SAS 006: A sound or noise you love

So many to choose from.

Sitting in the music building on a college campus and listening to everyone practicing. It’s the best worst symphony.

Waking up to an open window and everyone in the world except for the birds is asleep.

People noodling around softly at Guitar Center.

The low-fidelity hum of music when you’re outside the building it’s coming from.

Campfires.

Snow against a board.

Crickets in the middle of the night.

The sound of my house’s heater turning on.

When my sandal scrapes against concrete; largely, I only wear sandals to the beach or at home. So when I hear them against concrete (none found in my house), it means I’m at the beach.

Colors of the Wind playing during World of Color.

When you’re sitting in the trunk of your car in the parking lot of a park. The quiet you hear is broken only by the living.

The general quietness of parks, actually.

The echoes made by a basketball in a gym. The swish of a shot.

When the book you put back on the bookshelf makes that clack of the pages against the wood.

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SAS 005: A time you pursued something you really wanted

The first time I saw her was in a psychology class I took in my first year at a four-year university. (I started as a junior because I’d gone to a community college prior to enrollment here.)

I remember thinking that she was the most beautiful person I’d ever seen. Even now, four years later, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone that would me reconsider that.

The first time we met, however, was a year after seeing her for the first time. She’d been in multiple of my classes, so I assumed we had the same major. I was trying very hard to focus on school because I felt I was so behind already, given my age, so for a long time, I didn’t even consider the prospect of dating. But here was this girl, sitting in front of me in a night class on the day of a test (after which we were allowed to go home), holding on to every bit of hope that I had that she was proof that I had a Person. You know, that dreaded, wistful, oversaturated word–a soulmate. So I finished my test quickly and early–school, for all the focus it took from me, was not very hard nor challenging–so that I could turn in my test close to when she would turn in hers. It’s called moves?? Look it up.

I found her walking to our school’s parking lot, so I walked up to her.

“Hey.”

“Oh, hey.”

“Did you just come from [redacted’s] test?”

“Yeah, I did. Did you?”

“Yeah. How do you think you did?”

“I think pretty well. I studied a lot for it. I’m [redacted], by the way.”

“Oh oops, my bad. I’m Nico.”

“Nice to meet you. I feel like I’ve seen you around before.”

“Yeah, I think we have some of the same classes. What’s your major?”

“Psychology. What about you?”

“Me too!”

Nothing substantial came of this. A couple months of flirting (I tried not to because based on her Instagram profile, she had a boyfriend. And if this was going to be something good, I’d rather it not start off with me as the homewrecker, which I concede is a subjective term.), a couple years of waiting (she’d moved to SoCal after graduation), and one almost-date.

I’m happy and sad that I pursued her. Happy because it was something (read: someone) I really wanted. Sad because it was the most work in a long while that I’d put in that ended in unhappiness. I like that it’s both, though. I feel happy to have wanted someone so badly because at some point I wasn’t sure it would happen again.

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SAS 004: A romantic gesture you made

I flew from California to Toronto, Canada. But in the interest of transparency, I didn’t want it to be a romantic gesture, and she was hoping that it was.

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SAS 003: A way you are not at all like your parents

I take after my mom and my dad (in vastly different ways) (but happily). My parents love to travel to visit new places. It fulfills multiple things for them, one being a break from the norm. It’s cathartic to balance a life spent mostly at home or at work. It’s a chance to see beautiful and noteworthy things and places and to try new foods and to experience life in cultures completely unlike their own. There is an aspect of culture, however, that only those who partake consider it a piece of culture: alcohol.

My parents rarely or never drink. It’s not really for any particular reason (that they’ve told me). They just don’t do it. And while I’m not an alcoholic (allegedly), I do drink often. It’s never really that heavy, but I like to have drinks socially; it’s comforting to have something in my hand to resort to, even if, at some point, it’s just melted ice with a dash of a cocktail.

I consider alcohol an important part of a developed place’s social culture (I don’t know enough about un- or underdeveloped places to know if it’s important there too). We drink when we’re happy or comfortable or celebrating. We drink when we’re nervous or uneasy or upset. I drink when I’m with people, and I’m usually happy with people. So whether I drink when I’m happy or when I’m with people, I like the forwardness alcohol affords me and others. It’s a substance that affects disinhibition, and I don’t let this go to waste.

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SAS 002: Your first crush

It was in preschool. I attended Montessori, and there was this girl there. I don’t remember much about preschool besides a few core ideas.

