Hold your Heart with Two Hands

We sat across from each other at the farm style dining table in her dining room. She sipped on her glass of chardonnay, I talked about upcoming plans for New York. I sipped on my glass of Bordeaux while she talked about working for the United Nations and parading around New York City.

The almost weekly ritual, talking about life while drinking wine became a staple the Summer of 2016.

Deep into the conversation she paused, raised her glance from her glass of wine toward my eyes.

She asked if she could change the subject.

“No Mimi, you can’t,” I laughed.

Who tells their grandmother they can’t change the subject?

“Of course you can,” I said.

Her blue eyes smiled, her blue eyes spoke for her most of the time. So, she paused, took a sip of wine, and started her weekly sermon I looked forward to.  

This week we would talk about love.

To be honest, most weeks we talked about love. It was a thing of ours.

She started in on Poppi. He passed away at 51 or 52, I can’t quite remember, from a heart attack, a common thing in the 80s when everyone started to realize three packs of cigarettes a day won’t do the body any good.

Mimi loved the man so much she never remarried, never dated again, never allowed anyone else to touch her heart.

Mimi’s love for Poppi paralyzed her.

She asked me to find a love capable of paralyzing me. She asked me to hold my heart with both hands and never let go. Love is precious and once you find it with the right person, you’re supposed to hold onto it for fucking life.

I nodded and assured her I would.

Mimi died suddenly six months later.

It paralyzed me.

Sent me into shock, turned my world upside down, sent me into an eating disorder that captured each ounce of my being from my toes to my heart.

She told me to hold my heart with both hands but, months after her death, sitting at the very same farm table she asked me to find a paralyzing love at, I had no idea what the hell she meant.

Jesus Christ.

What did she mean?

Sorry.

Pardon my french.

I started writing in my journal overwhelmed by grief. More or less the grief I neglected to care for in respect for outlining situations.

I  wrote, two glasses of wine in and emotions at a high.

I flipped back to last year when she told me to hold my heart with two hands.

Mimi, what does this mean?

How do you hold your heart with two hands?

How do you hold your heart, keep it from breaking, and go through day-to-day life without letting it fall through the palms of your hands?

Cue the tears, a Meg staple.

I walked up to her room, it still looked the exact same, down to the smell of her Lancome perfume and daily pills on her nightstand.

I searched her nightstand for traces of her.

I  held a note from her she had left me.

It held her heart all those years after Poppi’s death. How she kept her heart from breaking again. How she learned to stand on her own two feet after a loss.

I sat on her bed skimming through pages, pausing in-between to run my hands over the lines she wrote, hoping to feel her presence just a little bit more.

I held the letter with two hands, turning each page with care, reading through the days of grief, the days of hope, and the days of joy. I read through her questions to God, her demands for answers, her need eternal rest.

I held her heart in both hands and answered so many of the questions I had only an hour earlier.

Find a love capable of paralyzing you. Check

Hold your heart with both hands and take care of it. Check.

Find a way to move on and grow with your heart. Check.

And We’re Back.

It has been a while, to say the least.

Moment of honesty: I have had zero desire to write this Summer.

None.

Zip.

Squat.

Between moving from New York to Boston, then Boston to New York, I was beat. Now, I am back in Nashville, officially,  and feeling some solitude.

Thoughts are slowly popping into my head, ‘where will I work?’, ‘what city will I welcome into my life next?’, or in the possibilities of taking time off, ‘what road trip do I want to embark on?’.

Keeping lists on my computer, I’m trying my best to push those thoughts aside for now. If New York taught me anything it was opportunity constantly enters and leaves our lives

I’ll jot my ideas down, I’ll keep note of them on Trello (LIFESAVER tool if you are a list person in need of an online tool), but I’m trying not to glue my attention to what is not worthy of my attention at the moment. 

I say trying because that’s simply what it is, I am trying. Not always succeeding.

Publically, I hardly publish anything. Personally, the pages of my journals have filled as the emotions and processing my new reality.

This post, coffee inspired and thought driven, has no main point other than to share where I am at.

And a side note to my family – Thank you for continually supporting my ever changing ambitions and imaginative pursuits. Your faith and love for my well-being do not go unseen.

xo.

