Alone-Experiences + Audiobooks
What's ok/not ok to do alone?
Last fall, my friend Travis texted me and asked me to go to a concert.
“It’s in April,” he said.
That was far away. I was trying to go to Belize for a month, and then to Florida for a month, and then on a cruise.
“I don’t know, I’ll get back to you.”
March came and Travis asked me again, but now tickets were sold out.
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We looked for resales online, but it was more than $100 for an original $25 ticket.
Travis went to the show. Alone.
He texted me during the show:
When I was in my 20s, living in Wilmington, North Carolina, I would go to a lot of shows alone.
I did band interviews for a little local magazine, I don’t think I was paid anything, I don’t even know where those clips are.
But the bands were usually very obscure, the town was mid-sized, so many of the bands played on weekday nights, I didn’t have a lot of friends in town at the time who were into the same type of music I was, and my wife had to get up early to go work.
So I went alone.
I was alone, except for the handfuls of others who came.
Because I was never at a show completely by myself in the audience. There were others there.
I was with others:
Who were also at least halfway interested in this obscure band
Who were there on a weekday night
Who also lived in this mid-sized town
But did I make friends with any of them?
No. I didn’t.
I never went and introduced myself or made a funny joke or began chatting up somebody.
Instead, I’d interview the band, we would get along, they would play the show, then talk to other people and then not come back to the town for another 3 or 6 or 9 months.
I was most interested in the people leaving there, not the ones living there.
That says a lot about my personality. I had potential friends, with common interests all around me, but I thought I wasn’t like them for whatever tiered system I have in my head (Snobbish much??? Lack of self-worth??? So much to unpack…).
I’m more of a people person now, I mean on the scale of where I used to be, but no one would ever mistake me for a people person.
I had a conversation with my friend Jay a few weeks ago, and he mentioned that he used to go to shows by himself.
Like he drove to Nashville from Knoxville, which is a good 2.5 hours away, often by himself to see bands that he liked.
“I would go because I liked the music,” he told me very succinctly. Jay is a former English teacher, an artist of sorts, and plays music. A creative introverted type.
The way I like to think of myself.
Are introverts more comfortable going to things alone? Probably.
Alone-Experiences: What do you do alone?
What do you do alone, entertainment-wise, that others often do together? I’ve done concerts, movies, and art museums alone. I asked this on Notes:
A few of these are more conducive to doing alone:
Movies: It’s dark. It’s quiet. It’s not supposed to be for talking.
Concerts: Similar. But not quiet. But not really for talking during the music. When the band changes, that’s when it becomes more awkward. See more below
Art museums: Quiet. People are milling about. And moving. It’s more contemplative which is an alone-experience
On Alone-Sporting Events:
I’m trying to reconcile this personally. There are some teams I really like. Maybe as passionate or more passionate than bands I’ve seen alone. But the whole experience seems more like a party. More interaction. We’re watching plays, but cheering. Like a concert in that regard, but there’s running commentary. It’s easier to have a conversation.
And the environment is the antithesis of contemplative unless you’re like Don DeLillo or John Updike. Everything around you, the lights, the digital scoreboard is supposed to entertain you the whole time, not make you think. I think that’s why it’s harder to be alone.
Because music *can* be more contemplative than sports…
…maybe it’s easier to to alone. It probably depends on the band though. I’m not sure I would see a cover band alone. It’s whole raison d être is to entertain the masses.
It definitely depends on the band.
Is there an event that you prefer to do alone?
Konochingo brought up a good point. Sometimes you go to an event alone because no one wants to go with you, or you don’t know anyone who would go with you. But are there events that you prefer to do alone?
I go paddleboarding alone quite a bit. More than I’ve ever gone with someone. I like being myself on the water; a lot of times I’ll go spur of the moment and not think about going with anyone.
Audible + Alone
I had some Audible credits left over from IDK something. I purchased (rented?) Biography of X by Catherine Lacey.
I listen to a lot of podcasts, so I thought I’d be good with an audiobook. But I’m really not. I’m not.
I found myself really wanting to open the book and read it, but not just sit down and listen to it. Reading a book is an *alone* experience, but just sitting there and listening?
People did in the 1940s right? But now?
It felt unproductive. Like I need to be folding clothes or doing the dishes or exercising or walking in the park.
I do all of those things, but I usually listen to podcasts when doing it. Audiobooks aren’t part of my normal rhythm.
So I felt conflicted. I wanted to read the book, but I also have my regularly scheduled podcasts.
What to do?
I started reading other books, that’s what I did.
Do you listen to audiobooks? How do you balance that with reading the books?
Besides reading/listening to Biography of X, I’m reading these:
The Practice by Seth Godin (nonfiction, good thoughts on the creative process, notes so far)
Babbit by Sinclair Lewis. (fiction, still reading this classic, I’ve slowed down a bit because of these other books)
Every by Dave Eggers. (fiction, about a combo Amazon + Facebook company, the sequel to The Circle.)
No One Left Looking For You by Sam Lipsyte (fiction, one of my fav authors, I’m surprised I haven’t read this yet).
I’ll have more thoughts on those when I do my usual monthly link roundup thing, but I wanted to share that now.
“I think it's good for a person to spend time alone. It gives them an opportunity to discover who they are and to figure out why they are always alone.” — Amy Sedaris
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Funny thing: The band added a second show the next day and another friend texted me and asked me to go because his wife couldn’t go any longer. So I ended up going. With another friend. Not alone.