Reminding Myself

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:

a much needed reminder

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.

Maybe one of you needs this too.

Mountains and clouds, from the trenches of job searching

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.

holyfuck
photography – me lyrics : Ukulele Anthem – Amanda Palmer

On a whim to Canada

31 hours
900 miles
2 countries
1 epic show

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.

IMG_6451
singing a cover of Psycho, Neil Gaiman looking particularly scruffy after his writing retreat

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.

Amy Cuddy (of TED fame) and Amanda Palmer
Amy Cuddy (of TED fame) and Amanda Palmer, shortly before she fangirled over being on stage with Amanda.

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)

Imogen Heap!
Imogen Heap!

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.

The astronaut himself! Chris Hadfield!
The astronaut himself! Chris Hadfield!

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,
the astronaut.
He sang one of his songs
and then after having been told we only had time for one song,
he sang Space Cowboy anyway.

Amanda singing Astronaut to an astronaut
Amanda singing Astronaut to an astronaut

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.

IMG_6539
Amanda, ukulele & Kristen!

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.
IMG_6479

My top albums of 2013

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra – Theatre is Evil

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.

Heartthrob – Tegan & Sara (release: January 29, 2013)

The Sky Is Calling – The Impossible Girl (release: June 21, 2013)

A Brief Case of Madness – Tom Dickins and the Punintentionals (release: August 1, 2013)

Days Are Gone – HAIM (release: September 27, 2013)

Pure Heroine – Lorde (release: September 27, 2013)

Let’s Be Still – The Head and the Heart (release: October 15, 2013)

An Evening With – Amanda Palmer & Neil Gaiman (release: November 19, 2013)

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:

in lethe EP – Jaggery (release: October 01, 2004)
Yes, Virginia – The Dresden Dolls (release: April 18, 2006)
My Head is an Animal – Of Monsters and Men (release: September 20, 2011)
Ceremonials – Florence & the Machine (release: October 28, 2011)
Electra Heart – Marina & the Diamonds (release: April 27, 2012)
Carry the Fire – Delta Rae (release: June 19, 2012)
Theatre is Evil – Amanda Palmer (release: September 5 2012)
Halcyon – Ellie Goulding (release: October 5, 2012)

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.

Believe in the impossible

I did the thing.

I gave a talk.

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.

In the end, what I said boiled down to this:

fivethings

Someone Else’s Dreams

There’s a girl I follow on Facebook, and read her blog. I’ve known her since she was a little girl (she’s 6 1/2 years younger than me). In the last few years she’s spent the majority of her time in foreign countries, traveling alone. Backpacking through South America for a year, riding her bike from Canada to Mexico on the west coast, and now, cycling through India, before going on to cycle most of Asia. A lithe 20 year old, bent on seeing the world. She’s off having grand adventures and I admit, I get a bit jealous.

Every time I see a new post from Shirine. I start to think how amazing what she is doing is and how not quite as amazing what I’m doing is. It’s amazing how simple and compact she’s made her life. I feel I’ve opted for (comparative) extravagance, instead of real simplicity and the power that comes from trusting other people, and yourself implicitly, having only an outline of a plan and just living life each day. Making your way through life just doing the things you love and nothing that doesn’t get you to that end goal. I’m inspired by her and wish I could do that.

9690110621_994d492ed8_k
Bird above the Daintree River, Australia

And then I remember that I’ve heard very similar things from people who follow my adventures. And I realize that what I’m doing is it’s own kind of amazing. A rockstar sang me happy birthday. I travelled Australia by myself. I moved alone to Europe… twice. So it makes me happy to think that maybe others think of my adventures the way I think of Shirine’s. Happy because, in a way, we’re all able to find someone to be inspired by.

I started googling cycling blogs, thinking maybe a small trip around Oregon, or across the US. So I could take a chance and strip life down to the bare essentials. As I sat in a hostel in Cairns, a tropical storm blowing outside, thousands of miles from home thinking how much more interesting my life would be if.. if what? I followed her dreams? I’m astounded by this young woman who lives so simply. I want to find that inner tranquility that allows me to let go of the material and the pandering of the media and simply live. Live simply. But as the night and storm rolled on it hit me: the nitty gritty of what she wants is not what I want.

