It’s me! [gender post]

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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

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All I See Are Explosions Anyway

Hello, friends!!

Lately it’s been like an archaeological dig in my brain. If you’ve been following the blog at all, you’ll find that there have been many discoveries made in the last few days. It’s been an awesome experience, but there are still some things to be desired.

I pray a lot in my own way, and sometimes people think I do it wrong. I have problems praying aloud and instead carry prayers like feelings close to my heart soundlessly. It’s kind of like meditation mixed with prayer, and it helps me a lot. It may be “the wrong way” to pray, but I am firmly of the belief that people can pray however they want so long as they aren’t hurting themselves or other people. There is a time and place for praying aloud and a time and place for praying silently. I’m in the time for praying silently right now.

My friend Laurie talks a lot about there being seasons for things. It was a bit odd to hear that language at first, but now that I think about it, it makes a lot of sense. There was a time and a season where I was a Mormon girl, there was a time and a season when I was an agnostic, there was a time an a season when I identified as male. This is a growing and harvesting season. This is a season of freedom.

The title of this post comes from none other than a poem I wrote that talked about my old school in Maryland. There was a line in there that talked about the only true semblance of prayer I had in those days was when I looked through a telescope and all I saw were explosions of galaxies anyway, not any kind of real answer. In those days, it was hard to be close to God and the universe. I was going through a lot.

Returning to the topic of seasons, there are seasons when I am not close to God and the universe. It’s totally fair and valid if you aren’t close to them right now, in the future, or ever. Your journey is yours, not mine, your best friend’s, or that neighbor down the road that demands an expectation from you and doesn’t deserve one. There will days when you see in perfect clarity, there will be others when all you will see are explosions. You are loved constantly and eternally. That is the great constant.

As I go deeper into this digging phase, this season, the more I learn. Having a seat at the table means more to me than just having an equal chance at life as everyone else. It means being given the same gift of hope and the capacity to dream, be validated, and live fully, not just exist.

I remember bursting into tears at Maryland college after seeing a sign saying “no one deserves just a friendship of utility.” It was advertising a workshop on how to be a good friend. The school was dedicated to the study of philosophy, and a friendship of utility in the texts was a friendship for a purpose, not just for friendship’s sake, not so different from using someone. I was hurting and felt broken and wanted my friends to save me. Not surprisingly, the more desperate I became, the more they pulled away. I was wanting as much of a friendship of utility as that sign was warning against. Nobody could save me but me in the end. It took believing in myself to even feel saved. Nothing, not even believing in God or the universe, would make me feel secure until I started this journey to believe in myself. I may have been broken, but nobody but me could fix me.

My aunt always quotes the safety demonstrations at the beginnings of airplane flights when they say “you need to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting with someone else’s, even if it’s your kids needing help.” My aunt is a wise woman, and there’s much truth in that. There are a lot of ways one can seek truth. You can try and find truth in books, friends, God. A lot of them are ways you can try and avoid who you are. You can believe in and put trust in anything you want, but if it doesn’t help you trust yourself in a deep and lasting way, perhaps it’s not worth pursuing long term. Faith and relationships should give you inner peace and help pass that peace to others, not spread you thin. It’s difficult to help others when you yourself are breaking inside. That’s not to say that you don’t need others to help you get to where you’re peaceful; I’m far from it and I am constantly being filled by the people around me. But I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am now without realizing I had it in myself to be where I am now. Because I have people who are willing to be in my life as I transform and encourage that transformation, I am able to become me and who I am meant to be in this moment. I’m beginning to believe in myself and have faith in that seat at that table. I see more than an explosion in things now, myself included.

After all of this, how can I believe in myself, you may ask?

I try not to pretend to know others’ lives, only my own. So here’s what has worked for me.

I’m learning in my life about what I call the great constant – that I am loved at all times, no matter how much I feel I have failed or fallen short.

I am also learning about what I am worth as a human being and child of the universe.

Put those together and I find that I am worth indescribable amounts and so are you. You are given a seat at the universe’s table simply because you are here and you are existing, experiencing this crazy thing called Living. You are loved regardless of where you have come from, who you are, and what you have done.

It takes work and a lot of faith. What really helps is to think back on what I have learned when I’m faced with a setback or a personal failure and present myself with mercy instead of condemnation. Because I know I am worthy and loved, I am allowed to continue trying. Just because I make mistakes doesn’t mean I am a permanent failure. The aftermath of a mistake is an opportunity for improvement, to strive to do better next time and the times after that.

