It is an absolutely GORGEOUS spring day. Our first truly warm sunny day. The sun is bright and warm.  The sky is completely clear.  The birds are celebrating in the trees in my backyard, giddy with joy and anticipation.  I can hear the rhythmic sounds of the breeze in the trees alternating with the different bird calls. They say the air is new.  For it contains a lightness, the slightest coolness, which does not detract from the warmth but just smells fresh.  It makes me want to take a walk with my dog and ignore all that I must do.  It makes me want to hang my porch swing and sweep and open all the windows and let music from the turntable leak out of the house.  It makes me want to smell lemon pledge and windex and see the tops of tables and throw out the greenery still in the pots from Christmas and buy pansies so that at the end of the day all is renewed and simplified.

That simple day is not my reality.  My reality, what I have chosen and what I am working toward, is a much more demanding and grueling and sometime fruitless line up of tasks intermingling the vastly different aspects of my life and commitments. I hurry and I apologize and I create and decide things and sometimes I stall and forget.  This is all in order that I may move in the direction that goes against the current of life.  I am moving against it, persistently.  Doggedly.  I am not complaining.  I am stating a fact.

Deciding to go in the opposite direction as everyone else and actually going in the opposite direction of everyone else are two very different things.  There’s only so much of me to go around.  My essence and physical capabilities are finite. The more details and tasks I add to my life the less of me is doled out to each one.  My house is a wreck.  I am behind on everything.  I need to make a birthday cake. Emails are unanswered.  My campaign is stalling.  I haven’t made appointments that I must make.  People all over can’t do the next thing I have asked them to do because I haven’t sent them the files.  My dropbox is full, and I’m going to have to pay for more storage.  The consequences are piling up.  Reckoning day is coming.  I have let people down who are counting on me.  Major decisions are required of me now, but first I must shower.  People are right now waiting on me but first I have to write this blog post and do a load of laundry. I’m going to visit my family, we leave in a few hours, and I haven’t a clean pair of underwear or jeans to pack.  I considered buying new ones, but we are also broke which is also my fault.  I am not complaining. Don’t feel sorry for me.  I chose this.

Tuesday is my teaching day and this week a mom came in with her brood of adorables and confessed no work was done this week.  Backpacks were still in the van from the week before.  Moving from one house to another.  Furniture in one place.  Clothes in another. Food in neither.  The kids had stale tortilla chips and donuts for breakfast.  The baby was still in her jammies, with chocolate donut all over her little face, “I so sticky, Mommy.” Ten must-do tasks ahead on the list for her day.  With a toddler. This story made me laugh out loud. This is the pitch of real life.  The way it is.  Frenetic.  And we are conditioned to think that is bad. Because it doesn’t feel good, and it outpaces our abilities to consider and weigh and enjoy.

But here is my revolutionary contribution to the debate.  I think this is what it takes. This kind of activity, this kind of pace, and work and dedication and persistence and excellence and self-denial is what it takes to make a real and lasting change to your life. To move from one place to another.  To make a real and ridiculous idea come to fruition.  Why are you working so hard?  Why don’t you slow down and enjoy yourself for just a minute? Why can’t you stop and smell the roses?  Well, I can stop and smell the roses, but just for a minute, and then I need to get back to work.  I need to make happen what I want to happen and I need to take responsibility for the future I want to exist.  I need to keep going so that all I have done so far will not be a waste.  I chose this.  I choose it again.

I wrote the song Physics, first song on side b on the vinyl and maybe my favorite song on the album, in an attitude such as this.  Working as fast and as hard as I can. Stopping to take my kid somewhere or shower or eat occasionally.  Forgetting to do things and disappointing people and missing deadlines.  But also making a discernible change in my way of life.  Chipping away at it.

Guess I’m breaking my bridges and
Burning my bread
You’ll have to find someone
To talk to instead
I’m spinning so fast
That I’ve misplaced my time
It’s used up and faceless and
Waving goodbye

Gones be bygones
With a fidgeting gaze
Late for appointments
I started that way
Heartbeat accelerates
As I drive across town
I wait in the turn lane
Overcome by the sound

Of the drumbeat inside of me,
Pounding it out
On the steering wheel vinyl,
Frame jarring loud
Somewhere an insight,
An intricate arrow,
Designed just to point right
The way straight and narrow

I find a place on the wall
As I wind up to turn
Fix my eyes on the spot
And whip around sure
Straight as the arrow
That’s notched in the bow
I slice through the air,
Chin tucked toward the goal.

