Laughing quietly to myself

About the advertisement played in Kroger as I shopped this morning that ended with, "Pork! Be inspired."



Halle & Josh
Williamstown, MA


The Librarian + Ellie Herring

Al's Sidecar, Lexington, KY
Photos: Stephen Boyd

Bathroom graffiti

Al's Sidecar, Lexington, KY


Laughing quietly to myself

About how Delta was playing an instrumental version of Sweet Child O' Mine as background music on the plane as I boarded in Atlanta.

Topics covered in the front lounge last night

Coyotes chasing people on bicycles
Camel spiders so big you can hear them walking in the sand
Bears eating your steaks off the grill while you hide in the camper van
Pythons living under your house and eating all the pets in the neighborhood
Opossums crawling up the pipes and sitting in your toilet when you go to use it
Giant raccoons eating the cat food by your front door and charging you when you try to go inside
Copperheads slithering inside your car, molting their skin in the baby carseat, and then curling up underneath the driver seat

RACECAR sticker sighting


Ryan: shy or weird?

Oscar looks good in my jacket


Four reasons I enjoy working with Southerners

"Happy as a hog in slop"

"Crazy as a three-eyed owl"

"Full as a tick"

"Tighter than a gnat's ass"


Like white blood cells attacking a virus

The words below are just another reason Patton Oswalt is one of my favorites.

For the people who lost their lives, limbs, and sense of peace at the Boston Marathon yesterday, for the many Afghan wedding-goers who were also killed and wounded yesterday by a US bomb that missed its target, for the 17-year-old Nashville boy who was shot and killed while waiting for a school bus last Thursday and for everyone we don't know about.

Patton Oswalt: 

Boston. Fucking horrible. 

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths. 

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness. 

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.  

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."


Santa's Pub

I don't like karaoke because my singing voice isn't great and I'm self conscious about it but I believe I've found the best place to watch karaoke in Nashville: Santa's Pub. Santa's is the best because the bar is built out of a double wide trailer, there is Santa Claus graffiti painted on the outside, and the inside is Christmas themed all year round. When I walked in last weekend, though, I thought huh, this is what all the good ratings on Yelp are about? It seemed run down and smoky. As the night went on, however, I GOT IT. People poured in the doors, had their IDs checked by a woman wearing an "I Heart White Trash Country Boys" shirt, sang and cheered and were crazy diverse in style, race, sexual orientation, and age.

Santa came out from behind the bar to serenade us.

There was headbanging. Matthew and I nicknamed the guy on the right Rafael because he looks exactly like my parents' exchange student from Chile who is a metal guitarist.

 Adam and Matthew get in the game. 

As do these guys. 

It's kind of hard to see in this photo, but AJ is an older gentleman with fluffy white hair and cowboy hat who worked the crowd and wove through the tables as he crooned old country.

The sign: no cussin, no beer, no cigarettes on karaoke stage.

Miss May! I loved this little lady. She sang about how she don't need no rocking chair.

And Amanda, who got her GROOVE ON. Sang it, sister.

2225 Bransford Ave. Nashville, TN 37204
Cash only


Marriage Equality vs. Bacon

Patsy got her first taste of bacon when a woman working at a drive-thru gave her a piece through the car window. Since that day, she gets visibly amped when we go through drive-thrus, pushing her head into the front seat and licking her lips. Yesterday we were watching The Colbert Report on TV when a bacon commercial came on. The dog, lazing across my lap, lifted her head and stared hard at the screen. "Are you seeing this?" Matthew and I asked each other. When the commercial was over, she turned away.  In the background of this photo, Colbert takes on the subject of the Supreme Court, marriage equality, and Bill O'Reilly-goat marriage. Patsy is ambivalent.


