Why I’m Not Where You Are

(Title taken from the most excellent and my favorite book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer)

After two years (and 4 months) on this blog, I’m headed to the next stepping stone, where the gearing-up-to-go stage becomes the to-go stage. Which, by the way, is CRAZY.

My new blog is also my new website, so I have a lot of music up too. It can be found at http://www.ernbrn.com. This is a good post to start with.

Thanks blog, it’s been real (and it’s still real, just at a different URL).



God knows no one reads this anymore since I never ever post.  However, I have been laboring over a poem-like thing since July, and I think I have it sort of where I want it, and could use feedback as far as the flow. It started as a beach trip challenge to use the word “carapace” in a poem.

Carapace: a protective, decorative, or disguising shell

I thought it was pretty poetic at the time, maybe could be slipped in skillfully in a poem. Not that I write a lot of poems. At all. Anyway. Here’s what I got. Do ya get it? Does it work?

My love
a shell of
who she once was

I am
beside her
beneath the sand

we are
it is
not the end


we were not
simply made of

what was inside of it
(but, rather, what is inside of us)

This is the part where she stands
on the shore
her hands
if what we laid
like a secret in our chest
(like an egg in a nest)
and is rising up to the surface
of the sand.

Hold out for me
in the coming sun
I am so close
to the edge
of jumping
off this ledge
at a run
by your side
arm by arm
toe by toe
leg by leg
with my hand
covering your chest
hand by hand
hand to heart
hand by hand
hand to pulse
hand by hand
hand to lungs
to held in breath
waiting for dawn
to rise to the surface
of the sand
where you wait
that I


I told my friend to write me a short story, the only prompt being that the events took place within an hour or less. She posted hers on her blog. Here’s mine in return.


In the same second of the same hour of the same day, everyone dropped what they were holding. It was a second in time, no more, just long enough for whatever anyone was carrying to go crashing to the ground. Only for those lucky enough to be alone in their houses with nothing in their hands did the moment go by unnoticed. For everyone else, it was remarkable. Thousands of people in restaurants dropped their forks, halfway to their mouths, as the trays of food from thousands of waiters dropped onto their heads. Money changing hands fell onto counters, ice cream cones fell into laps, expensive china shattered on floors, touchdown runs turned into fumble scrambles, bullets missed their marks, and marching bands marched over their fallen instruments.

In some cases, it was hardly noticed. A writer dropped her pen and picked it back up. The only customer in the bookshop apologized and put the book back on the shelf, the sound still resonating. In some places it was amusing. A silent classroom burst into laughter as all of their pencils hit the floor at the same time. Co-workers on their smoke break looked at each other in puzzlement when they all dropped their cigarettes. People passing the salt apologized sheepishly. In other cases, the effect was more pronounced. A dog on a leash held by nothing ran away. Bowling balls fell down on to the holder’s feet, or backwards as bowlers were mid swing. A dinner party dropped their expensive champagne glasses full of expensive champagne mid-toast. A best man at his best friend’s wedding dropped the wedding rings. Listeners at a symphony, leaning forward in suspense as the crescendo was building were jarred from their meditative states as all of the instruments fell to the ground with a dissonant crash. A woman walking with her baby to the car dropped the car seat. An old man dropped his cane only to find he could stand without it. A boy dropped the last puzzle piece to his puzzle. Movers carrying a heavy couch dropped it on the new hardwoods. Two lovers dropped what they were holding and bent to pick up that of the other.

The second passed in the blink of an eye, where before the blink everything was one way and after the blink everything was another, the event taking place behind closed eyelids. After the second passed, everything went back to the way it was before, except, of course, for the unusually high number of items laying on the ground.

It’s 3am. I’m up because I got home from work and decided to make a lot of chili. And what the hell, drink a beer. And redesign my blog.

Being an inconsistent blogger is the bane of my existince (hang around me long enough and you’ll learn I have a list of things that are THE bane of my existence). At work I’m being whatever the notch under scolded is by my boss to blog for the department blog I signed up to blog for more than I do. That’s quite the sentence. There’s a lot of blog pressure going around! I don’t do well under pressure. When I’m stressed I blissfully ignore that which is stressing me. I’m quite talented at it. Hence the not blogging since May. It’s not like people are pressuring me to blog for my personal blog. It’s really quite ridiculous. I feel a little embarressed to admit it. It’s that I WANT to be a kick ass consistent blogger but I feel like I haven’t found my blog voice. It’s one of those stupid cycles where I feel like I haven’t found my blog voice so I don’t blog and I don’t blog so I can’t find my blog voice.

