Monday, March 21, 2005

Home Alone

Being in Nashville alone is sooo much worse than being on the road alone. Dante and I are booorred. I forget how much that I really dont do here in nashville. Aside from the occasional sub-job and church- i think Holly and I must just sit around all the time. Since she left on Friday, I think the only times i have been off the couch have been to go fishing, get up and get my guitar, go to the library, and take the dog out.
Oh, and we did go to the part yesterday to sniff around. I basically felt bad for Dante because he just sits around and looks at the door, just sure that Holly will come through any minute. So I took him out and just let him lead me for a while, sniffing at every blade of grass at this little park by our house. I am always puzzled why the smell of other dogs poop is so fascinating to him. I mean, he goes Sherlock on it- sniffing from every angle and position... upwind, downwind, and I pull him away just before he ventures that little tongue out to taste... gross. Thats the one thing I would not like about being a dog. Well, that and the food- ive tasted his dogfood and it's not gourmet, I dont care what the bag says.
Anyway- back to being lonely. We have three TV stations at our house. Three. One of them is PBS. So... two, really.
Although, I watched a documentary on Elvis and his gospel roots- and one on Appalacian music... so I guess I got my tax money out of it this weekend.
The dishes are kind of scary. Im sure the sink was empty when I left- and I could not have used all the dishes that are in there now. Someone is eating on all my plates. You know when the sink is so full of dishes that you cant figure out how to start washing them? Im past that point.
ANd the house? I forgot what a slob I am. And Dante- there is so much hair... i cant believe how much he loses- I would have thought he would be naked by now.
Also- since i am married and have a "perma-friend", I have forgotten how few other friends I have in nashville. There is Donnie- who is very busy, good for him. There is Blake Howard, who also is curiously busy... and the guys from our lifegroup. I went fishing and watched boxing with Jon Essner- caught a few... but Im convinced that I am a bad luck charm... He usually catches tons of fish, but everytime I go with him- we catch like three. Im trying to think- do I have any other single friends in town? Caroline... but Im not looking to hang out with a bunch of girls.
I guess what it all boils down to - what I really want is for my closest, prettiest, sexiest friend to come back soon. (No brandon and Jarod- Im not talking about you guys.) Im glad that she is there- (she is having a blast, by the way- she says hi) but I dont like me without her. Thats about it.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Songs for Sale...

