Building Blocks

In a recent act of reverence, I visited a synagogue. It was still Hanukkah, and I’d definitely say it was a spiritual event: Andrew Bird was playing at the 6th and I downtown. I’ve always loved the lush, layered qualities of his songs (and, of course, that whistling!) but wasn’t quite sure how he’d be able to recreate them live.

He was completely sans backing band, looking lonely up on stage amidst a sea of instruments and blue light. But apparently that didn’t matter, because he became his own band in a feat of musical and technological wizardry: by recording himself onstage, then looping the track as he layered piece upon piece of percussion, melody and harmony. He only started singing after a few minutes of this strategic work, once he’d created a backing track from his own musical building blocks.

It was humbling, to say the least.

There’s a lot to deal with these next few months, and because of that, it’ll probably be quiet around here for awhile. There’s a big move to look forward to (yes, I’m going home!), but also a lot of work to do before that happens. But it hasn’t just been lack of time that’s kept me from writing. To be honest, I’ve resigned myself to hibernation in more than one aspect of life, at least until I move away from this D.C.-induced burnout.

Luckily, I can take a note from Andrew Bird as I move forward: layering is the secret. Life, it seems, is a lot like a piece of Ikea furniture: there’s a frustrating amount of assembly required before it takes on a pleasing shape. Andrew Bird uses that “assembly required” issue, as it relates to music, as an asset in his live performances; I’ve just been viewing it as a major frustration. But a shift in perspective may be all I need to push me through these next few months. After all, the past two years have been vital to building my foundation for independent life on a number of levels—professionally, financially and emotionally, for starters. And while I’ve made the most of my time on the East Coast, I’ve also learned visceral lessons about what I don’t want, which will give me confidence in moving toward the things I do. That includes a permanent home that really feels like home, and surroundings that inspire. It’s about time.

Despite the quiet, I’m still here—just hibernating for awhile. But I am busy dreaming. I’ll soon be dancing around a new and improved apartment. I’ll be nestled in an El car—not bumper-to-bumper traffic—with a good book, headed to a new job. I’ll live in a walkable neighborhood (finally!) and be surrounded by young people again. I’ll paint my walls light gray.

And I’ll flour up the kitchen for the first time in a long while, too. This recipe for butternut squash gnocchi might be a fine place to start. My first batch was just a tad gluey, but that’s okay. We don’t always get things right on the first try, you know?

I’m sure that the second time will be the charm.

Scroll to Top