I haven’t blogged since May. Guess what one of the main things I think about when I am working and thinking about my trip is? What I’m going to name my totally kick ass travel blog. True story. It’s going to have an awesomely fitting name and be full of present tense, daily posts with pictures and interesting things I did in the interesting city I’m in and fun facts about it and it will be carefree and joy filled just like I will be because I’m on the trip I’ve been working towards for so long.

So I’m totally reading this tedious book that was reccomended to me that I WILL FINISH. It’s called Ishmael (sorry if you adore this book), and I am finding it on the edge of too tedious to be worth it and mildy interesting. One of the tag lines is something like: Teacher seeking student with an earnest desire to save the world. I was thinking a possible blog title would combine that and an E.B. White quote I love that goes something like: I arise each morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. So my blog tag would be something like: A girl with an earnest desire to savor the world. Or something. I’ve got until June 2010. Which brings me neatly to my next bullet point. My target leaving date is June 2010! How exciting!

More later. My battery on my laptop is about to die and I’m about to fall asleep. In case you were curious, my chili turned out really well.


Today I come home from a very busy 9.5 hour shift, working 3pm to 12:30am without a break, and all I can think is how this is absolutely what I want to be doing right now. And how lovely is that. The purchase of a *ahem* quite uh, high quality guitar (that means expensive), along with a car repair (expensive), and some other necessary things (expensive), left my bank account drained in the most discouraging of ways. 2 weeks of very successful monetary lock down (eating out only 1 time each week, and no extra purchases), long hours at both jobs, 2 pet sitting jobs, and 2 babysitting jobs (thanks McVeys!) finds my bank account refilling slowly but surely. The horizon looks promising–Little Car’s check engine light is on again, but feel like I’m getting in the groove of really watching my spending, and feeling really motivated to, and the pet sitting is coming pretty steadily.

Music is going well on the artistic end. I’ve been writing a lot of late–but it always comes like an ebb and flow. I’ve been called prolific twice in the past 2 months by 2 different people, which is an encouraging thing to hear. I don’t necessarily think of myself as a prolific songwriter, I’ve never really thought about it I guess. The whole music thing has always been sort of mysterious. It’s really hard to judge these sorts of things about yourself because there’s no real standard to measure yourself against, and it’s been interesting unraveling the picture bit by bit. Like, when I was little I thought that everyone wrote songs. It’s like thinking thoughts. It BLEW my MIND when as teenagers my brother told me he had never written a song. And I’m sure other people experience that with other things–the way you perceive the world is “normal”. Normal is completely subjective.

Anyhoo, on the technical end, I keep putting off calling this new recording contact I have. The whole picking a place to do my recording is very daunting. Because I want something really good. And when you get into the music circle, everybody knows somebody who has this friend who does recording. Everybody. I swear to God. And I hate to be a snob (but I’m totally a snob), but I honestly want something that looks legit. Like hardwood floors and grand pianos and leather couches and lava lamps and a huge mixing board. Things that studios that charge you way more than your friend’s buddy with the studio in his basement have. Things that these studios put there to make you feel like they’re legit. I want those things. They comfort me. Like, look! Obviously enough people use us or how else would we afford these legit looking things? We must be high-quality! And, yes, these places cost way more. Like tons more. But honestly that comforts me too. But, a coworker gave me a contact number for this musician who is in a pretty popular band around the NCs, and it might be a good deal. Plus, once I saw this band live before he told me about him, and was totally BLOWN AWAY by one musician in it, and it turns out that it’s this dude. But I’m putting off contacting him. Because I deal with overwhelm by avoidance. *Pause in blog writing to email music man*.

So, on my way to work the other day, I was driving behind a Lexus with a personalized licence plate that said, “PD4BYGOD”. And unless I’m completely missing something, I was actually very pissed off. Not to be all judgemental and all that, but there are starving children in Africa and you think God bought you a Lexus? Come again mother fucker. And even if dude man considers every dollar a gift from God, which I totally respect, it’s so completely asinine and pompus to claim that God bought you a Lexus. I cannot even think of a scenario where I would be ok with someone putting that licence plate on a Lexus. If it were a beat up old thing, then it would be totally cute and heartwarming. But, for. serious. God did not buy you a Lexus. Any other takes on this? Am I being completely judgemental and nearsighted?

At Capacity Full

I’ve pretty much accepted that I’m an inconsistent blogger. But, to my defense, I’m a busy mofo.