But I know for a fact she is supportive of homosexuality and not because she occasionally mounts other female dogs. Her dogsitters in Covington, KY, a female couple who lived in the apartment below us, used to take her to the lesbian bar where one of them worked and Patsy was cool with everyone there, with one exception. A man came in one day with an attitude and was being aggressive to the ladies. Patsy growled at him and may have chased him out the door though I might be embellishing. I HOPE she chased his ass out. Also: she happy-pees on her gay uncles when they come over to our house and it's pretty much standard for us to have a roll of paper towels in hand when we greet certain people at the door. Having said that, Patsy appears focused on bacon above all else.

Towards the end of the program, Colbert interviewed Carl Blake, an Iowa pig farmer who spoke of the new pig he is cross-breeding between Chinese pigs and Russian wild hogs. Cue commie pig joke by Colbert: predictable but still funny because Colbert is my favorite. I start smiling before he even says his first word of the show, "Nation..." I want to go drinking with him and Matthew wants them to play dungeons & dragons together. I think the three of us would make a great sort of gay trio. If his wife and kids are cool with that, of course. I don't support DOMA but I'm not trying to break up any marriages. In the final shots of the show, Colbert held a pig named Hamlet in his arms and looked who perked back up.


Cool thing: Crossroads Campus

One of the items on my neglected Life List that I've actually followed through on, unlike the improbable desire to refinish the church pew (recently donated unfinished to Goodwill) or make a quilt out of old clothing (Matthew met a lady at the library who will do it for me), was finding a place to volunteer in Nashville.

Crossroads Campus!

Mission: To transform lives by creating opportunities for individuals who face poverty and homelessness to care for homeless animals. Goals: Hope and healing, jobs and job training, adoptions for abandoned animals, transitional housing for disadvantaged young adults.

To quote directly from their literature: through training and caring for animals, individuals gain confidence, marketable skills, and a sense of purpose, all of which are critical to long-term success. Animals who would otherwise be euthanized are prepared for successful adoptions.

As someone who worked in various forms of social work and social justice before I started music touring and as someone who, since adopting Patsy Cline from the Cincinnati SPCA, went from a "Yeah, I like dogs, they're cool" to "I want to save every dog every day bring them to me so I can love them nonstop forever" person, Crossroads is perfect. I stumbled across the organization because I had a doghouse I'd bought for a puppy I was helping adopt out from the East Nashville listserv. I called several animal welfare groups, none of whom returned my calls except for Lisa Stetar, Crossroads' Executive Director.

I've focused on volunteering at the new Crossroads Pets - Shop & Adopt store in my former neighborhood of Germantown and am discovering that I get a strange and unexpected amount of satisfaction (joy?) in doing inventory. Like, I'm making a name for myself. If you have a tedious task involving scanners, price tag guns and iPads, give me a call. I'll be RIGHT OVER. The store is new and just getting set up and I've been helping the women I've met so far - Robin, Barb, Lisa, and Dolores -  with the process.

The shop is meant to generate revenue for the non-profit. The main focus of the organization has actually been the Caring Connections program that on weekends goes to teenaged boys who are in state custody with the dogs for companionship and dog training. Soon the young men will work at the store to get job training in basic animal care, pet grooming, dog training, in-store and online retail, and customer relations and marketing which is especially important as they age out of state custody and need to enter the work force. In addition to future employees who are older adults transitioning out of homelessness through long-term recovery programs and housing shelter dogs and cats who have run out of time at animal control, I think the Crossroads model is brilliant. Brilliant!


Crossroads Pets - Shop & Adopt
707 Monroe St.
Nashville, TN 38208


2013 Livin' on a Prayer Mix

In a departure from my method of naming mixes after roads I've recently driven, I'm dedicating this mix not to moving from one physical place to another, but from one year to another. This music is for 2013. When I started making this there were more upbeat songs but as I whittled it to my mood, the high points lessened. The result has it moments to rage to but is overall contemplative. Even more so than at the end of 2012, I feel now that we have all got to learn how to work together without incessant yelling, alienation, and just plain nastiness. If we can't figure out how to have thoughtful conversations without catastrophizing every damn difference, we are just so screwed. If we don't figure it out, I picture myself swaying to this mix on a melting ice floe, with a solar charger for my iPod.

