Monday, June 19, 2017

Things I collect:

People to protect myself from.

I like the idea of having friends, and I do think there's an unconscious sort of biological need for them. But inevitably I have to start protecting myself from their invitations and intrusions. It's hard to say no, still. I do so many things in life out of obligation -- still, after all this time, it's a primary driver, and I'm not proud of that. And when someone invites, there's an immediate obligation to be dealt with

It's partially about having time to be an artist, to compose. I wish that was all. But it's also about not subjecting myself to comparisons -- I take full responsibility -- nobody is making me compare myself to my (More Successful) friends. I am doing it myself. But I don't know how to stop, other than to see less of them.  

Lately, submersing myself in the singular world of correspondence between Emily Dickinson and Susan Gilbert Dickinson, plus limiting my exposure to People, has created space for being Monica. Someday there may be a way to be Monica and also have friends.

But if not, then let this be one record -- a record of one step in the making of a recluse.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Why I like composing:

Because I get to make the world however I fucking feel like. Partially there's some ocd-ing about form and my audience and what's going to be accepted; except then (after a gin and coke) I'm like: I'm doing it thus and such a way because that's what I like. Fuck it. Thusly fucking it over here.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Protecting the context

Maybe we have art to encode the depth of our feelings, particularly our love for others. You don’t want to expose it to the cold public air, but you do, also, want to shout it out. Art helps us crystallize and protect it. Come to think, it also protects our anger. Man, that 3rd movement of the Barber piano concerto...

I finally get Emily Dickinson, after reading her letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson. She is one of my peeps – although, honestly we would probably have repelled each other had we ever met. (Either that, or got sucked into the gravitational pull of one another's drama and intensity and exploded into a million bits.) I couldn’t understand her poems as stand–alones, but now that I hear what she says to her beloved, I completely resonate. Context is everything, really.       

(Does making art sometimes make it *more* difficult to understand others' art? Because one has to close off, in some ways, in order to dig to one's depths...? Is there a gendered component? [Of course there fucking is.])

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mostly rambling about carbs and food.

I facebooked yesterday, i.e. posted something there (as opposed to scrolling endlessly, which I suppose could also be called facebooking). And the fallout has been too stressful. Too many people looking at my post and commenting on it and making judgments. I just don't really like putting my thoughts on display to 500+ people anymore.

So today, I had a thought and wanted to share it, considered facebook, immediately shuddered with aversion, and then opened up this blog post instead.

It's about carbs. I do so love them. And they make me feel so good. I was so hungry this morning when I got home from work, and I just went for it with perogies (potato-filled pasta) and Ritz crakers. I feel so good and full. I don't feel gross or over-stuffed.

But carbs do make life difficult for a diabetic. And I can never fully leave behind the nagging voice that tells me the best would be if I ate low-carb -- best for my numbers, best for my weight, best for my health overall.

BUT -- yesterday I watched another video about the meat industry and climate change. It was called COWSPIRACY. Which is a little bit funny and ridiculous. And it had some moments where I kind of rolled my eyes. But the points were all very solid. With 7+billion people in the world, and  a large percentage of us eating a LOT of meat and animal products, the farmed meat population (ugh, what's the correct term for that ... can't remember. EDIT: Animal agriculture. Finally remembered.) is absolutely out of control. The idea of cow farts causing climate change is so often satirized that it hides a reality about actual animal waste and it's effect on oceans, for instance. The fact that a huge number of acres of natural forest are cleared daily for animal agriculture, and the loss of biomass and the effect on our air....

On and on. So Chris Wootton has convinced me, and I've even succeeded, most of the time, in eating way less meat. Once or less per week. Which really does mean eating more carbs to get and stay full. I haven't gained weight like I feared I might. I've felt healthier. My body feels better and lighter and nicer when I hardly eat meat.

