Thursday, February 28, 2008

i'm still here

so, i'm stressed out. jiggling my leg impatiently as i inhale the bad cancer-causing smoke that i told myself i would quit by the time i was 30.

this is the first time i've wished i had an anonymous blog. because i'm working through a certain stress that i wish i could vent here. but i worry that someone relevant to the stress may read this blog. i doubt it, since one of the things about the relevant person(s) is that they seem very clueless to my life. but i can't risk it.

i don't have an anonymous blog. i've been tempted, once or twice. but since part of writing this blog is about putting my voice and therefore "name" out there as an artist, i've signed on to everything with my real name.

so i'm wound tight and i don't know what to do. not only is there this unbloggable stress, but there is also the creative capital "letter of intent" deadline one tuesday (3pm EST) and at least one if not two city grants due monday. and a book review. and some web stuff. haha.

lovely partner has been encouraging me to think for myself. to prioritize what is the most important and to fight for what i need. she rarely gives bad advice. this is no exception.

on other newsfronts, i'm midway through a story that is haunting me. it's another rude one that bound itself in front of other ideas in my head. spilling from my pen until i realized it would prolly be the next of my finished tales. i decided earlier this evening that i will bite the bullet and include a certain taboo that creeped into my mind a couple days ago. i'm worried it will "taint" the story. but it actually lends itself to the plot. so, we'll see.

okay. wish me luck.

i just wanted to shout out to two folks. ana l, have a good trip. i'll miss you. kw, you're beautiful. just keep performing.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

on stasis and equilibrium

feeling okay right now. my head isn't about to explode. part of it is that i'm tired. i should go to sleep. part of it is that i'm on autopilot. or something. found a stupid game on the internets that i won't even link to here because it will suck out your soul like it has been mine.

not quite even-keeled. but really kinda bored.

dearest readers, i have one deadline next week and two grant requests to submit by 3/3. please help me do them. i will link to them later on.

for now, i think i need a cigarette. oh yeah, blood relatives, forget that you just read that. i don't smoke. really.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

on neediness

i am reaching for your hand
i am looking for your eyes
i am straining my ear to hear your voice

i know what it feels like
i know how they look
i know what you will say

because i am eating
with my senses
while i'm starving my stomach

i consume everything
all the time
voracious and not easily sated

give me give me give me
your every secret
the essence of your very soul

i want to suck your life
just so i can sustain mine
i am a vacuum

what i have is more than enough
but i want more
much, much more

i will take it from you
you won't even notice
in the tone of your voice

the sigh of your breath
the pauses between words of significance
and as you walk away

i will lick my lips
with that crazed glint in my eye
searching for the next one to consume

Saturday, February 16, 2008

so, is this the answer?

what seems like ages ago, i was on myspace requesting friends like crazy. one of the myspace accounts i requested was the "arundhati roy supporters." i don't know how i came across them, or why i requested them as a friend (they are, after all, merely supporters of arundhati roy and not roy herself). they took a long time to accept the request. but today they did, and as a comment, they left this quote:

"The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget."--Arundhati Roy

i feel like it was an answer to the entry i posted only a few hours ago.

dammit, AR, you're good.

on mistakes, starvation

i'm not the most careful person. it took me a long time to realize the best way to combat this is through thorough editing. but alas, i keep reading stuff i write, over and over again, and still, i find mistakes in every single go. everything i have been doing lately has felt laced with sloppiness and imprecision.

i know, i know, i only recently wrote a post about failure. yes. yes. thanks for reminding me.

but it is unnerving. i think that part of it is my starvation. both physical and emotional. i'm still having trouble eating. i am happy to report that i did just eat a bowl of soup. but i know that my sudden reduction in caloric intake has probably taken its toll on my brain cells (i remember at a student life meeting at oberlin, the nurse practitioner stressed that anorexia can actually cause weightloss in the brain. i don't think i'm nearly that far yet, but it still bothers me). i've also been pretty starved in sleep, and in rest. getting to bed after 3am has been pretty standard in the last weeks. and then i'm not really taking the time to "stock my pond" if you use a julia cameron term .

