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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 the NYC area. 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. Thank you.

* Would you like to help me write my next album and travel-inspired book? Please join us on Patreon. Thank you! *

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. 🌕 

* Would you like to help me write my next album and travel-inspired book? Please join us on Patreon. Thank you! *

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.

* Would you like to help me write my next album and travel-inspired book? Please join us on Patreon. Thank 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? 

* Would you like to help me write my next album and travel-inspired book? Please join us on Patreon. Thank you! *

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. 

* Would you like to help me write my next album and travel-inspired book? Please join us on Patreon. Thank you! *

Take Me Home: Brentwood, CA 

October 6, 2010 Shoutout to Patrick Dunn, who just supported my work on Patreon. Not only did Patrick host me when I was in LA, he's babysat my guitar, backed my albums, shared stages, and more than anything this guy has written some kickass songs. 
On this particular stay I'd just flown from NYC to LA. I'd spent the summer between tours working M-F at a holistic healing center, F/S nights at a teen center, one day a week at the farmers' market, plus playing occasional gigs, recording Been Here Before on days off (?), and booking a cross-country tour. Not to mention my family was going through a really hard time. Tour felt like vacation. 

As usual leaving New York I got pulled out of the security line. "Is this your bag." (Not a question.) 
"Do you mind if I search it." (Not a question.) 
"Go ahead." 
"Okay. Please watch what I do carefully, but do not reach in or touch your bag." 
The TSA worker unzipped my backpack, peeling it open with plastic fingers as if expecting to find a severed head.
"What is this?" He held up a jar. "Is this honey?" (Actual questions.) 
"No, it's quinoa... it's a grain (actually a seed)... like rice." 
"Is it edible or just to look at?" (Actual question.) 
"It's my breakfast." 
He made a face, shook his head, and sent me on my way. 

Back in California, where jars of non-glutinous grain-like-but-not-grain seeds are the norm, my quinoa and I slept peacefully under Bob Dylan's watch. 

Thank you, Patrick & Taylor. <3

* Would you like to help me write my next album and travel-inspired book? Please join us on Patreon. Thank you! *

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.

* Would you like to help me write my next album and travel-inspired book? Please join us on Patreon. Thank you! *

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.

* Would you like to help me write my next album and travel-inspired book? Please join us on Patreon. Thank you! *