Wednesday, September 5, 2012

on listening

Recently, I got the once-a-year (if history gives an accurate indication) treat of having brunch with Celeste and Rob, who were down from San Francisco for the long weekend. Though I don't know them well, they are kind and easy to talk to - we lounged at Square One for a full two hours, chatting about everything from healthcare to the current design scene in California, on the north and south coast. However, one topic of conversation came up that seems to be appearing often amongst my working friends: what to listen to while creating.
Rob, like Scott, is a music guy. Meaning: he knows what to listen to, and when to listen to it. Scott can pick an album out of thin air and know that is precisely what he wants to hear, and when that's finished, he has another selection at the ready. Music, for him, is an active listening experience. It doesn't require all his concentration, but it's certainly an option to occupy the part of his brain unencumbered by photo editing.
On the other hand, Celeste and I spend our days in podcast-land. This is not to say I don't enjoy music, because I definitely do. It's just exhausting. When I'm writing, whether it be a blog post or emails, I need music or silence - I can't have a voice chatting away at me. But it's difficult to figure out what I want. An album ends, and I find myself in silence, or on continuous repeat just to avoid the task of thinking about it. I find most success in shuffle, or a radio option on Spotify, or most likely, stalking one of my friends who puts together awesome playlists (I'm looking at you, lady). This frustrates me, because it serves as a reminder that I've never been a person who defines myself by my musical loves. I wish I was that person. Sometimes it feels like I'm alone in my teenaged memories of authors that define periods of my life, rather than the Smashing Pumpkins or Nirvana.
On the contrary, podcasts are an easy pick for me and my habit of multitasking. While drawing, or working on pre-press, or managing shipping/inventory/etc, diverting a bit of my mind on another person's words helps me focus on the task at hand, because the rest of my mind doesn't wander quite so much. Plus, what better time to absorb some information about current events, overhear conversations between comedians, learn about something ridiculous, or listen to a book I've been meaning to read?
This has got to be a combination of my general affinity for conversation, and my childhood summers spent on factory-style creative projects with a soundtrack of the Cedar Mill Community Library's selection of audio books. At any rate, to end this ramble that's only proving my love of not-so-necessary conversation, here's a list of my current podcast rotation, in descending order according my rabid excitement when a new show is released.

This American Life
Savage Lovecast
Fresh Air
Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me
Filmweek on AirTalk
The Moth
Professor Blastoff
Throwing Shade
Stuff You Missed in History ClassStuff You Should Know
WTF with Marc Maron

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