i did take a quiet moment on wednesday to visit the altar they had set up outside resistencia to pay my respects to raulrsalinas. i had gone there to give him my energy, but i feel like i came away from it taking his. i couldn't help but hear his voice telling me--in that ever so mellow yet robust tone--to chill out and take care. raul, i'm here to say thank you. i would pray. but losing my concentration in a mix of grief and fatigue.

i've spent a bunch of paper time mocking myself. you know, writing, you're an asshole, you're a fool, what a fucking shithead you are, stuff like that. and this attitude has bled into my interaction with people around me. beloved people around me, actually. i've been mean. i've been distant. i've played strange games that make sense to no one, including myself.

it's a spiral, this. because after i posted that note about raul a couple days ago, i had resolved anew that i would live. not just live, but live long and fat. i would be like my uncle, that 85 year-old codger chain smoking and handing out pithy advice. i would be the one who people would look to for survival skills. i will be the one to live and live and live and show people that you can be colored and queer and strange and creative and you don't have to die before your time is due. you don't have to be sick, you don't have to always be living on the edge of survival. i would make it look easy, so no one could question my existence. and i would laugh and laugh and laugh, even when it was sad. laugh long and hard enough that no one around me could help but laugh along.

i resolved this but two days ago. and now? i want the darkness to envelope me and comfort me. i want to find a hole in the ground just cold enough that i will begin to shiver. i want life to run away from me, so fast that i can't help but let it go.

so i go back and forth. despair. then i berate myself for my despair. i see kristina wong's show and i'm inspired. but then i go home and create problems in my head. all alone, just drama after drama unfolding into the blackbox that is my brain. i write and write, here in the blog and in my self-hating journal. but my stories have been untouched and they call out--grotesque and demanding. my mom visits and looks at me sympathetically, but she knows she can't quite stand me up. and i take her visits not as the loving omens that they are, but as some type of guilt trip--you should be working on the opera. she would never say that. she would never think it. she would just say, you're doing your best, ke-to. that's all you can do.

mistakes, kt, mistakes. i know i need to nourish myself. my body, my mind, my soul. but what do you do when the patient refuses to heal. when all she has to do is take the pill and swallow, but she won't even open her mouth?

i want to open. i want to take it. i just don't know how.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

on our people dying

so it goes, yet another beautiful person of color is gone. raulrsalinas has passed.

i only had a couple of conversations with him. but each word was laced with a fierce warmth that would both unset and console me at the same time. didn't know him nearly as well as i would have liked. but then again, i have never known anyone as well as i would have liked; i often realize this after they are gone.

and so that bespectacled, pony-tailed, poetry speaking man who showed up, invited people to show up, who brought so many together, thousands and thousands of people together...

i wish. i wish. i wish.

old enough to have been an elder, but a bit too young to move on.

i know he wouldn't want me to be angry, not on his account. maybe on account of everything else, or the context... but i am. because i'm sick of losing amazing people of color--artists, community builders, nurturers--far too early. far too early. i'm angry at death. i'm angry at disease. and i'm angry at what it is that takes them.

sharon and ana have also written about him, with words so powerful and consoling.

go in peace, Tatooed Teacher, Mentor of Many.
but dammit, you will be missed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

on portraits

ever stay up late at night, talking with your bedmate, and then you realize the silliest things...

lovely partner and i were up late one night insulting our dogs. lovingly, of course. mila was a tiny little puppy when we got her. but she had big paws. we've always called her "man-hands." and then there was the name her breeder gave her, "smudge," which we liked, but couldn't quite adopt as our own name for her. shota also has a name his breeder gave him, "pinstripe." we refer to this as his slave name (since his breeder did engage in some....dodgy...uh....practices).

we realized that we could all have various nicknames.

we also realized that we haven't taken any family portraits since mila arrived. so i thought i would draw them.

the image above is us with our "mob" names--based on our faces. from the left: shota, mila, kt, lovely partner.

this left image is obviously about hair. i suppose this would be our bloodhound gang personas. or something like that. although, could be mob-ish, too.

and then there's this right image. it's more about our bodies. poor shota. he's been having this eating problem for over a year now. he gained a lot of weight back recently, but when he's thin, it's pretty sad. you know, whippets being naturally prone to thinness. and, if you haven't guessed, he's tan. and, since i did post a whole entry on my cup size, i hope you can infer correctly which one of us "boobs" is.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

on comments

just a quick note letting everyone know that you no longer need to sign up for blogger to post comments. i apologize for not addressing this problem sooner. i was, in fact, ignorant that this was the default setting. now you can comment to your heart's content, with or without a blogger account! so, comment away!

