Thursday, October 23, 2014

Some time in the last little bit, I've become afraid of talking about what I feel. I'm afraid of saying what I think or feel and having other people get hurt. It's impacted a lot of my life, and I don't like it.

I just need to say that the situation at work right now is destroying me. Like, I don't know if my chest can get any tighter. I'm losing sleep, I have heartburn for the first time in my life, and I feel completely helpless while I watch my boss destroy my clients and everything that we've worked on, and I don't even know why. It's like I'm stuck in some crazy nightmare where I keep trying to run but my legs don't work. I'm choking here.

I guess I lost my ability to talk about stuff because I don't believe it will change anything anymore.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Where I stand is where I stand

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my relationship with my church lately. I know that there has been a lot of inner turmoil throughout the whole organization lately as to what is going on in the world and how best the church can fit the needs of the members. A lot of people that I know and love have left the church for all kinds of reasons, from the good to the downright lazy, and I find myself more and more feeling like I can relate to what they're going through. Some of them have recently learned things that have shaken and shattered their testimonies to the dust, and others simply stopped struggling with the perceived differences between culture and doctrine and walked away. For me, my struggles all come down to the most difficult thing I've learned about the church - that I believe it to be true.

I wish to the high Heavens sometimes that I didn't believe in it, that I could just leave it all behind. I find myself wishing sometimes that my Sundays could be an actual break from the world instead of a workday for the church. I wish that my wife didn't have to wear the same kind of underwear that I do. When I think about the church, there are things that I genuinely disagree with. I don't believe that gay marriage will be the downfall of our civilization. (I honestly don't even think the church should have gotten involved in the discussion in the first place.) I feel like women are insufficiently represented and acknowledged in the church. I feel like talks about sex and sexuality within the church are handled very poorly and from a very unsafe point of view, where women are responsible for their own virtue, as well as the virtue of the young men.

I struggle sometimes because I find my mind resisting all of these things because they don't feel "right" to me. A God of love must truly love his children, and if we are punished for our own sins and not Adam's transgressions, surely the daughters of Eve can't be held responsible for the actions of the sons of Adam. Governmental protections extended to one group of otherwise law abiding citizens must surely be extended to all law abiding citizens. That isn't to say that I think the church should be forced to perform and solemnize same sex marriages in the Temple, however, as I think that crosses the same boundaries that the church crossed in trying to assert its view on congress. But the tension is there, and I feel it, sometimes very powerfully.

And yet. And yet, in my quiet moments when I truly seek out the voice and will of God, I find Him, standing on the foundation that has been established by the doctrines of this church. I have seen literal miracles of a Biblical order wrought through it and the power of the Priesthood. The blessings of tithing have been richly apparent in my life. The power of prayer has at times literally shaken me out of a stupor and brought me to the things that I need in my life to feel like God cares about me. The same church that fought against the women's rights movement, the gay rights movement, the equal rights movement, that same church that now exists throughout the world with every possible combination of humanity to be found within it - that same church is actually true.

What do I do with myself? I believe in an organization that does things I don't believe in!

I suppose that what I do is what others have done, and what others will continue to do. I will keep my heart in the things of God. I will make the scriptures my rock, and I will study the doctrines of the church as they are outlined in canon. This means that I need to work within myself to find where I have gone astray from the teachings of God and to work for change within the church to bring it as close as possible to the doctrine as I understand it, all while being open to the possibility that I could be wrong about the doctrine and might need to change myself to fit it more fully.

It's a hard place to be, where you disagree with something that you have completely shaped your life by. I suppose I mostly disagree with the external presentation. I don't like the metaphorical color choices for the molding, I think the shutters are painted a little too brightly, and I feel like maybe the lawn ornamentation is chintzy and tacky. But I've got to admit to myself, God, and everyone that I meet, that this is the most beautifully laid out building I've ever seen in my life.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the church I belong to. Its doctrine can be difficult, it's people can be absolute jerks, and it feels sometimes like it's crushing me, but I believe it's true, and I intend to act in accordance with the truth that I have received.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A review

And now, for your enjoyment, a list of the things that I can recall accomplishing in the year 2013.

