Thursday, November 11, 2010

***new song***


i like the way you came into my life
and i like the way you pull back your hair
you got a wicked thing with the way you move
you got a magic thing with the way you stare
uh huh uh huh, uh huh uh huh

they say hail falls from the skies
they say love starts in our eyes
i see it in your eyes
i see it in your eyes
i see it in your eyes

my heart was left lyin' on the floor
you picked it up and healed it slow
so so slow
you got a wonderful thing with the way you smile
you got a witty thing with the words you know
uh huh uh huh, uh huh uh huh

they say hail falls from the skies
they say love starts in our eyes
i see it in your eyes
i see it in your eyes
i see it in your eyes

i know we may not have much time
and this dust ain't yours and it ain't mine
but damn it's fine, fine, fine
we got a lovely thing with the way we love
we got a bright, bright thing with the way we shine.

they say hail falls from the skies
they say love starts in our eyes
i see it in our eyes
i see it in our eyes
i see it in our eyes

3 fun facts.

1.) My urine looks like bubble bath. Bubbles. Bubbles. Bubbles.

2.) Ethan, my drummer, created a percussion section that includes the snare of a banjo, a xylophone, an acordian, a "piano-blower", and a top hat.

3.) I've written 2 new songs in the past week that are all about being smitten with someone. They feel damn good AND they feel authentic.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Outline (in paragraphs)

Dear Blog,

I've been neglecting you. But you have been on my mind. I just haven't found the time to get to you. There's so much to say, type. I feel the keys under my fingertips and wonder whether I can get it all out. Hence, I shall make an outline. Of my health. And of my music.

I. Health
a. Healing with Eastern Medicine.
1. Dr. Keith Jordan. I experienced the most radical, life-changing experience I have ever had at the hands of a doctor. I have seen him weekly or bi-weekly since August 26th and have more faith in my body and spirit than I have ever had before. I have not been healed of my kidney disease, per say, but I believe I have been healed in ways that make me more ready than ever to embrace the road that lies ahead of me. There's something to be said when a complete stranger can put his hands on you and know the damage that exists within you, both physically and spiritually, and can articulate specifics of that damage. I spent my first hour with him in tears, feeling so much being removed from me while trying desperately to understand how he knew what he knew about my life and my history. He repeated, "I don't know how I know, but I do know I'm meant to heal you from these things." And he continued. And has for almost two months. Much of the focus has been on managing my immune system, and redirecting how my body handles itself. Ironically, the physical nature of my own immune system fighting my body mimics the battle I have had with my sense of self. It's almost poetic how rejection is not just an immune concept, but a concept I've battled in trying to accept my self, love, relationships, my music, acting, my family. As Dr. Jordan put it, "you have battled an infection of rejection." Now, as I prepare for a new kidney, it's more important than ever that I get this infection out and embrace, rather than reject, what the Universe offers me. My body needs to get used to taking in what is good for it, new kidney and all. I believe I'm in training--boot camp for a kidney transplant. And the core work out for my spirit consists of flushing out fear and rejection--because those are/can be deadly things. I've been working on letting go of a lot, because holding on to what is dead and/or diseased did much more harm than good. I am feeling better. Yes, I am fatigued. Yes, I am experiencing edema and yes, it's ugly. Yes, I don't go out nearly as much as I'd like and I often have to cancel plans because my body can't handle what it could just a year ago. And yes, this is rough. But I'm damn certain I am more ready than ever, more open than ever, and more loved than ever (by myself and others) and that, to me, is a picture of good health. Good health takes a lot of work, and I think much of it comes from the work I have done at the hands of Dr. Jordan.
b. Healing with Western Medicine.
1. Transplant Team. On November 15th, I will spend the day at the Cleveland Clinic having tests and meeting my Transplant Team. The Transplant Team consists of a nephrologist, a urologist, a social worker, a financial adviser, and a core gang of my loved ones. Yes, I said gang. My kidney posse. It's going to be a long day. But a very important day, full of big information that I am preparing myself for. I'm an emotional being, and there's a lot that's going to be put on the table. I know this because just last month I was at a routine appointment and was talking with my doctor about childbearing and he said, with deep compassion, that once I have a transplant, I will no longer be able to bear children. Ouch. And still ouch. I think I had convinced myself that I would be healthy enough post-transplant to have a child. However, anti-rejection drugs (see this rejection crap I got going on) necessary to maintain a new kidney would destroy any potential pregnancy. So, I was told I could get pregnant now and be in a high-risk pregnancy. Or never be pregnant. Not the easiest pill to swallow. And it's still kinda caught in my throat, so let's move on. Once this transplant meeting occurs, the "find a donor" campaign will officially begin. I think I may put together a concert to kick things off. My health and music continue to coincide.

II. Music
a. My Band. Every Wednesday and Saturday I get together with two very fun, quirky, talented guys. Here is a list of potential ideas for what we will call ourselves:

Maura Rogers and....

the 21st century
the Western Reserve
the Trigger
the Winsome Losers
the Atomic Sky
Bloodshot Moon
the Sexiest Band in the World
the Second Edition
the Phantom of the Amusement Park
the Situation
the Remains
the Regulars
the Maladies
the Graveyard Shift
the Night Hawks

It's been an extremely fun process, getting to know them and building relationships with them. They make me laugh A LOT. Which is refreshing, considering how serious I can be as a singer-songwriter. I'm realizing that at the core of every good band is a group of people that genuinely respect and admire one another. And I truly feel they admire and respect the music I've put on the table. THAT feels soooo good. It's been extremely different from the work I've done as a solo singer-songwriter. I find myself navigating my way through the sounds, loving it for the most part, but feeling overwhelmed at times by the choices that come into play when there's more people and sounds than just little me with a guitar. We are learning all 30 of my songs and are planning to play out in December for the first time. Soon, there will be some recordings on my myspace to give you a taste of what we sound like.

b. CD's. I've sold all my cd's from my first order--a very nice thing to report. I'm working on getting onto CDbaby and/or Reverb Nation. Brent (my bassist) has designed a website for me and we hope to get that up and running in the next month or so. Slowly, but surely, this musical journey continues.

