What I'm Listening To

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Joseph LeMay on Friday and let me tell you - it set the tone for a wonderful weekend. I've been thinking about his music since seeing him play in a friend's backyard last month and finally thought I ought to reach out and see about a chat. Nashville is real good for that. I'm never surprised, but always so grateful, when people say "yes" to coffee with a stranger. It's led me through some pretty lovely conversations, into some wild evenings, and up the stairs to the treehouse where I now live, and where I look at the leaves change each day. This is the grist for my mill of late.

Give Joseph's music a spin. You won't regret it.

Seth Godin: Hero of the Week

I listened to the unedited version of the following interview (found here) earlier this spring and was blown away. I've been a huge fan of Seth Godin's since stumbling across his blog during a time when the following entry hit close to home:

John Koenig calls it vemödalen. The fear that you’re doing something that’s already been done before, that everything that can be done has been done. Just about every successful initiative and project starts from a place of replication. The chances of being fundamentally out of the box over the top omg original are close to being zero. A better question to ask is, “have you ever done this before?” Or perhaps, “are the people you are seeking to serve going to be bored by this?” Originality is local. The internet destroys, at some level, the idea of local, so sure, if we look hard enough we’ll find that turn of a phrase or that unique concept or that app, somewhere else. But no one is asking you to be original. We’re asking you to be generous and brave and to matter. We’re asking you to step up and take responsibility for the work you do, and to add more value than a mere cut and paste. Give credit, definitely, but reject vemödalen. Sure, it’s been done before. But not by you. And not for us.

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, but maybe it's also ought to take timing into account. It's easy in an age of speed, information, and saturation, to feel like many of the good ideas have already been taken. Joni Mitchell already played in open tunings and her lyrics far surpass what I imagine I might write one day. But the originality of what I make doesn't ever so much rouse me as the interpreted efficacy of - and need for - its message, as well as the process/community/connection it seeks to cultivate. Maybe it stems from an upbringing in the theater. Maybe it's just my current process. My hope is that music will always be made, heard, and used in that endeavor.  Why do it if it doesn't connect you to a feeling that you are not alone? Even aloneness is experienced by everyone. Perhaps a more streamlined question asks, What can I do to connect myself to others in this work?

I'm meeting a ton of beautiful people this week and experiencing much of my life from the position of being new - new in town, new to the cultural and topographical scenery, new to unemployment, new to these tribes, and even new to myself - the old friend I have ignored and who knows me by heart. 

Grab a glass of something, sit back, and enjoy.

Monday Night Inspiration

I had wild plans to get to a dance party in town tonight but there is a thunder storm outside. Before moving to Nashville I had a pretty strong aversion to thunder, or rather, a pretty strong aversion to dying. The overpowering clap and roar make me think of my most recent transgressions and I usually end up running in panic, despite the distance counting my dad taught me as evidence to my safety. I was recently sitting in the Kroger parking lot mustering up some courage to remove myself from the vehicle and walk through said thunder to purchase my dinner. The realization struck (for lack of a better term) that at least if I died during this walk I would be working towards something I was truly passionate about. That was a nice revelation. 

Still, my pace was brisk.

Every now and then I stumble across something or someone that takes my breath away. Today it's Lenka Clayton. Check out her amazing project, Artist Residency in Motherhood

Here are a few of my favorites from her work:

The Distance I Can Be From My Son (Back Alley)

2013 / video series / 1:53 min

100 Bananas 2014 / thermal paper / 23" x 3" / checkout clerk; Meghan K.

100 Bananas

2014 / thermal paper / 23" x 3" / checkout clerk; Meghan K.

Women's Intuition (standing men) 2013 / 20" x 10" / found photograph, permanent ink I named the 51 men depicted in this anonymous group portrait using only women’s intuition. I isolated and concentrated on each face until I felt certain of the name of the man.

Women's Intuition (standing men)

2013 / 20" x 10" / found photograph, permanent ink

I named the 51 men depicted in this anonymous group portrait using only women’s intuition. I isolated and concentrated on each face until I felt certain of the name of the man.


 

I especially love the description on the tail end of "Women's Intuition (standing men)." It inspired me to think of this time in Nashville as its own little residency, with an outline of terms & conditions coming down the pike tomorrow.

 

Good night, ya crazy dreamers.
 

