652 square feet

“I did not go outside yesterday.” – Counting Crows, “Millers Angels”

652 square feet.

That’s the size of my apartment.

It’s not big. If you stand at the right place in the apartment, you can see just about every part of it.

Normally, I’m all about my small space. I don’t need a whole lot more than this (although I will freely admit to collecting too much stuff and I could do with spending some time purging some of it). It doesn’t require a ton of effort to do a good solid cleaning. It’s a perfectly fine little apartment.

And right now, it’s pretty much the world I’m stuck in.

Today, I am not doing well with what is happening in the world. Today, I’m sad. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss going to see live music.

And I feel really alone.

Logically, I know I am not. This weekend, I’ve talked to my brother, sister, and nephew, traded text messages and emails with my Dad and stepmom, texted with friends…And tomorrow, I’ll wake up and sit at my table and work, and conference call with co-workers, and give the big presentation I’m supposed to give. I will, indeed, be connected with people.

But right now, this 652 square feet of space feels incredibly small and isolated. And emotionally, I feel cut off from everything.

I’m a worrier by nature, and trust me when I tell you that I’ve worried about this mess every way possible. I worry about people I love getting sick. About how we’re all going to survive this.  I sent my brother cases of instant mac and cheese and beef jerky because I’m afraid he isn’t stocked up. I’m worried about his job, my sister’s job, my job, my friends’ jobs, my Dad and stepmom, my musician friends and how they are going to make it through this, all of the music venues I visit, my 401(k), and yes, whether or not I’m going to have enough toilet paper and toothpaste (I know, shut up, I know).

For the first time since he was born, I’m going to miss my nephew’s birthday. He’s going to be 6. That is crushing me.

Today, I read a news article about a guy who is living on an Italian island by himself. It made me incredibly sad. I think the article was meant to convey hope, but it did the opposite. I can’t imagine a life like this. I’m a mess after a week.

Being online has seemed like a necessity to connect with people, watch online music shows, and generally feel some sort of lifeline to the world…but at the same time,  the amount of doom, gloom, and scary shit is overwhelming. (This coming from the human that often watches “Friends” before going to bed so that she can end her day on a happy note.)

The thought of being stuck in my 652 square feet for 3 and 4 months terrifies me.

There has to be some hope somewhere, right?

Dry cleaning…

Who takes stuff to the dry cleaner any more?

Me, I do. Occasionally.

And then I promptly forget about it.

So on Wednesday night, realizing that my boss’s boss – the VP – was going to be in town, I was frantically figuring out what I was going to wear. And realized the thing I needed was at the dry cleaner. I’d dropped it off like a week earlier and it had completely slipped my mind.

Grabbed my keys and zipped over with maybe 20 minutes to spare before the place closed – figured I’d run in, grab the stuff, pay, and be back home in under 10 minutes.

And then when I walked in, there was a kid talking to the clerk about dry cleaning this band t-shirt. And he was picking up another one.

Odd, band t-shirts at the dry cleaner. But okay.

Once he left, the clerk – she’s probably in her late 50s, maybe early 60s – started telling me about how he’d washed the t-shirt and the colors had run, so they worked to fix it for him.

Then she says, “I don’t go to many concerts anymore…”

Then she asked me if I know who Jason Isbell is. Now she had my attention.

“I do,” I say.

And this woman starts telling me about how magical she thinks Jason Isbell is. I agree with her. She tells me about how she saw him in Charlotte, and then in Charleston. And she lit up talking about him, how Southeastern is her favorite record.

Then she tells me about going to see Neil Young when she was younger, and about how she loves him, too. And that she has been sober for years, but that back then, she was drinking a lot. But when she went to see Neil, she made sure she was sober because she wanted to remember all of it.

I launch into telling her about Evan Bartels, who I think sounds like Jason Isbell and Noah Gundersen had a musical lovechild. And I told her that, too, and that led us down a path talking about Noah for a second. I pulled out my phone and played her an Evan song.

She says, “Ohhh, he sounds a little like Bruce Springsteen.”

Well, we all know that’s an instant friend for me…

This clerk and I have probably had a dozen interactions over the last year, and it’s never been more than hi, how are you, drop stuff off, it will be ready tomorrow night, thanks.

But not in that moment on Wednesday night. In that moment, we were two music fans, bonding over Jason Isbell, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen.

As I left, she wrote down Evan and Noah’s names to check them out.

I can’t wait until I have something to take back to be dry cleaned to hear what she thinks.

 

 

 

 

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….

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?

It’s been awhile, Internet.

There was a time when I would write on my blog…a lot. Good ol’ jrzygyrl.com has been around in some way, shape or form since 2001. Back then, I wrote on it daily, like a diary. I look back on those entries now and cringe a little, seeing what I thought was okay to put on the Internet. Yikes.

Then I met some friends who loved music like I did. They introduced me to bands and artists I didn’t know, and started going to shows, buying more music, getting outside of my musical boundaries. And I loved talking about it. So I wrote. Slowly, jrzygyrl.com morphed into a music blog. And it was pretty good for awhile there.

Then my job got all adult and my Mom got sick, and I found myself wanting to be online less and less. I was tired of writing by the time I got home from work. I was worried about my Mom, stressed out about something at the office, wanted to blow off steam by grabbing a beer at a show, rather than sitting down and writing. Nights would come when I knew I should put out a blog post and I would half-ass something and throw it up. I didn’t even proofread or spell check. The horror.

And I hate how the page looks, but web designer I am not. So there’s that, too. It’s like going into the room in your house with the ugly wallpaper. You hate being in there because it makes you feel bad with its ugliness.

The worst part? I stopped reading other people’s blogs. Blogs I love. Partly because there aren’t enough hours in the day, partly because it depressed the shit out of me that I knew I could be doing it, too…and I just didn’t have it in me.

This year has been pretty tough. Mom got really sick; she passed away in August. I think it’s just now really starting to hit home. I cry a lot. I watched “This Is Us” tonight and about lost it when one of the characters started talking about losing his Dad. I wrote a little bit about the stuff with work before; it’s been a challenging 14 months, to say the least. I let some friendships go. Hard, but let me tell you, when your life feels like it is falling apart, you realize who will be there for you. And it’s not always the people you think. Despite all of this, or maybe because of it, I’m starting to find myself again. Or maybe a new version of myself. The hard stuff changes you.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot…writing. I actually miss it, which I suppose is a good sign.

And now, here I sit. Cursor taunting me. A double-dog “I dare you to write.”

But what in the blue blazes do I write about? Two nights ago, I actually contemplated that I should write a message to door guys everywhere to learn how to put on freaking wristbands. Then Shelia posted an Instagram photo of her wristband last night, and I knew I had to write it.

So tonight I’m going to show. And because I have to make myself write SOMETHING, I will be back tomorrow with proof of my hack job wristbanding.

Ya gotta start somewhere.

P.S. To be completely honest, I did not proofread or spell check this blog, either.