The meeting went well. Today I met with a "big" guy in Christian music (as big as the Xian industry gets, anyway...). He had been interested about a year and a half ago, right when i came out of college, in me coming and writing music under his publishing/management/record company. I didnt know what I was doing and really wanted to accomplish a few things before he and I talked again- so... I waited a year and a half, got married, moved to nashville, toured full time (with a little landscaping and sub. teaching...), recorded an album, released an album, sold many units of said album, and now here I am, talking to the same guy about the same thing.
Mostly, I feel like I STILL don't know what I am doing. We did the books tonight and realized that after I pay Wally, Shell Gasoline, McDonalds, and George Bush- I made exactly... something like...around... a thousand dollars from these last shows. Wow. Raking it in, TJ. Not that we have not been successful- we have. But being away from Holly for three weeks is not worth a thousand dollars profit.
It has been an amazing year that has taught me so much about God's will and my own lack of trust in Him and in myself. The album is good, better than I ever thought it would be. The connections that I have made are good- lots of guys in town have worked hard to have less. God continues to bring people into my life who uplift,support, encourage (and promote) me. And here I am sometimes still wondering what the heck Im doing in Nashville.
Yet, this Nashville dream has taken an interesting turn.
It could be a step forward. It could be a sidebar. It could mean a possible end to a certain part of this dream. I dont know yet, and wont know for a while.
This guy, this music guy, tells me today that he still is really interested in me coming to work for him as a songwriter. Basically, he tells me that he doesnt see me as an artist right now- the album is good, the voice is good, the image is OK... but the songs... the songs are great, he tells me. So he wants the songs- and more of them... for his artists, and other artists, too. His company pitches them to other artists. If that song gets on the radio- I get paid. He gets paid. (this is a very loose explanation)
He says -from this point, I can get to know the industry- I can make connections- I can co-write with some great writers and artists- and continue to do what i am doing independently with my music. I can still record and sell indie albums, I can still tour and play, like I am doing now. There is still a possibility that someone could want to sign me as an artist- actually, a better possibility in some instances. Lots of guys get their start writing for other people. As a signed writer, some booking agents would be more open to working with me- booking me in the places that my current company can't really put me.
So- do I want to do this? Do I want to see myself primarily as a writer, and not an artist? Can I stomach other people going out and playing my songs night after night? I guess it all depends on the royalty checks... but truthfully- i think it is something I COULD do. When I get right down to it- if someone offered me a chance to be be the next John Mayer or Maroon 5 or Garth Brooks or whoever is huge right now- I dont know that I would jump at the chance. Do I really want to be that? Spend that kind of time? Do I really want to be on the road even more than I am right now? The truth is- I WANT to get paid more to do less of the travel and more of the creative stuff. Maybe this is an answer...?
I am getting together with one of his other staff writers to talk about what its like to work for the company- that will happen next week sometime, and until then, I will probably worry and fret and think and wonder and freak out.
Also- I got a call from the guy who I met with a few weeks ago- the guy who wanted to send me to Amsterdam... he wants me to play in the Tin Pan South- Christian showcase. Its the first christian stage at this big writer's/publishers' weekend here in nashville and it should be a good place to get heard and seen by industry folk... pumped to be asked to do that. Thats a good step forward..., but again, as a songwriter, not as an artist, really.
All in all- it was a good day- however stressful the opportunities might be- they are still opportunities. It may or may not be a step towards what I am looking for- but we will see. It will take some time and prayer to figure it out (yours and mine!)... but for now- I guess Im happy to have something new to worry about.
Thanks for reading this monster of a blog
Love you guys-
P.S.- I forgot green today and escaped all the pinches. Why am I sad about that?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Being back home is good. I have been around for the last few days- trying to meet with people and get the CD into some important ears... no huge progress yet, but we shall see. The week is not over yet. I did have some good news, though- Oklahoma Christian wants to bring me in next week- Im pumped about that- been trying to get that going for a while, now.
And last, but not least... Holly is going to Guatemala this week.
Yesterday one of the ministers in charge of missions came to her and asked if she wanted to go- they had an extra ticket and needed a translator. All expenses paid- just show up and speak in tongues. She is really excited- this is her passion- it would be like me getting a call to open up for James Taylor next week. (he called but I had some other stuff going on...)
The tables are now turned. Instead of me being the one running all over the world having fun and living crazy (like thats what I do)- she is now the globetrotter, leaving me home to watch the dog and keep the house decently clean. I have to say Im a little sad, mostly because when she gets back it will be time for me to leave again... but Im really excited for her to go and have this experience. She has worked so hard to help support my dreams and ambitions, Im pumped that she has the chance to go and reconnect with hers. Plus, Ill drive to OC next week and maybe stick around a few days in Tulsa or Dallas, depending on how the rest of the week shakes out.
Im having coffee in the morning with Zane Williams- if you havent heard him- you need to- He is one of my true heroes and an amazing artist. He is coming out with a new CD in the next few months that was produced by Mitch Dane ( Waterdeep, Jarsof Clay, Bebo Norman) and im sure it will be kickin. check him out at
Also tomorrow- Im meeting with Michael Blanton- He is one of the biggest guys in Christian Music- manages the careers of MW Smith and Amy Grant- Bebo Norman, and tons of others... also has a billion connections- im not sure what to expect from him- he hasnt heard the CD yet, but has been interested in me in the past, even if not as an artist. Pretty sure I'm going to get a "best wishes" and "lots of luck"... but you never know, I guess. In any case, he is a great guy who has been really kind to me through some of this madness. You guys be praying for me there- Im pretty nervous about this one!
Talk to you later- TJ

