Shows + business/busyness + coping mechanisms

Sometimes I think we’re trying to be too many different things, to suit an industry that wants to make money off of us.

I mean, even a no-money-maker like me makes money for things like Bandcamp.com, Spotify, iTunes, printing companies, PR reps (I mean I don’t have one, but people at my level do…we turned down a couple with cloudlight, and probably shouldn’t have, this is a hard path, but it’s harder to consider paying $$ for such an unpaid path)

There are splits and percentages and merch companies and they sell us web design and rental fees and Patreon even takes a cut.  It’s all money, and business.

And I AM NOT A BUSINESS PERSON.

Or rather, whenever I try to be, be responsible and do the right things, the art has to go on hold…

Just spent an hour organizing tees with my design, posting/sharing a poster, that’s just to promote one little show.  Not to mention the practicing, learning new skills (looping is my current endeavor), the $200,000 invested in conservatory training + MFA, the bands to be in, the drummers to try playing with, the booking, the research, the emails, I don’t do about half what others do…maybe I do less than 10%…and I feel guilty about this.  But I hang on, instead, to the hope of a stranger reaching out to me offering to help.  Or offering to rep me and do the dirty work and then just say “hey do you want to do this, this, this?” and I can say yes, and they can say consider it done…and then take 10% or 20% or whatever is common.

I think we are expected to do so much.  But who would do all that work or research for someone else? It’s a labor of love, its a business profiting off artists…we are all suffering in some way, as far as I can tell.  Every band/singer-songwriter/indie musician is forced to have quiet underlying pipe dreams of someday when it might get easier. Maybe not all of us, but I imagine most.  Most slave away and hope someday they can focus more on the art.

I talked with a friend today, and was reminded that I COULD do that…really focus on the art/music…by just doing it FOR MYSELF.  Like stay at home and don’t play shows or record or release, etc. Just play / write for me and the ceiling/sky/God/universe, alone in my room.  She didn’t say that, but it was easy to infer from our conversation.  That that is always an option.  So the real takeaway is that, yes, this is for others.

And then there’s the challenge of, how hard are you willing to work to get this into the ears/hands/eyes of others?  How much of your hard earned money are you willing to sacrifice? How many hours will you write emails? How much pride can you swallow to make it clear to all, that you are not successful, that for all the images built, you mostly sell nothing and can’t keep doing it without their support?  That you need them? That you need help?  How do you say those things, without making them feel bad?  Because who do you say them to, if the people you know are not your ideal ‘market’?  i.e. if you’ve identified that you’re looking for the quiet, broken, discouraged people…and those aren’t the people you know?  I don’t know…I really don’t know.

I know there are sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo many talented people in this world.  Sooooooooooooooooooooooo many people deserving of success, fame, fortune, help, kindness, kudos, accolades, etc.  I don’t know how to reconcile all I want for myself, and how much I want all of that for others too.  It breaks my heart in two.  Like I feel like, similar to having a split mind on the concept of money (wanting to be comfortable and have needs met + also wanting to give away money and buy things for loved ones…I’m probably a mess from being so heavy in debt my whole adult life), I’m learning I have a split heart.  Half of it is FIERCE – wanting to blast through outdated ways of seeing the world, seeing ourselves, blast through conventions that make us afraid to speak.  And the other half is ready at all times, to retreat at the first sign of danger or even discomfort.  Waiting for shoes to drop, off phone lines, or whatever that colloquialism is…

To the world, continuing on while I do all this nonsense (catching up/spinning out with all these challenges): I want you to know, I see you but I can’t listen much right now.  There is so much to say and do and I don’t know how to do it.  I don’t know how to be all the things coursing, pouring through me.  I don’t know how to become what I sense you need me to become.  More consumable, more tangible, more marketable, more purchaseable, more attendable, more polished, more fierce in representing you…instead of just focusing on myself and my traumas.  If I could figure out a real way to be a spokesperson for the broken people of the world, I would.  But instead I feel trapped inside my own head and perspective.  Even trying to give some advice or support or feedback today, I couldn’t stop using my own life as example…my way of speaking…so trapped inside that I fear ever saying a thing about anyone else, ever assuming what another’s experience is like…how can I represent what I don’t understand? Even through a million hours of listening, I’ll never know what it’s like to be you.  I can only see from behind my own eyes…feel what’s in my skin…

***********

Okay, it’s about 6 hrs later.  Bry asked me how my kombucha was doing, and then I got distracted (and forgot I was even in the midst of this), ended up watching Japanese reality TV while assembling some discs for my merch sales tomorrow.  Usually I only sell one or two, at absolute most, so I really should only do all this if I enjoy it…but my damn A-student nature sees all of what’s possible, and always thinks it has to do ALL of it.  Even if it’s til 2:42am when the next day I have to get up at 6:45 and drive to GR and volunteer teach some piano classes and socialize with kids and adult women and then prep for a show in the evening…I think it’s just stress.  I think I was born to be a truly true introvert, except my one on one piano teaching. Which is something I can psychologically manage. Like each house I go to, or if they come here, I know what mood and personality and amount of practice (usual) to expect / prepare myself for.  So every time, I manage, all the feelings…it passes, it’s okay, it flows through me.  I’ll never get rich as a piano teacher, but my basic needs are met, somewhat. I mean, travel around to see family isn’t a ‘basic need’ but with the recent moves it’s feeling like one…pretty disturbing and new for me, to only be able to see family if I have extra $$$ by the hundreds lying around…or if I turn a visit into a tour.

I dunno. It’s late. I should go to bed, but I’m just so worried for how my body/mind will handle all this bustling and shuffling around…it’s not something I’m comfortable with anymore.  Why am I even trying for any more success or money or responsibility than I currently have, I think it’s pretty clear I can’t handle it well.  Anytime my schedule ramps up, something in me shuts down a bit…and I can barely think straight or take care of myself.

I hope everyone in the world is okay tonight, but I know they’re not. I know most people live with too much pressure and stress.  I hate being this feeling of a being sometimes.  Does everyone think like this? Am I just too alone, B gives me lots of space – to breathe and be and create – and sometimes I wonder if it just means time to get lost in my head…it’s all uncharted, and maybe we’re not supposed to explore our minds like they’re an ocean. Maybe it’s supposed to be used to get from point A to B, like here’s the boat, here’s the ocean to cross, lets go, then you go, you leave A and arrive at B and think ‘hey I went thru that pretty well, good job self on your ocean adventure!”  As opposed to my sailing out to the center, away from A or B, and just floating there…meandering a bit…not really headed to anything…as if the travel is the point, or the being IN the ocean is the point…I see these reality shows and everyone has goals, and maybe that’s my whole problem.  I don’t know what any of this is unfolding to, and I don’t really care to know…I feel like all the credit/power/glory/whatever-word-you-aren’t-triggered-by goes to something MUCH bigger than me.  God, in my case.  Everyone I know who thinks they are in control of things, who works hard to control things, seems one mishap away from no-control…to me anyway.  I can see the folly of EVERYONE.  Self-included.  It is grace of God to me.  Something out there – that I call and believe is God – kind of, um, cares for me?  Seems to help?  I mean, all this talking to myself…you wouldn’t believe how much more than this I talk to God, all day, every day.  I can’t function really.  I’m dependent.  I’ve felt a strong sense of having some sort of heavenly muse since about 2007 or 2008.  Like doing FAWM turned on some faucet and now I’m just being …used?

