A letter to Glen Hansard (or the person who checks his email)

I sent this as an email to info@glenhansardmusic.com today in an attempt to surprise Zack. Zack is on a social media sabbatical right now and so he doesn't know I'm doing this. I even logged onto his Twitter account (I changed all of his passwords) to see if I could get people to help me get Glen and his people's attention. I decided to put the email into a blog form, too, to see if people would share it. Hopefully if enough of you share it, maybe we can get Glen's attention!  

Hi there!

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you — you anonymous person, you. I mean, I don’t think you’re anonymous intentionally, and you’re not anonymous to the people who know and love you, but currently you’re anonymous to me and so I shall have to muddle through my greeting to you. However, I do hope this finds you well and in lovely spirits.

 

I surprised my husband, Zack, this Christmas morning with tickets to see Glen play in Birmingham, Alabama on Feb. 2nd. It’s the closest Glen will be to Atlanta. A few years ago, for Zack's birthday, we flew to NYC to see Glen play. Around that time Zack got ahold of Glen via Twitter and asked if he could take Glen’s portrait. (Zack is actually a well regarded photographer, and while he’d never say it himself, he’s a kick-ass photographer, but I digress.) From what I remember Glen was totally down with the idea, and even gave Zack his number, but something happened (I can’t remember now what it was) and he didn’t get the chance to do the portrait.

 

So, I’m writing to see if I could surprise my husband EVEN more with the opportunity to take Glen’s portrait in Birmingham?

 

You can vet Zack here and here and here to be sure he’s not a creepy weirdo. Check Twitter, ask anyone. They’ll tell you, “Zack is awesome! He should totally take Glen’s portrait!”

 

What do you think, anonymous? Can you help me out? I adore my husband and really want to make this happen. Pretty please. He’ll poop his pants. Not literally. Well…I hope not.

 

I’ll bring him a change of clothes just in case.

 

Thanks for your time.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Meghan Arias

Robert G. Ingersoll said it best...

I came across this today and wanted to share because it beautifully says what I feel and have yet to be able to formulate words for.   "When I became convinced that the Universe is natural – that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world -- not even in infinite space. I was free -- free to think, to express my thoughts -- free to live to my own ideal -- free to live for myself and those I loved -- free to use all my faculties, all my senses -- free to spread imagination's wings -- free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope -- free to judge and determine for myself -- free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the "inspired" books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past -- free from popes and priests -- free from all the "called" and "set apart" -- free from sanctified mistakes and holy lies -- free from the fear of eternal pain -- free from the winged monsters of the night -- free from devils, ghosts and gods. For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought -- no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings -- no chains for my limbs -- no lashes for my back -- no fires for my flesh -- no master's frown or threat – no following another's steps -- no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.

And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain -- for the freedom of labor and thought -- to those who fell on the fierce fields of war, to those who died in dungeons bound with chains -- to those who proudly mounted scaffold's stairs -- to those whose bones were crushed, whose flesh was scarred and torn -- to those by fire consumed -- to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they had held, and hold it high, that light might conquer darkness still."

- Robert G. Ingersoll

 

Well said, good sir, well said. I only wish you were alive today so that I may shake your hand.

 

Mitch and Manda

While driving through Alabama or Mississippi, (I don't remember which as they sort of blend together a bit) I looked up at a bridge that I was passing under, a small one, nothing fancy, just your typical ol' overpass. And there, on the side, in blazing, blue letters was: MITCH AND MANDA

I immediately began to wonder about these two. Was it possible that they were the Romeo and Juliet of their bit of the world?

Was it a mean joke that some guys pulled on their buddy, Mitch, linking him with the local, hirsute laundromat owner?

A hopeful youngster pining for the town prom queen?

Or maybe it was her? Maybe Manda herself walked down the aisles of the local Wal-Mart and picked out the just-right perfect shade of blue.

I thought about these names a lot over the weekend.

First off there's the glaringly obvious point (at least to me) of why?

Why, and how.

I remember when I was little wanting very much for people to know that I existed. I would write messages and send them off in helium balloons, my own proverbial messages in the bottle, not even hoping for an answer really, just putting myself out there.

I did get a response once from a lady in South Carolina.

"Dear Meghan,

Your poem was very nice. Thank you for sharing. The bit about the clouds was sweet. Your Mother must be very proud. You should know however, that it's not a good idea to let balloons go into the air. When they pop, birds and animals sometimes try to eat the pieces and then they slowly choke on them and die.

Take care,

Mrs. Something or another"

So, I didn't do that anymore.

 

I think I do understand what would compel someone to, for instance, write their name in the sidewalk or to declare their love on an overpass. It's being able to go back to a specific place and say,

"Look. I was here. I did something. It was stupid and badly done, but I made a mark. People will see my name for a long time."

How silly we are. I am very guilty of this. I know that those I love see me, and know me, and think that I'm great, and yet I want to see a tangible something that I have contributed in one way or another.

I don't think I'm doing a very good job trying to make my point. If I ever had one.

Can't you just see it, though? Mitch with his paint can, slightly drunk, perhaps Manda is with him, and they're staggering out of the car and across the road to the other side and he's yelling,

"I'm gonna show ev'ry one that we's goin' out!"

