musical milliner

September 22, 2014

Vivace!

Musical Milliner offers her kind regards to all of you who have hung in there with her the past five years as she has been circling the Inferno that was her life. She’s/I’m (changing tenses here) glad to be alive, and pleased to tell you that despite dedicated and focused attempts to dismantle my psyche and resources, I am well.

On this lovely atumnal equinox, I feel…balanced. I swear, I didn’t  plan that last sentence. Exploited the opportunity, certainly.images

My sons are thriving. I am rebuilding my business, and I am experiencing one of the most productive phases of my life in music.

Socializing is still a bit of a challenge. Ever the introvert when not performing, but I am taking steps to improve.

Here’s the thing: I recently heard a song which reminds us that after so many years on this journey we all share, comes a time to lose some of the load. Keep what you need or want, and continue in a leisurely stroll toward the sign marked “exit.” It takes so much effort to keep track of all the emotional hording, and is so unnecessary.

Who knows, I may even write an upbeat lyric or two. God bless the lot of you.

June 8, 2010

Perche: It’s Been A Long Time

After forty years of wedlock, the Gores are calling it.  The news was everywhere this week.  Another crap thing to awaken me. Not that there is a lack of hard news more deserving of consideration. I made the mistake of reading below the fold on a couple of online news sources. Big mistake letting my eyes wander down to “comments” sections, where evidence of the demise of civilization lives.

Bilious remarks. So distressing to read what people will write because they can.  Even if somewhere in their witlessness they possess a  modicum of decency and common sense,  this medium allows the freedom of abandoning social civility filters. That’s the thing about the internet-observing the dichotomous nature of human behavior. Why is it that there is so little grey area, no via media?

Trending on Twitter, Gore pick-up lines. I just cannot find the humor in this, likely due to my sensitivities around these issues. Too close to home and all.

For me, the topic at hand is discomforting. Why would anybody have a run of forty years and then take a walk? Closer to home, why would anyone have a go for a quarter century and then say “Basta?”

Coming  to such radical action after so many years is never made casually.  At least I can’t imagine such a decision lacking gravitas and discernment. It takes thoughtful examination.  I found some statistics which correlate length of marriage to divorce rates.

“Marriages are most susceptible to divorce in the early years of marriage. After 5 years, approximately 10 % of marriages are expected to end in divorce – another 10 % (or 20 % cumulatively) are divorced by about the tenth year after marriage. However, the 30% level is not reached until about the 18th year after marriage while the 40% level is only approached by the 50th year after marriage.”

Rose M. Kreider and Jason M. Fields, “Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 1996”, U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Reports, February 2002, p. 18. http://tinyurl.com/2eukywl

Am I reading this correctly?  The longer the marriage, the higher the divorce rate?  Do these facts not belie our assumptions that marriages which  fail do so early on?  Those first years require much adjustment,  faith in the relationship, and commitment to the institution to keep a couple focused. Sometimes it’s a matter of absolute, unmitigated will.

(Achtung!  I did not interpret these statistics correctly. Please refer to the comment posted by our resident astrophysicist, Claude Plymate, who will explain things clearly. Thank you, Claude.)

By fifty years of marriage, forty percent of all couples have split? It’s both shocking and telling.

Why do people make the choice, especially women, who are almost certainly entering a  social market for a new partner in which they can’t compete with women twenty years younger?  Old problem.  Middle aged men, especially Alpha males, can collect and trade on experience and  financial stability, qualities young women find attractive.  Middle aged women find they lack a corresponding allure, and the pond is full of men their age and older who are not Alphas.

It’s a cultural disease.

What about these women who find their decades long marriage over?  Take the circumstance of  twenty years as a stay-at-home mother and wife. A woman has managed a household so her partner is able to pursue and excel at his chosen career.  She has used her time to nurture children, volunteer in schools and community, perhaps created a little home-based business to supplement the family income for those “extras.”

Why on earth would a woman with the first three levels of Maslow’s pyramid even consider stepping out alone when the odds are stacked against her?

