Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The World My Kids Get

I have been too busy to blog, and it's likely that I'm too busy now.  My children are both at school, and I have a day at home.  I've done enough of learning the opera.  I always tell my students when they know it well enough that they feel absolutely sick of it, you can set aside the music and take a break.  Of course, I'll be working on it again tonight.

I don't know how to say the next part, except that suddenly I feel the world is sad all over.  I keep hoping my kids get something better than I got, but it seems doubtful.  Raising them in a "survivor" mentality, where they need to get enough skills to be "one of the lucky ones" while the poor get poorer, and violence is so constant and eruptive, and people hate each other just because they have different ideas of the way our country should be run.  . . it's ugly.

Appreciating the cute differences I have with other people has become a bag of what to say and what not to say at Christmas dinner.  My church is splintered, and I find all I want to do is jump from one worship place to another, in hopes that I hear compassion and empathy among those who believe what I do.  If my kids live in the country, I'm afraid they'll get shot at school, or maybe at a friend's house, where the parents thought it was not a big deal to tell me they've got loaded guns in the house.  If they live in the city, it'll be oversexualization, or drugs.

I don't know if I'm sad for them or myself.  Do you start taking anti depressants once you have these thoughts?  They don't make other people sad?  I guess I need to exercise, get some natural endorphins.  The bible says this is supposed to be ugly.  The hope comes after we die.  Here, now, I guess theology tells me it's just gonna get worse.  And sometimes I think maybe bringing kids into it wasn't so kind.

I guess I could have had kids 100 years ago, in an environment where there was no school, or women weren't allowed to speak in public, and maybe they wouldn't have had to worry about guns and drugs, but they might have gotten eaten by a wild animal.  Maybe things aren't worse, just dark.  Sometimes I sing Emily Salier's words to myself "My place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark, and I do not feel the romance, I do not catch the spark." Sometimes I just pray to take a day at a time, and dive into some housework.

I would love to imagine some utopia coming. I guess I'm just too old for that now.  At least I will get to watch my kids do that "hopeful, youthful" thing where they imagine the world better and try like hell to make that happen.  Thank God for the young.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

It's Hot and the World is Miserable

Good Lord it's awful out there.

And I mean it. It's 110 outside my window and I have to run an errand at lunch and I'm dreading it. AND, somehow we have come to this point in the changing of the world that has given rise to hatred getting a voice and sheer namecalling, injustice, threats, and actual death. Where's my nice little American bubble? For now at least, it's gone.

Do you know that extreme poverty in the world has drastically decreased? Do you know that for the first time, the US has only 50% of us in the middle class, but that's because a lot more have gotten richer? Isn't that weird? I feel like everything's going to hell in a handbasket, but I listened to a few pieces with real verified statistics on NPR and they don't sound anything like what's being thrown around on facebook. Facebook. The cesspool of fear and anger that is the human brain.

I just go on looking for updates on old friends and funny animal videos and what do I get? Pictures of the unjust, the dead, and more opinions (mostly uneducated guesses of amateurs 'taking a swing' at the world.)

Here's the best thing I saw on FB today (besides a picture of my daughter):
"Do No Violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place" Jeremiah 22:3. "Stop Murdering the Innocent" Jeremiah 22:3

I won't repost it, because even something that calls for protection of the innocent starts an argument these days.

This will be better for my kids, right? I mean, I've never understand why Christians keep having kids. The world's going to get worse and worse until Jesus comes back. So why did I do it?

On that note, my daughter comes home tomorrow night. I want to cry when I think about it. She's been gone for 6 weeks. I remember this from last summer. For the first 4, I miss her a tad. But right now my eyes are welling up with tears and my face feels hot because I made that kid, damnit! And I miss how annoying she is and how funny she is and that she's my baby.

I lost Ginger. And by that I mean my dog died on Sunday. She wasn't a particularly affectionate dog, which made it easier, but there's a big hole left in our family. I don't want another pet. It's a relief to have one for a while. I feel like changing my mind, and going back to the vet and saying, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say I couldn't afford $4000 and a lifetime of diabetes care." But you can't bring dogs back. So I feel heartbroken too.

I just don't want to hear about innocent....I feel that's too relative of a term. I don't really want anyone to die. Even those ISIS guys, I'd rather just put them in prison. Death is so final. You just can't get anybody back. You can't change their minds. You can't hug them again. You can't introduce them to Jesus.

