A Micro-Rant About The Music Industry & A Playlist

Blog Challenge Day 13: What’s On Your Ipod?

To be honest, I’ve got about 1,000 songs on my iPod and another 5,000 stored on my computer.  I love music, the way it can make me feel or how easy it is to identify with lyrics written by a complete stranger. It’s one of the greatest human experiences- finding music that you can connect with. I’m such a snob about “mainstream” radio music- how someone else determines the image and sound of this random person with a decent voice and suddenly everyone is buying that album of this predetermined and manufactured “artist.” I know there are bands who make it big and who struggled for years to become the sensation that they are, who maintain most autonomy over the sound they create, but more and more that feels like the minority.

So, what’s on my iPod? I’ll give you a list. Listen and Enjoy.

Laura’s Top 10 Songs of the Moment (In No Particular Order Because They’re All Brilliant)

  1.   Afterlife — Arcade Fire — Reflektor

  2. Will Calls (Marfa Demo) — Grizzly Bear — Shields: B Sides

  3. Pompeii — Bastille — Bad Blood

  4. Wasting My Young Years — London Grammar — If You Wait

  5. All I Want — Kodaline — One Day

  6. Instant Crush — Daft Punk — Random Access Memories

  7. Lies — CHVRCHES — The Bones of What You Believe

  8. Until We Get There — Lucius — Wildewoman

  9. Comrade — Volcano Choir — Repave

  10. Do I Wanna Know? — Arctic Monkeys —  AM

In Which I Confess to That Time I Was An Idiot For Years…

Blog Challenge Day 12: Regrets

Four years ago, I was leaving a lecture hall and saw this boy and in an instant, I found myself believing in Soul Mates and Love-at-First-Sight and Forevers. I drove home from class and found myself pleading with whatever higher power there was, “please…please let him like me back.” And then? And then I did nothing.

Oh, I spent the rest of the semester subtly (or not so subtly) checking him out. Gushing about how incredibly good looking he was to all of my friends. Looking for him all over campus…but as for taking some sort of proactive stance in my life and actually asking him out? Nope. Not this girl. To be fair, I did introduce myself and surreptitiously discovered we had mutual friends then found him on Facebook and friended him over that summer.(Not creepy, Laura. Not creepy at all.)

But then it took a couple of parties, an exchange of Facebook messages, an unfortunate number of Awkward-Laura-Moments and three years for me to work up the courage to ask him to coffee (more like I reached the end of my rope with this crazy fangirl-like infatuation).

I was always aware that he wasn’t interested in me- not romantically anyway- but I was so tightly ensconced in the grip of that crush, I couldn’t get over him without some sort of closure. Luckily, this guy was actually a pretty decent fellow and he agreed to meet up. We talked for about an hour, swapping stories about studying abroad and music recommendations and then we parted and by the end of that day — I was pretty effectively over him. Mostly because I was able to finally accept that he was not interested in me and I deserved a guy who would pursue me, who thought I was amazing and funny and beautiful. 

My one regret through that entire experience? All of the heartache and questions I could have saved myself (and my best friends) if I had simply approached him and asked him to coffee that first semester I noticed him. I’m certainly glad that I finally did something about it, and I can still pull some valuable life lessons from the entire experience but if I could go back, I would have walked right up to him that first (okay, maybe the second) day of class and said, “Hi, my name is Laura. Wanna go grab coffee sometime?”

Hindsight, man. It’ll get you every time.

“My father said that love at first sight should send you running, if you know what’s good for you. It’s your dark pieces having instant recognition with their dark pieces, he says. You’re an idiot if you think it means you’ve met your soul mate. So I was an idiot.”

Deb Caletti (Stay)

15 Obvious Bucket List Choices

Sunlight

Blog Challenge Day 9: What’s On Your Life List/Bucket List

  1. Attain a level of advanced fluency in the French Language.
  2. Return to France for at least six months.
  3. Become proficient in a third language (Maybe Portuguese or Italian or Spanish).
  4. Satiate my sense of Wanderlust by visiting Nepal, India, Brazil, New Zealand, etc.
  5. Write a book.
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  6. Work abroad for either a short or long term assignment in a development capacity.
  7. Fall in Love.
  8. Learn how to snow ski.
  9. Go to Graduate School.
  10. Watch the sunrise from the beach.
  11. Go on a long hiking trip, camping overnight.
  12. Live alone, without roommates or a significant other, and appreciate having my own space.
  13. Adopt a dog from the humane society and truly put effort into training it to be a companion.
  14. Attain my ideal healthy weight and maintain it.
  15. Go on a road trip with my significant other.

