Ode to Catrina

Back in February of 2001, I was at our local animal shelter Save-a-Pet to meet with a camera crew from News 12. I was designated to give them one of those “Big-Check” donations. The check symbolized the money that our record label had raised with a holiday CD called “Snappy Holidays, From Sonic Underground.” The CD sported a photo of our recently deceased kitty Charlotte who we lost to cancer the month before, so it was decided the animal shelter would provide the perfect backdrop.

As we all got into position, I felt this paw on my shoulder and heard this incessant meowing. I turned to see the scruffy, chocolate, tuxedo kitten who had “crazy mad scientist” fur. I made the shhhh gesture with index finger to lips but she persisted. I said in my best kitty-talking voice “Hey, I’m busy here.” She locked eyes with me. These deep green, watery, soulful eyes connected with me so deeply, and I knew I was done. She was to be our next kitty-baby.

The problem was, it was literally a month since we lost our dear Charlotte to cancer and my husband Gian and I were beyond weary. We were sad beyond sad and just barely functional. I went home to tell him of my encounter and he met me with strong opposition. He was simply not ready. I drew a deep breath and as lovingly as I could I responded, “Well, I know it’s only been a month, but our new daughter is ready, so we need to go get her.”

When we arrived at Save-a-Pet to officially adopt her, she was in the furthest cage in the back corner. The minute we opened the door to the place, I saw her jump up on her hind paws and she literally rattled the caged, meowing as if she was saying “I’m here, I’m over HERE.”

Thus began our life with one of the sweetest, intuitive, gentle, BOSSY beings we have ever known. At the time, Gian and I were sharing a house and recording studio with musician friends. Catrina entered her new home with an air of confidence. This was home. These are my people. Where’s my food?

She had a nasty bowel disorder from the beginning and I’ll spare you the gory details. It took many months and determination to finally land on the food she could tolerate and keep her “run-free.” She also had terrible bathroom habits from the start. Burying was just not her thang and besides, if she howled loud enough, one of her people would take care of it.

We decided to have a welcome home party and later asked our friend Sirka Louca if she would take some baby pictures of her. Don’t get me wrong, Sirka is immensely talented, but Catrina, she was a born model. She not only tolerated the photo session, she would strike poses interspersed with falling asleep sitting up. I am still convinced that she had some kind of neurological disorder akin to narcolepsy.

As a baby, she would jump onto my desk and chase the mouse on my computer screen. When we rocked her in baby-pose she loved to play “rabbit.” This entailed taking her front paws and putting them behind her head pushing her chin into her chest, allowing her paws to mimic rabbit ears. She also loved being long. Gian would hold her and she would stretch her entire body and extend her paws as far as she could. She was a puddle of fur with legs.

When we moved into our own home in 2004 she spent the first 4 days underneath the futon in our den. I knew she was ok because when I would come down in the morning her food would be eaten and the litter used, but she decided that drama was necessary to christen the new digs.

On the 5th morning we came downstairs to find her lounging on the carpet of the den on her side with casual paw extended. That was the last time she ever hid or did anything remotely antisocial with us.

She was sweet to everyone, well except for babies. She was not a fan. Gian thinks it’s because her ears were particularly sensitive. I think it was the energy that she wasn’t used to. Little boys were worse than little girls and still she never, bit, scratched or even growled at anyone or anything. She would retreat to the first step leading down to the basement, staying close enough to hear what was going on, but safe from the occasional baby that was in our home.

She comforted us during some of the toughest moments in our lives. She always knew when we needed her. Her nightly ritual included coming downstairs to the kitchen, seeing us each on a couch in the den. Standing at the precipice between kitchen and den to size up the situation. Then she would jump down the single step into our den and proceed to claim one of us by jumping on us and nestling in.

Where Charlotte would spend hours in the recording studio, Catrina chose to make her entrance to randomly meow during the best takes, ensuring that she would make it onto the record. If I was having a particularly sad day, she would shadow me wherever I went, even if it meant leaving the comfort of our bed and sitting by my feet on the floor. We tried many different kitty-beds for her to use on the floor but she had no use for them. She preferred the ground, so that’s where she stayed. .

When we slept at night, Gian and I would already be in bed when she went down for a snack before sleeps. Though small in stature, her gate was always loud. We would hear her plod up the stairs, into our room and then a brief hesitation while she calculated, and then plop, she would land on our bed so very proud of herself. She usually slept on my side to the left of my feet. On occasion she would decide to be the bar that separated Gian and I, so that the three of us emulated a perfect “H.”

