Unpopular Choices for the Right Reasons

Bravery comes in many forms, but “people who made unpopular choices for the right reasons” is apparently not a common Google search term.

So says my daughter, who – for a family project about dealing with peer pressure – put together a research paper on people who have made such decisions.

Her choices are both historic and very modern.

AND she built it in PowerPoint, which is all the more awesome.

Here it is – with a blog title optimized for the next kid who’s asked to write such a paper.

The Inherent Hope of Uncertainty

20140410-083636.jpg

Like many in the South, I grew up thinking that faith required conviction, and that uncertainty, or doubt, was what we experienced in moments of duress or weakness.

Like many here and everywhere, the older I get, the more I realize that I (and everyone else, particularly those with the most unyielding beliefs – about religion, politics, how we ought to live, whose football coach is the biggest cheater, whether Coca Cola or Miracle Whip makes a more moist chocolate cake – you name it) am utterly clueless.

I will be 37 next month. My daughter is 12, and every year she can remember, one of the teachers in her public school has asked the class to raise their hand as she reads off a list of Christian denominations. Because teachers when I was growing up did exactly the same thing during history units about “religious diversity” or the Reformation or the Puritans, I believe this is for the most part innocent if not completely ignorant, disrespectful and borderline unconstitutional.

And when she tells me she raises her hand for a different “random” denomination each year because she doesn’t want to feel left out or – worse, be called out – my heart aches because I know exactly what it was like to feel “othered” because, unlike the kids who were unquestionably BAPTIST! or CHURCH OF CHRIST! or raise-your-hand-if-you-are-CATHOLIC!, I went to a tiny Lutheran church where I constantly questioned and even fought against most everything we were taught. Continue reading

Things Thought and Mostly Unsaid at the End of the Year

A dog went for a walk before the sidewalk set, and left his impression in the wet concrete. A little boy noticed this and etched his initials nearby.
The boy enjoyed the moment, but I wonder what the dog thought.
Among the things I think about on when walking alone at the end of 2013: It would suck to step barefoot into wet cement.

Also…

Continue reading

12th & Broad Memberships Open Dec. 9

Membership 1

Work-related post, y’all. Using my personal blog because we are still putting the finishing touches on our website. I do love my job, but writing about it here is atypical. Anyway!…

In ONE WEEK FROM TODAY, we officially open memberships to 12th & Broad. What does that mean?

It means that for $14 a month, members get:

  • Tickets to our events (at least one a month, held in unique spaces in your favorite neighborhoods with wonderful local creative and business partners)
  • Home delivery of our quarterly glossy magazine about Nashville’s creative and entrepreneurial culture
  • A digital subscription to The Tennessean
  • Perks like free drinks, ticket giveaways, and exclusive experiences with our partners.

Everything we do is designed to celebrate the talented, inventive and thoughtful people, organizations and businesses collaborating to make Nashville the place we are so proud to call home.

Become a member next week and you’ll get in free to our “Christmas Staycation” party on Friday, Dec. 13. Tickets for non-members are $25, which itself is a steal considering:

  • We’ll have My So-Called Band playing 90s covers in a motorcycle shop / vacant gentlemen’s club in the South6th District, which is emerging as a new arts scene we know you’ll want to support. (Thank you to our friend Shelby Smith for letting us use his awesome building between Music City Center and the Nashville Rescue Mission.)
  • Our non-profit creative partner, Turnip Green Creative Reuse, is helping us with over-the-top Christmas Vacation-themed decorations.
  • Everyone will get at least one free drink (members get two), complements of Lipman Brothers.
  • And if you bring a new or gently-used winter hat (think Uncle Eddie from the movie), we’ll be sure it’s donated to the Mission across the street.

This whole party – like Nashville – will be at least 15 shades of amazing.

Tickets to Christmas Staycation – as well as memberships that will get you into a year’s worth of similar events with topics ranging from music and literature to art and fashion to food and rec sports – will go on sale on Monday, Dec. 9.

Memberships and Christmas Staycation tickets will be available on our website, which launches Dec. 9.

ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!

Things That Keep Me Up At Night: From Bro-Oprahs to Convenience Marriages to Feminists’ Daughters

Here is a partial list of themes I keep thinking I’ll turn into a blog post, novel or at least a Facebook rant. Maybe you all can help me figure out what to do with them.

In no particular order:

1. Whether people in a position to hear other people’s secrets (priests, therapists, flings) have a more compassionate, or more jaded view of mankind. Related: whether you need to know someone’s secrets to really know them.

