Archive | October, 2018

Singing To Myself

10 Oct

There’s a song I like a lot. As near as I can tell, it’s called May You: The Folksinger’s Song, which is fitting, given it’s a song about being a folk singer. It’s by Jan Marra, but I know it because a friend has occasionally played it for loved ones who are having a really rough day.

May you never be sorry you traveled this road,
May you find all the work that you need.
May your eyes be bright when you’re out late at night,
May never your glory get mixed up with greed

The last two weekends, the first two weekends of the festival, were full of really rough days. It was hot and brutally humid. Well, it’s often hot and humid at ren faires, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

The crowds at this faire are not necessarily prepped for hot, humid weather. It’s a fall festival, after all. My stage is a little off the beaten path, with not much in the way of signage, and there’s no shade on the benches for most of the day. I did what I could–I even dragged benches up onto the stage for the later sets, which helped a lot, but I played for small crowds. They were good crowds, full of engaged and happy people who liked what I was doing, people who were complimentary, people who laughed and cried appropriately, people who tipped, but there just weren’t many of them. On Sunday I had a total of maybe 12 people on my benches over three sets. And for more than a little bit of time, I played for myself. We all did. Some of the finest musicians I know were playing to empty benches.

There’s a number of people who’ll sit in the rear,
They’ll talk through your sets, they will catcall and jeer
A number of people will turn a deaf ear,
Just keep right on playing for those who will hear.

And that’s…it is what it is. It’s not ideal, but it happens. Normally it’s ok. I love to sing. I love to play guitar. But getting on stage requires a lot from me, and getting to this particular faire requires a lot of driving and being away from home. I’m not confident of my solo work, and when there’s only four people listening to me, it’s way easier to believe the little voice in my head that says what I’m doing is terrible. And then, you know, there was All That Stuff going on in the world, what with credible accusations of sexual assault still not being a barrier to being appointed to the Supreme Court (or elected president). Last Sunday morning I overheard a different friend make a joke that boils down to “bitches be lying,” and I cried a lot, universe. I cried a lot. I was supposed to be getting ready for the day, warming up and tuning and doing makeup, but instead I was crying. I got out there and I did my thing, playing the Village Protest Singer with all the considerable verve at my disposal, and I sang my feelings to the heavens and the three people who were listening, but I was hot and drenched in sweat and bleeding and full of rage and sorrow and fear, and I had to dig deep into my reserves to find the courage and energy to get up there, and the crowds were very small and I was very tired.

When the time comes to pack up and ramble along,
May never you wonder just where you belong,
And if you hit hard times may they make you strong.
May every experience lend to your song.

During my down time I tried to recharge by sitting in the audience of empty sets, listening to my friends play beautiful music, and that helped. At one of those sets on Sunday my first friend played the Folksinger’s Song. I don’t know if he played it for me; I think he played it for all of us, but it was still very good to hear. I cried a little more, and then I ate lunch, and I felt a little better. It was still really hard and I’m still very tired, and I’m still not confident in my solo stuff, but I do love to make music, and that’s not everything, but it’s not nothing.

May your heart be light, may you sleep well at night,
And I hope that you find all the love that you need.

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To Your Union, and the Hope That You Provide

4 Oct

Recently, as in two weeks after Dragon Con, my best friend got married. This was a big deal for many reasons, both obvious and not-so-obvious. There were rainbows. It was pretty great. I have a lot of feelings about the whole thing, but zero emotional power to parse them, so instead, here is the text of the speech I made.

I’ve known Caroline a very long time—long enough that I am used to calling them “Indigo,” the nickname we used when we were high schoolers whose idea of “delinquency” was skipping church youth group to hide in the bathroom and write stories. It seems fitting, then, that we each partnered up with the appropriate-gender version of the other: my husband is much like Caroline, in that both are subdued introverts who like solitude, tools, dogs, and obscure facts, and I call Kate “Mini-Me,” because we are, respectively, the Fun Sized and King Sized versions of the same enthusiastic, glittery, anxious candy bar.

Not long after Kate and Caroline started dating, I went to meet them both for lunch one weekday. It happened to be the day that Oberfell VS Hodges was decided, which effectively struck down all same-sex marriage bans in the US. The three of us gathered in Woodruff Park, eating our respective lunches—spoiler alert, Indigo had tacos—and enjoying the sunshine and celebrating the federal recognition of civil rights they should have had access to all along. I seem to remember that people around us were celebrating as well, but I may be misrembering based on how monumental a moment it was for us. As I sat there in the sunshine across from my best friend in the world and the woman they really liked, who I also really liked, celebrating the day that had sometimes felt like it would never come, I had what you might call a wild fancy that someday we might all be at this point. It would be a mistake to say that I knew we would. I didn’t. It was too soon for that, and I can’t see the future. But I hoped. And on the day of the solar eclipse, when I got what I believe is the first notification text, and ran around the Seattle airport crying and telling people “my best friend is getting married!” I couldn’t help but feel a little bit smug about being right. 

It hasn’t been an easy or a fun road for Caroline to get here, but here we all are, gathered together to not only share our love of these two, but also to eat tacos. So please raise your glass or your tortilla chip to Kate and Caroline. I’d like to quote a great philosopher: Nicole Cliffe, formerly of The Toast, who recently said on twitter that the secret to marriage is to always react like a cartoon wolf when you unexpectedly see your spouse without a shirt. I hope you will take that advice to heart. May your household never run out of your preferred drinkies and snackies, and may your marriage continue as your partnership has: in joy and respect and healthy communication and great love.

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