NEVER HIT SKIP: The Albums That Are Too Good To Skip Through…Yes, Even That One Song.

It’s diary time! I wasn’t sure what to write about for a while; I have, however, recently made a playlist of some of my favorite albums: albums that I cannot bear to hit “skip” on. Do I not like singles? Or just one song? No, of course I do! But – liking a whole album in its entirety is a special thing, I think. I’m a big fan of albums that I can listen to from bottom to top, backwards & forwards, through & through & through. To me, it’s the ultimate sign that I will never stop listening to ___ album; that I’ll associate it with important events or people. These albums, in their entirety, provide a rush of emotion & color.

Some other contributing factors? Well, I have synesthesia, though it’s not crazy powerful. I can’t see colors in front of my eyes when I hear a single note, but I associate colors & textures with certain songs, pieces, or albums. If I hear a song, piece, or album & immediately start strongly associating it with various colors, moods, textures, color scales, etc., I know that I’ve found an album that speaks very strongly to me. Same goes with crying, believe it or not – oftentimes, I think one of the best signs that an album is a good one is that it prompts emotion. I’m all about music being an emotional outlet, & I listen to all types. They all provide me with relief, joy, happiness, melancholy…anything that I am feeling, I can find some music that helps me put a soundtrack to my life, no matter how happy or sad it is in that moment.

I listen to all types of music – a lot of classical, really. Makes sense, given my music background, but if I shared a top ten list of classical albums that I like & told you why, you’d be still reading, 12 hours later. It would take forever, & that’s what I use my musicology classes for. However – if you’re interested in getting some classical recs, don’t be afraid to hit me up on my socials! (Instagram, Twitter

Here I present: The Top Ten Albums I Can’t Hit Skip On (& Why) ***in no particular order. Also: here’s my Spotify. Feel free to follow me, check out my playlists, or do both! Or…do none. ALSO: I’ll be putting a few personal photos after each mini review of each album. Some will be photos of me listening to ____ album while doing something; some will be photos of things I associate with ___ album. Enjoy!!!!!!!

Some Nights – fun. 

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I was quite young when this album came out. I remember being at Interlochen Arts Academy Summer Music Camp as a violin student & going to “mixers” (you know the deal) & hearing the song “We Are Young (ft. Janelle Monae.” That’s when I first started associating it with positive events in my life. I continued on to hear the whole album. When I left Interlochen, heartbroken, (as one is after summer camp) the sadder songs served as emotional outlets. The fast-paced ones let me go on long bike rides. It was one of the first pop albums I listened to through & through – & I cried more than once. Okay, maybe I still do…but remember: tears while listening to or playing music are okay!

My favorites? Well…”We Are Young” of course. I adore the “Some Nights – Intro,” & how it seamlessly melds into Some Nights, the song itself. There’s an incredible amount of emotion bottled up in both those songs – both extraordinary opposites when it comes to style, but lyrically, almost identical. “Out On The Town – Bonus Track” is another favorite. One of those melancholy breakup songs you can cry to.

As a whole, this album incorporates a lot of different instruments & sounds, as well as featuring other artists. It works as an album, & all the songs work by themselves, too. It’s emotional, exposed, & I fondly think back to my 15 year old self when I turn it up loud once & a while.

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15-year-old Sofia was a strange bird.

808s & Heartbreak – Kanye West 

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Obsessed with everything surrounding 808s & Heartbreak – did you know that the cover art was designed by Virgil Abloh (designer, DJ, & founder of fashion label Off-White), Willo Perron (a disciplinary director & designer)  & drawn by pop artist Kaws? The album also heavily features the Roland-TR 808 drum machine – hence the inclusion of “808s.” What Kanye didn’t know until he’d already figured out the album’s name, however, was that Hawaii’s area code is 808 – & the Avex Recording Studio in Honolulu, Hawaii is where Kanye recorded the majority of this album.

Everyone fights me on this – but I truly do think that 808s is Kanye’s best album. Again – lots of raw, pent-up emotion. Kanye, for the first time, actually sang…but used auto-tune. This provides a somewhat distant, robotic effect while contrasting with the emotional lyrics & melancholy background music. It’s eerie in the best way possible. My favorites are…all of them, really. “Say You Will” & “Paranoid” are almost complete opposites, but I love the lyrics & drive behind both of them. My favorite, of course, is “RoboCop” – I don’t know what it is about this song, but it speaks to me. It’s very colorful – lots of neon lights, blue lights, disco balls…that kind of a mood. “Pinocchio Story (Freestyle Live)” is also a great one: it truly is a live performance; there are cracks & dips in Kanye’s voice, & screaming fans sometimes make the lyrics hard to hear. Some are annoyed by it. I, however, love it. It reminds me of the sensation of performing; what it’s like to perform at your most raw in front of huge crowds. It’s an adrenaline rush, & it’s bitter-sweet.