III. Conclusion
a. Life is Good. Healing can be hard work and music can be hard work. But nothing worthwhile was ever done easy. I find that the more I invest in the things I love (even when they are challenging) the healthier I feel--mind, body, and spirit.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

a day, sick in bed, makes for a new poem.


Rushing to work, stabbing sidewalks with my heels
I pass a hibiscus blossoming.

I get to my car, ready for the rat race, but stop.

My hands fumble through a bag.
Somewhere among the bills, the books, the planner, the keys, the loose change
there is a camera.

(A hibiscus blossoming out of cement
whispered to me.
I could have pretended not to hear.
I could have kept on with my day,
with my busy thoughts about education,
fair-trade coffee,
the horrible sadness of father’s nursing home,
the oil spill,
the ex who already took enough time and thought.
I could have played deaf and drowned in the noise within my head.

I chose to listen.

I chose to listen to you,
blossoming hibiscus,
because I have learned that you are my Mark, my Matthew, Luke, John, etc.
You are the moment that calls me to pause.

You are the moment my head turns before my car turns into a child
rushing into the street.
You are the moment a stranger grabs me to say,“a twenty is slipping from your back pocket.”
You are the moment a friend confides her love and support for me, with sweaty palms and sweaty eyes.
You are the moment my mother offers to share her cemetery plot with me, just in case.
You are the moment a lover’s skin presses mine and every wall I have crumbles.
You are the moment my father grabs my hand and weeps.
You are the moment a healer’s hands drift over my body.
You are the moment I ignored sitting in church, debating the authenticity of memorized prayer.
You are the moment someone shares her flesh to make more moments possible.

You, hibiscus, are my god.
You are a moment among many moments that remind me to stop.)

I went back and took a picture.
You are page 289,990 in my bible.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

better days

I went and saw a healer on Thursday. Dr. Keith Jordan. I really don't have words for what happened, but what I can say is this: I feel as though I experienced something Divine...something beyond human understanding. Words won't do it justice, so I can't really offer any. But I heard this song again, and wanted to share the lyrics and the link. Because, in light of the struggles I have with my health, I feel more in line with the Universe than I ever have before.


Better Days
-Eddie Vedder

I feel part of the universe open up to meet me
My emotion so submerged, broken down to kneel in
Once listening, the voices they came
Had to somehow greet myself, read myself
Heard vibrations within my cells, in my cells
Singing, "Ah-la-ah-ah, ah-la-ah-ah"

My love is safe for the universe
See me now, I'm bursting
On one planet, so many turns
Different worlds
Singing, "Ah-la-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah-ah, ah"

Fill my heart with discipline
Put there for the teaching
In my head see clouds of stairs
Help me as I'm reaching
The future's paved with better days

Not running from something
I'm running towards the day
Wide awake

A whisper once quiet
Now rising to a scream
Right in me

I'm falling, free falling
Words calling me
Up off my knees

I'm soaring and, darling,
You'll be the one that I can need
Still be free

Our future's paved with better days

Saturday, August 21, 2010


So I've been in the thick of what I thought was a flu for the past four-six weeks. Feeling fatigue, no appetite, and when food does go in, it goes out even faster. A perfect crash diet? Not so much. I've already lost 15 lbs in the last 6 months and don't really want to lose any more.

So I did the responsible thing and went in to see my PCP last week, thinking that maybe I can't shake this "flu bug" and mentioned that in addition to the above symptoms, my urine looks as bubbly as poorly poured beer. Bubbles and foam have always been present in my pee...but when I showed my mom/nurse on Sunday (after my show at the Beachland) she and I both concurred: "that's not good."

Oh yes, my show at the Beachland...let's talk about that first! Despite the fact that I was functioning on nothing but gatorade and a few peanuts (nothing remained in my stomach since 7 a.m. that morning) the show averaged in at about a 7 for me. I was weak. And it was honestly the most challenging show I've done--even worst than the shows where I felt like an emotional, vulnerable wreck. It's been over a year since I've forgotten song lyrics, but that night I was toe-tapping through one of my new songs and went completely blank. I will say that I pulled it off--it felt like a crisis, but I kept on charging through and completed that song with vigor. But from that point on (it was the beginning of the show when it occurred) I felt like I was walking a very thin line between collapsing or losing all my integrity as a performer and walking off the stage. I really admire Catherine Feeny tho and knew I had to stick it out. And I got through, knowing as a performer I didn't deliver my best. But I did deliver what I could, and this is what I've come to peace with. Dearest Lauren came and snuggled me up after my set and I realized from the love that poured from her that she was just as concerned about me as I was. I wasn't well, and she knew it. I knew it. And all that knowing meant I knew it was time to check in with the doctor.

So I checked in with him and he checked off a checklist of labs to determine what's going on, and then he connected with my Nephrologist, who also added to that checklist.

And now the news.

Turns out I've lost more kidney function. In fact, in the last two months, I've lost more function than I did in the year. And suddenly things that were never flagged abnormal in my blood are flagged. Creatine continues to escalate, which I'm used to. But now BUN is abnormal. And now my GFR is 24.


I had a moment on Saturday after I got the news, where I was washing my face and started to cry. I looked in the mirror and said, "this is going to happen. You have a chronic disease, and it's going to keep getting worse." And I tried to stop myself from crying, pushing down the knot in the back of my throat as hard as I could. Because this is to be expected-I've got to just accept that this is going to happen. Right? Sort of. It is going to happen, but to deny myself the emotions that go along with this happening is just plain silly. I am an emotional woman and I'm damn proud of the fact that I can feel as deeply as I do. I'm not about to not feel my way through this. So I went back to washing my face with soap and tears and said out loud, "girl, let it out. Own these tears."