  • I watched my little brother get married. It was my first sibling wedding I got to attend, so that was cool.
  • I finished my graduate degree in Clinical Psychology from Seattle University. For someone who almost didn't graduate high school, this is a very big deal. 
  • I completed an internship at Navos in West Seattle. While there, I did individual and family therapy with some cool kids.
  • I finished two years working at the incomparable Seattle Children's Hospital.
  • I packed up and moved to a city that has held my heart since the first time I saw it when I was a wee lad of 13 years old.
  • I've dreamed about moving back to Seattle almost every single day since leaving it.
  • I worked for a month at the worst place ever.
  • I joined a band (I think. The bassist still hasn't let me know if I'm past the initial trial phase [it's not his call]) that I actually enjoy playing in with some nice fellows. We're even playing a gig in NYC in 2 weeks.
  • I played my first ever solo show at a bar in Boston. It was terrifying, but I did it, and dagnabbit, I'm doing it again in a week.
  • I visited Denver, Vancouver, Kennewick, Los Angeles, New York City, Ithaca, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Chicago, Cleveland, Eerie,  Iowa City, and Billings. In no particular order.
  • I saw the burial site of Chief Sealth, Walden Pond, the spot where the Revolutionary war started, the spot where General Custer died, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, the unbelievable Black Hills of South Dakota, the Badlands, Wall Drug, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Freedom Trail end to end, climbed the memorial at Bunker Hill, the Lincoln Memorial,John Adams' home, and seen the graves of John Hancock, Paul Revere, Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau, and Mark Twain.
  • I turned 30.
Who knows what I'll be able to say at the end of this year? Whatever this year brings, I intend to meet as best I can.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I close my eyes and I slip away

I'm lying on my bed right now thinking of Christmas. Last Christmas, to be exact. We had a real Christmas tree and Cat's mom was kind enough to help us get it decorated a little bit. Many nights I would sit in the living room after Cat went to bed and just soak in the lights reflecting off the ornaments. The smell of that tree was like a hug from my grandmother. We had little Christmas lights up over the couch, and sometimes Cat wouldn't have to go to bed early. On those nights, we would watch a movie together snuggled on that couch under a starry night of our own making. I can say with complete honesty that I was genuinely happy. Our little apartment was warmed by the love of so many people. Our good friends would come over every once in a while. My parents would visit every so often. Schoolmates came over sometimes, and when our apartment was a little too cold and lonely we would head over to Queen Anne or down the street towards 68th and 29th to find houses pre-warmed and full of people we loved.

That Christmas, Cat and I excitedly talked about where we would be the following Christmas. We knew we wanted to be away from Seattle, but we didn't know where. I had high hopes for Boston, a city that I had totalized and worshiped since 13 years old, but I was just excited to be someplace else. In retrospect, I can't help but feel like, in thinking of our dream city, we overlooked everything dreamy about our city.

The fact of the matter is that Boston has been nothing but difficult from day one. We got to our perfect apartment to find that it wasn't even done yet. There had been a mix up in what our landlord was expecting and what we were expecting. There were paint cans and tarps and all manner of disarray everywhere. We had our little air mattress on the living room floor, and there we slept for the first few nights. The move cost us more money than we had planned on, and we were suddenly in a very tight spot. I somehow managed to get a few job interviews, and accepted a job doing clinical therapy for a company that was so negatively reviewed online as to be comical. I took the job anyway (at the cost of another one, I might add), and promptly lost it a month later. We are lonely. Oh, sweet mercy, it gets so lonely here sometimes.

There's a strange culture in Boston that I don't feel like I fit into. I haven't met many people, but the ones that I have met seem to have a different way of operating than I am used to at all. Don't get me wrong, I've met some incredibly nice people, but I think that I have managed to offend most of them somehow almost immediately after meeting them, and only by being myself. Apparently in the East, speaking your mind is a bad thing. There are certain boundaries that exist and should be enforced for who knows what reason. There's a rhyme and reason to everything that happens here and not one ounce of it makes sense to me. There's a certain coldness that floats in the air, and everyone seems to want to keep you at arm's distance. Out of the freeze and into the frost, as it were. I don't get it. It makes me feel like I must be fundamentally flawed to not immediately grasp what everyone else seems to. There are rules here, and they must be followed, but Heaven help you if you don't already know what they are. Heaven help me, I don't know what they are.

As the holiday season approaches, I can't help but laugh that, right now, I would love to be in Seattle, in our old apartment, with that tree and those lights again. I see clothes and hangars and racks and a bookshelf. I don't see any sense in why I was so anxious to leave last year. Cat and I have, by our own stubborn will, placed ourselves in a difficult situation, and I think I'm done trying to fight to make a life in a difficult place. I did it in Utah and missed it when I left. I moved to Seattle, a more difficult place, I would say, and did it again. Seattle, however, took a lot of my energy. We left Seattle for what feels like an even more difficult place, I miss it terribly, and my energy is low. I don't know that I have much fight left in me. A month is too short a time to feel so broken by a new place, but I do feel broken and I don't even care enough to pretend I'm not.

