First and foremost, I'd like to put it out there that my main intention for this post is to inform my zero population of readers that I'm back after yet another hiatus and will be posting a new playlist of mine soon. The last one I posted, in late Spring, was a summer-themed playlist. Since Autumn is approaching, I thought that I would soon post a playlist with songs that are perfect for leaf piles, pumpkins, and heartwarming bonding time. /Martha Stewart

Now, less importantly: my reasons for being gone. Obviously, since my last post was months ago, I can use the excuse that I was enjoying my summer. Gratefully, that's not just an excuse, and I really was enjoying my summer. School started again in early September, and it's been a busy but exciting year for me so far. My class lineup this year is the most challenging that I've ever had, but overall I've been having a lot less homework than I expected. As usual, though, the main thing that is occupying my life right now is music. I'm in my school's first year ever marching band. I took up clarinet, which I used to play in 5th grade, and the more I play it, the more I love it. I'm also currently learning alto saxophone for leisure. Also, I recently joined a hip hop dance class that's in a surrounding neighborhood, and it's been great. It's good exercise and a lot of the choreography is fantastic.

I could not have kept track of anything I've done this year if I didn't start writing things down on a calendar. I HIGHLY recommend it. The most convenient way to do this is usually through a calendar application on your cell phone, but I understand not everyone has that luxury, and writing it down the old-fashioned way works just as well. I use the pen-to-paper method, actually, in an agenda I have. Not only is it a great way to remember when I have plans with friends, family, and my boyfriend, jazz band rehearsals, dance rehearsals, and performances for marching band and dance, but it's also a good way to keep track of memories of good times. Basically, everything you hear about organization being FANTASTIC is true.
A little under a year ago, I had to swim for PE class, and we had a lifeguard named Tim. Tim and I instantly bonded because of our common good tastes in music. Throughout the entire duration of the swimming session, I kept telling Tim I was going to make him a mix CD, but I procrastinated and never actually got around to it. Tomorrow, I start my swimming session for this year, and I decided I'd do what I was supposed to do long ago. Here's the playlist, which I've titled "Super Summer BBQ Road Trip Surfer Jamz Volume 1":

1) Vampire Weekend - "Bryn"
2) The Flaming Lips - "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song"
3) Violent Femmes - "Blister in the Sun"
4) Passion Pit - "Moth's Wings"
5) Weezer - "Island in the Sun"
6) No Age - "Eraser"
7) Nirvana - "Seasons in the Sun"
8) Mystery Jets - "Veiled in Grey"
9) The Strokes - "Someday"
10) Deerhunter - "Never Stops"
11) Iron & Wine - "Naked As We Came"
12) Pavement - "Range Life"
13) Cold War Kids - "Saint John"
14) Spin Doctors - "Two Princes"

The playlist really does reflect the long and almost comical title. You know it's going to be a summer playlist when three of the songs have "... in the Sun" in their titles. The mix opens excitingly with the twangy guitar work of Vampire Weekend on "Bryn", and the middle tracks are a compilation of songs that make you want to be outside somewhere, whether it be on the beach or a friend's patio. The playlist starts to resolve towards the end to a more laid-back acoustic track with soothing vocals from Iron & Wine; "Naked As We Came" The following two tracks after that are a happy medium between being upbeat and relaxed, only to finish off the CD with the early 90s hit "Two Princes" by the Spin Doctors.

It's finally warming up in Chicago, so a mix like this is definitely going to be needed soon!
A short time back, during another one of my blogging hiatuses, I had a typically insignificant experience that I got a much deeper meaning out of, something usual for me.

There were a few feet of fresh snow on the ground; the really glittery and untouched virginal type of snow. I was walking down the street, on my way to the store, feeling kind of giddy and just generally in a good mood. At one point an impulse in me decided to lean over and using my finger as a pencil, draw a heart in the snow. As I'm in the middle of drawing the left candy cane to complete my heart, I hear a strong voice behind me.

Startled, I say "What?" before the man, at least twenty years older than I, who turned out to be the owner of the voice, could even finish his question.
"I asked if you're in love!"
"Yes, I am!" I reply with a childlike giggle and a smile, to a stranger. A stranger with a large backpack, a mentionable height of at least six feet, and most importantly: a brogue.

As I continue to walk with a cautious distance of at least two meters between myself and the man, he proceeds to ask about my age. After a few seconds of hesitating, simply because I'm unsure if I should answer honestly, I tell him my age in truth. He tells me that I'm young; this is expected, but I don't take offense to it as I normally would (because that's normally said to me in a negative way) Seconds later, I tell the man it was nice to meet him and cross the street. At this point the reason I crossed the street was not because I feared the potential danger of him, but because the store I was intending to go to was across that street.

The Irish backpacker interested me. His vulnerability and lack of direction in a city he was not native to is what made me feel like I was not being violated when he spoke to me. In Chicago, it is normally frowned upon if a middle aged man starts a conversation with a teenage girl on the street. No matter how naive it would be considered by many, I will forever be convinced that this man was completely harmless and had no wrong intentions. Although he interested me, I still made the choice to cross the street and go to the store. Normally I would procrastinate buying whatever it is I needed to buy if there was a distraction similar to this, but I felt very content with the cliffhanger of a conversation I had with him. I did not learn his name, age, or reason for visiting. This is why some may question what reasoning I have to believe that he didn't set out to harm me. However, the main thing I'm taking out of this experience is this: You don't always have to overindulge in things you find nice. In many cases, less is more. The sense of wonder that remained after I left was a very fulfilling feeling.