Cute makeup & show day nerves

 

 

Okay, time to blog a little.  I’m feeling so much right now.  Wrote two songs earlier.  That felt amazing.  Like I forgot that that’s such a useful way to convert energy (let it go, allow it to be what it is, feel it, experience it, continue my day 🙂 )

Also journalled, got ready for the cloudlight show at Hay Yah House tonight in Grand Rapids – we’re opening for Jes Kramer, which we’ve done before (love her), and sharing the space with two amazing artists, Egan Franks Holzhausen & Reb Roberts, and while I know I should be fine with doing shows by now, it’s almost biological.  I get excited and nervous but mostly excited. I feel the weight of time, ticking by, all the things I wanna cram into a day – suddenly on a show day I realize what foolishness this is.  All the ways I expect myself to shift gears from one connection or project to the next.  I used to think I had a hard time with transitions, now I’m wondering if it’s because I expect so much of myself.  I make myself short-circuit, living life as if I’m still in school, 50 minute periods, one subject to the next.  It’s overwhelming at times.

Sooo the biggest anxiety is that June 30th is tomorrow and I REALLY want to do the Childhood album justice, and thought I’d timed it well, but I listened last night to the 1st final masters, and 😦 😦 😦 too many sloppy moments.  That are fixable.  If I weren’t out of time.

And I WANT to be out of time, because the next project is already underway. So I don’t want more time, or to extend it.  I just want to be superhuman.  In the old days, without deadlines, I often didn’t start things – for fear of this pushing side of myself perhaps.  I am relentless in how I engage this creative energy, and I am a firm taskmaster without much self-care, once I have a goal to work toward.  Maybe that’s why I would dream without starting things?  Maybe it’s cuz starting is the hardest part?  And yea I COULD cheat and give myself a few more days, but to what end?  Only to be behind by a few days on number 4 this year?  And that one is turning out to look like a MUCH harder project…sooo I think I have to somehow learn, thru this year, to say “good enough” and “you tried your best” and “it’s not like you get to live off being a recording artist so quit expecting so much of your limited self.”  I like piano teaching, and songwriting mentoring…and, even if I get to tour a lot more next year (my dream and hope), I still think I’d keep a full studio and just give em weeks off sometimes.  Hoping that would work out.  Because those I know who tour year-round, as a job, seem to slave away at it – and be at the mercy of many factors, and long-term I don’t think that’s my calling.  Some people write one or two albums in a lifetime, and tour/share the heck out of em.  I think my calling is a little more homebodyish, but with a lot of creative output.  Maybe more videos again?  Music videos, kids videos, motivational / self-help videos, makeup tutorials? (just kidding on the last one)

I dunno.  There’s a blog check in.  I’m loving the Childhood album.  It’s 12 songs, but I think only 7 will make the cut tomorrow.  Maybe there’ll be a “Childhood too” someday (called “For Heather McCarthy” – Heather, it’s all those extra songs I wrote in 5th grade when I found out Hilda was moving across town, and we couldn’t be summer playmates anymore)

Love you all. xo
Jessica

p.s. oh yea, these pics are from my latest instagram post (@jessicaintherainbow)…where i announced that working on the Childhood album has me reconnecting with my fun-makeup-loving self, and I even did my hair for the show (inspired by the 2nd pic here) ❤

 

 

 

 

 

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Mid-June thoughts, spiritual in nature.

Hello…I wrote in my journal this morning, while feeling full of life and love, before a series of disappointments that I won’t ramble about tonight…

But I will say, life truly ebbs and flows and we don’t know where we’re headed.  A year or two from now I may be living in Colorado.  Or I may be gone from this earth.  Or I may be right here doing almost the exact same things I’m doing right now.  And same for you.  We don’t get to know where we’re leading, or being led, to.

I’m in a strange mindset right now, of wanting to share more…but knowing it tells the stories of too many people other than myself.  I wonder sometimes if that’s where all the cryptic lyrics came from in the first place, pretty much since high school.

That said, I am about to release an album of songs from grades 1-7…or 8.  Depending.

