Today is Mom’s birthday.
This is the sixth time this particular notification has popped up on my laptop since she died.
I can’t bring myself to delete the entry on my calendar.
1 month, and
since she died.
That’s 1,860 days.
I’m fairly certain not a single one of those days has passed that I haven’t thought of her since she passed, even if it was just for a fleeting moment. More often than not I have something I want to tell her, or ask her, or share with her. Today she would have been 60. It’s weird to think that she’s been gone for five years. It might be even stranger to think that this year would have been a huge milestone. I wonder how we would have gotten on as adults, now that I’m settling into myself and figuring out what is really important to me.
So much has happened in the last 1,860 days. And since I can’t directly share this with her, I want to share five wishes, five things I wish I could have shared with her, one for each year she’s been gone.
1) I wanted to share France with her. Then Belgium, The Netherlands, England, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, and Australia. I originally decided to keep this blog going so I could show her all the wonderful things around the world, things I knew that she would never be able to travel and see, but maybe if I saw them for her she could experience them too. Somewhere along the line I decided to just keep writing anyway.
2) Social media. Just before she had her first heart attack we were talking about getting her on Facebook. I think she would have loved it. I think she might have gotten Twitter, too. I know she would have loved the chance to talk with old friends more often and keep in touch with people who had moved away.
3) Music. These past few years I have grown increasingly engaged with music. I have so many bands and songs that have had an incredible impact on me. I feel like she would have enjoyed the music and the people behind it. And what I wouldn’t give to have been able to introduce her to Amanda Palmer, both her music and as a person/thinker/friend.
4) My writing. I’ll finish this novel one day. I’ll write more stories. I think the last creative piece she read of mine was a poem I wrote when I was 15.
5) Dance. I started dancing four years before she passed away but she never saw me dance outside our living room. She never saw me on stage. Since I’ve danced as a guest with Eugene Ballet Company three times. It’s the one thing I truly wish I could change.
I’ve been keeping the words in my head.
I think I’m afraid of what will spill out if I start writing again.
I keep starting and stopping, wondering how many people are reading and if that even matters. I know I have these words that want a life outside of my head, all these thoughts that need to be put out loud. Even my private diary’s pages stay blank.
That’s a lot of I’s and introspection. Self thinking when all I’ve been doing is trying to lose myself/find myself.
books, video games, dance, aerial
some things very me, an escape outside and inside myself depending on my mood.
I’m afraid to post my thoughts because some random person might not hire me because I’m not afraid to post the truth in the hell that is long term unemployment. I’m afraid to be not afraid. I just want to be me again and post the things I think and do the things the make me alive. I miss sharing these words even if I often question that they’re read by anyone but me. And of all the things that life has thrown at me I’m sitting here worried about doing one of the few things I’m good at because of some potential what if.
It isn’t right.
I’m running blind and I need some perspective.
i just looked up at a photo tacked to my wall. A reminder to myself I’m so used to seeing, that I forget:
I’m stuck in my own head and something has to give. It won’t be me. I should listen to the advice that I’ve passed on to so many others. Even though they aren’t my words an inevitably it all comes back around.
This job search thing comes in waves. I’ve done this enough times that I can see the pattern in the ebb and flow, my resolve pulled and pushed by unseen gravitational forces. My meticulous data keeping on jobs applied for and replies received can be read as a direct correlation to my state of mind. It’s a constant wondering what I’ve done right or wrong or if it’s simply bad timing.
Some weeks are a consistent trickle of applications, other days hit like a hurricane, scattering my resumé to the wind in hopes that it sticks someplace nice. Though throwing digital resumes out to faceless website forms feels feeble. I’m trying to dig through a mountain with a cloud. But clouds have a purpose, they rain, and after time water wears through rock. Not exactly efficient, but these are the tools I have been given and until there is a better way this is what I will do.
Each job application is an exercise in letting go. Some jobs I’ve wanted more than others and have spent days weeks working on finding just the right words. Others I throw through a quick revision and send on their merry way. But no matter my commitment I have to let each go expecting to never hear back from them again. Really I’d like to fill in that final column on my spreadsheet. Hired? Yes or No.
I suppose I really only need to fill that box in once. A nice pretty yes to a new adventure.
Today I needed something concrete and fulfilling. Sending out resumes is taxing, and like screaming into a void – it’s rare that any sound comes back.
So instead. I made something. Feel free to download and use as a wallpaper if you’re so inclined.
If you’re on the blog, you’ll notice I updated the look too. I’ve got a new project in the works that I want to share soon. And yes, it is fantastic.
I returned from Canada last night
after barely 12 hours in Vancouver.
