They say who you are
Is who you are when you're alone
But I don't feel anything.
I'm like a stone in rushing water,
Unmovable, slowly wearing down
And when I feel a chink in my armor
I pick it at, pulling it back
To reveal the layers hidden beneath,
So many layers, so many faces,
A paste-on smile for each day
And they pile up around me
But I keep on digging
Through the faces of a girl my parents want to see,
Through strange and foreign words my friends want to hear,
Thoughts tumbling onto the ground
Implanted by a society that screams for diversity
Yet dresses us all the same.
And the pile's so high I can't breathe
But I need to know the person hiding underneath it all
Because I don't know her anymore,
Just who she's suppossed to be.
Am I even there?
How can I know people
When I don't even know myself,
If I don't know if my thoughts are truly mine or someone else?
Why can I deal with other peoples' problems
But never my own?
How can I listen so well
But never hear myself over the sound of silence filling my head?
How do others feel so much,
Driven by the whim of emotion,
Yet my days pass in blurs of nothingness,
Dirty puddles in the cracks of broken asphalt.
You don't understand--
Who I think I am and who I am,
They're not the same
And I don't know which is which.
The girl buried under all these layers,
Too scared to live and too scared to die
Is not the same as the girl in the mirror.
You don’t understand…
That there are moments where I hope this person’s reactions to me aren’t surface feelings. As much as I want to feel the breeze of numbness to cope with my sensitive nature and to protect my heart from another fracture, I crave the warmth of something deeper, meaningful. I crave chaos wrapped in shrouds of mystery and soulful connections.
…But fear takes over.
…I want to run.
…I want to fight whatever this is.
…I want this person to say, “Nah, I don’t want this. You’re too much of a flight risk. Too wild like an untamed Mustang, always ready to run. I can’t risk it.”
There are moments when I silently break in front of everyone and no knows sees it. (no one sees my face distort in pain). No one hears it. (no one hears the willow tree that falls to the earth).
There are moments where I internally scream as I fight a battle within myself to not be who I was back then. Back when I pretended not to care when attachment settled in like salt settling in a glass full of water.
…But instinct takes over
…I want to confess
…I don’t want to fight whatever this is.
…I want this person to say, “I’m keeping you. Simple as that. Your running doesn’t scare me. It just tells me that you feel this, too. I got you. Because this feels right. I will risk it.”
There are moments like this that my heart is heavier than normal. My eyes water with possibilities and my conscience mimes its way through the unknown as I continue this journey of self-discovery.
Applause for the band merged to clapping in time while they continued to play: accordion, fiddle, flute, guitar, bodhrán. To my eye, not a one of the 3,900 moved, though the actors’ final bow had long passed. We all needed it; we needed to hear more, clap more, pull together more.
Come From Away shows the part of the September 11 story that took place in Canada. While the nation fearfully awaited updates, and a friend and I wandered my closed upstate campus dazed, 38 planes carrying 6,700 people redirected to Gander, Newfoundland, doubling the population of a town that unhesitatingly provided all the support and comfort it could. Scars from that day remain fresh. All who were alive and aware lost something on 9/11; many, obviously, lost much. Watching that musical, we relived the moment when we heard and the aftermath, connecting others’ stories with our own experiences. Quiet tears in the dark. Catharsis.
“Catharsis” is my favorite word because it’s a beautiful concept, goal, and experience: “the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.” Aristotle believed it the purpose of tragedy. Having sought catharsis in many a theater, I believe the Greek dude nailed it, though catharsis is not solely the domain of tragedy, or even solely of theatre.
My wife and I greatly value live performance. We devote a not-inconsiderable portion of our disposable income toward it. We don’t do beach vacations, and we beat on cell phones and cars till they are antiquated scrap, but we see some damn fine shows. My reasons are not just aesthetic or diversionary; I chase catharsis. And I want it live.
Come From Away led me to reflect on my live performance experiences– theatrical, musical, and otherwise. In a streaming world with infinite content available at a click, why is live performance so much more satisfying, so much more likely to yield what I need?
Part of the power comes from the intense choreography to yield a single moment in the moment – there are no retakes. This is doubly true of fire. Metallica fans love the anti-war epic “One,” and I am no exception. The intro and early verses are acoustic; the choruses foreshadow impending ferocity, and when chorus fades to bridge and unaccompanied bass drum rolls vibrate in your chest, you know it’s coming. “Roar” fits the emotional impact of the guitar strikes, but it’s the wrong word because a roar is guttural and muddy. As with all Metallica’s truly great songs, those notes in the “One” bridge explode with absolute precision, and on the World Magnetic tour, absolutely precise pillars of flame punctuated them. I felt the heat twenty rows back. Each pillar burst at the exact instant the guitar began, vanished when it ceased, then burst forth in a different hue for the next guitar phrase with the same meticulous wrath, over and over while the amplifiers and crowd shook the arena. Wildness, power and anger perfectly tamed, controlled and timed for release by the crew to mirror the art of the band I had followed since adolescence uprooted me. Together, they had harnessed and released it all, and so could I.
