Nashville Nights, Shades of Red



11.9.21


A lot of people admire me for my confidence and optimism. I feel like most of the time I embody those things, but not always.


I make it look easy to believe in myself and go after my dreams relentlessly. But the truth is, I face doubts all the time. Sometimes I feel delusional and ridiculous for even trying. Sometimes I feel like I must be a laughing stock to my high school peers who are all surpassing me in their personal lives and careers. Sometimes I fear I’m going to be old with nothing to my name because I blew all my money recording music instead of investing in the stock market and saving for retirement. These thoughts weigh heavy on me often.


So why do I still go on? I don’t know. I honestly don’t feel like I have a choice because the alternative, although more secure seems miserable. When I want to be inspirational I say I’d rather fail than never try and live with regrets, but think it’s honestly simpler and less noble than that.


For me making music has always been something I could depend on that has never wavered. Even when the world is upside down. Even when I'm broken-hearted. These past three years have made that very apparent. In times like these, you need to hold on to what you can depend on.

11.10.21


Well, yesterday was dramatic, to say the least.


It started out fine actually. I forced myself to go to bed before 2 am because I had a doctor's appointment at 8. I was meeting with someone to discuss solutions for the issues with sleep I’ve been having, and it went well.


Then I was at work and had a caffeinated beverage to keep my energy up. I started experiencing chest pains. I figured it was just the caffeine or anxiety so I ignored it and then my left arm started to hurt, which really freaked me out. I’m a healthy 25 year old so I’m most likely fine, but I also did get the booster shot recently and there are rare heart-related side effects with that, so I wanted to be safe rather than sorry. I left work for an ER visit. I was three minutes away when I had to pull over for feeling light-headed along with tingling/numbness in my arms and legs. That’s when I really started freaking out.


Long story short they took me in, ran a bunch of tests, and determined that I’m just anxious. Nice.


The thing that’s annoying about this is that it’s all physical. Do I have stress? Absolutely. But I wasn’t feeling stressed at that exact moment. In fact, things felt like they were looking up for a change. It’s like when I finally get a grip on things mentally my body decided to throw me for a loop.


I’m more annoyed than anything else. It’s just super inconvenient and embarrassing and I hate it because, in the grand scheme of things, I really don’t have actual problems. I am so unbelievably privileged, especially given the circumstances of the past two years. I just have big emotions. And they get in my way when I need to be working or focusing.


Big emotions are great for being an artist but unfortunately, I have to be more than that right now. I have to keep a day job for longer than a couple of months. I can’t just bail anymore. I can’t take all these mental health days because I won’t get paid, which just leads to more stress.


I haven’t had anything major happen. I think it’s just an accumulation of a lot of little things. The Astroworld festival tragedy has been all over the news, and for some reason, I don’t know if it’s just because I’m really imaginative, my body tends to take on symptoms that I see read, or hear about. It’s weird. It’s what happened that time I fainted and the other time I got close. I need to find ways to like, inhibit that process somehow.


The ER people recommended talk therapy and I think it’s a good idea. I had considered it before but the program associated with the insurance I have wouldn’t work with my schedule. I have to get a handle on this and get a grip because this can’t be something that happens on stage, and I can’t be worrying about that either.


I’ve always been one to endure. I don’t like asking for help even though I like helping other people. I don’t like to complain about things knowing others have it worse. I know all feelings are supposed to be valid and blahblahblah but that doesn’t make me feel any less ridiculous for stressing about the minuscule things I stress about.


If I could personify my personality it would be that of the most over-dramatic baby ever and a member of seal team six. I spent the past two years being really patient and taking care of the baby but I’ve really been trying to embody the Navy Seal again, maybe to my detriment.


I’m just so sick of cutting myself slack. I’m not a slacker. I should be able to handle my privileged life and minor problems. If everyone else can get their ass to work every morning what’s my excuse? All I do is put more stress on everyone else that they don’t deserve. that’s not fair.


I just feel weak and pathetic honestly. Mentally and physically I’m not as strong as I used to be. I used to be someone people looked to for leadership, or someone they knew they could depend on and expect success from. I know who I am and I know what I’m capable of and overall I feel like I’m just letting myself down.


This isn’t me, plain and simple, it’s not. And I need to figure out how to work past it soon because I’ve got a lot of shit to do and don’t have the luxury of time or money to waste on it anymore. Come on, get it together.