She's giggling and saying,

"Miiiitch, you're sooo crazy..."

Or maybe Mitch and Manda have been married five years already now and on the morning of their five year anniversary Mitch awakes and thinks,

"I know just what I'm going do to surprise her..."

Every times Manda drives to town for milk she sees her name linked with Mitch and gets just plumb tickled at how "romantic that man is and all..."

Was it hard, I wonder? Was it tricky? Do you need a lookout to tell you when cars are coming? What if a police car came by?

"Oh, hello there sir...oh, the spray paint? This? Um...I was just out walking on this random overpass in Alabamippi or Mississama in the middle of the night and...tripped over the can sitting here and it got all over me." When I think about it, it becomes sort of romantic, sort of goofy, the cement version of the heart carved into the tree trunk. How nice.

Wanderlust

What to say. It's 3:30am. I should be sleeping. I have far too much rolling around in my head. I have the strangest sensation of wanting to just pack up and go somewhere.

77 degrees. Streetlight outside and a halo of fluttering creatures drawn to the light. My slumbering gardenia bush. Catch-me-if-you-can front yard but watch out for the hill, you could fall down, scrape a knee or two.

In the window next to me sits myself, typing just like I am. Only my other me is in the sleeping gardenia bush, balanced lightly on top, hovering in midair.

Let's go on a trip. Find some roadside restaurant, meet a waitress named Jackie who has blonde hair piled high and calls us, "Sweetie." Watch as she pulls a pen from her hair somewhere, cocks her hip ready to write. Order the special with fries and talk about Life and Love and how you can't separate the two.

Hit the road - no maps - just plenty of conversation and a book that shows you where all those awful tourists traps are; let's go see the big ball of rubber bands. I'll roll down my window, turn on the oldies station and stick my hand outside, feel the currents, pretend it's an airplane. We're in slow motion, this is where the rain could start and then we're through that patch and looking behind to see how very dark, look how dark is that sky.

Stop by some ocean for a brisk swim, get the sand all over everything, in our sandwiches, in our ears. Just for one day though, I don't want to have to use too much aloe lotion. I burn easily and not just literally. Stick around for the sunset and I would tell you a story about the time when my sister and I swam out to a big boat full of men who catch fish for a living. Big, burly men with loud voices, real, working hard, strong.

We stood chest high in the water, watching them pull in thousands of fish with their nets, while we shrieked as the fish that escaped tickled our legs. Let's pretend we're mermaids, let's pretend we're looking for our dolphin friends, let's pretend.

How we waved to our mother on the beach. And she's calling us in, it's time for her to check us, rub us down with lotion again, smooth our faces with mother hands, and are you hungry? We should've kept waving, she died a few months later. And now I'm aching.

I look at mirrors, watch them change while I stay the same. Our scenery is lovely, I try to take it all in. Play my game where I see how long I can keep counting white dashes. They're like train cars, you have to stay ahead of them or you'll lose track.

It's my time to drive now, you sit back. I'll drive in the dark, lights on, music low, empty roads that will start to call us home.

Canyon Cake Maker

I was walking the edge of the canyon line-- Slipped and fell into that great divide--

All that caught me was memory and time;

A ledge on the outer edge of my mind.

I had been making cakes for everyone,

Watching them eat and leaving me crumbs;

A drill sergeant for an army of sons--

A mask so heavy it made me go numb.

 

I have dollars and plastic,

My head has a roof,

My body a bed and my body no bruise,

Fingers are warm; my belly is fed

But that means nothing when you’re fucked in the head.

Dare I long for more when at least I have bread?

When that far away child is quite close to death?

But who’s to say they wouldn’t want the same,

If they stood where I stood and had my same name?

 

Needed to find a place to belong--

Wanted to right the wrongs with a song--

The words they tumbled out of my hands,

And the melody left me for another man.

So just let me lay here for a long while--

Ledges are better than falling for miles--

My mind is slipping, my heart so tired

From everything of me that has been required.

 

 

Stardust...

Before I begin I just want to thank everyone who read and commented on my "coming out" post. Your comments were kind and a lot nicer than I thought they were going to be. A lot of atheists report horrible backlash when they finally decide to share with people about their atheism. Atheists are viewed by a lot of people as evil and lacking in morals. One study found that people distrust atheists more than rapists.  My decision to tell everyone about my atheism was, in some ways, directly tied to this stigma; I want to give a voice and face to what an atheist looks like. There are so many people out there who are atheists or agnostic (I'm going to write a post about that later) and most of us don't even know it.  

Now, on to the actual point of this blog post.

 

I wrote the song Stardust back in July (of 2013) sitting in a south facing 20th floor apartment in Manhattan. It was sweltering hot in the city; the heat indexes were some of the highest in recorded history. The apartment was only slightly cooler as the A/C unit struggled to keep up with the temperatures. The view, however, was incredible as the picture window took up almost the whole south wall of the apartment; the Freedom Tower the primary focus. And how could it not be? The southern Manhattan skyline once more dominated by a towering height of steel and glass. There was a guitar in the apartment and as I sat on the bed strumming the strings, I was ruminating on the damage that "faith" (a word Peter Boghossian defines as "Pretending to know things you don't know.") has had on humanity. All the things that people have done because "God" told them to, or because they had "faith" that it was the right thing to do. To be sure, it wasn't Christianity that brought down the Twin Towers, no. It was a group of people who ardently believed that Allah wanted it; people who believed just as firmly as the Christians; just as firmly as the Hindus; just as firmly as the Jews; just as firmly as the Mormons, etc. that what they believe is the ONLY right way to believe.

