Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary

I’ve been thinking about Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” painting a lot today for some reason. I’ve always taken it as a very somber reflection of the horrors of humanity, but upon looking at it today, it really is a very silly little caricature of a face. That might be a blasphemous attitude to take regarding Art, but there it is. 

Today in class, we discussed stories as containers of mystery with which we might pluck out joy. This brought me to thinking about “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. “Mistress Mary, quite contrary…” I’ve also had Oscar Wilde on my brain today…again that old quote about being yourself…

I was tethered to reality by meeting to plan a meal with a good friend today. We’re planning a dinner party for later this month, full of autumn veggies, lamb, and galette…

I am too tired for a long post tonight. I am fighting to pull myself out of my brain today…


Little hummingbird at the feeder,

What’s your time? What’s your meter?

How do you move so fast and so slow?

How do you know the things you know?

It seems I’m just a slave to beauty…

Or at least lead by the nose by beauty…

Tall lighthouse, spiral stairs inside your door

I think I’ve seen your light someplace once before

But I guess that doesn’t really matter anymore, 

Because these waves just keep on rolling home against soft shore.

Still we love a beauty…

Even strange beauty…

Little baby, sleeping in your bed

Well I hope good dreams are running through your head

Because we all fight demons until the day that we are dead

And then we can look back on all the life that we have led

Were you slave to beauty?

Did you say goodbye?

Letting Go…

Letting go of control…the idea that I have any semblance of control at all over my fate…accepting whatever “is” and letting go of all the rest…

I think it was Neko Case who once said Nature is a control freak. I think it’s funny when we personify nature like that. Like, you’d think she would have called humans the control freaks—we’re the ones who have taken great pains to separate ourselves from our environment. In class, we’ve been talking about myths as a form of separating nature from civilization, highlighting the importance of conforming to a certain set of social standards and “reforming” or “taming” our wild nature. 

We discussed the opposition of intuition versus intellect as well, and how that mirrors the nature/civilization dichotomy. For some reason, in many myths, these two opposing forces are often personified in the body of a woman. 

I have no idea why I was born a woman. I was very tomboyish growing up, and currently work a blue collar job. I am attracted to both sexes. I like playing in the dirt. These statements are built on stereotypes, but there you go…the human form is a strange vessel. 

Identities blow in and out of me as I’m walking down the street, as I’m interacting with strangers, as I’m driving down the road. Something about me is hollow, or “leaks”. I’m drafty? I don’t know what it means; it’s all very confusing.

I’m exhausted. It was a strange day. I missed another opportunity to take a spiritual leap today, but as a poet once said, there’s always another spot…will endeavor to keep my head up, keep looking forward, keep the faith…

Good night. 

Feed Yourself First

“Be yourself—everyone else is already taken.” -Oscar Wilde

It seems like there is a maze between my heart and my mouth. I am learning to navigate it daily, how to chart it faithfully and compassionately, without judgement towards myself. There is a powerful light inside me, but powerful darkness too. 

I ate a good dinner with my family tonight. Things felt natural and warm and free. I am learning to relax. I am learning I am safe. I am learning I am powerful, I am made of love and star guts. 

Bodies are embarrassingly straightforward; souls are mystifying. I have a deep hunger-ache for soul connection. It seems a void that can’t be filled, or satisfied, one bite at a time. I seem to want the whole gulp, but am afraid to be greedy. Am I worthy of tasting deep love?

But that’s how we make soul-connections. Conquer and feed, or fawn and eat. I am starving, and have been for a long time. Tomorrow is another day to relax into my deepest self, to bear this soul proudly, in all my hungry glory. You have to feed yourself first. 


The night expands into oblivion as I leave the shelter of these barn house twinkle lights. I am following the narrative I am used to as I drive my sister home. She leaves the car, and I turn back towards the house. I am feeling into the darkness, feeling out the edges of my peripheral vision, sensing as far beyond the scope of my eyesight as I can…relaxing into the mystery of the darkness…

I am trying to feel into the heart of it all, the heart of the great unknowing. I am trying to probe its extremities with curiosity and openness…to merge with it…to marry the feeling of discomfort with compassion and intrigue. I am trying to leave everything I thought I knew behind, to open myself to the infinite possibility of the void. 

