Friday, May 15, 2015

Give It Time

My mom gave me a beautiful and expensive queen-size mattress as a parting gift before I drove to L.A. (Asian moms are practical like that.) I've used that mattress almost every night for the past two years. I've grown rather fond of it.

Recently, I've had some minor back pain. One of the reasons people have back pain is because of an expired mattress. I had no idea that mattresses expire like sour milk. I don't know how long my mom had the mattress before she gifted it to me, but I recently detected some minor sagging in the middle. Time to trade it in.

The mattress salesman politely looked away each time I sunk into a new mattress and groaned with pleasure. I chose the perfect memory foam mattress and made arrangements to have it delivered the next evening. 

The next day, only one man showed up to deliver my curiously small mattress. I wondered, "How did it fit into that tiny bag? Why, it looks like a large sushi roll. Where was the mattress I fell in love with at the store?"

He removed the protective plastic wrapping, laid down a sorry, limp excuse for bedding on my box spring, and began lugging my mother's huge, luscious gift out into the hall. I watched him carry my old mattress out. It was almost like he was dragging out an old, cherished relative of mine. The entire process lasted less than five minutes

I asked the man as I wrote down my signature for him, "I thought it would be bigger… It was bigger in the store." "Oh, it needs a week to puff out." And he winked at me. 

I went back to my room. I could feel my cheeks begin to burn. What had I done? I can't sleep on that laid out sushi roll! 

I tried to calm myself and sat down to practice guitar, but I couldn't get the sushi roll out of my head. I would work on a section of a song, then, after a few moments, take a peek behind me to see if the mattress had transformed into the one I laid down at at the mattress store. It simply laid rumpled and flat. Another chorus and on to a new song. Another peek. Still mopey and pathetic. 

I stopped practicing, laid down on the mattress on my belly to write in my journal about how disappointed I was because I had replaced my mother's mattress with an imposter.  Before I could finish the first paragraph, I fell into the most relaxing and incredible nap I've had in months. When I woke up the mattress I laid on was perfectly plump and full, just like the mattress at the store!  I smiled and thought, "Silly girl. You should listen to what everyone is always telling you. "Give it time."

After I've released a new song or a new piece of jewelry, I feel like I've made a difference and accomplished something. But, soon afterwords, a general anxiousness settles in.  A weird sense of entitlement shows up and I expect strange circumstances to happen to me, my reward from the universe for putting in any amount of effort.

For instance, I expect my favorite band to show up on my doorstep and say, "Hey, aren't you the one who wrote that song? Perfect. We need YOU in our band." Or maybe I expect the senior style editor at Macys to call me up after I design a new piece of jewelry and say, "We want your whole collection to be released this fall in all of our stores nationwide!" 

To tell you the truth, I'm not even sure what I'm expecting, just this vague SUPER- accomplishment to materialize. 

I have to remind myself of a truth I learned: it's not about outcome (because we can't control that), it's about PROCESS. If you don't love the process of what you're doing, then what's the point? The fame and glory most likely will never come, and that's o.k. I need to stop waiting for these HUGE outcomes. 

Finishing that song, writing that blog, connecting with that customer. Those are ALL HUGE outcomes and wonderful processes. 

Give it time, and you'll know this for yourself.

Honestly,
Meg


Monday, May 11, 2015

You can't pay to have this much fun!




I participated in another band's rehearsal earlier this year. Since I didn't write the songs, I took special care to prepare and focused diligently on my parts. During the first song, the singer stopped singing half way through and erupted into a fit of laughter and ninja moves. She twirled and bounced around behind the microphone, and gave up remembering the words to the rest of the song. 

She said afterwords, "I'm sorry, I lost myself. You just can't pay to have this much fun!"

I'm taking a small break from recording to write this blog. I've just finished a chorus that I hope will make you all dance when you hear it. After I listened to it for the thirteenth time, I took my headphones off, and placed them on my work desk. My friend's words popped into my mind. "You can't pay to have this much fun!"

An ice cream cone, a massage, a roller coaster ride, they all come close, but all these experiences will never be as fun as writing and playing music is to me. And because I have found this source of pure joy, I count myself one of the lucky ones…

Somehow, mysterious forces came together in my life and gave me just the right amount of courage for me to put a song up online three days ago. It's strange, after being on a major record label and recording in some of the most expensive and high end recording studios in the country, I'm back to recording songs in my bedroom. You can see why this would be intimidating, right? It makes me ask the sort of questions that I talked about during the recent "Speak Up" tour I did with Jess Bowen. Questions like:

Am I enough? Is this good enough?