The PA Diaries, Refusing Anxiety & Choosing Fuel

My mornings are fuel for the body. They are a chance to start the day the way you want to end it; on a high note.

When my alarm goes off, it means I have the decision to rejuvenate my body, work out, make breakfast I’ll enjoy, or sleep a bit more. More often than not, I choose to put my body to work. It sets a precedent for the effort I will put into the rest of the day.

But, the mornings I’m traveling for shows, out of town, onsite, or simply, not home, I’ve often said ‘adios’ to the part of my day I considered sacred.

The environment of constant change, particularly in production weeks, usually means the looming of anxiety. What will catering be like? How will I cope with the long days? What will I do to stay clear-headed? How will I cope with stress?

In years past, I gave up on routine under the belief it was not attainable.

After a summer of working shows consistently last year, awareness stepped up and pointed out my weaknesses. What sends me down in spiral mentally, what builds me up physically, and where I can find comfort in balance amidst no set routine were no longer this giant mystery.

The answer was to maintain ‘morning time’.

I choose to wake up 30 minutes earlier to work out. I choose to walk to Trader Joe’s and pick up a few snacks catering won’t have to subside the anxiety of eating food that will make me uncomfortable. I choose to be in touch with my thoughts early in the morning and allow myself time to mentally prepare for a day.

My sacred time, despite stares I might get from others, is what keeps me aware of myself and how I’m doing.

Working in production, traveling, adjusting to new environments, it is all still new to me, I’m finding what works for me. 

The PA Diaries: Fostering Humility

MAY 2ND, 2017 | Life takes a step ahead of us sometimes and decides to leave no time in our calendars for hobbies. Written on April 10th, this has been sitting in my drafts file for a few weeks. But alas, I rediscovered it, and its original purpose has now been fulfilled. 

APRIL 10TH, 2017 |I have 7 weeks left.

7 weeks until I leave for San Fransico to work on the festival. Until I move back to Tennessee. Until I leave the life I created here.

There are elements of life in New York I expected, changes I knew would come my way. This beckoning for what I thought I deserved. Then there is the realization, through insane circumstances for anyone living in this city. 

Life is not predictable to the point we are comfortable to admit.

Sometimes the amount of change going on in my head is too much. A sip of wine after eating coffee for breakfast and a salad for lunch – too much too soon.

I need humility. Neither a strength nor a fault of mine, it is a term I’ve come to know. Humbled by experience and graced with a community of thinkers & do-ers, I don’t see my situation any different than other aspiring production kids my age.

At the end of a day, we’re all kids running around on-site, putting together a string of musical acts, finding our sense of ownership in a craft we fell for.

The small act, small or large, reminds us, while we’re collecting our own successes. It’s personal. It is ours. So, stay humble.

A few successes from a year with myself.

  1. I fell further in love with love. The kind you don’t find in another person.
  2. I experienced loss of immediate family. It sucked.
  3. Friendship comes in all shapes and forms.
  4. Emptying out the filing cabinet and sorting through your shit thoughts leaves room for growth. Sort it out. Find a way.
  5. Furthermore, I need to stop planning so much.
  6. Adult life, or the little I have started to experience, is not a walk in the park.
  7. I’m not done here, there is more work to be done.

The 3 R’s

My weeks have been filled with routine lately; wake up, go to the gym, make breakfast, go to work, go home, do homework, go to bed.

On certain weekdays, I add a shift at my part-time job before work at Superfly.

My schedule is what it is. 

That’s what I tell myself.

In reality, a routine is my jam. I look forward to day-to-day rituals. Others, I’ve noticed, don’t see a positive power and potential they have, rather they see them as an inconvenience.

Who needs breakfast? That’s what protein bars on the go are for. Who needs a walk in the park after three meetings in a row? Fresh air isn’t my thing. What’s sleep? I have not gotten the bit of that since my last hangover.

The excuses go on and on. So does our inability to gain back control.

Three weeks ago, an iconic and influential woman left this earth to spend the rest of time with my Poppi. As somber as it is, change often makes way for possibilities. I found my change.

Recognition.

It’s about damn time some habits in my life take a hike. Going to bed earlier because no sleep is NOT better than more sleep. Laying back on the wine and picking up water instead. Finding the joy in working out to feel better not because there is something wrong with me.

Refusal. 

I love the word ‘yes’. Possibilities come from ‘yes.’

