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Take Me Home: København, DNK 


Outside a small cafe in Nørrebro, a “hip” part of København, a man was selling assorted household items on the sidewalk — gently worn shoes, children’s blocks, a giant kitchen timer, etc. 

“Are you having a good day? Are things selling well?” 

“I always have a good day,” he smiled. “It’s important to focus on the good things.” Seeing the notebook under my arm he asked, “Are you American?” 

I looked down and noticed the cover bore a small US flag with “Made in USA” beneath. Shit, I thought. “Yes.” 

“Where do you come from?” 

“Eh….” I never know how to answer this. Every attempt feels like a lie. He laughed. 

“Once I saw a guy on a talent search show who had a similar answer,” he said. “Here, there… the guy was really funny! Are you having a good day?” 

“Eh….” I wasn’t. I was jetlagged, overwhelmed, and sharing a room with a guy who stared with longing and told me I reminded him of his ex-girlfriend. “Just tired.” 

“Come,” he said, moving aside vests and a blanket so we could sit on a bench. “Give me your right hand. You are going to send all your negative feelings to me.” 

My heart surged. Not the surge you’d expect of a young woman meeting a strange man in a foreign city street, but the surge of a struggling sadhu meeting her guru in the forest. As I placed my hand in his my eyes swelled. Paris. Brussels. Terror. Anger. Refugees. Despair. One more puff and I felt like the whole world would fall down. 

“It’s okay, I can take it. Just breathe and know you are safe.” 

A tear slid down my cheek. A bicycle pinged. Sunlight danced on my eyelids. A cool breeze shivered my spine and then… breathing.… I was breathing. 

After a time I opened my eyes and he said, “Fasting during Ramadan has helped me become more positive. It’s a mental as well as a physical fast — to conserve energy one speaks less, is more reflective.” He looked at me so kindly, without judgment or proselytizing. Just compassion. “It’s important to focus on thinking about the good things and only speaking good things.” 

Lately it's hard not to dwell on the bad, sad things… but what does that accomplish? Where does that take me? Who does that empower? When I think of holding hands with a bodhisattva on a bench midway between our respective homelands there is a break in the fog… and I’m reminded that this planet is filled with living, breathing, loving beings and there are so, so many hands to hold if we just reach out our own.

    

Take Me Home: Elkton, FL 


The last time I stayed with my grandparents - before Gram moved to a nursing home - was the first time I stayed with them on my own. As I stepped out of my car and walked across the spiky Floridian grass I felt the rush of being The Grandchild, without my older, louder sister there to take centerstage. (Yes, even as a twenty-something. Many of us who end up onstage are there because of older, louder siblings. It’s the only way we were ever going to be heard.*) 

Yet for the same reason, I felt shy, nervous… even a little scared. Without my sister, mom, aunts, uncles, or cousins, and all the noise and activity they bring with them, who was I in relationship to my grandparents? How would we interact? What would we say? What could they possibly think of this grimy, barefoot vagabond crossing the driveway, car piled to the ceiling with all that Mary Poppins couldn’t fit? 

I didn’t even have to knock before Papa opened the door, eyes twinkling, corners of his mouth turned ever so slightly upward. “How are you!” he said, patting me on the back. And from beneath the cool waves of the fan Gram’s lips emerged, bright like a tropical fish at the end of a long line of “ooooohs.” Gram. It’s difficult to recall Gram then… the past few years have been so hard for her. For Papa. For their children. 

However that afternoon, still able to drive, she went on a secret mission to Publix and returned as I stood in the driveway rolling clean laundry into burritos. “Come here!” she rasped. “Quick, before Papa sees!” I walked to the street to meet her dark sunglasses, half-obscured by a low visor. From the passenger’s seat she presented two bags of trail mix. “I got you this for the road,” she said. Then, placing a folded $20 bill in my hand, “Don’t tell Papa.” 

Of course Papa wouldn’t have minded, though he might have been puzzled by the strange deal going on outside. It wasn’t about the trail mix, nor the $20. It was about the conspiratorial grin. I’d never discussed “the road” with my grandparents, for reasons you can and can’t imagine. But in that moment I felt like Gram, who had given me a subscription to Rolling Stone when I turned ten, got it. No explanation necessary. Even more than that, she wanted to be part of it. And she was. She is. They both are. How could they not be? 

Thank you, Gram. Thank you, Papa. I love you, Shellenbach tribe. 

 

* To be fair, I enjoyed and exploited my sister’s loudness. It/she enabled me to silently witness all the stuff I sing about.

