I’m kidding, you don’t actually get a bunny guys, but you get an instant download of the first single “Know Your Name” when you pre-order the new EP, Bold! It’s very gay and very dancey and I hope you like it!!!
Hey my little red pandas,
I’m working on my next collection of poetry!! I’m working on a lot of things, really, (the EP, the album, composing classical work, etc.) but I’ve been trying to write a poem a day amidst all my ongoing projects. I posted a photo on instagram recently and decided to write a short poem with it, and it felt pretty neat. I thought that it might be a cool way to explore form and encourage different ways to think about poetry, and 30 days feels like a healthy number for poetry (much like the 30/30 NaPoWriMo Challenge). Sharing is a unique part of the writing process that is unnecessary for some and vital to others, but I personally find that it strengthens my writing and voice. Sharing is often difficult for some as it requires courage in one’s vulnerability and comes for many at the risk of being self-indulgent or ostentatious. Let me be the first to say- sharing thoughtful art is a gift to the reader/listener/watcher!
Sharing in the context of social media, though- I understand that dilemma…
My relationship to social media is complex, but overall, an enjoyable one. My favorite is when it’s used as a unifier and facilitator of ideas, but of course is sometimes used in the pursuit of vanity and can be an anxious place to spend wistful hours living comparatively to one’s peers. But this is not my essay on social media’s complex implications- this is a blog post about rousing my poetry mind and hopefully inciting yours as well!
SO! I’ll be posting a photo and poem a day on my social media platforms and I’m inviting you to try it with me if you are looking to experiment with writing and sharing. I’ll be using the hashtag #30PhotoPoems and will try not to make each one a photo of cats with bad haikus (no promises).
I have so many more things to share- most importantly: my team has successfully retrieved my website from my old record label, so now I’m free free free and also my website is free free for me to blog and tell you what kind of cheese I’m eating (pecorino!) and I can post like this blah blah blah and nobody can stop me because I’m a powerful unicorn goddess that is captain of this website and I can eat ice cream for breakfast and do whatever I want WEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! More updates to come, cute butts. I said BUTTS!
Butts butts butts butts
Hey my little green bean sprouts,
I peek around on social media every once in awhile, and I am always so impressed with how you guys rock all of your “Mary Lambert” shirts. Whether it’s the “Gender Roles Are Gross” crop top with jeans, the “Body Love” shirt with no make-up, the “Mary Lambert Makes Me Emotional” tee matching with other babes, or the “Everybody Is A Babe” in your sleepy jam-jams, YOU ALWAYS LOOK THE MOST CUTEST. I want to start a fan-of-the-week photo series that shows you cuties donning your Mary Lambert shirts along with a brief interview I hold where I ask you about how great you are and what your patronus is.
If you want to be involved, just use the hashtag #MaryLambertFan on instagram, twitter, or facebook.
PS. PS. PS. YOU ARE SO WONDERFUL AND MADE OF SUNSHINE AND ANNIE’S CHEDDAR BUNNIES AND I HOPE YOU HAVE THE BEST DAY EVER
My dearest, most precious snow angels,
It’s January! How was your holiday?! How was your New Years? Did you make a snowperson in your yard then wished them to life and then it became your very best friend?!?!?! Did you eat all the fudge in the land?! Did you watch Elf and cry?! Did you hug a nice cat or a friend or a friend’s cat?!
WOW ME TOO.
On the real real babes, I had one of the best holidays ever. I went horseback riding in the snow with my family, had snuggles with our cat, sang Christmas songs in a sleigh, started BOXING, ate delicious food, wrote music, bought flannel sheets LIKE AN ADULT, went skiing, WROTE A NEW SONG WITH MY GIRLFRIEND, looked at Christmas lights, listened to Christina Aguilara’s Christmas album, and most importantly, spent quality time with the people I love. And most most importantly, ate pie.
I have a TON OF EXCITING UPDATES!!!
-Just in time for the Winter season: CROP TOPS on my website. I also released T-shirts in the same style in case you want to stay warmer.
– I’m working on the next album! I’ve been brushing up on my classical composition chops, as I am composing string quartets for some songs! It’s thrilling to put my degree to work, after primarily focusing on performing the last year.
– I’m working on my next collection of poetry! I’m 60 pages in! It is scary! It is a lot of work! I have trouble making myself sit down and write. I wonder if you writers out there have any tricks for becoming more prolific?
Now the foremost excitingest:
You may recall that we have been working on this video for a hella long time, and that’s because we ran into a few snags along the way. Partly because I funded this project by myself and I don’t even own a car, so that was an adventure in finances! But mostly because I wanted this video to be a piece of art, and that ended up taking a lot more time than I expected. Working on this project felt pretty symbolic for me; I can’t remember the last time I worked on anything creative simply for art’s sake- so much of my life has become about promo, about social media, about making the right career move, or writing songs with the sole intention of having people like them, to the point where I almost feel paralyzed to create. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to sit at the piano and not think “OK. GOTTA WRITE A HIT” “IS THIS CHORD PROGRESSION A HIT CHORD PROGRESSION?!” “WILL PEOPLE LIKE THIS OR WILL THEY HEAR IT AND WANT TO SEND ME ONE OF THOSE GLITTER ENVELOPES AND SAY MEAN THINGS?!” Rather than thinking “Do I even like what I’m creating?” “Is this fulfilling?”Ribcage is a dark song. I wrote it because something dark happened to me. The full explanation of why I wrote the song is here, in this editorial I wrote for FADER, but the idea for the music video, though related, is a little bit different. You can watch it here.
Ribcage is about the unintentional (or intentional) voyeurism of being a fan. My art is an extension of my innermost thoughts, and because I’m a (sometimes involuntarily) vulnerable soul and choose to tell my story (or cry it in a song), I put myself in a precarious trust fall into the audience every night. Most of the time, it is the most gratifying experience an artist could ever dream of. I am able to freely talk about trauma, body image, sexual abuse, being bi-polar, and the audience (read: YOU, YOU GORGEOUS ANGEL CUPCAKE) looks at me and says “I see you. I feel you. Me too.”
The beauty of being vulnerable is that there is an incredible opportunity to connect on a metaphysical level with other human beings. I believe that vulnerability is what makes humanity so moving. When you are vulnerable, you take a leap of faith that the person you are attempting to connect with will reciprocate your openness. If the energy or openness is not returned or sometimes worse, feigned or made fun of, it can feel like the walls are caving in. I took a big break from touring this year after I realized I was having too many grisly panic attacks post-show. Being a vulnerable artist can be so rewarding when you connect with an audience, but when the vulnerability is non-reciprocated or devoid of compassion, it can crush you, your spirit, and your art.
I mean being asked about my sexual abuse on a live television show without any warning or relevance.You, you scrumptious little cookie, might be thinking- WOAH MARY CHILL OUT. Protect yourself! Why do you have to show everyone your naked self all the time? And you would be right! I’m working on that. The problem is, it doesn’t come naturally. You know how a lot of people have to learn how to be vulnerable? I have to learn how to not be vulnerable when it’s unsafe, without changing my identity to fit into this lifestyle. That’s one of the scarier things I’ve noticed about this industry, and largely in the world- how frequently and easily we adapt to harmful situations. I had some people in my life suggest going on anxiety medication, but I realized that these panic attacks had only started this year, and I didn’t want to adapt to this lifestyle. The same thing happened when I was losing my voice and about to start a tour. I was urged to get on vocal steroids, but steroids are a quick fix and can seriously harm your vocal chords with extended use. If my voice is giving out, then I need to change my schedule. If my brain is having these minute combustions, then I need to figure out where it came from, and address it. That said, I took some media training last year specifically to learn how to deflect when a writer is trying to be exploitive with my story. At the moment, I am trying to figure out how to retract safely when I feel unsafe on stage without shaking, running off and crying into chocolate bars.
ANYWHOOZLE. That is the Ribcage story. No kitten mentions in those paragraphs, so HERE, HERE’S A KITTEN:
I also released a video called “Lay Your Head Down” which is a song poem in which I talk about ALL MY FEELINGS. I have so many feelings.
Hey my little tinsel babies. I wrote a new poem-song a couple weeks ago and I thought it might be relevant to anyone that has feelings and/or cries a lot. The holidays can be tough sometimes, and if you’re anything like me, it’s way easier to look at what Laverne Cox is posting on her Instagram (because, LAVERNE COX) than be present with any actual sadness or pain. I cry almost once a day, and I’m proud of it. I think crying is good for you. It cleans your eyeballs out, and it shows vulnerability- which I personally think is one of the strongest, most courageous traits a person can have.
