I'm done with truth

The truth about truth is that it’s a slippery thing. Easy to bend, easy to break, and it might not even exist at all.

It feels weird to say that because I’ve been obsessed with truth for ages. Readup, the startup I run, has been, in many ways, a quest to promote truth. It began long before “fake news” became a thing, before Donald Trump became president, and even before he became the Republican nominee for president. During that time, I developed an obsession with trying to figure out the difference between information and misinformation, reality and fantasy.

I filled up journal after journal in attempt to find an answer. The truth is out there, I told myself, even if it’s in short supply.

But there are problems with truth.

For one thing, different people have different truths.

Beyond that, humans are good at not hearing truths, even if they’re obvious and undeniable. In one ear and out the other. We don’t hear, and maybe we can’t hear, what we don’t want to hear. Add that to the never-ending list of things that are sometimes good and sometimes bad - things that have something to do with evolution, survival instincts, and making the most out of life when it feels like a giant shit-sandwich.

These days, everyone’s on the lookout for lies. But also, not really. While we’re working to separate information from misinformation, real news from fake news, what’s actually happening is that we’re missing the bigger, more important truths that are right in front of our eyes.

This, by the way, is a bigger problem for old people. Around this time last year, I went back to my high school to do a talk about entrepreneurship and reading, but I was actually there because I wanted to hear from teenagers about social media. When I was in high school, MySpace was big and we stayed up all night on AOL Instant Messenger. These were, truly, social platforms. If you wanted news, you got it elsewhere.

So I asked for a show of hands: “How many of you believe what you see online?” Not a single hand went up. Not by a long-shot. There was some laughter. I was out of touch and asking the wrong question. The idea that things online would be even remotely true was so absurd that a few students invited me to rephrase it. Someone said, “It’s all fake.” The conversation rocked my perspective. At first it felt like a nightmare. But then my fears subsided. These kids are smart, I thought. They know what’s up. They’ll be okay.


Earlier this year, I started hooking up with a dude.

Up until that point, I had never had a romantic encounter with another man, and I remember thinking, Oh my god, this is it. I finally did it. I unlocked everything and now I’m free! I’m 32 years old, by the way, which may or may not be relevant to this conversation. You probably think it is. I’m pretty sure it isn’t.

Regardless, it felt like a pretty big deal. It felt like the kind of thing that would change my life, immediately and forever. In my journal, I took up an entire page to write three huge words in capital bubble letters — FLOOD GATES OPEN — and I decorated the words with geometric shapes using a blue highlighter.

I thought, at the time, that I was done with non-truth forever, because I had wiped out my biggest lie, once and for all. Plus, I was having fun telling everyone I know: I’m queer! (Whoop-de-fucking do!)

Then, I stopped journaling. (And progress on my novel came to a grinding halt. I suddenly had a very new story to tell. My protagonist and I were equally confused. We needed some time apart.) But the few things I did jot down are pretty fascinating to me now. Clearly, I seemed to think that I had undergone some massive transformation. Old Bill was a liar. New Bill was going to be the human embodiment of truth.

Not so fast.

It’s true that I was, quite instantly, changed. There’s no doubt about that. But I’m still fumbling, a lot, with truth. And, in many ways, I’m more confused than ever.

For example: Now, every time I interact with another human being — and especially if it’s a human being that I know quite well — I feel compelled to tell them about my Mexican lover and my month of hot gay sex. But that’s not a normal way to kick off a conversation, even if it’s true. So the lesson here is pretty straightforward: “normal” and “true” have almost nothing to do with each other.

A few days ago, I joined a Zoom conference with some cousins. Several new humans were introduced to the family, including two significant others and a brand new little baby. As the attention started to focus on me, I had no choice. Everyone’s talking about relationships. To talk about anything except my newly-expanded sexuality would be dishonest. So I did, even though I didn’t really want to. Sometimes it’s fun, but sometimes it’s torture.

In this particularly instance, I simplified quite a bit. Then I backtracked. Then I embellished.

In hindsight, I realize that the truth isn’t always entirely available to me. Even when I’m sitting down with pen and paper, trying to be profoundly exact, careful with every detail, I realize that memories are impossible to nail down. Stuff happens. The past is true when it happens, and then it becomes a story. And stories, almost by definition, are full of details that aren’t true.