Haven’t decided yet who to be…including 8th grade is a huge shift spiritually for me…that’s when most everything really started going wrong for me…and I think the songs written in 1st thru 7th share enough of my light, I might just want to leave it at that.  I dunno.  This probably makes no sense to an outsider…outside my brain haha.  But I’ve been journaling for decades, and I felt inspired to do something more public than just keep journaling, alongside this wacky release-an-album-a-month challenge.

I think I have lived in my head so long that I don’t even know where to begin sometimes with coming outside it.  Talking with some acquaintances today, online, who are very near to the focal point of their traumas…after so many sexual/emotional/mental/verbal traumas in my life, I am deeply grateful to feel incredibly past tense about it, and be coming into my skin and some version of what is strength for me.  With the help of some incredibly loving and PATIENT people.  I get to live a healed, functional life and I know not everyone with my experiences gets to do that.  I feel very lucky to have hope and a sense of lightness in my skin, most days.  But maybe one thing I truly haven’t accepted is the way that will not just make my human experience different than those without severe trauma, but also it may make my music career very different.  I couldn’t handle the intense rejection, the unknowns, the uncertainty, the need to pound the pavement, the hustle…since releasing in Chicago back in 2010 I have been baffled on and off about the industry, the ‘scene’, the feelings of pouring out your soul and the juxtaposition of some people gushing about it changing them with others not listening or seeming even remotely interested…and not knowing what creates that difference (learning to process it, and be okay with it, of course…but my trauma background has likely made me far more sensitive than others to these subtleties…not in a “hey look how great and sensitive i am” way, tho I’m sure I could spin it that way and others might too if they like sensitive people, but more in a “so you wonder why the business side is hard for you? just look at what a miracle it is that you’re even doing this! it’s painful and emotional and many traumatized people have a hard time functioning let alone flourishing!” way…)

I’m tired of telling my trauma story.  Next month, after this childhood album, I’ll be releasing an album called “Tiny Traumas, adding up (or “out of body, in your skin”)”

I think I need to let it go, or do something symbolicly to let it go.  I think I need to not release the songs from high school, an album I used to call my second album, called “Tormented.”  I think I need to let that go.  College songs too, all Tormented sad relationship and trauma songs.  Waking up, in my skin.  I think I need to symbolically put anything trauma related that needs getting out, on this album next month, and just let it go.  Thinking out loud.  I don’t know if this is a good idea.  I’d like to have a nice July.  But maybe doing this in such a happy pleasant month would be good.  Who knows.

Okay now for the spiritual stuff.  This morning I wrote in my journal with the intention of sharing it on Facebook…where I share strange vulnerable things (my personal FB)…and it got so long I realized I should/could just put it here.

Here you go, anonymous friends.

……

I fall back again and again into envy, self-pity, self-doubt, and fear that I’m doing the wrong things – that I’m not doing enough – that I’m not smart enough, good enough at business, and that doggoneit people don’t like me –

While any of those things may be true and waking up to it may be painful but useful, even MORE true is that obsession with thinking about it without action or change is NOT useful and is just a way to beat myself up and make me feel small.

Whenever I pick up the book The Power of Now or A New Earth (I hate to be such an advocate for one thing – but it was the Tao te Ching or Pema Chodron for YEARS, I guess it has shifted, and we all have things we are needing to learn and are using to grow), I am calmed and reminded where I am and why.  Or it all just ceases to matter and I can function more lightly – and answers to such questions (am I doing enough, the right things, etc) simply appear without effort.

I was rereading the intro of Power of Now and saw a breakdown of what the book is trying to help you do, thought I’d share and explain how/why it’s helped me…

“You will find that from the first to the last page, the dialogues continuously alternate between two different levels.  One one level, I draw your attention to what is false in you.  I speak of the nature of human unconsciousness and dysfunction as well as its most common behaviorial manifestations, from conlict in relationships to warfare between tribes or nations.  Such knowledge is vital, for unless you learn to recognize the false as false – as not you – there can be no lasting transformation, and you would always end up being drawn back into illusion and into some form of pain. ”

This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about above…it’s taken me a decade of books like these, and back when I lived in Chicago, support groups and therapy too…I have taken all of this very seriously and at some point, I realized I was taking it so seriously that it had turned into my identity – which is why I want to stop telling the trauma story (soon).  Traumas rob you of your life due to their shock value, but keep stealing it when you identify them and their results as “you.” I think.  I dunno.  I want to process things, but I want to let them be like water and move through me, as something that has happened, not as something that I “am.”  Okay continuing his words…

“On this level, I also show you how not to make that which is false in you into a self and into a personal problem, for that is how the false perpetuates itself.”

