Tag Archives: #moarlove

i keep swinging my hand through a swarm of bees ’cause i want honey on my table

Thrice “Black Honey” To Be Everywhere is To Be Nowhere

A fan of Los Angeles, my brother is not.  So, it’s kind of a big deal that he braved the city of traffic to “celebrate” my birthday with me last year.  I use the term celebrate loosely.  I sure know how to throw a party!

The trip concluded with a Thrice show, a year ago today, that would bring us right to when I would be dropping my guests off at the airport.  Always a fan of special edition vinyl, my brother promised to pick up a copy of the tour only pressing of their latest album at a future show he’d be attending, since the time crunch didn’t quite allow for merchandise purchasing.

Unfortunately, at subsequent show, the special edition vinyl was no longer available.  I eventually invested in the standard and moved on.

A year later, timing displaying a strange synchronicity, he happens to catch a special, flash repressing of the album.  He still gets me.

The older you get, the less people wish you “Happy Birthday!” on Facebook.

I know I’m the last person that should be allowed an opinion on the matter.  Preferring to send a direct text, phone call, or most ideally actually delivering the well wishes in person, it’s rare that I leave my mark via social media.  If I have no way outside of social media with which to contact you, let me go ahead and apologize for all the years  you went without hearing from me.  (Something tells me, you’re sleeping just fine.)

I don’t know if it’s the exposure of it, the anxiety that there’s no way I can keep up with them all and who am I to prioritize, but I’ve never been good at it.  Much like I’ve never been good at Christmas cards.  (Thank you cards on the other hand, kind of my thing!)

So, I guess I point all this out, not to sound, “whoa is me” about the situation, but rather to actually express gratitude.  Whether you’re nailing the birthday gift game, providing a much needed oasis of unconditional love, or a notification reminded you of my existence for even a split second, I genuinely appreciate the well wishes.

Without getting overdramatic, it never hurts to know you’re not alone attempting to figure out this crazy concept of existence.

 

I’ve been waiting all this time to be something I can’t define.

The Format “The First Single (You Know Me)” Interventions and Lullabies

I should write.

But, I can’t write.

I just worked two doubles and I have another one tomorrow.  I barely have time to change work attire and get a little food in my belly, let alone for creativity.  Not to mention, mentally pulling myself together from one extroverted job to another, without the much required introverted recovery. I don’t have the time and when I do I don’t have the energy.  I have been on my feet this entire day, my steps will confirm, and I’m broken.  Even the thought of pen to paper further wears me out.

So, I don’t write.


I should write.

But, I can’t write.

I still haven’t cleaned my apartment, and let’s be honest.  How productive could I really be, constantly distracted by the clutter?  If I buckled down and do it, what will it take, an hour, maybe two?  Tops.  But, while I’m at it, when was the last time I really cleaned.  I’m talking hands and knees cleaning.  I don’t even want to think about it, which means it’s been too long.  Writing “to do” lists, loosely counts, right?  And now that the list is complete, I deserve to bask in that accomplishment.  I’ll actually clean tomorrow.

So, I don’t write.


I should write.

But, I can’t write.

Not until I do my civic duty as an American citizen, keeping abreast on the happenings in Washington, terrifying as they may be.  Sure, my mental health seems to decline in dangerous direct proportion to the amount of news I watch.  But, I fear not watching will render me uninformed.   Until before I know it, I’ve lost hours, in utter disbelief that this is, in fact, real life, to the repeated take on the same nonsensical 4 second clip or the latest tweet. Disappointed as I may be in 45, he’s at least blasting out 140 characters.  Meanwhile, I haven’t gotten to one.

So, I don’t write.


I should write.

But, I can’t write.

I’m too tired.  Too stressed.  Too hungry.  Too angry.  Too busy.  Too sad.  I have too many ideas.  I don’t know where to begin.  None of my ideas are any good.  I don’t know what I’m doing.  I should study some more.  No one will like it.  What’s the point?  It’s already been said before, and better.  What difference does my voice make?  Who am I to think I deserve this?

I’m afraid.

So, I don’t write.


I should write.  “But, I can’t write.”  So, I don’t write …

“conflake girl” tori amos – under the pink

I walked away feeling hopeful.  Feeling excited.  Feeling on the precipice of history being made.  Tomorrow this circus will finally come to an end. 

