Open Mic at Creston Vibes

Last night, I went to Creston Brewery for open mic and dinner. It was in a lovely neighborhood. Parking was a breeze (I forgot to mention how horrible it was to try to find parking when I went to Stella’s Lounge the other night. It’s a thing.) I was able to park on the street right in front of the brewery. There were a lot of other options on the side street.

The brewery was much nicer than any other brewery I have been to before. The beer selection was good, too. I chose a blueberry brew. It was slightly sweet but not cloying or overwhelming. I enjoyed it a lot!

https://www.crestonbrewery.com/beer/

One complaint I have about open mics is that they never start on time. For most people that might not be a problem. I understand that the host is waiting for more people to show up. They are waiting for more people to sign up. But for those of us that work at 7am in the morning, it’s a challenge to stay for the whole open mic when it doesn’t get started until 930pm. Yes, I am that person that wants to be settled and tucked into my home by 9pm! #doingsomethingdifferent #newlife #notold

The first poet was incredibly talented. She spit out the poem lamenting the treatment of women in this patriarchal world. Her words were rapid fire and on point. She was incredibly talented and fun to listen to. She was invited to come back…and to rap. I was blessed to hear her.

The hosts of Creston Vibes Open Mic were Kyd Kane and Bri (???). Bri went to MSU so she had jokes about burning couches. As a local, I can appreciate the humor in that. Kyd seems to be from Chicago. Both lesbians. #lesbianseverywhere Although, I suspect they might identify as queer. They were both very funny and had great energy between them. They both also spoke one of their poems. They talked more than the hosts at The Drunken Retort but they were entertaining and the crowd and sign up was smaller so that made sense.

Before the hosts had started talking, I did something. I decided to take the next logical (fuck logic) step in pursuing my speaking career: I signed up for the open mic. The theme was “Intoxication”. I wasn’t sure what I was going to talk about but I was going to tell a story.

Then I started kind of freaking out. But then when the hosts got up to talk, they told a story about what the rules are for Creston Vibes (love and peace: PEACE and LOVE, it’s a #crestonvibething) talk about whatever you want. When someone says “peace and love”, you respond with “LOVE AND PEACE”. They told the story about how one week the theme was boogers and a woman got up and told the story that she ATE HER BOOGERS.

Either way, I realized that whatever I said would be okay. Whatever i said might be better than someone else. Regardless, I would be doing something different. I would be pursuing my dream. I would be taking steps to my next life! #findingthejuicy #livingmybestlife #prepping4newlife

I got up there. I was part of the open mic which had the extra bonus of getting me a discounted $1 pint of the beer of my choice (YAY Blueberry splash!). I thought it would take forever to get to my name on the list. Then she looked at me and said, “Dawn?” I know my eyes got huge as she asked me, ” are you ready”?

I told a story. I told a story about my daughter being intoxicated and calling me out about some texts between me and a woman. I told the story about coming out to my 8 kids 8 years ago because my daughter got drunk enough to confront me about some texts that her sister had seen. I was funny. I was engaging. I could have talked longer but I didn’t know!

So yeah. I did it. I’m going to do it again. And again and again and again. Until all of my dreams come true. #keepworking #lovemylife #lovingmehard

Creston Vibes gets 5 juices for the following reasons:

  1. relaxing vibes
  2. 4 lesbians performed (5 including me!)
  3. the deviled eggs were amazing
  4. the beer was amazing
  5. ample seating
  6. ample parking
  7. safe enough space that I GOT UP to speak!

Maybe you will join me next week!

Creston Brewery1504 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49505

Music in the City by the River: Grand Rapids Live

I have been trying to do different things with my time and energy. My life has started again and I am hoping to take the good from my old life and bring that forward. I want to leave the bad parts of my last life behind. #thankful49lives #findingthejuicy

In my old life, I would “relax” by working on the computer and binge watching netflix or prime. Not a bad thing, necessarily. But it’s not conducive to me doing things differently. I want to find local talent for MFR so I have committed to going to at least one open mic a week.