But! being a busy mofo pays off, even if it leaves you no time for blogging. Going over my finances a few weeks ago, I realized that I was a fourth of the way to my financial goal for my big trip. This was a Big Deal to realize because all my money making felt very abstract. I knew I was working for something, but before it built to anything, it just felt like working. And then I was like, “Holy shit! I’m a quarter of the way there!”

At work that morning after I realized this, I excitedly told my friend who is kind of in the same position, where she’s saving up her monies for a big change, her ETD being a year from now. She asked me when my ETD was and I realized I hadn’t really thought about it, but kind of assumed that it was two years away. Then all of the sudden I realized some things:

1) I started at my 2nd job on October 3rd, with the announced goal of saving $1000 a month
2) As of April 3rd (the day I realized all of this, and 5 months later exactly) I had over $5000 saved
3) To get to my target goal of $20,000 at this rate, I’d need to work for 15 more months
4) If I increase my saving by merely $250  a month, I could have that in 12 months.
5) I can leave in a year.

And then my mind was totally blown. This whole time I’ve been thinking about this trip so abstractly, something that was going to happen sometime in the future and be totally rocking. Now it has a time frame. I am leaving next spring. Everything feels so different. I’m so much more motivated at my jobs, because they are now very directly for a purpose, for a tangible goal that is with in reach and sight. I feel simultaneously thrilled and scared shitless, which I’m taking as a good sign. Like that’s how you should probably feel at the precipice of a big life change.

I also realized that this whole blog is basically a two year plan that I made without even thinking about it in those terms. I used the words, but didn’t even think about in the context of an official “two year plan”. It was just going to take two years to get to it. And I’ve basically stuck to it, with some very necessary and expected shifts and adjustments. I’ll be 5 months or so off of an exact 2 years, saving twice the money than originally thought.

So right now I’m working 7 days a week, Tuesday-Saturday at the museum and Saturday-Tuesday at Goodberry’s, averaging about 70 hours a week between the two. It’s a really doable schedule that leaves plenty of time for music and friends. I’m finding that the less free time I have, the more productively I use it. I’ve also upped my savings goal to a lofty $1,750 a month. I want to have a good guitar by the end of May and something lined up for a professional demo by then also. Those are my two main goals–after that it’s just trying to get as many shows/festivals as I can get with those two tools (a faithful instrument and a faithful representation of the music I make).

Woot! Be prepared to attend what will surely be a very rocking going away party for me next year!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

One: There’s a man standing in our kitchen talking to my parents about car debt–how an awesome car is awesome except when the housing market is in the tank and the economic situation is rough and uncertain.

Two: It was 3 in the morning the other night and I was on the couch still in my Gladnaggies uniform and boots finishing an application for a music festival. And I thought: This is all I have to do. No school. No debt to work off. Just saving money and singing songs. And those things are easy and good and things I want to do.

Three: A co-worker is in a similar place where she is saving her money so she can take a road trip and move to a cool city. We talk about our trips a lot, and the other day she was saying how she couldn’t wait and wishes she were there already. No no, I said. This is it. Enjoy the process. You have to enjoy the process. And I keep thinking about it and I’m thinking that it’s really much more important than that. Because here’s what we’ve got: if you aren’t enjoying where you are now, even if it’s a period of waiting or hard work or both, and you’re thinking that if you can just get to that point/move to that place/make that amount of money then your life will be totally more enjoyable then, my friends, you have “greener grass” syndrome. And I hear that never goes away. Because we are always and forever in periods of waiting, hard work, or both.

So here’s what I’m thinking this week. One: I love my little scratched up car with a sun-roof that I have to talk into closing, AC that doesn’t quite get to that point that most people call “cold”, and speakers that only work on the right side– a car I own and bought with cash. Two: I am happy with my status of college drop-out Animal Keeper/Custard Flinger/Money Saver Extraordinaire. No sorry, I’m thrilled with it. Three: I love the process, the anticipation, the early-morning commute and the late-night paperwork because it is all going towards something worthwhile. Not that I think my life will be better once I have enough money to embark on my trip, because I have good things now that I won’t have out on my own: the comfort of seeing my family and friends all the time, a warm bed that is mine, consistency, and a warm cocoon of constant affirmation. Seeking my for-tune will be scary and risky. And totally kick ass.

So enjoy the process because This Is It. Life is a process, and that’s all it is. There is no magic point of arrival. Walk the half mile to this:

Beach Camp 08/08

Beach Camp 08/08

But you still have to walk the half mile in the hot sun back. Process.