Friday, January 11, 2019

Depersonalization and Derealization

At one of my support groups this past weekend, our topic was "Depersonalization-derealization" as referenced in Zinnia Jones article (linked here). We started by reading off some of the descriptions which included:

  • A sense of detachment or estrangement from your own thoughts, feelings, or body: “I know I have feelings but I don’t feel them”
  • Feeling split into two parts, with one going through the motions of participating in the world and one observing quietly: “There is this body that walks around and somebody else just watches”
  • Feeling as if you have an “unreal” or absent self: “I have no self”
  • Experiencing the world as distant, dreamlike, foggy, lifeless, colorless, artificial, like a picture with no depth, or less than real
  • Being absorbed in yourself and experiencing a compulsive self-scrutiny or extreme rumination
  • Feeling like a veil or glass wall separates you from the world
  • Emotional or physical numbness, such as a feeling of having a head filled with cotton
  • Lacking a sense of agency – feeling flat, robotic, dead, or like a “zombie”
  • Inability to imagine things
  • Being able to think clearly, but feeling as if some essential quality is lacking from your thoughts or experience of the world
  • A sense of disconnectedness from life, impeding you from creative and open involvement with the world
As the list of descriptions were read, I began to get a little choked up at the deep personal experience I have had with each and every one of those. This is what my physicians, therapists and I had been working on for the past five years, though I had been functioning for much of my life in this manner as a closeted woman. --

I did not begin to realize the severity of negative impact my being closeted had until about 10 years ago. Aside from talk-therapy, I tried treating it with anti-depressants which ended up making it worse and even less connected to my emotions, my senses and ability to empathize.

I tried it with ADHD meds which if anything helped me understand this disconnect and how my soul seemed fractured. In the process helped clarify for certain that indeed I am a woman and Being Closeted is the root of the problems I have been having. 
-- This of course is the consensus of medical professionals who deal with Gender Dysphoria, its just I had to get there on my own.

The resolution to re-integrating my whole being did not begin until I made that commitment to start HRT and come out. - 

But, The greatest impact upon me, my soul, my Growth as a fully realized human being occurred 
when I began my trips to Iowa City. For it was at my very first trip there in late December 2017 that I was affirmed as the woman I have always been-- Without question, without judgment, no explanation needed -- my soul was understood. Never before had I known this experience - an experience so many people take for granted. 

Hanging in Iowa City early 2018
Without those trips, those continuing conversations - I believe I would still be stunted emotionally, probably suffering still a bit from depersonalization, and my family life and care for my children probably might not be as healthy as it is.

When I think about women my age and the decisions we made in our youth and young adult lives to "buckle down, resign ourselves to a dedicated male persona" and remain closeted for our Love for our partners - which always seemed right at the time / easier to do in our younger years, I find that for so many of us have -- once we get into our forties the negative effects of being closeted really become too much to bear.

Perhaps one of these days I will share more, then again maybe not. In any event being closeted sucks and anyone who advocates for "Conversion" or "Reparative" therapy is either Ignorant or completely EVIL!

Discovering My Soul and Becoming Whole in Iowa City 2018

The Bass Chooses the Player

In 1993 I visited a little music store on the corner of Lyndale and 34th in Minneapolis. There was only one other person in the store. A cheerful woman who looked to be in her 30s (I was 23). It was a cool little store, full of good energy. I was looking for basses as I had just decided to make the full jump to become a fretless bass player. Well on the wall was this very cool looking fretless hollow body electric bass. I had tried quite a few basses, but I had seen nothing like this one. So the woman (Laurel) gave me a cable and encouraged me to try it. This beautiful instrument just sang. It was a joy to play and feel it vibrate my whole being. I thought to myself I need this instrument. Laurel then told me so much about music and her husband, that his artistry crafted these instruments direct from the tree. And me being a kind of spiritual pagan (yes I'm Atheist but - one of the great things I have learned to do this past year is to let go and allow myself to feel; rest with my emotions; to know them and integrate them with my whole being - that is spirituality and I no longer allow my skepticism to rob me of that experience when it happens.)