11.11.21

11/11 is supposed to be a lucky day. A day of good fortune. I really woke up today trying to make it go that way.


Instead, I had my first real wild Karen encounter. I guess I shouldn’t say my first,

because I had to deal with her last week, but tonight was the straw that broke the camel's back so to speak.


For context, this happened at my other day job. I was running a cornhole tournament, which is usually something I enjoy, especially at this location. It’s a brewery and I only have four boards to set up. People are usually nice.


I was already a little on edge simply having to face the person who was really rude to me last week. My plan was to stay professional but only interact with them when I absolutely needed to.


Well, that wasn’t going to work for them, as they decided to center themselves and their needs in whatever I was doing, screw everyone else right?


Well it finally happened. After a few comments about how I was, according to them, doing something wrong, the person decided to insist I was “pissed off” I said I wasn’t, and she kept saying “yes you are.”


Pro tip- if you don’t want someone to be pissed off, maybe don’t refuse to allow them not to be. Maybe consider what’s going on in their life might not have anything to do with you, maybe approach someone with a simple “are you ok?“ “Is there something I can help with?“ if you actually want to have a positive impact on someone’s mood.


But that’s the thing with Karen’s though isn’t it, the world revolves around them, you’re a job before you’re a person, and you have to put up with whatever they dish out. Not today satan.


Let’s not forget that a day ago I was in the hospital for an anxiety attack. Well, being on edge like that, my threshold for Karen’s was surprisingly low that day.


I’m not entirely sure what happened next, all I knew is they wouldn’t stop, and I could feel my neck getting hot and my arms and leg’s start to feel like static. Like a jolt of electricity.


So I said it. I said shut up, leave me alone, I’m not putting up with your shit tonight, and you know what? I don’t regret it.


I almost walked out right there. If it weren’t for the other nice people I probably would have, but I collected myself in the bathroom. Had to step out again a few more times.

The worst part was that the one person seemed to get joy out of antagonizing me. Looking for reasons to approach me. I finally just started outright ignoring her existence. I’m proud of myself.


I don’t have a lot of experience with bullies. We’ve all had our fair share, but I was always pretty good at holding my own. Being quick-witted and confident most people learned eventually that it was better not to mess with me, or they realized they couldn’t get to me. But I can imagine this is what it feels like. To have someone intentionally trying to break you down at every moment, even when it’s taking all of your energy just to breathe and hold your head upright. I don’t wish it upon anyone.


In those moments, it’s good to have people come to your defense. Lucky for me there were girls on the other team who stood up for me when my voice was shaken. I appreciate that probably more than they’ll ever know, and their example is something I’ll always strive to be.


The last two years have been insane. They’ve ruined us all in a lot of ways. The least we can do is not go out of our way to antagonize each other. If you can’t do anything helpful, leave the person alone. You have no idea what they’re going through or what battle they’re fighting.


I’ve got a short fuse right now, it’s not something I can control. Even when my mind knows better, my body thinks it’s in danger. I need help. I don’t need Karens.

11.13.21


Well, it turns out I’m not anxious or depressed or anything else when I’m allowed time to do what I enjoy. What a concept.


This is the first time in a long time I’ve actually felt like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing in Nashville.


This morning I went to a show at the Listening Room Cafe (a very sentimental place for me) and it gave me renewed inspiration. For the first time in a while I looked at other players and thought to myself, I deserve to be up there too.


It’s a huge goal of mine to play there, hoping it can happen this year.


I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening songwriting by myself, something that hasn’t come easy but was revived by the release of Taylor Swift’s most recent re-recorded album release, Red.

Red is a heartbreak anthem of an album, and it could not have come at a more perfect time in my life. It’s a lot easier to feel like shit when you’ve got good music playing in the background. I feel like I’ve been so on the go and overworked I haven’t had the time to slow down and process a lot of my emotions, which is why I think it’s manifesting physically. This album was so cathartic it could pass for therapy. Some of this music was there for me back in college when I was having a tough time and to hear it re-recorded in such s triumphant and powerful manner was really empowering.


Later that evening I had a co-write with one of my favorite artists in town, Justin Love. We wrote about a concept I'd been trying to write for a while but couldn’t quite get. We knocked out the whole thing within a couple of hours and it became everything I wanted it to be and more.


