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.