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Marijke Jane

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Almost 3 years ago, through the wonders of the internet, I blog-met (it’s a thing, people) a girl named Marijke.  “Muh-RIJ-key?” I wondered.  No.  “Muh-RY-kuh.”  Like “Mariah” with a k.

A fellow blogger, fellow songwriter, fellow dreamer, Marijke has been living in Anchorage, Alaska, for several years.  She has had a steady job, but music is where her heart is – and about a year ago, she came to Nashville to check out the scene.  In what is becoming a regular occurrence in my life, we met face-to-face for the first time when she showed up on my doorstep.*  We spent a weekend exploring the city, hearing live music, and talking about life.  She is a kindred spirit, for sure.

marijke

And now, in a brave and gutsy move, Marijke is about to move from Alaska to Texas to pursue music – talk about a change of scenery.

Today, she is releasing a CD.  And from the previews that I’ve heard, this is a GREAT album.  Her voice is pure, her lyrics honest and truthful, and the instrumentation so well done (good job, Jon!  Jon showed up on my doorstep one time, too*).

Would you support her by ordering a copy?  For only $10, you’ll play a part in helping make my friend’s dream possible, as well as get an awesome, quality product.  I’ve ordered it – and I wish that I could be at her release show tonight.  If you live in Anchorage, YOU SHOULD GO!

Thanks, Marijke, for reminding me what it means to live boldly.

– – – – – – – –

*Happening again tonight when Joey and Sam show up!  YES!  Best blog friends forever!

Bluebirdie

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Behold, the return of the deadbeat blogger!

I mean, seriously.  It’s embarrassing.  I have been like an unfit mother – one who leaves her kids in the car while she hits up the Safeway for PBR and tampons.  I have abandoned this blog in the parking lot for far too many days – and in the meantime, not written a single word of ANYTHING.

But really, can you blame me?  I was busy fulfilling MY LIFE DREAM.

If you’ve been reading this site for longer than two minutes, you’ll know that I’m a songwriter, and that the jewel of my heart (um, yes, I just called it “the jewel of my heart” – so?) is the Bluebird Café.  Back in October, when I was invited to play there (can we all just squeal one more time?), June 21 felt so far away.  But before I knew it, my parents were flying in, Greta was surprising me on my doorstep the day before (listen – can you hear me scream?), I was trying on 96 different outfits, and then, all of a sudden, staring out at the lights.

This is what it looks like when dreams come true.  (Thanks to Deb for the picture!)

bbird

And this is what it sounds like.  (Thanks to AnnieBlogs for recording!)

And here are best friends.

greta

And here are just a few of the most wonderful cheerleaders.

friends

And here are amazing parents.

parents

And here is a man with a mullet in a SweetTarts shirt.

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Because this is Hootenannie.com – where the blogs end strong.

A title that fits

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

In a grand twist of events, I found myself dining last night at the Eastland Café with my two roommates, one of their mothers, and two strangers. I had the duck. I love duck.

The strangers quickly became friends. I fell in love with these women.

I heard their stories – what brought them to Nashville, what gives them joy, what they are learning at this stage in their lives. And in turn, they asked me insightful questions – ones that, when I answered, gave me a certain familiarity with myself that I didn’t have before.

Among other things, they asked me about my musical ambitions. I sighed, and told them what I have been thinking lately: I have been so tempted to just quit doing music. To “retire.” To stop frantically scrambling for ideas, and no longer have to answer the question, “So, do you have any shows coming up?” I’ve been discouraged, and creatively dry, and lacking inspiration. Nashville is a great place to enjoy music, but a daunting place to make it. Everyone is good. The mailman is good.

But, I know, I know. The comparison game is completely feckless and futile. I’m learning this. I may be slow, but I AM learning this.

And so I opened up with these women, and told them that I’ve quietly started work on an album – what will wind up being a 6-7 song EP. It’s my first “official” recording project beyond simple demos, and will take awhile to complete since it is self-funded. But the timing is right, and the cost is worth it to me.

