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.)  

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Having kids

I haven't. I'm 37 and have no kids. Twenty, ten, even five years ago, I would never have guessed I'd be child-less at the solidly middle age of 37.

I'm surprisingly ok with it. And so, it seems, are lots of other people of my generation. In 2012 a poll revealed only 42% of college-age adults planned to have kids in later life. That's down from 78% in 1992.

Wow! So, is humanity going to die out? Or just the middle- and upper-class white people in industrialized countries who are leaning in this direction?

Either way, says my internal Ted Kaczyski, that will be great. (One more reason I can't let anyone else ever read this blog, AMIRITE.) Yeah, also my internal Derrick Jensen, who, as far as we know, hasn't yet sent any bombs in the mail or led any protest dam bombings. He might though, because he believes civilization ("This Fucking Culture") is really bad for the natural world and needs to self-destruct--the sooner the better. And I'm a person who gets his point. A lot of people read Kazcynski's "manifesto" (dissertation) and thought he made a lot of great points.

Less people having babies means way less stress on our natural resources. Which could mean that humanity may be lucky enough to fall off gradually, as opposed to a dramatic, global-warming induced extinction event.    

But I do wonder about a sort of Jungian collective unconscious response to being so surrounded by people and our own industrial jungles. It's not that ..nurturing or receptive to life at all, let alone human life, despite our having created it out of our heads for ourselves. We have fake goals and fake rewards and do fake work for fake progress. And we call it civilized, all the while destroying the soil, water, and infinitely intricate species networks upon which we've built. So maybe the collective unconscious/mother earth in all of us is responding by noping right out of civilization. Modern life is not conducive to humans, so stop creating them.

Ok, so, head-nod to all the obvious, conscious ways modern life has most recently made having kids really difficult: the health insurance situation in the US, the loads of student-loan debt our generation has, the high cost of housing and low growth of wages. I'd say these are the top obvious reasons I haven't had kids.

Possibly industrial civilization wrote it's own demise when it invented oral contraceptives. And maybe that's what's really behind right-wing conservative opposition to women being in charge of their own reproductive choices. They know it will shrink human population and somewhat loosen the strangle-hold of patriarchy on the earth and its resources.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


What does it even mean to work for something?

I keep thinking about all my former high school classmates – so many of whom are living these incredible lives. Doing incredible things, having brilliant careers. Or raising kids. AND raising kids. Being significant.

And I’m every day wondering, what can I do in this hour to make my life worth it? How do I use my me-ness to make a dent in the world, a nice useful one, a bettering one?

It’s crazy, because I grew up with this idea, this great question of my own personal significance (“I must make the world a better place!...Somehow!”), and I still have no answers to it.

I’m rolling around ideas of activism, political, environmental, social. I’m wondering if the St. Mark’s job was my great chance. But no, I know it wasn’t. I do actually still feel quite confident that the future I envisioned there—a constant battle, a digging into the dirt and getting out only dirt—was not for me.

So what am I going to do? How am I going to dare?

I can do whatever I want. I can follow, in my free time, whatever pleases me. This is the gift of my current life. I’m not obligated in any of the ways I was previously obligated. I’m not tied to doing anything with music or art that I *must* do, or am getting paid to do.  

That is the choice I made walking away from St. Mark’s. And it’s not just Chris’ take on it – but being there, doing church music, would have confirmed my already strong tendency for doing music out of duty.

And I really want to get away from that. I’m still not sure I’m capable of getting away from that, but I have a clearer path out now than I’ve ever had in my life. I am gainfully employed, the diabetes is taken care of (while civilization lasts) and in my free time, I can do what I want.

So far, I’m finishing up the trumpet and soprano piece I wrote for the Ballet thing. For Jared.

I’ve signed up for a half marathon. Running is a great thing for me right now. It makes me happy and healthy and I like it.

I don’t actually need to have a great plan. I can do the running thing for now, and finish the trumpet thing. And then see what comes next. But the thing is, I do need an answer for the nagging anxiety about significance. Or maybe I don’t need an answer, maybe I need to shut it up. Maybe I need a charity to give to, to shut it up.

