N’est pas la France ici, Malheureusement

I am sitting on an uncomfortable couch waiting for class to start. I’ve been a little lax with the blogging lately, as I’ve been getting into too much fun!

It’s not raining today, and I couldn’t be happier about that fact. I ordered a chocolate croissant from the cafe and am pretending I’m in France as I sip my coffee. C’est bon. C’est très bon.

I wrote my first ever song in French the other day. It is painfully simple, but I did it!! I’m so proud. The emotion is true behind it, so that’s something. I can’t wait for it to continue to grow and evolve as I find how to voice it best.

I started reading a book last night examining the intersection of science and myth. It essentially proposes that the two are more connected and intertwined than we give them credit for. I am intrigued to see where the author roams as he attempts to tie this hypothesis into modern and ancient examples–if he might connect two seemingly opposing sides of a spectrum and help me to understand, just a little bit, the crazy chaos of the current mythos of our culture.

Class is going to start soon, so I need to hop on the proverbial plane back from “France.” We’ll see where the discussion takes us today–yesterday was spent listening to Gregorian chants and Tibetan droning designed to inspire kindness. Every day is an adventure weaving past to present, east to west.

“There is no East or West–it’s just a globe.” -Wu Man

blue eyes

they say idle hands are the devil’s playground

that idle mind, like fallow field, will 

Explode with nature’s chaos,

leading to eternal ruin?

how then, when I am still

how is it then that my mind tiptoes back to your eyes

Divinity-blue

when allowed to wander?

tide your truth to me, an ocean

for me to float upon, to slip

inside on starry summer evenings,

in only salty skin

and transcribed longing!

swelling pools of darkness and light:

every unimaginable shade between extremes

finds home in your iris,

rooting intricately into my heart 

like winter isn’t really coming

and dessert is on the menu

after all

I swing through pupils 

hungry, collecting

scraps with my compost eyes, waiting

for the rain of you

to release my earthen scent into the air around us

so we might sink a little deeper 

into this primordial mud

and rise, like we were only

just born

Today,

the first of our kin

to dance 

with God

Devendra Does Seattle

I got to see Devendra Banhart in concert tonight in Seattle at the Moore Theatre. He is an exquisitely goofy individual whose live performance is simultaneously precise and erratic. I loved watching his band explore the stage and explore sound together. Even when they performed old hits like “Baby,” it was clear there was a conscious effort to avoid sounding canned or too rehearsed. To be frank, it was some real fresh shit. I basically felt like I was sitting in on their band practice, not a performance. For a moment I couldn’t tell whether or not I should be annoyed that he was so blasé about the whole thing, but I ended up landing on thinking it was freakin’ awesome. 

In other news, this little old dog I’m watching has finally warmed up to me, after three solid days of constant one-on-one time. The first night I stayed over, she refused to sleep in the bed with me, as is her usual practice with her mom. But tonight, I came home late to her snoozing and tucked myself into bed and—lo and behold! In came trotting Miss Rosie, looking for a snuggle! I fist pumped the air and helped her onto the bed. 

Music was slathered all over my reality today. I played “Kathy’s Song” by Simon and Garfunkel no less than a thousand times today, experimenting with vocal phrasing, dynamics, etc. I’d like to figure out the guitar solo next, but one thing at a time…

Next on the list is either “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins, or another Laura Marling song, though I am trying to break out of my default, Laura Marling cover mode…she’s just so damned good, I keep on crawling back. 

I’m wiped and have a full day of homework, cleaning, and the occasional song to sing. I will miss this sweet little dog and her semi-crotchety ways. Old dogs are really something special. 

Bustin’ Outta Ruts and I Feel Fine

Again it’s raining, but my thoughts are on music now.

I’ve been playing guitar and singing all day. My fingers are numb. My vocal cords are shot. I am so freakin’ happy. 

In class today, something clicked: I burst out of a musical plateau I’d been in for years. I’ve still got a long way to go with where I want to be with music theory, but I definitely leveled-up my vocal ability today, and all just because I changed my perspective on singing a little bit. Instead of focusing on hitting individual notes accurately, I turned my attention to accentuating musical phrasing and BAM! All of a sudden, I was getting a richer tambre, more dynamics, more overall power. It is truly amazing what a shift in perspective will yield. 

I also got invited to my first jam in ages and, while I mostly shied away from the proverbial spotlight, I could feel how much I was learning by focusing on matching pitches, improvising, and playing with chord shapes up and down the neck. It is incredibly beneficial to play with others; it just takes courage and a certain level of confidence, which I am slowly cultivating…

I feel very hopeful and inspired. But with that, it’s time for bed. 