A Panda Walks Into A Bar…

Blog Challenge Day 8: Biggest Pet Peeve

Hands down, the answer to this one is Bad Grammar. This barely requires a real blog post, I just hate bad grammar.

Let’s boil this down to a list of very commonplace mistakes that people make when it comes to the english language.

  1.  To and Too:
    -“I’m going to the store”
    versus
    -“I’ve had too much to eat.”
  2. Then and Than:
    -“I’m going to play softball, then I’m going to watch a movie.”
    versus
    -“I’m older than my sister.”
  3. Their, There, and They’re:
    – “Their dog has fleas.”
    versus
    -“There are my shoes!”
    versus
    -“They’re going to Hawaii for Christmas!”
  4. We’re and Were:
    -“We’re participating in NANOWRIMO.”
    versus
    -“We were introduced last August.”

Truly. It’s not that difficult.

 

Paying It Forward

John Green

Blog Challenge Day 6: Your Most Recent Random Act of Kindness

It’s sad when someone asks you this question and you can’t quite remember an intentional thing that you did for the sake of being kind. I’m telling myself it’s because I try to be thoughtful so much of the time that the smallest things are really done without intention at all anymore, like holding the door open for another person, complimenting a stranger or smiling at a passerby because those small things are proven to brighten the days of others. I try to do those things all the time…but now I’m wondering how kind I actually am. Regardless, I do have an answer to this challenge, it just isn’t as recent as, say, this morning.

The restaurant where I work is in an upper-middle class/affluent part of town, it’s a mid–priced family style kind of place and the tips are generally 18-20% (which is what you should be tipping your server these days, by the way). My employer, indisputably, likes to employ a particular type of person, specifically responsible high school or college aged students who could be (and occasionally are) the children of our regular patrons. This means that most of my coworkers and I come from a similar demographic: hardworking parents who expect us to get good grades, go to college, start a family (in that order). Of my coworkers, there is one anomaly to this generality.  For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call her N.

As soon as N came on two years ago, she was (and still is) a bit of a shock and adjustment for most of the staff. From the beginning, she put us all off by giving the impression that she was better than a lot of us because we “had supportive and encouraging parents who always set good examples” (not necessarily true for some of my coworkers) and she had to work harder than many of us because she wasn’t handed everything she needed in life. In the same vain, it was clear that she felt insecure because so many of us were in college and had done well in school and she was perfectly open about the fact that she had slacked off. I know firsthand that N is not unintelligent, but I’ve come to understand that she’s had influential people in her life lead her to believe that she is. I struggled for months with how to love this girl as my neighbor,  and in fact I still do, when she clearly looks down on me for the fact that I come from a more stable background than she does. I’ve been trying to be better at that in the last few months, but watching someone refuse to be proactive about their life, refuse to realize their potential – it’s challenging for me. My passion for international development has lent me an awareness that being impoverished in America is not nearly as devastating as it is in the developing world. If a healthy, literate American is living below the poverty line, he or she has so many more opportunities available to them to better their circumstances than those living in poverty in sub-saharan Africa. So, for me, it’s frustrating to see an American refuse to take an advantage of those opportunities.

Since joining the staff, N has had a child with her boyfriend. N is the only one who actively contributes to the household income and, not surprisingly, money tends to run tight for them. Over the last few months, business has steadily declined at our restaurant and recently, N has confessed her stress about utilities and rent and where is she going to get the money for it all?

So all this buildup and here’s my random act of kindness: when it was my turn to take a table of regulars who always tip more than 20% came in the other night, I turned to N and made her take the table.  It’s a small thing, but I know it boosted her take-home money by thirty percent that night and short of directly putting money in her hands for herself and her baby (which I’m not really opposed to), it was the best I could do.

Does this count as a random act of kindness? What about you? What was your random act of kindness this week?

Completely and Perfectly and Incandescently Happy

Pride and Prejudice

Blog Challenge Day 5: Favorite Movies You Never Get Sick of Watching

Truly, there’s only one movie that accurately fits into this category. I suppose most people have at least a handful of films that they can watch again and again and again, but I do not. And maybe that’s because I’m just not so much a movie person,  I’d rather turn on a mind numbing TV show or read a book than watch a movie, most times. But yes, there is one movie which I have seen literally hundreds of times.  After the first view in theaters, I counted down the days til it came out on DVD and when it did, I watched it every day (sometimes multiple times a day) for months. I fell asleep to it most nights and I quoted it constantly and it’s my go-to choice when I need to be comforted like after I finished Allegiant and I wanted to stop crying. This movie is my safety blanket, I turn it on and the rest of the world fades into the background for a couple of hours — every single time.  It doesn’t hurt that my best friend, B, loves this movie as much as I do. It’s possible we have the exact same conversations every time we watch the movie together, but like Darcy’s first disastrous proposal, the discussions never get old.