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Leaving Las Vegas

here I am with all the other losers.... McCarran Intl. Airport in LasVegas, NV. We all came here for a good time and I guess most of us got what we paid for. There are only a couple of people at the terminal that look like they might have lost more than they could be happy about.
Holly and I met Brandon, one of my best friends and college roomates. We grew up together, went to college together and now live light years apart- he is in Salt Lake and I am in Nashville. Kind of wierd to not have him around for the last year or so. He and his wife moved to Salt Lake- he works for the Jazz- definitely a dream come true for him.
Well- we all met this weekend in Vegas to have a kind of reunion- stayed with one of thier cousins and walked the strip for a few days.
I was interested in Vegas. It gets so much press... but I found that it really is not what I expected. Did not expect the smoke.Everyone in Vegas smokes. Everyone smokes everywhere. There are very few places that are smoke free... and as a nerdy asthmatic- i was fighting my lungs the whole weekend. Im not sure I could get that much smoke in my lungs if I actually lit up- As a result- It makes an otherwise flashy, sparkling, exciting place kind of feel dingy and trashy.
The other thing I didnt expect was the old people. Vegas is full of old, old people. Not all the pretty people you see on the Monday night TV show. If they are not old- they are big. Big big big. If they arent big- they are wearing clothes that leave too little to the imagination- which truthfully- is fine for the showgirls... but not the grandmas.
Would have gambled more, but i really dont know how. Everything is hard... even the slots... i have no idea how to start playing craps, and even roulette can really be confusing if the table moves fast. Youd think they would want to make it easy to spend money there.
We had a really great time, though. There is something alluring to the millions of lights- and it feels like you spend the whole time looking for your "perfect" Vegas... feeling like it is right around the corner, surely. Maybe the Bellagio.
There is a lot to do in Vegas, though. We had fun on some of the rides and there is always something going on... nothing seems out of place we drove down one neighborhood road on the way home and found five teenagers spitting fire in the street. we watched them for a bit and drove on. In nashville, there would be police on you in five minutes. people would freak. The food is good, the show that we went to was great and the people were fun to watch. that may have been the best part... it was NASCAR weekend... Im sure you can imagine how that changed the Vegas dynamic for us. Probably not the best weekend to gauge an experience. Never seen so many mullets.
The best part of the trip was just spending time with a close friend and remembering how much fun we can have together, especially when there are people around who are asking to be made fun of....
Holly flew out to nashville last night and I am flying out to Chicago tonight to drive home. Looking forward to being home for a bit!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

More Coffee and Homelessness

So I am Homeless again. This is a common feeling for me. Since I travel so much, and only sometimes have a hotel room waiting for me, I often feel like I have nowhere- nowhere to sit and read or talk on the phone or write music or whatever. It is an interesting feeling and one that makes me lonelier than i like to admit sometimes.
I guess my car might be considered home- or even "homey"- especially since it is so messy, but truthfully, it doesnt quite do the job. Something about four walls and a bed make you feel like you belong there, if only for the night.
I got up this morning from the Sheraton and had a late check-out. I love late check outs, cause it delays the amount of time you spend looking for somewhere to kill time before your show that evening. I turn in the key card and head out to the car. A pint of milk from the gas station and the cereal I brought with me is breakfast/lunch. I sit, munching on "Kashi GoLean Crunch", listening to Rush Limbaugh, and looking at a map of Ancient Greece that I brought with me. (The books I have been reading are set there- Pressfield's "Last of the Amazons" and "The King Must Die" by Mary Renault. ) After draining the tupperware container of leftover milk, I pull out of the parkinglot and head to the nearest movie theatre(er). It is connected to a Mall and doesnt open until 1:00, so I walk around and browse the empty stores. 1:00 rolls around and I elect to see "The Jacket", an indie film with Adrian Brody, Kiera Knightley, and Kris Kristofferson (love that guy). Not a good choice. Kiera went topless in this one and I have to say... it made me really mad. I love Kiera, and have seen just about everything she's been in- did not want to see her sans-clothes. Its like seeing Sandra Bullock or Meg Ryan naked. Girls you love on screen but don't think of like that... No reason for it. The movie was pretty slow and confusing and kind of depressing-(as all indie films seem to be).
Get out of the movie and browse through Barnes & Noble- found a place to listen to any CD eve MADE... wow. I spent three hours there listening to the entire catalog of my favorite artists. Van Morrison, James Taylor, John Prine (new favorite),and a bunch of folk artists that I had never heard of. some good stuff- nothing remarkable.
Left there and moved on to another coffee shop to check email and drink another Chai. So here I am. It is owned by some east-Africans who are very nice and let me just sit here all evening on the computer. I felt obliged to buy another drink after an hour or so, but truthfully, it is a small price to pay to feel connected- connected to Jonathan's hospital room in NYC, connected to Fuller in Grand Rapids, connected to Holly as I bug her to death with emails- the show is at 9:30 tonight and then I am done with MN for this spring. Hopefully.
After the show tonight I am driving back to Chicago to step on a plane and meet Holly, Brandon Carter and his wife Lori in Las Vegas!!!! I am so pumped. he and I havent seen each other in about a year.. and Lori set this up as his Bday present. I have no idea how to gamble, but we are going to blow every bit of our $20 or come away with millions. I feel it. My game will be roulette... or craps... Or maybe I just have to go to the bathroom.
Wish me luck- TJ

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Wanna trade?

