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concatenation: january 23

Written by on January 31, 2023

art by skye schoenhoeft

In March of 2019, I made a playlist with new music I found that month. It wasn’t curated, it wasn’t ordered, it was just songs I liked, in the arrangement I found them in. No matter what has happened, I have stitched something together to remember each month since. 

Often, looking back on the long trail of music I left was overwhelming, observing the passage of time as a threaded source of anxiety. It is easy to lose my grip on this thread, dropping the line to juggle the distractions modern life throws from every direction. As something entirely out of my control, time teases me with its self-assurance. If I do not pause to pick up where I stopped, the moment dropped drifts behind, only remembered when looking back from a far distance. 

Recently, though, quilting moments with these chains of fleeting feelings has been healing my relationship with time. Songs come as gifts from friends, secret Shazams, party anthems, or diamonds from determined digging. No matter where they originate, each song is a moment embedded into my musical timeline, compressing the vastness of personal history into bite size pieces. My monthly playlists become unintentionally structured patterns to follow, a guide to remember where I am. Having songs to return to every month becomes my anchor, a prop for the passing backdrop. I finally have a hold on the line strong enough to stay tethered, but I want to go further. This project is a way to value growth. 

January is always about newness, and while sometimes falsely guided, it becomes a universal marker of change. Yet, there can be a hollowness to the new, void of preceding content. Januaries have an ache, a haunting reverberation when letting go of last year. In January, I look for the comfort blanket I have created in the years before. I hold tight to the rope and fend off the cold air with birthdays and family and new classes and old friends. And even with the intimidation of January, I am genuinely happy to be doing it all again. 

Welcome to 2023. 

Concatenation refers to a series of things — ideas, events — that are somehow interconnected, individual parts that are linked to form a single unit, like the links in a chain.