Lessons From an Open Mic

Last night—at about 6:55—I spontaneously decided to chug up the hill to take in a free open mic session, slated to begin at 7:30. I’ve decided that what I love so very much about open mics, is the vulnerability that rests at their core. People are BRAVE to get up there and project their voices and strum their guitar strings and bare their souls.

Sure, certain performances go off much smoother than others; while some have slightly cringe-worthy moments, others show the weighted advantage of having already booked studio time and album releases. But these sessions also come with such an element of delightful surprise. Raw talent is revealed in the most unexpected places.

Yes, I admit I prejudged a lot of the folks who gathered in that circle before the tea lights were ignited and the event officially launched. It was a bit of a ragtag gang, and I sensed in my heart that many of these kids (cos some of them truly were just kids) had been high school misfits or societal outcasts. But I loved thinking about how music might’ve just been then their life raft, their savior. (I pictured hours and hours of practice in the sanctuary of a bedroom, a basement, a cluttered garage.)

Last night there was the shy but outrageously talented Japanese girl who killed it on the piano, her second performance ever in the States; there was the tiny but mighty man who strolled up with an unexpected swagger and took charge of the “stage” with a confident presence and soulful bellow; there was the scrawny, bowl cut-donning kid who I would’ve unfairly pegged as “just” a gamer or Trekkie, rather than the owner one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. (His cover of a Decemberists song was off the charts.)

The bottom line: Vulnerability is hard, but vulnerability is so darn beautiful.

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Home x2

I know I’ve written on this topic before, but I realize that, two-plus years in, I am still very much learning how to navigate the tango of having two places I whole-heartedly call “home.” I am the first to admit I am still figuring out how to gracefully move through the steps of this dance—of taking the now-me back to the place where the then-me lived for so much of her life.

Home home can be complicated. So much of it is cozy and comfortable and indulgent and love-filled (reunions galore!), and I am so grateful to have “problems” like not knowing how to fit in quality time with so many people there whom I love. Even so, it’s a (sometimes draining) juggling act, especially for someone who hates to ever feel as though they’re letting anyone down.

Home can also sneak-attack upon you a lot of old “stuff.” It’s frighteningly easy to fall back into old patterns, old roles. It’s all so familiar, sometimes I swear I could hop on the orange line back to my N Street apartment; for fleeting moments, I forget I have built an entire life out here waiting for my return. It’s odd. I see things with new eyes—a bit differently now, and I can relate to certain things/mentalities/customs/etc. even less than I could two years back.

Plus, with each visit, it is inevitable that I realize some people I love so much are thriving and doing wonderfully. Others are working through rocky patches, going through tough transitions, slightly floundering…. I know that this is normal. This is life. But I prefer when all is peachy-keen. (I am a Pisces, after all:)) And even though I know logically that my physical distance makes no-to-little difference on everyone’s current happiness, it is hard to feel removed from it…from them. At times, I feel guilty for being so dang far.

That said, parts of this past visit were really, really great, and I’ll try to post some of those photos soon!

But tonight, I’m cozily tucked into my apartment, which is warmly lit by the teeny-tiny, fake alpine tree I bought today at Fred Meyer and is making me very, very happy. (The little things!)

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I am really super excited to have my parents heading out here in only two weeks, and I am content after a day filled with some of my ideal neighborhood staples (a warm welcome back from my yoga community, pho with one of my Seattle BFFs, a stroll through the Sunday Fremont Fair). Today, I began to feel much more settled in.

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Last night I saw a concert in an amazing setting, St. Mark’s Cathedral perched on Capitol Hill high above the lake dotted with twinkling boats. It was chilly in the church, and at first, I was feeling a bit disoriented and jet-lagged and “off.” But overall, the night was really special; I heard some stunning voices echoing throughout this beautiful space, as I sat sandwiched between some of my most favorite Seattle people.

And I thought, “Yes. This is a good, good home.”

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Scenes of September

So far, September has been so-so. I mean, it’s been alright really, just nothing too notable—but I suppose after SUCH a stellar August, there was nowhere to land but a bit lower down. It’ll pick up again soon, I’m sure and, in the interim, I recognize that the downtime is important, too. Autumn is in the air around these parts. Everyone and everything seems to be in transition, perhaps somewhat reluctantly.

Still, though, there’ve been really good things. Here’s how parts of it have looked (in opposite chronological order, so think present—>past):

I’ve been sick (AKA now). And hibernating.

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I stopped by a Greek fest. Opa

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I heard awesome music (Mikey & Matty)

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….and even more awesome music (in a “round” that also featured a poet and two visual artists). Man, there’s just so much amazing talent in this world, isn’t there?

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I was feeling very out of sorts, so I went to the water.

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It helped. It always does.

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I received out-of-the-blue gifts from a few thoughtful friends. 

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I soaked up that fleeting brightness with a vengeance.

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I dreamt of one day owning one of these. (Actually, just a small sailboat will do for me, thanks.)

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…at a boat show with my fellow Pisces.

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I didn’t quite know what to do with myself on 9/11. So stopping by this little peace lady seemed an appropriate thing to do.

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The weather was really stunning (before it went really crap).

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I played office worker bee for the day. I do not miss the commute. But it was nice to be out amongst the hustle & bustle.

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