I didn’t spend much time before May 10th thinking about what my life would be like after May 10th, the day that I graduated college. My move from southwest to southeast Portland and the fact that I was starting a full-time job on May 12th completely eclipsed any mental or emotional space for fretting about the things I was about to lose. With one swift walk across a stage, I was no longer the editor of the student newspaper; no longer bound to spending my time reading books, writing papers, or taking tests–the two things that had defined my existence for four years.
In the months following, I didn’t try to learn much about the way I should live my life. I stayed up and out late on work nights, blew through my paychecks, did things that I’d been wanting to do for years but never got around to, told myself I’d get back in touch with my creative side–the part of me that I’d seemingly left behind when I decided to study communications instead of creative writing–and find people to spend time with that nurtured these interests instead of classmates or study buddies.
It’s been weird, and I don’t think I’m doing it right.
However mediocre of a student I was, or how lazy I believe myself to be, or how bad I am at taking tests, I am built well for being in school. I’m a perfectionist. I like to make and complete lists. I’m interested in process. I like to get things down to a science. I love to know how to do things, and to complete tasks, and to do things right. I get stuff done.
I’m finding that this work ethic doesn’t lend itself to the work I want to be doing, somehow.
At my job, which I love and am lucky to have, I write, design, edit, and create every day. Some days I’m in my stride–I’ll write five stories for our company newsletter no sweat; I’ll cut a video four, five, six times until it’s perfect; I’ll take on other people’s work and tie up their loose ends because I am fast and skilled. Other days, I feel in a slump. Today, for example, I’ve been staring at the same Photoshop document for hours (and honestly all week) because I feel completely incapable of creating a decent final product. The most monumental thing I’ve done today is teach someone how to print an image four times on the same piece of paper.
Creative work is hard. After a summer of pushing myself to be creative in my personal life (this blog included) in addition to managing a pretty heavy workload at work for the better part of the last four months, I’m burnt out. I feel like I can’t do it anymore. I feel like it isn’t good enough. Like I’m not good enough to be doing the work that I set out to do. And at the end of the day, that I’m just lazy.
The thing that I want more than anything to do and to do well is write about music, to theorize about it, and to be part of the conversation I follow every day on Twitter and various blogs. That’s why I started this blog. That’s why I started a blog back in 2010 when I first got to college. It’s why I wrote one of my college essays about music journalism and why it was so important to me even though I wasn’t even doing it in high school. It’s really why I moved to Portland.
When I went to Pickathon in August, it dawned on me that this is what I should be spending my time doing. That festival was a much needed refresh on my life–I missed going to shows, being in the thick of it, talking to musicians, and being a part of something that I cared about. I hadn’t felt that way since TreeFort Festival, where I interviewed Modern Kin and felt like a Real Music Journalist for a hot second, or since I was Arts Editor at the paper and made it my mission to go see and talk to all my favorite bands.
So I pushed myself. I pushed myself hard. And I think that the inertia I’m feeling now is a product of that. I started comparing myself to people that have been doing this for way longer than I have; people who are established; people whose job it is to write about music, not people who have a job and ALSO write about music.
And besides, I’m 22. I work really hard at my job. I love my job. And I still have so much to learn about everything–about the music I love and how to write about it; about freelancing; about networking; about plenty of other things that have nothing to do with work (relationships, keeping my apartment clean, and budgeting myself). Not to mention that all my concert tickets in college were free through the newspaper.
I have this blog and I keep this blog despite long bursts of not writing because this is what I love to do, and this is what I want to do. I need to be more patient with myself. I need to make an effort to cultivate my talents, my passions, and nurture them. I need to seek out people that can help me and mentor me. I need to forgive myself for lacking in follow-through, to a certain extent, all while continuing to push myself.
Whiskey Kiss is an experiment on myself–my abilities, my writing, my taste, and my “brand.” The way I wrote for this blog two years ago is much different than how I write today, and that makes me happy. This is not so much an apology for not keeping up with posting, but a resolution to myself to stop beating myself up. I’m not lazy, I’m trying too hard. I need to take a step back, regroup, and try to learn more about what I’m doing.
Life since graduating is thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance those two things without losing myself in the mix.
For the four years that I’ve lived in Portland, I’ve attended Musicfest NW. It’s always been a long weekend of thought-out adventure and time management that culminates in too little sleep, ear ringing, and general euphoria of seeing dozens of bands across town in venues as small as Bunk Bar to big blow outs in Pioneer Square.