And damn did I own that cry. It felt damn good.

After it felt damn good, I thought about a letter I literally received the night before. A friend sent me a letter and articulated her desire and commitment to be my kidney donor. Now I've had plenty of people say they'll give me a kidney, but I've never had someone take the time to express their love and support so beautifully as she did in her letter. I felt an array of so many emotions when I read this letter. Something dawned on me.

There is going to be a moment, perhaps sooner than later, where I will head into surgery and look over and see the person who has made a a life-changing sacrifice to save my life.

(That sentence is followed by a deep breath.)

And then I realized and continue to realize that I'm about to learn one of the biggest lessons in gratitude that is humanly possible. I really don't have words yet to describe what this feels like.

But I do have tears. And I'm owning every one of them. I know, months in advance, that I'm only feeling an inkling of the gratitude I'm going to feel come transplant day and beyond.

I am scared. But more so, I am grateful. I am learning lessons that are opening my spirit in ways that I never imagined.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oh Positive.

In this past week, I have stepped out of my comfy box of familiar territories in both music and health.

First, Music.

While on my little road trip, I received an email from a bass player in Cleveland. He expressed that he's collaborating with a drummer and they were interested in working with a singer-songwriter. Thanks to the wonderful ways of the internet, they came across me on YOUTUBE and myspace and were interested in collaborating with me on my music. This is the first time I have ever had musicians contact me. Usually it's the other way around--me reaching out, hoping someone will dig what I do and want to play with me. But this is a year of tables turning, and I welcomed the offer with open arms.

On Tuesday night I had my first rehearsal ever with a bass player and drummer. My, oh my, what a difference! Initially, it was not an easy difference to navigate. In many ways it reminds me of the early moments of a relationship when you are gently, politely figuring each other out. You have to carefully pay attention because this is when you realize whether the chemistry is right. Or not right. The bass player was definitely feeling it out, asking questions and figuring out subtle, supportive bass lines. The drummer, on the other hand, was going at it like we were in ACDC. I had to laugh at times because I didn't know what else to do. Did I mention that when he introduced me to his dog, his dog peed on my shoe? Yes. This was how it all night began. Welcome to rock & roll, Maura! I have concluded, from many observations, that drummers are a very different breed of people. I'm not sure if there's something a touch different in their DNA, but they go at life with a speed and intensity that not all musicians do. It's a foundation of energy for sure. Little me with my guitar and voice was like, "what the hell is going on?" But this was in the first hour. In the hour following the first, we started actually finding some chemistry. We started clicking. And if felt GOOD. I admit, it was still challenging for me because I'm not familiar with having to sing over a drum set. I found that my lyrical phrasing was being challenged by the tempo set by the drums. All these things are normal and communication is key in working through these challenges (just like in LOVE, baby). I think what got me most excited was playing the new songs I've written in the last few months. I admit, I feel a little more love and excitement for them because they are new and the feelings associated with them are at the tip of my emotional tongue & soul. But the reaction both the bassist and drummer had to my new songs made me even more pumped about them. I have a new song called "This Woman" and the drummer got it on the first time through. The bassist said to the drummer as I was setting it up, "think Johnny Cash, dude. " And my heart MELTED. We played it, over and over, until my fingers ached. I was amazed at the buzz in the room. And I knew, whether or not I choose to work with these two gentlemen, I fell in love with the magic of musicianship that took place in that moment. I tell you, to feel their excitement, as musicians, about my songs--it was a bloody good boost to my creative journey.

Today I'm meeting with a gentleman who wants me to be the front woman to his blues band, meshing my songs with his songs. Blues? I've never really done blues. But he, like the gentlemen above, found me online and believes I have "the voice to sing the blues." He's a pretty accomplished musician in the area and has the most delightful German accent and European flair, so I said, "why not?" Right now, I find myself open to life and all the possibilities that come my way. I look at the confines I put on myself in the past few years and never want to feel that trapped again. I believe I have some things to do while I'm on this earth, and the only way to do it is by stepping outside my comfort zones and trying new and different things.

Goodbye fear. Hello adventure.

Second. My health. Last week I was hanging out with my brother-in-law and nieces. He asked me about the donor process because he wants to head my "find-a-match" campaign and wants to be well informed when he reaches out to friends and family about being a potential donor. (This is kinda difficult to write. I have tears in my eyes at the moment, actually.) I can't really explain how vulnerable this disease makes me feel at times, but this is one of those moments. I have a hard time "needing" people. It makes me feel like I'm weak. But I know this is just bullshit I've constructed in my head and believed for too many years. When he reached out and matter-of-factly put his love and concern on the table for me, I felt like I could have burst into tears. I've had a lot of people that I love say they would be by my side for this "adventure" and a lot of those people are no longer by my side. So to be in the presence of someone who is saying this and meaning this with his whole heart, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. It's funny that one of my biggest challenges in life is being vulnerable enough to "need" someone, because, in essence, my survival directly depends on needing someone to give up one of their organs for me. So there I was, facing one of my biggest challenges and stepping out of my comfort zone.

I called the donor center.

I'm O Positive. Oh, am I positive.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


"Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

My, oh my. I'm back from my road trip and have so very much to say. And yet, as a writer of songs, poems, blogs, etc., I'm struggling to find the words to describe the experiences and value of this trip in my life. Funny. Dear little words, where are you when I need you?

I'll start by saying that I experienced a number of moments while on the road that not only solidified my dream of being a singer-songwriter, but also solidified the woman I have become. The idea of getting in a car and traveling alone may seem easy as cake to some folks. For me, it was a test of courage. I have often depended on someone being beside me to do things in my life, be it a road trip, climbing a mountain, or buying a car. Although I may have argued that I like to share experiences with others, I think there was something deeper I was masking--a fear that I couldn't enjoy things or "do" things by myself. I'm not making the argument that people are weak if they can't do things by themselves--I know now more than ever, reaching out to others is a sign of strength and vital in life. What I am saying, for me, is that I needed to find a sense of comfort and strength in being alone. And I did. I came out having uncovered a new and much healthier relationship with myself than I have ever had. And that is, by far, the greatest gift I gained from my trip. Woman empowered? Indeed, yes.

