Finals Procrastination Thoughts

I have a term paper due tonight, and a final for Quantitative Analysis tomorrow, so naturally I’m procrastinating with music and the never-ending pool of my own thoughts.

I’ve talked a lot about how my experience at the Maxwell School has been over the course of the last almost-year.  And sure, I’ve got about two months before I’m done with the first part of my joint-degree, and then another whole year of schooling after that, and I’m sure I’ll have another blog post with my thoughts more well-established at that time.  But with the way this semester is winding down currently, it already feels like a particular chapter is closing, which is insane because it also feels like it had just started not too long ago (it doesn’t help that a lot of my close friends in the IR program are leaving in the next week or so).

As I’ve been (trying) to work on this final paper, a song from The Shanghai Restoration Project came on from my playlist titled “Last Night of the Dynasty.”  It had been a while since I had dug into SRP (I had discovered that album several years ago as my former co-workers at the time can attest to, since I played it incessantly at work), and so I stopped my writing to listen through the lyrics.  It struck me just how perfect they were to the current moment.  I have the full lyrics posted below, but as I write this, this verse is particularly salient:

When the night gives way to morning
We will go our separate ways
Let’s make this
Our night to celebrate


“Last Night of the Dynasty” by The Shanghai Restoration Project, ft. Julie Ann Sgroi

‘Round the clock we battled hard all year
Soaked ourselves in sweat, our blood and our tears
Conquerors we end up gathered here
Unified but soon we say goodbye
When tomorrow becomes today

Some wanna change the world
Some just want the fame
Some might choose to disappear
While the rest of us remain

When the night gives way to morning
We will go our separate ways
Let’s make this
Our night to celebrate

Sentimental air becomes so thick
Movers, shakers, wanderers in our midst
Commit to memory every single face
Wish the best and leave the rest to fate
Say farewell tonight

Some try to face the truth
Some would rather live a lie
Most of us will spend our years
Treading both sides of the line

When the night gives way to morning
We will go our separate ways
Let’s make this
Our night to celebrate

One round, better drink it all down
Try to live it up now, don’t wait for another day

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My Life Soundtrack

Anyone that knows me well knows I’m an introvert.  I may not act like one, and I really do enjoy the company of people, but my social tank is only so full, and after a while, I need to recharge.  There are a lot of ways for me to find my personal space.  Sometimes it’s reading, or writing, or video games, or photography, or dancing, or cooking.  But when I’m particularly exhausted, it’s music.

Which is kind of funny, since I can’t actually play music.  So that means either singing, or more often, just listening to music.  The ability for me to just listen to music for hours on end comes from my brother.  When I was a kid, he’d lend me CD’s.  One at a time.  And I’d listen to them, thoroughly, for a week until that music was ingrained in me.  And then he’d lend me another.

So I’ve learned to love just diving into an album, with focus, uninterrupted.  And very little in the world makes me happier than finding an album that is perfect for thoughtful listening.  Where some combination of time and space, lyrics, music, and composition makes it effortless for me to get lost in the record.

I just found one such album, which is perfect timing because this semester has been a sprint from the very beginning.  I had a final for my winter course the second week of class.  I jammed a full semester’s worth of credit hours into six sessions over a month.  I’ve been trying to stay up-to-date with every single awful Cabinet nomination, piece of legislation, and executive order that is now part of Trump’s America.  And I’ve worked with some of the most dedicated, competent and amazing friends to put together a campus teach-in that exceeded all our expectations.  Along the way, I also marched in Washington DC, showed solidarity at an airport and saw Hamilton on Broadway.

It’s been exhausting.  Entirely in a good way (at least…as good as things can be), but exhausting nonetheless.  So when I discovered Gallant’s album Ology, it felt serendipitous.  It suits my mood perfectly: each track is thoughtful and layered.  It confronts insecurity, doubt and struggle, while maintaining hope and faith.  I can’t make a decision on which song is my favorite.  It’s the perfect soundtrack to help me slow down and process the last few months.

It also prompted me to make my first real recording in a long time.  I’ve included it below.  It’s not great: I’m rusty and nervous, and trying to reduce the vocals of the original song did some weird things to the backtrack.  But it’s there, and it’s me.  I’ve also included what is (as of this very minute) my favorite song of the album so you can get a taste of how the album actually sounds, as opposed to my bastardization of it.