123 meme

la rebelde tagged all her readers with the following meme. since i've been itching to be tagged by someone, i took it personally.

here it is:
Pick up the closest book of 123 pages or more (no cheating!)
Find page 123
Find the first five sentences
Post the next three sentences

these are my three sentences:
"I wake at first light, even if I have blacked out every window in the room, no matter how late I got to bed the night before. It is as if I had slept myself out, used up that talent in that long terrible dragged-out yhear, and now I'm doomed to come awake early every morning, suddenly, completely, my heart pounding in my ears as if someone were screaming in the next room. [para break] 'It's your circadian rhythm,'Anna told me."

the passage is from dorothy allison's trash. i've been reading this book a helluva lot slower than i want to. mostly because the time before sleep is a bit more, uh, unpredictable than usual as of late. every time i open the book, i jump in and want to be drenched, but usually i have to emerge sooner than i would like. my reading has taken a toll in the last couple weeks or so. whereas i used to devour, i now mostly nibble. but there is something about this particular book that is so immediate and gripping for me. i think it's because it is allison before she became established, before the benchmark bastard or the breathtaking cavedweller. the writing is raw, unslick, and not nearly as virtuosic. and that is what is so compelling for me.

there's been a lot going around in the blogs i read about "failure." profacero and prof black woman among others. it's funny because i had only realized recently--while i was writing the MAP grant--that ideas of "failure" have been a part of my creative aesthetic for a very long time. of course, the other thing about these posts on failure is (at least with the academics) they will often reference judith halberstam's scholarship on queerness and failure. this is where i'm very happy i am not longer in academia because i don't feel obliged to analyze or block quote halberstam. (besides, prof bw does a good job of that anyway.)

and, i do take issue with some of halberstam's argument. something i discussed with her at length about two years ago when i met her. but in this creative moment, it does give me pause. i always thought i was steeped in failure (or imperfections) because i wasn't rigorous enough, or i was lazy. but i have come to realize that some of my most rigorous work is predicated on inevitable failure (my female body enacting icons of masculinity, obsession with "almost" unison notes, etc.). perfection in flaw. success in failure.

if halberstam's argument about queerness and failure is really true, does it mean that my aesthetic is that deeply rooted in my queerness? am i "hardwired" for failure? would my parallel universe straight kt twin be slick as slick can be? this reminds me of another theory i discussed at length in college that said that queerness is performance, and all performance is inherently queer. part of me shakes my head, and then part of me nods emphatically.

reading allison has brought me back to this. she is such a stunning writer. she creates intricate and nuanced sentences with deceptively simple words and prose. clear yet precise. and just beautiful. yet, especially in trash, there are moments of rupture. little specks of ugly mixed into the beauty. and i love those moments, even though i can actually feel allison trying to will those moments out of her writing. she eventually succeeds; it shows later on in cavedweller, where the language is so smooth and polished, it's butter.

anyway, thanks for the tag, la rebelde. i'm tagging everyone who wants to do this meme. it's fun, ya know?

Friday, February 8, 2008

on quantity

whatever people tell you, becoming a good artist is really about quantity.

no, hear me out.

in the artist's way, julia cameron talks about creating as an act of working through block. her two pillars of the artist's way focus on morning pages and the artist's date. morning pages start everything. the idea is, you let yourself write three pages of anything--ramblings, recipes, lists, or just plain unadulterated crapola. (the artist's date serves a different purpose, and one day, i will explore it here again.)

the artist's way has helped me a lot over the past year and a half, even though i have only gotten through the first five chapters. but that's okay.

because i've been "making."

