Alrighty. One Hour Left.

So I was in a timed exam, and I got done a little early, with no option but to wait out the clock. So I decided I’d set free the little creative bug in me and just have some fun. This is the result of that little window of time, and I must say, it’s rather delightful.

Some background: I had a song stuck in my head at the time, and I was watching the clock. That much is probably evident, but if you’re looking for which song-it’s Goodnight Moon by Go Radio. I chose specifically to not use gender. I also just went a little whimsy with the spoken words-I made up the language as I went. It’s not copied from anything that I am consciously aware.

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Image result for moon free clip art

“So goodnight moon, and goodnight you.”

There they sat, waiting for the final tick of the clock. The batteries had been wearing out slowly and the time had come. Each second took slightly longer than the one before and it was time to say goodbye.

But that was the problem with letting go, wasn’t it? Even something as juvenile and unemotional as a watch battery could find, that in its last moments, care was expressed on its behalf. And what then, could be said for the rest of…stop.

The tarnished plating on the watched seemed to fade. The watch face, once illustriously lilac (or so they had been told), now sat dusty and apparently unimportant, its hands frozen at 3:17. What a time to die.

It was all that remained of their family-this little piece of costume jewelry. Much like those it had belonged to, its importance was solely in the eye of the beholder. The engraving in the band suggested a fascination with darkness, and knowing of the original owner, it wasn’t an unreasonable assumption. However, they were just words to a song, long since forgotten. A relic, not unlike the time piece. What times must have been like then, with music and the importance of knowing your position in the light spectrum. They’d approached each experience as fleeting, but holding on to the sentimental value for far longer than reasonable. Thus the watch.

A brief stretch and up they rose, catching the smell of the pending storm. It was inevitable, as all things were. Drifting to the bank of the river, they looked once more at the cheap metal, hand carved engravings and faded colors. It was an accurate representation of the world they knew-lifeless, soulless and oppressed. But that was coming to an end.

They had no training in music, an art long since banned and forgotten, but a small rectangular object, lodged safely in a pocket was the key to the change oncoming. Remembering-just barely-how to operate it, they keyed up the appropriate symbols of a dying language and hesitated slightly. A dull rhythm behind them.

“Osha na heimawei?” Are you sure this is a good idea? An old friend emerged from the path. No threat, just curiosity-although both responses were illegal.

“Amsu.” Yes, they thought. “Ji esto na heikawa. Esko pa ti antewa.” The world killed itself long ago. I must revive it. “Ni ma toankeishelo.” My destiny must revive the life long lost. The friend extended a hand, which they grasped.

“Shei nakem.” Together then. They pressed the three-tipped button and dialed up a side meter.

“Shestako meinahopaneita. Weitcha hakeifato.” This is how apathy ends. This is how the humanity is exhumed.

“And when our hearts are heavy burdens, we shouldn’t have to bear alone.” They tossed the watch into the river and increased the volume until it reached a deafening level. Light began to emit from the depths of the water, where the metal left ripples.

It was as though the sun rose over the world for the first time in ages. Colors burst forth from each thing the light touched, and it was then that they finally understood the beauty of having open eyes. Instead of the grey and black scale, there existed sights that there were no longer words for.

Their family passed down stories of time before the darkness-when freedom and individuality weren’t oppressed for uniformity. A time when this light reached everywhere and everyone, when sounds were crisp and emotional. Although the language’s nuances were slightly lost on them, the meaning of the song that still filled the air swelled within, like some higher purpose.

Within a couple breaths, enforcement surrounded them and it was then that they understood: neither they nor their friend would see the finale to this new chapter.

“Katek. Meitanopatchema. Katenchezna.” Stand down. Await containment for final processing of crimes committed. Surrender or pass beyond. 

A fleeting look at their actions. It was enough to overwhelm them. Their friend squeezed their hand one last time.

“Techakana hielo.” I will follow you to the end. 

“You cannot take freedom from those who would see it shared to all. Our lives may be brief, but our meaning will never be lost. Welcome to morning. May the darkness be fleeting and oppression end.”

“3:21. What a time to die.” Their friend spoke.

“Fa. Meistopashei.” No. What a time to live.

And humanity was exhumed, bringing with it an understanding and a hunger for all things diverse and beautiful.

“Like a passage from goodnight moon.”

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Preaching the End of the World

Order of business first-if you are here because of the NaNo Hop, please drop me a comment-I have no idea why my notifications aren’t loading, but I can’t see any of you.

