Dec 24, 2015

Christmas Time Is Here, Podcast, New Band and More

Feeling very jittery today.

Early this week we released the video for Christmas Time Is Here. If you haven't seen it yet:

Besides the song itself coming out amazing, really happy with that drum and bass groove and the trippy vocals, the video was a blast. A lot of small in-jokes and really fun things came out during the making of it.

BTW, big thanks to the amazing Alan Smithee for helping us out. Also big thanks to everyone for watching and giving kind words. It is very appreciated.

This is that start of something much bigger. We are going to be releasing more content starting with this video. I'm also announcing a project that I have been alluding to for a while.

First is our podcast:

Why Didn't I Write That?

It's my brothers, our friend Jack, and myself, talking all about songwriting and pop music and our deep love for everything that is catchy and cheesy. It's going to be a lot of fun. We have done a few already and I know if you are into this kinda stuff you will dig it.

I also have to mention the new band:


It's fun, dancey, catchy, heard it described as Texas Night Club music. Still with a vintage flair, but more modern, more to come soon. I know you'll like. I love writing it. And I will definitely be going in-depth into the songwriting of that soon. 

Don't panic Hacienda still exists and we will be doing things in the future. 

But for a good while now we have been building our studio Saxet Sounds, been writing for ourselves, and others, and have a lot of material, so even though things have been quiet. This is going to start happening very soon and very fast.

There's a lot more I won't get into yet because this is so much to take in, but I am just so happy that it is finally happening.

And so ready to share this journey with you.

so much love


ps. as always like, share, subscribe and if you want to talk you can reach me on this blog, facebook and twitter

Dec 17, 2015

Unfinished Business, Let's Do An Opera!

Unfinished Business

We finished last weeks song, went with a solo btw, and right away we went back creating a new song. It will be the final song in a 5 song set about one relationship. And I have to admit writing this has been really amazing. I have never done something so interconnected over this length of a composition.

It's almost Rock/Opera-ish, but not so deliberate as that genre usually is. The whole thing for this piece came about as we went. I didn't sit down and say "let's do an opera!" 

I was brainstorming about what to do with the first song. And I had this vision of high school type love song and putting this singer in that situation. 

What did he think? How would he act? Were they together? Would they break-up? and a hundred other questions...

And from that I started to create a personality, for the lyrics, a voice and a point of view and eventually a world for these songs to exist in. Then as I did the second and third, the songs just built off of each other. And this relationship became such a center piece that I had to see through.

One song explains the relationship, one is about the break-up, one is about a trip to Las Vegas he takes to think, one is a revelation that he has when he is there, 

So at the fifth and final one will be the resolution. Where our characters end on a "hopeful-desperate" emotion. The most exciting thing will be to add in the female character's voice. We will be bringing in a guest-vocalist for that. Honestly if we were to add in more songs than the 5, I would probably have her come in earlier in the story, there is so much good story there, getting her perspective, but that's up to the future who knows?

So I want to retain that desperation of the blues but have this be a more positive piece still? I think that's how I want this to go but it's all in development which means re-writes can happen at any second.

Jaime and Abe just finished the drums and keys and today I'll probably be working on bass, and then my vocals for the next few days. 

Then after I get all this done, I'm celebrating by seeing The Force Awakens. 

So no spoilers...

till next time


ps. as always if you want to talk you can reach me on this blog, facebook and twitter

Dec 10, 2015

To Solo Or Not?

Back in the studio today, finishing up the mix of a song. Nightly. A solid groover that I could just vibe with all day. I mean this song really is on a new plane of grooving.

Really happy about it. Just need to work out the bridge and have several options, and as you can tell from the title of the post, one of them is maybe a solo...
I have a hate/love relationship with solos. Fun to play, but unless the melody is both substantially connected to the song and inventive fluid then I get lost.
One of the biggest tenants of early Hacienda was no long solos. We had a less is more approach to everything that carries on today. Lately we haven't putting room for solos in the songs because they were moving so well with out them, but on this new one, it feels like there is room. So why not?

We will run through a few things. See what happens!

Next week we are starting on the last song for our EP with
Larry G(ee). And it's gonna be great.

This whole project with his is definitely different than our normal music (different but connected like long lost family) and that has been infinitely helpful for me as a writer to work with Larry and explore this new territory.