I thought to myself, How profoundly sad that most of us live waiting for an afterlife. That people think, "One day I will be in heaven and won't have to deal with any of this anymore."

I want to live for now. I want to die trying to make the most of NOW.

And so the words poured out:

 

Waste away in buildings built

To ease our sorrow, ease the guilt

Supplicate to the up above

Hate to say no one's listening, love.

 

Time was lost to a fairy tale

Forbidden fruit that led to nails

And born to see but rendered blind

By mankind to save mankind

 

Oh we're stardust

And we must

Make the most of this

While we're breathing

No more living

For after dying

No, I'll die trying

To make the most of now

Darlin'

 

Ate the body, drank the blood like

Every good boy and girl should

Babies raised on bread and wine

Let your little light shine

Oh let it burn

Let it shine

Oh watch them burn

 

(CH)

 

The amazing Deke Spears, producer and musician and friend extraordinaire.  Shot with a Yashica Mat-124.

Below is a rough recording of the song that I started with Deke Spears. The song is still in its infancy. Deke and I recorded in the performance hall at KSU - he played the acoustic guitar and I played the gorgeous Steinway Grand piano and sang. We messed around with backing harmonies and then, later, Deke threw some drums and bass on the track to see how it felt. I'm not sold on it but it's all I have to share with you right now.

The gorgeous Steinway Grand I was honoured to play.

Please know that it's not mixed or mastered and most likely will end up sounding different. However, I've found that nothing I do will ever meet the standards I have in my head, nothing will ever be perfect enough, and so I need to get over my stupid self and share whatever it is that I have at that time. Capiscé? Hate it? Love it? What do you think? Be honest. Honesty is a very very good thing.

Many thanks, everyone.

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/122485677" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

 

( By the way, I know that some of you are going to hate this; it's going to make you very uncomfortable. I'm sorry for that and yet, I really hope that this gives you reason to consider why you believe what you believe. Stretch your brain a bit, it won't kill you. I promise. ;-) )

There's So Much Life In My Feelings...

...Hawke, in his usual way, made me smile with this conversation we had in the car today.  

"Mom, when I get really old I'll be a grown-up and have kids and be a Dad and then one day I'll be a Grand-pahther, right?" Sitting in his car seat, Hawke squirmed and twisted to make eye contact with me in the rearview mirror.

"Yep. One day your kids will have kids and you'll be a Grandpa. Just like Daddy and I will be Grandparents to your kids."

"I'm going to be a Grandpa!" Hawke looked at Joshua sitting in the seat next to him and grinned, "You're going to be a Grandpa, too, Joshua!"

Joshua shrugged. "Maybe. Whatever."

"Well, I'll give them yummy things to eat and they'll say, (and here he made his voice very high pitched) 'Thank you, Grandpa, for all these yummy things!' and I'll say (and he made his little voice as deep as it could go) 'You're welcome, my little Grandchildren.' That will be so awesome," Hawke laughed, "right, Mom?"

"You're going to be a great Daddy and a wonderful Grandpa one day, Hawke. But that's a LONG way away."

Hawke laughed again and I said, "Why are you laughing? Do you like that idea?"

"Yes, it makes me happy to think of dose things. There's so much life in my feelings."

I'm finally coming out of the closet...

...as I have grown weary of "hiding" who I am, and have been, for over a year now. I have put this off and put it off for a while now but I realized that I needed to be up front and honest.

Also, I wanted to put a face to what I am:

 

 

I am an atheist.

Not even joking; not even a little bit.

I'm going to attempt a bit of a summary -- if that is even possible. How can I even try to sum up what has been such an evolution of self?

It was a gradual process and not a path that I deliberately set out upon. Ten years ago I began asking myself questions about whether or not I thought that the Bible was the inerrant, infallible word of God. And so I started reading. The answers I discovered scared the shit outta me.

Allow me to give you some back story if I may:

You see -- I was raised in church. My Irish Catholic mother became a "born-again spirit-filled" Christian when she was twenty-four years old. My father sort of stumbled along behind her in his faith for a few years until finally becoming a believer. I grew up in the Vineyard, a church that was, at the time, non-denominational and becoming well known for its contemporary worship songs. I loved church. I loved the music. Life was good. I learned my bible verses. I went to the youth retreats. I learned the hand signs for all of the worship songs. I longed for the day when I would speak in tongues. The laying on of the hands. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Oh, I learned it all. It was a language, a lifestyle; easy as breathing. I was told I had a gift for worship, that God had blessed me with melodies from heaven. My talents were not mine, they were to be used for God's glory, and I accepted that totally and without question. Why would I question it? I didn't know anything else.