I hadn’t heard this album until around November of last year (2016). I was going through a rough emotional time & there were a lot of lonesome listening sessions with this album in my ears. It brings back a lot of bitter memories, with a tang of sweetness. It’s funny how sometimes, frightening & overwhelming things can happen to you…but they turn into an elaborate memory, reflecting feelings, smells, foods, & so many more things that you thought of or consumed or felt at that time. So: I’ll say it once, & I will say it twice – I’ll say it 100 times if I must. 808s & Heartbreak is Kanye West’s greatest album.

Pure Heroine – Lorde 

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Okay. My obession with Lorde started when I heard her first song on the radio, late sophomore year of high school. That song, of course, was “Royals” – I looked up the music vidoe & was struck by this tiny, intense, curly-haired girl with a stare that could kill. The super minimalistic visuals of the video intrigued me, too. Lorde was mysterious, & so was her album – Pure Heroine is a teenager’s album, filled with an assurance, a sense of command, confidence, & times of freedom – & frustration. Her lyrics are rich. There is so much to dive in when looking at Pure Heroine. I dove in, alright. People started telling me I looked like Lorde: greeny-blue eyes, fair skiny, bushy, long hair…I embraced it & started putting on purple lipstick (the cheapest one I could find; a dark violet Revlon lipstick from my grocery shop’s cosmetic aisle), fluffing up my hair by letting it air-dry, wearing black, & developing a resting bitch face. I owe it to Lorde for people telling me I seem scary – I also owe her for helping me win my music school auditions. Songs like “Bravado,” “Tennis Court,” & “Swingin Party” helped me remember that I was worth something – they also allowed me to let my stress & emotions wash through me, rather than consume me. It was the soundtrack on airplanes, car rides – everywhere I went. I had finally found someone who was a “pop star” that I could identify with. She was human, she was odd, she danced weird. She didn’t care – & people loved her for that. Lorde was one of the best musical discoveries of my teenage years – no two ways about it.

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Yup – I dressed as Lorde for Halloween when I was 16. My proudest high school accomplishment? Winning “best celebrity lookalike” & being compared to Lorde. An exciting Moment In History.

Harry Styles – Harry Styles

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Need I say more? I am what they’d call “a Harrie” – meaning, Harry Styles was my favorite One Direction member. I followed 1D’s every move when they were touring & recording – when I got sick, I asked to meet them through Make A Wish…& when I (most luckily) got the chance to do so, I ran straight to Harry. I have a tattoo on me that he drew for me. His fashion is something that truly inspires & encourages me to develop my own style. His kindness & love for the LGBT community is something I hold close to my heart, too.

As you might be able to tell: I’m a big fan, yes. Yes – of course I went to see Dunkirk! (It was good just as a film, too. Don’t worry) Of course I bought his album. Of course I’ll be seeing him on tour next year! 

But, seriously. I was extraordinarily excited for Harry’s solo album. I wanted to hear more of his individual vocals & lyricism – & oh boy, did I get both! Some of the album sounds like classic British pop or rock. Others, like “Carolina” (which is about me, by the way…I’m Townes), are a bit of a tongue-in-cheek country song; “Woman” is an odd yet satisfying experience. Nothing can beat that quack noise in the background (but really, it’s a lovely song). I especially feel close to “From The Dining Table.” The lyrics are simple, but it feels like Harry is very up close to the mic – I almost get ASMR tingles when I listen to the song with the volume up. The subtle harmonies that actually do reach a climax contribute both to the delicacy & the power the song has. As for “Kiwi,” well…need I say it? HAVING YOUR BABY!!! NONE OF YOUR BUSINES-

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Taken while listening to “Two Ghosts.”
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Taken while playing “Woman” – look! I have hair!
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On my IG: taken while listening to “From The Dining Table”

Depression Cherry – Beach House 

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Now…who doesn’t love some Beach House? Yes, some of their songs kind of do sound the same after a while (with some excellent exceptions), but the focus on background music playing just as large (if not larger) a role as the vocalists is extremely striking. Definitely a great album to listen to when crying. The lyrics can be hard to hear at times; the music can really get that loud & sometimes words are slurred for effect. If you really want the real deal, look up the lyrics before bed, then turn off your lights & have some melancholy me time.

