Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Library Day.

Here I am in the library once again. It's official: I have found my favorite spot. By the large windows that overlook the "Green Hillsy", fancy old person park. Lots of green and sun to look at. Oh yeah, and it can't hurt that this is where the comfy seats live.

I always require two chairs, no exception- one for me, one for my legs to stretch out on. Yes, I like to think I own this place with my dramatic expectations for comfort. You would at least think I lived here with the extent of freedom I take on in merely setting up my space.

My bright yellow backpack settles in the little nook created between my two chairs while my journal, water bottle, loose papers, and phone find a home beside me in Chair #1, but not touching me in any way or else I feel crowded.

The first full minute I settle into my space, there's lots of zipping sounds thanks to my backpack and the embarrassing state of my short-term memory...

Oh wait, I need a pen. (unzip) (zip)

2 seconds later...

Oh wait, I need my planner in case I need to schedule a meeting or think of something fun coming up. (unzip) (zip)

3 seconds later...

Oh wait, I need to put my sunglasses in my backpack before I lose them. (unzip) (zip)

4 seconds later...

Oh wait, of course. It's a blue-ink day, not black-ink. Need a new pen. (unzip) (zip)

You can imagine how annoying I am in a library. And yes, one would assume I would actually need to be accompanied by another talking human being to be so dang noisy. But nope, just me.

So after my graceless attempt to keep it cool like Fonzie, I  awkwardly ward off the growing crowd of onlookers and their discomforting death-stares they have unleashed like fire in my direction, I begin my library day.

Headphones in. (Today I listen to all of Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest album. SO good.)

Chacos off.

Feet stretched out into Chair # 2.

Lap top open.

Phone on silent.

Every possible thing I might need in arms reach.

(Deep breath.)

And...

Settled.

5 seconds later...

Oh wait.

No plug.

Computer dies.

And...

Relocate.

Process starts over.

Welcome to my world.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dream On.

Alright I am writing another post tonight because...

1. I drank coffee at 5PM. (Any time after 3PM and I am up for quite some time...)
2. I am done reading The Hunger Games or else I would be, as I told my roommate last week,
    "ALL up in Katniss's world right now."
3. I have more to say.
4. I have realized lately how much I love writing. And how much I don't do it enough. That doesn't
    match up. Today is a new day.
5. I actually don't have a 5, but I hate listing things in 4's. It's un-American.

SO.

At the house show tonight, (Don't worry, I'm not going on a 6798435 word rant about why house shows rule the world again..) after the music was over and everyone was transitioning back into social rules and people watching, the night's host stood up to speak. It was brief. I mean, we're talking a 3 minute thank you and announcements about upcoming shows and events.

But then he said something that just hit me.. something along the lines of living your dream.

His dream?

To host shows. To manage bands. To bring people together through music. To create community, and as he said, "to make Nashville smaller" by connecting people. And he's done it. He's doing it. He's moving in the direction of becoming a full-time music junkie. (Umm... Yes, please.)

I know another guy who I went to college with who just started his own Snow Cone food truck in Nashville. (So proud of him. And more info. on that coming soon!)

Anyway, this whole dream thing got me thinking.

What are my dreams? And what steps am I taking to pursue them and breathe life into their abstract, half thought-out attempts at tangibility?

You know, it's funny how we put our dreams on hold because we are Young. Inexperienced. Incapable. Or as many post-college students can relate to...


Poor.

Question: Are we saying these things only to make ourselves feel better about our own reality? Is this our own desperate attempt to talk ourselves in to maturity?

Adults don't dream.


Dreaming is for children.


Ohh that was before I knew what the "real world" was like.


These kinds of thoughts crowd my mind ALL the time until...

Deep breath.

There is one dream I am pursuing.

I got a job. 

In the Redwood Forest of California. Teaching 5th and 6th graders at an Outdoor Ed. program and leading night hikes and team building exercises.

Is this one of my dreams?
Yes.

Am I going?
Yes.

Will I miss Nashville?
Of course.

Will I come back?
Very likely.

Someday I hope to own a camp. Live on lots of land with horses and gardens and trees. Lots of trees. I long for a place that is known for its open door and empty seat, a place where people are welcome. To be themselves.

