Travel Soundtracks: Self-Reflection in Perpetual Motion

 

Last year I found myself on, I believe, 12 long-haul flights and 16 shorter flights. That’s pretty standard for me. There are those who do more and plenty who do less. One of the things I hear from the latter is “damn, that’s a lot.” I guess, but when you get used to it it’s not quite as daunting as it sounds.

There is a flow to it. A rhythm. Dealing with airports, planes, trains, hotels, even packing, there is a method to go about experiencing the journey or preparing for the journey which, when finally discovered, makes travel much easier. Routines, pastimes, and activities, are woven into a coping strategy. Listening to music, as for many others, is part of my strategy but it’s not just any music that will do. As I have discovered in conversation with other frequent travelers, there is a soundtrack that is better suited to given travel circumstances matching the personality listening to it. Playlists are carefully curated and artists sometimes agonizingly debated regarding appropriateness for situational harmony. I am one of the many frequent travelers who have learned that just hitting play on anything I may like is not conducive to improving the conditions. It’s not about distraction. It’s not about blunt entertainment. It’s about fitting the scenario. It’s about being useful. What keeps my pace? What calms my nerves?  What sharpens focus? What allows for patience? Continue reading

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It’s not you, it’s me.

 

I hadn’t been to Norway in 3 years.  Last I was in the land of social democracy, black metal, and salmon trousers was in mid-2014 when I was finishing up my first MA degree and, after giving up my flat in London, lived in a variety of European locations. This included five weeks in Oslo. The capital was where I had always spent most of my time, the longest stint being three months in 2012 as I attended a short course at the University of Oslo. Seems a lifetime ago now.

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Just Another Day in Prague

It took no time at all to feel so at home that settling into a life in Prague had become a real consideration. “That’s how it was for me,” confirmed the waiter. “Came here on holiday. I just never went home.” For the third time in just under a month I was at the Hard Rock Cafe a few steps out of Old Town Square eating the best burger I had ever tasted beyond US borders. The atmosphere was also unlike any other with the greatest staff, the company’s largest memorabilia collection in Europe, and a custom-made guitar shaped chandelier, all within the oldest building to ever host the brand. Behind the three stories of burgers, guitars, and neon bars was real history in concert with a pulsing modernity—the soul of a city I had grown to love as if it were already my home. “Want to work here?” he asked. “Merch, club, office, whatever!” Twice in one day. Prague didn’t want me to leave.  Continue reading

Thank You, Strasbourg

I flew in and out of London on my recent jaunt to Europe. I admit I had missed London in a way. Distance and time can bring out the positive sentimental aspects of any situation, but as I stepped off that plane my dislike of the city was still palpable. Adding insult to it all was a rush of unexpected emotional complications. Do I really want to come back to this place for another degree? Too soon? Continue reading

Everybody wants to be a cat…

Paris.

I never made the city a priority before last year. I associated it with a lack of deodorant and with self-indulgent existential hipster filmmaking. All of the fabricated pseudo-romantic crap that I had been subjected to over the years, except for the Disney classic The Aristocats of course (which was REAL romance) was a turn off—probably because I don’t have ovaries. All of the anti-French venom spewed by the British didn’t help either. Even in seemingly good-humor those comments have real influence on perception. Continue reading

Into the garbage chute, flyboy!

“How was London?”

I get the question a lot.

Fine…I’ll answer it. My first proper blog entry should address just that. Best to get it out of the way before I move on to happier subjects like Paris, metal festivals, and last minute decisions to go to Tokyo to see a concert.

Warning: if you don’t like occasional strong language, the spewing of bitter venom, or my spiteful diatribes then don’t bother reading.

So…I arrived in London… Continue reading