This sounds like I’m bashing the album – I swear I’m not! Each of these songs is special to me. Another great album I was listening to through my tough time in November. “Space Song” is on every aesthetic Instgram video ever, but that doesn’t make it not good – I’m still not annoyed! I would say that my two favorites are “Levitation” & “10:37.” In “Levitation,” strings give texture & urgency to the line, while the gentle vocals allow the listener to lay back. The lyrcis are beautiful, but can be hard to hear, like I said. In “10:37,” the gentle but steady drum beat(s) provide comfort & safety; the vocals contribute to it. It’s a warm, gentle song – a beautiful experience.

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Back at home for Christmas break was my prime time for Depression Cherry… 
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….& even before I left, the dark days & oddly glowing sunsets of winter, coupled with my blue mood…made Depression Cherry a soundtrack of my life at that moment in time.

Blonde – Frank Ocean

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The album that made me want to die my hair this color (I’m only kidding a tiny, tiny bit)

Well – of course! I was first sucked into the Frank Ocean hype when “Super Rich Kids” was everywhere – but it’s been years, & we’d all been clamoring for the next album. It even became a meme. The wait was worth it, though: all of these songs boast a variety of styles & effects. In “Nikes,” for example, Frank’s voice is sped up. It heavily contrasts with “Futura Free,” in which Frank sings in his natural voice about how lucky he has been – but also about how hard he has worked, & how he & his family deserve what he’s gotten thanks to the talent he possesses. “Be Yourself,” a track simply consisting of a recorded voicemail message from someone’s mother, calling her child at a university. The mother is telling her child not to “do that cocaine” or marijuana, & warns the child about “weedheads” & the danger of alcohol. Of course – substance abuse is always going to be a “thing” for parents talking to their children…& yes, you should be careful with what you put in your body. In this context, however, the 1:29 track is simply a humorous interlude to some more intense tracks.

Overall, Blonde was worth the wait – truly! It combines angst with humor; rapid sequences of lyrics along with one or two words repeated for a single track. There’s something for everyone in this album – & all of it is for me.

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September 2016 – last year, basically. I even played Blonde in my elevator.

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ANTI – Rihanna 

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Oooh. Yes.

I’ll admit – it took me a full year to really get into ANTI. I didn’t understand the flow of the tracks at first…still, I kept coming back to it. In the end, Rih did not disappoint – when does she ever? Famous features like SZA & Drake pique the interest of other fan bases – & yes, the songs with those two are great. In fact, it’s how I found out about SZA. Songs like “Desperado,” “Needed Me,” “Pose,” & “Sex With Me” are some real anthems of empowerment; of the beauty of independence; of the marvel of self love. Meanwhile, tracks like “Love On The Brain” are for the tenderest of moments; it feels much older than it actually is. Then – what better song to listen to than “Kiss It Better” with your crush, just to give you that extra boost of confidence….? Try it.

It’s a good album. I’m very sorry it took me that long to appreciate. But now, I appreciate it with all my heart. That counts, right?

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The real hours of ANTI – adequately expressed in this sign in a restaurant.

Yeezus – Kanye West 

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I only knew about Kanye West from the Katy Perry song more than a few years back: “E.T.” Oh – I knew about & liked “Mercy,” but he only had a few verses in it; it was more of a collaboration type of deal.

I heard about the Yeezus album on – believe it or not – NPR. Yup! Fresh Air (an NPR show) didn’t interview Kanye, but they did play one song: “Bound 2.” That was the first song that I truly ever heard Kanye as a solo artist, not a collaborator. I was intrigued by the mixing of retro tracks with new verses by Kanye himself. I loved the cover art. I was…taken aback by the music video Kanye made with Kim Kardashian (I was still young…okay?). But most of all, I was intrigued. That’s when I really started getting into listening to beats of songs. Yeezus flows exquisitely well, in my opinion. There are some intense – almost horrifically intense – songs like “On Sight,” or “Black Skinhead.” There are others like “Hold My Liquor” – this song combines some of the melancholy heard on 808s with a heavy, sometimes screeching beat, along with aggressive yet emotionally expressive lyrics. I was intrigued at how “Bound 2” seemed to be a goodbye to the world; a hello to his wife (wait, were they married then?) & the children they would soon be having. I like to think of it as a great depiction of how meeting someone you truly end up loving makes you feel – normal things are beautiful. “Red cups on the lawn,” not telling your mom, speaking about infidelity as well as loyalty. It depicts a faulty yet loving relationship, in my opinion – sure, told from the standpoint of a man, but nevertheless, Kanye’s right – sometimes you don’t remember the day you first met; that’s okay. It’s also okay to write a song about it being okay.

