on kid dreams, mid 20s anxiety, and the last three years

it seems like every time i write something in this space, i begin with some sentiment of “it’s been awhile.” surprise surpise, this is no different. in true fashion, i’m still not sure what i want this space to be. i used to spend a lot of time here back when i first decided i wanted to be a writer, back when my head was full of enough ideas to keep me energized, when paying for my very own space on the internet with old birthday money felt grown-up and monumental. i was a kid with scattered dreams, eager to start living them. 

being young was fun-- driving hours on end just to see a show, carrying around a sony cybershot to photograph my friends, staying up late to write silly stories, wondering who i’d grow up to be. but it never quite felt cool. if it was, no one told me. and if they did, i didn’t listen. i just wanted to be doing something already, anything that felt like it mattered. once i got old enough, i did. i applied for a summer job i wasn’t qualified for; i even said so in my interview. by some miracle, i got the job, and by another miracle i was actually good at it. that first summer in nashville felt too good to be true; it was like someone threw some seeds in my yard and everything started coming up roses. i severed ties with a year from hell to live in a world i’d only watched from afar, and i was able to fit somewhere inside of it. i grew into a name that demanded attention, i shook hands with assurance and walked into rooms armed with all these things i didn’t know and a determination i was proud of.

that summer was important for me, and i wanted to ride the momentum of its wave for as long as i could. i went back to nashville as much as was feasible for living a few states away. i wrote a lot then too-- mostly for fun, plus an artist interview here and there. i tried to leave my youth with grace, naively assuming i’d never want it back. i saved money, did my best to grow, and trekked back to tennessee less than a year later. it was nothing like i remembered. i drove around to kill time, drank enough coffee to never not be anxious, and was really just sad most of the time-- too sad to remember to have any ambition. 

enter the inevitable: poems. a lot of them. i thought they were shit until someone told me they weren’t, and then i made a book of them. that’s the short version of the story, anyway. i felt alive again, doing something important to me. it was so all-consuming i forgot i’d ever wanted anything else. that feeling faded, as all feelings do, and i was left with the question that always seems to plague me: what do i want now? i grew up in a small pool where i didn’t have to know much of anything, much less what exactly i wanted because everything was given. it was perfectly nice, cozy and safe, but it wasn’t enough. i left for somewhere bigger and new and without even realizing it, i started to feel like i had to know everything, and like i was good at nothing much. i often still feel that way.

but there are times i wonder if we’re better off for what we don’t know. really, i think about it a lot. almost anyone whose deams have come true must’ve been naive enough to dream them at all. this is the part where i let go of reality for a minute and ask beg for my youth back. i want to dream it all over again, ask more questions than my ego usually allows, and take a billion more chances with sure belief in my capability. i know it wasn’t simpler then, but my memory likes to tell me it was. 

i’ve just spent a good portion of the afternoon sitting in my neighborhood coffee shop in brooklyn, dreaming about days i’ve already lived. i’m 24 and hard on myself and forgetting i worked hard to be here, in new york (more on that later, god willing). i also worked hard to find the patience to write the first sort-of essay i’ve been able to get out in more than a year. and i did have dreams, i did take some chances, i was naive enough to do so. i guess this is the hard part: dreaming with all i know now. 

the days might be gone where i drove hours to see a show for the thrill of it, but i still know the words to all those songs. and today, that’s enough.

- L

WWLT: historian - lucy dacus




year of the mirror pic!

i started riding my bike again- through the park without a plan, and to dinner down the street. i wrote in many spaces, lots of hotel lobbies and bars. i shared my poetry for the first time in march, and in august i self-published a book. i kept one job and got another. i saw phoebe bridgers on valentines day. i dyed my hair blonde and moved into an apartment by myself. i remembered how fun it is to dance in the kitchen. i went back to therapy and realized it is, in fact, possible to communicate through conflict. i started going to a new church i very much like. i helped turn a party into a john mark mcmillan sing-along, and i danced my heart out at a haim show. i had the perfect day at a diy music festival, and a perfect night listening to a Cardigans record in a space that means a lot. i saw the National on a perfect evening and walked two miles home. i spent most every saturday with a close friend until she moved away, and each one is memorable. i found creative excitement and lost it again. i took more walks, i had less energy. i hit the year mark in some important friendships, still learning how to stick around. i continued to take a film photo everyday; i could talk forever about how that project has changed my life. i felt free and sad and everything in between. the music, the people, the photos— all of it’s changed me and as the year comes to an end, i feel it’s all for the best.

now, here’s some art i cared about (in no particular order):

  • Afraid of Everything - Harrison Whitford

    top tracks: both my friends, welcome to my life, part time heart

  • Sway - Tove Styrke

    top tracks: on the low, on a level

  • Personal Best - Chelsea Jade

    top tracks: low brow, speedboat, personal best

  • Golden Hour - Kacey Musgraves

    top tracks: love is a wild thing, space cowboy, velvet elvis

  • My Mind Makes Noises - Pale Waves

    top tracks: drive, red, eighteen

  • Saved - Now, Now

    top tracks: holy water, P0WDER, set it free

    *** Reach for the Sun - The Dangerous Summer

    this came out a decade ago, but i keep returning to it. it makes me feel young and weightless.