So, there were moments. Many, many moments that will resonate within me for my lifetime. Last night, while at an open mic, my friend Mal asked me what was the best experience I had while on the road. It's funny, because I really struggled with this question. Narrowing it down to one thing almost minimizes the impact of this trip on my life. But I'll blog today about my response to this question. And my next blog will be a dip into my journal from the road, revealing in less depth the many awesome little moments that made up my trip.

Sitting next to Mal, at a picnic table with friends at the Barking Spider, on a warm, humid Tuesday night in Cleveland, I shared what was the best experience from my trip.

My favorite experience was saving a little bird. And it was. But I haven't really got the words to explain why this was it for me. So I'll share my other favorite moment. It occurred on the last night of my trip.

I did the open mic at Eddie's Attic on the Monday before I left. It was an intense evening, because I went in with the expectation that I had to be a finalist again (having already been one the summer before, it would have been a major let-down if I wasn't.) It's good to set some expectations for yourself, but when I realized I was sharing the night with some VERY talented people, I got myself worked up into a bit of a tizzy. And this kind of had me losing perspective throughout the night. Because it's not about winning, it's about the love of the game. Right? Sure. But, I'm a Capricorn, and winning is a damn important thing for me. And I knew after one band played that I wouldn't win for the night (cause they had it DOWN), but I still needed to play one more song. I just felt that need tugging in my gut. And that need meant I needed to be one of the three finalists. At the end of the evening, after Eddie tugged at my heart-strings a bit by calling the first two finalists, I felt myself resign. Despite the compelling urge to play my third song, I convinced myself that I made the most of the night and that was that. Then Eddie said, "and now, our last finalist, from Cleve"

(At this point, I exhaled and said, "holy shit.")

"land, Ohio, Ms. Maura Rogers. Come on up honey. And see that coffee mug at the end of the bar? It's mine. And it's got whiskey in it. Why don't you take a shot of that whiskey, honey."

And I did. I took a shot of Eddie's whiskey, grabbed my guitar and got up on stage to perform a third song. I sang "Damn Angels" and it felt damn amazing.

I knew I did what I was meant to do that night.

And one would think this was the moment. But it wasn't. This is simply what led up to the best moment of my trip.

After completing the song and selling CD's and giving out my info. and talking with Eddie about coming back to book a show, I was high on life and walking out to leave when a woman at the bar gently grabbed my arm.

"Excuse me, Mam. I need to talk to you for a moment. I wasn't here for your first two songs. But I was here for the finalists. And I just needed to tell you that after the day I had, the song you just sang was exactly what I needed."

Me, not really being at ease with compliments, said genuinely, "thank you. I'm glad you liked the song" and attempted to leave. But she held on to my arm gently.

"No, honey. I don't know if you know what you do. So I'm telling you. Thank you for doing what you do."

And this. This moment. This exchange with a complete stranger. This brief, but vital connection made possible only through sharing my music, is and will remain, my most favorite moment from my trip. This is why I'm doing this. Sure, I write music to entertain people. But really, I write because I want to move people. And this stranger reminded me that I am doing so.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

To Georgia, with Love

Here I am in Atlanta, Georgia. Day 4 1/2.

Monday I went to Eddie's Attic and I got to see the Indigo Girls play 2 sets on the patio. There was no better way to begin my time in Georgia. Many people associate this state with peaches. I associate it with Savannah. Love. Decatur. Eddie's Attic. And the Indigo Girls. There's something about their music that takes me back to the first time I fell in love, the whirlwind of it, and the complexity of it. And I feel as though a number of their songs belong on the soundtrack of my life. To hear them play Ghost, Romeo & Juliet, Kid Fears, Three County Highway, Shame on You all in one night--it was like taking a trip down memory lane and I genuinely loved every minute of it. Listening to them sparked a new and pretty meaty thought. I turned to my friend Christina and said, "I love how they love. I honestly believe that it's only through loving as intensely as they do that they are capable of writing and expressing music as good and as intense." She nodded and smiled. She understood. It doesn't take a singer-songwriter to get this--it just takes an individual with the capacity to feel love and feel hurt and not run from these feelings.

Suddenly I was realizing something about myself while recognizing this in them. For years, I've had friends and family tell me I let myself get too consumed with love. I believe it's a protective reaction when they see me light up about someone. Because when someone can become so lit up about someone else, they can also become that broken-hearted if things don't go well. And I get this. Lordy, do I get this. But without becoming so lit up about the possibility of love, without letting my heart get so wrapped up in loving another person, there would be no songs. There would be no Dirty Blonde. There would be no Karma. There would be no Damn Angels. There would be no Swan Song. There would be no Doot Do Song. There would be no Try. There would be no Lullabye. Essentially there would be no songs, because LOVE is my inspiration for music. It's what compels the melodies to surprise me in the shower, it's what compels the lyrics to stir while I'm in my car driving. Sure, I could write about other things like politics, or goats, or coffee. But I write about love because that's what I do best. And I'm hopeful that I will know and experience love again. That I will be lit up again. And maybe, just maybe it will work itself out so that my family and friends can rejoice and not worry too much about me. I finally feel enough love within my life to not lose myself over the loss of one love. Because I have learned that loss can lead to gain if you play your cards right.

So thank you, Georgia. You continue to faithfully support and nurture the love I have within me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In My Element

Kate gave me a book to read yesterday, and after blogging, I sat down to read it. And there I was, in awe again, feeling like the Universe was speaking directly to me.

The book she handed me is called, "The Element" by Ken Robinson. And as it says on the cover, the book is about "how finding your passion changes everything." Well, of course it does. This seems like such an obvious truth. But it's not so easy for us human beings to put this truth into practice. We let a lot get in the way. The book explores this and puts the necessity of finding our passions on the table.