I know every composer and writer like me tends to credit something…

The ones unlike me, who I admire, the Vonneguts and even darker, still seem possessed by a muse.

I don’t know.  That’s all probably TMI, I mean, I know some people don’t believe in God.  Or anything outside of reason.  But my reasoning skills are SOOOO limited, and I trust in electricity, and blood flowing in my body, and doctors and people who are wise in subjects I don’t know…I trust my elders, nuns (like my grandma), people have saved my life over and over.  My grandma gave me advice once, “you are not your anger, it is just something that needs to move through you.”  She believed I’d get through my hardest saddest times…she was so right but I couldn’t see it at the time.  Others have seen strength in me that I didn’t know was there.  I dunno…I have to believe in God, or I don’t have to, but I genuinely do. Too much syncronicity in my life to date, to explain any other way than there being something cosmic and glorious and bizarre and other-worldly going on that we don’t understand. For me it’s God, but I also accept and appreciate that for some its aliens, plural gods, many other things…personally I was raised Presbyterian (non-evangelizing form of Christianity, I don’t really identify as “Christian” because of the ways that word and term has become associated with churches that I think have become corrupted…boy this is getting heavy…it’s late, like 3am, I think I’m stress/fear blogging! haha fear of going to work/volunteer long days all week, no sleep, not knowing what it’ll be like even tho its my 5th year with GRGR….how is that a good excuse to tell a million personal details about my life?  I think I’m inspired by Terrace House… I need sleep, goodnight).

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Tranquility

Bryan is looping in the basement, mellow sweet guitar jams floating in the air around my head…it’s gentle, soothing, he’s practicing and learning scales via this ambient wash of light and color…perfect.

Sitting doing bookkeeping on a beautiful summer evening, drinking a PBR mixed with orange pineapple juice, because I grew up on La Croix mixed with juice, every dang day, and it’s just a thing.  Wisconsin is weird I guess.  I think they call em Shandy’s in Europe.
But I highly recommend it, in summer anyway.

Most of my students cancelled tonight – my job is easy because I love it, but also terrifying because I’m infinitely flexible and don’t hold people to policies tho I should.  Ideally everyone pays me for my time, even if they cancel last minute…sometimes it backfires, being kind.  Usually I’m taken care of, by others, by the universe.

This room is a mess.  Two workstations next to each other – a laptop, a desktop, one for ProTools/music edits, the other for my business, etc.  Bills to pay in a filer, notebooks everywhere, last night while waiting for songs to bounce in time to release before midnight, I would sort a shelf, 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there, lots of sitting waiting hoping for no glitches where I’d need to start over, rebounce the same file.  Music edits and producing in general is like this, a lot of problems.  Things I don’t understand.  I couldn’t even make a pixelated heart dance on the screen for you.  I’m lucky that others engineer such complicated software and make it easy for people like me to use.

Overall I feel tranquil.  My boyfriend came home. Our chemistry is golden, always has been, except when one of us is upset – that can be often, we take on a lot of stress.  But the summer sun is shining at 7:36pm right now…the trees are super green, my sister moved to Colorado and I’m becoming okay with it (mostly above all else, happy for her and her family, but it’s a big adjustment – been spoiled with family being within a day’s drive most my adult life…only the past few years in Michigan has my brother’s fam been a little too far for my taste, in Minneapolis area, and now my sis is even farther…land of the free-to-buy-a-car-and-have-wifi-and-cell-phones-and-spread-the-heck-out-and-follow-your-dreams-leaving-loved-ones-scattered-all-over)…but this night is too nice to feel complainy, and I am at peace.  Honestly it’s Bryan’s music.  He doesn’t know what it does to my soul. I try to tell him, but it doesn’t sink in. His confidence is worse than mine. I won’t tell his story, but needless to say, I hope he believes all of you someday – those of you who bought the cloudlight album, or cloudlight tshirts, or come to every show, or request songs…his heart is all over that music.  He’s working on scales and those little wonker notes make him feel so bad, but honestly I had over a decade in training to not have those (well, almost never)…it’s just what it takes. Music is a language.  Don’t give up people, if its in your soul.

Okay well, I was doing bookkeeping but felt too dreamy to not share something a little more positive here than my rants as of late. I don’t know, I miss my dreamy self. I miss walks. I miss self-kindness.  I find myself envying everyone, especially anyone who prioritizes leisure…movies, fairs, fests, walks, bike rides, all of it. It’s beautiful here and I’m missing it all.  So much work.  One year like this. 8 more months like this. Then never again. Honestly, I wanted to say “never say never” but I really don’t see myself giving power to this kind of slave driving again. Trying to use this year to fill ALL the dreams – the kids album, the instrumental album, the 3 slated albums, some 365 albums, these old songs albums, even albums 3-12 from Chicago maybe, all in one. I don’t know.  I just want to get it out, let it go, move on. And then still if no one asks me to play shows, without begging and hustling, maybe I’ll take it as a sign that the world just doesn’t need me like I thought it would.  Or maybe everyone is begging and hustling, and there just isn’t enough room in the air for all the music makers, and I should step aside after this year. Or next. Or next. I do have a dream of mini-tours for a year. If I can afford it, or fundraise. A strange traveling challenge. And maybe year four could be a video challenge again, but cover songs, or a TV show, something more practical, taking requests…all for you.  Less about what I feel pushing thru my soul, and more about what does the world actually want from me.  I don’t know, I really don’t.  For all my intuition of what other’s are feeling, I have a block around what they are feeling about me.  It’s so strange…

My writing keeps changing based on when Bryan changes from the dreamy sound to something frenetic haha. Maybe I should listen to background music every day. I currently don’t.  Wow.

Well, sending peace and love and light and healing and hope to everyone struggling today.  Even the tiniest struggles send me into a panic, I can’t imagine how those with deep life struggles are feeling right now…I hope you find comfort in the dark, in your heart, in God or the universe or whatever speaks to you…I’m sorry that I’m not doing a better job at being a bowl for everyone hurting. It feels like my calling, but I haven’t been able to get out of my own way, out of my own hurt.

I honestly wonder if I’m supposed to take a hard left, to another path, sometimes…like kids music or instrumental music. Like I’m supposed to be a healer, but I’m preoccupied with what I want, instead of what the world needs or wants me to be. Whenever I mention kids music, tons of people chime in. Whenever I posted an instrumental track, I got gushing responses. I love my voice tho, and its so hard-won to even LIKE my voice, after years of it not doing what I want it to do – its finally starting to, and, I think, I’m meeting it halfway by actually liking what it CAN do instead of wishing for what it can’t.  It’s limited, strange, resonant, earthy, wide, disparate, I like it…almost sultry.  I really never used to like or love my voice, so this isn’t meant to be arrogance, more of just…surprise really.  My piano ‘chops’ are good, but that’s due to training. This voice thing, it’s just finding myself, and practicing becoming that self.  I hope you all do the same, in any topic you are blocked.  I’ve been blocked in my voice for so long, its been surprising to watch it unblock…mostly from these challenges.  It’s frightening and makes me wonder about time…like does it really take 10 years to heal, or can we heal overnight, with the right circumstances and environment?