If I wasn’t working in Grand Rapids, it would be hard to go to an open mic every week. Lansing does not offer that much selection. Grand Rapids, though! There is an open mic every night of the week in the City by the River, Grand Rapids.

I want to offer a review or a discussion of each of the open mics that I attend in the next couple months. Not only with this help me work on my writing (and hopefully, get better at it!) It will also give me a topic to discuss and enjoy and find the juicy in.

I stole the title of this blog from one of the performers at last night’s open mic and Poetry Slam Competition at Stella’s Lounge.

https://www.stellasgr.com/

Every Monday night, Stella’s Lounge and The Drunken Retort host an open mic. Every other week, it is also a Poetry Slam competition. #supercool

The hosts were Rachel Gleason and Fable the Poet. Rachel was a sexy butch woman, although, I suspect she would identify as queer. Either way, she was funny as hell, had some excellent tattoos, soul reaching poems, biting wit, and a great spirit. Her poem was “I wanted to write a love letter to the City by the River”, or something like that. It was wonderful.

Fable the Poet was a fierce and fabulous man that spoke a poem about being a black man in Grand Rapids. It was raw. It was hard to hear (as a white woman). It inspired me to want to do more, better, fight harder, make the injustices more visible. Because maybe I can because I am a white woman with a little bit of privilege. I wanted to say, but not me. That’s not me. But he had more to say. He finished with…if you don’t say something, it is YOU. He said it much more eloquently. He was profound and compelling. #fire #spittruth #blacklivesmatter

Check out The Drunken Retort, open mic/poetry slam here and maybe you can join me next time? I might even perform…YIKES!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1544851055761733/

I love going to open mics. I have now gone to several different opens mics at a variety of venues. Each one has a different flavor, a different energy. This particular open mic/slam was loud. The hosts were a little profane (my favorite kind!). They were brash. They were loud. They were queer friendly (obvi). They were woke. They were real. They told us that we were NOT required to listen to awful performers. We were given small cow bells. the instructions were this: If someone is performing that you don’t like, you can ring the cowbell. If the performer gets 3 rings, jingle, jingle, jingle your way off the stage.

It happened that someone sucked. There was one ring. There was two rings. There was three rings.

It felt a little harsh. But is that my internal message of always needing to please others even when they do not deserve the accolades or the applause. Honesty is okay. Honesty works for me. I appreciated the honesty and the fact that we did not have to sit through anymore of that rotten music.

I highly recommend going to the Drunken Retort open mic/slam and Stella’s Lounge (great burgers!!!). The hosts of Drunken Retort were wonderful and perform at other venues and are worth seeing. The open mic had a great vibe. It was fun and engaging. It is important to get there early if you want to have a seat, seating is limited.

I will rate the open mics with a juicy factor. The highest rating is 5 juices. I give The Drunken Retort at Stella’s Lounge 4 juices on the basis of

  1. entertaining & engaging hosts
  2. good food at the location
  3. good rules
  4. interactive audience
  5. only two women performers

Tonight (since I am late in getting this blog out), I will be at Creston’s Brewery for another open mic. Stay tuned!

Welcome to my new world

It’s time to start again. Rewrite. Do it again. Start over. Or rather, I am starting on a new adventure that might involve me traveling to old territory but hoping to also, explore and find new ways to be in my skin and in myself.

I started this lifetime when I started my new job in Grand Rapids. My life took a definite turn that involved negotiating a longer commute and annoying construction. I have learned to cherish my home time and the times I do not have to do any substantial driving. It has also meant learning to live on a more consistent basis at Moldy, the beautifully old motor home.

My new life also has involved learning to live as a mother in a new capacity. My daughter moved to another state leaving a void in my home life. My other (adult) daughter moved home from Las Vegas. My teenage son has decided to live elsewhere. While all of these involved layers of hurt and sadness, it also means learning to live as an independent woman with no responsibilities at home.

I am not experiencing empty nesting because two of my adult children rent rooms from me. They are home and keep me company as…friends? I am not sure what they are exactly. I know they are more roommates than daughters, though. At least in the sense of me being responsibility for their care and day to day needs. I probably haven’t been needed by any of the kids for a very long time but they were still minors and under my care, also, I wanted to be around the little sh**s.