But what if I’m not in the air?
What if I’m deep under water?
What if I’ve turned
And pushed off the wall?
What if I’ve used up
The physics of it all?
What if I’m not in the air?

The lyrics are determined but my fear is addressed in the last part, the chorus.  Busy as I am,  I am determined to make it a go and not lose anything or anyone of importance along the way.  I refuse it.  I will only accept gains.  I will go back and fetch any I have dropped.  I will apologize and gather them up and hold on tighter.

What if though I am physically unable to keep going?  What if I push off the wall, a big breath and a prepared stance, I place my foot and lower my hands and visualize it all before I run, but what if I run out of momentum?  What if I do everything I can, do my absolute best, but it is not good enough?  That is fear. That is real.

Physics keeps going.  The song is long and laid back and keeps going and Trefan’s guitar solo takes it time and fills up the mid-tones luxuriously.  The harmonies are thick and low and Tony built my voice into chords like a Sara piano.  This is the success I am banking on. That I will not run out.  I will have enough of what it takes.  That my gamble, my investment will not fail.  That people will want what I have made and take it in and ask for more.  And like Dale’s low E on the bass, that physical foundation will sustain long, long after you think it’s over.  Long enough.  Long enough.

Sara Quah- Physics

Buy it all here for $10!

Read the other posts in my Taking Me Back Series:

For You, Dear: Pre-Order Taking Me Back on Pledge Music


What I Heard


How I’m Feeling


A Little Bit

Take Me Away

20 Steps

What I Want to Be

Her face is a map of the world; it’s a map of the world.
You can see she’s a beautiful girl; she’s a beautiful girl.
And everything around her is a silver pool of light.
The people who surround her feel the benefit of it.
It makes you calm; she holds you captivated in her palm.
Suddenly I see; this is what I want to be.

–“Suddenly I See,”  K.T. Tunstall

We’ve all known women like this.  When we pass them walking their smiles are like traffic lights, and we smile back, given a new secret.  The dynamics of their practiced voices remind us of their unusual strength, and we want to be nestled and belonging under the protection of their arm.  When we hold their hands, their selves are completely alive and buzzing with energy and vigor.  It radiates out of their beautiful bodies and with smiling eyes some of it reaches out to us, and we are restarted.  If they happen to speak to us, we are forever changed.  While they are talking we almost cannot take it all in.  And while it’s happening we know that what they are saying is what we most need to hear, what we have been longing to hear.  And these women take this moment and give its focus to us; they speak of us and what we need and what we do.  They encourage us and empower us.  We later recall their words in countless conversations.  The moment is a turning.

This is what I want to be.

Where does this come from?  Is it born necessarily out of injustice and striving?  Is it directly gifted from heaven a benevolent spiritual gift?  Is it a personality so perfectly balanced between self-actualization and selflessness that it never violates boundaries and never lies and never accepts injustice even to the self?  Is it simply a choice some people make, like salvation, which once it’s made gradually sanctifies the whole being into the best possible version of the self, repeatedly casting aside pettiness, slipping and rising again, never surrendering to the sweetness of pride but standing stubbornly on truth.  I suspect it is a recipe constantly changing; each one just as lovely and unique as the last, delightful in peculiarity and sincerity.

This is what I want to be.

Last night–at the Empowered Women Empower Women event at the BCPA– I was surrounded by women such as this and I am reminded and re-inspired to be and become that best possible version of myself that balances the acknowledgement and value of who I am now and who I can be tomorrow simultaneously with the selflessness, good humor, and spotlight-sharing of empowering other women to be that as well.

Nervous girl in the wings, shaking sweating hands.  Tiny dancer, hopping and stretching on your little feet, gentle girl singing.  Woman just finding voice, woman who lives to collect and protect other souls, woman who nurtures, and woman who makes us laugh. Woman who projects energy and power, woman who sees and knows, woman who makes a change, woman who reclaims her life, woman who challenges and singles out, woman who sits and stand witness to empowerment.  Thank you for a night of glowing stars.