the thing is, the difference between a working artist and a weekend artist is that the working artist knows and accepts that she will make crap. and lots of it. lots and lots of crap. and somehow, we decide to let the crap spew forth and then we cull and sort and sift to come up with "projects," to come up with "pieces." because in actuality, everyone, EVERYONE has the ability to create a masterpiece--so long as the stars line up. the difference is the working artist is continuously upping our chances and hedging our bets. the more we make, the more likely we can find that nugget of genius trapped in some dark corner of our cerebellum.

i see rigor, practice and craft not as a continuous search for my inner masterpiece, but rather a means to make my less masterful things more palatable. because "practice" and "craft" are just code words for, "i've worked really hard at this thing so that when i make crap, it seems more acceptable than the crap i made before i started working really hard at it."

in college, i once asked Mentor (who i will dedicate an entire entry to, i promise) whether i should continue editing a piece or move on. he said, at your age, just move on. write as much as possible. i followed his advice and for that winter term, i wrote one melody a day and kept a journal about it. almost all of those melodies were crap. i mean, super poor. but there was that one melody, i'm sure it was only 12 bars that came back from Mentor with the word "nice" written in red right next to it. and now, i know that even in my worst moments, i can write a decent, solid melody.

so i've been trying to concentrate on this "quantity" aspect of creating. it's a good exercise, because i have been known to be perfectionist to the point of paralysis. in fact, taking a page from cameron, i have a large piece of paper on my office wall that says, "dear god, i'll take care of the quantity, you take care of the quality." yes, a bit hokey, but something that i need.

i realized this evening that it's been a while since i've written my morning pages. but i'm okay with that. because thanks to this blog (and the myspace mistress), i've been writing pretty much everyday since the new year. and i see how that practice has seeped into my language, both written and spoken. it's tighter, it's smarter, it's closer to what i imagine in my head.

but of course, as the smart ones of you might have surmised, this means that the blog is my crap. yes, it is. and i thank you very much for reading my crap. or perhaps, i thank blogger for allowing me a venue to make things that i THINK people will read. it's really the same diff to me (although i admit that it strokes my ego oh so nicely when folk post comments).

here's to pure, unadulterated crap! long live arts and crap!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

r.i.p. my ipod/natural disasters

i believe it has died. it was a hand-me-down from wonderful partner. it's at least four years old, if not five. so, as electronics go these days, we've had a good run.

but i am distraught. being that singing along to ipod has been one of my ways to convince myself i'm not steeped in mania or depression. i never even got a chance to name her. poor ipod. now you will be a very expensive paper weight.

as a stop gap, i have dug up my old discman. listening to cds in their entirety is so very different. SOOOOO different. my "shuffle" mind gets a little confused when the same voice comes on, yet again! i think, wait a second, my computer isn't "random!" oh, yeah.

i was tempted to set up a fund on here to beg for money to buy a new ipod. like a mental health thing. "gimme money so i don't go crazy listening to my thoughts!" but i can't do that in good conscience. i will endure with my out-moded technology for my car travels. it's okay. i'm okay!

i will be fine. so, instead of giving me money for my ipod, i thought, hell, peeps should shell out to help all those folks who have been hit by those damn tornadoes. (this post now takes a different turn.) i once lived through a tornado. it tempered my fear a bit. but ever since i was a child and up to this day, tornadoes are the most terrifying natural disaster to me. and i used to live in super-duper earthquake country. i watched kobe burn in 1995. still, tornadoes are the scariest.

i wish i could be a well-informed blogger and have info here to tell you where to put yer money. i don't, just yet. i do want to link to professor blackwoman's post on the matter. if i can find out a local somewhat obscure yet awesome org, i promise to post it here. (if you know of such orgs, please post in comment.) but for now, i've sent a meager, meager amount to the red cross. you can, too.

just wanted to finally note: this is too many huge natural disasters in too few years.
in my logical mind, there are three possible reasons for this: coincidence, armageddon, and global warming. i've ruled out coincidence because, it's just really too much. and i'm not a christian, and even if i were, i'd be the kind that didn't believe in hell or blanket events full of wrath and judgement. so that rules out armageddon. so, global warming (and i use that instead of the stupid term, "climate change"--"climate crisis" is okay, tho'). hot enough?

and that makes me think about how i was listening to japanese news today at the store and they had very robust coverage of the storm/tornado damage. just as much, if not more/better than our own media. and then theres that solipsist dipshit in the whitehouse who has watched this happen. fucker. i wrote a few weeks back that i love america. that's what makes it hurt so much when i hate it like i do now.

i wish ipod was still alive, so i could sing yuka honda's "god bless america" really loud.

