Off the Mic

Hello, friends!

I have a confession to make.

I am not a very good listener. I like to talk more than I like to listen and wait for my turn to talk rather than processing what the other person has to say and offer.

This prevents me from gaining a lot of  wisdom that I could have captured more easily had I listened. This goes for all things. Spiritual things have to hit me like a freight train in order for me to even notice them, making a still, small voice out of the question for me. I miss out on a lot of good insights in group discussions because I’m waiting to prove my point. I don’t pay attention to nature or my surroundings because my head is in the clouds constantly. I’m not grounded in “reality”, I have no patience for it, and as such I miss the magic of the everyday.

My dad didn’t miss the magic of the everyday, he reveled in it. One of my favorite things he said was that after he prayed, he had to stop talking, take his thumb off the mic and listen. A lot of the time, there would be an answer there somewhere in his thoughts or in his surroundings. This reminds me of something that happened in 2017.

I was at an Al-Anon (the organization for families of alcoholics) meeting place waiting for the meeting to begin. I was an hour early and I started missing my dad and crying and praying. As I was praying, I saw a cat appear out of some bushes, climb up on the bench where I was sitting, and sleep next to me.


This is the cat, and to this day I don’t know his or her name. Regardless of this, this cat was the blessing I needed in that moment. I took my thumb off the mic and I listened. The universe spoke.

I’m not here to say that I should be completely silent all the time, but when the time comes, I should not check out and instead be present. A lot of the time, my own mental noise drowns out a message quicker than the noise around me. I need to work on quieting my mind and being here. It’s not easy being here, and sometimes it’s easier to just check out, especially if it’s a hard conversation. But I think the hard conversations are the ones that need presence the most. This ties into my forgetfulness, I think. If I were more present, I’d remember more.

I’m not a failure for forgetting things, I must keep telling myself. I’m where I am now, and I must keep going. I haven’t come this far just to stop. Someday I will look back on the journey I have taken and think to myself, “that’s a long path, but it was so worth it. I have learned so much. I have been though hard times, but I have risen above what was expected of me, both by myself and by others. I am unapologetically myself. Nobody can take that from me.”

I thank the universe and God for bringing me to where I am. I am here in this moment, in this meditative time. I am a channel for goodness and hope. I am a child of God and the universe, and I am worthy of a seat at the table. Time to take my thumb off the mic and listen.

Love,

Meg

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Live in Color

I might start just writing in verse every Thursday. Verse Thursday.

I.

Starting new is the strangest

thing –

double spaced becomes something

different to me

“we won’t have to be scared”

is that really a quote, or

something closer to something

everyone screams in their lifetime?

everything revolved around college

for a time –

how’s it going?

people would ask and i would frown

wishing they would be quiet and

leave me be for once


but now things are different

i wish i had read more about

attrition rates before even going

all of my friends are graduating

and while i don’t feel left behind,

it’s something like that.

II.

here comes the rain –

it’s something we expect but aren’t

hoping for

I trust the sky a bit too much

I don’t trust the ground

I’m too afraid of it falling out from

underneath me

why am i living in the same color

green as Alaska in spring?

why is everything blooming?


if there’s spring in a place that most

would deem unfit to have one

why can’t there be spring in me?

am i forbidden from blooming?

must i understand the happiness

within me?

I wish I could help the people who

need to bloom.

my husband is in his jail of an office

doing far too much tech support work

than any human should.

he’s a bud who has been in the dark

for too long

and he needs to come into the light.



III.

I am neon pink

coming from black and white

I don’t deserve to be shot in grays

I need to live aloud,

live in color

Happy

“i’m afraid
i don’t want to be out of control
what if happiness scares me?
she follows me like a shadow
found in drumbeats and embraces and the feeling of
pushing forward
the song i’m listening to flutters
i have fluttered before
i will flutter again
i don’t like it because my happiness comes
out loud
shout it to the heavens
i’m happy and i don’t know why”

For some reason, people have always said I’m resilient, as if that’s something I want. All it meant to me was that I didn’t kill myself when my dad died, when XYZ happened, etc., that plodding on should be applauded. It didn’t mean that I was going anywhere. It didn’t mean I was proud of myself or living for anything.

When I met my husband, all of that began to change. I was living, at the very least, to be able to spend time with him and make sure he was happy. Even when I wanted to blot myself off the face of the Earth, he was there.

When I moved to Alaska, things changed even more. As mentioned previously, two psychiatric professionals took down the notion that I needed to be on hundreds of milligrams of meds a day, allowing me to cut back on my unnecessarily doses. He was the one who set all of this in motion. He was the first one actively involved in my care to challenge the idea that I could be crazy.

With all of these changes, I feel more energetic, hopeful, and happy. The happiness baffles me. It now rents out the space where sadness used to be, and it is almost persistent in its pursuit of me. It’s wild, loud, and feels dangerous. I still don’t trust it, and still confuse it with going crazy. It involves a lot of shouting for joy.

It can be compared to the end of a hero’s journey story where the hero arrives at the same place they started, but changed. It’s like, this is new, what do I do now?

I’ve been throwing myself wholeheartedly into my tutoring, which is awesome. Lots of new music has been made, and this long overdue thing is in the works…

People have been wanting to read my poems in a book for a bit, so I will make it happen.

If you’re happy and you know it, what do you do?

Limping Dance, or Feeling the Music

Hello, all!

I listened to a lot of experimental music last night as I was trying not to fall asleep, and they all struck me deeply.

Some might think that this would not be considered music, but I think it is. It’s just a different way of using the sound as a canvas, much like some people debate and wonder whether abstract art is truly art.