I don’t know. Night everyone. xo Jessica

Now. And now. And…now. i.e. how to be present when drained.

While a “final” song bounces, I thought I’d share about my struggles with anxiety this week and last.

I’ve wanted so much to do well, to get these done to my standards, but music I love often has $40,000 production budgets…and people who’ve taken classes or gotten degrees in audio engineering, and conversely I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.

But my ear still says “no” “no” “no” “no” over and over.  Like trying to release these songs is almost (definitely) more stressful than never doing it.  And potentially, completely pointless – to have hundreds of songs not up to a commercially listenable standard.  I mean, I DO like lo-fi music.  But I think it goes best on certain songs…that effortless sound, like an outfit that looks somewhere between hipster and homeless, and worn quite right it’s an amazing feat of nature.  But other times, it just looks homeless.  Or like more care should be taken (if that’s what you’re going for).(if not, then more power to you)…

I think I battle inner demons of worth and “potential”…I don’t know.  What the elusive “good enough” is.  I can’t stop writing, and I don’t want them to not be good enough to my OWN standards…but this challenge is helping me see, that my own standards, without proper money and time, are not acheivable, without me saying OKAY ONLY 10 songs from this decade get to be produced, now pick which ones!  And then I could save up again and hit the studio.  Like a real studio, not my computer+ProTools.

Anxiety is pure evil.  Like I can’t function in this place.  I mean I can, and do, and did all the way through school and AP classes and scholarships and grad school…I CAN stress myself out and get shit done.  But I’m getting older and I don’t know anymore what the point of losing all quality of life is.  I can teach piano until I’m too old to talk, and it’s a sustainable thing as long as there are kids who need piano lessons, and the weirdest secret is I love it and I’m helpful – as I’m great at working with kids who hate strict teachers or unkind people.  I like being kind but still thorough.  But teaching doesn’t fill my bucket when it comes to creating.  And I don’t know, there must be a point for all this pushing through me…

And you.
And everyone with a loud muse.

I think perhaps we’re supposed to entertain each other?  In our own communities and friend groups.  Release those albums, acheive those goals, do the project, art, etc.  We’re not supposed to all be world famous, nor is world famous supposed to be anymore important than community famous.  I think.  Maybe it’s also been messing me up that all my most beloved loved ones are far away (except my bf).  And I get that I’m probably a community-famous type.  Not driven enough for world dominance.

And if I really had no other marketable skills, and had to hang my hat on something financially, maybe I’d push harder.  But I can teach piano, all my life, anywhere I go, and I actually love it.  I have no “day job” to escape like some people do.  I like my day job.  This challenge is forcing me to come to terms with why I’m casual and meandering about this path.

Okay pause – gotta bounce the next track…

***

3 1/2 more hours before it’s not July.  And then it doesn’t “count”.  I almost don’t remember how to breathe.  I’m sadly not kidding.  I don’t know what kind of mental illness I’m trying to stave off, or am creating for myself…like this whole Trump presidency and scary 1984 thing, maybe not yet but the seeds of it are sowing and I hope whoever comes to reverse it finds a way to speak to ALL sides and those not on a side.  I feel like a whirling dervish of political opinions and no outlet, I remember just after Trump and his team of madmen with selfish interests were elected (some kindhearted people too I’m sure, but definitely a domanance of “my people, my team, my toys, my stuff, I’ll grab what I want when I want” energy…maybe the kind ones are the scared to go against the bully followers, as cowardly as they come, getting rewarded for keeping silent? i don’t know…) the thought I had was, I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO PAY FOR THERAPY BECAUSE OF POLITICS!

I was so angry and anger was foreign to me.  Angry at those who didn’t vote, at those who threw their vote, who thought having a creepy reality star was okay…I didn’t know what to do with all that anger, and still don’t.  So I’m doing this.  Talking incessantly about myself and the arts and music…it’s better, for me anyway, than internalizing shame and sadness during such a tumultous time in history.  Not that its solving anything, but maybe other upset creatives will be more emboldened, and maybe someone will write the anthems of our day, expressing our outrage.  That’s too direct for me.  Oh…gotta break again.

**

This energy is reminding me of the energy I used when I pulled all-nighters, writing the longest most passionate papers in class, probably getting As just for passion and intensity and LENGTH.  One time a prof gave me an A and talked about me for years to his classes just cuz I feverishly wrote a paper on Moliere in rhyming couplets (iambic tetrameter I think?)  I was just being funny, and passionate.  Mostly funny.  But apparently the content was good too?  I don’t know. Wouldn’t have calmly worked on it for a month, I imagine…probably did it the day or two before it was due. That’s how I am.  I FLAILED as an adult without deadlines and structure. And kept going back to highly dysfunctional or wrong-fit-for-me jobs, just because the goals were clear and I could get that back-pat feeling in obvious ways.

Now I clearly create my own structure. I like it and I don’t.

If you’re going to assign goals and deadlines to yourself, then you can’t change them, or they are lies and not real and the whole thing falls apart. But if you can’t change them, then YOU ARE YOUR OWN AUTHORITY FIGURE, which means every existential crisis of “why am I doing this” and “you can’t make me” and subtle secret rebellion ends up AGAINST YOURSELF. Which is crazy, or crazy-inducing.  I miss the days of outside influences saying “this is due tomorrow, no exceptions” and grumbling mixed with wanting to please them and have them go “WOW YOU’RE AWESOME!” That feeling was the best. When, oh God, WHEN do I say this to myself? It’s like the piece that’s missing, it’s why – I imagine, in a nutshell – this process isn’t very fun.  I’m not pausing to say, holy shit you’re doing it.  I’m not pausing to be pleased with myself, or proud of myself, for showing up for myself, for getting the internal good grade, for doing the hardwork, I’m not rewarding myself…just cracking that whip, trying to do 12 years of work in 1.

I don’t know. It hurts. I’m tired. I’m sad. I’m sad at a life mostly wasted. I’m sad that I didn’t move to L.A. and try to get to know the industry. I know that it would have probably overwhelmed me, I’m probably most like Maria Bamford as far as celebrities go…so I think the city would have eaten me alive.  NYC was 2 years of music directing, being groomed for Broadway, being celebrated, working hard, but losing site of what I wanted in being there, following instead what others could use my skills for…even if there was money in it (potentially, not much in the interim, lots of stipends and resume-builders).  I know that’s a path I COULD have gone further down, if I weren’t homesick and lovesick and needing a lot more help financially than I knew (grad school debt for $120,000 kicking in while trying to support yourself in NYC? ha!)  I’m okay with having left, it’s okay, Chicago was a better fit for me I imagine…nearer to home and family.  But then ending up here in Michigan…what a detour.  Basically dropped off my ex with his mother, and was stranded in a 10hr a day job, in a field I never meant to get into…piano playing so much my arms were shot again (after years of acupuncture and healing in Chicago from a previous piano job related injury).  So now I’m here. With a piano studio, and I love teaching.  I go into kids homes.  I teach one day at the HS I used to accompany for.  I teach one day at my own house.  It’s pretty simple and magical, and I feel useful and specialized.  I know a lot.  I was a music theory T.A. at a music conservatory, so I’m probably more highly specialized than I need to be…plus all the performing experience, teaching songwriting too, I’m happy and I should be grateful.  And I am.  But I also feel this …ennui.  Maybe that’s the artists’ condition.  Maybe it’s healing from traumas (too numerous…some songs lately flash me back to abuse from partners including my head being thrown into the floor repeatedly, I’m lucky to be alive really).