And I think for a really long time, I was scared. But eventually doubt turned into curiosity, and curiosity turned into action. Somehow, after years of questioning, wise words from authors and artists, and support from loved ones, I realized truths that I knew all along: that art is subjective. Some people will like it. Some people won't. I've just got to make what I like, and it will make some people happy. It's never going to be perfect. I'm never going to feel ready, so just put it out there. And it IS good enough for me. 

Isn't it funny how we already know everything we need to know in order to get started filling up our lives?

About two weeks ago, I was having one of those blue "Eeyore" mornings, and I didn't want to let it get the best of me. I texted my younger sisters to give me some song recommendations. (I'm pretty much set in my ways, listening to Taking Back Sunday and Dashboard, so I go to the teenagers in my family to hear what's new.) They live about three states away from me.

This was our text message conversation:

Me: Favorite happy song that makes you wanna dace. Go!
Misty: Shooting Stars by Bag Raiders
Me: Thank you *smiley face emoticon*
Misty: Why do you ask?
Me: Cuz I wanna feel happy and dance!
Misty: YEAAHHH!!!!
Jade: Misty and I are listening to the same music…
Me: Ooooh yeah! This is good stuff!!!
Misty: I wish I could dance with you. *emoticon with streaming tears*
Me: Me too. Just dance right now! We're still dancing together, just far apart…

And then they sent me this video:



Misty: Sorry if this give you motion sickness, but we're dancing with you!!
Meg: Awe I'm smiling so big right now!

A good mentor of mine told me, " Always know your 'why' ". I always know, clear as day, that my "why" for making music is because sometimes people just want to be happy and dance.

Honestly,
Meg

Friday, May 8, 2015

NEW song "Say I Said Yes"!



Hello friends,

I'd like to share with you a new song I wrote called "Say I Said Yes". You can listen to it on SoundCloud, and you can also purchase "Say I Said Yes" in my new Music Shop.

I wrote "Say I Said Yes" in a flash. My boyfriend laid down drum tracks. I found a trusted friend and teacher to mix and master it, and used another friend and fellow musician's art for the track cover. (Her name is Dasha Shleyeva and her other artwork can be found at www.dashadraws.com.)

I did this all before I could second guess myself. I've realized, after all this time, that art is not for me to judge. Art is for other people to enjoy or not enjoy. 

Through all my new experiences in jewelry and "side man" gigging for other artists, I could never quite put the quiet voice inside of me to rest, the voice that told me to write, sing, and record, and finally share it with everyone. 

This is the first track I've released in awhile, and as I dive into songwriting once again, I would love to hear your thoughts along my journey. I make art to make people happy (myself included), so if there is any way I can do it better, I'd love to hear from you.  (And I hope you all trust me to offer my opinion and help when you ask for it.)

This song is about:
comparing one's personal relationships with everyone else's, wondering if your relationship is "right" or "normal", and then realizing that it doesn't matter if it's "right" or "normal", because it is yours. (And of course I'd love to hear your own interpretations:)

Honestly,
Meg

Lyrics: 
Say I said yes and we bought ourselves a patch of land
I could wear a fake rock to save us both a couple grand
We could make a house a home or maybe we don't need a home at all baby
we could walk the earth instead and write down words that are in our heads
I don't need a lot to
show you that I love you
And I know you're worried about us but I feel fine

When the curse is sinking
You know what I'm thinking
I know I know that this is our only ride
We can push away and soon they'll be no land in sight.
We can tell our friends that we have given up the fight
Holdin' steady when our souls are shakin, we'll be ready babe, that's all I'm saying'
We can slip above the craze and wash our burdens off our faces.   

Friday, May 1, 2015

Do Not Be Reasonable.

Once in a creative writing class, my professor put a student's letter up on the projector for us to analyze. The author had failed to turn in an assignment on time, so he wrote an account of the hardships he faced the day the paper was due that inhibited him from turning the paper in. (Picture the grown-up version of "the dog ate my homework" scenario.)

After we took a few minutes to read the letter, the professor turned to us and asked, "What is wrong with this letter?"

"Wrong with the letter?" I thought to myself. "Nothing's wrong with it. It's a perfectly fine letter. This guy's been dealt a bad hand, and these seem like reasonable explanations for why he couldn't turn in the paper."

One by one hands shot up in the air and students retorted with statements such as, "It is far TOO dramatic. This guy is rambling on and on about the bus station, and the rain and the mud." And another, "It's too flowery, to grandiose. Does this guy think he's the center of the universe?" or "Really who cares about this sob story? What is the point of including his grandmother and the constable?" 

