Fromm’s Erica, and Oregon Week

fromm-erica

Because I’m the kind of person who posts things once every three months now, I meant to write about Fromm‘s EP Erica last week for Hellokpop. Didn’t quite have the time to do that, so just jotting down a few thoughts:

  • It’s good. Personal (positive) bias aside, there’s both preservation and innovation here. The big and sweeping instrumentation of Arrival is audible in a few places, while the forlorn tension of lead “서로의 조각” (“Pieces of You and Me”) is something I haven’t heard from her before (Giriboy appears on the track, and fits right in in a way that I never expected from the mellow-but-still-attitudinal producer.)  Like any Fromm release, the thing is held together by a great feel for melody.
  • There’s a sense of comfortable seclusion in listening to Erica. Lyrically and sonically, both “반짝이던 안녕” (“Our Sparkling Beginning”) and “Pieces” build a wall around the listener. Hyper-focused arrangements that eliminate background sound, intimate dialogue that creates separation between the narrator-listener pair and everything else. It’s not a wall in the imposing sense of the word – more like a tall, trimmed hedge, enough to create insulation but also creating an inviting space. (The opening line for the HKP review was going to be “Have you ever been inside a garden lined with hedges?”.)
  • My favorite track is pre-release single “달의 뒤편으로 와요” (“Come to the Back Side of the Moon”), which has a breathtaking chorus sung by about 50 fans. Fromm put out an open invite on social media for fans to send in their voices; I would have totally done this IF I HAD ACTUALLY SEEN THE INVITE BEFORE THE DEADLINE PASSED. FGHIEOWHOIGHOIBW WHY. Turns out the Facebook feed algorithm wants to show me every post from her except for the most important one. My chance to be on the production credits for a Fromm album will have to wait.
  • Lots of pretty shots of Hokkaido in the album jacket. I bought the iTunes copy because I didn’t want to pay for physical shipping this time around, but I had to think about it.
  • One critical note: I’m starting to think that rich (or at least, significant) instrumentation is more necessary to make Fromm’s music work than I had expected. Maybe it’s a melody thing and maybe it’s the voice, but the austere “Blue Night” is by far the least engaging song here – and that was similarly true of the acoustic mix of “좋아해” (“Like You”) from Moonbow, despite the fact that the original undoubtedly had great composition. It’s not necessarily a knock – Fromm has proven adept at arranging her songs for best effect – but it does make me wonder about a comment she made in a recent interview, saying she plans for her next album to be really laid back.

Last Friday was a lot of fun, and may or may not have had something to do with why the Erica review didn’t get written. There’s been plenty written elsewhere already about the win over Stanford, but from my perspective it was simply the most dominant, complete performance I’ve ever seen from Washington in my six years as a fan. The program is back in the national spotlight and it’s a brave new (old) world.

By any measurable standard, the Oregon visit should be a slaughter. But it’s rivalry week, the Ducks are backed into a corner, Mark Helfrich is potentially coaching for his job, and the UO offense has enough skill-position talent to turn the corner on any given week. The one spread offense Washington has seen this year gave them some trouble. They’re starting a true freshman at quarterback who’s played basically one drive this season. I think that in a rivalry game, anything that introduces uncertainty is seen as a bad thing by nervous fans; I still expect a comfortable win, but I wouldn’t be shocked by anything that happens.

That said, if they fumble this away to a bad squad and Oregon’s streak goes to 13 in literally the very first game after Washington justifies the hype, I’m going to break something.

(I’ve seen some opinions that if Washington wins, fans should act like it’s no big deal that the streak has just been broken; Oregon is a bad team this year, it should be expected, and it should feel like we’ve been there before. I can see that, and frankly this game somehow doesn’t feel anywhere near as big as 2013 – when Oregon was elite and UW had what was thought to be a realistic upset chance – or even 2015 with an UO team on the downswing. I’m still going to celebrate the streak being broken. Maybe y’all been there before, but I haven’t.)

Veni, Vidi, Visa

I think political science classes all have one thing in common–they make you feel more learned than you actually are.

A lot of stuff about college does that, actually. But in all reality, although I’ve learned a lot in my time here, most (or even all) of it is so superficial–I haven’t even begun to crack the proverbial shell of knowledge yet (Is that a real proverb? I must have heard it somewhere…), taking my prereqs and electives and whatnot, and trying to pick out my minors way in advance.

I’m a month and a half from finishing my freshman year, and I’m sort of where I want to be. Not quite. A lot of what I’ve done outside of academics is also superficial.

I’m still shopping around–for the things that I will define my experiences around for a little while yet. If you’ve done this before, you probably know how it’s not always fun. Definitely not the continually blissful, liberating experience that it’s shaped up to be. I think I’m nearly done, at least: ready to check out, pay, delve into what I chose.

I’m closing this year out well, but what I’m really excited for is the next.