"in this pile-of-waste-filled land."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

arts stuff

it's super-fat tuesday, but we here in texas aren't voting, so. i'm taking a cue from wofflings and sharing this link. the dumb-ass monkey in the white house is proposing massive budget cuts in the arts (except for museums), including arts education (which is actually being eliminated), nea, neh and public tv and radio. look at woff's post for a good analysis. arts funding has been eroding for decades now. we artists feel it. and one day, all the visionary artists will suddenly realize that this country hates us, and we will stage a mass exodus to anywhere else--australia, japan, belize. that will be the day art dies in america. it would be nice to prevent this. please write stuff to your congress people.

Monday, February 4, 2008

on infidelity

i'm telling you because, well, i knew you would find out somehow. so i thought it would be better if you heard it directly from me.


i started a blog on myspace
. sigh. i know. yes. the one with the goth highschool kids and the bands and the famously unworthy dane cooks. i know. i knew better.

it started out harmless enough. we just flirted. i got a page because all the other artists had them. but i didn't get involved. in fact, i really disliked it. repulsed by it even. i would actively ignore it.

but then, something happened. i started getting friend requests from people who were not trying to sell me get-rich-quick schemes. i started making connections with people. like my cousin. and started learning strange tidbits of information about people i only kinda sorta knew. and then it went outta control.

it made me feel like i knew these people. like they could know me. like somehow seeing scrolling slide shows of their weddings and their kittens and their strange antics that involved gum, magnets, and a pineapple... it was like i knew their kittens and their husbands and their gum, magnets, and pineapples.

and then, it happened. i posted a blog. and i knew that was the beginning.

but myspace means nothing to me, nothing! it's nothing like i have with you. i don't tell it my secrets. we don't have a...history. it is only words! mindless, meaningless words!

how was it?

it's, um... different.

i guess i wanted to feel younger. like i still had it. like i could talk like the cool kids and the hipsters. you know, use emoticons and only spell out every other word. i still don't like it very much. and it's not because you're not meeting my needs. i probably won't be blogging there much longer. you know, once the novelty runs out.

but still, i thought i'd ask. can we have an open blogging relationship?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

on writing on creating on lists

i was looking at my planner and saw a little note at the top of the week that says, djerassi. this is my system for applying for things. write it in the week before. i guess that's what i'll be working on, the application for the djerassi residency. a very prestigious AIR program. right now, i'm tempted to apply for the composition residency, mostly because they have a special scholarship in honor of a japanese american composer. but, i also think it would be good to work on "una corda" musical musings at this residency. so, composition, right?

this is the multi-disciplinary perennial problem. i COULD apply as a composer. i COULD apply as a writer. i COULD apply as a performer in the "new media" category. hell, i COULD apply as a visual artist, although my portfolio of visual art is, in my opinion, "meh" at best. and then their's the whole time issue. it's an application for next year. what WILL kt be doing in 2009?

yes, i'll still be working on the opera. of course. but there are other things. may i take this opportunity to delineate my other projects? thanks. i knew you would say yes.

firstly, i have three short stories in my head at the moment. one is about half written. it has taken me a full year to finally find the voice of the narrator. she's a jerk. and it's hard to let the jerk come through and still make her sympathetic. i put that story on hold because two other stories suddenly decided to burst forth from my fingertips about a month ago. rude, rude stories! i wish i could tell my ideas to WAIT IN LINE!

the second short story, i've written about a page, and the voice is just not quite right. it's also difficult because for some reason, my characters want to be set in places that i don't know very well. i mean, i've known these places as an interloper, but i am not native to them (whatever that means). so that's what i'm grappling with for that.