Mind over matter, mind over matter, mind over matter, and matter’s just matter…

Forgiveness Waltz

For every two steps forward, if I take one step back, am I waltzing through life?

Might as well turn the stutter into a dance…forgive the process for its imperfection and enjoy it…

There is so much love around. I can see it everywhere. I can hear it in the mouths of those around me. I can hear it, somewhere, rattling around on the depths of my soul…swelling to come forth, yearning deeply to be breathed into being. How do I break apart this feeling into tender, sumptuous morsels? How can I spoon it into the hearts of those around me when I can barely keep the feeling from flying out of my throat like a feral cat?

Yo soy silvestre…but I am learning the dance…I will be tamed. I will come to the light. I will join the circle.


It’s Halloween. I’m feeling very spooky tonight—though less like the witch I’ve been alluding to in previous posts and more like a ghost. I’m a little worried I’m on the edge of another manic episode. 

I’m determined not to require medicine. I know it can be done with the help of regular exercise and a good diet, and I was told I have a fairly temperate case of bipolar disorder. I know it can be done and I want to get there.

I’m very fortunate to have all the support in the world. I went to my family’s house with my boyfriend tonight and we carved pumpkins, ate chili, and drank warm, spiced apple cider while listening to “spooky” music. The theme from “Phantom of the Opera” came on the Pandora playlist and I was transported to an earlier time of my life when I was utterly obsessed with that musical. The throwback was welcome—the tradition was nice. I am seated in the “niceness” of tonight. I am ready to tackle tomorrow.

Here’s another poem I wrote in the middle of the night a few days back. I can hear a somewhat elaborate piano part for it in my head, but I’m not sure how to give it life. Need to fearlessly approach the piano. The tune is flirty and irreverent with a little bit of obvious dissonance which resolves rather simply. The interlude is flowery and rich and flowing. It’s called “Cherub.”


Perfect little cherub, wingin’ in the house of God

Are ya happy to live? Are you dying to be gone?

Down from your high walls—the plaster there’s so thick

Made without sex organs, well that’s just a dirty trick.

Grandmothers love you: “Well she’s such an easy-going boy”

Housewives call on you, want to use ya like a toy

Cowboys resent you, from behind their deep moustaches

But they’re just dust to dust, ashes unto ashes.

Still you can fly, you bring music into life,

You’re the portrait of love.

Shoulders draped in silk, drinking honey and milk

You strum divine songs above…

So why the bow and arrow? What on earth you compensatin’ for?

Adorned in garlands of gold, how could you ever ask for more?

How could you ask for more?

How could you ask for more?

Little frustrated whore,

Don’t you worry, you’ve got God in your backdoor.

Mary Oliver Saves me, Again

Wow, what a day. I am so glad it’s over.

For some reason, today was a tidal wave of self-loathing and grief. I ended up excusing myself from class for fifteen minutes to sob uncontrollably in the single-occupancy restroom. I couldn’t even tell you why—I felt so inconsolably alone, so wretched, so hideous, so ego-maniacal…I hated everything from my intestines to my reflection in the mirror. I hated my heart and brain and emotions. I wanted everything to go away. I wished, for a moment, that I was dead.

But then, I went for a run with Pippin The Dog. We slogged through fallen leaves, reveling in the sunshine and even the tiny hill we surmounted. He jumped up on my chest at one point as if to say, “Isn’t this great?!” and even though I told him to get down and mind, I couldn’t help but agree. Dogs are so much better than people. God, but that’s the truth.

I gave him a treat before I left him in the capable hands of his mother. I thought about our run on the ride home as I listened to a song by Villagers, which breaks my heart every time. Something about my growth process requires tears. I vehemently wish it were different, but that’s just the way it is. Catharsis is the only road forward for me.

Sobbing in the bathroom today, I felt like I was letting go of something—some romantic idea I have about myself which resurfaces in my mind from time to time. Some image of myself which is flawless, humble, kind, intelligent, gentle, nurturing, capable of empathetic love…I mourned this gorgeous version of myself while looking back into my own eyes in the mirror, full of imperfection, loss, and fear.

I want to embody beauty, brains, radical empathy. I want to be a portrait of perfection, for whatever reason. It seems I will settle for nothing less. I can only love myself if I am still and placid and gentle; I only feel calm as a lamb that does not anticipate the slaughter. I crave a spiritual guide to wipe away the black, to shed some joy into this sadness I bear. Vulnerable as a babe, I wept today, bitterly, emptily, alone. 