This year, things were different.
Any music fan in Portland knows about PDX Pop Now! It is the vicarious dream of a music festival where everything is free, everything is all ages, and everything sounds amazing. A cluster of local bands that span genres come together, and it’s so exciting. This weekend’s PDX Pop Now! festival was the first time I’ve truly devoted my weekend to the whole shebang, and I figured I should document that in some way.
Full disclosure: I was tweeting and instagramming for Rip City Review, and I was a PPN! volunteer.
When I was thirteen or fourteen, I remember visiting Strawberry Fields on a trip to New York. I had not yet reached the point in my life where I was desperately obsessed with The Catcher in the Rye, and I have never much cared for The Beatles beyond listening with my Dad in the car. All I knew was that John Lennon was shot, and there was a lyric in a song I loved that went,
Last week I had the strangest dream
Where everything was exactly as it seemed
Where there was never any mystery
Of who shot John F. Kennedy
The song is “Sleeping In” by The Postal Service, from their iconic album Give Up.
I may have been a young, careless kid in my post-Avril Lavigne phase, but I loved this album. I played it to fall asleep. I listened to it walking home from school. Beyond Transatlanticism, which was the first album I ever purchased digitally, it is the first record that made me feel things that I couldn’t understand, but that I so strongly identified with.
In the ten years since Give Up’s release and the seven or eight years since I had it on heavy rotation, I have grown in many ways: my music collection has grown exponentially; my taste has expanded infinitely; and my wardrobe is no longer composed of solely band t-shirts and angst-y accessories. But I still feel similar things about Give Up that I always have.
At the time of it’s release, Give Up was important, and it stood apart. In a post-90s power-pop and emo world, I think that Give Up was a breath of fresh air. It did something different. It was a palette cleanser. These days, I don’t think The Postal Service would survive brand new. That just goes to show how influential Give Up was.
Tonight I’m seeing The Postal Service perform at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland. Though I am not as excited as I might have been when I was thirteen or fourteen, I am looking forward to cementing these feelings at long last, and giving my thirteen-year-old self some sort of closure to this singular, hanging album that meant so much to me.
Besides “Sleeping In” my favorite song on the record is probably “Brand New Colony”:
And just for good measure, a song about my hometown:
The past few months have been consumed by laborious paper writing, publishing a weekly newspaper 10 times over, burning bridges, making connections, traveling, conferences, too much beer, turning 21 (finally), and desperately trying to fill the void in my “no-college-for-three-months” life.
During finals week I swore to myself that I would start this blog back up ASAP, because I miss writing for myself and writing about what I love. Unfortunately, the past few weeks have been filled with more Netflix and knitting than blogging and it has taken me a while to get back in the saddle. But I’m here now, and I will be here every week this summer.
Whiskey kiss is BACK y’all, and its going to be better than ever.
Between writing for Rip City Review, having a cool communications internship, working on campus as a PR babe, and living my life to the fullest, we’re going to have lots of fun.
What can you look forward to? Well, I’m headed off to see Father John Misty soon, and I am excited. Fear Fun has been stuck in my head for a year, and Josh Tillman is the most talented performer I’ve seen in a while. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it. You can look for a review here tomorrow, and one on Rip City Review soon, too!
For now, check out this video that I listen to whenever I’m feeling sad, gooey, or hyped for an FJM concert.
And thanks for having faith in me. This little dream of mine won’t die, and you following my ramblings makes it all worth while!
Hey y’all. I’ve been MIA the past month or two and I apologize. I’m home from college on winter break, and I have a made a point of doing absolutely nothing. With my return to Portland imminent (three days!) I’ve come to promise you more posts this year. From playlists to previews and beyond, you will love reading my blog again in no time.
For now, I’d love to hear from you about what music you’re looking forward to in 2013, what shows you are excited for, etc. Comment here or get at me on twitter (@ZibbyPillote). Let’s have fun.
AC NEWMAN AT THE DOUG FIR! (via The Pioneer Log)
Sometimes you write previews at the last second just to score tickets to the show. Such is the life of a lazy music journalist. And by lazy I mean fully-loaded college student and Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper. Happy weekend, all! And if anyone wants to go see AC Newman with me, I’ve got a +1!