But what about dairy? And eggs? I mean: yogurt. Sour cream. Cheese. Imagine: no quesadillas. I would truly be hard pressed to get my protein without dairy. I hear what people say about it, how cow's milk is for young calves to gain hundreds of pounds in a matter of months, so, obviously it's not really meant for human consumption. I hear that and I nod. I've also learned that white people are in the minority as far as the world's population in being lactose tolerant. We have a weird mutation. So I can agree that it's possible I'd be better off without dairy. But I don't know how I would get full.

BUTTER. You know??


I guess for now I will do what I can. I could probably get away with eating less dairy. For instance, more olive oil, more... aw shit. No keffir!! Fuck. no greek yogurt adn that means no tzatziki. No chip dip whatever. Yeah, I'm gonna need to do some research.

Next up thing to write about: becoming a person who believes in the power of my actions to influence the world. This is a recent realization -- that I don't thusly believe. Oh fuck you blogger, thusly is SO a word.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Just trying to figure out my shit again.

When I’m thinking about the big decisions (they never fucking quit, the big decisions – no matter how many you make, there are always more, looming), there always seems to be the option that I really want to do, my heart’s desire, and then the seemingly responsible option – what I should do, or even what I should want.

In my present big decision, my heart’s desire seems to be to quit all the music jobs. Lately, as I’ve been working at my entry level factory job (which keeps my feet and hands busy, but leaves my mind some time to wander), I can’t think of a better life than one where I get to earn some money, have some benefits (like I have now at current factory job), and do music on my own terms. It feels like such a relief. I might even sometimes not do any music.

But also – how dare I not work in music, with TWO (2) music degrees, and the debt to prove it? Also, my gift for music also gives me a responsibility or some shit. To use it to bless people or some shit.

But also – I don’t want to anymore.

I’m a little disgusted with my flakiness on these matters. It took me forever to decide to even apply for the church music job. And I don’t know, maybe that’s some kind of sign. Yeah. Because, when I first learned G was retiring, of course I thought about applying, but immediately equivocated on account of so many red flags. The church’s possibly insane CEO, for example. C’s persistent poverty, despite working there for many years, for example.  At one point, I was telling people in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t going to apply. One of the reasons I gave was because I didn’t want to compete with C, especially now that he had an opportunity for the full job (as opposed to organist only), and the increased pay. That of course changed when he told me he had no plans to do the full director job because he wanted to finish his dissertation.

There’s a feminist aspect to all of this. Many of the women who have graduated from my choral program haven’t become choral professionals. Well – that might be changing. Mariah, Christina, the Tabernacle Chorale chick, all seem to be working in the field, or at least on their way. So having a choral job justified me to my professors. Even though I am of course no longer in touch with them, and they most likely couldn't care less about me. Ok, having a choral job justified me to myself. Quitting all the music jobs is kind of giving up, in a way.

But the thing is, all feminism aside, having a music job – is kind of terrible. I hate being a public figure. To be successful in music, you have to have some amount of public persona. You have to be known, have a reputation, be unafraid of putting yourself out there.  I don’t want to be known. I want to be anonymous. I want to write my music and send it to people for them to sing, without having to stand in front of them, all vulnerable and shit, and teach it to them. And watch them in real time decide whether or not to like it. PPPffffft. Fuck no. Also – dealing with other people’s incompetence in general.

So I guess the question I have to answer is: do I dare quit the church job after only one year? Risking my reputation with the church community? And giving up the income. It’s not nothing. But is it worth it? Also, there is an aspect of sharing music with people that is fulfilling to me. I do enjoy some amount of teaching. I just haven’t figured out the proportion. How to do it in a way that doesn’t make me frustrated and mildly crazy. I might just be a terrible, impatient person. Am I looking for something, a kind of perfect balance, that doesn’t exist?      

All I’ve got for now.   


Monday, April 3, 2017

Up-side Down

Living your life with night and day upside down is really weird.

