Tag Archives: friendship

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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My Friends Say Nice Things About Me

13 Nov

I’m a little better than I was, but not by much. The holidays are creeping up faster than I had anticipated, and the holidays are a rough time. My maternal grandmother died a few days before Christmas several years ago, after having been diagnosed around November the year before, about a month before my paternal grandmother died (keeping up with all this?). The memory of Christmas in the Cancer Ward is strong to this day. And of course, it’s dark outside and it finally got cold. So regular depression plus seasonal depression plus holiday depression plus sweaty palms and cold fingers, blah blah blah, it’s just generally not a great time. I’m behind on stuff, I’m sad and fragile and snappy, I’m deep in the cycle of self-sabotage, you all know this song.

Anyway, into this come my friends, who are my forever source of wonder and light. A lot of them have been saying nice things to me as we work on projects–all the Kickstarter rewards (except the ones that require travel) have gone out, so we’re awash in joyful tidings about that, plus some other things that I’ve been working on. I thought I’d go ahead and document some of them for, ya know, proof against future “nobody likes me” moments.

“For the past week I have had a dreadful cold, can’t sing, no energy, general misery. It was into this befuddlement that I received your CDs and tote bag. I felt wrapped in the love of friends!!! The lightest of blue bag with the musical notes inside was beauty to the touch and eyes, and the music felt like hugs and smiles and laughter. You dropped a load of beauty into my grey, and I love you both for it!!!”

“today I got a little weepy over coffee explaining to K how you helped me survive this terrible summer, and then we both talked about the ways in which you’re superior at supporting people when they need it most, and K said, ‘biscuit is the best person I know for meeting a person wherever she is or wherever she needs to be without making that person feel deficient or like a weirdo.’ And it’s so true.”

How awesome is it to have CDs of your own sister? I am so lucky to have such a beautiful and talented sibling. I love listening to her sing, and now I can whenever I want!!!” (plot twist: this one is from my sister.)

“I love you so hard.”

There are so many others. I could never keep track of all the ways that my friends and family have helped me or held me up, all the wonderful things they have said about me. The last two or three days there have been a lot of exclamation marks coming my way, which is especially helpful, because I’ve been unable to manufacture my own for a while.

On the roughest, coldest days of early high school, when the pressure of continuing to exist felt like it was going to rip me in half, I would carry around a cassette tape (!!!) of the Newsies soundtrack*. I’d put it in the pocket of my jacket and cling to it when everything around me and inside me was chaos and I was ready to fall apart. In middle school, it was a copy of The Hero and the Crown. In elementary school, it was a battered old Trapper Keeper with a grey kitten on the front. In college, it was my purple cabbie hat. I’ve always carried little talismans in my pocket. This feels like putting my friends in my pocket so I can find them when I need them**.

It’s good to have people around who love you all the time, but especially when you don’t love yourself.
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