So Happy Holidays, babes. Here’s to crying!
How are you?? Did you see something cool today like a cloud that was shaped like a rock that was shaped like a shark?! Me too. I have so many things to tell you! Aside from the fact my entire world is COMPLETELY CRUMBLING DOWN A WORMHOLE OF CHILDHOOD MEMORIES. I will elaborate: late last night I discovered the simple fact that the Berenstein Bears are not, in fact, Berenstein Bears but BERENSTAIN BEARS with an A, and I am being SO REAL WITH YOU RIGHT NOW that I have never legitimately questioned alternate timelines and parallel universes until now. ARE ANY OF YOU REAL?!@?@?@?Ok. Calming down because this is my own crisis. You are all real and adorable and I love you and you are reading this on my website that has photos of me and poems and I play music and we are all okay. I’m just going to eat some friut and ride my bicycle later.Great news, I’m in the UK again! I am feeling like it’s almost a second home by now. “Heart on my Sleeve” is being released there IN 2 DAYS omgomg! YAY MUSIC! I’ve never quite understood holding releases for different countries, because the internet, but nonetheless, IT HAS ARRIVED TO THE UK! I have a show in London that is unfortunately (but for me, very fortunately) sold out, but have no fear little kitten, I am also doing a small set at Brighton Pride! So come see me and be gay or trans or an ally or queer and PROUD and if you are none of those things, I will pray for you and bless your little homophobic heart with my two very gay hands.
Wednesday, July 29 at 7pm – Hoxton Bar & Kitchen – London, UK
Saturday, August 1 at 12pm – Brighton & Hove Pride – Preston Park – Brighton, UKAlso also the Ribcage music video is in editing now! EXCITING!!I am also hard at work writing a ton of things. Occasionally some of the things I am writing feel very relevant to the world, and I can’t help but share. Recently, a male editor from Oprah magazine responded to a question that was pretty alarming to me. A woman asked if she could pull off a crop top, and he responded by saying, “If (and only if) you have a flat stomach.”
I know, right? THE WORST. If I had a magazine, it would just be poems about how beautiful everyone is, and then in the margins it would have pictures of baby animals mid-sneeze. The statement from the editor was so relevant to a piece I had just written for my next book (!!!!!!!), that I decided to share it on faceland. I have also decided to post it here, so that you can reference it when someone sucks really bad and says stupid bullshit like “glorifying obesity” when fat girls aren’t ashamed of their bodies. Ok, angel kittens, I leave you with this poem. xoxo
Everyone is a Babe
“These women need to stop glorifying unhealthy obesity”
1. The body acceptance and radical self love that I practice when wearing a crop top has nothing to do with glorifying obesity or thin-shaming. It’s about loving my body RIGHT NOW, as I am.
2. Also, the fuck is ‘glorifying obesity’?
3. Oh, you are my doctor?
4. NO, YOU’RE ACTUALLY A DOCTOR OF BEING AN ASSHOLE
5. I like my belly button.
6. This is a new revelation.
7. My belly button does not interrupt your life
8. Why do you hate so much my belly button?
9. When I was in high school, I fantasized about taking a knife
to my stomach so I could be normal-sized.
10. I have always been normal-sized.
11. Denise Jolly. Tess Holliday. Sonya Renee. Lindy West. Michelle Allison. Gabi Fresh. Kim Selling.
12. One night I found a website that just had photos of girls with stomach rolls and back rolls and they were smiling and so happy and I cried because I was uncomfortable and envious of their joy.
13. Swimsuits are scary for everyone.
14. I have performed a poem about how to love your body almost every night for 6 years. Sometimes I have to fake it.
15. I have never seen a legitimate sex scene in a feature film with a woman over a size 16 that was not used as a comedic tool. Ever.
16. I used to drink a fifth of tequila and smoke a pack of cigarettes every night.
17. Interestingly, no one criticized my health then.
18. Everyone is terrified of their naked body.
19. Including men.
20. We are all complex. Everyone is breaking and healing and hating all at the same time. You are not exempt. I am not exempt.
21. Photoshop is the devil incarnate.
22. You cannot love what you hope your body to be, without loving it for what it is.
23. My body is what it is what it is.
24. The mirror is what it is what it is.
25. I have found myself at the mercy of my own reflection, wondering if my size diminishes my femininity.
Answer: It does not. I am adorable as fuck.
26. Do you know how miserable it feels to maintain a body that has been deemed unworthy by society? In the same breath, do you know what a joy it is to take care of something that you love?
27. Therefore, celebrating your body is a revolutionary act.
28. I feel my own self breathe. I feel my organs when I breathe and when I shower, I feel my skin on my skin. I know that it is mine. I listen to what my body asks for.
I put on a shirt that shows my stomach. I wing my eyeliner up and I ride my bike into the sunset and I will pick wildflowers with my love and later I will eat brussels sprouts and maybe a martini with lots of olives in it and I will do all this because it makes me feel good and because I am worthy of love and cute clothes and happiness.
29. Feeling worthy has taken so long.
30. I am my own holy revolution, welcome to the church of my thunder thighs, I am awake and alive, I’ve come to wear all of the crop tops that the glittering world has to offer, I’ve come to dance the shame out of my childhood, I’ve come to win back my joy. You may not snatch it from me like a purse.
I win whether I have a mouth full of pretzels or a mouth full of kale; you have not been granted the privilege to know how I consume my world and what makes me most delight in my skin.
I will glorify the shit out of my body.
Hello glorious babes and gentlebabes!
I am unicorn president of this website, and I feel like it’s been a long time since I waved a hello to you! HELLO!
I miss you!!! How are you?? Did you make any new friends or learn something exciting like quantum mechanics or a new state capital or hug your cute dog this week?!?! (The capital of Maine is Augusta just in case you didn’t do any of those things and felt sad or something. I got your back)
Exciting things are happening!
I want you to be in the haps of what is haps-ening!
Here’s a little update:
–I’m working on my second collection of poetry!!! YAY!
Feelings Friday Poetry Writing Extravaganza was so much fun to share with you all and so helpful for my writing. I miss it already!! Luckily, April is National Poetry Writing Month or NaPoWriMo (because words are hard) and 30/30 began on the 1st! 30/30 is a poetry writing challenge (not a math thing) that asks you to write a poem every day for 30 days. I’m on Day 21, and KILLING IT SO HARD. You can join in halfway through if that kind of sick self discipline excites you too. Maybe I’ll post a poem!
–I am a National Parks Ambassador!!!!
I was selected to be a Centennial Ambassador for their #FindYourPark campaign. I found mine in Boston and made this cute little video with some BFFs about it.
It is one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of. My friend, Tim and I went on a long walk in a park in Harrisburg last week and I saw deer and a pretty lake and I wore crocs because deer don’t care about fashion.
–Two incredibly important organizations want to give me awards?!
I’m beyond humbled that Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrationare giving me awards. All I’ve ever dreamed of was to use my art, my music, my voice to shine light on issues that are important to me. That’s why such an honor to be recognized by these two entities who are doing amazing things to bring awareness to the cause. Thank you Didi Hirsch and SAMHSA for working tirelessly to bring an end to the stigma associated with mental health.
–I’m making a music video for “Ribcage” with my friend, Zoe Rain. I thought of the concept a couple of months ago, and now it’s really happening!! Of course, nothing this big happens without HELP. I’ve had so many generous people lend their time and energy, so a big
THANK YOU ANGEL CUTIE BBs to:
Alibi Room Greenwood
Naked City Brewery
Christina and Alexis Threlkeld from Beauty by Christina
The Drouin Agency
Urban Light Studios
–I joined a gym a couple months ago and it’s really fun!! I’m getting really good at the rowing machine and watching Shark Tank while I use the elliptical. Can I win an olympic medal for that?! Ellipticallizing?! Also I made polenta! I watched a cooking video and then I cooked it!! It was so exciting! We’ve been trying to cook fun things in our kitchen. I’ll keep you updated with the latest from our kitchen, because I’m sure you are burning with desire to know what we put in our toaster oven (kale! All the kale!)
–I’m going on tour with the Script! They are a bunch of cutie pies and I’m so excited to play music with them and cry backstage at how pretty their songs are. Here are a list of dates, and all ticket info is on my SHOWS tab!
I also have a few shows before then!! With Not The Script (please note: that’s not a band)
It’s officially Sentimental Sunday, which is a close relative of Feelings Friday, which mostly means ‘hi, I ate excessive amounts of cereal and watched re-runs of “Amazing Race” instead of writing poems for the last two days sorry not sorry’
HOWEVER This week’s poems were my favorite of this whole series, little lambies. Even the ones I picked of my favorite favorites, I found so hard to pare down!!
