Author Archive | Joanna M.

Music Mapping

Ya’ll- it has been more than a month since I last posted. Wow.

Actually not so much wow. Life has been a roller coaster lately, but in the best way. I haven’t had time to post. I haven’t had thoughts useful enough to post. And, in all honesty, what this space means to me, and does for me, is changing. I’m not sure where we’re heading yet.

But tonight I feel so grand.

Two days ago, I realized I hadn’t made myself a playlist in a year. Not that I hadn’t picked up some new tunes, but I hadn’t made a playlist of where I was at or what I was feeling in the last year. It kind of makes sense- this last year was rough, and I didn’t want certain people up in my energy (and my energy is my music), so the lack of playlists was a very good reflection of where I was at.

But it’s time to share again.

This post isn’t so much a playlist as it is a map of where I’ve been in the last few months, but via music. The little clusters of songs are like dots on the map of my life- places I’ve stopped as I’ve grown in the last few months.

::: ::: :::

Mother’s Day and Marriage

People, my marriage is awesome. My partner and I are doing fab; just last night he was sweeping the dining room as we were talking and he said, “You are so perfect for me.” I love our love. These songs are what I’ve been humming since Mother’s Day.

Kat Dahlia | I Think I’m in Love
Falling in love with my husband all over again.

Crazy Town | Butterfly
I’m feeling so free and loved lately.

Depeche Mode | Home
A forever fave describing our love.

The White Stripes | Ball and Biscuit
He sent it to me from England. I thanked him when he got home.

 

New Stuff

New music that’s rockin’ my hips, my mind, my soul.

alt-j | In Cold Blood
Their latest. I love it. Still contemplating seeing them when they hit town.

Bed of Liars | Violence
I just dig this one. Loud. Very loud.

Coldplay | Strawberry Swing
Actually, old music. But it’s going to be the first song in my “New House” ritual.

 

The Summer of 7th Grade

No clue why, but I have been reminiscing about the music from the summer of 7th grade. 1988. Probably because I’m packing singles tapes (tapes!) that have travelled from the West Coast and another dimension.

Breathe | Hands to Heaven
Oh, god. This song. Full of my favorite emotion, bittersweetness.

Jon Secada | Just Another Day
I bought his CD as one of my BMG “Buy 10 for 1 penny” offer (along with Montell Jordan).

Richard Marx | Don’t Mean Nothing / Hold On to the Nights / Right Here Waiting
Dedicated to the three boys I desperately wanted to date in 7th grade.

Peter Cetera | Next Time I Fall
When Amy Grant went secular it meant we all could. I used that later when I left the church.

 

I’ll leave you with this. A seasonal favorite.

The Sundays | Summertime
We saw them on their last tour. They named their daughter Billie. I will always love them. And you will always find me inside this song in the summer.

 

 

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my prayers.

I’m taking a class on reclaiming the Seven Deadly Sins. It’s fantastic. I have grown in new ways and really, deeply accepted some pieces of myself. I feel stronger.

One of the things the teacher asked us to do is name our prayers. That which we seek as a means of keeping our balance as we grow. Our prayers are our throughline. The thread that holds us together as we grow in a zigzag way.

I pray to this:

my journal of words and images

watering my plants (a new, simple, exquisite way I nourish myself)

facing my beloved, chest on chest, with hugs or kisses (or both!)

deep kisses with soft lips

curling up on down comforters

popcorn + rootbeer on Saturday nights

tequila

breathing into the orgasm and feeling it explode my whole body like a mandala

boot cut jeans

black leather boots. steel-toed.

rubbing my children’s legs as they fall asleep

English tea.

buying books. real, paper ones. reading them.

a dark wood with cedar trees and ferns

comfy chairs to curl up in.

magical things.

William Stafford’s words.

the feel of a good pen.

abstract art. art the size of whole rooms. 

music. 

lighting the candles for meditation + solstice.

listening to their stories + offering medicine.

laughter.

dancing.

Seattle. green moss. pine trees. mountains. streams. ferns. the smell of cedar.

my bed.

Kripalu.

making things with my hands. wood working.

alone time. alone time. alone time. 

friends who hold me up. miracles.

the feel of writing. 
the feel of writing.
the feel of writing. 

 

“Prayer is what keeps us keeping on.
Prayer is where we allow for more.
Prayer is connected to what we are proud of,
what we covet, and our passion.”

– Renee Magnusson

 

 

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Tequila on Thursday Morning

Last Thursday, May 18th, I sat at my desk at 10 am and took two shots of tequila.*
One for Chris Cornell’s death.
And one for his life.

The life that came through that amazing voice.

::: ::: ::: :::

I haven’t said anything yet, because my grief is not over. Barely begun, honestly. The 3-day emotional cycle of social media is not enough for this death, for me.

Chris Cornell was someone I chose to listen to, a few years after the biggest rush of grunge. I bought Temple of the Dog as one of my 10 CD selections with BMG (only a penny, do you remember that?). It wasn’t a case of being caught up in the music of my generation, it felt more intentional than that. It was an adult purchase, inside of my budding adult sense of myself.