The craziest thing of all is that I can’t even remember specifically how I fudged the retelling, but I remember feeling like I made the whole thing sound a lot smoother than it actually was.

Come to think of it, I just did the exact same thing to you, reader! “My month of hot gay sex,” is a crock of bullshit. It was definitely hot and definitely a month, but it was also messy and confusing, and it had more to do with love than sex. Actually, no. Actually, I don’t know! What I know for sure is that it happened because I was in an extremely dark place — addicted, lonely, desperate, afraid, and lost. There are a million ways to tell the story. They’re all true. Yet none of them are the truth.


Let’s take another case study: This very thing that you’re reading right now.

Why am I telling you all of this? There are three possible answers.

For me. This is a selfish endeavor and it has nothing to do with you. I don’t even know who you are. You’re some random person looking at a screen. I have something to say and I want to say it. I want eyes on me. I want brains on my words. This is my ego in action, and I can’t help it.

For you. This isn’t about me, it’s about you. If it wasn’t for you, I’d be in my journal right now. That’s always where I’d rather be. Instead, I’m putting myself through the ringer because I really do believe that my writing can help other people. I’m willing to take the bullet if it means creating a positive impact.

For Readup. Who am I kidding? It’s not about me and it’s not about you. It’s about Readup. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help my startup grow. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t trying to get clicks, views and traffic.

They’re all true. Yet none of them are the truth. See what I mean?


This week, I got into a colossal fight with my dad. He’s old, with a weak heart; his father, my grandfather, died of a heart attack in his early 50s. Plus, he’s in New Jersey right now, where the pandemic is raging worse than anywhere else. But for some reason I felt the need to attack him. Aggressively. And it was completely unprovoked. I yelled and screamed and cursed and used all of my best/worst language, refined by an education at Stanford that cost him an arm and a leg.

Why? Because I think he watches too much TV. He’s mostly watching the news. He’s trying to figure out how to stay safe in the midst of a frightening virus.

What on Earth is wrong with me?

I could dig this hole twenty times deeper, but what’s the point? (Actually, wait, here’s one more tidbit: I’m currently quarantined in his apartment in Key West, Florida, and not paying rent. Yes, I’m 32 years old. And this time I can’t possibly pretend like my age isn’t relevant.)

Thankfully, he’s bigger than me. So, later, he sent me an email that said, “I will respond when I feel it can come from a candid and honest place.” That email killed me. What followed was the burial:

Sometimes my tennis game sucks, completely just sucks. It happens when I am too close to it. I take a couple days off and WALLA..... Federer look out, I am unstoppable. Ups and downs are expected and common. Breathe and know it will all work out.

And the laying of flowers on the grave:

I believe in Readup, 100%. I also believe in your next endeavor, and the next one and the next one.    

I was howling, wrecked. I’m not going to describe what it looked like, but you can let your mind wander. It was cinematic. The neighbors might be concerned. My mom, later, asked, “Do you need someone to talk to?”

Needless to say, I wasn’t ready for another brain-exploding email, but that’s how these things tend to happen. This one was from my ex-girlfriend, who is really more like an ex-wife. The last decade of my life is the story of me and her.

That email was the answer to everything. It ended with a reminder to return to a parable that I used to read to my yoga students, back when I taught tiny, candlelit yoga classes in our small Brooklyn apartment:

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.

I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.

When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.

That was written by some monk, almost 900 years ago.

With blinding light, it showed me exactly why and how I’m being a dipshit. It’s not because I’m bad. It’s because I’m working on the wrong stuff.

None of us were ready for what just happened. Dystopia dropped like a mother-fucking curtain. We can’t even answer the most basic questions: What? Why? How? When is it going to end? Is it going to end?

For me, as it relates to promoting truth (online, in the media, in politics, in relationships, everywhere) coronavirus was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I no longer have any interest in finding and figuring out truth.

Truth is an impossible ideal. It’s a lot like freedom. The illusion that it’s possible inhibits our ability to get closer to it.

