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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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Bigger on the Inside: the story of a tattoo

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

and then,
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

promise me 

Tattoo done by Splat at High Priestess in Eugene, OR. He’s awesome!

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.

And home again: end of my first trip to Australia

Was that really (only) five weeks in Australia?

It was.
Somehow.
Longer.
Shorter.
Not enough time, and maybe too much.
but I wouldn’t change a second,
even when I was throwing up on a boat full of people all by myself.

Australia, you’ve changed me. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. From your vast landscapes and stunning views to your strange animals and wonderful people, you haven’t stopped opening my eyes to new things.

If you’ve  been following this blog this past month you know I’ve been trying to keep up with telling you all what this trip has been like, all the things I’ve seen, the people I’ve met and the things these experiences have made me think about. I think I caught a lot of it… but honestly. I think I didn’t write about more than I did write. And looking back, having had a trans-pacific flight to distance myself, I feel I need to write at least this one more thing about it all.

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Melbourne, from Eureka Skydeck

Melbourne.
I’ve been hearing about, thinking about Melbourne for years. There’s an Amanda Palmer song (From St. Kilda to Fitzroy) that I had on repeat in my head as I road the tram (and yes I rode it from St. Kilda to Fitzroy one day). With its hipster, art scene, hippy vibe it felt like somewhere I would love to stay and live. Culture and opportunity ooze throughout the city and it just felt so easy to get around. My first few days were ups and downs.
Up. Excited about being in Australia. I mean kangaroos hopped along the highway and were just about the first thing I saw when I got there. How much more Australian could something be? And then, down, having a weird sort of mental jet lag and getting lost trying to find a dance class. Trying to balance working and traveling.
UpDown. Work was an excuse to not get out there. But it was also good for the nights because I had something to do.
Up. Lily got back into town and there was a wonderful whirlwind 3 day reunion. We hadn’t seen each other in 2 1/2 years, but really, when you’ve got one of those friends where you just click back together? yeah. that. I could have easily spent a few more days hanging out, dancing, stretching and leisurely discovering Melbourne… but I was off to

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Sydney Harbour Bridge & The Opera House

Sydney.
While Melbourne was a bit cool, I stepped off into Sydney in shorts and pulled out the sunscreen. Up. I felt like I was in a movie walking through the big city and old streets. The Opera House. On a whole I felt both underwhelmed and overwhelmed by it. And I just couldn’t get over the sight of it. Everything in Sydney made me feel happy. Maybe it was the sun. Down.
An awful roommate situation at the hostel, a 4-bed dorm with 3 friends + me… but (up) it couldn’t kill my mood.

I was traveling and seeing things and dancing. I did a two day dance intensive and ended up with private pointe lessons. It was awesome. Then there was the 6+ mile hike I did from Spit to Manly where even though I was hiking by myself I never went more than 15 minutes without seeing someone or feeling like I was walking through someone’s backyard. And yet… I also felt like I was really in nature. I found a hidden beach and sat on a cliff looking out at the turquoise sea. There was something calming about being alone in the city, like I could just stop and watch it pass by at any moment or I could let myself get caught up in the ebb and flow. Like stepping in and out of time.

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Byron Bay

Coffs Harbour. Up. Erin picked me up, only a year since we’d last seen each other in Scotland. I think she was even more excited for me to be there that I was. She had so much to show me even in her small town. It was good to see her again, but I realized how different we are and how we move at completely different speeds. Down. So while, I think that put some strain on what we did, overall it was fun to see Coffs and Byron Bay and just drive through Australia even if only for a little while.

Cairns.
Oh, Cairns. We had a tumultuous time.
Down.
First, your weather was miserable. For being “dry” season you were awfully wet. But the weather was also warm and sunny… so very tropical. The city itself had little to offer, but even there I was able to find some like-minded adults just taking ballet for the fun of it. Up. The day trips around the city though were gorgeous, full of walks through the rainforest and scuba diving on The Great Barrier Reef, complete a morning full of sea sickness and then an afternoon with a run in with a giant sea turtle and a fish the size of my torso. Then back on the boat I sat down next to two lovely individuals who were about to start their sophomore year at the university of Oregon. Sometimes it’s such a small world.
Down, and down again.
In between all of that I curled up in my single room, feeling homesick and wondering how I would manage until I got home because traveling and pushing myself to be out there and more extroverted was taking its toll. Plus, my birthday was coming up… I was about to turn 27, in

Brisbane.
Down. I spent my first two days holed up in the hostel, working. And hiding. Then wondrous things started happening. If you’ve been reading my blog you’ve already heard the play by play.
Up.

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Our host (Neil) & Amanda Palmer
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Amanda, on the phone with Neil (who’s in the UK) talking with the children.
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Mali Sastri singing on Wednesday night at the house party in Lutwyche, Brisbane.

Tuesday night: (planned) Amanda Palmer house party where I made three new friends, Ellen, Tegan & Neil, who have given me reason to return to Brisbane, which I didn’t think I’d have because it wasn’t on my list even until the concert dates changed. And then we’re there and Amanda invites me to the second house party. Up again.