I find myself smiling at the coincidence that I'm reading it now, given what it's about, and knowing that just recently I began to truly understand the importance of finding and living out my passion. Only recently have I allowed myself to embrace this understanding fully and put it into fuller motion. Kinda coincidental that this book landed in my hands 3 days into a journey that is focused on helping my passion blossom.

I don't mean to say that I haven't worked hard at embracing a passion before now or that I just started my journey three days ago. This would be grossly incorrect. I have worked very hard, since I was a teenager really, at pursuing my dreams. When I sit back and consider all that I've done, I can honestly say I have realized the need to follow my passions for a very long time. Until the diagnosis of my kidney disease, I was actively supporting my passion for theater. Working at Great Lakes Theater Festival, directing a grassroots oral-history theater project and ultimately serving as the Artistic Director for that project on a State-Wide level--these things were EXTREMELY challenging, but I loved doing what I felt passionate about and felt blessed for the opportunities to do so. It kinda baffles me that all that came to an abrupt halt when I was told by a doctor that I need to have a stable, 9-5 job, with good health insurance. Really? Is this what healthy people do? Give up their passions, so they can have good health insurance? Oh, America. Thank god I didn't give up on my passion. I just kinda reshaped it. Theater was set aside, but a passion for music was planted. In the last six months, the time and effort I have put into music has begun to bloom in some truly beautiful ways.

Ken Robinson says "the Element is the place where the things we love to do and the things we are good at come together."

I believe I am in my Element. I do say, it feels very, very good.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My 1st NYC performance

On Monday night, I experienced my first NYC performance.

Here's how it went.

I waited patiently for Alec's bus to arrive from Philly, and in the fantastic chaos of NYC, he arrived just after my friend Kate went to go find him. (Which is kinda funny, cause she's never met him. She was just going out to find a guy with a guitar walking on Rivington.) So there I was holding a baby, feeding a toddler, and there was Alec at the door. A bit sweaty after sprinting with a guitar so that we could make it to open-mic up sign ups. It's been almost two years since I have seen Alec. This reunion was bliss. He is a music soul-mate. And we musicians need music soul mates to survive.

I handed off Josie to Kate, said goodbye to them and Orion, and headed out to Caffe Vivaldi. We ordered a car to get us there in time. We needed to get there at 6:00 for sign-up. At 5:58, I asked the driver if he could get us there by 6. Yes, a mid-western girl with no real understanding of NYC traffic. But The fates were on my side, cause we got there and there were still some remaining slots at 6:03. I got slot 22, and Alec got slot 9. We politely bowed out of there, turned the corner, and felt as though we knew exactly where we were going. But we had ZERO idea where the Sidewalk Cafe was. Funny how confident you can feel, when you are high on life! We stepped inside a store, asked for directions, and headed in the completely wrong direction for 15 minutes.

Sweaty and buzzing with excitement and realizing we were lost, we decided to get a taxi. Which is quite a tricky thing to do in a NYC rush hour. But I worked my hips (actually just leaned on my guitar case) and Alec worked his red-head flare. And together, after ten minutes and a few different corners, we landed a cab. We got in and he drove us back past the 15 minutes of wrong direction we had just dragged ourselves through. But I didn't care. And I don't think Alec cared. I was ecstatic to be in NYC, with a dear friend, working on following my dreams.

We got to Sidewalk Cafe and headed into the back to find this amazing little space and stage. I felt the history come alive in my bones. This is where Beck and Regina Spektor launched themselves. I imagined Regina on the upright piano, young and fresh, and undiscovered. I was floored. Alec and I crashed ourselves into a table and ordered drinks. We had a half hour to catch our breath and take in the space before they started the lottery system.

Nearly 60 people showed up for the lottery. SIXTY! Sixty aspiring singer-songwriters, comics, rappers, beat-boxers, poets. I have not been in a room full of oozing creativity like that in years. Alive. That's the feeling. I felt so very, very ALIVE.

And then I drew my number. 55. Alec drew his number. 52. Ha! Which meant we would play around 1 a.m. So after finishing our drinks and an order of nachos, we headed back to Vivaldi and Katie met us there. We sat, and drank, and listened to some impressive, and some not so impressive people do their thing.

And then it was my turn. My chance. I chose Dirty Blonde and Damn Angels. In that order. I admit, I was super nervous. But I felt the magic of music unfold and I introduced myself and shared that this was my first NYC open mic. The crowd responded with warmth. I played Dirty Blonde. And it was silent. And I knew, that I was in the exact space I was meant to be. I felt things connecting in ways that I have imagined, but maybe didn't believe possible for the past few years.

Something dawned on me in this moment.

I realized that regardless of what comes out of this trip, I am learning that I have something truly unique to bring to a room, and it's my purpose, my responsibility to share this with as many people as I can. I'm realizing that when I do share, whether it's in the Beachland Tavern with friends and family, or in a historic NYC music venue with strangers, people stop and listen. It's kinda scary. But it's also beautiful. Very beautiful. I hope this doesn't come across as egotistical. It's just that it's been years of feeling out of sorts, yearning for something more, not believing in myself. And holding back. In so many ways. But I felt so very different. I felt like I was where I meant to be, musically and spiritually. And that feeling stayed with me all the way through til 1 a.m. when I played at Sidewalk. I sang again. Again, there was silence.

Silence has never stirred such emotion within me. I know I am meant to do this. I trust that I am meant to be on this journey.

(I just have to figure out the logistics of how to do it more.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My First CD Compilation!

Two weeks ago, I received the following email:

Hello there!

In conjunction with the Cleveland Scene, LimeWire Store is putting together a sampler of Cleveland-area artists to be available as a free download on our site. Jeff Niesel, Music Editor at Cleveland Scene, has chosen a list of up and coming Cleveland artists, and Maura Rogers made the list!

