On Goals

Hello, all!

I don’t have many qualms with the world at present or much to say that immediately comes to mind, but I do want to write. I hope you’ll come along for this freewrite!

2000-P Maryland Statehood Quarter

I remember looking at a coin once that had a building I had never seen on it when I was very small. I asked my grandmother (who was with me at the time) where that building was. This turned out to be the Maryland state quarter, so she explained that this building was in Maryland. I asked her if I’d ever get to see it, and her answer was something to the effect of “maybe”. I tucked that memory away, not quite remembering it, not quite forgetting it for the next 15 and some years. It came to my attention one afternoon when I was walking around Annapolis, Maryland and I looked up at the State House. In that brief moment I realized that I was seeing the building I had wanted to see when I was small that day with the coin.

Image result for unalaska on map
Unalaska, the town in question.

A few years later, I was fed up with the Texas heat and craving wintertime, so I announced to my family that I was moving to Alaska as soon as I could. I had a town picked out and everything. I was pumped. Those dreams fell by the wayside about a year after that after I really went to school and focused on other dreams, like songwriting, which I would discover a year or two afterwards.

That was over a decade ago. I also realized today that I have been songwriting for a decade. That mark passed last month (May). I wrote my first song to get even remotely popular in May of 2009. This also means I have been playing piano for ten years, as well. I remember that because I wrote that first “good” song a week after sitting down at my aging keyboard and finding I could play what I heard. One of the loops on GarageBand at the time got stuck in my head, so I sounded it out on piano and sang along with the notes. This is the original recording, also the first “good” recording I ever made. I didn’t look back, and I still record everything.

When I was 12, I made a goal to record an album in a studio in much the same way my idol Sara Bareilles did. I ended up achieving that goal by the time I was 14, along with my other goal of writing a book. So for a time, I thought I had accomplished everything I needed to accomplish in life and that therefore it was okay to drift aimlessly. I didn’t want to make any concrete plans because I was afraid they would get thwarted and ultimately abandoned. I was afraid of failure so I failed to start. What I didn’t realize at the time (and didn’t realize until recently) is that a lot of time, goals can take a long time to take shape and that’s okay. Goals can take even longer to be achieved, and that is still okay. My goal at one point was to graduate college in Maryland. After that was a mystery. I had no other plans. It took finding my husband to finally get kicked in the butt hard enough to make some solid goals. These goals have led me away from my original goal of graduating college for now, but they have instead led to some better goals – having a good marriage, running and building my tutoring service, losing weight, and raising our lizard baby.

It takes time for things to fall into place. If I can get anything across today, it’s that. I left Maryland and its goals in favor of bigger things in Alaska, but I didn’t know that upon leaving. All I saw was that moment.

We are given what we need in the times that we need it, and dreams really do come true. Be patient with yourself, others, and the universe.

Love,

Mago

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On Songwriting

Hello, friends!

I’ve tasked a student of mine with creating a notebook full of ideas that could become seeds of poems. I am starting my notebook today, and the first line I want to stock it with is from the Owl City song “Dreams & Disasters”:

“Think of the sun and the sound of it risin'”.

Owl City, “Dreams and Disasters”

I like this line because the sun doesn’t make a sound as it rises, of course, but it captures instead a different feeling. I tend to like lyrics and lines much like this one that aren’t literal, but instead relate back to mythology, the Bible, and the fanciful. Oftentimes I find those more clever and meaningful. I like the way those phrases can turn.

After I listen to a song a lot or read too much of a certain author, I start to imitate their writing style. I was listening to “You Make Me Smile” by Blue October (below)


when this spilled out:

“Something As Soft”

This is “Something As Soft”, and you might recognize some similarities to “You Make Me Smile” in lyrics and tone. It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. It was not a single listen that caused this to spill out, I listened to it maybe 20 times over the course of writing the lyrics.

I have wanted to write an album around this song and others that I recorded that night, but I think I’m afraid to start. I wonder if my sad or even sad-ish songs help people, and that is what has stopped me from recording this type of thing in earnest. I think it’s one of those things where I was told enough times that they didn’t help that I decided to believe the naysayers. I was also annoyed that they didn’t make people get up and dance like I wanted them to and instead made them sleep and relax. I wanted to change my sound and in the process killed it.