So I told Krista about this experience and we began setting funds aside for me to contract Roger Benedict to create for me my very own Semi-Hollow Fretless Bass... (more on this later)

TODAY (Friday, January 4) after a fabulous coffee date with a friend at Gingko. I thought, well its Friday, the weather is unnaturally warm and sunny, I'll stop down at Vig Guitars and say hey to Angela and Ted, and see if they have any cool gear in rotation. (I've actually been in the market for a good P-Bass for a very long while as my only Precision Bass is a Fretless!! ) - But ya know, finding something that "speaks to the player" is important. I never just buy things randomly or say, "yeah, I guess this will do..."

Custom Ted Vig P-Bass
with hand wound split coil pick-ups
No- Every bass, every guitar, I own has 'chosen me' (if I want to go all Olivander on ya here.) 

So I stop in at Vig's and lo and behold there is a Black P-Bass built by Ted just right there on the floor. And so I think, okay, so I'll give it a shot. I mean Ted is a Luthier and a fantastic musician (* side note he was a classmate of Krista's and I first met him ages ago in Northfield) ANYWAY...

This P-bass was well balanced, it sang through the amp and responded well to every nuance I threw into it. 
-- I knew the feeling well. 

For this is the feeling I get whenever I find that perfect instrument that works for me. But I wasn't going to buy it right then and there - I really needed to think about it.

So I decided, well I'm going to go to my usual haunts and drive around a bit.

My first stop, Willies American Guitars. The store was empty save for the employees. I headed over to the basses thinking - Oh, I still need a Rickenbacker 4001, and I look at the vintage P-basses, but none of them really spoke to me. Then just as I was about to leave, I saw this black early 90s Benedict Groove Master Fretless Electric Bass. I asked for a cable and plugged it in. And yes, it sang to me. I played just some long low tones to get inside the resonance, then my own slow plaintive improvisation of Jaco's "Continuum" and part of the Allemande to Bach's Cello Suite No. 1. - The bass felt and sounded beautifully 
- and I did indeed cry. 
Early 90s neck-thru Benedict Groove Master Fretless Bass
In fact I had to stop. I cradled the bass in my arms and sat with my emotions. Remembering Laurel talking with pride about her husband's work. Remembering my 23 year old Krista with that same enthusiasm for me to save up for my own bass.

- On November 15, 1994 Roger Benedict died suddenly at the age of 45 of adult onset leukemia. My thoughts back then were of Laurel and their three children-- and my own thoughts today drifted to suddenly losing Krista at the age of 47 in June 2017 to a drunk driver - now it is just me and our two children. My pride in all of her accomplishments in her career, in her artistry, the centrality of music in the Love we shared for 26 years; the looks of love and after show embraces she would provide at the end of my performances. And here I am, sitting there at Willies, now hugging this bass and remembering their joy and enthusiasm...

[-- The money that Krista and I were saving for my own Benedict Semi-Hollow Bass went to my G&L L2000 Fretless which I purchased at Willies in 1995. I could feel a lot of magic in that bass when I first played it, at it became my main ax for 7 years.]

After I regained composure I put the Benedict back on the wall. The memories were great but this wasn't the bass for me. I then went to Capitol Guitars and chatted with Billy for a bit (like Vig, I tend to buy cool things there) Did some more errands and kept thinking of my experiences. 
So, I drove back to Vig Guitars. Walked into the store, picked up the bass, and said, Yes I am buying this.

Too many good vibes I felt in this bass and too many "signs" (yeah, I know, I don't believe in "signs" but who cares, I've learned that when things feel right, just go with it. 
So I now have my P-Bass built by Ted Vig

Xenia with her Vig P-Bass
ADDENDUM: January 14, 2019 - No one is going to appreciate that Benedict Groove Master Fretless more than me... 
.... It is now my primary Fretless. I want to thank Eli, Cecilia, and Nate for their patience while I communed with during my recent store visits.

