The Pondering Grapefruit
a blog of moments
About two weeks ago I got a record player. It was a basic vintage style wooden one manufactured by 1byone products which I got from Amazon. A friend had given me a $20 Amazon gift card, so that sealed the deal for me. I have to come to terms that this has officially established me as a hipster, but I love the record player enough that I can accept that (though I do think the more correct term, as opposed to hipster, would be an audiophile). In short, it is one of the best purchases I ever made.
When it arrived I immediately went out to a local store to get some vinyls. I wanted jazz and classical songs and found many gems. In the past two weeks I've collected the following LPs:
Aside from the enhanced sound quality (which I will get to in a second), I love the covers. each one has such a unique art and design that matches the music it contains. You see that with the impressionistic painting on Debussy's album, with the dynamic brush strokes of Lionel Hampton's figure--he looks like he is shouting, and he indeed shouts a lot in the album. In addition to the art, I also really like the descriptions of the artist and music in the back. By collecting records, you get more than just music, but also a comprehensive understanding of the history and essence of that artist and musical style.
The musical experience then becomes so much richer. I also appreciate that the vinyl itself has physical separations between each song. You can see when one song ends and the next begins by the smooth separations on the disc. I think it is quite wonderful that space can symbolize sound, much like how visual representations in sheet music correspond to sounds. It makes me think of how music is so much more than just pleasant sounds, and how it can be appreciated in many forms: visual, physical, sensual.
Getting a record player has opened my eyes more to how music nowadays has evolved from the original vinyl. Album covers, though they are smaller and often seen in digital formats, still try to match the style of the artist. Even the gaps between songs are done in tradition to the separation of songs in vinyl. A lot of artists now record albums without spaces between the songs, simply because they can. Ironically, listening to old records has given me a better understanding and appreciation of modern methods of listening to music. I guess this is why history is important, because everything has a history.
Last, I just want to talk about the sound. I remember when I got my first exposure to record players at Harvard's radio station, WHRB. During my training to become a jazz DJ I was told that records have a much richer sound quality because the music comes directly from grooves. In other words, it is a more direct translation that is closer to the plucking of an actual instrument.
I would agree. The album I put on was Art Tatum, and I could definitely hear the difference. It was as if I was listening to a live performance. The music had such a multi-dimensional quality I felt like I could touch it. I was so happy, my heart was pounding so hard I thought I was going to get a heart attack. I've only had that feeling a few times before, and that was while reading Kalil Gibran's The Prophet and when I met my boyfriend.
It is nice to know that you can buy things that make you happy, that happiness can be so easily attained with simple purchases.
About a month ago I invested in some nice stationary. And in the past month I have been writing many letters of all sorts, saying thank you's, I'm sorry's, please forgive me's, and I love you's. It felt lovely to pick up an old tradition.
Throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school, my friends and I wrote constant letters to each other-- sticky notes that we'd place under desks and inside lockers; coded notes with secret alphabets that only the two of us knew how to decode; long, winding letters as we prepared to go to college.
I was lucky to be surrounded with so much love growing up. Inside my bathroom closet I keep several boxes filled with these memorabilia from friends and family during my childhood. As I started college I was skeptical that I could ever find so much warmth again.
Of course, I was wrong. Life is a series of lessons. After I graduated and moved back home and reorganize my things, I found that I had received even more letters during college than I did in high school. And from more people. These notes were evidence of the connections I made, that these friends were real and tangible. College did happen, and I was still just as lovable as before.
Today in the mail I received a card from an old friend whose goal is to write one heartfelt letter a week to a friend (She got this from Rule #20 of Richard Carlson's Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and It's All Small Stuff). I immediately wrote her back and also resolved to start writing at least one letter a week.
Handwritten letters, I realize, are so significant because they contain more than just words. They are a symbol of love, because in holding a letter, you can sense that the person who write it to you took time out of their day to pick a card, spend time writing it, lick the envelope to close, place a stamp on it, and walk out of their house to put it in the mail.
A card is evidence of action, an action that, though it involves words, says so much more than those words. Most importantly, cards are an extension of the person sending it. Everything from the handwriting, to the slant of the lines, to the way that the stamp was placed on the envelope, hints at the person's nature. So you get, not just the message, but an artifact, a piece of the person you love.
If that isn't beautiful, I don't know what it is.
Wow, it has been more than a month since my last post. I do have an explanation: I had finals the first half of May, and then the last half of May I was hosting friends who visited me before graduation. Graduation itself happened on May 26. Since then I have been resettling back home in Atlanta. Now that I've found a job, reconnected with friends, and renewed my climbing membership, life is stable enough where I have free time to work on this blog again. The theme remains the same: I am focused on sharing insights and wisdom I gained in my personal life.
Most recently, a turtle visited me. I woke up one morning to find him in the garage, huddled under a cabinet. It has 12 scutes at the bottom and a mottled pattern on the head, so I think it is a Blanding's turtle. Because it has sharply curved claws, a depression on the bottom shell, and a fat tail, I think it is a male. Say hello to Mr. Turtle.
I played with him for a while, observing the way he crawls, hops, hisses (Turtles do make noises, after all!). He liked to crawl under furniture, and he especially liked sitting on top of my kitty slippers under my bed, where it was soft and dark and safe. Eventually though, I took him to a nearby park called Stone Mountain and released him there.
The moment he came close to the waters, he calmed down and stopped trying to escape from the bowl. When I plopped him on the ground, he crawled towards this log and began burrowing inside the leaves. He seemed so much more comfortable, natural, and kingly in the woods, his true home.
By the end we saw just his shell. He had made his nest for the day, and Mr. Turtle was happy once more.
Blanding's turtles may live up to 80 years in the wild (they live far shorter lives in captivity, sadly). This one had well developed patterns on his skin and shell, so chances are he is my senior. In fact, he seemed ancient. His eyes had the solemn clarity of someone who has seen and experienced much. His pointy, curved mouth seemed bird-like, and since birds arose from dinosaurs, he reminded me of a mini-modern day dinosaur.
Mr. Turtle's visit opened my mind to much pondering. I realize how different our worlds were. He knows of the lands and the lakes, the leaves. He knows how to be cold blooded, how to move with slow, clunky grace. I also realized how cruel it is to capture animals when they are at no risk in their natural environment. Most Blanding's turtles are caught from their homes and sold as pets. It pained me to think of such a majestic animal being stuck in a cage for so long, when its real home consists of entire lakes, its furniture giant logs of long-lived trees.
I thought of habitats, how each animal has its unique habitat where it can thrive best, and how that logic may be prescribed to humans as well. Our lives may suffer if we are placed in a habitat not suited for us. I am learning more and more about what belongs in my habitat and trying to structure my life to that model, and also telling myself that it's ok to prefer quiet forests to screeching jungles.
The last thing: that everything has its own nature. We must spend time with it, observe it, and only when we really understand it can we love it. Or perhaps, love arises from true understanding, for once we truly know something, we are able to recognize its unique beauty, which otherwise, in the light of ignorance may appear as faulty or foul.
So thank you, Mr. Turtle, for your company. I'm glad that I was able to give you a new home where you won't run the risk of getting run over by cars.
About this Blog
I have no idea how to describe what my writing is about. I just write. I post when I can, which can be weekly or monthly depending on where the universe is taking me. As for the Grapefruit, my Vietnamese nickname, Buoi, means grapefruit.