There are times, like today, that I would love to trade jobs with someone. A baker. A landscaper. A minister. A church secretary. Im sure that somewhere there is someone who would love to trade with me. Lets go day for day. Ill give you my day for yours.
I started this day(s) yesterday at 3:00pm. I packed up and left nashville after a meeting with a publishing guy who basically told me I was good and had good stuff... but thats all. No "and here is what I want to do with/for you"... have to say I was a little disappointed, but mostly because I went in not knowing much about him and his business. Would not have been a good fit, i think. Dont just want to write Christian songs... dont just want to be a songwriter. But it was good to get him crossed off the contact list. I have opened that door and closed it. No ambiguity there- Except that he said he wanted to send the CD to a friend of his who does publishing in Amsterdam. Hmm. Not exactly what I had in mind.. but hey- remember the Phillipines.
I left that meeting and got on the road to the Twin Cities. Not the best way to make a fourteen hour drive, starting at 3:00pm. I had the show today at noon in Saint Paul, and figured i would drive until I was tired and then sleep in the car for a few hours, then drive on in and play the show. I dont like to drive at night anymore, really... I pretty much made Holly a promise that I wouldnt drive overnight anymore, but there really was no way to help it- I really had to meet with Mr. Amsterdam and then get to MN.
I drive until about two, pull over and sleep for an hour and a half in some parking lot, wake up cold and cramped, get back on the road, drive for another hour and then pull over again, leave the car on this time w/ the heat on, sleep for two hours, get up and drive on to Eau Claire, Wisc, only about an hour outside of St Paul, this time I (discreetly) pee and sleep for another few hours in a deserted Holiday Inn parking lot. ( runon sentence...who needs periods, anyway) Then I rolled into St. Paul and got ready for the show that no one in the student activities office knew anything about. Sit around and wait for the sound guy who might show up- and sing to the students, who might have noticed I was there, for about an hour and twenty interminable minutes. No one knows anything about any checks... i leave a message for my contact who wasnt there and head out for... well.... nowhere. I have to play here in town tomorrow night, so I am stuck here for a while. I think I might have a hotel room paid for me tonight if I can just get ahold of the coordinator lady. So... I drove down here and set up camp at a little dive of a coffee shop in Dwntwn St. Paul. This place is out of a movie. Teeny tiny- sign says COFFEE and INTERNET. The "INTERNET" is scrawled under the COFFEE in spraypaint. I walk in and the smoke about bowles me over. Its like, coffee, 75 cents... tattoo, cigarettes, and peircings required. Pool table, booths with video poker at every table, the ubiquitous Ms Pacman in the corner... I clear a table on my own and sit down with a chai and bagel sandwich- and pull up the wireless wonder of communication- the internet. Amazing.
Today is a day that I would trade. I would trade the drive- the (lack of) sleep- the smoke and french techno blaring over me right now- the mean, mean "barista" coffee lady with the metal in her face- the schools that pay you to do something that no one cares if you do or not... this is not what i wanted... exactly. BUT- I know that God is using this. Using me. I still have the distinct feeling that this day will move me further into His will, even in my lack of faith or appreciation for the opportunity to minister and witness to a hundred college kids today.
Truthfully-I say that I would trade all this- but thats a lie. I dont love it but it is where I am and where I can be His. I just wish Holly were not loving all this with me.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Radnor Lake

I love Radnor Lake. Let me tell you why.
I am one of those guys who loves the outdoors but never actually does anything in it. Im not a hiker (although i like to think I would be). I am not a hunter (again, i think of myself as a good potential hunter). I am not a climber, jogger,runner, mountainbiker, or fisherman (that one hurts- i really think i am a fisherman, who just doesnt get to fish alot.) Most of what I do outside involves walking from my door to my car, or being paid to cut and trim someone elses outdoors for them.
BUT- there is a place... a magical, wonderful place only a mile from our house in Nashville. Right across the street from our church, there is a natural reserve/ state park that is very well maintained- about three square miles of lake, trees, hills, trails and wildlife. You can go for an hour or a day. You can walk along the pedestrian road with your dog or hike the trails along the ridge. From the top you can see Downtown Nashville.
For me- a place like this is heaven. I can go there with little to no preparation, get my wilderness/wildlife fix, and get home before whatever reality TV show(s) are on that night. Holly walks there during her lunch break. I walk there with the ever-impossible-to-walk-with Dante. We see snakes and owls and fish and muskrat and deer and birds and squirrels and all other kinds of woodland stuff.
We just got back from such a walk with the In-Laws. They came in for the weekend and we are spending the day doing Nashville stuff. BTW- is it rude to sleep in your own bed and put your in-laws on the aerobed? They didnt seem to mind, I dont know- but I slept well last night- hope they did.
We woke up this morning and had omelettes a la TJ- then went to Radnor- and came home to rest and change before heading out to Hillsboro Village and Downtown. We are going to eat at this great BBQ place tonight called Judge Beans'- all Texas beef BBQ that is sooo good. Almost like Abilene. They have the place decorated in all TX memorabilia- lots of UT stuff and anti- Aggie stuff all over the walls. It's fun.
Not sure Tennesee could pull off a TN themed restaurant... The Hillbilly House, maybe... complete with racoon sandwiches and possum soup.?
Anyway- good day today- glad to see the in-laws, even if holly is still trying to get over the flu/stomach bug.
Another boring, amazing day in Nashville... Good to be home and with Holly again.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The List

