November 10, 2016

Election 2016 - The Winter of Our Discontent

As I contemplate the election of Donald Trump, I am reminded of Richard III's monologue at the start of Shakespeare's play: 
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;   
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty   
To strut before a wanton, ambling nymph;   
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,   
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,

Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,--   
And that so lamely and unfashionable   
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;   

Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,   
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun   
And descant on mine own deformity:

And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,   
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain        
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
My life, in a nutshell, has to push against, to resist the sort of anger and resentment voiced here, that lies deep within my psyche. To resist the urge to descend into bitterness, violence, Machiavellian schemes.

Barack Obama was the first president who gave any indication that I, as a transgender woman, had value, had worth, was a whole person. It was not at all popular to grants transgender rights, to appoint transgender staffers, to welcome transgender activists to the White House, and yet he did that.

And the enmity and slander voiced against our first African-American president by many, including those in my own family, I take very, very personally. 

So yeah, the past few days have been difficult. I have no doubt that among President Trump's first actions will be to revoke the rights and recognition that President Obama extended to people like me. Do not fear for me; I carry a lot of privilege and have the tools to blend in, become invisible, insulate. Most transgender individuals are not so lucky. But yes, I will and shall take that very personally - both as I interact with our President and government, and with those who have supported him.

There is a Cherokee story that has been woven into our teacher training program
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
 I need to continue to feed my good wolf, and to begin to starve my bad wolf. And that means holding myself apart from those people in my life who trigger my anger and fury.

November 08, 2016

No Gongs, Bowls, or Sound Meditations for Me

Apologies to those who create these energetic spaces. I'm not opting in.

I am both a musician and an engineer. My college project involved tearing apart a musical instrument (the marimba) sound - harmonic content, envelope, variation across the instrument range and striking force - create algorithms to describe the sound, and design circuits to duplicate the sound. We made a "one note analog circuit" that one could tweak / adjust to recreate any note on the instrument.

I cut my teeth on analog synthesizers - no MOOG, but we had an old ARP 2600 to mess with.




Of course, digital sampling came along and made all that analog design stuff kind of passe. But it's deep in my psyche, and my work and hobbies (power quality / sound reinforcement) have continued a focus on harmonics, spectrum analysis, waveforms, etc.

So yeah, when I lie down on the mat and you start gonging and chiming and ringing and droning, my left brain starts to go to work - analyzing the sound, pulling about the harmonics, drawing the envelope. That stuff keeps me firmly rooted in my monkey mind. Not a good fit for me.

I'll take silence and stillness, any day.

November 01, 2016

Life Update

So, what's new with me?

It's been a rough year. Not in any of the more traditional ways - work has been busy; health has been stable, I've been a bit more financially stable and sound than in many years. Nevertheless, I've been in a bit of a slump or malaise for quite some time. Not exactly sure I can put a finger on it but I'll hit the major hobbies and communities and see where this takes me.

Making Music

The Guinea Pigs had a bit of a slow summer. We've had some personal issues (family members needing care, injuries, busy work life) which have kept us from doing too much playing out. And we seem to have been a bit snake-bit in terms of gigs. A Blue Back Square gig got rained out after the first set; a Wethersfield Farmers' Market gig got canceled due to illness, a Billings Forge Farmers' Market gig got canceled because it was the day of their farm-to-table fund-raiser and they were cutting back on the noontime farmer's market.

Nevertheless, we played a set at Blue Back Square (before the rain got us), the last Wethersfield Farmers' Market of the season, and a really wonderful fundraiser for the Manchester Community Refugee Resettlement Group (MCRRG) to sponsor a Syrian refugee family at UUSE in Manchester that raised $950. We've learned a few new songs - Blue Bayou / mashed up with Under the Boardwalk, and Ex's and Oh's which was fun. I'd love to see us network a bit more - the Glastonbury Apple Harvest Festival, the Connecticut Farm and Folk Fest, and the Meriden Daffodil Festival should all be within reach.