I think that the most difficult thing about being here is that I genuinely believe in why we're here, which translates as guilt for complaining. It would be so easy to be mad at being here if we came out just because, or if we moved out here so I could take that job that I got fired from, but I believe in Cat's education, and I am so proud of her for coming here. I miss my friends in Seattle, and since she admitted she's having a hard time, I'll admit it too. But I'm also going to admit that I would (and will) gladly sacrifice everything that we left behind for her to get this education. Best case scenario, in the next year, we manage to build the life out here we always dreamed of. Worst case scenario, she finishes and we leave. Either way, she will be Master McCarrey and I will be proud of her in ways that I can't begin to imagine putting to words.

I guess what I'm saying is that I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm not sure what the light is though, and I think that's what bothers me. The uncertainty of whether I have the ability to build a life here that I can actually be proud of, one that isn't doing a job I hate for not nearly enough to live on. I want to provide for my wife the way that she has provided so well for me. And then there's that light. Is it the sun coming up over the Boston skyline? Is it the Space Needle, defiantly shooting into the clouds, anchored firmly and resolutely where it stands? Or is it something else yet to be discovered?

Friday, October 4, 2013

look at me, but because you want to

Now that I'm done with school and in the real world, I find myself thinking more and more about music. Not about listening to it or what it used to mean in my life, but rather what it could be. I have several friends in various creative endeavors who are pushing themselves incredibly hard and are somehow making things happen for themselves, and it's inspiring to me.

When I started my grad school journey, I did it knowing that I would be giving up music for a little while. It was a worthwhile sacrifice, I thought. And honestly, after all is said and done, I think it was worth it. The people I met through my program alone made it all worth it, and that's to say nothing of the education and my ability to actually be a therapist. However, my justification for this sacrifice was that, after my degree was done, I would use it as a backup plan to support myself while I really pushed myself musically. When I left Seattle, I was okay not following through with this plan because it had been so long that I forgot what it was that I loved so much. It didn't seem to be worth the effort, and I think my intense self-criticism and demand for perfection from myself really blocked (and still blocks on some levels) my ambition to make music a main focus of my life.

However, right before I left, I played an amp for the first time that was built as a wedding present for me. It woke something up in me. I felt sound pushing through me again, notes cutting through me like a hot knife through butter, and the guitar was making this noise come into being that really truly excited me. It was beyond words. It was like seeing a blue sky after a tornado. It was like hearing the person you love say "I do". It was a clean bill of health and a winning lottery ticket all rolled into one, and suddenly I remembered that life had hidden meaning in loud guitars and I had just been given new mining equipment. I have never lusted after equipment in my life, but I want that amp in dirty ways. It makes me want to play.

So here I am now, in a new city with nothing to do but make sure my wife is happy and go to work. That means that I finally have the time again to make music, and I'm stuck in this weird place between wanting it (and knowing that I am good enough to make it happen) and feeling like, ultimately, it wouldn't be worth it (and I'm not good enough to make it happen). When push comes to shove, I think I am good enough to do it, but I don't have the self confidence that I'm good enough to do it.

It's not like I'm running dry creatively. I've even written a new song since being in Boston, and I think it's probably one of my best songs I've ever written. It's more that I need to have a chance for creative output that includes sharing with people and having them react to what I share (performance, in this case, though I would love to write articles, too). I think I partly want to get reactions from others because I'm surprised at the kind of music I've been writing. I love music with a good strong rhythm to it, something that has drive and dirt and movement. The last 4 songs I've written have been quiet acoustic things. I want a band to share them with, to help me make them better, and who have songs that I can help make better.

Maybe that's it. When I was in previous bands, I had other people I could either hide behind or with. I'm not sure I have the spinal fortitude to take my stuff and place it out in front of people completely raw. For a long time now, I've had an idea where I write and record a video version of a song and release it once a week (ideally, though I'd settle for once a month. I don't want to make that the goal though because that would be giving myself permission to not do it). It could be covers or originals, but I want to do it. I've never really told anyone about that, beyond maybe my wife and mother.

I don't know why I'm writing this. Maybe because I'm thinking about it, I suppose. Maybe I just need to see what it looks like in words so I can weigh it for worth.