I'm really looking forward to some cooler times.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Feminist Mama

I am in the midst of planning out a recital for the Spring. It's a solo recital, and that means I can do anything I want. Often I like to support women composers, as I believe I still am one, deep inside. But I wanted to have more freedom to choose among more composers. SO I decided to a theme recital using the words of "powerful women" or "important women of history" or ....I don't know..."cool women".

I told my husband about it last night. I would do a song cycle based on the words of Mary Cassat, and show her paintings, I am thinking maybe a song cycle on Virginia Woolf, on Sor Juana (an educated nun from hundreds of years ago who is often talked about as being the "first feminist"). I looked for Frida Kahlo, for Eleanor Roosevelt, there are so many to choose from, but not that many have song cycles written about them.

I got excited with the idea of this. I thought embodying these women, who wanted to be more than what they were told, or maybe just wanted to be WHAT they knew they were, would be a great way to spend a semester. I was surprised my husband wasn't as excited. He was supportive, but I realized the excitement was mine, and that's ok.

Last year, my daughter and I listened to a few minutes of Obama speaking on the radio. She asked me about presidents, and governors, and what she knew from school. At 6, this is still something she's trying to understand. But then she said, "how come the presidents are never women?" and I was happy and impressed. Not by our country, but by the fact that she was still young enough to not put a face on leadership (not a male face). I bristle a little at someone telling her she's bossy. Will they tell my son the same thing? I may never know...she's more of a natural leader than he is already.

I think about her when I vote. I think about her as I get a doctorate, as my husband and I fall into roles, some natural, some just the blind ones that have been written out for us. Before marriage I spent years fixing things and killing "pests" and programming. I don't mind relying on him for that. For years he packed his own lunch, or didn't and just ate pizza every day, and I take joy in providing that for him.

What feminism is to me is continuing, daily, to challenge what women can't do. There are still crazy ideas out there...women can't make sushi because their hands are too warm? women can't be on boards because their decisions may be erratic? or maybe because the face they picture themselves on a board is a male face? We area society in which women do EVERYTHING. We have come so far from the days when Sor Juana just wanted to be educated and Mary Cassat just wanted to paint. We have come so far from the days when Dorothy Parker was labeled a communist (or have we?)

Sometimes, I think for men who have women for bosses, who have successful wives, they don't see that there still exists these barriers, keeping women from their dreams. But I've seen them, first hand. Men and women are different, and that's fantastic, but so many of the differences we give them are imaginary. They are tales told from generations on down. We forgive men and women differently, we pay them differently, we reward them differently, and we decide who they are going to be.

And when I look at my daughter and son, I don't want to think for one moment that he'll have a better chance at his dreams than she will.

So I am proud to use this oddly demonized word "feminist." It's ok to me. It actually enables me in some way to see that racially, as a white person, I probably believe things that are untrue about non-whites. That we are in a constant changing world when it comes to ideas about each other. That it's ok to say we make errors and find ways to fix them. It's actually glorious. It's truly American to me and..

It's what I believe Jesus would do.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fish Hooks

There is a wonderful line in the play Marvin's Room that has fish hooks in it...it's a woman talking about her feelings for her son (I think) and she says that her feelings for him are like fish hooks. She can't take out one at a time without all of them coming right out of the box.

This is so incredibly true about family. It is striking how I simply cannot compartmentalize or divide or bring some to the forefront and hope that the bad ones won't smack me in the face or cut my fingers.

Six years ago, which is a long time, I tried to make the right decision with my sister, and I knew then that she would not forgive, though she might set it aside and act normal again after a few years. She never forgave me for telling mom she was pregnant, though mom did ask. She never forgave me for stepping in when her daughter told me she was being abused (the second time in a year). She doesn't forgive, she simply alters the relationship, and over time, it appears to be something ok.

I don't see her much, though that's not my doing. I don't really want to, as my biggest hook with her is still fear. What will she call me, what will she say about my husband? What deep dark part of my insecurity will she sense and slice open?

I saw her daughter too. I saw the daughter I was willing to put ahead of myself because I needed to do the right thing to help her. I knew the backlash would be long and painful, and I still came between them to try to help when it got out of control. They seem fine. They're not, but that's their "thing". After all, it's mother and daughter. I remembered this morning our old neighbor; a woman half-conscious with drug use and bad decisions with men dominating her life path. Her daughter begged me, "please, I don't want them to take me away from her again." Because moms are still moms, even while they're kicking you out or much, much worse.