From an introvert standpoint, it’s really quite lovely. Night time is very quiet. I’ve been trying to do the same sorts of things on my nights off that I would do on my days off -- make food, watch shows, plan choir stuff, answer emails, light cleaning. I feel a little less free, with my man sleeping in the next room – and he likes to keep the door open for air flow purposes. So I’m a little paranoid about keeping him awake. I’m starting to learn, though, that he doesn’t sleep like me. I’m a very fitful, light, high-needs sleeper and he is most definitely not.    

It is weird that I’m waking up just as husband is winding day and getting ready for sleep. And vice versa.  Just – weird.

My blood sugar has been surprisingly chill with the whole thing. Blood sugar is all, “Just give me long-acting once every 24 hours, short-acting with meals, you keep exercising, and I’ll be fine.” Yes, there have been times when I was so tired or just dis-oriented that I forgot, and had some semi-serious highs. But I’m getting used to it, and building some routines. It helps that my actual job keeps me very active. I almost never sit -- constantly walking, standing, pulling things from shelves and putting them on other shelves. I’m sure that helps with blood sugar. And it’s interesting enough to keep my mind busy solving problems, but not so busy that I can’t sometimes day dream about this and that.

My digestion is pretty confused. I had some pretty bad gas there for a while, but things are starting to gradually settle.

Well, it’s 3:10am, i.e. the middle of my afternoon, and I think I will head out for some errands – buy some reflective tape at Walmart for night runs, maybe go to WinCo just because I feel like it and it’s open, and traffic will barely exist. Then the plan is to go for a run around 5:30 or 6, just in time to see a little sunrise before I head to bed. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Running again

Part of learning to love running is learning to love your fellow runners. When you are in a race, others’ success is hinged to your own success. We help each other so much in a race. When you learn to see the others as your companions and buddies, and not as your competition – when you stop ranking everybody around you, judging everybody, then you really start to have fun. Either that, or you can more easily forget about them and run your own race.

I managed that today, in my 10k. Those ladies I kept leapfrogging with -- they would pass me I would pass them they would pass me --  at first I was judging them. Then I realized they were keeping me going. Then I thought, maybe I am keeping them going! And then I was so grateful for them, I stopped letting it bother me when they passed me. I internally cheered for them.They were running their race, I was running mine, and we were together. It was nice.

Tonight at a choir concert I played for, I had similar thoughts. In music, for me, it’s so much harder. It’s so hard to not sit there and start ranking people. To see others succeeding, in the limelight, and not judge them, want to tear them down, not to feel that somehow their success means there is less for me. Or that they are further ahead in life than I am, and to start making excuses for myself. I know it comes from weakness and insecurity. At some point in my life, I stopped resisting it, and just let the hate and the judgment and the resentment flow.

I’m actually glad I did that. I didn’t hold back. Maybe I did in my words to others, but not in my heart. I have very freely hated a lot of people who are most undeserving of my hate. I stopped stopping myself. And I think that’s made it easier to stop naturally. It feels better, actually, to rejoice in others’ talents and successes and beautiful music. But I don’t think I could have ever forced that on myself, the way I used to always force so many things – spirituality, emotions, ‘righteous’ behavior.

Tonight it was easy to watch my friends at the concert be awesome and to freely love their awesomeness, and the pure joy and love coming out in their music. It’s because of running. I started running for love, and that’s forging a path to start doing other things for love. To just set down the judgment, the anxiety, the insecurity, to just enjoy being a human in a body, and let the effort of moving forward be it’s own reason.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Modest is hottest.

[Must have started this in 2011-12.]

I know this has been done before, probably all over the bloggernacle.  But I figure if places like Times and Seasons, BCC, FMH, and perhaps ZD constitute the downtown thoroughfares the of Bloggernacle (the four respective corners of State and Main, if we're in Utah), then these conversation take a good long while to wash all the way down to places like Nephi or Ephraim. Which is clearly giving my little anonymous spot here more credit than it probably deserves.

