Last week I optimistically told you that I am aiming for 2012 to be a year of quality: quality of life, of work, of attention, and of efforts. Guess what? I’m a few weeks in and finding it pretty difficult to put my idealism into practice. It is possible that writing a grant application may have something to do with my strained mood… Lately, in an effort to at least gesture towards my goal of a quality-filled year, I have been listening to music while I work.
Music and work have a long history in my life. Do you remember when everyone claimed that Mozart would enhance your brainpower? I sure do. It was 1995 and I was not excelling in math. I know, cliched, huh? In addition to trying tutors and study sessions I clung to the belief that listening to classical music would help me through my math tests. It didn’t, but I did develop a genuine love of listening to music while I worked. When I was in high school it was Tori Amos, Tom Waits, and PJ Harvey. I would sit in my room working on my model United Nations project or writing a term paper and imagine Life Beyond High School. While I was in university I worked at the campus radio station and began to develop a love of jazz and blues: Freddie Hubbard, Etta James, Nina Simone, Archie Shepp, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, Sun Ra. You name it, I devoured it. I still recall the first English paper I wrote in university every time I listen to Alice Coltrane’s Ptah, the El Daoud. God, I love jazz harp!
A funny thing happened when I began my Masters, however. Suddenly, I couldn’t listen to music while I wrote anymore. It was as though my mind was too full, trying to wrap itself around new concepts, new routines, new modes of being, and, let’s be frank, new presentations of self. I have worked in relative silence for the last number of years, until very recently. Just as suddenly, I have returned to my voracious listening/working ways. I have even taken to playing music quietly in my office at school, which always seems to take visitors by surprise. This week, I think I will return to one of my favorites: the great, and now late Etta James.
So what about you readers? In the spirit of quality, will you share your playlists with me (work or otherwise)?