Whirl Wind

Gods its been a while. Where to start?

Last semester was fantastic! I got to have music that I wrote performed publicly for the first time, and everyone (seemed to) love them! Best feeling in the world!

The holidays are always a kind of rough time, but they themselves went well enough. I enjoyed spending time with friends and family and got some really awesome shirts. They’re kinda like “men’s” dress shirts but shaped for a “female” body, complete with extra buttons to keep the shirt from puckering(?) around the chest.

And they come in flannel! For some reason I’ve found wearing flannel to be super affirming. I just love how I look and feel!

Then there was January. I hate January. All the cheer and excitement of the winter holidays is over and it’s just dark and cold.

January is when my father was dying. And even 22 years later, it still hurts. It will probably always hurt.

But I realized I’m not mourning him anymore. I was able to talk to Wakana about it completely dry-eyed… until I got to the impact it had on my relationship with my mother. Then I started crying.

Mom and I still don’t verbally acknowledge what time of year it is. There’s that kinda glance that we both know, an unspoken agreement not to talk about it. It makes me sad.

But we’ve come a long way and for that I’m incredibly grateful. She’s more and more of a friend, someone I can … maybe not quite confide in, but definitely talk to about things that are important to me. And she’s super supportive about the composing.

Speaking of, when I said “composing would be living” I was right! I’m absolutely loving it!

I used to watch movies and point to the credits when they list the composer and orchestrators and say “that’ll be me someday!” I thought it was a pipe dream, just a fun thing to imagine while working toward a “safe,” “stable” career.

Then the opportunity came to compose for an independent short film. It’s a shit ton of work for a student director under a tight deadline and it’s unpaid. I’ve never formally studied anything about composing for film, I’m just kinda making shit up as I go…

… and I’m loving every minute of it! It’s challenging and rewarding and so far the techniques I’ve been trying seem to work. (They’re probably not the most efficient, but hey, I’m learning!) I’m more confident than I think I’ve ever been about anything that I can make this score awesome. And it’s gonna be shown at film festivals, possibly internationally. People will hear my music! They’ll see my name in the credits! It could be the start of my dream career!

And you know what, even if it’s not, it’s a great experience. I’m turning out music faster than I thought possible. I’m almost constantly being inspired. I’m choosing my job over other potential activities because I genuinely enjoy it more.

And even as I’ve been sick with a horrible cold, I have my world-ending coughing fit and then pick up right where I’d left off composing. Honestly with all the classes and socialization I’ve missed, and just the distress of coughing so much and so hard (it’s physically forced me to start crying), I think this project is what’s been keeping me going. It’s something meaningful that I can do in bed between naps and feeling miserable.

It’s also teaching me to be less of a perfectionist because I’m writing for a client. He needs to like the music in order for it to be included in the film. So there’s not really much point to me making a piece perfect before sending it to him, just to risk him saying it doesn’t fit with his vision or whatever. It gives me permission to jot down ideas, try to express them clearly (damn notation is hard!), and get them to him asap. That makes it more of an open, collaborative process that enriches both our understanding of the film and our respective arts.

His last couple bits of feedback made my heart sing! It’s wonderful!

Terminated

(for some reason my brain wants to go “pew pew!!!“)

I’ve been “in crunch time” for my current composition project for a couple weeks now. During Thanksgiving week I accepted 3 articles for the entrepreneurial project (EP) and ended up spending Mon-Wed writing them instead of composing. Then I spent 3 days straight with family – and when I wasn’t with family I was too exhausted to do anything. I didn’t fully explain all of this to the Editor in Chief (EiC), etc. when I said I couldn’t take a 4th article – twice – but I kinda feel like I shouldn’t’ve had to.

What I did do was talk to my friend / the CEO, who told me to talk to the EiC, who proceeded to ignore the message I sent her saying I couldn’t write 3 articles about frankly stupid topics every week because I need to focus on composing. (All unpaid, by the way. If this were a paid gig I would’ve handled it differently.) Last week I flat-out said “no.” This week I accepted the articles but realized I wouldn’t be able to meet the deadlines, so I said “I’m sorry I can’t do these.” Well to be honest I think I should’ve also resigned at that point in time but I dunno, I’ve been feeling ambivalent about this for months now…

They made the decision for me. In the form of an email notifying me I’d been “terminated.” No explanation, and there was certainly no discussion – at least not with me. I was upset for a while, but then I told a friend who was like “wait a minute: you were terminated from a volunteer position that wasn’t even what you wanted to do?” I laughed. And I will be laughing still, in the end… except that something about it is still bothering me.

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“Life takes you to unexpected places. Love brings you home.”