That should be, full stop.

Why aren’t we just grateful to be alive?  What are all the questions about?  Why do some of us feel like its never enough?  Why is it actually never enough?  Because we can’t make money from it?  Because some people build a career in the arts and are celebrated by society, and the rest of us feel like we’re making tiny fools of ourselves by not being successful enough?  Like it’s a personal or moral failure to not be financially successful?  Like where did I even think art meant money? Or success?  Is it even art if its this sloppy? Probably not.  More like listening to a journal by someone who sings everything…

I’m so sad right now, I think because this album isn’t everything I wanted it to be.  It’s 7 songs shorter than intended, and the quality isn’t as high as I thought it’d be…I was trying so hard, bouncing tracks right now (rendering big protools session files down to single .wavs) and I’ve had more technical glitches taking up all my time than on the other 3 albums.  Like something out there is saying NOPE to these songs, or to me in general.  It just feels like effort does not equal success…

Maybe that’s a truth I need to learn.

How hard you work on something is not an indication of its success.

Some people have more luck, more ease, more flow, more…whatever that easy special something is.

I had it when I was young, but as a kid, polishing things isn’t part of the deal. So maybe it just FELT like I had it, and everything was cute, and all my output was sloppy then too but for a kid its cute haha.

That’s probably it.  Honestly.  Now, getting older, I never took classes in production, never had ProTools til this year (thanks Bryan!!!), never had all the resources to be successful…just had help from kind strangers and producers…tried buying every book like IndieBible to research how-tos, got ASCAP newsletters, registered everything, followed lists, filled my head with all the rules and should and to dos.  And all it did is confuse and alienate me from my peers (I’m guessing).  Or it’s just an incredibly difficult path to find any financial success in, and only the past two years have I started saying F that, and did what I wanted to do for me, no matter what it does to my “brand.”  That’s probably it too.

Oh, gotta bounce…one sec.

***

Okay…my only other assessment of all this darkness is that, last month felt cute and fun and light and healing, and I was recording songs from 1st thru 7th grade that were about healing and light and love and friendships and there was an innocence to it.

This month has been about ressurecting some of the most tragic things I’ve lived through, and I have probably blocked them all out of my mind for a reason.  To not split, to not get lost in pain and wallowing…who chooses to stay with someone who is systematically abusing them?  I did.  Twice.  Once for 9 months (intense abuse), and later for 9 years (“mild abuse” in comparison, so it was “okay”).  All of these things, don’t scratch the surface.  This is why I’m not a writer.  This is why I’m secretly hoping almost no one reads this.  This is for me, to receive a little universe comfort from anyone who reads it and sends me a hug through the airwaves. This is for die hard fans who want to understand where my transcend-everything perspective comes from.  Why I write about being a cloud and floating away and lettting gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Can’t wait to get back to that.

Thanks for reading. And listening. And being there. For each other. Or sending me a hug in your mind.  I probably need it more than I’m letting on.  I usually just smile at people and show a brave face or chat happily and hug friends and listen to music.. Like it feels like a betrayal to not smile at everyone I see…unless they creep me out, but usually I try to be kind anyway. I’m like the least punk punk I know.  My friend tried to call my music ‘rainbow punk’ once but I care too much what everyone else thinks of me to earn that label 😦  Someday, maybe.

xo Jessica

Progress, when perfection is literally impossible.

Hello. I am learning so much about myself, it hurts.

Like how am I a perfectionist AND so sloppy at the same time?

Perfection is the most misunderstood thing in creative people.  And we’re all creative people.

The dream of perfection doesn’t create great stuff, it creates panic and stalling out and fear.

The FUN of doing, creates great stuff.

I think.

Soooooo last week I got into it…recorded 18 scratch tracks…well, almost done tracks, in varying degrees.  Of 18 songs I love, in varying degrees.  From age 18…jk, from 16 or so, thru 24 maybe?

And now, coming home from Chicago a few days ago, after a little vaca for 24hrs, I can’t get back into it. I’m trying, but I’m so F-ing overwhlmed.  Listened to all 18 on the drive and took notes and its so much. Maybe I need to do it again. Calmly. Not while a road trip is happening. Just for fun. Fixing only what I write down, leaving the rest.  Otherwise the current solution is to cut like 1/2 the songs. No one cares if I do this challenge (I think?) or if they do, some fans do, they don’t care or even KNOW which songs I’m planning, or if I cut some, unless I tell them…

So why this ANGST!?!

Perfection.

The dream of perfection.

The dream of a dream acheived, a goal realized.

Once the 18 songs filled out in my head, the only thing that would make me fully happy, was all 18 being gold.

That’s. CRAZY.

I just said to a close friend of mine…I’m getting sick of myself.  Sort of haha.

Meaning, I’m only sort of kidding.

I’m sort of not kidding.

I’m getting sick of these endless ideas, that CREATE WORK FOR MYSELF.

I don’t like working, since when did I think I do?

Why don’t I develop a process that feels like PLAY?
Since these likely won’t make money, beyond $10 here or there? Way less than any minimum minimum wage, in any culture…we sweat and bleed our art, and are thankful for $20 a year, or ooh $20 a month, or if we’re on our best behavior, maybe we’ll play a show with a $150-200 minimum guarantee? But there are contracts and ticket sales, and we’ll practice 10 times for said show…it’s CRAZY.

The whole field is crazy and not a field. We are entertaining our friends. Our families. We are healers. Healing hearts and minds. Hoping someone is listening, that it matters. It may not. Mostly it does not, to most. But to a few, it matters a ton. They are inspired, to become makers. And that matters.  If YOU became more of a maker, through watching me make? Then that is gold.

But WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY the challenges?
I’m as mad as he-who-I-don’t-name in an office he can’t handle?
These challenges are like me matching the energy of the world right now, to point out its madness?!?!

This is not for fun.

This is because I feared dying in a car crash someday, with “all this music in me.”  This was before the 365 songs…when I had that thought.
Honestly (not to wish this) but if I died now, you’d all have more than enough of me…provided Bandcamp or YouTube don’t collapse and throwaway my lifes work.  Well, whatever it’s on 3 backup drives…check with Bryan or my parents or sister or brother if you miss me when I’m gone.  But maybe I’ll live til I’m 80, that’d be cool too…except for all the aches and pains. But if I’m here, I’ll be playing and making music I’m sure.

I miss writing. My emotions are backed up. Working so hard on these albums that I have no time to write 😦 😦 😦

That’s probably a lot of my angst.

Also these songs are heavy emotional and powerful and angry, and I’m reminded of a fragmented piece of myself that I MISS.  I don’t know where she went, been hiding her…trying to be good, and I skewed too far I guess.  Trying to say the right things and be all things to all people and see the good in absolutely everyone and everything, it’s exhausting. I believe in it, as a sanity builder and way to not self-destruct, but it definitely detaches you from some of your truth. Why are all my favorite people blunt and powerful truthtellers?