So much love to my favorite favorites Susan Manners, Kaitlin Boatman, and Clara Johanna for their beautiful writing, and to all of you for your bravery and thoughtfulness with your writing. Excerpts of their work are posted to below.
This week’s Real and Honest Feelings Friday (Sometimes on Sunday) Poetry Extravaganza Not For Little Babies is our FINAL prompt. I’ve had so much fun reading your writing and loved being included in your processes. It’s been an honor to feel so connected.
Today is International Women’s Day, and there is a campaign going on called, “Dear Me”. I thought- WOAH DUDE THAT’S A POEM WAITING TO BE WRITTEN.
So your final challenge is to write a poem to your younger self. It could be you at 16 or 19 or 5. You could warn yourself about that burrito that smelled kind of funky but you ate anyway, you could encourage your younger self, tell your self to invest in google, to hug your mom more, whatever you want! As always, you can submit your work to email@example.com.
Look out for a video of A BRAND NEW POEM that I’ll post later today based on this prompt!! EEEEE HAPPY WRITING!!!
I love you, cute little lambies.
I never miss a chance to hike the rolling hills & covered bridges of the Laurels, or Stroud’s yellow and pink wildflower fields or The Meadow Garden at Longwood. Thank you.
I never miss a chance to see and cuddle babies Eloise, Ben, and Wyatt and big girls Grace or Ella. Thank you.
I never miss a chance for watching a pink and orange winter sunset with tunnels of sunlight touching the sky. Thank you.
I never miss a chance for a good morning kiss, the last of the day, hand on cheek, good night, sweet dreams my love kiss, or the in-between, I’m heading to work, hello, I’m home, or I’m walking past you so let’s kiss, kiss. Thank you.
There is this girl with bright blue hair
And electric cobalt lipstick
I swear tacky has never looked so good
She is sometimes the only silence I find on bad days
When the world is too loud
And my brain refuses to rest.
There is this girl who dons a clean face
She owns a pair of loud green sweat pants
Proof that beauty can’t be found in a bottle
I catch myself over-sharing
I’ve never dared say to anyone else
I freeze when our knees bump
I can feel the chemicals rushing through my body
Hoping for just a few moments more
“You know, if you hurl clay with the right velocity at a cement pavement, it sounds almost delicate.
The blue mosaic pot that you made during the summer you said I need to keep busy.
You’d said, I’m recreating the ocean, in concentration your tongue curling like a wave over your lip.
Cyan and azure and aquamarine and deep, black-blue.
Palms scratched and running red rivers.
The red sea parting.
I had always been a horrible swimmer.
Après moi, le déluge.”
Hey cutie pies,
YAY IT’S FEELINGS FRIDAY!!! I’m drinking tea with honey and apples and the sun is happy and I wonder how all of you are.
I hope the day is kind to you and you have warm toes and you are excited about how your life is unfolding. I loved reading your pieces over the last week. You are all so thoughtful and I am so grateful that you are sharing your work with me! I picked excerpts of my three favorite poems below:
“Dear Mustard Yellow Shoes,
…I hope you don’t take this letter the wrong way, because I truly love having you around. Perhaps just be more cautious of getting too close to the edge. Oh, and next time maybe stop by for lunch instead? I simply don’t want to somehow be a part of taking yet another pair of lovely shoes away from this world.
Be well, my friend.
“Letter from Needle to Vinyl Record;
..Your sophisticated velvet black exterior
gleamed as you slid from your crib.
I sat in awe staring
Wishing I was that breathtaking.”
“To the Tree,
…Even physics foresees my kinetic life fulfilled.
The sun will shine on my leaves
and I will dance in its warmth and sway with the gentle zephyrs
The earth delivers…”
THIS WEEK’S PROMPT FOR REAL AND HONEST FEELINGS FRIDAY POETRY EXTRAVAGANZA NOT FOR LITTLE BABIES
This weeks prompt is going to be very simple. It is a list poem.
In this poem, you are going to start every sentence with the same beginning. You see lists a lot in popular music- it’s an awesome way to find consistency in verses by creating familiarity for the listener. I find that writing these types of poems are best created out-loud. I do my best writing when I write on my computer and read every line out-loud as I’m creating. I find that my brain already knows what it wants to say. It’s also totally cool to go off on a tangent, once you’ve started a line. Don’t feel restricted that the starting phrase has to repeat every line. It could repeat every stanza, if you choose.
Here are some examples:
“I can’t remember the last time…
I can’t remember the last time…
I can’t remember the last time…”
“When I am with you…
When I am with you…
When I am with you…”
I chose two poems this week, both from one of my favorite writers and spoken-word poets, Rachel McKibbens.
In both of these pieces, Rachel uses the tool of repetition, and then twists it. It’s like she finds a new meaning with every line.
“Its okay to hang upside-down like a bat,
to swim into the deep end of silence,
to swallow every key so you can’t get out.
It’s okay to hear the ocean calling your fevered name
to say your sorrow is an opera of snakes,
to flirt with sharp and heartless things.
It’s okay to write, I deserve everything,
to bow down to this rotten thing
that understands you, to adore the red
and ugly queen of it, to admire
her calm and steady rowing.
It’s okay to lock yourself in the medicine cabinet,
to drink all the wine, to do what it takes to stay
without staying. Its okay to hate God today
to change his name to yours, to want to ruin all that ruined you.
It’s okay to feel like only a photograph of yourself,
to need a stranger to pull your hair and pin you down,
it’s okay to want your mother as you lie alone in bed.
It’s okay to brick to fuck to flame to church to crush to knife
to rock to rock to rock to rock to rock and rock.
It’s okay to wave good-bye to yourself in the mirror.
To write, I don’t want anything.
It’s okay to despise what you have inherited,
to feel dead in a city of pulses. It’s okay
to be the whale that never comes up for air,
to love best the taste of your own blood.
— Rachel McKibbens, from “Letter From My Heart to My Brain”
“And you will hear yourself say:
Last Love, I wish to die so I may come back to you
new and never tasted by any other mouth but yours.
And I want to be the hands that pull your children
out of you and tuck them deep inside myself until they are
ready to be the children of such a royal and staggering love.
Or you will say:
Last Love, I am old, and have spent myself on the courageless,
have wasted too many clocks on less-deserving men,
so I hurl myself at the throne of you and lie humbly at your feet.
Last Love, let me never roll out of this heavy dream of you,
let the day I was born mean my life will end
where you end. Let the man behind the church
do what he did if it brings me to you. Let the girls
in the locker room corner me again if it brings me to you.
Let this wild depression throw me beneath its hooves
if it brings me to you. Let me pronounce my hoarded joy
if it brings me to you. Let my father break me again
and again if it brings me to you.
Last love, I have let other men borrow your children. Forgive me.
Last love, I once vowed my heart to another. Forgive me.
Last Love, I have let my blind and anxious hands wander into a room
and come out empty. Forgive me.
Last Love, I have cursed the women you loved before me. Forgive me.
Last Love, I envy your mother’s body where you resided first. Forgive me.
Last Love, I am all that is left. Forgive me.
Last Love, I did not see you coming. Forgive me.
Last Love, every day without you was a life I crawled out of. Amen.
Last Love, you are my Last Love. Amen.
Last Love, I am all that is left. Amen.
I am all that is left.
-Untitled by Rachel McKibbens
So there’s this week’s prompt, boo-boos. Create a list, using the same repeating phrase. Make it personal. Twist it. Find new meaning.
As always, you can keep it for your own personal work, or you can share it with me! Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
First off: YAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!! Thank you for all of your wonderful poems last week, little lambies. Here are a few uninvented inventions that I liked:
- “Perception Optics. We all could use them. Being able to see yourself the way others view you. Not just physically either. To know what their thoughts are about you. To feel the impact you had on them. Some people only learn hands on. Maybe society would finally be willing to understand before they hate.” -Chelsea M.
- “… What I need is something to send a buzz through my blood stream
When I am writing love poems for someone who could never appreciate a strong stanza.
I need a ringing in my ears when I am wasting minutes of my day on someone who’s brain does not tingle with my name…Name it what you want, I call it my own personal revolution.” – Morghan F.
- “Tunnel Vision: A moment two souls can lock onto one another and see the truth behind our human form. We can reach each other from the purest, deepest levels of time and space. Crossing cultures, mountains, gender, oceans, the sun, and the reality we call home to see our soul, who we are.” -Molly H.
Gorgeous, you guys. I loved every single submission. Thanks for sharing with me!
