I've been struggling with motivation and completing things I've started, which is why I haven't made a blog post in a while. I will go more into detail about that issue in this post. This post is comprised of notes I'd taken after moving back to Nashville. I will try to section it out for clarity.
Part one: Arrival When I first arrived back in Nashville, I felt a complete sense of freedom. My main concern was whether my car would start (having sat dormant for a couple of months) so when it did it was a triumphant relief. I went joyriding in the summer air to charge the battery. I don't know why but my return felt like a victory. Windows down, music blasting, "Home" by Phillip Phillips came on the radio, which felt like a good sign. I often think of myself as a movie character and was definitely feeling it that night.
When I had left Nashville, it was still cold. I had lost my job. I fainted in a Starbucks. My full band gig got canceled. Now it was lush, green, and full of warmth and light. The nights leading up to this return felt stressful, but suddenly my arrival put that all at ease.
"Know you’re not alone, cause I’m gonna make this place your home."
Part 2: Moving
Come move-in day, I was a little nervous, and I couldn't help but imagine things that could go wrong. I have two new roommates I haven't met in person yet, and I really want us to become friends. My previous roommates were nice, but I feel like I've been missing that comradery I had with my roommates back in college.
I stopped by the night before moving to meet one of them and check out my new place. The other two had already started moving in. My bedroom was smaller than I imagined, which was a bit concerning, and a number of the amenities are closed reasonably due to COVID which made me kind of sad. Beyond that everything seemed good. My roommate and I even had our first adventure together. She was showing me around the pool area and we got locked outside. I had to hop the fence to get us out, which I hope she found impressive.
I never really liked my old apartment. compared to my place in Lincoln, it was more expressive and substantially less nice. It wasn't very new. It had a popcorn ceiling. It was fine, but it was definitely something I settled for. To be fair, I was working at an ice cream shop at the time.
I’d always complained about living in a place that backed up to the woods, due to the very large spiders I'd have to dodge to get to my doorway, but somehow as I packed my things, I felt sad to leave it. I was intimidated by the new city skyline, it felt uncomfortable, even though it had been all I’d ever wanted.
My friend Justin Love (who also is kind enough to play guitar for me sometimes) helped me move. I promised him pizza and beer for it but he would have done it anyway. He's the nicest go check out his new song.
*These are the exact notes I wrote after move-in day.
"Exhausted is an understatement. My body hurts. I’ve moved a lot back and forth for college and here to Tennessee but I had my family's help. This time I had a bed and some bigger stuff. Justin Love is a champ."
I don't know what it was about moving this time, but it was exponentially more stressful and felt like it took much longer than moving ever had before. The thing is, beyond my bed and a decorative shelf I really didn't have much big furniture, but the packing process was very overwhelming. By the time we were unpacking, I felt physically fatigued. I was also pretty anxious about catching COVID. This was the most public I’ve been in months. When I was back in Illinois I rarely left the house other than to walk my dog. Now I was around people, using a rented Uhaul, and touching doors and elevator buttons.
Finally unloading everything didn't ease my stress the way I thought it would. It was nearing midnight and my room was just filled with boxes. In my current state, I couldn't fathom how I was going to unpack it all, let alone decorate my room and make it cozy. It felt like I was in the middle of a tornado.
The Absolute worst part of it all was the fact that I could not for the life of me get my bed frame put together. When I attached one side, the other side wouldn't. I was determined and I tried for over an hour with no avail. I gave up because my hands were bright red and in pain. I put my mattress on the floor. I slept on the floor for a couple of weeks. My roommates even tried to help with the bedframe and couldn't get it. We figured it had been warped somehow. I ordered a new one on Amazon that was much simpler to assemble.
That wasn't the end of my minor yet stressful inconveniences.
My new apartment had a parking garage. We were given coded stickers that were supposed to open the gate. Well, after what felt like the longest night of my life, the sticker would not work and the garage would not open. This shouldn't have been that big of a deal but for me, it felt like a betrayal. I just sat there and cried. Then I paid $15 dollars to park in another lot because there was no street parking. Luckily, my apartment ended up covering it for me.
Then, within the next couple of days, I noticed a crack in my car's windshield. Another task to add to my to-do list while still buried chest-deep in boxes, fantastic.
I was actually proud of myself for getting it taken care of immediately. This is the kind of thing I'd be more than likely to put off until it became extremely hazardous. Maybe I'm becoming more mature. Another positive from this otherwise stressful moment was the fact that I got to support a local business that was destroyed by the tornado. They were operating out of a tent but still did a great job in a timely matter. So if you ever need your windshield repaired in Nashville, check out Low Price Auto Glass.
I have a lot of mail to go through from the months I was gone, including medical bills I need to tend to. I'm doing my best to take it one task at a time right now it feels like a mountain.
However I know that these are all good problems to have, and I'm really lucky. Truly they aren't really even problems, they're stepping stones. I'm trying not to invalidate my emotions but I hate to complain about anything knowing others are out there facing real hardships because of this pandemic.
