Oh, hi there… 2017 Update

So, yeah. I suck at updating my blog. Maybe one day, I’ll be better about it.

As I was driving around running errands yesterday, I was thinking about the post I made back in December. You know, the one where I said that I was going to be better about updating the blog? And talked about all my big plans for the year?

Surprisingly, I’ve actually accomplished a bunch on my list. There’s still more red  ❌ than there are green ✅ … and a couple that remain to be seen, but let’s be honest – it was a pretty aggressive list.

  • Train for and run my first half marathon in five years ✅
  • Lose weight  ⚠️
  • Travel to Australia to see Shelia and Wales to visit Caroline and Lee  ❌
  • Go to Denver and see Red Rocks  ❌
  • My first Montana trip to see Libby  ✅
  • Send a letter or card a week  ✅
  • Write at least one blog post a week  ❌
  • Conduct a massive, soul-cleansing closet purge (trust me, this one is LONG overdue – there are clothes and shoes in there that just shouldn’t be)  ✅
  • Maybe go on date or two  ❌
  • Reduce the amount of Sugar Free Red Bull and Coke that I drink  ❌
  • Go to 125 concerts in a year  ⚠️
  • Get back into taking real photos  ❌

Let’s talk about the half marathon. It wasn’t pretty. I didn’t train nearly as much as I should have. And I walked a bunch, and I was slow…but I finished. My awesome cousin, Meg, ran the race with me and cheered me on the whole way. If anything, it was awesome to spend time with her where we grew up. We both had challenging years in 2016, so I think it was probably an emotional win for both of us.

I’ve traveled a BUNCH this year, at least for me. I didn’t make it to Wales to see Lee and Caroline, but… I did squeeze in an unplanned trip to Las Vegas to see them for Lee’s 50th birthday. Caroline and I plotted behind Lee’s back…he had no idea that I was coming, so the look on his face when I showed up there at 11 PM at night was priceless.

I said that this year would be my year to do the things I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, and I wasn’t lying. I finally got to attend Mile of Music in Wisconsin – over my birthday, no less. On top of that, I got to spend it with my best friend of nearly 30 years, Steph, who I haven’t seen in so so long. So many great moments, but one of the highlights? Dancing on stage Courtney Cox-style with my buddies in Wild Adriatic during the Bruce Springsteen tribute session on my actual birthday. Lots of new artists to love. The music and the company were just what my soul needed, and I’m going to make it a yearly thing now.

Two weeks after that trip, I hopped on a plan to Montana to visit Libby. It was so great to be with her on her home turf and check another state of my visit list. I got to see a show at Live at the Divide in Bozeman, took an amazing couple of hikes, and Libby and I even had a day where we vegged on an air mattress watching the Golden Girls and snacking. We live so far apart, and when we do see each other, it’s usually on The Rock Boat, so there’s no time for just… friending. The cherry on top was the Flagship Romance house show at Libby and Jake’s beautiful new home. Montana is stunning, and I would totally move there tomorrow if it wasn’t cold seven months out of the year.

Just this last month, I flew to Chicago to see Mighty Oaks. If you’ve not been following along for the last seven or so years, they are a band based in Berlin, Germany, that I have the biggest musical crush on. I’ve only seen them once, in an opening slot. So when they announced a short headlining tour in the States this year, I knew I had to go see them. Chicago won as the closest… and, bonus, one of my closest musical friends who lives in Chicago, joined me for the show.

My concert calendar has been pretty full this year, and I’m 20 shows ahead of where I was at this time last year. I’m not sure I’ll get to 125. I’ll get close. Right now, if I go to everything I have planned, I’ll be around 110. Squeezing another 15 shows in seems pretty impossible, but I’m going to try. Keep your fingers crossed. That said, if I were to hang it up today, it would be an amazing year of fantastic shows. I’ve seen Quiet Hounds more this year than I’ve ever seen them in a year before; saw Mighty Oaks; had lots of face time with my Wild Adriatic fellas (and more to come); got to see Third Eye Blind’s eponymous record’s 20th anniversary tour; kicked off my birthday celebration with Future Thieves at my very favorite venue surrounded by some of my best friends; went to my first SoFarSounds show; have seen SUSTO a bunch; knocked out another four Will Hoge shows (trying really hard to get to the 100th Will show); saw Quiet Hollers for the first, second, third and fourth time; fell in love with Judah and the Lion; got to have The Brevet back on the East Coast for a show at The Evening Muse; and sooo much more. And there’s still a little less than three months to go!