Now I am free. I am free to come and go in my home as I wish. I am free to come home or not come home. I am free to eat out every night. I am free to hang out. I am free to have company or meetings or walk around naked in my home.

That’s all fine and good. I had to find a new way. I had to figure out how this new independence fits on me. It isn’t really too comfortable. I have been raising kids for 28 years. 28 years of my life I have pregnant, breastfeeding, homeschooling, cleaning up others’ messes, cooking for a tribe, chauffeuring, shopping, cooking, cleaning, caretaking, teaching, loving, being actively involved with raising another human, hoping they will turn out to be decent adult humans.

I am settling into my new life. I have had my cries. I have had my hurt feelings. I have had my training and the time to settle into this new life. Tried it on. I might like it. I choose to like the fuck out of it.

Part of being in Grand Rapids most nights now (to avoid the long commute every day of the week), is to find something to do with myself while I am in Grand Rapids. There isn’t TV or internet at the farm. I can read but the chairs aren’t that comfortable. I decided to start searching for live music in Grand Rapids. I have wanted to start meeting people in Grand Rapids for awhile and I want to find local performers for MFR. Two birds and one stone.

There is LIVE MUSIC and an OPEN MIC every single night of the week in Grand Rapids!!! There is so much music, culture, and activities happening, all the time.

I have gone to two open mics. I have gone to a new series called Wine, Women, and Song featuring all female performers. The two open mics were not really busy and did not have any female performers. I will keep trying.

More importantly, the universe has revealed that it is time for me to start taking actions again. It’s time for ME to get up on that open mic. I want to speak. I want to motivate people. I want to help people to transform. I need to speak and I need to practice speaking.

Well shit, Universe. Why do you give me all the hard tasks? Why do I have to keep growing, evolving, changing, becoming?

OH!!! That’s right. Because I have been asking what? how? who? about my life for a while now. When I asked the questions of myself (and the universe) about directing my life to my vision, I was fired from my job. I asked and I think I was too scared to take the leap while still visualizing that future. Boom. Decision made for me.

Now, I am asking to become a speaker. Boom. Universe is providing me with the space to make it real for me.

I think the best question is

I hear you, Universe. I am listening to me.

It’s time to work. In the past, I have had success with training my mind by starting with training my body. I started a fast today to cleanse my body so it will be emptier. I cleanse my body so I will be able to be more open to receiving. I also started doing kundalini yoga again.

I also went to the gym and did this killer work out. I sweated a lot. I feel a little out of shape but I know that by starting, I am already increasing my physical well being and health.

I finished my gyn time with a yummy and gentle stretching yoga. I also did the massage lounge and the massage chair. I loved me hard today because

So are you. Love you. Love you hard because you are so fucking worth it. Start your new life today. Be you. Be a better you. #findingthejuicy #lovingmehard #fallinlovewithmyselfagain #iloveme #workinghard #mylifeisjuicy

What does it mean to be cliquey?

clique/klēk,klik/Learn to pronouncenoun

  1. a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them.”the old-school clique”synonyms:coterie, circle, inner circle, crowd, in-crowd, set, group

I have been asking the question of my groups recently, is L2L cliquey? The question was prompted by a private message I received from a member stating that she felt unwelcome when she went to a recent dance. That does not set well with me.

When L2L was created, I had several thoughts in my mind about what I wanted it to be for me and for others. I went into the first planning meeting with a particular experience in my mind. I had gone to a Pride White Party. The place was packed with lesbians. They all seemed to know each other (my story!). They were laughing and joking and having such a good time. They were “part of” and they belonged, at least to each other. Again, this is my story. I felt alone and isolated. I kind of hovered around the groups but it felt awkward and forced. Even though I hovered, I wasn’t approached and nobody talked to me. That was the experience that I took with me when we talked about creating a group. I wanted to be in a “club”, “crew”, “tribe”, a community that welcomed newcomers even while they were hanging out with their favorite buds. I wanted to be able to go to community events and not feel alone in a crowd of people. That was my (part of my ) vision for L2L.