Conveniently, I think there’s a way for me to grab the baby, at the very last second, as I nearly throw it out with the bathwater. I’ve got a grip on a tiny little ankle, Spider-man style, and if I hold it tight enough, and if I’m gentle enough, there’s a way to achieve a graceful landing. Thankfully, everything is in slow motion right now. That makes things a little easier. Here’s the new plan:

Instead of working to promote truth, I’m going to work on being honest.

Honesty is an inward-facing word. It’s a character trait, a behavior, and a practice.

Unlike truth, it’s something I can do. It’s a way that I can live.

If you think I’m splitting hairs, consider this: There are a million ways to tell the truth, but there’s only one way to be honest. And there’s only one judge that matters.

The honest writer doesn’t need to go looking for truths. They’re always right there. In this case, the truths I needed were on a couple of post-it notes: Are you even out yet? + Big-ass fight with dad + Monk quote.

Honesty is my new personal mission. My only core value. One word to rule them all. I’m pushing everything else off the table to make plenty of room to observe it and experience it from all angles.

I don’t care if other people are honest. That’s none of my business. In fact, it might not even make sense for others at this time. But I know, for sure, that it’s what I need right now.

So, R.I.P. truth!

And hello, honesty! Nice to meet you. You’re actually kinda fun, even though, if I’m being honest, you’re a bitch sometimes too.

I have five crazy stories for you

World’s on fire. Again. Crap. Surely we’ll have to figure out what to do about that. But in the meantime, we also need to unwind. Be in the moment. Before we figure out what to do next, we need to figure out how to handle now. How to escape.

Here’s what I say: When the world starts feeling stranger than fiction, we just need stranger fiction. Here are five of the wildest, most mind-bending short stories I’ve ever read, featuring characters and circumstances so absurd that they make our real world situation seem normal by comparison.

Plus some photos from my life.


You can’t point a 35mm camera at a dark sky and expect anything to develop except black, even if the moon is full. But on this one night, the moon was low in the sky, humongous, and the light from the sun hadn’t cleared out.

Awesomely, I caught a crescent:

“The Daughters of the Moon” by Italo Calvino

Italo Calvino is a GOAT writer and this is a GOAT story - it has stayed with me for over a decade. The premise is a fantastical, geological one: the moon, the literal rock, comes down to Earth. And the language is so vivid and beautiful that the words steal the show. Which is impressive, because it’s a really good show: naked women running around all over the place.

"Elliott Spencer" by George Saunders

Saunders is a nutso writer. Take the first several lines in a giant gulp, and then just keep going and going and going. It took me some time to “get” the premise, but the juice is worth the squeeze; this is fascinating stuff.

Here’s a picture of a tree. The film broke, but I still like it:

It looks like a tree half-lost to time. Or memory.

“Shakespeare’s Memory” by Jorge Luis Borges

Borges is another GOAT. The gist of “Shakespeare’s Memory” is that this guy inherits all of Shakespeare’s memories. It happens quite suddenly, in one magical occurrence, and then he’s one human with two full sets of human memories. Yeah.

“Chaunt” by Joy Williams

Reading “Chaunt” feels like stepping in and out of consciousness, because the world isn’t a real world. Or at least it doesn’t feel like it.

So the reading experience is more like a meditation, a lesson in letting go of the need to make sense of every detail.

Also, everything, always, comes back to death.

”Poetry” by Greg Jackson

We are alive. The planet is alive.

Everything in nature has the power to kill us. Nothing in nature has the power to kill us.

Wild Saturday night, lol,

-Bill


PS I need more reader friends! Read with me!

PPS Please forward this to anyone you know who enjoys reading. Thx! ✌️

The Whole Slow Story, Quickly

35mm photos of my cross-country adventure.

“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”

- Annie Dillard


Reader,

I’ve been hoarding my 35mm photographs. I have hundreds of them, in piles, all over the place.

Next time we’re together, I’ll show you the 4x6 prints. That’s the best way to see this stuff. Plus, I love the way they look, my photographs, in a pair of human hands.

I like to look at people looking at my pictures. I like sharing myself.

I’m still not crazy about sharing myself online, but I’m learning to let it not matter.

Here are a few of my favorites, chosen at random, with some additional context where it might be helpful.

Here is a look at my life.

