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Fragments (2018)

string quartet, percussion, narrator (doubling electric bass) 8-9'

Commissioned and premiered by Playground Ensemble, June 9, 2018 for Denver Pride Week.

A collaboration with trans writer, artist, and programmer Miriam Suzanne, on gender and identity. Like journal entries, its short, epigrammatic statements are deeply personal explorations of gender and identity: poignant, humorous, challenging, startling. My score for string quartet, percussion, and electric bass grooves with elements of pop and minimalist music.

"I don't believe in authenticity, but I do believe in pain, and doing something to survive it."

Words and Music by Nathan Hall and Miriam Suzanne

Text: (the live video makes it difficult to hear)

Fragments

We have a story in my family. My brother is young, nursing his favorite doll. He says “I'm going to be a mommy when I grow up!” Mom is proud but corrects him –  Boys grow up to be daddies.

He sets down the doll, and never picks it back up.

Cis doesn’t mean simple, he tells me now, a father of two.

I keep my dolls much later in life, an unexpected aunt.

I never felt like a girl. What do girls feel like? I didn’t always know, and dream of wearing dresses. I wasn’t consistent, insistent, or persistent.

I was frustrated.

A friend asks me what it means to be a woman. I have no idea. What does it mean for you to be your gender?

Hanson is on the radio. Why is Hanson on the radio?

If I had a story like that, maybe everything would make sense. Maybe I could string this together into a narrative: beginning, middle, and end. Life doesn't work that way.

A visiting trans friend asks where I get my Testosterone.

I make it inside my body, I tell him.

I’d give it to you if I could.

Hormones are slow magic.

In my dreams, I’m transgender.

In the mirror, I’m uncertain.

In public, I’m a woman.

In Colorado, your chosen name has to sue your given name for the right to exist.

I don’t get to put all the pieces together.

“Passing” is not something I do, but something that happens to me — not a way of presenting, but a way of being seen. Fickle. In a single moment I can be seen and not seen, gendered and misgendered. Ungendered, and undressed.

I don’t believe in authenticity, but I do believe in pain, and doing something to survive it.

Trying on clothes to see if they fit is way better than trying on clothes to see if your gender fits. I didn’t know there was a difference, until everything changed.

I can finally hate my body for the normal reasons.

-Miriam Suzanne

Video by Andrea Mauro at Pixel Lustre.

Sarah Whitnah & Leslie Smucker- violin

Don Schumacher- viola

Richard vonFoerster- cello

Rachel Hargroder- percussion

Miriam Suzanne- bass guitar and narrator.