Angie Norman is the co-founder of Hear Nebraska, a nonprofit based in Lincoln and Omaha dedicated to meaningfully connecting Nebraska music fans, artists and communities through journalism, education and events. She lives with her husband, Andy, son Townes (3) and their Yorkie, Polly Pocket, in Omaha’s Benson neighborhood.
TWS: Music seems to be a huge part of your life! Who are a few artists you’re really vibing with right now?
AN: This changes frequently, depending on what we have going on. If we’re booking more national bands at the time for a festival like Lincoln Calling, it’ll be more national. If we’re booking something like The Good Living Tour, I’ll have more Nebraska-based musicians spinning.
Nationally it’s been Worriers, Bully and Lizzo. Locally it’s been Mesonjixx and See Through Dresses. I also just got back from a 40-hour road trip in an RV with some of our staff and it’s always really fun to listen to a collaborative playlist for whatever festival we’re heading to. It’s a great way to make a game plan for who you want to see, and usually another person has some fun, surprising suggestions. One thing we did on this last trip that was fun was to play songs from musicians from the states we were passing through. I’d highly recommend this if you’re on a long drive. We also listened to a lot of Randy Travis during that road trip, though, so you can decide how much advice you want to take from me.
TWS: If you weren’t involved in the music industry, what would you be up to right now?
AN: Ah, that’s a big question for me. I’ve been doing this for as long as I’ve been married, which will be 8 years in January. Starting a nonprofit and a marriage the same year is definitely not something we did on purpose. It just all sort of happened at the same time and became a built in part of our marriage and lives. We always joke that we may someday need some training/counseling to figure out what a normal couple does.
I’ve done everything from working at a tattoo shop to doing quality assurance at a survey center to political campaign organizing to working at art galleries, a roller rink and insurance. I’ve been so lucky to meet great people who have given me chances and believed in me and I’m not afraid to work for what I want or need. I have always felt like an underdog. I didn’t grow up with money, I moved around a lot as a kid and really knew I needed to work harder than the person next to me to get somewhere in life as an adult.
Maybe due to that mentality, I have always had a side gig, including a four-year stint at Stella, and I currently work part time at Paper Kite, which is another woman-owned business. I love retail and I look up to business owners and enjoy the change of pace and interacting with customers. I also enjoy gardening, and I love decorating and vintage clothing, so I guess those could be dream possibilities in my future. How awesome would that be?
For me, being a mom is probably my most important job, and I’ll always try to prioritize that if I’m able.
"The best part about being a woman is the friendships with other women."
TWS: You appear to have a bit of a retro vibe. How would you describe your personal style?
AN: I’d say that description is accurate. I’m pretty sure most people I know could point out the “Angie” item in a store. I don’t necessarily try for any style, but I’m attracted to more classic looks. I’ve tried to challenge myself to think outside of my own box, but I always come back to a pretty similar vibe. Whatever makes me feel the most confident is the item of clothing I want to wear.
TWS: What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you in 2017?
AN: Aside from Trump beginning his presidency, I’ll go with a little more lighthearted answer: the ability to order groceries online, and have them delivered to my house. It allows me to spend more time with my family, and saves me money. I’m the person who would probably order everything to be delivered if it would give me more quality time with people I care about.
TWS: What’s the biggest misconception about you?
AN: That things come easy for me.
What I’ve learned from that is, you do not know what people are going through. You just don’t. Even people who are constantly being negative and critical are probably going through something. Getting to the point in my life that I could honestly say that I have bigger plans and bigger aspirations than worrying about what some dude says about me on the internet really freed me up to get a lot more done and make some bigger moves. It takes time to not care as much, and I still slip, but it’s great to even have that as on ongoing thought in my mind. I shift my focus almost immediately when I feel like I’m getting caught up in that worry trap. You deserve it. I promise. We all do. The end.
TWS: What’s an issue going on in the world that you feel strongly about?
AN: I feel strongly about access to affordable health care. I spend many years not knowing I had some pretty extensive food allergies, which also meant a lot of time figuring out what the hell was wrong with me. I was so miserable and blowing money on urgent care visits because I had no insurance. I racked up thousands of dollars of hospital bills and went from a pretty responsible person to someone who was trying to figure out if I should pay rent or pay my overdue hospital bills. I wasn’t a single mom struggling. I wasn’t living a reckless lifestyle, and I at times even had insurance, but it wasn’t working out so well for me. I was making just enough money to pay my rent and cover basic expenses. I was also completely screwed and very sick and working and smiling through it.
Finally, I went to a neurologist who told me to not let another doctor touch me, and to save my money for a $600 allergy test. The test showed me what I was severely allergic to, and gave me a road map to changing my diet. Within a month I was feeling like a completely different person. I’m so so lucky and I’ve since paid off these bills and I now have health insurance. I worry that other people’s entire lives are ruined by this and I worry about people who start off with much worse odds than me.
TWS: How do you balance your career with other obligations (husband, children, social life)?
AN:The short answer to this is that I don’t.
