Living on a string of harmonic paradigms

As I sit here trying to think of how to put the words down, I’m struck by the hundreds of possibilities, hundreds of routes this one little post could take. I feel like my mind’s continually expanding, not unlike dry-rotted elastic, to be honest. Think hairtie: you pull to stretch it out and it just gives, with a little initial unsettling snick-groan of resistance. Then oh– well it just keeps going, the elastic inside fraying and crumbling away while the threads that bound it stretch to their breaking point– eventually you have a ring about twelve times the size of the hairtie.

The only issue with that is finding out what to use it for, now that it’s been ruined for its original purpose.

That’s kind of where I think my brain is right now. Just crammed to bursting with new information and pressure, not to mention deep concern and love for family and friends, combined with the stress of keeping grades up. Now, I love school, and think it’s fun– but the fact that I struggle in some subjects worries me and is material for endless hours of freak-out. Let me see you take a harmonic dictation for an eight bar excerpt from the literature and put roman numerals beneath it. Then have that make up twenty-five percent of your grade, or have it determine whether you fail a course or not.

That’s okay, I can’t really do it, either.

It’s really a learning process, and it’s better to gain the skills– they’re what’s important. But if my grades slip? I lose a scholarship. And other semi-important things, oh, I don’t know, self-respect.

So classes are stressing me out.

But I’ve really wanted to write, lately. And I’d like to write every day, without pressure or obligation, since I get too much of both from school right now. I do think it would be a nice change to just sit down and let some pressure go through words, though. I haven’t done that regularly in probably a couple of months, and I’m sure the style of this blog post shows it.

Oh, shit. Okay, well it’s 1202, and I have class at 1230 and I need to listen to that dictation one more time before it’s due. Maybe I’ll see you later, WordPress.

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Crescendo to a thought

As always, Brendan’s blog got me thinking.

I wish I could say it made me think about how great people are, and how humble I strive to be, or even how much like Jesus we should try to be.

Instead, it got me thinking about three separate things.

One: a behavioral pattern I see here at Eastman.
Two: ideas that have been swarming in my brain lately.
and Three: that Brendan needs to write a book.

Relating to one, which I think is the most trivial of the three…
I see a pattern between the “partiers” here and the “religious kids.” The religious ones either keep it to themselves or go to extremes to invite people to their well-behaved events. We have one group, called InterVarsity (it sounds like a sports group but it’s a Christian organization here) that holds all kinds of events. But somehow it kind of seems like they’re in their own little bubble. They’ve extended information to the non-affiliated kids (like they mentioned a gathering to me once, I think) but to me (the non-affiliated), they seem a little upper echelon. A little too good, if you know what I mean. This may or may not be true (I don’t know) but that’s the vibe I get.

In addition to these Christian sects here (and they do separate, we have more than one little club for each denomination), there are the party-goers. The weekend warriors, if you will. It does get incredibly intense here during the week and to me, an outing seems like recreation to release stress (even if it becomes an unhealthy behavior eventually). Now I don’t see any of the partiers in the Christian groups. I could be overlooking someone, but I don’t think I am. In fact, there almost seems to be some animosity between partiers and groups like InterVarsity. I do recall on Ke$ha night being asked in the car if I was a member of InterVarsity… if I was my new best friend (whom I was, uhh, like laying on) was going to kick me out of the car, regardless of our shared sports views.

Back on topic, though. So. My friend Katie here said the other evening to another friend, “When’s church in the morning? I think I’m going to try to go.” This surprised me, because A.) Katie and I were going to the River Campus that night with the intent to find somewhere to dance (to the uninformed it looked like we were going to get smashed), and B.) Katie had never seemed the “type” to go to church.