She had this way of making us always feel special. When we would enter a room, there would be this happy little “Reerr,” accompanied by her lifting her entire body off of whatever surface she was on. We used to laugh so hard because I could literally leave the room and re-enter repeatedly, and she would do it every single time as if it was the first time she was ever laying eyes on me.

In her later years she became a bit more demanding. Food needed to now be served as “soup.” To counter balance her bossiness, Gian always made her do the soup dance by weaving the bowl round and round so she would follow with anticipation. She also took to practicing opera at 3am, which was less than entertaining.

We catered to her every need and did so with joy and honor because the unconditional love she gave was immeasurable. She would always choose a “pick-up and a kiss” over food. Purred the instant she saw either of us. She was ridiculously clever and coerced me into purchasing my very first iPad app “Mouse Games.” Her all-time high-goal of 22,000 was reached when she realized that if she left her paw in one place, the digital mouse would eventually run under it producing the obligatory “SQUEAK” followed by one of us exclaiming “Good Girl Kitty-Kitty-POP-POP!”


Catrina started to decline this past May, and as with her sister Charlotte, we did everything we could to keep her happy and healthy. About a week ago, the decline became drastic and with heavy hearts, we knew the end was near. She stopped sleeping with us because she needed to be close to food, water or a wee-wee pad.

She gifted us one last time this past Thursday, which would be her last night. She came into our room from the office where she had been spending the majority of her time. She meowed until Gian picked her up. She slept in his arms that night until around 3am. Then she meowed and I took her for some water. I tried to feed her, but she turned her little head away.

I got back into bed and she slept in my arms the rest of the night until morning. She woke me 3 times to get water and then fell back asleep in my arms. It was a truly spiritual experience.

The next morning I held her for the first few hours. We tried desperately to get her to eat but she only wanted water. Around 11am, she wobbled back into the office. I tried to hold her, but she let me know that she was ready, so we let her stay on the floor. Gian, in one last-ditch attempt, tried to feed her. He opened her favorite—a can of tuna, and she licked two licks of the juice. I know she did this for us.

In the end, she died peacefully in my arms at around 4:15pm on Friday, July 26, 2019. It was by far one of the most painful things we have ever experienced. Everyone had prepared us for this sense of relief we would feel once she had gone. Gian and I felt the opposite. The pain was unbearable. I can’t remember the last time we sobbed like that.

The weird thing was, I started hearing this little song in my head. I pushed it away because it felt so inappropriate. When I woke Saturday morning in a fog after a brutally, restless night, the song started to persist again. I went into the office to see her little body wrapped in her favorite blanket and the sobbing came on so hard. Still, no relief.

Gian spent the better part of the morning digging her a grave in our little garden. We were both so broken and in so much pain. He realized our shovel wasn’t going to cut through the roots and he needed a spade, so he drove off to Loews to buy one.

The song played even louder in my head so I decided to listen. Maybe it was Catrina asking me to sing to her one last time. When Gian came back, I told him about the song. He finished digging and we gathered our baby in her clear plastic, securely-sealed, waterproof box. She was wrapped in her favorite blanket, next to her favorite toys, with a lock of each of our hair, pictures of us together during happier times and with the letter we wrote her.

After lowering her into the grave, the tears came again, with such power. We read her poems and prayers. We each took a shovel and started to fill in the sides until we could just see her little head through the plastic box. She looked like she was sleeping. She looked at peace. Gian asked me to sing her song to her. I sang “Catrina’s Waltz” to my baby-cat.

Then he looked at me with tear-brimmed eyes and asked; “Are you ready?” I nodded. We covered her with the Earth and then we made her garden so pretty and perfect. She has an angel reading by her head, and sandstones surrounding her grave so no one trespasses. We laid the lilies my in-laws brought her and we stepped back to breathe.

I looked at Gian. “I feel so much better. I think she’s free now.” He said he felt exactly the same way. It was like we needed to release her in order to feel any relief from the pain.

We both know it will ebb and flow. She was truly a one-of-a-kind being and I feel incredibly blessed that she chose us to be her parents. I know she will watch over us and maybe someday, we’ll all be reunited.

With all the pain and tears, I wouldn’t change a single second. I will love you always my sparkly little girl-girl Catrina. Thank you so very much for being my daughter.

Catrina DiMauro-Geller November 2000-July 26, 2019

I just published the video of the song she sent me. I videotaped while I performed it live. Here’s a link if you’re interested:

Catrina helping me with the Fearless Songwriter Challenge

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“Sorry, something went wrong. . .” The Art of Letting Go.

