Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Full-album-repeat Status

A couple weeks ago, maybe a few now, I gave Ben Howard's new album a full, attentive listen. Then I listened to it again. And again. A few days later, I was confident it had become one of complete albums I will likely listen to for years and years to come—something that doesn't often happen. Usually an album has just a couple songs that I love. Or even if it is a majority of the songs, maybe the album just doesn't sing right.

When I realized Ben Howard's album had achieved full-album-repeat status, I also realized I had I think five of these albums. And because I want to get it on paper, here they are, more or less in the order of longevity of company.

1. Coldplay Parachutes (2000)
Go to song: "We Never Change"
This is the classic. Rush of Blood to the Head and X & Y are essentially also full-album-repeat status, but Parachutes has them beat by just. I have specific memories that go with these old Coldplay albums. You will never learn them.

2. Sigur Rós Valtari (2013)
Go to song: hard for me to distinguish, but I think I like "Varúo" a lot
Did someone introduce me to this album? I don't remember. I think I finally realized it existed while I was working in Washington. It takes me to other worlds in my heart.

3. Daughter Wild Youth EP (2012) and If You Leave (2013)
Go to song: again, tough, but I do like "Human"
Also, this is a mix. I have a playlist that includes these two albums and they're indistinguishable for me. She stirs me to another place.

4. Ben Howard I Forget Where We Were (2014)
Go to songs: "Small Things" and "Conrad"
He just jams, and so good. Made miles better when Spotify introduced the lyrics option around the same time I was digging these heroics. A beautiful experience. I found out Jones loves his other album. I don't. The exact opposite, I love it. We're all so different.

5. Ólafur Arnalds Living Room Songs (2011)
Go to song: No idea. They're all the same to me so far.
I had one of his songs on a playlist I would return to now and then and finally listened to the whole album. I have to confess: it feels unsettled on the list for me. I think it deserves to be here and think it will stay, but it's best for even more specific moods than the other albums. I don't do this one during the day. Maybe it will fade... just like what happens to me when I listen... shhh... hush now. rest.

And now that I've put these on paper, I see they're mostly from recent years. Valtari and Daughter both feel like they've been with me a while, but it really hasn't been that long. Ben Howard still feels pretty fresh, but this album especially. I just really dig it. And Ólafur, well... I didn't love his other albums, and am not sure about this one. But there's something special about it, nonetheless.

So there they are, my full-album-repeat status albums. The albums I put on when I don't know what else to listen to. Or when I need to hurt and soar and scream in the stillness of my room. Or when I just want to sit with someone familiar. What are yours?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


I came into this job (almost ten months ago!) and immediately started wondering thoughts like what do the alumni want in this journal? and why don't they write us more—how can we get them to write more!? I recently came to the conclusion that these are valuable and relevant questions, but not necessarily for this particular publication. But today, as I was looking up first-editorials by beginning editors of the past it was a comfort and relief to come across this page with some first impressions by an esteemed editor and alumnus:

The parts he writes that were meaningful to me included:
"Your new editor [him] has some ideas about what to publish, and many of them depend on your responses as alumni. Jerre and I wish to know: what do you want to know? Are you curious, or frustrated, or happy, or just plain 'sore' about [whatever] ... What information would you like to have that you don't have?
"Please write and tell us. If it takes asbestos content paper, OK. If you choose to write on perfumed note sheets, of course we'll appreciate that. But communicate, and we'll try to communicate right back..." 
Ahhh... Validation by a great alumnus and previous editor of my own questions and concerns about what kind of content to include in the journal: Tell us what you want and do it however you want! Just tell us!

And also a little bit of a challenge and sense of curiosity on my part: Is my new belief that these questions are not as relevant as I first thought actually valid? Will I find validation of that later on? We'll see. But I suspect that everyone in the position of working for this journal has realized at one point or another that you just have to get stuff out. Readers aren't going to tell you what to include, they're just going to tell you what you messed up on. So in a way, no news is good news. But also, one of the tidbits I came across today mentioned something about the journal being an "award-winning" one and one that consistently ranked among top alumni journals. That's news to me, all of it. I opened up a Google search tab before leaving the office about "alumni publication awards" that I will explore tomorrow. Are there really awards for alumni publications? And if so, when can we get one? That's a fun goal. Here's to interesting journalism.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Of Late

Even if I was 100 percent efficient, I don't think I'd be able to do all the things I imagine I want to do. So I usually just end up not doing anything.

Lately, life has been a mix of completely new and still engrained. From Monday to Thursday I go to work. Sometimes I run with a friend or two in the morning. Sometimes I eat with someone during lunch. Sometimes I stay at the office until 7, or 8, or 10 once. Sometimes I work on Friday for a few hours. I almost always get groceries on the way home Monday and Thursday nights. This past Friday our layout person and I finally wrapped up our January issue. I'm only a month and a half behind schedule. It was a great feeling, and terrible.

Friday to Sunday I go back to weekend Chris. He imagines reading and taking walks and doing crafts and cleaning up. He usually doesn't get anything accomplished, really. He plays on his phone Friday night, but at least starts listening to Christian music. But he'll also watch YouTube videos of celebrities on Jimmy Fallon or Conan. I suppose he feels guilty, but mostly just figures he's "apathetic." Or whatever it is when one doesn't feel much about anything. He's done this "Sabbath" thing for a long time. He tries to go to first service at the university church and pay his tithe and offering once a month. He started taking notes of the sermons a few weeks ago. It helps him to think more, but he still doesn't do anything as a result. He intends to cook a nice meal for lunch, but sometimes just has the good ol' double sandwich and chips. Afternoon is often a repeat of Friday night, sometimes a hike with people instead if he's ambitious, or a visit to his favorite 7-tree Redwood Grove at Caroline Park to sit and read, or try and figure out his feelings. Then it's usually popcorn and a movie, or just more celebrity videos. Maybe some humor blogs. Maybe an article. Sunday is typically just more waste. He might get laundry done. Maybe clean some part of the house. Maybe go for a run. Probably feel bad about not calling his great aunt. Or anyone else, for that matter. Maybe wonder what the housemates think of him. Maybe spend a moment imagining living in his own cabin in Running Springs. Probably at some point feeling his back start to ache a bit.

Sometimes I still have thoughts flicker through my mind. I might wonder how I'll ever meet a girl, or anyone new around here, really. I might consider for an inhale what I aspire to be. I might, for the exhale, think about my age. I'll wish I wrote in my journal, or used my computer for other than the Internet, or took pictures with my real camera just for fun. I'll think about my sitting, and think I ought to do some workouts, maybe some crossfit, or at least some pushups. I might look at my shelves in the pantry and wish I didn't have to prepare food. I might wonder if I could go to the theater or a restaurant alone. I might consider reading, but then remember the book I'm in isn't that exciting, and plus, Instagram and Twitter need checked again. I might want to listen to some of the cool music I've heard the past four days, but then not be able to think of a single group.

I cleaned my room today. It's still cluttered, but neatly. Kind of like me, I suppose. I combed my hair and vacuumed the floor. I cleaned the shelves and windowsill. I moved some things to underneath my cot, which should've been done months ago. I put my sweaters on the shelf that's been empty forever. I started an episode of How I Met Your Mother and wasn't feeling it at all. Then I remembered Brooklyn Nine-Nine and enjoyed a couple of those. I watched some Tavi Gevinson and Emma Watson interviews and I wished I could think like Tavi. I listened to a lot of Daughter. She is the best. I looked at the thought of journaling in my head, but didn't and won't. I finally opened this page and am doing this instead. Sometimes I wish I had a perfect cat.

And that's pretty much me lately.