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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

I feel like you should know about certain past experiences we’ve had with transitions.  Four years ago we lived in Nashville, right downtown on 20th Ave. between a Hampton Inn and an insurance office.  It was a 100 year old mansion divided up 12 times and our place was the original laundry room in the back with a sort of hallway converted to another room.  I think it was around 300 sq ft.  It was cozy and wonderful. 

I was playing in some bands and working at a music store.  I had already worked two deskjobs since graduating and had made this flee to Nashville to play music instead.  Ashley had finished her Associates Degree and was serving bagels to Vandy kids in the village.  We were completely happy. 

Then some guys I had been playing with had a brilliant idea.  We were spending a lot of money renting rehearsal space, so why not all go in together and rent a house?  It started out as talk but I soon found myself visiting a farm house 20 minutes south of Franklin.  There were  cows grazing on both sides, no kidding.  It had a huge garage for our studio and would be dirt cheap to have six people in a three bedroom house.  Ashley was not on board but I convinced her we should do it.  After all the deposits were paid along with the first month’s rent, we were broke.  It was bohemian rock and roll paradise.

For three days Ashley sobbed.  I sobbed driving an hour into the city when I used to walk out my door.  We rarely left our room and I kept saying I was sorry.  On the third day my dog ran in one of the other couples bedrooms to say good morning.  The girl, naked, had the blanket tucked to her chin and the guy grabbed him under his front arms and practically threw him across the bed to me.  He peed all the way across the bed and the girl.  That Sunday afternoon with everyone gone, we bailed.  My dad drove down in a pickup truck and he and I moved us back to 20th Ave in two trips.  Thats how much stuff we had. 

I still had to work at the music store with these guys and I agreed to pay my rent while they found someone else.  Paying two rents was all we could do so we put our groceries on credit cards.  As soon as we were off the hook I quit the job where I had to see them everyday.  I was unemployed for two months trying to get back into a deskjob, but eventually started waiting tables. 

As soon as we got relatively stable again I dropped a glass jug and severed my left hand.  We lived on workers comp plus Ashleys new job at a preschool which paid almost $8.00/hr.  I had to have surgery and couldn’t write or play music for nearly six months.  Desperate for a real job I jumped when a recruiter asked me to sell life insurance.  I couldn’t play music anyway and Ashley wanted to go back to school.  We hadn’t exactly “broken through” in Nashville so we visited Knoxville to keep the in-state tuition and all.  After that, Ashley enrolled at UT and I jumped into a shark tank. 

I became a licensed insurance agent in March, 2006 and by the time I finally sold a policy that passed underwriting and got a paycheck it was September.  As it turns out, you’re not supposed to get into direct sales in a city where you don’t know anyone.  Ashley was taking 21 hours and paying the bills as a part time receptionist in a hair salon.  Instead of quitting, I studied for my securities exams so I could try to sell more things.  People, I can’t sell an orange station wagon in Knoxville, TN where you can  wear a flourescent orange neck tie to work and no one notices.  Working at a bank after that was the worst thing I could have done for my pride but the best thing I could have hoped for to get us grounded. 

I’m sorry to fly through so much history but I think its critical to the story about to happen that you see where we’ve been.  Its kind of an on and off cycle of responsibility and complete irrationality.  From our point of view, however, the irrationality has always had a quirky logic to it.  A logic that stays at odds within a system that is so practical.  When it works, life is interesting.  When it doesn’t, life is still interesting, just insanely uncomfortable. 

Levon

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