I was actually not surprised like so many others, perhaps even the man himself, that it had made it this far.  I was never distracted by the amusement, the reality show aspect of it all.  I could feel giving attention to it feeding its rise.  But, it ends now.  Tomorrow this will all be over and we can start repairing the damage instead of desperately trying to stay afloat. 

Bonus!  I actually got a tool to help me with one of my idea blocks.  The graphic novel, you’ve found your villain.  Imagine a world where he actually won.  The content writes itself.

And then, in the midst of news footage already calling victory, even though it seemed impossible, I got a sinking feeling.  I didn’t want to say it out loud for fear of making it real.  Then with every exit poll, even as things were still optimistic, the sudden sickness that had also befallen me worsened.

This isn’t going to turn out the way I expected it to.

“Never was a cornflake girl.”

Last week I set out to write a post in support of and in response to backlash aimed at the largest protest in our history.  Having been through a couple of back and forths on the good ol’ Facebook (some I expected, some I certainly did not), I knew it was best to sleep on what I was about to say.  This was bigger than me, and I needed to make sure I came from a careful, respectful, well thought out place.

But then the week transpired, and with each new justification of our government leader’s actions, each new present discussion I was finding myself in, and my health declining almost in tune with each blow (Why does this keep happening in tandem?!), the tone of the slept on entry started to change.

No matter where you stand presently, there’s no denying that on January 20, 2017, history was made.  It was made unlike it has ever been made before.  I have since seen the speech, but when it happened I refused to watch it.  Having kept an eye on our now President’s prior behavior, it seemed the most effective way I could show my disappointment was to not give his appearance the “approval rating” my tuning in would have been skewed as.

On January 21, 2017, history was made again.  The Women’s March.   We live in a time where movies like Mean Girls and Bridesmaids successfully use comedy to expose the sentiment of girl-on-girl crime.  Having worked in male dominated fields for the majority of my life, I already knew how hard things could be simply for being a born into a gender, and often wonder why we women continue to make it harder on ourselves.  But on this particular Saturday, though I could only go in spirit, I had never been so in love with women and the many others who stood by the cause.

And while it wasn’t perfect by any means, at times alienating, even its critics identified the heart of it to be a good first step.  Plights I can’t even fathom were brought to my attention, and the work that still needs to be done to ensure the self-evident truth of equality for all Americans was made more apparent.  I was inspired, in cause a ruckus fashion, to DO things about it.

I was touched by the humanity and basked in its afterglow, interrupted only once by that poor excuse of a speech at the CIA, for the day’s entirety.  (To be fair, our President knows when he delivers good speeches, bad speeches, home run speeches, and equivalent to Peyton Manning winning the Super Bowl speeches, okay?  — Oh, he was referring to THIS speech.)

The afterglow came to a sharp halt when another voice of criticism started to surface the next day.

“Thought that was a good solution, hanging with the raisin’ girls.”

“Sore losers.”

“Precious snowflakes.”

“Trump won, get over it!”

“I’m a woman, you don’t get to speak for me.”

“I’m not a second-class citizen.”

“What did this really accomplish other than being a hate march?”

Women.

Wait.  Were they completely missing the point or was I?

It was critiqued for being unfocused, and yet these same women couldn’t identify with a single cause marched on behalf of that day.  This seemed impossible to me.

It had to be more likely that women have often been forced to abide by the “be happy with what you have” position in order to survive.  When there are studies strongly suggesting societal bias to cis, white males, perhaps these women aren’t even aware they are oppressed, in an almost slight Stockholm syndrome fashion.

Or maybe, it was absolutely true that those contending the march never had personal experience with any of these oppressions.  To which I wanted to urge a sense of gratitude, and a warning not to take these issues for granted.  I wanted to express sincere joy that they were comfortable in their lives and have them look outside themselves, as close as their friends who marched in order to fight for their right and the rights of everyone to feel as comfortable.  As close as me, even if for the majority of the time, I also sit in the comfort of privilege.

It was summed up to be a hate march against Trump.  I would argue, it was a movement to demand accountability.  I think those against the march falsely assume it was a rally celebrating his imminent failure, rather than “giving the guy a chance.”  This is absolutely absurd, and likened to, as fellow delicate snowflake best explained, wanting your plane to crash because you dislike the pilot.

