facing down that guitar.

You know how sometimes you can’t make yourself do the things you love, even the ones that seem like they are a part of who you are, or at least who you are supposed to be? Songwriting is like that for me. I am not exaggerating when I say I wrote my last song two years ago (plus three months). That’s long enough ago that the mere prospect of sitting down with my guitar and even attempting to write something is enough to send my heart racing, and bring nervous tears to my eyes. I don’t know what it is that keeps us from doing the things we should, but let me tell you. When you’ve been gone this long, it is hard to get back.Whatever it was that distracted me in the first place (and I can think of several things, like planning a wedding, getting married, and then moving) is no longer a factor in keeping me away. Now I am paralyzed by my fear of writing a really bad song. Because it will be. If you don’t write for two years, your first few songs will be bad. That’s it. And in my heart of hearts, I really just want to be a genius…so I’m stuck.

So, why write this? Why now? Well, at the beginning of this year, I began a position with my church as a “worship assistant”. As such, I lead the worship service once a month. However, the main guy, my boss, happens to know that I write. Therefore, part of my job description is to write music that we will then play, on Sunday, in front of people. And, even better, I have a deadline. My first song in over two years must be written by March 9th. It will be performed in front of two full services March 13th.

This is good. I’m saying that because I know it is, not because I like it. Definitely not because I didn’t cry hysterically for twenty minutes yesterday, telling my husband I couldn’t do it, I will never write another song, and I have nothing to say. It’s good because it’s forcing me to face my guitar, write a couple of really bad songs, and get on with it. I am not at all excited about this, not any of it. Although when I remember that at the end of this ordeal, playing my guitar will be normal for me again, I can almost believe that it’s worth the songs that I will cringe to remember and try to forget. Because as Nathan (my boss) told me, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly. Sounds crazy, right? So is avoiding exercising your talent simply because you can’t bear the thought of making bad art while you get back into practice.

After patiently and kindly listening to me cry for twenty minutes yesterday, Matthew pulled out a scrap piece of paper and wrote down some parameters for me and my momentous first-song-in-two-years.

-2 chords

-1 repeated phrase

-less than three minutes (preferably closer to two minutes) long


So here we go.


i googled “lists” to try to find a title for this entry, but didn’t find anything good.

This entry is going to be in what I like to call “List Format”. It’s a format that allows me to spew my thoughts at you, without requiring me to pick a theme or be coherent. Win. Win. Win.

1. Well, after months of getting the run-around, submitting and re-submitting paperwork, and a week in which the dream literally died and then was resurrected, Matthew and I are officially pre-approved. Hooray! This news has me perusing DIY blogs like this one (since our very, very small mortgage amount will require our house to be a major fixer-upper), and making lists of vegetables I want to plant in my very first garden. I’m trying to decide if starting seeds now, without a house, will demonstrate faith in a future home, or tempt fate. We’ll see. In any event, it’s nice to know that the last several months have not been a proverbial chasing of the wind, and all that confusion, miscommunication, and stress actually produced what it was supposed to. A potential mortgage.

2. I have officially reached the stage in pregnancy where things start to get uncomfortable. Like nonstop. My hips have begun the constant ache, which I hear is due to the fact that my joints are loosening up to prepare for actually, you know, birthing a child. Who knew? I mean, obviously every lady who’s given birth, as well as all the medical professionals, or the girls who actually listened to their moms talk about pregnancy, but it’s kind of astounding to me how many little details of pregnancy are unbeknownst to the average person (like me). I must have missed the conversation about your joints gaping in preparation for childbirth. Not to mention the fact that little Eliza loves to push as hard as she can on both sides of my uterus, causing me to gasp loudly, double over suddenly, and generally look crazy to the unaware passerby about five times a day. No, I’m not going into labor. My child is just trying to split my uterus. No big deal.

3. I actually think I will write a future entry about all of the myths/mysteries of pregnancy which have surprised me thus far.

4. Thanks to the advent of March, and the psychological well-being that word bestows upon me, regardless of the temperature, I have some plans for writing more consistently. I will perhaps share more in a bit, when the ideas take a more coherent form.

5. Matthew and I are going to see the Black Keys on June 10th! I am already thinking about who will babysit, and blown away by the fact that I have to figure out babysitting.

6. To delve oh-so-briefly into the political world, does anybody else think what is happening in Wisconsin is a little ridiculous? I mean, I totally understand budget cuts (I myself having lost 25% of my income thanks to them), and the public employees there seem to understand the necessity of everyone tightening their belts a little, and have agreed to wage and benefits cuts. What I don’t understand is the whole “oh and also we want you to give up your collective bargaining rights” bit. It seems to me that the only way to convince people to voluntarily give up their right to ever ask for anything ever again is to…oh wait. There isn’t any way you’ll get them to do that of their own volition. I mean really.

7. I wish my face would decide once and for all whether to be oily or dry. You might not think it’s possible to be both at the exact.same.time but my face is here to assure you that anything is possible.