I'm a little bit foggy cause we spent all day yesterday working on our calendar for next year - so glamorous.  Anyway, word of some SXSW activity is coming in, so if you guys are around I'll be filling in details about it as it comes.

Till next week

much love


ps. as always if you want to talk you can reach me on this blog, facebook and twitter

Dec 5, 2015

After New Orleans And The Stars

After New Orleans And The Stars

I was feeling buzzed after our set. Good. Lost in the delicate web of New Orleans; that kind of floating. Detaching me from everything.

It was my first show in this new group, and I made it through the first performance sober, though I wasn't completely loose yet. No disasters on my end. That's cause enough for a couple drinks to celebrate.

So I packed my bass up, cleared out my part of the stage for Jesse and went to our green room.

Around the drums, past the house crew, the storage of mic stands and cables, through a narrow slit of doorway and an empty refrigerator to the room.

Not really a room, more of a long narrow hallway with a makeup counter/mirror with those giant yellow bulbs circling around, and a cheap couch filled with backpacks, laptops and trash, and in the corner most importantly a little 24 pack ice chest. Only heavy craft beers, IPA's and Mexican imports.

You should know by now I'm an unapologetic light beer drinking. And without a Lone Star, my next fall back is whiskey, which was also missing from our room. It's nice to be in charge of your own rider.

That's alright...

A cramped hallway right behind a loud rock band is not really a great place to chill, even though I love Heartless I also love my hearing. And after all the build up, the thinking, traveling, practice, now that the first show was done, I just wanted to breath a bit. Celebrate it for myself. 

So I left down a long service hallway of broken tables and spare chairs towards the front bar. The club had a front bar that was something like a Victorian Hotel decorated by Aerosmith with its velvety purple wallpaper, purposefully-musty antique mirrors, tasseled light fixtures, and dark oak everything.

Only a few people were hanging around the front bar, most were in the main room watching the show. I found a bar stool away from a small group and pretended to check my phone while I waited for a bartender to show up. From out the front window I saw a few of my band mates were having a smoke and chatting with people.  

I looked across the bar again... still no bartender but the couple at the end were looking at me and whispering. 

I put my head back in my phone and gave it a second before I looked up again... 

They're still looking at me. And they're smiling.

She's short. Blonde. A young twenties. Dressed in tight jeans, boots and an oversize boyfriend hoodie. He looked older. Fresh shave. Thinning hair with a slick leather jacket.

Where is that bartender? Maybe this place was a bad idea. I could go with the guys... Just need to order then go...

Then a beer slides up next to me.

"On us?" she said taking a stool next to me, "We bought too many." 

The older guy she was with was picking up his stuff to move closer.

"Can't even get one drink," I joked.


"Never mind," I smiled and took the beer, "Thanks."

"We're having such a fun time tonight," She flipped her hair to the side with that smile again, as he brought over their drinks and stood behind her, "really liked the music. The way you guys played together."

"You guys were great," he lifted his glass.

We all drank.

Matt and Holly gave me proper introductions and told me some story of how they met at another bar down the street. The first band was great and the second was slow, and the third was a bore so they went out looking for another place with a "really great funk band" I think and then ended up here watching our set.

"How long have you been doing this?" Matt asked. He had a strong unblinking stare punctuated by his thick eyebrows.


"Yeah. With this band."

I thought for a second about how much I felt like telling my story, "Been touring for a while but honestly this is my first show with these guys."

"I can't believe that," Holly leaned in close to my arm, "We thought... no. You all seemed so intuitive."

I took the last drink and the empty can clinked on the bar.

She reached over and shook my can, "Could you?" she asked Matt.

"No you don't have to," I jumped in.

Matt looked at me for a second, "Don't worry," he laughed and took all of our drinks, "I'll be right back." 

"The bar inside is better," she laughed as Matt went off to the bar in the next room.

"Is this one even open," I joked, wondering how long I wanted to stay here with Matt and Holly... wondering where the bartender was. She was telling me about her favorite show she had seen. And how she was just in love with everything about it. How she loves to talk with musicians afterwards.

"You guys are too nice," I started.

"Oh Matt?" she started then turned to look for him, "He's happy to do it. He's been buying for me all night. And we really like you."

"Me?... What?"

"Your band... And you."

