Home is here

Hello again!

Welcome to the madhouse, part ten billion. (More like 80, but who’s counting? I have legitimately lost count myself.) I am your resident meanderer. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Meg and this is the home of my various projects. One of these projects is myself.

I am weird. I’m very weird and very proud of it most of the time. If I had to pick one word to describe myself, it would be “eccentric”. That word alone encompasses my entire being. It took a very long time to own my weirdness. I’m fat, agender, and clumsy. I’m abnormally obsessed with history, and will talk your ear off if you get me into the chatty mood. I will write an album in three weeks if you give me enough Mountain Dew. I am an unorthodox Christian.I apologize for feeling like I’m too much. And I am too much for some.

Something I’ve learned over time is that I will never be too much for those who fit me. My husband fits me. I annoy the hell out of him sometimes, but he loves me with something close to unconditional love, and I don’t understand it at all sometimes. He knows I’m odd and accepts it. He has shown me that it’s not okay to beat myself up for matters such as this, and does another thing I don’t understand – tells me I’m not crazy. Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder is something I’m not proud of at all, but he refuses to let me eat myself alive over it. He won’t let me apologize for being myself and makes sure that I know that I’m safe. He shows me what home is.

I also find myself at home with my friends. I love them. Some of them, like my best friend, have been with me for years. Others have been around for a shorter amount of time, but I feel the same about them.

Alaska itself feels like home with its majestic mountains and beautiful scenery. I was born and raised in Texas, so you might think I should miss it more. But home is not necessarily the place you grew up in. I’ve found that home is where you feel comfortable being yourself.

People around me have shown me this. Family doesn’t necessarily mean the people you are related to by blood, and home is not always where you live. It can be one person or even a group of people. You and I will never be too much for the people that fit us. We deserve to be treated with love and kindness. I hope you find your home here, too. That is the message I want to share, both with what I make and what I do in my everyday life. Love will always win, home is here.

Love,

Meg

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Candy for trees

I believe it was 2012 when we were gathered around the dinner table and someone made the comment that rain is like candy for trees.

That phrase has stuck with me through the years. I immediately added it to my list of potential band names and made the occasional instrumental track with candyfortrees as the band name on my mom’s iPad. Here’s one:

I had been listening to too much of the xx and the Naked and Famous at the time. I love that song to this day. Here’s another:

I put the name on the back burner in order to do things under my own name for a bit. I tried my hand at composing again a few more times, but I was lost without the iPad and the composition program I was using. I just couldn’t seem to do melodies well enough. I stuck to writing melodies with my voice over chords with not much additional instrumentation.

I recorded eight albums in this manner, all of which have been released in some way, most via my Bandcamp page. One time I wrote a song called “Saginaw” with my composition program, named for the town in which my future husband was living close to. It takes the cake for the most angsty song I have ever written, given the circumstances and mood I was in. I was bashing myself for feeling affection, which is angst if I’ve ever seen it.

All was well in the end, and I’ve recently started writing scores again for actual instruments to play under the Candy for Trees name. One of them on the first extended play is “Saginaw” itself.

This really struck a chord with me:

The opening chord of “Saginaw”.

I amuse myself.

Saginaw is piano only, but the later parts of the EP lead me to believe that if I were a god, I would be a troublemaker. Here’s page one of Feud in C# Major, part two:

Part Two, page 1.

The working title of this piece was “Cluster 2”, which I later changed to the full Feud title. It’s written in C sharp in 7/4 time. My husband looked the sheet music over, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “it’s not that difficult”. He later listened to the full piece and called it “enjoyable”. That makes me happy.

More tomorrow, including a sneak peek at my art diary…

Until next post,

Meg

Coming up

I feel manic and depressed at the same time. Depressed because worry and sadness kept me asleep until 1:30 PM and I’m just now moving around. Manic because I want to sit in the basement and compose all of the music. I’m listening to a Handel piece for viola for inspiration.