Take Me Home: White Sulphur Springs, MT 

July 26, 2013

I was invited to play a festival in White Sulfur Springs. Merle Haggard would headline, along with Todd Snider, Robert Earl Keen, and other names people recognize. As with other little acts I was asked to play for exposure, which meant a spot to camp in the high desert mid-summer. Having no money, no tent, and a very full car, I obviously said yes and began searching for local concerts to supplement my exposure (to heatstroke), and hopefully, shelter. 

On short notice options were limited; however just an hour and a half away a biker bar in Helena offered me the second set in a three-act metal show and $200. I was thrilled. My third grade state report was on Montana and one of my bffs is Helena, so how bad could it be? (This is why artists need managers.) 

The first act was a three-armed four-piece metal duo. Lugging his Marshall stack onstage with one arm the singer-guitarist-bassist provided me with a new definition for hardworking musician. He screamed, strummed, thumped while my teeth rattled against my chest. I wondered how the crowd would receive my acoustic ballads… but this wasn’t my first metal show. (Metalheads dig alternate tunings.) 

As I began the crowd was silent, attentive, supportive. Then the third act showed up and began dry-humping in front of the stage, shouting profanities and - from where I stood - preparing to kill me. There was a lot of tongue and a lot of fist. I started doubting whether I could hold things together when the sound guy and one of the bartenders dragged the humpers outside and restored peace. I sold a dozen CDs, packed up my gear, and opened the stage door… to a wall of flames. 

Having been obstructed from expressing his anger in general, and towards me, in particular, Humper #1 had set fire to empty boxes and beer cases, alarmingly close to my car. That is, about to explode everything I own. I stood in the doorway not knowing how to respond when once again Bartender and Sound Guy appeared, practically leaping over my head to put out the blaze. (This wasn’t their first metal show.) 

I drove back to White Sulphur Springs in silence, admiring the dark silhouette of the mountains... and smiling. For having survived another night on the road. For the audience, the staff, the musicians - even the humpers. For the money in my pocket and the songs that brought me here. For the festival organizer, who let me sleep in her Airstream. For the Canadians, who adopted me for the remainder of the weekend. For Todd Snider, who made the drive from California worthwhile alone. And most of all, for the exposure.

Thank you.

Take Me Home: Land of Awes 


A few days ago I sat at my desk as the sky turned from blue to gray to green. In the time it took to go outside, close an umbrella, and turn on the electric kettle, a tornado whipped through the area, leaving me in the dark with my hot water. 

Hot water. If you know me you know it's my drink of choice. And I love a long bath. For years I've said it's the ultimate luxury - cold hostel, early morning train, crappy gig - all (most) forgiven with the addition of hot water. 

As birdsong signaled the end of the storm I felt relieved. We were safe. Then I thought: shit, I should've showered this morning. Then I thought: Puerto Rico. Gaza. Port-au-Prince. Aleppo. Kathmandu. Mumbai. Hundreds and thousands and millions without electricity or plumbing, with or without bombs and bullets whipping overhead, never mind an electric kettle. 
 
Just now I crossed the street to fill a pot of water from the lake so I can flush the toilet. I cannot describe the overwhelming awe and gratitude I feel for the soft rain, the full pantry, the proximity to water, and the ability to heat it. We joke about #firstworldproblems but I would happily, gratefully, ecstatically never shower or look at this stupid device again if only everyone had enough food, water, and warm, safe haven. 
 
I can't tell if my heart is breaking for the insane abundance right here, right now, or for the insane disparity right here, right now.

Current Inspiration: my record player 

For the first time in over four years I woke up and turned on my record player. As I lie on the floor listening I re-realized that one of the many things I love about music is its movement - not just of the music being played, but of that which is playing music. Records, CDs, cassettes… revolution. Revolution is essential to music. Music is essential to revolution. 

I feel fortunate to be alive when music still spins. It’s so magical! Like earth, chakras, breath... maybe this is why streaming doesn’t work for me. Aside from the fact that everything’s compressed to shit and makes my head hurt (not to mention that artists aren’t fairly compensated) its energy is so… scattered. One song streams and spills into the next, a big jangly mess of all the wrong keys. Even when I play my favorites, they never make it past the porch. My body remains locked. In need of revolution. 

Maybe I’m loopy after driving 4000+ miles but I’m always loopy and that’s the point. We loop. We spin. Might as well commit to a groove and let it play out. :) In the spirit of spring spirals and new nests everything in the online shop is 20% off plus FREE SHIPPING on everything that spins! 

So happy to be home again. Different yet same home. What a trip.