I'm going to deconstruct the popular phrase "Modest is hottest."  This issue finally hit close to home because my ward's Young Women put on a fashion show event at our local Dillard's, and the evening was titled "Modest is the Hottest." The ward's facebook page sported a few pictures and lots of supportive and encouraging comments from the ward's Young Women leaders.  On one of these comment my brother-in-law (a decided feminist, recently married to another decided feminist, no longer in the ward) took issue with the slogan, and in what I thought was a very respectful way, tried to explain why the term was shallow at best and actually quite destructive.

BIL's input was not kindly received.

I'm still debating about whether to speak up in his defense.  Maybe the pseudonym gives me away, but I'm not one to engage in  discussion of highly charged topics.  That would be confrontational, and I am Not Confrontational.  And most certainly not in the midst of ward members I see every week, ward members who know me as the sweet and benign wife of the young ward divorcee.  I'm perfectly happy to fly under the radar as sweet and benign and mostly silent.  I've been in the ward since marrying my husband last year--haven't made many friends and I'm ok with that, as I've been going through a rather significant faith transition.  I like flying under the radar in the nursery, not having to engage too deeply with other people, other people's culture, other people's interpretation of their faith, and how so often other people impose their kind of faith on everyone else....

BUT.  If I were to engage in this discussion about "Modest is Hottest," and whether it's an appropriate name for a YW fashion show, I would have to find a sweet, polite way to say the following:

[That's it! I think I stopped because it had all been said. At this point, none of it needs saying. It's been said so many times and in so many ways. It's tiresome. Also, there are rather artistic photos of me nude on the internet, and they are, in fact hottest. So. I win.]

ancient history

(Written at least a year ago, maybe more, but never published.)

This blog is highlighting the amount of self-censoring I do.  I think it might be a lot.

I just had the thought cross my mind--how grateful I am that my BYU years are over.. how absurd that they lasted so long...  how I felt so constantly racked with guilt and feelings of inadequacy.  So constantly.

Do those things really have anything to do with BYU?  Maybe.  They might have had something to do with my program, how fraught with perfectionism and perfectionists (undergraduate), and such absurd patriarchy and sycophancy... in the graduate degree.

They also had to do with me feeling my way ever so slowly out of depression and emotional anemia to emotional health.  But truly, I think I had to get out of there for it to finally be a complete transformation.  I used to blame myself for not having the right sort of personality to do well in my graduate program.  But now I'm 100% ok placing the blame on the very dysfunctional culture in that program.

It's sad that they're so dysfunctional.  It's sad that I got sucked into it and wasted so much time and emotional energy in a program that was so...

I do know that my depression-prone brain has a habit of only remembering bad things.  So maybe that's what's happening now.

thinking thinking thinking

So the real question is: can I just say, fuck everybody else, and only compose?

Fuck all the perceived responsibilities and obligations; I have art to do…? I mean, I actually see a way where I could do that. I see a job I could get, with flexibility for me to do that. And I can’t even believe how much it excites me. To the point of stomach flip flops, fer reals. My apprehensions about it are just fear that no one will accept or like or perform my music. I can’t know until I start doing it. I know some people will like it. I do know that much. But I have to do it a lot, AND---AND---I have to market myself. I have to send it to people.

Fuck teaching. Fuck conducting church choirs, as some dues-paying bull shit, to earn my legitimacy as a composer. DO you have to have a choir to be accepted as a composer? [redacted] might say yes….  I dunno.

I don’t want to make my money doing art because it’s messy and exhausting and LIFE-DRAINING. And I need that life for writing music. So, day job (an actual good one, with benefits, doing something not menial, but at least--well, two cuts, let's say, above menial...), and then composing.  …??

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Benefits of Rumination

The following was intended as a comment on a post at /r/exmormon. The OP was about how Mormonism's emphasis on "Go and Do!" (as opposed to a more critical "Stop and think...") keeps Mormons enthralled. I decided not to comment, but saved the text:

Oh man, I. Love. This. Do not apologize for this ramble. This is an incredibly good ramble.