I’ve been looking for “a reason” to make a record – a logical justification for it, like, “Oh, I’ll make some money,” or “Oh, this will help me get a publishing deal,” or “Oh, a CD will make me a legitimate songwriter.” But when it comes down to it, my main motivation is this:

I wrote some songs, and I think it’s time for them to be heard.

That’s all.

And in that moment, one of these women reiterated what my mom had said to me earlier in the day: “That makes you an artist.”

After all of my soul-searching and wheel-spinning and worrying that I don’t know what I am doing with my life. After months of despondency and sleepless nights. After a lack of direction, and a desire for definition. After a lot of prayers. I still don’t have all the answers, but…

Finally. A title that fits.

Stay tuned.

V is for Vacate, and Vote

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Tonight, I am moving out of my sweet little Music Row apartment – the one that has held me for my first year in Nashville. When I moved in, I had a chair and a dresser; I slept on the hardwood floor in a sleeping bag, and drank my morning coffee wrapped in a blanket on a tiny rug I bought at T.J. Maxx. I cried a lot of nights, I cried a lot of mornings – and I stole an internet signal from the neighbors to frantically reach out to my far-away friends, desperate for any kind of connection. I was jobless, and relatively friendless, and in my most honest moments, absolutely hopeless.

I now look back on that time with nostalgia and sentimentality – those first few months were some of the most emotionally raw and honest I have ever experienced – but the truth of the matter is, I was terrified. I have never felt so alone. Every part of me wanted to run away – to go back to Seattle where I would be safe and loved.

Last night, as I looked around the now fully-furnished living room, piled high with boxes, my heart snuck up into my throat. I’m leaving what has become my HOME – the place where Christina sent a housewarming gift of stemless wine glasses, and then came to use them in person. The place where Greta and I got ready for the Opry, and talked until I cried. The place where I wrote some songs, and got brave enough to share them. The place where Mary and I were evangelized to by a homeless man. The place where Miranda and I accidentally split an entire jumbo bottle of chardonnay. The place where I baked for the ex-cons across the street. The place where my mom and I rehearsed for one of my shows. The place where Julie and I talked about breakups, and Miranda and I talked about breakups, and Meg and I talked about breakups. The place where I cut off my hair, and felt awesome… and then felt remorse. The place where Paul and Josh and I played Scrabble at 1am on Halloween. The place where Annie picked me up for the 5K. The place where my dad hung curtain rods, and the Handy Graham hung pictures. The place where I killed cockroaches. The place where the inaugural Running Club was held. The place where I realized that it’s a good thing that I moved to Nashville. The place where I realized that I’m pretty happy.

The place where I realized that God can take anything – an empty apartment, a broken heart, a lonely soul – and fill it to overflowing.

Tonight, a handful of friends will show up at my door, grab my boxes and bags and couch and bed and table and chairs, and move me to a new house – a house with two roommates and a front porch swing and a back deck and a fireplace. I could not be more thrilled – to be moving in with Julie and Melissa. To actually have furniture to be moved. To know friends who are so willing to help.

God is faithful. Here’s to signing on for another year of the Nashville unknown.

– – – – – – – –

And now, for a VOTE.

My new bathroom is painted my least favorite color in the universe… baby blue. Not a warm, robin egg blue… but cold and sharp. I have two options: take the time and effort to paint the walls a more neutral color so I can still use my terracotta paisley shower curtain, or to buy a new, somewhat-tolerable shower curtain that will match the color of my anti-dreams.

The walls would be tricky to paint – weird angles and a large possibility of drippage. It’s possible that I could find a shower curtain that I would like – I’m a big fan of turquoise, or brown, or the right shade of green. But it would have to be a good enough shower curtain to distract from the heinous color of the walls.

Running Club

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008
What on earth would ever induce me to get out of bed early on a Saturday morning, pull my hair back, and go running – running! – in the 26 degree weather?