Anyway…my sister just moved to Colorado. Like, today. With her whole family. I’ve been a mess about this in my heart since May when we talked about it. Knowing I’d see them less often…or maybe that I’d just have to make more money or plan more traveling work, like library gigs and workshops, anything that pays, en route to Colorado (Iowa friends, I’ll be writing again soon)…

I don’t know. I’m tired of being spread thin. I’m sure we all are. I’m sure almost everyone I know is doing too much. It’s just that, mine is self-imposed.  I wish I could explain to you what it feels like to get older, having written 1000 songs or more, and feel like you didn’t do enough, or aren’t doing enough, with your life…like there’s all this work inside you, to do.  Like you could assign it to yourself, but how would you hold yourself accountable? Then you’d keep letting yourself down, failing at deadlines made, asking a friend to record, being rejected once and then giving up for a year…on and on. Trying things once, getting a no, turning your back on it and making an excuse for why it wasn’t what you wanted anyway.

Clearly I don’t have business-related tenacity. And I’m learning I CAN do studio work, it’s just really tiring for me. Last year, hitting record and making sloppy videos for YouTube, was so much fun in comparison. Maybe that was hard too and I just don’t remember. Maybe I’m just depressed right now.  Maybe I need a break, but I feel like I take lots of breaks and its not making this feeling go away.

Maybe this challenge is too hard.

Maybe I’m breaking.

Maybe it’s the working on past music, when that wasn’t part of the original agreement.

Maybe I don’t want to be releasing past songs…and something got in there and redirected me, in my mind, and now I’m regretting it, but it’s too late to go back and release the 2014 and later trauma songs instead…

I thought I’d never open the vault of Chicago songs, and pre-Chicago songs.  I’ve included ones from 9-11, written right after, while living a mile from the trade center and not allowed to go home.  Moving out with all my stuff on my back, after being threatened by a locksmith that he could come in any time he wanted…he had a special key.

Being date raped, manipulated, losing faith in everyone and everything…I can’t handle, perhaps, all the emotions swirling around me, from all of these songs.  They span 7 or 8 years, and my hardest years at that.  And I never play them, never sing them, but never forgot them.

And now in one month, I dig up my closets, intentionally looking for them?!?!  Relearn them?  Sing them all, in my now-voice. Even learned to replay those piano parts. And was EXCITED ABOUT IT?!?  Felt good, like HEY it’s a good album…doo di doo…

Then listened to it all, as we drove to Chicago on Saturday. Hung out with a friend, acted not like myself, missed the city,  ate ramen, dreamed of moving back, because I never meant to move to Michigan anyway, glad for people I’ve met but so many mixed emotions about being here…and then came back, and swipe hands together, just expected myself to get to work on the album, like its some desk job? Some nuts and bolts thing, instead of the resurrecting of a piece of myself, an attempt to heal, a hope for change, a chance to reintegrate who I AM.  When I was most sad, most angry, but most of all, MOST HURT.

I suffered so many horrific things, back to back, head thrown into floors repeatedly…too many disgusting things that I allowed other humans to do to me…and poof now I’m fine, and here I am, and I am okay with men even tho so many men abused me. Just as many woman have broken me emotionally too, almost all my friendships have failed or been lacking (often on my end)…so I don’t need to hate one gender. I know tons of beautiful men too, who have been kind and listened for hours and days and years, as this all healed.  So it’s specific souls. Broken angry hateful souls, who in their pain, act out against others. And I’ve attracted them. And I’m tired. And I’m isolating. And in my self-imposed isolation, with only a trusted few around me, I’m lonely and bored and shaming myself into extra work to bring all this into the world…thinking it’ll help someone.

Does my blog help anyone? I can’t imagine who. I’d be horrified to read this, if I knew me in a different context (hope those who do just look away, instead of judge…this challenge is destroying me, but hopefully I can put myself back together after all this breaking apart, I think so, I know so, I hope so…yea, it feels inspired and everything I’ve ever done that feels inspired has led to monumental healing and massive changes and true forgiveness, I’m just in a down place because it’s official…

I’m expecting too much of myself.)

There I said it.

Everyone who knows me well, knows that to support me is not to badmouth the challenge, no matter how bad it gets…encouraging me to quit it would make it worse.  Tho one or two times last year, people proposed alterations. I even did. But then I kept going.

I’m going to reassess tomorrow.

Maybe listen to these 18 songs again.

See if this one is worth it, or if I just want to release an EP on July 31st (WITHOUT feeling like a failure).(somehow I’d have to convince myself that it doesn’t mean I failed)

I miss talking into a phone camera, smiling and being funny during check ins.

This is more serious, and more sad.

I feel so self-involved, and honestly I am.

To do all this work, that comes out of your own brain, involves a level of self-involvement that even I can’t muster, and I like myself.

It’s too solitary, too alone, too sad…I dunno.
Maybe I’m not introverted enough to work alone so much, always checking outside for validation because even tho I don’t know how to write with others (ideas pour out of me too fast – I don’t know how to make room musically for many ideas, unless they are as fast as mine)(maybe I just made that up…I dunno, collaborating is hard for me, always has been…), I want to be connected to others.  Always.

Gah…this is too sad to post.

Or wait, last year almost every check-in video during the 365 songs felt sad.

And I did it, for posterity.

Deep sigh. Okay. Here you go, whoever is reading. All 3 of you. And honestly, if you’re not a fan of my music, I don’t get why this interests you. Or even if you are. But trying to be a “real boy” so …this is me.

Bye.

Why am I doing this?!? (answers :)

Just finished tracking 18 songs, piano/keyboard parts and vocal parts…over the course of this past week roughly.  It’s exhausting work, hard to find yourself in the right mood each time when you’re working around a busy work schedule and life.  But I am feeling more motivated than ever, because this month’s album-in-process, “Survival Skills,” is a perfect example of wasting your life.  Which is a perfect explanation as to why I’m a whirling dervish of creative energy and output right now.

I’ve been writing since I was 3.  It’s fine that I did nothing with it then.  Even elementary and middle school, it was cute, I won awards and did shows, but it’s okay that it didn’t go beyond that – great memories with friends, but overall school was a priority and distracting and I was busy caring about being an A student, getting into colleges, eventually getting a piano performance degree (though I chose my college based on the promise of being able to create a major in Songwriting – I applied, was accepted to the conservatory on scholarships, but classical piano was SUPPOSED to just be a way in the door…had to wait til Sophmore year ended to propose your own major, wrote a big proposal on my B.A. in Songwriting – Psychology, Philosophy, Poetry, and Music – I was so excited about this, and when the proposal was rejected because they thought I could just take those classes and continue on my multiple major trajectory (theatre/english/music), I was devastated.  Almost transferred.  Why reject something like this? What harm you do to a dreamer like me, it’s so ridiculous.  I was paying them tens of thousands a year, if I wanted a less-impressive-sounding degree, why not let me?  So many small defeats I rarely talk about anymore…like freshman year of college, taking third in a contest with only three entries…didn’t perform publicly for friends for many many years after that…)

Anyway, I was writing all this time.  Never recording.  No studios, no awareness of studios even (after 6th grade – thanks again Uncle Bob).  Didn’t know the first thing about bringing high quality audio recordings into the world.  Got lost in Musical Theatre, went to NYC for a program in Musical Theatre Writing…but it was such a tangent.  I wrote a musical for my senior honors project, just to have one thing to represent three majors.  I love my musical theatre trajectory, but I’m really lucky self-help books exist, to have brought me back to my solo singer-songwriter self.  Almost didn’t make it.  That toxic ex, it’s one thing he was really great for – helping me be myself.  He was a very accepting human being, in a very strange and dysfunctional way (oh, I said that like you know what I’m talking about…well it’s in my songs…getting lost in my timeline these days, back and forth and back again…getting a little hard to keep things straight).