Wednesday night: (unplanned) Amanda Palmer house party, completely different from the first but wonderful. I spent the evening hanging out with Mali, who happens to be a musician and an old friend of Amanda’s and lives with her in Boston in the Cloud Club. Then Amanda sang me happy birthday just because. (up) And I got to split a cab with her and Mali and a few others back to our respective hotels.

Thursday afternoon (unplanned): hanging out with Mali and talking about art and life and how things end up ending up the way they do and travel and getting caught in ruts and making things happen and generally just the kind of awesome conversation that feels like a mental hug because you know you’ve found a new friend and a kindred spirit.

 

 

Up again and again.

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Amanda, just before diving into the crowd during Bottom Feeder at The Tivoli.

Thursday night (planned): I sat on the sidewalk and watched people show up for the gig, saving spots for a friend of mine from twitter. We’d never met but my description of my clothes was enough to help her spot me right away. Hugs and pictures and rejoicing because even online you keep talking to certain people because they’re your friend, even if you’ve never met. And then, once you do, it’s brilliant. And the venue doors open and we’re front and center. Drinks and birthday wishes and the concert starts. The show was great and the energy up in the pit was so good. After I kept running into my new friends. I bought merch and got in line to have it signed, scanning for Ellen because she was saving my spot and I had her stuff. My name is yelled by three people. Only one of which I knew. The others were like ‘hi, we just know your name, come get at the front of the line with us.’ what? okay.
Up.

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Amanda and I, post show.

When Amanda saw me she stood up and gave me a hug and chatted for a minute she thanked me for a letter I had written her. Up. Then I spent the next half an hour or so being pulled (sometimes literally) from group to group as people who had met me that week wanted to talk to me. At the end of the night after many many hugs and some photos were taken, Mali and I walked back to a deserted train station and caught the second to last train back to our part of town. Up/down.

Down because it was all over…
but I haven’t really come down yet. The sum of it all has only half sunk in. I feel alive, like I’m running at life. And, the things that happened on this trip aren’t over just because I left Australia. I have new friends to keep up with and make future plans with. And I just may have found someone to do a artistic collaboration with. So much up and down… but whichever way things were going I had to keep going because I was traveling.

Travel doesn’t afford you the luxury of luxuriating in the down, letting it envelope you. You can let it, but it’s much harder than when you are at home. At home you feel if you’re down that you have no choice but to roll around in the feeling, that life stops happening for you and you just go through the motions. But when you’re experiencing, creating, out of your element, even in the down there is a forward, maybe upwards tumbling running spiraling path that you’re on, and wherever you’re at in life you have to own it.

And right now, up or down my heart is full because I think this year is the first year I’ve really felt that everything is coming together. Just keep saying yes,
or no if you need to,
keep doing things that scare you.
If you don’t do something that scares you every so often you don’t know what you’re capable of.
If you don’t have a way to get into and out of your own head then you get stuck.
My heart is full.
My head is full.
And I think a lot of things are about to happen because of it.

Epic birthday accomplished

post show, minutes before midnight, the end of an epic birthday

The concert was amazing, I was first row and just left of center for the entire night (pictures soon). I kept running into new friends from the house parties and from twitter. Everyone was so excited and lovely. I hit the signing line and handed her my shirt to sign, she’s halfway through the massive queue and hasn’t looked up yet, but when she does she lights up, reaches across the table and grabs me in a hug thanking me for the letter I had given her the previous night and asking if I had a good time, a good birthday and saying she was glad her friend Mali and I got to hang out all afternoon. I ask for a photo but say I can stick around, so I spend the next bit talking with all my new Aussie friends, who knew I’d ever have a reason to come back to Brisbane :)

After the line died down I went over to Amanda for one last chat and a photo. Several hugs, thank yous and apparently what was ‘an adorable moment’ according to my friend Ellen later I walked out into the balmy night air. I don’t think I could have managed a better birthday if I’d planned any of this.

Birthday #27

Last night a rock star sang me happy birthday, fed me cake and gave me a kiss.

Last night was the second Brisbane house party with Amanda Palmer. Until the night before I didn’t even know there was a second party. Then Amanda asked if she could bring me along as a guest.

Amanda and I at SxSW last April.
Amanda and I at SxSW last April.

It was a simple kindness but it was also huge. It wasn’t something I asked her to do it was something she just did. I was talking with her friend Mali (who happens to be an awesome musician in her own right and is a guest at tonight’s show!) about how it all came about. And how, even though I’m a massive fan, I see Amanda as a person and not a celebrity. Throughout all of it she remains very human and grounded and kind and yet still has this big rock star persona and energy that is amazing to get caught up in.

Birthdays and holidays have been hard for me these last four years. Things just haven’t seemed right. But something in that small act of kindness, the passage of time, and the atmosphere that night shook up the feelings inside me rearranging them into something that made the idea of holidays easier. It was a catalyst. One I’m thankful for and don’t quite have the words to describe. I’ll never forget being introduced by Amanda Fucking Palmer to her friend because I was someone worth introducing or getting fed cake or given a birthday kiss. But really, I’ll never forget how alive it all made me feel like I’m running headfirst into life instead of away from it. That really, if I just ask, if I just try, anything might be possible.

Last night, lying awake in my bed, still soaking in the last hour, the last two days, the last five weeks, the last four years, I turned 27.