I’ve talked about how I write research papers before (that I believe in hand-written outlines so I see what I cross out and write in the margins) and this is something else I really believe in: playlists.
People makes playlists all the time for friends/dance parties/road trips. And most people I know listen to music in the background while they work. But I really like making a list of about twenty songs that have to do with my paper topic. Sure this is a lot of fun, but I promise it has a purpose!
Song are usually 3-5 minutes long, so it is really easy to get a “feel” for the song. A novel could take 3-5 days to read (assuming you aren’t doing much else), and even longer to understand. And sometimes getting into a combination of “research paper writing mood” and “appropriate for my topic” mood is difficult. So playlists are productive. I promise!
This spring I had two research papers to do and I made a playlist for each. My Villette paper about how Lucy Snowe plays a part on the stage and in Roman Catholicism in order to gain an active role in her own life. So this girly needs some empowerment!
“April Come She Will” Simon & Garfunkel
“Tennessee Rose” The Deep Vibration with Gillian Welch
“People Got a Lotta Nerve” Neko Case
“New Slang” The Shins
“O Mio Babbino Caro” (I watched A Room with a View a lot this semester. But it had relevance. Lucy Snowe goes to continental Europe (read: Catholic Europe) to develop herself beyond the Protestant constructs, just like Lucy Honeychurch.)
“O Valencia” The Decemberists
I basically played these seven songs and Passion Pit’s album Manners on a loop until I finished my paper.
- Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard in Garden State
So Garden State was probably easily in my top 10 favorite movies from ages 14 to 16. I mean I discovered the Shins because of this movie [like the rest of the mainstream world.] It slowly fell in favor of older movies that I was discovering, but I think thought I enjoyed it. Over winter break, I had an indie film fest with my mom, watching this and (500) Days of Summer, which I love, and I was sorely disappointed by it.
I originally loved this movie because I felt it showed how bipolar and bipolar medicine can affect a man and his familial connections, as well as his attempts at love.
But I was so disappointed by the maudlin interpretation of life that I held up so highly in earlier years. Zach Braff’s character is just really annoying and kind of pretentious, and it spreads with his directing. And now I can’t look back fondly on the movie.
I hate the idea that mental health problems can be fixed by another person. Watching this movie again made me realize how warped my perception of what mental health recovery looked like at age 15.
The two parts I felt were the saving grace were Peter Sarsgaard and the soundtrack. Peter is wonderful and captured completely every character he plays. Did you see him be suave and debonair in The Education? I didn’t even recognize him at first, but he was wonderful and very convincing, just like he was in Garden State. And the soundtrack had Coldplay, The Shins, Frou Frou, Simon and Garfunkel and Iron & Wine, all that I love.
I am eternally grateful to Zach Braff and this movie though, because it introduced me to a relatively indie band, The Shins, which expanded my then musical tastes beyond Maroon 5, George Gershwin and whatever was on the radio.