So I saw my dad too. He looks so sick. He didn't seem interested in talking to me. Was he distracted by wanting a drink? Or is he in so much pain with what he's done to himself physically that he can't enjoy a talk? I don't know. He's kind of a shell, and they're shells, and then all my fishhooks, which I hadn't cared about because they were tucked away in an awesome little mental cigarbox, were cutting holes in my skin.

Mom decided to pull at her "i'll never be grateful enough" thing and get angry at me in this house. IN THIS HOUSE, where I am hurting. She means more than I do so often in our conversations, and somehow I feel horribly guilty for saying that, because time here means forgetting who I am.

The 90 minute drive home was like crossing an imaginary moat, where on the other side it's just me and my family and love and hugs and forgiveness. But I dragged with me hooks, and all day yesterday I fought wanting sugar, I fought my husband. I fought and fought, and then I grabbed him in the store and I cried and I said, "i don't know what I feel. It's not any of this I'm saying. It's not how fat I am, it's not that we don't have enough veggies in the house. It's just pain. Pain, pain. A few days and it'll be gone, and I'll be me. And I'll get my tooth pulled and see my dotor, and still not eat sugar. I'll sing a little, and get a few paychecks, and slowly pull those hooks out of my skin.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Something to Sink Your Teeth Into

Today I am going to the dentist.  Some people dread the dentist.  I guess I dread the dentist, but it's not for pain.  I can do pain.  It's for money.  It's very similar to going to the mechanic--will they tell me I need more than I actually do?  Will he try to talk me into an unnecessary crown?  How will I sift through the "must haves" (because our insurance has a VERY low limit) and the "$20000 mouth" that I am not sure I need so much.

Dental care is important.  Crucial.  But why does it feel like going to the car dealership?

18 years ago I had problems with my wisdom teeth.  I went to a dentist who advertised that you could pay cash and make payments and people with no insurance were welcome.  She didn't say "cleaning is only $48! with no insurance".  Instead, she claimed all around she was honest and affordable.  I decided with her to remove 3 of my wisdom teeth.  She did.  She put on a movie, numbed the area, straddled me when she needed to pull hard and got those suckers out.  She charged me $100 a piece.  It took half an hour, I drove myself home.  I just need a few more no-frills dentists around.  The last guy I went to wanted to put a crown on a tooth because of a "potential problem".  So.....no problem yet, but you want me to spend $2500 on a "possible future problem?"  By the way, the future problem would result in my losing the tooth, I guess, and then getting a $2500 implant.  So I'll take my chances.  I know I'm white and over-educated and all that stuff, but I still don't have money. 

Enough about the dentist.  I'm off sugar, and this is my 4th day, and I feel like HELL!  wow this is hard.  I'm eating wonderful food but our stupid addicted bodies want that sugar so much.  Stupid diabetes. 

I miss my girl who is in Michigan for a month.  I can't wait to give her a big hug.  I am also jealous of what she's doing.  I think that's key to being a good parent.  Picture what your kids are doing, and if you feel a little jealous, they probably have a pretty good life.  That may be oversimplifying.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

When I am Rich I Shall Eat Fish

Oh yes, I am blogging again.  Thank you, Corporate America Summer Job, for loading me with downtime, even though you don't want me to have downtime, so that I can blog which does not benefit you at all.


This is what I do with my day right now:
process contracts
deal with downtime
study French
study German
take practice tests in each
eat
make a label
ask people if there's anything I can do
walk around the office
LUNCH

you get the idea...I won't describe my afternoon.  I also contacted a composer on a piece I'd like to do in the fall, she seems excited.  I hope I can do it.  Now I don't want to let her down.  I listen to pieces for recitals I'm planning on doing.  very quietly because I'm in an office.

Life is funny.  When you look back at when you had a lot more money but you still worried about it, you realize you had a lot more money.  You didn't know then.  Getting a doctorate, working when I can, paying off stuff from the year of unemployment....it's stressful financially.  But generally, we can pay for groceries (not fish or nuts, or expensive cheese, but you know...)and an occasional coffee made by someone else (not daily, but occasionally) and gas (though not a full tank).  It's ok.  In the meantime, happy children I wish I were spending more time with.  I feel guilty because I'm home some mornings with the toddler, but I'm working, doing homework, etc.  And our time at the park becomes his time on the ipad while I have time trying desperately to meet a deadline.  Since every third article on facebook is about how giving your child too much screen time will make them into wild demon howler monkeys and you will be the worst parent ever, that's rough.