I want to record an album again. I want to be able to write an album that sounds like me in the way that Mago did. I get the feeling that it will be raw, but full of joy this time. If this happens, it will have plenty of weird chords and time signatures. I had a producer once record a tiny album with me and we talked about sounding like Radiohead and he said that at some point people might be wondering if Thom Yorke was writing my lyrics. I want to fall somewhere between Hozier and Radiohead, one instrument at a time.

More later, y’all!

Mago

PS., here’s a Gratitude List:

  1. My instruments
  2. My husband
  3. Alaska
  4. COFFEE
  5. Good food in the fridge
  6. That I have a lesson today
  7. Grocery sacks so that I can carry all the groceries in in ONE TRIP
  8. Friends who care
  9. That it’s my birthday week
  10. Rain that makes Alaska green

It’s me! [gender post]

Hello! Before we begin: if you like what you find here, consider subscribing for $5 USD monthly! This will grant you exclusive content and the satisfaction that you are supporting B+BD in a sustainable way.

It’s been a bit since I wrote about gender.

I have been thinking about this quite a lot, especially since June is Pride Month. I have spoken a bit about it before, but while we are on the subject of gender and the like, I am mentally aligned with no gender that I know of and I am attracted to people based on who they are, not what kind of bodies they have. I am happily married to the love of my life, a man. I would not trade him or our relationship for anything. One more thing:

This is new! I have been calling myself Mago in my head for some time, and it fits. Most people who already know me will continue calling me Meg, and that’s fine with me. But if we’re meeting for the first time online, please call me Mago. It’s taking a lot of courage to go about doing this and there are a lot of inner critics screaming at me right now, but it is my hope that I will inspire someone on this journey.

I was once told that this form of self exploration goes against “who I truly am” and that I am “not being myself” when I come out and say that I am anything but what people expect me to be. I would like to pose a question to the critics, both internal and external:

How can you dictate who I am when first, you are not me, and second, I myself am still figuring that out?

The simple answer is that no, you can’t say a damn thing. You don’t have the right to since you aren’t me. Keep that in mind, friends, as you think about yourselves. Are you letting someone else tell you who you are?

I grew tired of people telling me who to be some time ago and I am just now putting it into words. I went through my teens hearing two things either through word or action: “Your emotions are inconvenient, so therefore you must have bipolar disorder and be crazy because you feel more strongly than I can handle”, and “Being anything but how you’re expected to be is madness and must mean you’re at risk of going crazy. See #1.” These expectations were unrealistic at best, cruel at worst, and they ended up having a deep effect on me. Ask yourself this: if you’re feeling more strongly than someone else can handle and you’re doing your best to live correctly, whose problem is that? I’d say that’s a them problem. Not a problem with you. Those who demand explanations as to why you are being yourself are often those who least deserve them.

Since getting out of where I grew up, I have flourished. I’m not read as a person who is crazy or at risk of it anymore. I am able to think how I want without having my ideas shot down. No longer do I have to weigh whether or not a certain feeling would cause me to be viewed as insane were it to be expressed.

This environment has fostered much thought. Some people may genuinely want to know about what my identity is, but are thrown by more modern terminology. So while it’s important to be proud of who I am, it’s also important to be able to inform people who want to know what’s going on, but may be thrown by labels that are fairly new. Some may say differently, but think about it this way – if you are teaching someone a new language, you don’t expect them to know everything already. You take them from the very beginning to more advanced concepts slowly. I have people like this in my life who are genuinely curious, but they need to hear it in their language, not ours. This doesn’t make us less of who we are, we’re seeing it from another angle. This is important if we want people to learn about us.

This is why I said what I said in the opening paragraphs instead of the newer terms agender and pansexual. If you don’t expect to educate others who want or need to know, don’t expect to be understood. People are more likely to listen if they can what I’m saying!

So what does all of this mean for me? This means that I don’t like to be referred to as “she” or “he”, but rather with the singular they, like this:

“Mago is going to the store, can you ask them if they want anything?”

Essentially, when in doubt, refer to me and people who prefer the singular they as though you don’t know our gender or are trying to keep it a secret.