They also come from ‘no’.

What I am not a fan of, is being taken advantage of. I’m in a position currently, where yes if preferred, especially when your work ethic has been praised and people recognize strengths. It’s a pat on the back, but it’s a step up for the other person, and guess what, usually I’m the step.

I’m in this limbo with no plans for this summer. I’ve heard the word ‘no’ more than I’d like to admit lately.  This surprises people, especially after coming off of a year and a half of working, but the reality is, I don’t mind it all that much.

Revive.  

Breathing in, breathing out. Letting fresh air into my life where it was polluted before.

This is where that limbo I mentioned comes into play. Maybe it’s time I take a small break. Do I want to? Not really. I would much rather be working. But, there is knowledge to be gained working on myself, away from the distraction of day-to-day schedules.

What if all this time working leads to great achievement but, no fulfillment outside the office? What good could come of that? But, what greatness could come from time spent wandering without much of any plan?

My brain wants structure, but sometimes, the soul plays tricks on the brain, leaning toward uncertainty.

 

Photos [1] [2] [3] [4]

The PA Diaries Feat. Pen & Paper

Happy Monday!

Pausing during a busy day to recognize how COOL it is to work in a field where I can call my dad, and chat over new ideas, and processes, and learn from his own experience.

It’s easy to lose sight of your mentors offer. We get so wrapped up in ‘knowing it all,’ or coming up with our own way, we forget others did it perfectly well before.

Want to know what worked well before? Pen and paper. Good ole’ fashioned pen and paper. Write it down. Write your notes from your meeting in your notepad. Set aside your laptop in exchange for doodling and notetaking. Pick up your journal instead of a scroll through Instagram. Write IT, whatever IT is, down before you take the chance to hash out the details or over-analyze to perfection (if it even exists).

Ideas come to life over time. They deserve a chance to live on paper for a bit, to live in their own separate world. 

City life has been hectic and crazy, to say the least, so last weekend’s trip home to Boston was much needed. Of course, as it seems to be a repeating pattern, every time I  head home, a snowstorm hits, or three in my case. Boston and New York experienced three glorious days of winter weather which made for well spent time with my family.

More than anything, my time in New York has allowed me to spend more time with my family compared to when I was living in Nashville. And they were missed, more than I realized.

Weekends home, time spent at our kitchen island catching up on life happenings, car rides to and from the bus station, my mother’s home cooked meals (oh my gosh, how I missed those, shout out to you mom), continually remind me how lucky I am.

Lots of reminiscing happening on this sunny Monday afternoon and feeling simply grateful.

xo.

 

 

The PA Diaries Feat. Esplanade

The Key takeaway from the office today; every decision being made is not going to be made at the office. Those decisions will be made at bars, parties, outings, coffee breaks, almost any place but the office.

Creativity fails us when we least expect it, and in my experience, it tends to be when I’m at work when I need that bottled creativity to unleash the magical powers I have imagined it to have in my head.

Creativity knocks on our heads when we are at a show when we are reading the latest edition of The Lenny Letter, listening to our favorite morning podcast on the subway, and the most reoccurring one for me when I’m laying in bed trying not to think.

Being the intern, the production assistant, the entry-level position, is your chance to be a sponge.

Soak it all in.

But, everything has its limits, everything does not mean you overwork yourself. Isolate yourself.

Go to happy hour, talk about the diabolical plans to jumpstart your own company with your like-minded and creative friends, go see a show and forget about the meeting you have in the morning.

The meeting isn’t going anywhere, but you are.

The PA Diaries Feat. Robbie

Your peers are in charge of your future, not your seniors.

Three months ago I started an excel sheet filled with contacts of local and national production assistants I have worked with. Over time, surely and slowly, the list has grown.

So far, I’m at 27 contacts.

I know I know, such a lengthy list.

But in all seriousness, it is.

I was chatting with one of my co-workers after work today and we talked about after graduation thoughts, entering the industry, finding freelance jobs, and doing whatever we could to stay afloat in an industry, or in my case often times, a position, so saturated.

Production assistants are everywhere, more important, they are needed in everywhere.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s important to bring it up, people can get nasty in this industry. A sense of entitlement overwhelms the younger generation so often as if they did something to deserve the education they are asking for.