"Didn't you say you just meet him? Matt?"

That sounded weird to me... Did it? Or is it a normal thing to just meet someone a go out together? I can be really bad at reading people. My wife is so intuitive with emotions, but my instincts are usually all over the map. I usually come off as cold, or aloof, when I'm busy thinking of a new story or lyrics in my head. It's not that I'm not interested, my head is just somewhere else. 

Something about her and her story was putting my instincts off. She was sweet. The whole time just talking about themselves and music. They were fans. And for Matt's age and size he seemed pretty harmless. But the more I thought about it the weirder it seemed. Why are they hanging out with each other? With me? Why are they here?

Holly looked down at the bar, "He's celebrating something I think."

"And you?"

"I'm just going with the night. See where it goes. Not everyone has a plan Rene..."

"Fair enough."

"What are you going to do? The mysterious musician. Traveling."

"Getting ready for the next town I guess." Out of the window I see my band walk back into the bar.

Holly dipped her shoulder into mine, "You're on a bus then?"

"Yeah. And I think I've got to,"

"That's so exciting. I can't imagine what that must be like. Don't pretend like it isn't great."

"It's pretty great. I wouldn't complain."

Matt came back from the second bar with another beer for me, and two drinks and three shots saying, "We've got to!"

And I'm smiling but all I'm thinking is: shots are gonna hurt me tomorrow... ugh... Just the one.

He stands right in between where Holly and I are sitting.

We all drink.

It was strong, syrupy and cheap. The kind that puts a chill down my back.

Holly whispered something to Matt. He puts on hand on the back of my chair as he leans into hear. And Holly gives me a gentle kick me with her foot. Then it swings away and comes back.

That little hold. This is weird. 

"Guys it's been really nice," I pointed to the band that was heading back stage, "I've got to get back."

They looked at each other as I took the beer.

Matt threw out a "maybe we will see you later?" and handed me the napkin that was under the beer.

And before that could go on any more, I went back down the hallway to catch up with the guys. They were already gone.

It took me a second before I thought, what just happened? Everything about it... why did he hand me that napkin? And the look he had... and how she kicked me, that could've been an accident but it lingered.

That's when I saw what Matt had written on the bottom of the napkin.

Before you leave 
(504) ***-****
- Matt and Holly

That kinda stunned me. I opened the beer and threw away the napkin. Then took a second in that service hallway collecting myself.

I could hear the band playing, and the guys laughing in the green room ahead. I saw the lights from the front bar coming into the hallway behind me. I thought of the dark street we were on, and the city around us, and the miles of highway that connect here to the next city and all the way back home. And all the people that were around and all the different things they were doing. And the night that covered it all. And the stars.


Nov 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Ramble

I've never cared too much for Thanksgiving, always liked Halloween better, but this year I have a lot to be thankful for. Things I know are beyond me that through whatever mysterious universal forces are at play have been given to me. Things I never thought possible. Things I can hold.

Love. Happiness. Purpose.

I've made new friends, new music, new writings. Seen life take shape in front of me. It's beautiful. 

When I started writing, I was fourteen, filled with varying levels of anger, isolation, pride, and love. That kid couldn't see far enough into the future to know what the next month was going to be like much less to be able to see this; where I am now. Where it has taken me.

Especially when things were at their worst. But a few years ago I decided to try and take my life into my own hands. To take charge of my own happiness and the fruit from that small, innocuous seed has finally started to appear. However small. However fragile. But I can see it now.

This week is the first week I've spent everyday in the studio just ripping through ideas. Finished some ideas for Red this week, working on a new Idyll Green song, and a new one for Larry.

Also started a new draft of a novel I've been working on. Something I've put away for a while because it's a little terrifying. Music I know. Music I have confidence. But novel writing is naked and new and beautiful and self-defeating and horrifying and divine. I'm very excited about it cause I have a possible lead on publishing it, if I can buckle down my editing...

So for now, I'm just gonna ride this wave for a while, wherever it takes me. Writing more of my travel story for next week.

until then

- rene

as always if you want to talk you can reach me on this blog, and @hacienda_tx on twitter. much love.

Nov 19, 2015

Red Marathon and Test

After a straight week of studio writing I'm feeling buzzed. Red Rosamond came from LA to grace our humble Saxet Sounds with her talent and we couldn't have had a better time. She fit in so well to our strangeness.

