My past DOES define me.

I hear the buzz phrase, “Your past does not define you.” Even I thought this sounded like a good mantra. At first. I might have even said it a few times. But, my past DOES define me. For better or worse.

Running from your past is like that old saying, “Going nowhere in a hurry.” You can’t forward your future until you address the past.

I grew up poor. Near a small town, in the country on 20 acres, graduated from a class of 65 people.

Maybe not poor. Maybe just so far in debt that I had to choose between difficult things. And, I didn’t wear name brand clothes. My mom made most of my clothes by hand. That, at least, put me in a different category.

Other category pushers:
My father was emotionally and physically (infrequently) abusive. I was overweight (of course). Often teased. Often at the bottom of some chaotic, emotional barrel of feelings. Struggling to have a voice of any kind in a farm community full of rednecks and intellectual infants. I was (am) a girl/woman (not always a plus).

These things define me. They are my etymological birth. The source of all my words. I can write today because of what happened or didn’t happen in the past. I thank God for my past.

My whole youth can be summed up as the jump ball for the tip off of my adulthood/writing career. A frantic scrambling to find my voice in the elbows and sweaty armpits of rural America.

Now, I am free-throwing and making it swish from the top of the key. Thank God I had to scramble.


I lost my voice, the strength of it anyway, a coupla years ago when I had my thyroid removed. They cut through muscles and nerves to get through to the organ. It can effect your vocal cords. I was hoarse and genteel for months. Totally unlike me.

From a young age, I have been identified as the loud laugher, talker, whiner, live-r. When others tittered, I guffawed. When others whispered, I announced. When others went about their feelings in a shy, reserved way, I emoted all over the place.

So. To be made relatively mute for months on end? THAT was a struggle.

I joined a local community theatre production, even when my voice wasn’t fully healed, to exercise the shit out of said vocal cords. I struggled again, this time for my literal voice.

I honestly thought my voice was ruined. I had no volume and no ability to inflect. But it came. My voice emerged. I rebuilt my annoying, distinctive, loud, full-flavored signature.

But that’s what I was doing all those years ago. Fighting for air, time, attention, my voice. I certainly found it by exercising my mind. Flexing my writing muscles. Clearing my thoughts. Coughing up all the bad stuff to get to the sweet, well-trained music of good writing.

If you met me in person, you might think, she’s pretty tame, dull, quiet, shy. But that’s just the surface. That’s just the public wall that’s been graffiti’d by others. There’s a garden behind those gates. A well-tended garden kept by me. Plunking away at the keyboard, digging out rows, mining for richness, turning up the past. Seeds of words flowering into thoughts, emotions and ideas–volumes of deep-rooted life. This is my courtyard. The sign says WELCOME.

You have to push past that gate. Be patient enough to know me.

Welcome to my past. It defines me. All that you read here is real, honest, beautiful. Though some starts out as dirt, hurt and manure.

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Sympathy, But No Admiration

I skimmed an article the other day about a woman with 5 children. It started with her morning routine and I couldn’t make it past bed-making. It looked like an attempt for recognition for her task-filled day as a working mother.

She began with, “After making 5 beds…” She has 5 children and not one of them can make a bed?

I would teach the child to make their own bed. And if they can’t? Unmade beds are the least of your problems.

I would admire you more if you taught your children how to care for themselves rather than ask for attention in doing for your kids. Or you taught them a lesson and one to yourself about leaving and accepting the unmade beds.

“Want a made bed?” I would ask my child. “Let me show you how.”

Yes, sometimes I make my child’s bed. But she’s one child and I’m happy to do it. She works hard at school, makes straight As, and doesn’t always have time. And if it doesn’t get done? That’s ok.

She knows how to make one and can do it if I ask her. One can also just shut the door.

One day your kids will care about the way their room looks and until then, it doesn’t matter. As long as there’s no pizza or soda actively attracting ants under the bed, right??

Joy is found in the wrinkled, wrestled sheets of bedtime tickles and snuggly stories of the day. Don’t sweat the small stuff. You have 5 kids, you should know this.