Our president, in his inaugural speech, made a promise to give the government back to the people.  Well, the people include not only his supporters, but those who didn’t vote for him as well, and the march was a message that he couldn’t simply pick and choose.  We weren’t to be neglected because his feelings were hurt by the sheer mass of people both in Washington and in sister marches, not only across the United States, but around the globe flat out, dare I say it, trumping “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period…”  (As you choose to remember it, anyway.)

It put a face to the issues at hand and brought these faces to his doorstep.   It appealed to the humanity of the situation.  I aimed to appeal to the same to the voices of opposition in my life, as well.  To put a face, my face, increasing proximity to the matters I have personally encountered, in order to possibly inspire them to consider an experience unlike their own.

“She’s gone to the other side, givin’ us a yo heave ho.”

I gave personal accounts of how I was effected by wage disparity.  How the issue goes beyond the statistic that women make 80 cents to a man’s dollar, the gap even wider if you are a person of color, but how the wage disparity almost becomes a metric by which we justify inequality in workplace dynamics as well.

I recalled how as early as fourteen, I was granted shift supervisory responsibilities, but saw my male colleagues below me in rank, hired after me, receive raises before mine was considered.  I was permitted to operate a deli slicer, though it wasn’t entirely legal by labor laws, but wasn’t worth an extra quarter an hour until the next raise period.  Wasn’t the promotion in title alone enough to tie me over?

A similar situation would happen to me in my college years where I was deemed the Electronics Expert. (A title that wasn’t alone enough to encourage patrons to trust my expert opinion on a typically male influenced topic.  More than once did someone ask a fellow male patron their opinion before trusting mine.)  This title had me fulfilling the role of the Electronics Supervisor, without the pay increase.  When the role was officially interviewed for, it was at the suggestion of a male supervisor deemed no longer necessary.  I was still expected to fulfill the duties until I left that job.  The reinstated role was then given to a male who had also applied when I initially had.

In a discrete mathematics Computer Science course, of which I should have had a considerable advantage as it was the concentration of my Mathematics degree, frequently singled out and used to having my response skewed to appear incorrect, I sat, this time just as bewildered as my surrounding male colleagues, when another male (not that hard to achieve, I was the only female in said class) repeated an answer almost verbatim to mine.  His was praised for highlighting the misconception, I confidently knew was the point of this particular proof having just studied the same problem in a math course not long before this particular lesson.  I was encouraged to confront my professor on the perceived sexist bias, only to be asked about my mental health and if I took any medication.

I have been physically shoved, because I happened to be the closest female in proximity, when a drunk regular who should never have been let in to begin with, chose to drown his sorrows surrounding his recent breakup at the bar where I worked.  A coworker who quickly went to detain him reported that he declared, “See?  Women are just commodities.” as my head slammed into a brick wall.  Next day apologies were offered, but the man wasn’t arrested because of his relationship to the owner, even as he shattered the establishment’s front door.

I was brought to the tipping point in my professional career, when a male colleague’s opinion was valued over mine repeatedly, carrying repercussions to my job, even as I warned his strategies wouldn’t work with proof from my previous experience.  And despite apologies given as it was discovered I was actually right, this didn’t influence my superiors chancing his suggestions the next time an issue like this arose.  Time was wasted, and every time I was expected to make up the difference, as it was my job, not my colleague’s, whose opinion was valued over mine.

These are only a few personal experiences.

Those ladies marched for me.

 

“Things are getting kind of gross and I go at sleepy time.”

The decision to leave Visual Effects wasn’t easy and if one has kept up with my previous posts, it becomes clearer that many facets went into it.  One of the biggest influences being that the job actually induced stress related health issues.  “A job that slowly kills you,” now a very menacing sounding lyric from Radiohead’s No Surprises, as it plays on my morning commute.  Lasting health issues that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I would obtain coverage for, as freelancing didn’t give me benefits.  Now my quality of living is being put in jeopardy.

It has taken awhile for me to be able to claim ownership to my mental illnesses, but proper care and treatment has not only made me an advocate, but has helped me find ways to therapeutically combat these obstacles with creativity.  Now, I have to worry that it’ll be deemed a pre-existing condition, which may disqualify its coverage.  This is concerning and in many ways plays back into the stigma.

