Introspection is Exhausting + Why I Love ABBA

I’ve seen over a dozen movies in theater this year, and over a dozen times I have almost happy-cried when they played the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again trailer. I was so unexpectedly moved by this 2-minute blip of a movie franchise I had only ever thought of as My Big Fat Greek Wedding but with singing and dancing. I didn’t understand the plot of this movie, but when they set those nostalgic flashbacks of the characters then vs. now to Dancing Queen, I was on board. I had to see this movie. 

I won’t go into detail about the movie, because I feel like everyone has already seen it, but ugh, it was so perfect and fun. I was so charmed by Meryl Streep, the three dads, everything. Then I started listening to ABBA, urged on by a friend who’s a super-fan, and I’ve listened to nothing else in the past 10 days.  I love the ridiculous costumes, the fanfare, the relentless optimism that pervades so much of their music. I’ve been listening to them while at work and I feel like they’re making me a couple notches too excited for the workplace. It’s almost embarrassing to be at this level of energy while editing spreadsheets and sending emails. How did I miss out on this cultural phenomenon?

I wouldn’t consider myself musically adventurous. Music is an area that I’ve never felt comfortable speaking to, since I’ve listened to much of the same music over and over again for years. I don’t know the difference between a soprano and a contralto or what exactly timbre is. I have never meaningfully contributed to the music round of any trivia event. I don’t know who half the people on the radio are anymore, and it comes less from a weird anti-establishment hipster pride and more from the fact that I will listen to the same 2006-2012 pop and alt-rock trash every single day of my life.  I couldn’t intellectualize music or write true criticism if I tried. It’s one of those things I will assume is magic and call it a day.

And music is also just intensely personal to me. I can’t disentangle a song from the circumstances in which I first listened to it. And while I repeat these songs because I obviously love them, it’s like being taken on the same ride all over again. I don’t always want to be reliving the emotions I felt as a teenager, stuck in a recursive loop of introspecting, reflecting, and soul-searching. Wishing I was here, wishing I was there. This can’t just be a “me” thing, so I’m also posting this as a way to shout into the void and see if anyone returns my call.

I’ve spent so much time in my head, especially in these last few months, that it has been refreshing to listen to music without emotional baggage or built-in opportunities to re-litigate my life. Eventually, I’ll get tired of ABBA, or maybe it’ll become part of my regular rotation of like 6 artists, as their music comes to represent this moment in life. I’ll hear “Waterloo” or “The Day Before You Came” a year later or 20 years later in a grocery store and think about who I was then, reminiscing about the person I am now.

But I’m glad that now, while my life is in the upswing, I can listen to ABBA’s inspirational, poppy ballads and relish in this new ability to look forward instead of backward. This weekend, I’m planning on watching ABBA: The Movie and possibly a couple documentaries, because my obsession knows no boundaries. Maybe I’ll get one of those sparkly jumpsuits too. Who can really say?

Sunday Update #2 | Arctic Monkeys, Writing, New Apartment

Hello! It is 9 pm local time. I hope I have caught you before the Monday morning dread has set in. Or before you have fallen asleep. I literally don’t know when people go to sleep anymore. I have friends who are always in bed by 9 pm (Grandmas!) and friends who are liking dumb Facebook memes at 3 am on the dot (How do you function!?).

If you have already fallen asleep by the time this has been posted (like a baby), please enjoy this post in the morning, as you sit at your desk—cup of coffee in hand—and not work.

 


 

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I’ve been enjoying the Arctic Monkeys’ newest album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, which came out on Thursday.

The Arctic Monkeys have been everything to me since I heard AM about five years ago, so I was excited to witness their first new release in a long time and catch them on tour this go-around. (I will be seeing them in Washington DC in July!)

Rolling Stone described Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino as a “space-lounge odyssey,” and there is really no better descriptor than that. The Arctic Monkeys are known for their genre-spanning evolutions between albums, and this is no exception. They have come a long way from the energetic Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not; the manic Favourite Worst Nightmare; the dark Humbug; the romantic Suck It and See; and the glam AM.

I’m starting to sound like a music critic and I really don’t want to, because this is meant to be a quick blog post and I am no expert. But I do like this new, risky direction that they’re going in as a band. Some of the songs sound too similar, and I miss Alex Turner playing the guitar, but I get that this is a piano-heavy concept album about a weary rock band playing at a hotel on the moon.

Songs I’ve been replaying, in no particular order: Star Treatment, Four Out of Five, The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip, Science Fiction, Batphone

In case you are new to the Arctic Monkeys, I made a Spotify playlist of my favorite songs that you are welcome to follow.

 


 

I pitched an article idea to one of my favorite publications, and it was accepted! In the next few weeks, you’ll probably see me posting it everywhere. This would be my first byline, and I can’t even couch the enthusiasm in jokes. I’m just happy.

Also, my best friend and I recently started our own two-person writing group, in which we exchange ideas and pieces we’re working on throughout the week. We’ve only been doing this for a couple weeks, but it’s already been so helpful for me to have someone read my writing and suggest feedback, offer encouragement, ask me to expand on ideas, etc.

In fifth grade, we used to write book-length novels together that were essentially fan-fictions of us (as teenagers) joining our favorite Christian pop band, so it has been fun returning to our roots as friends and as individuals.

 


 

I moved into my new apartment nearly two months ago, and it is finally starting to feel like a home. Here’s a picture, because I’m really proud of this corner. This is the first time where I’ve had full control over decorations, so it’s been rewarding to see this start to come together.

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I also love my neighborhood of Edgewater. I moved here because it was more affordable than Lakeview, where I had been living before, but I hadn’t known that I was moving to a neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places, filled with stunning homes built in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Surrounded by manicured gardens and young families, it feels a lot more like a community than when I lived a few blocks from Wrigley Field.

Here’s one of my favorites, to cap off the evening. If you are looking for a weekend trip this summer, I highly recommend Chicago! It is just starting to become beautiful and sunny again. My couch is always open, and my cat doesn’t bite (hard).

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