Sunday, June 19, 2011


so...tuesday night is the big gig at the viper room, and i alternate between bouts of bonecrunching anxiety and an almost untethered euphoria. the mantra that works is this: it is one night, one night, one night.

if i turn out to be a miserable flop, well then at least i had the bravery to try. if i find that i love it and am well-received, then perhaps it will be the beginning of something beautiful and new. whatever may happen, it will be a party, a wild ride, with friends attending from all phases of my past---multitudes of unexpected last-minute developments have this show shaping up more like a piece of performance art/drama than a musical set. there may be many many musicians backing me, some of whom i have never met. there may be an actress, and a lost native woman from the past, and a librarian, and time portals., really. you should really, really be there.

i have learned this about myself: the more that is piled on my plate, the happier i am--both literally and figuratively (laura can vouch for this one!). i LIKE organizing summer classes and pulling together a band and learning new songs and raising children and putting eggshells 'round the tomatoes and working on a book and mapping out a similarly multi-coursed future, all at once. it is the moments when i find myself at a loss for purpose that i grow tired.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

woman and weakness.

i found that poem in the course of clearing out loads of old papers from their demonic nesting place beneath my sink (betcha anything that if i looked up feng shui, under-the-sink would be my area for mental clarity or something along those lines. maybe prosperity? sanity? forbearance?)

i also found a journal, started and then forgotten. i knelt in the carnage of papers, cleaning supplies, and general undersink guts, reading. it didn't sound like my voice. i didn't remember ever thinking these thoughts i'd committed to paper. there were 12 entries, distributed over the course of a long-ago month. each had something to do with being female.

i left the piles on the floor and began setting the words in the journal to music. i tried not to edit too much. it was more pleasant by far than organizing under the sink. though i suppose i'll have to return to that eventually if i ever want to regain the use of my kitchen.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

being born!

I just found a poem I wrote soon after Xir's birth. It is chillingly honest. I was really hurting at the time, so thrown by the direction my life had taken, so unprepared for the reality of motherhood in isolation.

When I remember that time, all I feel is an overwhelming gratitude that all of that anger somehow resolved itself without anyone getting mauled! There were years when anger was my primary motivating force. I suppose most of it arose from the tension between my very stringent expectations of myself and the reality of who I was. These days, though I am constantly at work on ways of blooming, I find strength in the truth of what I am rather than punishing myself for all I am not. It sure frees up a lot of time. And a lot of love.

Being Born!

Before we left the desert, where the hammock hung---there---strung
Between the silvered drought-dead locust and the lush singleleaf ash—
Those first warm days of spring I’d rock my worldnew baby boy there,
Watching through a sketch of leaves the nest-building begin.

A mourning dove was nesting in the ash’s head-high crook
So diligent and patient as she waited through the hours—
She could fly! Yet she refrained! How my hurt heart learned to hate her
As I struck out, angry, lost, across the hills.

She had wings! Yet she refrained! She remained there, resolutely,
untouched by the ambivalence that raged always in me.
I was beating at the cage. She was beatific, unconflicted,
motherhood her paramount and perfect-met concern.

How I envied her her patience. How I hated her for staying.
How I raged, and walked, and rocked, and surged, and paced the desert ground.

Then one of those horrid days, when if mothers could, I’d quit,
I soothed my screaming baby in the hammock’s lilting arc
And gazing dull-eyed over out of habit at her nest
Saw her hatchlings—born! bedraggled! quick with life!

She was my ally after all. I turned away. My vision blurred
to see the nest builder succeed: it was so terrible and grand.
I held my son to see the ones who—being born!—
Did what he’d done
But he slept, sweet-heavy, safe, between my arms.

Monday, June 6, 2011

onward and upward

It takes my breath, the way the world has conspired to pull me bodily from my latest heartbreak and shake me awake. Old friends I thought lost materialize from nowhere, old boyfriends try to reconnect, music winds tendrils through everything. Long-forgotten wishes come true. There are handmade gypsy wagons parked in friends' driveways. There are mountain cabins to live in.

I was so lost. I don't know why I do this, but I tend to fold myself into the ones I love. I lose my equilibrium; it is so easy to become the girl I think my lover wants that I slip dangerously and inevitably into someone else, an imagined someone, and then wonder why it is that I no longer feel authentic, or happy. If the relationship ends (and of course it does, how could I stay in a relationship of which I am no part? How could anyone want to stay with someone who isn't there?) I feel a double loss, the loss of my beloved and the loss of the person I was when I was with him--the person that came alive only for him, and will never live again.

strange how I can learn this, and learn this, and yet the cycle repeats, new twists each time:

repeal, revisit, these things repeat
she's coming alive!--here we go, plant your feet
there's always one change to reel you in--
genius. joy. (took the bait, pull her in!)
change takes a second after years of resolve
and it's often the saddest moment in the world

I know I must be getting something out of it to continue such a pattern in the face of so many obvious drawbacks. Is it the intensity? The chance to try out new personalities, new lifestyles? My very wise friend suggested that I might be externalizing, using relationships to befriend part of myself I could never acknowledge otherwise. It is true that this last heartbreaking encounter left me with a whole album's worth of songs and a renewed commitment to my music. Goodbye, careworn single mom, hello, freewheeling rockstar! I mean, it's better, right?

But I have got to learn to do this on my own. I cannot be putting myself and my children in danger on the constant quest for novelty and adventure. There must be love out there that is steady without being dull, all-consuming without being...ummm.....all-consuming. Well, obviously I need to redefine a few things. Right now I would just like to say how very, very grateful I am. For strong friends and serendipity. For resolution from within. For a body strong enough to climb mountains, when that is necessary. For enough space, and time, to work things out in writing and song. For possibility. For transformation.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

self promotion.

Several opportunities have fallen into my lap recently, truly wonderful ones: to live in a cabin in the mountains and manage a cherry orchard. to play my original songs at the Viper Room. to run classes and workshops out of my friend's new studio space in santa monica.

But there's always a catch, right? The world does not grant our desires without requiring growth in return. Each of these opportunities requires me to promote myself. And self-promotion is just about the most distasteful activity I can imagine. I operate on the assumption that there are probably loads of people who are better than me at nearly everything I do. And although I love to talk about myself, I prefer that someone else bring the subject up!

I know this is anomalous behavior in this entertainment-driven city. And it's especially poor timing: I've been acting irresponsible and cruel lately, for no reason I can discern besides perhaps exhaustion, and it is hard to promote oneself when one is pretty sure that one is a hot mess.

How do I inform a non-existent fan base of my gig in June so that I can fill that room with an audience? How do I convince a gentleman farmer that a 30-something single mom is the ideal orchard manager? How do I advertise basket-making and songwriting and book-binding courses so that I can make a living doing the things that I love? This is not my world or my skill set. But nevertheless, the excitement is carrying me along, and I am determined to move through it.

So far I have set up a facebook page as a musician (here it is: like me, like me! ) even though I feel embarrassed every time I think about it. My friend and I have begun to think up really fun publicity stunts---stilts and puppet shows and busking in the streets---to promote the gig on June 21st. I am eating a lot of cherries. And although I've not yet figured out how to promote my studio classes, I have been to the studio in question. Baby steps.

Wish me luck. And, of course, if you have any advice for me, I'm all ears.