This past week was my birthday. Birthday 24. And like I do every year, I look for songs which contain my age. I found quite a few! I’ll link us up. But I picked the Chris Cornell song. It’s not exactly the best video I’ve ever seen-but the words are spot on.

I’d been a fan of 1985 since high school, but I’d never heard any of the other songs until I went looking. The Pat Stansik song definitely came pretty close as a runner up, and I thought about it for a while, but I had to go with the one that I just felt a little more strongly about.
Now, this is going to be a little bit of a reintroduction-simply because I know there are NaNos out there who have only just come around to the epic word fest that is my blog. For the rest of you, please know I appreciate you and our regular broadcasts will return shortly.
So hi there!
I’m Michelle. And this is my safe space. I write about what I’m passionate about, and I delight in epic conversations. I generally try to make sure there are no rules, except for respect. Differing opinions welcome, interaction always welcome-but I have no problem shutting down things that get rude, racist or otherwise belittling.
This is a forum for discussion (typically) about:
Mental Health
LGBT+/SAGA issues
Women’s Issues
Sexual Assault
Spirituality (although not often)
Current Events (including the Dakota Access Pipeline)
Writing (Both news pieces and novels)
Poetry
I post my opinions about these things, I post my stories. I write. And I do not apologize for having opinions, but I know I’m not perfect either. I make spelling errors, I make grandiose passionate speeches that I sometimes need to explain. I am human.
So welcome to this little nook. Grab a cup of coffee or tea or maybe something a little stronger. Stay hydrated. Be safe.
You are valid. You are irreplaceable.
Oh, and P.S. I’m working on a new novel. 🙂

Playlist

Music just sometimes feeds your soul in ways you can’t explain. Sometimes it inspires, sometimes it destroys, always it gives you what you needed.

I’ve been listening to Disturbed version of The Sounds of Silence. (I have listened to the original, but found it no to my taste.) In fact, here’s the playlist I’ve had on repeat for about a month now.

The Sounds of Silence-Disturbed
Silhouette-Alquilo
Comes and Goes in Waves-Greg Laswell
Warriors-Imagine Dragons
Bloodstream-Stateless
Lost It All-Black Veil Brides
This is Gospel-Panic! At The Disco
Put the Gun Down-Andy Black
Hear You Me-Jimmy Eat World
Comatose-Skillet
Falling In Love At A Coffee Shop-Landon Pigg

I have a couple more, but let’s pick up on trends here. Songs about the loss of hope, the loss of purpose, being caught in the sea with a hurricane approaching. (Except for the last one-that song I just love because other reasons.) Which led me to thinking:

Be kind to yourself today. It’s a brutal, nasty world out there and well, don’t get sucked down into it, okay?

Deep In the Heart of GISHWHES

It’s day two of GISHWHES (the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen) and although I cannot show you any pictures yet (but I’ll be doing a blog over that as soon as I am allowed!) I can tell you about this process and what it has meant for me.

Before I get into that though, let me thank all my new followers for stumbling upon my not-so-humble opinions and thank you all those who stick around. I am honestly delighted to have met/start meeting ya’ll! It’s so wonderful that I get to share my thoughts and have feedback! Along that line, I’ve not published SEVEN articles with The Mighty and I am so blown away that just a couple months ago I was dawdling along and now I’m making progress in such fantastic ways. Beyond thrilled. Honestly.

So in the process of these last two days I have: Painted a portrait, illustrated a fairy tale, made a birthday card, made three post cards, done something nice for someone, taped coupons to shelves at the store, and made origami out of toilet paper. In the next few days, I will be making a trailer park out of sand (think sand castles), graffiti-ing the US constitution somewhere (legally!) and participating in a virtual choir-just to name a few things!

And sure, there are plenty of things which are also asking for participation which I haven’t yet gotten to and I’ve got my hands in quite a few projects as we speak, but the real value here is what it is doing for my mental health. And that’s where I wanted to head with this conversation.

I balked at the idea of doing GISHWHES at first because I’m shy, my art skills aren’t Monet level, I don’t have a lot of money, blah blah blah. I got over my inhibitions and decided that I was going to do it. And now that I am here, I am ever so glad I did. These items have given me confidence to do things I otherwise would not. I can do all these really fun things under the guise of GISHWHES, without feeling like people will excessively judge me. And sure, they absolutely will judge me. But you know what? I wear my GISH-membership like a suit of armor. I’m proud I’m doing stuff that’s out of my norm and I’m taking chances-which is more than I think a lot of people can say.