I am so so so excited for this week’s prompt, I can barely contain myself. This week, I want you to write a letter. Not a letter to your crush or your boo or your cute mom- this one is very different. And of course, a little complicated.
- Think of an inanimate object. Something you like looking at, eating, touching, something that speaks to you, something that you, you know, would enjoy writing a poem about (a bridge, shoes, ceiling fan, a mango)
- Think of a second object- one that interacts with your first object. (Ex. Skyscraper to bird, coffee to MY MOUTH, ocean to cruise ship, gluten free pie to MY MOUTH, whoops I’m hungry)
- Write a letter from one object to another.
- If you want, write a response from the 2nd object!
I nabbed this exercise from a poem in Rose McAleese’s book “Strong. Female. Character.” The poem is “Match and Flame”:
letter from match to flame
“They told me this was a coming-of-age thing,
a rite of passage,
That this is what is supposed to happen.
But I am beginning to question the ways of the world.
Why must we both go the second you are born?
Our lifespan is too quick, not enough time to know each other.
First we are put under such pressure,
forced to spark.
Does this heat ever get to you?
Is this too rough for you?
Does this hurt?
Oh, love. The friction makes me so aware.
You are split from yourself and moved to wick
One that holds you longer, one that holds you tighter.
I can’t help but stare and watch you go.
Hurrying up the walls,
a wedding dress made of smoke.
I watch as you linger from my tip to the ceiling.
Where do you go from here?
Are you locked in the vents of the floorboards?
Do you soak the wallpaper with your sweat?
Press yourself clean to windows, head north for the valley above.
Such bitter partings, my beloved.
letter from flame to match
You are so young, weak at heart.
Made of wood,
Earth’s best creation, man’s worst conductor.
You are so naive. You wish nothing more than to be their soot, their chalk, their ash.
Don’t you see what they do with me,
what damage they make of me,
what harm I am capable of?
All you see is my smoke,
a veil fit for a funeral.
I hurry away not for the mystery but out of shame.
If only I could leave you faster.
There is no beauty in my creation.
My scream, a warning;
they should have listened to the crackle from my rush
My throat is raspy; it’s hard to breathe.
No need to sweeten this.
You are just my maker,
I met you with such disgust in mind,
I flicker out of struggle, not of dance.
Have fun with this prompt! When you’ve chosen your objects, make sure you give them life! Connect yourself to them. Give a personality to the 20-year-old couch in your parents basement.
As always, you can keep these poems very close to your heart and not share with a soul, or you can share with me, and I’ll pick my favorites next week! email@example.com
Thank you for your bravery,
First of all, you guys made me cry and I’m so happy and I had so much fun reading your writing!! I got 200 submissions! SICK! It was so fun picking favorites! Thank you for your bravery and vulnerability. One little reminder: these prompts are about writing NEW work. It is very cool to have a collection of old pieces of writing in your catalog that are not related to the prompt, but let’s write new stuff! It’s fun! I promise!
Here are my picks for favorite submissions:
-Amanda Hawk (she juxtaposed her name with her body which I thought was super cool and original)
-Salla Junetunen (broke down their name with the feelings of each syllable. Sounds have connotations! COOL!)
-Donny Winter (his poem was multi-layered, but one of my favorite layers was about seeing his name published as a writer, which stuck out to me because names are also tied to recognition! Like when you win an award, they don’t call you by your moon-child-spirit-self, they call you by your name.
-Troy Osaki (Just read this: “America has taught me to be less foreign- an unmarked atlas of where I am from. A Japanese accent pronounced like a small war in my mouth conquered in english”. LIKE SHUT UP AMAZING UGH)
-Annabelle Zaluski (Journey she had with her name from first as a little girl, to teachers in school, to then hearing her partner say it- names grow with us- they evolve and we evolve with them. Neat direction!)
Now to this week’s poem and prompt!
ONION-VISION by Shira Erlichman
A man who forgets himself is poor at making bread.
That is a cookie fortune I never got.
Three virgins in the sack are like three happy vowels: aoe!
That is also a cookie fortune I never got.
The mountains have really big hands.
Once more folks, a cookie fortune I never got.
Don’t turn around – there are babies being made.
That is, again, a cookie fortune I never got.
The bubble bath was filled with lemons when I kissed her.
A secret, just nobody’s secret.
The extra pillow is to hump.
Somebody’s secret, someone close by, maybe right here.
I lick every scented marker in the set.
Gregory “Long-legs”s not-so-secret in fourth grade.
Every bad thing that ever happens to you
is either a thermometer or barometer.
A secret I wish someone had told me sooner.
I am not brave.
The heart’s secret.
I am too brave.
The heart’s secret.
A dishwasher that plays the dishes as notes.
Uninvented Invention #23
A holidiary where everyone shares entries
in a highly ritualized public format.
Uninvented Invention #68
“Burn the water” – a blues song revealing
the impossibility of abandoning those that abandon us.
Uninvented Invention #104
A miniature movie-theater suspended above the forehead
during sleep to, of course, project movies to a loved one.
Uninvented Invention #19
Walking campfire: built small and safe enough to store
in the breast pocket and familiar to all, so all may sing along.
Uninvented Invention #859
Onion-vision, so we may see sadness as it is, artichokes
as they are, sound, muscle, the truth as it is.
Uninvented Invention #44
Word-kites: you tie them to what you say
and they go wherever they want to go,
like, a tree-tangle or your mouth, some hot moon like that.
Uninvented Invention #960
So here is my challenge to you:
What is your uninvented invention? I want you to avoid the literal type of invention, like a different kind of soap dispenser- BORING- though I myself have tons of inventions! my drummer, Heather and I came up with something called “Shoe Party” and I would tell you what it’s about but I can’t because it’s genius and we’re going to go on Shark Tank someday and Lori Grienier is going to put it on QVC and we’re going to be bagillionaires and everyone will have “Shoe Party”.
INSTEAD- Everyone knows that the best inventions solve problems or make things easier, so I’m asking you to write a metaphysical invention for a metaphysical problem. Are you having a problem in your life? Are you going through grief? Are you having trouble communicating? Is there someone else in your life that could use a metaphysical solution? You can even think bigger- go global! What could solve world issues? Go magic! Go surreal! But I want you to think really carefully- spend your whole day observing people, observing yourself and think about this issue you would love to magically fix- and think about the name! Naming your uninvented metaphysical invention is half the fun.
Just like last week, you can submit your writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love you guys. You are inspiring.
Today is our inaugural weekly FEELINGS FRIDAY where we write about our feelings in poetry and it’s Friday and I love you and your beautiful feelings.
My first poetry prompt for you is based on a poem by Tasbeeh Herwees.
“Your name is Tasbeeh. Don’t let them call you by anything else.”
My mother speaks to me in Arabic; the command sounds more forceful in her mother tongue, a Libyan dialect that is all sharp edges and hard, guttural sounds. I am seven years old and it has never occurred to me to disobey my mother. Until twelve years old, I would believe God gave her the supernatural ability to tell when I’m lying.
“Don’t let them give you an English nickname,” my mother insists once again, “I didn’t raise amreekan.”
My mother spits out this last word with venom. Amreekan. Americans. It sounds like a curse coming out of her mouth. Eight years in this country and she’s still not convinced she lives here. She wears her headscarf tightly around her neck, wades across the school lawn in long, floor-skimming skirts. Eight years in this country and her tongue refuses to bend and soften for the English language. It embarrasses me, her heavy Arab tongue, wrapping itself so forcefully around the clumsy syllables of English, strangling them out of their meaning.
But she is fierce and fearless. I have never heard her apologize to anyone. She will hold up long grocery lines checking and double-checking the receipt in case they’re trying to cheat us. My humiliation is heavy enough for the both of us. My English is not. Sometimes I step away, so people don’t know we’re together but my dark hair and skin betray me as a member of her tribe.
On my first day of school, my mother presses a kiss to my cheek.
“Your name is Tasbeeh,” she says again, like I’ve forgotten. “Tasbeeh.”
Roll call is the worst part of my day. After a long list of Brittanys, Jonathans, Ashleys, and Yen-but-call-me-Jens, the teacher rests on my name in silence. She squints. She has never seen this combination of letters strung together in this order before. They are incomprehensible. What is this h doing at the end? Maybe it is a typo.
“Tasbeeh,” I mutter, with my hand half up in the air. “Tasbeeh.”
“Do you go by anything else?”
“No,” I say. “Just Tasbeeh. Tas-beeh.”
“Tazbee. All right. Alex?”