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The days of Yeezus – especially “Bound 2” were in the Adirondack mountains, summer of 2015.

Mind of Mine – Zayn Malik 

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Zayn Malik has not been…the most politically correct these past few years, let us say. He was the rogue – left One Direction, broke all our hearts, & went out & got cozy with Gigi Hadid, reinvented the importance of Twitter celebrity feuds – & released an album that knocked me speechless.

No, I’m not a fan of all Zayn has said & done. But his album is objectively good – “Pillowtalk” was a great single – both visually & musically appealing. His track organization was meticulous; each song flows into the next – literally. Each song ends with the beginning of the next song. Like I’ve already said – I have a weakness for that kind of album style. Each & every song from the album is pleasant to listen to, but all together they are a journey.

“Pillowtalk” will always be iconic for me…but “dRuNk” (thank you, quirky type style), “INTERMISSION: fLoWer,” “BLUE,” “BRIGHT,” & “SHE DON’T LOVE ME” all touch me in different ways. It’s a good album to listen to when you’re in your feelings. Zayn’s been flying quite low since he dropped his album & did a promo tour…who knows what he’s up to? I certainly don’t – but I do know that Mind of Mine is an excellent album with a great flow.

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At arcades, blasting Mind of Mine.

Melodrama – Lorde 

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Okayyyyy. Another album I waited for as eagerly as I did Frank Ocean’s. No…that’s a lie. I waited even more eagerly for this one. Like I said – Lorde is someone I really identified with – I still do. I wondered if she would be able to capture the sensation of late teens & early adulthood. That was the night before she released “Green Light” as her first single. The next morning, I woke up feeling like I should go dance on top of a car, or a roof…a strange bathroom. It was different, it was new, but it was undoubtedly Lorde. It speaks volumes when an artist’s sound changes subtly yet powerfully. There was no major “rebranding” here – no new lifestyle, no drastic changes. Lorde – or Ella – grew up. She cut her hair, she didn’t wear purple lipstick as much. She went through a big breakup. She vomited outside house parties. She was living & dying – every night. I could identify with that – big time. Melodrama was this year’s summer album, & it’s an album I’ll associate with this specific time for the rest of my life.

As for favorites? When people ask me, I have no idea what to say. They’re all uniquely appealing, & at the end, it depends on what I feel like that day. Sometimes, “Hard Feelings/Loveless” is all my soul needs. Other days, I need to cry to “Liability.” Some days, I want to dance on a rock in the middle of a creek to “Green Light” – & yes, I did that the other day…all by myself. It’s what she would do, isn’t it?

Lorde gave me some real material here – coming-of-age, romanticizing normalities, being more open & vulnurable with those around you. Making closer friends, not trying to increase the volume of friends. Realizing that loneliness can be beautiful, & sometimes a walk (or dance) down your beach/sidewalk/street/nearby mountains all by yourself is exactly what you need.

Lorde cut her hair – so did I. We both experienced crushing life events over the past few years. So did all of you. Lorde’s writing is now infinitely approachable – who doesn’t feel like a liability at least once in a while? What college student can’t relate to “Perfect Places” even in a small way? Why wouldn’t you want to feel dangerous & beautiful by turning up “Sober?” Don’t forget about Supercut – it’s raw, it’s real, it is infinitely emotional.

I was lucky enough to have the money to buy tickets to see Lorde – or should I say…one ticket? That’s right! I’m going by myself, I’m sitting in the nosebleeds, & I wil dance my heart out. It has long been a dream to attend a Lorde concert; I was sad I didn’t have my shit together to do it last time she came around. This time, however, will be better. More songs…more to talk about. I can’t wait. & I love Melodrama. Did I say I love Melodrama?

That’s it for the diary – for now! Let me know via social – or the comments! – what kinds of personal entries you’d enjoy seeing. I love being inspired by you, & I love feedback! Also: tell me your top 10 “never hit skip” albums – or just one album. I’m always looking for new ones.