Take Me Home: Maplewood, MO 


April 3, 2015 I still see her face. Too shy to offer in person she slipped me this note during the concert. I had to drive on somewhere that night, and I regretted it... I wanted to know her, felt like I already did. But sometimes we only have a moment, and that is enough. 

Today as I pack to leave Santa Cruz for the last time (for now) this note drifted out of the cupboard. What a lovely reminder! No matter where we are... Grace lives upstairs. 

Thank you, Grace. Thank you, all people I will never know and yet somehow know because we're all One. Thank you, Santa Cruz family. I will miss you and yet I am with you.

Take Me Home: Charlotte, NC 

November 13, 2010 

For all the strangers I've stayed with I've only used the couchsurfing website a handful of times. While it's connected me with sweet people (namely Danna & Javier) I feel more comfortable winging it and going on intuition. (Well, I never feel comfortable winging it, but it usually works out.) Plus between booking, promoting, driving, performing, and having to be in a different place every day some things need to be left up to chance. Like my physical safety and wellbeing, apparently. 

Fortunately this night I landed with two kind strangers in Charlotte, NC. I had reservations about the bar where I'd be performing so I arranged to meet Paras and Shivani beforehand. It was already dark as I rolled up to their pretty house by the hospital and tapped on the door. Shivani greeted me, led me to a candlelit fireplace, and offered a silver cup of water. A few moments later her husband joined us, demonstrated his sarod, and then asked me if I'd like an acupuncture treatment. Next thing I knew I was lying on their table while he needled my belly and hairy legs. He left me in pitch darkness to rest.

The show turned out to be great - my cousin and her husband drove all the way from Roanoke to surprise me and Gwyneth & Monko played the second set. More than anything, though, it was that I felt connected, grateful, and secure knowing I had a home to return to. We finished close to one and as I had to leave a few hours later I never saw my hosts again (another reason I don't use the couchsurfing site - I always feel like a terrible guest). However Paras and Shivani had prepared steel cut oats for the morning, and I awoke to the fragrance of cinnamon, chopped apples, walnuts, and plump raisins baking in the slow cooker. A silver bowl, a spoon, and a cup of water welcomed me with a sticky note: "enjoy breakfast - help yourself! thank you for being our guest." 

Sigh. People. People are so caring and generous. Don't let voices teach you to fear them. Don't let voices teach you to value money over people or freedom or creativity or your natural impulse to expand, know, explore, become, share, connect. That night like so many nights I didn't make any money for my work yet I was nourished, sheltered, and deeply restored. My accountant might think I'm a failure but I go to sleep feeling like the luckiest girl on the planet. Not that it's a competition. I hope you all fall asleep feeling like the luckiest girl on the planet. 

Thank you, Paras & Shivani. Thank you, Gwyneth & Monko. Thank you Kate & Joe. Thank you to all acupuncturists, massage therapists, and healers who keep me keeping on.

Take Me Home: Fairview Shores, FL 

May 18, 2014

I have no recollection of this night. However my computer tells me I was in Fairview Shores, FL so I assume I went home with someone from the venue. I vaguely remember waking up to a backyard filled with bunnies and hens, and feeding them lacinato kale. And that sweet, sweet Floridian sunlight my skin I can almost taste now... thank you, kind stranger. Happy Saturday, all.

Take Me Home: Stanley, ID 

August 6, 2014

"What is that?" a little boy asked as sunlight rippled through my soles. "That's the singer," his mother whispered. The singer? I wonder how his mind processed this strange, foot-headed creature sprouting up from a bed of deer tracks. I wonder what happened when he went to music class and the teacher asked him to sing. 
 
From childhood we're fed answers. Some are helpful, some aren't, and most threaten our imagination. When looking replaces seeing, when what we're fed replaces how we feel, our experience is no longer ours. By the time we're teenagers it's no wonder we're confused, dissatisfied, suspicious, and angry at those who tried to teach us. We act like we know everything because deep down we sense we've forgotten. Answers, those stories we learned so well, fail to protect us from the discomfort of not knowing. 
 
And then adults - what are adults? Technically I'm an adult, but I'm not fully grown. There will always be more to know, more to grow, and the amount of unknown/ungrown never diminishes. In some ways we're stronger but mostly we're just further from the ground, focused in our heads, frozen by the gnawing knowing that one day we will return to that, down there. We are so scared. Of what? We reach for the sky forgetting we touch it on all sides and instead cling to whatever storyline is available, even if it is barbed. Wouldn't you rather fly? 
 
