Saturday, May 26, 2018

Intuition needs disciplined.

The Mormons who raised me wanted to call intuition The Spirit. But I think that put it in a box that it didn’t like. While yes, intuition is a recognized epistemology, somehow, The Spirit allows Mormons to keep truth in black and white lanes. While I suspect--I begin to suspect, as one does in one’s 30s--that intuition is valid and allows for much more nuance than simple True and False. I much prefer intuition as a shape-shifting target dodger and I think I enjoy the journey of the pursuit.

So, this is not what I mean about disciplining one’s intuition. Not defining it, or boxing it up. I think what I mean is that—now that I work as a scientist in a reference laboratory, this work forces me to exercise muscles that writing music doesn’t necessarily exercise. It’s helping me build this iron framework around which creativity is spiraling up like vines.

A runner goes to the gym and builds muscles in ways that running alone can’t build, but which vastly improves the running. Working on all my left brain accuracy and precision and analysis and problem-solving at work translates into having better analytical instincts for my music. And providing a clear and simple framework like this seems to free up the creativity. I’m not trying to discipline the little bursts of inspiration themselves. I can let them be, because I built a solid skeleton for them to flourish around.      

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

/r/exmormon reddit post by me

Title: Surprised by my feelings after receiving my resignation letter--anyone else feel this way?


It was: panicked, unmoored, and regretful, in that order, for several minutes. Then a wave of what I think may have been actual mourning, which I haven't felt about the church at all, ever. I always expected, at some point, to feel very, very sad that the church isn't true, because I was a hardcore believer. I remembered reading about Joanna Brooks' intense affection for the church she has mostly stopped believing in literally, and I wondered when I might feel that. In all the 6-8 years of my faith transition, all I've really ever felt is relief at releasing myself from Mormon mind shackles, and anger/frustration about all the time and energy I wasted in them.

So the panic, the disturbed feeling of free-floating, and most of all the regret (??) were all very unsettling. I guess I had expected to feel immediate peace and joy. Release.

The regret was specifically about records: records of moments in my life, in my family---my baptism, endowment, sealing, the Mormon milestones--those records being held and kept somewhere, evidence of my existence, the sort of thing historians hundreds of years from now might scour for clues about our lives. Those records of me being erased. Even though I believe it’s all based on fraud and manipulation, those milestones did happen, and I did live them, and now, possibly, the don’t exist in their official place. (Or do they? Is it possible they still exist, but only now include the fact that I don’t believe the bullshit anymore? I don’t know.) I honestly hadn't thought of that consequence.

On the other hand, that does give me additional motivation to make something of my life such that there will be other clues of my existence.

And of course there are government records of me.

And what is the mourning about? Somehow removing my name has allowed me for the first time to feel the loss of what I used to hope and believe the Mormon church was. It is simply not what it says it is. Not the truth claims, not the Zion community, not the one true church of the one true God. It’s not even a healthy community. Since becoming an adult, it's never lived up. But long ago as a child, surrounded by the teachers, leaders, friends in the only church I'd ever known, it used to actually be those things for me. And I think taking my name off forced me to finally mourn rather than celebrate that loss.

Anyway, it’s all very surprising. What a journey. Any of you relate?

(A few hours after posting, there follow a few comments from fellow redditors. They are lovely. Maybe I will re-type and post a few of them as comments on this blogpost. Which is probably against reddit rules?? But only Michael reads my blog. Fuckit.)

(Early this morning I am also composing a set of themeless variations (yes!) that I am so excited about. It's so incredibly fun. I am one of my best ever selves when I am composing, seriously. That's making me feel better about life again.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Just scattered diary stuff

So many people are talking and saying so many things, that I stop talking, and listen only. Consume only. And even don’t think my own thoughts all that much, just react to other people’s thoughts.

Ah. So the solution must be to stop reading and listening to other’s thoughts once in a while (not stop completely, of course) and start writing about my own—add to the conversation, contribute, produce, don’t only consume. But then there are even more voices in the fray. 