Begging for work from the generation thirty years older than us, we forget thirty years from now they won’t be around to assign us tasks. Instead, the people we’re surrounded by, working with at the same level, running the same mundane errands with, they will be the ones recommending our names to companies and show calls.

We are our best advocates, and entitlement will be one’s downfall if they can’t show kindness.

It’s worth it to congratulate the intern who was assigned an incredible task with a certain artist, the co-worker who achieved major recognition after a job well done, or a pat on the back to the production assistant who messed up and needs a helping hand.

It all sounds silly and sounds so basic, but sometimes the basics are forgotten because we’re too busy looking ahead. Look around you instead, and your peers will stand beside you as your advocate.

Thanks for sparking this convo Robbie, you’re the real MVP.

 

Food For Thought: Superfly Edition

I didn’t learn until recently there are communities of like-minded people out there waiting for you. We joke about the possibility of pursuing a career in a field we love, but the realities often have us beat, because, life can’t always be perfect. We seem to have learned and accepted this.

Then I left Nashville and things got better. Significantly.

I found that company, a community, an environment where it all makes sense.

The type of place where you can have a programming music time meeting and geek over new music our team is obsessing over and call it work.

Hold onto that.

That is what I keep telling myself at least.

Pick yourself up and go somewhere unfamiliar, be overwhelmed with the parts of yourself you never got to get to know before, and in some cases get in touch with parts you once lost in a battle within you.

I’m pushing myself to be selfish, in the right ways at least. It may not make everyone happy, but where’s the gain in always making everyone else happy in the end? My happiness should not suffer.

Sometimes, we leave places, sometimes we leave people. But in return, we see places, we see new people.

New people, new stories, new experiences come into our lives, and they push us to take keep on going, keep moving.

People have been asking if I miss Nashville. Yes and no. I miss the people, I miss restaurants, I miss elements of music city. But I don’t miss Nashville yet. 

Nashville isn’t going anywhere, I am. 

Year 6, Manassas

*This past Thursday I took the train to Virginia for Farm Aid’s 31st annual benefit concert. After six years, this show has remained a calendar event for myself and hundreds of other production crew members.* 

A little bit older and only a teensy bit wiser, I made my way to Manassas for year six of Farm Aid. Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

To most, the title ‘assistant’ is scorned with failed coffee-runs and over-worked and under-paid nightmares. The word you hate to say but, your boss loves to use. This summer, it slowly became the opposite for me. The title became less relevant as my worth shifted from association with a name and closer to the work I pour into my career.

I am a product of my boss and his or her teachings. As a by-product of mentors, and experience, I continue to be a work in progress.

In concert production, people can get hungry. Hungry as in, “I’m going to eat all the turkey and you’re not getting any.”

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My boss & Farm Aid’s Production Manager, Charlie

Yes, that is a metaphor for any task thrown at a production assistant’s direction.

Production isn’t something you go to school for, it isn’t something you earn a degree in, it just happens. You learn ‘it’ when you talk with elders when you stop begging for tasks and start asking for stories.

Talk with elders and become a part of their story. Have a lasting impact on their life the same way they had one on yours.

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Working can become a routine so easily, going through the motions of a show can become mundane. One thing that will remain everchanging are the conversations you pour time and thought into.

Your story is a road trip down the East Coast. You boss’s is a collection of photos and unthinkable happenings from around the world.

 

Brooklyn Update!

WOW, I have time to breathe finally, especially after a weekend of non-stop shows with my best friend Haley who flew in from Nashville for the holiday weekend.

A few things have happened since I last posted, and processing my thoughts and all the changes have taken longer than anticipated.

  1. I haven’t worked on a concert in over three weeks, it is safe to say I am having withdrawals.
  2. MY addiction to coffee is at an all time high and everything bagels really are everything. 
  3. Living in a dorm again with a large communal kitchen and limited budget means plenty of eggs & cinnamon raisin toast meals.
  4. The subway may quite possibly be the most intriguing place in all of New York City.
  5. Books are always necessary, everywhere you go. No matter. what. (More about that on #WorkWednesday.
  6. I have yet to Lena Dunham but my hopes are still high.