So basically, by this point, end of grad school, I already had boatloads of songs that I’d not only not recorded, but mostly played just for me.  Shared with one or two friends.  Even had one of those two friends say to me, when I would visit her at college and be excited to share, that she wanted to not always have to listen to a new song when I come (once or twice a year).  Like 5 minutes, I share with 2 people.  Maybe just 1 by then.  And she said that 5 minutes was bothering her.  Deep breath.

That was a very formative experience.

Probably why I share with so many people now, even just dropping into the void like this.  So no one person liking or disliking my music has power over me.

I don’t know.  I guess I’m just backed up.  I left NYC right away after grad school, ended up in Chicago…that was its own mini-tragedy.  That man, who I loved, wasn’t who I moved there for.  Moved there for someone else, but our wounds were so deep and unsolveable.  Could never even really explain it to him, because I tried to one or two months into dating and he talked me out of it.  We grew apart, is probably the best description – or more accurately, I was never really in love with him, and we wanted very different things.

So when I found someone who was compatible with my life plans and hopes, and also was in love with, I was able to overlook the glaring issue of addiction and all of its negative life-destroying ramifications…I hope he is well now.  But that is a very dark and strange and powerful chapter of my life.  On one hand, he encouraged me to pursue my path – be that performing songwriter I deeply wanted to be.  Supported me better than anyone, truly loved my music and voice and any weirdness or top 40 sounds or whatever.  My music got very weird and varied.  I made homemade music videos out of construction paper and other cute goofy things.  I have him to thank in so many ways for finding myself.  He was the antithesis of the tight control, analyse and think through everything approach to ‘success’ that I grew up with.  I really think its possible to find positives in everything (because that super controlled upbringing gave me a flawless foundation for my education, the stability to focus on school, scholarships, piano practice, etc…honestly, I realize in hindsight how rare that kind of stability is, and am deeply grateful for it…but it was hard to embrace and accept all my idiosyncracies in such a structured atmosphere).

Anyway, listening to all these songs has me not wanting to disown my own past anymore.  None of my exes, I’ve loved something about all of them, and am deeply grateful for our friendships and connection.  None of my past friends, no matter how deeply they hurt me, maybe I was just overwhelming to be around.  I can imagine.  I mean, trauma, confusion, lots of words, unresolved emotions…probably.  And I think compatibility is a real thing, and in childhood I had some friends I was deeply compatible with.  Same with partners.  But it’s hard to wake up to your own life and realize that all the hurt is maybe just growing pains.  Nobody meant you any harm, really, but in the process of finding ourselves and our preferences, we have to rule somethings out – and it hurts, we hurt people, people hurt us. And it sucks.  And I don’t know why the earth and its people were made this way.  I don’t know why this is the process or the point.  But I am ready to forgive everyone, more fully than I have before, because I can’t forgive myself for all the people I’ve hurt or the things I’ve done to hurt others, unless I forgive the things others have done to me.  Its process, its learning…I get, so clearly, that I am not for everyone.  I used to say that a lot, but feeling it in your heart is a different story.  Its painful.  We want to be liked and it feels so personal when we’re not someone’s first or second or fifteenth choice…when we’re like 69th or 126th or just not even on the list.  I’m finding that a lot lately, with new friends and acquaintances…it’s just hard.  I love meeting new people, but social media is just not realistic about what connections mean anymore…

Anyway, I digress.  WHY am I doing this? Because look.  All that, above, is because I just spent two weeks playing and singing trauma years songs.  Excavating, digging through mini-disks, exploring years of my life that I had sealed off in my mind, never to think or talk about, too painful, too confusing, too embarassing, too…

But it’s easy to accept that other people have sordid or sad pasts…I know that’s a truth of existence for many, and it doesn’t bother me. For others I would share uplifting things, help reframe it, etc.  But for myself, I shoved it all in boxes in my heart, or more like gut really.  Or deeper.  Something unobservable.  Barely there.  When it would pop up, I would shove it back down.  So this intentional pulling up, rerecording, planning to share songs that hurt, that make me FEEL, that make me feel both sad AND strong…its…liberating.  I didn’t know how I’d feel releasing them as Jessica in The Rainbow.  Considered putting em on my old Bandcamp (jessicafogle.bandcamp.com) …but that is like a time-capsule page, and I’m tired of fragmenting myself. Rainbows are fragmented enough.  Like here’s all the spaghetti, here’s the shit show, splattered here…childhood albums, teen/20s albums, Chicago coming up (the other 10 albums I wrote while there, might do one big release one month of all 10 remaining albums? 100 songs in one month? why not, I’m not tired, HA HA HA)

I just want to move forward, and stop regretting my past that never came into the light, every time I move forward quickly.  These old parts of myself felt unloved, unobservable, except by me and 2-10 people from my past…and it felt sad and fragmented that no one knew this childhood me…I think its what made me so defensive and want to tell people about it.  Because those songs, they’re so different (in my mind)…these ones from high school-early 20s are even MORE different…jazzy, angry, sad sad, musical theatre infused (?), piano pop? I don’t know what they are.  I added space sounds and sang in my now voice, not my explosive pushing sounding voice of back then…I like to use my power in a balanced way now, back then I liked just singing as loud as possible.  And it wasn’t controlled…sometimes it sounded amazing, other times super pitchy.

I dunno. That’s why. I’m trying to catch up. I mean, I can’t catch up.  365 songs from last year, only one or two more albums will be about that.  There’s other things.  Musicals I wrote.  The desire for forever to do a new kids’ album.  Made one with my ex, Frog & Duck, and mourned it so hard when we divorced.  Gave him the rights because I knew I wouldn’t promote something that made me so sad, that felt like failure.  So I’ve been wanting to make a new kids’ album since a convo with my brother in 2016.  Haven’t yet.  Why not? Cuz of that damn slating things…never really saying “this week, this month, this year, I will work 12x as hard as usual.”  So that’s what I’ve been doing, since Feb 12, 2017.  Trying to work 12x as hard as usual.  Or 24x. Or 365x. I don’t know.  Just trying to not let up.  Its insane and a bit unbalanced, but the world feels unstable right now and its keeping me sane(r) to match its energy in a way I can control.  Since, if you read my politics post, getting into politics didn’t work for me 😦

Hmmm was that a good explanation?  Cuz it’s not just distraction during a political maelstrom.  There are many ways to distract.  Netflix, anything zoning out or fun, this is not fun.  This is hard hard hard work.  I’m exhausted all the time.  And no one is asking me to be and I could quit at any time.  Which makes me sad and scared…because I don’t have challenge blood, or resolve like some people do.  I mean, it feels like a “have to” but I don’t feel invigorated from the challenge, like “haha challenge, I’ll show you!”  Just matter-of-fact.  I assigned it to myself, so I HAVE to do it.  Period.  I mean I assigned myself “walk every day for a year” and failed that already.  Maybe it’s the public sharing?  I think it helps.  I know I need to be held accountable, even if it’s by 2-3 strangers or fans who read these.  I know it exists, it gives me an outlet, to explain, to process, to defend…it’s something.