Right after I’d recommitted to finding an internship and completing my music therapy degree… a friend called and asked me to partner with him in a new business he had been laying the groundwork for for several months, and felt ready to launch. It’s a great opportunity to make a living writing about things I’m passionate about, and he seems to think it has the potential to be quite lucrative. I’ve already enjoyed writing a couple articles for it, and everyone I tell encourages me to go for it (well, except my mom, but she’s skeptical about pretty much everything). I’ll be honest, I’m a bit wary regarding the whole entrepreneurship thing myself – and I’ve made it clear I don’t have the funds to invest in this endeavor financially – but I’m also hopeful: it’s a chance to make more money than I probably would as a (beginning) music therapist, doing something I enjoy, without performing emotional labor. Well, at least it would involve considerably less emotional labor.

Around the same time this happened: my godmother was (still is) slowly recovering from complications from bariatric surgery (there’s a reason spell check wants to change that to “barbaric”); Banji’s dad was (still is) dealing with health issues brought on or exacerbated by treatment for yet another type of cancer (he’s had a few); Fox’s dad fell and had bleeding on the brain; and my mom was diagnosed with stage 1 uterine cancer. I could have maybe dealt with all the other bullshit, but my mother having cancer, after everything else, was the last straw. Since being diagnosed she’s had a hysterectomy and they’re confident they got everything and she’s recovering well enough… but we’re both still scared – or at least I am. My mother had (we’re gonna keep this past tense) my mother had cancer, WTF!!!

I just… can’t. I emailed my academic advisor, thanked him for the work he’d started trying to help me find an internship, and told him I need to put it on hold again because I’m dealing with family health issues. I feel like every time I’m starting to make progress on this, something happens to fuck with my head, I’m on an emotional roller coaster, I’m not ready to start this career that’s all about supporting people emotionally… and finally – FINALLY – I realized that maybe I’ll NEVER be ready. There’s no reason for me to believe things won’t keep happening to rock my boat, and I’ve found the best thing I can do is hang on until the storm passes… I can’t support people through shit like that on a professional level while I’m struggling with it myself. I mean I guess I could, but what would it do to me?

Maybe… and it’s still new enough that part of me doesn’t want to let go, but I think it’ll come around, eventually… maybe I don’t want to become a music therapist, or work in any “helping profession.” The idea of working in a field where I can just perform intellectual labor (maybe some physical labor, but minimal emotional labor) has never been more appealing. There have been signs, like when I flat out didn’t do an assignment for one of my graduate psychology classes because I realized it wouldn’t hurt my grade too much, and I didn’t feel like dealing with the personal/emotional shit it was bringing up. Or when I stopped working on my degree for 2 years to dabble in third-party politics. Or when people started telling me I come alive when I talk about this entrepreneurship opportunity (but not when I talk about finding a music therapy internship). When I think about it I’m like “but damn, I want to finish this degree, have the M.A. after my name that I went tens of thousands of dollars into debt for.” But, I dunno… maybe once we get this thing off the ground I’ll be able to pay off the debt in a couple years and then, well, I can probably still finish the degree, or get a different one, or just say “hey I’m successful in a career I enjoy, who needs a degree?”

(I had a dream in which I switched to music composition… and if I’m not mistaken they’re both “M.A. in Music with a concentration in __________” – so yeah, that might not be entirely unrealistic. But I don’t really feel enough motivation to focus on composition right now to make that work… Right? I mean, yeah, Banji’s moving back home and will be taking classes on the same campus and it would be awesome if we had classes at the same time: we could get dinner and study in the library together wearing matching [school name] sweatshirts and it’ll be almost kinda like being in undergrad together again instead this time we’ll both be commuters and… nah. Being a professional composer is a pipe dream. I haven’t even dabbled in it for years. Yes I know I majored in music because I fell in love with music theory, and I’d absolutely love to take another course in it… I’ve joked if someone’s complaining about having to take it I’ll offer to take it for them… but I just… It’s more debt, okay! I can’t ask that of my mom. Really… Yes I know there are scholarships I could apply for but… well, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to see if it’s remotely feasible, and what the process would entail… I do miss composing, and it could help with branding for my new business…)

Omg what have I gotten myself into? The point is yeah, this is the second time it’s happened. I went into college majoring in psychology and minoring in music, then had a “mid-college crisis” in which I decided to major in music (but finish the psych major as well, I was so fucking close). Then I went into grad school for music therapy (I wanted to be a music therapist, really, it wasn’t that “trying to become a professional composer is unrealistic” – honestly!) and interestingly managed to satisfy all the requirements except the one that involves actually working full time as a music therapist. (Because of the application process, honest!) And I can’t help thinking I could just finish the degree this coming fall semester! if I didn’t have to get a fucking internship and work in the field WHAT AM I DOING? This is ridiculous.

If it’s even possible to switch to composition, I could probably satisfy the requirements in a heartbeat, and love it.