I believe that the moment you start to present yourself with mercy in failure is when you start to believe in yourself. From there, your self talk begins to change and you will work towards being able to see that you are loved in infinite ways and the cycle repeats itself.

I’ll never be perfect, and there is always something new to learn. That’s something that also takes learning. Thank you for learning with me.

Love,

Meg

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On Your Parade

I’m sitting here on the couch and it’s raining.

I remember in Texas there was a terrible drought the summer before I really got to know my husband, the summer of 2011. My friend Amy was spending the night in the middle of it and I remember dying laughing because a guy texted her asking when she thought it was going to rain again and Amy replied, “on your parade.” We were fourteen and we thought that was pretty damn funny. It didn’t rain again for several months and we were one day shy of breaking the record for most consecutive days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in one day. We were on track to beat it when a rain shower hit and cooled things off to 70 degrees on the very last day necessary. Whether that was on that unfortunate fellow’s parade or not, we may never know.

Sometimes things happen like that. I think I’m so close to something, yet I’m so very far away. Sometimes the drought is broken and I should have been hoping for that, yet I was hoping for the wrong thing. The universe has a way of correcting my course. The things I want aren’t always the things I need, and I know that.

There have been many things I have wanted that would have compromised my happiness in the long term – bad relationships, sour friendships, things that would have been good options but not the best ones, etc.. The universe/God knows what’s best for me and everyone else around me, and I’m thankful for that. Sometimes my world needs readjusting.

I’m a horribly impatient person, and I think the lesson I am being taught over and over is to have patience. One of my favorite quotes, oddly enough, is about patience. It’s from a poem by Rumi, “Craftsmanship and Emptiness”:

“Feeling lonely and ignoble indicates that you haven’t been patient.”

Rumi

I’m impatient in nearly every sense – if something isn’t happening my way, I get very anxious and on edge. There’s a reason I show up an hour early to everything – you don’t have to be stuck in traffic and nervous if you’re already there and nervous! I have a very, very strong tendency to dominate conversations, I’m an awful listener. I rely on brute force to do nearly everything in my life, and it’s only half worked. I get what I want, but only after bridges are burned and tears are shed. I have never been observant or even really logical in my doings, and that has been costly, especially lately. I’m not less of a person for needing to work on patience; this is a project, not a permanent failure.

It’s going to be a learning process for me because all of the things I’ve been discovering at once are piling up and not falling into place immediately like I would like for them to (see: impatience!). I have a lot to process and parse, and it’s a bit overwhelming to keep track of it all. It’s not that the rules are changing constantly, I’m in a new headspace and there are new rules because of it. I can’t come screaming into a shop and buy all the things I want because I’m happy and I have a fear of missing out, for example, I have to bide my time and wait until it’s actually wise to buy the things I want. This goes back to the point on brute force. It also goes back to fear.

As I have been saying a lot lately, I’m afraid of a lot. I’m afraid nothing will come of my life, I’m afraid that I’ll be stuck in sadness again, I’m afraid that my projects won’t ever get accomplished, I’m afraid that I’ll never be able to make any kind of lasting life changes to become a better person. It all comes down to one thing, really – fear of failure. I’m afraid to be left out, so I barge into every conversation. I’m afraid of being forgotten, so I want a lot of attention. I am afraid of being disliked, so I try and ultimately fail at muting myself. The failing is the interesting part. Is failing so bad? I rarely get embarrassed, what am I so afraid of?

I’m insecure. It’s the same inner bully that drove me before rearing its ugly head. It’s the part of me that would have me deny the seat I have at the table, to shrink into obscurity and be forgotten. It’s a strange clashing – the wanting to be forgotten and the fear of it. It’s easier to be forgotten, isn’t it? It’s easier to never take a stand, to never use my voice. It’s easier to give up. It’s easier to plunge into despair and be sad all the time. It’s easier to live beneath the shadow of death than to rise out from under it. The inner bully wants me to give up, to be insecure, to render myself unable to sit at the table. It’s the one that feeds me lies, says I am nothing.

It’s wrong.

There is such a thing as failure, but it’s not an ultimate defeat. I will be judged, especially by those who don’t understand. Unless I’m truly in the wrong, that sounds like their problem. There will be humiliating times. There will be times of loss and of sorrow. But those times are not the end. If the world will have you believe your life is over, it’s wrong. As long as you’re alive, you have hope and a potential. You have a place at the table. Do not let anyone tell you differently.

