Friday, July 28, 2017

Trapped Inside the Interstellar Bookshelf

The cycle of Life. It's fucked up, right? I've been in this crazy head space this past year and I have failed to describe it using words aside from saying that it feels like I am trapped inside the Interstellar bookshelf. Have you seen the movie Interstellar? If you haven't, you should; it's a good flick. And that's how I feel. Closterphobic, lost in space. All of time laid out before me. Endlessly spirally away from me. It's not an entirely bad feeling. It's a bit nihilistic, because everything I do is futile and pointless, but in the same breath, a fractal mirroring of that...everything I do is of the utmost importance. I am inside the cycle of life peering out at the entirety of the thing. It’s a little nostalgic, because I am fixated on the past and how much things have changed. But we can’t go back, we can only move ahead. And the beat goes on.

I am the age now that my parents, aunts, uncles, etc. were when I was Celie's age, when I remember them. I am them. They are my grandmother, who I can remember in her late fifties, who is gone now, God rest her soul, and I miss her every day. I'm a panicking child periodically as I think of the monotony of life and my role in it and I just want to crawl up into Grandma's lap again. I'm a mother and a wife. What the fuck happened? It feels like high school was yesterday. What happened to my twenties? I'm going to wake up soon and be in my 60's, I'm fairly certain that's how it happens. Out of nowhere, boom, there you are. Before you know it, you're elderly....going back into the vagina of life only to be shot out of one again. It's like a conveyer belt! I guess only if you believe in reincarnation, but still...I digress.

I just gave birth to my second child 4 months ago. My entire pregnancy seems like a blur. My dog was sick and dying of cancer for 9 months right along with my pregnancy. Life and death were occurring simultaneously once again. He died when our baby boy was 2 months old; at least he got to meet him. We just built an addition onto our house, two rooms that we desperately needed for expanding our family. My daughter's bedroom was my old office space, a tiny little room that's not much more than a closet. We remodeled the entire room for her when I was pregnant the first time. Since then we remodeled the bathroom and moved the washer and dryer into her already extremely small room. I felt horrible that she barely had a space of her own so I tried to make it hers the best that I could, getting her a lava lamp and a My Little Pony clock and all kinds of purple shit. There was a bed, a dresser that was blocked by the bed so it couldn't even be opened fully, and a tiny path to the washer and dryer, that were stacked in the corner. I would sit on her bed as I loaded laundry. It was tight, but we made it work for the past 6 years.

When I became a mother I lost that space, that room that I had my computer and office things set up in, where I would hide and write. In building the addition, we moved my daughter to our old bedroom, so her old bedroom could become JUST the laundry room but I have taken it over as more of a multipurpose room. My husband put wire shelves up along the whole length of the wall and built me a countertop in it. I made it my desk already. We are moving my two bulky filing cabinets that are in our dining room into it soon. This room is going to clear up a lot of cluttered space throughout the house. We are still shifting things all around; it's been so chaotic here lately. Everything is up in the air and there is a Great Settling that is going to take place. There's so much to do but I feel like I know where I'm going now.

Creating life is a mind fuck. It's intense, not only the whole process of pregnancy and the mighty pain of labor, but the rearing and raising. Parenting is what can change the world. Parents are directly molding the entire pressure. There has been so much change here lately. Another baby, finally. Our dog is dead. Our house is changing. Trees were cut down?! (Is that a metaphor?) We just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. I put off having a second child for a few years to take care of myself mentally. Although, I feel tremendous guilt for not making a playmate for my daughter sooner, I really needed those years to get to a better state of mind, one that is conducive to parenting. Parenting alone all week took its toll on me. This time around my husband is working locally so he can be home every night, that's a real game changer. It's a completely different life for us and we are still learning to coparent during the week. It's been an adjustment.

So, here I am. After 6 years and a ton of life changes I find myself once again sitting in this little room writing. I paid all of our bills the other night, too. I have been avoiding that…for years. I think having somewhere to actually sit my laptop and paperwork helps. That’s a whole other part of me that I haven’t been in touch with since I became a mother and had to give up this room. This room is a metaphor. This is where my Drifting Sun dream began over 12 years ago. This is where I set my small business self up. This is where I kept up with my blogging self. This is where I kept my life in check with my office manager bill-paying self. This is where I designed t-shirts with my graphic designer self. There are so many parts of me that I lost when I became a mother because I foolishly thought that was what mothers were supposed to do. Ultimately, this way of thinking is what required me to take that time to go to therapy, etc. I had lost my Self in motherhood. I feel that I have done enough self analysis and discovery to know how to approach it this time around with a better grasp of what I need to do to take care of myself, maintain my own identity and continue to grow as a person. Self-love is important because you can’t pour from an empty glass. I am no good as a mother if I am not CONTINUALLY caring for my self. Now doing it is the hard part. So, it’s a long road ahead. At least I am more self aware and know when I’m fucking up now.

