the 100th song and personal learning



I knew I was going to write this post the entire time I was cramming for an interview this weekend, but once my schedule cleared, I didn't know how I wanted to start. I'm used to getting caught in the lede, knowing a good lede will get you far. And I'm afraid I didn't start with a good lede during my interview. But getting caught in the lede also suggests a desire to be heard. Makes sense for the interview, but maybe less so here. Here, I am ultimately writing for myself. To document what I feel like documenting at any given moment. Albeit publicly, to save my written words from my compulsion to get rid of them.

I can start on August 13th or on August 31st, but ultimately, I am making public the same information.

So in keeping to plan and further reinforcing that I've yet to learn how to count (read: live linearly), let's start on the 31st. It's Thursday morning, I've woken up to some positive news and have an afternoon appointment to keep. In between, I post a #Latergram and decide, a month and some after the fact, to add this Kanye West cover by Alexander Lewis and Brasstracks to a playlist titled #voodooisms.

#voodooisms is the longest continuous documentation I've kept of... well, anything. It is what it sounds like: a collection of songs that mirror my life as I've lived it, though retrospectively. And retrospectively, I never intended to appropriate any religious practice besides mine of music. Presenting track no. 99 --


Let's roam back to track no. 98 and the lead photo. Only three artists repeat in #voodooisms and, being the fake hipster I am, they are Yeezy, Bon Iver, and Lorde. But Lorde holds the distinction of being repeated as the main artist of a track both times. (The other two only got in via feature or remix.) I'm a certain commitment-phobe, but I let Ms. Yelich-O'Connor slide here, for reasons to be explained.

On August 13th, I caved to expectations by attending San Francisco's annual Outside Lands festival for the first time. Despite having lived in the Bay for four years, this occasion was the result of being back in town as a tourist (the fact that I left only 12 days prior is a minor but notable detail for your amusement). I figured I might as well tour and see Maggie Rogers after getting sucked into Now That the Light Is Fading based on Vallis Alps' good words for "Alaska" during my interview with them late last year.

Meanwhile, "Green Light" grew on me like a leech, despite my resistance both to its too-upbeat-for-Ella chorus and to adding a second Lorde song to #voodooisms after "Tennis Court" made the list in 2013 by characterizing my high school modern European history class and the decision to enroll at Cal for my undergraduate degree that year. I caved here too, likely due to convenient symmetry and lyrical themes.

Little did I know, August 13th would become immensely personal wherein, after an undisclosed number of brunch mimosas and framing my post-academia year with "Alaska" and "Green Light," I found myself clearheaded after being emotionally shredded by stellar live renditions of both songs. It was a cathartic release more substantial than I'd ever felt before, which brings me now to my selection of track no. 100.

If you've guessed correctly, there's very little force in #voodooisms. I don't try to predict the future, nor do I really "summarize" the past. There are songs on the list that have been in heavy rotation and songs that stuck after a single play. But every title, lyric, or musical motif triggers a vivid memory that was then.

It's morning on the 31st when I'm realizing again -- this year's dog days are over, and it just so happens that, like every one of my other great fortunes, the 100th #voodooism will come at an appropriate juncture of my personal history. Find me, as I await my day-to-day to fall back into a predictable routine, for my feet to fall into a new city, and for my newly-graduated-and-living-at-home self to fall into a new song:

Lately, I've been learning about machine learning, and humans are just sophisticated machines, right?

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