IT SNOWED AND THE WORLD IS ENDING

I come from a place that gets snow in the winter.

A lot of snow.  Up-to-the-top-of-the-door snow.

A lot of snow. Up-to-the-top-of-the-door snow.

So when word got around that there was going to be snow here in Nashville – maybe up to a foot – I was curious to see how the Music City would handle it.  It was like being a kid again, the morning of the storm; waking up, running to open the curtains to see what wintery wonders lay outside.  And I saw this:

God save us.

God save us.

It was, needless to say, a bit of a let down.  Less than an inch, but the city had ground to a halt.  The roads were empty, businesses were closed, pedestrians were bundled up like they were trekking through an arctic wilderness.  Less than an inch and it was like the FREAKING APOCALYPSE.

Now, to put this in perspective, the Boston area has gotten about 7.5 cumulative FEET of snow over the past couple weeks.  This is what my parents’ house looks like:

There's a house under there.  Somewhere.

There’s a house under there. Somewhere.

They’ve gotten one to three feet at a time without a single day above freezing to melt any of it.  It’s blown in drifts up to the roof (see above) thanks to a gentle hurricane force breeze that also brings a windchill close to -38 degrees fahrenheit at the right time of day.  Despite all this, they’ve managed to get out of the house, go to work, and generally continue their lives.  Which isn’t to say that they haven’t been trapped at home a few days, but they make it work.

Here in Nashville, I’m on day two of lockdown from this storm.  A lot of the issue is that it dumped quite a bit of ice (which I spent last night chipping off my car) and that is hard to deal with.  You can’t just plow it, after all.  Except it started as slush in the road that could have totally been plowed, but it wasn’t.  They plowed the main roads once early in the day, and decided that was enough.

When people told me that they get ice in the South, I was expecting some miraculous form of weather that I’ve never experienced before.  It was described to me with such awe and terror, some sort of natural disaster.  The ice, it was explained, is why they struggle so much with winter weather.  It’s way harder to deal with than snow.  But when I saw what the ice was, I realized we totally get it in the North East.

A few years ago during winter storm Nemo, the Boston area got about 3 feet of snow in 36 hours.  They made it illegal to drive in Massachusetts for a full 24 hours.  Drifts were deeper than my waist, people were cross-country skiing down Comm Ave, and everything was covered in ice.  It had blown on to every north-facing surface.  Like this lamppost:

Nature's way of telling you it's time to move.

Nature’s way of telling you it’s time to move.

Yet, within 24 hours, we were back on the roads like nothing had happened.  Every winter is spent negotiating ice coated sidewalks and slush covered streets while carrying heavy bags of groceries.  Months of this.  We have months of long-term, caked on ice, but we make it work.

We salt and we sand and we plow and we prep.  None of which seems to happen here in Nashvegas.  A lot of it is a lack of resources, but apparently this happens once a year.  It’s not that much of a surprise or some freak of nature.  It’s a pretty regular event, though a still infrequent one.  Yet there are no resources allotted for it and little effective prep-work done.  And I can see how it might be hard to allot funds for something you might use two or three days out of the year, but it’s probably about equal to the revenue lost when the whole city has to shut down for days.

Look, I’m not meaning to blame or shame Nashville, but coming from the land of this:

This.

This.

…you can understand how I find this reaction a bit, well, ridiculous.  I’m trying to understand you, Nashville, I really am.  I know this isn’t your forte; I’ve seen how you drive in the rain and that’s not pretty either.  But basic winter weather needn’t be a natural disaster.  Maybe we can start thinking of having, like, two plows next year instead of one?  Or maybe some salt?  Or sand?  Just a friendly suggestion from someone grew up in a place where you kept kitty litter in your trunk from November through March.

If you don't get it, Google it.    [Image courtesy of veganbeautyreview.com]

If you don’t get it, Google it. [Image courtesy of veganbeautyreview.com]

Stay safe and warm, Nashvegas!

