On the Way Out Part 2 – The Middle

I wrapped the first segment of my triptych On the Way Out less than a month ago. The way out of a memorable MFA journey.

I am writing Part 2 now while listening to a song by the Smashing Pumpkins.

The Beginning is the End is the Beginning. Sentences float in and out of the slow rhythm.

Relive the pictures that have come to pass

Other lines catch my attention, in between verses.

And I am master of a Nothing Place

Of recoil, and grace.

I left the throes of my arrival to jump into the lake that wraps around its own shore and the muddy ground underneath its moving body. Is the middle a discrete variable? Hasn’t it flowed invisibly from the beginning? Time floats on by, against my desire. Ceremonies are confused with milestones. It doesn’t matter how joyous the music is. It doesn’t matter how many caps and gowns are sold. Even if the ceremony requires the attendants to flip their tassel from left to right. Is that turning supposed to signify something? The amphitheater can be the size of a small room or a grandiose chamber. All the bouquets, family members, friends, and loved ones cannot anchor the beginning, the middle, or the end.

I will not be attending any ceremonies this year. I will silently pass from an MFA candidate to an MFA “holder.” I guess that is the correct terminology: MFA holder?

January 2020

This is the last semester before my thesis year. I am a more polished writer now. I don’t feel out of place anymore. I am saying things that matter. I am reading more, molding new words into a skill, and learning how to transform experience into coherence.

I remember the door code to the Grad Lounge. 4****

A windowless, quiet room with low ceilings, uncomfortable chairs, and two couches propped opposite each other. Regardless, I enjoyed working there, surrounded by other MFA students.

I went to the grad lounge during the pandemic. The room had the uncanny emptiness of the early days of lockdown. I turned off the overhead lights and stared at the Mac Desktop screen saver. I filmed a brief 30 second clip of the constantly renewing pattern: Blue and Orange digital algae-looking waves dancing against a black background. Where are these numerical creations beginning and where are they ending?

I am reminded of JoJo Mayer’s TEDx Talk: The Distance Between 1 and 0. The professional drummer talks about his style and how he sought to reproduce the artificial sounds of Jungle/Drum & Bass genres by playing them acoustically. He was exploring how the idea of the “in-between” was beyond a machine’s comprehension.

When that happens, we enter that magical zone that could probably be best described as an out of body experience. It’s possible to surrender to our intentions […] and let our intuition take over. And this is a zone where it goes beyond yes or no. This is really a place that examines that distance between 0 and 1. Which is a zone that a machine cannot compute…yet.

Mayer is talking about improvisation. The ineffable moment in a musician’s practice where their impulses overcome their thinking and they are able to play rhythms before even envisioning them. Feeling music rather than thinking it.

Rob “Beatdown” Brown was sitting behind a drum kit with a blue shirt that read “Groove Responsibly” in plain white font. This quote is extracted from his “Improve Your Pocket” drum lesson on the Drumeo YouTube channel.

One of the things that really affects your feel is the space between the notes that you’re playing.

Last time I sat on my drum set, I felt like a pendulum.

Without digressing too much into the theory of rhythm, drumming, and music, I must return to the original thought.

Beyond the philosophical inquiry into the future, the practical matters look much gloomier. In a week I will be unemployed with no job prospect because of an issue with the processing time of my Employment Documents. On May 14th, I will no longer be a teacher which is a job I am extremely passionate about.

May 14th, what happens to my identity on that fateful day? Where should I go from there? The middle is where all the questions appear and none of the answers manifest. The middle is the perimeter of improvisation.

On the Way Out Part 3 – The End.

This segment cannot be written due to a total absence of information.