As much as biking through a foreign land for a year sounds like an amazing escape, it is just that, an idea, an escape. It wouldn’t be a way of life for me, as it is for her, for me it would be running and pretending to be someone else (albeit someone awesome). So as I sat on my my bed in a hostel in Cairns, reveling in my decision to upgrade to a single room for the week and wishing it wasn’t the middle of the night at home so I could call and talk to someone about just what things I should look at. I’m looking at my life wondering, what can I let go? What can I cut out to get down to the essence of who I am? What things can I give away, what things do I still need to live the life I want?

The things that made up the core of my life settled around me. Those ideas echoing through me as I continued on. friends. new opportunities. saying yes. dance. new places. kindred souls. honesty. art. being present. photography. good food. writing.

following my dreams.
and making sure they’re mine,
and not someone else’s.

Sometimes stuff is just stuff and we forget that

Sometimes stuff is just stuff.
Sometimes things are just things.
But sometimes we forget to see that.

Things and places get comfortable. The routines we place in them safe no matter how unhappy, uncomfortable or joyous they make us. As much as we and are world are in a state of constant flux, we love to have our routines, our things that make things make sense in this crazy world.

When I was in Australia I had 12.5kgs 27.5lbs. Plus my carry on, which admittedly had my heaviest gear (camera, lenses, laptop). On my way back, jeans packed in my bag, and souvenirs stuffed in every nook and cranny I only had 16.2kg (35.7lbs). The amount of stuff I had, considering I had my most needed tech/camera stuff, and dance stuff enough to last me through a week of yoga and dance classes if I played things right… i didn’t have that much. but, to live and enjoy myself, really I had more than I needed. From time to time there was a thing or two I needed, but I doubt I even needed wanted a kilo of extra gear. We forget that we don’t really need as much as we have.

I have boxes full of things in storage at my grandmas, not a lot, but enough that I feel the weight of it. My room is full of books and more clothes than I need in two weeks (maybe a month if I rewash socks and anything designed for sweating). I’ve got things that get used a few times a year and the rest of the time they hide out of sight. I own books I’ve read, that I may never open again, but I like to look at them all. I have almost every pair of pointe shoes I’ve ever worn. There are a lot.

But… really these things are just things.
Very few have any real meaning.
And the ones that do, the memories are stronger.
The sights in my head I’ve committed to paper.
The images I’ve captured and saved in a string of 1s & 0s.

and the rest of the things, when I stay near them too much, they start meaning things that no one said. I see them all the time, so my brain starts thinking that I need it. Just incase. Just. In. Case. Except when I leave it behind, even half the stuff I use regularly… I don’t need it. Hardly just in case. Some things are useful, tools, but things and in the long run, if need by replaceable.

Memories.
Photographs.
Words.

These things matter.
I sacrifice a modicum of privacy (maybe a lot) to save them out in the public eye. Some I try to save, enough that one loss won’t cause me to lose it all. And then, the back up of back ups, my mind. The thing I can hold on to as long as it lets me. The big part of the part that matters most.

Me.

And what I can carry with me. In my memory, in my hand, on my back. What I give myself access to on the world wide web. The people and things around me. Because things are just things. I threw my favorite pair of jeans in a trash can in Sydney because they ripped; my wallet $80 lighter I had a new pair, enough to look good and do their job.

To live happily I don’t need much. Some clothes for movement, some clothes for every day, some clothes for dressing up and concerts. My camera gear, a laptop and internet. Simple. I need to be warm when it’s cold and to cool off when it isn’t. I need friends, or potential friends. Opportunity and a strong will to run where the wind is blowing if the wind is favorable. The determination to fight against it when it blows me where I don’t want to go. And maybe the strength to know the difference between favorable and comfortable. Because when I get too comfortable things start meaning things, routines start meaning things. And really it just means I know what to expect and life doesn’t have an opportunity to surprise me.

Because stuff is just stuff. Even when it has meaning. What really matters is what it means and that lives on in our memory.