Surviving Freshman Year: A Playlist

Everything is coming to a close and I don’t know what to make of it. I’ve been sick for the past few days so all I’ve been doing is writing and cleaning out my Spotify playlists. I realized from Spotify mainly how much changing I’ve done and how sentimental (well, isn’t it always) music was to me this year. At first I thought I still listened to the same music, but my curated playlists from high school and now are pretty different.

A lot of my musical growth this year has come from boys. Most of my interactions with guys started over music, Mac Demarco being the main player. It’s funny, because in two weeks when I see him it will basically be a reunion of me and every guy I’ve ever expressed interest in this year.

One of the first guys gave me The Strokes. The Strokes were a big part of my fall semester playlists and they were basically all I listened to as I walked from class to class in the brisk weather. He also gave me Courtney Barnett, whose Avant Gardener I will never forget. I learned all of the words to that song in a heartbeat; it’s hilarious, it’s UVM, it’s amazing.

The guy who painted my spring semester with music gave me a lot: LCD Soundsystem, Kaytranada, $uicideboy$, and renewed appreciation for Cage the Elephant and Matt & Kim. He reminded me of the L Train and he has a girlfriend now, or at least that’s what I’ve gathered from his Instagram. LCD will always be a solid walking-to-class choice, thank you.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my old suitemate for letting me lay in his bed, smoke his weed, and listen to Lonerism. That really set the tone for my UVM experience. Also, thanks for being the only straight (?) man who appreciated unreleased Lana.

The following songs are songs I’m going to listen to as we drive away from my new city, possibly for the last time, loaded with boxes and boxes of clothes, memories, textbooks, and my winter boots. They’re the songs that characterized this translucent April, the April that helped me realize a lot about myself. Spring has always been like that for me, but April is ending in peace this time, and not open chaos. April came in like a lion and out like a lamb.

ragged wood – fleet foxes

“come down from the mountain, you have been gone too long. spring is upon us, follow my only song. settle down with me by the fire of my yearning. you should come back home, back on your own now…”

feeling whitney – post malone

to each their own and find peace in knowing, ain’t always broken, but here’s to hoping. show no emotion, against your coding, and just act as hard as you can…”

the dreamer – the tallest man on earth

“oh sometimes the blues is just a passing bird, and why can’t that always be?”

shine – mondo cozmo

“stick with me, jesus, through the coming storm, I’ve come to you in search of something I have lost. shine down a light on me and show a path, I promise you I will return if you take me back…”

an illustration of loneliness (sleepless in new york) – courtney barnett

wondering what you’re doing, what you’re listening to, which quarter of the moon you’re viewing from your bedroom. watching all the movies, drinking all the smoothies, swimming at the pool, I’m thinking of you too…”

hang loose – alabama shakes

“hang loose, hang loose, let the ocean worry about being blue. hang loose, hang loose…”

atlas hands – benjamin francis leftwich

“take me to the docks, there’s a ship without a name there and it is sailing to the middle of the sea. the water there is deeper than anything you’ve ever seen, jump right in and swim until you’re free. I will remember your face, ’cause I am still in love with that place. but when the stars are the only things we share, will you be there?”

The following are songs I’ll characterize with the uncertainty of the beginning. The plane rides, the sweat, the crunchy hair days when everything was humidity. Dropping my eight dollar wrap on a sidewalk in the District while my headphones flew out of my ears. Making myself Nutella rice cakes and doing my Spanish homework ten minutes before class. When I tried so desperately to pretend I had it all figured out, and all my dreams were so, so big. And towards the end of my fall semester, when everything seemed like a tragedy and I went home numb.

the moment – tame impala

“in the end it’s stronger than I know how to be, and I can’t just spend my whole lifetime wondering. I fell in love with the sound of my heels on the wooden floor, I don’t want my footsteps to be silent anymore…”

crane your neck – lady lamb

and how it hurts, even in the sun. it’s a god-damned joke how we can hurt even in the sun. for a heart beats the best in the bed beside the one that it loves, oh yes a heart beats the best when in a head, death becomes irrelevant. ’cause if you’re dreaming about dying, then you’re not really living, darling. you’ve gotta be starving, you’ve gotta be starving for it...”

lonely – mean lady

it’s almost over, time when we’re not together. I feel it getting better all the time. and what if it takes too long? what if it takes too long and I’m lonely? how can it break me and make me so strong? what if it takes too long?”