Flatlands - Chelsea Wolfe - I want Flatlands. I never cared about money and all its friends. I don't want precious stones. I never cared about anything you've ever owned.

Afraid of Everyone - The National - Then I'm radio and then I'm television, I'm afraid of everyone, I'm afraid of everyone.

Underworld USA - Cold Cave - They said the meek shall inherit the earth, Oh God that seems like so much work, I want to sing and dream and drink and cry.

Chained - The xx - If a feeling appears, if your mind should sway, it's not a secret you should keep.

Genesis - Grimes - Oh, heart.

IPC - Light Asylum - Not here to criticize, how you're living your life, Not here to perpetrate, nor do we prophecize.

F.T.F. - Trust - Let us see if love will bring my beliefs to the ground.

Fear Country - T Bone Burnett - The cat's out of the bag and it ain't going back.

Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise - The Avett Brothers - There was a dream, one day I could see it. Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it.

Velvet - The Big Pink - This heart's on fire, I'll bring myself up to the force, down again.

Ocean Drive (Tiga's White Linen Vox) - FPU - White linen on your back, Black secrets on your mind.

Tornado - Jónsi - You grow, you roar. Although disguised, I know you.

Hide and Seek - Imogen Heap - Ransom notes keep falling out your mouth. Mid-sweet talk, newspaper word cut-outs.

Laughing quietly to myself

About listening to two teenage girls, one from Georgia and one from Long Island, try to have a conversation, with difficulty, because they don't understand each others' accents. In particular, the word "awesome" was a sticking point.

"It was, like, so oooaaahhhsum."

"Um. I'm not sure what you mean. Sorry."

"Oooaaahhhsum! You know, like, super great...super cool!"



"Oh! Aaaaaahsome! Yeah, I got you."



I was in my kitchen cooking dinner with my mom when Matthew walked in with tears in his eyes and said that Livia had died. I had things in my hands, spatulas or spoons or spices I don't know, and I stood and stared at him, uncomprehending. "Livia?" I asked. I hugged him and he cried and I felt a dull, flat shock.

I didn't know Livia well but we had friends in common and she was someone in a larger group of people who I was always happy to bump into. We always hugged each other and talked a bit, about whatever. I learned more about her this week than I did all year long: that she'd recently bought a house, adopted a pit bull mix named Ellie Mae, and started a new job. That she was from Massachusetts and 32 years old. I already knew she had tons of friends who loved her. The night she was killed she posted a photo on Instagram playing darts at a bar in East Nashville with a comment about how how Nashville has given her the best girlfriends.

Four days later I went to Livia's memorial and that's when it hit me. Songs that I imagine were her favorites were playing and photos of her were scattered on the tables. I sat at a table in the back, looked at a photo, and another, and another, and then had to stop. And it was weird: my right eye started crying, just streaming tears while my left eye stayed dry. I wiped at my right eye and my runny nose with my arm warmer and I looked around the room at strangers I only recognized from reading Livia's Facebook wall for four days. I felt raw and sad and when I recognized her mom and brother and best friend from online photos, I couldn't fathom their grief. I also couldn't imagine what I could possibly share with anyone there, not the last conversation I'd had with her at a New Year's party because it was NSFW and/or Memorials and I didn't have much more than that. Except for the overwhelming sense that what happened to Livia could have so easily been any of us.

Livia went to a couple of East Nashville bars on a Wednesday night. A friend walked her out to a cab before last call; she was found around 5 am in the street, a block away from her home. She died of a head injury. The news and the police have been calling her death a hit and run but this doesn't make any sense to me. Why was she a block from home? She did what we're told to do. The bar she was at is one we all go to. We know that there are police all over 5 Points and you shouldn't drive after drinking. The first night I ever went to that bar, a guy from an adjoining table got a DUI not 10 minutes after trying to drive away. We all know to get cabs if we need to. WHY the FUCK didn't Livia get home alive?