I peered up at the board, squinting my eyes. Was I looking at same report as my classmates?  

I felt like the guy was perfectly justified to include the bit about the "putrid stench of the aroma of the waste outside the Italian restaurant" and his plea wouldn't have been complete without explaining his "burning desire for the professor to forgive him, and how his left lung was on the table in exchange for an extension, (even though he had promised it to his nephew.)" 

If that's how the guy felt, then that's how the guy felt. In fact every day of my life is exactly like this guy's paper! How can everyone not understand?

My teacher's point was to cut to the chase. Communicate clearly and concisely. In writing, I suppose I agree with this advice, but in life, during certain periods, I disagree. In life, I believe it is in our best interest to dedicate a short portion to maintaining a level of buffoonery on par with the energy of the dancing drunkards at the mardi gras festival in New Orleans. Stop to discuss the magnetic poles of the earth with the postman. Set aside time each day to become friends with some sort of alive object that doesn't have the brain capacity to speak. (Robots and artificial intelligence can be included in the category as "living" for all intensive purposes.)

Do not cut corners. Do not be reasonable. Follow your whims until you're like Alice from Alice in Wonderland and the last step refuses to appear to lead you any further when you are lost in the woods.

As paradoxical as this seems, sometimes we need this kind of reckless abandon in order to find our way back to something resembling balance and order.

I am on the "balance and order" side of the continuum. I've been coasting along comfortably in my life so far, enjoying the view. Yet, I've always been aware of a dark and mysterious other part of the landscape waiting to be discovered. And I always rode right on past it, giggling nervously, writing the eerie feeling off and saying to myself, "Noted. That is mighty curious over there. I'll revisit at some point in the future, I'm sure."

But, I can't write it off any longer. I'm too comfortable, it's making me uncomfortable. Time to flesh out all of the potential "beginnings" that I've been shelving thus far. 

Do I have a plan? Not exactly. Do I have a dream? Not exactly, but I DO have a stirring in my soul that guides me like a game of "colder, hotter". "Hot, hot, HOT!!!! That's it. That's who you are supposed to talk to! That's what you are supposed to do!" And sometimes I get, "Dear girl, you are so cold at this moment, I feel I'm going to take a nap because I'm so bored. Cold. Cold. Cold. Ugh. I give up."

But, I'm figuring it out. Right now, I'm picking up a bass. I'm singing. I'm playing AC/DC riffs. And I'm writing about it. And I feel good about these things because my psyche, or spirit, or whatever you wanna call it yells, "Hot, hot, hot!!!" when I am doing these things. 

To sign up for a Speak Up event, click HERE!

And another activity that has got me jazzed right now is speaking at a few Speak Up events with Jess Bowen. There are three events over the next few days in San Diego (May 2nd), Los Angeles (May 4th), and Santa Barbara (May 5th). Jess and I will be speaking about being a female in the music industry and using our perceived differences as a catalyst to succeeding instead of allowing them to hold us back. Jess and I would both love to see you there. (And I've included some professional looking media below to convince you that this is legit and will be worth it. Because it will!)

Really, getting to know Jess and the conversations we've had make me giddy as a school girl, and I know these gatherings are going to floor us all in their awesomeness. (Mr Johnson would cringe at this paragraph.)

Honestly,
Meg








Friday, April 17, 2015

Speak Up tour tickets on sale!


To purchase tickets click HERE!


I just got off the phone with Jess Bowen. I've been talking a lot about the Speak Up tour on social media. By now you probably know who she is, but if you don't, she's the drummer of the indie pop band, The Summer Set. Our manager, whom we share, recommended we get on the phone and go over what our speeches were going to be about so that we were on the same page. 

I don't know Jess at all. I've ran into her a few times on tour during years past. I know that she looks like a bad ass behind a drum set. Quite honestly, the most that I've spoken to her has been during the one brunch meeting we had with our managers talking about the tour and asking us if we'd be interested in doing something like this.

During brunch she was talkative, animated, and super cute. I realized if nothing else came of this tour, at least I would be hanging out with someone awesome for a week and visiting all my favorite cities. Sign me up! 

Over our phone call today, I had prepared what I wanted to talk to her about which was my prepared speech. I must have sounded rushed and formal, much like a new patient at their first therapy session, nervous and anxious to get their life story out in a half hour before being analyzed. She replied that she thought my speech was spot on and wonderful, and we should get together and do a test run. Then there was a bit of silence on the other end of the line. I waited. And then she said, "You know, I'm really scared about doing this. I'm a drummer. I don't even have a mic on stage when my band performs."