I am empowered, and I will empower in turn.  My closing song, I’ll Be Aright, is an early thank you.  Make sure to head over to the pre-order/pledge page to reserve your copy of my new album; I will be posting the free download for I’ll Be Alright through that platform. Or, if pre-orders aren’t your thing, you can also send me an email here;  I’ll add you to my mailing list, and I’ll be able to share the track with you that way. If you enjoyed the music last night and want to support me, thank you!  Buying the music, telling people about the new album, sending out emails to your friends (emails are especially successful), sharing and posting on social media, all of that makes it possible for me to keep creating music. All of those things really do make a difference.

This is what I want to be.

For You, Dear: Taking Me Back, My New Album

It is quiet in the house and early.  The wind is blowing steadily and strong after the night of storms; the house is creaking and bending, the crows calling, and I can hear the deep far away sound of the world turning as it does in the morning, making music.

I am wakeful and anxious as today is a day that I have been working toward for a long time. Today is the day that I am going to ask the world for something; that I’m going to give it something and hope it doesn’t turn me down. I am an admirer with a ring in my pocket and flowers in my hand, determined to give a speech.  I am a surprise party hiding behind a couch with balloons.  I am a fixer upper, remodeled and put together just for you.

A couple of years ago, my husband gifted me a leather journal, thick with heavy, lined paper and covered in musical notation.  I love it.  The pages are just the right size; for when laid open, the two page spread gives me just enough room to take notes and make lists and still compose all in one space.   It took me two years of writing music to fill it.  I take it with me almost everywhere.  All of the music on Taking Me Back was written in it. It is completely full.

It is hard for me to imagine that I spent two years on this project.  A year writing music and crafting it, another year recording it.  And now it is finished. As the advice is “make good art; put it out into the world,”  –here world.

It is a big leap–or feels so to me–for me to make something and then turn around and call it art.  It is a big leap to call oneself an artist.  It feels like the title should come with credentials.  It feels like the name should be applied by an objective outsider. It feels like wearing a costume to apply the term to yourself.

Why is that?  I’m sure that it isn’t hard to call yourself a baker when you bake.  It isn’t hard to call yourself a plumber if you plumb.  Maybe it’s because we don’t have any real quantifiers when it comes to designating what is art and what is not.  I mean not everyone who makes a cake is a “real” baker.  My husband can fix a leaky faucet (actually he can fix anything and just in the last evening he’s fixed the printer, the stapler, dinner, the router, and my email) but he’s not a plumber.  We all understand the difference.  Maybe that’s why some of us worry that we have not earned the title.  No one can really say what is art and what is not. Who is an artist and who is not.  And without a test to pass, no one can say for sure what it is you are doing.  At least at first.

I read some advice for Pledge Music campaigns like mine just recently and it said, “This is not the time to be cool.  This is the time to be real. And tell your friends the truth.”  Well, okay, this is real. And this is the truth:  I really need your support.  I really need your enthusiasm.  I need to sell this album, in all its forms, and make the record label super happy and willing to make another one.  I really need to defy the odds and the critics, especially the one in my head. More truth:  I’m both nervous and happy. Nervous because I don’t want to let everyone down. Nervous because I don’t want to fail. Nervous because I’m really not good at asking for help.  Nervous because I worked really hard, and it’s still not perfect, and it’s not going to be.  And happy because now I get to enjoy this for a little while.  Playing and talking and laughing and living it.  Happy because I get to go out and be in the world with it and be a part of things with it.  Happy because I made something and had the chance to put it out into the world, and I did it.

Whether I have earned the title of artist or not I cannot know.  But I have made something and it’s too late to turn back now.  I have made something, and I’m putting it out into the world.  I have made it for you, dear.

Sara Quah- For You, Dear

So, here it is: the Pledge Music Pre-Order Campaign for Taking Me Back.


If you want to read more about how I got to this place, this day (!), check out this post.

Read the other posts in my Taking Me Back Series:



What I Heard


How I’m Feeling


A Little Bit

Take Me Away

20 Steps

The Field Now


All about us is an open field.  We conduct and interact and work and go and be in it. Moving about like ants over the openness without much awareness of the scope of our travels.  Back and forth to this place with these people.  Back and forth to that place with those people.  Again and again.  New faces mixing in and old ones leaving sometimes.

Within this open field, for as long as I can remember, are muted lines like tributaries, like capillaries, criss-crossing the space.  We can see them.  They make a geometric pattern on the ground, a constellation.  But these lines are filled with sand, and with all the steps over them muting their edges, and all the weight rolling over them compacting their strength, their presence is less obvious and rarely cumbersome.  We think about them sometimes, but mostly we don’t.  We travel freely over them, alongside them, without any fear of their giving way.