I am sure the other founders also had ideas about what they envisioned it to be. One of the ideas discussed while we were still working and organizing together was that L2L would ultimately garner enough support both as a community and financially to be able to open a bar or a space that would support itself.

The original planners (the only two left of the original planning group of L2L are Monica Murray and myself, fyi) never thought that a lesbian bar would be able to fully support itself. We felt that Lansing itself was not going to support another bar since so many were already closing. We were also concerned that the saying, “lesbians are hard parted from their money” might have some truth. I think it just might be that women might be a little more frugal. Or do lesbians get paid less or have less paying jobs and have to budget a little tighter? I don’t know and those are all valid questions for further investigation…but not today!

I have wandered like a hummingbird and I will focus.

We thought that we would have a building, home, office space or some such that would support tenants or “vendors” like at festival or provide services during the day and at night it would become a “bar” serving liquor but also offering activities such as bingo and such like Club 505 used to do, providing a community space while still being a bar.

that was the original goal but most of the planners dropped off and I was the only planner for a while. I created the events and hosted the events. I worked really super hard to greet people when they arrived at events. We had found a place that was willing to host events and not charge us (Thank you Connie & Sir Pizza Old Town!) That made it much easier.

But it was open to the public and I hadn’t been out for very long (1.5 years maybe?) so it wasn’t exactly comfortable to walk up to EVERY WOMEN that showed up at dances or events and introduce myself and identify myself as a lesbian (Hi, I’m Dawn. I’m an organizer of L2L, Lansing Lesbians, would you like a card? Are you here for the event? Are you a lesbian?”) I mean, I’m not an introvert but I do much better with a crew behind me. I didn’t always have that crew behind me.

Slowly but surely, it was building though. People started coming back. It started to really grow when Yvonne LeFave helped create the secret facebook group for L2L. It became easier to create discussions. It took time online and face to face to build the core of L2L.

then the core of L2L would shift and change. New people would start coming around but more of the same faces stayed around. New faces became familiar faces. A community started to grow and thrive. Connections were made between so many women. There were love connections and soul connections and friendship groups developed. L2L evolved.

Now it has grown to 500 women. L2L has not started a bar but we have reoccurring events and special events throughout the year. L2L has inclusive events for all lgbt+ and all self-identified women. L2L also does MFR, a womyn’s festival that is for WBW. Both have grown and thrived. All spaces can happen. It’s important to honor all people in their commonality but also honor our uniqueness.

Group dynamics are intriguing. The online group dynamics are very different than the face to face dynamics. I am thankful for the online group because it gives us a space to discuss issues. During face to face events, it can be overwhelming and not productive as far as creating change in the dynamics. But I also believe that we are thriving because are more than just an online group. Interpersonal contact is important and necessary. the world can seem very small and connected when interacting online but loneliness and disconnect is bigger for individuals than it has ever been. #weneedeachother

People as a group and individually do better emotionally and physically when they have a feeling of belonging and are connected to others.

I am always striving to help L2L and MFR to be better, more welcoming, more loving, more dynamic groups because if we become strong together, we can create change in the larger world. In an effort to see how and if we can do things differently, I am expanding my excursions to include attending events that another (local-ish) lesbian group hosts.

I loved watching the group dynamics. The people were welcoming (just like L2L) when newcomers came into the event. Each person was greeted by the hosts individually (like L2L) but they were not introduced around to the group (L2L works to do this) so they can get to know each other in the group. They planned to have each person rotate so they would not be just sitting and talking to the same people (great idea!!) but it didn’t happen. Once people sat down, they sat there and just talked to the people around them. It was hard to break into a conversation. Nobody approached me or started a conversation with me. It was uncomfortable. But I perservered. I tried to start conversations with several women. They were receptive but I felt I was “carrying the conversation.” I was not comfortable. But I also know that I have a responsibility as part of any interaction, it is NOT one sided. I also saw that they had a lot of newcomers or not regulars. The regulars stuck together and chatted together. They had a relationship. They were not unwelcoming. They were just spending time with those that they chose. The newcomers were welcomed but they were not pulled into conversations. Was it cliquey? No, I don’t think so. I think it was a group where people gravitated and spent time with people that they felt most comfortable with. #learninglessons

Anyhoo, it was a great night. I stayed for several hours. I will go back to their events. We might collaborate with the GR group to do events together with both groups. I learned some things about group dynamics. I also felt reassured that L2L is doing the best that it can but it will always strive to do better. That’s the best we can do.

