Black Out Diary (working title) is a multimedia song cycle composed for voice, chamber ensemble, and video. The text of the song cycle centers on my mother, her relationship with addiction, and my relationship with her through her addiction's climax. The story is long, complex, and winding; this song cycle format allows for vignetting between specific chapters, emotions, and scenes.

Despite experiencing these events, I recognize that I came out of the other side remarkably well-adjusted; nevertheless, I look back upon this personal history and recognize that what happened when I was a child was extreme. It is a timeline of unimaginable happenings, bookending normal moments between a mother and a daughter:

Watering a garden at dusk; A week at a sleep-away camp on the Oregon coastline; A house burning down; Warming my cold feet on her stomach while we watched movies; Lying to police officers; Emptying the dishwasher on a school night; Talking her off of the edge of a bridge before I was a teen; Going to the farmers market; Eating comfort food on old blankets; Army crawling across the floor of my parents' bedroom to make sure she was still breathing.

The material for this work is sourced through memory recall and recorded interviews, mostly between me and my mother but also between me and my father, and other family members and even strangers. Slowly we piece things together. Her substance abuse left many gaps in her memory, in the same way that Psychogenic Amnesia has made me forget days or even seasons of my childhood because they were simply too much to handle. There are certain things that one of us can't remember happening, but the other can remember as clear as day. With this assistance, I am documenting what I have always known, what I can feel slipping away, and what I never knew had happened.

Using Format