After my mom died when I was thirteen life was pretty rough. I still went to church for a couple of years after that but, as I got a little older, my father and I fought like it was our job and my siblings and I were left on our own quite often while he was working. I worked a lot, too, working as many as three jobs at a time to help pay bills. I dabbled in underage drinking; I chain smoked cigarettes and generally felt very sorry for myself. I lied a lot back then. Life was so wretched that I wanted to be anything but me and anywhere but where I was. I didn't really do church all that much in my later teen years.

One night, in a drunken stupor (that I was driving in such an inebriated state makes me shudder), I drove myself out to the cemetery where my mother is buried. I threw myself down on my mother's grave and had a long conversation with Jesus about whether he was really real. I had an experience that I believed was real. I truly thought that I felt the presence of God. I decided then and there to start going back to church. I joined a Christian band, got married to the tall bass player of said band when I was a WAY TOO YOUNG twenty year old, and had my first son, Phoenix, when I was twenty-two. During all of this I became heavily involved in the 6:00 pm night service of my old church, the Atlanta Vineyard. It was started by a young worship intern at the church; a bright-eyed, talented optimist named Billy who wanted to create a church service geared towards people in their late teens and early twenties; it was called Vineyard Sunday Night. VSN grew from being just a young adult service to a service that attracted people of all types. "We attract a certain psychographic - not a demographic," was something that was often said. I became a regular worship leader and band member; sometimes traveling all over the country to lead worship alongside Billy for different church retreats and functions. VSN became so well known for its music, especially within the Vineyard churches, that we even recorded a live worship album called "1000 Generations".

A core group of us took our now rather large evening service taking place in a suburb of Atlanta, and planted a church in Midtown Atlanta. It was at our leaders group meeting that we voted, if I remember correctly, and the name Trinity was decided upon. Trinity Vineyard ( now Trinity Anglican Mission ) was born. The first service happened in October of 2002. It was a great success. In fact, the church is still doing really well; some of you reading this probably attend Trinity or, at the very least, a church planted out of it.

In 2005 I read a book by Daniel Quinn called "Ishmael". It was the first time that I had read something that made me realize that not everyone took the Bible and it being the literal "Word of God" seriously. That there might be different interpretations. Yes, yes, I know. I was naive; however, my natural rampant curiosity took hold and I picked up a book about the inconsistencies of the Bible. I don't even remember what it was called. It just became, "...that book that scared me." I read about two chapters and didn't go any further. The cognitive dissonance roaring in my brain was dreadful. It was easier to retreat to the known and comfortable. Plus, my marriage to the tall bass player was crumbling and it was causing problems with my relationships in the church. The last thing I needed was to throw the, "...and hey, I'm not sure I think this stuff is true," into the fray. I locked all my doubts up in a corner of my brain and got down to the business of survival.

June of 2006 saw the end of my marriage and the scandalous kissing of Zack Arias in my front yard.

Life got all kinds of hard and glorious and sweet and sorrow all at once after that and I didn't have time to think about much of anything over the next few years.

July 2008 Zack and I were married; blending our families -- a cocktail of 3 parts Arias' and 2 parts Coffee's, and then -- SURPRISE -- 6 weeks after our marriage, finding out we had one on the way.

It was in Barnes and Noble with a brand new Hawke Danger in a baby sling that I found myself in the philosophy section holding a book called "Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible" by Bart D. Ehrman. My little sister, who had come out as a lesbian a few years earlier, was struggling with reconciling who she knew herself to be with the fact that we had family members who believed she was living in sin. "We love her but hate the sin." Or, "It's not God's best for her." Or, "She just hasn't met the right man." Or, "The Bible says that homosexuality is a sin. God abhors it. We can't condone this. What's next? Are we going to legalize beastiality?"

I couldn't make sense of that. I had been reading all of the Christian apologists in an attempt to figure out what Christians believed. Why is this so hard? I would wonder. Who has the TRUE and RIGHT interpretation of what the Bible says? Everyone has an opinion; who is right? I bought the "Jesus, Interrupted" book with the thought that it would only be fodder for strengthening my faith. God was on my side. We were a team. I had a RELATIONSHIP with him. God was gonna cream Bart D. Ehrman and send him crying home to his momma.

Well, good ol' Bart, while not clobbering God in my mind, definitely did some serious damage. I could feel myself thinking, "C'mon, God! Get back up! You're not going to let him do that, are you?" I did, however, finally give up on the idea that the Bible was without fault; that it was God's word to humankind. Obviously that wasn't true anymore. Okay, then, I thought, the Bible is an amazing piece of historical literature written by people who weren't who they said they were and who cares if the first five books of the Bible were written by four different people? Who cares that there are so many contradictions? It made me feel better knowing that God hadn't done a shitty job communicating to human beings through a Bronze Age book. Good. That would've been a bad idea anyway.

My curiosity, however, was only increased. I surreptitiously started reading everything I could get my hands on.  The God Delusion by Dawkins. God is not Great by Hitchens. Godless by Barker. I started googling the hell out of everything. I would read something profound in an atheist book and run scrambling over to the Christian writers looking for anything to provide a retort; a better answer, of which, sadly, there were none. What about my spiritual experiences? Those were real, right? Oh, apparently not.

