CAUTION: DO NOT ENTERI say a lot of things I have no right to say.  I’ve been known to comment on race (from a white perspective), nationalism (from a US-native perspective), physical disability (from an able-bodied perspective), gender identity (from a cis male perspective), religion (from a mainline-Christian-turned-Unitarian-Universalist perspective), and socioeconomics (from an upper-middle-class perspective).  And, occasionally, I do it right here in the (ahem) “privacy” of my own website, where anyone in the world can read it, even if they’ve never met me before and have no idea what a delightfully quirky and fabulously nuanced human being I am.[1]


Because, while I believe conversations about “isms” are crucial in the world right now, the white, US-native, able-bodied, cis male, mainline-Christian-turned-Unitarian-Universalist, upper-middle-class perspective is the only perspective I have.  I simply can’t speak from the perspective of a black person, or of a woman, or of an immigrant, no matter how many (trigger warning) “friends” I have in any of those groups.  And that makes me both profoundly sad, and profoundly grateful.

It’s upsetting to recognize the pain, frustration, and anger in those who write lists of “8 Things Transgender People Do Not Owe You.”  Or “10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone Who Uses a Wheelchair.”  Or “29 Stupid Things White People Do.”  I confess to being snared by the “gotcha” in the title of Charles Davis’s Vice column, “‘Microaggression’ Is a Stupid Word You Should Take Seriously.”   And this wonderful Everyday Feminism article—in which Jennifer Loubriel (a Woman of Color) gently, firmly, and very effectively supports a “no white tears” rule for cross-cultural conversations—was a difficult, difficult read.  The very act of seeking to empathize with a fellow human being, when done from a place of privilege, can be hurtful.  There’s no one for whom that doesn’t suck.

So with all that pain, with all those seemingly insurmountable obstacles between souls, where can I find cause for “profound gratitude”?

I’m profoundly grateful because the narrowness of my own perspective reminds me that only through connectedness can we approach perfection.  And I’m grateful too that we can only approach perfection: omniscience does not exist in the human animal, so we simply have to rely on one another to share wisdom, experience, and insight.  Our limitedness makes it essential that we nurture community, for the sake of our very survival.

Two videos showed up providentially on my personal Facebook feed within hours this past week.  The first was Julie Bindel’s opinion piece in The Guardian, reminding us that censorship, while it can be a tempting response to opinions we find upsetting, is generally counterproductive.  (“Political movements such as civil rights and feminism,” she reminds us, “have made such progress because we were able to hold people to account.”)  I know that some of my most cherished growth moments have come after my demonstrated ignorance, thoughtlessness, or naïveté were named and corrected, rather than simply being silenced.

The second video was this delightful out-coming by 24-year-old Australian train driver (and transman) Henry Tadebois, who requests that his friends and family begin to use his new name and appropriate pronouns, but assures them that “Don’t worry, I won’t get offended” if they slip up, before inviting them to “ask me any questions you might have.”  (And while this is indeed wonderfully generous of Henry, I will reiterate here the caveat I shared when I first re-posted the video on Facebook: Coming out definitely ≠ inviting your questions about stuff that doesn’t affect you. The revelation and the invitation are two different things.)

These two videos—the one, a warning against censorship; the other, an invitation to awkward curiosity—are opposite sides of the same coin, I think.  They both point to a truth that’s as fundamental to humanity as it is terrifying: No genuine community can exist unless we express and demonstrate a willingness to be offended.

That’s why wedding vows don’t specify that two people are joined “until one of them really crosses a line.”  It’s why my home congregation’s Covenant of Right Relations names very explicitly the fact that we expect to disagree with one another, but that we commit to “staying at the table” in spite of those disagreements.  And it’s why, whenever I come out to a new person or group of people, I always invite the audience to ask whatever questions come to mind.

I’m a white, US-native, able-bodied, mainline-Christian-turned-Unitarian-Universalist, upper-middle-class cis male.  The “gay card” is really the only strike against me in the Privilege lottery, so I’m all but immune to oppression and bigotry.  Not everyone can stand in this place of safety and speak as boldly as I do.  But if there’s something you wonder, or something you’re curious about, or something you feel a need to say, please say it.  If it’s none of your business, I may tell you so.  But more likely, I’ll answer you as forthrightly as I’m able.  That’s the best way for both of us to grow.