The driver hasn't come forward. The cops haven't yet been able to find out who drove her cab. When asked if they are cooperating with the investigation, Yellow Cab said no comment.

Whenever someone young dies it's called senseless but it's always senseless for different reasons. Sometimes people make stupid choices. Sometimes people take risks for their own reasons, damn the consequences. Sometimes they get sick. There are million reasons young people die and a million directions in which to point a finger and say IF ONLY THAT detail had been different. But I can't find a thing to point at here. Livia didn't do anything wrong. She was doing what we all would do.

I went to a community meeting yesterday and a cop told me something I suppose I know but don't usually worry about: it's not safe to get in a cab alone. Um, I GUESS NOT. Right now I don't want to get in a Nashville cab ever again. Am I being dramatic and overly reactive? Maybe, and I don't care. He also said, and this was news to me, that cabs that are called through dispatch are logged while cabs that are hailed on streets are not always called in by the drivers. The drivers are supposed to but they don't always do it. Those rides might be off the books.

I read an article online about a case with Nashville Yellow Cab two years ago in which a driver was accused of raping a female passenger. I don't know whether he was convicted but what stood out to me is that the cab company didn't cooperate with the investigation until they were under court order to do so. When they did release their records, the driver was identified by a photo and it was determined that he signed in under a false name that night. My mind is now officially blown. This is EXTREMELY DISTURBING.

I'm trying not to think too hard about the details of the night that left Livia so close to home but not quite. I'm skittish enough already. I saw two stupid almost-accidents today. I rode my bike home last night from Amanda's house with a snug helmet and lots of flashing red safety lights and still kept to the sidewalks as much as I could even though I firmly believe cyclists should share the roads with cars. Drivers are careless here. But that's the thing: Livia wasn't a careless person and while it may have been a hit and run, my gut feeling is that what happened to Livia wasn't because someone else was careless. I'm instinctively so, so mad and afraid that it was more than that.

I didn't get to know Livia better this year even though I wanted to because I figured we'd have time. No one was going anywhere. Except. Except.


Calvin Ave, Nashville

I just like these guys and relate to both of them.


Laughing quietly to myself

About how when Matthew received his custom t-shirt in the mail, he was also accidentally sent an order intended for a woman in Australia. When he called the company to inform them of their mistake, he was told to just keep the extra shirts. So I now own a tank top that reads: RUN LIKE CHANNING TATUM IS WAITING FOR YOU AT THE FINISH LINE.


Love, David Hasselhoff

This was hand-delivered to my doorstep last week. No, not by The Hoff himself, but by someone who really, really knows me.



So we are making Nashville our capital-H Home. That little thought I had in mind for years, the idea to live in Nashville, and actually followed through on last Christmas has turned into one of my better decisions. We've made a great group of friends in addition to people I knew from past touring and new work friends I've already spent huge amounts of time with on the road. We bought a house. We're getting to know our neighbors. I've found a place to volunteer. I wouldn't have predicted this move would make THIS much sense this quickly.

When asked why I've fallen so hard for Nashville, I mention people's friendliness, the community involvement, the music and creativity, the affordability, and the relative proximity to family in Cincinnati. I wasn't sure about all of these qualities before moving here because if you don't know where you're going and are driving around Nashville, the city can come off as lackluster. The vacant lots and barbed wire don't always give off indications that when you turn right or left, or just look closely, there are charming districts of independent businesses, bars, coffeeshops and creative spaces. The suburbs and country areas may be different, but it seems that city neighborhoods are largely mixed income so within the same blocks you may have a drug house, a working low-income family, a trendy modern condo, and a historic cottage. The pace of new building is fast and residential and commercial structures are springing up regularly. There is definitely a feeling of change.