At the end of your life, do you want to say, “All the beds were made, every day”?

Or do you want your kids to know, “Mom loved me.”


Zen-like enlightenment or peace does not originate from a made bed. If anything, it is the opposite. The acceptance of impermanence. It’s strange that some humans endeavor in a lifelong attempt at domesticating Earth and they made an entire website devoted to it (looking at you, Pinterest). Peace comes at the realization of bed-making futility. The temporal tool of Bed should be put into perspective. It’s for sleeping, not decorating. It can be enjoyed, not fussed over.

It’s also home to several million bed mites. I’m sure they like it neat. The bed mites appreciate your hard work, Mom. LOL


When we wake up, we should greet the day with awe at the rising sun. Not worry about the messy sheets. It’s a process. I get it. I’m talking to myself as much as anyone.

Who makes their kid’s bed? Just curious.

I am, in fact, employable.

I got a job. Finally.

After months of looking and trying different things, I found a job. A good one. It’s only part-time, but it’s a start.

I’m driving for a medical courier company. Locally owned company and super friendly people to work with, even at the medical facilities.

I rode for the first time yesterday and everyone seems nice. You basically pick up bodily fluids (blood, urine, what have you!) from the doctor’s office and deliver them to a main lab, downtown, at a hospital. I won’t mention names since it’s confidential. And everything is sealed, bagged and kept in a cooler, so totally safe.

I’m not thrilled about being in a job that uses so much plastic, non-reusable bags and gas-powered vehicles, but this is the job. It’s super easy, flexible and pays well. I wish I had an electric car, then it would be even more lucrative and better for the environment. Maybe in the future I can afford a gasless car. That would be great.

But in spite of the impact on the environment, I am providing an essential service for patients. I can’t believe there isn’t a better way to transport lab work, but I don’t know enough about the industry yet to say. It’s 2017 though. Where’s the jetpack lab service we’ve all been dreaming about? Or on-the-spot blood and urine analysis with micro-biobots? Is that a dream everyone’s been having?? LOL

It’s something to pay the bills, get us by, and not have my soul slowly sucked out of my body in a mindless corporate atmosphere.

Plus, I start tax school in just a few weeks and that I’m looking forward to. I don’t support the current tax structure, but it’s what we have and I can’t wait to understand it better. I can still attend the school for free and it fits with my new schedule. Awesome!

And, of course, I’m going to still try and get Crafty B Designs off the ground again, start my party planning adventures, write my socks off. πŸ™‚

It feels good to be productive again. To have my brain and body back. To find my determination and exuberance as well. I had them in my 20s. I missed you, Life.

I do have some really bad ear and jaw pain right now, but not enough to slow me down. I have a doctor’s appointment September 28th to rule out thyroid cancer residual nodules in my lymphnodes or such. Fingers crossed. Hopefully it’s just some weird sinus/ear tube thingie that’s easily treatable yet annoying as heck. And hopefully they won’t require a lab sample! LOL They would make me take it to the lab myself, I’m guessing.

So I’m no longer Taxi Beaver for people, just their fluids. ;D

M?M

HIIII!!!! I’m so excited.

Here’s my new logo for my murder mystery party planning pop-up. πŸ˜€

mcm logo mysteries.jpg

It is 2 Ms for my name Martha Maggio. Then the middle character is actually a question mark in the font AR BONNE. So it’s M?M for Martha Maggio Mysteries. BUT, fun fact, my middle initial is C. So, to me, it looks like a backward C. Happy accident. I love it! So the actual company is called M&M Mysteries. I finally settled on a name.

What do you think??! Can’t wait to throw my first party. πŸ˜€

Mystery

It’s a mystery as to why I can’t find a job. Why I would start my own business. What the name of my new party planning pop-up is going to be called.

Any suggestions???

