Thursday, November 20, 2008

Since I'm already on the music topic

So I like music. A lot.

People often assume I play music after realizing how much time I spend listening and reading about it.

The depressing thing is I don't. Not currently at least.

I began playing trumpet in fourth grade. Being the tomboy I was, I wanted to break norms that girls only played flute. I was that obnoxious prepubescent feminist. I feel a bit nauseated myself looking back on it too.

But, regardless, I really liked trumpet. In middle school, I was competitive about it and was one of the first chairs. For those who have never played in concert bands, typically instrument sections are split up relative to skill: first, second and third. The firsts have it the hardest, typically having solos and higher notes. Second and third parts compliment the first part, with notes in lower octaves to bring harmony to the overall sound.

Even more intensive, I took private lessons and I even went to overnight band camp. Get your loser coughs out now.

I continued in high school, but I didn't really care as much. It was fun, but I was not nearly as set on being a first trumpet. I started playing just for the fun of it. I even got to do jazz band senior year, making the most of it and even showcasing my love of vintage dresses at performances.

I brought my horn with me to Syracuse, but I've honestly played maybe 20 notes on the thing since I first got here four years ago. I miss it. I want to pick it up again, but I don't even know where to start. My sheet-music reading is rusty and my lips aren't in tip-top strength.

I passed up the opportunity to be in a ska band (Skip16) junior year of high school, and I really regret it. I feel like the only real opportunity to play in college would be in a jazz/funk/ska band. Had I played with Skip16, I would have already battles the jitters and first-time anxieties.

I've always loved bass guitar, so I gave it a swing over the summer. I really liked the challenge of learning something new and being able to create music, making compositions I've longed to hear other bands play.

I borrowed my friend Jimmy's sister's bass and amp and I taught myself some of the basics and how to read tabs. I can bang out a few covers and a standard Bb blues line, but I really want to get into it and maybe even be good enough/have enough of an understanding to play in a band and improvise.

So music players out there, any tips?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cosmic dancer

I love music.

Seriously. That’s not an exaggeration. What’s not to love?

I mean, I get warm fuzzies with I hear the perfect progression of chords (G, G/F#, Em, A, D, A, Bm: brownie points if you can tell me what song that’s from).

I even consider some guitar solos to be sexy (Weezer’s Only in Dreams; my god, the build-up is hot).

Music is that perfect boyfriend, who never fails to make you smile at just the right time. He is there when you need him and compliments your every mood (the highest highs and lowest lows). He always has an answer. He’s, like I said, perfect.

And he’s not one-dimensional. He’s complex, with obvious strengths you notice when you first meet him or within the first few weeks of your relationship (catchy beat, fun chorus). But, he also has underlying secrets you only discover the more time you spend with him (deeper lyrics, perfect break-downs). He’s rarely boring, although he does have his moments. Sometimes he can get repetitive if he plays it safe and doesn’t try new things (sophomore album flop). He grows with you—maturing, perfecting.

I can’t seem to wipe the smile off my face when I’m dancing. I’m instantly so incredibly happy, ask anyone. It’s something about feeling music’s beat and responding in the most natural way possible: just moving what feels right (see: hips, toes, feet, hands, head, body in full).

It’s a give-and-take relationship. I absorb the music, but in return I dance more energy into it, supporting each note with a hip thrust, pushing the beat stead on it's course and energetically anticipating what comes next.

I always daydream about dancing with a love interest, as if that would be some fantastic intersection of energy and happiness. I’ve had it happen a few times in my life; experiences where I was able to recognize their value mid-happening , and accordingly store away in memory all the moment’s sights/feelings/sounds/surroundings as a keepsake.

But those moments are rare. Those boys are rare. Those connections are rare.

My friend Mikey told me today that, “well, we all know why I like to dance with girls,” suggesting a much less euphoric motivation than what I had in mind.

Meet the male dancing rationale: stimulation. But, honestly, I'm not let down. It’s their loss.

I’ve got no complainants. Even if there are only a handful of boys that can really get down and work it, my boyfriend Music is always down to meet me on the dancefloor, without fail and with all the right moves.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Do not trust AP as real-life Early Edition

Huffington Post posted a story today reporting that the Associated Press released misleading information suggesting that former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and Clinton’s first term Secretary of State Warren Christopher will be major players in President-elect Barack Obama’s transition into power.

Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Spokesperson Stephanie Cutter clarified Nunn and Christopher’s roles, stating that Nunn will serve as an informal advisor on defense and Christopher will not be used at all.

