What’s-his-face *finally* replied to my email. He and other unionized teachers are on a 10-month contract and aren’t supposed to conduct school business during July and August, so he’ll look at my portfolio during the first week of the semester.

So I guess I misunderstood our conversation when I thought we’d agreed on a July 1st deadline? And/or *I could’ve spent the entire ducking summer working on my portfolio!* UUUGGGHHHHH

I’ve already accepted that the next time I see him I’m just gonna be happy to see him. Maybe I can joke about how much fun it was to go batshit trying to meet a deadline and then spend an entire summer going down a horrible anxiety and depression spiral.

But it’s all good. The cooler weather and pending Fall Semester have me feeling much better. Hopeful. It’s a new beginning. I get to reconnect with at least some of my classmates who helped me feel so welcome last semester. And (hopefully) I’ll have someone to ask the questions that keep coming up when I try to compose. Which mainly come down to “I was improvising and I did this thing that sounds pretty cool. Do I *really* need to figure out how to write each individual note, or is there some other way to communicate it?”

Remember back in July when I said “If it’s even possible to switch to composition, I could probably satisfy the requirements in a heartbeat, and love it.”?

Well, it turns out I was right. If by ‘heartbeat’ I mean about another year – that is, assuming I’m formally accepted to the program; I need to submit a new portfolio by July 1st. But this semester has been absolutely amazing! I feel happier and more alive than I’ve ever been! And more motivated than ever to do my schoolwork…

It is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, and I’ve spent a good deal of the semester feeling overwhelmed. But it’s manageable, and it’s mostly positive if that makes any sense? And I love it, the subject matter, the people, the sense of accomplishment when I figure something out… it’s all wonderful! Absolutely wonderful! And I’m always being inspired and getting new ideas.

Today program coordinator told me “When I talk to you about composing you’re happy. When I talk to you about theory you’re giddy.” He’s encouraging me to go for a doctorate in music theory. I’m kinda torn between “let me finish my master’s first” and “omg you mean I get to study more theory?!!!!” And, well, it could put me in a good position to teach, which I think I’d enjoy a great deal… I’d probably be able to ‘give back’ by teaching educators and therapists… But whatever happens with that, the point is RIGHT NOW I get to compose and analyze pieces over the summer and thoroughly enjoy school again!

The icing on the cake is that when we spoke with the person in charge of courses and registration and all that in the music department, she suggested ways some of my music therapy coursework could satisfy requirements for the composition degree. For example in this improvisation course we were making music all the time so that can count for 3 of the 4 credits of applied music that I need. I’m hoping also that all the composing we did in these other 2 courses will count for the independent study in composition – as much as I would love to actually do the study, the potential of having stuff I’ve already done count for it feels awesome! There’s one other requirement I want to see if I can substitute for, and then yeah I should be able to finish the degree in a year!

Well, assuming I can get someone to perform my piece in public and pass the comprehensive exam. But we’ll worry about that when the time comes. I still need to get in 😛


Gods it’s been a while.

Okay… I guess I’ll start by saying I’m still friends with the person who’d originally asked me to join his entrepreneurial project (EP). That didn’t work out for me and then we fell out of touch for a few months. I called him today and the conversation went well. He’s still working on the EP, seems optimistic. We were able to talk a bit about that and other things and just connected as two people who care about each other. I feel very blessed.

Speaking of being blessed, my mom paid off one of my student loans. In full. It was at a(n approximately) 6.8% interest rate and the way they wanted me to be paying it (or not, they seemed very happy to put it in deferment as soon as I started classes again) I would’ve been paying it for the rest of my life. But… yeah, my mom was and is fortunate, and worked really hard, and chose to use it to help me. Because she’s awesome!

Right, I’ve complained a lot about my mom on this blog. She’s not perfect (no one is) and she still does stuff that’s annoying, even harmful. I have to work a bit more than I’d like to maintain boundaries sometimes. But overall things are going really well. She’s been working hard and I feel like between both our efforts we’ve developed a good healthy parent – child relationship. I love hanging out with her and talking with her, etc. She’s gotten really into being active – mostly walking, stretching, and chair yoga – and she seems so happy and energetic, it’s very inspiring.

I haven’t technically changed my major (yet), but I’m taking music theory and composition courses; we’re about halfway through the semester. It is… a whirlwind. I’m learning all these new things, apparently the U.S. is way behind the rest of the world when it comes to new developments in music moving away from tonal harmony and exploring other ways of understanding it. So we’re not exposed to a lot of the newer music that’s out there; we barely touched on it when I was in undergrad. Among other things, I get to write a paper about a living composer who makes music and instruments from things she finds in nature, it’s pretty fascinating.

To be honest I don’t think a lot of this new music stuff sounds good, but the ideas behind it fascinate and inspire me. It’s taking me way outside my comfort zone into a world I didn’t even know existed! And challenging me to listen more actively and understand things in new ways. It’s all very overwhelming but also freeing in a way because I don’t feel pressure to be like an expert or anything. I just get to learn. And I’m learning so much, writing weird music I never would’ve thought to otherwise, exploring what music means to me. And hearing my instructors and classmates talk about this stuff is… love, I’m in love. With myself and the world and the people I’m meeting and… everything.