What Pokemon Go is doing for obesity and depression/anxiety, GISHWHES is doing for similar things. I’ve read the accounts of so many other GISHers who talk about having PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, OCD and more doing their items and breaking out of their shells. It’s phenomenal, it’s encouraging and I think it’s a delightful way to make friends who have the same interests as you.

When this week is over and I can post the pictures and show the videos, I will discuss all this in a little more linear manner. Just know that it’s epic, it’s fantastic and I’m doing my very best to help my team win.

Oblivion

I’ve had the song Oblivion in my head all day, rewatched the YouTube video about 80 times today. That’s not an exaggeration either. I love the musicality of it, and the lyrics are just delightful. The part that gets me every time is the following section:

When you fall asleep with your head upon my shoulder.
When you’re in my arms but you’ve gone somewhere deeper.

Are you going to age with grace?
Are you going to age without mistakes?
Are you going to age with grace,
Or only to wake and hide your face?

When oblivion is calling out your name,
You always take it further than I ever can.

When you play it hard, and I try to follow you there.
It’s not about control but I turn back when I see where you go.

Are you going to age with grace?
Are you going to leave a path to trace?

But oblivion is calling out your name,
You always take it further than I ever can.

When oh oblivion is calling out your name,
You always take it further than I ever can.

I know, I probably didn’t need to add the whole song, but at the same time, I’ve cried at songs before but this is beautiful.

We all go through battles. Life is hard on all of us. There’s nothing we can do to prepare for it, nothing we can do to make it easier. We just keep fighting. We have no other choice. But no matter what, we’re not alone.

I invite you to give it a listen. The music starts at 0:56, it stars Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) and the video is sad, but I like to listen and make my own mental video.

Bastille-Oblivion

Once Upon A Time

It was a slightly overcast day, but with enough sun to count as sunny. I woke up, smiled a bit, and headed to school and my then job as a tutor for the school. It was the end of April, and I was looking forward to the end of the semester. Ben, working in the same department, saw me as I walked in. I asked him what was on his mind, and we began to talk about the same topic that we’d been casually mentioning for ages: marriage. I thought we could just do a courthouse run when we went to get our marriage certificate, but the courthouse hadn’t offered them, and so we were still looking for a solution. I pulled the number up for the courthouse of the municipal we were in for classes (which was the next district over, and therefore a possibility). The judge DID perform marriages-by appointment only!

When would we like to be married?

I wanted May Day-a religious holiday about fertility and thusly good luck.

They only did Friday’s.

May second? Booked.

May ninth?

That was fine. We were scheduled for 9AM. Perfect.


The date was two weeks away, with plenty of time to break the news to our families that we were being completely serious (they’d known we would for about a year, but until we had something concrete it was always just up in the air.) We’d tried a December wedding, but it hadn’t panned out.

Fast forward to the Friday before our wedding-Friday, May 2 at 4:56PM. The Judge had been overbooked! And he wouldn’t even able to do our wedding!! No appointments available before our marriage certificate expired. Thank you.

It was the end of the business week before we were finished with our conversation. I could call no official until Monday, and that might be too late. So I began to try every minister, high priest, high priestess, pastor and anyone I had an email address for in the closest three counties. Most, as I had assumed, needed more notice. One had asked if we could drive forty miles to their Sabbat that same night, where they would love to do so, with less than an hour to get there-we passed, but I would have loved to!

Ben had been calling people with the same fervor, and emailing his professors (who are well known to be better connected than college students!) and lo and behold-one of his professors was ordained! Was he free on Friday the 9th? Yes! Would he be willing to do so? Yes! Perfect!

It wasa sunny Friday, the flowers were all blooming in the trees and it seemed like the perfect day for happiness. My parents and siblings, Ben’s dad, Ben’s best friend (and his parents) and a couple lost stragglers came to the classroom. My dad stopped off and bought pizza for everybody before we got there. In walked the professor, complete with a stole and robes, a brief case, and a guitar case. I’d never had Dr. Emens, but he seemed a nice enough fellow, and he was certainly doing us a kindness.

We had a traditional wedding, complete with prayers, vows that were based in a religion I had left, and the exchanging of rings. Then, at the very end, Dr. Evens sat down and asked if he could play a song for us. He chose “Good Riddance (Time of Our Lives)” by Green Day. We paid him, signed the things we needed to and then headed to our honeymoon-weekend (where we watched three seasons of Game of Thrones and the owner of the place we stayed picked wild flowers-which I dried (because they were my wedding bouquet).