But after my run with Pip, I came home to my boyfriend. We talked about humanity, we talked about ways of loving, we talked about empathy. We took a shower, and I washed away the day. Now we are curled in bed, the golden retriever snuggled between us. I am warm and safe again.

I wish I knew how to carry warmth with me longer, to carry faith that everything will work out, that everything is truly for the best, that humanity really is good. As much as I believe it academically on some level, spiritually my soul aches from time to time. I doubt I am alone in this regard.

Hurt comes when you do not expect it, if you are naïve like me. You will expect others to compromise with, rather than feast on, the tenderness of your soft, animal body.

I kept thinking of that quote from Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese”: 

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees 

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

Love what it loves.

The Ride, Not the Result

Well, another inspiring day in class. We talked about chordophones today, beginning in ancient Persia (so we think) roughly 3,300 years ago. We talked at length about how, as instruments traveled along the Silk Road, they were invariably influenced by the new environments they found themselves in—various iterations would be built with different “ingredients,” so to speak, as folks used what was readily available to craft their likenesses. The very resonance of these instruments changed with the difference of materials as well as the hands that played them, steeped in their respective cultures and musical ideologies.

It’s all from the same source…all music is born out of a single core…influencing its next step in evolution…in communication with everything…it is in everything…it is nature itself, turned intelligible and “captured” …or perhaps “channeled” is a better word…

We’ve been listening to a lot of Kayhan Kalhor’s music in my class. He is a world-renowned kemancheh player, playing traditional Iranian music. It defies meter. It challenges the ideas I hold about “melody.” It is incredibly soulful, violent and tender at the same time, and you can hear his bow shaking ancient dust out of the tune. Though the songs often sound somewhat erratic to my western ears, they’re actually built out of dedicated practice and devotion to the traditional teachings of a master. A certain amount of trust must be built up between the keeper of the customs and the pupil before they are allowed to improvise on the instrument. 

To watch him play is to watch him surrender himself to some divine force, like his hands are possessed by something else entirely and the music just flows and flows through him…it’s amazing to behold. It’s humbling. It makes me want to practice every spare moment of every day, until I can chisel away at the chaos in my mind and give in to something larger, older, more profound than I can ever be. To let the music go free into the world, rather than trying to mold it to my own motive. Does that make sense? Is that too woo-woo?

In other news, I did actually take steps towards this today by studying the circle of fifths. It’s slowly leaking into my brain and awareness. Every song I listen to now is a journey, no matter the genre. I am bursting with eagerness to hear the blueprint, to uncover another fold of what the music has to say…

Now, to temper and focus this passion. To temper this blaze inside me, this hunger which slips from my body limply, without direction. To hold it close and shine it like a lantern into the heart of another. 

Or maybe, just maybe, I need to freakin’ chill…set my bar lower, take baby steps, enjoy the ride…yes, that’s the way…the ride, not the result, the ride, not the result, the ride, not the result…the ride…


I’m in bed, and the day is winding down. I spent it in front of the piano, and playing my guitar next to the ocean. I am so inspired, lately. I hardly know what to do with it all, except to insert my nose into my music theory workbook and keep on handling my instruments. We are always evolving. I am finally turning the page on the self-soothing chapter and looking into crafting an identity, learning to jam with others and contribute to the musical conversation.

It’s all about participation—finding a way to participate in joy. As a fairly dark-minded child, music was one of the only things that I could connect with. I am learning to peel back the layers of my perceived identity, embrace what new ways I can find pleasure in the world around me. And in finding that pleasure, to wield it, channel it, share it…

But first, I have to slow down. The speed is actually in the slowing. Slow down to speed up. Speed up.Upward lift! That’s the way I want to go!

I don’t know why this should surprise me—life is full of oxymorons like that.

Inspiration is everywhere. It is in the forgetting of this that we sink into despair, a state I had long resigned myself to. Now I seek the courage to overcome myself, in a sense. Learn to thank my ego for protecting me, and let it go…

There is so much love in the air, waiting to be plucked and rolled around in your mouth and shared. Everywhere you go, there it is. Enjoy looking for it; celebrate finding it; pass it on! Goodnight, dear readers. I love you.