It’s a really great community. I tend to be a bit hesitant in new social situations, so I guess I’m still kinda figuring out if this is for me? I think it would be wise to apply to multiple programs and possibly branch out a bit, learn some computer programming. Then I’ll have more diverse skills because let’s face it, I need to find a job. And I saw a listing for something that combines music composition and AI, it sounds amazing! – but I don’t have the programming skills it requires (yet). So we’ll see. It’s all very exploratory.

… and then the shooting in New Zealand happened. From what I’ve heard the New Zealand government is actually moving in the direction of meaningful gun control that will make it a lot harder for someone to do this again – like banning semi-automatic weapons. That’s a good start. But are they addressing the extremist views that led to this act of terrorism? White supremacy has been devastating the world for centuries, there’s so much inequality, the way Western media portray Arabs is unconscionable, it encourages people to do this (or look away when it happens) and it all seems to be getting worse.

And I… I needed to get away from politics, and to be honest I still question the effectiveness of the activism I was engaging in, but clearly it’s not right for me to be sitting on the sidelines. There has to be something I can do to help stop this – because we all know it’s going to happen again. Maybe a mosque or a church or a movie theater or a nightclub or a school or anywhere people gather, especially if they’re a marginalized community… white men keep terrorizing people and no they’re not “lone wolves” they have an entire global system actively encouraging them. We need to shut it down. The responsibility for that falls on white people (myself included). Because we’re the ones with the privilege and the power and the numbers to hold each other accountable.

I’m just not sure what to do. I’m saddened by what happened and I feel small and powerless, and guilty. Today I found it hard to focus on anything. But I guess a good start might be to see about re-joining a couple of the activist groups I’d gotten involved with. And keep talking about it and keep looking for answers. Because the world is gonna move on, then act surprised the next time it happens. We can’t let that happen.

“I am mine before I am anyone else’s”

I’ve been using my bullet journal consistently since I started it on August 8th, and it’s been incredibly helpful. I feel so much more organized, which gives me some sense of control even though things have been really chaotic. (I swear there’s something in the food or water or air or something making everyone act irrationally.)

I like having a structure yet room to play: there’s the future log, monthly calendar, weekly spread, and each day is laid out the same way … but in the middle I can do random artwork or take notes on a topic of interest or whatever else meets my fancy. Per Wakana’s advice, I now have a whole spread dedicated to making my cluttered apartment into a home, right in the middle of this week’s dailies. I can find it easily, though, because I wrote it down with its page numbers in the index.

I’ve also taken a page out of Boho Berry‘s book (pun intended) and started doing a simple daily planner at the top of each day. It’s 2 lines, the AM hours written above the PM hours, with color-coded shading to represent when I’ll sleep, attend meetings/appointments/events, spend time with loved ones, work on tasks, etc. It’s pretty and easy to process and just gives me a calm sense of knowing what to expect on a given day. It also helps me develop and maintain a realistic perspective of how much I’ll be able to do, so I don’t overbook or overwork myself. And if what I end up doing on a given day is completely different from what I’d planned, I can just jot down some notes about it or draw or whatever. No pressure, it’s my bullet journal.

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Well fuck. I’ve been fucking around for too long and now the requirements for my graduate program have changed.

My understanding had been that I needed a thesis and an internship, and I could theoretically complete them in any order. The thesis could be informed by the internship, or completely separate. I’d started working on a thesis about a topic that’s very personal – perhaps overly so – but something I need to work through; everyone I’ve told has said it’s a great topic, relevant to the field, important for students and professionals alike to be aware of. I haven’t actually worked on it in ages – got hung up by the lit review, so never even finished writing the proposal – but I was just about to renew my focus on it when I found this out. I’d re-imagined it to be even more introspective, arts-based … almost kinda sacred. I was planning to run the new idea by my advisor sometime soon.

I guess it’s better I learned of the change when I did, than if I’d gotten any farther in the process. Now instead of writing a thesis, I need to complete a “culminating project” that has very specific requirements. I have to complete my internship first, then do 50 additional hours of supervised field work, and the project has to be directly related to whatever work I’m doing. I don’t even feel ready to apply for internships yet; I may not be able to get – much less complete – one within the next year. So it’s more time, more money, more work to get this fucking degree – that I’m not even sure I want to use anymore, I just want to fucking complete it so I can have something to show for my soul-crushing student debt. Add the fact that all the field work leading up to and including internship are required to be unpaid … if I have to do 50 additional hours of unpaid work to get my degree … what the fuck!?

I’m a bit of an emotional wreck.

My inner Vulcan is trying to convince me this could be a positive development. It provides additional motivation to apply for internships in a timely manner. It requires a professional rather than purely academic focus, which will better prepare me for a career – which is the whole point of majoring in this field, particularly at the graduate level.