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5:30 a.m…..
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…9:30 p.m.
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A “Supercut”

Love,

Sof ❤

Diary: I AM VERY SICK! & Now That I Have Your Attention – Please Read This! (No, It’s Not Clickbait)

Hello friends! This is just a short diary post & a quick life update.

I am still working! Still working hard at a “real” job. It is very hard; I’ve had some issues with fatigue & treating my hands properly. Since I am now arthritic, it doesn’t take much to get me into an arthritic flare. Usually, I am triggered by cold temperatures. Right now, my circulation in my hands is very bad because of the flare – the inflammation cuts circulation off to my fingers, so they look white or blue much of the time.

Why am I telling you this? For pity? Clickbait? No, definitely not. I’m trying to speak candidly about my illness(es) & raise awareness for them.

I just put out a few resources last night: here’s my YouTube video, titled “My Illness Is Not Your Inspiration!!!” Here’s a short introductory clip – click here to watch all of it. I really hope you do. Disabled or abled, young or old, I hope all of you can either learn something or feel like you can relate to what I am saying (here is a link to the full thing).

Have you heard of Hospital Glam? If not, you should check them out here (on Tumblr)

What is #HospitalGlam? According to the Tumblr:

“#HospitalGlam is a movement for and by people with invisible disabilities that started by appropriating fashion imagery and reinserting it into medical environments using bodies that don’t outwardly present as sick or disabled. #HospitalGlam is about contextualizing ourselves inside an often alienating environment in order to assert our rights as patients & better our treatments. By taking #HospitalGlam photos and posting them on social media, patients increase awareness in their communities and with doctors.”

I cannot emphasize how much#HospitalGlam has given me confidence even when I felt like I had none. It allows you to pretend to be confident. By pretending, you become more confident. This is something I truly believe. Here is something I wrote a while back, pertaining to #HospitalGlam:

“i have crohn’s disease & inflammatory arthritis. these illnesses have crushed some dreams & have ruined many a date/outing/even a vacation. i am not proud of my illness, but i am proud of how i have come to deal with it. every day is a learning process. i still cry many tears over it – i still get angry about the cards i was dealt. but if someone had told me two years ago that i would have shaved my head, dressed up in high-heeled boots & fancy sunglasses to go to a doctor’s appointment – then POSED in front of a chart of the digestive tract…i would have laughed in your face. this seems to be a common thing. the old me would have laughed at the thought of me even daring to do such a thing.

i am proud of the progress i have made – if not physically, then mentally. these are issues that will affect my personal life, my careers, my schooling, my relationships…for the rest of my life. i get joy & confidence for a moment when i make a “glam” pose in front of something that is so funny! no! crohn’s is not a “bathroom disease” – it is a serious, sometimes life-threatening one. some things are getting better, others are not. but my mind is healing, & every day, i learn more about myself, my illness, & how to deal with it. i am grateful for the friends & connections i have made. i am grateful to have a family that supports me. i am grateful to have gotten out of a situation with a manipulative doctor. i am heartbroken over a diagnosis i got over two years ago, but i am still grateful for what i have today. it has shaped me as a person. like it or not, i will give my disease that. for better or for worse, i have learned to be as unapologetic about myself & my illness as possible. & i love myself for it. thank you for creating a platform that inspired me to flaunt my beauty – because beauty is present…even in chronically ill or disabled people! how about that. much love.”

I hope you check out #HospitalGlam’s Tumblr! They are an amazing resouce for people with invisible illnesses. I also encourage abled peopel to take a peek. We can’t continue to raise awareness without abled people listening, learning, & sharing our experiences.

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Much love to all of you! I’m continuing to learn & I hope you are, too. Stay tuned for some posts containing my own writing – mostly pertaining to chronic illness, but also on other topics! Remember: I’m more than my illness & all that, yeah?

Also: check out the hashtag #DisabledAndCute on Twitter – it is filled with lovely photographs of chronically ill/disabled people showing off their beauty – whether in a hospital or out. It’s a great movement, & one I always talk about when I can.

 

I am trying to remain positive despite everything. September will be a hard month. I should be at school, but I am not. That sucks – but I’m making a great effort to make connections with people, meet new people, love new friends/people – & old. I know that I will come out of this a better person.

Have a lovely Friday (& stay tuned for Fenty Beauty reviews when my products arrive).