Ok, next up! Charities I’ve been researching:

International:    Child International  https://www.children.org/


                Rescue MissionSL: http://rescuesaltlake.org/
                SLGiving.org http://www.slcgiving.org/
                                Sponsor a local person in meeting a specific obstacle to self-sufficiency

One thing that’s actually really great about music is that you are free to be completely personal.
I’ve been thinking about putting things on my blog that.. I don’t know – are too personal to ever make my blog public. I like the idea of making my blog public. Or at least sharing it with a slightly less limited audience than my current audience of one (Michael). But then I will feel very hampered, and like I can’t really say all the things I need to say. And I’ll say them anyway, and then walk around with serious complexes, thinking everyone will know all my issues. (ON THE OTHER HAND THERE ARE NUDE PICTURES OF ME ON THE INTERNET SO WHO REALLY FUCKING CARES, ACTUALLY.) And come to think of it, putting my nudies on the internet was liberating.

But my nude brain. I mean. It’s a little different, ok.

Well, my point was, with music, I can mean exactly all the things in my brain, and NO ONE WILL KNOW. But they will feel it. Possibly.              

Monday, September 4, 2017

fb-stalking myself

I just facebook-stalked myself.

I put on a very brave face for the fb world. I almost convinced my present self that past self really had all her shit together, was articulate and doing fine.

And --- I guess I was? 


But my over-whelming impression of past self was something like: why did I quit all my music jobs? I was doing great! 

But internally, I was all self-doubt and anxiety about money and insurance, and comparison with other musicians having better careers. 

Now, internally, I feel much better about money and insurance, but also a little like I gave up. But also, I didn't give up because I still have lots of ways that I'm doing music that I feel really good and excited about.

So my conclusion is, it would probably be fine if outside me was a little more true to inside me. 

And I really did seem to enjoy teaching. My brain is conditioned to remember the negative with much more clarity than the positive. I had some very fulfilling moments teaching. It really is quite sad that I can't have financial stability and health insurance as a music teacher.  

I surprised myself a little -- that is, past me surprised present me a little with how often I freely posted things indicating my very liberal beliefs. I'm all scared of doing that now. Or -- scared? maybe just hesitant because... Nah. Scared. Scared of facebook debates. Scared specifically of facebook debates with family members. But facebook stalking myself seems to indicate that family members don't really want to have debates with me.  

And I sort of think that I'm a little sick of hiding, and am ready to be more publicly who I am privately. I think that's a big prt of what people mean when they talk about "having a voice." It's feeling free to say what you actually think and be who you really are, perhaps especially in an artistic way. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Church thoughts

Like, actual thoughts I actually wrote down during a recent sermon. I always argue with the sermon, probably because I'm negative and contrary and neurotic and shit.


The Humanist Version 

Transformation, she [Caryl Marsh] says (Paul seems to say) requires something more than our own will power. Is it Jesus? Well, maybe*. But more likely (I imagine) it's grace -- in the form of some outside experience or influence or person or grief or loss or illness -- some boost or push, even if it's against us, and especially if it is. Gives us a thing to overcome, and what does a human do better than survive and overcome? And then stronger, thrive.

*I guess I was feeling generous because I was at church. But on the re-write, I remembered that I don't really believe in Jesus. Not in anything enough like the traditional way to give any meaning to "believe" or Jesus". Or "in."

Sunday, July 2, 2017


What to do about this church job.

It needs to be decided and stuck with, one last time -- before fall, that is.

Most of me, most of the time, desperately wants out. But let's break it all down again, with numbers and logic, as well as of course the soul-searching shit.

If I stick it out, I've most recently agreed to conducting three Sundays a month, organizing at least one Evensong, and the ever-looming Lessons and Carols and Advent and Christmas season. I didn't commit to anything past Christmas, thinking I'd probably quit after that.

What I need to make sure NOT to do is tell myself things like "I'm a terrible person if I quit." I'm not. I can quit a job and not be a terrible person. I can also choose to not allow other people's opinions and perspectives and neuroses to be a part of my decision.

What am I losing if I quit? Clearly things like "people's respect and/or friendship" are not things I can quantify or calculate. It is entirely likely that I can retain the friendship of various choir members whose friendship I am interested in, while those for whom I could care less will fall away, effecting neither of us negatively.

So: the money. That would be July through December, around $1000/month. $6000. Not a small sum, by any means. Since starting work at ARUP, my personal combined income (and of course the reduction in diabetes expenses) has allowed us to somewhat aggressively pay off my school loan debt, and at the same time save money much faster. This has been great. Losing this would mean paying off debt and saving money more slowly. I would still be making about $1200/month at ARUP, plus all the lovely benefits. All would most certainly not be lost.

