The Black Out Diary is a multimedia song cycle composed for voice, chamber ensemble, electronics, and video. The text of the song cycle is about my mother and my relationship with her while she was an actively-abusing drug addict and alcoholic. The storyline is long and complex; the song cycle format allows for vignetting between specific chapters, emotions, and scenes.

Even as the person who experienced these events, I look back upon this personal history and recognize that what happened when I was a child was extreme. But it was also a life - 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 ledge of a bridge when I was twelve; 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 sourcing of this material is a combined effort between my mother and I. Through personal recall and recorded interviews, we are piecing everything 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 her assistance, I am documenting what I have always known, what I can feel slipping away, and what I never knew had happened.

Using Format