and the third story only recently began to haunt me. when i was in high school, i was in love with this woman who was five years older than me. (she was in mathematical education at a prestigious teachers' college in japan, i needed help in math.) it was such a sordid relationship, i often forget that it happened. anyway, memories of this woman sometimes come back to me, in jagged fragments. and just the other day, i suddenly remembered one thing she told me, "you know what you should REALLY do if you ever want revenge..." so this short story is about what she told me i should do. the funny thing is, her suggestion was quite innocuous, really. unless you know what kind of person this woman was...

three short stories. and that's not covering the "novel." ah, yes. the novel. she started as a short story. a poetic, brief short story. then i started writing it and realized that the main character refused to reveal herself unless i went deeper and deeper into her past. upon reading the first five pages of my short story, my writing buddy looked at me, cocked her head, bit her lip, and said, "this is too much for a short story." shit. a novel. a fucking novel. i did a lot of research sometime in late summer. historical research. and then i tried writing while i was researching and the voice changed too much. writing buddy said, you have to let it sink into your subconscious. let it sit for six months. so that's what i've been doing. over christmas, i found a pendant at a craft fair that had the name of my main character on it. i grabbed the pendant and as i went up to the cashier, wonderful partner said, "what's that?" i said, "it's for my character. to remind me that i am still writing a novel about her." the pendant is hooked on my computer screen.

that's the fiction. and the opera. then there's that damn mail art piece i started a year ago. i have a few postcards, finished but sitting in my office unsent. and i have about 30 names still to send things to. i love this piece a lot. the thing is, i can see it going unfinished for some time. because i can't ever really see it stop being relevant. and new creative people come into my life by the day. proliferating creative types! can't you just stop reproducing so that i can organize and control you!

hmm. then there are the other pieces. like this george bush piece i started in 2002. it's the ugliest piece of shit ever. i've embraced the ugliness, but it's still not quite done. i keep telling myself, just pour some lighter fluid on it and set fire to it. run over it with the car. let the dog chew on it. i'm sure if i did any of these things, i would feel like it's done. but do i?

there's that video piece that i'd really like to start working on with my very talented video artist/puppeteer friend. and then there's a cache of videos that my alter ego DJ KeN-bO did for me. i have about five more clips like that. and all i need to do is take two afternoons and edit them down.

i suppose i AM doing one piece rather religiously. that piece is "artist wins the lotto." even though i don't care whether or not i hit the lotto anymore. but that's interesting, too, right?

oh. and i have two piano pieces. one started as a mistake when i was trying to practice chopin in Robertson in 1996. the other. when did i start that one? well, it was when i first became fascinated with stacked open fifths, so let's venture a guess of.... 1997? 1998? i think i'd need a commission to finish them. as i've written before, i'm scared shitless to finish music i can play myself. nothing like a little cash to get the creative juices, uh, flowing. i could commission myself. but the opera's already tying up my funds.

and then other things. fragments, bits and pieces. little secrets and soliloquies and confessions. strewn about my office, in my journals, across the wrinkles of my frontal lobe. so i ask you, in 2009 what CAN i possibly do?

(the wise question would be: what can't i?)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

on my body, myself

(note: if you don't want to hear about my body, my blood sugar, or my boobs [that might mean you, blood relatives!] please skip this entry)

i've lost weight. my scale has registered 149 twice in the last week. it's been a long time since i've weighed this little.

my weight loss is psuedo-intentional. both my docs (my pcp and my doc-for-down-there) have been getting on my case to lose weight since i am at high risk of diabetes. so, i've been half-heartedly changing some eating habits and stuff. but my multiple neuroses since the beginning of this year have actually enforced these habits. when i mentioned in passim that i was having trouble eating a couple of weeks ago, i didn't go into detail about how bad that was. in the last month, there have actually been days when i would have to force myself to eat. i've been trying to monitor this problem. i've also been trying to exploit it. some days, i feel like eating--a lot. so i do. i figure, so long as i average 1800 calories a day over a week, it's okay if i only eat 1200 on day and 2400 the next. and so, i've lost about 13 lbs since the new year.