I am a nice guy. I mean, seriously. Jocelyn was talking about how she gets taken by the insurance companies... Im right there with her. Even when I am trying to be a hard-ass (sorry, mom), I just can't. I am not a good negotiator, not a good enforcer, not a good substitute teacher- mostly because I am a nice guy. When telemarketers call- I usually let them say thier peice and then say no thank you several times before hanging up. I just have always felt like its not their decision to call me- its just a job. Why make a tough day any tougher for them? That has always been my position on telemarketing.
Today I made a decision. Holly and I are entering our number into the national "Do Not Call" registry.
We have, in the past, said that we were against such a list. We felt like people should be able to call and try their darndest to get you interested in investing in gold or buying magazines. After all, they are only using public information. I guess I also felt like it was not the role of the federal or state government to compile or enforce such a list. The Libertarian in me hates the idea of Uncle Sam telling businesses who they can and can't market to.
Today I decided to go against my gut and register. After staying home with Holly for two days, I was absolutely amazed at how many calls we got. We kept wondering why we would come home with fifteen hang-up messages on our machine.
I really think that because our names are not on this list- it must mean that we WANT to get a thousand calls a month. Amazing. I cannot keep my nice guy status and keep talking to these people every ten minutes. I will go postal and really freak out. So- if you are getting calls for all kind of trash too- here is the website.
To register, like me- the nice guy, just go to .
Other than that- not much happened today. Holly got to be feeling better, we cleaned for Hollys parents who are coming in- we went to the Rose Pepper Cantina for dinner with some friends, then we came home and cleaned and talked and played with Dante.
Kind of a boring one today- Maybe tomorrow will be a better blog. day. blog. I do this too much.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Stay Away From Holly...

Holly is sick. Not just kind of sick- she is the whole way sick. The last two nights have been not much sleeping- lots of puking. Pretty sure its the same flu bug that everyone else is getting... just thought we might avoid it this year. I had it earlie- but it didnt last very long. I have to say that she is the cutest sick patient tha I have ever seen... even with all the sickness- id still kiss her. sorr, im sure thats gross for most of you.
We have pretty much been at home for the last 24 hours... glad I came home when i did... Otherwise I would be coming home to a very sick, very grumpy Holly. It is bad enough to be missing someone- but being sick and missing someone? ugh.
I sit in the pappazahn chair and check email all day and she lays on the couch and wakes up every few hours to ask for water or tylenol or crackers. We even got some soup down yesterday, but it didnt stay down.
I have found that I like playing nurse. it is much more fulfilling than subbing at some ghetto school all day, thats for sure. I like to be able to meet her needs as a sick girl. Im good at the immediate stuff. Need water? I got it. Need kleenex? right here. Need me to pause the FRIENDS dvd? Done.
I think i could have been a good nurse. Blood doesnt really freak me out unless it is mine. Im not sure I would want to work with the other nurses... Ive seen ER- I know how things go... But for now- im just a guitar playing, blog addicted, male nurse for the day- or two.
Got meetings with several important people in Nshvle- Excited about that- one on monday- one the week after next. There are a few others that I have yet to get in to see... but we are getting there... slowly but shirley... shurely...surely. Going to try to get some of the new songs recorded for these meetings... as well as show them the DVD of the TUlsa show- which sounds like it looks good... my parents have only seen it but it is being FedExed today. Maybe a Live TJ DvD for sale in the near future? Hmmm. Lets see how it looks first. And pay off the CD. Only one payment left!!!! Have a good wednesday- stay well. stay away from holly. TJ

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Numa Numa Dance (special edition)

If you havent seen this you need to. Somebody ruined this kids' life. I guess I am now an accomplice.
Story at

over and out. TJ