Premise:

I wrote this murder mystery and published on Amazon: Updo! Now, I’m going to start hosting this adult role-playing game in my own local community. I’ve already done this with my friends, back in KC. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had at a party. And totally original. I also threw a similar party for my daughter, but age appropriate. They seemed to really like it. It was more of a junior high adventure with clues. I could even write new, customized mysteries for any theme: Western saloon, 50s diner, 40s detective noir.

The mystery for this one is: someone is murdered at a salon and all of the party guests are a character from the story. While relaxing with spa-like activities, the guests participate in clue-revealing sketches. Everyone takes a “stab” (LOL) at guessing who the killer is at the end. There are stations, silliness and a very funny makeup and hair makeover contest for all the ladies.

What should I call my new business?

Martha’s Murder Mysteries?
Pop-up Party Mysteries?

What would you call it? I would love your suggestions!

Do something stupid.

Okay, I’m about to do something stupid!

I’ve said this way too many times in my short adult life. But I’m going to try and start my own business.

I haven’t been able to find a job down here in Florida. Nothing. So I’m going to try and start a small event planning company and throw murder mystery salon/spa parties for rich retirees (I wrote an adult role-playing game for ladies that takes place in a spa. It’s a murder mystery, The Updo Salon and Spa!) And try to drum up business for my graphic design as well.

I’m going to a women’s business and professional dinner next Tuesday. I’m scared to death.

I think I’m good enough and smart enough to do this. I just don’t know if I have the energy. I was sick for so long. I’ve been sick for 5 years. Where did my moxie go?

At 44, I don’t know if I have the stamina to keep up with a growing business. Can I throw a party? Can I handle the emotional toll it will take? I’ve tried to start my own endeavors before, but not something this big and not something this important. This would be my income. But what do I have to lose, right?

Wish me luck! Mainly with the women I will be leading. It will be like trying to herd drunk cats through an adult costumed role-playing game. Lord, help me!

My Daughter is…

My daughter is taking a college-level history course. It is a course designed for students to take while still in high school, before college, and they receive college credit. It is tough. Even for this ol’ bird.

Her dad and I are helping her through this very difficult class. I have to admit, even as a two-year college graduate, this mofo is HARD! And my daughter is just a freshman. Most of her peers in class are sophomores. In HIGH SCHOOL! (FYI: She’s supposed to be an 8th grader this year as well. Ack!)

I just want to say, I did not encourage her to take it. She picked it. We were all unaware of how challenging this class would be.

She thought about dropping the first week. But we encouraged her to keep going. I told her if it got worse, I would request a transfer.

“Please, though, just try to stick it out for a semester. Don’t give up just yet. You’re capable of doing the work, but how willing are you to try?”

Gosh. How many times do I need to ask myself that question? A lot. And I’m 44.

This is her hardest class. Truth of the matter, Lilli has never been challenged like this. School comes easy.

My daughter is a genius. I say that with a lump in my throat for many reasons. It’s hard to say out loud because people either think you’re bragging or lying. But she is, in fact, a genius. And I’m so thankful and proud. And so undeserving of such a gracious, talented, intelligent young lady.


This is definitely not a brag and I’ll tell you why. I am not a genius. Her father is not a genius. We are just as surprised as anyone! This has very little to do with us. This is not a reflection of our achievement. I deserve and take no credit for her accomplishments. I’m just so thankful.

We are reasonably intelligent people in some areas, but we have very little to do IMO with whether or not her brain has the capacity to house such complex thinking. Genetics may play some factor. Environment, okay. Good parenting (most of the time), good teachers (all of the time!), good school districts (thank God). But I truly believe that God has blessed her with this magnificent brain. It’s beyond what I’ve seen in most other human beings. Maturity is one big asset she has. Caring is another.

I’m just freaking lucky to be here on the sidelines. Cheering her on.


She was identified in Kindergarten as gifted after only one month of school. Her teachers in preschool had their suspicions, but after attending a pre-K summer program at public school, administrators told us the teacher would identify her. So we waited. Said no more about it. And her teacher was blown away.

She was tested and accepted for the SAGE program. Unusual to be identified and recommended in Kindergarten, administrators said. She attended the 1-day a week gifted program through her school.