All of the tenseness in my body dissipated with that one acknowledgement, and I sighed a sigh of relief, because I no longer had to pretend that I knew exactly what I was doing and was super confident about everything. "Thank god. I'm scared too!" and we both laughed. And then, we started to relax and actually open up to each other. 

We decided we are going to talk about hard topics such as sexuality and coming out to your friends and family, and being a female in the music industry, and the growing pains of being half-asian and non-religious in a predominately white religious community. We both realized just how personal these topics were and how challanging it would be to open up about them with a room full of strangers. But then she said something that I loved, which was, "If we are going to do this, let's do it all the way! Let's get it all out there!" 

We both ended the phone call talking about how we definitely don't have everything figured out. I said, "You know, I think that's it. I think that is what this speaking tour is all about. It's about not having the answers, and being o.k. with that and being comfortable with admitting it." And then I said, "It's too bad we didn't just record this phone conversation and play that as our speech!" And we both laughed. 

What was supposed to be a 5-minute call outlining speech topics, turned into a much longer and deeper conversation about vulnerability and being comfortable with who we are. I was laughing and enjoying it so much. I mean, I could sit and listen to Jess talk for hours about freakin' tuna and feel inspired and entertained. So after that call, I realized that this whole event is going to be just like mine and Jess's phone call. And that makes me really, really excited!

Jess and I both hope that you will join us at Speak Up!

P.S. I took a look at the venues and they all look amazing. It's going to be quite the event!! Oh, and also, we wanted to keep the events intimate, so they will most likely sell out soon!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Trip To New York


I took a brief break from songwriting and jewelry designing to visit my sister in New York. 

The best part about having family living all over the country is that I get to show up on their doorstep with my suitcase and say, "I've come for a visit! Move over I'm taking your bed for the week." 

Too much good food and too much fun! At least we counter balanced all the eating with soooo much walking. Now I can proudly say I've got the subway system down, except for that damn R train...











Friday, March 6, 2015

A Life Lesson From David Grey

I'm running about 20 paces behind my mom. She never stops to walk. I wonder if we are about to take a break because we finally begin to slow our pace. She shouts, "lunges!" and begins to bend her knees low to the pavement. I groan and drag myself behind her, but every time she looks back I slap on a smile and dip my body up and down like a buoy bobbing in the water. 

"Mom, hold up, PLEASE!" I yell as I power walk to catch up with her. "I need to fix my pony tail." It is the quickest excuse I can come up with to buy me resting time. 

"Here, listen to this." She hands me her iPhone with a song cued up. "Only if you listen to this." I hand her mine with the album I was listening to during our morning tortu- er, jog. 

I was listening to my favorite electro-pop artist of the moment called Sylvan Esso. I chose a song called "Play It Right", a minimal, electronic tune frosted with folk melodies. It pumps me up, has great rhythms. 

I replace my headphones now attached to my mother's running music of choice. A brassy, older man's shimmery soft lyrics sing to me. Musicians play perfect, slow-tempo'd music with a glittery Nashville vibe. 

He sings,

Tell the repo man
and the stars above
you're the one I love…

Immediately I feel my breathe slow down, and it feels like the blood running through my veins slows down as well. 

I look back at my mom. She has a goofy grin on her face. She shakes her head slightly. 

"Our music is so different." She laughs. We jog a few more steps.
"Well, we experienced a completely different run this morning, didn't we?" I say. 

Perfect summers night
not a wind that breathes 
Just the bullets whispering gentle
'mongst the new green leaves...

I notice for the first time the swaying corn stalks in the field we had just passed, rows and rows of honey-colored grains. I see the mountains with caps of white in the distance, outlining our pristine little valley where I grew up. I feel the sun on my skin. It's not blazing warm like California sun, but it's trying.

The music nudges me to live outside of myself, makes me unconcerned with my problems that seemed so important and looming just moments before. Suddenly all I care about is sharing this moment with nature, with the ever-distant wisdom of the universe.

Artwork by Henck Van Bilsen
How predictable, the rushed 29-year old listening to music that backs up her worry with her future, her doubts, her past triumphs her future battles. The beat, pumping energy into her or at least keeping it steady, to get her through the day's wars. 

The wise 50-year old woman listening to music that reminds her to stay present in the moment, to enjoy each second, to connect with nature, with life, to freakin' sit still for two seconds!

Perhaps those of us a little younger could stand to pause for a moment to remember how vast the universe is, to step outside ourselves, and to remember where we came from and where we are ultimately going. 

Honestly, Meg