I desperately wanted the atheists to be wrong. I would lie awake at night having long drawn out conversations in my head with God. "C'mon. Please. You're kidding, right? You ARE going to show up, right? Is this like in the movies when everyone thinks the good guy is dead but he's really not and there's like a big fuck off dramatic moment where the good guy shows up at the last minute? Is that what this is? C'mon! I'm FALLING HERE. PLEASE CATCH ME." I kept up the act with everyone. Praise Jesus. Let's bow our heads. I'll be praying for you. Amen and amen.

But the more I learned the quieter the cognitive dissonance became till one day I realized that I didn't believe in God anymore. I didn't need anyone to catch me because I had caught myself.

It broke my heart, though. I wrote down the following words:

"I never set out to lose my faith in you, but you made it so easy to do."

I went through a period of feeling oddly guilty that my thoughts were just that -- my thoughts. Julia Sweeney describes it perfectly in her autobiographical humorous monologue "Letting Go of God". (If you have the time, you should listen to it. It's funny and insightful and really really good.) Then there was the realization that, Oh my goodness. I'm an 'effing ATHEIST. But wait - I'm still me. I didn't turn into an evil, crabby (well, except for monthly punctuation), baby eating, weirdo who lives in caves and lies in wait for someone to bless me when I sneeze so that I can destroy them.

Zack, of course, was the first to know. That was a year ago. Then I told a couple of my closest friends here in town. Then a couple of months after that I emailed all of my closest friends that don't live in town and "came out to them". Then I emailed another larger group about it, too. I didn't want everyone to find out...well -- like this. Some responses were lovely and accepting. Some were tinged with sadness. Some didn't respond at all. One friend said something telling, (and here I'm going to paraphrase badly)

"You always post such interesting stuff on Facebook and I always thought it was cool because you were challenging some of the traditionally held beliefs but it was okay because you were a Christian, too, and I thought it was a good way to get people to stretch their brains a bit."

"So what you're saying is that when people find out I'm an atheist I'll be written off? Like, Oh, NO wonder she was sharing that stuff about transgendered people and all that weird stuff. She's an ATHEIST."

"Yeah, basically. It's sad, but true."

"Great. That sucks."

Anyway.

So, there you have it. That's where I am.

To all of you believers out there:

You're not going to tell me anything I don't already know. For instance, here is a list of things most of you are thinking and/or have thought while reading this:

1. Satan has overtaken me and deceived me. Screwtape and Wormwood and all that, right?

2. I'm under spiritual attack.

3. I must've not been a TRUE believer in Jesus.

4. This is a phase.

5. I'm being dramatic.

6. That I might've given up on God but God has not given up on me.

7. That I need to lean not on my own understanding.

8. It was my search for knowledge that led me down this path and knowledge is evil.

9. What is my purpose now?

Please, do me a favour, and watch this:

15 Things Christians Say to Atheists (And Shouldn't)

Hemant Mehta does a lovely job here. He's a nice guy that Hemant.

Have questions? Put them in the comments or shoot me an email: meghan @ meghanarias . com

Thanks for reading.

When I Grow Up...

About a month or so ago, I crept gingerly into our living room so as not to disturb my 4 and 1/2 year old, Hawke, while he was playing the piano. I would be remiss if I said that I don't hope one of my kids will be a musician of some sort and so I try very hard to not be TOO terribly over eager when they even go near an instrument. So, to hear Hawke playing and singing made me ridiculously excited. A creaking floorboard gave me away and Hawke turned around and saw me. "Mom, will you help me? I writing a grow up song but I don't know how to get it to sound wight."

I was delighted.

"Of course! Sing me your song!" I said as I surreptitiously grabbed a pen.

So then Hawke, in a little voice at first, that grew louder sang,

"When you grow up You are already big And you can sleep Wherever you want You can watch T.V. And play games When you grow up When you grow up

When you grow up You can be in a band And you can play Really awesome guitar And look at pictures And drive a car But not at the same time 'Cause you might die

When you grow up You can go on a trip On an airplane Beyond the sea Or maybe to the beach Or a pool Or maybe your house When you grow up

When you grow up You get to be Whatever you want to be When you grow up When you grow up When you grow up."

I tried very hard not to cry. I failed. Then I had him sing it a few more times so that I could learn the melody and figure out the chords. I wanted him to sing the song while I recorded it but Hawke would have none of it.

"You do it, Mom. That's your job."

So I used the Voice Memo on my phone to quickly record it. In the end Phoenix decided to chime in with some opera. You can listen here:

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/112084832" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

A Bike. A Bell. A Map.

A Bike. A Bell. A Map. My youngest son, Hawke, and I had a little date at Historic Fourth Ward Park today. We used the restroom at one point and as I was drying my hands I turned and saw Hawke's silhouette in the doorway and quickly grabbed my phone.

"Don't move, buddy. Okay? Stay right there." I was quickly trying to get my phone to focus when he said,

"Mom. I want to get married."

"Oh you do, huh?"

"Yeah, I want to get married to a girl. And have a really awesome bike with two wheels and a bell. And a map so that I don't get lost. My married girl will think I am so cool. Right, Mom?"

I melted.

"Yes, little man. She will think you are so cool. I know I do."