And it’s not like I have no faith in the value of my own contribution. I’m sure my contribution would be lovely and fine. But not that far above most educated people’s contributions. And so many educated people with such good thoughts are already contributing.  

I don’t really have faith in the value of my contribution in the current context of blogs articles social media posts videos podcasts lengthy comment sections subreddits everybody’s conversations ringing in my eyes and ears and brain.

The thing is, most people have a valuable contribution to make to some conversation, somewhere. And the conversations are all everywhere.

I’m mostly thinking of word spaces, but art spaces seem similarly cluttered. Fuck, actual space is cluttered. Too fucking many people in the world. It’s exhausting.  

It’s possible that I have a need to be the only one at something. I’m a niche-finder, and there aren’t really that many unoccupied niches. So possibly I should abandon niche-hunting? Abandon the hunt for recognition? It’s not like I have much hope of being recognized as anything special anywhere, at anything. And I’m not saying that in a depressed way, necessarily. But the part of my life where I was chasing ambitions is over and I’m slowly realizing I need to figure out what to do now, what to do next.

What do I do with my gifts? I know I have gifts. It’s actually all I have, really. Well, I have survival. That’s what my life is mostly aimed at—working for the man who gives me insulin for free. He’s not a bad man, ok? There are much worse men. They’re mostly politicians, I guess.

Aside from survive, what do I do now? It’s fun that my life is ahead of me, but also depressing. I don’t see any uncluttered space to grow into. I’m very entitled, to think that I should get that.   


But this is all the wrong question, the wrong orientation to the world. Well, maybe not WRONG exactly, but not helpful. Because maybe it doesn’t need to be about what does the world need? Which space is open and waiting for me to fill? It’s about—what do I need to do for me to be whole? What is it that me at my best is doing, when I’m in flow and fulfilling my reason for being? And what comes about is incidental. It might receive recognition and accolades, and might be so many undiscovered piles of dust, but what does it matter to me, if while I lived I really lived. (She said after writing several bars of music.)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Thing To Do With Your Intense Emotions

is to encode them in micro-phrasing. The most intense ones for the tiniest movements--this voice moving from this note to that one, this little two-note dissonance. Then they are well-hidden and you can continue to keep your shit together. And it makes the best music. I like the instruments to say the craziest shit, AFTER the text has been declamed. And then it's even more covert. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

My nation

Sometimes you hear a thing in passing, on the radio, in an interview, that’s so true that it becomes part of you, even though you can’t really remember who said it or what the conversation was about. The etymology of bits of knowledge that change you, being able to trace them , seems particularly white, a white person thing. Like, if I insist on knowing who said it, and being able to trace where they got the idea, then I’ve bought into the white, wig-wearing European idea that those people therefore own the knowledge, and I only got it from them—I don’t own it myself.

But when it hit me, in that moment, when it was transmitted via various electronic means, and when it reached a bottom dwelling microbe in my soul, and changed it, and started to grow and transform me, well, all of that means it’s mine now.

With deep bow to the people and forces that brought it.

But the idea is this: the rocks trees and fungi are all my nation, are also my grandfathers and grandmothers.

Ok, the credit belongs to the Lakota, and the transmitters were Doug Fabrezio and Alexandra Fuller and the internet and all podcast technology.

But despite being a city kid, and also an adult who has lived almost my whole life on the human-made scum hovering above the earth’s actual crust, where all other creatures live, I can still recognize that, whether or not that truth is in fact true for me, it really ought to be.

A right nation, a good nation, would of course include all elements of the ecological system. The glaciers. The turtles. The fungus that keeps the desert sand from breaking up into individual granules. The fungus on the tree trunks. All the individual bits of life that create our world, the whole intricate network.

It’s not profound, it’s basic. It’s a tragedy that it took me until 37 to hear this idea, and believe it, and try to own it.  

Monday, October 30, 2017

Further ramblings

(The first two paragraphs I intended to be a social media post. But then I backed down and didn't post it, because it's my own fucking business. I don't need a random 500 or so near strangers (or worse, family) commenting on my inner spiritual life. Fuck.)