    top tracks: symmetry, permanent rain, weathered


Fine But Dying - Liza Anne

Clean - Soccer Mommy

To, From - Ethansroom


Fallingwater - Maggie Rogers

It’s Alright - October Tooth

Night Shift - Lucy Dacus

Prior Things - Hopalong

The Mission - Valley Maker

Needy One - Beket


I read less in 2018, but my two favorites were both by Maggie Nelson: Something Bright, then Holes, and Bluets.

on to the hope of another year, and the hope of room to be, grow, love.

xo, L

fires; 2017

i split my time this year, nearly down to the day: half the year soaking up the end of south carolina, the other half making a home in nashville. i left one job for two others; i sold a lot of donuts. i rode on a bus through the night to watch the tigers come out on top and celebrated with tears and tattoos. i started hiking on my own and learned the art of paying attention. i sat around many fires: in celebration of employment, on sunday nights with nothing better to do, to warm our hands and cook our meals, to sing leaving songs. i built a bike that got stolen, and then i built another. i kept returning to new york city and felt the thrill of smallness and the subway system. i trespassed in a treehouse and on rooftops. i danced more (cc: Ellie Goulding's 'Anything Could Happen') and smashed beer bottles for the hell of it. i fit more knowledge about the enneagram in my brain than i thought possible. i started really reading poetry, and then i started to write the beginnings of a book of my own. i had a resurgence of my love for punk music. i accompanied a good friend on tour down the east coast. i kept cutting my hair shorter for a few moments of weightless freedom. i found a point-and-shoot film camera at an estate sale and have used it everyday since. i had a cocktail named after me, and thus learned to love bourbon. i went on a halloween self-date to see bon iver. i started hitting golf balls and taking drum lessons. i gave myself room to doubt, and found solace in two broken front porch rocking chairs with an assortment of people i've come to love and be loved by. i knew leaving and staying, i knew loneliness and confusion, i knew gratitude and hope. 

the new year's now a few days away and i still don't know exactly who i am or what i want, but i do know i learned more, wrote more, hurt more, and laughed more in 2017. to borrow words from Mary Oliver, it was a year of fires that both 'warmed and scorched.' in light of them, there's a new depth in me that i'm grateful for. 

like grief must be felt prior to healing, the same goes for reflection before moving forward. that being said, i don't want to look ahead quite yet. in 2017, i was moldable; here's some of what changed me, in threes.

three albums:
1) After Laughter - Paramore
- top tracks: fake happy, idle worship, tell me how
- first heard: in May on hwy 378, heading back home from clemson for one of the last times before moving to tennessee. it allowed loneliness to be upbeat, it was a bridge between comfort and change. 

2) Peripheral Vision - Turnover
- top tracks: hello euphoria, humming, intrapersonal
- first heard: also in May, tracking my last LNR (late night rip) in wyatt with Garrett and Syd; the end of an era. i heard a lot of these songs live in October and the whole crowd sang along, making for the kind of anthemic nostalgia you hope to hold onto. 

3) Stranger in the Alps - Phoebe Bridgers
- top tracks: motion sickness, georgia, scott street
- first heard: after an all-nighter in the ER, outside the bakery before going into work back in September. a current favorite sad record, it quickly began to share the weight of all i've been feeling. 

three songs:
1) this time - land of talk
- first heard: at Lauren's a few months ago. it was one of those moments that couldn't go on unless i knew the name of the song. now it makes me think of new york. 

2) hard feelings / loveless - lorde
- first heard: probably the day it came out, but i didn't really hear it until november, playing backyard basketball as it rang over the loudspeaker. it's conflict, it's the way things change, it's how we grow. and it's the crux of Melodrama, if you ask me. 

3) outbound train - ryan adams
- first heard: i have no idea, because i listened so many times. i'd play it on repeat for entire 45 minute commutes home from work last spring. in september, i went to a festival just to see Ryan play it live. it's come to be a song of redemption.

three books:
1) upstream - mary oliver
- read: last january in Caviar and Bananas; i cried mid-third essay. it took me months to finish, because i'd only read it in clemson's botanical gardens on warm winter days. i finished it in March, at Percy Warner in nashville. some books just deserve your best, you know?

2) a visit from the goon squad - jennifer egan
- read: on sticky hot july days. it seemed confusing and pointless up until the next to last chapter, and then i saw Egan for her brilliance. some things are worth pressing into. 

3) turtles all the way down - john green
- read: two late nights in October. it meant feeling understood, in a deep and sometimes tragic sort of way..."I, a singular proper noun, would go on, if always in a conditional tense."

here's to brief pause before moving forward. 2018: i have high hopes!



WWLT: Dashboard Confessional, MUNA, Big Thief