Since I invoked Maslow, let’s take a quick review of his hierarchy of human needs as the foundation of self actualization and authenticity, and see if we can connect the dots a bit.  As I took a minor degree in Humanistic Psychology, Maslow  was and remains one of my primary influences. To some readers, this might be dismissed as fuzzy, touchy-feely nonsense. Maybe. If your paradigm is structured around Empiricism, the Humanists can drive you bonkers. Human behavior belongs to Rationalism. One hopes.

So, back to our married woman who has stepped into the elevator shaft. In her experience, she has clearly achieved the first level of the pyramid by having her basic physiological needs met. A roof over her head, a way to feed her family- basic stuff which human beings have sought since we decided caves made good houses.

On the second level, Maslow  discusses the human desire for a related physiological need- security. Put  a door on the cave so the bears don’t break in and munch on your kids like so many tater tots.

On level three, having made the cave homey and secure, we have the ability to seek and sustain relationships which create community. Maslow explains this as love and belonging. We are predisposed to love those with whom we share the cave and create friendships with the inhabitants of neighboring caves.

It is on the next level that things become complicated. We begin playing in the higher mind zone. Our esteem needs have to do with how we feel about ourselves both as individuals and in relation to others. If we do not feel valued, if we lack self-respect and/or do not feel it from our relationships, our spirit begins eroding.  We get stuck on this level. We forget about the cave and the door and the full larder, and we can no longer fully experience love and belonging. A hitch now negates the first three levels.

From this level, we look up and see that we ought to be moving through a place wherein we begin realising our inner potentials. We seek meaning and purpose in order to experience self-actualisation. If we have been busy with the business of meeting more basic needs, that distraction at some point ceases to serve us, and we become distressed over a conclusion that we have not been living authentically.

A kind of madness takes root. The desire for truth in us is so strong that vanity is overrun. It is here where the messiness catches up. We can’t fix ourselves, we can’t fix the relationship. There is an experience of harm over-balancing good.

And so we make the agonizing decision to walk away.

Why would one choose to leave knowing the odds are that the balance of one’s life will be spent alone? Hows does a woman find a humble job, let alone a viable career in a hideous recession?

Aye, but you brought it on yourself now, didn’t you?  What an idiot. Right?

For the sixty percent who make the long haul, surely many of those marriages came to similar crossroads and for whatever reason decided to carry on, conscious of and accepting of compromises. I suspect more than a few stay put out of fear over losing the lower half of the pyramid. They bear their esteem and self-potential needs silently. Or not.

I have to believe that there is a good portion in this demographic who have had the right mix of personalities, maturity, purpose and maybe some alchemical influence to live contentedly.

Somewhere the Gores got stuck, like so many of us. Unlike so many of us, Tipper is not going to be out trolling for a minimum wage job.

I wish them well.

(c)GoshGusMusic (ascap) 2010

May 29, 2010

Cantabile: Notes From the Brothers

Filed under: City Life,Lyricist,Poetry,prayer,Transistions — by SAMM @ 1:00 pm

A Poem by My Son, age 14.

Quatrain II.

Since before I could remember
He was there as I would slumber
My brother in the top bunk
And little me just under.

I always got in trouble
When with his things I would fumble
Much more interesting than mine
At times we two would tumble.

I tried not to annoy him
Although I had a system
Which very often backfired
We’d each become the victim.

My brother soon will leave here
A thought that used to bring me cheer
Alone in our room at last
Nobody else’s presence near.

But now that time will soon arrive
I wonder if I can survive
Falling asleep alone
Don’t tell- I think that I might cry.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap) 2010

January 15, 2010

La Sonnambula: Grief and the Liminal Place

I keep bumping into a word. It’s a familiar experience. One day, you hear a word with which you are mildly acquainted, but haven’t heard all that much. Then for no apparent reason, it appears, sprinkled into conversations or text with noticeable frequency. It’s both annoying and intriguing. Right? But collecting words enriches our experience. And as German language speakers well know it can be a hoot. Let’s stick to English.

For several years, a regular feature on the inside back page of the Atlantic Monthly was Word Fugitives. Readers would send in clever notes, such as the following from the July/August 2004 edition. Lots of fun to read the creative suggestions that made the column.

