Friday, July 26, 2013

Walking with Headphones: a Guide.

The short version involves donning headphones, then putting one foot in front of the other. Happy July everyone! Ok, I’ll be serious...

As summer starts to scorch, wandering Joplin’s avenues in a sundress with some hazy drawling tunes in your ears is becoming a more and more appealing and worthwhile activity. There are many benefits to walking while wearing headphones. Slowing to a walking human’s pace (as opposed to viewing the world through 45mph-speeds in your car) concurrently slows your brainwaves to a similar pace. Suddenly you begin to know the cracks in the sidewalk, which houses have the best wildflowers, and which empty lots have the biggest variety of weeds you need to ask Jill later if you can eat. And the graffiti! In a car, you’re likely to miss all the cool “You Are Beautiful”-type graffiti on dumpsters and the spray-painted stencils behind stop signs. In my experiences, headphones make you more likely to zen-walk, taking the element of startling sounds out of your outdoor stroll. With only the sound of Goldfrapp to guide you on a midsummer night’s walk, you may find yourself prancing with your hands raking through vines and tree branches, leaping over concrete parking thingies and twirling around street poles. What if you tuck a single lavender flower behind your ear and grin like you haven’t grinned since you were 8? It can happen and I can show you how.

MixtressRae’s guide to walking with headphones with wild abandon and child-like joy:

*First rule of walking with headphones is a reminder that needs to be shouted from the rooftops. You don’t owe your attention to anyone. Let me type that again: you don’t owe anyone your attention. You don’t have to talk to the skeezy dudes on the street that drunkenly offer you a ride, and with headphones, you can more convincingly pretend you don’t hear them. For that matter, with your tunes at proper volumes and/or sufficient noise cancellation, you don’t have to hear others at all. I have a couple of decades of experience wandering these streets at all times of day and in all kinds of weather. I’ve been victim to catcalls (by catcalls, I mean anyone yelling anything lewd, insulting, or generally abusive at you as you try to just take a freaking walk!), porch hollers, and the creepy slow-down (when a car stuffed with guys slows to your pace beside you while spewing lewdness in your general direction). It’s yucky, but if you stomp your confidence into the asphalt while fervently ignoring the offending individuals, you’ll intimidate the little weasels. They’ll slink away with their tails between their legs. As with most vermin (and if you catcall people on the street, you ARE vermin), they’re more scared of you than you are of them. Don’t let anyone stop you from walking with headphones. It is your AMERICAN right!

*Second rule of walking with headphones is a continuation of rule one; pretend no one is watching you (and honestly, they aren’t). Stop and smell a flower. Stop (not in the street!) and change your Pandora station. Dance-walk. Dancing while walking is one of the most glorious joys in our world and it’s free and available no matter where you are. You must dance in this life. If your first reaction to this rule includes protestations of “looking silly” or some other such nonsense, just imagine how you would feel if you saw someone dancing on the street or in their cars. You’d think, “Man, I wish I had the guts to enjoy myself that much.” Well, I’m here to remind you that you, yes YOU, have the capacity for great freedom and glee. This glee only needs to be unleashed...with DANCE! In this life, we’re all too wrapped up in our own brains to notice others, so why worry what you look like?

*Last rule of walking with headphones may at first seem like a contradiction to the first two; hyper-visual-vigilance. Not having your ears to alert you to possible danger means needing to be aware of your surroundings with your eyeballs. This is not contrary to dancing and ignoring vermin, as it is actually a big part of the zen experience. These rules are meant to make anxiety melt away and turn the focus inward. Looking at the world around you at 3mph with the soundtrack of your choice is a gigantic part of the fun of walking with headphones. I don’t really need to tell you to look both ways at intersections, right?

Now that you have the attitude and the attention (and a pair of headphones, I trust), go out and walk before it gets August-hot and all you want to do is hide underground until October.

Music to listen to on a summer walk with headphones:
She & Him // (any of their albums, except the Christmas one)
Goldfrapp // Seventh Tree
Queens of the Stone Age // (any of their albums)
Lana Del Rey // Born to Die

Aesop Rock // Fast Cars, Danger, Fire, and Knives