Then, in 3rd grade, her gifted teacher recommended excelling. It was an exhilarating surprise. We learned early on in this school district, let the teachers recommend what’s best for your child. And they did. By the end of 3rd-grade year, we were approved to move forward. (They have to meet the requirements of Missouri state to excel.) We all wanted Lilli to skip, but it was ultimately up to her. She took the challenge knowing she’d have our support.

We spent that summer between 3rd and 5th preparing to supplement her 4th grade loss (recommended by her teachers, lots of recommendations! lol). It was an exciting summer filled with Mark Twain, Missouri history, short and long division! I’ll never forget spending warm afternoons on the bed reading Tom Sawyer with her. I was lucky enough to be her teacher for just a short while.

So, we skip 4th grade altogether and landed in 5th. She had so much fun; met a new best friend, met a very special boy, and enjoyed her final year of elementary school–one year early. She joined National Elementary Honor Society. She came in second in the spelling bee against children a year older than her. 5th grade was a challenge, but something she willingly embraced and handled with grace. Pretty smooth sailing.

But this? This history class. Sigh. This is the first time Lilli has had her feet held over the fire. She was/is struggling. But this morning?

She had a very difficult assignment this Labor Day weekend. She had 4 pages of notes to take, 5 pages of notes to rewrite by hand because the teacher won’t accept typed notes (Lil prefers typing to forcible penmanship lol), ~10-question quiz from the book, and ~30 vocabulary flashcards to make. And this is just for history. And the questions from the book would make any college freshman quiver in their penny loafers, let alone a high school freshman, OK? I even struggled with the questions.

She was struggling to finish her homework yesterday. The kid was not slacking. Granted she could have worked over several days to make sure she was finished, but what kid does that? For that matter, what adult does that?? LOL She worked from after lunch until sundown. We took a short break for outdoor beach time (best homework break ever, for anyone!), but that did her a world of good.

By bedtime, she was exhausted (and happy) and we agreed, best to hit the hay and wake up early to finish. It was a risk, but we helped her square away the meat of her answers before creeping to the sheets. In the morning, she would be able to flesh those answers out. And boy did she!

The answers she gave blew me away. I was gobsmacked at her very fleshy answers. If I were her teacher, my mouth would be agape. I never gave an answer that good in any of my classes, high school or college.

I knew she was capable of doing the work. And she did it. We have encouraged her like never before. We have held her up, held those feet over the fire (even when it hurt) and expressed our frustration and disappointment in her lack of motivation (even when it hurt all of us). But she has triumphed in this. In this little (huge) weekend assignment, she has dazzled me, Dad and hopefully her teacher.

Way to go, Lil. So proud. Your answers were thoughtful, intelligent, amazing. You will go far in whatever you choose.

I like you. Even if you weren’t my daughter, I would want to know you. It’s just less creepy this way, getting to be your mom, when I want to give you a hug! LOL Thanks for trying! That’s your success, not giving up even when you wanted to.

My daughter is…truly awesome.
Gifted writer (already). Beautiful dreamer. Great, big, sensitive heart-listener. Risk taker. Feelings feeler. Brave, courageous, gorgeous.


It is a blessing to like and respect your children.
It is more likely that you will like and respect your children
when you like and respect your children. πŸ˜‰
Right??

Tell Me About Chris Churchill

I love interviewing people. I just wish I knew more awesome, famous people. πŸ™‚ But I know at least one and he’s super awesome and almost famous. To me anyway. He’s brilliant, creative, fascinating, funny, talented, accomplished and so, so friendly. Embracing. Welcoming. Decent, kind, inspiring. He’s my friend, Chris Churchill.

He so kindly agreed to let me interview him. He has quite a few things out right now. Book, songs, documentary. Thanks for reading and checking out my friend, Chris. He’s the coolest. Thanks, Man! for letting me probe your brain.


Background about Chris:

I’m an artist of many types of art. Writing, visual art, music, comedy, film-making. But, of course, not many make a living doing these things. So, I give tours and have recently started teaching.
Where did you start performing?