Maybe you could tell, or maybe not, but over the last 5 or 6 years I lost my faith in Mormonism. It’s not something I have been public or candid about with very many people, but recently I decided it might be good for me to be a little more my real self on the outside.

It’s been a long, slow process, and I’m still in it, of course, but the basic gist goes like this: after many years of guilt, shame, perfectionism and depression, I decided something about Mormonism was contributing to these things and I gave myself permission to take a break from the church. Almost immediately the constant weight on my mind started to lift and I started to feel more free on the inside. I didn’t know how to reconcile this with my long belief in Mormonism’s truth claims, and so I didn’t. But for the first time, instead of prioritizing church doctrine and trying to force it on myself, I prioritized myself and did what felt better to me.   

(End of social media post. Beginning of further ramblings.)  

“Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 
--Howard Thurman

So—I think this is true. And despite a lifetime of trying to find the thing that’s me, to do the thing that I am meant to do—my mission—I’m still trying. I haven’t found it-- Or, haven't spent enough time with it, or had enough trust  in it, to make a significant dent. 

I think that growing up in a fundamentalist religion is behind that, because I’ve only been free in my soul a few years now. Mormonism gives you so many imperatives about your life and the purpose of your life that you simply aren’t free to explore. So now that I am free to explore, I feel… yes, I do. I feel right now that I am on the way. I am excited about some things I’ve done today. I contacted a singer friend with whom I am going to work to compose a set of Emily Dickinson settings. I emailed the Houghton Library at Harvard for permission to use the texts. I am imagining a way of working, a process, that will work with my lifestyle, that will tap some of my strengths as a person, and that will result in writing a body of work I can be proud of. And this process I’m imagining is very individual.

Before, I would try to put myself into some pre-existing narrative about music careers: something involving academia, visible, resume-worthy accomplishments, achieving steps on a ladder that others have climbed. And, it hasn't worked that way for me. Not yet. Academia was a bust for me, for so many reasons. My involvement in various local choirs has also been a bit of a bust, partially because there are so many other people in them. People. Also, let's be honest: choirs are culty.   

But I see a way to be successful in my own individual way. And I guess my point for this writing is that, in order to do that, I have to be comfortable in my own skin, which meant leaving the religion of my childhood. It also means believing in myself more strongly than I compare myself to others. A belief in the value of my own inner world that withstands the wrecking ball of other artists' bios. 


Yeah, and this is also me telling myself that it’s ok that I’m 37 and still trying to figure out some BASIC SHIT. It’s ok. There are good reasons for this. And I'm still alive and moving forward. So, whatever.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Pain and joy.

Two weeks ago I ran 8.5 miles. Last week I ran 9.5 miles. Today I ran 10 miles. Right now I'm eating beans and rice and HOT.

All of these things are a little new, and they all give me this incredible endorphin rush.

With my long runs, about the last mile or mile and a half, I reach a point where my legs and my body generally are really done -- exhausted. But I know I'm not going to stop -- I have to finish the run. And the incredible thing is, I know I can keep going.

I'm not injured; my blood sugar is fine; my body is healthier, possibly, than it's ever been whilst running. So all of those things make keeping going an option for me, when a lot of times in the past, I'd reach a similar exhaustion point and not be able to keep going. When we first moved to Salt Lake, I signed up for a marathon and got to about 10 or 11 miles and had to call my husband to come get me because I couldn't get home. I was too exhausted.

But the last few weeks, when I've reached this point, I can't think of a time in my life when I've felt more exhilaration. It's ... measured. Because I'm exhausted. But I'm at the edge of what I know my body can do. Pretty soon, it will be something my body has never done before. And there's nothing like that. It's amazing and motivating and inspiring and I always have all these interesting thoughts I'm sure I'm going to remember and write down and which I very quickly forget and have never written down.

Maybe someday soon I will write them down. Because I think I'm addicted to running a lot of miles now.

(Ok, eating spicy beans and rice is not quite like the running high. But it is also it's own kind of exhilarating, and I think it's not a coincidence that I had what I would call my first ever joy-filled endorphin rush from spicy food (it was kadai paneer) in the midst of a significant mileage increase. Understanding the joy of pain.)