I kinda bought my husband a viola to practice on because he talks sometimes about he’s wanted one for awhile. And by “kinda”, I mean “I did, and it’s blue”. I figured it was the least I could do.

So now there’s barely anything from stopping me from composing a bit for him. Simple pieces. Nothing in 5/4, -cough, cough-, or other stunts that I usually pull. I want us to do duets eventually, if he’s down for that.

Nothing stopping me from composing except for my own brain.

I am a human of very few definable goals. I’ve been beating myself up for not having any and instead feeling hopeless, but all of the goals I set feel too lofty. Maybe it’s because I don’t work as hard for them as I should. My husband says they aren’t lofty so long as I work towards them consistently, but so far the only goal I really have is to have a kid or kids with my husband and raise them well with him. I was staring at the ceiling last night and this thought popped into my head – even if you can stay alive for nothing else, stay alive for your future family. They won’t exist without you.

I want to stay alive for them. That I can do. How do I thrive for them and not implode when they come along? I’ll get back to you on that.

More tomorrow.

Until next post,

Meg

Rite of….what?

I haven’t changed out of my pajamas today and have been feeling quite lonely and sorry for myself. My husband is in Anchorage working and I miss him. He shouldn’t have to go to Anchorage on the weekends* unless it’s for fun! The man works way too much. So even though I have already posted today, I’m going to post again.

I’ve been listening to the Rite of Spring far too much lately. It opens with a solo bassoon and is known for brutal time signatures and dissonance – what’s not to love? It’s what the kids call a hot mess, and it’s like me, but in classical music form.

I love songs written in odd time signatures, and my favorite movement of the Rite so far, “The Augurs of Spring”, causes me to geek out beyond words. The opening, pounding chord just gets me every time. Call me weird, but the Rite really causes me to think instead of just going along with the piece. It is layered and complex. It’s not for everyone.

Listening to one song by another complex group of artists is enough to make my mom nervous. The group is The Bad Plus, and the song is called “Silence is the Question”. It was a favorite of my dad’s, and it is a favorite of mine. I’ll show it to you.

It’s a bit on the long side, but it’s worth every second. If it makes YOU nervous, feel free and give it a pass. I’ll love you just the same.

These pieces are like me because they are frenetic, all over the place, and don’t always make harmonic – or even rhythmic – sense. I make sense in some ways, but I definitely don’t have enough common sense, I’ll admit that straight off. I change my mind a lot and still don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve been playing with the same energy that makes up these songs and myself, and have come up with what could be a musical self portrait. My strumming finger has been out of commission, so I haven’t been able to practice my ukes. I have taken to writing sheet music on my computer instead. Here’s what parts one through three sound like.

The title of Part One is Clusterf**k in C# major (pardon my French here) and it says so on the header of the score. It lives up to its name – two pianos bashing against each other rhythmically and melodically for nearly a minute. It’s in 5/4 and is as crazy as me.

If that’s not crazy enough, I switched things up just to be sadistic for Part Two and wrote in 7/4 with the same seven sharp key signature, my old friend C#. If you’re not musical, all you need to know is that I’m insane. If you are musical, you need no explaining. You already know. On top of that, there are very few parts of Part Two that actually make melodic sense. It’s kind of representative of my manic side.

Part Three is simple compared to the first two parts. 2/4, but same key signature and with a recorder this time. I like recorders. Recorders are nice. I want to see these parts played by someone who knows what they’re doing. I feel like a supervillain cackling in the wings. Or at least I will be.

I now need to write a fourth part that resembles my depressive side, or maybe two. I can see them being very slow and somber. I’m going to keep in C# for as long as I possibly can. I also think I’m going to cool it with the crazy odd time for these next sections. More villainy awaits!

Until next post,

Meg

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*Anchorage is about an hour away from where we live.

The best instruments ever

Hello, fine friends! I’m here today to talk about musical composition and how it affects my life. Before we begin, though, here are some tracks for your listening pleasure.