In no order,

  • I absolutely abhorred my preschool teacher (her name was [redacted])
  • I loved oranges and bananas
  • Woody was the only correct Halloween costume
  • I was in love with this girl I’d never seen before

Facts about this girl:

  • I’d never seen her before
  • I haven’t seen her since (I don’t think)
  • She was just the cutest thing
  • I loved her name

Her name was Sabrina.

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SAS 001: What you know is right with the world

SAS: Share a story.

I received a box of cards from a resident, each one with a unique prompt. The cards are meant to help people get to know each other. I plan on sharing the cards with our residents here, but since I won’t be sharing with them, I’ll be sharing with you. You’ll get to know me, and hopefully I’ll get to know you.

There are so many things right with the world. I can’t possibly list them all because, frankly, I don’t know them all. There’s a butt ton wrong with the world too, to be sure, but we’re not on that today. Kindness is one of the best things right with the world. It’s so hard to get wrong, even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. Music is so, so good. At any given time, there’s so much you either already love or can and will love. It’s mind-boggling, honestly. Parks and Recreation is a perfect and flawless show, and Jean-Ralphio being unable to stop a rap line on the rhyme is an absolutely flawless moment on an endlessly charming story. Calvin and Hobbes is a sublime work of art. Conception, execution, background, external references, moral and ethical examinations, art criticisms, I could go on and on about what this strip has to offer. But like its creator, Bill Watterson, I’m withholding everything but the strip itself.

Clearly, there is a lot that is right with the world. But I would be remiss to omit the greatness of hope. Found at or near the core of anything we are or do, hope is as inseparable from humanity as love is from dogs.

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Story 2: We Could Have

The light of the sun began to bleed into the night. It was cold in the car, and I wondered if it were colder outside. The car had been running for hours, but Sarah and I were so preoccupied that I didn’t notice it was on or that the heater was off or that my phone was still playing music. I let go of Sarah’s hand to turn the heater on low. I didn’t want it to be too loud. She grabbed the box of tissues, nearly empty now. Our eyes were red and swollen. We’d been drained dry. My soul felt flushed, and she must have felt the same. We had little else to say.

I sat back to feel the warmth and looked out at the horizon, now a light orange, casting a soft shadow from the mountains onto the lake. The music was soothing, and it healed me as slowly as dawn bled over the sky. Sarah held my hand again, and her cool fingers were smooth against mine. I looked at her, but she was looking forward, just as I’d been. Her gaze was wide, searching for something that wasn’t easily detected. She seemed to be looking through the mountains. I looked out again.

“Do you think we could have made it?” Her voice was hoarse and tired and broken.

We could have, I thought. If we were truly honest about how we felt from the beginning, before any of this, we could have avoided digging the hole we were stuck in now. Resentment and mistrust were poisons that killed us slowly, but we could have found a cure sooner. We could have held each other and told each other about all the stupid thoughts we had and all the irrational things we tried to rationalize and all the people whose stories revealed us to ourselves. We could have forgotten about the meteor shower and gone straight to the restaurant. We could have avoided all this if she or I decided that enough was enough, that life as we knew it wasn’t what we were promised in those thoughts and rationalizations and stories.

The sun peeked over the ridge of the mountain and the light hit Sarah’s eyes. They were vibrantly brown. The first time I saw her eyes in this kind of light was the first time I told her I loved her. Could I say it now?

I was drained. But it was satisfying. There had been too much in me for too long that drained was the best I could ask for in that moment. The emptiness granted clarity. That we didn’t stand a chance was always clear. But that we could’ve given ourselves a better one was something that dawned to me now.

The gold of the sun faded slowly from her eyes.

“We could have.”

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Song Spotlight 6

“Paradise” by Coasts.

Coasts is an English rock band. This record was one of their singles for their second album, called This Life, Vol. 1 (2017). Their eponymous last record contained songs like, “Oceans,” and “Your Soul.”

I just want to start with how much I enjoyed their first album. I didn’t love it all, but the songs I did enjoy were pretty incredible. “Oceans,” “Modern Love,” and, “Wolves,” were some of my favorite songs last year.

I chose this song because I’m hearing it now and it strikes me as the kind of song that will resonate within me for probably as long as I’m alive. It’s not as uptempo and high energy  as, “Heart Starts Beating,” (my other favorite from this album) but its steadiness and melody fit like gears. The arrangement is more electronic than their usual record, which is a nice sign of variety and balance. The chord progression only includes chords from I-IV-V-VI, which makes it easy to love but also to fall into the trap of sounding like many other pop rock songs out there. Honestly, this song is a pretty stark departure from their bigger hits, but I really enjoy that the elements that make their band’s sound discernible are still present in this track. It makes the song, despite its difference, feel like an inalienable part of their discography.

