Listening To: Breathe by Amy Courts
My new favorite designer on Project Runway is: Jonothan. I would like to air out my grievances on this issue on my next post.
Two very important things happened last weekend. Thing One is kind of funny (if you have a strange sense of humor, like me) and Thing Two was awesome by any standard.
Thing One has to do with throw-up so this is the part where you might want to skim ...
Last weekend, my mom coerced me into going to the doctor. I'd been sick for five weeks (and already gone to the doctor once). Last week, however, I was coughing so hard I pulled a muscle in my side. The coughing had to end. So we went to a walk-in-clinic, got some medicine for bronchitis, and then we went to eat Mexican food. (Don't fret - I made a special effort not to breathe on people.) At some point while eating delicious tacos, my cough kicked in. The cough was loud and throaty and I didn't want it to escalate in front of a bunch of people. So I vacated the building quickly. I made it outside, at which point I coughed so hard, I threw up. It was the weirdest thing. I didn't try to run for grass because I never felt it coming. So that's embarrassing enough - throwing up on a sidewalk. One glance to the side and I realized ... I had stopped in front of the restaurant window.* Because I really like the tacos there, I bolted toward my mom's car before anyone could remember my puking face.
"Why are you running?" my mom asked, walking out the door with both our drinks in her hands.
"Barfed," I said, as I started coughing again. The coughing made me hunch over, which made my run look like Quasimodo. I pulled my hood up and motioned for her to follow, quickly.
"What ... ?" she yelled.
"I threw up," I growled, pulling at the door handle that was still locked. "Unlock! Unlock!"
I finally heard her say, "Oooooh." Ah, the moment of discovery.
But the day got much better from there because the second thing that happened - it was probably the most inspiring moment of my year so far. Later that night, I stocked my bag with cough drops (which made me feel kind of old ... thus I kept referring to my bag as my "pocket book"). And I went to see Jennifer Knapp, Derek Webb, and Amy Courts in concert.
A refresher: Jennifer Knapp is one of my favorite musicians. I won't gush about her here, since I already have on a different post. She's the singer who took a long hiatus from playing new music and touring. Finally, she's back. Yippie! The concert? Was incredible. The fact that she was touring with Derek Webb and Amy Courts? Was an added bonus. I'd never heard Amy Courts until that night but her voice was enchanting. She reminded me a little bit of The Cranberries and a little bit of April McLean (one of my favorite singer/songwriters). Her lyrics were gorgeous. I don't know why it took me so long to discover her music.
I was familiar with Derek Webb. When I was in college, Derek W. played for Caedmon's Call. With them, he released a CD called 40 Acres that is still one of the best CD's I've ever heard. There are very few CD's I love all the way through (Tapestry, by Carole King, is another). That one is amazing. I've enjoyed his solo work even more than Caedmon's Call though. Maybe this is silly, but I like that he makes people angry. I like that he makes people think with the way he puts words together. He talks a bunch about loving God and loving other people (a message I can always get behind). And he talks about doing whatever it takes to take care of people (regardless of what they believe); feed them, give them clothes, give them shelter, make them feel valued and respected. (Eat that in your Wheaties, Glen Beck.) I've seen him several times in concert. He's always great: laid back, articulate, and funny. So that was cool.**
But. I was waiting for Jennifer, trying not to act like the Queen of Dorks, which was successful. (She's worth dorking out over though.) She walked out wearing a sleeveless black top (which showed off her shoulder tattoo), black leggings, and black motorcycle-esc boots. The crowd went bananas. I couldn't cheer because I was losing my voice. But I clapped excitedly and did this breathy, strangled yell.
Jennifer made some kind of joke I don't remember. Then she strapped her guitar around her shoulders. And she started singing. (Technically this is her singing in Nashville, not here. But the awesome-vibe is still present : ):
Confession: I think she's even better than she was before. I only saw her in concert once back in ye olden days. I don't remember much about that performance (other than liking it). But you can tell when you see someone do what they love doing, know what I mean? I think the difference I picked up on has something to do with that. She was lost in the music that night. There is no restraint now. There is no holding back. She banters with the crowd. She tells stories without worrying about what people will think. I don't know where she's been (and it doesn't matter). I don't know what kind of soul-searching she did to write such gritty new songs. But they still hit me square in the heart, in exactly the situation I'm trying to unravel. Watching her sing that night made me think about the times I've put too much value into what people think of me. And what I'm writing. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I love hearing from readers. I hope you like what I write. There's definitely a danger zone for me though and it can spiral into silly places like comparison and fear real quick.
I think I need to chill out more and 1.) learn to deal with criticism like a grown-up and 2.) commit to writing what I love, even if it doesn't fly. Jennifer was talking about her new album and said she cried while she was making it. "That's nothing new," she said (I'm paraphrasing here). "I always cry. But this time I cried because I love what I've made." I can totally relate to that.
I also started thinking about the girl I was seven(ish) years ago when I listened to her music versus the girl I am now. Jennifer Knapp's music was like my high school/college soundtrack, after all. She was with me back when I wore unflattering jeans and parted my bangs down the middle, like Dwight Schrute. Getting nostalgic was inevitable :) There are some similarities in ThenMe and NowMe, but there are big differences too. Different: I think I understand grace more than I did back then. I understand how to love a little bit better. I know it's okay to be angry and asks questions now. (And I know it's okay if I don't have all the answers.) Also, I know how to pick flattering jeans for my body type (why, oh why, did this take so long?).
The same: I still love Jesus. I still have a hard time articulating why and how much. And I still think the advice Jesus gave his disciples: to love God and love other people - is what matters most. I'm still trying my best to focus on what matters, even when I screw up (or get offended over all the wrong things). I'm trying to step out in faith and do things that make me afraid.
Actually that's probably a point for The Same: I'm still Piglet. I'm afraid of everything. So far 2010 has been The Year of the Not-So-Gentle-Nudge. I left the concert committed to finally kick some of these fears out of my way. Love the lyrics in Jennifer Knapp's new song "Dive In":
Careful what you say
Careful who might hear
Someone else inside the universe could write it down
and you'll be hearing it for years.
Just turn and face the wall.
I'm like a convict with my hands locked over my head;
I'm a dead man walking
I'm so tired of standing on the edge of myself,
You know I'm longing for it -- to dive in, dive in.
Your voice, it pushed me over the edge.
You know I'm longing for it -- to dive in, dive in.
I'm tired of choking in
the shallow waters I've been in ...
(- Song written by J. Knapp, from her new album Letting Go)
My hope for you, and for me, on this blue-sky afternoon is that we stop letting fear be a valid excuse for missing out on life. I kind of hope The Year of the Not-So-Gentle-Nudge becomes a push right over the edge. Kind of ; )
I would love to hear the music that's inspiring you this week! Or you can share your puke stories if you want.
* This is the same restaurant that, in an act of utter desperation, asked me to be in a commercial a few months ago. Too bad the cameras weren't rolling that day.
** My favorite Derek Webb songs (should you be in a downloading mood): Lover, Wedding Dress, Mockingbird (which sums up how I feel about politics most days), and Table for Two (technically a Caedmon's song, but he's the one who sings it). I also love his cover of "Every Grain of Sand."