“There’s that phrase, ‘If you love something, set it free.’ I think that’s a principle that’s really difficult for everyone. Myself included. But it is something that I come back to sometimes. If you love something, you’re not trying to possess it or control it. That being said, I do think a lot of people are afraid of love and afraid of being vulnerable. Personally I think of being 'in love' as being willing to be radically open and radically vulnerable. I don’t really know another way to be. I usually try to demonstrate that to a partner. Being honest and open and sharing your emotions and sharing your spaces and sharing power.”Read More
"I can dig in deep to what I'm doing, I can lose myself in this stuff, I can take those feelings and somehow make them into something visual. And that was important to me. Even if it didn't come out (as) what I was thinking, it was just everything coming out of me in a therapeutic way. And after a while I learned how to corral that when I started feeling better. It's like, OK, this is how I'm going to piece these puzzles together. I always think, 'Where would I be?' And it scares me thinking if I didn't have this outlet...I don't know where I'd be right now."Read More
"I've been in situations where I tried hard to make a relationship work, but it made me more unattractive. So that sometimes doesn't work. I feel like I've had a plethora of different kinds of relationships. Whether it just be a really really fun casual one or one where it was—the last person I dated, I was like, 'I'm probably going to marry this person.' And it didn't work out. She wanted a commitment sooner than later and I was down, but it was a long distance relationship. She wanted me to move to New York and I said that I totally will once my lease is up, but I think she was feeling some kind of pressure. She's a great lady. She was the greatest person I ever dated. I still regret it to this day."Read More
"Realizing in life, there’s racism that exists. There are all these different systems of oppression. And then realizing when you come to terms with—I remember when I was younger, way younger, I thought maybe some things were bad, but my personal belief is that we live in a system, multiple layers of systems that benefit a few. There’s elite and the rest of us. I had to come to terms with realizing that what I wanted to do in my life was to fight back against those systems or at least create conditions for people to thrive no matter who they are. This is what I want to do with my life. And committing to that and guiding my life in a way to do that."Read More
"There were some things I missed out on in some ways. My friends left for university and I was ready to do that, but I went into making a debut album. I knew with my heart it was what I wanted to do. It felt like a calling or a deeper purpose. But that idea of journeying with friends and going to university and having this tight group going through all these experiences together, it wasn't really something I had. I made new friends but a lot of them were a lot older than me and we got into music together, but I didn't have that same sisterhood feeling of, 'Yep, we went through college together.' But in saying that, you come to different maturities at different times of your life. I have that now in a really profound way. A really strong sense of female friends and male friends that I've made and shared so much with."Read More
"I was married to a man, to Frank, who I told you about, and I met Meredith. It was a moment that I had to tell him that I had fallen in love with a woman and maybe I was gay. I still don't know if that label works. I could really make myself start bawling right now. Being honest with him. It took me eight weeks to realize that's what I had to do. Tell him. Hurt him like that."Read More
"It's when your thoughts turn off up here and it becomes just a feeling. I've been in a love with a person, yes, and I've been in love with music, I've been in love with art. It doesn't need to be a person you can be in love with. It's when all your thoughts go away and it just becomes a feeling you can't even control at that point. It's also an act of...you're putting that thing beyond anything else. I don't think I could put in a 16-, 18-hour day and not be in love with what I do. Because at four in the morning, if you're still there, trying to figure it out, and you're just loving that moment, either you're a bit crazy or a bit in love."Read More
"When your days are done, did you do anything? There's this thing in your head and you have to get it out on the paper. So the inertia of...when all is said and done, did you do it? Did you do it? If not, for me, 'Oh God, I failed.' But then there's the everyday inertia. Did I get to the drawing table today? Did I get to the computer and write something today? The inertia of...you have all these other responsibilities to take care of, you have all these other tasks to get done, you have your own issues that you fight. A lot of people wait for motivation to show up in the room. It's never going to. You just have to do the work. And inertia wants to tell you no."Read More
"My ability to feel a real sense of joy and pride—healthy pride—and ownership over some of those great accomplishments that have happened in my life, I never really did. And I have to say that now my greatest accomplishment is actually being able able to say, 'I can't do this and I need help.' I can't do the work of figuring out how to relate to people and deal with my abandonment and the adoption and all that stuff, I can't do that on my own. But the accomplishment was being able to say, 'My life is not working out. It hasn't been working out in the ways that I want it to work out and I continually fall short and it continually fails.' Now to be able to say, 'And here's why.' Now I can't be afraid of it. I have to embrace it. It's part of my story."Read More
"I was always a big worrier. My whole life I was always stressed about things. Stressed about going to the dentist and whatever doctor, always worrying about things. But [going into back surgery] was the first time in my life that I was completely fine. Because I knew it was going to help. And I was in so much pain, every day of my life. I was in so much pain. I would take naps all the time because it was just fatigue. It was hard to think. It was a lot. And when I woke up from surgery—obviously I was groggy and out of it and in pain—but I immediately felt better. I could breathe. I never realized that my breathing was impacted, but I woke up and I was like, 'Oh my god, I can breathe.'"Read More
