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1. Many things are bearable until they don’t have to be.

2. blue eyes.

3. I LOVE you! I think you’re SO interesting! Let’s be friends! No, wait! Come back!

4. I just finished (finally) The Wind in the Willows which I read because it was a free e-book on this app on my ipod and I would read a few chapters every time I took the subway… Anyway, it’s a sort of simple story about these animals in this world where they somehow communicate with each other and humans… and it’s a children’s story according to Wikipedia. But it’s really good. You should read it. Simple words don’t mean simple ideas.

5. You can do a lot of cool things or you can spend all your time thinking about all the cool things you want to do.

6. Maybe you are the thing that offends you the most.

7. You’ll regret it if you don’t try. You’ll regret it if you try and it doesn’t work. And so then you’ll try again! Who knows?! Maybe next time it’ll happen…

8. I thought roller-coasters were terrifying until I let my younger brother drive me somewhere.

9. What are you people listening to these days?! As in, what are you listening to?, and, WHAT are you listening to?! I can’t even talk about it. It’s too painful.

10. It’s good practice to open your mind and accept things that don’t affect you personally, because they just might in the future.

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She asked me if I was doing alright; having a good time; not too overwhelmed; wanted some more beer. A grin sprung from my frown of a mouth.

“I’m great,” I said, as she leaned in closer to hear my response over the chatter of the restaurant.

“She’s shy,” another girl piped in.

“Not really,” the first girl shot back.

Not really. My typical response. Or maybe I more often go with, “Sometimes.”  I like to talk when I have something to say. Otherwise, I like to listen. Or not even listen; just sit there, as I did that night, surrounded by sound, watching, not comprehending, drinking my watery beer.

I don’t know how extroverts could survive in this city. Seoul. Maybe they plan weekly meet-ups at Korean-Irish pubs, and there they let out the bottled-up words they wanted to say on the street, on the subway, in the grocery store, to their own neighbors, to the nice-looking old lady sitting with her little dog on the park bench, to the 20-something boy in the cereal aisle in their local grocery mart.

Or maybe they speak in different ways — with their hair, like the Korean teenager with bleach-blond bangs, like the caucasian 30-something man I saw from across a busy street, sporting a bright-red mohawk. And with their clothes, opting-out of the apparent all-black Korean apparel fashion trend, and instead going for jeans, red converse, a plaid shirt, and a ball cap. He looks more American than any American I’ve ever seen, I thought to myself, glancing at him as we sat across from each other on the train.

It’s hard, even for me, the listener. It’s hard to listen when there is no sound, no quiet smiles, no polite small talk. It’s hard to sit, alone, in a subway car full of people who are also alone, each one diving nose-first into their cell phone screens– from the teeny-boppers to the grandmothers in jogging suits — or else taken out from the reality of the world in some other way: an ipod, a book, a nap. Sardine-pressed so closely to one another, yet so far apart; so alone. And there isn’t much else I can do but join them — ear buds in, book out, or eyes closed.

In a way, it is peaceful, and it does, in a way, feel like a community. But it also, in a way, makes me want to be loud. It makes me want to knock the phones from each of their hands, close their books, take from them their music. I want to yell at them, loudly or silently, tell them to look each other in the eye, to smile, to be people together, not just riders; living, not just moving through the motions (of the jerky subway car.)

In our hectic, ever-changing, let-me-check-my-calendar lives, it’s easy to forget what’s around us. Literally around us. Like, the tree next to your driveway, or the elementary school in your neighborhood, or the cat across the street that always watches you when you go to check your mail. And it’s no surprise that we do this. Everyday things don’t matter so much when they’re always there, and you’re always running around them trying to get those calendar tasks completed — swerving your car to miss hitting the cat, stopping for those pesky elementary school busses, etc. Slowing down is not usually in our schedules. But today, it was in mine.

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Today I went somewhere in my city that I’ve never been before. You could call it exploration, and maybe it was, but this was different. As part of a community design workshop, I was told to go observe. To sit, quietly, and listen, and watch. To look at a place of my own choosing and think deeply about it. To really look at it. To examine my surroundings.

I was at a local park, one that is mostly abandoned and overgrown. The spot I chose was close to a former golf course, near the club house. I sat down near the building on a cement staircase, put away my cell phone, and took out a scrap of paper. I listened. I heard, first, the sound the branches of a nearby tree made in the wind. I heard birds chirping, and cars passing by on a nearby road. I looked at the shadows the trees made, and compared those to the shadows made by the handrails of the staircase.

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DSCN3541I watched the journey of an ant across the step I was sitting on, and drew an ant on my scrap of paper. I looked at the boarded up building and thought about how I, sitting on this staircase built into the side of a hill, was looking at a small example of humanity. I could hear the buzz from one of the still-functioning security lights on the building, and when I walked over for a closer look, the sound from the light drowned out everything else.

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I then made my way to the golf course itself, tramping through long tangled grass and pits of dandelions. Observing was different while moving, I found, but wandering through such a strange place and really looking at it still made quite an impact.

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I also remember looking at the trees — how they had been, many years before, placed with golfers in mind. Today, they stand awkwardly apart; the maples and the cherry trees natural decorations of the past.