Audio-Video Geekery

Once again, I supported (which is to say, I provided the entire sound system) for the annual Om Street: Yoga of LaSalle event which this year drew ~2000 attendees. There are a bunch of videos of this event available, including a great (and official) time-lapse, and something more professionally edited, but I like this one because it documents the scale of the event (close to 800' of street) and the sound system working all the way to the back....


In a less positive space, I attempted to promote a wonderful duo, The Levins, at West Hartford Yoga in October. Five people showed up. Disappointing to say the least - they deserved better. I deserved better. I quipped afterwards, "Every couple of years I need to give this community the opportunity to break my heart, and it never fails to do so". So I'm set for a couple of years of introversion and vague bitterness until the wound heals and I let myself hope again.

Hearing Music


Falcon Ridge was, by all accounts, fabulous this year. I would not know - between campsite buddies not showing up early and significant issues with facilities, I spent my "hang out and relax" days camped alone, worked non-stop and had a pretty shitty time of it. Our falling apart merch trailer never made it to the site, a replacement was found, but our supplies (carefully curated over 9 years, and carefully packed away each year) were in the old trailer. Some never made it to the fest, what did show up was too late to be really useful. It made for an extremely cranky Jude.

Still not sure what it means for the future - I suspect I'll be back but probably looking to camp alone closer to the merch area.

That being said, I got a lot of music under my belt this year; with trips to the Sounding Board, Iron Horse, Bridge Street Live, Folk Fridays, Infinity Hall, Unity House Concerts, even up to the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse in Franklin MA for a CD release party. Love live music and gonna keep showing up...


Balloon Chasing

More of the same. I did a presentation on social media at the local balloon club safety seminar in January; enjoy sharing my experience and wisdom there, although not a lot seems to stick. We've flown a bit this year - mostly out of Bethlehem, which is a bit of a truck. I did get a photo voted into the balloon club calendar:


The judges (whoever shows up for the contest) tend to have a "more balloons in the shot = better" criteria, so I rarely get something chosen, but this one is nice.

Yoga  - Teaching

Ironically and with no real comprehension as to "why", everything is awesome. My two weekday All Levels classes continue to be very well attended (occasionally with more folks on the mat than the hot / power class in the larger studio next door). I picked up a 4:30 pm Friday gentle class (the teacher was leaving town) and though it seemed like it was going to be a temporary thing; I've built a bit of a following there as well.

I know I'm a good teacher, and should not be surprised, but considering the struggle I have with my own practice, it's difficult to understand. By all rights my teaching should be falling apart; and it appears not to be. My internal story - each class is tinged with bittersweet energy "this is the yoga I want someone to teach to me" and it's not happening.

I remain engaged with the studio Teacher Training program - very hard and long weekends, very rewarding. More bittersweet as the trainees engage in the practice and making life changes that I seem incapable to connecting to these days.

Yoga - Practicing

Not much to say here. I practice at home enough to keep my body limber and strong enough to teach, but I have not unfurled my mat in a studio in months. There's just too much emotion and pain wrapped around the  studio community - feels like if I broke in the way I need to break, I'd never teach there again. I'm a little too old, overweight, and chronically injured to get much out of the studio's hot / power classes. Seems like I've gotten a little too much of a look behind the sanctuary wall to let go with many of the studio teachers.  So yeah, still kind of stuck.

On the positive side, I've redeemed a very generous gift certificate (bestowed back in 2011) for a May 2017 workshop called Big Magic and Bold Music, with Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love) and Rayya Elias. So even though it's not really yoga, well, it's AROUND some yoga. One of those "not really sure why I am drawn to this, but I am, so let's see what's there" situations that I've come to expect and trust over the years, but which have been sorely missing from my life.

Testing . . . Testing . . . One . . . Two . . . Three . . .

Hey look, there's a blog here.

Pretty sure that this is a personal record for not blogging; my business blog has seem more action than this one has of late. I've shaken up my work life a little bit of late and hoping to be a little more engaged with life (personally, professionally, etc.) as a result. Time will tell....

But, for the moment anyway, I'm back...