new person, same old mistakes – tame impala

“and I know that it’s hard to digest, a realization is as good as a guess. and I know it seems wrong to accept, but you’ve got your demons and she’s got her regrets…”

wanderer, wandering – slow club

“I’ll ask where you’re going, and what you’re doing. you have no answer, ’cause you’re a wanderer, wandering, you’re a wanderer, wandering. and every second is a pounding drum, you’re leaning over me to put another record on, and every other guess is just cold hard luck…”

17 – youth lagoon

“surrounded by nothing, but nothing’s surrounded by us, it’s just me in my room, with my eyes shut. oh, when I was seventeen, my mother said to me, ‘don’t stop imagining, the day that you do is the day that you die…'”

hard to explain – the strokes

“I say the right thing but act the wrong way, I like it right here but I cannot stay… I missed the last bus, we’ll take the next train, I’ll try but you see, it’s hard to explain…”

The following are songs I’ll associate with the sadness of excitement. With the first drives up for the purpose of orienting myself here. With the Champlain sunsets, the firsts, the endless Ben and Jerry’s post-class outings, the sun catching itself perfectly in a window as I study. With the times I’d looked around with a soft sense of realization and wonder and knew I would be okay, and times I’d fallen asleep blurring the lines between here and home.

man on fire – edward sharpe & the magnetic zeroes

“come dance with me, over murder and pain, come dance with me, over heartache and shame. I wanna see our bodies burning like old big suns, I wanna know what we’ve been learning and learning from…”

reality in motion – tame impala

it made my heart run in circles and overflow, and I was closer than ever to letting go. it made my heart run in circles and overdrive, and I was closer than ever to feeling alive… heading for the deep end, soon as I remember, baby I surrender, I just need to breathe out, decisions are approaching, reality in motion…”

tiny cities – flume ft. beck

“can I? should I? find my way home? now did I, think I’d better go home. all I said I needed was gone, but I thought I heard it all wrong… but it’s never easy when you think you have it in control, somehow you get caught up in the moment and you never know…”

where the skies are blue – the lumineers

you’re gonna leave, it ain’t gonna break my heart, mama, cause I’ve never seen nobody quite like you. and if you ever change your tune, oh the world’s got the best of you, you can always find me where the skies are blue…”

settle – two door cinema club

“’cause I see the world in different colors to someone like you. the city will pull you in, romantic and drenched in sin, love. you only have but a time until this place will swallow you whole…”

no no no – beirut

don’t know the first thing about who you are, my heart is waiting, taken in from the start. if we don’t go now, we won’t get very far. don’t know the first thing about who you are…”

rivers and roads – the head and the heart

been talkin’ about the way things change, and my family lives in a different state. if you don’t know what to make of this, then we will not relate… rivers and roads, rivers and roads. rivers ’til I reach you…”

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Plane Playlist

I absolutely love flying. I love turbulence. I love the pit in your stomach when it happens because it feels like a rollercoaster. The only time I feel that pit in my stomach is on a plane, with the exception of one time when I rode the Hulk rollercoaster at Universal Studios in Orlando as the sun was setting. I love how you’re situated with a bunch of strangers who need to get to the same place you do for different reasons. It’s so interesting, because so many people see flying as a risk but it is something we often do alone.

Departure

The Moment – Tame Impala “And I can’t just spend my whole lifetime wondering / I fell in love with the sound of my heels on the wooden floor / I don’t want our footsteps to be silent anymore”

Tennis Court – Lorde “Pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane / I’ll see the veins of my city like they do in space”

Super Rich Kids – Frank Ocean The beat of this song is enticing in a way that a lot of songs aren’t. It’s suspenseful and tells a subtle story between the descriptors.

Walking On a Dream – Empire of the Sun “We are always running for the thrill of it, thrill of it / Always pushing up the hill, searching for the thrill of it / On and on and on we are calling out and out again / Never looking down, I’m just in awe of what’s in front of me”

Resonance – Home One of the most magical songs in existence, if not the most magical.

Paper Planes – M.I.A. “Sometimes I think sitting on trains / Every stop I get to I’m clocking that game”

Leaving on a Jet Plane – John Denver “‘Cause I’m leaving, on a jet plane / Don’t know if I’ll be back again / Oh babe, I hate to go”

I Follow Rivers (The Magician Remix) – Lykke Li “You’re my river running high / Run deep, run wild”

Out of My League – Fitz & the Tantrums This is one of my all-time favorite songs and makes me happy no matter what. Listening to it while watching clouds fall below you on an airplane is bliss.