2. Young, bro-Oprah types who seem to be trying to “help people” as writers / speakers who talk about themselves a whole lot. On Twitter, at conferences, in blog posts about blogging, etc. (Are they underemployed? Looking for girlfriends? A mystery.)

3. Writing a performance review for your life. Not your work life. Your whole life. What would your goals be? How would you measure success? How would your kids, friends, doctor, neighbors rate you?

Continue reading

On being photographed with a cocktail in hand

In her family, people fought bravely with addiction and depression. They made gut-wrenching personal decisions and accepted tough financial times with graceful humility for the good of their children.

His family was full of drunks and crazy people. They had abortions and lived off food stamps. Continue reading

Is There Anything New Under The Sun?

Lily on her last day of being 10.

My daughter, Lily, on her last day of being 10. She says, “Yes, there is much new under the sun.”

Is there anything new under the sun?

Solomon says no.

With a little more than one day left in 2012, the speaker at our church Sunday asked the congregation what we thought.

I gave the question a solid half hour or so, I promise.

Then my 11-year-old daughter and I went about our frantic, thank-god-the-holidays-are-almost-over, suburban rainy day.

Some lowlights:

- We argued about her nail polish. (She said it was dry, I said it was wet, and when she smudged it and I said ‘I told you so’, she refused to speak to me for at least three whole Taylor Swift songs.)

Continue reading

Perennial Christmas

The sedum bloomed beautifully, taller than most sedum and full but tightly constructed like a cheerleader’s pompon, just like it did the year before and the year before that. The difference was that as it grew, the stalks separated from the middle of the original plant, spreading all over that part of the garden and leaving a hole in the center that mildly annoyed the gardener but not enough to propel her to do anything differently.

She cut stalks and decorated her home with them, arranging them with sprigs of rosemary, a plant with the same sort of beautiful, unwieldy but predictable center-holing attributes.

The best thing about the sedum was that when it dried, it looked almost exactly as it had when it lived. The other best thing was that the seeds were easy to harvest, and the gardener did so each holiday season, tucking them into Christmas cards (real Christmas cards, often homemade) that she wrote for people she loved.

She found many people to love each year.

The most precious people were the same ones as the year before, and the year before that.

She knew good people and she knew good plants, with annoying habits and otherwise.

One night she sat alone in her house, a little sleep deprived and a little buzzed on red wine she’d enjoyed with one of those good people, and she realized that people and plants were the same because the world – lovely as it is – does not allow for too much deviation from what has already grown.

A Christmas tree glowed in the background.

A year ago she found herself alone and wrapping presents, feeling 50% sentimental and 50% melancholy, in a state of wonder about all the ways she and the world around her had changed in 12 months. That refrain would repeat, and repeat again. Fundamental change, when it happens, takes many lifetimes.

The sedum flourished. The gardener flourished.

It was Christmas.

The people who loved each other toasted another year, and were surprised at their surprise.

The Best Songs Ever

Right now she’s 11 and has a playlist called “Best Songs Ever” which has 125 songs on it. As she gets older, the list will narrow.

She’ll get better at making lists, but “Best Songs Ever” – if she still has a list like that – will have (I predict) eight songs on it. Maybe nine.

One song for when she was 13 or 14 and was nursing her first heartbreak. Maybe it’s actually his heart and she broke it. She’ll lay on her bed in her room and lock the door and write in her diary and listen to that same song over and over again. It’ll make her feel as sentimental as a kid can feel at that age. She’ll write something along the lines of “I remember when life was much simpler and all we worried about was whose house we were going to have dance practice at.”

Continue reading

She Takes the Road Less Traveled By

Lily was concerned she’d get a bad grade on her writing assignment because, as she put it, “I didn’t do it the same way as everybody else”.

A couple years ago, she turned in a social studies project that was radically different from the other kids’, and rather than praise her creativity, her teacher knocked off a few points for not following rules.

I’m glad she is the sort of kid who can put perspective to a sucker punch.

She turned in her “different” take on the latest assignment, and this year’s teacher praised it as being “a very creative way of writing the story.” Exclamation point. Smiley face.

Lily was excited for me to read her story about the Underground Railroad, which she told from three different characters traveling via a time machine. While I was impressed with her choice of narrative technique, I was truly moved by her willingness to go with it regardless of what kind of grade she might get.

I love this line, from the perspective of someone helping the escaping slaves: “I had never felt genuinely risky. Twists and turns, I loved this feeling. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins. I felt fearless. I wouldn’t get caught. I just knew I wouldn’t.”

That’s my girl.

I asked her to help me write about bravery. Continue reading