17 February 2019

What is Good?

The last two days have been full of despair and fear. I have exactly $20 cash to my name. One of my most promising opportunities for the summer may not even happen -- leaving me very much in the lurch and forcing me to make long-term decisions sooner than I anticipated. And overall I've been feeling very alone. I just want to spend time with someone, but it seems everyone's busy. And this makes me frustrated because I feel guilty for needing so much people-time.

I was reading over the last few posts on this blog the other day and I realised that it's been pretty depressing here as of late. I want to do a 'good' post, a sort of hopeful post, but I didn't know how or what about. So I'm just going to bullet-point it.

- This past week I've finally started work on Kyrie again. I'm truly loving writing this story right now. I'm trying not to think too much about how many plot holes and loose ends there still are and how many characters are severely underdeveloped.

- Peanut butter banana smoothies. Some days this is literally the only thing that makes me happy.

- I recently obtained a copy of Crumbächer's incredible album Escape From The Fallen Planet on vinyl. This is one of my top five favourite albums of all time, and I've wanted it on vinyl for several years. I finally got a chance to listen to it today, while reading the lyric sheet.
I've known and loved this album (on CD) for years now. It was one of only three albums that I could stand to hear for about six months following my cousin's sudden death, so I played it a LOT. But there were always a few lyrics that eluded me, and now, reading them in full, soaking in the rich, full sound of the vinyl, I discovered (as I had rather hoped) another layer of conceptual and sonic depth to this album. This is what I love in good music. This is what I look for -- I look for the music that will give me new things for years and years to come, no matter how many times I play it.

- My mom and my brother came to visit for a few days. It was nice to walk around campus actually talking to someone rather than wandering about all by myself.

- On Friday one of my friends came up and gave me a hug.

- Michael W. Smith's '80s output. (i 2 (EYE) and The Big Picture.) Also the Imperials' ...This Year's Model.

07 February 2019

For Free

The perfectionistic self-hatred is bad tonight.

Will I ever be good enough? Will I ever practice enough to satisfy anybody? Will I ever actually earn the title 'dancer,' without some authority insisting that I'm not good enough for it?

How good do I have to be? How many more hours of practice per day do you want from me? Is the fact that I practice literally to the point of physical collapse -- sometimes twice a day -- still not good enough? What will be? Three times? Five? Ten?

I'm almost up to professional ballerina practice hours -- though I'm still a student and am looking for actual paying work on the side -- and I'm not even getting paid for all those hours of my life that I spend in the studio or the practice room. If I was getting paid even $12 an hour (which I think is roughly minimum wage) for all the hours of practice I do, I would be making $430 a week. A week. I'm currently making $0... but I'm still doing it. (Never mind the fact that 'dancer' or 'performer' is a highly specialised field and probably should be making something more like $50 an hour -- or, $1800 a week at my current practice schedule.)

In other words, every single week I'm doing over a thousand dollars' worth of work -- for free. I don't even get recognition or thanks or anything for the effort I'm putting in... I just get yelled at for going to the place that the choreographer set for me in the choreography two days ago that he apparently forgot about. I get yelled at for turning my face away from the audience -- because I was in the middle of a turn that HE choreographed. I get told by my teachers that I'm lying to them when I tell them how many hours I'm practicing every day because they haven't seen enough improvement to make those hours feasible. (Do they not think I'm just as frustrated about it -- if not even more so -- then they are?)

$1000 per week of time and energy and effort (not to mention wear and tear on my dance shoes).

A lifetime of being told I'm not good enough and not doing enough even though my schedule is maxed out and have literally no more hours in the day to practice -- per week.

For free.

How the hell is this justified?

I just want to be good enough for you. Tell me what that will take. Or have you just decided you hate me so much you will never tell me that I really am a half-decent dancer/performer?

Will anything ever satisfy you -- you, the choreographers and directors who hold my destiny in your hands; you, my teachers who of all people know where I started; you, perfectionism, the demon in my mind with the whip, telling me I don't deserve to live because I'm not good enough and I never will be.

01 February 2019

Music Day - Treasure Of The Broken Land

Four years ago today, dear Brittney left this world, flew beyond the stars without the rest of us and our leaden souls still tethered to time.

I discovered this song probably about a year and a half after her death. It was Mark Heard's (recorded) swan song before his sudden death in August 1992 (Brittney would only have been a month old at the time). It so perfectly captures the tension of being alive on earth and missing those no longer on earth just a phone call or a text away. The song is rich with longing and even a touch of regret, but it's up-tempo enough to keep it from being unlistenable.

My words are weak in the face of such lyrical dexterity, so I'll let the lyrics speak for themselves...

I see you now and then in dreams
Your voice sounds just like it used to...

I thought our days were commonplace
Thought they'd number in the millions
Now there's only the aftertaste
Of circumstance that can't pass this way again...

You were relieved of a life-long thirst
I was dry at the fountain...

I often still wonder why she got to die and I didn't. I attempted suicide just over two years after she died, and yet I lived. Why then didn't she? She had so much more to offer than I ever have. Why did I have to stay while she went on without me?

I awoke when you called my name
I felt the curtain tearing...

Remind you of anything? Like Terry Scott Taylor's gut-wrenching One More Time? 'I thought that I heard / Your voice call my name / But that couldn't be 'cause you walk beyond the stars... Here inside a dream / I see you standing on a hill / You smile, then turn away / Now I must go...'

I could melt the clock hands down
But only in my memory
Nobody gets a second chance
To be the friend that they meant to be...

If this line doesn't force you to re-evaluate your entire life, I'm willing to bet a lot of money that you don't have a pulse. In just a few words, Heard throws the unforgiving march of time and the fragility of human life into razor-sharp focus.

Title: Treasure Of The Broken Land
Artist: Mark Heard
Album: Satellite Sky
Year: 1992
iTunes here; YouTube here.

We live in a broken land -- I think we'll all agree on that, at least to some extent. But she was a treasure in this wasteland of false fronts and manufactured love. She was the real deal. And I miss her every day.