There’s all the “stuff” that still isn’t where I want it to be. I remain way too caffeinated, I don’t write nearly enough, still haven’t gone on any dates, still haven’t lost any weight…blah, blah, blah. Those things get to me, of course, but I’m a work in progress. There are still some things I’m working on fixing, things I’m working on about myself, things I’m trying to love about myself. I’m my own worst critic…maybe that’s my biggest accomplishment of this year…learning to let go and give myself a break.

So there’s the update. Stay tuned to see how 2017 closes out….

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2017 > 2016

Let’s face it, 2016 has been a big, festering wound of a year.

My personal stuff is well-covered territory: My mom died. My job changed dramatically. Really, when you think about it, those are really hefty things and the fact that I am sitting here at 12:15 am on December 27 in my sister’s living room and not a complete puddle of tears is an accomplishment in its own right.

Beyond the personal dramas, there’s a whole slew of collective world stuff that has been weighing on all of us. Syria. Brexit. Small-scale terrorist attacks that maimed and killed hundreds and threaten our daily routines. North Korea. A divisive and horrid U.S. election cycle. Donald Trump being elected. More celebrity deaths than any of us want to count (David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and just yesterday, George Michael – are you kidding me?). Zika virus. It’s A LOT to handle.

But here we are, December 27, on the verge of a new year. Like everyone, I’ve got my goals for the year. Among them:

  • Train for and run my first half marathon in five years
  • Lose weight
  • Travel to Australia to see Shelia and Wales to visit Caroline and Lee
  • Go to Denver and see Red Rocks
  • My first Montana trip to see Libby
  • Send a letter or card a week
  • Write at least one blog post a week
  • Conduct a massive, soul-cleansing closet purge (trust me, this one is LONG overdue – there are clothes and shoes in there that just shouldn’t be)
  • Maybe go on date or two
  • Reduce the amount of Sugar Free Red Bull and Coke that I drink
  • Go to 125 concerts in a year
  • Get back into taking real photos

My list is probably too long and someone, somewhere will tell me that I should pick one or two of them and focus on small goals. But that’s not the way I want to do it. I either want to win big and revel in glory or fail just as spectacularly and learn from my mistakes. That’s a bit out of character for me, but something in me broke in 2016 (and it’s a good thing), and it’s time for me to stop living on the sidelines of my own life.

People say to me all the time, “You have the best life.” They say that because they see the world through the lens of my Facebook and Instagram pages. Pictures of concerts and cocktails and me out with friends, posts about bands that I love, and my adorable nephew, and things that bring smiles and happiness. And I do love all those parts of my life.

But I think that for a lot of people – including me – only show the world the highlight reel on social media. You see all the good stuff, and none of the bad stuff. Most of those people that tell me I have “the best life” don’t realize that I probably go to 75% of those shows by myself. That I see the staff and the bartenders at my favorite venues more than I see my friends. What most people don’t realize is that I am scared to death 99.9% of the time about what other people think of me. People don’t see that when I’m at home, I curl up in the corner of my couch wearing leggings and sweatshirts and eat salt and vinegar potato chips and watch endless reruns of The Big Bang Theory. I’m lonely, but I have built freaking fortresses around myself to keep from getting hurt (and that, my friends, keeps people out). Half the time, I’m sitting there berating myself that I should be doing something … running or cleaning my closet or reading or writing something. But I haven’t done ANY OF IT. Because I’m so frightened of winning or failing or anything other than things that keep me on an even keel.

And I’m tired of it. So, in 2017, I’m going to change it, and it starts with that great big list of things I want to do. Writing it down and putting it out there in the world is my version of Andy Dufresne’s “Get busy living or get busy dying.” It’s here now. For everyone to see. So there’s no turning back (because now you all know that I worry about what you think of me).

Maybe it’s hopeless optimism, stupidity, or perhaps even that Liz Gilbert book I’m reading, but I feel like even if that checklist above has zero checkmarks on December 31, 2017, 2017 is still going to be a good year. I feel it in my gut.

We’re all due for one, don’t you think?

The Life Part of Music.Love.Life.

The thing I love about my little “Music.Love.Life” tagline (one day the URL will free up and I’ll nab it) is that it means multiple things to me.  Usually on this blog, you guys see one side:  music being a big part of my life. But today’s post isn’t about music.

The “life” part of the tag exists for other reasons, too.

Sixteen years ago today, I fell.  Hit my head.  Pretty hard. (I know, it explains a lot.) Walked around for a few days with a pretty bad headache. Went to the doctor when it wouldn’t go away.  Had a fun little CAT scan, followed by an even more fun ride on a state trooper helicopter.  Too bad I don’t remember that part – by that time, they had me loaded up on pain medication.