Love,

Sof ❤

P.S. Don’t call me strong 🙂 or inspirational 😉

P.P.S. I am trying to make more YouTube videos, but have no earthly idea of what topics I should cover. Suggestions appreciated!

Diary: My August Was Different This Year, & My September Will Be, Too

August – the month of preparation, excitement, adrenaline! High school students don’t like it; college students are elated to get back to their home away from home.

I never liked high school & always kept myself busy with my violin, focusing on the fact that once I made i through high schoool, I’d be in school doing something I truly loved. My first two years of university were not easy, but I did them – despite being sick, being hospitalized, & dealing with some other personal issues not related to illness. Even though I’d often collapse at the end of the day, it was worth it – I loved every minute.

I’m writing this 2 days before the beginning of September. If I were “normal,” I’d be preparing my things, moving into my place, & getting ready for my courses. This semester, that’s not happening. I’ll be at home, trying to get stronger so that I can come back full-force in January.

I’m not going to lie; it’s been really hard. It’s been hard seeing people I know & love go to university for the very first time. I remember how excited I was, all the good times I had, how hard I worked – & I get sad & angry, because it’s not fair that I’m in this situation.

Seeing people get so excited about school also motivates me. It reminds me that university is the happy part of my education. Sure, I no longer can do what I was expecting to do – but there are infinite possibilities. I can take some of the time I have this fall to narrow some of those possibilities down.

Here’s some love for all the people who have been pushed down this fall – the chronically ill people who can’t make it back to school. I am sorry you’re having to deal with this. It’s unfair to have your plans foiled by your own body.

I’m taking this opportunity to, yes, be sad…but I’m also trying to write more, listen to more music, go for longer walks. I’m taking an online class, & I’ll be keeping up my reading, too.

I’m allowed to be sad about this, because it sucks! I also have to remind myself that it is important I look ahead, too. If I don’t, I’ll just get stuck in a funk. Those are no fun to be in – even less fun than not being able to go to school.

I’m still a music-lover, I am still creative, I still love writing, reading, & I love the school I chose. This is just reboot time. It’s not okay, but it also is – & if I focus on the not okay parts of this, I’ll never feel positive about the situation.

So – love to all of you going away for the first time! You will have a tremendous time, filled with new people & new adventures. Love to all of you returning! I am sure you cannot wait to get back at it.

&, most of all, love to those who desperately want to go back this term, but simply cannot. You are taking care of your health, & it is not an easy thing to do. I love & appreciate you all, & I understand that it’s not ideal. But this reboot might save you – & me! – some serious pain & even hospitalizations down the road.

It’s going to be okay, even when the situation is not.

I love you all! Happy back to school.

Love,

Sof ❤

#MonthlyPlaylist: August

Hello, friends! As you all know, I love making monthly playlists. It helps me associate songs with events & people. I have very strong associations to music; if I listen to a playlist filled with songs from a certain period of time, memories will come rushing back in the most vivid way. I love that about myself, so I’ve taken the opportunity to make monthly playlists ever since I found out how cool it was to do. Also – it helps me organize my favorite songs. There’s nothing I don’t like on these playlists!

This month, I’ve held on too tightly to some people, & have been scared to make connections with new ones. I’m working on that. I’ve also been really sad & angry about not making it back to school. I’m working on that, too – & music is a great way for me to cope.

I have a pretty eclectic taste in music, but I think I’ve organized the songs I’ve been listening to most in a cohesive way. I hope you like them as much as I do!

The playlist is live here! Check out my Spotify, too, if you like.

Happy September! I love you all.

Love,

Sof ❤

Two Movies I’m Glad I Saw This Summer

~If you don’t like spoilers & haven’t watched Baby Driver or Dunkirk yet, this probably isn’t for you. Scroll on!!!~

I love movies! I am very picky about the movies I love. That’s why I was so surprised to see two really enjoyable movies (only one day apart) this summer. I usually skip out on theater hype, since, in my experience, it’s not really been worth it.

Baby Driver

The first movie I saw was Baby Driver. I went in without really knowing what to expect – I just knew it had Jamie Foxx & Ansel Elgort…& Kevin Spacey. I read a tiny bit on the concept of it & found it a bit eye-rolling: kid uses music to cope? Okayyyy…

But truly: it was done very well. Almost every shot in the movie is coordinated to the drop of a beat, the high note of a song; it’s almost like you’re watching a music video…except it’s an hour & a half. I mean this in the best way possible.