She moves on before I can correct her. She said it wrong. She said it so wrong. I have never heard my name said so ugly before, like it’s a burden. Her entire face contorts as she says it, like she is expelling a distasteful thing from her mouth. She avoids saying it for the rest of the day, but she has already baptized me with this new name. It is the name everyone knows me by, now, for the next six years I am in elementary school. “Tazbee,” a name with no grace, no meaning, no history; it belongs in no language.
“Tazbee,” says one of the students on the playground, later. “Like Tazmanian Devil?” Everyone laughs. I laugh too. It is funny, if you think about it.
I do not correct anyone for years. One day, in third grade, a plane flies above our school.
“Your dad up there, Bin Laden?” The voice comes from behind. It is dripping in derision.
“My name is Tazbee,” I say. I said it in this heavy English accent, so he may know who I am. I am American. But when I turn around they are gone.
I go to middle school far, far away. It is a 30-minute drive from our house. It’s a beautiful set of buildings located a few blocks off the beach. I have never in my life seen so many blond people, so many colored irises. This is a school full of Ashtons and Penelopes, Patricks and Sophias. Beautiful names that belong to beautiful faces. The kind of names that promise a lifetime of social triumph.
I am one of two headscarved girls at this new school. We are assigned the same gym class. We are the only ones in sweatpants and long-sleeved undershirts. We are both dreading roll call. When the gym teacher pauses at my name, I am already red with humiliation.
“How do I say your name?” she asks.
“Tazbee,” I say.
“Can I just call you Tess?”
I want to say yes. Call me Tess. But my mother will know, somehow. She will see it written in my eyes. God will whisper it in her ear. Her disappointment will overwhelm me.
“No,” I say, “Please call me Tazbee.”
I don’t hear her say it for the rest of the year.
My history teacher calls me Tashbah for the entire year. It does not matter how often I correct her, she reverts to that misshapen sneeze of a word. It is the ugliest conglomeration of sounds I have ever heard.
When my mother comes to parents’ night, she corrects her angrily, “Tasbeeh. Her name is Tasbeeh.” My history teacher grimaces. I want the world to swallow me up.
My college professors don’t even bother. I will only know them for a few months of the year. They smother my name in their mouths. It is a hindrance for their tongues. They hand me papers silently. One of them mumbles it unintelligibly whenever he calls on my hand. Another just calls me “T.”
My name is a burden. My name is a burden. My name is a burden. I am a burden.
On the radio I hear a story about a tribe in some remote, rural place that has no name for the color blue. They do not know what the color blue is. It has no name so it does not exist. It does not exist because it has no name.
At the start of a new semester, I walk into a math class. My teacher is blond and blue-eyed. I don’t remember his name. When he comes to mine on the roll call, he takes the requisite pause. I hold my breath.
“How do I pronounce your name?” he asks.
I say, “Just call me Tess.”
“Is that how it’s pronounced?”
I say, “No one’s ever been able to pronounce it.”
“That’s probably because they didn’t want to try,” he said. “What is your name?”
When I say my name, it feels like redemption. I have never said it this way before. Tasbeeh. He repeats it back to me several times until he’s got it. It is difficult for his American tongue. His has none of the strength, none of the force of my mother’s. But he gets it, eventually, and it sounds beautiful. I have never heard it sound so beautiful. I have never felt so deserving of a name. My name feels like a crown.
“Thank you for my name, mama.”
When the barista asks me my name, sharpie poised above the coffee cup, I tell him: “My name is Tasbeeh. It’s a tough t clinging to a soft a, which melts into a silky ssss, which loosely hugs the b, and the rest of my name is a hard whisper — eeh. Tasbeeh. My name is Tasbeeh. Hold it in your mouth until it becomes a prayer. My name is a valuable undertaking. My name requires your rapt attention. Say my name in one swift note – Tasbeeeeeeeh – sand let the h heat your throat like cinnamon. Tasbeeh. My name is an endeavor. My name is a song. Tasbeeh. It means giving glory to God. Tasbeeh. Wrap your tongue around my name, unravel it with the music of your voice, and give God what he is due.”
Tasbeeh Herwees, The Names They Gave Me
via Rachel Mckibbens
I love this poem. It feels like an instruction manual of how to honor yourself, starting with your own name. Do you like your name? Do you like it when other people say it? How does it roll off your tongue? Is there another name you’ve always wanted to go by?
If you want to share your poem with me, send it here: email@example.com. I’ll pick and post my favorites next week!
-Follow your instincts.
-Freewrite first and then edit later. Let the critics in your head take a backseat today- nothing is off limits, nothing is wrong, nothing is stupid.
-This is simply a jumping off point! Sometimes I end up so far from the prompt itself, I can’t even remember what it was! Though I also never remember where I parked the car when there are only two other vehicles in the Stop & Shop parking lot, I find that when I stray from a prompt, it is often my inner-self hungry to process an issue. If I end up writing a soliloquy to a sandwich, I may just be hungry. To me, free-writing is as much poetry as it is therapy. Go there, boo boo.
I lay in a too-large bed watching the sunset in a hotel high rise,
decadent truffle wrappers strewn on the sheets
of the most comfortable bed I have ever laid on
Newly purchased clothes haphazardly hurricained around the room
narrowing my eyes
angry about a fly
that is now dancing a mating ritual around my kombucha
Simultaneously I read the headlines from my friends
about another body killed without accountability
If this were two years ago
I would be skipping work
marching alongside my friends
Asking questions about allyship,
Burning with the desire for political justice, for social justice,
For human rights.
But I’m a pop singer now. I have fans. And a record label.
Not to mention a persistent insect asshole roommate that won’t leave my delicious beverage alone.
After all, I wouldn’t want to let the fans down by speaking out.
It could offend people. It could make them uncomfortable.
After all, people only want to listen to my music, right?
Not be force-fed my ideology or stance on human rights
But when I think about it-
Isn’t being a plus-size, bi-polar, crop-top wearing lesbian inherently political?
If not me, then who?
If not now, then when?
1. The word “indict” means simply to bring to trial.
Just because you didn’t mean to kill somebody doesn’t mean that they are not dead by your hand.
2. Drunk drivers never mean to hit families
3. Sometimes I get drunk
4. Sometimes I get drunk with my own privilege
5. Perhaps talking about race isn’t easy. Perhaps the conversation should be about police accountability. There are a lot of necessary conversations. Perhaps we should talk about the asshole fly trying to weasel itself into my expensive drink.
6. Yes. All lives matter. This conversation is not about white people and the thirst to be included, white people. This conversation is about being a person of color and that relationship to authority.
And the naiveté of some whiteness, along with the concept of being “colorblind”
is endearing at best
Segregation ended in 1954, but there is no statistic I can give you
that says systemic racism ended just because you were born.
I appreciate your soft youth, your hunger for peace
If you are indeed “colorblind” my loves,
How could you ever see the vibrance of any canvas
Of Magritte or Basquiat or Picasso
Or the world around you
Reality is terrifying.
Humanity is frightening.
But when you see the dark
with full eyes, wide as all
You have the gift of illumination
To see also the facet of humanity that is starkly beautiful
That is the core of humanity’s magic
To stand shivering in it’s wake
Aware of your own humanness.
7. I want to be a paintbrush
I want to paint this beautiful sunset on the eyelids of every single one of them surrendering mid-death
i can’t breathe
My sheets are twisted around me
My sheets are crisp and rich and the building is tall I am sweating in my own privilege
and the fly is back.
Did I mention the fly
Did I mention the fly was black
Did I mention the fly was a black man
I didn’t kill him
I went on the patio of this high rise
and wrote this
while the sunset held my hand with unfiltered indigo and pomegranate
Did you see it too
THINGS HAVE BEEN CRAZIER THAN A SATURDAY AFTERNOON IN 1994 AT DC DISCOVERY ZONE. Tour is so fun and everyone that has been coming to the shows has made me happy cry all over the place. Plus, last night we roasted hot dogs (my favorite food group) and marshmallows and I didn’t think life could get any better, but THERE ARE EVEN MORE THINGS TO BE EXCITED ABOUT BEYOND NOSTALGIC PROCESSED FOOD.
First off, I’m so overwhelmed and humbled by the amazing things people have said about Heart on My Sleeve. I really poured my heart and soul into the record, so it’s amazing to hear that fancy people, like Good Morning America, The New York Times, NPR, and of course, YOU BABES, to have embraced it so lovingly. I am so touched. Thank you.
Another neat thing about an album release is that I GET TO PERFORM AT SO MANY NEAT PLACES AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, EAT ALL THE HUMMUS AND WHITE WINE ON ALL THE MANY HOSPITALITY RIDERS. So much kombucha, y’all.
