Driven to Distraction

julepI’m ready to take a big step in 2016. Yep, I’m throwing out makeup that doesn’t suit me or is a waste of my time. This gun metal gray Julep polish, Kim (what a horrible name) is streaky and chipped after two days (this is week two fyi–I’ve been lazy) is going in the trash, no regrets.

Yesterday at the gym, where I admit I do get motivated and and come up with good ideas that fade within minutes of walking back into my apartment, it occurred to me that I never listen to albums all the way through anymore and maybe so much shuffling is bad for the brain. I haven’t finished a book either, fiction or not, in a very long time. This could just be me for the rest of my life, scrolling and tapping and staring out the window ineffectually. It’s possible that a road trip would be the perfect setting to get reacquainted with listening to music by a single artist in the order it was intended.

I had a bunch of notes I took in Portland that disappeared from Evernote (I don’t even understand what’s good about the product–I just like the color and design and somehow was led to believe it’s better than Notes on your phone) that I’m pretty sure were genius. The theme was cars and driving and transportation.

Being a public transportation rider in a car city (which Portland very much is despite all the bike propaganda) is unnecessary exercise in extremes, smashed up against dregs and the self-righteous when parking is easy and it only takes ten minutes to drive from one inner quadrant of the city to another. So much aren’t I a good personing in that town. Let me repeat a Facebook status from my January visit.

So much forgotten Portland is coming back to me. Irrationally irritated by everyone saying “thank you” when slowly exiting the back of the bus, and if they don’t get a response from the driver passive-aggressively repeating themselves just so slightly louder. So much angry politeness when the correct thing would be to just keep your mouth shut in the first place.

I can never decide in NYC if pedestrians, slow, oblivious, meandering, or cars, dickish and rule-flaunting, are worse. Every day my blood pressure raises, particularly in my own neighborhood, because of cars not letting pedestrians through the crosswalk even when they have the right away and the walkers allowing it by standing back and letting vehicles dominate. Making left turns on Roosevelt is a nightmare, I get it, and the sidewalks are so densely packed you can’t  unless you start plowing through. Oh, the honking, though. I only notice how abrasive and constant it is when out-of-towners visit. 

oregonian crossing

That said, the idea that every corner is a crosswalk in Portland (and everywhere in the US?) is ludicrous. I even ranted about this on a date with a stranger (as opposed to the date with the non-stranger who turned into my boyfriend) when I was in town. No, they are not. I took this hard to parse photo from the bus while being incensed.  Like people can just pop off in the middle of the street and you’re supposed to stop and let them go in front of you.  As a lapsed driver I was on guard the whole time (and a borderline asshole by Oregon standards at a few intersections where I sped up and turned in front of a walker rather than sit there for 30 seconds waiting from them to stroll by) and as a pedestrian put under pressure when a car saw me standing at the road’s edge and started slowing. I don’t want them to have to wave and thank. Portland traffic isn’t exactly Frogger, any level. 

Sorry, back to a point I was trying to make…cars are, I think, how people know mainstream pop songs that I’m just vaguely aware of not because I’m intentionally living in a liberal, educated bubble (can’t believe I got a 43 on this, honestly) I just haven’t listened to the radio since like 1990. While driving my rental car and flipping through stations I heard songs that I knew existed in theory but had never encountered in the wild, like “All About That Bass.” and…I can’t remember because I lost my notes. (I knew “Hello” because that’s unescapable.)

But is this really how people know mainstream pop songs? I already feel vaguely like a relic for watching live TV when clearly the superior way of consumption is now on-demand streaming on multiple devices. (However, I plan on ditching cable this month, mostly to save money and maybe focus my attention on more important things, and who knows, possibly discover the fountain of youth.)

A parallel could probably be drawn between passive media consumption vs. on-demand entertainment and public transportation vs. driving (or ride-sharing, which isn’t sharing at all) but I’m not going to make it.

Clearly, what I need is a nice, long road trip to sort out all my thoughts and listen to music.