It's one of the biggest things we look for when we decide who to work with. Not only do they have to have talent, which she does her voice is so special, but they have to have the right attitude.

For exploring new ideas.

For jumping out of comfort zone at full speed.

For giving back and forth.

For trusting in the music.

The five of us cranked out 5 Funky/Soul/Spy grooves in as many days. I can't wait to share that with you guys. 

Really proud.

The three of us will be spending some time polishing those up.

Doing a test run of our new project... but more on that next week... and writing a new Idyll Green song. The story just came to me today while I was sitting on the couch listening to drum takes.

A seed of an idea but something I can work with. 

Till next week. 


p.s. like and follow me here for more news. or ask me a question on twitter @hacienda_tx

Nov 11, 2015

Hangover Lunches / 605 Miles From Home Pt 2

605 Miles From Home pt 2

We'd made it into the diner only seconds before it really began to pour. In a few minutes the rain filled the street, overwhelmed the gutter and crept over the sidewalk.

Normally I love a flash flood. Maybe because it's a very South Texas thing to go from a beautiful day to 10 minutes of intense rain. The crack of an Earth-shaking, chest pounding thunder and the way lightning spreads out wild illuminated fingers through the sky. So primordial and anciently terrifying, touching down into some instinct part of me. And then nothing. As if it never was.

That day, my stomach was having too rough time to enjoy any of it. 

A mixture of travel exhaustion and late-night drinking had me queasy. Making the storm feel unsettling instead of romantically melancholy. And looking through the menu of a New Orleans greasy spoon wasn't helping either.

I think I would have just gone somewhere else had it not been so torrential at the moment.

The place looked like some weird version of Al's Diner. Our server, paper hat, apron and all, was going down our line of bar-stools collecting drink orders on his notepad.

I was being indecisive. My eyes couldn't even find where to start. The menu was looking like a blur of black letters, red lines, and poorly lit photos of unappetizing food.

He started with the others, "What I get you man?"

He had a voice 15 dbs too loud for my head. He was energized, enthusiastic, and trying hard to be friendly. I guess to cover the fact that he was a fighter. Intimidating in size and height. Cauliflower ear. Knuckles flat as a board. Left eye brow scar. Speech slurred and spacey. He easily weighed something around, 2 and 1/2 musicians combined.



Damn that went fast. My turn.

"My man, coffee like your friends?"

"Uh... no..." I could feel my stomach knot, and the weird feeling of having to swallow when there's nothing there, "Diet Coke."
He laughed, "I gotcha. I gotcha. This guy needs me to turn down the lights!"


He yelled it, but I don't think anyone noticed. Over the pan-slapping , yelling, and sizzling of the fry cooks, conversation was light. Partly because of my state, though I wasn't the only one feeling off, and partly because I was still finding my way into the group.

Fred was looking for the best Vegetarian option that wasn't another omelet like we had only a few hours before we went to sleep, and Dave was getting menu recommendations.

I halfheartedly debated what meal was least likely to come back up between a burger and the house special (a piled on mountain of a sandwich recommended to Dave by our waiter) while my mind wandered off about this.

It'd been a while since I played with completely new people. It'd been a while since I had been thrown in to socialize with completely new people.

A new band.

How weird it is to start one.  How hard it is to find people I like, much less play with, or start a business together with. Besides musical chemistry, which is rare and difficult enough to find, you need to be able to hang with the members.

All day. Every day. For months. For years. Again and again. Without driving each other crazy. All focused. All giving more than should be asked. All willing to sacrifice again and again.

My brothers and I have been through so much I don't think you could find a tighter band. We don't always agree, and it isn't perfect or easy, but we have a way of finding a compromise. Of fighting it out and moving on.

My drink came. A lukewarm can and one of those cheap, thick plastic cups that still felt hot like it was pulled out of the dishwasher filled with crushed ice.  I like that I know the cup is freshly clean but the heat makes for a weird taste. At least I had the ice.

Two men came into the restaurant. Shoes sloshing and umbrellas dripping by the door.

"Got tired of waiting outside?" The server yelled at them, "Might as well grab a drink my man. I'll getcha."

"It just won't stop," They laughed, grabbed a bar-stool a few spaces down from us, and started on about the weather as the server did his same loud routine for the new customers.

