July, 2008

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A series of potentially awkward haiku

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Searching high and low
For one to keep me lifted
I’m brassiere shopping

White is so boring
But practical and useful
When it comes to bras

No black negligee
Or polka-dot straps for me
Just a simple one

Remember the time
When my underwire popped up
At the grocery store?

My only white bra
Is now in the garbage can
Bra-less is trashy

Sick of wearing black
I have nice white shirts to wear
But they are see-through

So I’m on the hunt
Like a stealthy lioness
One that needs a lift

But do not be fooled
By my cat-like behavior
Leopard print? No thanks

You can keep your lace
And your strapless push-up wares
Sensible will do

These are expensive
I do not have sixty bucks
I’ll go to Target

All of my money
Would be better spent on gas
But I need support

Thirty-four C cup
Or a thirty-six B cup?
Always a toss-up

The Comeback Kid

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

I said that I moved to Nashville to learn. So last night, in light of yesterday’s lament, I steered my little Honda toward 3rd & Lindsley to listen to music and see who I might meet. It’s always intimidating to walk into a bar alone, but as long as you have good posture, no one questions you.

I met several writers and musicians who have been here 10, 20, 30 times longer than I have. And through meandering conversation with each of them, I took away these gems:

• When it comes to creativity, there is no such thing as a dry spell. The dull, uneventful, uninspiring times are always the preparation and the cultivation of something good. In other words, get ready.
• Write when you feel like it. Write when you don’t.
• In what is becoming a resounding lesson and theme for my life, “you never really arrive.” Any goal that I set for myself will eventually be met – and then there will just be another goal beyond that. Learn to see the creative process not as a destination, but as a journey.
• Don’t be surprised if the road you’re on leads you somewhere entirely other than where you think you’re headed.
• Some people wait years before getting out there and “doing it.” Having written what I’ve written, recorded what I’ve recorded, met who I’ve met, played where I’ve played, and experienced what I’ve experienced, in a lot of ways I am ahead of the curve. Who knew?
• When faced with a blank mind and no good ideas, read. Absorb. Learn. And having read 4 books in the last 2 weeks, I AM TOTALLY DOING SOMETHING RIGHT!

I also met a woman who teaches guitar lessons, which is exciting since I have definitely reached a plateau in my skills – if we can even call them “skills.” I met another woman from Seattle – I could have kissed her on the lips. And I was once again reminded that Nashville musicians are some of the nicest people in the entire world. It’s good that I’m here.

And just like that, Annie pulled herself up by her bootstraps. Talk about emotional whiplash. I haven’t been doing this – this pursuing a dream come hell or high-water – long enough to know the patterns, the rhythms, the tricks, the necessary tenacity. But I’m a work in progress… as well as a persnickety nut case.

– – – – – – – –

One last thing: I was told to diversify the music that I am listening to. Sometimes it’s helpful to immerse yourself in the craft that you want to learn, but there comes a point where you need to get OUT. In the past, you, my loyal blog readers, have provided me with some awesome music suggestions; Michelle who suggested Obadiah Parker’s cover of “Hey Ya,” you are my Person of the Year. People, I need your help again.

Please let me know a song or two that you think I need to hear. Criteria: 1) it must have a good melody, 2) it must have great words, and 3) it must make you feel something. I’m counting on you, Guilford, CT. And you, Frisco, TX. And you, Cherry Hill, NJ. And even you, Yukon Territory. Make me proud.

Warring voices

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Imagine that I weigh 300 lbs. Got it? Okay. Now imagine that I have a sprained ankle. And asthma. And flip flops on my feet. And it’s 113 degrees outside.

Now, put me in the middle of a pack of marathon runners with fabulously long legs and handy water bottle packs strapped around their waists. They’re all stretching and high-5ing each other, shaking out their limbs, ready to kick some serious road race booty. Then the shot sounds, and they’re off… and I am aiming to keep up with them for 26.2 miles.

That’s a little bit how I feel when it comes to songwriting in Nashville.

Nashville is where really good songwriters live. This is where people come to make a career out of writing songs. They are gifted, and skilled, and practiced. They are amazing. They are transcendent. And while I know that songwriting is anything but effortless, they make it look effortless – like someone who is born to run, gracefully bounding like a gazelle. And I’m heavily slogging far behind, huffing and puffing, barely able to put one foot in front of the other – let alone master the bar chords.