First ridiculously super cool performance:
I’m a part of VH1’s You Oughta Know Concert on November 13th alongside some of my friends A Great Big World, Sam Smith, and Echosmith!!!!! Please watch it!!! I’m so excited for the TV THINGS and also SAM SMITH IS SUPER ADORABLE AND I ENJOY HUGGING HIM. My “You Oughta Know” commercials have been airing on VH1, and I maybe screamed in my hotel room the first time I saw them. You can watch here if you would like to freak out by proxy!
ALSO THEY INTERVIEWED ME WITH KITTENS AND I HAD AN ALLERGIC REACTION BUT IT WAS WORTH EVERY MINUTE.
This year I was so honored to be a part of the OUT100 of 2013, and I’m equally honored to perform at this year’s OUT100 20th Anniversary Gala on November 20th! At the event, OUT will honor five remarkable individuals for their significant achievements including Samira Wiley, Zachary Quinto, Ellen Page, and Tyler Oakley. NEAT! Sidenote: Tyler Oakley is the cutiest of all the patooties.
THEN, I’m performing on the Red Carpet LIVE pre-show at the American Music Awards on 11/23!!! WHAT IS MY LIFE?!?? You can tune in via Yahoo Music and learn more about it here. I’m gonna wear a fancy dress or skirt or glitter or combination of all of those things.
More things! All of the things!:
I’m a VevoLIFT artist this month!! Some of the dear friends I mentioned before were previous LIFT artists, so I’m totally stoked to a part of this group!!! I get to launch exclusive videos with them this month! Yay! In the meantime, you can watch what we’ve launched thus far here.
I’m also an American Express Artist-In-Residence! Over the next couple of weeks, they’re also releasing super sweet videos that I did with them that include Betty Who and Rixton, too. Stay tuned!!! So many videos! All of the things!
I’m still on this crazy beautiful tour, so if you haven’t seen a show, there’s still time to come see Maiah, Heather, Tim and me out on the road!!!
I LOVE YOU BABES SO MUCH. I LEAVE YOU WITH THIS:
My dear friends,
Today marks one of the most important days of my whole life, both personally and professionally. After 9 months of pouring my entire being into this project, ‘Heart on My Sleeve’ is finally here for your ears & hearts to enjoy.
This record would not be possible without Eric, Benny, Mozella, Eesean, Dillon & everyone at Capitol & UMG. My heart is so full. Most of all, this music would not be possible without YOU. My beautiful babely babe-unicorn-lambies, you propel me with every message, word, and positive energy. I cried a whole heck of a lot making this album, both happy & sad tears – and I am so grateful for every moment. My wish is that ‘Heart on My Sleeve’ inspires you to feel whatever it is you need to feel. Feeling fully is actually really hard but an important practice. I hope that I’ve honored your support and you fall in love with this album. I love you all SO MUCH!!
A lot of posts have been about promo, which is super important, because I want to tell you what I’ve been up to and how we can connect with each other. Connection is so cool and great and I want to hug everyone!
In a similar sense, I’ve been experiencing entitlement from interviewers. Because I speak openly about my traumas in my music and poetry, it often appears as fair game to interviewers. And there’s nothing that gets ratings like a shocking story, right? The problem with prying about trauma details is that it has the potential to re-traumatize a survivor. Again, like the fans breaking into the green room, I believe the intention is positive. Most often what sends me into panic attacks is the interviewer citing specific examples of my traumas. Here I’ll disclose, because I’m in control (I’m unicorn
queen of my website) The question that frequently pops up is “You suffered a gang rape in an army barracks and were molested by your father. How did you get through that?” The question is so abrupt, unkind, and insensitive. I am happy to talk about trauma in a general sense- I think dismantling stigmas is an important part of what I do. A much kinder question to ask is, “You have experienced a lot of trauma in your childhood, how did you get through that?”
Again, I also feel as though I’ve invited these questions because of my vulnerability. Can I fault people for asking? Is this the negative implications of vulnerability? I’m not sure. I question whether this re-traumatization is self-inflicted in some way. Talking openly about being a survivor is something I value, and maybe part of my job as a vulnerable artist is to educate in some way. I’m still figuring it out. I think there is a clear difference between “telling” the story of trauma and “processing” through the trauma. I have done a lot of the processing in therapy and in
my personal life. In my music, I tell the story of my trauma. Is there more work to do after that? Perhaps in the public eye, the next step is to educate. Still seeking the answers for these questions in my personal and public life.
Until then, on behalf of your friends that have survived traumas, be respectful, sensitive, and kind when bringing up those topics. Remember: Is it relevant? Is it kind?
The BAND! My band is the absolute best. My whole team is the absolute best.
But I don’t think you know for real real how incredible my band is. They are ridiculously talented, kind, and a complete riot to hang out with. It should be noted that they are also total babes, and should totally do a Macy’s Christmas commercial or something.
I’ll be touring for the bulk of this year. SO MANY SHOWS MY GOD SO MANY SHOWS.
And you’ll see these virtuoso musicians/friends/soulmates with me along the way. Buy them beer. And buy me a hot dog. And a whiskey. And a puppy.
This is Heather.
When I grow up, I want to be Heather Thomas. She is a fucking beast of a drummer. She’s the newest of the team, but it feels like she’s been with the crew forever. We’ve been playing shows together for about 6 months, and she is one of the funnest people to hang out with, play music with, and talk serious shit with. On tour, we call her Lone Wolf Thomas. You can too. I’ve learned so much from Heather in such a short amount of time. She is one of those people that puts things in such a wise perspective that you’re like “UGH Heather, why do you have to make me think about compassion and empathy for other people, I just wanted to run them over with my car for laughing and walking slow,” but then you’re also super grateful because she for real for real shifted your consciousness with one sentence. I can’t wait to spend more time playing music with her and learning more lessons about humanity. Heather is also a skateboarder, lead singer of her own band, hackey sack enthusiast, and former tap dancer (SHE DID A SET ONCE WHERE SHE PLAYED THE KIT AND THEN TAP DANCED BECA– USE SHE CAN DO ANYTHING BECA– USE SHE IS A GODDESS AMEN). Heather is an institution, and I can’t wait for her to take over the world.
This is Maiah.
Maiah Manser and I met in college at Cornish College of the Arts. I was instantly blown away by her songwriting and her unbelievable vocals. She is one of the kindest, most talented human beings that has ever come into my life, and she is a rare treasure to anyone that knows her. Maiah never ceases to amaze me with her insane vocals and emotional connection to her writing and voice. Maiah inspires me to be a better musician and human being. One of my favorite videos of all time is her owning the shit out of her loop system. On top of being a master of her craft, Maiah can multi-task like no other. I asked her to sing back-up. Then I asked her to play synth. Then I asked her to play bass. Then I asked her to do them all at the same time. And she nails it every fucking time. On tour, Maiah’s nickname is (sorry Maiah) Wormhole. This is due to her third eye actual psychic abilities. You may not call her that. She is one of my favorite people to tell secrets to and I feel like we’ve been friends for millions of years in so many lives. Maiah just released her first single, “Hold Your Head Up” which completely slays. She has a show (with TIM) on Sept 6th in Seattle and if you live in Seattle and don’t go, you better be having a colonoscopy or getting married or something terribly important/awful.
This is Tim.
Tim is my very best friend. We met working at a restaurant in Seattle where I farted on him and we crushed on cute girls together and got drunk and cried way too often.
Tim plays every instrument you can think of. And not just half-assed. He is one of the most brilliant guitarists/bassists I’ve ever met; a true master of his craft. I sent Tim the new album (which I wrote without the band in Los Angeles) two weeks ago, and said, “Hey can you learn all of these songs in two days/program all the sounds/help design playing to track/teach me how to play them/play three instruments at once? IS THAT COOL TIM?” And Tim said, “fuck yes I will, Mary, because I’m a damn boss.” AND HE DID. Like the rest of the band, Tim’s solo writing is phenomenal. The sounds he makes with his guitar literally move me to tears.
Tim’s nickname varies. The rest of the band calls Tim, “TimTitty” I have a hard time getting those words out of my mouth, so often I just call him “Asshole” because every day is opposite day. You may not call him either of those names, though he would insist you can call him whatever you like and then give you a hug and ask you what your birthday is. He is the brooding lead singer of his band, Dark Hip Falls, a band that has been the movie music for my 5-margarita-kind-of-nights. The Summer I turned 19, Tim came to my apartment and stayed with me through the night when I wanted to kill myself. Now we get to play music together all the time. And I still fart on him.