I turned to Fred, "What you decide?"

"Omelet," he sighed.

"Goin' for two," I laughed as he shrugged. Fred tossed me a what-about-you look. "Ugh... hamburger I guess? I dunno."

I think I burned through two glasses of water and a diet coke before I even ordered.

And the rain fell harder.

And the smells of grease and meat came from the kitchen.

And the sounds of the two new customers ordering. And the server still yelling. And the cooks laughing and dropping pans.

And all my thoughts spinning.

The first show was that night. 

The real fire.

Being thrown into a new band, with its own history and methods, I was still finding my boundaries and my place. 



Late night Jazz bars and omelets. 

Hangover Lunches.

All bringing us a little closer.

But that night will make it happen or not. The music can make us. And it doesn't matter who we are or what we were. On stage we are together forced to make something happen or fail trying. 
And just like that, the rain stopped.


Nov 6, 2015


Driving home from Austin, and a killer Daytrotter session. Playing some alternate versions of 4 Idyll Green tunes.

Body Language
Nobody Else
Gentleman (Do It Right)

Just drums, an upright piano, and bass of course. Can't wait to share it with you. Had a Sam Cooke stripped down 60's pop vibe. I loved it.

Definitely a smaller arrangement than what the recorded versions are but the heart was all there.

Gotta get writing the next part of my story somewhere before the next recording session starts...

Also, our good friend Red is flying over from LA to do some writing and vibe building in our studio. Got some ideas ready for her. 

More next week...

Much Love

- rene

PS you can check out all my Daytrotter Hacienda Stuff Here.

Oct 30, 2015

Right Thoughts / News Update

Right Thoughts / News Update
Been having a really good week. Halloween and dominating at my beer league trivia! But even more important, we finished doing a track for our friend Larry Gee great singer from Dallas, check him out he's awesome and starting work on some new music... that's all pre-production beat building stuff right now... it'll take some time before we start tape rolling.
Then business calls with mgmt and booking; getting things ready for Idyll Green. I'm hoping for new music and shows starting next year. I'll be giving you updates as they come.
So exciting. Can't tell you how ready I am for this to get going.

Also I decided that I'm going to be opening up on my blog. So look for more writing like this here once a week, plus a continuation of my travel stories once a month.
All part of me trying to focus myself a little better.
much love

Oct 23, 2015

605 Miles From Home pt. 1

605 Miles From Home 

I'm at the end of the tour. Hovering just under 4 weeks out. In Little Rock. 

The other musicians are in and out of a hotel day room. Showering. Resting. Calling loved ones at home. Lounging on the bus. Getting ready for tomorrow's flights. Everyone's a little edgy, a little somber, and more than a little hungry.

I've spent the afternoon on a walk around town with our drummer Fred and Lindsay, after a big lunch of coursePretty much how it's been everyday, except that today is a mix of excitement, melancholy, and homesick desperation. Last days are heavy.

Sam, the guitar tech and all around great guy, is setting up gear on stage. After lunch we had load-in, which is why I'm taking a breather, I won't have something to do until sound-check in a few hours.

The driver Sean is working on the bus. The generator has been tricky for the last few days, but it was able to make it to the lot behind the club overlooking the Arkansas River. Nothing as bad as when the brakes went out in Montreal almost making Heartless late for a festival in Toronto. That's just par for the course, when you put that many miles on anything, the small things start to give out. 

Walking, sitting, waiting, and writing. Thinking about everything that's happened to me on this run. Wild thoughts. Strange dreams and epiphanies. A string of days where everything felt dark. Nihilistic comedy. Jubilant performances. 

And now. 

A handful of giant fist-sized crickets passing by my head. A grandmother pushing two toddlers in a stroller. And I listen to the river.

There are a million little things I could tell you about: strange people, inside jokes, tensions and arguments... the dark stuff makes for easy stories... but I'll try to write something about Gratitude, a word rarely used in this business. Though it might take me a second to get there.

I feel it's important. Cause I feel really grateful. Now on this bench. Writing to you. So close to home. And from day one, from the moment I had landed in New Orleans... or actually a little after that.

"Thanks for flying with us."

I nodded back weakly, not because the flight was bad, I'm just not a morning person.

