Wednesday, March 24, 2010

the art of diving in.

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.

Don't fear,
Don't fall.
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."


  1. well, I hope you are feeling better...I was sick last week too, not fun. I luckly though, didn't puke. Music that inspires, a lot. But there is one song...Right in Front of Me by Josh Wilson, I cried when I heard it the first time. It totally related to what I was going through.

  2. Nice post. Jen Knapp is coming to SF in April and i hope to see her (sans derek webb/amy courts though)..

    The Dive In song reminds me much of Switchfoot's On Fire (which is one of my all time favorite songs).

  3. I must have a "strange sense of humor," but I have to admit I laughed at that story. Especially the Quasimodo line. =) I have a puke story of my own from the 2nd grade, but I won't share that (I told the teacher I felt sick, but she didn't listen...).

    I'm with you on the fear thing. I've recently realized that I'm afraid of so many things, and I think those fears are holding me back. I don't want to look back on my life with a lot of regrets because I was scared of everything.


  4. SO with you on the fear thing! Lately I've been questioning what I want to do with my life (ominous music should be playing!) and I've really been praying for God to help me to just throw my hands in the air and give it my all.
    And I'm such a deep lover of "A Little More", probably because its the first of Jennifer's I ever heard. She is so ridiculously awesome, I can't wait for her new album. :)

  5. I knew there was a reason I liked you! :) I saw Jennifer Knapp this weekend too!! Only.. In New Orleans.. Where we found out just hours before the concert that Derek Webb would NOT be joining her. Sadness. Because I'm totally loving Him to. Instead she had some local chick with some serious modesty issues open for her!

    Regardless! BEST concert of my life! Being 5 feet away from her in the House of Blues didn't hurt either. :)

    And can I tell you the whole "Dive In" thing is totally my life right now too? I love how she talks about the shallow waters choking her. It reminds me of a passage in Ezekial, where the Lord gradually guides him into deeper and deeper waters until he's in a river that can't be crossed. Except by the Lord. That's me right now. Love it. :)

  6. Paper bird, glad you're feeling better too! I've never heard that song, but I'll click over and give it a listen. I love songs that describe what I'm going through better than I can. Thanks for sharing that link.

    Steve, you must tell me what you thought of the concert once it's over! (And really, even though I liked the other two, I was just there to see her. I can understand that. : )

    Kristen, I giggled over your puke story, even though i don't know it. I can imagine : ) (I'm sure that teacher learned a valuable lesson that day.) It's wacky when you think about how some fears (some really minor ones) hold you back, isn't it? Sometimes I have to ask myself what the worst thing is that could happen. More often than not, it's just rejection. I know it's silly, but it's still hard to push through.

    hclane, I hope you get some direction for where to go next. Unlike the vast majority of my friends, I didn't know what I wanted to do for years. (Well ... I wanted to write, but I didn't know what beyond that.) For them, career was something they just knew. For me, it was revealed (and is still revealed) step by step. That stinks b/c I'm a big picture kind of girl, but it's defintely teaching me to trust. It sounds like you're doing all the right things. Also, I HEART a little more!

    Bekah.Hope, I agree with totally - she's so incredible live. And she's just a girl with a guitar! There's nothing flashy at all. I absolutely love LOVE what you shared about Ezekiel. I'm going to go look that up right now. I needed to hear it. Thank you. : )

  7. Natalie, I could feel this post literally IN MY HEART. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I can't wait to see her play, hopefully. You're in good company as far as the dorking out goes...she's been in heavy rotation the last few weeks on my iPod. Which happens periodically.
    Anyways. All the sentiments here...girl, I hope I get to sit down to coffee with you someday.

  8. Sorry you puked outside that restaurant. It did dmake me laugh though. :) Music that is inspiring me this week is Brooke Fraser. I have always been a fan, but her music is resonating in me this week. I have been singing her songs all week. I have many a journals stemming from her lyrics. Hope you feel better soon!

  9. Okay so I've known you what four years and I was clueless that you were a fellow Jennifer Knapp fan. I'm so excited that she's back! I'm glad you got to go to the concert, my dear loser roommate who shall remain nameless... was up north visiting family so I had no one to go with when she was in Dallas last week, and I just don't have quite enough self esteem to go to a concert by myself ;) So thanks for posting the lyrics to Dive In. There's been some things on my heart lately that I'm really wrestling with and its a reminder I needed. I hope that you are feeling better hon!

  10. Beware... this may sound like a spam youtube comment about ringtones ;-) but I was so excited when I found Dive In as a free download here!

    I've been listening to it over and over and can't wait until her new album comes out!

    I hope your stomach and cough feel completely better soon. Your story sounds like how I found out I had pneumonia freshman year of college. I had been coughing for weeks but hadn't gone to the doctor and one Sunday night I coughed so hard something popped in my side. I thought it was cartilage in my rib cage so I went to the doctor the next day, they x-rayed, and they found pneumonia. Coughing REALLY hurt after that but I'm glad it happened because otherwise I wouldn't have caught the pneumonia for several weeks. Thank you God for using even annoying pain to help us out! :)

  11. Hey! Just wanted to say thanks for the comment! :) Ah that is my favorite song right now and I too love the lyrics. I see you too like music. ;) Comment at you later.


    p.s. your header is adorable!

  12. Katie, ditto on the coffee! I can't wait to hear what you think of her concert and/or album. I can't wait to hear the whole thing either ... I'm giddy over it :)

    Steffanie, I'm glad the puke story made you laugh. I laughed too once it was over :) Brooke Frazer! Oh my word, what a great pick! I can so see why she's inspiring you right now. You and your sister are living out Albertine. I get chills thinking about it! :) Maybe it's because Easter is coming up, but Hosana has been stuck in my head. That's a great song to get stuck :)

    kay, more amazing = we did that roadtrip all the way from here to Dallas and J. Knapp never came up :) I wish I'd been there to go to the concert with you.

    Abby, you make such a good point. I hadn't even thought of pneumonia (but I suspect that's why my parents got so pushy :). I'm glad you shared that story! I told somebody I hurt my side coughing and they doubted. Now I've heard from two people who've done it. That's no fun at all. Thank goodness for those little nudges to go to the dr. (And thanks for the link to that ring tone! What a find!)

    Sarah, thanks for coming by! :) I'm wild about music. If you ever stumble over something new and awesome, let me know!

  13. Thought you might be interested in these... they're links to a couple of videos my friend took of Jenn performing songs that would never be on an album. :)

  14. heehee :) it's not actually a ringtone download, it's a free download of the whole song as an mp3 that's quickly becoming one of my most played on iTunes! I would love to get it as a ringtone, but I'm too afraid of getting stuck in some subscription plan that's expensive. I hope you're having a wonderful week! -Abby