He was important because of his talent, because of his emotions and how much he loved Andrew Wood, because of how his beautiful voice conveyed all of it. But also, for me, because his voice and music fed the seeds of my self.

::: ::: ::: :::

Because I am from Seattle, I have a lot of friends back there, and with Chris Cornell being a son of that city, there were lots of memories.

A former roommate talked about taking a Chem class with Soundgarden’s bassist, Hiro Yamamoto at Western Washington University (my alma mater. I remember when he came back from class to tell us what had happened, how it had been discovered. Great story, not gonna tell you; it’s his business).

Another friend, who I knew had worked for the King County Coroner’s office (but didn’t put two and two together until she shared), talked about being part of the team that catalogued and packed up Layne Stayley’s remains when he was found in 2002 (15 years ago, my god). Another voice that can never be duplicated, lost to drugs. (“So many sharps,” my friend said, “so many.”)

And people who had served Chris Cornell around town. Or seen him in the early years. There was a comedy show in Seattle in the 1990s called “Almost Live” where Billy Nye got his start. Soundgarden was part of “The Lame List” piece once. (See also: ‘High Five-n’ White Guys’ and ‘Chihuly and Jones’ – INFJ’s have a terrible sense of humor.)

Who had not seen him in concert once or twelve times? When Lollapalooza was still a mud fest in what was the backwater of Enumclaw, WA. (For a joke we call it ‘Enum-scratch.’) I listened to each song as people posted their favorites and felt my own connections. I read some reports and some posts (this one is my favorite) about what his music meant. And I thought about why I had included him as one of the first members of the ‘Shiva’ board on Pinterest (which seems a ridiculous thing to say as a Gen-Xer: Pinterest). He embodied the full sense of masculinity to me. He was not afraid of himself. He had his demons, to be sure. But he explored so much of life, of himself- and made beauty from it. I deeply admire that.

I had last seen him when he came to Providence on his solo tour. He was on stage simply to have a good time with music. The kid who sat next to me was not born before 1996, and I took umbrage with his youth, but not with his taste in music. Chris Cornell as a god of both our youths. And there he was, taking requests, also denying requests, and just messing with music until it sounded good to him. He left the stage as a warped chord echoed so loud it hurt. It made your head buzz in the way you knew you would not be able to speak in a normal tone of voice until the next morning.

::: ::: ::: :::

But now, at 42 and with a master’s degree in mental health, one thing in particular stays with me: mid-life masculine depression. Yes, Chris Cornell dealt with depression and anxiety either due to or related to his drug use. But so many men deal with undiagnosed depression at this age. At the very least, it deadens them and kills their relationships, and sometimes their work.

I work with many women whose male partners suffer from depression (which has different symptoms than female depression). Male-specific symptoms of depression include physical ailments, anger, and reckless behavior. Men tend to turn their depression outwards, while women turn it inwards. And, especially for men, treating depression makes them feel inadequate. So they don’t treat it…and their relationships falter or they lose their job…and they feel inadequate so they don’t treat… You see where this goes.

There are a variety of reasons that depression happens in men. We all have inside of us the capacity to have every mental health disorder there is in the book. But the silence of it is what makes it so dangerous for men. As my friend, Jenifer said, “Suicide was stalking him (Chris Cornell) and we couldn’t help. How could we have known suicide was stalking him?” Only if he told us.

And the same is true for those around you. If you suspect you are (or your partner is) depressed, please seek help.There are lots of treatment options, many of which are not pharmaceutical (if that bothers you).

Male mid-life depression is a thing.
Male depression is a thing.
And you can have treatment and support.

The music of your life is deeply valuable to someone. Many more ‘someones’ than you suspect, probably. Your fans want you to live, just as we wish Chris Cornell could have.

::: ::: ::: :::

I think there is more to say about Chris Cornell’s death, but it’s not yet formed. I’ll share it when the time is right. And if you’re mourning- maybe it’s finally time for that trip to Seattle. Here’s my map. Visit ‘A Sound Garden,’ will ya?

Blessed be, Chris Cornell. Rest in peace.

 

*I’m not given to drinking much. I like a little wine sometimes, and some champagne on New Year’s Day. But Thursday morning I needed the burning gold of tequila running down my throat in the same way the hot tears ran down my cheeks.

 

 

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Full Moon in Scorpio

I’m late again! Sorry, friends. It’s been a weird week.

My friend, Melissa Kaiser, made a beautiful graphic for this full moon. And she asks:

How deeply, intimately, fully are you connected with your heart? How connected are you to what you love? Open, she says, to the full expression of what you love and who you truly are. 

God, that feels so good- I’m so there, right now. Delicious.

 

 

Chani Nicholas writes:

Being alive means engaging in a continual process of transformation. Nothing in the natural world stays the same. Everything shows signs of being in relationship with its environment. Trees cannot deny the effects of a forest fire. Rocks do not try to hide the smoothness that results from the relentless pounding of waves upon them. Icebergs do not feign being untouched by the rising temperatures of our planet.

