August 17, 2006

The iPod Shuffle (One Year Later)

I spent much of this week discussing and planning for my future, which was both exciting and tedious. I'm happy to announce that the contract negotiations I talked briefly about yesterday have ended, with me signing the first official employment contract of my life yesterday morning. If you ignore the salaries involved, my deal is identical to the extension Mike Redmond signed with the Twins last month.

Crazy, I know.

I don't want this to become another tease, because I did enough of that yesterday and won't be able to reveal any meaningful details until next week. However, while going through this experience, it struck me how much my life has changed in a short time. I guess it's only natural to think back on what you were doing a couple years ago when making a multi-year commitment for the first time.

As recently as 18 months ago I was a journalism student at the University of Minnesota. I spent way too much time getting rejected on a regular basis by the Minnesota Daily and way too little time on my actual studies, choosing instead to focus on this blog while taking on as many freelance and part-time writing opportunities as possible.

As recently as 12 months ago I was deciding to quit school. What started as taking time away from studying to write had turned into taking time away from writing to study, so I decided to make a go of this writing thing full time. It was a little scary at first, because I had no clue what the future held and many people I trust told me it was a bad decision.

Now, as another school year is set to begin without me, I can proudly say that it was without question the best decision I've ever made. I'm still met with skeptics whenever the topic of my having left school comes up, whether the conversation takes place here or at a family gathering. That may never change, and some part of me hopes it doesn't.

I'm a 23-year-old full-time writer with a guaranteed multi-year contract that allows me to make more money than I ever expected to make and reach a larger audience than I ever expected to have. And if that sounds like bragging ... well, I suppose it is. I took chance, going with my gut and my heart over conventional wisdom and cliched advice, and chose to pursue a dream rather than a degree.

As Amir Vahedi once said: "In order to live, you must be willing to die."

While thinking about how much my life has changed in the past year, I also wondered if my musical taste has changed too. Those of you who were around back on March 24, 2005 may remember that I put my iPod on shuffle and fearlessly revealed the first 40 songs that popped up. Here's what I wrote at the time:

Keep in mind now that this sort of exercise can really only lead to you guys mocking me for my musical taste (or lack of), so it takes some guts to do it. Music is one of those things where you're bound to say you like a song that someone else thinks is complete crap. And I also fully admit to liking a wide variety of complete crap.

As I quickly found out, that was a major understatement. This was all done prior to my opening up a comments section here, so instead of everyone teaming up to mock me in public, I simply received dozens of e-mails full of "snide remarks and pithy comments." I also had a number of great songs recommended to me in those e-mails, which made the whole thing worthwhile.

Since I've never been shy about opening myself up to criticism and mockery here, I figure now's a good time to shuffle up the iPod again. Plus, it's probably only fair after bragging about my contract for a couple hundred words above. Gotta balance the scales, after all. Here then is the August 2006 edition of the iPod shuffle (expanded to 50 songs, just because I feel like it):

1. Al Green, "Tired of Being Alone"
2. Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy"
3. Wheetus, "Teenage Dirtbag"
4. Nas, "One Mic"
5. Jimi Hendrix, "Voodoo Child"
6. Mike Doughty, "Lisa Ling and Lucy Liu"
7. Anthony Hamilton, "Float"
8. Social Distortion, "Reach for the Sky"
9. Stevie Wonder, "Living For the City"
10. Alexi Murdoch, "Orange Sky"
11. Dashboard Confessional, "The Brilliant Dance"
12. John Legend, "Refuge"
13. Susan Tedeschi, "Alone"
14. Rage Against the Machine, "Bulls on Parade"
15. Van Morrison, "Sweet Thing"
16. Chris Whitley, "Big Sky Country"
17. Spencer Davis Group, "Gimme Some Lovin'"
18. Sam Cooke, "A Change is Gonna Come"
19. Stone Temple Pilots, "Plush"
20. D'Angelo, "Devil's Pie"
21. Stereophonics, "Handbags & Gladrags"
22. Smashing Pumpkins, "Bullet With Butterfly Wings"
23. Kanye West, "All Falls Down"
24. Alice Cooper, "I'm Eighteen"
25. Led Zeppelin, "Traveling Riverside Blues"
26. Tupac Shakur, "Thugz Mansion"
27. John Mayer, "Love Song for No One"
28. Nine Inch Nails, "Hurt"
29. Eric Clapton, "Wonderful Tonight"
30. Queens of the Stone Age, "No One Knows"
31. Green Day, "When I Come Around"
32. Smokey Robinson, "Cruisin"
33. Allman Brothers, "Whipping Post"
34. James Brown, "Super Bad"
35. Gorillaz, "Feel Good Inc."
36. Counting Crows, "Rain King"
37. Pearl Jam, "Better Man"
38. Notorious B.I.G., "Hypnotize"
39. Jason Mraz, "You and I Both"
40. Ben Harper, "Steal My Kisses"
41. Strokes, "Last Night"
42. Jonny Lang, "Breakin' Me"
43. Three Doors Down, "Be Like That"
44. Howie Day, "Collide"
45. Geto Boys, "Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangster"
46. Black Crowes, "Jealous Again"
47. Public Enemy, "911 is a Joke"
48. Billy Joel, "Rosalinda's Eyes"
49. Blind Melon, "No Rain"
50. Marvin Gaye, "Mercy Mercy Me"

What do you think? Better or worse than last year's version? As I did last year, I challenge any of my fellow bloggers who are reading this to open yourself up to the same mockery and post your own iPod shuffle. I'll even link to it.

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