Can’t wait for you guys to meet the rest of the crew! See you on the road!
[Do note: there are no fun photos of cats or 90’s TV shows in this blog post. It is not because I am not fun. I am a fucking hoot and a half and I can limbo lower than your 4 year old nephew. This is just some real shit that I wanted to explore without distractions and minimal self-promotion]
Two weeks ago, I was in the studio working on my new record. I’ve decided to put a poem about rape on this record. It is graphic and a trigger warning will be needed and it is beautiful and so completely necessary. We were talking about the Nigerian girls, the UCSB shooting, and the multitude of tragedies that seem to be happening more frequently. That day I asked my friend Benny his opinion on why people were shooting each other, raping each other, and operating in disturbingly apathetic ways. I really appreciated his answer.
Benny roughly said this: Our society, in general, operates in a dog-eat-dog mentality. If you lose your job, if you can’t afford medical insurance, if you are homeless, the resources to aid are terrifyingly limited. It is a systemic problem that is hungry for real legislative solutions.
This is part of the problem.
I started realizing that because some members of our culture do not feel safe or valued by their government institutions or communities, they are looking to other avenues to find an equivalent of security in other ways. Hopefully we have awesome families or communities that provide that sense of security, safety, and value. Hopefully we are all able to foster healthy, meaningful relationships with those around us. But what if some of us don’t? What if some of us never feel safe or feel like we belong or that we aren’t worthy of love and friendship?
I’ve been thinking really critically about what it means to be in my position (quasi-celebritydom as I often refer to it). When I read of tragedies, I try to ask myself: How can I help? Is there anything I can contribute to make this situation better?
I have a couple thoughts about these questions. The first is that we are lacking legislature in the world that prevents and adequately serves justice to violence, rape, and just plain, awful crimes. Additionally, we are living in a society that doesn’t like to talk about uncomfortable things.
But what I believe to be one of the sole contributors to the pandemic is pop culture and media saturation of a certain ideal (whether you feel valued in your life or not- but if you don’t, I imagine this gap widens massively and popular culture becomes a sole means of personal calibration). I believe that we are fed an ideal that is exclusive to a certain few, and they appear as such:
WE ARE BEAUTIFUL. THIS IS YOUR STANDARD OF BEAUTY AND ALL THINGS GOOD. WE ARE FUN AND YOUNG AND SKINNY AND WHITE. WE ALWAYS LOOK FLAWLESS. WE HAVE A DISPOSABLE INCOME. WE DO NOT HAVE PANTY LINES OR ACNE. WE KNOW HOW TO PARTY AND WE HAVE FRIENDS AND BOYFRIENDS AND GIRLFRIENDS THAT ARE ALSO ALL OF THESE THINGS. WE GUYS HAVE A LOT OF SEX. WE GIRLS DON’T SLEEP AROUND BUT EVERYONE ALWAYS WANTS TO HAVE SEX WITH US. WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT SERIOUS THINGS BECA– USE WE ARE HAVING TOO MUCH FUN AND YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE AMIRITE.
Often, the celebrity that is shoved down our throats, also have: A REALLY COOL TALENT INVOLVING ENTERTAINMENT WHERE WE SING ABOUT DOING AND BEING THOSE THINGS. SOME OF US ACT IN FILM AND TV AND VERY OFTEN WE PORTRAY THE AFOREMENTIONED STANDARD OF BEAUTY AND GOOD.
Which begs to ask, what about the rest of us? And there are a lot of us. Like, 99% of us. The funny thing is- the idea of being unattainable is just that- it doesn’t actually exist. The notion of celebrity flawlessness is a total lie.
I just finished shooting the music video for my upcoming single and asked a lot of people on set about post-editing. Basically, some of your favorite music videos and singers have varying amounts of post-editing- not to fix prop issues or anything technical- but to change actual BODIES. Make stomachs smaller, add abs (YOU CAN SERIOUSLY MAKE ABS), add more butt mass, shave a chin down, make whiter.
When this- the unattainable- is the standard (Again, IS COMPUTER GENERATED PERFECTION), it’s impossible to fit in. There is little or inaccurate representation of every day bodies in pop culture, it’s almost as if we don’t exist. There is another large component in all this: As we become more disconnected to each other (often because of technology or a desire to distract), a lack of empathy settles in. These two components: living in a society where we are alienated or invisible or not good or beautiful (and constantly reminded of it) paired with a lack of empathy causes a massive human disconnect. I believe both of these things have come to an extreme in our culture.
What are the effects of this saturation? The effect of not fitting the standard of good and beauty, is crippling. The result is the desire to not feel; No one wants to fucking feel bad all the time. I believe it causes people to implement a myriad of debilitating coping mechanisms, some of which:
1. We cease feeling. The sadness and alienation that is caused by the unattainable is the absolute worst, so we shut off our sensory. We distract. We play with our phones. We drink to forget. We watch The Bachelor (I can’t help it. That show is everything). Feeling nothing feels so much better than feeling bad, right?
2. We punish ourselves. We throw up. We physically harm. We overeat. We live recklessly. I believe to be the most dangerous of all of these is actually mental punishment. Listening to the mean people inside our heads that say we are not worthy because that standard of beauty and goodness is something we’ll never measure up to.
3. We punish each other. Because we don’t fit the standard, then Andrea wearing a crop top when she most def is not skinny enough to pull it off and just because they are called skinny jeans doesn’t make you skinny sweetheart, shouldn’t be allowed to either.
Lastly, We re-traumatize by reinforcing the media’s messages. We talk about and listen to and watch and read about the people we will never be, the bodies that are not ours, the lives we do not live.
I’m currently on the verge of an even larger platform than I could have ever imagined. The single I wrote two months ago has caught the attention of some of the most powerful people in the music industry. These people control the industry, thus your very consumption of media. They control your radio, your TV, and what you see in stores. That is a crazy amount of power and money. There is a belief that says the execs want to control our minds and force us to consume shallow things to make us stupid. Here’s the thing: They don’t want you to not feel. That’s not their intention. They don’t want you to punish each other. And they aren’t a part of a government conspiracy to make you mindless drones.
They want to make money. And in 1999, Brittany Spears sold 10 million copies of one song: “Baby One More Time”. One of my favorites. That formula worked. And it has continued to work. And although CD’s are becoming increasingly obsolete, there is still a lot of money to be made in the record industry, and that model is tried and true. They know you are going to consume the shit out of a pop singer’s Summer party song that tells you how fun and young and sexy it is to get wasted (seriously, I hope someone makes that song, because I want to listen to it right this second). The industry says, you are consuming.
They are merely filling a demand. You may also consume a cute, plus-size femme lesbian singing about gay rights, but it’s a total gamble. Because listeners are unpredictable and will like what they like, and this is a risk-averse business, why would you fix something that isn’t broken?
It’s not to say that there aren’t exceptions and I believe wholeheartedly there are a few heroes in popular culture that feel similarly about deconstructing this as well. There are a lot of songs coming out with empowering messages, campaigns about not touching-up photos, it’s okay to be yourself songs, television writers being more inclusive, gay rights anthems (sorry I couldn’t help myself), and a whole host of other folks in pop culture shifting the dialogue simply by existing. But what if:
What if the entertainers and the industry heads didn’t spend $40,000 on post-editing a music video to make a singer’s arms or stomach look smaller, didn’t touch up photos to remove wrinkles, didn’t post photos of themselves objectifying women, didn’t write vapid songs solely about their own vanity, but instead asked us to feel. Demanded us to think. To feel valued. What if their images were more…human? Accessible? Is it possible to create pop music that is present in feeling and thoughtfulness and vulnerability without sacrificing fun elements and is catchy?
Or maybe it is the honest-to-god truth:
Do we really enjoy idolatry? Do we prefer the idea of the unattainable? Did we just feel shitty before, and the idolatry and shallow content is a symptom of distraction?
I don’t know. I like to think that we are just a little lost. I think humanity is moving and brilliant and kind and the standard of unattainable beauty and goodness is destroying us from within. There are so many lovely things to see, kind things to say, bodies to hold with our eyes, words to make us think, songs to excite us, and art to hungrily eat. Let’s create and consume them together.
Woah babes. I have so much on my mind. And I haven’t talked to my therapist in a hot minute, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
First things first- I’m in LONDON! This place is so cool. I’ve had fish and chips, Indian food, went shopping, gotten freaked out by cars going the wrong way, sang a lot of songs, caught myself speaking with an accent in my head, took a bus tour, walked in the rain, saw a guy pee outside, ate really really really good sourdough toast, been homesick, and recorded a REALLY COOL new song. I have yet to watch a single episode of AbFab. Is that sacrilegious?
