Less the Stress: Day 6 – Listen to Music
New to the series? Read the first post here. I’d say the basic concept of listening to music as stress relief is that many people believe you’re supposed to listen to classical, calm, therapeutic tunes. I know that works for some people, especially for studying, but that will never be me. The closest I came to classical study music was the soundtrack to Into the Wild by Eddie Vedder. Most of it was instrumental and animal sounds or intonations. I love jamming out to music on my commute, but these days I listen to various comedy and topical podcasts more than anything.
A few years ago I discovered stand up on Pandora. I was in a period of my life where listening to music was not something I was able to do. It felt too vulnerable. Discovering stand up not only entertained me but gave me a nice background noise replacement where I could just listen to someone talk, especially once I got to know most of the bits. As someone who has worked almost exclusively in quiet offices, you basically have to have ear buds in most of the day to entertain yourself. Once I started my job commuting to Vermont I went full-force on podcasts. I’d started listening to a few on road trips but figured I’d need more than music and musical albums entertaining me while driving 2 hours a day. OK, so lets get back to the point here. Music is a great stress reliever. If you’re me, that means belting along to impassioned songs from musicals. Or just a pop song I can’t get out of my head. These days, it’s something I kind of forget about. It’s weird to think about, but in a way I’ve gotten addicted to having a stream of voices in my head (Erm? I’m not crazy. Sure.) I like listening to other people discuss their lives, talk about history, share goofy stories, etc. But sometimes I don’t realize right away that it’s wearing me out. I don’t know if this can be classified as introvert behavior but listening to people talk a lot, even digitally, seems to exhaust my brain or make me anxious if I do it too much. It’s gotten to the point where I have to force myself to switch to music, but the results are always satisfying. I’m better about it now. When I’m scrolling my available podcasts and nothing is striking me, it’s time for a playlist. It’s easy to get caught up in background noise without realizing you’re hurting yourself. Similar to my meditation post, being able to be still and enjoy the quiet is important. Music to me is so powerful and helps me tap into my creative side. I love musicals in a similar-but-different way I love books: it transports you to another world. Except with musicals and music, you’re tapping in the emotion of the voice as much as the words, or even moreso. I can’t NOT tear up belting out Finale to In The Heights while remembering the way Lin looked delivering it live (Do yourself a favor and watch the link). This past weekend I saw “Hands on a Hardbody” from the Park Playhouse production in Albany. I was pleasantly surprised with how good it was – I’m even considering downloading some of the songs. Now that I don’t live in NYC anymore my new musical obsessions have decreased greatly. I miss it.
Is it totally weird to say I’m thankful for being born? Because today is my birthday. And I started existing around 5 p.m. on November 13, 1986. And today, I am 2.5 wine glasses and two shots full of happy from my friends who are awesome and came out to celebrate with me tonight, even though it’s a Tuesday. And now I need to go to bed. Because I still have to work tomorrow. But you know, like in Hair, I Got Life!
This post is part flashback, part thanks. Basically, today I am going to talk about how thankful I am that I have Mary as a friend. First of all, I wouldn’t even be doing this 30 Days of Thanks thing without her! But more importantly, I feel so amazingly lucky that we became so close and that she’s now one of my best friends. Our origin story is kind of random, starting with Altar Boyz and me introducing myself to other fans (a bold time in my life) who then took me in as friends, and those friends then introduced me to other people who I reunited with and got to know better whenever I wound up back in the city: trips with my mom, my summer internship, and my for-good (ha) move after college. Through those friendships and the random adventures we had I met Mary.
And I think as we discussed, through hanging out at the lounge, going to see Hair (stole this from Mary’s blog) and American Idiot, and other random silly outings, we got really close. Now that I live upstate, I still go down to NJ to visit Mary every few months. Sometimes we head into the city and sometimes just hang out watching videos online and weird TV shows and just laugh a lot. I’ve met a lot of cool people during my years on the East Coast but very few of them are people I consider so near and dear to me. ❤
The flash back to this day last year: My birthday weekend with Mary, Godspell, and Hunter Parrish. It was one of the best birthdays I’d had in a while, all thanks to Mary. We took an awesome birthday pic and I fell in love with Hunter’s adorableness over and over again. Great memories.
This weekend was a return to NYC and theater fun with Mary. I headed down to NJ on Friday night, only managing to get lost about 5 times in the process when I was barely 20 miles away from her house. I, uh, have no excuse. I’ve driven down there many times. My brain has been half checked-out more often than I would like these days.