I still have the option of completing a thesis, it’s just not required and it would be in addition to the “culminating project.” Ergo I can choose to resume the thesis work I had been doing, or I can continue ignoring it without any academic penalty. I can take the entire work in a completely different direction of my choosing, free from academic restraints. I may write a book or release an album or do something with video or all of the above or something I’m not thinking of right now. It can become an ongoing process, not something I need to complete within a year or two. And I don’t have to pay for graduate credits to do it.

Regarding the “culminating project” … I don’t know, I need to talk to my advisor to learn if the requirements for practicing music therapy in my state have changed (and more information about the “course” itself) but there are possibilities with it, too. I have some ideas about how to reconcile this career with the activism I’ve been engaged in, which I’ve heard is a current trend within the field. My “culminating project” could tie in directly with the kind of work I most want to do – even better than the thesis! And 50 hours isn’t really much if it’s stretched over a semester or two … I could probably do it in addition to my paying job. The “course instructor” will be my supervisor, so I may be able to work at a site as the only music therapist … if that’s the case, oh wow!

I have an idea forming – I’m not sure how to put it into words yet and there are some things I’ll need to talk to my significant others about regarding community hubs we’d love to create. But if we can make actual progress pursuing those dreams and the important factors fall into place … far from pulling me in disparate directions, it could bring everything together so beautifully …

And we’ll probably need at least a year or two to get our community hubs to the point where they could support something like this so … AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

I’ve been feeling kinda guilty since I posted Still Wounded. I feel like it’s not fair to Fox or Ron. They’re both wonderful people whom I love and who love me, who contribute to my happiness and well-being in beautiful and unique ways. I’m blessed to have both of them, and Banji, and my other family and friends in my life. (Yes, including Fox’s sister. We had a great time being roommates!)

I was struggling with Ron because ze doesn’t want to tell the other person ze’s in love with about the full nature of our relationship, and ze doesn’t think we can continue if/when this person decides she’s ready to have a romantic relationship with zir. (Right now they both consider themselves to be “friends” because they’re not physically/sexually romantic, but … it’s complicated.) I’m not happy with this situation and most folks I talk to agree that Ron should be honest with the other person. But when I confronted zir, ze made a fairly compelling argument for why complete honesty in this case, at this time, might do more harm than good.

I’ve come to realize that 1) I can’t control Ron, so whatever happens in zir other (“platonic”) relationship is on zir, and 2) if I base my happiness on what I want our relationship to develop into, I will be miserable.

So it’s been a bit painful, and it isn’t easy, but I’m refocusing myself. Ron’s interactions with me show that ze loves me and I can trust zir. I choose to focus on and cherish what we have NOW, which is fun and emotionally satisfying and mutually beneficial. We’re able to support and comfort each other and express ourselves with each other so beautifully. I know I’m growing as a result of this experience, and I think (hope) ze is, too. I can’t / don’t deny what I would like for the future (and ze’s said ze wants, too, but doesn’t see how it can be possible), and I know trying to stifle the sadness that comes up when I think of it isn’t healthy. But I remind myself to do kind of what they teach in mindfulness meditation: if you have a thought, observe it and let it go. I acknowledge and sometimes even entertain this dream, but I let it go.

I choose to focus on the here and NOW because, in reality, that’s all we have. I’ve lost too many loves to pretend otherwise. So whether a relationship has the potential to last a year or a lifetime, I’m going to savor, cherish, work with, and live in what we have now.

That includes my relationship with myself.

Are you a soldier or a scout? Your answer to this question, says decision-making expert Julia Galef, could determine how clearly you see the world. Imagine for a moment you’re a soldier in the heat of battle — perhaps a Roman foot soldier, medieval archer or Zulu warrior. Regardless of your time and place, some…

via Why you think you’re right, even when you’re wrong — ideas.ted.com

Q&A About Chrissy Metz and Contractually Required Weight Loss — Dances With Fat

Chrissy Metz is one of the stars of the television show This Is Us. As is all too often the case, she plays a fat character who is “struggling with her weight” As is less common, the contract she signed to play the character includes a requirement for weight loss. She says: In our contract, it […]

via Q&A About Chrissy Metz and Contractually Required Weight Loss — Dances With Fat

Transgender Day of Remembrance

I have so many things to write about, I don’t know where to begin. So, for today, here is an article by Transgender Universe about this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance. It lists the trans people who have died this year, and in many cases includes the cause of death.

It’s sobering, to say the least. A moment of silence in their memory.

And then we get back to work.

The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation

Caitlin Liz Fisher

I was in graduate school when I first heard the term “millennial.” It was at a conference. The session was about how to serve millennial students, because they have different characteristics than the Generation X students that went before them. It was here that I first started hearing things like “millennials need to be recognized for participation,” “millennials feel they are special,” “millennials are sheltered,” “millennials are likely to have helicopter parents,” and more. Society as a whole loves to hate on the millennial generation (those born between 1980-1999), calling us “special snowflakes” and sarcastically referring to us as “social justice warriors,” calling us out for “being offended by everything” and, everybody’s favorite, pointing out how very entitled we are.

Here’s the secret: We’re not.

millennial late for work.jpg

The negative opinions directed at millennials are a perfect example, on an enormous societal scale, of cultural gaslighting.

What’s Gaslighting?

Glad you asked. I learned…

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