I also like to wear a lot of button downs, hence the name of this blog! But that’s not horribly important, because even if you wear dresses and makeup all the time, you can still be agender within and that’s what counts.

If you fall somewhere on the glorious LGBTQ dartboard, you DO NOT HAVE TO COME OUT this Pride Month. I see a ton of “I’m [insert identity here]” posts on social media, and I so badly want to come out to the world, but I don’t yet feel safe expressing myself in that forum. I still get people who worry themselves sick on social media anytime I post anything sad! Please use your best judgment and stay safe.

I love all y’all. God and the universe love you, too.

Mago

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?

Your Empire

Hey, all! I’m double dipping today. I’d like to talk about a poem that is very special to me. It’s called “Your Empire”. I wrote it two years ago. It opens like so:

you are more than a princess, darling girl -you are a queen – an empress

and you are loved more than you know

there will be times when you’ll be 

punched in the gut

kicked in the ribs

tossed aside

but your true wisdom comes in

knowing whether to form a fist or

extend your hand…

First lines of “Your Empire”, written 3/6/17

I love this poem because it’s what I wish I could have believed about myself at that time and what I don’t want anyone to forget, no matter their gender or age.

I owe the empire theme to my obsession with the Byzantine Empire, which is still an obsession of mine, hence my blog title. My favorite historical character of all time is the Byzantine Empress Theodora. Someone once said I was like her, and that was probably the biggest compliment I have ever received. This poem is me telling anyone who needs it that they are noble and deserving of that title. That includes myself. It continues:

…because some battles that need to be fought

are ignored

and some battles that are fought

need to be ignored

and a true empress – like you – knows which is which

and what to do. 

“where is my empire?”

you may ask.

I will place my hand over my heart

and say, “darling, every time you are knocked

over and you stand up again, think of that as a conquest.”

“Your Empire”

At this time in my life, I was in Idaho college and I needed some encouragement. The environment was becoming toxic to me and I wanted to feel okay again. This was one of the ways I helped myself. I also sent this and other poems to friends who seemed to be in need of them. This one is by far my favorite of the bunch.

I definitely need to listen to myself in the lines about conquest. I don’t take my own advice well enough. It’s true, I am conquering. I am ruling. I am becoming more and more involved in my own life. That’s important. A ruler wouldn’t let things just…happen to them, would they? No, they wouldn’t.

Planning is hard for me, though. It’s hard for me to get up and say, “I’m gonna do XYZ today”, even when I am happy. I tend to let the day just pass without making plans. It’s important to remember that part of owning my life and empire is to plan for the future.

With my tutoring, I don’t schedule very far in advance since I’m a hired gun that gets requests usually only a few hours before the student wants to meet. I’m surprised nobody has wanted to meet in the middle of the night yet! As a result, my days are fairly open. I have my to do lists, but I need to make an actual schedule.

Part of me thinks, “Oh, but it’s a struggle to get out of bed early!” Then there’s another part that’s like, “Fortify yourself, dammit. You won’t get anywhere with that attitude. Do you want to build your empire, or not?”

Okay, okay. I’m gonna fortify myself. Let’s continue with the poem.

every good thing you do, every struggle that you

overcome, every person you make smile –

oh, my dear, those are conquests. and in the end,

the biggest conquest you can make

is learning to love yourself

and others even though they –

and their empires – are imperfect.

I am learning that hard things are essential for growth and that I can’t quit if I want to make it in life, in anything. I can’t quit on myself, either. Like the last lines of the poem say, “the biggest conquest you can make is learning to love yourself and others even though they – and their empires – are imperfect.” Self sabotage gets me nowhere. Learning to love myself is important. It’s an important step towards progress. It will require much self-fortification. It takes strength to love oneself, I am finding. Also, I feel so much happier after being off social media all day. 10/10 so far, will continue.

Update: I have actually composed music today! Yes!

Would you like for me to write YOU a song, poem, or even an album? Got a special occasion coming up? I’m on WhatsApp, so if you shoot me a message there, we can start a conversation!

Love,

Meg

#goals

No, seriously.