Don't be afraid of questions. Don't be afraid of not having answers. Every quest begins with a question and the point isn't to find answers but to find more questions so that we may continue these wonderful, strange, scary, frustrating, exhilarating, tragic, hilarious, joyful lives. We're all heroes on a journey, blossoms on a stem. We are creating a new world, every moment. 
 
Embarking on a new quest in a couple weeks. See you in Santa Fe, Taos, and Las Vegas. Happy Spring. 
 
Thank you, Redfish Lake Lodge. Thank you, Sawtooths. Thank you, Paul.

Take Me Home: Boulder, CO 


“We have a job to do, reclaiming our glory. It’s work, and it will not please everyone. We will be called grandiose. We will be accused of being in dangerous denial, of our faults, our neuroses, our weaknesses. But it’s an ancient trick this, telling a woman that her glory is her sickness. You bet we’re in denial. We deny the power of weakness in our own past. We are on to better things, such as owning our beauty and honoring the courage it has taken us to get here and claiming our natural power to heal and be healed. We’re not grandiose, but we’re tired - tired of pretending we’re guilty when we know we’re innocent, that we’re plain when we know we’re beautiful, and that we’re weak when we know we’re strong. For far too long, we have forgotten we are cosmic royals. Our mothers forgot, their mothers forgot, and their mothers before them. We regret their tears; we mourn their sadness. But now, at last, we break the chain.”

- Marianne Williamson in A Woman’s Worth, which after a year of traveling in my backseat I finally started to read this morning. Then I remembered - Happy International Women’s Day!

Photo by my friend Meridith on April 18, 2015 at her studio in Boulder. I was touring west to California while booking a tour east to NY and Europe while finalizing Passenger artwork so that it could come out a few weeks later... I was really tired. But Meridith and Izzy (pictured) kept me smiling. 

Thank you, queens. 

<3

Take Me Home: Amsterdam, NLD 

April 1, 2011 

I arrived in Amsterdam courtesy of an 82-year-old lead-footed ex-sailor who’d forgotten his glasses in Belgium. He had me watch for signs (and bumpers) as he floored it north, cursing every Dutch and German driver with maniacal cackling that erupted into chest-heaving spasms I feared would take us both out. The grand finale was when my new friend maneuvered us onto the tracks of an oncoming train - facing our deaths for the hundredth time that day the old sailor swung our little ship over the median just in time, laughing in shock and narrowly missing a flock of cyclists. 

As you might imagine I was trembling as I tumbled out of the car to meet Joris (pronounced “gorgeous”), who I’d met through a friend I’d met via the internet who he’d met through a friend through Burning Man… I can’t remember the details, but we’d never met before. And yet Joris invited me to stay in his houseboat for a few days. After a quick tour and instructions on how to operate the gas fireplace he handed me the keys to his palace and went to stay with a friend so that I could enjoy solitude. 
  
People. People are so incredibly kind, so generous, so thoughtful, so freaking funny, if a little unhinged. 

Naturally I spent three days in ecstasy. But that's another story for another day. Enjoy the Oscars! Or whatever you're doing this evening. :D
  
Thank you, Joris. Thank you, dear sailor. Thank you, Amsterdam. 

Take Me Home: Big Sur, CA 

July 2, 2012 I unzipped the tent and crawled towards the moon. Full again, she splashed me awake and I hesitated before slipping into the cold air. The marine layer glowed like silver springs of Avalon. I sat in the mist, a thirsty deer, wide-eyed and watchful. There she was. That familiar face. Always present to witness my rises and my falls. 

I couldn’t sleep, and not because of John’s snoring. I was too full of excitement. Too full of life. Too full of love. I couldn’t possibly squeeze all my feelings into that little tent. I needed space to shine. 

So I sat and I waited while planets shifted and the trajectory of my life changed forever. Love will do that. Some say love makes us crazy, but I say love reveals who we truly are. Is life not crazy? Are we not the big bang, still banging? Either we’re batshit insane or we’re sleeping. 

I held up my doubts, fears, and endless questions. The moon poured into each crevasse. Gulping, gulping, gulping… I knew in that moment I’d quit my job, leave Los Angeles, and return to the road. I renewed my vows, pledging to always follow my heart through the twists and turns of its valves and veins, not knowing how, but nevertheless to keep on beating on. 

I can’t tell you what those answers are, but I still feel them coming into being, pulsating, softly banging where the echos of the past meet the edges of the future... 

Thank you, John. Thank you, Big Sur. Thank you, California. Thank you, Moon.  