“We come to life when we’re side by side,” is such a brilliant first line. I’m positive it’s been written somewhere else in the annals of prose and songwriting, but that doesn’t make it less ideal in this song. And the line that solidified this song’s place among my lists: “I’ll play your favorite record on repeat.” Because who doesn’t want their partner to know their favorite record AND play it on repeat when it fits the moment?

I have a playlist of songs that sound like summer, songs that I want to blast while I drive down the California coast on a warm day with the windows down, songs that I imagine I’ll hear in my head when I’m holding a pretty girl’s hand. This song is on that playlist.

Thanks for the tune, Coasts.

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Story 1: Bless You

I felt the sneeze welling up behind my nose, so I quickly turned, just barely remembering to hope that no one or nothing would be where my sneeze trajectory would traverse. But hope wasn’t enough.

I turned to sneeze, and it cleared my sinuses so powerfully, I was tempted to focus on the effectiveness of that sneeze rather than on the mother. And the baby. My vision was just coming back to me when I realized just what it was that my eyes saw.

I just sneezed on this baby.

And not on the shoulder. Not on the arm. I sneezed directly (but without malice aforethought) on the face of this woman’s new child. For a small fraction of a second, I caught the face of the baby as I sneezed onto his face, and he reacted pretty normally considering the social magnitude of this faux pas—his face was stunned, he had a small pause to comprehend what just happened as much as a baby can comprehend this, and then he began to cry loudly, most likely due, in addition to many, many other things, to the sudden shock and the loud noise I just made, inches from his face. I looked to the woman holding him. His mother was absolutely appalled. Disgust was painted, nay, sculpted, on her face—in the form of excess sneeze debris.

Very unfortunately, I began to chuckle. This is how I’ve always reacted to non-lethal mishaps that I’ve witnessed or experienced. I’ve learned to enjoy how ridiculous the things that happen to us can be, to take it all in stride. Somehow, this felt like the perfect and the worst time to laugh. Perfect because this seemed as ridiculous as a scenario can get. I mean, what. are. the. chances.

Worst because this was a Christmas party. It was a semi-formal event. Professionals, coworkers, families, and significant others were all here, dressed better than they would for a dental appointment (but worse than they would for a gala).

“I. Am so. So. Sorry.” I tried to plead to this woman holding a wailing baby, wiping my nose with a napkin from my pocket.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” She whispered very loudly at me. She may as well have yelled it loudly. There was nothing else the people around us could assume she said to me at that moment. What else can you say to someone who sneezes on the fruit of your loins?

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Song Spotlight 5

When I Needed You” by Carly Rae Jepsen.

Carly Rae Jepsen is a singer-songwriter from British Columbia, Canada. Her more famous tracks include, “Call Me Maybe,” and, “I Really Like You.” “When I Needed You” is a track off her third album, Emotion.

This song. This song, dude. This freaking song, home slice. This, for me, is one of the best 80s pop revival songs in the last few years. Obviously, I haven’t listened to every song released in the last few years. I wasn’t born long enough ago to be able to accurately determine what actually was the definitive 80s pop sound. I have to base my opinion on things I’ve read and heard from secondary, tertiary, quaternary, etc, sources. I don’t think  I’d be totally wrong to say that this song is pretty 80s pop though.

ANYWAY. Regardless of what it’s categorized or described as, it’s such a fun song. It takes a less-than-ecstatic topic (unrequited support) and makes a jubilant anthem out of it. It’s my ideal approach to writing a fun song meant to be a sort of “fuck you” to someone. The bass line that kicks in at the beginning of the first hook is fantastic. I wish it were deeper and more pronounced.

“You come to me / In dreams at night” is sung so very old school. It’s not particularly melodic, wispy and wide. “Where were you for me / When I needed someone” has a pretty anthemic rhythm. And then it goes into the howling, “When I needed you.” I’ve seen videos of this song performed live, and it looks (and sounds) like it really fills the room. It’s easy to sing along to and makes reliving a painful memory way more enjoyable than it has to be.

Go listen to Emotion Side B if you like this song. If not, listen to it anyway. At least once.

Thanks for the tune, Carly Rae Jepsen.