I was getting an unusual amount of hospitality from the attendants. I'm not used to First Class. And the only reason I'm there is because of some fluke about the number of bags I can carry and how much musical instruments it was cheaper for me to fly first class. Anyways... It was 9 in the morning and I already had enough snacks and diet coke to last me till lunch, but that still doesn't mean I was ready to talk to people.

'Baggage claim's next on my list," I think turning on my phone, following the heard off of the plane. 

'Baggage claim,' and as my phone loads up the regular amount of programs and updates, I get an email from Mgmt. I read it as I collect my bags ahead of everyone else: one of the perks of first class.

Rene. You'll be landing first. The guys should be a couple of hours behind. It'll probably be easier for you to wait at the airport until they arrive. Then you can go to the rehearsal together.

'Only a couple of hours at the New Orleans airport...' I think passing the last restaurants and shops, heading through security.

And now it's too late to go back.

The waiting area for rentals and taxis is small. Real small. Two vending machines and an empty help desk, a rack of pamphlets... and no where good to kill 2 hours.

And soon I'm waiting outside on the smoking bench, with my gear and bag, next to a fifty something women burning through a second cigarette.

"You get kicked out?" She asked.

"What?" I was in to much of a daze to understand her. Till she points at all my things with a deep violet polished finger. "You got a lot of stuff hun... looks like you got kicked out of your apartment."

"No... I'm playing tomorrow," I said kicking my bass case, but she starts laughing, deep and husky.

'She's messing with me.'

"I know, I know hun," she laughs more then turned away. Taking another drag. Leaving me feeling strange.

Should I leave? Where would I go? Does she want to talk or just tell me that joke? That was a joke, right?

Then she snubs out the butt under a heel, and sits next to me, "Who ya wanting for?"

"The rest of my group."

"By yourself?... hmm."


"Why ain't they here? The rest of your band? Shouldn't a band be together?"

"They are... uh... coming from New York, I think,"

"You don't know?"

"I've never played with these guys before," I said trying to explain this situation. But I don't know how interested she really is. 

She's getting to the end of the smoke, "But you're playing tomorrow?"

"That's right..."

She says something else but it was lost in the roar of a bus pulling away from the stop, and I don't really feel like asking her to repeat.
She starts looking through her Iphone with one hand. Grabs the cigarette pack off the bench between us and without another word, walks away.

There's a weird moment when I'm alone. And I notice a breeze hadn't come by in a while. And I notice New Orleans is warm. But not the kinda warm that I have in Texas. The air is heavy and wet. The warmth is hovering all over me. I could feel it sitting in my chest. Why hadn't I noticed this before?

I try to distract myself. Pulling out my phone. Playing a quick game. Then check my emails as a new group of passengers comes thru.

I look over the schedule.

Show after show.

Only a few days off.

Why hadn't I noticed this?

And all I can think of thru the woman and her cigarettes: Everything's different.

The people unloading from planes. Grabbing their bags. Getting into taxis. New Orleans: Everything's different.

And I think about the last bus tour I did. The smallness of a bus bunk. Buses are small: Everything's different.

My family back at home. My son. My wife. Everything's different.

I've got a month on a bus with a band of guys I don't know. Everything's different and anything could happen.

Then my phone buzzed.

-Rene. We landed. Where are you?

To be cont...


Oct 6, 2015

Thoughts From 39,000

Last month I got a emotionally heavy. Getting those feelings off my mind is good though. I need that every now and again. Like a sad song, these thoughts can build inside of me and need to be processed out even when I'm in a good mood.

And life has been good for me. Though for you guys it might look slow, I don't know if I've ever been this productive before. 

Right now I'm on a flight back home from LA. Cramped up in the middle seat between a sleeping wife, she's is the best part of this, and a large guy who never learned how to share or not invade personal space. Best not to look towards the aisle... Then there's the window. The sky. The miles of desert between Texas and California.

After exploring the city; traveling without working is one of bigger life goals; meeting new people, amazingly talented people my brothers and I are so excited to be working with; the beach; the freak-show; a really great recording studio; it's been unbelievable.

So I'm in the air. Going over it in my mind. Holding on to it. Listening to the engine. 



Of days when we traveled in a used conversion van. Four captains chairs. Little beige mini-blinds on the windows. Rope lights everywhere.

I was 21 and hungry for everything.