Even when a headliner stands alone onstage, a score of people must simultaneously channel their efforts to fashion that moment. There’s a scene in The Dresser when the aging, declining actor cries out Lear onstage (blow, wind, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!) but we watch the behind-the-scenes action: a stagehand turning a crank to produce thunder for the storm. But this is London, 1940—blaring air raid sirens overwhelm everything except the bombs that shake the theatre. All the while, the pitiful backstage god makes his tiny thunder because the show must go on and that is his part. It’s a transcendent scene that both lionizes and trivializes the stagehand, a dramatization of the faithful unseen. Applauding at performance’s end, we clap for those forgotten ones, too, which lends a poignancy to live performances. We dream of being stars; we are the stagehands and the roadies, toiling even as the performers take their bows. Their efforts create the grandeur of the enterprise.
Needless to say, we also clap for the excellence that the performers ever-so-briefly share with us. Ingrid Fliter gave the greatest piano performance I’ve ever heard, Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Rochester Philharmonic. Her fingers trickled over the keys with impossible grace. I like classical music, studied it a little. The truth remains that I will never feel Chopin the way Ingrid Fliter felt it as she swayed behind that Steinway. But as the air-soluble notes tinctured my breath, I caught a whiff of her Chopin, and it was beautiful. It wasn’t the piece itself, which I’d heard via recording dozens of times. Just like I’d heard the crazy guitar sounds in Rage Against the Machine songs before I watched Tom Morello play, or like I’d listened to the 50s standard “Up on the Roof” many times before hearing Sutton Foster sing it. I didn’t know it could sound like that—I didn’t know it could be that. Many could reach proficiency with pianos or guitars or vocals; few do, and an infinitesimal fraction of those achieve brilliance. When we attend their performances, we witness artists scraping against the human limits of invention and beauty.
So we clap. We clap largely to acknowledge the artist, but we also clap so that we can confirm what we just witnessed. It’s the audiovisual equivalent of answering the question, “Did you see that?” We did, we saw it together, we applaud it together. Standing ovations are cool, but it seems to me that at the professional level they are also common. The rare thing, the special thing, is the spontaneous standing ovation, the ovation when you all spring to your feet immediately because none of you can bear to wait.
My freshman year of college, my honors program offered a trip to attend a Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra performance for $15. Alfred University was perfect for me and I love it, but it’s in a village with one stoplight, and damn did I need that trip. I knew relatively little about classical music at the time, but, you know, Beethoven’s cool. A friend pointed out that number nine was the one Kubrick used in A Clockwork Orange, so we made repeated jokes about “listening to a bit of the old Ludwig van.” And when I flipped through my program, I realized that it was the “Ode to Joy” symphony. I had never heard its original context, but I knew the tune from church.
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony begins solemnly, pensively. Bright spots appear in the first movement, but they never last, and each development section seems to further fragment the themes. With around a minute to go, the strings start to churn, their crescendo choking the light. Following that morose conclusion, bracing violin slashes and timpani open the second movement. The music rushes along, troubled, then gradually gives way to a more playful section, but the darkness returns more powerfully than ever. The violins shriek; the timpani pounds. The struggle persists throughout the movement. The third movement offers us tranquility that builds into grandeur, and then…
It’s important to note that throughout the whole symphony, which has now gone on for 40 minutes, there have been something like a hundred people sitting in still silence at the rear of the stage, doing nothing. I figured out they were a chorus, and when I caught my breath between movements, I would wonder when they were going to do something. There were also four solo vocalists who were a big enough deal to be individually announced in the program, but who had also not stirred from their chairs.
All the singers sit unmoving even when the fourth movement begins with a quick recap of what came before, but with all the dark stuff weakened and subsumed within the deepest of the strings. At last, we hear the famous “Ode to Joy” theme from the cellos and double basses. It’s soft. The violins grab the baton, and when the winds subsequently take it, it’s arrived—almost. Amid a bright flurry from the strings, the four vocalists and the chorus stand on cue. One last time, the darkness returns, rushed and fearful, but the strings close off the pain. Tentatively, the horns and violins try out the “Ode to Joy” theme, halfway: four quiet notes rising, no resolution. Incomplete, twice. The third repetition lightly swells through that fourth note and then, in an instant, full symphony and full choir combine to set everything free.