While in the industry I worked anywhere from 12 to 18 hour days, depending on deadlines this included weekends, many times, as is normal for VFX jobs, in salaried positions.  The record work day clocked in at 36 straight hours.  (Yes, I know that’s over a day.  And in full disclosure, I did get a thirty minute nap on the floor of our screening room that doubled as my office.)

Since the departure, I’ve worked as many as four jobs simultaneously averaging around 50 hours a week.  But, please, remind me how I’m a lazy, welfare seeking, millennial who feels entitled to hand outs.

For a decent part of college, until the Affordable Care Act reinstated partial coverage under my parents again, I relied on the availability of my local Planned Parenthood to provide me with the birth control prescribed, not to promote sexual activity, but regulate and alleviate my, at times, debilitating menstrual symptoms due to endometriosis.  It also provided an affordable, once a year peace of mind in the form of an annual exam, the one way I was able to keep tabs on my health, as I couldn’t, uninsured, afford even the most routine of doctor’s visits.

I know there are situations even more dire than my own that depend on these facilities, and their funding, despite being against the law except for in extreme conditions to be used for the main argument in support of defunding Planned Parenthood, is once again under scrutiny and at risk of not receiving support.

These amazing women marched for me and women like me.

 

“This is not really happening. You bet your life it is.”

And let’s not fail to mention the misogynistic (and racist, and violent, and bullying, etc. etc. etc.) rhetoric Trump ran his campaign, life, and is running is executive orders on.  Maybe you can forgive, but I certainly will never forget.

Because like it or not, this role as our public servant upholds him as an example and we need to hold him accountable, in the same way we shame the latest currently revenant female pop icon as an inappropriate sex symbol.  And even if his past actions don’t concern you with regard to his ability to lead the country, there’s no denying that the example he’s set thus far is incredibly damaging. 

Because we already lived in a world where men felt entitled to grab women by the pussies.  I should know.  At a gathering of coworkers, I was once quite literally grabbed by mine.

With all the victim shaming still keeping people silent, it’s no surprise I belittled the situation, not wanting to actually say what happened, not wanting to taint that coworker’s image, simply wanting to avoid working in the closest proximity roles if it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience, when I chose to speak up about it.  I was met with a prepared (Seriously, a saved document was printed out in front of me.  Meaning this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened!), corporate, “it didn’t happen at work”  answer and a “maybe you should have thought twice about attending such a provocatively themed party” judgement to top it off.

Never mind the fact that I actually hadn’t dressed to the occasion.  Never mind the fact that I didn’t drink.  Never mind that I shouldn’t even have to justify any of these things because there’s absolutely no way my kicking and beating, pleading for him to “get off me”, to the point of tears, until someone else noticed the invasion and intervened, could have possibly been interpreted as consent.

Now I have to deal with a president who has expressed that this is perfectly acceptable behavior.

Those fierce ladies marched for me as even now I feel that familiar sense of fear sharing this account.  An account that had only been shared in support of many others who have fearfully shared similar stories with me.  And if this doesn’t apply to you or any of the women you know, then be grateful.  I sincerely hope you never have to experience that sense of violation.  But, I assure you, it is happening around you, whether you can see it or not.

“And the man with the golden gun thinks he knows so much…”

Still I was argued against.  Various assumptions were thrown at me, only to be proven false, met with an apology for the presumption, but still met with criticism aimed at delegitimizing my personal struggles that supported the cause.  Forgetting that if nothing else, the march was opening this conversation that wasn’t being had before, it was ruled as pointless.  “Yeah that sucks for you, but a march isn’t going to change anything…”

Those opposed, still couldn’t understand, or maybe more accurately, refused to understand and it seemed there would be no way to show them.  Frustrated almost to the point of fascination, I set out to do what I so desperately was asking of them.  Try to understand something I didn’t.  And this is the best I’ve got…

You don’t think the march represents you?  Well, then it doesn’t.  You’ve made that adamantly clear.  And you don’t have to march.  That is your first amendment right, and quite lovely in sentiment, really.  I’m happy you feel like a first rate citizen, and wish you well on pursuing your privileged life.  Honestly, and truthfully, with no maliciousness behind those words and no discredit to the work you almost certainly put in to end up where you are.  Again, I say this as someone who for the most part, feels as comfortable with her privilege, too.