I’m so psyched, I’m mean like happy like I have not felt in a long while. The depressive state I’ve been in has finally loosened its grips and the sun is out—double bonus! I plan this “launch” for a big thing I’ve been dreaming about – planning and plotting for months now. I’ve scheduled a livestream for a very special group of supporters…and then…YouTube literally goes down.

I frantically check my wifi and cellular connections. I try different devices, computers. Nope. The shit is down. Really? I have my husband Gian check with his devices and computers. Nada. I am struggling with acceptance. How could this happen? I sent out all of those emails, made announcements all over social media and now, in this moment, I am fairly certain that I personally broke YouTube.

There is the painful moment of questioning EVERYTHING. Seriously. “Why did I think I could make this happen?” “I’m not meant to move forward!” “What did it matter anyway?” “Should I rethink my entire plan?”. . . And then I laugh.

All the very loud self-loathing, negative speak is quiet. My confidence is louder. I know I did everything I could. I was prepared. I did test-runs. I did a “private” livestream right before to make sure everything looked and sounded good. I even put on makeup!

When it came time to go live for my stream, it simply stopped working. I tried about a 100 times, and no, it was still down. I then put funny little messages all over social media as well as on my site explaining what happened and I’m laughing. I’m laughing because for the first time in so long, I know that no, I did not break YouTube, and no, this is not Karmic punishment because God fashions my life as a sitcom for their enjoyment.

Nope. It went down. I’m not a victim. I’m not the cause. I’m not responsible for anything other than rescheduling a livestream and knowing that my people will be disappointed but understand. It kind of stinks because I was really looking forward to the livestream and connecting with my peeps, but it wasn’t meant to be.

I let it go. All the shame and frustration, and victim consciousness. I let it fade into the ethers because dammit, I have music to share. I will not lose another day to “poor me” mentality. I let it go. I hope you do too.

XO,

MG

A Year In Review: Why 2018 didn’t suck as much as I thought it did.

I spent New Year’s Eve down in Florida in an Urgent Care facility receiving the diagnosis that yes, I did have the flu. Yay! It only served to punctuate my predetermined assessment that 2018 sucked ass. But did it really?

Today is three days after diagnosis and I am sitting upright outside my parents home in Florida as a gentle, perfect breeze strokes my finally painless skin. God bless the inventor of Tamiflu. I had started reading “The Productivity Project” prior to our flight down and it was literally the only activity I could tolerate during the first day or so of flu-hell. You know it’s bad if I don’t check social media…at all.

I brought the book outside and finished a chapter when it hit me–there were many fabulous accomplishments, achievements, and realizations to be thankful for in 2018. That realization prompted a burst of energy and inspired me to take inventory if not for anyone else but myself, so I grabbed my iPad and decided to start writing. (And yes, I am fully aware of how apparent my Type A personality is in admitting that, through fever and body aches, I STILL needed to be productive so I read a book about productivity…and decided to write a blog. Of course, if you know me at all, this is not a surprise so stop the eye rolling!).

Back to focus – So what was truly great about 2018? I started 2018 with the flu (a pattern perhaps?) but still participated in a Fearless Songwriter Challenge and wrote 7 songs*. I also found myself fighting a heck of a Depression and decided it was finally time to give up music as a career and demote it down to hobby status. That lasted about a day when I decided I wasn’t ready to give up. You can call me crazy, but you can’t call me a quitter!

I also manifested a branding expert who offered to mentor me and do the deep dive into who I am. The intention is to decipher how we can translate the “who” into the “why” and create my brand according to what we discover. The exploration has been both emotionally and intellectually taxing and rewarding. It has also not been that surprising since along with my Type A tendencies, comes self-perpetual-evaluation. Next, we get to explore the visual depiction of what we have discovered about me. I think that’s pretty cool and hope I can remain patient enough to get there.

I have connected with a network of musicians who are data-miners. They have taught me how to analyze my existing fans and find the best means to keeping them interested, and if they’re not truly engaged, be brave enough to say goodbye. It has also forced me to start assessing my business practices and how to get the best ROI from my music.

I find this fascinating because like most creatives I hate getting “all business’ey.” I too have this secret desire that if I write the best songs, someone will come along and take care of all of the “stuff” that needs to get done and I can just go about creating and take afternoon tea with fabulous people because I wrote my 90th Top 10 hit. HA! Nothing could be further from the truth. If I want the music out there, I have to work it. If I want to make a living, I have to work diligently and be smart with my time (hence the reading of my millionth productivity book!). I am thankful that in 2018 I uncovered a kernel of possibility that might help these efforts along.

