November 23, 2010 at 3:44 pm (Uncategorized)

There is little in this life as beautiful, as frustrating, or as enigmatic to me as music. As I sit listening to a mix of Sara Bareilles and Kanye, I wonder: what makes music good? And there is a difference between music that is technically executed well and music that touches a person’s soul, as there is a difference between music that has a catchy beat and something that leaves a lasting impression.

I think that’s my main issue with artists like Ke$ha. It’s not like I change the station when tick tock comes on the radio; it’s a fun song. But music like that seems to be just a corporate invention–plug in any blonde who can talk-sing over a beat and then autotune the he’ll out of her. Maybe she samples her own beats and writes the music, but it doesn’t seem like it. There are plenty of hip/hop and rap songs that resonate with me, but certainly there’s a lot of drivel.

Which leads me to my next thought. How do I make good music? How much do you have to love it to do music? Certainly in an unprofessional sense, but maybe in terms of trying to do something with it. I see so many of my friends trying to make music their lives, and I occasionally wonder if I’m not just a coward going into something else. I love politics, but it seems like music is an arena where you can touch people truly, and politics has a way of crippling even the most noble intentions.

Then there’s the question of what I’m good at. Something I’ve struggled with for a long time is that I’m good at many things, but not truly great at any one particular thing. I know I can write good policy and make the world a better place, but is that the best way I can improve the world? I could get better at singing and maybe touch people’s lives that way too. It’s difficult to say which one is more worthy of pursuit. The course is fairly set in that I’ll graduate with a degree in political science, and most likely get my masters in public policy as well, but I could always try my hand at music anywhere in there. When I’m singing, it’s like another side of my soul that I don’t normally get to see. I can be an expression of joy and share that with the rest of the world. I’m also at a point where I feel I have a more or less accurate picture of myself as a vocalist. I overstated my abilities in high school, and I probably undervalued them the first year and a half or so here at school. I’m a fairly talented tenor with a good, but not great range. I have my on and off days, and I think my lack of technical vocal training causes me to be somewhat inconsistent.

I know I love music, and I know I love politics. It’s hard to know how to balance competing passions, but I’m glad I know what my options can be at least. Some people I know never really figure out what they wanted to do with themselves. Having passions is important.

And that’s what I think about when a snowstorm traps me in Moscow. Also, writing on an IPhone is not ideal, so you know.


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November 18, 2010 at 3:30 pm (Uncategorized)

The semester is winding down, and as I look at where things are going I wonder where the time’s gone. It can’t just be one more semester…but it is. I think back to three years ago, when I was in essentially the same situation. High school was nearing an end, and I didn’t have a clue where I was going or what I would do. Some of that has cleared up, but now I’m looking at grad schools and wondering where life will take me; if I’ll lose touch with so many of the people that have touched my life and heart here as I have with people from high school. It’s interesting, that feeling of loss. Loss isn’t the right word. Moving on, nostalgia maybe. All these people I knew so well, but have hardly spoken to since leaving Camas. I still wish them all the best, and I appreciate that facebook lets me keep up with their lives. I look at people at think how wonderful it is that they’re doing what they want to do, and that they’re following the path they want to chart for themselves. I sometimes think that I should drop a line, but I never really know what to say. It’s hard to ask someone how their hopes and dreams have evolved over time. We’d need to sit down for coffee, but we’re hundreds of miles apart.

I guess I just don’t forget people. Those who have made an impact on the person I am today are still relevant, still reaching out to me through the years if not in any physical sense.

This semester has taught me a lot, about what I want to do with my life and the kind of person I want to be. This election cycle was rough, and being in the thick of the electoral process has shown me that it’s not really what I want to do. There are so many¬†spectacularly¬†talented people who could serve their state or country well, but they don’t always get elected. I put a lot of myself into the governor’s race in Idaho, for a lot of reasons. Keith wasn’t the kind of person I generally assume I’ll vote for. I like people to be reliably liberal most of the time in elected office. But he helped me see something that I think will have an effect on me for the rest of any political career I ever have: being reasonable. Keith has a PhD in conflict resolution, so he knows how to bring people together. It’s what he’s been doing his whole life. I think that’s what most of us want and what the founders of this country hoped we would do: govern from the middle, passing policies with broad support. However, more and more recently we’ve been electing people from the extreme left and extreme right. There is a time to do what’s unpopular but right. For most policies, though, we should be looking at facts and what people need. We haven’t been doing that. I think most people are reasonable, we just are continuing to elect people whose views are on the fringes of the political spectrum. We need to stop.

Maybe I’ll be able to help start changing that, but who knows? These things seem to come in cycles in any case.


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