Paradoxical Undressing, Vol. 3

This was my 3rd time seeing Kristin’s full Paradoxical Undressing performance. Last night I decided that I need to make every best effort to see it, regardless of where she may be performing. The experience is getting better each time. It was a tough drive home on a lonely, dark highway, but so very worth having to drink shitty rest stop coffee. Especially worth the gorgeous and huge waning gibbous moon, glowing first orange, then yellow and sometimes partially obscured by scattered clouds. And most especially worth the hugest meteor I’ve ever seen drop from the sky. So very beautiful, so musical is a sky like that, so stunning a night.

I had been looking forward to seeing Paradoxical for months. It’s been a rough year so far and I couldn’t wait to “feel”. Feel the energy of the songs. The emotion. The combination of the live performance, the sounds, the projections. I’m already sensitive to people’s energies and the way this show is done intensifies all that for me. I couldn’t wait to purge a little, and I figured I would.

My reactions to both other Paradoxical Undressing performances were different, so who really knew how I’d react this time. I tried to listen to some of the more emotional songs on the drive up, maybe to desensitize myself a bit. I’ve been so fragile lately, and with yesterday being the 8-year anniversary of my father’s untimely death, I really didn’t want to sob audibly. Desensitizing didn’t really work, but I was quiet.

The room was very dark, which was fantastic. I found myself wishing they made black tissues, so I could discreetly wipe the tears from my face. The white frigging *glows*. The darkness helped my focus, and I think it helped throw me deep into this performance. I have very vivid images in my head for so many of these songs. Some are static, some are movies. They’re full of color and imagery and so very gorgeous. I found myself falling into them, in an almost out-of-body experience. I’m in the song, I’m participating in the song. I’m walking down that dusty highway and I’m sitting on that beach. I’m looking at that deep-south crumbling shack. I’m in a cloudy and wet Ireland. You’ll hear Kristin play some chords from Appalachian folk inter-dispersed in her readings. You’ll notice chords from Uncle June and Aunt Kiyoti. She doesn’t have to play those entire songs for me to jump into those, too. Such a wonderful thing, when the songs invite me in like that. I’m honored for that privilege.

Songs don’t always show me pictures. Sometimes they are just feelings without concrete or tangible structure. During those, I sometimes found myself being sucked into the gorgeous projections. Molly Cliff-Hilts, who painted the art used during this performance, paints to Kristin’s music. Her art really does *look* like the songs. They’re not necessarily what I see, but they’re not supposed to be. But I get it. It makes sense.

The songs are energies. Kristin puts her life pictures into the songs to bring them to life. We’re supposed to put our own life pictures on those songs, too. I think of them as this core entity, full of swirling energies, emotions, senses, feelings. What we see in them is just a skin that lays atop that and that’s supposed to be different for everyone. It should never matter what the song is *about*, as written, but rather what it means to *you*. Everyone’s skin looks and feels different, but the energies beneath are always the same. Reach inside and feel that. Learn to recognize it. It’s wonderful.

But sometimes I found myself crying over the song’s lyrical content. Coupled with the book excerpts it’s sometimes hard not to. Sometimes I found myself crying over what the song means to me. Sometimes I cried due to my grief. Sometimes it was just because the song was the most beautiful thing I could imagine hearing at that moment. A chord’s ring. A vocal inflection. A combination of both.

Kristin makes fun of herself for singing different notes over the ones she’s playing but what she does is perfect. I’ve never heard anything as consistently beautiful as the music she makes, or the sounds she sings. Paradoxical brings that all together, the music, the words, the visuals. It’s also funny as shit. I laugh, I cry, I love. I ended up getting way more out of this show than I had expected. Its left me in such a lovely place. Wish you were here, too.

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