Inside the Interstellar bookshelf, I reside. It’s funny that I am in this room once again after all these years. I’ve heard that nothing ever goes away until it teaches you what you need to know. Apparently I have more to learn from this room. It’s like starting out, making tons of progress, you think, then unraveling all of said progress, and ending up right where you started in the beginning but with new eyes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Upside to Procrastination

As the dishes pile up.
I make a cheesecake. 

This weekend Joey worked on Saturday, so I was bored and sad. At first, I was motivated and said, okay, that's fine, I'll do the dishes. Then I looked at the dishes and immediately decided I had much better things to do. This was Friday night. I was in good spirits and had the best intentions but then I got bummed out because it was Friday and he wasn't coming home, so instead of doing the dishes and cleaning up the destroyed (I mean, put off for days) kitchen, I would write a song. I sat at the counter, facing the mocking dishes, and instead penned and strummed out a song that actually made me fairly proud. So that was a Friday well spent, I'd say, even if my kitchen was a disaster. The first lesson in procrastination..sometimes, putting off doing the dirty work allows you to create something new.

On Saturday, I thought about cleaning up the kitchen again but just wasn't in a cleaning shit up mood. I figured, since Joey's ETA wasn't until after 6, I would make my leap into cheesecakery. I finished up the song I wrote the night before and played around with it a bit, but then I started to bake, regardless of the state of my kitchen, which is something I'm not usually inclined to do. I usually prefer to have it cleaned up if I am doing any kind of fun baking and added mess making. I have never made a cheesecake from scratch before, but my mother had given me a 9" Wolfgang Puck springform pan as a gift this Christmas, because I had said about wanting to make one. So I finally got around to trying it out. This baby was from scratch. I mean, not from a box, but an honest to goodness cream cheese heavy whipping cream concoction of a for real cheesecake. My first!

I found a recipe on the internet. It is allegedly The Perfect Cheesecake, a twist on another woman's recipe posted by another woman. I didn't even look in my books and for some reason just searched the net and went with this one. It's a New York Style cheese cake, that actually required a water bath and everything and had a few steps. Leave it to me to go with a harder one, because I don't believe they all require a fancy pants bath and foil wrap? I also found out that our oven is incredibly uneven and needs leveled before I make my next cheesecake or a cake of any type for that matter. So, it's a little lopsided, but that doesn't affect the taste at all. It's still a beautiful thing.

This cheesecake actually called for a sour cream based topping spread on it, and then an optional fruit (raspberry) topping drizzled over it. I was at my mother's last week when she had been picking rhubarb out of their garden so I got some off of her to try out. Surely I should be able to make a fruit concoction for cheesecake from it? So I tried it out. My rhubarb topping wasn't exactly drizzlable, so I just spread it over top of the sour cream topping layer after I chilled that a bit. It worked. It ended up tasting quite sweet and yummy; rhubarb and cheesecake actually go together well.

The cake, as a whole, was a success. The butter in the crust was perhaps a bit much, or the salt wasn't stirred into the crumbs enough, perhaps, and I would let the cream cheese come a little more to room temperature next time, but I'm still mmmmmcredibly pleased with the end result. We ate a bunch and gave a bunch away. The second lesson in procrastination...sometimes putting off the dirty work is pretty tasty! It's all about priorities. A dirty house doesn't need to be the end of your endeavors; you aren't putting things off if you are still doing something worthwhile. I got a song and a cheesecake out of the deal. There are so many better things to be doing than dishes!! So there. My first cheesecake, a rhubarb New York Style one, even. Delicious.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra at The Rowland Theatre

The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra Presents:
Saturday, May 14th, 7PM
Rowland Theatre, Philipsburg

Saturday, May 14th I had the honor of going to our locally treasured Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg to see The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra conducted by Rick Benjamin that did a show there to a mix of silent films, entitled The Clown Princes. The performance included films by Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd as well as a selection of American theatre orchestra favorites. The show cost $20 and was filled decently well with fans of all ages, including some fun ladies in their flapper garb, feathers and pearls who really got into it. I went with my mother and my Aunt Peggy. It was a really good time!

