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Letters to Nobody

15 Nov

Dear Tay,

I hope it’s ok to call you Tay! I read in your authorized biography, MMMBop to the Top, that “Tay” is your nickname. Probably it is mostly for family and close friends, but you and I have a lot in common! You’re 13–I’m 12. Your favorite color is red–my third favorite color is red, after purple and sometimes blue, so sometimes it’s my second favorite color. You like Aerosmith–I love Aerosmith! My younger sister looks just like Zac, even. I feel like if you would just come visit my hometown so we could meet–

Ugh. No.

Ok.

Dear Taylor,

I hope this missive finds you well. My name is biscuit, and I am a very very big fan of yours. We are a lot alike, you and I. I’m almost 13, just like you. Also, just like you I travel the world singing, or would if my parents could have afforded that choir trip to Italy–

Oh hell no, don’t talk about being poor.

[deep breath]

To: Taylor Hanson
From: stone biscuit (a girl)

This is a strange way to start a letter. I guess that’s how email goes, but I don’t have the internet so I don’t really know about that except what I can see at my best friend’s house You and I have never met, so I don’t know any other ways to begin this letter. I don’t even know why I’m writing to you, except that there are so many feelings inside me I feel like I’m going to explode. Do you know what it is like to be 12? Do you know how it feels when everything is the most important thing, and yet nothing is important, and the hours seem like days? Of course you do; I stole that last line from a song you wrote. Maybe that’s why I love you.

Maybe that’s why I can’t decide if I want to be with you, or to be you.

From where I’m sitting you have everything I want–people love you, people pay attention to you, people give you money, and as far as I can tell you get to do whatever you want. You represent love and sex and self-expression and self-determination and creativity and freedom, things I can’t put a word to, things I am only beginning to realize I crave more than I have the capacity to handle, much less express. I don’t even think it’s you I want (though you are cute, and you grow up to be gorgeous, and there will never exist a moment in my life when I wouldn’t happily do age-appropriate sex things with you). What I want, what I long for, what I feel like I will die without (what I maybe want to die without?), is the sense that something, anything that I am doing now has meaning, has importance, that there is something to life other than the boring bullshit of school and bedtimes and nightmares and bullies and mental and physical illnesses and dark quiet streets that make me want to scream until my throat is bleeding just to break the stagnant suburban silence.

I know we’ll never meet. You’ll grow up to have five kids and a million nieces and nephews because you and your brothers have apparently never heard of birth control. You’ll all three break from your label and release a bunch of indie albums that garner critical acclaim and maintain a core audience of fans, and even release a beer at some point that I will never drink because I hate IPAs. I will grow up to make my own choices, to put a name to demons in my head and to start fighting them. I’ll learn lessons of harmony and storytelling from participating in your fanbase, and I will find my own voice. I will carry the internet in my pocket. Eventually I will realize that I can’t spend all my energy running from, and learn to start running towards instead, and while that seems so, so impossibly difficult some days, I will surround myself with the people and things I love, and I will arm myself with courage and grit and sheer goddamned spite, and I will pour myself into making art, and sometimes I will be able to outpace the terror of endless summer afternoons spent wondering if my existence has any meaning at all.

In the meantime, though, I will be an awkward 12-year-old girl in the suburbs of a shitty city, loving you, coveting the things I imagine you have, and clinging to the dream presented by your music to remind myself that there is more to life than…*waves hand vaguely* all this bullshit.

Sincerely,

– stone biscuit –

PS. While the close harmonies and simple elegance of White Christmas made up for it, I feel your cadenza on O Holy Night was embarrassingly overdone.

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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.

Today’s Horoscopes

30 Jan

Aries – Don’t you wish you’d brought some dinner to work rather than trust your late lunch would carry you through? If only you’d done your horoscope reading earlier in the day, you would have known.

Taurus – Nobody noticed that thing, I promise.

Gemini – Sometimes it’s best to let things go; other times you should keep holding on. Which of these applies to the Scorpio dangling from the roof is a matter for your conscience.

Cancer – Dressing on the side. Trust me.

Leo – YOU’RE THE BEST*

Virgo – The stars say, and I quote, “you have a lot of nerve coming back here after what you pulled.”

Libra – Your immediate future holds dogs, or pretzels, or maybe a shower? Please let your future hold a shower.

Scorpio – Perhaps you should have been kinder to that Gemini.

