Lent FAIL the First

March 5th, 2017

So I’m using Lent as an excuse to jettison some bad habits and jump-start some good ones, and thus far it’s mostly gone well: I’m off Facebook and I’m back on the fitness plan I started in October 2015 (which included going for a four-mile run yesterday when it was 21°F outside with 25 mph winds). But astute observers may have noticed… well… that I didn’t post anything yesterday.

I don’t have a good excuse. The day wasn’t particularly busy, though warming up after the run did take a good while. I didn’t really do much else, including six of the other 11 items on my “Things I Really Should Do Today (But Probably Won’t)” list. I did make soup, and I did shoot whipped cream directly out of the can into my mouth, which is objectively the best way to eat canned whipped cream. (And yes, this shooting of whipped cream did comply with my fitness plan, because dammit I ran four miles in weather so cold my phone shut itself off, which is a thing that I didn’t even know could happen before yesterday.) I guess I was feeling intimidated, reasons for some of which feelings are in the immediately preceding post.*

So… yeah. This is a make-up post. I admit my failure, and am soldiering on.

For funsies: In case you want a visual representation of the effects of yesterday’s temperatures, here’s a shot of the gorgeous ice patterns I was treated to when I turned off the kitchen light last night.

Mr. J. Frost has taken a large bite out of my kitchen window.

*One other reason: The taste/skill gap. Though one could argue that I’ve been writing for so long, the gap should be closed by now. Sigh.

A lot of writing around the bush instead of just asking for support, FFS.

March 5th, 2017

Note: I don’t like the way my posts are shared on my Facebook wall, so I’m turning off that feature after this post.

Geez. This is hard, yo.

When I was writing before, lo these two and a half years ago, it was much easier to be earnest and open and vulnerable. I felt like I knew what I was writing about—and that my audience (both of you) would understand it. Or at least you would assume good intent. I’ve become much more guarded in some ways over the past two years or so; I feel even more strongly than before about certain things, but I struggle with how to express those strong feelings without alienating, well, most people.

The thing is, I’m kind of cranky a lot these days. Anger is one of the stages of grief, and I’ve been grieving over a major life upheaval for a while. And that was before the presidential election in November; I don’t know that I’ve felt “normal” since I woke up at 3:00 AM November 9 and read the horrific news on the BBC (I’d gone to bed at 9:30—not because I had any doubts about the outcome, but because I didn’t want to have to watch the incremental roll-in of the totals). Although I’ve been more politically active over the past few months than ever before in my life, I still feel frustrated and powerless*. And exhausted, and guilty for not doing more, and overwhelmed.

Add to that an ever-increasing awareness of social justice issues and the very real consequences these issues have on specific people I care about as well as the public at large. Black lives do matter; systemic discrimination does happen; gay people do love their partners and deserve to be able to marry them (and call it marriage!) every bit as much as straight people, and marriage equality is not going to cause the downfall of society. White privilege exists, climate change and evolution are real, the refugee vetting process is already extreme, and Muslims are no more likely to be terrorists than you are. People can have tattoos (I don’t, yet) and wear more than one pair of earrings and dye their hair rainbow colors and go to protests and swear a lot and still be genuinely good people. These are all things I believed—or professed to believe—before October 2014, but I always felt vaguely uneasy about them, because they didn’t fit the narrative I heard most frequently. There was a lot of cognitive dissonance. Now I believe them wholeheartedly, without reservation, and I feel frustrated and angry that the narrative I had tried to believe in with all my heart turned out to be untrue.

Which means that of the several stereotypes that now fit, the one that many people will choose to see if I write about what’s frequently on my mind is the bitter (or at best misguided/deceived) former Mormon. I know the mindset that will interpret my current life this way quite well, as it used to be my own. And how can I profess to be happier (OMG, immeasurably happier) outside the LDS church than in it if most of my posts are negative?

Well, I guess I’ll just have to try not to care what people think. (Wish me luck with that.) And hope that most of my Lenten posts won’t be negative; in reality, they probably won’t be, because they’ll be too short to say very much. And hope that posting these thoughts in a public place will help me get some of this frustration out of my system. And hope, as well, that readers will understand—or at least try to—why I feel the way I do, and that relationships will remain intact, though some may change.