I came, I saw, I went shopping.

(I didn’t come up with the phrase, by the way. And it’s a stretch right now. Sonofanut.)

College freshmen

…are less mature than high school seniors. At least it feels that way sometimes.

The environment does that–bottom of the chain all over again, all that stuff. Being faced with the reality that you’re still not grown, and therefore the implicit assumption that you don’t have to be responsible yet. Being in the continual presence of older people around you, who know their way around a lot better. Getting to mess around with your choices and decisions for a little while, as you get “settled in” and “explore”. Compare that to your average high school senior. The polar opposite, right?

I definitely feel less mature than I did a year ago, and I think I’ll enjoy it while I can.

Bouncing Back

I see a lot of people start blogs. I also see those blogs more or less abandoned within a few posts. (I can only guess–maybe it’s just a long hiatus.) And I don’t blame any of them, really. I think keeping one of these updated is pretty challenging. You’d think that things that happen in everyday life serve as good posting topics, if nothing else, but I’m finding that things become part of a routine faster than you can type sketch them in words.

Which still doesn’t really excuse a two-posts-a-month schedule when the author is pretending to keep a semblance of a living blog. All of my writing time’s been going into essays and that little project I mentioned a while back, but I miss writing doodly posts like the ones I had over summer. If you want it badly enough, you’ll get it. Or so they say. Or maybe I have the quote wrong. But my point is that I’m really wanting to write normal posts, so I’ll be somehow creating time to do that in the coming days.

If you’re curious about my exciting college life, it’s been a less-than-stellar week for me: filled with ugly weather, a brutal midterm, a ticket for a red light that I’m pretty positive that I didn’t run two weeks ago,  and a 41-0 blowout on the football game against Stanford. I live pretty positively, but I can’t defend this week from its failure to be awesome. I don’t mind too much, though, because cool things do happen during bad weeks. Which is why I got to meet some of my favorite people in the world yesterday, and this dropped today, among other things.

I promise the next post will be more substantial than this. I do believe that I’ve run the course of how long I can take this one without rambling more. On Halloween night, for goodness’ sake.

Dorm Move-In 101

Moving into a college dorm is an easy process. Just follow a few simple steps and you’ll be all set!

1. Totally neglect to do anything about the process until a week before move-in.
2. Frantically try to buy all the stuff you’re going to need during that week. Multiple visits to the same store are to be expected.
3. Pack your newly acquired stuff along with your old stuff. Grossly underestimate how much stuff all this actually is.
4. Pack some more.
5. Realize that you’re never going to get this done in time, and end up making your parents do most of it.
6. Keep thinking up of crucial things that you forgot somehow. For example, a razor. Or a calculator. Scramble to find these things.
7. On the night before move-in, pick out what you’re going to wear the day after so that it won’t be buried in a pile of luggage with the other clothes.
8. On the day of move-in, wake up and see that it’s pouring rain.
9. There will be stuff that you haven’t loaded on the car at this point. This is always true. Go ahead and load all that. In the pouring rain.
10. Realize that the clothes you picked out from the pile last night are not prepared for this kind of flood.
11. Go back to the car and search for more suitable clothing. Destroy all semblance of order and organization with the loaded luggage in the process.
12. Find your hoodies, which happen to be at the very bottom of the pile. Taking everything out is not an option, so wrestle with pulling one out without ripping the sleeves to shreds for upwards of several minutes.
13. Win the struggle with the reluctant hoodie. Feel triumphant as you put it on.
14. Step outside the car, where it is now raining about twice as hard as before.
15. Resigning yourself to the fact that there will inevitably be something that you forgot, leave for school.
16. Get on the freeway, which at this point it would be very possible for people to waterski on top of. And if they really were you wouldn’t know, because you can’t see anything on the road.
17. As three freaking trailers swerve to get in front of you and spray half a ton of water on the windshield, watch as the limit of visibility as x goes to I-5 approaches zero.
18. Come up with a nerdy way to say that.
19. After getting off the freeway, stop by a Safeway because you need to buy milk for breakfasts as a poor college student and the local places were somehow sold out that morning. Pay twice as much as you would at home.
20. And after a long time, arrive at school.
21. Learn that every car coming into the parking lot must be guided, directed, and zigzagged by an army of helpful volunteers. Find that you can’t really be angry at the volunteers, but still feel like you’re wasting a royal amount of time.
22. Remember that you’re here, like, an hour early and don’t really have a say.
23. Slowly advance to residence halls.
24. After about five minutes, reach the main university entrance.
25. Realize that you missed the path to your hall a while back.
26. Backtrack.
27. Arrive at your hall. Be directed to a temporary unloading spot in the fire lane.
28. Get your keys and a mandatory, charged emergency pack from the desk.
29. Learn that while you thought “first floor” meant, like, first floor, in reality the ground floor is the third floor.
30. Take your stuff to your dorm room with parents and a volunteer.
31. Attempt to open the door with your mailbox key.
32. Unpack and get settled.
33. Realize that you forgot to bring a desk lamp. This is the beginning of several such revelations.
34. Open that emergency pack from earlier and be momentarily amused by the contents.
35. Attempt to go back up, and find out that the stairs are the only way up and down while people are still using elevators to unload.
36. Later, be frustrated at the stubbornness of the heater to blast at full strength even though it’s really hot in the room with the window open.
37. Be more frustrated that there are no controls.
38. Seriously consider going Greek.
39. Remind self to at least blog about this or something so that the experience won’t be lost.
40. Remember to write the blog post two days after moving in.

