i’m deep into the special life experience that is earning a master’s degree and the time has come for crowd participation. we’re finally at the part of the year where we’re working exclusively on our final major project, which is a relief and endless uncertainty at the same time. i’m conducting a survey on my topic/question, so please head over to the link and fill it out. only takes 10-15 minutes.
my project centers around african american vernacular english (aave) / black english / whatever you may call it and how it comes across when spoken. hopefully i’ll have time to go in-depth about my research and findings in the future (it’s been fascinating to say the least), but that time is not right now as i’m working on a deadline for tomorrow before i pass out from exhaustion. for now, you can follow along at my research blog: nuritypes.tumblr.com.
sickness is inevitable when you move away from home. the longing doesn’t increase the further away you go; it’s the same dull ache that flares up – uninvited and random – whether you’re an hour away, a few states away, or an ocean (or two) away.
when i’m overseas, my cure for it is to engage in some type of media that is really american. in australia, it was watching back-to-back reruns of the simpsons and law & order: svu. they were 2 of the few american shows that held my attention and it was pre-netflix. (to put it into context, only one other student on the semester abroad trip had a first generation ipod and i remember having a hard time grasping its capabilities.) this time around in the uk, it’s this american life.
i’d heard it mentioned many times over the years and the brief accompanying tv show on showtime has been on my ‘to watch’ list for ages, but i’d never listened to any episodes. realizing this, along with my recent discovery of ira glass’ awesomeness, made me start tuning in last year. also (although i have a really bad memory at the worst and most random times), i think i saw coverage of the harper high series on a blog and that also got me intrigued. in fact, i believe “harper high school part one” was the first episode i listened to. all i know is that i quickly discovered they had a soundcloud account, which meant i didn’t have to download episodes, and from the first time i listened i was hooked. completely and totally.
i won’t wax poetic about how well-done, creative and interesting the show is because it’s been done countless times and i’d be here forever, but i’ll just say that i love it. it leaves me in laugh-enduced tears, awed/close to ugly cry tears, it makes me mad, it creeps me out sometimes and makes me turn on extra lights, it teaches me things i’ve always wanted to know about. it even makes me want to write more, which believe me is shocking. it makes me feel closer to home by reminding me of so many people i know as well as introducing me to so many other inherently american stories that i didn’t know. but, i think one of the things i love most about it is that the content betrays the title: there’s something indescribably universal about every story told.
ok, a little waxing :)
i started listening in early 2013. by the spring, after school was done and i had about a month left in london, when i wasn’t out and about, i was almost always listening to episodes. i tend to obsess over one new thing when i have a lot of free time. the amount of episodes was daunting, so i started using curated lists of best episodes to skip around the 10+ years of content. when i went back to the states between courses, i fell off a bit. being back home, the way i spent my days fell back into those same routines that are so fundamentally familiar and almost impossible to break away from. but now, back in london, after i’d arrived and finally gotten settled about a month later, the urge to listen as much as i could fit in immediately returned.
this time around, i decided to go back through the entire archive in order of production, in addition to listening to new episodes as they come. since i’d already skipped around and since the show plays reruns on weeks when they don’t have a new episode, i’d already heard quite a bit of the catalogue. thankfully, their site lets you keep track of episodes you’ve heard as well as favorites. so handy.
so, i created an account, marked as many as i remembered hearing, clicked on 1995 and plunged in. i started in april while preparing my first major hand-in for school and i can assure anyone wondering that this show is the best thing to listen to while using Illustrator and InDesign.
i’m now up to episode #81 from 1997 and only skipping christmas episodes because i’d rather listen to them for the first time during the season. there are 527 episodes total, and i’d estimate that i have about 350 left to hear.
what’s been most fascinating to me is hearing commentary during so many pivotal moments in history when i was a kid/teen. the 1996 presidential elections, for example. to hear history – a subject in general that i can’t process most of the time – told via first hand accounts and in such a great format is filling in so many tiny holes for me. i am of course anticipating getting to late 2001’s episodes. it’s also doing the sappy but important thing of constantly reminding me of my humanity and how blessed i am to be american. and then there’s just moments of serendipity, like this episode about summer camps from 1998, the same summer that i happened to be away at a camp having the best summer of my life to date.
it’s recently started airing on bbc radio, so i’m interested in finding out what brits think of it. in a recent interview, ira once again earned points with me when answering a question about engaging in social media:
I don’t tweet because I don’t need another creative venue. I don’t need another form for self-expression. I don’t need another way to get my thoughts out to people. I have one. I’m good. But I totally think it’s wonderful for anyone who doesn’t have their own national radio show. I think it’s a fine alternative.
well said, with bonus snark. i love it. i completely agree and from now on want to just shove this quote in the face of people who get all judgy if you aren’t active and exposing your life on every form of sharing that the internet has on tap. better to devote to a few (or one) than to be extra. and devote he does.
if it’s not obvious yet, i recommend this american life to all. here’s how you can listen. and here’s 5 of my (many) favorite episodes:
today at uni we got the sad news that a fellow student doing an ma had passed away. she wasn’t on my course and i didn’t know her, but i know people that do and it doesn’t matter if i knew her or not, it’s still a shock. we weren’t given many details, but the school did a good job of handling it by offering reminders of the support that they offer for unexpected, tragic events like this as well as for the everyday struggles and stress of enduring an ma degree.
then, i get the news that ruby dee has passed. so soon after maya. but the both of them after full, inspirational lives.
then, i finished my day at an opening party for the world cup. with an amazing percussion band and the screening of the first game of the tournament, brasil vs croatia. i know basically nothing about the sport, but it was so fun to be in a venue full of people in complete celebration mode.
life is so, so incredibly short. oftentimes i remind myself of this because i was brought up with the action of being grateful as second nature, but then sometimes i get reminded by events like the first half of the day’s news.
this post is just a quick reminder to myself – written/typed for coherence and reverence – to strive for as many moments as the second half of my day as i can get.
this is a mix i’ve had in my head for awhile now. actually, i have a lot of mixes in my head, but this one i made a goal to make by mother’s day to stick with its timeliness. deadlines are vital.
the official description: in honor of mother’s day (usa), a mix of songs featuring musician moms and their little ones.
the unofficial description: quality songs with gigantic dollops of cuteness.
what i wasn’t expecting: how few songs there are with female musicians and their kids. i looked high and low and racked my musical memory. maybe there are more and i’m just trippin.
up next: father’s day version, obviously. so many more song options for that one.
happy listening and a huge happy mother’s day to everyone celebrating!