Okay it’s 2:30am and we’re going on a little trip to Chicago tomorrow…need to rest.

Rough draft done though, I feel good about that. I’ve missed these songs and I don’t care how sad they make me, or how angry/impatient (I’m an Aries, and these bring out that side in spades…normally I can be softer than I feel inside, by a belief that it makes people happier…but in reality, I’m fire).

Night ❤ Jessica

 

 

 

Political (to be or not to be)

Hello.  Just wanted to share some thoughts for our times…

Oh my God I can’t believe I don’t talk about this more.  I posted something on my personal Facebook page yesterday, I’ll share here…

It’s an aspect of myself that I’m deeply uncomfortable with.  How to grow into being a person who gets shit done, has goals, has focus, has purpose, shares love or music or content with others, BUT still care about the daily important shit in the world around me…and even speaks up about it…it’s hard. I’m not good at it. I feel like I swing wildly between sharing my views publicly so as not to be complicit in these awful liberty-limiting times, and swinging to being unable to speak on the matter.

It doesn’t help that almost all of my professional heroes are near-mute on the subject, from a social media standpoint. And then SOME heroes speak almost daily on the topic.  And I find myself in limbo, wondering who to be. It feels like a terrifyingly huge pandora’s box…like once I went to a political meeting, late 2016, to try to get involved, and I can’t even begin to tell you the overwhelm. For myself and all of them. I cried the whole meeting.  Everyone was fighting.  Fighting the ghosts in the room (the opposing party) and fighting each other, over the best ways to fight.  I don’t do fighting, not without tons of crying anyway. So I was the one crying, and on my turn to share I mentioned these sensitivities…defended the whole lot of us sensitives, explaining that THIS is why we don’t get involved. The strong emotions are overwhelming, and we melt…is that a useful perspective in a room full of righteously angry people?  Probably. I was even told so, that it gave them perspective on their own hatred, that it was useful, to keep their righteous anger from turning into rage or hatred of the opposing side.  But it was so overwhelming for all of us, having someone like me there…I didn’t go back.  Found safe behind-a-screen ways to share my views.  And not often, cause those closest to me saw what it was doing to me, trying to “help” the younger more confused ones grapple with what November 2016 meant, about our country, about our politics, about their freedoms (specifically the LGBTQ kids I knew).  I became more vocal than I ever have, because of he-who-I-rarely-name’s talk on grabbing things and what he thinks of pageant contestants and if they are perfect enough, he made me sick all the way down to my toes – I have known men like him and prefer carrying a little extra weight to avoid even a glance from men like him. That is crazy, I know, it’s my body, but I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve had friends raped left and right lately, and it’s a disgusting world of predatory men not being able to control themselves or their impulses (yes sorry, it’s 99% of the time, men – I love you men, but yes your gender is the primary problem on this topic), and I’ve had enough sexual trauma for one lifetime.  So being a little fatter is like a buffer to the world of this kind of gross.  I don’t like it, but it’s hard to motivate yourself to lose weight when you know you’ll be back in the running for being a target of sexual predators…

I digress.  Or not really.  Sexual predators and politics go together these days, thanks America.  I know there is a huge percentage of the Christian population who supports Trump (there I said it). I know there are some old school values that he is pretending to care about, or actually does.  But I think it’s all very misguided and I am a super spiritual even Christian being (though that word has connotations that I don’t always like – I don’t think Christ would like many of his Christians – anyone who holds onto a luxury lifestyle and walls off their heart to others, is questionable in their “following of Christ” – and before examining if gays are sinning they should, in my opinion, ask if their love of money and savings and trust funds and other “securities” is sinning…give us THIS DAY our daily bread and all that…leave your riches and follow me, etc…  but I am not here to point fingers, see this is why I don’t talk politics, I want comforts too, I want out of the rat race and the game of being hungry and working three jobs and other challenges so many in this world face…of course we all want a way out of that, we want our luxuries, simple or complex… but these times are raising all these questions, and everyone is fighting and hating each other, and saying they are doing it in their name of their values, and if only others would get on board with THEIR values…I heard as much Obama and Hillary hate from people on the other side of things, as I do on “my” side…and again, my side is personal and based firmly in disgust and strong instincts that he-who-I-hate-naming is not a healthy or stable human being…)

Oh yea, the thing I wrote yesterday, on my personal Facebook page.  Here it is:

*****
For the record, again and again, though I don’t have the heart to say it every day here like some of you, our current Orwellian administration has me upset/saddened/prone-to-distraction/afraid/angry/confused/ready-to-pounce/doubling-down-on-love-language-cuz-i’m-reminded-daily-of-the-evils-of-worshiping-power-and-money/and-so-much-more. I am in full non-support. Ready for overhaul, not willing to buy an ounce of clean-up language. It’s gross. I am mentally unstable too, but I wouldn’t run for president. It takes a very very very strong human, with a fiercely kind heart, to care for and legislate for others. Okay, there. Back to my near-silence on the issue. Sorry to future generations, that I can’t handle speaking up more often. I know there are maaannny like me, so I take cold comfort in that. xo 
*****

The “clean up language” comment is because two days ago, Trump met with Putin.

The next day, he said that he said “would” when he meant “wouldn’t”.

Really, clean-up crew? That’s the best you can do to make him seem stable?

He even lost part of his base that day.  People on ALL sides of the aisle were like, WTF?!?!?!

Okay I’m tired. Have to go record songs from childhood, but the gross part of childhood…high school and early 20s.  When you don’t know what you’re doing, but the world views you as more adult-like, so you have to act like you do. In my case, I got into worlds of personal trouble, due to some traumas I lived through and woke up to, at that time.  Mostly sexual in nature, but some physical abuse too.  And emotional/spiritual/psychological abuse too.  Pretty bad stuff…and my solutions were thin and strange.  Some of those solutions were writing songs, which gave me a place to process those experiences with confining walls and clear constructs around me.  Some of it was healthy, but some of it re-enforced stories I told myself to heal which later made me more trapped in pain and despair than maybe I would have been…

Well. Thanks for reading. I don’t know how I feel about this one. Or any of these. But I said I’d blog to get through this…and I feel like I really need it.  Journaling alone keeps me feeling alone.  Even if no one is reading, leaving this here makes me feel the potential for being understood someday, even if most everyone I know doesn’t understand me right now (who has time for all this pouring out of me? I don’t even have time for it – I don’t expect anyone else, even if they love me, to read/follow/listen to all this content…it’s exhausting just to consider…I wish I knew how to edit my life into one palpable consumable good for you, but I don’t, I’m sorry. Please know I’m trying my best…it just involves a lot of spaghetti thrown at walls, trying to find what sticks…my old album producer Ian said that’s the kind of person I seemed to be, and I didn’t believe him at the time, but holy cow is it right!)