Something about me…I have had a Buster Keaton thing since college. I love Charlie Chaplin, also; who doesn’t love the Little Tramp? But I, for some reason, was incredibly drawn to the Great Stone Face and his contribution to the silent film era so this was an exciting event. Silent films are pretty interesting. The acting had to be big enough to get the ideas and gags across with absolutely no sound, while also being entertaining and filmed from the best angles. It relied heavily on slapstick and stunts, most of which were done by the actors themselves who were, in many cases, directing the films as well. These guys were hard core. They were pioneers in filmmaking, our forefathers of visual comedy, acting and directing. It was such a cool experience to see these silent films on the big screen with live music from a real ragtime orchestra like it would have been at the time of their production. We were actually encouraged to hiss and boo at the bad guys, and ooh and ahh for the good guys.

The first selection was the 1922 film Cops starring Buster Keaton, directed by Keaton and Eddie Cline. Afterward, the band played an orchestral interlude for reel change music, as would have been traditional back in the day. Rick Benjamin, the conductor, spoke some about music history, and how most of the films were made around the year that the Rowland opened, in 1917, and also how rare music would have been back then. He spoke of today and how music has become a kind of “sonic wallpaper” as he called it, as in it’s everywhere in the background. He said he thinks that it actually devalues the music.

In the silent film era musicians, writers and publishers were all in high demand to create the musical scores for movies. People didn’t have access to music like they do now and they would only be able to hear music if a family member or a friend played an instrument, or if they were able to catch a live performance. It makes you think and it’s really true. Music has been devalued because it is so ubiquitous now. It’s everywhere from elevators, waiting rooms, cars, stores and commercials. He’s right, it IS sonic wallpaper! So much so that people probably don’t even realize a lot of the time that it is there sticking to the wall. In the silent film era, however, the music stood out and was more important because it wasn’t as prevalent. It was a luxury!

The second photoplay was the 1920 film Get Out and Get Under starring Harold Lloyd, who was a boxer turned actor. This film was directed by truck driver turned director, Hal Roach. Loyd’s “Glass” character was more like the common man. People loved Buster’s “Stoneface” and Charlie’s “Tramp” because they were goofy and different, Benjamin said, but they loved Harold Loyd because he reminded them of themselves. I wasn’t as familiar with Lloyd as the other two clown princes, so it was really neat to see this film.

After intermission we were treated to a selection of American theatre orchestra favorites, including 1921’s I’m Just Wild About Harry, 1904’s The Cascades, and W.C. Handy’s 1915 blues number The Hesitation Blues. The third photoplay section was 1916’s Easy Street starring and directed by Charles Chaplin! It’s amazing to think this film came out just one year before the Rowland opened its doors in 1917. The music to this film could actually not be found so the entire score for this one was reconstructed by Rick Benjamin based on musical settings of the time.

This was a very entertaining show. Benjamin asked the crowd if we would each bring “two and a half” people with us if they returned. We cheered that we would, of course. It was a great time; highly entertaining watching Joseph Ellis do the drums and sound effects along with the film. They pulled out all the bells and whistles, literally. Quacky noises for people talking or giving speeches, sobbing noises for when people cried. With just 11 members, The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra sounds pretty boomin’! I highly recommend it!

Also, interestingly, it is the eve of the Rowland Theatre’s centennial. The Rowland was opened on June 4th, 1917 by Charles Hedding Rowland and its very first offering was a silent film entitled “Within the Law”. Currently, the Rowland Theatre’s Board of Director’s is in the process of collecting funds to restore the marquee to the original glass structure that appeared in 1917. The original marquee apparently extended over the roadway about two feet. In conjunction, they will be designing a plaza in front of the theatre to protect the new structure that will be made of bricks, extending the sidewalk. People can order a personalized brick for $100 each. The Rowland Theatre is on the National Register of Historic Places and really is a local treasure. I look forward to seeing the finished marquee in 2017 and supporting them in the future as they continue to bring entertainment to the Moshannon Valley area, just like this showing of The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra’s The Clown Princes!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What the Fuck is My Problem?

