30 December 2016

Music Day - Father Explains

Originally written 9 July 2016, 12.21am.

Been playing this song a lot lately. The gritty vocal, desperate lyrics, and raging guitars resonate with me right now.

This is one of the few DA albums that flies under the radar even among fans. Admittedly, it was well-nigh impossible to top their previous album (Darn Floor - Big Bite), plus there had been a hiatus of five years in between the two (mostly dedicated to the creation and perpetuation of the Swirling Eddies).

I've been listening to this song mostly because I identify with the line 'The boy thinks God may be over on the devil's side...' I've asked the same question myself in the past few months. After all, how else do you explain some of the things that keep happening to me? Literally the cycle is this: I hate my life for two years. I finally wake up one morning in a happy frame of mind and am finally enjoying just being alive, and all that comes with it. And before the sun sets, something very catastrophic happens -- divorce, death, all the usual crap.

The bombs came down like steel rain...

And it's another two years before I'm okay again for even a couple of hours. I don't even get a full day. I don't even get twenty-four hours. Seriously, God, how hard is this? If the joy of the Lord is my strength and I have no joy and I have no strength, then where is God? Is He deliberately planning these things just because for some reason I'm the cosmic punching bag?

I'll stop now. (Believe me, that's only a very tiny fraction of the rant. I went for an hour and a half on this the other night.)

This is a song clearly born in the Cold War era. Perhaps it's a little melodramatic to compare my spiritual life (such as it is) to something as horrific as war. But a lot of days, this song is the only thing angry enough to be capable of sympathising with me.

Title: Father Explains
Artist: Daniel Amos
Album: Kalhoun
Year: 1991
iTunes here; YouTube here.

And God only knows how much blood it will take
Before someone makes right all the wrong...

28 December 2016

Fear and Trust

Trust. Fear. Courage.

The latter two terms have been themes on this blog lately. My life since my cousin died has been consumed by fear -- fear of someone else dying. Fear of leaving. Fear of staying. Fear of creating anything in case it sucks. Fear of myself. Fear of others. Fear of God -- what if He kills someone else?

Courage -- I've written about it before, but I have not lived with a single speck of it. As mentioned before, I have created absolutely nothing since my cousin died. I lost NaNoWriMo this past year for the first time EVER. National Choreography Month is in less than a week and I don't have a single plan. I listen to music and I don't see the dancers anymore. I go places and I don't feel the stories anymore. It's like my soul died when she did. And now I'm just stuck in this meaningless limbo called life... this driving to the grocery store and back, this waking up at 8am and eating oatmeal, this sitting in front of my computer and refreshing Facebook because I have literally no idea what to write for any of my papers. How much can you force creativity? I had points before my cousin's death where I thought I was, but now I look back and think, you weren't really forcing it -- you were just complaining about 'lack of inspiration' because then people are impressed by your dedication to making art anyway.

Trust -- how in the actual world do you trust a God who lets a child die in the face of all the prayers for her life? How do you trust a God who claims to hear and bring comfort yet leaves you in the lurch for two years? How do you trust God when His very people turn against you and tell you you are not wanted or even needed?

I can't get out of this black hole called my life unless I trust Him -- but to trust this unpredictable, distant God with my already-broken heart is insanity. What if He crushes it even more, until it's mere powder, carried on a cruel wind? Is trusting Him with my pathetic life really any better than my pathetic life now? On the other hand, is this crippling fear of what more He will do to me justified? Is it holding me back from something good?

But how do you trust a God who is not averse to letting people die?

10 December 2016

A Voice of My Own

Originally written 5 November 2016.

I have a fairly intense singing semester at college this year: choir, voice lessons, and vocal master class. I'm spending more hours a week singing than I ever have dancing. The music students and faculty I interact with keep saying I'm improving, but I don't hear it and instead of gaining momentum I'm actually shrinking back. I haven't really sung in two days -- I've been in the practice rooms, but I've been doing breathing exercises or lip trills or speaking the text for the songs I have or playing the melodies to 'get them in my head'... but no actual singing takes place. I've mentioned before how I hate the sound of my voice and it seems that no matter where I turn I run into my voice, this awkward, clunky, wooden thing that can hit a note but sounds like the screen door on your grandma's old farmhouse in the process.

Their big thing here is volume. Because I hate my voice so much, I speak and sing as quietly as possible so people won't have to suffer the fate of hearing something so ungainly. I've done this for so long that I physically can no longer speak or sing very loud. My second year here stretched my volume boundary a bit, but not as much as is expected of me. I'm in this constant battle between wanting to sing more loudly because that's what my teachers ask of me and never wanting to sing again so no-one has to hear me.

Where did this come from? Nobody has ever outright told me they hate my voice. I've gotten 'I hate you,' and 'you sing flat,' but never 'I hate your voice.' Even the person who told me he couldn't stand me and basically wished I would go die in a hole told me I had a nice voice -- in the same conversation. (Come to think of it, that probably explains why I have such a hard time accepting compliments.)

It must have come from experience... The experience of being in that youth group and not even having a name. The experience of telling my parents I was NOT okay with a certain arrangement they had made and having them ignore me --- thrice (even after watching me spiral downward dramatically after the first two instances). The experience of constantly being ignored and shushed (and rebuked for the things I did say) in the youth group and having the God-card pulled on me at home. The experience of screaming to God for help, comfort, peace, anything for months when hell broke loose in 2015 and hearing nothing in response.

Nobody valued my voice -- literally or figuratively -- until I came to this college. I spent twenty years being systematically silenced and told I meant nothing, that my opinion didn't matter, that my voice was pointless. And now I have to sing loudly? Are you crazy? Who wants to hear that? Nobody.

09 December 2016

How To Make Adrenaline Soup

Written 29 November 2016, 3.56pm.

Prepare three major papers. Simmer for three weeks.

Toss with two surprise (as in not-on-the-syllabus) presentations. Slowly pour in four all-nighters. Sprinkle in three cancelled classes.

Add snow (with all the childlike joy that comes with it). Reheat last Saturday's tuna casserole and add that as well.

Add a liberal shot of excitement for the Christmas musical.

Mix well and serve.