Some of these qualities I've admired in other cities but other aspects are brand new to me. Nashville is politically blue. It has a strong progressive bent, queer- and eco- friendly, especially in East Nashville where we are, but the state of Tennessee does not. Tennessee is more Christian right conservative than this Northern gal is used to. It's a proud, God-fearing culture and they will be damned if you try to tell them what they can and cannot do with their guns. Their many, many guns.


Sweet Jesus, I've never heard more gun talk than I have in the past year. Or seen so many signs on bar doors asking you to leave your firearms outside, since many people carry concealed weapons. Nor have I ever met as many people who have been held up at gunpoint than I have in Nashville. The little buggers are EVERYWHERE. People buy them online for home protection. People buy them illegally, unsure of whether they are stolen or not, to add to their collection. I'm sure people are stockpiling to fight our government who they are convinced will turn against us a la Hitler and Stalin, just as you hear on Fox News.

This is all foreign to me as I didn't grow up with guns but I did marry someone who knows how to handle a rifle and who won a turkey shoot in elementary school, beating out many grown men. My grandpa Roncker was a gun-carrying Cincinnati Police Captain. My father-in-law was a Green Beret Airborne Ranger, Customs Officer, and firearms instructor and is the best shot I know but I still haven't gone all warm and fuzzy with guns, besides the joke I had with Bova where I promised him that if I ever get a gun it will be a Glock with pink accents and the inscription on the side: Bless Her Heart.

Our new neighborhood, Cleveland Park, is rather crime-friendly but I'm still choosing to go with an alarm system, a dog, and padlocks on the privacy fence over keeping a gun in our house. Oh, and the sword Matthew keeps under the bed. The closest I've gotten is that guns in general now seem kind of normal and not shocking as they would have, say, when I were living in Seattle. Speaking of Seattle, when I was there I had the feeling that I was living in a bubble, a utopia of like-minded, agreeable people where it was just so dang pleasant that it bugged me. I wanted more grit and disagreement; I imagined that would feel more real. And, now I've got it.


I believe in God. I don't claim to know the details but I do think there is more. I grew up going to public schools during the day, Catholic Mass on Sunday, and CCD religious instruction on Tuesday nights. My family's liberal Jesuit church and its high school youth group had some affect on me but in my earlier years I promptly forgot everything poor Father Nastold tried to teach me all those many Tuesdays that I doodled and smirked; apparently I am a natural born skeptic. Since the Bible went in one ear and out the other, I drew my moral lessons from family, the aforementioned church youth group - that welcomed teens of all faiths or of none, not just Catholics or Christians - and scores of excellent teachers.

The Christian message that stuck with me was that Jesus was a good man to emulate: compassionate, in service to others, kind, courageous, accepting of people who are different. I didn't, and don't, put any great importance on the idea that what I do in this life will affect what happens to me when I die. I'm not worried about heaven or hell. I just do my best to be a good person while I'm here and hope to be judged by my actions, not by my faith or gender or voting record. I think religion, if it is to be used, should be used for people, not against them.

Most of my new friends are leftist and a few remind me of some of my favorite people I know elsewhere: Justin = Nashville Dennis, Oscar = Nashville Fabian, Ryan = Nashville Bova. I've also gotten close to a number of people here who believe that homosexuality is a sin, that Mitt Romney had the right solutions for America, and that any gun control is a freedom issue (always with the FREEDOM). And I'm not even getting into health care or taxes. I think homosexuality is perfectly natural, if not as common as heterosexuality, am Obama-voting, and I think there should be a compliance of some standard that is enforced before regular, non-military, people can own guns. I'm not against guns or against the Constitution, I'm for considering public safety.

My friends and I who are politically and religiously different have more in common than we have apart but oh man, the differences are biggies. I, however, choose to see their lives from a broad perspective, not focusing on guns and gays, and I think they're good people. I believe they think the same of me. We love each other, enjoy being together, and miss each other when we're not. So how does one reconcile those things that could be taken as personal, perhaps offensive, affronts? Or do we just concentrate on our similarities and accept our differences with mutual respect?