At the beginning of 2019, I got rid of almost everything I own and I moved onto an RV named Sputnik.

At first, photography was just a hobby, a way to pass the time. I bought the camera used and, sure enough, it worked.

Without a smartphone, I had no other way to capture my memories, but I didn’t want the stress of needing the photographs, so I just snapped around casually: Sputnik on the inside, my plants, my books. Lots and lots of stacks of books.

E came to visit me in Boston. It felt like the official start of the trip, but by that time I had already been on the road for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, it just depends how you define “on the road.”

Film photography is a finicky endeavor. It’s easy to bork an entire roll, and I did that several times. But also, I’ve been on the lam for over a year, which is a lot of time to make a lot of mistakes.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

-Elizabeth Bishop

The pace of photo development is slower than slow. It’s glacial. Every individual print is a six-month process that starts with the purchase of film and ends with me sitting on Sputnik holding a little piece of my life.

I haven’t retouched a single image. They just popped out this way, with an uncanny Instagrammy-ness that both haunts and excites me.

Anyway, eventually I broke down, emotionally and literally, in one of the best places on the planet: Kansas City.

Thus, for a time, I drank beers in the sun and played frisbee in a hyper-competitive fashion, until I cracked my rib on a long layout. Then I was the team photographer.

I love these people. T, you’re the best.

Buena Vista, Colorado, living up to the name.

Here’s the recipe: Lots of iceberg, a can of tuna (drained), pine nuts, and hot sauce. Gogogogo.

I shot two and a half rolls of film at Biosphere 2, because why not? That shit was nuts.

And then this guy, R, mi novio guapo, showed up out of nowhere and landed squarely in my lap. And I, in turn, fell completely in love. ❤️

No mames, güey.

There is a scene in the novel I’m writing where the humans look up at the sky and they try to imagine what it looked like before the humans made it look like what it looks like. But nobody is allowed to say the word chem trails.

I think about how many times I flew over flyover country and I think: I’m a chem trail.

That’s the Pacific, covered in storm clouds. I remember that Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees was blasting on the radio, and I was just like, Fuck yeah, this is all so perfect. And really, reader, it was.

None of this is over. I’m still on the move, and I’m still not sure where I’m going.

Next time, I’ll zoom in on something. Maybe. But either way, I’ll keep on keeping it slow.

Vamos.

-Bill

Your Attention Please 🌱

Slow news

For most of the last few months, I’ve been bouncing around the Mojave Desert. It’s great.

There’s plenty of excellent, free camping. Also, I’ve got places to shower and work. I’m a bona fide regular at four different local libraries. I especially like the small ones, where everybody speaks Spanish.

I even have a gym, the community center in La Quinta. $5 day passes. Can’t beat that.

Here’s a picture of one of my favorite spots, on BLM land east of Mecca. Even after dark, I know how to plop down so that I can catch a perfect view of the morning sun as it rises up the canyon:


Read with me

Every few months, I return to one of my favorite short stories of all time: "Pet Milk" by Stuart Dybek. At this point, it’s lodged into my brain. I have Pet Milk moments constantly. Sometimes my whole life feels like a Pet Milk moment. Here’s an example:

Yesterday, I caught all three of my favorite country breakup songs — on one drive, back to back to back. It was surreal. One is a solo, but the other two are duets. That’s five different breakup stories, in total, and I deeply relate to all of them. I can sing the words of any part, man or woman, and it really feels like my soul is saying what it needs to say.

I was basically peaking on that last one, nice and loud, completely unaware of myself, my body, the road, the red light. I was just in it. And then I looked over at the car next to me and there were four teenage girls all with their mouths agape, completely transfixed by me.

Time stopped.

Everything got so slow so fast that it was almost as though I could see four little pieces of chewing gum sitting on four little sets of teeth. Not actually, but that’s how it looks in my memory.

And then the world revved back up again. The music was loud, the light was green, they were gone, that was that. The world was exactly as it was before the five of us collided.

And then, I thought: Oh yeah. This yellow truck. That music. Me. All of it.

Then, I thought: Pet Milk.

It doesn’t matter that the details are different — cars instead of trains, four girls instead of one boy. It’s the same exact experience. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we humans can really see each other. When it happens, it rules.