I don’t know quite how to describe it, except to say that it’s joy. Not the cheap, bullshit happiness of that obnoxious Pharrell song, but actual, real, light-from-the-darkness joy celebrating our continuing existence. We—musicians, vocalists, audience, conductor—have been on this odyssey together for more than an hour. When we leap up immediately after the finale, we’re not merely applauding the performers or even Beethoven. We’re applauding and affirming life itself, en masse. For those minutes, nothing matters beyond the simplest of facts: we live.
Live performances yield catharsis because they require, condensed within a very short time, dedicated effort from unsung heroes, brilliant artists, and audiences themselves. Recordings might represent that distilled moment, but they cannot ever reproduce that unified, spontaneous rush. Everything given to us that we might witness together, clap together, feel together.
In 2017, researchers at University College London found that as audiences watch live theatrical performances, their heartbeats synchronize.
Sounds about right to me.
What Is A RibeyeMoshPit?
I am no one.
I am everyone.
Yes, I'm a real person.
Yes, we are real people.
I am one single entity
existing in an infinite amount of lives
across multiple realities
all in one single area of space.
My stories are true.
My stories are fantasy.
Why can't a myth be true?
Why can't truth be in a lie?
All of my stories are true
because I write only in myths.
All of my stories are lies,
because I must tell the truth.
I am not the inner machinations of a single entity.
I am many people whose stories must be told.
To tell the truth.
I am everyone.
I am no one.
I stepped on broken glass
but it’s your feet that started to bleed
should have been more careful, to not cause you pain
maybe you thought I was made of iron that I stepped on those shards
but your color glass does not hurt me, it never has
the sun always reflecting in it
bringing an eighth color rainbow just on the edge of the spectrum
the pain does not touch the souls of my feet
it twists and bends in my lungs . as I inhale the dust from your broken breaths
your reflections are beautiful to me
and I can’t look away
so much that at times I forget to stop, and instead just walk slowly to you
not seeing the things I might have done wrong
stubborn, my dear . blind to the truths
stuck in my matter, shielding myself from the good that you bring
unwise, I know
yet often , I need a second breath to really take you in, all of you
I stumble in the dark
and finally make my eyes open, when I thought they were open all of this time
I frown at such revelation, constantly in awe
shaking my head at my own unawareness
each portal was unlocked, but I was closed
afraid of the things that you were giving me, or too uncertain to really believe
to grasp those tiny pieces, to embrace them the way they deserved
was... listen to that word intently
read it, touch it, taste it
I’m moving forward now, with better knowledge of what builds your world
a world that is now a part of my own
deep breaths, focused stare, listen please
at times I am blind with you, yet I see you with my heart
every time that my eyes fail me, and my mind objects
I see you
always touching the broken color glass
but never letting go
Ten I Will Never Understand
01) Why would anyone think, that from conception to birth, a human is not a human, but is another species, that only becomes human at birth?
02) Why would anyone think that by raising taxes on goods and services corporations offer, these same corporations will not just raise the price of the good and services they offer? Why does anyone think this tax increase helps poor people pay for goods and services?
03) Why would anyone think that raising the minimum wage will lower unemployment? Doesn't the increased labor cost only result in less labor to pay?
04) Why would anyone think raising the income tax will result in increased government revenue? If this theory is true, then why is the income tax not already at 100%? Could it be that once the income tax gets to a point that it is no longer worth going to work, people will stop going to work?
05) Why would anyone want to impeach a US President for asking a foreign country to do a little work for the (hardworking taxpayer) money it gets from the US? No one gives me $400 million dollars without strings attached.
06) Why would anyone want to impeach a US President for asking a foreign country to go back to investigating what a previous US Vice-President bragged about, on video, publically available EVERYWHERE on the internet? Is the discovery of the crime now a crime and the actual crime is no longer a crime?
07) Why would anyone protest capitalism at a Starbucks, using an I-Phone, wearing a North-Face coat, and then drive home in a Benz?
08) Why would anyone order a T-Shirt from Amazon that reads "There are 57 Genders" and then have to choose between men's and women's sizes?
09) Why is the word abbreviation so long?
10) Why would anyone believe Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide? All of the memes indicate otherwise.
Enjoy The View
I have always felt just on the verge of understanding, hands outstetched to the stars above, fingertips a breath away from brushing the constellations, yet so far away.
