I’m Serious

No one seems to appreciate the need I have to do bigger and better things with my life. No one seems to take this seriously. No one seems to understand how far removed from reality all of this is. And how desperately sad that is, in and of itself. No one understands why this is important.

I’m being melodramatic. THAT they understand.

So if it’s me against everyone else, is it likely that I’m wrong? Because if that’s true, I just don’t see the point to any of it.

I know this isn’t me. This environment. This mentality. This perverse reality founded on self-centeredness. THIS ISN’T ME.

That, I understand.



At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I’m going to call this an identity crisis. Primarily because that’s the closest thing I can think of to reflect some things I’ve been feeling lately. And also because, admittedly, it sounds kind of exciting.

The other night I feel like I had a Realization (capital ‘R’; a big one, in other words).

No one knows me.

For that matter, I’m not sure I even know me.

And for that matter, I’m not even sure there’s anything to know.

It’s a weird thing. I can’t pinpoint anything I do that is uniquely me. Anything that is mine. Maybe I’m being short-sighted. But I really feel like everything people know about me is, largely, defined solely through my relationships with other people. I can’t seem to make an independent, accurate impression. I’m all context and no substance.

That sounds very negative. Maybe I’m oversimplifying. But when you’re waiting out yet another sleepless night, I think everything gets oversimplified.

Where is this coming from? How have I lost myself? What makes me feel this loss?

I carry a lot of noise from the past. Insult and injury that I can’t seem to heal from. Because I seem to believe that if I let go of it and stop letting it bother me, then I’m pretending that the issues behind it don’t exist, and am therefore being delusional.

Here’s an example. My ENTIRE life, I have had people make a big damn deal about how quiet  I am. As a child I didn’t think much of it. In fact, in school, I was continually praised for it. Teachers marveled about it, always smiling, smiling, smiling. “She’s so quiet!” they would say to my mom. “I wish I had a classroom full of students just like her!” And I sat demurely in the background, my halo firmly in place. This was all in stark contrast to the feedback my mom got about my brother, who was always acting up. Always talking. Always in trouble. As I understood it, being “in trouble” was bad. So anything I could do to not do that–to be the opposite of him–was good. Which by extension made me good.


“I’m good.”

My entire identity. All summed up.

But as I got older, the tone and expression that accompanied the statement “She’s so quiet” started to change. Turns out, somewhere in there, I was supposed to develop a dynamic personality. All through school, it seemed like the constant underlying message was to be quiet and do what you’re told. If you do that, you will be “good”. The ultimate success.

Except nowadays, “She’s so quiet” is not considered praise. It’s a defect. A weakness. A handicap. I’m considered timid and shy. I’m thought to be “afraid”. People seem to think they need to be “careful” with me. If they notice me at all.

But I don’t feel like I’m “quiet.” I don’t feel shy or timid or afraid. I didn’t feel weak. I never thought that I conducted myself all that differently than other people until I started hearing that the way I am is “weird”. Meaning “Different”. Meaning “Not normal”. Meaning, a problem.

So over the last 12 years (when, as I found myself in the working world and my “problem” really started emerging), I have tried to back pedal and figure out how to have the social skills I apparently failed to develop back when we were all reading Curious George and playing with My Little Pony. All of which is made all the more difficult since I didn’t even know I’d actually missed anything. (I’d always been “good”, remember?)

So I try to overcompensate. I give myself pep talks for meetings and parties. I (at least think that I) talk way more than what is needed or appropriate. And at the end of it all, I feel exhausted, but more or less successful, and I think, “Good. No one noticed that I’m weird. No one noticed my huge defect. I passed. Maybe I’m getting better.” It drains me considerably, but I consider this part of my healing. Then I hear later that questions were asked. Speculations made. “Did Rebecca have a good time? She seemed so quiet.” “Did we upset her?” “Why was she so shy?”

Wow. I’d done everything right. Everything. I was so conscientious and put forth so much effort that, after the fact, I was emotionally tapped out, but wasn’t concerned because anything worth doing takes hard work. And yet, it wasn’t enough. I am still defective. Everyone saw. No farther along than when I started. I must be even more far gone than I thought.

