Let me tell you about a guy named Jeff. I tried to contact him a few times before I wrote this blog, but he never returned my phone calls. I’m writing it anyway.
I was looking for an out, after the divorce, a break. Not necessarily a rebound (been there, done that) but more of a friendship that I could keep at arm’s length. Something familiar while still exciting. Something just for myself.
Thus began a reunited friendship with an old high school friend who is now a music producer in Nashville.
I was hanging out in Nashville with a music producer. And his entourage of gorgeous Australian girls who said he was “a really big deal out here” while they were working on an album and promoting their band “Dozzi”. Kris Bradley was another favorite of mine; her voice was made for music. (Check out Jeff Zacharski and Kris Bradley on Soundcloud.)
I definitely wasn’t in Kansas (i.e. Michigan) anymore.
Nashville’s music production process went like this: meet cool people, hit the bars, listen to other people’s music, get inspired, stay up late, hit the studio, work on lyrics, work on harmonies, work on melodies. Write. Rewrite. And even after producing a great song, it will probably never see the light of day. Why? Because getting a hit in Nashville on the radio is like hitting the $522 Mega Millions jackpot. Right producer, right song, right vocals, falling on the right ears at the right time…jackpot.
Sure, it was thrilling, but it wasn’t really for me long term. I knew that.
One of the first times I flew out to see Jeff, he took me to his studio: Jenga Productions, which happened to be in the same historic and nostalgic building that Elvis first produced in. (I got to touch that very piano!)
I also got to see how music writers write. And I was able to bring home some of those takeaways for myself and for my students, which I incorporate into my poetry unit.
But the most memorable night I experienced during my friendship with Jeff was the night he and I went to Skull’s Rainbow Room: a grown-up, speakeasy, swag kind of spot in Printer’s Alley; away from the collegiate bachelor and bachelorette parties that are ubiquitous and cacophonous on the strip.
Skulls was a hidden gem. Not only because of the ambiance and vibe, but because of what happened next.
After grabbing a drink at the bar, we got to chatting with the party next to us: an odd mix of really magnetic people. I had to know them. Who were they? Why were they here? (I guess there’s still a bit of a reporter in me. Or maybe I’m just nosy.)
Turns out, a TED conference had just wrapped up, and its prestigious and eminent speakers had gathered at Skull’s for an after-party. And we were among them. Rubbing elbows. I felt so fancy!
One of my favorite people from that evening was Ella Pigeon Al-Shamahi: a gorgeous and intelligent archaeologist–a real life Indiana Jones. And she was fun. And witty. We’re friends on Facebook. Sometimes I even have the temerity to message her, and she always replies, usually with “Hallo, love”.
My other favorite person from that night was Kiran Singh Sirah: President of the International Storytelling Center. As an English teacher, this was the equivalent of lifting the sword from the stone.
Talk about being in the right place at the right time. I was so inspired! Look at all of these super cool people doing extraordinary things!
I’m ashamed to admit that at the time, I felt humbled to say that I was a teacher.
It was only after time had passed, and I had gained some perspective and context, that I realized this…we are all producers.
I have produced two babies.
I’m working on producing two kind, contributing members to society. (That’s my goal as a mom, right?)
Let’s be honest, I’m trying to produce a day when I don’t count up to 3.
I produced new friendships with people who inspire me.
I also produce laughter.
I produce tears–elicited from all kinds of feelings and conversations.
I produce memories.
I produce student writing that shows voice and authenticity and pride.
I produced a new life.
I produced a new home.
I produced new love.
I produced a new “family”.
I produced my blog.
And I plan on producing more. A lot more. Whatever strikes my fancy.
You don’t have to live in Nashville, or dig up relics, or tell stories on a stage in order to produce great things.
So get out there. Make something.
(Oh, if you’re wondering what happened to Jeff…Matt came along. That’s it. When you know, you know. Yet, I still have the utmost respect and admiration for Jeff at Jenga, even if he doesn’t return my phone calls. I’m only human. I can’t produce everything.)
(Also, the photo pictured above was taken in Nashville. But out of respect, I will keep all other parties mentioned in this blog out of any pictures. If you’re still feeling nosy yourself, you can dig through my old Facebook relics to find some skulls.)