Hello blog readers, it's me Molly. I thought it'd be funny to try an Adrian Chiles-style 'column' today where I talked about a mundane but special musical enjoyment experience. If you don't know who Adrian Chiles is, this GQ interview with him does a fair job of covering his oeuvre, which I would describe as "normcore opinion writing."
This has been a rather intense month for me, with a lot of schedule inconsistencies and far more chaos than routine. I'm juggling several freelance gigs. I'm still in the "there is at least one cardboard box in my field of vision everywhere I turn my head" part of moving houses. And I've been visiting my friend in the hospital quite a bit. I've spent more time in the hospital in the last month than I have in my entire life, including when I was born; my labor back in 1989 was apparently speedy, because I guess I needed to get out and learn how to blog as soon as possible.
A handful of the hospital visits have been all-nighters. Though the all-nighters are thrilling in an 'unconventional institutional experience' kind of way — like the time my middle school anti-drug club (Students Together On Prevention, aka S.T.O.P.) got to have a sleepover at the school, featuring a midnight dodgeball tournament in the gym! — they do wreak havoc on my sleep and psyche.
All of this to say, these lifestyle changes have required an adjustment in mood-management strategies. Recently I was feeling pretty grumpy, realized that I had the next hour free and the weather was very nice, and so decided to go for a walk and listen to some music while doing so. If you have headphones and a portable music player, you, too, can try this activity out. An album-length walk might not be a romantic listening experience on the scale of, say, sitting ensconced in a transparent cube in the heavens à la Lisa Simpson, but it is an act of optimization that feels good to deploy when the timing is right: music and exercise, delicious and nutritious.
I took a hike up to nearby Eagle Rock and listened to the latest Slow Pulp album, Yard. Its crackling textures, poker-face lyric delivery and overall lunchpail indie rockness paired very well with my walk, which took me around a suite of homes with well-manicured yards, personality plants, curated tchotchkes. In Los Angeles, you have to choose your garden gnomes wisely because that's the face you point toward the world. My favorite song off the Slow Pulp album was "Slugs," which has the chorus "You're a summer hit / I'm singing it" but whose mellow, wistful crispiness screams autumn leaf. I realized my malaise, beyond hospital vibes, might have something to do with the consistent LA weather, which has involved highs in the 80s and even 90s, whether the month is July or October. It's important to introduce contrast into life whenever possible — like adding toppings to oatmeal, or streusel to a coffee cake. If you can't find an autumn leaf, you need to listen to its musical equivalent.
One of my favorite parts of 2017's Fyre Festival debacle was the marketing language around the event. The Fyre guys promised an "immersive" experience, which is hilarious, because going to a physical place and being there is just about as immersive as you can get. But the more I think about it, "immersive experiences" are as specifically vague a concept as "liminal spaces" and deserve just as much esteem. And going for a walk while listening to music is indeed an immersive experience. You are moving your body, physically, which raises your heart rate and provides a doctor-recommended cardio experience. With your eyeballs, you are looking at things other than a screen or your house, and these things even change as quickly as you move. And you are listening to music with your ears, which is a parallel sensory experience that heightens the walking and looking. Amid this immersivity, your mind can more freely wander, ducking in and out of tricky thought zones without getting stuck.
I got home from my music walk and found myself in a better mood. It was almost annoying how simple the solution was. Nothing in my life had changed other than my increased 'step count' and decreased phone batter, but I was less cranky, and when I am not cranky, it is a good thing for me, and for society.
If YOU'D like to write a Chiles-style post for I Enjoy Music, hit me up at email@example.com, I'm definitely down to open up the editorial pit.