Even doing something that flies in the face of being “quiet” and “shy”–performing live music onstage, night after night, over and over and over, writing and singing my own songs, opening up and sharing myself in a way that is completely exposed and uninhibited–doesn’t work. They still don’t buy it.

In fact, on multiple occasions, when people have found out that I’m in a band (Finally, I think to myself, they’ll see the truth), they always have the same reaction. “Really? I just can’t picture that. She’s so quiet.”

My problem remains like a growth that cannot be severed. It is my cancer.

So if I then choose to say, “I will not be concerned by their opinions; being ‘quiet’ is not weird,” when clearly most people are bothered by it, am I not then deluding myself?

Is it delusional to think yourself faultless when you clearly make so many people uncomfortable?

I don’t want to be like them. I think most people spend too much time talking and saying nothing. I really just want to be able to interact with someone without having to worry about how weird I am.

One day, I will make some lucky therapist very happy.


I was driving in to work this morning, passively listening to Guy Clark, not feeling entirely “with it” due to a near sleepless night and the general ennui that’s become pretty inseparable from the 9 to 5 portion of my life these days. But traffic was light for once, and the music was good, so in relative terms, I could probably already consider today a success despite being only about an hour and a half into it.

While I’m sitting at my daily red light in the middle of downtown Houston, “L.A. Freeway” comes on. It’s a song I know, but never really had strong feelings about. That’s not to say I don’t like it, but it just never roused any great emotional response from me. And that’s fine. They can’t all do that all the time. Otherwise listening to music would be utterly exhausting and traumatic. Regularly, I mean. And that would be a little much.

But a line hit me, in the context of where I was sitting, in the dead center of the jammed up metropolitan mecca of the fourth-largest city in the country, that I hadn’t ever really noticed before.

Adios to all this concrete. Gonna get me some dirt road back street.

And, particularly in the light of a conversation John and I were having last night about figuring out how or if we can really shake things up and completely change our lives, the words started cracking through to me a little more.

I had a front row seat at the crosswalk. Well-assembled business-y people strutted past my car. Most talking on their phones. Or looking at their phones. All carrying multiple bags and white cups of coffee. Walking in a way that can only be described as “deliberate.” They are going somewhere. They have something to do. Something that apparently requires a lot of bags. These people are very important. They’re doing it right. Somewhere, they have mothers who are proud. I feel sad. For them and because of them.

I see someone approaching the curb on my right. A man I’ve seen before, in this very spot, several times. This street fronts the public library. It’s a place where non-business-y people who don’t have white coffee cups and business meetings to hurriedly get to can instead just sit and let the time pass as it may. But the approaching man is hurrying to his own appointment. He begins digging through the garbage can that I’m sitting next to, looking for his breakfast. No doubt that no small number of business people hurriedly discard their McBreakfasts into that trashcan on the way to their appointments and meetings.

I’m supposed to turn right during this red light. The driver behind me has apparently had enough of reading my bumper stickers and watching the homeless man eat garbage and grows impatient with me.

But I can’t go. I’m caught. I’m utterly caught in this moment, watching all of these people walk past this very obvious man who is very obviously eating out of the garbage, while pretending that he is not there, that he is not eating out of the garbage, and does not, in fact, affect  them at all.

Now, this is not a preachy piece about how they should give this man money or do something for him. All I’m saying is, it is amazing how deliberately they chose not to see him. Because he doesn’t fit for them. He is a problem, a stain on the pristine reality that they have built around themselves in order to fulfill their arbitrary senses of entitlement.

And I suddenly feel something of a sensory overload, as the song playing conjures in my mind images of my own escape fantasy, while my eyes watch this constant movement of people completely absorbed in their own worlds, the street packed full of cars and busses, the sky blocked by skyscraper after skyscraper. Everything is grey and hard and lifeless. Everything spins down a drain. There is no life here. All of the noise will build to a deafening thunder. And die.

I think of how incredible it is, that all of these countless things can occur simultaneously, and yet the result is nothing but a singular, unique, infinitesimal moment in time. A flash so bright and so fast that you can’t even tell if it happened. It makes me think of stars. How they are composed of nothing but tiny particles, and yet how massive they are, and yet how tiny they appear in the sky, and yet how inconceivably many of them there are.

