Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Letter to Maya


         "Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God." - Maya Angelou

          I am inspired to write my story. It is with choked back and confused tears that I release, as though slowly expelling the oxygen from a deep yoga breath, my story. The tears are in part due to my sadness at the passing of Maya Angelou today. What a terrible way to rise, to the text of a knowing boyfriend bearing the news of her death.
What she meant to me I cannot quite describe even to myself now that I know my sorrow at her being gone. No, I cannot describe how her truth sometimes told me the story of myself with different characters and settings. She began to unweave that scrupulously intricate story of a beautiful, complicated and pregnant South, smoking and separated by segregation. The birthplace of soul and a breeding ground for prejudice, Maya lived it. First hand, she walked through that part as a little girl with a deeply strong Grandmother who had to fight for something as small as her granddaughter’s right to dental work for a hurting tooth because of the skin color to which it was attached.
She lived it and now I’ll never be able to write her a letter. Another reason for tears, an author who has meant more to me that any other, and I was too late.  I fantasized for years about a perfectly grammar-ed letter via cute typewriter, and true to my young naiveté, I blew it, I suppose.  Better late than never :

Ms. Angelou,

Are you a Miss? I do not know. I should have done better homework on the present life of someone who I esteem so highly for their past. Your story, oh your story, I can’t even begin…I can’t fully articulate the importance of your story in my life. Your fiery mother I wished to be mine, your badass defense of your son, Guy, in a violent New York, fighting fire with fire, your bravery in tastefully dancing for a Burlesque; your words. Your words, I ate those beautiful sentences on the 1 train running down the Upper West Side and still seem to be digesting them in a less rhythmic but more soulful Nashville. Your stories from Stamps to San Francisco to New York to Venice to Africa, they dance like a musical vignette in my head, a red ribbon of your pride and honesty weaving its way through each colorful square of film.
Maya, I am so sad. I am so sad to lose someone I never met. You speak in your books of the true and open friendships you had with artists and writers and diplomats and neighbors and coworkers. How you welcomed them into your home over hot and painstakingly made food paired with meticulously mixed cocktails. These dinner parties that you held across the world. I overheard these stories as a fly on the wall, thirsting for more and partaking in the connection by proxy. When visiting San Francisco last year,  I insisted upon walking down the streets that you describe in your books and I felt you there. I felt your heavy and proud footsteps on the way to that record store where you met a handsome sailor while listening to Charlie Parker. I reveled in your history and courage conducting a cable car, picturing your Mother bravely driving you in the dark morning hours to prove an important point. I feel your knowing over a strong cup of coffee when there is nothing else to be done and romanticized your season as a nightclub singer in Paris.
In a way, you taught me to live. You gave me a better perspective of the soil on which I was raised. Your conversations about culture and art and education and your joy in lapping up all that proved interesting as though taking your first drink from a well, that changed me.
On a dirty subway riding beneath my cranky and bustling and wonderful Manhattan, I read The Heart of A Woman and my eyes lit and sparkled as a 21-year-old coming of age story heroine, saying and doing all the things that you were doing in my imagination. This was during some serious heartbreak in my life, and I was profoundly relieved that it was okay for you in all of those confusing times, because it made it okay for me in mine.
       Thank you for proving that you can be irreverent and holy, sexy and untouchable, both found and lost. This tiny white girl from Tennessee with roots unfortunately deeply embedded in a Birmingham racism thinks of you every day already, and probably more now that you’re gone. Bravo, Ms. Angelou, and still I rise.

Very best and so much love,
(please forgive all the grammar atrocities)


Monday, June 17, 2013

Shooting for Inspiration

A couple of weeks ago I decided to ignore the fact that I have no time to be creative and call my favorite photographer friend Erin Grimson. She has recently come home to our rolling Tennessee hills from a most glamorous semester in Paris.

Truly, I can't think of a lovelier lovely than Erin. She speaks French, has the best sense of humor, and is a fantastic photographer to boot. EG is one of those coveted Sartorialist looking women.


I love her. She has an eye.

We decided to shoot in Downtown Franklin, and for all the beauty of the town we didn't get past the parking garage.

Check out Erin's website!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thoughts On Abundance

I live in Nashville, a city that identifies as one of the few Mecca’s of artistic collaboration. Go to any local park in this region and you will discover scores of seemingly homeless-looking circa-1950’s Bob Dylan types, weaving each of their sticky guitar riff webs at the root of every live oak tree. While this behavior is generally utilized to attract attention from the opposite or same sex, the hearts of most musicians in Nashville are for excellence in their respective fields of art.

