Sunday, June 15, 2008


My apologies for deleting my last post. Here's the link that touched it off—JK Rowling's address to Harvard graduates regarding the fringe benefits of failure. My post basically said it's difficult for me to see the benefits of failure when right now I feel like I'm one big ball of F.A.I.L. Was feeling sorry for myself and deleted the post later in embarrassment. Though it is still on RSS feeds. Ah well. Live and learn.

Those of you who saw, feel free to comment or not. From now on I will leave up whatever I'm stupid enough to post in the first place, embarrassing or not.

Except pictures. If I ever post more . . . well, they may not last, despite that old saying.


Robin S. said...

I am so glad you put this on here, Freddie. I didn't see what you deleted,so I can't be sure I'm hitting the mark here, but here goes -

No way in hell are you a failure.
You're 35, right? At thirty-five, I had maybe $200 to my name, a three year-old daughter, and I was married to a man I didn't love. It wasn't his fault. I simply didn't love him. I was going through the motions.

Prior to that, I worked in various jobs for years, working my long way through college - and a lot of weird shit happened along the way.

You may be out of synch with people around you who look and dress the part of successful, and maybe some of them are, but whether they are or whether they aren't - you're not a personal failure. I don't have to know you in person to know that about you.

Sometimes when you feel that way, and I sure have, sometimes for years at a time, what's required - that you can't see at the time, is a regrouping. Not a typical type of regrouping, either.

It's damn hard to stand back and look at yourself and figure out what to do. I see things now that I should've done then, but big damn deal. Now is now.

Anyway, I didn't see your post - so if I'm off the mark, I'm sorry.

If you ever want to bounce ideas off somebody, email me a note.

freddie said...

I see things now that I should've done then, but big damn deal. Now is now.

That is so true.

I really appreciate what you said. You're not off the mark at all. Although I'm not really comparing myself to other people in terms of success vs. failure. (I've always marched to my own beat.) It's more present circumstances and how I was trying to avoid them.

Part of the post went into my somewhat recent decision to leave a graduate music program that was pretty cool: music composition for the screen. Studying how to compose music for film, which is my pipe dream. The school that I made it into accepts only ten students a year. The guy that heads the program was a vice president at Disney (okay, everyone who works at Disney is a vice president, but still. The guy knew Elmer Bernstein for God's sake.) I totally expected a 'no' when i applied and instead got a 'yes.' I went through all the steps, only to leave at the end of the first week. Part of it was that I was scared of the debt (about $70,000), but there was some family shit that went down, too, and I didn't think I'd be able to handle school and the impending family shit. Also, the program requires a move to Los Angeles, and with the family shit, I didn't think that was such a good idea to commit to. So I left.

I reasoned that by working, I'd be able to buy my equipment without accruing much debt, if any. I was also afraid that if I stayed in school, I might leave my roommate stuck without my half of the rent during the summer months, when no loans or grants are coming in and I might not be able to find work. And yet, here I am, a year later, in exactly the same situation I was trying to avoid. I have no real job, no equipment, and no contacts. Doesn't mean it can't be done, I know. But still. I'm just kind of letting out what I've been feeling for almost a year now.

Not to mention, I lost all those intrinsic benefits, like contacts and use of industry-standard equipment. It's not that I want to go back, exactly. It's more that I wonder if I'm one of those people who's afraid of success. You know, the kind people talk about on those infomercials on late-night TV. This school was the only entity who's said 'yes' to me in the last four years. And I bolted. Maybe I had some good reasons, but still. I wonder if i'm cut out for all this adversity shit.

My partial deafness is another issue. I don't know that I really want to compose music full-time. I mean, with my life, I've fucked up my ears enough as it is. So it's something I'd like to integrate more with my writing. Like a two-fold career. Or I'd be happy with one as a career and the other as a hobby sometimes-I'm-asked-to-do-something kind of thing.

Yet I can't help but feel I missed out on a real chance to figure out my true potential. I mean, when i decided to apply, it was totally on a whim, and I wrote a piece that was inspired by Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. Truthfully, I hadn't composed a full piece in 8 years. (Too many years just focusing on paying the rent.) But when I sat down and wrote it, it came out like I had been studying hard all that time. Granted, the form was lousy, but . . . I couldn't believe I wrote that. I don't know what made the composing develop like that. Maybe life.

Anyway, so I've been feeling rather ambivalent about that. I guess I'll just have to see how that decision plays out. All that said, I'm pretty sure I made the right decision. Pretty sure. But that doubt still fucking nags me. I guess I'll just have to write and compose anyway (and I am). Because it seems, despite my rather avowed atheism, that composing music and writing brings me luck. I don't know if it's true, but it seems to work. I just need to work harder at it.

Anyway, I really appreciate your comments of support. If you're ever in Chicago, you let me know when you're coming, and we'll get together. It'll be sushi by the river! Or whatever you want to eat. But whatever we eat would probably include sangria.

