Meet Sam Baker

December 11, 2013

Photo by: Chrislyn Lawrence

Photo by: Chrislyn Lawrence

Meet Sam Baker

This man inspired me to keep going after my wreck. At the age of 31 he survived a Peruvian terrorist bombing that resulted damages to his left hand and brain. He plays left-handed guitar, sings with a rhythm that keeps his mind moving through his writing, and it’s my dream to open for him one day. His album “Say Grace” is Rolling Stone’s 5th best Country Album of the Year

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the chicken or the egg.

December 29, 2010

as promised, my video project is now available online! and for now, embedded exclusively here, on my wreck account blog! thank you to all of you who have kept up with my story. some of you come to me, ashamedly admitting that you have been reading, as if it is some sort of invasion of my privacy. don’t worry, i keep a private journal. this blog is for the purpose of the public eye. it means a great deal to me that you have been reading. so thank you.

the following video is something i put together with my awesome and generous friend, justin wylie, for a scholarship application. for those of you who have been following the blog from the beginning, you will understand why this is a really big deal for me. admittedly, i am playing right-handed guitar for this song. it is a little glimpse at the past and an open view of my current situation. this is the first song i wrote on my right-handed guitar following the accident. my guitar had been in his case for a very long time prior to this song…here’s how i felt about that:

http://player.vimeo.com/video/18247919

Kristen Wright | “The Chicken & The Egg” from Justin Wylie on Vimeo.

the chicken or the egg

does it really matter
what came first?
the chicken or the egg?
i don’t care
i don’t care

what am i supposed to do with this
new kind of loneliness?
a heart cut down
in the top of her pride

when i saw him today
i thought i would cry
and all i can ask is, “God,
why, why, why?”

i’ve learned that in loss
we’ve gotta love
even when no one understands
love with all we’ve got
cause that’s what the heart demands

You smile as i admit it
“i am weak”
and i cling to the feeling of Your lips
on my cheek

I’ve learned that in loss
we’ve gotta love
and he feels familiar in my hands
i’m gonna love with all i’ve got
cause that’s what my heart demands

(copyright 2010)

happy new year everyone. here’s to more in 2011!

finally.

November 14, 2010

it was incredible playing for an audience tonight. it has been far too long and it was really good for me.

Playing left-handed at my first show since the wreck.

my performance was far from perfect, but i’m pretty sure i played in tune and i bared a little bit of my soul. that’s what matters right? and i learned so much from the performance…but really. i’m performing again. one word: bliss!

i alternated between playing left-handed and right-handed. one song is right-handed because my finger picking is much stronger coming from five fingers and honestly, playing right-handed is far more familiar and sounds better. i don’t think i’ve mentioned this yet on the blog, but i’ve been playing right-handed with a cut-capo system. it’s basically instant open tuning, which allows me to fret most chords with two fingers.

the show went really well. stay tuned for the video project! it is finished! i’m just waiting to get the finalized product online and it will be yours!! here’s a picture from tonight to tide you over.

great news.

i’m playing my first public show since the wreck this saturday, november 13th, at ugly mugs in east nashville. it’s mosaic’s writer’s in the round show. (fun fact: my first nashville show was this exact same setting back in april of 2009…and i haven’t played a show here in town since.) i couldn’t be more thrilled to share the night with artists, jenny ray and duo, handsome and gretel. so if you’re interested the show will be at 7:00 at ugly mugs.

how do i feel about my first public show since the wreck? victorious! and a little scared. haha! i will be playing all originals, and there is sure to be a little soul bearing. i love performing and it has been far too long since i’ve been able to sit behind a guitar and play my work. i suppose the most intimidating aspect about next saturday is my ability to play…but i know that audiences are forgiving and if i drop my pick or play some muted strings, the show will go on. i’ve learned that the best way to get better at playing for others is to play for others and learn from experience. see you saturday?

more big news!

after the show next weekend, i will be premiering a really exciting project online. i’m applying for a scholarship for musicians with disabilities and i needed to submit recordings of live representations of my music. soon after the show next weekend, a video will be online youtube/here/everywhere of me playing a new song. look for the big premiere post here!! stay tuned!

a year ago today.