This truth rings out in his work, in Pema Chodrons, in A Course in Miracles, in the bible, in the Tao te Ching…I have been learning this truth my whole life…which leaves me feeling empty like a vessel, ready to listen and learn and experience, without being much of anything at all…which is scary but also freeing.  Like a bird, if wings were easy to flap or you could just consistently glide like Princess in Super Mario Bros.

Okay now he talks about the other aspect of the book…

“On another level, I speak of a profound transformation of human consciousness – not as a distant future possibility” (that is probably THE most important part to me, as trauma healing groups and therapists always talk about someday and change ‘in the future’ and I needed an immediate consciousness shift, over and over, every day, until one day I was just suddenly okay it seemed…and all those years of talking about “someday” and trying to “fix” anything intentionally, I realized, kept me in the mode of “I’m broken and need fixing”…and there would never be an end in sight so long as I stayed focused on looking for things to fix…sorry, therapists who use this model, it has been very negative for me and this book and others probably saved my sanity in getting me out of that…okay back to his words) “but available now – no matter who or where you are.  You are shown how to free yourself from enslavement to the mind, enter into this enlightened state of consciousness and sustain it in everyday life.”

Okay I’m getting tired, this is long…but back to my journal, where I added a million qualifiers this morning, after writing about this (whereas those responses to the book, above, were written NOW, when I’m tired and crabby and feeling things after a day of some heavy stuff on my mind…)

…….

p.s. my grandma was a nun, I was raised Christian in a gentle simple do-unto-others way (Presbyterian – focused on inner life and good deeds, not evangelizing, and certainly not condemning or judging others “do not judge lest ye be judged” and all that, no matter what the bible teaches in obscure places it was clear that pointing out flaws of faith or non-faith to others is never my responsibility.  I have tried since childhood to take the logs out of my own eye – any Christian spending inordinate amounts of time staring at others, in their eye, are likely staving off awareness of their own traumas and weaknesses, in my opinion – it can be painful to focus on the self).

p.p.s. anyway I say all that because I truly am not Taoist, Christian, New Age, Buddhist, anything with a capital letter, or if I am then I’m all of it…but I think it all moves through me (us?) like water and all I try to do is stay connected to things that make me feel connected.  All parts of any belief that make me feel “better than” or separate, or “less than” and separate, I try to let go.  With the exception perhaps of sensing dark manipulative energies (demons? heavy negativity?), then I usually say the Lord’s Prayer obsessively and just believe that makes me protected.  ‘Cause I do believe in possession and I don’t need that sh*t.  Life is hard enough without ghosts or demons or whatever messing with you.

…..

 

O…kay…

Well, I guess I could change my mind about sharing all this.

It’s 1:53am.  No one really reads this anyway, so maybe it’s good for me to leave it here for posterity, and the one or two people who might need to find it.

Maybe it’ll help my lyrics make more sense…or maybe not.