Sometimes I wonder why I thought it was a good idea for me to move here – HERE, of all places! – when I really had no idea what I was doing. I am an amateur, a novice – at the shallow end of the talent pool, splashing around because I love the water, but never able to venture beyond the 3 foot depth mark.

True, in theory, I moved here to Nashville to learn. But the learning comes slowly. It takes time, and it takes work. To be honest, I’ve never really had to work for anything in my life. As a child, school came easily. Friends came easily. Music came easily – that is, up until now. If anything did not come naturally, like, oh, ANY PHYSICAL EXERTION WHATSOEVER, then I simply did not do it. I hate the feeling of doing something poorly, and so I have avoided situations in which I might fail.

Logical Annie says, “It’s not a competition. You do not have to be perfect. You have something unique to offer. You just need to keep working at it. Good ideas will come. Good songs will come. You’re growing and improving, even when you don’t feel like it. This is all an adventure, a grand experiment, and it’s a good thing you’re here.”

Gloomy Annie says, “Maybe I should just move to Nebraska.”

A is for Addiction

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Lately, when it comes to this blog, I have felt a certain lack of moxie; my brain feels as dry as my love life. So I’m going to try something a little different – a series, if you will. Every Monday, I am going to post something about a topic from A-Z, beginning today with… yes, A. We’ll see if I actually stick to it every single week, but let’s be honest: I ain’t no quitter.

A is for Annie. A is for Awesome. A is for Addiction.

– – – – – – – –

I have always had an addictive personality. When I find something that works for me, I stick with it – be it an egg on toast for breakfast (every single day for 5 years now), a walking route (the exact same 5 mile stretch of road over and over again), or chewing gum (I am currently tearing through a half a pack a day). Some of these habits are harmless enough; others are to be kept in check, which is why I am presently taking a break from alcohol.

If you were to ask me what my biggest, most undeniable addiction is, a couple of things would come to mind. The first is cookies. But, you know, whatever. The second is a little website called Facebook.

It’s my secret shame.

I sit at a desk all day, every day, Monday through Friday, and my only responsibility is to answer the phone. Therefore, I am left with hours upon hours of time to… twiddle. I am trying to limit my computer time, because too much of a good thing leaves me with scrambled eggs for a brain and black vacant holes where my eyeballs used to be. Lately, thanks to my self-control, however tenuous, I have been successful in the voracious consumption of several books. But left to my own devices, I would click-click-click my way through Facebook for hours on end.

I am confident in saying that I am online “friends” with every person I have ever met who happens to have a Facebook profile. I have looked up high school friends, elementary school friends, summer camp friends. I have reconnected with long-lost pals from yesteryear. I have linked up with relative strangers whom I have met only once. I have connected with ex-boyfriend’s ex-girlfriends – (awkward?). I have a large contingent of online pals who I “know” solely through our blogs (I welcome your friendship request!). My mom is on Facebook.

I monitor “status updates” like it’s my 9-5. It practically IS my 9-5. I know what happens on the internet as soon as it’s posted. The other day, my mom asked me, “Did you see so-and-so’s new picture?” And I just stared at her, like, are you kidding me? When it comes to Facebook, I am omniscient.

Not exactly something to brag about. I told you: SECRET SHAME. But there it is. God save me.

– – – – – – – –

If you have ideas for topics B-Z, I welcome them in the comments at any time!

The long road

Friday, July 25th, 2008

I don’t understand why there has to be so much pain, so much fear, so much weight. But there is. Just look around: our world is cracked and bleeding and broken. I turned on the news last night, but had to turn it off again – my brain simply could not handle more problems. I know that war and politics and gas prices are a really big deal, but currently, in my own tiny mind, they do not hold a candle to the realities that hit closer to home.

Several friends of mine are being faced with some insurmountable challenges, and I am doing my best to walk with them in whatever way I can, however small. The pain feels impossible. The road is rough and seemingly endless. I want to change everything for them, to write some nice words to wash away the anxiety, to point toward the safe way out. But I can’t. All that I can do is to abide, to stubbornly remain, to listen, and to pray. I have no words of resolution, and no ideas for healing. I cannot promise that everything is going to turn out alright. But I cannot leave.