It doesn’t seem based on my experience last night that L2L is cliquey. Rather it has formed a community that has a lot of people that have “found their tribe”. There is always room to do better. There is always room for feedback. I welcome hearing of women’s experiences. I welcome the discussion. I welcome the chance to continue to evolve and to develop our group to be stronger, kinder, fiercer, supportive, welcoming, and more loving.

#dobetter #keepevolving

Gifts from beyond

I was only at Michfest one time.

One time, and one time only, did I experience the magic of a womyn’s community that was built over FORTY years.

Forty years of womyn listening to womyn.

Forty years of womyn working with womyn.

Forty years of womyn working together. Forty years to figure out the process. Then figure it out again and again and again. I know that it was a work in a progress.

Of course it was a work in progress, every year, improvements and adjustments were made in their flow, work, performances, and crews. Habits were formed. Some things festies just knew because they did them for years and years and years.

I didn’t know anything about how the flow of the kitchen went but women were very happy to give me direction on how to do it the fest way. I didn’t know the rules of DART. I didn’t know the rules of the workerville. I didn’t know the rules for the various janes that were placed everywhere.

Some of them were strictly for workers.

Some of them were strictly for performers.

Some of them were strictly for DART women.

All people in workerville had a certain wristband. Nobody was allowed behind stage without a wristband. Workers always showed their wristbands.

These rules and procedures were developed over time and not just in one year, during one festival.

I didn’t realize all that. I didn’t feel all that. How could I? I was there for 2015 as a festie virgin.

I didn’t see SO MUCH that was happening. How could I see it?

I was there experiencing it as a festie. I wasn’t a festival producer at that time.

My eyes are different now. My eyes see differently.

When we produced Framily in 2016, I had no idea what I was doing.

I did it and We did it anyways. Although, I made LOTS of mistakes, one of the things I did right was solicit the help of women that had experience in attending festivals and women that had experience and knowledge about music. These women graciously stepped up and guided us in our first little MFR baby steps.

One of these women was our sister, Sue Fitzgerald. She helped with organizing making love notes. I loved the love notes of the Land. I wanted those to be part of our culture of MFR. She wasn’t high energy and wasn’t too able bodied but she was enthusiastic and had lots of ideas and suggestions. We didn’t always agree. She was often very outspoken and had a huge opinion on how things should be done because that was how they had been done but she always added her opinion on how it could be done. They weren’t always comfortable discussions. Often I took those discussion personal, because of MY personal story and stories, I could often feel that it was ME being attacked rather than helpful suggestions.


I say all this so you can understand how meaningful it is to me when I found some secret treasures when I opened up the file cabinet and shelves that I purchased from her estate sale.

I found a photo of Tory Trujillo which I have mailed out (yesterday, sister!)I also found programs from 6 different Michfest festivals. How fun it is to look through these treasures and see what was so hard wrought those 40 years embodied in that glossy book. They aren’t 8×10. They are the half pages, whatever size that is, lol. Whatever the size the power was large. I could feel it. I could feel the energy and love and commitment that went into those programs. AS much as I messed up various parts of helping put the program together for Framily, I appreciate the time, attention to detail, and love that went into the programs.

Thank you, Sue, for this additional spirit gift from you to me, to MFR.


But the gift that just knocks me on my butt, are the feedback forms that I found of Sue’s. There were feedback forms for two different years at least. I am still sorting out the papers. Because there were PAGES for 2014. Sue was not a woman of few words. She had words, lots of words for her ideas, suggestions, and her praise of the various parts of the festival. She paid attention to detail in every single area.She gave feedback, sometimes praising the effort and sometimes she gave very strong suggestions of how it could be for each and every area of Michfest.