Everything spins past at a dizzying pace, people and places, all voices lost to the wind. I can remember hot summer nights and cigarette smoke, but never faces. I remember high heels clicking against the gymnasium floor in time with the music, but never the song.
I often feel that I exist entirely in memory, drifting back and forth within the unconcious mind like a dreamer, like a parasite. My body goes through the motions. When I hover before the bathroom sink brushing my teeth, blank stare fixated on the smeared surface of the mirror, images of the past superimpose themselves over reality. She stands at my side again. Swearing she loves me, spewing hot breath and empty promises like smoke.
I stand long enough to miss the bus before I realize I'm still dreaming and spit out the toothpaste. The icy water bites in the aftermath of mint, and now I see myself trying adult toothpaste for the first time, sputtering and scrunching up my nose against the burn as my father smiles. Stepping outside, I push the memory away.
The drive is drowned out in music and daydream, and much of the day follows suit. I spend hours wading through hypothetical situations and fictional worlds, pushing reality aside until I choke on it. Nothing is interesting enough to hold my attention for long.
When will I feel something real again? Will I ever?
Bad days are spent sprawled across the cold tile of my bedroom floor, unseeing eyes trained on the popcorn ceiling. I puzzle through years worth of mistakes, failed relationships, details missed in the moment. Maybe if I would have tried harder. Maybe if I could have been a better daughter, a better person, a better friend.
I smile through the burn of unshed tears, because at least that feels like something real. When they fall, searing hot against my cheeks, I think back to all those nights curled up in the dark, terror coursing through every inch of me like a virus, like something infectious and foreign. It trembles through my tiny fingers like an earthquake.
Sometimes, a flicker of light will catch my eye. I'll find a bird perched on the windowsill, or familliar faces caught in the golden light, or warm hands wrapped around my own. Becoming lost in the tumble of regret and the need to understand is easy, but I find myself eager to push through and smile at the little things, to draw myself back.
Maybe I will never reach the constellations, but I can always choose to enjoy the view.
i want to sleep
but i can’t sleep a wink
do i need a shrink?
thinking in thoughts and lines
i need to take some time
i need to find an escape
i need to find a way
to look away
i’m a castaway
stuck in the sea of my own thoughts
i’m on a dilapidated piece of wood
i’m on an iceberg in the middle of a flood
now i’m drowning
the point of this madness
the end and beginning
is deliberately ditching me
i’m in the middle of nowhere
my own brain
i can’t control
my feelings are all distraught
i’m caught in a knot
to figure out that help is naught
myself into this mess
i’m a mess
call the ambulance
call the doctor
to be looked after
because left alone
i’m like a dog
lost and wandering,
some sort of help but receiving
because i’m nothing
n o t h i n g.
i need to stop thinking.
You see the smile I bear across my face
You neglect to see the pain
Because it's hidden
In it's own space
I try to explain
Words simply do not do
I feel ashamed
So I try to pretend for you
You acknowledge my feelings
But do not understand the extent
You expect it to pass
Becoming a historic event
You think it's a phase
One I will simply outgrow
You neglect to see I am broken
So to you, I am putting on a show
You remind me of our blessings
I know these to be true
It saddens me to feel the weight
Of how this also affects you
I am the culprit
This is the greatest of wars
I know I am to blame
For these, the muddiest of shores
I want to find it
The joy I once possessed
Just the energy of the thought, though
Compels me to rest
It is not just a darkness
It is a lack there of
And sadly, little room for love
My passions are gone
My personality depleted
My old spirit
Left in its grave, defeated
I want you to understand
But I fear this even more
That sympathizing with me
Will also leave you at the devils door
Instead, I will hide
Under lock and key
I will unlock the door and leave
Only when I know I am ready
For now I will stay
I think I need to feel
Until my strength
Is eventually revealed
This is a lesson
One I wish to not repeat
I must first sit and embrass my depression
Before I can stand on my own two feet
You Don’t Understand
It’s useless to please all people,
I’ve learnt this point,
That mixing the colour pink,
Into a black paint,
Just know plainly,
That even a small prize,
Is much precious,
Than any expensive pearl,
That you possess.
I’ve now perceived,
All that you preached,
Was only your pride,
Written in black pen,
On a black paper.
Hinders me to proceed,
So now I disobey you’re principles,
You shook my peace,
& became my story’s dark piece.
I snubbed my pain,
& gave myself a push,
As I stopped to pretend,
Now I’ve a purpose,
To stride away from my problems.
You don’t understand this, probably,
And I don’t care to explain, precisely!