See, when I fell, I gave my noggin’ a pretty good shake.  Enough to sheer some blood vessels that caused some blood to leak out and put extra pressure on my brain (hence, the headache).  All the paperwork says “Epidural hematoma,” but my Dad swears it was subdural (he’s a doc, saw the CAT scan).  Either way, same kind of effect.  Made me a little wonky, and required some drilling into my skull to get that blood off and relieve the pressure. Over that week in the hospital, I learned how serious my injury was and how lucky I was … I had a great neurosurgeon, amazing nurses, and family, friends and sorority sisters that were by my side the whole time.

I was 21 when it happened, in the middle of my senior year of college.   Although I was back at school in two weeks (with half of my hair missing!), the whole thing changed my life.  I vowed to reconcile with people I’d had issues with, I promised myself I’d live every day, love my family and friends more, etc., etc.  And I did.  Hell, me mending fences with someone I’d loathed since high school resulted in us dating and me moving to North Carolina.

But sixteen years later, I find myself sitting here on the anniversary of my fall and realizing that I’ve forgotten that resolution to live life to its fullest. The past couple of years have stressed me out to the point where I don’t even recognize myself some days.  Yes, I go out, I do things, I live, I have fun…but more often than not, my brain is working overtime thinking about other things. Work, Mom’s illness, friend drama, lack of a love life, lack of money … Instead of living, I’ve been worrying, stressing, being angry, being hurt, being sad … and I need to stop. Now. It’s not me.

I need to get back to the Krissie that laid in that hospital bed for a week, dreaming of all the things I was going to be, the fears I was going to conquer, the people I was going to love, and the adventures I was going to have if I could just get out of there.

My dear friend Stacy gave me the coffee mug pictured above for my birthday. “Live with passion” is on one side.  The other says  “The universe knows.”  Something about that mug made Stacy think of me…I’d like to think it’s because she knows me and knows that if I’m going to do anything, I do it all the way.  But maybe she gave it to me as a reminder because she’s watched me fall into this rut.  And as I sit here, looking at the mug, I’ve decided it’s my new motto.

“Live with passion.”

Life’s too short not to.

A birthday wish…and the present is for you!

It’s now 12:47 AM, August 3rd.  Officially my birthday.  37.  Damn.

My friends, who I adore, keep asking me what I want to do to celebrate and this year … well, frankly, I feel like I’ve been given a lot already.  My mom beating cancer, for one.  Getting closer with my family over the last year. Truly amazing friends who are supportive, creative, hilarious, and bring all sorts of goodness to my life.  A good year at work.  I honestly have everything I could possibly want or need.

So I started thinking…what would I do if I had extra birthday wishes?  Beyond health and happiness for everyone that I love, what are the things that make me happiest?  And the answer was easy:  Music.

I have taken so much joy, love, comfort, camraderie, strength, inspiration, hope and happiness from music.  I wish there was a way I could give back to all of the artists whose songs have done this for me.  I try to find ways to do it…they are small, but I like to think every once in awhile I make a difference. It will never balance out, though.  It always seems like I’ll take more than I’m ever able to give back.

If you’re not into music, let me tell you this:  it is not easy to be a musician these days.  There are more artists than ever fighting for a piece of the pie.  Audiences listen to a greater number of artists than they’ve ever listened to – and that also means their dollars are divided up into smaller amounts for each artist.  If you ask me, I think the days of the superstar musician are over.  We’ll never see another Michael Jackson again.  Musicians now are like the rest of us, going out there and making music just to earn a living.  Yet music is the one “consumable” that no one wants to pay for.  We think we’re entitled to get it for free. Honestly, how fair is that?  Do we expect to walk into a Best Buy and just be able to pick a Wii up off the shelf for free?  Then, add in touring costs.  Think about it – my car costs $43 to fill up; what do you think a six-passenger van costs to fuel and maintain? Add in food, lodging, and equipment costs (guitar strings are NOT cheap!), and the fact that on a Tuesday night in East Bijip, North Carolina you might play for an audience of 20 people, and have to split the cover charge with the opening band.  Then there are the costs of making a record (studio time, getting it pressed, art, photography), promoting yourself, and buying merchandise which you hopefully can sell back and maybe make a buck or two for every CD or t-shirt you sell. Add up all of this and you can see how being a musician must really be a labor of love – because most artists aren’t making money.  Most are losing it.  To make music.  For you to listen to.