I got the shot I wanted, too.

A Question and A Response

Last night I got an email from a lovely lady that I follow on Instagr.am. who had written to me regarding this blog post I had written a couple of months ago. As I replied to her, I realized I was finally getting out what I had been ruminating on for a few weeks. I asked her if she minded if I shared our exchange and she wrote back to say that she didn't mind at all. So here it is: I was just reading your blog and listening to "Twine". When I started reading your post about Kicking the Fat Girl, I was utterly overwhelmed.  Even now as I write this, I'm fighting.  About a third of the way into it I thought, she's inside my head, she's writing about me.

 

All my life I've been the strong one, the supporter, the shoulder, the cheerleader, the one that stands up for everyone else.  Sometimes I feel like one of those people in the sport of curling, like I'm one of those people brushing the ice and frantically skating sideways so that someone else can achieve a goal. My parents divorced when I was 8 and my dad all but disappeared while my mom decided to live her own life with my brother and I as appendages. I had to stand up at that point and take care of my little brother and myself.  I'm going through some pretty intense personal struggles right now and I found myself ruining my keyboard while I sobbed over it.  

 Thank you.  Thank you for showing me that other mothers and wives feel the way that I do, that it doesn't diminish the strength of who I am to feel lost and shadowed.  That it's ok to take time for myself.

 Always,

J

 

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J,

 

Thank you for writing. It means the world to me that you would take the time to do so.

 

Personal struggles? LAWD. I get it.

 

Your metaphor of the sport of curling is well said.

 

I have found that there are other women out there who don't necessarily think that being a mother is all they should long for, but it's like a secret that they feel they can't share or something. I've said it before, I'll say it again--I've just grown weary of shutting myself down to make other people comfortable. Hell, I need to know that I'm not alone in feeling this way, too. I love being a mom. Love it. However, I am an artist, too. I don't think those two things should be mutually exclusive but for some reason, they mix like oil and water. There always seems to be too much of one and not enough of the other. It requires a constant shaking to make it work and, frankly, it gets exhausting.

 

I am deplorable at taking time for myself. I tend to stuff and stuff and stuff and stuff and then--Zack can attest to this--I blow up and everything is way worse than it should be had I allowed myself the ability to care for myself in smaller increments. Does that make sense?

 

The other night--Monday night--I was literally so mad at Zack (and really, poor guy, he had nothing to do truly with why I was angry. He merely unwittingly lit the fuse…) I called him an asshole and stormed out of the house right after dinner. Ended up in a movie theatre parking lot where I sat -- fuming. Decided I'd see The Great Gatsby. BY MYSELF. BECAUSE NO ONE WOULD WANT TO SEE IT WITH ME ANYWAY. BECAUSE HELL! I'M THE ONLY ONE IN MY FAMILY WHO HAS READ THE FUCKING BOOK. ( And it probably won't be any good!* ) I watched that movie and ate six fun size Baby Ruth's before the previews had even finished.

 

I left the theatre and returned home three hours after I initially left feeling spent and sheepish.

 

"I left myself alone for too long."

 

You see, after the "Kicking The Fat Girl While She's Down" blog post, when Zack finally came home from his travels to Dubai and Istanbul where he was doing cool shit and meeting cool people and just generally being awesome, I crawled into bed and didn't leave for a week. There may or may not have been a bottle of Vanilla Smirnoff on the floor by my side of the bed. I was a mess. I was so tired. It took some time but, after that week, and going to my Dr. and getting on an anti-depressant, I'm doing much much better. I realized that a lot of it could've been avoided had I slowed myself down. The expectations I have for myself are so fucking high I think that, if I ever did attain them, I'd end up in the same fate as Icarus. I need to go easier on myself.

 

Which brings me back to the other night.

 

"I left myself alone for too long."

 

I realized that it had been a year since I had been in the studio. A year since I recorded what would become the two EP's, The Cracks & The Crevices and The Loss & The Love. Realized that I needed to get back into the studio again to pour out everything that has been building up in me. The pouring out is a pouring in of sorts. I have to spend time pouring into myself or I will become a bitter, cynical, shrew of a woman and I know that is not who or what I am. I have to tell myself, everyday, that my circumstances and surroundings do not define who I am. They do not. This does not always work. Some days I tell myself that and I might as well have told myself that I can fly if I just believe hard enough. Some days I tell myself that and end up eating my feelings in the form of Chicken Tikka Masala and a Coke and twenty-seven BBQ chips and a brownie (gluten free at least, I mean c'mon--I have standards) and oooooh! Are those Skittles? Good for me. I only had four of them. Packs. The small kind.

 

I marvel at Zack's ability to care for himself so well. It's not a selfish thing; it's not a self centered thing, it really isn't. It's not that he doesn't stress about stuff -- he does. However, he can just turn things off; simply, and without the wrestling around that I go through to get there. I honestly don't know how he does it. When his head hits the pillow every night he…get this…goes to sleep. I can't do that. I surmise that when my head hits the pillow my brain associates that with, "Time to think about everything ever -- in DOUBLE WARP SPEED. Time to make a list of all the lists you have to make! Aaaaaaanddd GO!"