Yet we humans try to defend ourselves against the inevitable changes. Aging. Loss. Grief. We spend so much of our resources chasing some external solution to our internal discomfort. We have such difficulty sitting with the feelings that, if felt all the way through, could renew us. Release us. Transform us. 

Our transformation depends on our ability to sit with and accept the feelings that arrive with the truth. Not our version of how we wish life would be and not the version of reality that we need to be true in order to justify how we are living. Just the honest truth. How it lands with us in this moment. What it means for our life. Right here, right now.

I think I might have been born in the wrong sign. Scorpio feels more like me, if this is what it’s about. Click her name to read the rest of the post- it’s great.

 

And lastly, it’s not about the moon, it’s about nodes. (I don’t pretend to understand this, I just know it resonates.) From my fave, Bairavee Balasubramaniam:

There´s been an incredible amount of energetic spring cleaning as we´ve been asking to disconnect from things that no longer serve or resonate with us (as we perceive it to be). Sometimes this leads to healthier choices, and sometimes it leads to deeper delusion.

That´s up the individual and how they choose to walk their path…

When you see that Love has fire and teeth just as it has softness and surrender …. those neat little categories dissolve instantly. And unconditional love can just as easily hold you in warmth and connection, just as it can boot you out of its space, wishing you well from the core of its soul.

Too true.

That’s it for now. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately- my own interfaith training and how magic works and decolonization of the latter. More later, loves.

Best wishes from the trail,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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I Waited 26 Years for This Fantasy to Come True

Yes. Sometimes anticipation can be fantastic, and sometimes anticipation can be a bitch.

::: ::: ::: :::

My entire dating life, I was never asked out. Except Paul in Junior High who asked me to go out via a Hangman game. But otherwise, I was a self-made woman in the dating department.

From the age of 15, when I really, really liked Christopher (the tall, blonde runner) I started asking guys out. I distinctly remember hearing about women doing that- asking men out- on the radio or TV at that time (~1990 or so) and thinking, ‘that is a great way to get what you want instead of waiting.’ Because waiting for 15 year-old boys to ask you out was often a long game.

So, fuck that. I figured out that as long as I could handle the worst outcome (a ‘no,’ maybe even a rude ‘no’) I would be fine.

I asked dudes out.
It went great!
I went out more and got what I wanted- dates. And kisses and allthegoodthings.
And dudes readily confessed that they liked being asked out- had been hoping I’d do such a thing.
[Ego boost is always nice.]

But there was always a little part of me that wanted to be asked out.
Of course there is a part in each of us that wants to be chosen.
To be sought out because of who we are.
To be deemed ‘special’ and ‘worthy.’
[This is a bit of a problem for women, as we are asked to constantly judge our worth by whether someone wants us or not. Separating that honest human desire from social conditioning can be tough.]

::: ::: ::: :::

Cut to last year, I’m 41, happily married for 18 years, together for 20. My husband and I went to our local town’s “Grown Ass Prom” the previous year and were planning to go again that next year.

My husband, who didn’t ask me out when we dated- but worked hard to chase me down one afternoon at a tattoo shop after work!- knew that I wanted to be asked out. It was a dream I shared with him several times over the years, and he was always kind about it.

A few months before the prom, we were making dinner one night and chatting, there was a lull in the conversation and he did the sweetest thing: he grabbed me by the hand, pulled me close as if to kiss me, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Would you go to the prom with me?”

I did not need a ‘prom-posal.’
I just needed those simple words. That 8 word question.
What a thing it was to be asked.
Even after 20 years, twenty years of so much asking for so many things, he asked me to the prom.
It was just what I wanted.

I waited 26 years for that fantasy to come true.
And it was so fantastic, I cannot even tell you.
There were no teenage worries, no fear.
Only love and support and a desire for fun.
I soaked in every bit of it- pulled all the details into my heart to remember them.

The guy I wanted most asked me to the prom, you guys!!
Fireworks, inner squealing, jumping with joy- it all happened.
It was so worth the wait.

::: ::: ::: :::

We went for the third year again last night. Below are the pictures of that night from the second year (me, because I looked fabulous). We had such a blast.

Meriwether in leather.

 

All the details in place.

 

We fulfilled every ‘prom’ fantasy we ever had that night. I got my hair done in a faux hawk; nails and toes, too. We didn’t see each other before the final reveal moment. We wowed the crowd at the restaurant and on the dance floor.

 

Official prom photo.

Yes, my husband wears eyeliner. He went in an ‘Adam Ant’ outfit and he looked fabulous. Do you know what kind of balls it takes to pull that off? You gotta be real secure in your sense of self to do that. You have to know who you are. My man is fearless. Which is why I love him so. Even as I write this, it turns me on. We’d do anything to support each other- and we do.

 

The morning after.

Our prom night fantasy ended the way it should- with my dress on the floor next to our bed. A good time was had by all.

 

 

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