Arrival

Morocco – Moon Taxi “So sick and tired of the pouring rain / I took a train to Morocco just to take away the pain / Oh, it might help a little, it might help a lot / I don’t know but it’s all I got”

Flashing Lights – Kanye West “Like a flight with no Visa / First class with the seat back I still see ya”

A Head Full of Dreams – Coldplay “Oh, I think I’ve landed / In a world I haven’t seen” “Oh, I think I’ve landed / Where there are miracles at work”

Giving Up The Gun – Vampire Weekend “And though it’s been a long time / You’re right back where you started from” “I see you shine in your way / Go on, go on, go on”

Something Good Can Work (RAC Remix) – Two Door Cinema Club “Let’s make this happen, girl / You gotta show the world that something good can work / And it can work for you / And you know that it will / Let’s get this started, girl / We’re moving up, we’re moving up / It’s been a lot to change / But you will always get what you want”

Magnets (A-Trak Remix) – Lorde “I love this secret language that we’re speaking / Say it to me, let’s embrace the point of no return / Let’s embrace the point of no return / Let’s embrace the point of no return”

Champion – Kanye West, The Glory – Kanye West, Homecoming – Kanye West featuring Chris Martin Everything about the album Graduation is perfect, but these three besides Flashing Lights (above) are my favorites. I love listening to them when I travel because they’re fun and upbeat.

 

Why I Pour a Lot of Syrup On My Pancakes

The sun has been up for a few hours, but it’s not late. People are out and about, but nobody’s meeting for lunch just yet. There’s no alarm, no getting ready hurriedly in the dark, no apple and coffee while dashing to the bus stop. You have time to heat Passion tea, spread Nutella on rice cakes, cut up strawberries, read, and close your eyes for five more minutes.

This is my favorite time to exist. And it’s great, no matter where you are. Whether you’re dishing out half-cooked pancakes onto a mosaic patio table at 5 a.m., overlooking pine trees and lakes, or watching microwaveable oatmeal make its rounds, wondering if you need to brush your hair today, or climbing into a car with your friends, headed toward the local cafes clad in pajamas, not up to the task of cooking; a calm morning with a great breakfast is a living masterpiece.

Toast is an American cultural classic that personally I didn’t appreciate until recently. Toast has an unbelievable amount of combinations when it comes to spreads. Hazelnut butter. Avocado. Strawberry, peach, grape, apple, pumpkin jam. Honey. Bananas. Blueberries. Cranberries. Bread is amazing. Slathering sweet and savory sauces on top is inundating and luxurious.

Breakfast is so personal. It’s one of the first decisions you make in the morning; what to eat, where to eat it, whether to skip or be late, delegating dishes to different time slots. It is the meal most commonly eaten alone. Who you spend your mornings with is important; you choose these people. These are the people you kick awake after a long night, the phone call you make groggily at 11:04 a.m. The mornings where your existence feels like an over-watered paint brush touching down on thick card stock, runny and spilling colorless water all over a pristine page- these are the days that can be doctored with a friend knowing that cool place in the city that makes great Eggs Benedict with a side of grapefruit.

Breakfast is messy. You are supposed to get syrup everywhere and stuck on your fingertips. You are supposed to spill a little bit of the Splenda sugar packet after three consecutive dumps into your morning coffee. It is supposed to rain, and you are supposed to wear sweatpants or heels from last night and there is supposed to be eyeliner under your eyes. Breakfast can be silent, or filled with spirited discussions about the dog walking by on the street or the merits of saving for a new car if your car isn’t that bad on gas mileage.

You breakfast with people you want to talk with even with no makeup on; you breakfast with people you won’t mind unevenly splitting the check with. You breakfast with the people you want to scoop, even if they live on the other side of town.

Breakfast is for love, for friendship, for the relationships that you know will last forever, or at least how long your forevers are.

 

 

 

 

What Vermont Sounds Like in September, Featuring My Only Talent

Honey, sunshine, apples, misty mornings and sweltering afternoons, colorful pens, picnic blankets. Laying on a huge outcropping of rock feeling the breeze blow by you, but still soaking up the last of the sunlight before it disappears behind the trees. Eyes closed. Adjustment. Peanut butter and banana toast. COFFEE. Walking around a city when it’s kind of empty and the sunlight is fading. A cold beach day.img_4273

A lot of people think writing can describe everything. And I can attest to that, to an extent. But language, as much as I am fascinated by it, is so limiting. Only the best writers can evoke feelings unable to be described. But musicians can, sometimes even without words. Any musician, with a heart and capacity to breathe. Making playlists for me is a form of organizing my emotions, like a creative vessel of therapy. It also creates an escape- I can go back to this space, this September, and recall what I was feeling, what my world looked like, smells and images. I remember what it felt like to be me at a given point in time.

