Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My 25 Things

I love this game that's going around Facebook. We get to learn little secrets about all our friends. I was surprised at how confessional I got. So here are 25 random things about me...

1. I get distracted really easily. Especially on the computer when I have half a dozen windows open, like now. So it will probably take me all day to write this, bit by bit.

2. Sometimes I'm scared that I don't have very discerning taste, because it seems like there is hardly anything I don't like. I like Cracker Barrel and Taylor Swift and J.Crew. Very "least common denominator."

3. I like high-techie things, and also old-fashioned things. I love to Twitter on my iPhone and write letters and send them through the mail.

4. I love stamps and put lots of them on my packages.

5. I love collections of things, but only when they are neatly displayed or used. My apron collection is starting to stress me out in the drawer.

6. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is go hear live music.

7. It is hard for me to ask for help or admit when things aren't going well.

8. I put a lot of commas in places where they shouldn't go. And I have to really resist the urge to overuse parentheses.

9. I'm not really scared of guns, but knives really creep me out. Sometimes I see a kitchen knife in the dish drainer with the blade sticking up and I instinctively clutch my wrists to my body.

10. I don't like to pick favorites. Or make decisions.

11. I miss the South.

12. I learned to play guitar only so I could join a band, but got sidetracked with a solo career.

13. I think Austin has the best food: Mexican, BBQ, Southern Home Cookin', and hippie healthy stuff.

14. I like self-help books and the possibility of improving.

15. I was vegetarian for 10 years. Now I eat all kinds of meat and never want to give it up again.

16. I wish I could be a photographer or a letterpress printer.

17. I never use shampoo.

18. I love learning small, intimate things about people.

19. I get really scared when I drive in rain or snow and I can't see the road.

20. I unconsciously furrow my brow all the time. Even in one of my first baby pictures.

21. Now that I live in a cold, small town I think I might have a drink every night.

22. I love rock anthems. And country anthems. And folk anthems. Turn it up and sing along!

23. I'm really trying to floss my teeth every night.

24. My friends and I had a knitting club in high school. Waaaaaay before it was so popular.

25. I often don't finish what I start. But not this time!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What is home?

I don't want to lose my Texas self. Already I feel the Northeast creeping in to my psyche. I'm telling myself it's not so cold at 40 degrees. I'm looking forward to snow. I'm thinking puffy coats are kind of cute and tall trees that I once complained blocked the sky are nice and shady. Fireplaces are cozy and hardwood and tall ceilings are a good substitute for concrete floors and open kitchens. Creative vegetarian food everywhere is worth giving up easy access to the best pork ribs I've ever tasted. Wait, I'm not there yet. In fact, I want to go to Luling right now! I know I have to do this to survive and be happy, but it's sad and confusing for my identity.

All these past 6 1/2 years, I've been learning to be a Texan, to use frontage roads, to know good BBQ and to automatically say "Y'all." I think the desert and scruffy juniper are beautiful, and I adore Live Oak trees, with their 200 year old sprawling limbs that stay green all winter. I've lived in Texas more than anywhere else, and I was just starting to feel like I had a home state, not just because of the years spent here, but because I wanted to be here and it made sense with who I am. If I live in Massachusetts, what does that mean? Does it mean I've abandoned my home? Does that mean something else is more important to me than place? That a person, a relationship, a job opportunity actually means more to me than the city or state or region I live in? I guess so, and that is pretty cool, but humbling, too. Because I admit that I have judged people before - country singers from Brooklyn- I've never believed them. Even though their lives may have been more full of rural life and tradition than mine, I have felt that because I lived in Texas, I was a more authentic artist. Who cares if I live in Austin, the fastest-growing, most educated, youngest, transient, artsy, latte-drinking, Prius-driving city in Texas, we still know how to Two-Step, even in the gay bars. Do I lose my legitimacy when I leave, or just my self-righteousness? And is that such a bad thing?

What scared me the most is that I'll lose the ability to call myself a Texan. Even though I've had to qualify it (I was born in Alabama), I realize it has felt good to have an answer when people ask me where I'm from. Even with all the explanations (We moved a lot, my Mom lives in Ohio...), when I said I was from Texas, it was really starting to feel true, emotionally at least. I'm from these big skies and long wide roads. I'm from these friendly people who brand everything with stars and add hot peppers to their cooking and turn on the air conditioning in December. I drink Shiner Bock beer and margaritas, because that's what we drink. We. Us Texans. Will I get to say that anymore? Will I feel that? Will Texas just recede in my identity and be just another place I've lived? Will I start to feel like a Massachusettsian (what are they called?) or a New Englander? or just rootless?

All this capitulating to the cold has reminded me of how adaptable I am. I pick up accents and colloquialisms everywhere I go. I'm open to new foods and have a great sense of direction. Lately, I've been taking comfort in my ability to adapt to new situations, fit in and change. It might be an even bigger part of my identity that my Texan-ness. I enjoy and crave going to new places, and for a while I even took pride in that. It felt cool to say that I'm from all over, I don't need a home. But in Austin, with all these friends, I made one anyway, almost without trying. And maybe I can adapt to a new place and make new friends and learn to love it, but will I make a home again?

It's always been pretty easy for me to move, and I had chalked that up to my adventurous spirit, but I've never really left a home. I've left places I knew I couldn't stay (college) and places I knew I didn't fit in (Portland). Now I'm up to a real challenge.

Massachusetts, please take it easy on me. Just give me a mild February, and I'll compost and honk my horn and eat chowder and even try snow-shoeing.

Austin, leave the light on.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Moving Announcement

So, I debated about going public with this information. I thought maybe I'd tell my close personal friends and family, but not my mailing list, and I would not send out a press release. But I'm really no good at keeping secrets, especially when this is such a huge part of my life, something I think about all day, Twitter about, and will probably end up writing a song or two about.

And the news is: I'm moving to New England. More specifically, to a tiny town in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. The reason is because my brilliant girlfriend (of almost 10 years) got a great job in development at Jacob's Pillow, or as she calls it "The Mecca of Modern Dance." She has such a passion for dancing, watching dance, and bringing dance to a wider audience, so this is the perfect fit for her. And the truth is that I can do my job form just about anywhere, so I'm going North too. And it's really hard to say goodbye to Austin. I love it here, I have so many friends and endless inspiration. But wasn't I the one who wrote the song(s) about leaving? About all the possibility of the unknown, the new friends I just haven't met yet? Kind of cool that my own words can buoy me up in a hard time.

Also, I'm going to keep traveling and playing music, like I always have, so I'll see Austin often. With the internet, status updates, skype and all the other whizbang programs, I can keep daily tabs on all my friends, and live in an international community like Angelina and Brad. Can someone just please get on that whole teleportation thing already so we don't have to deal with fossil fuels!?

So that's the big news. I don't expect to write a whole 'nother album about moving, but if you see me Twittering about wardrobe boxes, you'll know why. Can't wait to see you New Englanders more often and love you Texas more intensely when I'm back!