The FREE sampler will be titled EAR TO THE GROUND: CLEVELAND, and will be release exclusively at LimeWire Store on July 9th. Each month we spotlight a new city, and in celebration of Betty White [!] and her new TV Land sitcom, Hot in Cleveland, Cleveland is our July installment. To get a better sense of what this all means, check out ETTG: NEW ORLEANS here.

The details:

This FREE sampler will be promoted on the LimeWire Store homepage, our LimeWire Music Blog and sent out in our newsletter in mid-July (225K+ people). A banner ad will be placed on the Cleveland Scene’s website, as well as a print ad in an edition around the release date of the sampler. TV Land will also be supporting the sampler by linking to it from their website.

The LimeWire impressions alone will likely reach tens of thousands a day, so the exposure is pretty amazing. Past ETTG cities have been NYC, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Beijing, Boston, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Berlin, LA, Athens, Detroit, Nashville, Portland, OR, Tokyo, New Orleans, Memphis and Las Vegas.

(some other technical details)

Please let me know as soon as possible if you are interested. I would need all materials (track, metadata, signed contract) no later than Thursday, July 1st. This is the drop-deadline.

EAR TO THE GROUND: CLEVELAND will go live on Friday, July 9th! Please let me know if you have further questions.

Many thanks!


AND NOW, as Limewire promised,

*****drumroll please*****

I present the official link for EAR TO THE GROUND: CLEVELAND

Friday, July 9, 2010

Yesterday (w/photos)

I saw my doctor yesterday and he is running a load of tests on me. Which meant I had to have a load of blood drawn.

The Phlebotomist came in and was a little tough around the edges.

"Which arm, honey?" she asked.

"You pick. Everyone has trouble finding my veins." I often prefer they stick me in the hand, because they never miss in the hand. And they often miss in the arm.

She picked the left arm.

I asked, "can you please you a butterfly?"

She said (imagine a slight Southern drawl),"anything you need, Ms. Rogers. If you want a butterfly, honey. I'll give you a butterfly."

How cute was she? Once rough around the edges, I now felt like she might bake me up a pie.

"I prefer butterflies only because they tell me I'm supposed to preserve my veins in case I need dialysis."

"Dialysis? Oh girl, those needles are the size of this!" She holds up a vial for the blood. A thick, long tube. Barf! "Girl, why would a cute girl like you need dialysis?"

I said, "long story. But my goal is to avoid dialysis altogether and just go straight to transplant."

She smoothly slid the needle in and I hardly noticed.

"You are good," I said.

And she said, "I'm not in the vein yet."

"Oh." And ouch. She poked and prodded.

"Are you in yet?" I squeeked.

"Not yet," she whispered.

(In light of pain, my slightly perverted self found humor in how this exchange could be had in a very different setting.)

"There, I'm in. It's flowing girl. Just relax."

She was cute. And I kinda wanted to hug her.

"Can I take a picture of this? I'm trying to document this part of my life."

"You want to take a picture of your blood? Sure, you go right ahead. Get your name and date on the tubes! You should write a book, honey!"

I agreed.

"I just might do that."

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Yesterday started with a dream involving a very vivid, colorful bird. A rainbow bird, if you will. But it wasn't a Toucan Sam. It was much smaller, like a sparrow or a hummingbird. I was standing on a rooftop of a building in NYC, accompanied by my house mates, and suddenly this brightly colored, little bird appears and flies itself all around me. I felt like in was flying in infinity-shaped eights around me. There was no doubt in my mind the creature wanted to be near me. And lo and behold, wasn't there was a little bird cage on top of this roof. And the bird directed itself there, as though it was claiming me as its mother and claiming its new home. I turned to one of my housemates and asked, "is it okay if I bring it home." She replied, "I don't think it's a good idea because the cat will eat it." It made sense, but I was kinda crushed. I went to let the bird out and the colorful feathers began to fall off so rapidly that within moments, it was just a fury little gray bird. And then I woke up. Universe, what does this mean?

In the spirit of dreaming, yesterday continued to be full of it. I spent my morning calculating my miles and gas, and also calculating my fears. Remember, I'm working extremely hard to be aware of all negativity, and one thing I must do when fear invades, is talk to it and move it on out of my system. So fear and I talked. He's a little concerned about how I've been feeling physically the past two weeks. I comforted him by calling my doctor and have an appointment for today, just to do some routine tests and make sure I'm good to go for the next three weeks. Fear also was a little concerned about the 14 hour trip from NYC to Atlanta. So I spent a good amount of time (and still am doing so) researching a good spot along the way to stop next Saturday night. My goal is to arrive in Atlanta feeling fresh (rather than fatigued) next Sunday.

Back to dreaming. Upon exiting the gym yesterday, I got a phone call from Ken at the Beachland. His energy was positive and I immediately felt excited to be connecting with him. (He does the booking at the Beachland.) Here's the conversation (as exact as can be--the feeling of exploding excitement may have slurred the accuracy of how it went down.)

Ken: Hey, Maura. How are you?

Me: Hi! Ken! Great! How 'bout yourself?

Ken: I'm great. I was wondering if you would be interested in opening in the Ballroom for Marc Broussard on July 31st? They would like to have a local opener and we thought you would be a good fit.

Me: July 31st? (Zero to Sixty in Excitement! I couldn't initially remember if I was going to be in town. And I was also trying to figure out who Marc Broussard was, cause the name sounded familiar, but no face or music was coming to mind.) Umm, sure. Yes. I mean, I think I'll be back in town by then. Yes.

Ken: Great. I just think it would be an awesome follow-up show for you after your amazing CD release show.

Me: (gushing, but trying to sound cool and collected) Yeah! That sounds great! (just give me pompoms and a floor for kart-wheels, please.)

Ken: You have a band right?

Me: (screeching brakes) A band? Umm. No. I don't have a band. It's just me and my guitar.