Later that night my roommate and I watched Taylor perform her ten-minute version of All Too Well on SNL (a go-to cry yourself to sleep song for me back in the day) and the way it all came together was incredible. It almost felt like vindication for everything I went through back then. The phenomena around that song was already unreal, so the release of the fabled ten-minute version, followed by the short film and this beautiful performance, it’s really hard to articulate in words. I’d instead tell you to look up videos of people screaming their hearts out to it in crowded bars. If you know you know.


I know I have stories in me that can resonate with people like that. I know I have the ability to write that kind of song, and I’m getting better at being vulnerable in my writing and not shying away from the details. I’m getting better at not giving a shit about what the subject of the song might have to say about it should they hear it.


Taylor Swift's career as a whole goes beyond herself now. She’s always been a narrative running counter to the idea that you shouldn’t care about things and that you are somehow lesser if you’re the one to feel things stronger. We’re all so eager to water ourselves down because society teaches us we should be embarrassed or not talk about how we really feel. The ones who are the most aloof or the most detached are the ones that win. There’s a reason why I and many others would listen to that song on repeat in their headphones at 3 am alone, because it felt like the only thing that understood or wouldn’t judge or get frustrated with your inability to push your emotions far down enough to function.


I want to be able to write a song that can do that for someone. As much as I talk about wanting to win Grammys and Tour stadiums, this at it's core is really what it’s all about. It’s why God or whatever it is created, artists. If I can make something that can be this for someone, even if it’s just one person, all the struggle and sacrifice will have been worth it, and that is what keeps me going at the end of the day.

11.18.21

Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I had what I like to call a “Nashville Night.”

What is a Nashville night you ask? A Nashville night is a night that feels like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing here. On a Nashville night, I’m putting myself out there and the night takes on a life of its own because if it. A small opportunity turns into a bigger one and it becomes one fun thing after another. There’s spontaneity and adventure in it because in Nashville and in music in general, possibilities are endless, and when you find yourself in the midst of them, it’s incredibly exciting.


I almost didn’t go. I had plans to go to a networking event with some of my musician friends, but all of them bailed. It’s intimidating to go alone, but I was feeling some of that old fire in me that I had when I first moved here. I was determined, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity, so I went anyway.

I felt immediate relief when I walked in and saw a familiar face. Then after I got my drink, I saw some more familiar faces, but I also met a lot of new people. It felt good to be out there “moving and shaking” again. It’s something I feel like I haven’t done in a while, especially solely for music stuff.


Towards the end of the night, one of my co-writers and some of the other attendees were headed off to another show. I in the spirit of "yes and" decided to keep my night going to.


This show happened to double as a birthday party for a signed artist. I didn’t know this at the time, but I was so glad I was game to go because what I experienced next was really cool. After stopping off for some sliders, we went to a low-key door on the side of a hotel, and after letting the doorman know we were there for the party, went down a long stretch of hallway and down some stairs to a room that felt like a speakeasy. I learned later that apparently, this venue is a club that normally comes with an eight thousand a month membership to attend (fact check me on that if you must but it’s what I was told.) I actually wasn’t familiar with the artist that was playing but I am now, he was really good. It was exciting to be in that room, and see someone doing this whole music thing and succeeding.


I can’t say that I didn’t feel a sense of imposter syndrome. I couldn’t help the scenarios running through my head of someone asking me who I am and throwing me out in dramatic and embarrassing fashion. I’m still learning to believe I belong in rooms like this, rooms with successful people and people who can create opportunities for me. No such disaster occurred. Instead, I was able to mingle with some of those people that night.


I got myself a drink with a flower in it, made some new connections, enjoyed the show, and most importantly allowed myself to be inspired. This is one of the most important things you can do in Nashville. Show up, and be open to the opportunities that come with saying yes.

11.21.21

Well, I was really excited about the string of good days I was having. Then I woke up to a text that I will no longer be an employee at one of my day jobs. The main one. OUCH.


Honestly, I didn’t see this one coming. I had been struggling with being on time as I do. but there was open communication about that and nothing really interfered with my ability to get things done, so I don’t get it. But I’m honestly not heartbroken over it either.


It feels how it feels with everything else I’ve done. I always seem to get let go around the time I feel like I’m burning out and running on fumes. It’s not losing the job itself that’s causing me stress this morning, it’s losing my income.


