Posts from the ‘I Found Joie’ Category

A thank you note – or maybe a love letter – to @AmandaPalmer.

So, I got some bad health news today.

No – I really don’t want to go into it. There are too many unknowns for me to go into detail. That’s actually part of the badness of the news: So many “I don’t know”s.

But there’s a familiar process to getting bad news. Call the family, call the fiancé, call the doctor’s office, call the insurance company, maybe not in that order. Rage into the abyss of twitter. Talk to a couple friends and ask for their good thoughts and/or prayers. Pretend I can’t hear the tension in my voice, pretend I can breathe deeply, pretend my voice isn’t an octave higher than it usually is – tight with worry, pretend I can carry on a conversation when I know I’m rambling. Get everything done that I can then settle in for the long, arduous wait until everyone else does their part. Realize I might not get to see the specialist for four weeks. Realize I might not get answers that first appointment. Go through a dozen awful scenarios in my head before I realize my voice is just going higher and higher in pitch and that I’m almost hyperventilating. Hope the customers can’t hear it over the phone. Be grateful they can’t see me because there will be no hiding wide eyes that can’t seem to focus. Try to calm down. Do everything I can. Wait.

Bad news sucks.

And then, as the panic began to dissipate, my first coherent thought was, “I should tweet Amanda Palmer.”

WHAT?!

I have no idea where that came from. Why it was Amanda that my mind ran to after the necessities and panic. Why it wasn’t someone I knew.

But, somehow, it made total sense. It still does. Because Amanda is the person who tweets, quite regularly, “i love you” to her audience. Amanda tells people to have better days when they tell her they’re having bad ones and Amanda tells us when she’s having a bad day so that we can do the same for her. Amanda is genuinely grateful to hear when her music has made people feel something. Amanda truly cares and you can tell.

So, I started formulating my tweet and I realized I didn’t want just to tell Amanda that the thought of her made me feel better. I wanted her to understand that she was the FIRST THING my mind went to after I took care of my people and the panic. I wanted her to understand that it wasn’t just her music that appealed to me, but also her presence for her fans. And that meant I needed more room.

And here I am.

Here I am to tell Amanda thank you. Or I love you. It’s funny how those words can, and often do, mean the same thing. Thank you (I love you) for being around to provide comfort and solace. I love you (thank you) for choosing to share yourself with your fans. Thank you (I love you) for being a light – through music and social media – to so many people. I love you (thank you) for understanding that caring and community need not be limited to those in your physical sphere.

I really hope you see this. That you understand that is isn’t just that your personality and music brings a smile to my face. (Though this is still my happy thought that I’m clinging to until I get a call that will calm some of this panic.) That you understand that connecting to you and your fans has been a support system I’ve treasured in the last year. That you have made a difference.

Thank you.

I love you.

~Joie

 

 

I Fell #ALittleBitinLove With You Today – Bread Boy

I fell a little bit in love with you today.

I get close every time I see you.  You’re gorgeous, inescapably so.  Your voice caresses my ears and my eyes drink you in.  You are the consummate salesman.  You flirt openly in pursuit of a purchase.  You’re confident and cognizant of your attractiveness because of that confidence.  You chat with customers.  You notice your customers’ apparel and smiles and insecurities and indecisiveness.   You personally engage when they ask questions about you.  You wrap customers up in smiles so warm the hardest of hearts would melt.  But, you’re still the boy behind the counter.  Today was different.  Today, you said, “See you next week.”   I’ve been coming to this Farmers’ Market all summer – and today you noticed.   Today, you invited me back into the world of this small bread booth, told me I was welcome in it. Today, you saw me – if only a small, tiny bit – as more than a customer.

And so, I fell a little bit in love with you today.

New Project: I Fell #ALittleBitinLove With You Today (Inspired by @AmandaPalmer)

In her TED talk, Amanda Palmer talked about an experience she had several times over as a living statue:

So, I had the most profound encounters with people, especially lonely people who looked like they hadn’t talked to anyone…in weeks. And we would get this beautiful moment of prolonged eye-contact being allowed in a city street and we would sort of…fall in love a little bit.

Now, there’s much more to that story.  I highly recommend the TED Talk for anyone who wishes to become an artist.  But that moment in the TED talk really touched me – it was a recognizable thing.  There are some people I know very little, but love very much because of one moment. So, it was nice to see someone who could relate to those moments of being truly and really in love – if only for a minute or two – friends, strangers, acquaintances, enemies, anyone.