Goodnight, world, and goodnight fellow musicians. Keep doing the thing—you’re making the world a better place! ❤

Anxiety Mythos ≠ My Odyssey

It’s raining today. 

I am stuffed to the brim with thoughts. There is no room inside me to receive anymore. I can only reflect, and push away. The ability to transform energy from dark to light seems unobtainable today. I don’t know why I am so deep inside myself, but I hope I can find some kind of means of finding my magic soon, like Circe left to herself on her island, slowly discovering the power of interacting with the earth around her, finding natural magic in her own two hands.

I am drinking kava tea and snuggling with a little old dog. The rain is coming down against the windows and I am swelling with water. This house might as well be a submarine. I am a nautical astronaut, pressed in on all sides by the vacuum of myself. I am full of brine and mystery, and my key is washed away. Some days it tides its way to me; today is not one of those days.

Everything is an intrusion today. My cup is full of saltwater. I am a goddess, trending towards monstrosity like Tiamat. There is a sea monster inside of me pressing against the back of my skull, bulging out of my eyelids, eating at the substance of my belly. How can I create when I embody destruction? How can I love when my heart is a tempest?

It is a poet’s nature to dramatize as they capture—this I know. But when it feels this sticky, what other way out is there but to write, and write what feels true?

There are good people, and good loving, and good dogs to be shared and honored and enjoyed. Tomorrow, dawn with her rose-red fingers will find me on my raft, floating towards the homeland in myself, braving moody Poseidon and praying to bright-eyed goddesses. There is birth inside me yet…this bad day is not my epic. This bad day is not my song.

Art, Music, and “Reality”

Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo! I just got done writing a six page paper on consensual reality as it relates to music and myth and I am WIPED. Boy howdy, I had fun though!

I lingered after class today to debate the time signature of a song I love and to discuss the potentiality of foreign life, whether that be extraterrestrial or terrestrial life which is simply unrecognizable to us (for example, what if rocks had sentience?! Cue the Star Trek references) and I am riding on an academic afterglow. 

Even though I am funemployed right now, I am crazy busy. I have dogsitting obligations, homework, catering projects, self-care, class projects which I am taking far beyond their intended scope…including initiating the process of understanding the rape kit test backlog in this country, beginning in my local county with local authorities. I don’t know yet how far I intend to take it, but in my wildest dreams it turns into a rabbithole which I turn into a lifelong mission. We’ll see what happens!

I hope to write some more poetry soon and make some more music. I wrote a song the other day which I’m not sure means anything, but it felt good to give birth to. Art is the best!!!

How has art informed your realty? How do you create? How does reality inform your art? Leave me a comment! Let’s collaborate!! J

Breathwork Bombshell

Another day of music down as I edge towards the finality of my college career! We sang in a cappella groups today, working on music intervals, rhythm, and articulation in bringing a piece to life. Somewhat surprisingly, when it came time to share with the class, the hardest part was beginning the piece in unison. We practiced breathing together, noting how one simple breath before the notes can hold the meter of a song. It seems like magic, but it works. 

After running errands this afternoon, I set aside ten minutes for guided meditation in my car. The backbone of meditation is breathwork and, as much as I know this to be true, I oft have difficulty fully relaxing and tapping into the organic pleasure of breathing full, deep breaths. (Humor me: try it now! Take a deep breath! Feel it fill up your belly, tip into your rib cage, and tickle your heart. Exhale slowly and make whatever sound feels best to you. And voila, you’re doing it!! You’re self-care-ing!)

But for whatever reason, today I was able to truly loosen the shackles of my anxious mind, open my chest, slacken my muscles, and really embrace it. This is a huge win for me, never mind I practiced this in the parking lot of my college. I feel incredibly empowered and calm, and it only took ten minutes and some air.

I’ve been attempting to unwind via meditation and breathwork for upwards of a year now, with limited success. I think what hindered me was the sheer determination I had for it to work, which clogged up my access to exploring how it all feels in my body. I constantly felt like I couldn’t do it correctly, that there was something I was missing, and I was just broken.

I don’t know if it’s because of the singing we did in class, or because I just chatted with a very *chill* yoga instructor, or because I had come just a half step away from resigning myself to believing it was an impossibility for me to ever calm down—but today, breathwork fucking worked.

Its results were temporary and literally took me well over a year to garner, but I am elated by this massive victory. I felt connected to the space between my sternum and my spine—I could feel my heart “expand,” like I’m constantly hearing these spiritual gurus promising will happen. It felt nothing short of a miracle. I walked with winged heels to this café and ordered without the usual crippling dose of social anxiety. I felt connected to everyone within a twenty-foot radius, and (for once) in a good way.