One of these situations has reached a very dire point, and is worth mentioning today. Please pray for my friends Jeff and Carin, and their 3-year old son Ben. The results of today’s scans will determine future treatment options. It has been almost a year since Ben was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, and the Townes have walked through nothing less than hell on earth. I implore you all to please keep vigil with them today, and to pray for courage, trust, and complete healing for their sweet little spunky fighter.

Q&A with AP, 2

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

In the spirit of my original Q&A post, I am once again answering all the questions you never asked. I am finding that this type of post is the result of having too many blog ideas, and no real substance for any of them. Wow. Now, if you are still totally stoked to read this entry, be my guest.

Can I buy you a drink?
Abso-freakin-lutely. However, I’m going to have to take a rain check. I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this, but I declared July to be a dry month. I do this occasionally – take a little sabbatical from the bottle – for several reasons: health, sleep, discipline, and simply to make sure that it never owns me. The alco-fast will break over my birthday weekend.

Oh, so your birthday is coming up?
Yes. I’m very, very close to turning 26. I thought that 25 was going to be the hot year – and it totally was – but I have even higher hopes for the next chapter. I hope that life continues to get more and more awesome, and that I never have “the best year ever” until I’m about 75. Then, after life has reached its triumphant pinnacle of mind-boggling awesomeness, I will move to Italy to live out the remainder of my days on the beach.

Are you a free spirit?
Oh, hell no. Absolutely not. A lot of people assume that I am, but they are wrong. Wrong like citrus toothpaste. I am a regimented control freak with a strong need for things to be “just so.” However, I am a big believer in growth, and breaking out of one’s comfort zone, because I am more afraid of regret than I am afraid of failure. So I force myself to act like a free spirit and try new things, even when deep down, I am quaking in my cowgirl boots.

What are your most recent revelations?
That I hate peas, and I hate drinking coffee from a metal travel mug. Both taste gross. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to realize these things, but there they are. They might be temporary feelings. When I was 18, I decided that I hated hamburgers. But after about 5 years, my feelings changed.

Do you remember the movie “Curly Sue”?
To know the answer, you will have to check in tomorrow.

I know. You’ll be waiting with bated breath.

Glow

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

I have found my fair share of things to complain about here in Nashville. I’ve already talked about the heat – although I’m not sure that my words have conveyed the depth of my suffering. There are street corners that flagrantly (not fragrantly) reek of sewage – by the Wendy’s on West End, or across the street from P.M. on Belmont Blvd., for example. Smog is a recent development here in Music City, as is the discovery of RABID BATS raising hell in the Green Hills area.

But there is something that I haven’t mentioned yet. A very good thing. One of the very most magical things I have ever seen: fireflies.

I have never lived in a place with fireflies before, and before I saw them, I don’t know that I really believed that they existed. A firefly was an idea in my head, in the same category as the Eiffel Tower – a nice thought, but relatively meaningless since I had never seen it. Late this spring, when I finally did see the little lights glowing in the front yard at dusk, I was mesmerized.

I have no idea “how” a firefly works, and to be honest, I don’t want to know. In our world of knowledge and explanations, there are very few things left that literally enchant us. I could sit on the porch and watch the fireflies every night through the summer, and never tire of their simple brilliance.

Not that it’s bearable enough to sit outside or anything.

Goodbye, Sarah

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Today marks the departure of my dear friend Sarah, who is making the big move from Nashville to Mansfield, TX, to begin a new chapter in her life. While I am excited for what the future holds for her, I am not smiling. I am sad to see her go.

Sarah and I met several years ago when I made a solo trip out to Nashville to check out the city. I didn’t know anyone here, and thought, “Who am I going to hang out with?” I proceeded to browse through MySpace profiles of people living in Nashville, came across hers, and thought that she seemed cool.

(How did I ever make friends before the internet?)

She listed chips & salsa and margaritas in her interests, had good taste in music, and was wearing a t-shirt from the Murfreesboro Testicle Festival in her profile picture (“I had a ball!”). I pulled the clumsy move of sending her an email that included the line, “I’m not creepy, I’m not socially awkward, I don’t own any cats, I’m not a prude, I’m not a ho-bag… I’m mostly just trying to decide what to do with my life, and if I end up in Nashville I’d like to hang out with you!”

And because she rules, she agreed. We met, blind date style, at the Bluebird Café, and bonded over baked brie and good music. Eventually, she came to visit me in Seattle, and our friendship was solidified.