8. I am not a lazy person, but I love my days off way more than the days I work. I know some people get the dream job that they just love, others like being at work because they escape from the families they can’t quite seem to enjoy, and still others find fulfillment in simply working hard regardless of whether or not they love their job. I, however, come alive on my days off. I can think about the future in a way that involves ideas and excitement instead of worry and fatigue. It’s a great feeling.

9. Instead of thoughts to share, I’m welling up with ideas and projects and stuff to do, so I’m going to get off this computer now, and go do something. And then maybe something else. And it’s going to be great.

no winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn

Springtime. That word has such a hopeful sound to, doesn’t it? When I was younger, I used to think that spring was overrated. I mean, it just rains all the time, and it’s not as warm as you want (you can hardly ever go barefoot), and anyway, summer is really where it’s at. As I got older, though, and winter really started to affect me more and more, my affection for spring has grown.

You may know the feeling. After the long, dark, cold, seemingly interminable months of winter, suddenly! One day is different. It’s a scent in the air, a bounce in  your step, a feeling in the blustery breezes that tells you spring is coming, is here, and winter once again has passed. And while your circumstances may be exactly the same as they were just a day prior, your mindset has changed. There’s hope, once again, after the months of seeming hopelessness. It’s not so bad after all, and you figure you can make it. What seemed insurmountable between November and February is attainable come March.

This week has held a hint of spring for me. I know it’s just going to get cold again, but I honestly don’t care. This week has reminded me that winter never lasts forever. Spring always comes, and whatever it is about winter that mysteriously affects me so greatly is lifted. I love that first true spring day, the wild hope that springs (ahem…haha) up in my heart, the urge I have to skip rather than walk, the crazy desire to wear dresses every day, even though really? It’s not that warm. This week, even the reminder that this day is coming, has remarkably lightened my heart.

boom boom boom.

Before I get started on my real topic, I just have something I need to get off my chest.

Dear Fergie,

Generally speaking, when your job title is “performing artist” it’s a good idea if you can sing. Or, at the very least, if you can’t sing, you should do something else awesome to make up for it. Which leaves me with the question…what are you still doing here? What do you bring to the entertainment table?

Sincerely baffled,


Ok. Thank you. Now I can move on.

I have to drive a lot for my job. I work with a developmentally disabled guy, and we are constantly driving from one activity to the next when I’m with him. And he loves to listen to music. Normally I bring my iPod and we listen to that. Because no way am I going to listen to top 40 radio all day long. This week, however, I was driving a different car and forgot to move my iPod to that car. Thankfully, since it had been awhile since I last caught up on what is going on in the world of bad top 40 music, I was sort of curious. It says a lot about what is important to my culture, after all. So for nearly two days, we listened to the radio.

It was exhausting. Literally. I’m not just talking mentally here…although the mindless, almost comedic, repetition of phrases does get a little tiring for the brain. No, I actually felt physically tired by the music. Almost without exception, it’s fast-paced dance-y club music, with lyrics about never wanting to slow down, or partying non.stop. or doing it all.the.time. being chanted over the noise. Dizzying. And exhausting.

There were a few unexpected respites from the mad dash for the next high, thankfully. The first respite was comedic in nature, and generally came in the form of some hyperbolic love song. There were several of these, but the best example by far is a song by Bruno Mars (yes, I just googled that…I do not know the names of all these one-hit wonders), the chorus of which goes a little something like this.

I’d catch a grenade for ya (yeah yeah yeah)/Throw my hand on a blade for ya (yeah yeah yeah)/I’d jump in front of a train for ya (yeah x3)/you know I’d do anything for ya (yeahs)/oh oh/I would go through all this pain/Take a bullet straight through my brain/Yes I would die for ya baby/But you won’t do the same.

Wow. Really? Really? You would do all that?

No. No,  you wouldn’t. And who’s asking you to, anyway? Before you write your next meaningful love song, Bruno, I suggest you take a minute to consider whether or not it’s believable in any way. You might also take a lesson from Flight of the Concords’ Jemaine Clement and ask yourself if you would really do that. The answer, most likely, is no. I flatter myself that my husband would defend me to the death if need be, but he’s not exactly running around begging to be let do it. That’d just be crazy. Which tells you how idiotic it sounds to be singing this to your girlfriend of fifteen minutes who’s already on her way out.

The second respite came in the form of one Taylor Swift, surprisingly. No, I wouldn’t exactly say I’m a fan of America’s newest sweetheart…she’s a little bit bubblegum and I like more substance in my music. But surrounded by other songs whose writers struggle to string one coherent thought next to another, her songs were refreshing. Still, it was much more exciting at the rare points of the day when they played a band like Florence and the Machine.

Toward the end of last night’s shift, my brain having been assaulted for nearly two days by mindless, pounding repetition, I was thankful to remember I had an M. Ward cd in the car. We sat back, relaxed, and let the beautiful combination of well-written music and lyrics wash over our tired ears. It’s been fun, top 40 radio, but I’ve gotten my social commentary fix and I won’t be seeing (hearing?) you for awhile.