These past few months of finding my voice, diving head long into something new and uncertain - this whirlwind of performing and recording and wading into the Nashville scene - have been ungodly, wonderfully, nerve-wracking. That Jonathan Timm was kind enough to rope me into his music is still a wonder. His newly released EP, ‘These Hours,’ and upcoming album ‘Fever Dream,’ are labors of love, the results of a great deal of hard work and goodness, and I count myself lucky to be a part of the process. Listen here.
In less than a week, we’ll be taking it on the road. What could be better than traipsing across the Midwest and East Coast in a van packed full of friends sweaty with July heat, endless music, and yet to be made memories? Next to nothing. Nothing at all.
See you soon, America.
Above design by the unbeatable Will Thomas.
"I always knew that I was young / but with my head held high and a sharp tongue / I could fool most anyone…"
Sifted through some old sketchbooks today and found this little anxiety doodle.
Yep, that looks about right.
Postcard From A Tumbleweed
The past few days I spent swept up in a whirlwind rendezvous with Chicago. Will it always be my favorite city? I found myself silently asking the streets and the lake and the endless reel of impassive faces, rolling the question around in my head like a marble. Time lived elsewhere has pulled it off the pedestal I built for it years ago. No single place can offer everything, an admission I’d never been able to make until this weekend, or more precisely, the moment I stood in a tangle of sidewalk construction, feeling crushed by passing bodies and the scream of the train, and found myself missing somewhere else, another more demure city. Nashville, of all places. The same Nashville I loathed and stewed in regret over during my first months freshly arrived. The same Nashville I meanly pegged as too small and too scattered, nothing close to Chicago’s infinite sprawl, its chaos that I sometimes feel like a phantom limb, an absence aching between my shoulders. And still, I stood in the thick of my favorite city and felt homesick for its opposite. It’s unnerving when your heart turns on you without the decency of some notice. No warning, just the shock of love and hate trading sides for mere seconds, a minute or more, the flicker of a coin flipped and slapped flat too quickly to see the motion itself. So quickly that heads and tails seem no longer separate but interchangeable, the same.
Of course, this micro-epiphany lasted less than a breath before I was back, unfazed and thrilled to be bowled over by the barrage of city life. A seasoned urbanite knows no sensory overload. It wasn’t until now, writing this, that I’ve begun to recognize the meaning in that jolt. I will always love Chicago without fail because I found myself there for the first time. Self-discovery leaves its scars and the magnitude of that shift - that first clumsy grapple with accepting myself, the whole wonderful mess - begs a certain loyalty to the circumstances that cultivated it. The place, the people, the experiences. For years and at this very moment, I’ve felt indebted to Chicago. Leaving was necessary but the odd guilt that came with that decision shriveled my roots, so that I’ve simply existed, uneasy and ungrowing, in every other place, a visitor clinging limply to the surface. That is, until now. I never expected Nashville to lure affection out of me. I never expected it to teach me so much, to be so generous, to foster a new shift entirely. When anyone asks how the transition here has been, I unconsciously reach for the same word every time: serendipitous, because no other definition comes close. A string of pleasant surprises, a sudden, slow-rising warmth. To call it home feels less like a lie and more like a possibility. Home, a good home, for the time being.
What I learned in Chicago last week is an obvious idea: you don’t belong to any one thing. You can’t, however vehemently you try to anchor your identity to a someone or somewhere or some time. I knew this before but vaguely, the ghost of an understanding. Why it took spitting out these words to resurrect the truth of it, to give it clarity and weight to throw around, is another question. Adulthood so far seems built on the concept of mental thrift shopping. Your adult brain scours the bedlam of its own decades-wide flea market for gems, bits of wisdom gleaned too young and left to gather dust. Over time, we find one and then another and wipe them clean for appraisal, by life, by our own maturing intuition. We are always surprised by their worth.
What I’ve learned in the process of writing this are a handful of obvious ideas: In most situations, most of the time, you have the answers to your own questions. Belonging, identity is forever subjective and subject to change and that is okay. I love where I’ve been as much as where I am and, come what may, I won’t shy away from making anywhere a home, one of many homes, every one important. I’m letting my roots grow.
I DON’T EVEN
by Alexander Chee
I don’t even know what to tell you
about the fog
or anything else for that matter
what did you think was coming
what did you think mattered what did you think
there was something we were all going to do right
something we made in pieces in the dark
we kept it secret we said it would be better that way
we didn’t even look
we forgot the way that was better
we forgot all the other ways too even all the shitty ones
but the pieces are there
what would it take for you to really give up on someone
I wrote this in my journal about 7 years ago
I give up on the journal more than I give up on other people
every few months I write an entry and I say ok every
day now an entry and
the journal is all like this guy again really
really the journal is always there for me though it is like me
but I suppose as these other people experience me
this one or that one I won’t give up on and who doesn’t know
how I wait the journal is not a record then but a mirror
a trap a friend a place it all goes if I can only get there
and maybe that is what this person thinks of me but
that would mean I am the mirror too
that of course would be awful
why even keep the journal you ask why does it matter
it matters because it is where you figure yourself out
why abandon the journal
because you can’t figure yourself out or you can’t
bear to figure yourself out or you can’t bear
to watch yourself figure yourself out
you are like the beat cop watching the robber
who always comes to that one house and he never quite gets in
the cop can’t bear to arrest him it all just seems too stupid
look he fell down again he’ll never rob that house
and of course you are also the robber and you are the house
why can’t you bear to figure yourself out
well that is really a good question
it would mean you are the pieces in the dark
you are the whole thing taken apart
and hidden so as to be safe and secret
you are the secret and the ways lost to the makers
and to figure yourself out would mean all the lights would come on
and you would know the thing you didn’t want to know
and the secret would be in danger again and all that could be made
could be made would be made
you are a message to yourself can you write this down sure
you are a message you left to yourself at some other time you will
remember if you could sit here long enough
you are a code and the thing hidden in the code and the code breaker
breaker breaker break break codebreaker break codebreaker break
break codebreaker break
just like that like some machine just like that
what is the secret is it is a loyalty to others
that never breaks machine of loyalty
no one believes in it they test it all the time all fools
what would it take for you to really give up on someone well
the someone would have to be you
Found via The Awl
I’d forgotten how ungodly therapeutic an afternoon sprawled outside with a book and iced tea with lemon and nothing to do can be. My eyes still blink spots, are still hungry after swallowing a hundred some pages. Everywhere I move, I salt the air with sweat. Stray grass lies shed on the kitchen floor and clumsy tan lines ghost my shoulders, beginning to warm and blush pink. The shock of stepping inside and back out again, sucked under alternate waves of wet heat and central air chill, is not unpleasant and over and over again, at odd moments, I’m stunned grateful that those library fines are finally done and paid for, that there’s a stack of books on my shelf waiting for their turn in the sun. that summer is here and I am too.
Water drumming the shower floor sounds like train wheels’ groan and rumble which sound like the skipping note of a ceiling fan turning overhead, an airplane cabin’s canned quiet, performance anxiety.
Coriander tastes like lemon which tastes like sunlight on water, impulse buys, the last page of a book you regret reading too quickly.
Pipe smoke smells like dusk and time well spent, traces of vanilla, dark hair splayed across a pillow.
Threadbare carpet feels like shared glances with strangers who refuse a smile and look away first.
The kettle boiling over sounds like shot brakes, disdain, poppyseeds nestled meanly between your teeth.
Rose tea tastes like luck, black tea like fortitude, green like new hope.