The last thing I spotted before heading back to the workshop group was a sign, placed far out into the wild, overgrown, dandelion plantation. Plodding out past the decorative trees, I came to the sign for hole 2. The painted map, faded and peeling from the weather, showed what the space use to look like.

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Stumbling over more dandelions, I made my way out of the golf course, past the buzzing security light, and up the cement stairs. Only it wasn’t just an overgrown golf course anymore. It wasn’t just another park. It was different. I understood it a little bit better than I had before. I had given 30 minutes to this place and had taken away a greater understanding of not only that ant on the step, or that annoying light, but also about interaction with space in general, and how people tend to move through their lives without really looking.

You walk in and air the feels heavy, thick. The overwhelming sound of the concert is like fog – covering everything, everywhere, making it difficult to function. Your senses adapt: your ears cower from the assault, your eyes widen and take in the scene. Your mind melds into the crowd, becoming a different beast.

The people stand side-by-side in lines of strangers. Friends greet beneath the multi-colored lights; screams in ears become whispers, barely heard through the amplified beats of the kick-drum and strums of the bass.

The men stand with feet shoulder-width apart, gazing. It is unclear if this has happened as a concert-goer agreement, or by chance alone. Perhaps this is some natural rock concert evolution.

The women huddle together, or stand in the front, moving to the beat. Many hold cameras, and snap pictures as they dance, surely blurry.

The band on stage is another monster. They flow together like their music, moving with each note, smiling, screaming, sweating. Sips of water between songs and awkward jokes to the crowd as they tune their guitars briefly reminds the room of their humanity.

Men with beards and women with long earrings. Teenagers with backpacks. A water bottle pulled from a coat pocket. Lights and sound. Band members leaning casually against cement walls. Tattooed arms and greasy hair.

A concert. A show. A moment. A memory.

This post is about boys, and music.

Recently (the past two days of my life), I worked the Merch table for this guy Josiah Leming. He had two shows in Michigan, and I sold his Tees and stickers and CDs, etc, for him while he was here. It was a really cool/great experience: getting let in (for free!) through the side door (or creepy dark alley,   whatever the case might be), getting to hang out with Josiah, meeting fans who appreciate his music like I do, feeling like a part of something really amazing (if only a tiny, brief, part).

During my time working at the shows, I began to notice something.

When girls go to a concert/show to see a band/singer they really like, they dress nice. Right? Yeah. That’s an obvious statement if you’re a woman, or just a slightly observant human being. Why? Well, because they probably want to like, talk, to the band/singer, and/or get a picture, and even if they don’t plan on doing those things, you know, that band/singer might like look at them, and they want to look good if so.

But that’s not the only reason. You, yes you, think that by looking really cool/cute/sexy, that person will know you. Or, that band/singer will notice you. They’ll know that you’re alive. They’ll see you, only you, out there in the middle of the crowd, or when you go up to have them sign something, and they’ll see you.

I saw this desperation. I saw all the skirts and makeup and smiles. I saw this yearning for something more.

And it killed me! I couldn’t stand it! Was I doing that, too? Was I just another girl who thought she was important to these people in some way? That because I was selling shit for Josiah, or smiling at the really attractive drummer, therefore I meant something to them, automatically? That we were buddies?

You know, band members are, like, real people.

So – you know that guy friend of yours, who you’ve known for a while, and you had to like, build a relationship or friendship with them, and that took time, maybe years, maybe months? Remember how you had to get to know a person over a period of time, and your friendship or relationship wasn’t formed in four minutes of talking and smiling and looking pretty?

I know, I understand, why people do this. Because you wait so long to see this person/band, you follow along with their career, and their Facebook statuses, and their tweets, and you kind of feel like you know them a little bit. And maybe you do. But most of people’s lives aren’t posted on the internet. Between each tweet, they are living their life. They are doing things, and going places, and meeting people, that you don’t know about. At concerts, or shows, they are doing their job, and you are just their customer. Honestly. They love you, they appreciate you for coming out and supporting them, but not as the person that you truly are. They don’t know you! You don’t know them! You can smile, and wink, and hand them your number on a scrap of paper, but that doesn’t change the facts. You can’t become a part of their world after one night, after four minutes (or, for me, after two days). It takes time to build relationships. It takes time and effort from both sides.

Fame is so strangely one-sided. It has to be, by definition. Maybe that’s not fair, that they can be so exclusive. That’s how the world is.

How about when you talk to a stranger on the street, say hello, or that you like their shirt – and then you leave them. They’re gone, out of your life. But it doesn’t bother you, does it? You didn’t know them before you met them. You didn’t get all dolled up for that one minute meeting. It didn’t matter so much to you.

I’m not saying that there’s a cure for this. This is what (partially) makes concerts so popular to attend, so exciting. The chance. Finally! This person/band will get to meet you! There will be a moment in their life where you were in it, where you stood next to them as they signed your shirt, as you took a photo with them with a group of your friends. There will be photographic evidence, and memories! Who knows what could happen?

I got to experience so many of those four-minute-moments first hand. I saw all these lovely people wanting something more out of their concert-going experience. They wanted understanding. They wanted attention. They wanted relationships (of likely varying degrees).

But concerts aren’t magical. Not really. What they are is really talented people showing off their talent and having a good time, which can easily be confused for magic. Those things you want out of concerts? You are not going to get them. Not totally. Not satisfyingly.

It’s best to just enjoy the music.