I wrote more songs in 2018 than any other I can recall. 30 completed songs (one co-write), one incomplete song I started last week, and of the 30, I would say about 22 are keepers. I realize that to some, 30 may not sound like an awful lot for an entire year, but when you juggle day-jobs to pay the bills, numerous family responsibilities and all the maintenance tasks required to stay healthy and happy (well, I guess healthy didn’t work out as intended…) I’m pretty proud of my 30 new babies.

I also rebuilt my website, discovered there’s still more work to be done and have a plan for that as well. I had a consult with a digital marketing professional who helped me clarify where to best utilize my time and energy. This will all be in keeping with my new Marci-Brand which I hope to reveal in conjunction with the release of my 5th independent album sometime in 2019.

There are more things that I could go on listing but in reality, the biggest gift came at the end of the year.

I was so close to finishing my latest album, and if it weren’t for circumstances that were truly out of my control, it would be 90% done right now. But you see, that is life. There are times when the unexpected throws you off course. You know that you’ll be forced to go a different direction than you intended. It is in these moments that I align with what is truly important to me; not the stuff, but the love. It always comes down to the love and I can honestly say that 2018 not only tested my love but proved its tenacity and perseverance.

So there was no toast at midnight, no silly hats worn or noise-makers clamored. Forgive me 2018. I am thankful for you and all you gifted me with. You deserved a proper send-off but my feverish body wouldn’t allow it. Did you suck? In retrospect, you were a pretty, fine year. This is my symbolic toast to you. 2019…bring it on!

*As of the publishing of this Blog I have completed my first Fearless Challenge of 2019. Seven new songs were written in seven days. If you click the link and scroll down to January 2019, you can hear the raw demos uploaded the day they were written. https://marcigeller.com/fearless-songwriter-challenge

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For more information, visit my cyber-home at www.MarciGeller.com

Enough

Since the moment I was born, though very loved, I received the very strong message from outsiders that I wasn’t enough. This message of inadequacy perpetuated itself throughout my life but was seeded by the first label: Ugly Duckling. You see, I was born to nearly perfect looking people. From an early age, I can recall the perplexed look of eyes scrutinizing my infant-self in disbelief. How could two gorgeous people create this odd-looking creature? In retrospect, I was probably a normal looking baby, but with standards set so high, how could I possibly satisfy anyone’s expectations?

Thankfully there was some counterbalance of reassurance that even if I wasn’t pretty enough, I had some likable qualities. My Dad still boasts that when they took me home from the hospital, I would try and set myself up on my elbows so I could survey my bedroom and see what was going on. I had personality and a hunger to get out into the world!

I learned to talk very early and would shock people who questioned if I was indeed a baby or a Little Person with no hair. Before I learned to walk I would dance the Twist if music was heard. Oh, and of course one of my more notable moments was when my parents woke to their three-year-old Jewish daughter playing Silent Night by ear on the little Emenee Organ that had bought me as a holiday gift.

Still, with all of these attractive qualities, not being physically beautiful was far more important to many who felt the need to let me know that I was lacking. It’s a strange planet we live on. I am fairly certain that my lack of beauty prompted my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Ashby, to resign me to the “not special enough” category in our class.

At the end of the school year, she put together a ceremony where she presented prizes to the children in the class: Smartest (a boy), Funniest (a boy), Most Popular (a Girl) and of course the coveted; Prettiest. Kerry, the now anointed Prettiest was presented her gift with an invitation to also sit on Mrs. Ashby’s lap! This gesture felt extremely creepy to me even as a young child, but I was jealous nonetheless.

After the prizes were presented, Mrs. Ashby revealed a table full of books for the rest of the class to choose from. A collective sigh and sniffles from those who were truly disappointed resounded. Of course, I, being a bookworm much preferred a book to a stupid doll, but my pride prevented me from letting Mrs. Ashby see me pick one out. That book taunted me from the table for over a week. When the last day of school was over, I ran back into the empty classroom to claim it and then proceeded to berate myself for decades to come for being so weak of character.

The label of “not enough” festered. I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t tall enough. I wasn’t smart enough, special enough, sophisticated enough, cool enough, talented enough, thin enough, rich enough, Jewish enough, Christian enough, successful enough. I just wasn’t enough.

The messages got loud at times. My 10th-grade theater teacher Mrs. Fletcher immediately deflated my hope and dreams by warning me “You’re not pretty enough, so you should really consider an alternate career path.” As an adult, I can recognize that Kay, as she encouraged us to call her, was insecure about her own looks and abilities and therefore felt it necessary to crush the spirit of a 10th grader. Nonetheless, she scarred me.

