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

Born Again Minimalist

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…

View original post 1,639 more words

Who Decides What Is Funny?

People seem to like making reference to mental illness, whether it’s for humour or to support their political arguments. When they do, it often is not in the context of trying to help people with mental illness access quality care, experience less stigma, gain the social & financial supports we need, or to help our families. When they do call for better access to care, it is often to solve another problem that would be better addressed by all people examining their privilege, biases, enacting sensible policies, and standing up to those who perpetuate the problems. I find it rather frustrating.

I recently saw a joke implying that people who think X have a mental illness – and yes, it explicitly used the phrase “mental illness” within the context of a doctor-patient interaction. I asked the person to take it down, said it’s not funny, and explained why. In response: one person questioned my reasoning abilities, one person told me to “find something better to do,” one person argued with me about why it is funny and said if I’m that sensitive I shouldn’t hang out online. And one person stood up for me, supporting and adding to my argument. I’m so grateful for that last person, and I wish more people would have a similar response.

Different people find different things funny. Maybe some of the people who find jokes like that funny have mental illnesses/mental health issues – who am I to judge?

The problem is that people use the terms “mental illness,” “crazy,” “have issues,” “something wrong with their head,” etc. to cast judgment on others who do or think things that are perceived as inappropriate, unacceptable, or downright wrong. I’m not comfortable with that; I think jokes or serious statements that reference mental illness to judge others contribute to the stigma people with mental illness face.

Maybe there are times when a person doesn’t mean it that way and I’m not helping by assuming they do and calling them out on it. Maybe I need to take a step back. I’ll give folks that. I’ll try to resist the temptation to respond in the moment, and instead formulate a response (or choose not to respond) after I’ve cooled down a bit.

But I think, if anyone has the right to determine whether a reference to mental illness is appropriate or funny, it’s the person with a clinical diagnosis – followed by caregivers and close family members of someone with a clinical diagnosis, followed by mental health professionals. We generally give that kind of deference to people with other health issues and members of marginalized groups – in some cases to the point of removing words or phrases from our vocabulary. I think that’s appropriate and necessary. I think people with mental illness (and members of other marginalized groups, particularly people with disabilities) should be given the same respect.

Different people find different things funny. Something that offends me might make another person with my diagnosis literally roll on the floor laughing. That person has every right to disagree with me. For that matter, people with no personal experience of mental illness (if such people exist) have every right to disagree with me.

But I think we can (or should) agree that no one has the right to attack or insult me for calling a frivolous reference to a serious health issue that has threatened my life and the lives of people I love inappropriate. If I say “I have a mental illness and I don’t think this is funny; please take it down,” people should take my request seriously. Even if they disagree with me, even if they choose not to take it down, their response should convey respect for the fact that I too am a person who deserves to be treated with dignity. Is it really so much to ask?