Sagittarius – Expect rain. (The time will come to rise up against the Leos. Await the signal of the Aries. #firesignwar)

Capricorn – Punch through the walls you’ve built! Break down the barriers in front of you! Do something with your boxes of old textbooks in the office closet!

Aquarius – A ballerina en pointe may look effortless, but is actually working extremely hard. Consider developing your talents in the inverse situation.

Pisces – Keep trying and eventually you may be as cool as an Aries.

All Signs: It’s National Croissant Day. Find an Aries who forgot to bring dinner to work, and then bring her a croissant at work and you’ll have good luck all year!

’17 Going on ’18

28 Dec

(Footnotes after the jump)

The Year of Our Lord 2017 was a year.

If you’ll allow me to fall back on some platitudes for a minute, I’ll say that it was a year of transition and change. I mean, every year is a year of change, because everyone changes. Nothing illustrates that quite so well as the wedding pictures on the wall–way back from 2009! We look so different! And yet so similar! So saying “this was a year of changes” is kind of silly. Of course it was. Things change literally every minute.

On the other hand, this time last year I was pretty ready to hurt myself because I couldn’t see any other method of escape. Right now I’m tired, sad, and worried, but I’m not having to actively prevent myself from violence, and that’s not in any way a little thing.

I have some specific goals for 2018. I feel better when I get a little exercise, so I’ll try that. I should try to maybe only be an every-week regular at one biscuit establishment, rather than five of them. It would be nice to get all the art up on the walls and make sure the frames are even, so I have to get a friggin’ level. I need a haircut. That fits in with my main goal, which is to be a little kinder to myself. Wallowing in shame and anxiety is no way to go through life–it’s counter-productive at best. Does that mean I should get my ass back into therapy? Yes, it does. Also I should see the doctor about these weird knee aches I have recently* developed, and get my car in to figure out why the check engine light came on a little bit ago**, but let’s take it one step at a time.

Anyway, the last half of 2017 was pretty good. 2018 is going to be pretty good too. It’s rained here for far too long.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/stonebiscuit/playlist/30pjkpufM9ujjmlLj7kvQp

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I’ve Been Thinking: Healing and the Feminine Semidivine

18 Nov

Been thinking a lot about Christmas today.

(I will warn you that this post is suuuuper wobbly, and the title is the most coherent part of it).

I always loved Christmas. It was my favorite holiday, aside from my birthday, for most of my life. The last sixish years it’s been wrapped up in a lot of really terrible feelings of sorrow, regret, exhaustion, severe anxiety. It has brought meltdowns, breakdowns, vaguely suicidal tendencies, and crippling depression, but I still cling to the idea that I love it. I hate the cold and the dark, so I’m super into a celebration of light. I hated school when I was in it, so hey! Vacation. I love giving and getting presents.

Mostly, I love Christmas music. Like, a lot. A lot. 

I was a choir nerd, a band geek, a theatre jerk, and a preacher’s kid, so for me Christmas music usually started in September, and I was lucky enough to be exposed to some really astonishing seasonal music. Shit you don’t hear on the radio. Deep cuts, if you will. I still love Christmas music–I make a lot of money every year as a professional Christmas caroler. I just released a Christmas CD, which I recorded in June. When I’m very, very stressed out, I find that 16th century sacred choral music will help me calm down a bit. Today I started building a couple of Christmas playlists, and as is probably to be expected, I ran into Mary Did You Know, aka “Mansplaining Christmas: The Musical.”

TO BE CLEAR: Mary was aware, this song is theological garbage and downplays her bravery and intelligence in the interest of glorifying “innocence,” but I’m not here to bitch about it.

Despite it being crap, it’s been stuck in my head all day (with the exception of the four hours I spent listening to different versions of Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence). Fortunately it’s not the only Christmas song about a woman. Most Christmas music about a woman–granted, it’s about a woman giving birth, which I was never interested in, but Christmas is ultimately Mary’s story. Joseph is totes a good dude, and there’s a lot more room to talk about him, and Jesus obviously has a featured role, but the heavy lifting goes to Mary (and Elizabeth, to a lesser extent). And as it gets dark outside and my uterus continues its cycle of bloody revolution, I find myself thinking about what kind of person would be able to handle being Mariam without losing her ever-loving mind.

Joan of Arc was my favorite saint growing up. I wrote several reports on her. I had several of her medallions. I didn’t grow up Catholic, so why did I have a favorite saint at all? More to the point, why was my favorite saint one who didn’t live to see her 20s because she was burned at the stake? I don’t know. I’m into dramatic epics and always wanted to believe my life has a big, grand purpose, and I admire bravery. As I lay here almost paralyzed by fear and indecision, I cannot imagine what sort of person would be capable of being Jehanne.