Which brings me to my birthday wish.  One of my favorite bands of all time – Alpha Rev – is making a new EP.  They’re doing it on their own.  No record label support.  Just a bunch of guys making music because they love it and they want their fans to hear it.  And they do make beautiful music.  Music with meaning, heart, emotion and depth.  They’ve asked their fans to help fund the record, and they are 81% of the way to their goal.  They’ve got 26 days left to raise the rest of the money, or they lose it all.

So…that’s what I want for my birthday.  I want Alpha Rev to reach their goal.  It’s a selfish wish, really, because in the end, I get new Alpha Rev music.  But it’s also a gift to you.  Because if you help them, they’re going to give you their music.  It’s a totally win-win situation. Oh, one more thing (they’re just that awesome of a group), the guys are also giving part of the money they raise to two charities (read more about them here).  So I guess that makes it a win-win-win.

Can you help me make my birthday wish come true?  Check out Alpha Rev’s Pledge Music page. Give ’em a few bucks.  It’ll be the best birthday present ever.  I swear.

You’re A Friend of Mine

A very large part of my heart belongs to a man named Bruce Springsteen and his band, a little group of folks we like to call E Street.  Bruce and E Street were my first true loves.  So when Clarence Clemons passed away nearly two weeks ago, I wept.  Bruce and the band have been such a huge part of my life for so very long that it was like losing a friend.  A legendary, sax-shredding friend.

And then today, the Springsteen camp published the text of Bruce’s eulogy for Clarence and I found myself in tears again.  I cannot profess to fathom the depth of their 40-year friendship, but the feeling of loss that Bruce’s words convey is palpable.  And the thing that makes it so human – so real – is that Bruce makes it perfectly clear that Clarence wasn’t perfect, and that neither is Bruce…but that their friendship could have surmounted any odds, because…well, that’s what friends do.  They see you for who you really are and love the hell out of you for every single one of your flaws.

If you don’t want to read the full text of the eulogy, here are some of my favorite parts.

Today I see his sons Nicky, Chuck, Christopher and Jarod sitting here and I see in them the reflection of a lot of C’s qualities. I see his light, his darkness, his sweetness, his roughness, his gentleness, his anger, his brilliance, his handsomeness, and his goodness. But, as you boys know your pop was a not a day at the beach. “C” lived a life where he did what he wanted to do and he let the chips, human and otherwise, fall where they may. Like a lot of us your pop was capable of great magic and also of making quite an amazing mess. This was just the nature of your daddy and my beautiful friend. Clarence’s unconditional love, which was very real, came with a lot of conditions. Your pop was a major project and always a work in progress. “C” never approached anything linearly, life never proceeded in a straight line. He never went A… B…. C…. D. It was always A… J…. C…. Z… Q… I….! That was the way Clarence lived and made his way through the world. I know that can lead to a lot of confusion and hurt, but your father also carried a lot of love with him, and I know he loved each of you very very dearly.

Standing next to Clarence was like standing next to the baddest ass on the planet. You were proud, you were strong, you were excited and laughing with what might happen, with what together, you might be able to do. You felt like no matter what the day or the night brought, nothing was going to touch you. Clarence could be fragile but he also emanated power and safety, and in some funny way we became each other’s protectors; I think perhaps I protected “C” from a world where it still wasn’t so easy to be big and black. Racism was ever present and over the years together, we saw it. Clarence’s celebrity and size did not make him immune. I think perhaps “C” protected me from a world where it wasn’t always so easy to be an insecure, weird and skinny white boy either. But, standing together we were badass, on any given night, on our turf, some of the baddest asses on the planet. We were united, we were strong, we were righteous, we were unmovable, we were funny, we were corny as hell and as serious as death itself. And we were coming to your town to shake you and to wake you up. Together, we told an older, richer story about the possibilities of friendship that transcended those I’d written in my songs and in my music.

I try to be good about telling my friends that I love them, doing things to let them know how important they are to me, even if it’s just hanging out and having a beer.  But even though I try, I know I don’t do it enough.  So I just wanted to tell you all here, publicly, that I love you, and thank you for loving me and all my faults, even when I’m not so easy to love.  Because when I’m standing next to you gals and guys (and you know who you are), we are some of the baddest asses on the planet.  You fill my life with laughter, adventures, heart, joy, support, hangovers, personalized Sharpies, music, passions (both shared and individual), in-depth discussions on just about anything on earth, shoulders to cry on, hands to hold, and most of all, love.

Thank you for the gifts of you…Here’s to us.