I dunno…I hope you are having a lovely night, and if you feel alone, I really can’t recommend Pema Chodron or Eckhart Tolle or George Saunders or the Tao te Ching or Murakami or Julia Cameron (or anyone with hope for humanity and the individual’s journey) highly enough.  I have needed every tiny thing I’ve ever read…even Al-Anon literature, playscripts, poetry, anything that stirred me through the pages…something about social media is so fast and leaves me so empty, really just from all the comparing.  Envying.  Not because I want a fuller life, my life is so full and it makes me so happy.  But when I see social media, I’m reminded of ways I don’t act, people I love who don’t reach out to me, shows I didn’t book, places I didn’t go or don’t have money to go…I can’t imagine how social media is affecting children.  Or recent grads.  Because we see this big beautiful navigatable world, but then we are stuck in jobs and life and routines…and dreaming is free which they’ve done all their lives while trapped in school, but reality and freedom usually leads to realizing you don’t have the resources to change your fate, or go on that trip, or be that different person…social media is taking that “you can do/be anything” thing from the 80s and 90s and turning it into one quick burst of realization.  It seems much quicker that kids and young adults realize “oh crap I CAN’T do all these things”…hopefully we aren’t leaving them behind.  My bleak cynicism about Disney dreams being sold to us (and being crap mostly) is coupled with a joy of living and just being…I hope I am doing a good enough job at saying to the youth of today, FAME ISN’T REAL, SUCCESS ISN’T REAL, TRAVEL ISN’T REAL (er, satisfying, lasting, permanent, a solution, etc)…plant your feet, be where you are, look around you.  There is magic and beauty and fullness of everything and complete nothingness (in a good way) right now in THIS MOMENT right where you are.  I’m in your dream place, and you are in mine.  And we are all living fantasies or nightmares, in our own brains, based on what we think about and how we think it.  Poke a hole in the balloon, step outside the nightmare, see the color and light and beauty of that lamp or bedspread near you, see the universe in a single piece of paper, scribble with a pen, feel its texture, be a one-year-old, see color and light and beauty, slurp your soup, listen to people, laugh, find a house show, be in a space, dance, alone, remember your dance moves from 8th grade I DARE YOU, you know the ones you forgot because they weren’t cool anymore?  Do it. It’s fun. Be you. Not you who you think you are, follow the flow of this moment, be childlike, let go.  Whatever.  Kay?  Love you, bye.

Jessica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Finished” something for month 2. This is harder than expected.

Well, last night at 11:53ish I pressed publish on the sloppiest album of my life. Far more lofi than my first album in Chicago when I knew nothing and had no resources. More lofi than even I intended, tho I tried to clean up some stray noises Wednesday night (til 6am, functioned on 2 hrs of sleep Thursday just from trying to make this a little more listenable). I think it was worthwhile, as I will always love this one, but I do see it as a piece of something bigger, as unfinished, but my stubbornness and determination meant I HAD to release something by the deadline no matter what, so there it is.

If I’m honest tho, these moments in time being preserved exactly as they were – collaborations with friends and heroes of mine, and former students too, and nieces and nephews, all making up a ‘Friend Ship’ (to the sky, in your mind) – is something I’m happy to have on my Bandcamp, whether or not it’s very listenable
for others. I’ll still release the intended Friend Ship album in a layered multidimensional way, later this year, many of those tracks are done already but I lost some of the work in a hard drive crash last week and am still in shock a bit, couldn’t push myself to finish the ‘real thing’ by May 31st and quite literally ran out of time…surprised I even put SOMETHING out, considering. I even considered releasing different smaller albums or eps instead, but everything had its own set of mishaps, so I guess this super lofi collection of friend moments was meant to be (if that exists).

On another note tho somewhat related… I’ve been feeling weird and full of myself lately, or maybe joyful actually (if I’m honest) but concerned how it appears, releasing so much, focusing so much on my own work and life, even with the new collaborations, for instance being asked to throw shows with people and our house being the easiest place to book things, for Johanna Warren, Breathe Owl Breathe, some new bands we love who’ve been asking and want to play with us (JiTR or cloudlight), and wondering how it appears from the outside, having myself or my band play at every house show we create…I mean, we are not curators really, we are musicians in love with this scene, and playing or writing music will always be my passion first and foremost. And I deeply love creating shows for and with others. But it still feels weird sometimes…maybe because I’ve tried to stay small much of my life, so that no one ever thinks (or talks) much about me, and that’s clearly not my guiding principle anymore.