But, I get it.  It’s insulting to have someone else speak for you, as if you can’t yourself.  And you don’t identify, so why allow someone else to put words in your mouth?  At first, I didn’t see the harm, but I’m actually with you.  And even while I tried to coax you into considering another perspective, I want to make clear that I never assumed I could change you.  Your opinions are as valid as mine, and you have every right to express them.  I hope others will be able to join you, which may be why I march, but you certainly don’t have to.

Why this change of heart, when I originally set out to pen a call to action?  Because, I finally get it.  I really do.  Just as you don’t feel us women made your voice heard, I feel the same way about my president.  I feel shame and embarrassment as he speaks on behalf of me as an American.  I sit through legitimate ridicule of his executive orders, the incompetence he’s surrounded himself with, the ridiculous attempts to discredit the media in order to further keep us in the dark, the influence of certain appointees who may be truly pulling the strings, his apparent priority of likes, retweets, and crowd sizes, and like you scream, but that isn’t my voice!  When I first sat down to write this I was already distraught by the damage done in not even three full days.  Now after a week, I’m utterly heartbroken at the direction we’re headed.  

The march didn’t represent you.  Our president doesn’t represent me.

And millions of others feel the same way, whether or not the results of the popular vote are accepted, whether or not it’s accepted that more people set out to protest the president than cheer on his inauguration.  And while many have made it clear why they didn’t and wouldn’t have marched, even more, like myself, wish they could have. Unlike our President’s falsely billed blatant lies, this isn’t just some “alternative fact.”  This is happening.

“Rabbit, where’d you put the keys girl?”

The fight doesn’t end here.  Let’s utilize the comments to discuss ways to get involved.

The photos in this entry were used with permission by some of the amazing people in my life who marched in DC and in sister marches across the country.

“Thought that was a good solution…” photos courtesy of Renee Pereault Larsen my oldest and dearest friend.

“She’s gone to the other side…” photos courtesy of Katherine McMahan, an Executive Producer at BBQ Films.

“Things are getting…” photos courtesy of Molly Trahan, a culinary artist at Honeypie Bakery.

“This is not really happening…” photos courtesy of Suzanne Sutherland, my cousin who attended the Grand Rapids, Michigan sister march.

“And the man…” photos courtesy of Angie and Stephen Halsey, half of which share my name and both  of which share my love of music and the live experience.

Thank you all for your contributions and your continued effort in this fight for equality!

“the world you love” jimmy eat world – futures

“I’ve got a story it’s almost finished, now all I need is someone to tell it to.  Maybe that’s you.”

#jimmyaday

So… what was that?  Amirite?

I had officially passed the year mark since I made that bold leap – taking an indefinite break from Visual Effects, the industry I uprooted my life to join, to attempt a stereotypical artist’s life of passion. It was over a year since I took that important step one, but I had failed to progress to step two.  I had nothing to show for it.

One of the biggest reasons I couldn’t achieve my goals concurrently with a VFX career was the lack of remaining time and energy it afforded.  I had managed to secure the necessary survival jobs to keep a roof over my head, at once distracting myself with four at a time, but I hadn’t done any of the things I set out to do once I secured those jobs.  I had essentially created the same problem to replace the original problem – and the original problem paid better!

I was stuck.

I justified overcommitting to my survival jobs as “working out a solution”, which is not entirely false, but I would come to realize that another reason was to literally give me something to show up for – something someone else relied on me for.  Someone who I didn’t want to burden as a result of my current state.   (Using my guilt to my advantage – verdict’s still out on if it was a particularly healthy strategy.)

I couldn’t show up for myself, so I created a solution to show up for anything.  Otherwise, I was going to find it harder to resist wallowing in this low.

I was misdirecting my efforts.  I was failing.  Even worse, I was actively failing with my inactivity.  I spiraled further – all this begging the question, did I actually make that leap over a year ago, or did I just give up?  Did I really want this or did I want to want to do this?  Did I even care, anymore?

“I’m in love with the ordinary.”

I’d like to think it was entirely synchronicitous that their music has become meaningful to me at the exact moment I needed to hear it (similar to my eventual appreciation for 30 Rock long after it was off the air), but truthfully I’m probably just making up for lost times when my indie cred wouldn’t allow me to fully embrace something with the commercial edge of Bleed American.