Even slower news

Here’s a weird thing I wrote in my journal:

I sliced a hard-boiled egg with one of those wire slicers. As I pressed down, I thought, “This — what the wires are doing to the egg — is what the black mirror does to our concept of time. So. Damn. Smooth.”

Sometimes, too much soma, and then I float away.

✌️

Bill

Why I love country music

TL;DR: To prove that anybody can love anything

My truck doesn’t have satellite radio or any fancy external hookups. And I’d have nothing to hook it up to anyway. If I want music while driving, it’s FM radio or nothing. And I love it. I love the lack of unnecessary choice, the delight of a random surprise. I love that the radio forces me to expand my horizons.

Last night, as I was driving north on Route 77, just outside of Tucson, I accidentally tuned into the very beginning of a live broadcast of the 53rd Annual Country Music Awards on FM 99.5. The signal was crystal clear and I nearly lost my shit with excitement.

I used to hate country music. It was a hate based on ignorance, which is the worst kind of hate. As a general life rule, if you find yourself hating something (or someone) you haven’t spent time with - check yourself. It’s not a good look. And it’s usually your loss.

I started to love country music because I had no choice. Across rural America, it’s often the only music that comes through, and over the course of the last year, I’ve listened to hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours of it. I know all of the big names, the legends, and the up-and-comers. Thomas Rhet, Luke Combs, and Kenny Chesney, for example, all have their own twang. I can tell ‘em apart in an instant. I know all the words to all the top hits. And I’ve been hearing the buzz about the CMAs for weeks.

So when I heard Carrie Underwood bantering with co-hosts Dollie Parton and Reba McEntire, I pulled over, immediately, into the desert, climbed into my camper, and tuned in with a radio that cost me a few quarters at a thrift store. I knew it would come in handy one day. I usually prefer absolute silence at night so I can hear the sounds of nature. But if I’m going to party, I’m going to party right, so I poured myself a finger of Johnny Walker Red and settled in.

For two and a half hours - yes, two and a half hours - I sat there, rapt, listening to the entire broadcast, advertisements and all. It was wonderful. I knew from a million miles away that Blake Shelton was going to win best single for “God’s Country” and that Marin Morris’s “Girl” was a shoe-in for best album. I said my predictions out loud, cheers’d myself when I was right, and shucks‘d when I was wrong. And, of course, I bobbed along with the live performances. “Crazy Beautiful,” was, in fact, crazy beautiful. So too was Sheryl Crow’s Janis Joplin, Halsey with Lady Antebellum, Kasey Musgraves with Willie Nelson. I really didn’t want Garth Brooks to win the big award, but fuck it, Dive Bar’s pretty fun, a head-bopper, and country music is all about legacy, paying respect to the elders. So be it.

Years ago, when I had a smartphone, I had Spotify. Looking back, I know exactly how and why it sucked. (Proud technologists, please hold your horses. I don’t need to be told why Spotify is good and helpful. I get that part. We all do. I’m trying to dig a little deeper. Or sideways, actually.) Basically, I always listened to the same shit, or I told the Spotify robot what “mood” to give me and it gave me exactly what I thought I wanted. But that’s precisely the problem. We don’t always know what we want. Nobody on the planet needs as much Arcade Fire as I used to think I wanted, and “Arcade Fire radio” was only a hair better. These days, when I hear “Losing my Religion” or “Silver Springs” on the radio, I go buckwild, because I hear these songs monthly instead of daily, which is significantly more appropriate. It’s a blessing.

This morning, I read an excellent article that Robert Silverman wrote for The Outline: “Cable Television Was Perfect And We Ruined It.” In it, Silverman hammers on the choice paradox as it relates to streaming TV. The piece covers a lot of interesting terrain, and yet it still feels like it’s barely scratching the surface. It got me really fired up. After all, this is a topic that has consumed me for years. (This blog post actually started as a comment. At a certain point I realized I was ten paragraphs into a rant about country music and so - oops - a blog post was born.)