The second fugitive sought in March was “a term that describes the momentary confusion experienced by everyone in the vicinity when a cell phone rings and no one is sure if it is his/hers.” Paul Holman, of Austin, Texas, suggested conphonesion; Pam Blanco, of Warwick, Rhode Island, phonundrum; Alan Tobey, of Berkeley, California, ringchronicity; Jim Hutt, of Blue Mountain Lake, New York, ringmarole; William A. Browne Jr., of Indianapolis,ringxiety; and Gordon Wilkinson, of Mill Bay, British Columbia, fauxcellarm.

Taking top honors is Michael W. Pajak, of Portland, Maine, for being the first of many readers to suggest the apt coinage pandephonium.” (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200407/wallraff)

You get the idea. Every once in a while I’ll catch onto one of these and play with it. Of course we can play with language. How dull would it all be without this delicious pleasure? Sometimes it’s  a thoughtful word, a word that strikes a  tune in your thinking. And in your aural experience.

My new ear worm is the word  liminal. Unless you have spent time studying psychology or philosophy or some other “ology”, it’s a word you’re unlikely to toss about in everyday conversation. But here it is, and it won’t leave me alone. I know exactly why I am obsessed with this one.

In the past two weeks since my friend died, I have been plagued with a common grief reaction:  I awaken with a hard smack most mornings. I am dreaming about whatever, and in the passage from sleep to full consciousness my peace is abruptly disturbed when I remember what a crap time this is, and how  much I dread getting on with my day with this heaviness of heart. I wander off, underlining the hours until I can return to soothing linens of an indulgent thread count, a down duvet, and the half-dozen pillows I like to burrow under. It is indeed comforting under the comforter.

Sleep does not come easily because although my body is relieved by the cozy set-up, my thoughts are amplified as my brain betrays me, and I’m stuck with a familiar rat chasing these eternal rotations of my mental wheel. Insomnia is a bitch which has taken root in the past few years and is situationally exacerbated.  Usually I find sleep by means of an iPod with comfy headphones. Music is so often the cure in my life. Thank God for such a wonder.

The space in time between these two states is the liminal place. It is betwixt and between, and serves as a transitional period for our emotional states, our brain function, as well a means by which our bodies are nudged into activity, or from activity into peaceful slumber.  The early twentieth century anthropologist Victor Turner described the liminal state as the passage between childhood and manhood in certain African tribal cultures which practiced coming of age rituals. In fact, one can find examples of these practices in most non-Western cultures. (http://www.liminality.org/about)

The etymology of the word derives from the Latin “limen” (nominative case)  and liminis (noun,genitive case, third declension…I live in a house where both sons were required to study Latin, which means mom had to learn a bit as well.  I salute Ms. Firth in her persistence.)  But my sources concur that the English translation is “threshold.”

The very word used to describe this void in which change unfolds, is grudgingly recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary-2 (1989) only as an adjective, and not at all in it’s noun, liminality. (http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/liminal.htm) OED-3, began a major overhaul in 1993, and to date is not yet one-third complete. Words such as liminal and liminality, though not truly within common usage, are expected to be added  due to their increased inclusion in scholarly applications. (Ibid)   OED-2 gets picked on for it’s snootiness and perceived bias, but at 221,000 entries, it retains it’s place as the most authoritative English dictionary. (www.oed.com/newsupdate/revision0712)

Language is, or should be, elastic enough to accommodate  evolving usage.  I could get into a discussion here about email and social networking shorthand, which some see as the demise of English language, (and I don’t),  but that will have to wait for another day.

Back on track.  So we have this space between two places of consciousness. It’s a place where we process and integrate. It can’t be codified into a specific length of time. The liminal time seems to be fluid and mutable. It may be seconds or minutes.

My thinking is that when we experience significant disturbances in our daily lives, we do not spend the necessary  time in the liminal. We awaken with a spurt of catecholamines and don’t experience the liminal transition which is intended to ease us into or away from conscious function. There is something about the import of liminality which makes it essential for well-being.

I’ve managed to sleep a requisite number of hours. My dreams, as I can recall, are benign if not pleasant or interesting.  Yet when I slam into wakefulness, I am tired.  Not forever. Just right now. Another part of  my current situation. The full liminal meal will return, but apparently I need the shock of adrenaline to get me moving these days.  It just doesn’t feel right.

(c)GoshGusMusic/ascap

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