I remember running “The Mile” in elementary school. Mile day was the most terrible, foreboding event known I could think of – worse than getting fluoride at the dentist – on par with being whipped with a belt. If given the choice between running the Mile and being grounded for an entire month, I would have chosen groundage. At least then, I could eat cookies.

That’s the kind of child that I was – never naturally inclined toward exercise. I was a little bit chubby, and a lot bit lazy, and preferred the secret, quiet world of books and music and art to anything physically taxing. My friends were all pretty, long-legged, blond girls who could run The Mile in 8 minutes or less; I pulled up the rear around minute 13. In my world, “mile day” was synonymous with “humiliation.”

I’ve always hated to run.

But this year, I made the commitment to myself to run a half-marathon – simply because it’s something that I honestly do not believe that I can do. Last time I checked, that’s a great reason to do something.

So about 2 months ago, I started running. It started as once a week, and has moved to 2-3 times a week – and surprisingly, I’VE BEEN LOVING IT. I’ve found a group of friends who are reliable and enthusiastic, and who have made the commitment to run together frequently. They’ve seen me without makeup, completely sweaty and gross, and they still like me. They tell me stories to keep my mind occupied while we run. They don’t let me quit, even when I want to.

They are the reason that I drag my body outside in the December chill on the weekends.

Them, and the prospect of a runner’s booty. Just wait. It’s coming.

M is for Magic

Monday, October 20th, 2008

(A word of caution:
Prepare yourself not for art, or beauty, or wisdom, or humor, or insight…
but simply for an explosion of my heart.)

Remember this mysterious, ambiguous entry?

I received an email this morning:

Annie,
Congratulations! You’ve passed our audition process…

And on June 21, 2009, I’ll be fulfilling one of my biggest dreams and playing at the Bluebird Café.

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!! YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!

I am completely speechless.

I wish I could say that I rocked my audition, but… I didn’t. No, really – I DIDN’T. I was certain – sure – POSITIVE – that I wasn’t going to make it. I have never felt nerves like I felt that day; I could barely play my guitar, which is bad since I can barely play my guitar ANYWAY. I messed up the words to my song. I was freezing cold. I was shaking so badly that I couldn’t think straight. I have been nervous before, but have always been able to reason myself out of it. This time, I was completely out of control – no amount of self-talk or deep breathing or sheer force of will could calm me down.

I never in a million years expected to have made the cut. To some one else, this might not feel like a big deal. To me, it’s an answer. It’s confirmation. It’s hope. It’s the entire world.

I cannot believe it.

Dream your dreams, kids.

Courage

Friday, September 26th, 2008

It is impossible to be courageous without first being afraid.

It is impossible to be courageous without first deciding that you are willing to fail.

It is impossible to be courageous without first accepting the possibility that your very best efforts might truly prove you to be inadequate and out of your league.

– – – – – – – –

But it is also impossible to fulfill your potential without being courageous.

And should your fears be confirmed with nothing short of a swan dive into glorious failure, then you gain the freedom and liberation of knowing that it’s okay to be insufficient on your own – for the strength of One much larger than yourself is made perfect in your weakness.

So take a chance. I know that I’m about to.

Choosing

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

We are all responsible for our own happiness.

Not to say that life isn’t going to throw us some catastrophic curve balls, or major disappointments, or unjust circumstances. These letdowns are inevitable, and if you haven’t been hit yet, then you will be someday. Pain and discouragement are a part of life, and there is no way to evade or avoid or ignore them.

I look at my life, and there are a lot of things that I would like to change. A lot. I could list them, but it wouldn’t change the fact that they are.

But we always have a choice – a choice of how to respond to what life offers.

So I choose fortitude. I choose hope. I choose courage. I choose gratitude. I choose contentment. And yes, today, in the face of the tedious monotone of a desk job that I am over-qualified for, of the nebulous unknown of my future, of a limited bank account, of the temptation of discouragement and forsaking, of my many inner-demons and growing edges and ugly ducklings that have never blossomed into beautiful swans, I choose happiness.

