Pantyhose and Eyelashes

control tops

SAI (Sweet Adelines International, the women’s barbershop organization I sing with) is more a part of my faith than any god has ever been. I joined when I was 14, which means very soon over half my life will be measured in pantyhose and false eyelashes. Many of us can say we would be completely different people if it weren’t for barbershop, and I’m no different. I can’t imagine my life without it, and I generally don’t want to.

There are moments, though, where I do imagine my life without it. I have doubts. I wonder what it would be like to offer the many hours I spend to another organization, maybe one that helps LGBTQ+ youth, promotes environmental sustainability, supports local individuals with mental health issues, or addresses race relations in my community. In a darker way, I find myself wondering whether offering my time and energy to this craft is frivolous and thoughtless in a time when there are so many other causes that deserve urgent attention.

People say you have to care for yourself before you can care for others, and this is our way of calibrating our own conscience in order to be able to do good in the world. But is it still self-care if I question my priorities more than I devote myself to them?

People say making music together is a unifying act, that it can cross barriers words and actions simply cannot. But is it still unifying if I look around me and see a largely homogeneous group of people, even internationally, and audiences that are only a mirror?

People say rehearsal nights are the ones you can be yourself, let bygones be bygones, and put aside any differences in the interest of learning and harmonizing together. But am I truly myself if I continue to be terrified by views and ideologies that threaten me or people I love?

I’m not going anywhere–at least, not yet–mostly because my reverence for the role models who have helped me feel like I have a place is too great. I hope to be half as inspirational to younger members as those people have unknowingly been to me. But I gotta say, I’m tired.

I’m tired of the language we use highlighting a gender binary and heteronormativity. I’m tired of having to accept defaults like women’s songs about men and vice versa. I’m tired of talking about our bodies in ways that focus on flaws and encourage self-deprecation, instead of in ways that appreciate strength and function. I’m tired of the assumed holiday (read: traditional Christian Christmas) chorus season. I’m tired of fighting tooth and nail to defend a fairly innocuous piece of music for its perceived philosophical undertones while being expected to sing any song that has overt Christian roots. I’m tired of worrying that more inclusion in membership will only highlight people’s differences or create more polarization and ultimate alienation of new members.

Mostly I’m tired of thinking I’m “just too sensitive” for noticing these things and wishing for an atmosphere that does seem to be moving in the direction of greater tolerance and inclusion.

In the church of barbershop, sometimes I wish there were a minister who could offer counsel.

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Pantyhose and Eyelashes

Listen To This: August 2015

I make monthly music playlists that rarely make it in front of other people. They used to be seasonal, but I like the more narrow approach of monthly playlists, because it’s fun to be able to see almost exactly when I discovered an artist or album. These aren’t impressive or particularly well crafted, and sometimes it’s downright embarrassing to think I thought highly enough of a song or listened to it enough to include on a playlist. But I don’t cheat at Scrabble and I don’t edit my playlists once they’re created, so what you see here is the raw accumulation of things I decided to add throughout the month. Continue reading “Listen To This: August 2015”

Listen To This: August 2015

Sorrows End – Sonnet 30

The most popular post on my blog is a collection of quotes from a movie that were originally stated elsewhere. The movie is The History Boys, and it contains a delightful assortment of snippets—songs, poetry, quotes from other movies, literature, you name it. I decided to compile all of these allusions, complete with accurate citations, nearly four years ago, and it turned out that others appreciated my sleuthing enough to make that my top-visited post of all time… even if it is simply an assortment of completely unoriginal material.

Ego bruising aside, I’m glad I investigated the original quotes. I developed an appreciation for A.E. Housman and—most importantly—I enjoyed Continue reading “Sorrows End – Sonnet 30”

Sorrows End – Sonnet 30

Aging Gracefully, According to a 24-Year-Old

2015 queens crowns SAII must have woken up in a rare mood of sentimentality on September 23, because when I got in my car and heard the first droning, synth-y chords of Alphaville’s “Forever Young,” something strange happened in my chest. It wasn’t sadness or despair, but it wasn’t particularly positive (though I can’t say I often feel enthusiastic about this song or the band I now know to be Alphaville). I knew it would be stuck in my head all day if I let it play—and yet, I couldn’t bring myself to change the radio station.

This was the day before my 24th (golden) birthday, which to many people might serve as an explanation for unidentifiable negative emotions. After all, who wants to listen to a song about eternal youth on repeat on the eve of a birthday?!

Continue reading “Aging Gracefully, According to a 24-Year-Old”

Aging Gracefully, According to a 24-Year-Old

Away

9/1/14

I’m away a lot. You know when you read that in books something bad is about to happen. “They were married, but he was away a lot” = he’s going to start cheating on her during business trips, or she’s going to divorce his ass. “She was away a lot” = she’s flighty, unreliable, and likely to be fired soon because she can’t keep herself invested in the long-term commitments others find commonplace.

Continue reading “Away”

Away

Throbbing flowers outside

20140313_184843If you have hardwood floors in your house, and if you own a cat, and if that cat has a tendency to shed, and if the floors aren’t particularly clean, well then… rather than hearing the usual pat-pat-pat when you walk on the floors in socks, you hear a sort of muffled pffft-pffft-pffft sound from your footfalls.

It’s not a collection of dirt and grime that would crunch under your shoes; it’s just a layer of soft puffs of kitty hair.

Continue reading “Throbbing flowers outside”

Throbbing flowers outside

In Disparagement of February

februaryIt’s February, and I’m convinced that February in the Pacific Northwest is one of the most dreary experiences known to man. It’s almost superimposed depression—inescapable and paralyzing. Apathy is binding and compulsory.

The February-like qualities of the Pacific Northwest (cold, wet, dark) are often present throughout the year, but they’re heightened and exaggerated right now—to the extent that the earth’s foggy dampness seems to permeate human brains and bodies.

Each February that I’ve spent in Olympia, I’ve noticed a trend in my own behavior: wanting to sink into the most soul-crushing, mind-numbing, bodily degrading demeanor I can, trying to find a delicate balance between practicing existential self-awareness and completely ignoring my own sanity.

Continue reading “In Disparagement of February”

In Disparagement of February