I love the drive and competition. This town pulsates with talent and original ambition, and I often find myself running outside of the lines, trying to keep up and feeling very un-athletic. (Literally and figuratively.) This rat race toward the most prophetic and influential art seems to eat away at confidence and challenge our abilities to support one another. Oftentimes, I fall into patterns of comparison and irrational judgment, simply because I feel there isn’t enough of that good juju to go around.

That’s when the lies come out to play.

You aren’t good enough. The bar is too high. He/she took this/that already and you missed out. Blahdy blahdy blegh megh.

How gross. Am I the only one? In the midst of our well-intentioned quest for beauty and truth, we get caught up in a false perception of how much ‘good stuff’ is out there and ripe for the picking. My favorite visual for this unrealistic striving was bestowed to me via blogger by one of my favorites, Glennon Melton. ( She paints a picture detailing the comparative tendencies that we all have by using a typical bowling alley metaphor. The crux of the post questions the nonsensical-ness of even comparing yourself to anyone at all. You are in your own lane, and your lane has absolutely nothing to do with the strike or gutter-ball next door. WHY do we compare ourselves when the reality is that NO ONE has EVER had the same story? Your experience is different from any other human who has ever existed, so how could you possibly equate your measure of achievement to theirs?

These are the things I think about when the lies of failure creep into my bed at night. Living in a thriving city of artists should be only inspiring and never discouraging. This is because abundance is never limited, it flows out of every story that fills our days. 

Monday, February 11, 2013


In spite of the scrupulously saved money slipping, nay, marathon sprinting through my fingers, a birthday weekend playing in one of my favorite cities was well spent. I bellow-sang through scores of my favorite obscure musicals with the fabulous gays of the West Village, thrifted in Brooklyn, and shoveled mountains of pizza into my face. #perfect. #yesibloghashtaggedwhatofit.

Other than partying with my galfriends, my absolute favorite part of the trip was feasting upon the greatness of Jessica Chastain and Dan Stevens in The Heiress, a play currently on Broadway. (Go see it, you NY humans.) She was haunting and strangely magnificent as the awkwardly beautiful heiress to a much sought-after fortune. Seeing this from the nosebleed-I-might-plummet-to-my-death section of the balcony was entirely worth it, as I became infatuated with getting my feet wet in theater again. Chastain has really mastered her craft and obviously works very hard, inspiring me to do the same. Suggestions? What do I do with no time and a need to add just one more thing to my frightening schedule??

Oh, and I also went to the Moma for free and oogled at all the abstract expressionism//photography that I know absolutely nothing about.

I won't lie to you, dear readers, (all six of you), I missed my Nash hometown. Is anyone else as shocked as I am by the aforementioned statement?!

I suppose it's rolling green hills, mollasses accents and Yazoo Pale Ale for me. There was a lot of love waiting for me back home.

                                                                                               Sincerely, RR

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bon Voyage a Lala

Well, it's happening. My baby sister is whisking off to her favorite place (Scotland) to study her favorite things (Jane Austen and J.R.R. Tolkien). "I've already read the material for my classes, so I can't wait to learn new things," were words she used this morning while I watched her eat breakfast. I won't breeze over the aforementioned 'while I watched her eat breakfast' because I realize that it sounds a bit silly and obsessive. Yes, a trifle pathetic and sad, but I am going to miss this little Lala. We have never been separated for an entire semester, and I am genuinely weepy at her departure.

Attached much? Proudly, yes. But this isn't about me.....come on Rach pull it together. 

I love you my sweet sister. Your lighthearted and equally dark sense of humor + a hundred million other things will be missed. HAVE FUN KICK ADVENTURES IN THE FACE.

And be safe.

.............I'm coming for you in May.


       (PS these pics were taken in Florida and NOT in Scotland.....dumb to clarify? Maybe.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Foggy Day on Fogg Street

Keeping in practice with my discipline of doing things simply to do them, I traded beer for a photographer (the smexy Stephanie Creasy) and endeavored to be cool by shooting near Third Man Records. Channeling Jack White, I tapped a barely-there dark side by awkwardly hiking my body on top of a loading platform. Here's to overcast lighting, wearing winter coats in seventy degree weather, and celebratory hot dogs with a friend. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


"A thing of beauty is a joy forever : its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness."

-John Keats