Thursday, December 26, 2013

how we got here

our lips wash together,
painting letters of silken promises.

our souls stir together into blurry, warm colors.

all our moments of being broken or blessed,
ripple together
in an endless ocean of passion.

We sink together under gentle waves,
and come up for air,
breathing in droplets of salty pearls,
bursts of sun,
explosions of Life.

the waves become stronger, 
crashing into our tender bodies,
so we lower together
underneath their stormy sound,
into a silent, peaceful place unto ourselves.

Holding eachother in a deep, boundless dream,
we soak in the quietude,
forgetting breath and life lies above.

we merge into the darkness around us,
exploring the depth of our touch,
stretching into the expansiveness around us.



you are gone.


I  don’t  remember  how  we  got  here,
only  that  we  were  holding  hands.

the pressure of the ocean depth closes in on my chest.
my muscles grow weaker and weaker.

Seaweed grabs at my ankles,
wraps around my legs
like a slithering, suffocating snake,
pulling me towards the ocean floor.

I  don’t   remember   how   we   got   here 
   only    that...

I am unable to see anything around me.

The dark, cloudy waters have no stirring of life,

no present or past.

the blackness presses against my face,
tears open my chest.

I  don’t   remember   how    we    got   here...

Salty, sharp water pushes its way into my throat,
cutting through to my lungs,
each drop,
a shard of glass
scraping through with its powerful force.

 I     don’t    remember 


  got here...

I             don’t








Monday, December 23, 2013

louder still in silence

your tender lips, 
when peeled away,
tore my flesh out with them

your hunger,
crushing onto my chest,
a hollow pain,

a crevice where your body lay.

I find the place
dove dove dove
for my soul

perhaps the hole already there
you simply found so fast
and slipped right down.

and now,
its emptiness more pronounced


but still,
the lighter touch remains much longer.

the grazing of your fingertip
along my cheek

lighter.... lighter

curling down my back

weaving... weaving

around my tender neck.

the more you are gone
the more the memory
entangles around.

my breath 
shallow... shallow.

the echo of your touch
is Louder 
still in silence.

Monday, December 16, 2013

no woman has ever played enough

in response to the statement:
“I don’t see gender in music.”

Some people don’t understand why I have stopped going to shows that have bands with all cis-men. Sometimes it’s not just one band but an entire evening lined up with 4 bands made up of entirely white cis-male musicians.
I will not support such a show.
I will not sit in the audience and listen to men taking up space while all the women watch.
I don’t have even 30 mins. of my precious time to sit and listen to ONLY men anymore.
They have been speaking and playing for centuries while women and queer artists have been oppressed and silenced into the audience role. 

people ask me about my house concerts. 
why I try to primarily book women and queer musicians/artists.
“isn’t that too extreme??”
“aren’t there nice, effeminate male musicians out there?”


it’s not about being nice or even about being effeminate (whatever you mean by that).

By curating a performance series, I get to create a safe and alternative space for people to be heard that are rarely given the chance.
there are ENOUGH venues in the world where male musicians can play---where the person booking doesn’t even realize there are only men in the bill.
In Finland this past October, I was invited to their version of the grammies with a friend who worked in the music business. I watched furiously as band after band performed, waiting for just one of the musicians to be female.
just one.

My friend introduced me to the organizer of the event, who happened to be a woman. I asked her why there were no female musicians in the extensive program.

She said, she just didn’t realize.



I’ve been playing the piano since I was THREE and in highschool, undergrad, and grad-school I was in a male-dominated music culture. HALF OF MY LIFE 
I played primarily with cis-men in jazz bands and combos.
At first not realizing...
and then thinking I was special to be one of the few women in the scene.

that it was because I was not an average woman, I was super-talented and bright, and that’s why I was lucky to be let into their world.
Their world---which seemed like the ONLY world out there if I loved music, jazz and improvising.
I remember getting a best soloist award at a jazz festival in highschool and feeling so honored to be one of the few women receiving one.
I was different!
I was loveable!
All eyes were on me, because I was one of the only women able to play as well as men.



I have compassion for younger me.
How is anyone at all to come out of Patriarchy and Sexism unscathed?
How is anyone ever to come out?
We only become aware, but we cannot be free anytime soon from its prison.
and those oppressed will perpetuate the madness of its cycle.

then there's the line:
 “well I just don’t know any women musicians”
I say:
If you just look at your phone contacts
there will be all men musicians.
If you read your show invites
they will be from male musicians promoting more male musicians.
If you go out to see shows, the scene will most often be dominated by men.