But now.

Now is a new playing field.  Deep under the ground a shift has taken place.  A low and subtle shake moved one plate, and another, and another, till the full spaces became empty spaces and the empty spaces became trenches and the trenches became wider.  And our crossings and goings became more dangerous and sometimes just impossible.  The sand that filled up those seams now drained, the sieve no longer blocked by norms.  Our movements are affected.  We try to go and move as before, and we are slowed; we are tripped and scuffed; we are separate.

I look across the widening, roiling trenches and see faces of those people over there.  I cannot reach them; they cannot reach me.  I look around my own island, the clipped edges jutting out severely. I see faces of these people over here.  I must hold tight to them.  We must keep our balance together, distribute the discomfort among ourselves and make of this our new tribe.  We turn in.

Who can calm the heaving plates recoiling?  Who can smooth the earth’s jagged joinings? Who can settle those trembling atop them?  Who can refashion a foundation to stop the sifting?  Who can pour in the new sand?  Who will shake the ground to make it fill in all the pockets and tamp it down?  Who will test the new ground with their foot?

I Once Got An Email From George Massenburg

From Tony:

For those not in the know, George Massenburg is a massive figure in the recording
world. He’s a wonderful engineer and producer, as well as genius gear designer
and manufacturer. He is the inventor of the fully parametric equalizer, something
we now take for granted in the studio. Continue reading I Once Got An Email From George Massenburg

When Tony Met Sara: In His Words

My first encounter with Sara wasn’t much different than many of my other clients. About three years ago a message showed up in my inbox asking about recording, so we set a meeting for the next day (I think). I usually ask people come by the studio to see how we jive, and to give them a chance to see the space, ask questions, and decide if they actually want to spend all that time and money dealing with me (as a self-employed small-business owner, I am fond of saying my boss is an asshole). 

Sara showed up, all smiles and energy, with her guitar and 2 of the players who would be on the record she was planning to make (a 4 song EP of Christian songs that she’d written). As usual, Sara was her bubbly self, and I took an instant liking to her. The more I learned about her, the more I wanted the gig.  She has so many of the qualities I enjoy working with in an artist: passionate, dedicated, and fun to be around. Since she had never been in the studio before, I saw the opportunity to work with a first-time artist (something I really enjoy)- a chance to help her figure out what she wanted from the project and where she wanted to go. Guiding first-time artists through the process allows me to watch their faces as their idea, which starts as just a thought, turns into a record.

Then the plot twist came: almost out of nowhere, Sara told me her teacher was encouraging her to work at another studio, but that Sara didn’t feel that it would be the right mix or energy. I’m never one to poach clients or discourage musicians from pursuing other studio avenues, even if I think we could work together to create a strong project.  “Well, see what they have to say and get back to me.”

Sara paused, furrowed her brow, and proclaimed she was canceling the other meeting and that we should set a date to record.

I have to admit I felt proud that she made her decision so quickly.  I immediately started to think about how we’d go about tracking, despite the fact that I hadn’t even heard Sara’s music yet.

Shortly after Sara left I thought to myself, “Well, SanFilippo, you’d better not fuck this up.”

Not only did we do the EP, but we’ve done several singles, and now the full-length album the world is waiting for: “Taking me Back.”     

I guess I didn’t fuck it up.

Bonus Miscellany of the Tony-And-Sara Variety:

Sara and Tony have both sworn to wear velvet suits to the Grammys (once they are notified of their impossibly-ten-thousand nominations).

Tony once took Sara to Digger’s Pub during tracking to get her a little tipsy to TRY TO SLOW HER DOWN for the difficult vocal timing on the track Goodbye. She sang it WRONG, and we’re not exaggerating here, at least 100 times before and after the tipsiness.  No vocal was actually cut that day (but Tony’s inhuman patience was tested –upon hearing, as a percussionist, mind you, trained in all manner of impossible time signatures– the same verse repeated wrongly so many times in a row, explanation after explanation unheeded) as the alcohol (a double shot of Jim Beam) had no affect on her speed, but did succeed in making everything HILARIOUS so that we may or may not be in possession of tapes of many minutes of Sara laughing at things which aren’t even funny, including a story about margaritas in styrofoam cups which she took drunk notes on because she was convinced at the time that it would make a great song; it didn’t.