I would also lose the title of choral conductor. How do I feel about that? I feel pretty fine. I'm pretty sure that retaining it only benefits my ego and sense of justification for my master's degree. I'm actually fine with the idea that my master's degree launched my composition career. Still in process of launch, really. Other things I lose, related to the title: doing music regularly; learning (and really knowing) more sacred music; depth of understanding of the liturgical traditions; something about networking with other choral conductors... maybe? That last is only really if I had the time for it. Which I wouldn't, because of being stretched completely to the max.

So what I lose is roughly $6000 and and the various scholarly and networking benefits of being an employed church choir conductor.

All right, what do I gain by quitting? Sanity in my schedule, and regular sleeping. This is kind of a big one for me. I have adjusted fairly well to graveyards, and there's certainly the opportunity to switch to daytime or swing-shift hours. Even if I do that, though, I don't think it would make a huge difference in how strung out I would feel working at both ARUP and the cathedral. I would still never have enough time to adequately plan, and on top of that nagging feeling of doing an inadequate job, I also wouldn't be getting enough or regular sleep. I know this already because of March-May of this year, in which I did both jobs and always felt inadequate and didn't get enough or regular sleep.

So that's really two things; sleep, and meeting my own standards of quality. Sleep is paramount to all other aspects of my health, and I do think my overall quality of life would really start to suffer, which of course would mean inadequate performance at both jobs. And that's something that would grate on me and undercut my already fragile sense of worth. My chronic conditions of diabetes, depression and shoulder pain/headache would all get worse. And as to the standards of quality issue: even if I had all my time for the cathedral job, there's a really good chance I would always be disappointed in the quality, simply because of the limits of job--the limits of our singers, resources, funds, etc.  

Quitting the cathedral, I would gain a simpler schedule, health, and the opportunity to set and meet my own standards of excellence.

I would gain some freedom in how I spent my time. I haven't been to a sacred harp singing since starting at ARUP. I miss that. I miss seeing those people, and having those connections in common with my husband. I miss the music, and the strong inspiration it gives me as a composer. If I had more freedom to choose how I spend my time, I imagine I would some weeks go to scared harp, and some weeks, actually go and sing in the St. Mark's choir, as a choir member. And if the cathedral wasn't a job, I would be free to go or not.

Freedom could also mean months where I use all my free time to compose. This is also huge because composing takes me a long time, and I love it and am ever so possibly good at it, and I feel a sense of mission for it. Funneling more time in that direction will be fulfilling.

Freedom with my time will mean keeping on running. Preparing for some higher mileage races. I like that shit.

This line of thought brings me to one possible last objection to quitting right now: why couldn't I stick it out for six more months, fulfill my previous obligation (which is only a spoken one, to Chris, so far---I haven't signed the "contract"), and start on my new freedom and new life after Christmas?

I guess the answer is: because of my health and sanity. Because I'd rather not start to resent the people, the volunteers, I work with. (Haha! Too late!) Also because if I'm going to quit soon anyway, does it really benefit my employer to put off the inevitable task of finding a different arrangement? Won't it be better for them to start on that right away, especially before the start of the program year? Very possibly, yes.

My counselor once, early on, talked to me about emotional valence--people with mental illness like depression and anxiety tend to have an overall more negative emotional valence. For various reasons. It can be changed. But because mine has been net negative for a good portion of my life, I tend to be influenced by negative feelings, fears, more than positive ones, motivations. When I focus on all the good that would come after quitting the cathedral job, I like this and feel excited and relieved and happy. But I think I've hesitated for this long because the fear of quitting, and fear of the possible negative consequences, and of disappointing people, has more of a hold on me than the motivation for the positive outcomes.

And of the possible people who would be disappointed, it's Chris who is foremost in my mind. I feel responsible for him, a little. Katrina did ask me, the last time I saw her, "Why are you responsible for making his life better? For his salary, for his career?" Well, I'm not. His life is his business. But the more I've seen of his life, how he is barely scraping by, the more I feel he's been wronged, and want to help right the wrongs. I want to help him at the cathedral, so he can finish his dissertation. I want to help him keep getting raises, so he can afford his rent. But the real truth of the matter is--none of that is my fucking business. And were I to shape my own decisions around helping him, inevitably I would resent it all. He most certainly hasn't asked me to help him.

And maybe that's what's happening now. It's now time for me to do what's right for me. Last summer, who knew: maybe the cathedral job was just the thing for me. This summer, with a year of it behind me, it's pretty clearly not the right thing for me.  

It's pretty clearly not the right thing for me.

All that remains is to write a good resignation letter and hope people will still be my friend. If they won't, though... that will be fine.

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 to 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.