In a bathroom with pink satin lining the walls and uncomfortable floral couches, Amy and I aren’t planning our next move–we’re taking selfies in the mirror and rubbing our hands with free lotion. The El Korah Shrine bathroom is our green room, our hideaway from the bustling, chaotic festival happening right above us. In the media lounge across the hall we scarf down hours-old pizza and pull out our notebooks. We just scored an interview with Modern Kin tomorrow at The Crux and we’re reviewing the bands we’ve circled in the program:
Big Tits are an offshoot of Warm Soda, and we can’t wait to see them; La Luz is playing tonight and we won’t miss it. Between shows in parking lots warm with Boise sunshine, coffee shops, and bars, we rest in the basement of El Korah Shrine, watching old men pass into the bar next door, coveting their trucker hats.
This is TreeFort festival.
A festival that features more Portland bands than any in our own town (except maybe PDX Pop Now!), TreeFort is truly the Portland music scene’s home away from home for a week. It’s our spring break. It’s a welcome retreat. It’s fitting that TreeFort declared itself a “festival of discovery” because year after year I leave in awe and with a long list of new bands I can’t get enough of. Music scenes from Boise, Seattle, Portland, New Orleans, Austin, even abroad coalesce in Boise, Idaho to create a five-day, non-stop, high energy adventure.
And there’s no shortage of things to do at the festival. Aside from wandering between the many venues, there’s beer to drink, stories to hear, friends to make, yoga to do (if you want to get up early), secret shows, day parties, skating, art, etc. I’m so looking forward to spending these five days at TreeFort.
Amy and I are making the drive to Boise on Wednesday. Here are a handful of Portland shows I am most looking forward to (full lineup here):
Divers: Drinking a beer with your Dad in the back of the venue.
Roselit Bone: Country music soundtrack to your bar brawl.
The Domestics: My new favorite Portland band.
Catherine Feeny: Super impressive vocals that you Mom would like.
Summer Cannibals: Loud, fast, no-bullshit–Portland’s next big thing.
Talkative: Wild, upbeat, no apologies.
Bearcubbin: When you’re in the mood for sweaty, jittery dancing.
Wooden Indian Burial Ground: Proudest moment of TreeFort 2014 was the bloody nose I got in the pit at WIBG.
Genders: An underrated Portland force, perfectly garage-y yet put together.
I didn’t spend much time before May 10th thinking about what my life would be like after May 10th, the day that I graduated college. My move from southwest to southeast Portland and the fact that I was starting a full-time job on May 12th completely eclipsed any mental or emotional space for fretting about the things I was about to lose. With one swift walk across a stage, I was no longer the editor of the student newspaper; no longer bound to spending my time reading books, writing papers, or taking tests–the two things that had defined my existence for four years.
In the months following, I didn’t try to learn much about the way I should live my life. I stayed up and out late on work nights, blew through my paychecks, did things that I’d been wanting to do for years but never got around to, told myself I’d get back in touch with my creative side–the part of me that I’d seemingly left behind when I decided to study communications instead of creative writing–and find people to spend time with that nurtured these interests instead of classmates or study buddies.
It’s been weird, and I don’t think I’m doing it right.
However mediocre of a student I was, or how lazy I believe myself to be, or how bad I am at taking tests, I am built well for being in school. I’m a perfectionist. I like to make and complete lists. I’m interested in process. I like to get things down to a science. I love to know how to do things, and to complete tasks, and to do things right. I get stuff done.
I’m finding that this work ethic doesn’t lend itself to the work I want to be doing, somehow.
At my job, which I love and am lucky to have, I write, design, edit, and create every day. Some days I’m in my stride–I’ll write five stories for our company newsletter no sweat; I’ll cut a video four, five, six times until it’s perfect; I’ll take on other people’s work and tie up their loose ends because I am fast and skilled. Other days, I feel in a slump. Today, for example, I’ve been staring at the same Photoshop document for hours (and honestly all week) because I feel completely incapable of creating a decent final product. The most monumental thing I’ve done today is teach someone how to print an image four times on the same piece of paper.
Creative work is hard. After a summer of pushing myself to be creative in my personal life (this blog included) in addition to managing a pretty heavy workload at work for the better part of the last four months, I’m burnt out. I feel like I can’t do it anymore. I feel like it isn’t good enough. Like I’m not good enough to be doing the work that I set out to do. And at the end of the day, that I’m just lazy.
The thing that I want more than anything to do and to do well is write about music, to theorize about it, and to be part of the conversation I follow every day on Twitter and various blogs. That’s why I started this blog. That’s why I started a blog back in 2010 when I first got to college. It’s why I wrote one of my college essays about music journalism and why it was so important to me even though I wasn’t even doing it in high school. It’s really why I moved to Portland.
When I went to Pickathon in August, it dawned on me that this is what I should be spending my time doing. That festival was a much needed refresh on my life–I missed going to shows, being in the thick of it, talking to musicians, and being a part of something that I cared about. I hadn’t felt that way since TreeFort Festival, where I interviewed Modern Kin and felt like a Real Music Journalist for a hot second, or since I was Arts Editor at the paper and made it my mission to go see and talk to all my favorite bands.
So I pushed myself. I pushed myself hard. And I think that the inertia I’m feeling now is a product of that. I started comparing myself to people that have been doing this for way longer than I have; people who are established; people whose job it is to write about music, not people who have a job and ALSO write about music.
And besides, I’m 22. I work really hard at my job. I love my job. And I still have so much to learn about everything–about the music I love and how to write about it; about freelancing; about networking; about plenty of other things that have nothing to do with work (relationships, keeping my apartment clean, and budgeting myself). Not to mention that all my concert tickets in college were free through the newspaper.
I have this blog and I keep this blog despite long bursts of not writing because this is what I love to do, and this is what I want to do. I need to be more patient with myself. I need to make an effort to cultivate my talents, my passions, and nurture them. I need to seek out people that can help me and mentor me. I need to forgive myself for lacking in follow-through, to a certain extent, all while continuing to push myself.
Whiskey Kiss is an experiment on myself–my abilities, my writing, my taste, and my “brand.” The way I wrote for this blog two years ago is much different than how I write today, and that makes me happy. This is not so much an apology for not keeping up with posting, but a resolution to myself to stop beating myself up. I’m not lazy, I’m trying too hard. I need to take a step back, regroup, and try to learn more about what I’m doing.
Life since graduating is thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance those two things without losing myself in the mix.