If I had to describe myself in song, the genre would be experimental, or even atonal.

While I am a musician and enjoy making tonal music, I believe that my personality is best described by abstract, wilds sounds. It’s part of who I am. I’m offbeat, for lack of a better word. This abstract music was something that my soul seemed to be drawn to. Now, to get in the mood to write this post, I am listening to a shared favorite of my dad and me – the Bad Plus.

“Life on Mars” by the Bad Plus.

Their music is crazy. While it’s not quite atonal, they certainly do whatever the hell they want to. Shown above is a cover of a David Bowie song, “Life on Mars.” Some of their music is somewhat straightforward, but then songs like this and another perennial favorite, “Silence is the Question”, completely take me to another level.

It’s a whole other level of feeling. I find a sense of freedom here, whereas the best tonal, rhythmic music I have heard doesn’t feel as raw and real for me as the abstract sounds of these experimental artists do. They’re doing whatever they want, and they don’t give a damn who judges them. That’s a goal of mine right there.

So yes. While some might dismiss abstract music as utter nonsense, I find an emotional and artistic connection to it that I don’t often find elsewhere. It’s a newer way I have found to stick it to tradition and make music with raw emotion without saying a word.

This piece of mine, “Limping Dance”, is an example of what I want to do. It was improvised almost in its entirety, with a few notes stolen from other pieces, like the opening few seconds sounding a bit like “Habanera” from the opera Carmen and snatches of some pieces from previous albums of mine in there, too.

“Misspeaking”, another improvisation, this time with my baritone ukulele.

There’s another improv for y’all – a piece on my ukulele called “Misspeaking”. It’s tuned so that the open strings make a chord, and that makes for some odd sounds. This should be going up on my Bandcamp page today. It sounds lonely and scary to me.

You might be wondering what on Earth this has to do with anything, all this abstract music and whatnot. My point here is that I think I’m dancing – limping or not – into a time where I shed the notions that I have absorbed throughout my youth, “don’t play off-rhythm” being one of those. Rhythm isn’t everything, people, and saying otherwise can be lonely and scary.

I remember getting an MRI once for these headaches I was having. The tech asked if I wanted earphones so I could listen to the radio while the machine was going. I said no, because my dad had told me that morning that MRI machines weren’t scary and that they make awesome rhythmic sounds. And he was right.

I emerged from my MRI having fallen asleep, I was so relaxed. When the same tech asked how I had done the session without music. My mom piped in, saying that for me, it is music. She couldn’t have said it better. Even that clunky-sounding MRI machine was magical because it made awesome sounds.

I know there’s music all around me. What I have to do is take my thumb off the mic and listen.

If you want to hear more of the weird and wonderful music I make, you can subscribe to me here. It’s worth it, and you’ll never run out of things to listen to.

Love,

Meg

The one time I forgot to eat and wrote a book instead

It was February of 2010. My Mimi had just passed away, and I had a lot of energy to channel. I was twelve. I set out to write a novel.

This novel was a piece of work. It took me four months to finish, and it was a miracle that I didn’t know my husband at the time, or else he would have ended up as a character alongside the infamous Tanner Bradley, who was based off of my Spanish teacher’s son.

In hindsight, perhaps my husband when he was younger bears a resemblance to Tanner Bradley in personality and energy, because while my Spanish teacher’s son did climb on rooftops, his energy didn’t quite match his fictional counterpart’s. My husband’s younger self climbed trees, screeched, and picked on me with the best of them. He was the best of them. He still is.

Anyway, it was driven by a larger than life ensemble cast that could have only been concocted by a 12 year old. The novel’s name was Headstand, and you can still read it here. 

I spent hours in my room with only a speaker and my tiny LG Lotus flip phone for company, often forgetting to eat for 8 or more hours at a time. This was before I had my first iPhone, which I wouldn’t get until 2012. Gasp! My mom would have to remind me to eat and to come out of my room and actually be with non-fictional people. I was absorbed in this book. It got into full swing when summer hit, and I spent countless hours laying on the porch writing, much like I am now, only this time I am writing inside because it’s cold out. I brought that speaker outside and blared music while I wrote. Pair that with my discovery of Pandora Internet Radio a little while before and I was rocking my way through the book.

Headstand ended up being about a 10+ member band made up of teens and preteens who take the world by storm because they play by the pool every day for an entire summer. They get caught on camera and the video is uploaded to YouTube, where it then goes viral. They have to then deal with fame. And they like it.

I wouldn’t deal with any kind of personal fame until I went to college in Idaho, where more people knew of me than I knew of them. I don’t think I want that again. I was always afraid that I had messed up and forgotten someone’s name I had wanted to remember. People would stop me on the streets around campus and ask me if I was the girl with the ukulele. I was indeed the girl with the ukulele, and this girl with the ukulele wondered how in the world you knew of her. So it turned out that a sort of fame did come, just not in the form I was expecting.

This novel remains dear to my heart even though it is absurd. I later tried to read it aloud to my husband when we first started dating, but the Comic Sans got to me a bit too much. Yes, the entire novel is written in Comic Sans. The entire thing. It’s also full of obscure references to songs that are hard to find unless you’re willing to do a little YouTube digging. The songs in question are mainly unofficially released Sara Bareilles songs.

The essence of this ramble is that things don’t always turn out as expected. I had hoped for fame, got it, in a sense, then walked away from it. I had hoped that Headstand would bring me recognition, but nearly a decade later, it remains almost untouched. And I eat a lot more now. I’m so much happier for it.

Until next post,

Meg

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