All of this—the song, the red light, the suits, the homeless man, and me examining the whole of reality simultaneously at a molecular level and an infinite aerial view—has occurred in the span of about 90 seconds.

By the time the light changed, I’m having what I’m going to call an uncontrollable emotional response. It seems I’ve been having a lot of these lately. And I’m not sure if it’s a sign that something’s wrong or that I’m doing something very right.

This feeling in my mind…I always describe it as a hum. Like a very steady hum that you feel more than you hear. It’s almost physical. Rather than the overwhelming noise of everything at once, all of it too much and too fast and completely chaotic, this is organized and steady. It’s productive and useful. It’s methodical, and I can make sense of it. When it runs this way, I’m kinder to people because I don’t feel like I’m drowning. I feel like a conductor. Not like I’m in control, but that I’m in alignment.

These moments. There are so, so many of them. And it’s completely easy to miss them all, to deliberately not see them.

If I could just get off of this L.A. freeway without getting killed or caught, I’d be down that road in a cloud of smoke for some land that I ain’t bought.

Cheese and Whine

All I seem to do in this blog is complain. Or maybe it’s that I only turn to it when I’m feeling down or frustrated. So I’m going to try an exercise. I’m going to write down good things that have happened recently, without adding my negative editorials to it. Big or small. Good things only.

  1. Last weekend, we got to stay in the most beautiful B&B I’ve ever seen. For free. Out of the goodness of the hearts of a few folks in a small town that’s slowly disappearing, simply because we offered to play music for them. (Technically I guess we paid 3 dozen eggs, but that’s another story…) It was a quiet, two and-a-half story Victorian home built in 1900, with much of the original interior and exterior intact and unchanged. The grounds were serene, bordered by an incredible park and a cemetery with graves dating back to the Civil War and the C.S.A. The weather was hot, but enjoyable. (Feeling the impending ruthlessness of a Texas summer was actually amusing, and refreshing in a way. We made it around again.) And everyone we met was accommodating, friendly and appreciative.
  2. A few people in the office are making an effort to rally up some social activities. I hadn’t really realized how much I missed that until the plans started forming. It’s been a long time. I miss feeling camaraderie up there. I hope this helps change things.
  3. I left work early today and had no traffic coming home. I think it took 20 minutes to get from the parking garage to my driveway.
  4. This morning the scale said 121.6. I think that’s the lowest it’s been since before we went on tour last summer.
  5. Today I had the first I-just-felt-like-talking-about-nothing-in-particular phone call I’ve had in I don’t know how long. Josh called from Anchorage just to talk. Nothing specific. I realized how much I avoid the phone these days. How quickly I try to fill the silence and end a call just to make sure it ends before it gets awkward. I can’t remember the last time I was able to just relax on the phone, and just see where the conversation went, without it being about anything in particular.
  6. I have a really beautiful flower bed in front of my house. We’ve made that. And I love seeing it every morning when I leave, and every afternoon when I get home.
  7. I found a new appreciation for Mary Gauthier’s album, Mercy Now, that I didn’t have when I bought it (probably about 6 years ago). I’m really glad that my taste in music has grown, and my openness to songs I don’t know has expanded greatly. I bought the album for one song in particular, puttered through the rest and didn’t really give it a second thought. I put it in the car Monday morning because I needed some creative fuel, and she’s one of the best songwriters I’ve ever heard. I’ve been hoping that immersing myself in her music will help shake some things loose and help me write. Regardless, it’s been nice to dust that one off and find a new appreciation for it.

I’m taking an active step in clearing out the negative noise in my head. Right here, with this exercise. The negativity I feel has reached levels that I’m convinced are toxic. I’ve just about completely isolated myself from people, I avoid interactions, I dread going to my job, I don’t work efficiently, I meet most interactions with a default irritation and frustration, my physical state is not ideal, my libido has disappeared, all I want to do is sleep, and, most disturbingly, I’m not writing. I’m not creating.