Thank you, Sue.

Thank you Lisa Vogel.

Thank you, crew, workers, performers, volunteers, terps, crafts, thank you. You did an incredible thing over 40 years.I am awed and blessed to see these parts that went into making fest happen through these eye witness tellings.

Love, Dawn, co-producer of a baby-fest, Michigan Framily Reunion

Tuesday is juicy day

I had a most excellent Tuesday night.  It is so enjoyable being me.  I was listening to Oprah being interviewed by Brene Brown.  The theme was “being brave”.  Oprah was talking aboug how if you are doing “too good”, so many people will want to “throw shade” and bring you down, asking the question, “who do you think you are” and “you just too big for your britches”  or “you just think you are all that”.  Oprah said she had to grow into her response.  She wasn’t always comfortable with it but she became comfortable with the belief that she was going to become as big as she needed to become to be full of herself.  She wanted to be so secure and confident and comfortable with the belief that she WAS enough and be as fully herself as she wanted and needed to be.

I love that.  I love the idea of being bigger and fuller and more ME than I was yesterday or a year ago.  I love resting in my own power and the belief in my power and not being apologetic for being secure and comfortable with myself.

I am me.  Hear me Roar.  I am woman and I will soar.  I am large in my skin and in my flesh and in my spirit and in my zest.  I am woman.  Hear me Roard. I am lioness and so much more.  I am woman.  I am fully me and tomorrow I will be more me because I will grow and thrive and soar.

This video might have helped.

I got motivated to put some energy into my baby not so much a baby, L2L, Lansing lesbians group.  I created several events in https://www.meetup.com/Lansing-Lesbians-L2L/

A light tour in Dusty! It’s going to be incredible fun.  A trifecta weekend filled with a Half-way to MFR party, LGBT+ Prom, and Sapphic Superbowl weekend.  I posted.  I wrote.  I zoomed. 

It was marvelous.  I felt my energy soar. I felt my spirit engage. 

I was.  I am.  I felt.  I am feeling.

I planned an L2L night in GR.  Lol.  What the hell?  Why the hell not? 

I know that there are women that live in Grand Rapids that are part of L2L.  Now that I am here working every day, I figured I might as well take advantage of the numerous opportunities for live music in the Grand Rapids area. 

There is an open mic every night of the week, somewhere in the Grand Rapids area at various locations!! That is amazing. 

Tonight, I went to the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market.  It had numerous vendors selling soaps, artwork, jewelry, produce of varying degrees of purity by someone’s standards, beer, cider, food!  Lovely glorious food trucks!  It was amazing.

There was a live band too, Jessie Ray and the Carolina Catfish. They were a super awesome and fun rock band. Three other lesbians showed up. We laughed together. We shared food and libations. It was incredibly invigorating. I enjoyed doing something fresh and spontaneous and laughing with some different folks.

I am blessed to have a very lesbionic community. At no time, do I ever have to be without lesbians in my immediate vicinity. Except at work. I haven’t seen any lesbians at work but I’m sure they will reveal themselves. It feels incredible to broaden the community and meet new people. It is a little bit daunting but I accept the challenge. I always have. Mostly. Today, I accept the challenge and look forward to the thrill.

Happy Tuesday, readers.  Today, I truly embraced #findingthejuicy 

It was a gloriously, exciting and juicy day.  I was juicy.  My energy was juicy. 

#juicyaf

I am motivated to help you and all find their juicy.  I will keep doing what I am doing.  I know that I smile wider when I find others to smile with and helping people to get to their smile is important to me. It seems that I might be sensing something that I should be doing and I want to listen to that thing that brings me the most juicy, the most joy, the thing that makes me smile biggest. Tonight I was smiling a lot. There was something fundamental in the feeling that prompted the smile. It was the activity of talking to the vendors, the women, the building, and the connecting.

Hmmmmm Universe, I am listening, keep speaking to me.

Stay tuned, my friends, I think I am about to take a turn heading to somewhere!