Take Me Home: Santa Cruz, CA (#2) 


Today I reached a new level of guest-host intimacy when I went to Planned Parenthood for a routine pap and who was there to greet my knees but one of my former Airbnb hosts! I can now update my review to "went above and beyond... and below." Ha!

Before he prodded my cervix Dr. Airbnb prodded my boundaries. A year ago I stayed with him and his wife in a cute bungalow in my favorite part of town. Right from the beginning his presence felt invasive and combative, even to someone from NYC. I loved the house, but I couldn't stand to be there when he was home.  

As with many times I've initially clashed with someone, the shell cracked and I opened up. He met me there. I learned that as a teenager he'd joined a cult that encouraged aggression. He learned that I'm (overly) sensitive. Over the kitchen island we discussed music, dance, spirituality, psychedelics, relationships, travel, life, love.... By the time I checked out conflict yielded to love.  

While it's nice to immediately "click" with someone, relationships that challenge us offer more opportunities for growth. I never set out to live onstage, nor in other people's homes. Heck, I'm an INFP who never got sent to her room as punishment because "a room of one's own" is the greatest gift I could ever ask for. I'm still searching for that room. Sometimes walking around this earth without a shell feels unbearable. I'm not as graceful (or grateful) at I'd like it to be, that's for sure. 

In the meantime I'm learning how to be at home in this body, following the road as it's paved, one rainbow block at a time, soul to sole. I don't know where I'm going but with each orbit around the sun I feel less disturbed by this unknowing. Or maybe more comfortable with the disturbance. Less deluded by the knowing. The spirals feel a little less like a ferris wheel and a little more like that gentle hum of the highway... mmm... 

Thank you for sharing space with me, and for teaching me how to share it. Despite my resistance I recognize I signed up for this ride a long time ago. And I love it so much. Maybe the crossroads is the cross where we die and are reborn each time we commit and commit and commit.... endless grids covering the earth. Opportunities to move not just forward but toward. To connect. To love. It's right here, always. 

Take Me Home: Yellowstone National Park 


June 20, 2013 I arrived in West Yellowstone anxious. After stopping at the venue I took my dry eyes and dusty joints for a walk around town, three or four square blocks. Buffalo This, Buffalo That. As with most nights I worried not about my performance but where the hell I was going to sleep, whether I’d make money, and getting to tomorrow’s gig in time. Romantic, isn’t it? But this is how touring dissolves performance anxiety. There simply isn’t enough energy left after all the other anxiety. 

After weeks of crossing the Rockies to the West Coast and back, and with a ten hour drive to the Black Hills looming (assuming there wouldn’t be any bison traffic jams), I wasn’t looking forward to singing for three hours to people eating burgers and watching the basketball game above my head. I wanted to sleep. But this strange oasis of gimmicky motels, bars, and German tourists was going to be a tough place to find a host. Who wants a singer crashing their vacation? (Oy - I stayed with those people once - not good.) 

Mostly I was irritable because I came all this way and I wasn’t going to be able to see Yellowstone National Park. It was my own doing - I could have scheduled days off. But didn’t think I could afford to. Summer in the Rockies is comparatively lucrative for touring musicians, but by that I mean we can likely cover gas and basmati for three-four hours of performing and then drive all day to repeat, and repeat, and repeat. It’s a crazy way to make a living, but love is crazy. And we love it. And love tends to work itself out.
 
So I sang while my audience ate burgers and watched the basketball game above my head. And, as with every night, all that deep breathing and toning massaged my heart open and I loved my job again. Wheels stopped spinning. Something shifted. Music. Life. Bliss. 
 
I finished my last set and began to pack up, contemplating my next move, when a young woman from North Carolina approached and asked if I needed a place to stay. She and her boyfriend were working at the park for the summer, and if I wanted to I could stay with them - inside Yellowstone Park.  

Do you see how this crazy love magic becomes addictive?!

So a little before midnight I drove us into the park. We convinced a skeptical ranger that I was driving Ellen’s car because she’d been drinking, and then we followed the almost-full moon into the forest. With windows cracked the cold air broke to the sound of heavy breathing - a glass-eyed bison clopped alongside us mechanically, alarmingly large from within an arm’s reach. Steam rose ghostlike from Grand Prismatic as my new friend and I discussed ancient matters of the heart and mine exploded: awe, gratitude, wonder, joy, excitement, love. Who was that cranky girl on the sidewalk a few hours ago? 