What the fuck is your problem??! What the fuck is MY problem?! Sometimes...just's you. Sometimes, it's not you, it's me, but sometimes it's not me---it's YOU! If this is at all confusing, welcome to my world. I'm confused a majority of the time. I'm gonna open up a bag of worms...a Pandora's box...a bunch of shit? You're welcome to think so, but I don't really care. I've long suspected there was something not completely "normal" about the way I processed sensory information and emotions, but I began to get a better grip on what was up when I started referring to myself as an empath. There's a lot to be said about owning something. I got an even better hold on things once I finally believed it was true. 

An empath is a person who, essentially, feels the emotions and physical sensations of those they are close to, around a lot or sometimes just walking past or sitting near. Usually it is with people you have strong emotional connections with. Sometimes it seems there is no rhyme or reason. Some things are stronger than others. Sorting and sifting through your own feelings and emotions is a process, but the best way to help you to identify what you are catching. Empaths who are just discovering they are empaths are actually, in my studies and experience, stuck on identifying. They identify with everything they feel. This is a good thing, to be able to put yourself in a different perspective, in somebody else's shoes, but it's important to know where you end and something else begins...while also knowing that it is an illusion that it even is separate in the first place. Yeah, life is complex, filled with dichotomies and reflections.

It's confusing that you are ultimately seeing reflections of yourself in other people and figuring out if you are projecting or seeing truthfully can be difficult. Knowing yourself is really key to differentiating between your own parts and emotions and the other's. I noticed that certain people I naturally had a "wall" up in front of to protect me, but it left me numb myself at times. I grew adept at not feeling my own feelings and running off of the direction of others. I naturally shielded some people but at the same time had absolutely no boundaries against other people's energy. It's taken me a long time to put the pieces of my story together; I've always been a container for the unwanted energies of others. I hold it together for other people, but can't seem to hold my own. Cleansing, shielding, and grounding can be very helpful in dealing with energies and they have been very beneficial. It's not always on. It ebbs and flows, or wanes and peaks. Somethings are overwhelming and some things are fine. You just never know.

I experienced a lot of healing when I started using Dr. Judith Orloff's Empath Support Group and realized what was happening, but I also have since moved on somewhat because I don't want to get overly involved in over identifying with them. Basically, an empath is a highly sensitive person that can tap into the emotions of other people and experience those feelings as if they were their own. Believe's a thing. So, that's what my problem is, after all. I'm just too damn sensitive, but I've learned there really is no such thing. It's helpful. I'm an artist. I'm a sensitive singer-songwriter. It's a blessing and a curse. That and I'm an introvert, basically. Or, at the very least, an ambivert. So, I like to socialize, but not really. I recharge with alone time. I like nature. I love being alone. I am drained by people and social situations. I enjoy small, more intimate groups of people as apposed to large and loud crowds. I used to be a lot worse and relied on alcohol to numb my sensory overload but I have more of a grip on it now. I'm growing daily and mastering my "skills" the best that I can. I need time away because I absorb everything like a sponge and I feel for you. I really do.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Non-Fishy Fish Bread

This is one of my favorite Korean snacks! This is Gold Fish bread. It might look and sound like it is, but it is not made of fish or anything. It's a not fishy fish. It's made with red beans and actually has a sweet taste. It's kind of like a morning doughnut or pastry, only less sweet, and is yummy with coffee! They also come stuffed with a yellow custard and in a tiny baby fish size. Cute and tasty!

Post Pub Noodlage

March 19, 2016

This is a bowl of handmade noodles lovingly prepared by a sweet "aunt" street vendor lady. They were excellent! On this night, we went to What the Pub, which has basically been my sister's Cheers here in Korea, where everybody knows her name. The owner, Spikey, is like her Korean brother and is super cool. We drank some wine and beers, met some of her friends, and then hit the streets for noodles. 

Getting this dish is basically like their version of getting French fries with gravy at the truckstop after tying one on at the bar. Vendors set up mini tent restaurants on the streets and work all night making noodles and soups and other things. The street vendors in Seoul are some hard working people, that's for sure!

#seoulfood #foodasfriend

The First Supper

Our first dinner in Korea was exciting! And thus began my love affair with chop sticks, and schooling on all of the sides you get with meals. Kimchi is eaten like applesauce here so it tends to grow on you and I quite enjoy the cooking tables. A lot of meals are cooked in front of you. It's just neat! And spicy. Super neat and spicy. I'm enjoying the food so far. I learned to say "Excuse me! A little more water, please!" I'm pretty sure I said the right thing, because the server brought me water. Score!

#seoulfood #foodasfriend