I don’t know how much I buy into the sensationalism of “empathy”. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that healthy human beings are inherently empathetic—but it’s developed into a spiritual movement which wanders down alleyways of the spirit I have yet to brave. I feel on the precipice, however. I am in that liminal twilight stage.

That being said, I have been told over and over and over again throughout my life that I am borderline debilitatingly empathetic. I have a hard time separating my emotional body from that of those within close proximity to me. I’ve gone to countless “energy therapies” designed to stitch me back up, but I always seem to “leak” again within that same day. My energy bleeds. It muddles. It catches, like molasses, the wavelengths of those entering my orbit, and then I am a confused, disembodied mess. I’ve had multiple therapists suggest “grounding” exercises for me. I guess I wasn’t ready for them before now.

I finally have a tool in my energetic toolbelt which will help me establish boundaries with other energies. Instead of becoming overly invested and mothering those who are hurting (because their hurt became my hurt) I can focus on loving myself and setting those gentle but essential boundaries which are laced with love and support. It’s awful to be in pain, but if you have lungs and a few minutes, there’s a world at your disposal. I am only just dipping a toe in…but it feels so good!!!

I am imagining making this a daily practice just to see how far I can go—what depths of the heart I can map and how I might use this to protect myself and nurture those around me. Part of me feels very behind the curve, but I also know those worldly gurus would tell me that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I choose to believe them. The alternative is not a reality which might lead me to a higher path—if I even can use such spiritual words willy-nilly!

So, dear reader: wherever you’re at in your healing process, keep your head up! Just when you feel you will never feel good, there will be a “W” for your stat board. Don’t give up on the self-care routine you’re working on, because the results will eventually come if you keep at it—and the reward is so rich for all the wait. 

Whoever you are, I love you, I believe in you, and I know you can overcome your hurdles. Until tomorrow!

Stories Eat Faith

Like many mornings, the sun came up faithful today.

The sky was clear most of the day; truly beautiful—a golden autumn.

 I spent hours reading about social entrepreneurship and profit versus nonprofit business. In the back of my mind as I read was a constant stream of music, anxiety, and magic. 

One of the entrepreneurs interviewed in my reading mentioned the power of music in connecting with folks from all over the world. He said he received a level of celebrity in a small town in Guatemala after playing a Nicaraguan ballad on the guitar, which sealed the deal between his organization and the local businesses. Another young nonprofit entrepreneur spoke of the importance of listening to the needs of the people in the trenches of poverty who are trying to make ends meet—of hearing the specific requests of the farmers in small communities and equipping them with the tools to address their problems rather than prescribing tactics that go against their practices or sensibilities. It really seems so much comes down to listening to and sharing stories, for all the sterility I imagine lives within the corporate sector. I am forced to rethink the story I have been telling myself about the business world. 

Life seems to revolve around stories—the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we choose to expose ourselves to, and sometimes the ones we don’t. Stories shape our thinking patterns, relationships, lifestyles, aspirations…whether we are conscious of it or not, we are all embodying stories. Sometimes I think that’s where my anxiety comes from—I am embodying too many stories at once, some of them positive and some of them negative. My body can’t hold all these worlds, all these perspectives, and I hum with the dissonance of it all.

After these revelations, I started thinking about magic. A magician encapsulates mystery and captivates the imagination because they disrupt all our narratives in unison: we, as the audience, are simultaneously served an unbelievable story. 

This brings me to another story (though according to my computer’s thesaurus, a synonym for “story” is “untruth” or “fib”): the idea that we all have magic inside us, a seed of a tale sequestered deep inside which may run contrary to largely accepted societal stories. For all my speculations, it seems that tapping into our individual magic is the ultimate source of empowerment.

Which brings me to today’s major discovery: if I do not actively work against the myriad of narratives crowded in my tired skull and imagine a story for myself that I want to live, I will be slave to the whims of whatever muses exist inside my brain, and will always be tortured by the alternative realities intruding into my thoughts.

Yet again, I circle back around to the concept of faith, and having faith in the process of growth and healing. Every day that goes by, I banish a few more whispers which infiltrate my internal monologue. Every day, I choose to push myself and breathe through discomfort. Every day, I make conscious efforts to seek connection with others rather than withdrawing deeper into myself (which is probably one of my deepest, darkest temptations). 

Maybe my new narrative is faith in myself. We’ll see how the sun comes up tomorrow. 

List Queen

The majority of the day passed curled up in bed, doing homework for upwards of four hours. I’m taking 20 credits this quarter, borderline too many—but as it’s my last term of college, I’m shooting for the moon and going out with a bang.