I’m simultaneously excited and concerned that us media folks (journalists, writers, tech people) are only starting to develop the proper vocabulary to discuss this problem. I practically laughed out loud when Silverman ended with a nod to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. That’s the Hail Mary, a way of rounding out an idea without actually going there yourself. I literally did the exact same thing in The Importance of Being Earnest About Screentime

What Silverman and I are effectively saying: We’re not taking this on. Wallace already did. He went there. And it’s profoundly dark. So just go read Infinite Jest if you want to know what we’re talking about.

And it’s true - the problem is as complex as Infinite Jest is dense. Beyond the paradox of choice, there is the issue of the medium itself. There is the issue of addiction. Discipline. There’s some benefit, sometimes, to sticking with audio even when you can have audio and video, but there’s no universal rule about when and why that happens. Dolly Parton minus the image of boobs isn’t better or worse, it’s just entirely different. Last night, she felt more to me like an artist and less like a commodity. When she sang the Jesus-y medley starting with “God Only Knows,” it was, like, sanctified. Downright holy.

Radio makes a wonderful sound. And I actually enjoyed the little fuckups in the broadcast. At one point, something borked, and I enjoyed ten seconds of pure silence. It was perhaps louder than anything else that I heard the entire night, like needles coming in from all sides. Naturally, I thought of Simon and Garfunkle. I also thought, Oh no - what if it doesn’t come back on?! And then, just when I felt the loss, it returned and I rejoiced - truly, deeply. Meanwhile, there was the light from a single candle dancing on the table and the ceiling - what a drishti.

All media is sacred, so long as you treat it that way. (That’s why I sometimes want to tell people not to read my writing unless they’re really paying attention, but I usually manage to catch myself before saying such an embarrassing thing.) I often forget that. That’s why so many of my conversations devolve into a really unhealthy place where I’m bitching about how YouTube melts your brain and Rachel Maddow makes you stupid. Those statements are definitely partially true. But they’re probably more false than they are true. And regardless, this is why I’m trying (I promise you I’m trying!!) to shift to a new tone of voice. Because, ultimately, I’m optimistic about the future of media. I think the tide is turning.

It helps me to remember that in my early 20s I dedicated entire Sundays to getting fantastically stoned with my housemates, blinds pulled down, to eat White Castle and watch absolute garbage reality TV in the dark. And here’s the crazy rub: It was healthy in a fucked up way. I swear to God it made me feel good. It was what I needed.

With that weird outburst out of the way, let’s return to a less disturbing scene. A few months ago, I wrote about how good showers feel when you don’t take so many showers. One of my friends left this absolutely beautiful comment:

It doesn’t matter what the road to appreciation is - or what the thing being appreciated is - it’s somehow getting to that place where the wonder almost anything can engender seeps around the edges of our perpetual distraction.

Wow, friend! That comment is itself a wonder! It’s so true that it doesn’t matter what the thing even is. I can be obsessed with country music and still know that it kind of sucks. The lyrics are painfully heteronormative and borderline infantile. Blind faith in Jesus abounds. And everyone’s obsessed with booze and tractors. When listening to country, I often think: These people seriously need some distance from their parents.

At it’s worst, country music even sometimes seems rapey. But for every blacked out Luke Bryan, literally running around ripping dresses off women, there’s a bashful bro who can’t make a move, and when the male sensitivity comes through, it actually seems to matter. Chris Lane’s “I Don’t Know About You,” opens with the admission that the singer never walks up to beautiful women. “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” by Thompson Square offers a scene that’s so sensitive it’s borderline lame. The singer is “so shy” that he ends up sitting with this chick who has to say to him outright: “I think you know I like you a lot / But you’re ‘bout to miss your shot / Are you gonna kiss me or not?”

Ultimately, I think I loved the CMAs so much because there was literally nothing else for me to do. Nowhere to go and nothing to plug into, except my own thoughts. That’s been really key for me. I don’t mind flirting with boredom when the upside is that I can see and feel and hear that strange and elusive state of wonder that my friend was commenting about.

During their performance last night, it was either Brooks or Dunn who said something so juicy, so perfect, that it felt like a miracle that I happened to have a pen in my hand and a journal by my side. I wrote it down immediately. And, this morning, with my coffee, I got to experience the rush all over again. The rush of recognition, of shared experience. Someone else knows how I feel:

“I can’t get ahead no matter how hard I try. But I’m getting really good at barely getting by.”

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