“Actions speak louder than words.”
While this phrase is absolutely true, there’s something to be said for the fact that without words, actions wouldn’t happen.
Sometimes a word inspires action immediately. If someone says something hateful, for example, people tend to react sooner rather than later. But sometimes words/phrases have to simmer in your system. They could inspire smaller actions that you don’t even realize are connected to those words/phrases, but eventually come out in a big way.
An example: “When she speaks I hear the revolution.” In my last post I explained a little bit about why the phrase is meaningful. But if you had told me when I first heard Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” that I’d take those words and start a women/trans open mic with those words as my inspiration, I wouldn’t have believed you. Especially if you would have told me I would host it.
Me? Hosting? On stage? ha! I would not describe myself as a public speaker and getting onstage is pretty terrifying. And pre-open mic I had more than a few jitters. By the time I got to Sugar House Coffee, my nerves were officially frayed. I tried–I did!–to calm down with a bit of chamomile tea, but that didn’t do much to help. See the problem with something like chamomile–which is described as something soothing–is that it will only do so if you’re open to it. And honestly, nothing could have calmed me down.
So not long before showtime, Sugar House began to fill up. When queried whether they were there for the open mic, most said yes. But persuading them to sign up on the white board was not so easy. Most of the people I talked to were there to watch. Which was insanely frustrating. How could we have an open mic for these people to watch if no one was signing up? <cue more frayed nerves.>
Finally, showtime came around. The first round we had a few guys signed on the board, all of whom were surprised that they got the opportunity, but we needed names. And they were fair game, that first round. So I came up/was pushed onstage by some friends and told to get things going. The first matter of business: Introducing the open mic and setting up the ground rules.
Hmm. Sure. Unless your nerves had been previously super frayed and you have a wicked awful case of stage fright. The beginning was extra rocky on my account. Well meaning people in the audience, after I announced my lack of experience began applauding wildly and encouragingly but only freaked me out more. I actually had to step back and breathe and calm down before I could get back to the hosting bit.
But. Once that part was over…I managed. And the entire rest of the night was amazing. The talent was wonderful! There was poetry, music, comedy, and some improv. By the second round the cafe was so full we had to add extra spaces on the sign-up board. And there were people upstairs looking down from the balcony because there was no seating downstairs.
With every performance it became more and more evident that this open mic was absolutely overdue. There were several pieces throughout the evening that integrated the title “When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution” in a way that reiterated how important this was to everyone there and not just me.
I’ve been to quite a few open mics in this town, and most of the performers at Saturday’s open mic were completely new to me, some were even performing for the first time ever, which takes all kinds of courage (I should know…)
The entire night was just…omfg inspirational. As long as I play my cards right, and as long as people stay involved, this baby is going to go far. It’s already beyond me. It is, as one poem (inspired by the title) described: an open mic for the collective “her” and as such, it’s not mine. It’s everyone’s. I’m so excited to see the talent that comes through, and I hope that we can make this into a community that encourages/supports the performers and becomes a great opportunity for networking/creating opportunities for gigs/etc. I’m thinking that we are off to a damn good start.
I would like to end this in a similar way to the way I ended Saturday’s open mic…plus a little extra.
I want to thank some wonderful friends for encouraging me to do this, and for-quite literally-pushing me onstage to host. Ami, Jaguar what would I do without you? Your encouragement is totally priceless. Joe…Punk Rock Joe!-the night wouldn’t have gone on very well if not for your saving us with the mic stand! Thank you!
Thank you to the family who called pre-gig and wished me good luck. I really appreciated the well wishes. 🙂
And thank you to the audience, the performers, and everyone who came to support this! Thank you Sugar House Coffee! Turns out, you and your fantastic baristas made the night what it was! The next night should be equally as fabulous! (June 26.)
And finally–this whole open mic, When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution-is dedicated to my mom, Dianne Seppanen, who died when I was way too young. (4 years old). I wish I could say I remembered more of her, but all I really have is a few of her poems and memories of the people who knew her. I really would like to think she would be proud of me for starting this, which means a lot more than words can describe. I’m going to end this entry with one of her poems.
Mystery of Love Revealed
In the touch of a rainbow
holding rich indigo
in the midst of your thighs…
And picture your words lost…
In the musk smell of music
where notes touch each other
and dance through your surprise…
Envision your lips…
Bathed in sundown and honey
and you laugh as you reach for
the forgotten skies…
Then he sparks up a butt
and yanks up his trousers
and skips out in a storm of…