Anyway. Mary and I got pumped for going to rush in the morning for Bring It On: The Musical. It’s not that similar to the movie besides being about high school cheerleaders, and yes, it’s a ton of fun. It helps that I kind of love some of the people involved in creating the show.
We got up at a ridiculously early hour to drive into the city and stand on line for 2 hours. And because we’re lucky, it also was around 30 degrees out. Really, though, it wasn’t that bad. The last time I did rush for a show it was 4 hours (or more? I can’t remember) for Next to Normal on a Sunday. Mary and I got coffee to stay warm and it was a mellow rush line. We were first to get rush tickets for the evening show. Score!
Afterward, we met up with Adam, who came in from Boston, and made some decisions for the afternoon while getting lunch. Adam was meeting up with a friend to see another show while Mary and I made the money-saving decision to see a movie instead. And aca-scuse me? Pitch Perfect was amazing. I want to see it again. And again.
In our down time before dinner we decided to get crafty. Cued up from a discussion about how much “angst” to expect from a musical’s emotional tipping point, we created a bit of a chart from some note cards. Creativity + nerdiness = win. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t like playing with markers and note cards on the floor of a big hotel? DON’T LIE. Of course Mary has the more extensive Broadway knowledge, which was key to a proper order. And sure, people going to the bathrooms at the Mariott might have thought we were a little deranged, but hey, it was fun.
Mary and I headed to Five Napkin for dinner and discovered an awesome cookie place next door. It was a bit too crowded pre-show time so we headed over to Baked by Melissa instead for a bunch of mini-cupcakes (yum!) but I couldn’t resist mimicking this poster. Warning: poster posing is a very common occurrence with us.
We met up with Adam and Justine and settled into our awesome front row seats. The last time I was at the St. James theater was for American Idiot. Oh, show memories. And I realized that I have yet to see a show at the Richard Rodgers since the final night of In The Heights. I can only imagine how strange it will feel to see something new there. I still feel ALL THE FEELINGS every time I listen to the cast album or watch some kind of related video. Heights was such a big part of my early NYC life. Sigh.
Bring It On was fantastic. I could pick out many things reminiscent of Heights given that Lin did the music and lyrics. And Twig is like Sonny 2.0. And they had the same choreographer. But considering I worshipped ITH, comparisons are definitely not a bad thing. It’s a fun show that’s not meant to be taken seriously, and the music is perfect for rocking out. And it’s hilarious. They only have a limited run through January, so I think I’ll have to get back down there again soon to see it one more time.
I like escaping for the right reasons. I like NYC. I like musicals and the sweet, kind actors in them. I like focusing on ways to make other people happy instead of thinking about being sad. So I froze my butt off to do this for my bestie:
And just to be clear, I do other things in NYC. Steph let me crash with her, and let’s get this out of the way: she is amazing. She brought (er, snuck) me into her seats at MSG for the Villanova vs. St. John’s game. We were joined by a bundle of Aussies. Fun times. Day drinking, basketball, randomess = all good.
Day drinking in NYC… I miss that. And because she’s amazing, Steph let me drag her to Godspell for the lottery, and we won.
A weekend away with an amazing friend = so necessary.
It had been about six months since I left Brooklyn for the mysterious upstate jungle. I finally made it back, only to realize how much I missed this city.
I missed your musicals.
I missed the friends you keep with you.
Yeah, I sort of even missed the subway a little.
Yup, NYC, I missed you. Lets hang out again soon.
I did not watch the Tonys last night. I had no TV and I was lazy. And I was supposed to go to bed early to be fresh for starting my new job (at 8am!). But there’s Twitter. And message boards. And incredibly fast people who put clips on YouTube. So I followed the awards through the eyes of my friends and strangers, and I think it was good enough. I mean really, I could have just watched this duel with Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman and been satisfied.
While I was happy for Book of Mormon’s success last night, I really wish The Scottsboro Boys had pulled through a win or two. I kind of think they all earned it. But if you really want to be in awe of the amazingness of this cast, check out this video made by one of the actors for closing night:
Or check out their awards performance:
I was kind of bummed that The Book of Mormon was going to do a solo number with Andrew Rannells… but then I remembered how awesome he is. This is fantastic.
Then I heard there was a rap. And Lin on Twitter warned everyone to watch until the end. Neil Patrick Harris rapping like Lin – a summary of evening done in real time. I loved it.