"I still have the journal that I had when I was fifteen. I wrote an entry that was basically, 'I want to die. I can’t imagine being in a wheelchair all my life.' I’m so glad I have that. And my handwriting was even horrible, chicken scratch, that’s how depressed I was. Seeing that is crazy. People have asked me if I can relate to that girl. There’s part of me that’s in there, but then there’s a side of me that sees it as just the circumstance. Even though those were valid feelings, I can see now how life plays out in the sense that there’s a core you that can go through anything and those circumstances will overflow. It’s just like water. You can be on top of the water, under the water, you can be feeling like you’re drowning. Then at the end of the day it’s still you there figuring out that this is a shit storm. Then, wait, there’s land. And you can see the water from a different perspective."Read More
"Being shaken into consciousness whatever that shake is. The AA slang is your bottom is when you stop digging. For some people it takes a stroke. For some people it’s a broken nail. For some it’s real arrests and real problems. Everyone’s shake-up happens. Not everyone, but a lot of people go through this. You hope it happens in soft and gentle ways, but unfortunately that’s not always the case, sometimes it’s too late and there’s real damage done. Going through it isn’t easy. Once you emerge, perspective becomes real. How you live in love, how you live in gratitude. For me it dramatically shifted.Read More
"When I started out as a photographer—and even until now—I don’t really get any help. I never had a mentor. I tried asking people if I could assist them and they weren’t keen because I was already getting jobs very early on, so it was a conflict of interest. When I wanted to learn how to use studio lights, I had to buy studio equipment and start my own studio and just figure it out from scratch. It was really time-consuming. A constant uphill climb."Read More
"To me, the thing that struck me the most from the very earliest days at GrubStreet, really from our very first students when I really didn’t know what we were doing, people were so moved and transformed by just being together in a classroom and sharing work, which is a very hard and vulnerable thing to do, that they believed in each other and they believed in those of us teaching in those early classes, and they were always ready to step up and give us advice or feedback or help out so when GrubStreet officially became a non-profit, from the student body came our first board of directors. They helped with filling out the crazy and byzantine 501c3 paperwork and on and on. At every single stage of our development as an organization people have presented themselves showing up with just what we need at that moment. That’s about being as clear as you can be about the values and the vision and the mission.Read More
"The importance of when you’re playing in a band or a musical situation that it’s not about you. You’re trying to make the musicians and people around you as welcomed as possible. That’s with the people listening and watching or dancing, and the people you’re playing with. I call them—the best musicians are like elevators, you play one note with them and you jump in and they take you up, they make you better.
When you play music, listen to everything else that’s going on. Don’t just listen to what you’re doing. Otherwise you lose the big picture."Read More
"But something that’s been a struggle is that I’ve suffered with depression my whole life. I don’t know if I’d want to change it though, because it makes me who I am. It gives me that crazy edge which I think I need musically. And I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t met one musician that’s not absolutely fucking nuts in some way. We all have issues.
Me: What do you do to combat those issues when they come up?
Allen: Therapy. Music. Being around people. Sometimes not being around people. Pets. There’s a lot of stuff to do. I stay away from recreational drugs. I don’t really tap into that because that can make it worse.
I think depression would be the thing that I’d be better off without, but like I said, I don’t think I’d be better. It’s part of who I am."Read More
"My way of dealing with anger—and she and I have talked about this before because she’s told me that she has difficulty controlling her emotions—I was telling her about the books that I read. One of them teaches you how to see your anger. We all get mad, but the ultimate thing is that we have to really feel our anger. Not to control it or fight against it, but to feel the anger. “I’m feeling angry, but what is this anger? Do I feel my body temperature get hot? How do I feel?” Once you start to feel how your body physically reacts to your emotions, you’ll realize your emotions calm down because you’re now aware of it. Then you can try to think about why you’re so angry. Because the easier thing is to blame other people, blame things. “This person’s fucked up” or “This thing is fucked up.” But maybe not. Maybe you should dig deeper and ask, “Why am I so angry?” Because no one else is angry, you are angry. So then you can understand what that trick is that makes you so angry. Once you find out, it’s usually that maybe you’re too self-centered or you didn’t see it from someone else’s perspective. Or maybe you’re too rushed or too aggressive or too passive. That’s why these moments of anger go this way. Because of your you. You’re not saying it’s your fault, it’s just that you played a part in it that caused this anger. That made you angry. So just deal with it and let it go."Read More
"I feel like in every relationship that I’ve had that’s dissipated has gone away partly because of that. I’ve been divorced twice. For different reasons, but there are commonalities in all of them. That is something that’s fundamental in all relationships. Everybody wants to feel as if what it is that they’re thinking or what it is that they’re felling is at the very least acknowledged in a way where somebody appreciates what they’re thinking. They may not agree with it. But they can appreciate that you experience it. So yeah, of course.
Even anybody that’s had a job. Anybody that’s been in a huge metropolitan city. You walk around, you’re on the L, you’re surrounded by millions of people and you’re not connected to them in any way.
There’s a movie where this woman is working in a bookstore—it’s an Hal Hartley movie, I can’t remember the name—she’s just standing in the middle near these stairs and she keeps saying, 'Does anyone need any help? Does anyone need any help?' And of course no one even acknowledges her. It’s universal. Disconnection is built into this society. In good ways and bad ways."Read More