 

 

The Production Assistant Diaries: THE Recap

At this moment in my life, silence is a luxury. Forklifts hum their background noise, cases whisper through their wheels, and music resonates all throughout the stadium.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetThree months ago, I hung in this sort of limbo. Drained from classes, yet desperate for a five-year plan. Dazed and in a funk, funk, feeling like I had my shit together was far from my reality.

91 days of investing in what my heart told me to do later, things feel right. Penciling in answers instead of using ink, establishing a tentative map for future goals, and making decisions based on my own happiness made my summer with Live Nation everything I hoped for and what I never anticipated.

8 takeaways from this summer…

1. Trying to be ahead of the game doesn’t always do the trick. I learned the most when I was sitting in on conversations, listening, observing and watching. I was surrounded by a Processed with VSCO with c1 presetcompletely new crowd of people, one where I didn’t have my usual network to turn to. Learning behavioral patterns of people, adjusting to environments, observing my boss handle and resolve small fires- a game changer

2. There is a difference between saying ‘it is what it is’ and living it. Hearing and reciting the phrase is one thing, living it is another. Choosing to accept some circumstances are completely out of my control sometimes means accepting that. Like that time the bus I hired to transport the staff for Coldplay breaking down and arriving two hours late, good times, good times.

3. Veterans are veterans for a reason. They did the work to get to where they were, whether a tour director, stage manager or production manager. Embrace the role of the rookie, and don’t be afraid to strike out. Ask the veterans questions, annoy the crap out of them until they tell you to quiet down, be a reminder that you are the next Processed with VSCO with b1 presetgeneration and are there to learn from them. They remember what it was like.

“Don’t be discouraged and think you aren’t capable, you are. You simply have not learned the job yet,” Frank, our good ole’ accountant

4. Divas will be around. We work to make the artists happy, if there is something they want, they are used to getting it. There is nothing wrong with that, it is their show after all and we are employed partially thanks to them and their talents.

“Sometimes, you have to leapfrog in this business,” Dave Marsden

5. Don’t be quick to judge. I have met some of the smartest and most worldly people over a short period of time. No matter where they came from, what instrument they played or job they honed, I have become fascinated with hearing anyone and everyone’s story. That is the beauty of this world, no one’s story is identical.

“You haven’t failed enough to grow yet,” Ed, BPFS

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6. Remind yourself what it’s like to be a part of a crowd. My favorite part of a show day is during the middle of a show. Centering myself in the middle of the floor, I watch. Watch the show, watch the fireworks, watch the people. Mostly the people. To them, the show is magic. To me, magic is watching their faces.

7. Be humble. Celebrate the fact you are at the bottom of the ladder, because, to most outsiders, you are already at the top.

8. Being nice may not solve the problem, but it will make the problem easier to solve. 

Earlier this morning, before load-in for Barbra Streisand went into full swing, I sat in one of the empty club seats, looking into an almost naked and practically silent Boston TD IMG_8058 (1)Garden. The slightest inclination there was a concert in less than 12 hours was the carpenters measuring the length and width for the stage.

Magic doesn’t happen when we sit around and wait. I watch it unfold after hours being onsite, fostering relationships with co-workers and being an audience member to the professionals I’m surrounded by. Magic unveils itself at the end of the night when I look into the audience knowing I gained something valuable that day; experience.

AND last but certainly not least, my final note from this summer…

It’s true, a summer fully immersed in shows, production days and meeting different personalities will 100%, without a doubt, add more edge to your style.

I now own ripped black skinny jeans. Talk about 180-degree turn.

The Final List

  1. The 1975, Tsongas Arena, May 18th, 2016
  2. Adam Sandler, Agganis Arena, May 26th, 2016
  3. Selena Gomez, TD Garden, May 28th, 2016
  4. Beyoncé, Gillette Stadium, June 3rd, 2016
  5. Ellie Goulding, TD Garden, June 15th, 2016
  6. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, June 17th, 2016
  7. Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, Hatch Memorial Shell July 3rd & 4th, 2016
  8. Luke Bryan, Gillette Stadium, July 15th & 16th, 2016
  9. Guns and Roses, Gillette Stadium, July 19th & 20th, 2016
  10. Coldplay, Gillette Stadium, July 30th, 2016
  11. Drake, TD Garden, August 10th, 2016
  12. Pitbull, TD Garden, August 12th, 2016
  13. Barbara Streisand, TD Garden, August 16th, 2016