Kay bye ❤ Jessica

Black hole, white sky…

Hmm. I’m titling things before I write these days…

Well, this popped in my head and seems fitting.

Reaquainting myself with my teens/early 20s self lately, thru old burned CDs full of my most raw and angry and powerful songs…it’s honestly been a whirlwind.  Not sure how I feel about it yet.

Part of me feels strong and capable and powerful, for facing my past and not running or buckling (when I’ve spent much of my adult life burying this away, trying to keep the peace, inside myself and all around me).

Another part of me feels a little sick and strangely …regretful? No that’s not it. Like a pandora’s box, that once opened, leads to a whole host of realizations about personas I’ve concocted that aren’t me at all…in tiny ways, maybe, but in some large ones too.  Stories I’ve told myself to make sense of some choices, suddenly feel thin and insufficient…like, I THOUGHT I did x for y reason. But really, listening to these songs, I clearly did x for z reason.

Which kind of undoes the whole puzzle of self-storytelling.

Which we all do.  You are not immune.  None of us are.

Thinking how this relates to depression, and optimism, and therapy, and “reframing.”

I was lucky to meet a bunch of therapists when I was younger, befriending a couple, outside of their practices…and also having connections thru support groups…and I learned so much therapy-speak about healthy entitlement, and reframing…

I do it for others all the time.

I don’t know if I knew how much I did it for myself…well, I mean I know the RECENT reframes.

But when you reframe something and then 10 years go by and you really believe the new way of thinking about it (seeing the best in something, for example), then later it can be a shock – I’m realizing – to see the same things again, through those old eyes and ways of seeing.

I forgot how deeply tragically sad and angry I was.

So much so, that my nun grandma had to point out to me, in a moment of deep despair, the idea that “you are not your anger, it is something you need to move THROUGH.”

I remember feeling so much rage and sorrow in every fiber of my being, for different things that happened, that I didn’t believe her at the time.

Am very grateful I held on and became able to see / understand things differently.

As an adult, I’m a forgiveness junkie.

I have imaginary conversations with people ALL THE TIME.

Like I say the persons name, as if I’m really talking to them, and imagine what we’d say to heal whatever in our hearts/minds/souls left an imprint on the other.

Sometimes I’m surprised to realize I’m the one perpetuating half or more of the toxic “holding onto something” energy…telling a story about how a guy wounded me at 17 for example with his manipulative tactics.  Come to do this exercise and realize we were young and stupid and I never gave him a real chance to apologize, and of course he was an idiot, he was into me and it was mutual feeling even tho his words were toxic and creepy, but I needed to forgive him (I don’t need to, but I want to – I want to stop telling myself that victim story, I’m tired of it defining my life)…so doing all this in imagination land, imagining what he’d say, as a person NOW, at his adult age, not as a 17 year old, imagining he’d have regret if he knew how much it affected me.  It’s like an imaginary version of an amends process…but people as sensitive as me have been injured by that process (I don’t recommend it for highly codependent chameleon-like people, otherwise making amends can become a little like being in lots of tiny codependant moments, where you’re only okay if they give you permission to be…it can get very manipulative…)

Okay I’m sharing too much I’m sure.  I’ve tried lots of things over the years, especially in my 20s when I was most broken.  To heal.  To find a path out of the darkness, the “black hole of need” that I used to say I was…into the light.

Now I feel like I know where the switch is, I know the light seeks me, like I think it seeks everyone…

I feel like I’m getting to live a second or third or fourth life…like a Mister Rogers for adults…

but going back, for this month anyway, and reliving, re-experiencing these songs, from high school and college + early 20s…I can’t begin to say what it is.  I don’t know what it is.  A glimpse?

Almost like I’m seeing who I could have become had I not been OBSESSED with healing and recovering from shame and fear… and obsessed with finding my path, out of the woods, the dark, the hole…

I know I’m being vague, but I have people to protect, including myself.

Trauma is incredibly personal, and my specific traumas are multifaceted and dark, as you’ll sense if you listen to this new album in a few weeks.

It’s called Survival Skills…

Working on cover art design with my friend Ryan Wyrick.  It’s one of my favorites…basically his existing collage art, a piece that makes me cry, with some words added.

Anyway, here we go. Stalling, I should be recording, but I’m feeling too much and am scared to put that into the songs…which is silly.  Honestly just a little overwhelmed, choosing songs for this one.  There’s about 25 to choose from, that would qualify for this time period, maybe more, but at least 15 that I want to do…and when I’m overwhelmed I stall.

Absurd I know.

Anyway, calling myself out on it.  Plus I wanted to share.

This blog IS helping, process this journey of an album a month, like I hoped it would.

I don’t know how to do this much, without talking about what it does to me.

Sometimes I wish I was a more linear, direct, goal oriented person, who can put something out and be okay with the way things are done…instead of blasting open the format or formula…which I imagine doesn’t appeal to labels, or people in general.  Except the few perhaps, who like reading the insides of people’s brains?  I don’t know who you are, but if this gives you comfort, thank you.  Your existence means something to me, because otherwise I don’t know why I feel compelled to share all this.  This “too much.”  I don’t know why the universe or spirit or life force flows in through my heart and pushes all this weirdness out of me onto the page, making me come off like…this.

I don’t know what “this” is.

I just know that I don’t see it enough in the world to feel comfortable in doing it.

I feel like I see it in suicide notes, or “I’m leaving” notes, or other big moments.

But not everyday, all the time, life moments.

Why do I share so much?  I know we are all wired the same inside, in terms of our basic humanity, feeling all the emotions…hurt, loneliness, pain, doubt…maybe some of us wall-off the harder emotions more than others, to those of you I’m sorry if this challenges you.  I imagine none of you read this far haha.  But to those who FEEL, all the things, all the time, like I often do…like some I know do FAR more than me…I wonder, why do I share it, when you don’t?  Why don’t you?  Does the world smack down people who share?  Does it feel too vulnerable?  Is it painful to open your heart and be ignored?  Maybe.  I think so.  I feel ignored all the time.  Almost no one talks to me about these things I do, the music or the words shared here.  Or last year’s “check in videos” during the 365 songs.  I shared for 20+ minutes sometimes, I think 3 people mentioned those all year.  Thanks Jesse 🙂

And others.  Maybe it was more.

I just know, vulnerability, and being willing to be vulnerable, has been my saving grace. My way into the light. My way out of despair. Even if the only person listening is myself. It feels lighter afterwards, instead of constant intake of TV/books/music/ideas from others, letting ALL . THIS. OUT.  It changes you. It changes me anyway.  Journals work too…it doesn’t have to be public.  But I did that for a decade, and the paper was piling up, and it was starting to feel weird, all these nuggets and insights and for who?  I just kept writing and writing, but without sharing, I felt lost in a way…became a sharer on Facebook…but I knew I needed something more.

Anyway. I was an English minor (dramatic lit + music degrees too), but in NO WAY do I mean for these to be “essays.”  I hope no one ever sees this as such.

This word vomiting is more like Julia Cameron’s morning pages.  But public.  Cuz…???
I guess to go along with all the public song sharing I’m doing lately.

Oh wow, it’s late, I really did mean to drink some coffee and get to work…

Have a lovely night. Jessica