The first, “Your Mind is the Plane”, was recorded in my dorm room with Stephen, my concert uke.

The second, “Five”, was recorded with my beautiful baritone uke, Berri, whose name is a Basque language pun.

The third was recorded on piano in my favorite environment ever, a three story concrete atrium. This is a cover of Civil Twilight’s “Letters from the Sky”. Here they are.

It took awhile to pick which songs to share, but these are some of my all time favorites. “Five” is a nod to my husband. It’s one of his favorite songs of mine. Places, my eighth album, is about us.

Each of these songs represents a different musical language for me. Piano is my first instrumental “language”. It came almost as naturally as singing, and while it took years to get where I am, it flows more easily.

Learning Stephen took far longer, partially because I had to learn uke upside down due to a stroke I had when I was a baby. After a long while, it finally clicked and I was jamming hard the point that my thumbs were bleeding at times.

I picked Berri up in Rexburg, and she was probably the easiest to learn due to my time with Stephen. I’m still learning all three, and it’s frustrating because I have very limited use of my left hand, but I am getting there.

The coolest part about composing and performing for long periods of time is that the songs evolve and sometimes hop from instrument to instrument. Another favorite of mine, “My Island”, started like this:

and is currently sounding something like this:

I also have a bass, but I haven’t done much work with her yet. I primarily sing with my instruments and I want to learn to sing with her, too, but I’m not the best at practicing regularly. I plan on moving her downstairs close to my writing spot.

Music is one of the best forms of worship I have. I feel close to the spiritual when everything connects, and it’s a glorious time. I think things started to connect when I started to know my songs forward and backward and began to record these semi spontaneous moments where I just sat down and captured things perfectly in one take. “Letters from the Sky” is one such example. They don’t happen often, but when they do, they are pure magic. I can’t force music, ever.

My best albums take shape late at night and are powered by Mountain Dew. Mago, Primrose Path, and stay are great examples. I don’t think I’ve talked about stay yet. Anyway, I wish I had a piano here, but Stephen, Berri, and Athena (the bass) are a great crew to have. I need Dew, stat!

I hope you enjoyed this musical extravaganza!

Until next post,

Meg

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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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Completion in Green

Sometimes I make art, and most of the time it looks like this. Most of the time I would say that I suck at art, but occasionally I make a piece that I’m proud of. This is a sketch that I made at the request of a friend, and it helped put me in a more calm state. There’s something special about making art for me, and sometimes it’s more calming than making music. Photography is also up there for me. This is Completion In Green.

To make this piece, I used Autodesk Sketchbook. I set the color wheel to a vibrant green and began to play with the different shades. This was the result. My husband once saw some art of mine a few months ago and probably could have sworn I was tripping on some kind of hallucinogen. I wasn’t, that’s just how I draw. Maybe the drawings are dredged up remnants of nightmares. If you look at this piece, you’ll see a face with their mouth covered. I don’t have a true meaning for this piece, but it was kind of inspired by Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Maybe I just like playing with pretty colors.

I like making art because it mainly involves my hands and doesn’t involve dwelling on my past like many of my other favorite activities do. I wonder if making art unleashes my true self as much as writing does. I think I’m a few steps behind poetry or even music as far as creating happy, peaceful things. I’m still trying to spill my darkness onto the page. I seem to favor bright colors and odd subject matter. This is how I create, it invokes certain strong emotions, even if the emotions are shock and disgust. I don’t think that that will change until I manage to get all of my darkness out onto the pages in some way, shape, or form.

Another thing I love about creating art, especially electronic art, is that I tend to stay away from realism so I don’t beat myself up for making mistakes like I would were I drawing something real. With the art that I make, the world may never know that that splotch over there in the corner is a mistake to me.

Maybe I’ll vent darkness for awhile. Maybe my work will turn peaceful. I am me, and how I create is how I create.

Until next post,

Meg