During the making of this album, a new dream was formed:  Noodling during rehearsals, Mike Gardner, keyboard player extraordinaire, often would try to stump everyone with a snippets of 70’s TV theme songs (he knows them all), which revealed all the embarrassing shows everyone watched. They’d compete to be first to know the words or show. They all decided this would be a perfect one night gig–performing cheesy TV theme songs while the sentimental kids of the 70s and 80s sing and weep along. Sara still daydreams about singing Mary Tyler Moore and Facts of Life to the world; sigh, someday.

Tony threatens to abscond with Cody, the beloved Quah Family dog at least once a month. It’s not abduction if the dog WILLINGLY gets in the car. Just saying.

On Saturday, February 4, 2017, during the awkwardfest that was the making of Sara’s PledgeMusic campaign video, Sara learned that she had been pronouncing Tony’s last name wrong for about three years. Upon the discovery, Sara’s first words were, “EPIC FRIEND FAIL,” and “HOW COME YOU DIDN’T TELL ME BEFORE? YOU JUST LET ME SAY IT WRONG FOR THREE YEARS?!” Tony’s response: “I think I did. Now look at this:”


Morning After

Sunday morning Mark brought me coffee in bed.  Advantage of having a husband that wakes up early.  It was a nice way to wake up.  A nudge and a hot cup waiting on the nightstand.

He brought it in a cup of Mallory’s that I don’t usually pull out of the cabinet because it’s shaped funny at the top.  The rim sort of slants outward, and it spills easily.

I sat up in bed and proceeded to drink a little and spill a little down my pajamas and read the news feed on my phone.  Depressing, horrifying, embarrassing.   Headline after headline after headline.  A sour promise kept.  People frightened and confused, outraged by the sudden change in immigration policy.  Disillusioned families with their little lives in handled boxes.  Little kids in holding rooms in airports. Grandmas shuffling too long in line, afraid to question why.  Fathers with tears streaming down their brown, creased faces.  Helpless to help their own.

Weariness overcomes.  In the face of powerlessness, weariness overcomes. Whether the brother waiting to pick up his immigrating brother, or the woman a thousand miles away in her pajamas with her coffee.  Weariness overcomes those powerless to help.

And can a voice or a hand over distance and time find a sobbing soul and bring solace?  Can a heart that aches in one place shore up another in solidarity?

And good people.  Strangers and friends and lawyers with their signs up and their voices up and their calls for justice up on display.  Can their presence in the place of such injustice bandage up that hurtful rend?

I don’t know.

The aftermath of the vileness is played out in imaginary scenes of discourse.  It is unseemly now to speak of it.  Stop with the negativity.  Let’s bide our time and bind our tongues.  Let’s wait and see.  Let’s take care of our own.  We the blessed.  In these stories, that come too quickly one after another, do you know what saddened me the most?  More than the meanness and the rants and the name-calling and the justifications?  What wearied me the most?  The silence.  The silence of Christians.

So, I did not feel like going to church.  I did not feel like getting up at all.  Cody, my dog smiles, came by though and sighed at me.  And the cat jumped down off of my lap. So I got into the shower, taking my spilly cup with me.

I put the cup up on the ledge of the shower door where the soap wouldn’t splash in, climbed in and wet my hair.  I bet you think that the next thing that happened was that the cup fell and shattered and cut my bare foot and made me feel stupid but no. That’s not what happened.  Instead I looked up at the cup and read the side of it, that I had never noticed or read before, and it said “The strength you need comes from God.”

I went to church.  Make-up on and boots and coat and breakfast in the car.  I sang and smiled and hugged the little ones that were happy to see me.  And we all together operated like it was a normal morning though it wasn’t.  I sang like if I was loud enough it could do something good.  I sang like if it was pretty enough it could make something better.

And the prayer in the middle of the song came and out loud the words were spoken that we know about the suffering of those many in airports, and we hurt for it too.  That we abhor the hate which brought it about and the silence that conditions its survival.  That we take on the burden of their justice ourselves and will break the wrong law for the right. That we ache for the fear of the refugee longing, and we will take what we have to make for them a new home. Amen.

Lifted, I felt. Up three gusts from the hours before.

