I love music, and ever since I bought my iPod, I find myself listening to it all the time. This newly acquired portability has seriously worsened my schizophrenic music habits. I’m one of those people who is extremely elitist about the music they listen to and likes to scoff at the lowlifes that listen to other genres. The problem is, the music I’m ultra-passionate about changes so often that the band I’m in love with one day is the band I’m curling my lip at the next day. And conversely, the band I was gagging over the day before is the band I’ll be ready to orgasm to two weeks from now. Perhaps this would be remotely understandable if my tastes weren’t so ridiculously eclectic.

This makes it difficult to adequately represent who I am to other people. When you meet people, one of the first “get to know you” questions is, “What kind of music do you listen to?”

I have such a dilemma when people ask me this. How do I tell them that I listen to everything as long as it’s not pop-pop – the boundaries of which are formed by Britney Spears’ stifled vocals and gyrating man-fantasy flesh on one side and Kelly Osborne’s faux punk wanna-be shut-up attitude on the other – but that I’m so elitist about whatever I’m listening to at the moment that if they answer with even remotely the wrong artist, I’ll inwardly hurl?

What’s even harder to explain is the schizophrenia in my taste. Some days, when people ask me what I listen to, I grin maliciously and say, “You know, NIN, Tool, anything industrial,” and then go off to slit my wrists and generally wallow in my crown of poop. Other days, I’ll say, “I HEART SKA, Reel Big Fish, Catch 22, because you know what, if I get drunk and I pass out on the floor now, baby, you won’t bother me no more.”

However, worse than my constant switch in music preferences are the times when I go through a musical identity crisis and don’t want to listen to any of the 3,576 songs on my computer. I call these phases the “malaise” sections of my life.

These periods are generally characterized by an immediate gut reaction response of Radiohead or Weezer to the question, “What do you listen to?” because they’re the safe bet choices that everyone likes. They’re like that cute, athletic and nice boy in high school that you never really had any interest in but that you could use as the immediate answer to the question, “Who do you like?” when you really couldn’t give a poop about anyone. These periods have sometimes lasted for months on end, but fortunately my latest phase only lasted a day.

That is, of course, until I discovered the soundtrack to Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” midway through my playlist. Now, I don’t know if you remember the days when Disney actually had it right, but there was a stretch of about 10 years where Disney animations had the most amazing musicals this world has ever seen. I put on the second track, where Belle first enters the village and begins to sing, “Little town, it’s a quiet village. Every day, like the one before.” It was amazing how quickly just one song brought me back in time.

Being much older than the child I was when I first saw the film, I reflected on the movie and the lessons it taught me. Mostly, I remembered how disappointing the end of the movie was, when Beast finally becomes a man again. Throughout the whole movie you wait and wait with great anticipation to see how gorgeous of a man he will be. As the spell is broken and the magic slowly falls off of his beastly body, your hope and anticipation grow and grow until – he becomes the ugliest man ever to walk the earth. And you think to yourself, “I waited all this time for this monstrosity?”

It’s like the way I hoped that I’d have a novel published by the age of 16, yet the age came and went without one single best-seller – or the way I had the hope that I’d get at least a 3.95 GPA, and when I did, all I could think about was how I wasted a semester in the library. This is what music does to me. It sucks me in and it makes me ruminate, think, write, re-evaluate the elements of my life and then pushes me on into another genre.

Kaminsky can be reached at lkaminsky@campustimes.org.

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