Overall this move felt like a metaphor for making it in the music industry. I'm leaving a place I was unhappy with but comfortable in order to progress. The process was not easy, it was very stressful and overwhelming but I know I am capable enough to get past that part, and I know beyond that part lies greater happiness. Like the start of another uphill climb, I learned that when summiting Everest, climbers actually need to climb up and then down again to lower camps in order to adjust and condition their bodies for survival at the top. Despite the challenges and setbacks I've faced, I do feel closer to the top. I'm exhausted but determined to keep fighting. I'm feeling like I have it in me which, feels different than the first time I made a move in Nashville.
A note to the other artists reading this,
Do not move and release a music video at the same time. Release a music video when you can dedicate all your time to it and aren’t extremely stressed. For some reason, I thought I could do both. I could not. I literally fell asleep while making promos. I managed to get everything out and send a press release that even got me on WGN News, but I feel like I definitely could have done more.
I was a bit sad to be away from my family on my birthday, but my roommates made it fun. One of them even made me cupcakes, from SCRATCH which I was amazed by.
I'd also say as an artist, having good roommates is so important. It really can make or break your creative energy. My current roommates are chill fun people. We decorated our living room with our own paintings and even made a space for my lava lamp. My apartment is a place I can genuinely feel happy in, and that has all to do with the people I share it with.
My favorite part of my new place is our balcony. I spend a lot of time out there. Another note, don't feel bad about splurging on something that will genuinely make you happy. I spent a decent amount on the patio set I got (two chairs and a table) but I haven't regretted it for a second.
Part Three: The New Abnormal
I’m tired. I feel like I have all the time in the world and none of the concentration or attention span to get everything done. The days feel like they go by faster and I find myself up all night with no clear sense of direction or motivation.
Taylor Swift just dropped a surprise album and it’s a masterpiece. It actually helped ease my nerves a bit about the looming presence of authoritarianism (as Trump sends federal agents to terrorize protesters in Portland and threatens to do the same in Chicago) however, the next day it was actually getting me down. The album is incredible, hands down her best album ever, which made it all the more glaringly obvious that I haven't written very much at all lately. She was able to take this time and create something amazingly new and beautiful, yet when I try to write it feels like a chore. I’ve had ideas scattered here and there in my notes but I haven’t been able to finish anything. Throughout this entire quarantine, I’ve only written two complete songs on my own, among some cowrites. Writing alone used to always come so easy to me. It's not that I don’t feel like I have anything to say, it’s just that I don’t know where to take it or how to articulate it. It’s incredibly frustrating. You’d think that given the downtime I’d be able to come up with something better than I could when I was busy, but no such luck. I have ideas I know are genius ideas and I’ve started on a lot of things, but I don’t have the energy or discipline to finish them.
It’s not all bad though.
My music video was featured on WGN morning news in Chicago, which is a big deal. Normally when I send out press releases I only get picked up by small outlets or submitted stories, so to actually be covered on TV by the local Chicago news was pretty special. They played my video and then used my song to play out the segment. I didn’t even know it was happening, my aunt just happened to be watching it and told my mom. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find a recording.
I also do have things in motion, even though I feel very stagnant. During quarantine, I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the EP I want to record. I've been in contact with my producer and we have started the process of selecting songs. I am also planning to record a new single (unrelated to the EP.) This is great, but it doesn't stop me from feeling like I'm falling behind.
As COVID cases rise in Nashville, I still don’t feel comfortable going out. I’ve had to turn down opportunities to play, which has been really difficult. I see any chance to play for people as a beautiful gift I never want to take for granted, so it hurts to say no. I feel like I’m missing opportunities. What’s worse is seeing other people going out and about like it’s normal. It feels like gaslighting, like somehow I’m just overreacting, but that’s not the reality. The numbers show staying in is the smart thing to do, but it doesn’t stop me from having FOMO.
I’m hoping to get a podcast started soon and I hope once I can get that off the ground it will help me make plans, get on a schedule and continue working towards my goals. I want to take my blog to youtube, I want to make more covers, I want to get proper chord charts written for my music, and I want to learn guitar. I have the time to do these things now, and I am annoyed at my self for not having done it already.
I went on my own little adventure the other day to try and see the Neowise Comet, but anywhere dark enough to see it was too scary to venture to alone. I eventually found a dark spot near the main road but when I got out and looked around I didn’t see anything. It made me feel really defeated.
Throughout this time I've had a lot of ups and downs. One thing I've really enjoyed and have been able to harness my creative energy for is TikTok. I'm hoping I can use that platform to keep building my fanbase, I've been decently successful so far. Trump better not get it banned.
I've really enjoyed hanging out with my roommates. We've already made a lot of fun memories together. I also took a mini-vacation and road tripped to visit a friend in West Virginia.
Other days I feel like I'm trapped home alone all day. My unemployment has run out, and I see the money in my bank account shrinking. I've been applying for all kinds of day jobs with no luck yet. I'm having a hard time pretending to care about these companies. I feel like given the state of our world I have no desire to sell things to people that they most likely don't need. I'd instead love to work for a nonprofit or a political campaign, but my efforts so far in that area haven't yielded results. I even tried to get a job on an app walking dogs, but even that wasn't hiring in my area, which was a disappointment. I really don't want to have to start driving Postmates again.
As I've said before, I'm a big believer in the law of attraction, so I am doing my best to feel good rather than starting to panic. I don't know how, but I know everything will work out well for me. I'm excited to keep achieving what I have set out to, and it will all come together at the perfect moment. When the going gets tough, the tough get to work.