I realize this is silly thinking on my part (slap on the hand for stereotyping) but to be honest she hadn’t fit the mold for kids I know here that go to worship services. That got me thinking, why can’t I try to go to church? Granted I would love to sleep in on Sundays… but maybe I could even go to a youth group thing or something here. Who knows? But then again, I’ve been known to be out late on weekends. That doesn’t make me any less of a follower of Jesus, though, does it? Then I thought perhaps some of these groups needed a reminder that, first of all, drinking isn’t a sin (hello, wine in the Bible). And secondly, most importantly, Jesus loves the sinners, too. I’m not saying that I go around getting wasted, swearing and having wild monkey sex with everyone I know (because obviously that’s not really my game plan here). But someone who’s not to hip to the holiness thing (aka me, or anyone else, really) is just as loved by God and (if they’re doing it right) should hopefully be just as loved by the little clumps of Christians floating around here with their wooden cross necklaces and conservatively buttoned shirts.

That about rounds out topic number one for me.
Topic two? IDEAS.

Liz Shropshire will be the speaker at next Tuesday’s Colloquium. I. Am. So. Pumped. I really want to get involved with that. In case you haven’t heard of the Shropshire Music Foundation, the link to the site is here and I blogged pretty extensively on it here, because man, am I excited. It’s finally a window (dare I hope, a door?!) into using music to make a serious difference in peoples’ lives. Children’s lives, more specifically.

That brings me to ideas. I haven’t even heard Ms. Shropshire’s spiel yet, and I’m already planning what could be done back in my hometown to bring more revenue to the Foundation. Then (it’s ambitious) what about starting something similar of my own? Maybe a mix between School 17 here (it’s a huge string instrument program for younger kids, but in a city school, if you’ll believe it) and the Foundation. The ideas are still molding themselves, shaping like silver ore in the forge that is my mind, but it’s exciting. To think that the training I receive here won’t restrict me to performing for the elite (if I ever get that good)… it’s really cool. I could use my degree(s) to pour the salve of music into the bleeding gashes of the world.

That said, here’s a poor segue to topic three.

Brendan needs to write a book. Yeah buddy, if you’re reading this… I feel like now’s the time. Okay, maybe in a few more months. But soon. Use your blog and some other topics, get them edited (Jordan and I did offer, oh so long ago…). I’m not trying to flatter you, I’m being honest. Reading words from someone so young in the scheme of things, who’s really trying to connect to his faith and figure crap out is really inspiring. And it makes your audience think. Or at least it makes me think. It’s so real, too. Like God is giving you words with which you can poke at someone’s thoughts. Little nudges. And they show that you absolutely don’t have to be some godly snot in order to have a real relationship with Jesus.

So, whenever you’re ready sir…

On that note, this post is so done. I have theory homework to do. But those are just some thoughts before studio class that I feel needed to get put on a webpage.

Your mission for the day? Listen to the song 'Why do they shut me out of heaven?' It's a Copland tune with words by Emily Dickenson. The Barbara Bonney version is pretty decent.

Here’s a criminal mind… mine

I have discovered why I have been so unhappy lately. Why my senior year of high school made me so miserable. Why there’s just this little spot of rot just above my heart that keeps eating away at me.

It’s because I’ve reached the point in my life where people expect a great deal of me. So it’s not only my own self pushing me, but I have to live with the idea of those I respect the most really counting on me. Counting on me to make the most of myself, to kick ass in college, to do so much with my life. To learn more than how to tie a string of eighth notes together.

In addition to that, I’m facing the stark reality that the dreams and hopes I’ve carried for so long might fall to the wayside. They might never happen. The best intentions could result in the worst circumstances. So many terrible things could happen and with the drop of a hat, my life’s course could change forever, take an angle I’d never considered before.

I’ve always considered myself lucky and blessed to have grown up in the environment I did. Last night I was trying to fall asleep and found myself thinking about Criminal Minds, and writing. I’ve been obsessed with the show lately (lately meaning, a few months on and off), and in my daydreaming (and actually dreaming) hours have found myself picturing scenarios, picturing an alter ego of myself acting and solving crimes. Getting inside the minds of the Seriously Screwed Up and figuring out how they tick.

