You Need to Have Something To Say

I heard a saying recently.

“If you are going to be a writer, you need to have something to say. ”

It immediately applied to my  music and storytelling.

Musically, I have a lot to say. I tell my personal story of the moment through the songs I write. My latest, “Birds in the Market” came when a man I was dating was offered a job out of state. As I absorbed the information the line came to me –

Our hearts are birds that sing to each other,

Ribcages holding us in.

Waiting to be sold and carried,

in the hand of another or the wind.

The imagery of my heart calling out to his and the impossibility that he and I could be together expressed itself through the lyrics and melody. I have a lot to say when it comes to music.

Traditional storytelling is a different beast all together. It is more elusive in what I want to say. It is a teacher more than self expression. I choose some stories because they call to me, like The Lute Player. Some I tell because they fit the situation. Other stories sit at my door and howl to be told until I open the door in my nightclothes, with bedhead and circles under my eyes. Other stories just let themselves in and wait to be noticed.

But, I do have something to say when I tell stories. The shortest summery is – Life is full of suffering, but it is tender and beautiful too. I tell my experiences through the stories and try to express that ineffable quality of life.  When I need to express the nuances of the death, I draw on my experiences of death. When a child is born in a story I remember watching my nieces birth and being shocked at the strangeness of a new born. When the child is hungry, or the magical food is burnt, or the path twists to a strange new land…well, I know all of those things too.

I have something to say and I will dress it in fairytales so it is entertaining and can get closer to you than I ever could.

I know you have something to say – how do you say it?

Reflections from behind a Veil

I dressed in a black dress, gloves, a hat and a lace veil. I held a teacup in my hands with bubble solution that I blew out across the wind as people passed by. 
One person.
One flower.
Blowing into the wind. Bubbles blowing away.
Man stands in front of me. Camera out. I blow bubbles as he takes pictures.
“Why are you doing this?”
I smile and say nothing.
Glances and turned heads.
My black gloved hand outstretched, offering a flower.
Trajectory chosen, flower not a part of it.
Who are all these people? Who could they be? Who are they choosing to be?
The first dollar dropped into the suitcase.
A woman who makes the effort to exit the farmers market to get to me.
Bearded man takes the flower and smiles.
This could be something.
Young girls take the flowers and smile shyly.
Woman peers under the lace – “Who is under there?”
Man peers at me – “Can I get a smile?”
I accommodate and he walks away.
They chose the clothes they are wearing.
They chose to fly past on bikes pushing the air around like a current in the sea.
My legs are braced against the uneven ground and my knee starts to hurt.
I understand as I see each person that the world is not dependent on me.
I do not owe the human race to save it.
What I do does not matter.
I am free to walk among these people and not matter.
Thank the gods.
I see them walk in their own worlds.
Chubby baby faces see my eyes and me smile. I smile back.
“Who are you? Are you doing this because you want to? Why are you doing this? You do it because you want people to understand?”
“Ann. Yes. For fun.” Shrug.
I don’t need to have a meaning for people to understand. They will create that for themselves.
“You are a bad-ass!! A real bad-ass!”
You are the first to say that.
The lace keeps people from seeing me but I see them.
I see them through the lace and they can’t see my eyes.
I think it makes me more approachable to some and less to others.
It makes it easier for me to not be seen while seeing.
I see their glances and thoughts about what they are seeing written all over their faces.
Curiosity. Anger. Fear. Blank. Delight. Interested.
As I watch them I realize that I am never without the veil.
They will always show what they are thinking, and it has nothing to do with me.
The veil makes their gazes direct and in that direct line of sight I am invisible.
I hold a flower out over and over. She comes and takes it.
She puts a dollar in the suitcase.
She asks questions too.
I try not to speak. I respond with my body and she sort of understands.
The man with her says someone told him that I had great wisdom to impart.
I give him a flower too.
Should I be done when I run out of flowers?
Out of bubbles? Out of energy?
I don’t know how that works.
I spend 3 hours sitting and $10 on bubbles and flowers.
I make $10 and a bag of Orange Ginger Tea.
Some sweet cheeky person put a tea bag in there.
I make more sense of the world by watching it from behind a lace curtain.
I breathe in the heartbreak and the smallness of the world.
The bigness of being still, blowing bubbles, not talking and yellow flowers.
I trigger smiles and turned heads.
At least 20 people will have a yellow flower travel with them for a while.

Something That Happened : A Unique Performance Venue

I went to see a performance art show at a strip club.

Really anyone who goes to a strip club can say that. I can’t say that I did anything but walk through the club to get to the back room where the art show was happening.

The show was part of Boulder Art Week Shows.

These are my impressions.

  • It smelled like layers of cigarettes and perfume and something else.
  • I thought it was a misnomer to call it a gentleman’s club.
  • Everyone looks better under dim red lights. Even my tired face. Maybe I should replace the bulbs in my house.
  • When I walked in the man at the counter thought I was coming to apply for a job. When I was in college I thought about applying for a job there. I thought about doing an anonymous blog talking about my work there. I didn’t do any of that.
  • I got to peek at an empty dressing room and a sign that said Ladies: You must always be dancing on stage! Even if there is only one customer. Failure to comply: $20 fine and/or sent home. 

I totally get that. Same thing with storytelling. If there is one person stopping to listen I will tell the story.

Oh, and the show was interesting. Music by Riley Ann was fantastic.


Chewing on beautiful words

tumblr_n6vt9oEDDx1ri67xpo1_500I am always looking for new words to love. One episode of Doctor Who introduced me to the word “petrichore”, which is the smell of dust after rain. It is almost as pretty of a word as the smell is.

Another one I found in the book The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairy Land in a Ship of Her Own Making  . The word was “widdershins” or to move counterclockwise. In looking up that word I found that it was considered an unlucky direction. I have always liked unlucky directions being that I am left handed, and so predisposed me to choosing things that seemed against the norm, if only in the smallest ways.

New words feel like candy in my mouth. As I work my tongue around them the sharp edges smooth out and the sweetness becomes more evident.

Introducing new words through storytelling depends on context and your audience. When emerging from a cultural context some words need to be explained – “bairn” is the Scottish word for child. However, I doubt many American children (or adults for that matter) would know that. So I might add a short explanation as I introduce the word for the first time, or I would mime holding a baby.

Then there are the audiences. I was at a middle school recently and a good portion of the children were learning english as a second language. I was asked twice what the word “torso” meant. It was a good reminder to check my stories beforehand for any confusing words, and also to encourage the children to ask if they did not know what a story meant.

As I find new words I will post them here, and I would love to hear your favorite words of the moment.

Until then, adios!