But today, we received something that helped me adjust my perspective a little. And I’m going to try really hard to quiet this negative noise, until I can silence it for good, or at least tame it in a cage, so I can at least walk away from it whenever I choose.

After hearing us play in Calvert, TX this weekend, a total stranger sent us this email:

I just wanted to send a message to let yall know how much we enjoyed your music. We were out riding the Harley and stopped there because this is one of my favorite towns. Your music stopped us in our tracks, we came in pulled up a chair and enjoyed great music. My boyfriend is in the military, it is rare that we get time together, so again we really enjoyed yall. The song you two wrote, that you introduced as writing it for friends that had lost jobs, how life changes, i cried throughout the entire song. It reminded of my mother. I lost her to suicide in 11/2010, everyday is difficult but that song was beautiful. Congrats on your upcoming wedding and blessings for continued success. We hope to have the opportunity to see you again. It was so sweet watching the two of you interact,the love yall have for one another radiated. Couples like that are rare. Thanks again for coming all the way here to play. Best wishes! Jennifer and Andrue

I remember that life is bigger than the day-to-day would have us believe. There is more, and it is beautiful.

To Do List

All this goddamn noise.

Need to get up and get to work.
Need to work out.
Need to stop being late.
Need to finish cleaning up all my messes in the house.
Need to talk more about my feelings.
Need to stop being so weird.
Need to smile more and talk to people more.
Need to stop being so quiet and shy.
Need to get better at playing.
Need to practice more.
Need to write more.
Need to make time for people.
Need to be a better partner to John.
Need to get better at conversations.
Need to be more confident.
Need to make a change in my life.
Need to get comfortable with life.
Need to figure out what’s wrong with my libido.
Need to get over it.
Need to let go.
Need to stop drinking so much.
Need to get comfortable being around people.
Need to get better at being onstage.
Need to be friendlier.
Need to make more friends.
Need to connect with people.
Need to cut ties.
Need to forget.
Need to figure out why my memory is so bad.

Need space.
Need quiet.
Need time.
Need nothing.
Need calm.
Need nature.

Need to stop feeling guilt.

Need to live.
Need to learn more.
Need to stop fearing time.
Need to stop procrastinating.

Need to stop having expectations.

Need to define myself.
Need to make an independent impression.

Need to take more control of my life.
Need to stop being afraid.
Need to stop worrying.

Need to cry.
Need to stop crying.
Need to feel something.

Need to do something that matters.

Need to figure out what matters.

Consume or Contribute.

I’m really lousy at Facebook and all that kind of stuff. Really lousy. Because I always want to say more than 15 words, but then I think about how what I want to write will get too long and no one will bother to read it anyway, and now, come to think of it, I’m not that interested myself, so why would I even try to subject anyone else to it… And so on. I’m a journal writer. Always have been. You just can’t say anything of substance without really taking the time to do it. I look at my neglected social media and just shrug my shoulders, knowing that I’ll remain just as anonymous online as I seem to be in person. I don’t mean that to be bleak, but it’s true. It seems like I have to know someone intimately for years before I feel like they really start to scratch the surface, and that’s just not a realistic way to socialize on a regular basis. I think this is a shortcoming. I may or may not get around to working on it.

This weekend was really a very thorough one. We played both days of the League City Uncorked wine festival. It was the “first annual” one, which is always the best occurrence of a festival–no one’s heard of it yet, so it’s not overrun with assholes just looking for cheap booze on their way to a quick lay. “Second annual” is hit or miss. Corners are cut by this point to save a few bucks. Something gimmicky is in the works to bring in more people. “Third” is generally insufferable. Then it usually either dies or it transforms into a new event. Either way I’ve probably stopped going. But this weekend was really enjoyable. I love going to festivals and arts markets and farmers markets at a performer, as opposed to being a patron. You kind of get to see the back side of it. John mentioned that you get out of practice at going as a patron–you forget you can’t just thwart the parking regs and use the “he told us you’d know” trick to get a better parking spot.