We'd loaded up with the four musicians, suitcases, and gear, cutting up IH-35.

"What's comin' up?"

It was getting hard to stay sitting for so long. "Could use a stretch," I added.

I was eager to get to Ohio, Dan and his studio; but after switching my weight back and forth for the last four hours as I switched between each leg falling asleep, and I needed out.

We were only a jump northeast of Dallas into Arkansas at a small convenience store; I stepped out of the van for the first time since we left San Antonio. And already in a different world. Hope.

It wasn't exactly what I imagined leaving Texas would look like, but it was a start.

New horizon. New trees. New air bursting in my lungs pushing me to the edge between life and dream for a nobody from nowhere. I had spent years as an invisible. Wanting. Waiting. Sometimes my childhood felt like a slow fall to death. Knowing the world was busting with life happening everywhere else. And I only had to find it. But I was stuck.


"Would you like anything?" The hostess whispered over the belly of my sleeping neighbor.

She was in her late 40's, well dressed with a floral scarf around her neck like this was a jet off a Mad Men ad.

"Diet Coke," I said automatically. It's my junk. My vice.

"More crackers," Rachel said softly to me, still with her eyes closed.

"And more crackers," I passed down the message.

The hostess slashed a couple tick marks on her paper then moved across the aisle.

Rachel shifted her head gently against my shoulder.

Maybe because it was our first trip, or maybe because it was so strange, but I remember this rest stop well.  Better than the hundreds since that I couldn't tell you a thing about.


"Hmm," the lady behind the counter looked me over as the bell rang over the gas station door. 

I nodded politely. 

"You look exotic," she said without pause or hesitation. Somewhere between surprise and apathy. 

I didn't know how to answer her with anything other than a smile and another polite nod. A real Texan.

The lady kept an eye on me from behind the counter, as an orange and black calico bounced out from around her feet, rounding the lotto ticket display, cutting thru my legs, and down a small row of protein bars to the back of the store..

I followed heading towards the refrigerators.

"Where you from?... You look different."

"San Antonio," I answered checking back over my shoulder with a quick look at her. She was still staring at me. 

I could feel her examining everything about me, detached and scientific. I felt naked. I felt embarrassed.

I tried to keep focused. Sprite. Coke. Mountain Dew. But that feeling of her eyes just burned the back of my neck.

My heart jumped when I felt a light touch brush against my leg, but it was just the cat. Pushing it's face into my jeans. Wrapping its tail around the other leg.

"She don't like nobody around here," the cashier yelled at me.

The cat sat down to watch me too. It's eyes frozen on my face.

I could hear the lady shuffling behind the counter, "She must think your different."

"Maybe she's a Texan too," I laughed but I don't think she found any humor in it.

The women's stare turned from cold to angry, "wouldn't surprise me."

She rang me up quietly.

Coke. Trail mix. Money.

The cat ran back behind the counter as someone else came in.
She held the change above my hand, "born in Texas?"

"Yeah," I had my palm open. Waiting.

Her eyes looked me over back and forth, "nah, you look too exotic." She said finally dropping the coins.


"Here you are Sir," the softness in the hostess' voice pulls me out of Arkansas and into the air. She's holding the drink out to me and searching her tray for Rachel's crackers.

"Hey, coffee too," my sleeping neighbor butts in. His voice cutting low against her ear as she reaches over to hand us the bag.

The hostess flinches for a second then holding back her anger, she softly says, "A hello first," and she does it so gently, and with a sweet laugh too, the man doesn't even notice the poison behind it. 

He mumbles something between a grunt and a hello.

She's calm but her eyes were ready to kill, "and welcome back Sir. Would you like me to get you something?"

The man smiles unashamedly, "Yeah... coffee."

The hostess flashes a brilliantly white smile and flips around towards the back of train. 

My neighbor is back into his fully laid back and slumped position. A real throaty wind sound is gurgling in his mouth right now as I'm typing this.

Thankfully we will be landing soon. And I'll have another week before I take off to New Orleans to start a tour. Cutting north up to New York, looping back west through Canada, south along the mid-west and ending back in Arkansas.

It feels like I've been here before so many times. But each time I leave I have no idea what to expect. No idea what'll be at the end of this flight. Or waiting for me in Arkansas. New air. New people. New horizons.