I also really enjoyed how Baby was just kind of doing his own thing, dancing to his own music & tunes. It’s something I’ve started doing (I mean dancing in the street or in the car, not doing criminal getaways) & have found that it’s an amazing positive stress reliever. I loved how perfectly the soundtrack coordinated with the mood & action of the movie. I love the soundtrack, period! Seriously: download it on Spotify; it’s a winner.

Overall, I think there was some potential character depth that could’ve been explored – but the visuals & coordination to music was what made this movie so unique & worth watching. Ansel’s cute!

(Lily James though…oohhf!)

Dunkirk

I am not one for war movies. I’m not one for Christopher Nolan movies, to be quite honest: I never got into The Dark Night, etc. But when Christopher Nolan pairs with some of Britain’s most renowned actors to recreate a battle from World War II…on location….IMAX 3D….Hans Zimmer on the score…& Harry Styles as a supporting act.

Would I have seen this movie if I knew Harry Styles wouldn’t be in it? Good question. He definitely made me seeing Dunkirk a priority – I was curious about how he’d perform & interact with the cast (I wasn’t let down!). I doubt I’d have seen it opening weekend if he weren’t in it…but who knows? There were several other actors – Kenneth Branaugh & Mark Rylance – that I really respect & enjoy watching. With the good reviews it’s been getting, I probably would’ve liked this one.

I really enjoy accurate detailed historical documentation of certain events; I think it’s how I get to learn & store a lot of things in my brain. I have to say this was a reenactment that felt very raw; very real. Of course, there are explosions – it’s a war movie – & of course, there’s drowning & bombing & running & all that. This is just done somewhat differently.

There’s a lot of helicopter shots of the beaches of Dunkirk; there’s also a lot of amazing footage taken in a fighter cockpit. Truly – seeing the cruising plane near the end of the movie, with the skyline tipping back & forth, beautiful soundtrack to support – it’s an emotional experience. The film relies heavily on these visuals to provoke emotion, in my opinion. I’m not complaining, don’t worry!

What did I enjoy about Harry Styles’ performance, you might ask? Well – I’m glad he had an acting debut with a part like this. Styles is absolutely not the epicenter of the film. We don’t get those sexy close-up shots paired with winks, sexual implications, or love interests. Styles is just playing Alex, a soldier, who wants to survive the situation that he’s been thrust into.

I’d go so far as to say Styles’ character was extremely unlikable – & to me, it is a testiment to Styles’ acting that I truly did dislike the character. It didn’t feel forced or overdone. It was done really well, in a convincing manner. & it’s hard to dislike Harry Styles – even when he’s not playing Harry Styles. I disliked Harry Styles in this situation.

I think Styles has some great potential that Nolan (& the casting director) clearly recognized. But there was no “Harry Styles” overload. I think he was treated the same as the other actors in that role type & it shows.

I think this was a great way for Styles to show off his acting chops without having to say (lines) too much. My mama described him the other day as a Renaissance man! I have to say that after seeing his performance, I might believe that.

Overall, however – Harry Styles aside – I truly enjoyed the movie. I’m glad I went to see it. Some of the plane footage reminds me of Roald Dahl’s chronicles of his time in the U.K. airforce – these books were read to me as a child so it was somewhat nostalgic to see this kind of activity displayed on screen, not paper. I think the visuals are incredible; the active is decent at worst; the setting is beautifully accurate: Nolan did most of the filming on the actual beaches of Dunkirk.

I’m wondering if this one will turn up at the Oscars. I’m hoping to see soundtrack nominated; I don’t think Best Picture or Actor(s) are really in the cards. I do think it’s an absolutely worthwhile movie to see. I learned a lot, got a close-up look, felt very emotional at times. It did all the things I want a movie to do…with some amazing actors stuck in there.

That’s all I’ve seen this month! Well, going out to see, anyway. I don’t watch many new films/movies at home, Moonlight being an exception. I tend to rewtach old things- so, I often am behind on the newer movie trend. Seeing two very enjoyable two movies in two days, however, reminded me to keep checking my Fandango. There’s always something great out there – & I want to be some part of it.

What’s next on my list? Not sure, but the film Detroit looks incredible.

What are the movies you’ve been loving this month? Old or new? Why? Let me know!

Love,

Sof ❤

#JulyPlaylist: Some Thoughts. & Tunes, Of Course

Fast, Sof! You don't have time! 