Because if I don’t, then who is going to do it for me?

One year

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

It’s hard to believe – impossible to believe – but one year ago today I moved away from Seattle. I just went back and re-read the entry I wrote that day, and it remains one of the most honest things I have ever written; it hits at a deep place, even 365 days later… excuse me – 366. It was a Leap Year.

When I left, I didn’t have a real sense of how long I would be gone, but at my core, I hoped that it would be less than a year. You know: go find myself, get it over with already, and then quickly head home – preferably to get married and buy a house and have babies. The past year has exposed the extent to which I have desired the American Dream – I didn’t realize how much I wanted it until I willingly chose such a solo and unstable lifestyle. In my discomfort, I have longed for comfort. In my confusion, I have longed for clarity. In my chaos, I have longed for calm.

In my anonymity, I have longed to be known.

Moving is, if nothing else, very lonely.

But the past year has also taught me that life is not a checklist; it cannot be a checklist. I cannot look at my circumstances and think, “Once I get this-and-that,” or “When I achieve such-and-so,” I will be one step closer to success, wholeness, and legitimacy. I cannot expect that the American Dream is going to make me happy, because honestly, I am watching it fall flat for people all around me. A home does not equal stability. Money does not equal contentment. And most tragically, love does not necessarily equal forever.

I still hope for these things. In my most honest moments, I have a deep desire for a good and honorable man to share my life with – one whom I will love wholeheartedly and unequivocally. I want babies of my own. I want family vacations and birthday parties and a Bernese Mountain Dog and all of the wonderful goods damnably reserved for wedding registrations. I want a car with keyless entry and a house with a walk-in closet.

Maybe these things are in the cards for me. Maybe not.

But more than anything, I want to walk the road intended for me. And right now, that road continues here in Nashville. It’s all that I have, and it’s all that I am, and despite all feelings to the contrary, I am never alone.

Simple math

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

After the long weekend, I am back at work. Today is the start date of 3 new employees, which technically should increase my workload by 60%. However, as my mother pointed out, 60% of zero is still zero.

I spent yesterday with Meg and Josh recording my latest song, which you can now find on MySpace. They are becoming very dear friends to me, and spending hours upon hours with them leaves me feeling happy and filled as opposed to sapped. This is a big deal for me, since I thrive on silence, and generally don’t really like people (except you – I love you – kind of), and tend to spend most of my time curled up inside my hermit crab shell, and, unless my own personal Jim Halpert comes a callin’, can’t see myself ever sharing my abode with anyone. Duane says that I’m the most extroverted introvert he knows, and since I’m not shy, maybe that’s true. But at my core, there’s no percentage of extrovert. 60% of zero is still zero.

Meg and Josh have adamantly ordered that I not leave Nashville and move back to Seattle, which I threaten to do on a regular basis, especially since at one point this weekend, it was 40 degrees hotter here than in Seattle, and that is simply unacceptable. As I type, I am sitting in my marble throne room looking out the office window at my very executive, very high-society, very important person view of downtown Nashville, and the air is hazy and opaque and blindingly white with muggy heat. The current forecast is: “Broiling, with no end in sight.” I feel my soul, my hair, my frabjous cheer withering.

But Meg and Josh say I can’t leave. Never underestimate the power of making someone feel wanted, because when they say it, simply and directly, I believe them. There’s a life for me here, and not only am I searching for it, but I’m already living it. Adventure isn’t always exciting – a lot of the time, it’s just really hard and tedious and laborious. But then there are moments – little flashes – when it feels so worth it. And I’m not ready to close this chapter of the adventure. Not yet.

So, steady on. And I’m attempting to enjoy the journey, find the everyday gifts, and stay positive. They say there’s a chance of rain this weekend.

But 60% of zero is still zero.