There have been a few times when we’ve gone to festival-type events as ticket-holding patrons and, to be honest, I don’t really enjoy it. It seems so directionless. You just pay money to get in somewhere and spend more money and consume and exhaust yourself and then leave. But you don’t DO anything. Nothing carries over into the next day and beyond except maybe a hangover. I’ve realized that I like these events when I have a job to do, but otherwise I usually just find them a little boring. And my free time has gotten so scarce these days that I get a little bitter if I have to spend any of it being bored. But when we’re there as performers, we really bond with the vendors. If it’s humid and there’s a low turnout, you know they had a low turnout too. If it’s windy and all your stuff is blowing around on stage and your hands and instruments are so cold it’s hard to play, they’re fighting their tents and finding some MacGyver-esque ways of keeping their wares from blowing around. I guess it comes down to bonds forged through suffering, but a suffering that you’re happy to do and that you inflict on yourself, entirely of your own volition. You have to be twisted to do that. And it’s a pretty good idea to go ahead and stick together if you’re that twisted.

After playing today and hanging around for a couple hours, we left the festival and I bought a new guitar. After playing the day before, we’d left the festival and went to Guitar Center just to look around and ended up getting a small snare drum for John to play with. But I also saw a guitar I really liked. The price was right, the tone was pretty and the look was perfect. So today, we made our way back there “by accident” and I decided to go ahead and get it. I reasoned that since I’ve been getting so comfortable playing bass and ukulele while singing, I might have better luck playing guitar than I have in the past. And by “have better luck,” I really mean I won’t get as bored and annoyed by it as I have in the past. And this one grabbed me. Even if it is a Gretch. I’ll look past that.

Gretch Round Neck Dobro

Maybe I’ll even get as good as that arrogant 12-year old that played the festival a couple acts after us yesterday. Heh. Nothing like growing up entitled. I assume anyway. I wouldn’t really know. But I digress.

My main goal today was to weed the flower bed in the front yard. Oddly enough, yard work and house work have started to feel like luxury activities to me. People mostly laugh when I say that, and follow it with, “I have a house you can come clean,” totally missing the point. Looking at the calendar right now, I see that I won’t have another weekend with no plans until June. It’s March right now. Unplanned time at home isn’t something I get to see very often. Maintaining my home and my yard often gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list, and I get to missing it. And knowing that by the time I’ll have another weekend free for uninterrupted yard work, we’ll be well into a merciless Houston summer made me take full advantage of my free afternoon at home today. I weeded the hell out of that flower bed. I brought Omie out to the front yard with me so she could feel included since she gets left home alone so much. Between me and John, we made that yard look like we actually spend time working on it on a regular basis.

Our neighbors think we’re so stupid, doing our own yard work on our hands and knees like–gasp!–common folk. But I take comfort in the fact that they can’t possibly know the satisfaction I know. The satisfaction that comes from getting up early, hauling a ton of gear 45 miles away, setting up for a show, performing, breaking it down, schmoozing, loading it up, driving home, getting your hands dirty, spending time with those you love most, feeling your sore back and shoulders, and cracking open a cold beer in a warm shower. Nope. Ol’ Leslie and Pierre can’t possibly understand that feeling as they sit around stuffing their faces and having other people do everything for them. And to that I say good. Because they don’t deserve it.

But tonight my mom also called and said my grandmother is in the hospital. Depending on who you ask, you get a different account of what’s actually going on, but the most current information I have is that she’s stable enough that they’re moving her out of ICU tomorrow. She had a “small” heart attack, but we don’t know what that really means yet.

I have such mixed feelings about so much of my family on my dad’s side, but my grandmother has always been the one I understood and who understood me. Who took the time to. I know I’ve neglected our relationship. I can give every excuse in the world but none of them really add up to anything. I haven’t made the time, pure and simple. Hopefully I’ll know more about all this tomorrow.

Thanksgiving 2007

So many feelings this weekend. Each felt to their fullest extent. Maybe it’s a harder road–feeling things so thoroughly. But I have a feeling it’s better this way.

A Poem. So inspired by Tony Hoagland.

Mind buzzing with

Echoes of a poetry binge


Gulping written words with a

Desperate thirst to reconnect

With any real thing


Relics from a slower past

I ache for

That losing, I’ve lost myself


A parch that grows drier

With every sip