My interest in psychoanalysis doesn't come from these guys, but the show adds fuel to the plot-generating fire

I realize there are only about eleven real profilers in the world, and don’t worry– I have no intention of switching careers right before Eastman. But I’ve always had a lingering fascination with the why of the human mind. What trigger in their past claimed their energy and turned it to murder? How did their parents’ relationship affect them, how have vital occasions in their life turned them into serial killers?

Mingled with my predilection to write, to tell a story, this appreciation and interest in psychoanalysis has led me to develop some pretty whacked out plotlines. Despite my glee at arriving at such atrociously exciting stories, though, I can’t help but think, in all seriousness, how do people do such horrible things to one another?

I tend to wonder about and picture every possible aspect of others’ lives in my spare time. We could be driving past a suburb and I wonder, who lives in that pretty house, and what are they hiding? What do they enjoy? Do they hate their job? Dog or cat people? I see two Canadians come into Tim Horton’s and I think, why are they traveling? What brings them to Gowanda? Do they come to Timmy Ho’s because it’s familiar or they want coffee or they need directions? Or potentially all three?

It’s a compulsion to be curious, I suppose. And with that compulsion comes certain darker thoughts, especially when I mix it with a healthy dose of serial killer research and my own life.

If someone had gotten into my house at night– which, I’ve discovered, would be pathetically easy– and killed my family, how would that affect the world? If I–or someone near me– snatched up that root beer bottle and smashed it over someone’s head, what would the consequences be? Would they be evadable? If there was a slasher in the backseat of the vehicle I always make sure to lock, how would I escape them? How would they try to kill me, what would their past look like if mapped out, to lead us both to that point?

Then it all circles back to, how do people do this to each other? What was the significant event that pushed that button: kill, hurt, maim, make suffer? How is it that beings who are predisposed to crave love, end up creating ruin? Is it in pursuit of love, of attention? How can it be rectified?

All this from the spinning mind of a soon-to-be music student. Maybe I should stick to eight notes.

Worrying away: the nonverbal power struggle between me, myself, and God

Self v. self. God's just chillin' somewhere waiting for me to figure it out, I guess

I’m a scaredy-cat. This is just how it is. I’m scared to admit my faith, scared to admit that I might (le gasp) not really be in charge of my existence, scared to think that the control I come to rely on so heavily might be merely a perception. Not real.

Basically I’m scared to admit that I’m a flawed human being that’s not in charge of my life.

This is the biggest thing for me to admit. It’s taken me quite a while to arrive at the admission, too: I’m a control freak. Not because I have a compulsion to lead the way: not at all. On the contrary, I simply don’t want to be seen as weak. I’ve grown up in an atmosphere of strong, confident, vital women. The core people in my life are primarily female, and are all incontrovertably strong in their own way.

I’ve been told, however, that I take after my grandmother, my mother’s mother. We both have the blond hair, love of food (she reins hers in, I don’t), and deeply seated need for peace. She suffered through two divorces and raised three children single-handedly while working full time in order to obtain her calm, her center of balance. So as much as she hated it, she stood her ground for her children. She refused to be run over by others. Now she’s happy.

Me? I’d just as soon give up than fight, but in addition to that Libra-esque desire for balance, I seem to have inherited the moral compass and backbone from my mother. A ruthless sense of justice and equality was bred into my blood; so I’m torn in two. While one half of my heart wants to lay down the sword (or whatever) and stop fighting, the other half will claim fairness. Will demand it, if it’s not given right away.

What to do when two warring halves of myself collide with the idea that I should give my life to God? My selfless and giving nature says, go for it. Just do it, and see where he will take you. You’ve already gotten so far, imagine how much you could grow with a little spoonful of faith. Or more.

The demanding and aggressive section of my brain would like to know what happens when God leaves me again. When he decides to test me again– which I’m positive will happen– and I’m left alone in the mental and emotional darkness that seems to fall on me whenever the glow near my heart fades and takes God’s presence with it. What then? Am I left to resume control until he takes charge again? Or should I lay down arms and be stampeded by whatever until God chooses to remember me once more?

The warrior and the peacemaker in me can’t decide.