I do not know why newspapers attempt to predict the team before its formally announced. I can only imagine that this guessing game is an attempt to prove how well government beat writers "know" their stuff. It’s kind of that whole situation where a friend thinks they know you so well enough that they claim they know what you’re really thinking, even if it’s completely different from your actual feelings or thoughts.

The attempt by beat writers to boost their egos really just hurts the press in the end. People lose trust in reporting. Sure, you’ve covered government for X amount of years and you might have contacts that have a slight idea of who will be in that team, but why not get a direct quote involved in the transition? None? Sit tight. When they’re ready to announce who’s on the team, they will. Guesstimating the transition team is just a waste of time. Remember how much print space and coverage was dedicated to prediciting who was going to be McCain and Obama’s running mates in this year’s election? How many of those guessed correctly that there would be a McCain/Palin ticket? Zero.

Not only is readership misled by guesses, but the press is not even doing their job (see Ashley's most recent blog entry). We’re not gamblers or psychics. Journalism is about reporting factual, newsworthy content. It’s about telling stories and enlightening the public. If all the manpower put towards coverage on making these guesses or Obama’s new puppy or Mrs. McCain’s possible love affair was put towards things that actually matter, maybe the press would be able to cover things in less-publicized corners of communities or important topics not considered to be "mainstream."

UPDATE/SIDENOTE: Has anyone seen how much 2012 talk is going on (Palin? Huckabee? Jindal?)? Seriously. And we thought presidential campaign coverage was over.. fat chance; It's never over.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A rolling stone gathers no moss

During the spring semester of my freshman year, I went to the gym every morning when it opened at 6 so I could do an hour of cardio before I had class at 9:30. I quit drinking for the whole semester. I had a full schedule with classes that required me read every night, and I did those readings. I made dean’s list that spring and got down to my goal weight.

Slowly but surely I’ve grown less determined (see: lazy) over the past four years. The success doesn’t feel as rewarding at the end of the day, and it sure doesn’t make up for the struggles had to get there (hunger, tired, discomfort).

I don’t know what happened. I try to blame it on a list of excuses. I’m only taking 12 credits this semester, one of which is an internship at a newspaper and three others that are classes that have homework but I’ve determined I can get by without doing the readings. I try to explain that because I have so much free time, I don’t have motivation to work or work out. That doesn’t make any sense, but at the same time we all know how that feels (see: lazy).

It also helps that there’s no consequence. If I don’t stick to my diet, what’s the harm? I’m not overweight. I don’t think I look disgusting. Why do I put myself through discomfort if I don’t really want it? If I don’t do a reading, I will still get a good grade in the class. If I don’t go to that lecture, I’ll still be able to learn anything I missed from someone else.

It’s a burden and a gift. I can skip out on obligations and not feel the burn, but at the same time, I’m not bettering myself. I’m giving in to failure (see: lazy).

The thing is I should care. I have the capacity to be a really great person. I don’t have any illnesses or disabilities. I have, clearly, lots of time. So, what’s holding me back?

I think I need to read this blog every morning I wake up.

When googling "cures for being lazy," suggests:
1. Clearing your mind
When I have too many ideas rattling around in my head, fighting for my attention, I get overwhelmed and end up not wanting to do anything
2. Put your life in perspective
Laziness often requires a shock to your awareness to break you out of the little trance you are in. You are in a comfortable place and you think all is well. But then someone you love dies, or you get a huge bill come in that you don't have money for, and then it's like having a cold shower of reality -- it wakes you up to what you should have been doing.We have to think about what we want, and realize that time is running out, and if we don't do it, we will never experience the things we want to achieve in life.
3. Note the power of momentum

Laziness is just a habit, and habits take consistent effort to change for at least 30 days. Just keep moving and focusing on doing one thing after another. It's like stoking a fire, you have to poke the embers to get the flame going again. Avoid the actions or activities that lead to you feeling lazy: don't go to bed late and then sleep in till late in the morning. The person who isn't busy and occupied makes a big deal out of simple tasks, and puts them off, or takes ages with them. Become busy, keep your energy flowing, stay in motion through the day. The mind loves to be occupied, purposeful and focused -- these give it great energy and a sense of meaning.
4. Get emotional

Another good way to get yourself going is by comparing yourself to others. There comes a point where your laziness really hurts your self-esteem because you will find yourself getting left behind by your peers. This aspect of life is particularly noticeable if you are wanting to attract a partner. If you are lazy, you will have very little to offer them.
5. Reframing situations

Laziness is often quite selective. A man is lazing on a bench because he doesn't want to paint the wall but if a beautiful woman appears and asks for his help, he will jump up and help her (suddenly finding the energy!). What we have to do is find the thing(s) that we love to do, and see if there is anyway that we can do that as a career.