I have also never been young enough either. I remember the day my Mom got a call from the casting director for the TV show Romper Room. I was certain that the light beaming through the kitchen windows was an angel watching over to experience my joy when I received word that I had been cast. I watched my Mom’s smile deflate as she said: “I see. There’s no wiggle room? Ok (sigh), thanks for letting us know.” I swear her eyes were misty when she told me that they loved me, but I had missed the age cutoff by a month. Of course, choosing to make entertainment my career further reinforced that at any age, I was always too old.

When I became an adult, I started to realize that while I continued to feel like I was never enough, most people around me were more concerned with not having enough.

Years ago, my husband Gian encountered an “almost billionaire” when Gian was hired to do some tech-work for him. I can safely say almost billionaire because interspersed with blatant flirting with me IN FRONT of my husband, he made a point of letting us know continually that he wasn’t quite a Billionaire, but he was close and wasn’t going to stop until he attained Billionaire Status. I couldn’t help myself and pointed out that it was a lot of pressure and if he DID become a Billionaire, he couldn’t actually spend any of his money because as soon as he did, he wouldn’t be a Billionaire anymore. I’m pretty certain I put him into a depression. We never did hear from him again.

Here is my secret desire; the only thing I have ever truly aspired to be is kind. I know, it’s lame. It’s not sexy and not enough to really matter in the world of cut-throat, ranking-based, judgmental existence that we live. All of us fall prey to ideals that are really only based on perspective. Seriously; what is success? To someone living in a box on the street, the person living in a car is successful–right? I, having toured the world with a fairly-famous rock musician am a star to an artist starting out. So if it’s only perspective and if a perspective can be shifted, aren’t we all, enough?

Honestly, I don’t aspire to be cool and although I’ve been told I AM cool, I honestly don’t care. I’m not wealthy or even financially comfortable, but somehow I live in a home that is one of my favorite places in the world, have traveled the world, have eaten in tremendously great restaurants and have some of the best friends anyone could ever hope for.

My husband believes I have the biggest heart–and that’s nothing to take lightly. And above and beyond it all, I’m quite confident that I am the best cat-mommy to ever grace the planet.

I am enough. So are you. Maybe someday if we all truly know that we are enough, we will have the capacity to accept one another even when we disagree. We will respect each other even when we don’t understand why we are the way we are. Maybe, just maybe, we can find peace within and that will truly radiate outside ourselves and that….that will be enough.


Even if I’m not enough I am still a very thankful person. Here’s a recent live-in-the-studio video we shot of my song “Thank You.”

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Want to learn more about me? Go to my website: www.MarciGeller.com

Existential shock, middle age, or both?

IMG_3713

I made a huge mistake. It wasn’t life-threatening, but it did disrupt my day-to-day in a way that I didn’t know I was actually prepared for. Here’s what happened; I was trolling one of my few Facebook groups and the topic of organization came up. I will preface this by saying that as far as “independent musician” standards go, I’m probably one of the most organized, productive and disciplined people most of my peers know (their words, and maybe mine, because I am middle-aged now and I’m allowed to pat myself on the back once in a while.).

Despite my ability to balance between my music career, family responsibilities, navigating persistent insomnia and my ever-invasive day job, I still don’t EVER feel like I’m getting enough done, and certainly not fast enough. Ok, so I jump into a thread where someone mentions this methodology that has “changed his life” and that’s all it takes. I’m in. I go to the library THAT afternoon, check out the book, and dive in head first.

Being a creative, I anticipated a touchy-feely, kitten-paws-stroking-my-face system as I worked through my emotional hurdles, and gently steered myself towards a clear mind and a cleaner desk. Wrong. This book was full-on, in your face accountability fueled by humiliation. I’m not joking.

There are so many unbelievable exercises and examples, but I’ll share one of my favorites, (and I’m paraphrasing); “Steve wanted to finish writing his manuscript, but was continually distracted. In order to create a sense of urgency with ramifications, he wrote a check for $5000 to his most hated political candidate. He gave the check to his assistant and instructed her to send the check if he hadn’t handed in a completed manuscript by ____ _____ _____ date. You can bet that he handed that manuscript in, in fact, he completed it a few days early! What scenario can you create that will force to complete your most important project?”

REALLY???