i have complex feelings about this. on the one hand, 13 lbs is a bit much. it toes the line for "safe weightloss rate." but people who have only my health in their best interests have been telling me to lose weight. to get below 150. and besides, i've been thinking it would be helpful to lose weight for my role in this play. but i'm developing some dangerously cheerleader-like thoughts about my body and my appetite. i'm enjoying the weight loss, it's helping me look at myself in the mirror. and i'm beginning to enjoy the hunger pangs in my stomach--this is something i know is bad. and having worked in student affairs for several years (not to mention once dating a former anorexic), i know that this is a first sign of an eating disorder...

that said, i'm at HIGH risk of getting type 2 diabetes. everyone in my dad's birth family is genetically predisposed to obesity. in fact, my dad is the only one in his family who doesn't have diabetes. my dad, who probably ran an average of 30 miles a week when i was a child. who made running marathons seem like a matter of just paying the fee and wearing the tacky t-shirt. my endorphin-addicted dad who eventually started cycling when his knees started giving, this time averaging about 50 miles a week on his bike. my dad, who hiked the entirety of the appalachian trail, who managed to hit every state capitol between new england and south dakota on his bike until he had to stop because of high blood pressure. when he was in his mid-60s.

my mother's family is rather thin. but that's partly because they eat a japanese diet. that said, they are also genetically disposed to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and, oh yeah, every type of cancer under the sun. woohoo!

so you can see why losing weight is generally good news, even if i'm worried about how fast it's happening and my emotional state around it.

and then, last week, out of the blue, wonderful partner asked me my cup size. now, most of you will know that i'm not about my boobs. i wear sports bras. because my main goal in using bras is for compression. so it's probably been at least a decade since i've measure out my cup size. i said, i dunno, c? then wonderful partner sighed and said, good. because i just read that women with cup sizes d and above are at even higher risk of diabetes. i looked for the article, it is here. phew, i said. then, the next day, i got curious and pulled out our measuring tape, found a website on measuring your bust size and calculated.

i'm a d. i might even be a dd. woohoo! i wish i was a girl. then i'd probably really be glad about all this. when i was little, i always thought i would be an illustrious member of the itty-bitty-titty-committee. but i wasn't. my friends would often voice that they wish they had my breasts. and i woud shrug. i've never much cared for my ta-tas, even if people i've been with thoroughly enjoy(ed) them.

but i am genuinely surprised. especially in light of my recent weight loss. i think that most of the weigh i've lost has been from my belly. this is great, but i wish i could just lose all my breast fat first. sigh.

shortly after my mom died, i was convinced that i would die of cancer. it's one of those things you think, right? i even quit smoking because of it (that lasted long!). but now i'm like, maybe i'll die of diabetes. i know you can't really die of diabetes. but i have morbid fantasies about losing parts of myself to diabetes, one limb at a time, until i became just a torso and a head. then again, no one really dies of cancer, either. they always die of "cancer-related complications." stupid shit like staph infections, pneumonia, or (in the case of my mom) a bump on the head.

who knows, i'll probably just choke on a chicken bone like mama cass.

all this thinking, though, has really reminded me that i've been living inside my body like i'm some type of guest. i've learned to accept that this is the body i will have for life. i've accepted it, but i still don't like it. i really, really wish i could.

Friday, February 1, 2008

on lessons

i was talking with lovely partner about how i actually turned in the grant. she is also facing a huge deadline and she asked me if i had any advice or wisdom to offer. we talked and then she said, "that's bloggable." so here i am. i don't want to seem preachy or anything, but i just wanted to share some things i've learned in the past couple weeks working on this application.

1. you WILL go crazy. resisting only makes the insanity worse. the best thing to do is find a relatively safe place to act out your craziness (i.e. your blog, rehearsal, conversation with a
mutually crazy friend, etc.) and just let the craziness wash over you. bask in it and set it free.

2. pay attention to your fatigue and anxieties/fears. be very careful about parsing them out. because fatigue and anxiety tend to look and feel very similar. but they need to be addressed and resolved in radically different ways. you must always heed your fatigue. you must rest, so long as time permits. but anxiety must be resisted and neutralized. sometimes addressing one alleviates the other. for me, walking the dogs helped my brain rest but also helped me talk with my fears and soothe them. the fear wants you to stop so that you don't have to move forward. the fatigue wants you to nurture yourself so that you can keep going. take care of them both.