If you want to help uproot the deep-seated tentacles of sexism and patriarchy, it’s going to take a LOT of effort.
You’ll have to make it a point to go see shows that have women musicians, talk to them, get their number, try playing with them.
I can’t tell you how many facebook groups and email lists I’m on that focus on connecting and promoting women musicians.
There are a LOT of women musicians.
this is NEW YORK CITY.
you can find whatever you need here.
Take the extra effort and research to find women and queer musicians to play with.
Besides the many many thousands of all male bands, the next infuriating thing to me is that of a woman leader along side only male musicians. 
I have COUNTLESS friends and associates to whom this is the case.
If we build a band with only male musicians we are perpetuating oppression ourselves.
Yes, different situations and gigs have the need for different formations of bands.
Having been a professional musician for 12 years I get this.
Sometimes the right band for the gig is three other guys and me.
if you consistently ONLY play with guys, and there are so many women I know to whom this applies.
just for a moment.
and look around.
is this the form of music that we want to represent to the world?
1 woman supported by her 6 strong men?
1 beautiful singer up front in sexy garb while the other men hold down the groove?
I’ve heard of numerous situations where a woman band leader specifically said she didn’t want any other women in her band.
The fear is, then, the attention and lust of the audience to the 1 special and radiant woman up front will be detracted from.
Sometimes the women don’t admit that much.
They just say that actually, these men....
all these men are actually my favorite musicians.


It’s not easy to find musicians with whom you share chemistry.
I know this WELL.
Which is why you have to have session after session and take the time to explore other connections.

After highschool I started to become more and more aware of how sexism was seeping into every song I played.
if not in the lyrics
if not in the gender ratio of the band...
then in other ways
like when I would play with guys and they wouldn’t even listen to me.
Yes, a musician that doesn’t listen well is clearly a bad musician---but I would notice that the guys would take the space to listen to eachother. just what I had to play was not worthy of attention.
I went to this one improvised music show of voice, sax, and drums.
It was a special event bringing together musicians that never played with eachother before.
The male saxophonist and drummer DROWNED out the female vocalist---didn’t listen to any of her ideas and only reacted to eachother.
how can you call yourself an experimental musician,
an improviser,
a composer,
if all you are doing is REPEATING the same patterns of oppression that have existed for centuries???
If you really want to innovate through music and art,
then look at who you’re playing WITH
and who you’re playing FOR.
Is it the privileged circle of white cis-men that pervade the music scenes in cities all over?
then please.
EXPAND your community.
for I’m not coming to any of your shows anymore if there are no women included.
and I’m pretty sure other people will start noticing what’s missing too, and your audience will eventually turn into all white cis-men.

I remember breaking down in grad school while getting a masters in composition, crying to my boyfriend of the time, that it was so hard to be 1 of SIX women in the entire jazz department.
In all honesty, at times there were still remnants of feeling like the special, selected woman that was privileged to be in the man’s world.
The same rush that I get when I enter the chess store in the Village and challenge a guy to play, proceeding to beat him before he overcame his shock that I even knew how the pieces moved.
or the time in Costa Rica when there were all guys playing pick-up soccer. I asked if I could play with them---they laughed, but finally consented...and then I dribbled around each and every one of them until I shot the ball past the last one standing, into the goal.

 I laughed, and left.
Growing up as a tomboy, I’ve always been set on proving that I can do activities that usually only guys are seen to do.
but do you know how many times I almost quit playing music because I was just SO TIRED of fighting to prove that I was just as good as men?
When I was around 28, I decided that my music was not going to be about PROVING I was as talented and smart as male musicians.
I didn’t have to write terribly complex metered music in order for everyone to know that I had practiced every possible polyrhythm everyday for hours. 
Not that I don’t value all of my practice.
but so much of the practice was coming from a need to prove myself worthy. 
I realized that I didn’t have to perform complex music in order to be a worthy person and equal in men’s eyes.
I could just be me.
I could express my pain and experience through a song.
I realized then that I no longer cared if men found me their equal.
Since then I’ve surrounded myself with amazing, brilliant women musicians and artists. 
Yes, I play with male musicians too! But I make it a point to seek out women.

You don’t see gender in music?


I wish there was a tiny speck of a dot in the world that wasn’t completely smothered by Patriarchy and Sexism.
If you do not see gender and sexism in music, then it is because you are being blinded by the very hands of patriarchy itself.

Once after a concert featuring predominantly all women musicians there was an explosive jam afterwards and everyone started dancing.
it was so much fun!


the woman that was playing and sounding amazing was asked by a male musician if he could borrow her instrument to play some songs. I've seen this happen again and again.
I guess this is the nature of a jam---everyone takes turns.
I get it. 
I get it.

but we women have been in the audience for centuries watching and listening to YOU.

no woman has ever played enough.

do not take our instruments away from us.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

sometimes faith is desperation

I cannot bear the weight of the world.

it's a miracle I rose at all
into the day

despite the clawing at my chest
drawing me lower to the ground.

I want to help fight oppression in the world,
but sometimes
I fall victim to my own depression
and cannot lift myself above my grief.

I want to give up.

I saw a church sign that said:

sometimes faith is desperation

and that I understand.


I understand desperation,
and I am slowly remembering faith.

it is desperation that knocks me to the ground

strangling my throat, so I can barely breathe...

covering my eyes, so I can't remember anything but this...

stifling my voice, so I can't scream for help,
or even just ask someone
to listen
to understand.

when I am completely weighed down by sadness
squeezing all of my life force,

it is then
within my GASP
that I know I must keep breathing.