I'm probably going to ditch his whole anonymous business soon. The only thing that holds me back is that I work with kids in my teaching, and I'd hate for some parent to stray across EE's blog and find me cursing up a shitstorm. Maybe I'll just come out to people individually, but not on my or EE's blog.

Okay. Time for bed. Thanks, Robin!

Robin S. said...

Hey Freddie-

Two things -

1-I'd stay at least quasi-anonymous for a while. No reason not to, really.

2-Look seriously at getting into that school again, maybe. Work it and do it. Say you had family issues that are now resolved (even if they aren't. I don't know what family issues there are- but I can tell you from experience- families can be a life-suck. Sorry to be blunt- but some really do suck the juice and happy tang out of life. Your best bet- get the hell out of town.)

The experience you had with the music flowing from you like it had been there all along - that's what happened when I started writing again.

Long, long ago, I'd been told by a teacher I was good enough for the Iowa creative writing progrsm if I took myself seriously. Instead, I fled, because I was afraid - and i guess what I was afraid of was that I was a fraud, or the creative writing teacher was wrong, or that I wanted it SO badly, I'd sure as hell fail. Of course I knew none of these things at the time. I know them now.

Maybe you're fleeing a bit, too? Just a thought. If you are - don't do it. Go back and pick up the thread, or you'll regret not doing it. God,I did.

fairyhedgehog said...

It sounds like a struggling time. You've made a hard decision and now you're wondering if you ought to go back on it. Maybe you can do as Robin says and give the school another chance. If not, maybe there's another way to let your creativity have its head.

But whatever you do, you don't need to beat yourself up about it. You haven't failed, it's far too early for that yet!

I can see that the partial deafness is an added challenge. (I have a hearing aid for one ear and I worry about my ability to learn languages now, so I've got a bit of a feel for what it might be like.)

But you're young (trust me, when you get to 54, you'll look back on 35 and realise it was young); you can make other decisions now; you can be nice to yourself; and you've got friends to support you. Including Robin and me.

Whirlochre said...

Having made some not entirely good decisions myself, I have an inkling into your quandary.

But — the past must not destroy the present. If it's immutable in the sense that you can do nothing about it (unless you're Dr Who) then it has to be the case that no What If frisbees can ever possibly land there, or change it. So you mustn't be tempted to hurl them: they'll rebound.

Somewhere, you wrote about getting on with stuff — and it may have been in the post you cut — and that's where the solution lies. Make and do lots of today stuff; stuff that engages you.

Hope this isn't presumptuous nonsense.

You're linked, btw.

freddie said...

Thank you so much for your comments, everyone.

Robin - Well, you're right. I was fleeing. It seems composing is something I've had to accept and reaccept as my place in the world. I did contact the head of the graduate program, and the good news is, my acceptance still remains valid. I can go back in the fall if I want.

You hit the nail on the head in my feeling like a fraud, especially with the hearing loss (and now I can add that I feel like a complete flake for having bolted). There's every reason in the world not to do it. Yet I still want it.

Fairyhedgehog - Thank you! I'm touched that there are people out there who care enough to comment on my quandary and say they care. You're proof that there's still a lot of kindness in the world.

Whilochre - Thank you, too. You're right about moving on and forgetting the 'what ifs.' That's what led me to music in the first place. I didn't want to say 'what if.' I'm afraid if I don't try it again I'll always wonder.

New post coming about developments. (Yes, Robin, I contacted the head of that graduate program.) Good news to come.

I deeply appreciate the emotional support. It's really been an oar to my little row boat in the storm.

Whirlochre said...

Produces leftover Christmas cracker party hat from wallet and dons...


Falls into shrubbery...

Kiersten said...

Hey Freddie, cheer up. None of us even know who you are, and we all like you immensely and are rooting for you ; )

I find it rather annoying for someone like JK to talk about failure being great. That's easy to say when you're the richest woman in England. Now she can look back and say, yeah, it was hard, but look where I am now! She's not exactly the rule.

Can't wait for your news. I'm so glad that you are feeling better about things!

freddie said...

Thanks, Kiersten!

Although JK doesn't talk about failure being great, not at all. It's more about how failure forced her to do the things she really cared about. I don't think she was romanticizing failure (for lack of a better word), just saying that it stripped away the non-essentials. The speech is actually very good. Click the link to read or listen if you haven't already.

I appreciate you stopping by and for the kind words! Things will improve, no doubt. Or they'll get worse. But I think good news is on the horizon. I'll blog about it when I know for sure. Just gotta get through these next few months, I think.

freddie said...

LOL, whilochre!!

Robin S. said...


I want you to go back there and kick ass. If you say that's your good news, I swear to you, I'm flying to Chicago this summer, and taking you out to a big old dinner on me.

You go out there and do what you are meant to do. We're here for you. You don't have to live in Chicago for that to be the truth.

freddie said...

Thanks, Robin!

Thanks, everyone, again. I'll post when I get more info.