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A Few Sour Chords on a Thursday Night

Posted by on Friday, November 18, 2011 in Art, College Life, General Information, Music, Student Life.

It’s 2:48 A.M. on the Thursday night (Friday morning?) before Thanksgiving Break. I don’t have class tomorrow, so I am up watching movies and fiddling around on the internet. (This is very precious free-time that I’m not used to having, so my night is fairly aimless.) I’m sitting in my Stapleton double alone (my roommate is hastily writing an HOD paper somewhere else on campus) with the windows open (they turned the heat on in the building for God knows why).  Besides the occasional hoots and hollers heard from down the hall or out on the lawn (it is a Thursday night, after all), it’s fairly peaceful.

I have been listening to Simon & Garfunkel‘s Live from New York City, 1967 and Live 1969 on repeat for approximately two or three months now. No shame. I’ve been thinking: have you ever listened to a song or admired a painting or read a novel and thought this is pure genius! I could never, ever create something like this! I can hardly create a sandwich without mistaking sugar for salt and messing the whole thing up!..? Am I right? Every single time I listen to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Poem on the Underground Wall” or “The Dangling Conversation” I want to just throw in the towel! They’re poetry. Pure and simple. I want to create something similar– never something as good, I’m sure, but similar.

My grandfather gave me a guitar before I shipped off to campus at the beginning of this year. It was dusty, but in great shape (plus, I love it just because my Papa gave it to me!). He has plenty, and I had been mentioning how I wanted to teach myself to play. My eleven year old sister is better at guitar than I am (she’s the musical type; I envy that). So, logically I thought well, if my little sister can play “Yellow Submarine” on her guitar, surely I can, too! I picked it up and put it down for a few weeks, but the bustling of schoolwork and papers distracted me. 

It wasn’t until tonight that I picked up the guitar again, inspired by Paul and Artie. But after a few minutes of sour chords, sore fingertips, and almost swallowing my guitar pick (don’t ask), frustration began to flood over me. I then looked up at the shelving unit above my bed and saw all of the “for-fun” books* I bought over the summer that I have yet to read.  Also, there’s a huge, barely-finished, original drawing just sitting in my closet begging to be completed.  And now I’m overwhelmed with my creative frustrations. Not only have I not allotted myself enough time to teach myself guitar, but I also have all of these wonderful books that I have yet to crack open and drawings gone half-finished.

My point is, if you are like me and you absolutely need some sort of musical, creative, colorful creation-of-genius in order to grapple on to your sanity for a little while longer, then make time for it.  You will never regret time you spent doing exactly what you want (and probably also need).  As much as I love Vanderbilt (and trust me, it’s a lot), school work can get monotonous and kind of gray. So, get inspired! Listen to the same two albums for three months straight, pick up a guitar, order books on Amazon for fun, buy a bucket of chalk, dread your hair (like my roommate did), start a blog… anything!

Because when you’re under a pile of BioChem books and staring down the barrel of an all-nighter fueled by Bagel Bites and two 5 Hour Energies, throwing paint on a canvas is going to feel so wonderful.

*In case anyone is curious– these books include The Joke by Milan Kundera; “Why Are All of the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.; Affirmative Reaction: New Formations of White Masculinity by Hamilton Carroll; and Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School by C.J. Pascoe.

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