On one of my study breaks, I ended up in a YouTube rabbit hole watching a musical prodigy explain music theory. All I learned by watching him excitedly talk for eleven minutes about “negative harmony” was that I really don’t know much at all about music, except that it feels good. There is so much deeper to go!

Needless to say, when I reached my point of saturation with schoolwork, I spent another few hours in the studio playing guitar. I wrote a stream of consciousness song. I worked on sounding out the chords from a band I like. I played until my wrists ached and my fingers were tender.

What I really need is the discipline to practice scales. When it comes to musical instruments, I tend to focus on getting pretty sound as fast as possible and avoiding all the “behind-the-scenes” foundational work required to develop a relationship with the instrument, a deeper resolve and understanding for music theory and a so-called mastery of the craft of playing. I tend to follow this model in lots of things I do. The best way I’ve found to combat this is taking bite-sized steps every day towards this goal of understanding music theory better. I’m realizing that a large part of growth is having faith in the growth process, something which has always been difficult for me to grasp. I’ve more or less always felt that if I couldn’t do something perfectly right away, it just wasn’t in me to achieve it. In years past, I catalogued this attitude as “realist”; now, I see it as more defeatist than anything else.

Keeping a journal really helps with this. I am queen of making lists. Even if I only finish 80% of the items on said list, I always accomplish more with the help of denoted tasks.

Today wasn’t exactly exciting, but tomorrow it’s off to the flight museum! And only a few more hours of homework after that. I’m determined not to lose my mind this quarter. I’ll make it, rabbit holes and all, one list at a time.

Profess(or)ing my Love

Here’s how I feel about today.

I am positively glowing with inspiration after the performance workshop in class today. My professor manipulated my tense shoulders like a puppet master, working my nervous frame and putting the memory into my body of what it feels like to move organically to the music I can create with my hands. I closed my eyes as she moved my body to the rhythm–but after a moment it started to feel too intimate as we sat together closely at the front of the classroom sharing the piano bench. I opened my eyes and the ability to surrender to the bubbling pleasure of what was happening popped out of existence, like someone hitting a light switch. Something deep inside me is convinced my desire is in some way indecent, but that’s another blog post. Part of the trials of being bisexual in a world that doesn’t respect hyphenated identities (are you gay or are you straight? I’m gay-straight. I’m neither).

Performing for other musicians can feel so scary. All the judgements you have for yourself are projected onto the audience—you expect everyone to focus on your missed pitch, your rhythmic defect, the way your fingers tremble and trip. In reality, everyone is looking for the beauty in what each individual presents. What a lovely reminder that is to check my perspective. Herein lies my “permission” to judge myself and my creations less harshly, to look for the strengths and embolden them rather than lament the fact that I will never be perfect.

I always have a least small crushes on my teachers, if they are genuinely passionate about what they’re sharing with the class. It literally does not matter at all how they present themselves, their sex, their quirks—whatever makes them them and excited to be that way gets me excited; like, really excited. And here I am, in class again…fat crushes blooming into existence…

For me, it really boils down to the thrill of exploring an idea and having someone else lead me through their thought process. Seeing other perspectives (namely when the other party has an intimate relationship with their subject) literally turns me on. For some reason, I also tend to fantasize about older people. I don’t really know why. I want to see myself reflected through the eyes of someone wiser than me. I want to expand in the presence of a mentor. I want to build a bridge to the future while balancing on the shoulders of the past. I want to touch someone else’s reality like a leaf dropping into still water. And I want a lover who can conduct the orchestra of my lust with confidence. I think I would have done well in ancient Greece. 

I’ve been told before that I am very “responsive” to external stimulus. I think this is why it really doesn’t take anyone terribly specific to light my heart on fire—just an average-but-passionate human, perhaps past their prime or perhaps living in it. Does this make me a whore? In some translations, “whore” means “one who desires”. I pass through many fleeting desires, but do not give them life.

If it does make me a whore to harbor crushes, do I care? My grandfather once called me “easy” and, while I am still trying to figure out what that means, I also don’t give a flying fuck what that means. I carry that lust with me, because to me it is a lust for all the different ways of living on the planet. It is lust for life and growth and learning.

I don’t feel as though I’ve entered my sexual prime. According to the internet, this should happen for me sometime in my 28th year, coming up. (Time’s a-ticking!!) Strangely, it seems a lot of the work to get there involves relaxing into the body, finding pleasure in the mundane. As someone who’s been deemed hyper-responsive to my environment, this tends to be very hard for me to do. For a while I was practicing breath work and meditation; we’ll see how it all unfolds…

Alright, enough about teacher crushes. I have work to do. Hope everybody’s having a sexy, inspiring time out there! Don’t forget to tip your hat to the older warriors out there! Experience and mastery are way sexy.