I remember curling up on carpeted floors with my friends. The games we played or made up, the movies we watched, and mess that ensued, they were joyful staples from mosts of our childhoods. Sleeping over at your friend’s house was like a vacation from your family, but seemed all the more devious. There was a thrill to them, an excitement, pure enjoyment, but whatever it was, it became the corner stone of so many meaningful and stable relationships. At least, that’s how I remember it and how many others remember them.
But for Mary Lambert, sleepovers hold something so much more than turned over mattresses and missing Monopoly pieces, they were frames of sanity and support. Lambert recalled a specific instance of her so called ‘slumber party effect,’ when she was around eight or nine, “And so, we, all sat in my friends living room, and by the end of the night, we were all, we had all discovered, that we all felt or been violated by a man, and this was when we were about nine. And so all of us had felt that at some point. And most of us, had been molested by men. And by the end of the night, we were all hugging each other and crying and comforting each other and felt like we had a source of trust with each other and I remember just feeling that this is so important. That these moments, where people are crying and vulnerable and speaking their honest truth and dark moments, are really, really important.”
And I don’t think anyone can truly disagree with that. All moments in life, that are truly special and memorable, come from instances of vulnerability. Friendship. Love. Success. You can’t ever get there without being somewhat vulnerable. To take the risk, to take the chance, to keep moving forward, or to ask for help, those moments of pain and despair, of glory and pride, they come from opening oneself up to the unknowns.
However true that may be though, we can’t say its easy. We can’t say that keeping yourself open to falling, either in careers, in relationships, are just on simple gambles in our day-to-day lives, comes naturally. We’re all sheltered, whether it be with barbed wire around our hearts or around our hands, it we fence off our brains or our lips, being protected is a lot easier than being vulnerable.
Unless you’re Mary Lambert, who was, “just born a sensitive and pathetic soul that shares everything, that shares too much.” Which, I personally think, is not only an accurate and glowing description of not only herself, but also of her new book of poetry. Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across, is a collection as vulnerable as all of our therapists want us to be. It’s truthful, metaphorical, and you can feel it even without ever having to experience the subject matter.
It’s a good note to start the year on as well. Take a quick emotional joyride, free yourself, pent up desires and regrets, anything that ever made you mad or sad, open the floodgates and release the ocean as the title calls for. Lambert’s book of poetry is a must read in my opinion.
A must read that may have never been a gamble at all, if the card flop hadn’t changed for the better. The first card down: poetry. The real discovery of such, came at a moment of survival for Lambert. “I had been on a three-day coke-bender on top of being manic, so I hadn’t really slept for three or four days, I was pretty close to killing myself, I was kinda over it. I was chain-smoking in my room and feeling really nihilistic and then I caught down this YouTube pole of spoken word,” and inspiration in a way took over from there. Lambert felt a pull, a need, to not only write poetry, but to use it.
After a brief stint of bringing together her poetry with her music, Lambert is a grammy-award winning artist in the first place, she separated the two forms and dedicated herself to them both, more or less. In 2013, Lambert self-published her first book, titled 500 Tips for Fat Girls. After such, she continued various projects, albums, poetry, press events, a fashion line, working numerous irons in the fire until one was perfectly pointed.
When Lambert finally felt the time was right, well, really when her poetry was right, she brought up the possibility of publication with an agent. The second card down: an unsupportive agent. One that felt poetry wasn’t as marketable as strong essays by women, so the completed manuscript stayed shelved for some months.
Until the flop finally turned in Lambert’s favor when she met an agent from Macmillan Publishers at an event. It kinda all came together from there. Now all I can really say is that for those that have yet to buy Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across, should. It looks like it may be a bit of a waiting period before we’re graced with more work from Lambert.
But Lambert did have some advice for her readers out there, “I think that one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in the last five years is that no one knows what the fuck they’re talking about. And I couldn’t give advice until I knew what I was talking about. I think we have people in positions of power that don’t know what the fuck they are talking about, we have authority figures in our life that don’t know what they’re talking about, everybody is kinda faking it. I think everyone kinda has imposter syndrome. There is no reason that you can’t do your thing too, you know.”