It’s the start of a new semester in Ohio. I’m taking a more manageable load this semester, so that I can really focus on my most intense photo class and still have time to breathe. Here are some other changes I’ve implemented to help myself have a fresh start:
-I moved rooms in my co-op.
-I rented a locker in the gym.
-I don’t have any classes that start before 10:30am.
-We are painting a giant zen tangle art therapy mural on the living room ceiling.
-Oh, and I finally took a self portrait today. I haven’t taken one in a while.
I have a whole 15-20 minute set to myself. I have 5 songs picked out to play, all but one of which I’ve written in Korea. So it will be a good send off for myself. And it will be good to burn some karma, and leave it here before I go.
I’ve finally reached the next level as a musician. I’ve been invited to perform a gig.
It’s now been about 5 years since I started writing music and performing open mics. Over the course of the last 5 years, I’ve performed at open mics in about 8 different cities, 1 national park, and 1 foreign country. Seoul is the biggest city I’ve performed in, and while I’ve been here I’ve played at 3 different venues.
Last weekend, I performed at a monthly open mic in Itaewon. Afterwards one of the other performers came up and complimented my first song. He said the chorus really touched him. I appreciated the affirmation, because it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve written so far. Have a listen here.
He recently opened up a bar in Itaewon and said he’s planning to have some music nights, and invited me to perform. I told him thanks, but I’m leaving next month. He said, he’s planning to have one in July and to email him to get in touch. As I left the bar, the bartender also complimented me and invited me to come back and book a show sometime. 2 invitations to have a gig in one night!
I’ve never had a gig before, and partly it was because I never felt ready to. Writing music has always been a hobby and a therapeutic outlet for my emotions, so I’ve never felt the need to put myself out there beyond open mics. However, I feel like I’ve reached the point where I feel proud of enough of my songs that I would feel confident to play a whole set. So we’ll see. Maybe I’ll have my first gig before I leave this country.
Even if it doesn’t work out, it’s nice to know that I’ve reached the next level and I actually feel confident enough about my own talent to feel like I deserve to be here.
This month’s YOQ task is quitting YouTube.
I’d been doing a lot of youtube binging the last few months which was interrupting my sleep routine. So this month I blocked it on all my browsers. So far it seems to be helping me to get back on track. Although, to be honest, I think the trip to the tea festival made the biggest dent in whipping me into some sort of routine.
The nice thing is I have more time freed up for blogging which I’ve been doing more of this month. I am starting to collect blogs like I collect notebooks.
I have this tendency to compartmentalize. I like to have separate notebooks for separate things. One notebook is just for my dreams, another is for my morning pages, another is for my therapy sessions, etc.
Now I have a handful of blogs on various platforms. I’ve got my photo blog, and my poetry blog, and this one where I blog about the year of quitting and the unplanning project, and a handful of others.
I guess May will just be the month of blogging.
It’s Depression Awareness Week and there’s an awesome hashtag trending on twitter to shed light on the conversation surrounding depression.
So here’s my too long for twitter #WhatYouDontSee inspired slam poem
holding back the reservoir of tears
in the corners of my eyes.
which burst open
when I walk down the stairs
to take out the trash,
when I hit the bike trail
to finally do that exercise
they tell me will release endorphins,
when I leave our lunch
after shaking your hand good bye,
when I sit there on my yoga mat
with my mind screaming,
“I DIDN’T CHOSE THIS,”
as I listen to my teacher
drone on and on
about how depressed people can
how they feel.
The dirty dishes
that pile up in my sink
and on my countertops,
sitting there for days,
which mound up like Mount Everest,
standing between me and my dinner.
I can’t cook
until my dishes are clean
and I can’t clean
until I stop staring at the youtube videos
floating across my screen.
The crumpled wads
of foil kimbab wrappers
from every time I never managed to scale Mount Everest,
and every time I finally managed
to climb half way up,
only to run out of time
to prepare a decent meal,
and was forced to retreat
to the kimbap heaven
around the corner.
from knowing I pushed away
the people I love most
and that I wasn’t there
when they needed me.
The time I spend lying on my floor
in a puddle of tears-
turn into hours
turn into days
turn into weeks.
The countless number of times
I gave myself permission
to be sad and unproductive
until this week turned into 2 weeks,
turned into 2 months,
turned into today,
over and over again,
like I’m the main character
in the movie “Groundhog Day.”
What you don’t see
are the lies in my head
that tell me
Somewhere I read that the stages of grief are the same as the stages of forgiveness. This makes a lot of sense to me. It also explains why I have such a hard time forgiving people and why it takes so long to process.
If you never let yourself mourn, you can never reach the final stage. And if you never reach acceptance, then you can never really forgive. I’ve never really let myself mourn before.
You can’t rush the stages of grief. And you can’t skip any of them. You have to let them wash over you in waves. Once each stage has hit it’s high tide, I promise you’ll feel cleaner.
I know because I feel like I’ve been in a constant tsunami of grief for the last year. I must have gone through the stages at least 4 or 5 times now.
I’m crossing my fingers that I’m riding the last wave of the season. It’s unclear if I’ve reached the acceptance stage for any of the previous run-throughs, but maybe they were all just dress rehearsals leading up to the final performance. I’m hoping this is the final performance.
Last Sunday, I asked a question in yoga class and I didn’t like the answer I got. I don’t know if it was even the answer so much as the question itself, but something triggered a flood of tears that didn’t stop for a good 20 minutes. I was sitting there on my mat sobbing and my teacher was telling me to stop fighting the battle that was eating away inside of me. I was mad at him. I was mad at myself. I was mad. And then he said, “You’re dying.”
It didn’t click until later, but he was right. I’m mourning my old self. Again. And when you mourn you go through the stages of grief. And right now I’m dead center in the anger/ depression stage. That’s what’s been keeping me up all night for the last month. That’s what’s been keeping me numbing on youtube videos and tumblr posts. That’s what’s been making me feel bad that I couldn’t get up before noon, or go to bed before 3am.
At last month’s open mic, I performed this poem that was about anger and depression and forgiveness and the stages of grief. And in the poem I said:
“I deserve to go through every single stage of grief, even if it takes 100 years to do so.”
In the poem, I was speaking to someone else, but I was really just trying to convince myself that it was true.
And I’m slowly learning to believe it and live by it.
I’m stuck in one of those stages right now. And even if it takes 100 years, I’m allowed to be here. Right where I am. Awake at 1am in the morning, angry, sad, sleepless, unproductive, not crossing things off my to-do list, whatever. It’s ok.
I’m a glass-half-full type of person, so I predict this stage will last less time than 100 years. It might turn out to be closer to 100 days, though, and that’s ok too.