I’ve already discussed how very much I love Pride and Prejudice, and really Jane Austen, but specifically that story. It’s a wonderful story and in the 2005 version, Joe Wright does a spectacular job adapting it into a relatable major motion picture. His casting was brilliant, Keira Knightley, aside from being skinny as a stick, is a perfectly relatable Elizabeth Bennet.  As for Matthew Macfayden, aside from perfectly capturing Darcy’s conflict, I could listen to him speak all day – his voice is like velvet.

And to back me up on how wonderful this story is, even Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory agrees with me.

Any questions?

A Thorough Definition

Blog Challenge Day 3: What Makes You Happy?

I think this has been the broadest prompt yet — so I’ll try to be thorough. Define happiness. Fulfillment? Validation? Elation?  Fangirl Feels? I’m going to have to resort to listography for this one as well, I’ll give you one thing for each of the four “definitions” listed above.

Fulfillment:

I think I’ve mentioned before that I majored in the french language for my undergrad. To date, learning a second language has been one of the biggest challenges that I’ve ever taken on. I’ve put so much time and energy into learning (what felt like) a million different tenses for 5,000 different verbs, memorizing all the grammar rules and memorizing when the grammar rules don’t actually apply, deciphering what was supposed to be “modernized” french poetry from the middle ages, and composing pages and pages of essays…all the nights I felt like I had no clue what I was doing….like I said, learning french was one of the most intimidating and frustrating goals I’ve ever endeavored to accomplish. And the payoff was like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. I still have moments (days even) where I want to pull my hair out but then, to watch a movie in french or listen to a news reel or read a book in the language I’ve wanted to learn my entire life — it’s incredible. I feel an incredible amount of fulfillment every time I look at how far I’ve come. I’m still not fluent, but I’m getting there. I’ve studied in France once and I’m working on getting back there again. I don’t know if I’ll ever actually use French in my job, but I hope that I do. Even so, even if I never have to use it in any professional capacity, it’s been an amazing journey and I learned so much about myself, what I’m truly capable of. I’ll never regret the time that I put into mastering a second language. Plus they say a third language is even easier to pick up, so maybe I’m take up Spanish or Italian next!

Paris I

Validation:

I believe that a lot of people can relate to this, but I love helping others. I love listening to my friends problems and giving them my advice and helping them work through and find a solution. I feel a huge sense of validation from knowing that I was useful and that I was able to be supportive and aid someone I love through a difficult situation. I took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator test recently and my description was dead-on: as an ENFJ (extraverted, intuitive, feeling, judgmental) I always want to bring harmony to an environment, I want to find the potential in everyone and I want to help them fulfill that potential. So yes, helping others to live more cheerful lives, I find a lot of validation in that.

Mel and KT

Elation:

This one is too easy: I love music. I love talking about music, listening to music, playing music. When a favorite band drops a new single or releases a new album? It instantly brightens my day, I can’t even describe it. Arcade Fire is releasing their fourth album, Reflektor, on October 29. You can expect a very, very happy blog post around that time from yours truly, in which I rave about how incredible this band is and how much I can’t wait to see them in concert again (hopefully very soon).

Fangirl Feels:

Really, I already posted a taste of my fangirl feels here when I went on and on and on about Austenland, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen and then later, JJ Fields. (I regret nothing). There are a lot of things that I get at least a little fangirl crazy about, but Jane Austen and P&P are by and large the most consistent (this is the part where I halfheartedly own up to being a twilight fangirl at one point but that’s neither here nor there). Since I already shared with everyone my passion for Austenland, I’ll give you a new Austen-inspired rec: Emma Approved. From the same people who brought you The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (They won an Emmy!), Bernie Su and Hank Green have embarked on a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Emma, in vlog style format. They’re only 5 episodes in so far, but given how FANTASTIC  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was, I can tell you that this is probably worth checking out — it updates on youtube every Monday and Thursday at 9 am (pacific, so that’s 11 am for me in CST). I can promise you though, at some point in the next several months, these people are going to kill me with feels. And it’s going to be so perfect.