I was simultaneously appalled and aroused. Wow. This is the key. I need to psychologically flagellate myself into moving forward into the life I have always dreamed of! I mean here was the proof. It was in a book in the LIBRARY, written by doctors of psychology with research and studies to back it up. Onward I went tapping into my deepest fears and how to exploit them so I could finally feel a sense of forward motion.

My scenarios didn’t come easy. Mostly because now I was even more afraid of failing and having to follow through with my planned punishment if I didn’t complete projects, missions, tasks, etc. Deep breath. Push forward.

I went back and re-read some chapters and my answers to the questionnaires I had been asked to complete. I realized, it IS all on me. Life throws shit in our path all the time. It’s up to ME to decide to step around the shit. I had also forgotten a crucial element—It’s not only about the set-up that would keep me on track, but it was also about the reason I wanted to finish, to begin with. Without figuring out the “why” I could never figure out the “how.”

———–

In my quest for the determining the why, I read that one of my favorite “Top Chef” contestants Fati who we all thought had beat her cancer, had about a year left to live. As it turns out, She probably won’t make it to 30. I was beyond saddened, I was shocked and angry. This was NOT the happy ending that all of us rooting for her anticipated.

She announced her news and what her plans were for her last year on this planet. Suddenly I felt like a true ass. I began to scroll backwards in my memory and realized all the time I had wasted. Not because I didn’t work hard, but because I didn’t stay on track. That was the truth. Now my job was to figure out the track, get on it and stay there until I felt truly worthy of the rewards—even if the only reward is knowing I got it done. I also felt a sense of responsibility now. I was going to finish this album because a young, talented, badass Chef wasn’t going to finish most of her dreams. It sucked, but it did put it all into focus for me.

That weekend I not only tracked ALL of the piano tracks for the new album, I also dug into our garage and unpacked about a hundred boxes of samples for my day job, found the proper place to store them, and organized all the expired samples and donated them to our local Food Not Bombs. Every weeknight after work, I went down into the studio, listened to all the piano tracks, chose the best ones, cleaned up any pedal squeaks, cat meows, cricket-interruptus and did a shit-ton of tasks on my to-do list.

The following weekend, Gian, my husband AND engineer, was going to be working the whole weekend. I gently asked if we could take one night prior to get levels for my vocals and he kindly agreed. That weekend I tracked all the lead vocals for all the piano tracks. I was on a roll.

——

The Punchline

The following Monday I checked in with my Facebook group to boast about my level of productivity on the original organization thread and thank the guy who got me on this jag. As I scrolled through the thread to leave a comment (and remember his name), there it was; I was reading the WRONG book!!! GAH!!!!

My first response was to literally say out loud, “Oh My God, I am SOOOO freaking exhausted!!!!” And I was. I had been working like a bat out of hell but pushing through because I had made a promise to myself and the universe. My second response was to question whether or not I had really been THAT productive? My third response was to collapse into laughter. Yes, I had been a productive maniac. Yes, I had tortured myself. Yes, I got shit done!

I immediately went online and got the right book and then went to the the authors website, signed up for the trial membership and took a deep breath. Here’s the best part, after an hour in, I knew that this entire “trial” was a pitch to get me to become a paid member AND nothing so far was anything I didn’t already inherently know. I decided to NOT waste any time and canceled my trial.

The Takeaway

The irony does not escape me. What I find fascinating is that apparently anything will work if I perceive it to be a proven system. I have no misconception that the first book “was the way,” but it did change my perception of what I am capable of.

I decided to keep on pushing while also allowing myself a small amount of time to do nothing once in a while. Of course, I realize that “nothing” for me looks very different than most people’s nothing. I am still working like a mad-woman on the album, but allow myself the occasional digression. I really do feel more focused than ever, and strangely, more balanced too.

I still think of Chef Fati every single day. I say a nightly prayer for her in hopes that maybe there is some miracle that will reveal itself and she’ll beat cancer. I also know it’s selfish of me to co-opt her journey. I am choosing to reframe it as honoring her, even though she doesn’t know me and she’ll probably never even know that she was a source of inspiration and a giant impetus to a middle-aged indie musician.

My deepest hope is still to someday feel like “I got it done.” Maybe that’s the twist; that there will always be something to get done…until I am done. And then, just maybe I will know what rested feels like.

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Here’s my most recent digression. The piano was mic’d tuned and sounding so sweet. I decided to do a live-take video just for the hell of it:

Would You Still Believe?

Why I never “made it.”   A musician’s lament.