I must keep choosing life.

no one else will choose for me.

and this is my faith---

that I will continue to fight for my life.

I will continue to rise
even while
spirals of hopelessness
pull me down...

crushing my face onto the earth.

I will rise
with soil pressed against my cheek...

into the world
full of other wailing souls.

will we find eachother?
and hold our struggle together?

is my one constant prayer.

let us come together in this life.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


When we parted
(my tour group of 7 weeks)

they were annoyed by all my questions.

but maybe I should have expressed myself clearer.

All the questions I was asking about my flight--

about where and when to go,
were coming from my deep fear of separating for the first time.

being alone again.

not traveling in a group----with a purpose.

Here I am on the airplane
by myself


because I’m so afraid.

It hurts so much to say goodbye to people I love.
I wish I could keep everyone in a pile in my living room where we could cuddle all day together.
The flight attendant came by to ask if I was ok.

She said--if you need to talk about anything. I am here for you.

I can’t express how much she warmed my heart.

The woman next to me said---are you afraid of flying too? I’m so afraid.

I said--it’s not really that.

I’m just afraid of life I guess.

I’m afraid to keep meeting people--
to keep opening my heart to them--
and then to separate.

I know that this is a reality of life--
that everything passes.
that people flow in and out of our lives.

but I would like someone to stay.
just one.


I am flying home.
I am returning.
but what I return to I also will get to briefly hold and then let go.

Was this trip just one long practice of saying goodbye?
does it get easier---or will I at least appreciate more each very precious moment
before it gets washed away.

As I continued to cry, the woman sitting next to me said
“I’m afraid of flying---but mostly when it gets bumpy and turbulent.  Once I was on a very turbulent flight with my mom, and shortly after she passed away. It wasn’t from the flight of course, but I associate the two, and now I’m afraid to fly.
I told her I’m sorry that her mother passed away.
She said, I’m slowly learning how to live without her.
Then we talked more about turbulence and transitions, as we were suspended in clouds of the inbetween. 

This nurturing connection with a stranger only came because I was crying and feeling scared to be alone.
I revealed my pain, and then she revealed hers---and now my heart feels so much FULLER.
The flight attendant came back at the end to make sure I was ok.
I am ok.

mostly because of her and the woman next to me.
because of the brief but generous spirit of strangers that remind me that intimacy and connection is everywhere I go.
maybe I will find a compassionate flight attendant on my next journey telling me that if I need anything at all---
“I am here for you.”
She is here for me.
and I am slowly learning that I am here for me too.
That I create my home by always returning back to myself...
-by being true to my inner experience
-by crying when I need to cry
-by expressing fear.

When I open myself to pain and sadness the world then opens up to me.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

lost chance

remember that day we almost fell in love?

everything we said brought us closer to eachother,
revealed our shared understanding...
our mutal awe of the forest
our similar experience spent being alone
in silence

our similar fear of intimacy.

for a moment
(however short)
we trusted eachother enough to unite our presence
and let our long walk in the woods
be just one walk...
one experience.

but it was just a glimpse.

is that how it is?

there are moments of feeling open,
but many many more moments of feeling doubt?

how do 2 people choose to try to remain open to eachother?

and what happened to our chance?
at what point did we miss the turn on our path
that would continue to bring us closer?

was it something we both decided
or casually overlooked?

today I tried walking back to that trail you took me on in the Black Forest--
to find the moment we steered off in the wrong direction.

I tried
but couldn't retrace our steps.

So then I tried to find a new path---
maybe I would see, at least,
a place where lovers pause
to take in the view.

if I found this place---maybe there would also be a sign---a code---to tell me how it works
how 2 people find eachother
and decide to keep finding eachother.

but the more I kept looking for our lost chance
or other people's chances,
the more lost I got...
deeper and deeper in the forest.

I panicked.
frightened and overwhelmed I  found myself in the middle of the thick, dark pines.

A woman, walking her dog, saw my fear.

I told her----I am lost.

I really wanted to say--
I'm scared.

I'm alone.

and I'm scared I'll be alone for the rest of my life.

and I have no idea where I'm going.

She asked me where I wanted to go.
I wanted to answer...
somewhere safe
somewhere that I'm known.

I said---I wasn't sure where I needed to go, but I just wanted to make sure I wasn't on the wrong path.
because, I'm alone in these woods.

she told me,
any of these paths would be fine.

they all lead down the mountain, out of the forest, and into town.

it doesn't matter which one I choose.


I finally made my way out of the woods.
I realized at the end that she stayed close behind me to make sure I would find my way.

and here I am back in town.

If I made it so far today by myself
I think I can make it tomorrow
and the next
and the next.

and even though I'm walking alone,
maybe the woman is still behind,
slowly watching...
knowing I am safe...

I am fine.

Blog Archive