It may not have been traditional, it may not have been the big and fancy wedding that everyone always thinks about, but it was unique, it was prophetic and it was the start of a wonderful marriage. And it was all completed at 4:30PM Friday, May 9, 2014.

Now, two years later, it is rainy (which I love!) and I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my huge cup of coffee, thinking about that day. I remember that I sat there thinking that I wasn’t nervous at all, that I knew I was making the decision that I’d made in my head a long time before.

There are some things you didn’t get with that version of the story.

I was 21 (and had been so for 5 months exactly). Ben was 20 (and had been so for a week under 5 months). I was asked within five minutes of getting married if I was going to have kids/when I was going to have kids/if I was already pregnant. 

Ben told my dad (and I later adopted the same reasoning for the people who asked why we got married so young:

I didn’t want to start our lives separately and have to make room for the other person. I want to start from absolutely nothing more than love and build a life together. I want to start out together poor and watch as our riches grow.

I’d always told people that when you know you love someone, you shouldn’t feel like age should stop you from spending your life together.

I chose to hyphenate my name because at the time I thought I wanted to go into academics and that way, if I published any papers, you’d know without a doubt it was me. I may not be directly going into academia, but I don’t regret splitting my name. Because it gives me an identity all my own. I use either name as I please, both for formal occasions and I am content.

So happy anniversary, my love. It’s been an interesting, epic, bizarrely perfect two years and I look forward to collecting more with you.

The Day the Music Died

I began today as I do many others: pensively. It was a still, quiet morning and there was something almost melancholy about it. I opened Pandora, as I usually did and for the very first time, American Pie was in my playlist. I’ve heard the song before (obviously) and I’ve read about the secret theories behind it, but I never really thought much of it. I sang along, as best I could, and when it got to the part that says:

Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.

I raised my drink, like I was toasting the sky and sang it anyway.

The thing is, the music did die today. But let me tell you why.

Ms. Eileen Ruffing was known as a steadfast music educator who instilled discipline, passion and work ethic into each of her students. Spending decades of her life as a musician and as an instructor, she maintained the utmost professionalism of any human being I have ever known. Her classes were run with a strict policy and it was impossible for you to get away with something wrong without one of her characteristic eye rolls.(It was like she could see through her closed eyelids-you knew you were in trouble.)

She not only ensured that four grades of students had multiple concerts each year for years, she ran a middle school jazz band as well as privately coached students for Solo and Ensemble (a competition event). She was a clarinet by nature. This is the blurb offered by her church: (It’s an option for lessons.) “Band for fifth through eighth grade students with Mrs. Eileen Ruffing. Mrs. Ruffing was the band director at Highland Schools for 35 years and retired in the spring of 2015.  She is a clarinet player and brings with her an enormous amount of personal talent and experience as a band director, and is a long time Saint Vincent de Paul church member.” She was active in “pit” music sections for the Mount Vernon theatre programs. She was involved in several “band” camps at the University of Wooster, as well as at the high school she taught at for 35 years.

Cleveland-Indians-Logos

(She had a poster in her office of the Cleveland Indians for as long as I can remember.)

I remember the very first day of fifth grade band. It was a little before-right when we were signing up for our instruments. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to play-I just wanted to play music! I remember she asked me if I remembered how to  “bite down” to play a clarinet. I thought I did, but I bit my top lip instead of bottom and she rolled her eyes at me and said “No. You’re biting the wrong lip.” I felt so embarrassed! I eventually chose flute, and stayed with that for my high school career-although I did learn other instruments on top of that. She was there for every performance, gave me my first solo and was my biggest supporter when I decided to become field commander.

I was a new commander, and I found out that some of the band members I commanded were doing things that I perceived to be dangerous. I was so upset that I had to be taken aside by the color guard coach. She said, “You know, you’re not the only one who cares that much.” And I said “I know. I just worry so much. I love my friends. I don’t want them to get hurt.” And she said:

That’s how much Eileen loves you. You’re all her kids. But she’s the reason you became commander. She believed in you and you’ll be okay.

I never doubted my abilities to command after that.

So as I sit here, reminiscing about the wayward flute player I was, I’m reminded of the great things about having such a wonderful woman as the one who introduced me to music. Music was the one thing I turned to when times got hard. It’s still my first line of defense. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the music will always find you in your time of need. And so, as your eyes have closed one last time, I offer these words as your soul joins those who have come before.

And I would liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did.

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(This is her several years before I met her. I knew her when her hair was salt and peppered with the stresses of the education system. But I’ll never forget her laugh. It may have happened rarely, but it was something that remains.)