September 1, 2009

Rocking Out in All the Wrong Places

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While I’m a music nerd in the flesh, I’m somewhat athletic when I want to be. I particularly like to run (although some may call my pace a swift jog). Like most who frequent the gym, working out requires some form of media to enjoyably pass the time. My weapon of choice is the iPod.
It’s small, holds thousands of songs, can be effortlessly adjusted and easily attaches to my arm. But the excellent little device can be a devil in disguise. The music it sends to my ears cause a terribly embarrassing reaction: my lips cannot resist mouthing the words when I get really into a song and my arms flail into a hodgepodge of air drumming and guitar. No matter the location, when I’m getting physically pumped up, loud music makes me rock out. Whether mid-run across the bridge to North Campus with 50 onlookers or while trekking on a treadmill during peak gym hours at Noyes, my body does inexcusable things when the music lets it. Occasionally I have to dodge a stare as a result. But I usually find that the slight feeling of embarrassment is worth every second of being caught up in the music.
Oddly enough, when I transform into this faux-rock star at the most unintentional of moments, I feel the best I do all day. Of course, I do so at the expense of looking extremely uncool to lots of people. In fact, I’m pretty stellar at publicly defining anti-cool. But when I’m on the treadmill and I burst into a lip-synch –– arms and all — and I become that crazy girl who looks like she’s having an argument with herself, I just can’t help but think that I’m having more fun than just running plain-Jane style. To others, I look like the farthest thing from a rock star; but on the inside I’m all lead singer material.
But music doesn’t only capture my body when I’m working out. Can you say public bathroom Broadway star? Like the Cornell masses, I’ve learned that walking from class to class or through the aged corridors just doesn’t seem right without being plugged into an iPod. Unlike the Cornell masses, I pee a lot. So practically anytime I find myself between destinations, I must make a ladies room stop. When connected to my tunes, this detour is a self-consciousness nightmare. Regardless of the song or band (heck I even could be listening to the soundtrack of Ragtime) the 60 or so seconds I spend alone in a stall is my open invitation to take the stage. Absurd facial expressions, shoulder shakin’ and of course arm thrashing, come out in full force. The only problem: half of the time when I put myself all in order and step out into the very public space of sinks and paper towels, I just can’t stop. My feet tap, I toss my hair as I check myself out in the mirror, and, oh boy, is it an awkward mess when someone else walks in.
While the one-to-one eye contact with a bathroom intruder is of the most discomfort, it’s nothing compared to the clusters of people that have gotten totally ticked off at my antics during concerts. Several times the change over music at a gig has stolen my attention more than the live band to follow. For some reason, hearing something I love that also happens to be the last thing in the world I’d expect the venue to turn on just gets me giddy. When I get giddy, I sing along. There’s been a time or two (fine, maybe three) when I’ve gotten so into the change over music that I kind of seem tranquilized by the time the actual band comes on. The normal attendees around me just want to chit-chat, and I don’t. Even though I know I can hear the same songs being played on the hushed speakers later and at much better distance, I prefer to listen like I am seeing the background musicians live. I usually dance about and make my surrounding concertgoers wonder about me. Strange much? Yes. But, the music makes me!
Despite the odd looks, awkward interactions and offense I might cause those around me at the gym, in bathrooms and at concerts, sometimes I just can’t repress my rock star urges. A listening experience so intense that it causes my body to unconsciously rock out is strangely pleasing, though 100 percent stare-inducing. Sometimes I even wonder if the only reason other than survival that I imbue liquids is for the time I get to spend with the volume turned to maximum in bathroom stalls. Also, I’ve come to believe that aside from the fact that running is a good activity for my heart and that it boosts my endorphins, it also provides me another option to be the pretend rock star that everyone else has role-played in their bedroom, car or shower. So if that means getting stares at the gym, so be it.
I can no longer count how many times I’ve stepped out of a bathroom stall with Fall Out Boy blasting from my headphones. Although every time I’m immediately mortified that people know I’m a 21-year-old who listens to Fall Out Boy, and also that I’m enjoying craptastic music a little too much, my love/hate relationship with getting into the groove in public gets heavily weighed down by love. So in this first full week of classes, I dare you to let down your guard and embrace an I-wanna-rock-publicly attitude. Whether sitting against a tree on the Arts Quad, reading this paper at Trillium or traversing the footbridge, rock out! A simple head bob will do. I promise, it will make you feel a little bit happier than the minute before. And don’t worry about those judging you –– they’re just wearing their jealous faces because they aren’t man or woman enough to let the music take over. But one day, the music will completely win. It always does.