I think there's some worth here. Maybe I should move forward and see what happens.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Only one way up

When I was 13, I went on a scout trip that toured the East coast before stopping in Virginia for a week, and then heading back home. The whole trip I was home sick out of my mind. I called home multiple times a day and cried every night. I was a mess. The only place on that trip that I didn't feel completely broken was in Boston. In fact, I remember having the opposite feeling while there. The city was interesting, it had amazing history, and it just felt right. I came home from that trip with weird associations in my head. New York was smelly and the Burger King there had crappy produce on their food, Baltimore had a Hooters by the bay that I was too nervous to go to, DC was fun, and Boston was great. That's simply the way it was. I decided that someday I would have to move to Boston, the magical city where I didn't feel homesick. When my family left Southern California, the idea of home took on an entirely new meaning, as I suddenly was without one of my own. Sure, I had places I lived, but for the past 10 years, I have always felt like a visitor in a strange land. Homesickness became the norm, and I learned to live with it.

Through the years that have passed between then and now, I have often thought about that little city that birthed the nation. I didn't get a chance to go back for a long time, and I felt the memories of the city sliding into the smoke and mirrors of legend in my mind. If it came up in conversation, I would tell of my love for the city, and I would get a tiny thrill whenever I met someone from the area. I remember really clearly meeting someone in a ward at BYU from Boston and feeling genuinely jealous that they were from there and wondering why on earth they would have ever left.

Boston's hold on me was strengthened over time as it attached itself to turning points in my relationship with my wife. When we first met and fake dated for a few months, our first fake date was an evening discussing Batman, Boston, and hot dogs. We loved all three in similarly (and strangely) strong amounts, and we both agreed that Boston had a strange sway on our thoughts in ways that it really shouldn't have. Honestly, when that evening was over, I thought to myself that I could see myself marrying her based on that conversation alone.

After we fake broke up, I decided that I needed to leave Utah and go where I wanted to. I took a trip to the East Coast to visit my brother and sister-in-law, and also to clear my head and put my life plans in order. While I was there, I randomly decided that I should go to Boston again to see if I really did love the city as much as I thought I did. The night before I was to leave for my day trip, I got an unexpected call from Cat. We talked for about half an hour, and I went to bed a little bothered knowing that she would be stuck in my head for the duration of my trip. Sure enough, the whole following day, I would see things and think "Cat should see this", followed by "Stupid girls for stupid fake breaking up with me and stupid me for liking stupid girls despite this". I took pictures to text her to make her jealous. We started dating the following Friday.

When Cat started the grad school application process, Boston naturally came up as a possibility because it was this place we both wanted to go really badly. I have to be honest and say that I was so excited at even the hint, the possibility of moving there, that I had to stop playing video games based in Boston. I had to stop looking up pictures of the city. It was getting to the point that I had a hard time focusing on schooling because I wanted it so bad. I got my brain to accept the fact that we wouldn't actually move there because that would be too much of a great thing, and I managed to refocus my efforts on school. Still, though, in the back of my head, was a tiny beacon of hope that Boston would become a real option for us. When Cat got her acceptance letters back, her numbers 1 and 2 schools both accepted her with scholarships, and both were in Boston. The dream was becoming a reality.

When the time came for us to head out and look for a place to live, I started to get really nervous. I was fully aware of the fact that I had mythologized Boston as a mystical place where home was magically residing. I was positive that I had put too much stock into my hopes and would be sharply and painfully disappointed by an all-too-real city that would harsh and cruel. Getting on the plane was scary, and landing in the city filled me with this strange fear and doubt that I couldn't quite place. Cat and I got off the plane and walked into the airport, almost afraid of what we would find.

From the moment we got out of the airport, something in me felt different. There was this strange peace that I hadn't felt in so long that it almost threw me for a loop. We drove to our friends' apartment where we would be staying, and the whole time I was looking around and thinking "why do I feel so good about this? Seattle is a far more beautiful city, the temperature is much more easy to deal with, and yet this is about the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." Everything about Boston was beautiful to me. I loved the people I talked to. I loved the architectural designs. I loved the feel of the city. I loved the people again. I even honestly loved driving there. Top to bottom, it was everything I was hoping it would be but was to afraid to allow myself to believe could be real. On the second day there, I knew that I had found what I had been looking for for ten years - a home. An honest to goodness feeling of belonging where I was.

I am 3 weeks away from leaving Seattle, and I am a little sad. I will miss some of the people here like I never would have thought possible. I can also honestly say that no other city in the world (that I've seen, at least) is as beautiful as Seattle. However, it's not home for me, and so, while I'll always love, honor, and defend Seattle, I must be off.