I’m recording here, working with Eg White (see what he did there?), and we’re making SUCH COOL MUSIC. In LA, I’m working with Benny Cassette (WHO MAKES REALLY COOL DRUM SOUNDS AMONG OTHER THINGS), and Eric Rosse (AHHHH Sara Bareilles, Tori Amos) who is producing my record as a whole. I’ve also been co-writing with these fine gentleman. Basically, the album is sounding incredible, and I can’t wait to share it with you all.
I’ve been experimenting with different kinds of sounds: somewhere between spoken word and song. Something still raw, but not as mellow as “Letters Don’t Talk”. I’m doing a lot of vocal layers and playing with lyrics a lot more. Every day I get more excited about the record.
ALSO ALSO ALSO ALSO!!!! We’re shooting a video for Body Love. YAY!!!!!!!!!
And, not sure if you saw it BUT I PERFORMED AT THE GRAMMYS. YEAH MY BOOS, WE PERFORMED A GAY RIGHTS SONG AT THE GRAMMYS.
And then PEOPLE GOT MARRIED BY QUEEN LATIFAH AND THEN MADONNA and a BEAUTIFUL CHOIR SANG MY LYRICS. AND I WAS SPARKLY and joyous and had an incredible time. You guys, I literally cried for 10 hours straight the day before show. I couldn’t even get through the damn rehearsal, and then Madonna, in all her cutoff-leather-gloved-glory stands there and wipes my tears. I remember standing there in rehearsal thinking,
“How is this real life? In what universe does this happen? Like, for real, for real. Hi, I’m Mary, I was bartending last year, usually sweaty from lifting beer kegs and now Madonna’s hands are lovingly on my face while we rehearse for the Grammys. Cool. ” This performance was a big fucking deal, and it was one of the most monumental days in my entire life. I still find myself shaking my head in disbelief.
WANT TO KNOW WHO MADE MY DRESSES AND HOW FAB THEY ARE?! I know. I know you do, you adorable kittens.
TA-DAAAAAAH: Helen Castillo. Helen and I collaborated on these two dresses together and then she worked tirelessly for weeks, meticulously hand picking off the beads at the seams of the red dress so she could stitch them, flew out to meet me for fittings and alterations, and was there with me the whole day of the Grammys. SHE IS THE GREATEST.
My make-up and hair was stunning (RIGHT?!?!) and was done by Kaija Towner.
Also! My pretty shoes were hand painted by Hourglass Footwear. These ladies kick so much ass. All of their shoes are unreal. They will paint anything you want on a shoe!
It’s a little different than the time you drew “Go to hell, Bush” on your converse in ninth grade and your mom got really mad at you, but the same general idea.
YAY SHOES! THANK YOU HOURGLASS FOOTWEAR!!!
After the Grammys, my parents kicked it with Skrillex and Katy Perry, I embraced Natasha Beddingfield in a warm hug ofsparkles, and only had one super minor panic attack (YEAH! TOTALLY KILLED IT THIS YEAR! SCREW YOU MENTAL ILLNESS!). I was also able to cut a rug with my brilliant, beautiful, inspiring girlfriend, Michelle (truly, anyone that knows her, knows that it is a privilege to merely be in her presence. OR DANCE WITH HER). We grooved with Anna Kendrick and ate treats and when I told my parents that I was exhausted and it was time to go, my mom looked at me like the way I used to look at her when she said we had to leave the McDonald’s Play Place (specifically the ball pit) and it felt like the end of the universe.
MY PARENTS HAD SO MUCH FUN. WE HAD FUN TOO.I’m reading back over this, and I’m starting to feel like one of those schmucky gross industry people that one-ups everyone and talks about how he “discovered Fergie” and makes you feel bad about yourself while he cleans his teeth with a toothpick and mentions how great caviar actually is. I don’t feel like that. I do feel like I had a once-in-a-lifetime, totally cinderella-y, surreal day, and tried very desperately to take every bit in. I hope that translates.
Over that week, I did a TON of press and in addition to answering questions about the Grammys, I was also asked about things I’m not sure I was prepared to talk about on major TV:
(1) being raped when I was 17 (2) my new relationship and (3) my mom’s sexual orientation and history
I felt a little uncomfortable but okay at the time, especially since I’m trying to live my life (public and private) as vulnerable and as honest as possible.
I try to do this even with media and gossip shows, because I think at the heart of all of these shows and celebrity gossip news are real people with a variety of motivations for asking things, and at home,
there are real people watching and thinking and drawing their own epiphanies from a conversation you’re having with a host. I have an opportunity to have an influence for 10 minutes on national television so why wouldn’t I speak candidly about my rape, especially if I believe so strongly in vulnerable honesty?
I think I’m now learning that it’s possible for me to lose ownership of my own experiences through media. It’s a thought that never occurred to me before. After one interview in particular, I spent the day tied up in knots; feeling like I gave up something I didn’t want to give. And with an exchange like that (through no fault of the interviewer), there is no reclamation that exists. And that’s okay; it just means I have more tools for next time and that my gauge for comfortability and safety has been calibrated.
The totally awesome thing is that I feel SO SUPPORTED AND LOVED by everyone around me! Including you, you beautiful reader, reading this with your beautiful eyes!
The other awesome thing is that, HOLY FUCK I have so much to learn. I’ve been reminded of my own fallibility and this past year of lessons has been really humbling.
Thanks for your incredibly beautiful energy and support, Lambies, babes, and Lambie-babes.
I hope you’re HAVING THE BEST WEEKEND EVER!!!!
I want to preface this blog post by saying I’ve never claimed to be the healthiest person. I’m extremely busy, travel frequently and often too exhausted to hit the gym. Touring is an entirely other issue. What do you eat at 2am after a show when you’re on the road? I posted a status update that got a lot of love (and it’s share of tear-inducing fat shaming comments), and it explains how I live my life; with hella self-care and salad and heirloom tomatoes and a goddamn gin martini whenever I so choose.
PS. Can someone open a drive-thru vegan restaurant that’s open forever and has cute girls working and is only 5 dollars for anything and is in every city and has puppies you can hold while you wait?? PLEASE??
I want to talk about bodies. Bodies are sometimes broken, sometimes violated, sometimes nurtured, sometimes healing, sometimes sick. But your body is your own. It is a beautiful and dangerous thing, that freedom; we can do whatever we want with our bodies. Why are bodies a sensitive subject? Because we live with them every second of our lives. And there are a crazy amounts of critics that attempt to define beauty.
I have a theory about plus size bodies, specifically women, but not limited to. I believe that if a person has been violated, raped, abused, or harassed, they view their bodies differently after an incident(s). I’m not even going to start a rant on poverty and it’s correlation to obesity, because I could go forever on that subject as well.
When I was in high school, I was athletic and active. After my 17th birthday, I snuck into a party on the Army base with a friend. I didn’t realize it would be all men in their 20’s.
That night I was raped in a room with 3 men. I didn’t realize it at the time, that my saying ‘No’ softly and trying to hold thighs off of me meant rape. Didn’t think about the immorality of a 23 year old heavily coaxing me into his bed. After the rape, I went into a gradual depression. There were several other factors (the obvious: coming out as a lesbian, high school in general), but one thing that was interesting about that time, was that during those months and the years that followed, I wanted to destroy my body. I became increasingly self-destructive and reckless. I gained weight. I slept around. I cut. I drank myself into oblivion. My body did not feel worthy. If someone so easily took advantage of my body, violated every part of me, and planted a rotten fruit in my psyche, then I could not possibly be worthy. My body did not deserve to be loved, least of all by me.
If a person has been physically violated, I believe that that abuse directly correlates to eating disorders and self-harm.
When you shame another’s weight (be it thin or fat), when you claim to call out someone’s body size because you “care” about their health, it is not a beneficial statement in any sense of the word, and in actuality is far more harmful to any progress a person might have with relation to their health. What right do you have to talk about someone else’s body or health? You are hammering a distorted ideology that they are not normal, that they are not worthy, and convincing them that they are going to die early. The reason that there is a body positive movement is because we’re celebrating our bodies for the magic that they are and the beautiful things they are capable of. We are letting go of past abuse and judgement, and loving ourselves again. We are practicing self care, in whatever way we choose. We are saying fuck you to clothing lines that only go to a size 12 as if we don’t even exist as people, and we are saying fuck you to a mainstream media that says our bodies can only be used as comedic props and can’t possibly be sexy or romantic.
We are reclaiming our bodies.