The US Department of Labor Century of Service Honor Roll of American Labor Organizations in the lobby of the Francis Perkins Building. Marble wall with the seals of every pertinent labor union.

12 Months of Love and Labor

U.S. Dept. of Labor Century of Service Honor Roll of American Labor Organizations Top Row, 2nd from the Left: The American Federation of Musicians Happy Labor Day! On this day one year ago, I embarked on my “Labor of Love” Challenge. Every month from then until now, I attended two events. One, a cultural event where classical music wasn’t the only art-form involved. The other, a labor event that didn’t exclusively involve the musicians union, the American Federation of Musicians. The purpose and spirit of this challenge was Solidarity. Solidarity with those … Continue Reading

The cover of the program for "An Octoroon" by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Two African American women on either side of an African American man who has a paint brush in his hand with white paint on it, which has just put a streak down his face. The ticket for the performance is below the program.

Month 11: Books and Books

Cultural Event: An Octoroon Last month, I paid my first visit to the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company. Truth be told, it wasn’t until I got to the theater and started reading my program that I learned the word “octoroon” is a derogatory term for someone who is 1/8th African American. An Octoroon is Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s adaptation of the1859 work The Octoroon by the Irish author Dion Boucicault. The original play, an adaptation of yet a different work, is an expression of Boucicault’s life experience being 1/8th minority in his time. Jacobs-Jenkins has made changes … Continue Reading

A pug laying on his left side against a white bathub with his tongue out. Under him is a blue, beige, and brown rug on top of beige and brown tile. There's a small what trash can on its side by the pug's feet. The pug is faun.

Maneuvering Away from Stigma

I have a secret. Well, it’s a secret to most people. Maybe you know this secret, or maybe you don’t. I used to be ashamed of it. I used to be afraid you’d find out. I didn’t tell anybody about it for a long time. But eventually, I found some people who I could confide in. I trusted their discretion, and I was grateful for their advice. As time went on, I learned there’s a good chance I’d have this forever. I’m talking about the Valsalva Maneuver. “Oh no, the Valslva Maneuver!” … Continue Reading

Protestors outside the White House Mansion during the Equality March for Unity and Pride. The sky is blue and cloudless, and people are holding signs and wearing clothes in honor of LGBTQ and Gender Rights.

Month 10: Books and Banners

Cultural Event: Library of Congress Pride Pop-Up Exhibit Last month, most every major metropolitan area in the U.S. was decked out in rainbows in celebration of LGBTQ Pride. Washington, DC was certainly no exception. The Library of Congress presented a powerful pop-up exhibit, which displayed a representation of the astounding amount of LGBTQ-related facets of their collection. Sections of the AIDS Quilt. Photographs from historic events. Books, music, and scripts authored by members of the LGBTQ Community. Legislative reference materials pertaining to homosexuality, dating back over 500 years. As a classical musician, I got … Continue Reading

Douglas wearing a black sweatshirt standing in front and to the right of the chair where Ulysses S. Grant sat during the Surrender at Appomattox. There are red drapes behind the chair with sunlight coming through.

Five Fine Things from Five Fine Years

Four days after I publish this post will mark exactly five years since I moved to Washington, DC. This means I have been a fully professional musician for five years. As I tend to be a nostalgic person, I’ve decided to reflect on what I’ve learned so far. For those of you who have “been at the party” longer than I have, you might consider my findings to be old news. Nevertheless, I thought it would be valuable to illustrate how things look through the lens of someone who is kind-of new … Continue Reading

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