And like a feather just tossed I settled slowly back down to hear the next words that were said by a good man in a good place.  Doing Good. That was the title.  And the resource, our founder, John Wesley:

By being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all men…

By running with patience the race which is set before them, denying themselves, and taking up their cross daily; submitting to bear the reproach of Christ, to be as the filth and offscouring of the world; and looking that men should say all manner of evil of them falsely, for the Lord’s sake.

I feel the echo of the impact of these words again in repeating them to you.  They caused me to flush in remembrance of my faith.  To be again renewed in the knowledge that the faith which I have claimed boards no unkindness or suspicion of the stranger, allows no exemption for feigned caution, or distaste for his dress or smell or gait or prayer.

That, in fact, the confirmation of our right choices in word and deed, of his deserving of life and love and welcome, may be found in the very hatred of the world.  The offscouring of the world.  That scorch which the world scrapes off and wrinkles its nose at.  That which was too long simmering at the bottom of lunch.  That which would purpose others to scrub and toil to be rid of.

Maybe it’s weird that this would make me feel better.  But it did.  And it does.

I think this stranger today feels like the offscouring of the world.  With no good place to dispose of his life.  I think she feels like the filth with its demonization and its dark avoidance.  I think they must feel this alienation starkly, for God’s sake.

I feel it for them.  And on my best days, I am scoured with them.

Right at Dusk

Right at dusk the house starts to match how I feel.  The light reflected and glowing out the east windows still leaks into the rooms, but covered with the blue lamp shade of sky, it doesn’t glare or point out what’s not done.  This is the time for stopping or starting.

In the living room, the lamp in the west window echoes the glow gathering for sunset. And it throws just a little gold over the little chairs there; out of style, tufted chairs I bought down the street at a garage sale.  A friend burst into my bathroom one morning while I was putting on make up.  “You have to come get these chairs; they’re perfect.”  They are ugly in just the best way.  Our tall piano lives near them too, prettiest with my long-haired daughter curved over the keys.  Her curls in the way of her profile.

Cluttered always about are the remnants of some acoustic endeavor.  Sheets of music, guitar picks and cases, albums, books, pens, and speakers and so many guitars. Blankets abound, as do cats, in chairs.  A sleeping dog, pillows, and the wake of our comings and goings lay strewn about on the floor.

And most days amid all this are the sounds of a house alive, dog sighs, washing machine turning, music, porch swing squeaking, and doors opening and closing.  Always our blinds are up to let in the light and in warmer weather our windows and doors are always open with little, happy neighborhood sounds trickling in.

I am nearby in the picture as the coffee table has become my office.  Though the glare from the windows can be annoying on the computer screen, the couch is a comfortable place to sit and write and work.  And I like to spread out my things beside me and on the table.  Tea, books, iPad, pen, paper, phone, lamp light, socks, pillows, and a guitar.

If I have done my writing well, then you are hovering here now and the house has come alive for you in color.  There are happy people and animals living here.  So, I am going to tell you about them and me from time to time and you will come to love us, I hope, and laugh at us, I bet.  I invite you in; it is a privilege and a trust.  It is a happy home and comfortable and messy;  feel free to make a drink or get something from the refrigerator. Extra stuff in the garage frig FYI.  Bathroom is around the corner through the laundry room.  I hope you like music.







The woven glass obstructs the view
Of clumsy might and shattered hue.
Away we’ll walk, unrolled parade,
Rose-tossed, tempest-cost, bridal train.
Onward and toward domain of man.
No foot encumbered, no more in hand.

Sweet shards aground which we collect,
Which mar our hands and seal our fasts,
We’ll place into a crown of grace.
A thing of beauty above our face.
A mother’s touch has welded our selves.
Clever redemption of words to tell.

But droplets adhere where friction creates,
And hazy words too subtle overtake.
Where we should go friendless,
Where we should sigh righteous,
Apart from the throng our tendons forget
Left stumbling about toward the bend of the tent.

In shadowy praise we soon again go
And grip made anew pull tight with the soul.

Even Woke Boys Need Some Shaking Now and Then

Mark (that’s my husband) wakes up happily at like 5:30 ON PURPOSE.  He is up being responsible and annoyingly healthy every day on the dot.  My son, however, left to his own devices will sleep until 11:00 every day and consider it morning whenever/if ever he wakes up.  He’s annoyed that like 20 things have happened that he didn’t know anything about. I wake up like a NORMAL person.  I set my alarm for a reasonable 7:30 and drink coffee and get on with it like a NORMAL human.