Ken: Oh, really? Why did I think you had a band? I will talk with his rep tomorrow and make sure that's cool. It should be cool. I'll call you back tomorrow to let you know.

Me: (in my head I was like, "Oh, I'll find a band if I need a band." But what I actually said) Okay, cool. Talk to you tomorrow.

I immediately closed my phone and jumped on the internet to find a cute bearded boy with an amazing soulful voice who duets with LeAnn Rimes and Sara Baraeilles.

Marc Broussard. I bow to the Beachland for this offer.

In regards to dreaming, I'll just say that I have dreamed of playing the Ballroom. And it's been a dream I've had for years. After seeing some amazing shows there, (like The Decemberists, Ingrid Michaelson, Land of Talk, The Ditty Bops) I've recognized the space as magical. I just didn't think my shot to play there would be anytime soon.

Dreams, I like when they start coming true!

Last night, the dreams-come-true continued as I found myself having dinner in the home of two of the most amazing women I have come across in my life. No exaggeration. I don't know if I have the words to describe these women, probably because I'm still in awe of having been in their home and in their company. The amazing part of this evening is that they had me over to specifically address my heath issues and come up with alternatives to slow down, if not reverse, the progression of my kidney failure. The love and support I felt for three hours was so intense I actually cried upon falling asleep. I cried because I realized how blessed I am that my journey, with both music and my health, has connected me with such amazing people. Without my disease, I would not be doing this music, and without this music, I would not be meeting such amazing individuals.

Walking into their home and seeing my CD in their CD player, and having one of them joke about how her listening got "f****** interrupted on track 2," made me realize something. People are listening to my music. Like not just coming to my show and buying a CD to support me, but actually listening to me. This is ridiculously touching to me. More importantly, this is a dream come true.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gas & Mileage & Faith

Cleveland to New York City: 463. 48 $42.11

New York City to Atlanta: 880.99 $81.29

Atlanta to Nashville: 249.28 $20.73

Nashville to Atlanta: 249.28 $20.73

Atlanta to Cleveland: 698.98 $59.79

Total Miles (estimate): 2542.01

Total Gas (estimate): $224.65 (without tolls)

Faith (estimate): Unmeasurable

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


So I have freedom. I have fresh perspective. Some might call me "sick," but I sure as hell am not going to live like I'm "sick." I've got things to do!

I'm going to hit the road.

This Sunday I'm taking my freedom, my fresh perspective, my kidney, and my guitar and all of us are cruising out of Cleveland with one goal in mind: To share my music with as many people as I possibly can.

It's kind of a last minute trip, meaning I have no official planned gigs. But I'm definitely taking the time to plan out things I want to do and things I want to see. In regards to music, I'm going to do what I've done for the past five years of being in Cleveland. I'm going to make the most of the open mic scene in New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Nashville. And it works out that three of these cities hold the best open mics in the country.

1. Eddie's Attic, Decatur (been there, loved it, heading back.)

2. Sidewalk Cafe, New York City (notorious "cut-throat" open mic in the East Village.)

3. Bluebird Cafe, Nashville (not as "cut-throat," but it's taken seriously.)

In addition to these three, I will be hitting others. But my goal is to challenge myself by hitting places where those I have admired growing up have played. Having hit the open mic scene in Cleveland for so many years, I look forward to hearing new music from undiscovered folks in other cities. The "undiscovered" are a passionate breed of people. There are definite, clear reasons why some remain undiscovered. Then there are those who catch your breath and make you wonder why trash wins over the radio when there's such hidden goodness that could be tapped into. I hope to experience the latter where I will inspire me no doubt!

The coolest part about this little adventure, to me, is that I'm doing it all alone. I have people to stay with, of course. But I'm driving, navigating, traveling all by my lonesome. It's the first time I've ever done anything this big by myself. I have traveled to NYC and Philly by myself, but they were, at most, week-long trips. I've never gone 3 weeks from home, by myself. Sad, at my age, but true. And I admit, it's kinda intimidating. But at the core of this trip is the desire to find strength and self-awareness, and what better way to do this than embarking on this journey alone. I am challenging myself to be open to the universe. I am eager to engage gas station clerks, diner waitresses, people with pets at rest stops, truckers at truck stops, JUST KIDDING. All in all, I just want to take the new perspective within myself and grow.

Grow. Grow. Grow.

Monday, July 5, 2010


After receiving the news of my GFR (and after my Nephrologist returned from vacation), we had a little powwow where he shared, "if your kidney continues to decline at the pace it has in the last 3 years, you will need a transplant within the next two years. It's important to prepare yourself for this, but not get all worked up about it." I asked him, "remember when you assured me that things would plateau for a while, after the sharp decline from 80% function to 42% function? Will I see that plateau anytime soon?" "I can assure you, I would never have assured you of such a thing," he replied. Ha! I love how people back peddle when being called out on something. I have endured this with so many people I love. I suppose it's a human thing to avoid responsibility. But my Nephrologist? I choked on my frustration and listened to him tell me when the "finding a match" process should begin. "Not until you reach 22." Oh these numbers! Seriously, putting a number on things like this makes me a little nutty. I could make a story problem for my students using my GFR. "Okay kids, if Ms. R has a GFR of 42 in 2006, a GFR of 34 in 2009, a GFR of 26 in 2010, what will her estimated GFR be in 2012 and when will she need a kidney transplant?" These numbers are really a hard thing to digest. Especially hard because it can make me lose sight of everything else in my life. My music, my dreams, my relationships, falling in love, traveling, starting a family. There's a whole lot that I have hopes to do and being caught in the reality of a number temporarily screws with my perspective.