Personal details I've shared about myself with some of them: that one of my bridesmaids was a gay man who walked down the aisle with another guy or that I'm not Republican (WHAT?!) have elicited laughs, dropped jaws, or resigned head shakes. But not all details are easy for me to delve into. I'm sensitive when it's about women and when I see vaguely misogynistic-hahahaha Facebook posts from anyone, even if we aren't close, even if we're just acquaintances, I have to remind myself to breathe.

East Nashville has more in common with Portland, OR or Austin, TX than greater Tennessee where a Senator from Knoxville is proposing legislation that would require schools to inform parents if a child is engaging in homosexual activity (what exactly "activity" entails is unclear). Where in talking about education, someone tells me how mad he was when his child came home from school and told her daddy she learned about evolution. Apparently I've been more influenced than I even realized by the bubbles I've lived in because I honestly thought creationism was more on the out than that.

I'm still learning how to deal: how to gauge when a reaction or response is just enough or too much or not enough at all. I still shy away from certain conversations and am not necessarily proud of that. The point, however, is that I'm learning as much or more than if I were always surrounded by people exactly like myself. And if I'm ever surprised or taken aback by what I hear, I have to examine myself and pinpoint what I do or don't believe. Whether or not my viewpoints ever change, I gain something in my understanding of the issues, people's different interpretations of them, and of how our fractured country may be tolerant.


Laughing quietly to myself

About how I was watching the Norwegian black metal documentary Until the Light Takes Us about the guys who caused all kinds of ruckus including suicide, murder, and church burnings and I was like, "Babe, can you pause it? I have to hydrate for yoga."


Pop Tarts + Colonics

Jess: Hey chicos, I want to pass on the resume of a college friend of mine. Halle just left her job in New York and is extremely capable, overachieving, and badassed. Thought you should have it in case anything comes up.

John: Thanks Jess, I'll keep her in mind though these days it's not more than the occasional runner gig.

Jess: Well I'm the last person who would turn her nose up at a runner gig considering how that's I got started in this biz! Also, Halle knows that since she visited me on tour back in the days when I hung 15 8-foot tall Pop Tart banners around the arena...

John: I hate dealing with banners.

Jess: Do you happen to remember when I threw a bunch of them in the trash compactor in Portland, ME? I got in trouble with Marisa that day but I had HAD IT.

John: HAHA!!! Yes! FYI, I just got back from a colonic... something that you and G did together. It always cracked me up. Is it wrong that I kind of liked it? Oh my!

Jess: !!!!!! Now I'm going to have nightmares about those tubes tonight. Having said that, G and I have never laughed harder together than we did in the waiting room of the Tummy Temple so it's also a good memory and not 100% traumatizing.


Hot yoga

Every five or six years I try yoga, go to one class, feel shamed by my inability to balance and concentrate and quickly renew my claim to not like it, never mind the fact that so many people I know greatly enjoy yoga and/or ARE TOTALLY OBSESSED with it. Most recently, I was talked into a hot yoga class.

When I found out the yoga studio was in Brentwood, I grimaced. I was quickly given shit and reminded that Brentwood is only 20 minutes away. Because I've gotten used to the accessibility of my neighborhood in East Nashville and because I don't like cars, driving, or rush hour, to me Brentwood is psychologically much further away but I relented because I felt like I was being a dick and that, I'm guessing, is not what yoga is about.

Nicki told me that I needed to bring a bath towel, water, and to arrive a half hour early. The class started at 4:30; I left home at 3:00. Lest you think I was being jumpy and neurotic, I'll tell you that it took me 20 minutes just to get to the right highway because Nashville traffic can be awful. I know people from bigger cities go, "You call that traffic? I'll show you traffic!" and get all proud of how terrible they have it but I disagree. The roads here can't support the number of cars on them and it makes everyone standstill on a regular basis. Standing still is great when you are in a yoga class trying to follow your instructor's order to be the tree, not so great when three highways are narrowing to two lanes and miles of red brake lights.