 

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I ended the email by telling her to keep an eye out for a thing I've been working on; a thing that, maybe, in time, I will share more about here. I signed it,

"Much love, in buckets, your way."

I sat there for a bit staring at my monitor while Hawke and Joshua and Caleb and Phoenix laughed and fought and bickered and played around me. While I watched Zack in our bedroom packing for a big job he has in Arizona this weekend. While I stared down the never-ending laundry (whoaaaa...whoaaaa...whoaaaaa...) in front of me on the dining room table. It dawned on me that I hadn't really given J an answer. Not really. Nothing definitive. All I did was share where I am and probably too much of my icky bits and that didn't feel like enough. Then I thought that--in situations like the ones we moms' are in--sometimes that's all we need. That in the times where the lines of where we end and our children begin starts to blur; in the times where we feel reduced to being mere drill sergeants; the times where we feel victorious getting to take a dump in peace; the times where our teenagers look at us like we're something the dog threw up; sometimes all we need to know is that we're not the only ones who struggle to remember who we are when we aren't caring for other people. And that it's okay to feel a little lost sometimes and like everybody else is a better mom than we are. That maybe you don't agree with Nancy Turner when she says, “The best thing a girl can be is a good wife and mother. It is a girl's highest calling...” That maybe you don't think it's the best thing a girl can be; maybe it's one of the best things a girl can be. It's okay. It doesn't make you a bad person or a bad mom. It does not. And if, at the end of the day, you have no one else in your life telling you this then I swear, you have me. Little ol' Meg, over here in my southeast corner of North America, waving my hands and saying, "I GET YOU!"

So, I thought all of this. And then?

I hit send.

 

“The great motherhood friendships are the ones in which two women can admit [how difficult mothering is] quietly to each other, over cups of tea** at a table sticky with spilled apple juice and littered with markers without tops.” ― Anna Quindlen

 

*It actually wasn't too terribly bad despite the fact that the movie portrayed Daisy as being far more interesting than Fitzgerald ever intended her to be.

**That would be red wine at my house.

 

Toilet Water Bathroom Cleaning

My four year old, Hawke, called me into the hall bathroom just now and said, "Hey mom. I just cleaned the bathroom for you," and he gestured towards the now soaking wet hand towel on the toilet lid.

"You did?! Oh, thanks buddy! I see you used the towel here. Okay. What all did you clean?" I was a little nervous but wasn't about to show it.

"Everything. The toilet, these walls, this floor, the sink, and a little bit of the tub." He stood proudly, his arms crossed.

"What did you clean everything with, buddy?"

"Oh, that was easy. I used the water in the toilet!"

Right. Fabulous.

"Well, GOLLY! Thanks Hawke! You need to wash your hands now, okay?" I began gathering things up so that I could break out the bleach spray.

"You're welcome, Mom. And I already did wash my hands - I got them dry like this," and then showed me how he dried his hands off in his hair.

I give up. He'll survive. ;-)

Cuba

Zack and I just arrived home from Cuba yesterday after spending a week there with Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Zack was one of the leaders' of a group of people who all obtained special visas to Cuba under the People to People Cultural Exchange program. It was life changing.

I'm still processing everything that I saw there. Processing through conversations that I had, people that I had the privilege to meet, and the experience of being in such an interesting part of the world. I went because Zack didn't want to experience Cuba without me - to be honest, I wasn't sure how I was going to fare surrounded by a bunch of photographers, but I think I managed to hold my own. I used my little Epson RD-1 that Zack purchased for me a couple of weeks ago; I treated it like a film camera (I kept the screen turned around and left the leather case it came with on so that I wasn't tempted to try and see what I was shooting), and tried my best to capture how I see the world. It was intimidating being the only person there who didn't really know what I was doing but I had a great time. There were so many fabulous moments but the discovery of the brilliant photographer Raúl Cañibano was truly the highlight. Zack and I, along with a few of the other workshop attendees (who I now consider dear friends), had dinner with Raúl and his wife Lisette and it was amazing.

Oh you guys, I didn't mean to, but I totally find myself being drawn to the capturing of moments with a camera. These are a few of my rudimentary photos from the trip.

You can click on the pictures below to see them larger if you'd like.

I cannot wait to go back to Cuba; we only just scratched the surface while we were there. I came home sunburned, exhausted, overwhelmed, and yet completely happy. If you ever have the chance to go; go. You won't regret it.

Figs

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

 

-Sylvia Plath

 

My figs aren't exactly the same, but they are figs nonetheless. Still here but wrestling hard.

Kicking The Fat Girl While She's Down...

I left my counselor's office yesterday feeling absolutely awful. It wasn't her fault. Dr. Sarah was lovely, as always. "We've got to help you learn to take better care of yourself," she said at one point.

"All I want to do is sleep," I replied.

"That sounds like depression."

"Great."

 

 

I was/am feeling pretty beat up. Zack left for the other side of the world to go teach and inspire and help people. Also to shoot for Fuji in Istanbul. You know, cool stuff. It's a constant battle between the two of us on this issue of his work.

He says, "It's what pays the bills. It's draining. It's not glamorous. It's hard work."

I reply with, "Yes, but you get to do what you LOVE to do. You're working with a camera in your hands. You get to work in photography."