G&L L2000 Fretless with Leo Fender Signature
purchased from Willies in 1995
This was my main ax from 1995-2002
Xenia's Oxymoronic Fretless Precision Bass
[Ash Body; Maple Neck; Ebony Fingerboard;
Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder Split Coil Pick-Up
Gold Anodized Pickguard from a Squier Bass that belonged to Joey Molland of Badfinder
Schaller Tuning Machines and Ken Smith Stainless Steel Heavy Metal Masters Round Wounds .050 - .110]

My Oxymoronic Fretless Precision Bass

Monday, January 7, 2019

C.S. Lewis is Not a 'Great Thinker', or Why Apologetics is Unethical and Immoral

Recently I was encouraged to read the non-fiction works of C.S. Lewis, Abolition of Man and Mere Christianity. The person who encouraged me stressed that Lewis is a ‘great thinker’ and can really help open my mind. 

I had trudged through these works years before, and I came away with the impression that as important as he was as a scholar of late medieval literature in the 1930s, he utterly fails when it comes to serious consideration as a ‘great thinker’. His faulty reasoning is why none of his works made the reading lists during my course studies and seminars as a Philosophy major at both Luther College and the University of Nottingham.

At this point, some might assume that I don’t like C.S. Lewis simply because he is a ‘Christian.’ C.S. Lewis’ target audience is in fact those who already believe. But I have no problem with Christians who remain on task talking about Love. For those of us who are not – or as in my case those of us who were so deeply vested in their Christian faith until she began to critically examine the errors in reasoning, - these works are INSIDIOUS: divisive and harmful to fostering a society based upon Love and Reason. 

I use the word insidious because fans of C.S. Lewis as a Christian apologist remark on how this “great thinker” is inspiring in their own Faith. I have to ask, when analyzing these works, ‘upon what is this Faith built?’ This is the problem I have with all authors who delve into the realm of apologetics / Defending the Faith. From Tertullian to Anselm to Lewis, their writings are not much more than dressed up polemical rants, they lack the ethics of fair argumentation, they misrepresent other viewpoints and make up for their faulty logic and multiple logical fallacies by appealing to emotion.
The very first time I tried to read the ‘Men without Chests’ chapter in Abolition of Man I could barely get through the first page without tripping over multiple errors in reasoning. As I continued to read the more painfully bad this chapter was. I was utterly shocked that some people found it “uplifting.”

And that is the ethical issue here. For it is this very method of illogic, faulty and prejudicial argumentation is the template used by hate groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom, Focus on the Family in their anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. 

Approaching Mere Christianity, Abolition of Man and other like apologist works without critical examination, primes the mind of the faithful to turn away from the message and practice of Love and Reason. 

On the whole Apologetic works like these by CS Lewis Closes minds and hearts. Apologetics is destructive to morality, ethics, and civil society. For one cannot express Love if they are constantly defending ‘Faith.’ 

[* Addendum: C.S. Lewis is Neither a scientist and definitely not a philosopher. and while in the past I was okay with Lewis and apologists works for the sake of the Faithful. - My most recent look at these works and the lack of critical insight (or is it purposeful "straw man", "false dichotomies" and other errors in reasoning) by the apologists themselves have left me with the conclusion that the whole field of apologetics is immoral. Just as the classical philosophers described the methods of the apologists, sophists. Rhetoric without Logic and Evidence is unethical.]

Anyway, here is one of many writings demonstrating the reasoning errors in CS Lewis.
C.S. Lewis' Argument Against Atheism is a Joke, and Here's Why.

C.S. Lewis' Abolition of Man, 'Men Without Chests,' a Critique

Naturalism Undeafeated (A Refutation of C.S. Lewis Argument from Reason)

8 Reasons to Reject C.S. Lewis' Argument from Desire
From my blog:
Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis, Gene Veith, Andrew Kern and Public Classical Education

Xenia with a few of her books