(That so-called indie cred in jeopardy, of course, being enforced by no one other than myself.  Why did I care so much?  Absolutely no reason.  Flash forward to The OC’s Seth Cohen existing and ruining this for me entirely.  Yes, musicians, please don’t reach wider audiences with your art for me personally, because I need to feel… cool?  … or something?  Oh, the unnecessary drama of youth!)

By this point, my appreciation for Jimmy Eat World had grown well beyond Futures.  I had even given into the can be seen as trite, but only because it’s true, positivity anthem that is The Middle. (Everything, everything WILL be alright, alright!) 

And it’s only because I finally seem to be coming out of it, I can admit that during this darker time, in anticipation for their newest album (wait, they’re still a band?!!) and the show I’d be seeing on the album’s tour, their discography was all I could listen to.  Their music was the only think sparking anything in me.  I don’t say this to claim I was experiencing some sort of deep, spiritual connection with it, not that I don’t believe that can’t exist, but more so to make apparent just how low I was feeling.  The effort to play a song of theirs became the jump start to many a morning (Okay, okay.  Sometimes it was afternoon/evening) – a literal reason to get out of bed.

In the midst of all my current failure, it seemed all too appropriate that their music would be the heartbeat of what was to come next.

“It might seem like a dream but it’s real to me.”

I had to still care.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be hanging on to all these ideas – ideas I had been swimming in, but living solely as ideas they were becoming overwhelming.  I needed to DO something.  Anything.

The concept was simple.  It was harmless.  And maybe most importantly, it was achievable, even in my current state.  I wasn’t going to make a big deal of it.  I wasn’t going to announce it.  I wasn’t going to put pressure on it to mean anything or try to define it.

Going back to my roots of blog post catalysts and perfectly crafted away messages, I was going to post lyrics to a different Jimmy Eat World song each day coinciding with a 23 day countdown to the show.  (You see what I did there with the 23?  I know I said it didn’t have to mean anything, but I can’t deny me some silly symbolism to make the experience a little more meaningful.)  What song I’d feature and how many lyrics I’d choose to post would be determined by what I was feeling that that particular day.

Like I said, simple.  As long as I posted at least one lyric from a new song each day, I would have accomplished what I had set out to do.  At least on the surface.  And I made a vow to myself that doing this alone was all that was necessary write this off as a win.

Below the surface, of course, I was hoping for more, though.  It wasn’t that ridiculous of an expectation.  When I was younger I could exhaust a song, listening to it on repeat for weeks straight, meditating on it, if something about it seemed to speak to me.  Maybe surrounding myself with the creativity of others would inspire some creativity of my own.  It’s worked before, it could work again.

And if nothing else, you just quoted a bunch of song lyrics.  Big deal.

“It doesn’t seem there’s hope for me, I let you down.  But I won’t give in now, not for any amount.”

It’s no wonder the “project” (does quoting song lyrics qualify as a project?) was a success, but it might be surprising to know there were times it looked like I might fail.  It was met with opposition by more than one party (I swear, not just me taking myself too seriously), all completely unrelated.  I realized we are quick to try to label something we don’t understand and when we can’t, it’s hard to accept that it can be a “good thing.”  (Does it have to be anything?)

More than doable already, knowing the impressiveness by which I’m able to fail while in one of these lows (hindsight doesn’t allow denial), I even set myself up for success.  Anticipating my apathy, I created a pool of lyrics I could pull from if something didn’t inspire me that day or some outside source had me debating giving up – a lifeline I did admittedly defaulted to more than once. (Really, Angella?  You can get THAT lazy?  Why yes, depression. Yes, I can.)

I have a hard time admitting it, still do, but the reason the opposition bothered me was because it made me aware of what my actions “looked like.”  A cry for help (maybe, sometimes it was), giving into my cheesiness (The Middle was appropriately featured on the hump day of the endeavor), they’re not your words (Who really cares?  You’re not pretending they are and why abandon the potential that they could inspire some of your own?) – excuses.