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The Trouble With Boxes

I haven’t been as consistent about posting as I promised myself I would be when I wrote last.  I have worked on stuff, I just can’t bring myself to finish it.  It’s not funny enough, it’s too serious, it’s too goofy, it’s shoddily constructed.  I think the issue with it all is that it’s not just train-of-thought.  Everything I’d written up-to-and-including my little “I’m sick and it makes me sad” meltdown was stream of consciousness.  Nothing I’ve been working on since is.

I want to be interesting.  I want to say something fascinating and provocative that will capture a reader and make you think and pass it along.  Nothing that I have been trying to write has accomplished that because I don’t think I can just make that happen.

I’m a stream-of-consciousness kind of person, in everything I do.  Maybe it’s part of being creative.  I finish tasks in my own way and my own time.  For most things, I can’t perform perfectly on command (much to both my chagrin and that of employers – although I never do a shoddy job).  It’s tough to explain to people – that I have whole days where I’m just not on.  I mean, everyone does, but I think I’m a little more inconsistent that your average bear.

And that’s alright with me.  I’ll probably grow into it more – I already have.  It’s part of what makes me who I am and part of my creative process.  Often when I’m about to write a song or come up with a new concept for a piece of knitting (yup, I knit – both yarn and less conventional materials) or write something more prolific than my usual blog post, I am a broody dysfunctional mess until I get it out the way it needs to be out.  I can’t get sentences to come in order, I can’t carry a conversation, I can barely drive my car.

I always thought I would come to understand myself and know which box I fit in: an office, a recording artist, a manager, a player, a teacher, a writer.  I would figure out which shoebox fit me the best and settle myself into it and my broodiness would disappear or at least be compatible with my new niche.  If something didn’t fit me well it was because I just hadn’t tracked down my box yet.  I was trying to force a square peg through a round hole; I just had to keep trying shapes until one fit.

But I’ve been realizing lately that this is a lie I’ve grown up telling myself, and likely being told.  It’s not that I haven’t found the right box; I just don’t do boxes very well.  I can flit in and out of them and tolerate their rigid, rectangular walls for short bursts, but I can’t survive in one.

When I was a kid, I caught a peeper toad and tried to keep it in a Tupperware with holes in the lid.  I gave it water and leaves and sticks and terraformed the makeshift tank with everything I had seen in it’s natural environment [sic: my front yard].  But in an hour the peeper had blanched white and my mother insisted I release it back to the wild.  It hopped away; relieved, happier, and the proper color.  It hadn’t mattered that I had recreated it’s habitat in my box – it was the box itself that was sickening it.

I am a peeper.  (Is that a weird statement?  I don’t care!  Your social boxes are nothing to me.)  I can’t live in a tupperware.  I need the wild, untamed openness around me, even if that wilderness is really just someone’s front yard.  I need to create my own structure, my own way of making things work, just like the peeper makes it’s own very un-box-like burrow (I think, I don’t know what they do with their free time).

I’m not happy with the box.  It doesn’t work for me and, frankly, I don’t think it works for a lot of people.  But it’s very hard to refuse it altogether, to say no to rectangles and walls.  And maybe we shouldn’t.  Maybe we just need to make a round box for ourselves.  I don’t know.  I’m figuring it out as I go.  But at least I understand that I need something other than your standard shoebox.

At the heart of me, I’m an artist.  Not in the sense that I make especially beautiful or insightful things – I’m still in the childhood of my creativity.  I am an artist in the sense that I am driven to create.  I am pulled to absorb the world, much slower and more deeply than some, and reflect it back – in music, in word, in art, in fiber.  If I have to build a box, I will build it around that.  It will be strange colors and asymmetrical and rambling and constantly changing.  It will be startling and uncomfortable to look at and fascinating all at once.  It will be a suit of armor tailored to my form.  It will have space for all the pieces of me.

I am struggling to release myself into the wild of my front yard.  I’m clinging to the walls of my tupperware in confusion as I try to shake myself out.  But, slowly and surely, I’m accepting the unbounded and uncertain tracts of grass are wonderful.  Are right.

Off to build my burrow (probably).