My co-conspirator in this crazy adventure and I still aren’t sure when our plans went from ‘oh that sounds cool,’ to ‘so, we’re going to Canada’.
It probably happened sometime around the time Amanda replied to this tweet.
Snacks and passports in hand we filled up the gas and started north.
Our drive up was punctuated by torrential downpours in the fog
and me locking my keys in the car at a gas station when my car’s speakers started making demonic noises
it was actually a little terrifying
and AAA was able to break into my car in under a minute,
which was amazing and a bit worrying
(we seem to have either placated or expelled the possession thankfully)
Some pre trip google street viewing showed me a parking garage 1 block from the hostel,
and the hostel was 6 blocks to the venue.
I survived driving through Portland and Seattle and Vancouver.
We splashed water on our faces and tried to feel alive again.
Ten hours in a car is enough to make you question your sanity and if the reflection in the mirror is really yours.
Before we parked we had seen the line, stretching 6 people deep around an entire city block.
An hour until the door and already almost 1000 people in line.
But a tweet I’d sent to Amanda Palmer
(the ringleader of this almost organized beautiful chaos)
had us on the guest list. We were bringing boxes for food collection,
and volunteering to help with the Vancouver Food Bank.
The gig was free, but still raised almost $10K for the charity.
Before the show we caught Amanda at the bar for a quick chat.
She had recognized us, and said hello first.
Then she saw my tattoo and kissed it. I love what this brought about.
me too, Amanda, me too.
She asked us if we thought things were too organized
This was a ninja gig after all
But it had a massive guest list of professionals from different disciplines
People that made chaos seem easy and planned.
A beautiful mess.
Before the show started, the show started.
Vancouver’s Orkestar Slivovica brass band played and people danced
(read more about the show’s phenomenal line up here) Kristen, my co-pilot in this adventure, and I found a friend, Lauren, from the house party
She lives in Vancouver.
Life is beautifully strange sometimes.
She saved us by lending us some Canadian money so we could buy drinks,
there’s nothing like driving to make you crave water.
Then we realized Lauren was sitting in front of Imogen Heap.
Well, Kristen realized.
Lauren and I were too excited about the gig and all the special guests,
we didn’t realize
I had to come back and kneel down next to Lauren and whisper do you realize who you’re sitting in front of? you’re sitting in front of IMOGEN HEAP.
I am? Thank you for telling me.
Her eyes went wide.
I turned to Imogen and caught her attention
The three of us chatted for a moment.
Life is surreal.
Then Amanda came out on stage, the second beginning of the show Ladies and gentleman, welcome to our fucking mess
what a beautiful mess
Amanda sang, Neil sang, Neil read a story about ducks.
Some people TED came out and talked
a former football star talked about virtual reality and empathy
Imogen sang and turned the audience into her backing vocals, we didn’t sound too bad
more people from TED spoke, the head of safety at Twitter came out
I’m probably getting the order wrong,
but the chaos was beautiful
and I just let it wash over me, absorbing as much as I could.
After a quick intermission they brought out some TED fellows,
incredibly talented musicians that did things with instruments I’ve never seen
(the things they did, not the instruments themselves)
Amanda took stage to sing another song,
she asked for requests and the audience erupted, you always do this and I can never hear you, raise your hands I giggled, a punk rock gig, and here we are politely raising our hands. I loved it.
my hand shot up Monica, you see me all the time
I thought it was a playful dismissal No, no, I’m not dismissing you, what do you want Oh
I got name checked from stage,
and stared at by the strangers around me,
because a rockstar knew my name.
I counted later, 10 shows in 2 1/2 years
3 of which were private house parties.
Yeah, there’s a reason.
Jason Webley sang about wanting a Giraffe and then a super special guest that everyone had guessed but had not been officially announced. Chris Hadfield.
I’ll just let that sink in,
He sang one of his songs
and then after having been told we only had time for one song,
he sang Space Cowboy anyway.
Then we watched Amanda sing Astronaut to an astronaut,
I’ve seen her perform it before,
but this was acoustic, Webley played the guitar, it made it different and special,
and there she was, living one of her dreams
probably thinking, is this real? is this my life?
yes it is.
She had opened with In My Mind.
so really. yes, circular and chaotic the show fit together.
After the show end, the security gently ushering everyone out because we had passed curfew,
Amanda yelling at us to go and be good citizens, obey the law, so we can do this kind of thing again.
Kristen and I made our way to the stage where Amanda was still chatting with the other performers.
She beckoned us up
and I took pictures of her wrapped around Kristen’s back and new tattoo.
Can I have a hug? You can always have a fucking hug,
she whispered into my ear.