When this happened to me prior, it allowed me to find better opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have found had I been working. Had I been working the night I met my producer, which was the exact night I got fired from the ice cream shop, it could have very well changed the whole trajectory of my music career, and frankly that is the only career that really matters to me.


That doesn’t take away from the shock, frustration and disappointment that comes with losing your job though. I feel embarrassed most of all, because this time I really felt like I was on an upswing. I thought I’d be the one to leave them eventually. Rejection never feels good, even if it’s rejection from somewhere you don’t want to be. There is that sense of betrayal you feel when one minute your manger is saying they care about your well-being and want you to succeed and the other minute they’re sending you life-altering information in a cold, lifeless, devoid of any empathy text message. Just goes to show how you shouldn’t wrap your sense of worth in any job because at the end of the day you’re just a number to them. You’re disposable, replaceable, and only there to serve their interests at the expense of yours. They have no problem putting your health and well-being at risk in the name of profit, which became very apparent over the pandemic. It makes me even more determined to carve my own path.


I don’t know what’s next for me. I was going to need to figure out something else anyway because of the federal student loan payments coming back in January. I wasn’t making enough, and I was clearly working too many hours anyway. I just didn’t expect to have to figure this out so soon. However, I was working so much that it hardly gave me the time to start figuring anything out anyway, so all I’m thinking right now is that this is the universe pushing me toward something better once again.


It’s really hard to be optimistic when you’ve been down the road of having no job and are looking those struggles in the face again. I need to keep the money I've saved for my EP or there go all my hopes and dreams for the year. I just hope I can figure out something better quick.


Tonight, I’m going to take it easy. Let myself process this. I was almost going to go to a show and try to make another Nashville night of it, but I didn’t have the energy or courage this time. I think that’s okay. In the back of my mind I’ll always have FOMO, and how poetic if on this night I went out and something game changing happened for me?


But I have to trust my gut sometimes. This time I know it’s not anxiety-driven. It's a calm voice saying you’re not in a place to be doing this right now. You don’t want to let your emotions give someone the wrong impression of you. You don’t need to spend the extra money on drinks tonight. It’s okay, take it easy. Maybe that's it, or maybe I'm just making excuses again. I don't think I am this time though.

Tomorrow I’m going to get some stuff done. I’m going to prep for the next interview I already have on the books. I’m going to catch up on my tax write offs. Maybe I’ll practice voice, or guitar, or go to the gym, or write another song. Tomorrow I’m hitting the ground running again because I know I’m bigger and better than what just happened to me. But tonight, I’m gonna let myself be. I'm gunna watch tv and eat comfort foods and for the first time in a long time not stress about being late to work in the morning.


It’s easy in these moments to feel like a failure. I’ve felt like a failure every morning when I’ve tried to make it on time and just couldn’t. But here’s the thing, you’re never going to be a failure at something that’s actually meant for you. A fish is not a failure because you’re judging how fast it can climb a tree.

A thought that’s always motivated me was thinking about how when I’m up on stage accepting my Grammy or something, I’ll have the opportunity to thank the bosses and managers who fired me because it will have ultimately corrected my course and put me on the path I was truly meant to be on, instead of wasting away under their thumb. I’ll let that thought comfort me for now.

11.23.21

Quick entry here. I just wanted to mention something I think is important.

Having lost my main day job, I had some free time on my hands. I did something I haven’t done in a long time, I went to the gym.


I feel SO good this morning having worked out and having also gotten a good night’s sleep last night. I feel better than I have in a long time.


The next job I get is going to have to be more flexible. It’s got to have to allow me to prioritize my physical and mental well-being. I’m not having anxiety attacks when I’m working out and sleeping well. It’s incredible.


I know everyone’s situation is different, not everyone had mobility. But if you do have mobility, please PLEASE prioritize your health and wellness over the demands of any job. This is so important. Maybe I got let go because I took the extra time in the morning I needed to wake up and function. If that was the case, so be it.


Ask not what you can do for your job, but what your job can do for you. If it can’t provide you with a healthy lifestyle or expects you to proprieties their needs over your health, leave. There are so many more opportunities to find.


Was I scared to lose the stability? Yes. That’s why I didn’t quit. But I’m glad this happened because I wasn’t going to be able to do it for much longer.

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