As mentioned in the previous post, I have to make some goals before I lose my mind. I did some brainstorming last night (my brain is a hurricane already) and came up with a list that grew progressively more and more narrow. Here are a few:

Make a living wage with both music (both playing and singing and writing sheet music a la art diary) and writing

Stop beating myself up

See one of my pieces played by someone else, even if it’s on piano by my Nana or me

Learn to play piano well enough to play what I write

Write pieces for Berri and Stephen (my baritone and concert ukuleles) and play those, too (because screw the haters)

Hear a piece I write for guitar played, as well

Keep a 2 minute a day music diary and do, like, piano Fridays, Berri Mondays, etc.

Start with piano, my first language, and GET GOOD with that – until I can actually play in 5 – and post the vids on here along with Youtube and Instagram. I would cry if I could play my own pieces on YouTube.

Level One – learn “Saginaw” – my child – and record practice sessions for You Tube, here, and Instagram.

These are my big goals. What about smaller ones? This is where I get stuck.

I may make emotional/physical needs goals and throw them in there, too. Maslow’s hierarchy of goals, maybe?

Here are some little goals I want to achieve. I’m just tossing them out there.

Shower four times a week (ideally every day, but let’s start with four)

Exercise for five minutes every day

Eat a balanced meal every 2 days

No fast food

I’ll stop the goal dump here!

Until next post,

Meg


Stronger

Sometimes I find it hard to write when I’m away from my writing spot, and I sure am feeling the resistance today.

I’m sitting in my car in Anchorage and the sun hasn’t risen yet. It’s around 7:30 and will likely be around 8:30 by the time I finish this post. I’ve got at least two shots of espresso in me and still all I want to do is sleep. I would sleep soundly.

I think I am afraid to write outside of my usual spot in the basement because I now have bad associations with writing in the car. The last time I wrote in the car was when I wrote the the post about “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie in the parking lot at my old work. Here I am in a parking lot once again, it’s Valentine’s Day, I’m waiting for a friend to call, and I feel hollow.

I’m not yet hollow enough to cry, but I’m getting there. I think parking lots before sunrise are some of the loneliest places I can imagine.

The sky is turning dark blue, the world keeps turning somehow. I want to stop being so scared and be stronger, but my heart is still breaking from yesterday even though I don’t quite remember why my heart was breaking in the first place. I keep telling myself that I should be stronger than I am and beating the shit out of myself when I fall short of my own unrealistic expectations.

I want to leave Anchorage and go back home to the valley where I live, but that’s a long drive and I am not in a headspace where that’s safe. I don’t know how to calm down. I feel a great desire to be stronger than I am, as I have said before.

I beat myself up almost daily for quitting my old job. I feel I should have been able to handle it and I shame myself for not being able to.

I beat myself up for not being able to accomplish simple tasks that take 10-15 minutes for a healthy person to finish. I want to do things, it just hurts in my brain to even make myself move.

I beat myself up for being sad.

I beat myself up for still having waves of debilitating grief over my dad.

I beat myself up for oversleeping or sleeping too little.

I beat myself up for little things that I would give my best friend care and compassion for.

If she or my husband were hurting like this, I would do everything in my power to hear them out and encourage them to take it easy one day at a time. I would encourage them to talk it out with me and tell them to do only what they can and then help when I am needed or wanted. I would make sure that I hear them and make sure they didn’t think they were alone. I would be by their side.

It’s important to me that they are open with what’s going on because sometimes I can’t read them. My best friend is physically far away and sometimes my husband manifests pain differently than I do. So in the same way I want them to tell me what’s going on and keep me informed, perhaps I should listen to what my brain and body need. I need to rest, I know that for certain. I need to be easier on myself. Most of the people around me don’t expect of me what I expect of myself.

I was speaking with a friend of mine who understands what I’m going through. She gave me words of encouragement and said essentially that I’m okay to be where I’m at. I lost my dad three years ago, which is relatively recent. She understands the feeling of it being difficult to accomplish things that are simple to most. She understands me, and that is so important. She makes me feel heard.

So maybe I am strong even though I struggle. I would most certainly think a friend would be were they in the same situation. So why not me?.

Until next post,

Meg

PS. Happy Valentine’s Day. Treat yourself.