[1]And modest. I’m also very modest. Be sure you mention to people how modest I am when you tell them about this blog.


20160219_123751If you’ve tried to access over the last 36 hours or so, chances are you received at least one very apocalyptic-sounding error message.

My entire domain (goodness that sounds regal) was down, and it was completely my fault. It’s back up now—thanks more to people who know much more than I about these things than to the self-flagellation I’ve been engaged in since yesterday morning—so website and email should be functioning normally again.

If you’ve tried to reach me, please accept my apology and re-send your message.  (There’s a contact form here if that’s easiest for you.)

woodbowlYou’d think, for all the times I’d shouted “STRONG AND WRONG!!!” at my students with clenched fists in the air and mock rage on my face, that I’d be better at it.

But every time I get ready to upload a new recording to my Demo Recordings page, the script starts again: “Is this really ready to share?  Shouldn’t I listen through again to be sure it’s okay?  Couldn’t I hit that note a little more in-tune?  Shape that phrase a little more precisely?  Bring out that nuance with a little more agility?”

“Someone to Fall Back On,” from Jason Robert Brown’s first solo album, Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes, is one of those songs that just reaches into my chest and makes me feel.  “I am no prince,” he says; “I am no saint.  And if that’s what you believe you need, you’re wrong….”

I have loved singing this song since I first discovered it.  I’ve used it at workshops, in worship, and in concerts.  And I’ve never once sung it perfectly.

There’s that out-of-nowhere high A in the last line of the bridge.  The high G at the end that I want to hold two beats longer than my lungs want me to.  And of course the fact that I can’t actually make it through the whole song without choking back tears.

But every time I’ve sung it, I’ve heard that sound in the audience after the last note fades away: the silence of held breath, of self-recognition, of mute gratitude for the blissful agony of shared pain.  Something in us needs to remember—and to be reminded, often—that to be human is to be flawed, and that therefore to be flawed, in some perplexing but profoundly important way, is to be perfect.

This recording is flawed.  The song doesn’t sound as good here as it does in my mind when I daydream.  But when I listened through just now, before uploading it, I thought of all the people in my life who I’ve been able to “fall back on,” and all the people in my life I hope trust they can fall back on me, and I had the kind of cry that feels really, really good.

Be well, y’all.

Three Cats
Jake, Stewart, and Toby inquire as to why Sophie (not pictured) seems to have gotten more breakfast than they did.

Have you been waiting anxiously for the other—er, third—shoe to drop?  Rejoice!  The third and final movement of the Mozart 4-hands piano sonata I’ve been serially sharing is here at last!

I’m still mulling over an additional piece to include in the Classical Piano playlist on my Demo Recordings page (a Chopin, a Mozart, and…?), but in the meantime I’m getting antsy to get some solo vocal work up there.

Starting tomorrow I have a week of “vacation-vacation” (meaning that in addition to being free from church responsibilities for an entire 7 days I’ve also cancelled private students and scheduled rehearsals), and I’m looking forward to having several unstructured days of time to play around with recordings.  (Well, mostly I’m looking forward to about three solid days of non-stop napping, but that’s a less interesting blog post.)

But anyhoo.  In the meantime, here’s the “Allegro molto” finale to Mozart’s 4-hands Piano Sonata in D (K. 381).  Enjoy!

Mozart c. 1780, portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce
Mozart c. 1780, portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

On Thursday I shared a new recording of the first movement of Mozart’s D Major Sonata for piano 4-hands, and warned promised that the later movements would be forthcoming.

Can you keep a secret?

The second movement of that sonata is, I think, one of the most gorgeous piano movements ever written, so I couldn’t stop myself—I stayed up late that night (abandoning my poor husband in the process) to get it recorded and ready to post.  But I didn’t want to steal the thunder of the snow-melt Mozart, so I looked ahead to what will (at least according to Thursday’s forecast) be a rainy Monday morning, and scheduled this announcement to provide a bit of a bright spot that day.

If the forecast is wrong and/or you live in a place that isn’t rainy on Monday and/or you don’t listen to this post until after Monday… well, the best-laid plans….

Anyway.  I give you the second movement of the Mozart sonata, now included in the Classical Piano playlist of my Demo Recordings page.  Enjoy, my friends.  The effervescent “Allegro molto” finale will be coming soon!