Boston, I am unashamedly excited to be able to call you home, and I am grateful that you're the kind of place that lets me.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The same old schemes are all sounding stale

I feel something. It's like loss, but isn't quite loss. It's more like the feeling of looking at an old car that used to be shiny but is now a little bruised and dull. When it starts up, you can hear that the gears are kind of grinding a little bit. Maybe there's even a little leak of something that's starting to show up on the pavement where you park. I feel like I'm the car.

What made me shiny? I think it was my faith in my ability to create. I used to write a blog entry two or three times a month, and I thought they were really good. Now, I'm lucky to get one or two off every few months. When I do write, sometimes it starts to feel like a re-imagining of something. It always has kind of the same flavor to it, and in my mind, that must mean it's bad.

I used to play music with people. That was such a huge part of my life for so many years, and then one day I chose to make it stop. The spot in my heart that used to be filled with vibrations in the air and my hands has been empty for a while. You'd think the stupid thing would scab over, but it never seems to. It's still a wet wound, and I swear I can actually even see an exposed nerve or two.

I've had a few dreams in my life. One of them was to be in a band that actually mattered to people besides those of us in it, another was to write a great book, and yet a third was to be a therapist. I was in a position to maybe accomplish the first a few times over in the various bands I've been in. One of them actually might have really mattered to someone who is considering naming her soon-to-be-born child after it, and I've gotta say that's probably one of the coolest things I could have ever hoped to happen. Selfishly though, I want more. I don't know why I want more. I don't want to be a touring musician. I don't want to be gone from my wife for months on end playing the same things over and over. At the same time, though, I kind of do. I want to be a part of the popular culture experience. I want to contribute something beautiful. I used to believe I could even do it. As for writing the book, I think that grad school has killed my writing abilities.

Grad school. Man, that was the ticket to the third dream, eh? I feel like I've been in school for so long and pushed so hard and overcome a lot of stuff (mostly my own ineptitudes), and I'll soon have a degree to show for it. I gave up a lot for this one. Grad school is why I haven't been in a band for so long. It's probably why I don't write as much, and if it isn't, it's certainly contributing. My whole world for the last two years has been existential phenomenological psychology, and it has been paid for in two years of blood, sweat, and tears, I can assure you that. Honestly, I feel like grad school has been as challenging (and life changing) for me as my mission was.

Turns out that, after all of this, if I want to be a therapist, I need to go to more classes in Boston. 12 more credits. $8,000. Three and a half months more of schooling. The very thought of it makes me want to just lay down and die sometimes. I don't know that I have that much more in me. I'll be 30 this year, and I will have spent a total of 22 years of my life as a student, and I can't handle feeling like a professional life is waiting to start. After all of this, I honestly don't know if I have it in me to keep pushing this rock up the hill. And that makes me wonder if my degree was worth it. That is a terrible feeling, unlike anything I think I've ever really felt. What if I had spent the two years of school chasing creative dreams instead of putting them off? I can basically guarantee I would have less debt at the least. I'd maybe even be making decent money, even if it was at a day job while I used my nights to fill that music-shaped hole in my heart.

Alas, that is a question that is pointless to ask because I didn't spend the last two years chasing my music dream. I spent it chasing my therapist dream that I might not be able to live. And yes, I know that in an alternate universe, musician Taylor is writing this same post wondering what would have happened if he hadn't wasted his time playing stupid music in stupid bands and actually gone to school.

You know what dreams I do get to live, though? I get to live being married to a woman that I love more than I ever thought I could possibly love anyone. Seriously, the thought of living without her fills me with the kind of ache that inspires soul-shattering poetry. She encourages me still to chase my dreams and tells me almost daily that she can't wait for me to start playing music again. Marrying her was the best decision I ever made, and I'm so grateful she made the same decision with me. Together, she and I are moving to a city that I've wanted to live in since I was a kid. We plan on staying there, even. It was even her idea!

To be fair, this post is the result of a crappy day at the internship coupled with watching a friend of mine who has chased his dream succeed in staggering ways. If you watched the Tony's, you might have seen him in the number for Cinderella. I'm unbelievably proud of him, truly. And a little jealous, maybe.

I have come to realize that what I'm really feeling is fear. I'm afraid that it's too late for me to make anything of myself because I started too late on all of my dreams. Yeah, that's what that car metaphor was about.

What? I'm not up too late and writing nonsense! How dare you accuse me of such a thing?!