I figure most people do not understand why music does this for me. Growing up has just been me being shocked time and again that people do not think the same way as me. Part of me wants to believe that everyone has music on repeat in their head. And when people ask me how I manage to remember 97% of song lyrics from everything I’ve ever heard, I don’t know what to tell them. My mind absorbs this kind of information. And it kind of feels stupid, like I should have a better talent. My only truly, naturally successful job path in life is to be one of those people that picks songs for movies. And even then, there’s a lot of corporate debate in that. But maybe I would like that? I don’t know.

Until then, I’ll just keep blending sounds together to make them vaguely resemble a place in time. Some people are really good at keeping diaries. Mine are playlists.

And compliments like “you just played the perfect music for that car ride,” or “your Soundcloud playlist is fire,” will always unintentionally speak to that place inside me that knows that this talent is special. And “that mixtape you made me was amazing, can you make me another?” – that is a question I will never tire of hearing.

 

 

 

 

Songs for Staring Out Metro North Train Windows From A Window Seat Person

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I love trains. I will always talk about them to anyone who will listen. I love claiming my little corner of the world (the window seat) and watching the landscape of the shoreline as it turns into one tumultuous timelapse before me. I love people watching; the mothers who take their kids to the city for the day (especially the ones who loudly Facetime their spouses the entire ride), couples on dates, engaging in quiet conversation and sometimes eating Goldfish, Greenwich dads in tailored suits reading emails on their Macbooks. I have a ritual: I drink a small Dunkin Donuts caramel swirl latte from Union Station if last night’s sleep calls for it and put my North Face backpack between my freshly shaven legs, then set out to make the perfect playlist for my favorite journey of all time. I have curated four playlists based on moods I am usually in on the rides to and from. Get some earbuds, put your hair up, slide right on Snapchat to collect some geotags, eat a bagel or something and enjoy. Also, make sure, at least once in your life, to skip school and go to Manhattan. Rory Gilmore did it, and so can you.

Passive Aggressive

For when it’s raining and you’re angry about all the shitty boys you have kissed/you just saw something you shouldn’t have seen and wish you could unsee/you just did something very wrong you cannot undo and you are hungry and tired/you can feel your life spiraling downward and you want to presage the ruin of your short life in song

  1. The Flowers
  2. Capsized
  3. All These Things That I’ve Done
  4. Helplessness Blues
  5. 1965
  6. Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl
  7. The World at Large
  8. Obsessions
  9. Sweet Disposition
  10. Yes I’m Changing

Hopeful

For when you see the sunlight through all the pretty trees in the pretty towns on-peak/you are going to meet a nice person at a nice cafe in a nice part of Manhattan/you had some nice fruit for breakfast and maybe a grilled cheese with seedy bread/your hair is freshly washed and your skin is evenly lotioned

  1. I Just Wanna Be Somebody Else
  2. East Harlem
  3. My Girls
  4. Two Weeks
  5. Unbelievers
  6. Someday
  7. My Body
  8. Ice Melts
  9. Walking On A Dream
  10. Deadbeat Summer

Reflectively Nostalgic

For the train ride back, when your car is slowly emptying by the time you reach New Haven/you just went and saw some cool art and you realized that people lived thousands of years ago and made their own bread and didn’t have cars/you realize that soon you will be 19 or 29 or 47 and almost dead and this might even be your last train ride to Manhattan/you are a sensitive fern

  1. Us
  2. Feel It All Around
  3. Resonance
  4. Yellow
  5. Angel from Montgomery
  6. Long Way From Home
  7. Swingin’ Party
  8. Sleepyhead (octbr flip)
  9. Closer To Me
  10. Lose It

It Is Early Morning I Want Coffee

For when you don’t even want to think about making a playlist/your jacket is making you sweat and you can tell you will be carrying it around all day/you forgot to put on mascara or deodorant and you are pissed off/you are unwrapping an everything bagel and the parchment paper crinkles

  1. Heart It Races
  2. Sleeping Ute
  3. Folding Chair
  4. Somewhere Only We Know
  5. Young Folks (also pretend you’re Serena Van Der Woodsen, returning from boarding school Labor Day weekend in New York City)
  6. We’re Not Just Friends
  7. Wait Up (Boots of Danger)
  8. Valerie (Mark Ronson Version)
  9. Go Outside
  10. Postcards from Italy