I don’t like to wake Evan up.  It goes against a mother’s instinct to wake up a creature that will proceed to need you once it’s awake.  But sometimes you have to.  Sometimes you can’t just leave them to be blissfully and wantonly unaware of this world, no matter how much you want to or they want you to.

I grew up with Captain Kangaroo.  With Sesame Street and The Electric Company.  I had saddle shoes and polyester dresses and a wore yarn in my pig tails for my school picture.  I sometimes didn’t wear a seat belt and sat in the middle of the back seat, leaning up to talk to my mom while she drove her baby blue Camaro. Mr. Green Jeans and my first grade teacher Mrs. Montgomery and my mom all told me I could “be anything I wanted to be.”  It was the beginning of that idea.  That girls really could grow up to be anything.  And I believed it.

Mostly, it’s true.  Mostly, you CAN be anything you want.  You deal with a lot.  But you slog through and get somewhere close to fair, stronger and smarter and harder than the boys who didn’t have to slog (lots of boys have to slog more than girls of course and for harsher reasons).  There are still the monsters among men who demean women for pleasure and are not ostracized sufficiently.  There are still the leaders among men who delight in elevating women WITHIN traditional roles to the point that we are flattered and patronized into submissive ignorance.  But for the purpose of this entry, let’s not think about them today.  Let’s focus on the woke boys.

Woke boys can wear pink t-shirts and hold up signs and recognize injustice and identify as feminists and STILL carry your boxes to the car.  And STILL reach the pasta press that’s on the highest shelf in the highest cabinet that you use once a year.  And STILL take out the recycling and put the leaf in the table.  Woke boys can let their little cousin paint their nails and not care when it’s still on, red and peeling, 3 weeks later.  Woke boys are awesome.

But even woke boys need some shaking every now and then.

When I was 6 and leaning up in the backseat with my elbows on the black vinyl console, and we were singing Sara Smile and my mom asked me, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”  I imagine she thought my answer would be…..a teacher, a mom, a writer, a singer.  Maybe she knew…maybe she hoped, that I would grow up to be ALL those things.

I AM all those things and a few more.  And, important point here,  I happen to love doing all the things that I do.  Somehow I lucked out and have found several jobs which can coincide and coexist and bring me joy.  I TOTALLY lucked out because somehow I found occupations which allow me to (mostly) set my own schedule, be creative, work with people, earn a little money, and still homeschool my kids. (I could never have done this when they were little.  I have gradually accumulated these jobs as the kids have gotten older.)  So, my schedule is random and full and sometimes unmanageable.  And it always seems like there’s more to do than I can do.  And it always seems like I’m not doing anything quite the way I would like to.  And it always seems like I’m letting someone down.

That last one is what brings me back around.  This year has been a growing one for my career in music, lots of changes and big steps forward.  Lots of focus outward to the world and what I will do next. And the two woke boys in my life, the one that is awake at 5:30 and the one that’s snoozing, both have had a really hard time accepting that.

Why is it okay for me to spend 17 hours on the laptop prepping for teaching grammar and writing, but I’m in debt if I spend those hours in the studio?  Why is it okay for dad to be gone every day, all day but not for me to be gone some days?  Why is okay if I didn’t get something done because I had to help Mallory study for a test, but not okay if I didn’t get something done because I was rehearsing for a gig?

I don’t want you to think the worst.  There is no out loud complaining or disrespect going on, because I told you, these are woke boys.  They want to want me to succeed.  They want to want to support me.  They just also want me home.

So what to do now but to shake them.  And it hurts when I shake them because they are so good and so loving.  Because they get it right so often and always forgive me when I get it wrong and so it’s brutal to point out when they are wrong. And it’s hard to shake them because they feel sharply how very low even that faint echo of sexism points.  And it’s hard to shake them because many of my own choices have led us to this impasse.

But shake them I will when their expectations are unfair.  When their comments conjure guilt.  When their teasing is meant to alter my choices in their favor.  When their support is withheld in the hopes that it will slow me.  When their greeting is different at the guitar than at the sink.

Even woke boys need some shaking now and then.

P.S.  Funny little aside:  While typing this blog I texted my mom about the Camaro.