So there's that.  This feels like an incoherent update.  Same 'ol, same 'ol:  I wish I were healthier, need a new doctor, have a tooth that I'm avoiding getting pulled even though that has to happen ASAP.  My daughter just finished 1st grade and seems like she's 15 when you talk to her.  We're changing to a charter school (a term I didn't know before 5 years ago) so she can learn other languages and hopefully be the happiest 7 year old ever.

I barely see my husband.  I spoke to a woman yesterday who says that's the secret of her marriage.  Her husband works at night, she works during the day, they hang out on weekends.  I am not fond of this schedule though.  There's something nice about going to sleep with the person you married next to you.  So I'm logging that under "complaint".

I like dressing up for the office.  I like the lack of children here.  I like eating frozen meals and packing a salad.  Everything makes me feel like I might go nuts.  It's a great lesson in "why you working so hard to get a doctorate and do what you love."  I'm just not strong enough for this work.  I'm a weak, weak lady.

And when I get that professor job, I'm going to eat all the fish I want, pay off my credit cards and hopefully wake up next to my husband. It's good to have goals, ain't it?

Right after I wrote this blog, with my phone laying on the table in front of me for the last two hours, the phone rang.  I picked it up and a man said, "this is Tim." I said, "ok." He said, "someone just called me from this number (remember that thing about the phone sitting on the table, face up, in front of me?).  I said, "nope.  definitely not."  He said, "well someone did, (tense, angry) I'm just calling back."  I paused.  I said, "sorry."  He  hung up.  I don't mean to be judgmental, but I'm definitely having a better life than he is.




Monday, October 12, 2015

Nobody Said It Would Be Easy

I wonder if I should rename this "My Cactus Cadenza" now that I am living in the desert.  But as new as this feels, I think it's a part of the same mini ending.  You know how a cadenza works?  It's an ending and a beginning.  Sometimes it's at the end of a piece, sometimes at the end of a section.  Sometimes it's long and glorious, and makes you forget the whole piece.  Sometimes it's short, and you barely notice it's happening.

I think this is the long, improvised sort.  I am two months into my doctorate and I see why nobody said it would be easy.  My brain is full.  It's full of a combination of medieval music, George of the Jungle, a thousand bills we are just barely making, hope that our cars and gas will survive, wondering if either of us will make it to the doctor when we need to.  It's full of happiness, and wonder, and I love being in school.  It's full of dread, as so much rides on whether I will get a REAL job after this, not just another adjunct position that pays me less than $10K a year.

I am here.  And hubby is fighting his awful schedule, and I just wish he'd smile a bit more.  I wish he'd express moments of joy.  I am fighting to keep the family happy too.  Maybe that's the part nobody mentioned.  As I try to do all of this other stuff--three part time jobs, college exams, kid stuff....I feel happy an awful lot.  But it's so hard to see it in him.  So much complaining over money (who needs it?) and sleep (what's that?) and he's happy FOR me but not FOR him, even though his life is kind of awesome.  So much love here.  Cute puppies, a great house, kids who say "You're BACK!" when you come in the door.  Every time.

Someone remind me that this is what you're supposed to do.  If you feel things are stagnant, you make a hard change.  You play the cadenza and see what the next melody is.  Maybe we're due for a whole different piece.  Maybe it's just a new, slower section.  A ballad, perhaps, a love song.  You know?

The holidays are coming.  We like the holidays.  But I also miss the spiritual life I used to make time for, and this year's holidays are probably going to be too material, too secular.  Somebody stop the world, man.

I need a little rest.  And so does hubby.  Maybe this is a little prayer.  . . could he have some sort of vacation?  I don't know what kind.  Just some sort.  Obviously won't be paid days off of work.  Why do people take that for granted?

Ok....I need to listen to a bunch of monks chant and figure out how to tell one from another.  Wish me buckets of luck.

Never mind, wish me a gentle faith coming back.  One that finds me.  I am not ready for a kick in the butt, but a whisper of promise would be awesome.