Started performing in high school. School plays, etc. Also tried, here and there, to play in bands. Wrote a lot of stories and little plays. In retrospect, any shiny artistic object, pulled me away from the previous one. I saw a good friend in an improv show in 1992 or ’93. I thought, “That’s really funny. And I’ll bet I could do that.” So, I auditioned for Lighten Up Improvisation Company and got in. This is where I met your husband (Guy Maggio).

How did you get to Chicago? What led you there? Anything you miss about KC?

I miss everything about KC. Home is always home. When I come home, the wind is the right kind of wind. The birds and insects are the right kind. The sky is the right sky. The Chiefs. The Royals. And all the people of course. My whole family is
still there.

I got to Chicago because I met Adam McKay and David Koechner at an improv fest in Austin, TX (I was performing with your husband and others). They were teaching an improv workshop which I took twice when I was there. Once as a participant. The second time, I just sat in the back and watched. I had never had a conversation with a famous person before. And Koechner had this amazing, positive, “you can do it” energy. He told a group of us that if we were serious about this, we had to move to Chicago. Eventually, I did.

What’s the best thing about following your love of and talent in music? Improv?

The best thing is that you can go to a place on your heart that needs massaging, when it needs massaging and massage it. Flood yourself with serotonin when you need it. The finished product has never really gotten me too far. The process makes me happy, though.

What inspired you to come up with β€œAbraham Lincoln: The College Years”? What is just improv or something you thought about?
When I was recovering from a psych issue I’d had a few years ago, I finally got to the point where I could artistically express myself again and it helped me get back to “normal”. At this point, I just made up the worst ideas for television pilot episodes and wrote 12 of them. For fun. Because I was crazy.
Later, I decided to have staged readings at Second City for four of them. Well, obviously, they’d need theme songs. So, I made up these silly theme songs and recorded them. Originally, I thought I’d just play them at the live show but, since I already had an audiobook on Mint 400 Records, I asked them if they’d put out my “Doomed Pilots” soundtrack. As far as the Lincoln song goes, I started with the lyrics, searched within the lyrics for the rhythm and recorded that. I added the simplest of bass-lines so that when I sang the lyrics I’d be on key. Or at least I’d know where the key was. Then, from within that framework, I improvised the recording or the rest. The guitars, the backing vocals were improvised because I don’t like planning too much when I’m in creation mode. I think it worked out. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever recorded.
How did the project β€œTell Me About My Mother” start? (check out the video here)

My siblings and I constantly find ourselves telling these old family stories over and over again about how crazy our mom was/is. After I’d had an internship at a video company and had begun to make more of my own independent stuff, my sister Deb said, “This should be your next project.” And she was right. It turned out really well. It’s been getting a lot of emotional responses from people.

I’m sure it was difficult reliving the past, was it healing or just messy?

It was definitely healing. My mom needed validation for a lot of what she went through. It was nice to hear my dad’s side. Even though some might say he doesn’t come off smelling like a rose in this movie. And my siblings, as usual, served as comic relief when necessary. Some of these stories are pretty intense.

Do you think that your past/childhood set you up for how you live your life now in terms of music, improv, life goals, career choice, or creativity in general? Do you think it propelled you? Or do you think it was a detriment?

My childhood gave me both the artistic tools for survival as well as the need to use those tools to keep my sanity (most of the time). The problem and the solution are wrapped up in the same thing. My upbringing was alternately exciting and fun and sad and lonely. In terms of being able to make any money, it’s never really happened for long stretches. That is probably just a case of not having the right backing, connections, luck and also, let’s face it, I’m not making mainstream anything. I don’t know how to do that because I don’t feel the same way most people do.

What are you working on now or hope to be hearing about in the near future? What’s coming up for you?

Always working on something. Thinking about raising money so I can edit the rest of the story of me and my family and release the whole thing on DVD. Mixing an album for the label. Writing for an online magazine called Literate Ape. Teaching one college course and still giving tours of Chicago.

Thanks, Chris! You’re amazing. ❀