Archive for June, 2011

June 17, 2011

In Which Phil Collins Is Defended

The sun fell heavy on everything in the late afternoon and I had walked a mile along the tracks of the lightrail MAX, reading from Kraken and taking pictures of industrial buildings across the river. When I finally caught they yellow line and was dropped off near home, I clicked on the Buffy musical score on my iPod and walked, everything coated by the music.
I began my day with an old episode of This American Life. I was feeling a little tired and emotionally shaky, and was in a particularly receptive place to hear them delve into stories of the relationship between music and heartbreak; how often the cheesiest, most overblown pop songs ring the most true when the mood is right (they chose this song to highlight the point, a masterstroke).
This led into a brilliant segment where the narrator of that act, a woman deep in the throes of cheesy pop heartbreak, decides to take it upon herself to write a pop song about her own experience, and is even able to interview Phil Collins himself about the process. She wrote lyric after lyric, and when some veteran musicians were tapped to help her turn some of her emotive scribbling into a proper song, surprise: they chose the one she had considered almost a throwaway, almost too cheesy and simple and basic to even be included. All her attempts at clever wordplay and prosy torch songs didn’t matter in world of pop music. It’s true: all those old songs look flat and trite on paper, but that has everything to do with why they’re so powerful.
Collins wrote ‘Against All Odds’ about his first divorce, and yet now the song is completely ubiquitous in its influence. Anyone who hears it cannot help but feel the truth in it, filling it with their own details like a vase made for them alone. And yet it was just one man in the beginning, one emotion, expressed in a powerfully simple song.
This stayed with me throughout the day and, as I walked home enjoying the BtVS show tunes, I couldn’t help but wish that we, as humans, didn’t make similar efforts to once in awhile translate our feelings into bold, over-the-top songs. Songs big and unabashed and with nothing even resembling subtlety. Like in a musical. But, as Sweet warned in the episode: the cost is high when all you do is sing. I fired up Tweetbot on my phone and proposed that, while it was unrealistic that life be like a musical all the time, would once a month be okay? What if, as a matter of habit, we began setting aside one day a month where we wrapped up everything we had been afraid to say, and put it out into the world?

June 16, 2011

quick analysis

i have settled into the new job. the first few weeks at a new place are terrifying no matter where you go, but coming into the legal world, and more specifically the subsection of oregon juvenile dependency law – well, that’s a whole new language/mindset/what have you. the first few weeks are terrifying because you get an immediate sense of the scope of things and just how little grasp you have on them. you long for a month from now, when familiarity has dulled the terror a bit.

cut to now. the pieces are known to me, and while i’m a ways from seeing how it all works together, i am already to that point where i can walk into the office, and, after getting the coffee going and the printer warmed up and humming, take one quick look at the filing on my desk and the days’ agenda and see the entire day laid out before me.  there is something simple and delightful about being able to map out the day in a glance, and then to set about doing it. and it suits me well to be in a place where i can act as the calm anchor for a handful of perpetually disorganized bosses. work as project.

of course it’s happened after a few weeks of struggling to dig myself out of the backlogged piles of work left by the month-long absence of a full-time receptionist, combined with the steep learning curve, that i find myself often with less to do than i would like. hence the internet, hence the blogging, hence the back-and-forth emails of YouTube videos sent between legal assistants (while i’m on the subject, a pro tip: nothing good comes from befriending your co-workers on Facebook). but despite these occasional reprieves into mindless entertainment, i have work to do, and i can see it in an instant. i have to take a moment to appreciate this. i appreciate having the breathing room to get my work done at my own pace, and having the luxury of doing work  i can perform and enjoy, and then leave it at the office come 5 o’clock. when the real work begins.

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