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.