September 17, 2010

can i tell you a story?

it’s a pretty good story.

a year ago today, i was in a car accident that resulted in the loss of two fingers on my left hand. (this of course is not the good part of the story, but all good stories must have some sort of conflict.) a year ago today, i was running late and got in my van and crossed a busy street. a year ago today, i didn’t see him coming. a year ago today i found myself being carried out of a broken car window. a year ago today i was waiting for an ambulance on a curb shouting out to God.

this was thursday, september 17th, 2009 around 6pm, around 15th and wedgewood.

yesterday, thursday around 2:30, i was dancing in my room trying to loosen up after i accidentally locked myself out of my apartment while taking out the trash. me, being the athletic champion that i am, fell on my left arm, spraining my elbow. i had to go to class, but about an hour later, i could no longer straighten my arm or bend it very far due to swelling. my pain level was pretty high, and everything was feeling pretty ironic. i was worried that i had fractured something, because i’ve never broken a bone, and around 6:00, i found myself contemplating the E.R.

now you can imagine why this might be a problem for me. (by the way, it is extremely ridiculous that this happened to me, and it’s okay to laugh!) but at the time, it wasn’t feeling very funny. amazingly enough, someone from belmont’s athletic training center was available to check out my arm. after finding the center, there just so happened to be a doctor from vanderbilt hospital in the office at belmont. this doctor also happened to know my wonderful surgeon. after examining my arm, he confirmed that i had only sprained it, and now i’m on ice and anti-inflamitories.

so the moral of this story?

well, me being me, i fell on my left arm on the eve of my wreck anniversary. God took the opportunity to remind me, “hey, remember how you are weak and I am strong?” then i was able to avoid the E.R. “hey kristen? remember how I provide for you?”

after twelve months, it can be really easy to forget what it is like to be physically in need, but that was a good portion of my year. so many of my loved ones encouraged me to look on this day with celebration. it is good to remember how far i’ve come.

i’ve waited for this day all year, and it has been quite a year. it has been amazing to see how the events of this past year are lining up in different ways this week. i can say that i am relieved, and extremely thankful. i am overwhelmed by the support, love, and prayers that have been showered in my direction. you all mean so much to me, and even if we do not know each other, thank you for the honor of having you read my story. stick around! i have a feeling that God is only getting warmed up.

piano scales.

July 12, 2010

did i mention that i am a music major? well, i am and i’m pretty sure that most music majors from all over the country learn piano before they graduate. at belmont, you have to pass this exam called the piano proficiency and the exam includes a variety of piano skills that have to be demonstrated, one being scales. i, by no means, am a pianist. i have tried to learn several times, but piano is not an instrument that i have ever felt extremely comfortable playing. at the time of my accident, i was in my third semester of piano classes and i was preparing to take my proficiency exam at the end of that course. i was generally ready to pass it. i had learned all of my scales and i was starting to feel like the skills of piano were attainable.

i was really good at scales. now, in the real world, scales aren’t the most valuable of skills to be proud of. no one pays for a ticket to listen to a pianist demonstrate E harmonic minor. but at belmont, it is essential to play scales well for a firm foundation in piano, and i was on my way to piano proficiency greatness.

piano scales were designed to be played by ten-fingered people, so you can imagine my current frustration. i am still required to pass the piano proficiency, and i genuinely want to. i’ve always wanted to be halfway decent behind the ivories, and i want to truly earn the degree that belmont proudly uses to create wonderful musicians. most of my peers have passed this exam by this point in their four-year plan, but i’ve decided to take a vacation from piano classes until the spring semester of 2011 and practice independently until then. because piano is going to be so different for me now, it’s important to explore my current abilities and limits. currently, i’m starting from square one with scales.

i can proudly say that i am working on a method and have mastered the C, G, D, and A major scales. each scale presents a new challenge and the challenges of gracefully moving from white to black keys is much easier with ten fingers. also, i have to deprogram my mind from the original understanding of which fingers move together since i’m learning to play the scales with both hands.

relearning piano and relearning guitar bring completely different challenges and frustrations. guitar is difficult because i’m teaching my hands to do something that is unnatural (playing left-handed) and new (having zero callouses on my right hand after having several years worth on my left). having eight fingers does not play as large of a role in holding me back from learning. piano is different. it is not physically difficult to push a key, but my loss of two fingers seems to be screaming much louder when i try to learn a new scale. because each scale is different, i have to figure out what combination of 3, 2, 1, 2, 1…etc. i can play to get from one octave to the next. i am curious to see how i will progress with the rest of the scales. my goal is to have all of them mastered again by january. by then, i will be starting my first piano class since the accident. i’ll keep you updated!

nine months.

