Saturday, April 11, 2015

Prelude to Record Store Day

My sniffling means two things: spring is finally here and Record Store Day is right around the corner! I always seem to get a cold/major allergy attack right before RSD. It would make more sense if it happened afterward since I spend the better part of a day in record stores, digging through bins of dusty records. Maybe it's my body's way of building up a tolerance for dust before the big day. I'm not a doctor so I really can't say.

One of the things I enjoy most about RSD is that I get to add "new" music to my collection of both CDs and records. By "new" I mean things that are probably older than me and are by bands that either don't exist anymore or haven't put out new music lately (with some notable exceptions). I've never been the kind of RSD participant that gets up at the crack of dawn to get in line to get the special releases; I tend to go a little later in the day and enjoy the live music (if I'm at a place with live music) and search the stacks for items that will fit into my musical library. I have a running list in my head that I look for anytime I go to a record store:
  • Bowie
  • Lou Reed and/or The Velvet Underground
  • The Replacements
  • Classic musicals
  • Random 70s hard rock bands
  • Big Star
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  • Sleater Kinney
  • Johnny Cash
  • Dolly Parton
  • Any 80s movie soundtrack
  • New York punk bands from the 70s
I also like to find unusual album art just for fun. I also keep a second running list of things that my friends or brother might enjoy. You never know what you're going to find and it might be the thing that makes your friend happy. Win win as far as I'm concerned.

I like to collect things, not in a hoarder kind of way, but in a these are the things I enjoy and that make me an interesting person to talk to way. I always have enjoyed collecting things - books, stuffed animals, Legos, Barbies, Rainbow Brite toys, Russian nesting dolls, owls, music, shoes. Collecting is comforting; that's actually one of the psychological aspects of collecting. It provides the collector with a connection to a memory or a place or a person. Some collectors do it for money but most of us just like our things and stuff (to be technical). I don't consider my collecting of anything a hobby per se; with the exception of RSD, I don't really go out of my way to get any of the things I like and I have a limit on what I will spend on most items. I was reading an article this week about a man who basically bankrupt his family to collect coins. The story ends happily with them getting something like $30 million when the collection was sold but why would you want to put people through that type of stress for stuff you like? That I don't understand.

Collecting is actually a characteristic of one of my top five strengths according to the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment.  The strength is input and this is what the assessment has to say about input and the need to collect:

You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information -- words, facts, books, and quotations -- or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don't feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It's interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable.

This description makes me feel good about lots of aspects of my life. Why do I feel the need to memorize quotes from my favorite movies or random facts or the names of presidential assassins? Why do I read constantly? Why do I collect records? It also helps to prove that I would make an exceptional addition to any trivia team and would probably kill it on Jeopardy. If I combine my third strength, learner, with input I can actually combine several aspects of learning into my person: loving learning for the sake of knowledge collection and its use AND loving the actual process of learning. Not only does this help explain my collecting but it also makes my career trajectory make sense when I step back and consider the jobs I've had and even the things I do in my free time (tour guide, docent). To some extent everything has been learning centered in either the input or learner way. Finally something makes sense.

I'm in the middle of one of my new hire training classes right now and I caught myself saying the exact same thing to this group that I have said to at least the last four or five groups: we are very good at teaching students what their weaknesses are and what they're not good at but we don't spend enough time teaching them what their strengths are and how to use those strengths to be the best them they can be. We do this as adults too; it's easier to focus on the negative than to really have a vocabulary of positive when it comes to who we are and what we enjoy. I don't mean to say that we should never think about improvement or anything. We just need to do it in a way that doesn't make us feel bad all the time.

If none of this makes any sense, blame the cold/sinus/allergy medicine I'm taking. I feel like my brain might be a jumble of things right now and I'm surprised that this isn't one long string of words like "bicycle, unicycle, unitard, hockey puck, rattle snake, monkey monkey underpants."*

Next weekend: I'll take you on my annual RSD adventure all the way up to Baltimore at the Sound Garden. Check it out!

*From Lorelai's famous rant in the Gilmore Girls episode "Santa's Secret Stuff" (season 7, episode 11).

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