readingredhead: (Fear for Courage)
[personal profile] readingredhead
1. I have never much liked summers -- I like order and structure and school too much-- but this summer has been the best summer, and while it will not get me to reconsider my general hierarchy of the seasons, it will at least remind me that summer is not just that thing you do to fix your brain after semesters.

This summer has been a LONG one. I got out of classes in the end of April and had finished my last seminar paper more than a week before my birthday: I have had nearly four months of summer, and that is rather a lot. Thankfully, the time was punctuated by visitors, travel, summer school, good books, dinner parties, and falling in love. (Yes, love.) Visitors and travel are harder to integrate into the semester schedule, and I am so happy that I got to see so many people and places I love and care about this summer, because that's part of what keeps me going when things take a turn for the worst. But good books and dinner parties and being in love are not just summer things, they are LIFE things, and my life works in semesters and these things are only bound to make this upcoming semester even more worth it.

2. Today is the first day of my second year of graduate school. This semester's coursework will be particularly demanding -- I'm taking two seminars adjacent to my interests with professors who are fairly intense and with whom I want to work closely in the future, not to mention reading Ulysses for my third class and TAing for a fourth -- but I am looking forward to being back in a scheduled environment again. (See above regarding my general dislike of summers.) I am also looking forward to taking notes in the beautiful Moleskine notebooks I have acquired for this purpose, because I deserve nice things and the material conditions of my scholarship DO influence the quality of mental work I find myself capable of doing (or just motivated to do).

3. This is an awesome enough thing to get its own number on the list: sometime in October/November, I will be moving in with [personal profile] oliviacirce! In addition to being a generally wonderful person who cares about houses being homes, she happens to live in what may be the best apartment in all of Columbia's grad student housing. My new bedroom will have windows that get actual sunlight! The kitchen has counter space! There is a breakfast nook! And since she's in Columbia housing, I can do a simple room-to-room transfer and let Columbia sort out all the logistical details of transferring to another lease, etc. I'll still have to do a move in October, which I had wanted to avoid initially...but I will literally be moving AROUND THE CORNER from my current abode. You don't even have to cross a street to walk from my current apartment to my future apartment. I can easily put up with Gabi for 2 months if I know I get a home at the end of them.

4. So [personal profile] oliviacirce's habits are rubbing off on me a bit already, because the final item on today's post is a mixtape. I started pulling these songs together about a year ago, when I had just moved to New York and mostly knew no one and the work was hard (though it never stopped being worthwhile). I needed something to remind me that it was okay to be down sometimes if I knew how to pull myself back up, and so a lot of the tracks come from a place of doubt and uncertainty and hope that things will get better, rather than from a place of solid acceptance of this fact. The playlist kept growing and changing to suit my needs throughout the past academic year -- the first incarnation was titled "Don't Be Down," a later one was titled "Me vs. the Seminar Papers (Don't Give Up)." But in the end, "Anti-Entropy" is the title that stuck. This mix is for all the days I felt like the world just wasn't working right, but soldiered on and fought my way through, and came out on the other side knowing the things that I hadn't quite believed before, but wanted to believe: I am strong, I am loved, and as long as I don't give up, things will always get better.

Anti-Entropy

1. Bells of New York City – Josh Groban
2. Be OK – Ingrid Michaelson
3. Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes
4. Blue Skies – Noah and the Wale
5. Augustine – Vienna Teng
6. The Heart of Life – John Mayer
7. A Better Son/Daughter – Rilo Kiley
8. Shake it Out – Florence + the Machine
9. This is Why We Fight – The Decembrists
10. The Fire – The Roots feat. John Legend
11. On the Radio – Regina Spektor
12. Soon Love Soon – Vienna Teng
13. Dog Days are Over – Florence + the Machine
14. Have it All – Jeremy Kay
15. Bigger Than my Body – John Mayer
16. Think Good Thoughts – Colbie Caillat

Download the .zip file here.

The tracks aren't in order in the .zip file, but the file includes the track listing. I sometimes listen to this mix on shuffle, but the tracks have been arranged in what seems (to me) like a logical progression -- beginning with despair only slightly leavened by a weary determination to get oneself out of it, moving through frustration and pain toward acceptance and a toughening of the will and a desire to fight back, and finally ending in a place of increased confidence and happiness. It's a progression on the micro- and macro-scale for this past year, at least for me. And part of why I'm posting this mix is because I think -- I hope -- I might mostly be past needing it.
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