I can honestly say that I would not be living in Nashville today were it not for her. Her consistent encouragement and support gave me the confidence to finally make the move. She set me up with a place to stay for my first 6-weeks in town, introduced me to new friends, and even gave me her old microwave. She has been a true friend, one who has made all the difference in my own life, and an instrumental person in my journey. Now, she is courageously embarking on her own adventure – leaving all that is comfortable, and moving to an unfamiliar place. My prayer is that a friend will come alongside her, just as she came alongside me.

Today marks the beginning of a new era for me: life in Nashville without Sarah. But we will always have this picture (which is the ONLY picture of us together – how can that be possible?):


To be fair, I’ll post a picture of me looking super hot. When it comes to making bad faces, I’m pretty sure that Sarah wins the “most beautiful bad face” award.


Happy trails, friend. I miss you already.

Defining

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Last night, I had a job interview that lasted an hour and a half. This potential employer and I talked spiritedly and candidly about everything from music to the environment to Telluride to writing to disappointment to, strangely, even Jesus. It was surreal, and wonderful, and stimulating. The job is something that I could excel at, and it might potentially lead to some cool perks. This man seemed impressed by me, calling me a “Renaissance Woman,” which is a very cool thing to be thought of as. It was clear that we had a likely chance at developing a great rapport, and working well together.

But he and I both hesitated. Something just didn’t feel right, and we both acknowledged it.

This job could have been a very cool thing. I mean, seriously cool. Like, hanging out with Keith and Nicole cool. But is that what I want? Is that what I want my life to be about? Is glamour what I am aiming for? In the case of my far-too-slow-growing mop of hair, absolutely. But when it comes down to what makes my heart beat, I realize that it’s not about the perks. It’s not about the bright lights and the fabulous people and the free drinks. It’s not about the tinsel.

I really want to write. And at this point in my life, I am not willing to sacrifice the time and space and flexibility that make writing possible. I want to see where the words and melodies and harmonies and expression might lead.

The decision to pass on the position wound up being far easier than I anticipated. And after a long spell of uncertainty, it feels good to be so sure of what I want.

Numbers 1 through 10

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

I have been sitting here for almost 4 hours, trying to write something. Anything. It doesn’t need to be a blog, it doesn’t need to be a song – but could I just find the right words to communicate something? My creativity seems to have ground to a halt.

However, here is what I know today:

1) I am incredibly happy to see fall attire showing up in department stores and boutiques. I have not had expendable income for some time, and so I don’t expect that I’ll be getting my grubby little mitts on any new clothes anytime soon. But just the sight of light-weight sweaters, muted colors, and “transition pieces” gives me hope that the autumn is (slowly, painfully) on its way. THANK YOU GOD.

2) The other day, I found myself casually chatting with Kix Brooks about his recent experience running with the bulls. A few hours later, I baked cookies for the ex-cons across the street. When I moved here, there was no way for me to know what sorts of people would be brought into my life. But I have been delightedly surprised by the variety.

3) There are billboards next to the Nashville Zoo boasting “Tim Macaw!” and “Zebra McEntire!”

4) I have not been to Seattle for over 3 months now, which is the longest in 8 years I’ve gone without a visit. I have no current plans for a visit, and no resources to make a trip happen. It makes me so sad, especially when I think of breathable air. I have to live there again at some point. When it comes down to it, Seattle is home. Seattle will always be home.

5) I am grateful for my little buddy’s life, and hopeful for his future.

6) I have another show lined up for next week – which means that I’d better get busy practicing my guitar. I can’t play the same songs again! Oh, the stress…

7) Are my brother and sister-in-law rocking the house these days, or what?

8) I am feeling ready to end my much-longer-than-anticipated stint as The Temptress. But I will only take another job if it’s a good fit. Does anyone want to hire me? I’m like a Swiss Army Knife – I can do whatever you need me to do.

9) Sarah came and got her bed yesterday, so I am reduced to sleeping on an air mattress (not this one) until further notice. It’s not so bad. It’s like fancy camping. This morning, I drank my coffee in bed while watching an episode of “Felicity” on my laptop. So, really fancy camping.

10) I really love horses. I think that most little girls go through a “horse phase” – usually sometime between the “doll phase” and the “boy phase.” I went through the “boy phase,” and am weirded out to say that I THINK I CAME OUT OF IT. No more “boy phase” – too much drama. Back to horses.