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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon


When Ashley and I moved to Knoxville we didn’t know one person and had come for one reason, for her to go back to school at the University of Tennessee.  The music scene in Nashville had required me to wait tables where I had injured my hand and lost all momentum, and she had been working at Michael’s Craft store teaching and coordinating community art classes, part time.  Ashley aspired then to be a teacher, and I was fed up with my hand and had become licensed to be a commission sales person in the investment/ financial services world.  


Registered Representative of New York Life Insurance

Registered Representative of New York Life Insurance


We moved to Knoxville to start fresh on our new course and with everyone I met I was forced in my mind to think of how to bring up a conversation about life insurance.  Every night I walked up to the roof of Sterchi Loft on Gay St and looked down at the city where I was trying to build my business.  I prayed earnestly that I might one day be the guy who helped everyone accomplish their financial goals, and thereby many of their life’s ambitions.  Ashley took 18 to 21 hours per semester while working at a salon, and many times her check was all we had because I was better at giving people a lot to think about than actually closing a sale.  

So when the business I was trying to build never got any footing, I got tougher and obtained more licenses.  Credentials were my problem, I thought. I wore a suit everyday and knew my products well.  Every downtown office I at one time or another walked in and handed out my cards, even scheduling myself with secretaries to see their bosses before quickly being shuffled out upon the realization of my intent.  That was a tough experience.


New York Life, how ironic

New York Life, how ironic


It was nearly a year before we even gave my keyboard a place in our apartment and my guitar frets rusted because I still couldn’t play it.  In perhaps the most creatively dry season I have ever faced, I was growing in some other areas that I later don’t regret at all, like persistence, listening, and goal setting.  Practical financial knowledge never hurts either, and we needed it.  When we had held out as long as we could amidst the rejection and disappointment, I jot a job at a bank doing the same thing.  Only then could I breathe enough, or have time on the side, to sit back down at the piano.  It had been nearly a year.    

Before I had gotten hurt I aspired to be a musician.  I had written songs, but they were typical and full of imitation.  There are many types of songwriter’s and I’ve learned that I’m one that writes largely from experience. Experience has to be gained first, and since I now felt like I had some, I began trying harder at writing.  It would be over two more years until Ashley graduated and I stopped working in financial environments.  Once we were out of poverty and could establish some stability, the battle became an internal one for me as I was dissatisfied with my ill matched vocation and Ashley worked as hard as she could, but could not help the fact that our situation required my sacrifice.  I didn’t know what I was even asking her to do, I was furiously depressed and my passive anger and disengagement pushed her away.  In the lowest points of those three years, our marriage had at times totally dissolved.  Last summer we decided to reevaluate everything in order to save it.  Although I couldn’t quit my day job then, I resolved that I must get over potentially failing in music or I was going to wreck my life anyway.  

Nine months later I quit work where I was then coordinating statewide financial literacy programs at the University of Tennessee.  Ashley deferred the masters program in Education to see if visual art was something she could do.  I suppose I had been a convincing model that one should fully exhaust the A plan before they fall back to B.  (I’ll end the narrative here as I’ve brought us up to the beginnings of this blog.)

As we approach our five year anniversary next month, we are nowhere near the places we have been.  We are poor again, yes.  But not hopelessly poor, because the joint decisions to sacrifice have brought us closer together and closer to where we want to go.  We are trying to make life what we want it to be, not just what it could be.     

This is the daily story of hope, the Flight of the Walkers.


do you see a dog?



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