Floating around cloud nine
at one thirty in the morning
wandering a strange city
that was strangely clean
we made our way back to the hostel.
It all happened on a whim.
A glorious memory that we had witnessed something completely unique.
The feeling you get when you’re surrounded by people
who resonate with you
colorful people full of life
who are kind.
I feel more like myself now.
Oh, and my favorite part? All the guests sat on the sides of the stage and watched everyone else do their thing.
If you’ve met me in the real world you know that I’m small and quiet. Not shy so much (anymore), not untalkative (I can talk your ear off), but loud is not a word that would be used to describe me. A bit bigger on the inside.
the only time i’m loud is when i dance
it’s the only time i don’t mind making a statement or being seen.
so when i woke up the morning after getting a gorgeous, bold, bright, colorful tattoo
i’m not going to lie, I freaked out a little.
and then I called on my aunt
you see, she has tattoos
and her daughters have tattoos
and she’s very no nonsense.
she laughed and told me I was fine
which I was
this year had a rocky start
fueled by a rocky ending to last year
and i think it all caught up with me in a moment of nagging self doubt
fueled by the world yelling at young adults for being irresponsible when they are just different
(i’m 27, do i still count as a young adult? i don’t know anymore but i’m surely not a day over 17 in my mind)
I posted a photo of it to instagram and twitter
(pictures or it didn’t happen)
the lyric i am bigger on the inside it’s an Amanda Palmer song
the internet is a magical place
and some times human things happen
she saw the tweet she tweeted back “holy shit”
which i took to be good
then (i found out hours later) she posted it to facebook
and wrote about how surreal it is
(and now i’m writing about how surreal this is)
that i got a tattoo of a lyric from an unreleased song
(that you should listen to, grab some tissues)
a song, that doesn’t feel quite real to her,
because she hasn’t set it down,
made it official,
but there her words are, inked in my skin.
and something is alive and real in that.
something beautiful, enough to be believed
but i’ve heard the song enough in person and on youtube
to know that this song was something
i needed to hear
need to hear
it’s an intentional reference by her to Doctor Who
a show i enjoy immensely
i’m also small, only brushing 5′ tall
i’m much smaller on the outside you see
we are so much bigger
than another one can ever see
trying is the point of life
so don’t stop trying
Over the last year I’ve come to realize how big a role music plays for me. I’m almost always listening to it, connecting with it and letting it influence my own artistic outlets. Recently I’ve been really big on discovering new music and bands that I really like, not necessarily just listening to whatever I come across. I wanted to share them with you because this has been an outstanding year for music. And part of me is really happy about the resurgence of vinyl. I think one of my favorite pressings was from The Head & the Heart, though Amanda Palmer killed it with packaging & extras.
From the beginning to the end, here’s my year in music, so plug in some headphones and enjoy.
Chasing Twisters EP – Delta Rae (release: November 19, 2013)
Also, in putting together this list I realized quite a bit of the music I listened to a lot (or even discovered) isn’t from this year at all. Here’s a few albums I had on repeat or discovered for the first time this year but were not released in 2013:
as an added P.S. Willow out of Melbourne, Australia. They don’t have an album out yet, but I love their sound. Got to see them open for Tom Dickins in Melbourne in August and fell in love with what they’ve got going on.
I talked about Amanda Palmer and The Fraud Police, Making Good Art and appropriated a life lesson from Alice in Wonderland. I think I may have inspired a few folk. (I hope)
The thing I talked about was my life and how because I learned enough little things big things started colliding and happening. I told stories I didn’t mean to. I talked about my last term and my mother’s death. It’s something that completely changed the trajectory of my life, but I always feel like I’m in a game of ‘my life is worse’ or ‘look what i’ve overcome’ whenever I bring it up (among other events). It’s like weird bragging rights. But the story was pertinent. I didn’t mean to bring up being from a poor-ish house and helping pay the bills. But it was pertinent. And I wasn’t telling the story to feel better or brag. I told it to illustrate a point, that you didn’t need to have money or come from money to do big things with your life, you just have to know how to prioritize and use it to your advantage.
My life is a series of improbable and at one point or another impossible things. I try to be kind and I try to keep moving forward in whatever direction I feel the need to go at the time. I try to say yes to things that scare me (like giving a talk) and sometimes to things that don’t scare me (like moving to Europe). So I talked about it all, and maybe in my rambling made some sense. One day the Fraud Police might come knocking on my door, I always feel like their lurking nearby, but if they ever do come calling I think I’ll be able to look them in the face and say, “no shit, sherlock, but it’s working.” For now I’ll just keep trying to Make Good Art and do good things.