Opening up, at Open Mic?


Day 28: New Brighton to Monterey, 45 miles

OK, I’m gonna do this.  I really am.  My name is on the list.  Number 13, gotta be a sign.  My first Open Mic as a participant, anonymous I will mostly be, here in Monterey at the East Village Coffee Company, a place I stopped at 3 years ago when I drove down to the first writers retreat.

I’m nervous for sure, but that’s to be expected.  What will I do?  Read from my journal, read from my blog?  Extemporise? Maybe some of each.  We’ll see.

I sit through the first acts:  guitar, with a young men belting out original songs, then two young women singing so timidly I can barely hear them.  A drummer beating pretty good rhythm on a djembe.  A poet weeping about a cat’s demise.  More music, this time a trio singing with Spanish guitar.  Pretty good.

Then comes the poet doing rap, or trying to, laced with profanity and vulgarity.  Reminds me of the white guy rapping, getting thrown out of the taxi in the movie “In America” (one of my favorites).  This guy is not good.  He’s trying to do Slim Shady, or something.

Then comes the woman, so high on something, so vulgar.  I know I sound like a prude, but I’m really missing my hometown Open Mic at this point, the quality and caring and honesty of the performers.  And I am especially missing the groundrules that I developed over the last couple years, making the show accessible and safe, for audience and fledgling performers.  Like me.

This is the point I decide to leave, giving up my performance spot.  I tell the host, but not why, just “I’ve got to go.” Why? I didn’t feel like reading, like sharing, like making myself vulnerable.  Like opening up.  Not in that venue.  Not in front of that crowd.

The day’s ride was good, very good.  I started at Heather’s Patisserie, reading up on a local author, doing a fundraiser for a young writers project in the elementary schools.  Reading about another cycling group, Ride 2 Recovery, complaining about all the mud in the Monterey Bay valley, I decided to go “off book” and take a different route.

I turned east at Freedom Boulevard, and took the high road – literally, climbed moderately for a few miles, discovered a lovely bamboo nursery with impressive timber bamboo and Japanese garden.  Then through Watsonville and back onto the Cabrillo Highway, through Moss Landing, caught a ten mile bike path into Marina and Seaside, then finally arriving in Monterey.  I climbed the long hill to Veteran’s Memorial campground, and there met Haavard, a Norwegian riding with the Adventure Cycling group. We talked about cycling over there and he pulled out a Norway map to show me their coast is longer that the Pacific tour, Canada to Mexico.

Cycling today felt good, my legs strong, my purpose returning.  And just what is that, my purpose?  I’ll tell you sometime, maybe at the next Open Mic…


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