I’m still working on my own fear and impatience. I’m scared of many things that I haven’t even encountered yet. I’m worried about things that are irrational, especially those that are irrational. It’s going to be a long and hard road. It will be so worth it, though! If it rains on your parade, it’s not over. Sometimes it’s just the drought breaking.

Love,

Meg

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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?

Burning Bright

It’s very rare that I read for pleasure, or even read at all. It’s an even more rare occurrence that I read a book and find myself in the pages.

I read Fahrenheit 451 last night and that was one of those times.

I first picked it up when I was about 13 out of my parents’ book collection. I didn’t have what I needed to completely grasp it, I think. I was a smart kid. I could understand the words and the concepts, but I never finished it because it wasn’t relevant at the time to what I was going through. I didn’t have enough of myself in me to be able to see my reflection in the pages.

I don’t think I would have understood the book in the way I did last night had I even read it a month ago. For the last month – no, several months – I have been learning how to question. Question what was told to me as a child and teen. What was told to me in church. What was told to me in college, all of my colleges. I was taught to question in college, but the lessons always had an undertone of “question the way WE want you to question”, as though they were expecting you to do the opposite of what happened here. I was taught to question growing up, but never in a way that went excessively out of the realm of “reality”.

Reality. Along with truth, everyone has their own version of it, even if two people claim to have the same perception. And so it went – people trying to keep me grounded ultimately became scared of me, I think, and then tried to keep me sane. I felt from around the age that I first picked up Fahrenheit that my emotions had to be convenient to others or else they were strongly encouraged to be managed and damn near suppressed. As the years went on, though, it became apparent that my emotions – specifically anger and sadness – were not convenient, could not be neatly expressed, easily gotten over, or fully escaped. I was not one of those houses in Fahrenheit, fireproof. I was, rather, the fire. I was a destroyer.

As mentioned in a previous post, I saw myself as deserving nothing more than to be labeled as such because I wasn’t “normal”. I wasn’t someone easily handled. Potential romantic partners fled, and that’s when I began to resent myself. I wanted to be like the girls who got that guy, and I asked myself, why did I have to be such a house fire? Why didn’t I give anything to the world? Why did I feel so damn strongly?

In high school, when I asked what I should do to get a guy, the answer in its simplest form was “be less intense.” This usually came with advice such as “don’t answer so many questions in class” and “wear more makeup”.

I tried that for a bit. It was as much a betrayal of myself as it would have I pretended to be someone completely opposite me. So I went back to being myself to the best of my ability.

I think some people were scared of me because of my sadness and anger. As 2016 drew to a close, my anger festered. My dad had died less than a year before, I carried a hated so bright it could be seen from space after the end of a traumatic relationship, and I had just left a college that felt like home for Texas and then Idaho. The environments couldn’t be more different.

I went from questioning books to questioning God, even though that was not the effect that the college wanted. I had learned to some degree how to wrestle with a book, and I supposed wrestling with God would be similar. My anger continued to rot.

It never felt safe to express emotion to some, for their response would be without fail some variation of “are you taking your meds?” or “have you told your therapist about this?” I listened to these people more than others because I felt they knew me. I had hurt them, and I was convinced that only those whom I had wounded truly knew me. So I listened to them forgetting all the while that there was some possibility that I wasn’t crazy, or on the brink of a manic or depressed episode, or even a full on meltdown. In the end, though, they were wrong.

That small motion, the white and red color, a strange fire because it meant a different thing to him. It was not burning, it was warming.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

In the novel, firemen start fires, not stop them. Guy Montag is one such fireman until he meets a girl who starts to make him think. From there the meaning of fire starts to change. It goes from a way of life, the status quo, to a weapon, and finally a source of warmth and salvation.

He hadn’t known fire could look this way. He had never thought in his life that it could give as well as take. Even its smell was different.

Fahrenheit 451

I started to go from wanting to be like one of the fireproof houses in the novel to accepting my role as the fire upon my move to Alaska. My husband changed everything for me.

Towards the beginning of our relationship, I challenged very little of what I had been told about myself. I thought about gender sometimes, but even that was deeply suppressed because how could that possibly be a part of me? I’d been told it wasn’t me when I went through it the first time, and I’d seen enough evidence to know it was correct. But something was still missing, it couldn’t be that? I was just a house fire, right?

No.

It took months into our marriage to start changing my mind. My husband and I talked at length about how I might NOT have bipolar disorder. The doctor upheld the concerns that all of us had about my meds and ordered that I start lowering the dose on one and tapering off another entirely. I learned a few days later that the bipolar disorder diagnosis had been removed. It was some of the best news I had ever heard.