In the last few weeks I have had a really high volume of these moments in which I fall a little bit in love with a person – in which a memory is written onto my heart.  And I’ve come to a bit of a conclusion:

These moments are the gifts of the human experience.  They are what make the human experience beautiful and bearable.  And I want to record mine.

So, about once a week (I hope), I’m going to record one of those moments.  There’s a list in my Creative Journal, waiting to get longer.  These posts will probably be just a paragraph, but it will start and end with, “I fell a little bit in love with you today.”  And no, not each moment  will be from that day – but the beauty of those moments is in their unexpected profoundness – how deeply, permanently they affect us.  And so, amazingly, I fall a little bit in love with that person all over again as I remember (and now record) that moment.

I told a friend about my idea and he responded with another really profound observation: not enough people get told that they are loved because many people are afraid of saying they love someone.  How ridiculous is it that we fear love?  Or that so many people don’t feel that they deserve love?  Because we agreed that too many people feel unworthy of the love they are given.  This is my way of trying to fix that, at least in my life. I think it’s good to share love, whether you’re the recipient or not.

I do not feel like I can afford to forget these moments. And so, I will write them here.  Because, well, I fell a little bit in love with humanity today.

Transparent.

If you think mental disease isn’t real, look at me.

If you think systematic abuse of women just doesn’t happen where you live, look at me.

If you think living with a daily fear of violation isn’t necessary to survival, look at me.

If you think bi-sexuality isn’t a thing, look at me.

Look at me fight, look at me cringe, look at me tremble, look at me love.

Look me in the eye, and TELL ME MY REALITY IS FALSE.  But watch out.

Watch out for the anger, watch out for the fire, for the flood, for the slap-bang-pop of the hurt-rage-scorn.

Scorn of your willful ignorance, your patriarchal nonsense, your social and emotional indolence.

Indolence, laziness, sloth, idleness, apathy, inactivity – whatever you call it, it is a crime, a sin, a choice you make to ignore this world.

This world where my brain has been killing me slowly since I can remember.

This world where my lovers have also been my violators too many times to count, because though I can enumerate them, even one is too many.

This world where I cannot sleep safely because one of my neighbors has decided he owns the right to look at my body.

This world where I have found love in all sorts of people.

All sorts of problems, all sorts of pain, all sorts of words that sting-bite-ache.

Ache with their effective lies that permeate this culture.

This culture which tells me to sit down and shut up because my genitals and glands make my opinions-hopes-desires, not to mention rights-needs-demands, invalid.

Invalid because they demand-need-have a right to a shift-change-advance to something bigger-better-brighter than we are now.

Now is the time, now is the place, now is the moment to speak.

Speak I will, speak I must, but if you cannot stomach my words, you WILL stomach the silent message screaming from my eyes.

Look me in the eyes.

Look at me.

See me.

Then tell me I’m not real.

_______________

This has been sitting in my head, spinning around for a while.  It’s my first time working with the spoken word format, but I really don’t think these thoughts would have made it out any other way.  It’s been a rough year and a lot has been weighing on my mind about things I’m told I shouldn’t talk about.  I think that’s bull.  Complete and total bull.  Hear me shout, people.  Look at me.  I don’t hide.  I live a life that can be known by seeing.  Don’t take that gift – because it’s a hard one to maintain – and be adamantly blind.

That’s how problems like the ones I’ve been encountering start.

They’re for me.

Over the past year, there’ve been a lot of relevant discussions in public discourse to me and my beliefs and identity.

For reference:

  • I’m Mormon (election season was murder sometimes)
  • I’m Bipolar (health care reform is a vested interest)
  • I’m bi-sexual (gay marriage/rights are always on my mind)
  • I’m a democrat (I repeat, election season was murder sometimes)
  • I’m a victim of sexual abuse (so the cultural discussion of shaming (and the prevention) is a big, huge, happy, sometimes not-so-happy deal)

And I decided, with the furor NOT dying down (which is good and bad, depending on the case), it was time to talk about it.

You see, this is the way I see religion, sexuality, politics, experiential perspective, and all the important decisions we make day to day about the way we live our individual lives: they’re for me.  The LDS church means something VERY different to me than it does to other members.  Being bi-sexual means something WAY different to me than it does to other people in the LGBT community.  Being a democrat is TOTALLY different for me than it is for some of my best friends.  How I take everything I’ve learned from being mentally broken and shunted from doctor to doctor thanks to insurance (or lack of adequate insurance) and from being abused is COMPLETELY different than it is for people with almost identical experiences to mine.  These things: they’re for me.

Not anyone else.