We went to the boys’ room, where bottles of beer covered every surface - tables, floor, bathroom sink, behind the toilet. Cases stacked by the door. They offered me one of the bare mattresses and took to the floor between the two twins. Curled up in my sleeping bag I woke up two hours later, too excited to sleep. Plus I needed to leave by four to make soundcheck in South Dakota and bison traffic jams are a real thing. So I eased into the cool darkness as a blue glow rose over Yellowstone Lake, where trees scattered across the massive slopes like matchsticks and my spirit drank deeply.  

If a picture is worth 1000 words Yellowstone National Park is worth at least 1000 pictures. Thank you, Ellen and Brian. Thank you, National Park Service. Thank you, Earth. 

Take Me Home: Castiglione delle Stiviere, ITA 


April 17, 2011 The first time I met Lorenzo (in this lifetime) was in front of la stazione di Desenzano del Garda-Sirmione. I’d just arrived in Italy via Milano, where I promptly hustled to the bathroom to don makeup and dust the crumbs off my “traveling clothes,” i.e. the same pair of yoga pants I’d worn every day for a month. 

Hustled is a lie. My suitcase weighed as much as I did and back then the smaller stations didn’t have elevators. However I quickly discovered that every station comes equipped with Italian men. Dio mio… as I approached the stairs a god descended to offer assistance, moving with such grace I swore he carried the beast with his pinky finger. Through the drool I whispered “grazie mille,” to which he replied “prego,” at which point I thought, yes, I imagine I am now pregnant. 
 
Sigh… where was I? Oh yes, springtime in Italy. As I think back to waiting for Lorenzo in front of that dripping fountain where teenagers groped each other under the young foliage I realize I can’t possibly fit this story into a little box on your screen. Italy requires words… many, many words. There was the concert, the absinthe, the night in the dance studio, the day at Lake Garda, the formation of our metal band, the un-metal performance of our metal band, the feast, the hugs, the laughter… and the strange, blue-haloed full moon under which we recognized a soul mate. 

Thank you, Lorenzo. Thank you, Anna. Thank you, dear Castiglione delle Stiviere family. I love you to the moon and back. ? 

Take Me Home: San Francisco, CA 


February 4, 2008 The first time I went home with a complete stranger was in San Francisco. (Not counting the time Helena and I camped in Fishman's high school girlfriend's yard during Gathering of the Vibes. Alleged ex-girlfriend graciously invited us to eat cold Chef Boyardee on lawn chairs in front of her house and to use her bathroom, which had chili pepper lights encircling the mirror, which I thought was very cool.) 
 
However this time it was Super Bowl Sunday and I was singing at a venue/laundromat/bar/internet café called Brainwash. Aside from the bartender the audience consisted of a handful of disinterested laptops, their operators, and a couple of spin cycles. I didn't make a cent. Nor a fan, though during the concert (if you can call it that) one guy looked me up online and emailed just to say "hey." 
 
Sigh... there have been so many nights like this. Having set out with dreams of stardom I found myself stranded in cold, starless San Francisco with no money for a room and no friend to call. That's when Rashi approached. 
 
"Are you really going to sleep in your car?” 
“Mmm. I don’t really know where I’ll go.” 
“If you want, you can stay with me.” 
 
The fog lifted. I waited while she closed and then we drove up and down San Francisco’s hills, lights rising and falling in silent waves. I carried my sleeping bag and guitar inside the creaky blue house, stepping around plants, boots, and bicycles. She gave me a bag of the day-old bagels and a bottle of juice, showed me a place to spread out, smoked a bowl on her bed, and fell asleep. 

I washed my face with cold water and paused before the kitchen window, soaking in the view. From here the city twinkled, a rainbow of stars. 

Thank you, Rashi, wherever you are. Thank you to all who have sheltered me from the storms. I couldn't have made it without you.

Take Me Home: Jodhpur, IND 


February 3, 2013 I’d only been in India a few days when I got sick. Like call-mom-I’m-on-the-other-side-of-the-globe-and-I-might-die-here-sick. Ironically, the last thing I’d written in my journal before the alien began to claw through my abdomen was “How can I possibly digest all of this?” Apparently I couldn’t. 
 
And no, I’m not just referring to the piles of curry, though I could’ve done without the parasites. It was the babies crawling through gutters filled with trash where cows grazed and shat next to men getting shaved or perhaps their teeth pulled with metal pliers beside older women dragging carts of produce heavier than themselves and younger women balancing wood on their heads while stray dogs lounged in the road, too hungry, too tired, too defeated to move. 

I felt so sad. I felt so grateful. I felt so compelled. I felt so repelled. I felt so much I lost the ability to feel. I became a sea of sari rainbows weaving across the desert and I felt lost. 
 