(The dorms themselves are fine, if you’re wondering. And I have it better than, say, people who need to go upstairs just to go to the bathroom. But that’s not the point of this post.)

Permanence

The more free time I have, the less stuff I tend to want to do. Looking back over the summer, this has been especially true: I got a lot more done when I was working as a tutor or had business to take care of rather than when I had nothing pressing to do.

I had been biding my time for a lot of summer: just waiting for stuff to happen, for someone or an event or a responsibility to come and jolt me out of inaction, and eventually, for summer to end and college to begin. And that works, for the most part. It gets all the jobs done, it’s efficient, and you get to have just as much fun doing things.

But this mode of living is transitory; it only lasts until life actually picks up and starts again. And perhaps because I subconsciously know that this is the case, so is nearly everything I do during that time. I don’t try exceptionally hard to forge new relationships when in this state, because it feels like I’ll know them just temporarily. I tend to not want to start new things when in this state, because it probably won’t last.

Of course, I’m not like that most of the time, or even for all of summer. I did get to know new people this summer, and I did start new things. When I get over the lethargy and pessimism, I’m totally fine. But I’d prefer that I don’t have to get over anything to do things that I want. Which is the biggest reason I want school to hurry up and start, to bring back an assurance of permanence to life.

The Art of Regret Prevention

These past couple weeks, I’ve had several occasions where I really had to take my mind and sail it out to the future. Pardon the nonsensical metaphor, I mean that I’ve had to think about the future a lot recently. I’m always a little reluctant to do this, because no matter how I try to spin it, the conclusion’s always the same: I’m going to have to work my arse off for the next couple years. For a future that’s never necessarily certain. Not the most encouraging thought.

I had opportunities open to me in high school, ones that are no longer open now. Partly for reasons I can’t control, like getting older, but also because of my own shortcomings. I don’t wish to have to feel that ever again–that I ruined what could have been by my actions (or lack thereof). It’s a nagging feeling, that. There’s no way to prove or disprove it, so the best you can do is to not concern yourself with it anymore. I think either I or time did a pretty good job of getting myself over it this first time, which is why I’m definitely not trying to put myself through another round of it.

Hearing about other high-achieving people doesn’t help when you’re in that state. Like your own cousin getting into Korea’s #1 school as a high school junior, or the kid from the Korean equivalent of 4chan winning a gold in the World Skills Olympics, or everyone around you that got into Columbia or whatever. It doesn’t matter if people say that you were in a different situation than them, that you had hardships. You still know that maybe you could have done something, anything, differently, and any of those people that were mentioned could be you today.

I am still more than grateful to be where I am. Just like in high school, I have opportunities that are open to me right now that will no longer be open in a few years. I’m going to have experiences and develop relationships that otherwise would not have been experienced and developed otherwise.  So I’m going to try and do it right this time–college, without regret. That involves making the most out of the time I have. There’s so much that I always wanted to do in this setting, but only a few years to do them all.  I’ll be doing the whole competitive admissions thing again when I do graduate school, and I’m not sure if I could forgive myself very easily if it doesn’t work out because I didn’t make the best of my opportunities.

What do I want to be like when I get out? With a diploma and a degree, yes. Preferably in about three concentrations. I should be infinitely wiser and more learned and knowledgeable and cultured than I am now. There are several hobbies that I would like to have picked up and be enjoying by then (one of those is writing. Oh wait…). I want a large network of people, both in friends and professionals. I want to have an even firmer drive and motivation for the life after. And I want to be assured that I spent my college years fruitfully.

I would express this as “work hard, play hard”, but even barring the fact that I think that phrase is a little silly, it still doesn’t fully represent what I’m trying to do. I don’t know if I even know what I’m getting myself into yet. The last thing I need is for myself to be worn out by rigor and give up. It’s a given that I won’t be all pumped up all the time. On some days, I’ll become lax and lazy and not want to do stuff. On other nights, I’ll renew my determination, and ask for strength. I’m just going to need to make sure that second option happens more often.

We’ll know what comes out in a few years. I think I’m going to be pretty smug with myself if I do everything I just said. I’m not going let this consume my life, though–balance, balance, balance. Just help me to not drop out, would you?