. Life is made mainly of plateaus. Plateaus in the good parts of life and the bad parts.

I've been in the down part of life for several weeks now. Now, I realize that my down is nothing compared to the majority of the world. I've had it pretty easy. It's easy for me to fuss at myself and wonder why I'm whining--but then I remember that pain and suffering is relative. But then I also remember that the valleys are where soil is the most fertile (I heard that in a movie somewhere I think. Cliche but true.).

So this is where the imagination comes in handy. Yes, life has its down parts. But I like to imagine that I'm driving a 1968 red convertible Mustang through the valley. I'm blaring happy music as I drive. And the passenger seat is full of flowers of all types and in every color.

As I drive by others in the valley, I hand them a flower and we listen to the music together and talk about what brought us to the valley. When we part ways, we feel a little better just having someone to talk to. And who wouldn't feel better after receiving their very own flower?

So I guess that the imagination can be helpful. But like all things, in moderation. Always in moderation.

July 14, 2009

Oy Vey

You'd think (You'd think...) that with all the time I have had on my hands lately, I would be blogging up a storm. But I've discovered that I am not one of those writers who works best during hard times. I like happiness. I'm inspired by happy and carefree things. So this economy is stifling me.

With that thought in mind, I've decided to spread the happiness with links to uplifting and fun things:

Check out these mysterious letters.

Quite possibly the best Craigslist ad ever.

"Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes."

The official White House photo stream on Flickr.

Speaking of the White House, this is one of the best photos ever.

Rice paddy crop art. So weird. So fun.

Also a little weird, but so good: Dirty Projectors-Stillness is the Move.

The Miller High Life Innovations. Hilarious.

Flickr set: Getting Dressed Each Day is Hard.

God Help the Girl (Good music--can't wait to see what else they do).