My time in India was a journey through glass - cars, guides, swanky hotels, hot showers, bottled water. The discrepancy was too much. Pressure accumulated. The glass had to shatter. And when it did I found myself again, dipping in and out of consciousness on this rope bed in a villager’s home, peaceful and calm away from the city as birds sang to twilight, the air a perfect blend of cool and warm against my aching skin… 

Home. Thank you for your homes. Thank you for your humanity, and your ability and willingness to connect. I’ve never been good at boundaries. I know they’re healthy and helpful and they keep the parasites at bay but I can’t ignore our connection. We are literally the same earth, eating her and feeding her when we move on from these physical bodies. What makes us different from parasites? Is earth not hosting us? Have thousands of you not hosted me? Am I not a parasite? 

Take Me Home: Bolinas, CA 


January 24, 2008 I’d had a rough night at a cheap motel in Oakland. As I'd arrived several police cars were hauling away guys in handcuffs. “Well, at least it’s well monitored,” I figured as I slid my credit card through a slit in the bulletproof glass. Throughout the night my neighbors fought, sirens and car alarms raged, and I waited for the sun to rise through a little hole in the curtain. 

And it did! (Well, as much as it does in the Bay Area.) At first gray I departed as rain trickled down the windshield and Leonard sang, “rain falls down on last year’s man.” I stopped in Berkeley to poke around Amoeba, sell clothes at Buffalo Exchange, and split a wolverine (chocolate pastry from Cheeseboard Collective - RIP gluten) with a sleepy girl on a stoop off Shattuck. I reached the coast just in time for a foggy sunset. 
 
Sky, sea, and road melted into a wet glob of cobalt as I snaked up Highway 1. Redwoods thickened, huddling like skeletons before my headlights. "Where the hell am I?" Just north of San Francisco I felt like I was taking the backroad to Hogwarts. 

Having missed my turn I stopped for directions in Olema, where the bartender explained that locals took down road signs because they didn’t want outsiders in their town. (RIP pre-GPS/smartphone mysteries.) Within minutes I’d found Bolinas - essentially a café, a gas station, a market, a hippie shop, and the hotel/bar where I’d be playing. And a lot of vibes. 
 
Bird preservationists from the nearby estuary drank beer and listened politely while I sang. Oddly, they all looked like birds. The woman who booked me (through Myspace, RIP) had coke-bottle glasses and frizzed-out hair, the Professor Trelawney of my Hogwarts experience. Frazzled old men and golden retrievers wandered in and out of the rainy night. With $85 in my pocket and a free room to sleep in, things were looking up. 

Take Me Home: Santa Cruz, CA 

January 22, 2008 From L.A. I twisted north through the Grapevine, narrowly missing the fourth snowstorm of the week. When I arrived at the house of my mom's friend I couldn't see the ocean but I could smell it, I could feel it, and I could hear it. Maybe first impressions really are everything. 

Santa Cruz is the one place I've returned to more times than I've left. Ten years later I'm in the same friend's house, though now she's my friend and we're in a different house down the street. Like that first night I will fall asleep listening to the waves, inhaling a mixture of gratitude, awe, and anxiety. "I love it here SO MUCH! Nancy is so freaking good to me. Gosh those seals are cute. I hope there isn't an earthquake. What would happen in a tsunami? Could I ever afford to live here?" 
 
I come from a different shore, where we're raised to worry. But I've learned to trust the tide and by the time I exhale the waves will have worked their magic and I'll be drifting off to sleep....  
 
Thank you, Nancy. Good night, all.

Take Me Home: Ojai, CA 


January 21, 2011 Flash forward a few years - I was still runnin' down a dream though runnin' out of stream when @beatricewoodcenter invited me to spend a month in Ojai as songwriter-in-residence. (More on Beato and Happy Valley to come - sign-up link in profile). 
 
From NYC I landed in the golden hills of Happy Valley twirling like Julie Andrews. On this particular day, halfway through the residency, I'd ridden that ecstatic arrival through the rough wake that follows any abrupt stop. Alone in a house of spirits nighttime noises took getting used to. Quail flew into darkened glass doors and my thoughts - no longer wrung out by long drives and loud concerts - were a cyclone. Ravenous, dreaming wildly, writing profusely, I spent the previous night cocooned in my sleeping bag, a matryoshka doll, a nest within a nest within a nest. 
 