This is why it bothers me when I see blanket statements like, “All Mormons are dumb.”  Or, “Democrats want to destroy America.”  Or, “Gay people are evil.”  Or, “Crazy people should be taken out of the gene pool.”  Or, “People who say they’re abused are just trying to get attention.”

On the flip side, this is also why it bothers me when I see things like, “Atheists are just idiots who are scared.”  Or, “Republicans are backwards morons.”  Or, “Straight people hate gays.”  Or, “Healthy people will never understand.” Or, “Sex offenders should be culled.”

It hurt just to write most of those.  Like, the kind of soul hurt that makes your heart twinge.

Because you know what? These things are for me.  I take all these things, characteristics and choices, and I make BAD DECISIONS.  With disturbing regularity.  But I also make good decisions.  Intelligent decisions.  Righteous, civil-minded decisions.  Decisions that would make me an amazing mother.  Decisions that take me out of the spot light, so that I can do more good.

And I know other people, who take these essential parts that are for them and no one else, and they make these great and awful decisions.  They defy all those blanket statements.

One of the bravest people I have ever known is an atheist.

The person with the highest IQ I’ve ever met was a Republican, and his critical thinking skills were WAY beyond mine.

My strongest advocate friends are straight.

The most supportive person of people with diseases I have ever met is also one of the healthiest people I have ever met.  And she gets it.

And I personally know two sex offenders who are doing everything they can to be better than their pasts.  Who have acknowledged the wrong they did and are becoming good, contributing members of society.

There is no box big enough to fit me.  There is no box big enough to fit you.  It hurts my soul more deeply than I can express to see those boxes forcibly placed around strangers and friends alike.  Because their decisions and intrinsic qualities, those big things–bad and good–that make them who they are, are for them. And no one else.

Just like mine are for me.

And NO ONE else.

And I think that the better we are at recognizing that, the more awesome this world is going to be.  Because instead of making a war set to tear down everything precious out of our differences, we’re going build something sweet and beautiful and incomprehensibly amazing.  And it will be for all of us.

And everyone else.

Elevator + Book (Or, the perfect equation.)

About three years ago, I had the opportunity to present at the Sigma Tau Delta Annual Conference. Sigma Tau Delta is the international honors fraternity for English Majors. The 2010 conference just so happened to fall over Spring Break AND be in St. Louis (a mere three hours away), making it almost a crime to pass up the opportunity. I submitted my work, I was scheduled to present, and suddenly the other presenter from my school and I were on our way.  I don’t think the conference would have been half so fun without her.

However, my most distinct memory of that week was a night I spent alone, in an elevator. My fellow presenter was on the phone and I felt my friend deserved privacy. So I grabbed the book I was reading and headed to the nearest elevator, fully intending to go to the lounge area and read for a bit. As it happens, the elevator was empty. Now, I LOVE the feel of elevators.  The contrast between the mechanics being clearly translated through the chassis to the feet of the passenger and the floating feeling from acceleration and deceleration is fantastic. I also am a nester, especially when I read. I like my reading experience to be cozy, warm, and small. So, when no one joined me between my sixteenth floor start and ground floor finish (skipping, of course, the unlucky 13th floor), I merely let the doors close, curled up in the corner of the elevator, and enjoyed the ride. I reveled in the mechanical purr I felt into my bones and the lift my stomach experienced as the elevator slowed down to let on the first passenger I would encounter that night.

Over the course of the next hour, I rode up and down and up and down, in between floors and friendships. Some passengers responded to my greeting, then turned back toward the doors of the elevator, calmly ignoring me as I ignored them. Others clearly noted me as an attendee of the conference and asked which school I was from, or if I was presenting, or which workshops sounded interesting to me. Some people, looking for a friend’s room, talked to me two or three times that night as they investigated different floors, hoping to find the right room. Other people, who had no idea what a college student in her Dr. Seuss pajama pants was doing in a Hilton Hotel elevator, fumbled through a thirty-second conversation by asking me what I was reading. It was an Anne McCaffrey book. Some people knew her, others didn’t. I made a whole host of friends that night over a love of books and a love of elevator rides. I happily engaged in conversation and I read–maybe–three pages of my book.