I am the mom. I do the mom stuff. I am told that should be enough. That to be a mother is the most noble thing. The best thing.

There must be something wrong with me.

I love my kids but I long to do more with my life. It's hard to watch my husband walking in his talents and not feel left behind. To not feel shut down. To not wonder, "When do I get a turn?"

Maybe that's selfish.

I'm being pretty vulnerable when I write this.

Maybe I'll erase this.

Anyway, all of this was going through my mind yesterday. Like it does. A sort of endless cycle.

"Just hang on, Meg. In 11 years you'll get to make a decision for yourself. Based on what you want to do. You can do whatever the hell you want. In 11 years."

 

I miss my husband. I like the guy, he's my -- as Hawke would say it -- "best priend". Last night I started watching some of his YouTube videos just to hear the sound of his voice. While watching the Pro Photographer Cheap Camera Challenge I made the mistake of reading the top few comments.

Where I saw this:

Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 3.00.44 AM

 

The fat girl is me. I was the one walking around in the background with Alamby.

I saw that and logically knew that I shouldn't be affected by it. But I was. Oh I was.

So I wept. Hard. And for a long time.

I had a moment of what I would call "weakness" where I shared the screen shot on Facebook. Normally I am not one to share something like that, but I did. A lot of people responded with kind words. Words that were a balm to my wounded little heart. They meant a lot to me, so if you were one of them, thank you very much.

 

I am trying very hard to pull myself up by my bootstraps -- like I always have. Like I always do. But I am having a much harder time of it than I normally do.

I am tired. So so tired. I've been pulling myself up by my bootstraps since my mother died when I was 13. Taking care of everyone else. I don't know how much longer I can keep up. Part of me wants to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and sleep -- Rip Van Winkle style -- for a long ass time. Even trying to write this is hard. It feels stilted. Clumsy. Wooden.

Being a mom is hard. Being a creative mom who can't find herself is harder. Yeah, I just said that.

I know I will make it out of this somehow; right now, though, it's feeling pretty grim.

What are some things you do when things feel so dark? I'm telling you -- I could use some insights.

 

 

Polly

For those of you who are interested in hearing the full version of my song, "Polly", that Zack used in his short film "Signal & Noise", you can download it by clicking here ------> Polly The song is actually still a work in progress; what was recorded were merely ideas and rough sketches for a hopeful finished product. I started writing the song shortly after the death of my Grandmother, who passed away the day after Christmas this past year (2012). Her name was Vera, but was always called Polly, and I was mourning the fact that I did not get a chance to say goodbye before she died. There are no lyrics because I did not have words to sing. Just melodies, and the desire to use my voice as an instrument. When Zack asked if I had anything that could work for the film he was making, I played him a bit of the song and he liked it, so my dear friend, Deke Spears (who helped me produce The Cracks & The Crevices and The Loss & The Love), and I put together what you hear in the track.

It might be finished. It might not. I might leave it as is. I might change it or morph it into something else. If anything I feel that it captures a bit of the emotion.

What do you think? Should I leave it as is? Or give it actual words and fill it out a bit more?

Thanks for stopping by.

"To live in hearts we leave behind Is not to die."

Thomas Campbell, "Hallowed Ground"

Quiet Hounds :: New album on its way...

In a little house, on some farmland just northwest of Atlanta, my brother Hounds are busy laying down new melodies. Happily, I get to be a part of it. I am pleased to literally lend my voice and time to such a talented group of friends. Also, soon I will start the process of recording four more songs to bring this trilogy of EPs* project to a close. I use the word, "close" lightly though, as this process has been so much more of a beginning for me than I can properly convey.

I'm getting ready for this winter; hunkering down with good wine, good books, time in my new studio (more to come on this later) not a little chaos, as there always tends to be chaos in spades with four boys running about my house, and ruminating on what is to come. There is so much on its way and it is all so very, very good. Things have been changing in me. Much. A lot. More muchness is happening in me? To me? All internal, all in heart and head. The best kind of growing larger. Although, if I don't lay off the egg nog I'll be growing a little more externally, too. I'll write more when I have the words. They are there, just not quite ripe enough for picking, and I am getting ready to do some harvesting.

"Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius." Pietro Aretino

*First was The Cracks & The Crevices, then The Loss & The Love, and soon to come, The Hope & The Hurt.

The Possible Impossible Project

IMG_9180Damn it all. I'm really in for it now.

I swore that I wouldn't get sucked into photography ANYTHING.

That's what Zack does. He's the photographer.

And yet here I am walking out the door everyday with my little SX-70 trying to capture moments in real time and not just in megabytes. Not in pixels.

I want something I can hold.

I don't do well with screens. I don't like looking at screens (she said, while typing staring at a screen), I don't look good on screens; I am not a fan of digital period.

Give me analog or give me death.

IMG_9030

Thus, the beauty of the Impossible Project and the loveliness that comes from their effort to bring back the analog image. Muchly much joy is derived from the sound of the camera launching into action and giving me a picture of what I just saw. Never as I originally saw it, though. Always something elusive in how differently the camera sees what I see.

It's addictive.

I love it.

Shhhhh...