3. you MUST ask for help. this has been a very difficult lesson for me to learn. This can take many forms. I asked for help from you, dear readers, on being accountable. i asked for help on the synthesis of the project by enlisting collaborators. i asked for help on the proposal by sending out drafts to friends who i knew could give me good advice. asking for help not only gets other people involved and shouldering some of your work, but it also gives you a sense of humility. and humility is what you need to actually finish, because otherwise, the perfectionist just keeps telling you that it's not good enough and you miss the deadline.

3a. that said, it's important to be mindful about how you ask for help. not everyone will have the desire, energy or space (timewise or emotionally) to help you. so you choose from whom you ask help wisely. you cast a wide net. i asked eight people to look at my draft. three people wrote back to me. and i was really touched by how detailed and generous their comments were. what these three said was more than enough.

i think that's it. any other deadline advice out there?

signed, sealed, delivered

the MAP proposal is in! i uploaded it and posted the works with several hours to spare! i'm done, baby!

thanks to corey, wura and ana l. for looking through my rough drafts. especially ana for sitting down and looking at my penultimate draft and helping me streamline the language. thank you, wonderful partner for reading it in the 11th hour and getting really excited about it. i really think the proposal is quite good. and thanks to yvan and eve for tolerating my last-minute request as collaborators on the piece. as a celebratory gesture, i am including parts of the project description here:

“Una Corda” is a five-part solo performance with live musicians and video meditating on the multiple facets of cancer.

The una corda pedal on the piano causes the instrument to strike only one string. The effect is a dampened sound that makes the piano whisper. People I know who have lived with cancer have talked about not quite feeling “one hundred percent”—still the same person, but muted, quieter, fuzzier. “Una corda” is also Italian for “one rope/thread.” Cancer often serves as the unwelcome but unifying thread amongst people of many different races, classes and sexualities—people who have never met but are somehow kin. My mother died of cancer six years ago. Only within the last year have I been able to examine that life-changing experience within my creative life. This project explores my own vulnerabilities as someone who has been touched profoundly by cancer. At the same time, it treats cancer as a social and aesthetic signifier invoking discourse about grief as a spiritual process, health care as a machine, and the different symbolisms of cancer within our collective societal memories.


My training as a singer is limited to sight-singing classes and membership in my conservatory chorus. However, as a conservatory-taught composer, I know the operatic canon and its stylistic traditions. This specialized knowledge but imperfect training underlies the main aesthetic of the project—one based on the tension between mastery, and failure. The imperfection, the awkwardness, and the visible struggle between my limitations and the medium fully engage the idea of cancer. Cancer is disruptive. It is unpredictable. It is “wonky.” Overarching ruptures in craft and skill interspersed with moments of virtuosity determine the profile of the piece.

The general structure is a setting of Latin Mass (i.e. Kyrie, Gloria, etc.). An original libretto is interspersed between and layered onto the Mass. Although the liturgical Mass genre comes with its own set of histories and conventions, I am interested in how the language of this genre changes and interacts with the genre of opera. As a set text, it intervenes in preventing any treatment of cancer from becoming too literal, clichéd or hackneyed. I am also deeply invested in the spirituality of Mass. It has been the vehicle for Catholic piety and corruption for centuries, rich with themes of transformation, epiphany, and redemption. While I set parts of the Latin Text in “traditional” chorales, other parts are set in radically new ways: sometimes throat-sung, sometimes whispered, sometimes piped through a computer voice. While this characteristically Catholic text is the organizing principle of the opera, I complicate and diffuse it by interjecting and layering the Buddhist ceremonies, chants and imagery I so closely associate with death and cancer.


On Process:
I will employ different techniques for the writing and composition processes. Some sections will begin with a libretto and then set to music. Other sections will consist of music and words created simultaneously, including structured improvisation and indeterminacy, as led by creative director, Yvan Greenberg. As the main performer of the piece, I will train with a vocal coach in multiple vocal techniques.