I actually do, but I think it'll be better for all of us if I explain why I chose some of these songs – & then we get to actually listen to them.

I saw Baby Driver. I related to it a lot – soundtrack to my life to cope with experiences. That's why you see a lot of it scattered on here. There are some good, old-fashioned bobs like A$$ – there's also new, like SZA & Kendrick's duo track. Harry Styles' album is all about missed connections; missing & yearning for what one can no longer have. Lorde's latest album & Dua Lipa's latest single are about taking independence – while also revealing their raw emotion. They're two very talented women that are very relatable to me right now. Creep? This is a cover by the Vega Choir. If you watched The Social Network, you'll have heard it. I hadn't listened to it in ages; found it, played it. Keeper! Aminé's album came out only a few days ago – I already loved one song enough to put it on my monthly playlist.

This choice makes sense, though. Wearing yellow, being happy, laughing more, dancing more. Those are things I need to work on. This playlist is about old & new people & things; it's about people I can relate to; it's about just really liking a song; it's as good a description of my month as I can give. Let's get to listening. I'll link something special at the very bottom.

Love,

Sof ❤

  1. bellbottoms - the john spencer blues explosion
  2. harlem shuffle – earl, bob
  3. chinatown – girlpool
  4. new flesh – current joys
  5. water - jack garratt
  6. doves in the wind – sza, kendrick lamar
  7. fetish – selena gomez, gucci mane
  8. new rules – dua lipa
  9. drowning - a boogie wit da hoodie, kodak black
  10. dance (a$$ remix) - big sean, nicki minaj
  11. creep - vega
  12. yellow - aminé, nelly
  13. from the dining table - harry styles
  14. supercut – lorde
  15. debora - t. rex

Here's a video of my month of July, in 55 seconds.

Gender? I Don’t Know A Gender!

Hello there! It's been a while since I've done a diary post. I figured I might as well update all of you!

Since I shaved my head, I've gotten called young man on the sidewalk a few times; I've been asked if I want different pronouns; I've been asked if I'm transitioning; I've been asked "are you a boy now?" or "what are you?"

Most of that was online, by the way. No, I haven't been approached by strangers in real life asking me what my gender identity is; I don't expect to, either! But I thought I might as well address some of the questions I've been getting quite frequently as of late.

Do you want different pronouns?/Do you not want to be called "she/her"?

You can call me whatever the heck you like! It really doesn't make a difference to me. In my mind – & me shaving my head (both this summer & last) helped me figure this out – I'm just Sof, I'm just doing my thing. How I identify can change & that's fine! I spent way too much time & energy agonizing over my sexuality/other identities. So: no, I don't WANT different pronouns. Wanna call me they, he, or she? Go for it! It won't offend me. You can call me pretty, you can call me handsome. In my mind, they both apply to me (sorry). & nothing has changed about me! I'm still the same person! In many ways I identify very strongly as a woman, particularly with issues surrounding reproductive rights. On the other hand, I don't always feel traditionally feminine or "girly" – & that is fine, too. So call me what you like! Doesn't matter.

Are you transitioning? Are you non-binary?

I am NOT transitioning. I am NOT on hormone therapy. I don't plan to do either. Am I non-binary? I'm just Sof. Sorry for all the vapid answers…but it really is how I feel!

Are you a boy now?

Nope!

What are you?

I'm me! I'm Sof. I change frequently – that goes for mood, attraction, appearance, & a whole lot of other things, too. It's something I beat myself up over – a LOT. It's something I've come to realize doesn't matter. Not to me, anyway – some people identify very strongly with a gender or sexuality & that is great & amazing & I support & uplift those who identify that way…it's just that I personally don't!

Also, I don't think this is me "coming out" or anything because I don't have anything to come out about. I'm truly, truly just Sof! I'm trying to make a mark in a few areas & make things better for some people. I like music & animals & taking care of my skin. In the end, it does not matter "what" people think I am. I am just me! I change a lot. & that is okay. If you feel that way, too…that's okay!!!!

This is all a bit up in the air; I think it's kind of hard to explain how I feel because it truly is very vapid for me. I'm better at skin care reviews. But if you want to watch a video of me talking about this, check it out here – & to update the end, yes, I did buy clippers, & yes, I shaved my own head 🙂

Love you all! Be yourselves, & label yourself the way you feel most comfortable – or don't label at all. That's cool, too.

And: Mama, if you're reading this…I'm still your daughter & baby girl. Don't worry!

Love,

Sof ❤