To hurt.
To cry.
To roam.
To sing.
To dance.
To feel.
To breathe.
To be human.

A place where people feel safe. A place where teenagers can come and ask questions and make friends. And find that they are worth something. In fact, they are worth a lot of things.

Yes, most of this is not possible right now. But I am moving in the direction of my dream for this next season. I am passionate about camp because it pulls people out of their own version of familiarity and comfort. Camp forces people to simplify and to focus on relationships. To put away the cell phones and the TVs and the MacBooks and just be. And that is powerful.

Ohh.. and I also want to write a book.

So dream.
I dare you.

The Swirl

OK yall I just went to such an awesome house show in Nashville tonight (Foreign Fields- Look them up! Amazingg!!) and let me tell you, I love live music so much. Seriously. I think going to (good) live shows goes in to my top 3 favorite things to do.

Period.

And there is something so unique, so bold and SO refreshing about house shows. It's hard to name, really.. what it is exactly that I love so much about these silly ole things. Perhaps it is the comfort of being in someone's actual home with couches and pillows instead of cement floors and bar stools. It feels much more vulnerable and exposed and personal and raw than most venues... all good things when music is involved. And I think this type of setting plants a deep seed for creative spontaneity. There seems to be a mutual respect tossed between musicians and listeners in this kind of environment, a respect that has a fresh tint to it. No one is competing for attention. Time and space submit to sound as listeners sit.

Still.

Quiet.

Focused.

Wildly in tune to each individual and collaborative sound that so effortlessly escapes from human touch to human ears, as if listeners are required to memorize each seemingly peculiar detail and play it back to a new set of listeners. Somehow, it is here that music holds more weight. More stability. Each song rises and falls like a waterfall erupting into a river of emotion.

Love.

Sadness.

Purpose.

That's what music does to me at least. So often at shows, I feel like I am completely swallowed into my own world. My own universe. I envision a swirl of sound forming around me, thickening with each compelling song, each melodic intervention. And the best part? No one else can touch it. No one can interfere. This swirl locks me in to my own depth of reason, my own version of sanity, but only if I refuse to fight it. And in this swirl of wonder, I dream about new opportunities, people I love, what heaven's like...  or... (let's keep it real) lack of opportunity, people that are hard to love, personal pain that blinds me from the reality of heaven.

But it is here that I feel things. And quite honestly, it is here that I feel most like myself.

Is it a spiritual experience?
Very much so.

Is it inspirational for me as a songwriter and blog/journal writer?
Absolutely.

Is it possible for me to sit still without stomping my foot or twitching chaotically and (sometimes) rhythmically to the sounds?
Uhhh... Negative.

Live music= My own personal therapy.

So there you have it. My favorite thing about Nashville? The music. And now you know why.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Crown of Chaos



Tonight I saw the film, Blue Like Jazz, which originated from the pen of a brave soul, Donald Miller. I don’t know if brave is the right word exactly. I guess I just say that because it seems as though he has beautifully articulated so much of what so many Christians struggle with: authenticity in the faith and the way we communicate that to the world around us.

I mean let’s be honest, there’s a lot of us who are hesitant to claim the faith sometimes because of the Crown of Chaos the world places on our twisted, ignorant, hypocritical, rotten heads as we curse anyone and everyone who taps on our eggshell of Truth.

I must say that during the film I was quickly locked in to the long-lost adventure of Donald Miller and his social justice, India-loving friend, Penny, and the sarcastic lesbian that told him he better keep quiet about his history with Jesus in order to survive at Reed which led to his pivotal season of questioning all things religious when…

Suddenly.

The film is over.

Time to snap back to reality.

But I couldn’t.

I can’t.

That is too much of my own reality. And to just “snap back” into normalcy? Is that an option? Is that possible? Honestly, this film is more of my reality than I will ever wish to admit. No, I did not go to Reed College and live the freshman Don experience with the brownies and the drugs and the… well, you know what I mean.

BUT.

I lived a very confused college life.