Questions I Am Asking Today

In a moment of hump day realness (#hdr) today I found myself sitting at the Frothy Monkey, a place where I have had some solid writing sessions each visit past, but this time in a sort of desparation wondering what the hell I was thinking moving here. I constructed a few lists, as an anxious soul often does when confronted with discomfort of the unknown, including such hits as:

  • "Overarching Goals for the Next Three Months & Beyond. No Wait Just Three Months For Now"
  • "Poems That Have Made Me Feel Better About My Life, My Choices"
  • "Things I Feel I Have Failed"
  • "Ways In Which I Become Distracted"

And finally, this list of questions that flowed quite organically from hand to page. I knew some of them had been simmering on low-burn in the pit of my belly, but others took me by surprise and didn't really demand an answer, just an acknowledgment of their presence. It takes some amount of vulnerability to write most of them here, but I wonder how many other people are asking these same questions, and if perhaps we might be able to share in our living of them:

  • What do I hear when I am quiet?
  • Do I like who I am?
  • Can I be happy by myself?
  • Who am I without the structure of work and forms of continuing education?
  • Am I worthy of taking time away from working society? What pressures does this create in terms of the need/hope/expectation of creative output?
  • Do I have something unique to say + is it necessary + is it time?
  • Can I build a life around this path that allows me to be present for the people I love when they need me?
  • How will I measure my growth in the next few months?
  • How will I know when I've succeeded or failed?
  • Will I be disappointed if something doesn't happen + what would that be?
  • Am I a good enough artist be part of the professional community eventually?
  • Why am I here, standing in the midst of fear and aloneness, if no one forced me to do it? 

So in the spirit of the great adventure, let's get to it. 

 

"I Go Down To The Shore"

I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall—
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.

-Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings

 

A Summer Move to Nashville

It's fascinating how I have to learn the same things over and over again sometimes. Reading my last entry from nearly eight months ago, I'm struck by how many of the same lessons have been present in the past year, again and again. Perhaps they will keep appearing in their various shades and forms until I am able to incorporate them as reflex. I hope so anyway. There is gold to be mined yet. 

I write this post from my little room in a little house on a little street in East Nashville's Riverside Village. I dig almost everything about it except the fact that I feel like I'm waking up in Satan's underwear drawer every morning due to the heat and humidity. Who knew I was such a wimp? Maybe Satan's underwear drawer is a bit of a stretch but I often feel like I'm melting. I suppose all I can do is hope that the weather parallels my greater goals for purification and distillation.

Last year I came through Nashville for the first time while on a mini tour for The Reckoning EP. I had such a good time enjoying the city in autumn, seeing some incredible live music, eating delicious food, and meeting so many nice people. The experience swept me off my feet and watered a seed I've had somewhere within for many years to get myself here. Back when the thirteen-year-old version of myself had a Music Myspace, my Top 8 (oh yeah, remember that?) were all Nashville-based. It feels fitting to be here now in a lot of ways, and also so strange to be feeling around in the dark, looking for the texture of something without knowing its exact shape.

Around New Year's I had the idea to get here by the end of 2015, and chartered my sails thenceforth towards making it happen. We make plans and God laughs. Here's what happened shortly thereafter: I lost my job. I had my heart broken by two friends. I got a few heavy whacks from the universe. Friends, family, a creative residency, and some sort of whispering moved me onward and upward. In the midst of the chaos, and for reasons still very unclear to my better judgement, I decided it would be the perfect time to begin running so I started running for an hour three mornings a week before the world awoke. I gave myself eight weeks of commitment and a few times, for a few moments, I was able to slip into that underwater world they say comes with running once you stop wanting to die. Happy to report that by the end I looked like Charlize Theron. In "Monster."

The first six months of this year felt like training ground for a void into which I have since jumped. Each question demanded an answer: yes, still, yes. It was emotionally exhausting, it was physically demanding, and the resonance of my response was illuminating. I'm still unsure if this is "my time" to be here but I keep remembering Amy Poehler saying, "Great people do things before they're ready." And I want to be great. I want to show up for whatever it is that needs sustenance in my life, and be a resource and conduit for that vision, however blurry, until it becomes clear.

Six months and a budget met later, I found myself loading up my car with one of my best gals and putting myself behind the wheel. It seems bizarre that amidst many other things in my life that seemingly required much more courage, getting myself to try on Nashville for a few months produced so much fear. But I do think it's a courageous thing to move somewhere where you don't really know anyone and you can't buy alcohol for half of the weekend.* 

I think I must have read Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet eight or nine times in the last year. I've gifted it to those going through parallel journeys. I've quoted it ad nauseum to my roommates, my teachers ("I'm getting it! I'm trying to get it! I don't get it but I want to get it!"), and mostly to myself as I've stood in the shower at midnight and wondered how I will make it through another fifteen hour day of chasing toddlers around LACMA and making sure eight-year-olds learn the importance of please and thank you. It's been some kind of belly-flop towards grace.

Here I am. I'm breathing and sleeping and trying to write. I bought a ClassPass to help get my ya-yas out. I'm going to bars on my own and fighting the urge to nurse a single drink alone until an acceptable amount of time has passed and it's time to return. At least most of the time. It's been less than a week, but still. If you know anyone who I should befriend, reach out. If you live here and you want to walk through Shelby Park sometime when it's not as though we are swimming on feet, yes, let's.

More to come.

*Sidenote, a new friend told me about a discount liquor warehouse called Frugal MacDoogal and I will go on name alone.*