June 17, 2010

today marks nine months since the accident. i know i haven’t written in two months. i’m going to do what i usually do and blame it on homework. although, i am happy to report that i am six days away from being completely done with summer school! this means that i am home in indiana again. i am taking six credit hours at the local community college which will help me to keep a more sane level of course work when i go back to nashville in the fall. to clarify, i am not taking summer school so that i can “graduate on time.” the semester off last fall will have me graduating in december of 2012 instead of may, but that is within four years of schooling.

it is so good to be home. i am completely devoting this summer to relearning guitar and making music. i have been picking up the guitar more than ever now that i have more time on my hands, and i am starting to get more familiar with my old tricks. i am even writing a little bit more, which is extremely exciting. i have really struggled with the pressure of writing over the past nine months, but i am starting to learn how to let go of that. at first, i really struggled to write because i was afraid of having to write amazing, gut wrenching, post car accident songs. those may come, but i’ve learned that writing is a creative process that isn’t meant to be pushed into a mold. also, i had a lot of baggage with learning to write without my guitar skills as a firm foundation. before, i wrote within the limits of my guitar (which is a horrible place to be, even before a double digit amputation); and now, i’m learning to write without that limit. it is a much freer and a much more terrifying place to be as a writer, but i am anxious to see what songs may come of it.

being as it is nine months since the accident, i wanted to do something special, so i’ve included a photo of me playing left handed. sometime in the future, i’d like to do a video, but this should do for now. as you may be able to see, there is a little contraption clipped to the bottom of the sound hole.

playing left-handed with my new hand saddle!

just earlier this week, my dad fashioned a sort of saddle for my left hand to rest in. my dad is a genius. i was telling him that i was having trouble stabilizing my left hand for finger picking because i used my pinky against the frame of the guitar when i was playing right handed. it is difficult to see in the picture, but he essentially made me a device to stabilize my hand over the strings. i just started working with it earlier this week, so everything is really new. i will keep the blog updated to see how i progress with it. right now, it works great; however, my left hand doesn’t. so it will definitely take some practice.

as far as everything else goes…i’m doing pretty good. God has blessed me with the greatest family and friends anyone could ask for (yes, this means you!), and my PTSD isn’t as acute as it was earlier this year. i still get the occasional bad day, but God has taught me so much in this journey, and i am so blessed! i promise to update this blog FREQUENTLY this summer. once summer school is over (6 DAYS!) i will be nonstop music. i love you all, and thank you for all your support and prayers these past nine months!

i’m learning what it means to be content. tomorrow marks seven months since my accident and i’ve gone through a lot of significant struggles and changes since that day. i’m at a place now where i am learning to accept where i am and be content with what i’m doing with my life. i’m not saying it’s easy. some days are better than others and i often find myself feeling extremely behind. because my guitar skills have been stripped away, i often feel like all the work i have done up until this point has been erased and i have to start again at square one.

but it’s important for me to remember where i was seven months ago and where i was five months ago, and so on. i am physically independent again. i am no longer changing bandages on my body. i am a full time student. my life is surrounded by music daily and i am enjoying my time here at belmont. no, i’m not where i thought i would be a year ago, but i am where i need to be in this healing process. i came here to this semester to finish what i started last semester, and that’s what i’m doing.

i’m really looking forward to the summer. i haven’t been able to devote as much time to guitar and piano as i would have liked since i’ve been here and i have cleared my schedule to do just that. i lot of patience is going to be needed ahead. prayers are appreciated! 🙂

six months.

March 19, 2010

yesterday marked six months since the day of my accident. it’s mind blowing to think it has been that long, yet it seems like it happened a long time ago. so much has happened since then. it’s strange thinking back to the various times outlined in this blog. my life has changed so dramatically each month.

i think i can proudly say that i have adjusted well to being a student again. it has been good to make it to uncharted waters (past the original three weeks) and experience all the joys of college i knew i was missing last semester. as much as i dislike waking up for my eight a.m. classes, i have tried to relish the fact that i am participating in the things i could not before.

i want to write about where i am now, six months in. i think it is really important for me to be honest. left-handed guitar makes me crazy. somedays are better than others, but it’s requiring more patience than i could have ever imagined. i’m making may way around G, C, and D, but not for very long before my fingers hurt and i begin to lose motivation. i’m trying to recall how this felt when i was first learning as a twelve or thirteen year old…i think it seemed easier then.

it should also be noted that i’m experiencing some level of post-traumatic stress disorder. i don’t think it was as prevalent while i was living at home, because i was physically separated from where the accident took place; however, my campus is a block away and that doesn’t always bode well. however, i am learning to deal with it. for example: when i’m driving, i seek out intersections with stop lights or stop signs and i avoid driving around 15th and wedgewood as much as possible. now that i have been on campus for about nine weeks, some of the symptoms of PTSD have lessened.

i am proud to say that i think i’m doing pretty good at six months in. one thing i have grown particularly proud of is my typing skills. (note the length of this post.) thank you all for your continual prayers. i’m blessed to know each and every one of you!