*Before anyone says something truly idiotic like “Now you know how we felt for 8 years under Obama”: That is not a valid comparison. The way you felt under Obama is similar to the way we durn lib’ruls felt for 8 years under Bush, and the way you felt under Clinton, and the way we felt under Reagan/Bush I. P45—I seriously hate the look and sound of his name—is far, far removed from anything the country has experienced before, and is equal parts nauseating and terrifying.

To thee all angels cry aloud

March 3rd, 2017

I was six or seven the first time my heart thrilled to music. I was in the back of our yellow 1977 Toyota Corolla hatchback, laying down (and probably drawing in the fog on the back window, even though we weren’t supposed to do that because it damaged the defroster wires), listening to ABBA’s “Waterloo”—and the lead-in to the final chorus, with its swinging four-note descending scale, made me feel trembly in a way I hadn’t felt before. I didn’t know music could do that.

Of course, I’ve since had countless breathless musical moments, and a number of full-on tearful ones as well. (The tearful ones are quite inconvenient if I’m, like, singing.) One piece that never fails to move me is the “Tibi omnes” movement of the Hector Berlioz Te Deum. I sang it with the Cascadian Chorale and the Seattle Choral Company in 2000 or 2001. To be honest, I didn’t love it, or even like it, the first few times I listened to or sang it—the dynamic contrasts felt too dramatic, and the grand “pleni sunt coeli” choruses after each quiet “sanctus” seemed abrupt. But gradually that changed, and now it’s a hymn that I prefer to listen to with eyes closed, muscles tense because I want to hold on to every moment.

There’s so much to love here:

So much tension and release with each verse; so much emotion in the heart-breaking quiet moments and the heart-pounding triumphant, brass-undergirded climaxes (especially the massive one that starts at 7:50—swooooon).

Here’s an abbreviated version, with commentary that made me hear things I hadn’t realized before (and wonder how Berlioz thought of all of the subtle, and non-subtle, touches that make this so riveting):

Someday I hope to sing this again. Last year the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood Festival Chorus performed it the day after my birthday, and I got to go to the working rehearsal two days before the performance. The chance to hear this colossal work live not once but twice, first in rehearsal and then in performance, by a fantastically talented group of musicians, and in Boston’s gorgeous Symphony Hall, was an extraordinary 40th birthday present. I’m pretty agnostic these days, but if there’s a God, I’m grateful to that deity for orchestrating (heh) such a wonderful experience.

Short, not unlike life itself

March 2nd, 2017

Today’s post will be short because Thursdays are busy for me.

A while back, I decided that life is just too short for cheap bread and cheap ice cream. Earlier this week, I realized that this list should also include paper products of all kinds—napkins, plates, writing paper, tissues. Because when you use thin, crappy paper products, not only is the experience of using them thoroughly unpleasant, but you have to use twice as many (even in the case of writing paper, since ink bleeds through to the other side). So really, THERE’S NO POINT.

A thought I had at work this afternoon: People who have to work in open offices should be provided with noise-canceling headphones free of charge. (When I communicated this thought to a friend of mine earlier today, it included many more capital letters and some well-placed profanity, as I was v. cranky.)

And something that delighted me: When I got home shortly after 10:00 PM, my 83-year-old landlord, who lives downstairs, was blasting “Waterloo” by ABBA.

Lent

March 1st, 2017

So… it’s been a while.

It’s hard to come back from such a long absence. I feel like I should write a long, explanatory post about why I haven’t written in two and a half years, and why I’m writing again, and what’s changed. But that’s a lot of things, and they’re complicated.

The short version about why I’m writing now is that I’m copying a friend of mine from a few years ago, who gave up not writing for Lent. As in, it’s much easier not to write than to write, so she gave up doing what was easy. One wouldn’t think this would have much to do with me, since Mormons don’t do Lent—but I no longer affiliate with Mormonism. (It’s interesting that my last post was during those excruciating final months when I was trying oh my God so desperately to fit myself into Mormonism, and failing, and going home in tears every week after the first hour of Sunday meetings.) I still sing with a choir at an Episcopal church, however, and Episcopalians do Lent, so I kind of started doing it a couple of years ago with friends. But lately I’m not particularly devout and I have no idea what I believe, so I’m not keeping Lent as an act of devotion or contrition. Mostly it’s just as good an excuse as any to start writing again. I’m also using it as an excuse to get the h*ll off Facebook for a while, because Facebook was sucking away my time and making me nuts, yo.

So, yeah. One post every day from now until Easter. Most of them will probably be short. A couple of them might even be interesting. I hope.