I’m not hating on these seemingly negative outcomes.  We’re all entitled to our opinions, and the fact that the opinions of others had any factor on me following through on something so easy, is actually even more ridiculous for me to admit.  With some self reflection, I’ve realized what bothered me about the unanticipated backlash, however, is that it mirrors my own self judgement in my creative endeavors.  If I don’t have a clear direction, it’s not ready.  I have an incredibly annoying tendency to sit in the comfort of fear masquerading as my ideas, my voice, my artistry, my authenticity, myself not being “good enough.”

“We’re only just as happy as everyone else seems to think we are.”

Despite this and other internal obstacles, however, I did successfully complete my objective.  And as I hoped, it did get some gears turning.  Just as music has inspired before, it inspired again.  I quoted at least one lyric for 23 different songs, each day leading up to the first of now three shows I have since attended. (I’ll admit, it’s starting to borderline on a bit of an obsession, but it continues to yield results, so I’m not about to argue with the method.)  A victory, though seemingly insignificant, but in actually Project (sure, we’ll count it) #jimmyaday was an even bigger success than I could have anticipated.

It served as a definitive beginning to some overdue first, second, hundredth steps – including ideas sparked during this reflection.  (Oh yes, the selections were absolutely revisited during this experience.)

It identified projects I could tackle now and those that need a little more experience under the belt to best fulfill their potential.  It helped me see other ideas from different perspectives, helping me recognizing that reworking a concept, doesn’t discredit the original idea to begin with or categorize it as a failure.

It took an idea that has only been living in my head and started to make it tangible – if done right, it could be my personal crowning achievement of 2017.  It helped me develop a game plan to a larger story of mine that I think is finally itching to be told and, if all goes well, will be in 2018.

The actual order of the songs, the frequency with which I’d post in a day, the particular lyrics I found myself drawn to (not always coinciding with ones I thought I would be), also proved telling to my mental state during the process.

Maybe most importantly, though, #jimmyaday reintroduced the importance of follow through.  Simple in theory, a little harder to actually carry out.  Because sometimes these things take us out of our comfort levels, sometimes they’re silly – they have you feeling self conscious.  But in doing them, by following through on them, you’re following through on yourself,  you’re choosing you.  That alone is significant and makes the experience worthwhile.

I am once again finding joy in the essential “work” component of a work-in-progress, and while I can’t guarantee this feeling will last forever and this strategy to get out of creative rut will work every time, for now I am grateful to have found some semblance in that feeling when it had been seemingly absent.  And hey, I got a pretty fun playlist as a souvenir.

What are some of your power songs?  Share in the comments.  I’m always listening out for musical muses!

“the melting point of wax” thrice – the artist in the ambulance

"I've waited for this moment all my life and more."

“Something’s started.  I’m not entirely sure what.  Maybe it’s always been in progress.  But, something’s happening.  Something significant.”

I love that you can listen to a song a million times.  You know it so well, you sing every word without even realizing.  But, then something different resonates with you on that million and oneth (million and first?) listen.  And you see that musical composition in a whole new light, as if hearing it for the first time all over again.

My trusty co-pilot was recharging in the passenger seat, resting up so he could take on the next leg of the trip.  I don’t know that the original plan was ever to drive straight, but the onslaught unsolicited doubtful opinions had us figuring it was a good enough challenge as any.

I had decided to go the “shuffle of the entire library” route, where you vow to resist the urge to skip a track, taking a break from the selected tracks people suggested in a book designated for well wishes at my going away shindig.  –  The far too literal poetic narration of “I’m still driving away…” in Jimmy Eat World’s 23, a little to real for me to handle at the moment.  –  And while I might not have realized it at the time, foreshadowed the eventual importance of the entirety of the Futures album, a gift that I wasn’t yet ready to receive when the album debuted.

But, as a random number generator determined what song in my entire digital library would accompany my next stretch, a collection that had grown quite impressive and incredibly varying over the years, I couldn’t shake the fact that I was alone with my thoughts.

I was alone, and I was afraid.

"A leap of faith."

It had only been a mere couple of hours in the long run.

My father and brother doing the final check ups on the VW Jetta, relatively confident it should get me to where I was going in one piece.

Like so many family vacations that punctuated my childhood, my father skillfully packed all my necessary possessions like Tetris pieces, ensuring us that the last few moments could be spent enjoying each other’s company rather than scrambling to tie up loose ends.

