Casual Cadenza: Stress, sadness and George Michael

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Last week, I mentioned how midterms were the scariest aspect of October apart from Halloween. Clearly I was mistaken. The supposedly stressful past two weeks have ultimately been one-upped by the upcoming two weeks, which for me have been filled with a plethora of deadlines. And while I have no exams, there is an overabundance of assignments that I have yet to do and have yet to figure out how to do. 

The nature of a remote semester has also done nothing in diminishing this behavior, as online classes have now caused me to develop a lifestyle similar to that of the grandparents in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” My mind seems to correlate the word “asynchronous” as a synonym for “optional,” offering no help in motivating me to carry out the required work and only adding to the number of gray hairs on my head, as I spend hours on TikTok instead of watching recorded lectures and pretending to retain their information. 

So most of it is my fault, but granted, a lot of us aren’t exactly geared to learn this way either. Most of the stress happened to accumulate within the same week I was dealing with random bouts of melancholy, which I have yet to identify as early onset seasonal depression or simply being unhappy for no reason. One can easily assume that being simultaneously stressed and sad is only a recipe for the opposite of productivity. 

Admittedly, this is my explanation for the lack of an interesting theme and a lack of music in general. I hope spouting off about the songs that have accompanied a gruelling week will suffice as atonement. 

As a disclaimer, this week’s playlist does have a noticeable pattern of throwbacks ranging from ‘60s counterculture to ‘80s pop ballads — the likely result of my mind subconsciously yearning for simpler times. “End of the World” by Herman’s Hermits is one example. 

The song came out in 1965, with lyrics that resonate with audiences 55 years later. Listening to the words, “I wake up in the morning and I wonder / Why everything’s the same as it was / I can’t understand, no I can’t understand / Why life goes on the way it does,” was probably not the best way to improve my mood, but it did summarize my internal thought process. This dark and dismal episode of listening to sorrowful ‘60s tunes thankfully didn’t last long, as it was soon interrupted by a distinguished saxophone riff. 

The iconic beginning of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” has become the go-to melody for a comedic method of establishing sexual tension, with Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” coming in close second place. Regardless of its meme-ability, “Careless Whisper” has all the right components to be an unironically good song: a distinctive sax line, simple lyrics and a catchy beat that makes body rolls a mandatory dance move. My enjoyment proved to be enough of a distraction from the burden of online classes. 

Despite that fact, I wouldn’t say any of these songs made the incessant workload feel any less. I’m not sure how long this impasse of discouragement will last, nor if I’ll ever have a positive topic to write about, but I’m sure whatever else I’ll listen to will continue to make it more manageable. Expect an update next week as usual, with news of whether or not I’ve made it without an academic breakdown. 

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