Example: Interstate traffic was so slow on my way to yoga that a man selling The Contributor newspaper chose to sell from where the on-ramp meets the merging lane because cars were creeping along slowly enough to stop and hand him a buck.

Example: I was going slowly enough to snap photos of stopped cars to text to Matthew, "So fucking relaxing!" even though I don't believe in texting while driving.


I finally made it to 65 South and picked up speed. That's when I realized that I forgot to bring a towel and water. I had a brand new yoga mat I bought at Target and an athletic tank top compressing my midsection JUST IN CASE I got ballsy in yoga and tried to stand on my head and didn't want my shirt to fly up. Looking back, this was a precaution I need not have worried about.

Ah well, I thought, I'm still early enough that I'll find the studio and I should still have enough time to stop somewhere and pick up a towel and water. It's the suburbs, there will be shopping centers. Once I located Fahrenheit Yoga, I pulled into a parking lot and searched nearby stores. There was a Target but even closer, there was a Publix supermarket. I thought about the Kroger by our house, the one we casually refer to as "murder Kroger" where there's always a changing miscellaneous section that sells random crap like towels.

This Brentwood Publix was not murder Kroger. I walked the aisles quickly, running out of time, looking for towels. When it became clear there were none, I noticed every item with absorbent properties and imagined different scenarios: showing up for yoga with a bag of cotton balls, wiping my forehead with Pampers, covering my mat with paper napkins. Dang it. Then I saw the blankets and knew I was bringing an orange fleece blanket to hot yoga.


The woman behind the front desk at the studio asked if I'm Jessica and informed me that since I'm a new student, I get a starting deal of 10 classes for $10. I'd paid $20 online for one class which seemed STEEP so it was cool to hear that I was now getting a price that was 20 times better but it meant I needed to come nine more times to make it work. Fahrenheit Yoga is so sneaky already, trying to trick me out of quitting right away. If they think that money is the way to make a "This hurts, I'm stopping" person into a "No pain, no gain" person, well, in my case they are right.

I was given a tour and instructions: if I feel lightheaded I am to lie down with my feet toward the wall and head toward the mirror and I was to put my "towel" over my mat. I laid my fleece blanket over my mat, giving the impression that I had arrived not to get all centered and whatnot but to have a picnic. Back in the locker room, I overheard a girl telling her friend that she lies on her stomach and meditates while waiting for the instructor to arrive. And I may be wrong but then it sounded like she also made fun of someone's blanket. The combination of the locker room setting and the fact that I showed up with funny looking stuff is giving me flashbacks to the first day of seventh grade and my goofy tie-dyed shorts.

Upon returning to the studio I laid on my stomach as if to meditate but I really just checked out everyone as they come in. To my mind, the other students were all perfect; my inferiority complex was kicking into high gear. The people who weren't meditating were doing complex looking stretches and backbends, calmly twisting this way and that. I felt defensive. I was thinking that if I'm going to do yoga, I need to find a low rent YMCA somewhere.

This defensiveness had been brewing since I'd left my home, when I put on baggy sweats and Matthew's metal band hoodie over my tight yoga gear and pronounced, "I am NOT wearing yoga clothes in public!" and "I will NOT get smoothies at Whole Foods after my yoga class!" Even though I love smoothies and have been eating one a day lately and certainly no one was ordering me to do anything.


The class started with a series of breathing exercises. I don't know if it was just the hotness of the room or that I haven't exercised in a long time but I got really lightheaded and almost passed out. I opened my eyes as wide as possible because I felt like if I blinked I'd fall over and I concentrated on staring at myself in the mirror. I know they told me to lie down if I needed to, but the class started TWO MINUTES AGO. I have pride.

