The Inherent Hope of Uncertainty

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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…

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A Prayer for Martyrs

Sometimes we’re living in a space between unhappy and fulfilled, and that space can be worse than miserable.

Nothing is what you really want. And nothing is so bad that you feel justified in seeking or accepting help. It’s an insincere space because you’re not living your life the way you’d wish to live it.

For many loyal, giving, and dedicated parents and professionals I know, these periods of inauthenticity can overtake us when we prioritize others’ needs (or perceived needs) over our own emotional, spiritual, creative – or whatever fundamental needs – are at our core.

Life is full of compromises based on open communication and mutual respect. That’s a good thing.

What isn’t: a willful denial of one’s own happiness on the notion that someone else’s is more important. Especially – especially – when your assumptions about what would make others happy are wrong. (What if they just want you to be happy and you’re denying them that, ironically in the interest of their happiness? I have friends whose parents waited until they were grown before they got divorced. This paradox is the reason why, and it wasn’t good for anyone in the family, including the kids. Similarly I’ve worked with people who worked all hours of day and night. They did this for their teammates, but their teammates resented their workaholism because it made them feel less dedicated.)

A trite but helpful metaphor someone shared with me when I said my own happiness would have to wait because my daughter’s was more important: When the cabin pressure drops, the flight attendant tells you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you try to assist someone else. Why? Because you can’t adequately assist another person if you yourself are in need of assistance.

Think about the people who are the most sincerely generous – i.e. generous without strings attached – in your life. I bet they are the most personally fulfilled. It’s nice to think their lives are whole because they are giving. But I have to admit that in my own life, anyway, it has been the inverse.

A hope for the selfless and yet unfulfilled people I love is that they come to know this: Once we stop living for other people, we begin to truly love them.

It’s been a tough lesson for me to learn, but it’s been the most important.

12th & Broad Memberships Open Dec. 9

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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!

Under the same stars

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We are all living under the same stars.

We’re all living on the same ground, facing the same inevitabilities: we’re all going to experience joy, we’re all going to suffer loss, and we’re all going to die.

We’re all going to deal with people saying and doing shitty things to us and to people we love, and we are all going to say and do shitty things to others.

Every single one of us is going to wonder if there is something we are missing. And we are all going to have moments – even if but a moment – when we want for absolutely nothing more than what’s right at hand. If you pray, pray for an entire life of such – for you and everyone in the world.

We are going to be excited about holidays and presents and grandparents and parties, and we are going to feel obligated and overwhelmed by those very same privileges.

We will ache for company, and we will crave solitude.

We will debate whether it’s braver to ride out a rough spot where we are, or chart new territory on our own.

We’re all going to want to punch someone we love in the throat. We’re going to regret it when we do.

We’re going to overthink some plans, and we’re going to jump impulsively into bad decisions.

At some point, we’re going to discover sex, faith and death. At another point, we’re going to realize we were wrong about what we were sure of.

We’re going to do too much of something, not enough of something else.

Each of us is smaller than we think we are, and all of us are bigger.

We’re all the same under the stars.

Who is 12th & Broad?

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A close friend who once worked with me at The Tennessean said I was the kind of editor who got excited about every possible story, including the ones we seemed to cover every year.

An example: It was time again for the county fair, and instead of writing another who-what-when-where-why report, I wanted a reporter to ask the carnival workers to interview each other. “Carnies interviewing carnies!” she recalls me squealing at this weird idea.

I am “fizzy”, like a bottle of champagne someone has shaken. At the same time, I am a hometown girl, living within an hour’s drive of my parents and working for the same company that hired me as an intern at age 18.

Nashville has my heart.

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It is an effervescent city full of creative people – artists, musicians, writers, entrepreneurs, community builders, fundraisers, chefs, designers and stylists. It’s also an unpretentious one, in love with its funky old buildings, at ease in jeans or sequins, and unconcerned with how late anyone arrives.

Y’all know it.
You made it this way.

And it’s for you - fizzy and folksy Nashvillians – that a team of us is working hard to launch 12th & Broad: a celebration of the city’s creative and entrepreneurial culture through unique events, collaborations and storytelling. Continue reading

Bicycling in Nashville: Stones River Greenway

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Yesterday’s early morning rains cancelled plans to ride with friends, and – long story short – this weekend I ended up riding alone for the first time in years. I chose the Stones River Greenway, via the Shelby Bottoms Greenway. This means:

  1. I rode my bike 32 miles from East Nashville to the Percy Priest dam and back without ever really venturing onto an actual trafficked road. (Nashville people: Do you realize how wonderful the city’s greenway system is? I know a lot of you do, because it required some skill and concentration not to run you over yesterday.)
  2. Because I was alone (and not constantly conversing, which is normally what I do when exercising, and thus one of the reasons my regular cycling partner and I are so close), I rode about 50% faster than I normally do.

Here are some things you will encounter if you ride the Stones River Greenway in Nashville.

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Bicycling in East Nashville: Night Ride

Today’s ride was short – 13 miles – because today’s ride was actually tonight’s ride.

My riding partner Andrew Duthie and I much prefer day rides. It isn’t the dark we mind so much; Andrew has rigged blinking tail lights onto both our bikes, so we feel safe-ish. It’s the gnats.

We call these GNAT RIDES.

Tonight, Andrew swallowed several calories worth of them. Without shield of sunglasses, the gnats seemed to prefer my eyes, crashing there before finding their way to the great gnat beyond.

GNATS! SO GROSS!

Anyway, we kept it short, and I have just one pic. Here it is:

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Know what this is behind me?

This is an old airplane runway.

As far as we can tell (from previous non-gnat rides), we are among a very small handful of people who have figured out you can ride on the old Cornelia Fort Airpark runway in East Nashville.

It’s a little over a mile loop, and it is very flat and very fast. Super long straightaways. Obviously, I mean – you can land a plane there. You can crank a road bike into high gear and feel like those guys with the full-on bike gear. It’s amazing.

I almost hesitate to write about it on the Internet, in kind of the same way I won’t (yet) write about Andrew’s most recent favorite beer bar discovery north of Gallatin Road.

We almost ventured to said beer bar tonight, but it’s cash only and we didn’t plan for that. Plus, we were hungry. So we opted for Fat Bottom, where Andrew had a very nice caprese salad with chicken, and I had chicken tacos with a spicy chipotle sauce. Outside, a smokeless tobacco company was hosting a cornhole tournament. We did not participate.

Then we headed back to Woodland, trying not to be run over in the dark, and returned our bikes to the Duthies’ garage. I said hello to Andrew’s lovely wife, Peg, and goodbye to their chow mix Abby, and then drove home to Franklin where I sat in my driveway listening to The Features and blogging about loving Nashville by bike.

Happy riding, y’all.

Bicycling in North Nashville: The Fox Tour

Sometimes when I tell people how I spend most Saturdays – on my bicycle, riding 25, 30, 40 miles or more – they ask things about the bike: How fast, how many calories is that, do I like riding as much as I love running? That sort of thing.

But everyone, without exception, asks “Where?”

So I thought I’d start a blog series about my rides. Or, I should say, about OUR rides. (I can’t remember the last time I rode without my dear friend and enthusiast-of-all-things-on-wheels cycling partner Andrew Duthie.)

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