I’ve been thinking a lot about those two ladies today. The focus on their virginity never sat well with me (I get that a spontaneous virgin birth is miracle, but the centuries of veneration has very little to do with miracles and everything to do with purity culture, and TO BE CLEAR that’s bullshit), but otherwise they always struck me as pretty great. “I know what I’m here to do, I’m going to do that thing with aplomb, and none of you will stop me. This is who I am. I’m good enough for The Big Guy, it can be good enough for the rest of you bastards.”

I admire people who know what they’re meant to be doing. I used to know, or think I did. The last time I had to make a decision (what to get in my burrito), I panicked for almost a full minute.

Anyway, today I’ve been thinking a lot about them.

I kind of fell apart when my grandmother was dying, and I haven’t been back to church in years. The last time I was in church I wept so hard I almost hurt myself. I grew up in church: singing, ringing, reading, teaching, eating, wasting time in my mom’s office, stealing communion wafers, skipping youth group to write fanfiction in the bathroom with my bestie. We were there twice a week, every week. I read the book twice (including all the begats), I did my research. I put a lot of time and thought into what I believe. I still believe, but believing hurts. I’m not worried–I was for a while, but then someone reminded me that God is big enough to comprehend even the most incomprehensible anger/grief/fear/pain, even the pain I can’t comprehend myself, and will still be there. It hurts less. But it still hurts.

I’ve been thinking a lot about incomprehensible grief, and courage, and being loved. I’ve been thinking about the aspects of feminine divinity that are missing from too much of mainstream Christianity, prompting generations of worshippers, desperate to see ourselves reflected in our God, to shift a little divinity to a thousand female saints.

While I wait to think about God some more, I’m thinking about these two women. Girls. Lady-persons. I’m just thinking about femaleness as strength, of femininity as expressed in two totally different but equally valid ways. I fought for years against the idea of God as solely male, because 1) I want to see myself truly reflected in the God I believe created me in Its image, and 2) it’s theologically questionable, and 3) sometimes I need a father, and sometimes I need a mother. And a crazy bachelor aunt.

Sometimes I need a couple of ladies who take no shit and give no fucks and walk confidently into the future. So as I get ready for Christmas, whatever Christmas means to me this year, I’m thinking about them.

I Make Playlists: Halloween

31 Oct

For your listening pleasure: four hours (!) of curated Halloween music. Includes the scary, the silly, and the sad, from pop to folk to novelty songs to hip hop to metal to showtunes to spooky theme songs. Ghosts, candy, witchcraft, monsters of all stripes, and that song from Beetlejuice.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/stonebiscuit/playlist/6r4I6WRlLNuYVUh2SfPAWJ

Not included: way too many songs by singer-songwriters using the word “Halloween” as an excuse to talk about their breakups, none of which appeared to have happened on Halloween or have anything to do with the holiday at all.

Not Being Ok

31 Oct

I’ve been in a depression spiral since my last project was finished. I should have expected it–the post-show drop is real, and then my period happened, and that was kind of it. For a while I thought it was just a little bit of a spiral, but, I mean, no, it’s kind of not. I’m trying to work on a post about the joyful success of my return to the stage and the Kickstarter, about how AMAZING it is to be selling CDs, and about how much I love my life, but instead I’ve been spending a lot of time not sleeping, not eating, sabotaging my own health and budget and deadlines, and forgetting to wash my hair or change my clothes or do the dishes.

My goals for today:

  • have a fun Halloween with some of my most beloved friends
  • finish just two items for work
  • go to bed when mr. biscuit does, rather than at 4 in the morning
  • try to be OK with a couple of things:
    • needing some help or some sunshine or some water
    • where I am
    • not being OK

Because I’m not OK right now. I’m not anywhere near OK. That’s hard to admit, but I can feel it in my chest (like it’s full of concrete), my throat (breathing feels like too much work sometimes), my head (foggy), my wrists (they ache), my jaw (clenched).

I painted my nails and blow-dried my freshly-washed hair, and that helps. I ate some vegetables, and that helps. So I’ll achieve the first three of these goals, and that will help with the fourth.

I’m just trying to be OK with not being OK for a bit. It will swing around eventually. It will swing around sooner if I stop beating myself up.

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