I forced my dog, one last time before the ever looming departure, to sleep in the bedroom of my youth rather than his preferred, almost designated spot among the rest of the pack when at my parents.

My mother awoke early to prepare the delayed for this moment, traditional New Year’s Eve artichoke, and we ate as a family before sending me and my travel companion, my default and chosen best friend, my brother off on the journey ahead.

The goodbyes were tearful as my parents hugged me a little longer and a little tighter than usual.  I could still feel them.  My brother had to remind me at varying points that the sadness I was feeling was normal considering the undertaking, but assuring me I’d be okay.  No one was assuring me, right now.

I should turn around.  I’m not the girl who gets away.  I’m not the one who takes risks.  I don’t do this.  I have a lot here to be grateful for, I have a loving support system, an education that should, in theory, provide a stable enough future.  What is it that I think I need?

What am I doing?

“There’s no promise of safety with these secondhand wings.  But I’m willing to find out what impossible means.”

And suddenly, I was okay.  I couldn’t explain it, I didn’t fully understand it.  The sadness was still there, but that was okay, too.  This was where I was supposed to be.  This is what I am supposed to do.

I kept driving forward.

"How will I know limits from lies if I never try?"

Cause a Ruckus isn’t something new for me.  Given up sometime in college, though not necessarily missed by any, I thought I was supposed to be practical.

This new direction created a need to relaunch my old website, but in what capacity?  For what purpose?

When I started Cause a Ruckus, I didn’t do it to prove anything, necessarily.  It was simply an active result of something I was curious about.  Where did that curiosity go?

It was in getting back in touch with its reason to begin with – a multimedia avenue of expression – it’s redefined purpose, while still not entirely revealed has become more clear.  I had been waiting for something worthy of its second debut, neglecting to see that the documentation of the worthy things to come, the behind the scenes actions it takes to get these things there, is the purpose of Cause a Ruckus.

It’s the catalyst, the accountability.  It’s follow through with action over just talking about things.  It’s making art and connecting to humanity, lifting the entire way.  It’s a portfolio.  It’s facing the things that frighten, and living to tell the tale.  It’s just the beginning.

And in staying true to the Cause a Ruckus origins (and in everything I do, really…), it is once again proving to be an homage to the meaningful relationship I’ve always had with music.  The constant role it’s had in my life.  The soundtracks my various writings both required and for fun, the homework/study sessions it drove, the movies it sucked me into and video games it inspired me to play, the PRs achieved with its help in marathons, the accomplishments in my own musical ability, the times its quite literally saved my life.

That last bit sounds a tad overdramatic.  I assure you it’s not.

 

"I will touch the sun or I will die trying."

Six years ago, today, this particular Thrice song struck a chord in me.  Six years ago, I, along with the help of my brother, my most necessary of my possessions, and as I recall a broken toe, made the thirty-six hour journey from Michigan to California, home to Los Angeles – a city that has chewed me up and spit me out on multiple occasions in that time, but somehow hasn’t completely defeated me.  (Yet?)

And now, six years later, the same song exhibits the same phenomena. A simple replacement of “there’s no promise of safety, with…” with “Fly on…” and an omission of the “But I’m…” before “…willing to find out…” and the song takes on a call to action I can’t avoid.

The time is now or never, I realize as I consolidate notes and come across even more false starts than I’d care to admit.

"Fly on these secondhand wings, willing to find out what impossible means."

I’m never going to be “ready.”  As much as I’d like this to be, I know this is an impossible expectation.  So, ready or not (…and I’m going with “not”), Cause a Ruckus is back.  Whatever it is, this time around.  Whatever it has the potential to be.  Whatever it is meant to become.

Some pieces still revealing themselves, some remain a mystery, but that’s all part of it.  It’s part what of what needs to be documented, because it’s part of the process.

What I have been doing (i.e. a whole lot of planning, a whole lot studying, a whole lot of thinking about it), hasn’t been working.  Why not stop trying to define it, and instead give it space to develop and evolve into what it’s supposed to be.

And if nothing else, maybe the fact that I can cross “Srsly, relaunch Cause a Ruckus already!” off multiple lists is enough for now.  Action over words.

“Climb to the heavens on feathers and dreams. ‘Cause the melting point of wax means nothing to me.”