I predict hearing the phone ring as soon as my parents, husband, or a bestie reads this blog title. They’ll say; “You DID make it, it just doesn’t look the way you expected it to.” It’s actually endearing. But more importantly, it’s a reminder of the peace I have made with the idea of what success looks and feels like. And that really is the crux of it all. I can accept that my life turned out differently than had hoped, but knowing that those who love me feel the ache—that’s what hurts the most.

I ended the workday yesterday in a shitty mood. Everything I tried to get done was challenged by roadblocks. I could feel my frustration and blood pressure rising (I’m ok Momma. Please stop worrying. I love you.). I finally abandoned ship and ran errands. As I drove, my anxiety lifted and I felt myself returning to a reasonable perspective. When I was asked how I was doing at Trader Joe’s, I shocked myself when I enthusiastically responded “Great! How are you?” Huh?!… I decided to go with it.

Sadly, back on the road, my anger built again as no one would let me merge while trying to get back home. Out of the blue my iPhone, which was on shuffle, played an old song I co-wrote with my friend, former housemate, former recording studio partner John Tabaccco. I started to smile. Then I laughed. And then I cried. I remembered the joy of writing that song and could feel the spirit emanate from the recording.

In that moment I realized the answer to the inevitable “WHY?” which tortures me. “WHY didn’t I make it?”.

This random song that surprised me also triggered the truth; I never made it because I refused to discipline myself and fit it into a genre-box.

Ironically, I know I have a good head for business. I understand the mechanics required to create success; offer a solid product, connect with an audience, relentlessly market and promote oneself. I have never been afraid of hard work. I put in the hours, the years. I just wasn’t willing to stick to a theme.

Well, that’s not entirely true…

I did try to fit myself into a box that I could live with many times throughout my career. I dressed like Madonna and wrote to drum grooves to become what was referred to as a dance artist early on. During the whole angst-ridden female singer/songwriter phase of the 90’s I cut my wrists to bleed onto my CDs for everyone to experience. Years later after I turned 40, I decide that folk was the only genre of music that allowed women to age. I transformed myself into a folk artist, or at least I tried to. I couldn’t help myself. I had to throw in a jazz-infused song, an homage to the Beatles, and a sweetly twisted tune ala Burt Bacharach on my first solo folk album.

I wasn’t fooling anyone, especially not myself. I tried to force myself to be disciplined and create a coherent sound, my inner muse fought back.

Back to the impetus of this story—this song reminded me of why I started writing music; to feel good. For me, writing feels decadent. It feels freeing. This song, in particular, is, for lack of a better word, FUN. Was it pop’ish, rock’ish, weird’ish? Sure, it was all of those things. Could I hear it on the radio? Well, could, but I’m not a radio programmer or a DJ. Does it even matter?

I ask that question because I do wonder if there are others out there like myself who want their playlist to be diverse, surprising and mysterious? I guess there are, because to this day I retain “Lovely Listeners” who are willing to go on the journey with me, and who forgive my musical digressions.

And therein lies the true success. It may not equate to riches, but it does provide richness to my life. It is what sustains me because as much as I’d love to believe that I write to write, I do care that somebody hears it.

Do I still yearn for that moment when I can say, “I made it”? I’d be lying if I said there isn’t a part of my soul that still holds out hope for that one hit that will allow me to leave an imprint on this planet. Who knows? Maybe all this music travels past our atmosphere throughout the universe. And maybe there’s a planet out there where my music and I make sense.

What matters to me is that I’ve remained musically honest and I’ve found my Lovely Listeners who like what I do. That is my version of making it…until I write that hit one day 😉


Wanna hear that song I co-wrote with John Tabacco? You can listen to it here: Open Your Eyes

JT MG 1995

Me & JT (John Tabacco) in the studio circa 1995. Photo by: Sirka Louca

Wanna learn more about me? You can here: www.MarciGeller.com

It’s My Birthday, and why I’m not in a fetal position bawling my eyes out.

It’s Wednesday, April 11, 2018 and it’s my birthday. Ok, I’m entitled to feel a little bit special today, but mostly, I feel relieved. You see, if you have known me for any length of time, you know that I not only hated my birthday, I did everything possible to not acknowledge it. Obviously since the advent of Facebook, I’ve had to acknowledge it, but it has taken me decades to even tolerate it.

I think my birthday-phobia started on my 18th. I remember waking up that morning and saying to myself “Well, it’s all downhill from here.” Seriously? At 18 I thought everything from that point forward was going to be “downhill??” And believe me, it’s not like I was a happy teenager either. I guess it’s kind of funny in retrospect, but also quite maudlin. After I turned 18 I continued to celebrate birthdays with friends and family, albeit reluctantly. It was when I was 26 that I was truly scarred and stopped celebrating all together.