So, with my passionate (and mighty) Irish heart, I decided to spend the last two weeks shaping my perspective. If there's anything that this has made me realize, it's that I only have an itty-bitty-teeny-weenie bit of control on things in this world. Yes, me, the Capricorn who once believed she could move mountains is giving up the need to control things. I once used to believe I could change things. In fact, I once used to believe I could change people. But after two broken hearts and the delivery of this kidney news, it seems that the healthiest thing for me to do is accept is that I really can only control/change myself, and even that has limitations! I have been handed a time frame of sorts, a detailed list of symptoms that will occur over a period of time, a to-do list that involves finding a kidney donor so that I can live. There's not much control I have over this decline. There's not much control I have over who will be the matching donor. There's not much control I have if my body rejects the transplant. There's not much control I have over having to spend the rest of my life taking anti-rejection medication. But I do have control over one thing.

I have control over the perspective I choose to take as I dive into this adventure. So, after hours of thinking and reflecting. After resurfacing the anger and frustration toward the medical community that failed me. After the break down I had in my bed, alone, realizing I don't have a partner to hold me through this. After the panic of being vulnerable and knowing I will need others. After the guilt of knowing I will need to ask someone I love (or don't even know) for an organ. After praying. Yes, praying (something this Catholic-raised-confused-agnostic hasn't done in a long time.) After hour-long conversations with friends and family, sharing tears and laughter and support and mocking chicken-soup-for-the-soul quotes. After all of this and more, I came to this conclusion: I could look at this illness as a curse. Or I could look at it as a daily reminder of how fragile we are and how fragile time is. I choose the latter perspective. in doing so, I realize I only have room for love in my heart. Move over anger, bitterness, fear, hesitation, grudges, hurt, and control. My heart really only has room for one thing. Love.

Disclaimer: I don't mean to imply that I'm going to walk around with flowers and blow kisses up the world's ass. I'm just going to do my best to keep perspective on what is healthiest for me, and when it comes down to it, it's love. Shake the shit off that I deal with every day, and keep my body free of toxins (especially since I already have a stock pile of waste that my kidney can't filter out.) Of course it's going to be a challenge, but I've always loved a good challenge.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

What better day to start a blog than July 4th? Considering that the purpose of this blog is to celebrate the freedom that lies ahead of me, it seems only right that the blog be accompanied with some fancy fireworks. Grab a blanket, maybe grab a bottle of wine, find a cozy spot on the ground and join me in awe. It's time to celebrate freedom, both from the Brits back in 1776 and from a past that has kept me from living as fully as I should.

Almost four weeks ago I experienced a head-on collision of high and low in my life. On Monday, June 7th, I spent almost six hours at the Cleveland Clinic having my GFR calculated (it's a lovely test that involves being injected with a radioactive tracer, having blood drawn over and over, and filling up a jug of urine.) It's a long day and I was pretty nervous about what the results were going to be. GFR stands for glomerular filtration rate, which basically equates to how good the kidney is functioning. Kidney, singular in my case, cause I was born with only one. Lucky me. And I mean that sincerely. My sister was born without any kidneys and never had the chance I've been given at life. Indeed, I am lucky. But I wasn't feeling so lucky four weeks ago. I was aware that my kidney function had been on the decline, but I was unsure how bad the decline. So I went home and tried to focus on other things. Like my music.

I was preparing for the CD release of my first full length album, Get Up Girl, and that was far more exciting than peeing in a jug all day. My friend Mal came over and we worked on harmonies for a new song called "Wasted." Experiencing harmony with someone is truly one of the most magical moments in music and when it's good, it's sooooooooo good. I feel like I drift up in the clouds when the notes blend together. It's luscious. And we sat for three hours and made luscious sounds together. I felt music sweep in like Superman and save me from the anxiety stirring about my GFR.

Next day. Collision. I was at work and got a call from a nurse who wanted to set up an appointment with my Nephrologist. "By the way," she said, "he'll be out of town for the next two weeks." OUT OF TOWN? TWO WEEKS? I asked, "do you mean I have to wait two weeks to find out the results of my test." She said, "no, I can fill you in on the results today, but you will need to follow-up with him when you return." And just like that, she tossed over the numbers. "Your GFR is 26 and you are spilling blah blah blah amount of protein in your urine." Blah, blah, blah. She kept talking, but all I kept hearing was 26 repeat in my head. A year and 1/2 ago, it was 34. A year before that it was 42. Two years before that (before my pyleoplasty) it was 80. I was hoping for a plateau (because that's what the doctors had assured me would happen) but got another decline. I remember I was at work. In the supply closet. I stared in the mirror while she advised me about the importance of following up with my nephrologist. Of course. I said thank you and hung up. I walked out of the closet, back into the office and saw the faces of a a few of my co-workers. I knew they could see the news wasn't good. I just kept walking. I walked back into my classroom and joined one of my students in a game of Sorry. I think we played three times, and she won each game.

At the end of the day, I walked out of school and while I was heading to my car, my phone rang. It was not a number I recognized. Usually I don't answer if I don't know the number. But I did. And I'm glad I did. It turned out to be a music critic from Cleveland SCENE, who wanted to interview me and do a short feature in the paper about my show. My first music interview in five years of being a singer-songwriter. I went from feeling like I had been hit by a truck to feeling like I was dancing with Fred Astaire. "You've been under the radar for the past 5 years, why haven't I heard of you?" he asked. That was a very big question and I knew he didn't have time for all the details, so I just said, "I wasn't ready." I wish I could remember the exact exchanges within the conversation. But I was so floored with excitement that I just remember feeling like he was extremely kind and that he compared me to an early Cat Power. I hung up the phone and realized my life was in the midst of major change. For the first time in five years, I was really investing in my music and it dawned on me that the the more I put in, the more I would get. For the first time someone in the music business was taking my music seriously because I was taking my music seriously. Yes, it may just be Cleveland SCENE. But it's a start. And all big dreams start somewhere small.

So, in a matter of 24 hours, I realized that my kidney is failing and my music career is just getting started. I knew the Universe was giving me the freedom to do whatever I wanted with this cup of information. Is it half full, or half empty? I want it full. Not just half full. I want to approach the journey that lies ahead of me with a mindset to always see the good, regardless of how challenging it may be. And herein lies the sweetest of freedom.