That’s why I love Fahrenheit so much. Montag went from accepting that things are perfect the way they are to learning there is much work to be done for there is nothing okay with the current situation. There are some in the novel that refuse to change and hear the truth, like Montag’s wife, Mildred, in the end:

“Montag, falling flat, going down, saw or felt, or imagined he saw or felt the walls go dark in Millie’s face, heard her screaming, because in the millionth part of time left, she saw her own face reflected there, in a mirror instead of a crystal ball, and it was such a wildly empty face, all by itself in the room, touching nothing, starved and eating of itself, that at last she recognized it as her own…”

Fahrenheit 451

The people in Fahrenheit hide from themselves, the world, and self-awareness. There’s no real external government censorship involved. The citizens have chosen for themselves. Thinking is scary, and those who think for themselves are branded as insane. This is another reason why reading this novel was so vindicating – people who think and are branded as insane are the ones who triumph. And along with them, the meaning of fire changes.

The meaning of my fire has changed. Breaking free from what I have been told, thinking for myself – I’m no ordinary house fire.

I sang once in a song I wrote called “Gone”,

“And the cities we built, they stood for a time, but I will rise like a phoenix from the ashes they left behind.”

“Gone”

I have risen like a phoenix from the ashes I have left behind. Maybe that’s why I write so much about fire.

Love,

Meg

Rain Is

red on red

not what you think

red on red reflected

on slick concrete

pitch reflected in raindrops

someday i’ll make beauty

from a burning house

and the mind on fire that my

skull contains

will be doused with rain

“beauty from a burning house”, a poem by me

This is a poem I forgot about that I had written during my short-lived Poem a Day challenge last year. I was a long way away from believing in myself then, and I remember speaking poorly about myself in poetry and everywhere, really. I still don’t believe in myself in many ways, but I am coming to accept my mind on fire.

I’ve been working my way down on some of my meds, and I am feeling…alive. I am feeling. Feeling like myself, kicking the sadness in the pants, being my intense self and feeling mostly okay about it.

The one thing that bothers me is that I am able to laser focus, laser focus to nearly the point of obsession until my project is done. That bothers me because I want my ideas to come to fruition right now and that involves pestering people a lot. I don’t want to be annoying, but I need to get stuff done! According to my brain, that is. This has resulted in a pair of pieces that are nearly album-length apiece. You’ve already read about Light Steps, and last night’s jam resulted in Benson Boulevard Under Cover of Darkness.

My project last night was getting them on Apple Music, Spotify, and the like. I was so focused that I didn’t write a proper blog post, I’m so sorry! They should be live in a few days, though!

Before that, my project was recording Light Steps to cassette, which failed miserably. I’m starting to question my cassette quest since the jams are so frequent, so I’m setting that idea aside. This is what happens when I don’t try and put out the fire in my brain, coupled with staying off social media. I’m probably going to record a few hours’ worth of music by the end of April. I feel a lot better about myself.

all these cars

in such a hurry to get somewhere

i spent the day drinking tea

and wondering what it would be

like

to be okay

the simple answer is that i do not know

maybe it’s like being so

tired you cannot sleep

seeing the thing for what it is

but being unable to touch it

or maybe it’s

something like the moment

of clarity a person

first has at the moment

they plunge into ice cold water

they feel alive, don’t they?

This poem is called “beauty from a burning house”, and that’s honestly how I saw myself – as a burning house. Nothing more. I was under the impression that that was all I deserved, to be put out by a rainstorm.

I felt for years like I had to summon the rainstorm in order to make beauty from the burning house that I was. I didn’t see that the burning inside was okay to have. It seemed that I had to moderate my emotions. I had to have a valid reason to be sad, angry, very happy, or else I’d see myself as crazy and I thought others would, too.

In hindsight, it doesn’t matter what others thought. I was so focused on “being okay” that I overlooked the times when I was “okay”, and even worse, was being my true self. These were opportunities where I should have been feeling alive, but I crushed them. I was trying to look without seeing. I was looking to feel alive in all the wrong places.

Writing this blog was the first step to feeling alive, but now I feel real.

Feeling real to me is being able to embrace who you are without fearing how others think and view you. It’s not putting on airs, it’s not doing stupid stunts just for attention. It’s being unafraid to be creative and inventive and to also care for yourself. It’s being able to say “this is who I am” and roll with that.

I know I’m weird. I know I’m eccentric as all hell. I am excitable, I am smart. I deserve far more than to be put out by a rainstorm. You don’t deserve that, either.

Carry on.

-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