Let's keep going with it: How many times have you heard members disparage themselves for being a person who thinks too much? Or how many of you here were a Mormon who "thought too much," or had lots of roiling ruminatey type thoughts? Maybe this is one massive reason why! Because when you try to suppress something natural, it always grows—actually it fights back, with vengeance. 

If you’re a thinker (let’s be generous and say most humans are, to a certain extent) and you get told over and over and over and over that you have to “Go and do!!” and not ruminate on God’s commandments, and any time you did start to ruminate you’d smack your forehead in self-loathing, then 1. Not only do you never learn how to have positive, critical thoughts that lead to conclusions (and CHANGES), but 2. That ruminating tendency goes into overdrive, with the same principle on which so many men (and women) get shamed into thinking they are sex addicts.

Yeah, it’s a common meme here that Mormons are kept so busy they don’t have time to really think about the truth claims of the church. Partially true, I’m sure, but I bet plenty of Mormons are doing tons of thinking about the church and it’s truth claims, it’s just that the messaging they’re getting about thinking is so incredibly dysfunctional and manipulative it puts them constantly in a quandary. (God’s thoughts are higher than man’s thoughts, and similar bull shit.)

I’ve recently become aware of how negative I am toward myself when it comes to thinking about my thinking. My meta-thinking is very negative. When I really start to mull something over, I leap immediately to the meta thought that this mulling and ruminating is bad for me, that I should have already had a conclusion, or that the very fact that I am ruminating at all means that I am a negative, depressive, person. Maybe that’s a result of “I will go, I will doooo!” being pounded into my 5 year old brain.

Thanks to recent therapy, though (therapy is so essential for fucked-up ex-cult members), I’ve learned to start putting a positive spin on my thinking. My thinking, even my ruminating, is indicative of a very positive trait!, says my therapist. It shows that I am critical, interested improving the conditions around me (a basic evolutionary impulse, I imagine) and concerned with excellence. Thinking is good. Fuck, over-thinking is good. We can use our thinking and our meta-thinking to help ourselves out of negative feedback loops, discover the things we really value, prioritize those values, and aim our lives in a direction that aligns with our values. We can decide if Mormon God or Jewish God or Catholic God, or NO GOD  aligns with our values, and hang onto or throw out any or all gods.  We can think; and then, after a while, after the thinking creates new neurons and changes the actual physical structure of our brains, then we have become a different person, who chooses different things than when we first began thinking.

So yeah. I guess Mormonism in general, and that little ass-wipe Nephi in particular, fundamentally impede natural human brain development.

Friday, January 13, 2017

An artist trusts herself




No to you, you, and you. And no everybody except me.

Yes to me.

(And ok, yes to that one person, but only like once a year.)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Artists' witching hour.

1-5-17 oh, no. 1-6-17

The witching hour of artists is well after midnight. You’re up because, well you were up the same time last night, and then you slept in because you’re an artist for fuck’s sake, and don’t have a real job.

And your person in bed next to you has settled in and started sleeping peacefully, ceasing to provide you with an adequate distraction to the NOISE IN YOUR BRAIN, which, as often as not, is a disorganized flurry of anxieties, but which, at this hour, grows brighter and brighter with visions terrible and fantastic which desperately want to play out in your workspace. The workspace which, during the day is an unsightly mess of incoherent piles, but the night lighting gives it the romance you need to dream up the next bits of adventure for your favorite characters. There’s scope for the imagination at this hour, scope which, as likely as not, will be dashed by daylight. And you’re fighting it all of course, lying in bed next to your person sleeping peacefully, not just because you're not sure why or if you're shit matters, in the great scheme of things--if I do another choral arrangement of Motherless Child, does that change anything, really, for anybody aside from the romantic faerie-demon that possesses me well after midnight?--but also because: why can’t you have a normal fucking sleep schedule, for once in your life? And work during the day like normal people? 

Well, it’s because the witching hour of artists is well after midnight. That's it. I figured it out.