I made it through and sweated a river for an hour and half. I did lie down several times later in the class, my ankles wobbled, my knees cracked, and I had to do a lot of peeping to follow along with the others but the instructor was nice. There weren't many moments when it felt good per se, but I was able to imagine that it might feel better if I stick with it more than I have historically. At the end, we laid on our backs in the darkened room while someone walked around, sticking cold lavender-scented hand towels in our hands. I took that sucker, draped it over my face, and fully accepted the instructor's invitation to stay there as long as I needed to. Eventually I sat up, wiped off all the orange blanket fuzz that was coating my sticky skin and tried not to think too hard about the next nine times.


This is my marriage

I sit at my desk researching cocktails and food to make for our housewarming party while Matthew scrubs away on the new couch behind me, removing the ink stains I somehow left earlier when I was writing in my journal. He uses a homemade concoction of hairspray, a rag, and a vegetable scrub brush; it works. A few minutes later I'm dancing backwards from the kitchen to my office and he grabs my arm to keep me from sticking my foot into Patsy's water bowl.

"I'm Jessica," he says, "and I break everything!"

"I do not break everything," I reply. "I just mess it up."

And it gets fixed. By someone (usually him).


Laughing quietly to myself

About how Matthew said if he were a stripper this would be his signature song: Fuji Club by Egyptrixx feat. Trust


Laughing quietly to myself

About how Matthew is recommending the Bones Brigade documentary and talking to our ex-military, actor, checkerboard Vans-wearing, skateboarding plumber about the movies the plumber has been in while he fixes our water heater. From my eavesdropping it sounds as if he's played mostly generals and thugs.


Laughing quietly to myself

About what Renee said about Chik-fil-A on Christmas night when I was sitting in her kitchen drinking wine and Fireball whisky: You can't make sweet tea with hate in your heart.


Thanatosis of a blog

Surprise! This blog is not dead. It was just playing dead though I haven't figured out if it was an involuntary reflex like the paralytic immobility that sharks and beetles sometimes go into when faced with a threat, or thanatosis, when opossums feign death in order to avoid unwanted attention. But in my case, what threats? What unwanted attention?

I just know that I stopped writing and slowly stopped reading a lot of blogs over the last few months. I saw an old friend at a Christmas party in Cincinnati and she asked me what my favorite blogs are; I had a hard time answering because I've been hitting the Unsubscribe button so much. If 2012 was about clearing out and paring down, I hope that this year is about recognizing and reintegrating what is important.

When I began to write online in 2005, I mainly wanted another outlet for my then-rabid journaling. As I traveled a lot in the subsequent years, blogging was a way for me to keep my friends and family informed of what was up with me, wherever I was. I've never been as good at outreach and community-building as a lot of bloggers so I didn't build a large readership or turn my thoughts into money. I didn't network or become a part of any blogging in-crowd and this was mostly okay with me, though I had moments of longing.

I made one stab at blog-building when I went to Camp Mighty just over a year ago but spent half of my time at the conference doing frantic work in my hotel room and had to leave early to work a concert. As I result, while I was inspired by the speakers and the motive of the gathering, I only had a few really good face-to-face conversations that made me feel connected.

My personal blogging denouement came when I admitted how little I like reading sponsored posts or have ads flashing on the sides of the screen. On the flip side, and I KNOW this is hypocritical I KNOW, I was annoyed by some of the repetitive me-me-me tales on personal blogs. Finally, the pressure! The pressure I felt from the style and design blogs: for my home, my clothes, my life to be perfectly executed. If not color coordinated, then artfully askew. At least on the surface.

It all got to me. I have time now but for most of last year I worked nonstop. And not being able to say much about my job left room for what? Photos of me drinking beer on rare nights off? Photos of my dog, my husband, the delightfully designed outfits I threw together, the meals I wasn't making? Nope, that's not why I started blogging, not entirely. Not that my reasons for writing now have to be the same as they were then but there have to BE reasons. And as I am more careful now about reading what makes me feel good and makes me think or laugh or learn, I'm going to try to write that way. There may be photos of my dog from time to time.