In the daylight I emailed hundred venues for a European tour, mailed posters for a US tour, and then broke the monotony (satisfying in its own way) to bask in the pink moment, when sunset illuminates Topatopa Mountains. Weaving through the amber fields as they took on the underwater hues of early evening I paused under my favorite story-telling tree. "Do more things that are irrelevant." I walked up to the Ojai Foundation and swung on a swing until the cool air beckoned coyote's first call. 
 
The rest of the night passed blissfully doing what I love best - putting words with music. 
 
Thank you, Beato, Kevin, Sheryl, & Maryann. 
 
The Center survived the wildfire however there is considerable damage to the property. Please visit their page and consider becoming a member or making a purchase to support the fantastic work they're doing for peace, love, and art.

Take Me Home: Hollywood, CA 


January 20, 2008 As I approached Los Angeles my lazy Sunday desert drive became a video arcade of wide lanes, fast cars, and bright lights. I had no smartphone, no wifi, no GPS, but I did have a Motel 6 directory and I called every location. The whole town was booked. Not knowing where to turn I continued up 101, high on hope, and I waited for my sign. "Magical things happen in LA," I thought. "Tom Petty lives here." 

Most of you know Tom Petty was/is/forever will be my hero. More than a hero, his voice has been that of a rock-and-roll-surrogate-angel-father guiding me through adolescence (and it's all adolescence). I don't know if his music saved my life but something close to it. It gave me life. I was only five-years-old when I first heard Full Moon Fever but dreams are timeless and in those songs I heard my own. A fuse ignited, coiling all the way from that small Vermont town to the City of Angels.... 
 
Vermont Avenue - there was my sign. I exited and followed Vermont Avenue to a fluorescent Travelodge, the office windows fogged-up and ominous under the full moon. They had a room, but for an outrageous $85/night - more than I'd made on tour so far, and a lot less than I'd lost. I hesitated and turned to leave. Where could I go? Beside my foot a familiar face stared up from the current LA Weekly cover story, "A Sound Map of Tom Petty's Los Angeles.” 

I tucked the paper under my arm, handed over my credit card, and filled in the plate information. On the way upstairs I spooked a mouse and bolted myself inside as a roach skittered into the bathroom. Flipping open Tom’s map, the only map I had of Los Angeles, I scanned record labels, studios, venues... and then, "Travelodge: Petty lived at the Travelodge with his wife while recording the first album. His daughter was born just after they moved to L.A., and while living at the hotel they put her in a drawer as a crib. 1401 N. Vermont Ave."  

Workin' on a mystery 
Goin' wherever it leads  
Runnin' down a dream 

Thank you, Tom. 

Take Me Home: Tucumcari, NM 


January 19, 2008 From Kansas City I drove to Tucumcari, NM, where I "slept" in my car before driving to Los Angeles. Quotations because the desert wind was so strong, cold, and scary I sat up every twenty minutes to put on the flashlight and/or heat. 

Not a day goes by when I don't think about how fortunate I am for these wheels, my privilege, and the generosity of those who have sheltered my body and spirit. What about those who aren't so fortunate? We can't change the desert wind but we can change a lot of other things. 

Take Me Home: Overland Park, KS 


January 18, 2008 I was touring cross-country for the first time, ecstatic and terrified. Iowa was an endless hunger of hard snow and bible radio. In Omaha I made $20, listened to a guy cover "Red, Red Wine," and camped out at a Motel 6 until a blizzard threatened to keep me there forever. My Kansas City show was so empty you could hear the snow tinkling outside but the bartender turned me on to Serge Gainsbourg so overall it was a success. 

Not knowing anyone west of the Mississippi and quickly realizing #tourlife #aintcheap I called my high school boyfriend's younger brother's best friend's mother in Overland Park, KS. I feared she might kick me out when she realized I was the Bad Influence who introduced her son to Goddard and encouraged him to follow his heart but we made peace over spaghetti (RIP gluten). I slept deeply and awoke gratefully with a cat curled at my feet, Ananda (pictured, also RIP due to Let It Breathe but a nice guy in Atlanta has her now) by my side, and a $50 bill tucked under the snow-covered driver's door handle. 

Thank you so much for making this work possible. If I'd had known how wacky and windy this road would become I never would have set out on it and I'm so glad I did. 

As I work on the next projects I'm taking a hiatus from touring. I already miss it and yet I'm very tired (in bed with a hot water bottle feels more appropriate than onstage right now) and I'm also very excited for New Stuff that requires time, attention, and energy.  

In the meantime I'm going to post photos from the journey thus far. There are tens of thousands. As some of you know I've been taking pictures of every place I sleep for ten years so I'm thinking that's a good place to start... as a daily reminder of gratitude, and of how acts of kindness carry and transform our lives.