Wednesday, July 28, 2010


People -- friends, fans, family -- tell me they think I’m brave, most recently referring to my move back to New York, but people said it about my first move to New York when I was 20, about my life of poverty and art in the 80s, about J’s and my decision to live on the road, etc.

Brave? I don’t know. I never felt particularly brave, just scared. I think sometimes I certainly did what excited me regardless of risk, did what I wanted to do while brushing aside any notion of danger, but many many times, those apparently courageous choices were actually just me doing what I thought was the least terrifying option available.

Absolutely the thing I am most scared of, because I am literally afraid I would commit suicide, is giving up art and getting a regular job. I’m not sure why that is so awful to contemplate because sometimes it sure seems like it would be a hell of a lot more pleasant than all this uncertainty, rejection, disappointment, poverty, frustration, but I can’t even contemplate it without starting to feel panicky.

Art-making has brought me countless moments of pure joy, thrills beyond anything I imagined, and deep satisfaction, but I also associate it with a constant background of anxiety. I don’t mean the economic anxiety that has resulted from choosing this life, but a more general “I have to do something but I’m not sure what it is” anxiety that I’ve felt ever since I can remember. It’s always there, and I regard it rightly or wrongly as the source of my creativity.

Am I brave? Most of the time, I feel like these big life choices are out of my hands, like someone or something else is pushing me along.

Giving up, it seems to me, would take real courage because that’s where the real demons live.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I’m leaving Austin a week from Friday, which is two weeks earlier than I had planned. It turns out Labor Day weekend is a good time to begin work with the woman who is directing Lizzie Borden for the festival showcase, so I’m going to be in New York by Labor Day instead of mid-September, which was a more or less arbitrary arrival date anyway. But I still want to spend a few weeks with my parents, and that’s why I’m leaving here so soon.

There’s really no reason to stay, except to have more time to procrastinate. I don’t have a ton of stuff, but still I don’t enjoy packing. It always surprises me how much stuff “not much stuff” looks like when you have to put it all in boxes. The bulk of what I’ve carried around with me the last 7 years falls into two categories: 1) unsold CDs -- I have 6 or 8 big boxes of Life in a Box soundtrack CDs and 3 or 4 boxes of Y’all CDs (mostly The Hey, Y’all Soundtrack, our Nashville album); and 2) the Y’all archives -- I have 5 or 6 boxes of miscellaneous stuff that I think is historically important and I won’t throw away, such as the masters to our recordings, a box of old posters and programs and scripts and press and letters and other printed stuff, a couple boxes of videotapes and audio recordings in a variety of obsolete formats, and all the Life in a Box stuff: the original tapes as well as hard drives with backups and rough cuts of the film and some printed logs and stuff like that.

Other stuff I have: a few photo albums, my grandmother’s scrapbooks, a box of my journals going back to high school, my high school yearbooks, a box or two of other personal stuff I won’t throw away, such as drawings I made when I was a kid, old report cards, some letters. I admit that I am sentimental about some of this, but seriously it’s pared down to next to nothing. Our living situation on the road didn’t allow for an excess of sentimentality about objects.

And then there’s the stuff I use in my life. Clothes (a very small dresser full, a few shirts in the closet, and a couple jackets and a winter coat. And my computer, which is kind of a big honking old Mac tower but it has served me well and I’m taking it with me. I also have an even older G4 Macbook or whatever they called them back then. And a printer. I have some good kitchen stuff, but I might leave some of it here for now since I don’t know when I’ll have my own kitchen again. There’s not really that much.

This week I am devoting to goodbyes. I have lunch dates every day all week. Next week I’ll pack.