The long answer is that I have a process that I go through each day where I’m thinking about what I can give that day. Before I get out of bed, I think about being a wife, a mom, my friendships, my work, my dog and plants and whatever else. Some days I’m a really good wife and some days I’m a really good mom or friend and some days I really kill it at work. Rarely do I ever accomplish all of these things in one day. If I’m not as good of a wife some days I’m lucky that my husband picks up my slack. If I’m not as good of a mom, it’s OK. There’s enough mom guilt swirling around out there. And thank god for texting and nights catching up when I’m not nailing it in the friend department.
I guess what I’m saying is that it’s all about balance, but that balance doesn’t all have to happen in one day. If you can make a conscious effort each day to consider these things in your life, you’ll probably end up with a good balance — at least I hope so.
TWS: What are 5 things that you can’t live without that you use religiously?
AN: I love this question!
1) A pair of clogs: To know me is to know me in some Lotta From Stockholm or Swedish Hasbeens clogs or at the very least a heel of some sort. I make an exception at the beach or in extremely rough terrain.
2) Red Lipstick: My grandma wore red lipstick almost every day of her life. Estee Lauder was her brand. I wear my lipstick down the exact same way she did. I don’t know if it’s how we apply it or what, but it’s distinct. I used to go through her makeup and I loved how it smelled, and loved opening up the compartments and snooping in all of her stuff. Lipstick made her feel confident and it makes me feel that way, too.
3) My polaroid camera: I have thousands of these little snaps. I plan to be an old lady looking through them all the time. My favorite thing is when I see a couple trying to get a phone photo, to offer to shoot one with my polaroid. I hand them the photo, and watch them watch it slowly expose. Then we never see each other again.
4) Cards, or a nice notepad and a pen for thank you’s or notes for friends: When we first started HN we couldn’t afford business cards, so I’d write notes to everyone. We’d go to SXSW and I’d write notes to bands telling them to come to Nebraska and that we’d host and take care of them. (Some of them took us up on it and contacted us when they were gonna be in the area.) Now, I spend more time writing notes to friends or staff, thanking them for specific things they’ve done or telling them how much I appreciate that they care about the same things we do. People don’t know unless you tell them. And sometimes it’s good to have that physical reminder on your fridge or bulletin board.
5) My black leather jacket: This has been my biggest splurge on myself in my life. This purchase taught me about quality over quantity.
TWS: Outside of your business and being a mother, share with me one of your proudest moments.
AN: I just sang karaoke for the first time. I was pretty proud of putting myself out there to do something I was scared of. The song was “None of Your business” by Salt-N-Pepa, in case you were curious.
TWS: Tell me about a day in the life of Angie Norman
AN: My days vary so much. depending on the season we’re in, so this is hard to answer, but I’ll try.
If we’re putting on a festival or booking a lot of events, the schedule gets pretty full and it’s more of a day and night thing that we make work with our family. There are lots of phone calls and evening meetings. If you have ever worked with or for us, you’ve probably ridden in a car with our son in the carseat in the back and maybe sang a song or two with him. It’s just part of the deal at this point. A normal day where we have nothing else going and no one is traveling for work is actually pretty boring, and those are the days I look forward to the most, though I crave the chaos a bit, too.
Normal days are coffee, preschool, work, connecting with friends and then dinner and we talk about work for at least two hours each night because my husband works full time as executive director of HN, so there is a lot to catch up on that I miss during the day. We make sure we get some family time in there and because my husband works longer hours and travels occasionally, he reads our son to sleep almost every night he’s home.
If you want an idea of sort of an off day, I’ll tell you about the day of this shoot. The night before, my son spiked a really bad fever and got a terrible cough. I was up with him a lot that night and when I woke up and looked in the mirror I literally said “oh shit,” because my eyes were really blood shot. I had maybe three hours of sleep. After my cup of really strong coffee, I got in the shower, gave myself a pep talk and put some visine in my eyes hoping it would help. Townes didn’t have preschool that day and so I drove him and his giant car seat to Lincoln, to Stella, to send him with my dear friend Amber (who agreed to meet me there because I was running to late to drop him off at her house). I walk in with a couple huge bags, a kid who has to pee and that carseat and I was honestly immediately relieved. Amber picked Townes up and we took off for the laundromat for what was a really comfortable, fun and lighthearted shoot with friends and an amazing photographer.
My current situation right now is that I worked at Paper Kite today, and then came home to help sign 1,000 letters that contain a big announcement of something we’ve been working on for the last year. You’ll have to watch the mail or our social channels to find out about that. Sorry to be a tease, but it’s a biggie. I’ve got a cute lil yorkie pup curled onto my lap and I’m thinking tomorrow will be one of those normal days — maybe.
TWS: In your opinion, what do you feel is the best part about being a woman?
AN: The friendships with other women. The women I know are nurses, doctors, entrepreneurs, really kick ass moms, students, business owners, politicians, hairdressers, photographers, artists, musicians and a whole slew of other things. And they all celebrate each other, build each other up and really work hard to promote the idea of supporting other women. I’m extremely thankful for them, no matter how close we are and even if it’s just on social media I feel like we can be there for each other and relate to each other.
TWS: What’s one thing that you’ve done today that no one knows about?
AN: I had a solid 20-minute conversation with my son Townes who’s 3 years old about how he has a bunch of eagles living it his belly and how he’s ready to release them. I’m kind of scared.