My oh my, I don’t even know where to start with the Judd Apatow’s incredible documentary on The Avett Brothers, May It Last. When it was first announced that the film would have a one night showing in theaters nationwide, prior to the release of the film on HBO in January, I was still living in Florida. The closest theater playing it was about two hours away, and it was a Tuesday. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to swing that, but the temptation was real. Well, I moved to Nashville Labor Day weekend, so it turned out that I was lucky enough to be about fifteen minutes from a theater playing it last week. From reading tons of posts of praise across social media, I knew I was in for something special, but I wasn’t prepared for how amazing it was. As a viewer in the audience, it felt like these people invited you into their homes (well, they did literally,) and gave such an intimate glimpse into their lives. The rawness and realness that is portrayed in the film is just something entirely unique. I have chills just trying to write about it. There are so many scenes in the film that made me love them even more than I did, prior to seeing it.
It had been quite a while had been quite awhile since I’d read anything by Nina Lacour when I picked up We Are Okay. I’d seen a lot of positive feedback on Twitter, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Let me tell you, I was not prepared for the emotional journey it took me on. I read it on a hot summer day in Florida, melting by the pool. At one point, I couldn’t tell if I was sweating or crying (not kidding, it was feels like 103 that day.) This is such an emotionally stirring story.
This weekend I won tickets to a concert at Ascend Ampitheater, where Joy Wave, Cold War Kids, and Young the Giant were playing. I’m never one to turn down live music, so of course I went. I listen to Cold War Kids fairly often, but for some reason the lyrics to “Restless” struck me differently hearing them live. Who knows if it’s becomes there’s a different raw vulnerability in someone’s voice live, sometimes, or a chilly September night, or the glow of the lights downtown, or what – but it was just one of those moments.
“You know it’s not that I don’t care
I don’t get jealous, I get free
Everything good comes back to me”
I don’t know why hearing it in person like that, it just hit me in a different way. I really love the “I get free” line because isn’t that the most liberating feeling when you let something go, and everything just is what it is? I love that song, anyway so that’s why I’m sharing it with you today! If you don’t already listen to Cold War Kids, they’re a fun band.
Wow. So, it hasn’t been too long since I completely gushed over Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King. Well, of course when I got my hands on a copy of Goodbye Days, I absolutely loved it as well. Like, seriously. One of those books where you procrastinate the important thing you should be doing (in my case – packing,) because you just cannot stop reading. In this gripping novel by Zentner, we meet teenager Blade living in Nashville, TN. The story opens with Blade attending yet another one of his best friend’s funerals. That enough is a shock, right? Well, unfortunately – it’s the third funeral. Blade’s best friends Mars, Blake, and Eli were killed in a car accident while he was at work. The accident occurred when Blade was sending a text message to the friend driving, Mars. The families of Blade’s friends each respond a bit differently to the tragedy. Some of them are kind, open, and forgiving (at least in trying to console the fault he’s placed on himself,) but others are not so comforting – casting off blame, guilt, and bitterness. Blade’s parents are loving and kind but he doesn’t have very open communication with them. He’s close with his older sister, Georgia but she’s about to head off to college, so he needs to confide in someone. In comes Jesmyn, who was Eli’s girlfriend. She moved to Nashville over the summer, and had met Eli at a music camp. It’s an absolutely awful circumstance to bring two people together, but Jesmyn and Blade both need someone to talk to, someone who can at least slightly get what they’re going through. (It doesn’t help that they go to school with Eli’s twin sister who definitely blames Blade for everything.) So, not only is Blade trying to navigate the pain and guilt of suddenly losing the three closest people in his life all at once – he has a giant black legal cloud hanging over his head. Mars dad decides to pursue a criminal investigation. You’d probably be having panic attacks to if you were him, right? Well, at least Georgia talks some sense into Blade (or forces some on him basically) by taking him to her therapist, so he is at least talking to a professional. In the meantime, Blade spends time with Blake’s grandmother. She is grieving immensely as well. It makes me tear up just thinking about her scenes in the book. Blake’s mom was in no position to have a child, so when Blake was younger his grandma basically rescued him from a bad situation. Blake and his Nana were a team, that’s for sure. Blade tried to help around the house in ways that Blake used to, as if the tasks could help alleviate some of his guilt but also because he truly cared for Nana as well. On one of these days, is when Blake’s Nana proposed the idea of a “goodbye day” where she and Blade would do all the things that she wished she could’ve done with Blake on a last day together. The emotional enormity of such a situation is overwhelming even to consider. It’s just as literally heart-wrenching as it sounds, but it’s still…a journey you want to go on with him. Zentner writes this story in such a beautiful way. You experience Blade’s grief with him, and his stumbles as he tries to navigate life, writer’s block, planning college essays even though he’s devastated that his best friends don’t have those futures to look forward to anymore. This book is absolutely heart-wrenching, but also beautiful, and complicated and doesn’t that all just describe how life is, anyway? It amazes me the stories Zentner has within him to share, and the way they navigate such huge life topics that feel like they can swallow you whole. When you finish reading though, you’re not left in a pit of despair, there’s hope and there’s growth, and there’s the progression of life because you’ve gotta keep going. One of those reminders you can’t hold everything in, and it shows how art and communication, and reaching out, and sometimes just being yourself in whatever emotion you’re feeling – right in that moment, is how you keep taking baby steps forward. This is a heavy story, but a wonderful one – I highly recommend you check it out!
Just a simple post today to share one of my favorite songs right now. It’s hard to narrow down my favorite Eric Church songs because he literally has dozens of amazing ones. I will say though, that “Round Here Buzz” is a song I just don’t get tired of, and I can keep it on repeat for a while. Every time it comes on the radio, it makes me think of the local bars in small towns I’ve spent time in over the years. You know, the places you know you’re bound to run into people you know because everyone hangs out at the same places? It makes me think about the passage of time. The coming and going, and the people you just don’t see anymore. The old flames, that die down when someone leaves. “Catch me a round here buzz cause you ain’t round here none, Keep putting ’em down here, nother round here, til my down goes up” He’s really good at making it seem easy to sing a relatable song. I think this is one of those that probably makes whoever listen to it, have a flashback to someone or some point of time in their lives. It’s a little melancholy, but it’s also addicting – not really a downer when you’re singing along really loud in the car, ya know? If you haven’t heard this one yet, give it a listen!