If I learned anything from that night, it’s that the strange or unexpected doesn’t have to be revolting, it’s can be a relief to see it reflected in others.* Reading in an elevator was an unintentional, but beautiful, confirmation of this fact. By staking that small corner of the elevator as my reading spot for an hour in my xkcd sweatshirt and my One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish pajama pants, I claimed the right to just be me. As it turned out, a lot of people decided to join me. There was the frat boy who asked about my book, then stayed on an extra floor to talk about the missing 13th floor in his dorm, since it used to be a hotel. A supervisor who just needed a little space from his passel of kids and I reveled in the quiet of the elevator. A fellow conference attendee, who first noticed my book, saw my sweatshirt, which lead to a  great discussion about science and math at a convention full of English majors.  All I did was love books and elevators. Somehow, that turned into a night full of people and stories, a night I still treasure.

It’s three years later. I’ve been a graduate for nearly all that time. I’ve had fun collecting stories in other ways, but for some reason, perhaps no other reason than the fact that I’m wearing the same sweatshirt as I did that night, today I want to find an elevator. I want to grab a book. And more than anything, I want to ride up and down in between floors and friendships, inviting people to share what they will: stories, book recommendations, silence, or nothing. All are welcome.

__________________________________________________

*Also: reading a book in a public space will always be an invitation to talk. Not that minded, but I find it funny that I never have people start conversations with me the way they do when I’m reading.

Sometimes, you just have to make your own happiness.

As you may have noticed from the tone of my blogs this year (as well as their lack of frequency), I’ve had a rough year thus far.  Hopefully, things will turn around, but there are no guarantees.  I may just be in for a rough year.  This week was ESPECIALLY so.  Like, needing to pencil in a breakdown to deal with it kind of rough.

Sigh.

And, after a really terrible week, some of my friends had terrible weeks which threw off the ENTIRE Sunday music program (for reference, I’m the congregational music coordinator).  My soloist had to drop out because her accompanist (I always want to spell that “accompianist” – I think it’s because I was raised on puns of the worst/best kind) was temporarily out of commission due to some hearing aid issues.  Then, my accompanist for the meeting had somewhere else to be and substitute accompanist was, you guessed it, the temporarily hearing aid-less young man.  This all happened within about 16 hours.

Bleh.

So, I scrambled to choose a hymn to replace the solo and to find a substitute substitute accompanist for the chapel service.  This meant that I did not, as I usually do, review the lyrics of the hymns for yesterday’s Sunday services.  I made sure to run the tunes for a refresher, but I didn’t read through all the lyrics.

Oops!

This turned out to be an embarrassing, but hilarious mistake.  The hymn preceding sacrament (communion), which is meant to set the appropriate tone of reverence and respect as we remember the sacrifice Christ made for humanity, had a line that was disturbingly and hilariously similar the post-1940 Green Lantern Oath in the second verse.  This would not be a problem if I were just another member of the congregation singing along.  Muffled giggles often go unnoticed.  Especially so during a congregational hymn when there are rowdy children visiting the congregation, as there were yesterday.  Laughter at oddly worded hymn lyrics happens all the time.  No big deal.

Meh.

Unless, of course, you’re the music coordinator for a particularly small congregation that currently lacks a chorister.  That means it is your job to not only to coordinate the music, but to wag your arm vaguely in time to the beat while no one looks at you until some other poor sap takes the job. Well, no one looks at you unless you’re making a fool of yourself, which I never do.

Hah!

So, I was up in front of the entire congregation, totally unprepared for the line: The King of Kings left worlds of light,  Became the meek and lowly One; In brightest day or darkest night, He said, “Thy will, O Lord, be done.”  Yup, there it was!  Close enough to the first line of the Green Lantern Oath that I was stuck up in front of sixty people trying to hold in the laughter that was threatening to burst forth.  I was flat for a verse and a half and anyone listening to me sing would have heard the tremor of suppressed mirth.  Also, I was blushing furiously.  More than once a congregate looked up and made eye contact in that verse and a half.

Groan.

There was nothing for it.  I screwed up.  If I had done that simple bit of reading ahead of time, I would have been more than ready for that line and not had to scramble in front of my friends and associates for a modicum of dignity.  Considering my week, I could have gotten really angry and frustrated.  Instead, I sought out the friends I knew would also be amused by the circumstances and shared in the moment as much as I could after services.  That night, I made sure to tell my roommate and laugh (when we were half-asleep, even, so it was extra hilarious).

Whee!

It hasn’t been a good week.  I don’t know that it will be a good month.  I really have no idea when things are going to get better.  BUT!  I do know that I can take these small, ridiculous moments as they come and make something good out of them to sustain me through the difficult moments.  A good laugh can heal a lot of ills.  Also, it put me in a MUCH better mood leading into my sushi night with friends.  I can make sushi now, guys!  How cool is that?!?!?

YAY!!!!!

To laughing at ourselves: nothing seems so bad when you can see the humor of it.