I had been invited up to the main offices of BMG for a meet-and-greet by the then VP of marketing and promotion. He had recently “discovered” me and was excited to introduce me to the A&R staff, get me finally signed to a major label deal, and be the one responsible for my fame and fortune. Sadly, that’s not what happened. He escorted me around, introducing while I shook hands with everyone and remembered to smile and look them in the eyes. Then this woman whose name I have blocked-out asked, “How old is she,” as if I wasn’t even there. TWENTY SIX I exuberantly announced.

At that point it was like watching roaches scatter when you turn on a light. They all excused themselves, had “other meetings” and left. I was now alone with the VP who steered me into an empty office. “Don’t EVER do that again!” He said to me with pursed lips and a vein throbbing from the side of his neck. “Do what?” I completely and innocently asked. “I thought you were ten years younger. I’m really sorry, but this isn’t going to happen. You’re too old and hopefully no one here will spread the word to other labels, but there’s no way you’ll get signed by BMG. I’m really sorry. Oh, and don’t ever tell anyone your age ever again. It will kill any chance you may still have of a career.”

I was shocked. 26 was too old? I looked great, felt great. I’d already had small success with an independent label. Who cared what the number was? Apparently major labels did, so from that point forward, I never celebrated or spoke my age or date of birth ever again.

Scroll forward few months later. I’ve met the man I will spend the rest of my life with. His family makes a BIG deal about birthdays, and I let him know while trying to not sound like a lunatic, that I do NOT celebrate. In fact, I don’t even want to acknowledge it. In fact, it will be a miracle if I get through the day without profuse sobbing episodes. I’m not exaggerating either. My birthday had become a day of mourning for me that would take at least a week for me to recover from.

Years passed. My then boyfriend/now husband learned ow to distract me on “the day.” It usually involved excursions away from others and monitoring phone calls, the mail and any other source of reminder. Then Facebook happened and in order to have an account, you had to give the dreaded day. I decided that maybe this was an opportunity to heal a little. I could give the month and day but listed the year as 1900! If anyone asked how old I was, I would delete their question. I could handle this. And I did to a certain extent.

My career as an independent musician was fully formed. I had long given up dreams of the magical major label deal. I could just be. I could allow people to be nice to me. I still hated the fact that another year had passed and I hadn’t accomplished this or that. I interpreted it as a marker for failure. I did love reading the posts and feeling loved.Thankfully that aspect became more relevant than what I hadn’t accomplished that particular trip around the sun.

And then there was this morning. I woke around 6am to use the bathroom. My husband and kitty were sleeping sweetly. My heart swelled as I noticed them breathing in and out. Mound of fur, outline of husband, rising and falling in concert with one another.

I made my way to the guest bathroom so as to not wake either of them. I love that bathroom. It has a moon and sun theme and this window that faces east so you can see the sun rising. The sun hadn’t quite emerged yet so I stood on my tippy toes to watch. It was then that I realized, oh, it’s here. I’m a new number. I felt my joy start to synch into sadness. I looked out at the sky on fire, and the glorious trendies of light emerging, and it was then that it hit me. All those years ago on this day, my parents woke for the moment they had been waiting for. Six years of marriage, two miscarriages, and today, April 11th, they were finally going to get their baby.

I was a scheduled delivery, so I am guessing that they both probably woke early on April 11th with great anticipation. Maybe one or both of them looked out the window of their apartment in Queens, and the sun hadn’t quite risen yet either. Today was the day both of them had been waiting and hoping for, and it was finally here.

I felt this sudden rush of energy and tears. Today was a good day. My birth brought tremendous joy to two people that I love more than words can express. It bought joy to my Grandparents. My Aunts, cousins, family friends. My parents, Phyliss and Barry were finally going to have the child that they so desperately wanted. All I had to do was be born. This morning as the sun rose, I think for the first time, I felt their joy in my own being.

I decided that this day is worth celebrating. This is the day Phyliss and Barry became parents. To mark this day, I will continue to live my purpose and continue to strive for my goals. I intend to: do no harm to others, be kind, maybe make one person feel a little less alone, write a song that tugs on someone’s heartstrings, make someone feel special, inspire someone else to be kind.

So today is my birthday. For the first time since I turned 18, I am very grateful that it is. All I had to do was be born and it changed two people’s lives forever. I am a blip on the timeline of this planet, this universe, but my birth sparked joy for two other blips. Thank you sun, for reminding me to be grateful.

www.MarciGeller.com