Trying to figure out what or who the hell I belonged to. Trying to figure out how to explain my thoughts on God, my relation to Him, my thoughts on eternity. So often I stood as Peter did denying Christ time after time after time. On many days, you would have never guessed I even knew Him. That I called Him my Savior. My Father.

In fact, I went to school in Colorado my last semester to start over. To start clean.

Spiritually.

Personally.

Emotionally.

I didn’t know who I was anymore and that scared me. The only way out was to leave.

I remember going camping with a group of Christian friends I made in Colorado early in the semester and a girl prayed out loud in a group. Out of a deep sense of longing or even out of habit, maybe, this girl began her prayer with one simple word.

Father.

It irked me. I don’t remember anything she said after that. My night stopped the moment she said it. My eyes opened immediately. Chills ran up my spine as I entered into a session of flashbacks where I too could call God that very same name. I hadn’t been to that level of depth or intimacy in quite some time.

But for a moment, I let myself go there. I let myself taste the love of our Creator. And Yes. I dared myself to once again call Him Father. It was a scary word. It meant I would acknowledge His presence. I would have to with a name like that.

Notice I said God’s presence, not the youth pastor with the neatly groomed hair and golden smile, the kind of smile that makes you wonder if he is a salesman of some sort, anticipating your yes to push him over the top into a winning commissions lead. Nor am I asking you to consider the Christian extremist who yells, YOU WILL BURN IN HELL to Lady Gaga fans as they wait in line for concert tickets. And not even the Christian who has grown up in the Bible Belt all her life and has never stopped to ask the most horrifying question:


Is this real?

Let me be the first to say, we Christians are quick to create extreme, non-negotiable labels. Labels like, Good/Bad, Holy/Unholy, True/False. Most times, we do this out of fear of excessive exposure, darkness, or “secular influence” on our perfect little angel selves. And it is for this very reason that the conservative, evangelical Christian bubble has missed out on SO much good music. Ohh don’t even get me started…

And with every judgment and assumption about “those people”, we build up more walls than we know what to do with, trying to shoo everyone else away like foolish little flies at a summer day picnic. They are nothing to us. They are the “crazies”, the liberal non-conformists that keep us from getting anything done.

You know, when I started this blog, I initially set very harsh rules for myself. Don’t let this turn Christian, I demanded. Don’t get all God-like on these people. No one will want to read that. Don’t let yourself go there. Keep it light. Keep it in the mind, not the heart.

Yeah… that didn’t happen. God’s doing way too much in my story to silence it. But I was tempted to. Because of a deep desire I have just recently named in my life, a desire to be liked… not necessarily loved. Just liked by people. By everyone. (I know, it’s a bit obnoxious, really.)

But this means I can’t let myself go there. Not everyone digs the whole Jesus thing, Mary Margaret. Let’s be real.

My biggest fear?

People not liking me.

But I am noticing that the more I acknowledge God’s presence, the more I want to cling to Him even more, praying, pleading that He never ever ever leave my sight. I am the terrified mother who ventures out to Wal-Mart with the curious and wandering 5 year-old never daring to let go of the hand I love so outrageously.

So may I bring the focus back on the real presence that we all crave and need? The presence of Jesus. It’s amazing: When we put Jesus in the place where He belongs, “those people” become, well... just like us.

People.

In need of God.

Yall forgive me for my boldness, but God is real. He is real and present and alive in your every hanging thought, your every breath. He knows every single breaking point you own. He knows every internal and external malfunction in your body, the very second someone’s words become too much for you to handle and your throat catches and suddenly your lack of words translates to tears, to pain. He knows that moment like it's His own and He cries with you. For you. Through you. And He doesn’t watch you, binoculars at hand, glaring down from a cloud of thorns with a lightning strike ready to pounce on you at your first sip of alcohol or the second you say shit.

To those who don’t believe in a God, to those who wouldn’t be caught dead in a church or with a Bible at hand:

I am sorry. I am sorry if the Church or the world’s perception of Christianity has hurt you in some way.

But I choose to invite you into the story of Jesus. The story of redemption. The story, if understood, you will never want to forget.

Pull up a chair and rest a while.

May our hearts be in tune to the Gospel.