Hmmm. That topic has been on my brain a lot. Haven’t known how or where to talk about it. I feel like it’s easy to assess and judge others. Most people probably don’t know that I’ve been performing since 2005, first in Chicago under my name and then as Jessica in The Rainbow in Michigan since 2013 . And something that has been true this whole time is that my music is rarely right for most venues. I always feel apologetic for it being too slow, too quiet, too sad, too happy, literally almost anything can be something that makes me feel off in paid spaces where the focus is on eating or drinking or making money for a business. I tend to only feel comfortable at major stages like at music festivals or places like the Pyramid Scheme or even Unruly Brewing since they have a stage and designated sound person (but mostly because those spaces tend to accept or even encourage whatever music one feels inspired to create), or at DIY/DIT spaces and house shows, especially the ones we create because Bryan is an amazing soundman and because we’re able to choose the lineup, and co-create a loving atmosphere that I want to be part of. And no matter how many opportunities I give to others, how much money we pay them (we give 100% of the money to anyone who travels to our house), and no matter how small I make myself to make sure others feel loved and heard and valid, and no matter how many people I include, partly to keep from focusing on just myself and my world musically-speaking, but also out of a love of bringing all these amazing musicians and creative people together, no matter how much I do I still always feel bad like it’s not enough. There’s a part of me that would much prefer to be a cloud or a tiny little bug, a butterfly or moth on the wall, though it would have to be one that has power to influence and create and help people, so maybe an angel? I don’t want to just observe, that’s how I learned I’m not truly an introvert. I want to be involved, I want to be helpful, I want to give hugs and there seems to be no way to do this without there ending up being a focus back on yourself, beccause every time I get involved and try to bring people I love together, at least one of em ends up telling me how much they appreciate my creating those opportunities, which sends me back to my discomfort with narcissism and makes me worried I’m still just centering on myself (I know this isn’t therapy haha, and probably goes back to numerous friends turning on me in middle school and beyond, often times citing being tired of my music and my interest in playing songs for or with them every time we hung out…tho it was probably more complicated than that, I believed them when they said they were sick of my music so I learned to hide it and not focus on myself around others if I wanted them to like me or to have friends at all…)

It seems like a common theme for anyone who wants to create work and be involved in the community, that the attention and love they try to give and spread with others eventually comes back to themselves, and then they’re stuck having to become an object of discussion or observation when really they just deeply wanted to participate and be involved and maybe they just have a shit ton of ideas and are naturally dominating (ugg, this topic is hard for me…who knows why I feel compelled to share all this, deep breath…), and maybe many people like me are afraid of the bottom dropping out, socially speaking. So I don’t know how to reconcile my passion and intense nature with my desire to love others and hopefully be loved in return…but I can’t go back to hiding and postponing my life. I’m learning that my passion in life in general comes from speaking up and sharing my ideas and creating projects and songs and shows around my ideas, and the more I share the more the ideas keep flooding like water, or lately like a waterfall …and the more I do them all, i.e. get better at follow through, the more things keep coming back to myself and getting attention for it which terrifies me but it seems like it’s the only option (besides hiding, which is not a real option)…so I don’t know maybe I read too many books and maybe if I’d never heard of the concept of narcissism or had those middle school social tragedies, I’d be okay with being a leader and at the center of things, even in my tiny little world here.

But really I would just like to be a cloud and hug you all and make all these songs without a name attached, except maybe in how I need some money… I think I need to have a name attached in order to email places and have a bank account and bandcamp and make some money because at the end of the day I’m often broke or at least paycheck-to-paycheck and I need more work and to prioritize side sources of income. Maybe this is just on my brain because I just got hit with $767 in car repairs (like an hour ago, brought it in for a tiny window leak and rear blinker being out sigh)…

I don’t know how other people do this world and this life thing. Maybe people just ignore feelings like these, I know it would certainly be easier if I didn’t give my feelings so much energy and power .

But other times or even most times, I feel like my power lies in shining a light on these types of feelings because they are far more universal than I probably think they are…and I wish they weren’t, I would prefer that only super sensitive creative weirdos felt like this while everybody else was just doing fine, and then I could just be a sensitive oddball going around giving people hugs and feeling happy for everyone while secretly feeling too much myself. But my guess is that reality is that most people feel deeply or moderately unhappy a lot of the time because we’re missing something in our society, something that I seem to be getting in fleeting moments lately, whenever I connect with others to create opportunities for them or to collaborate or just experience joy and connection with friends and strangers, paying attention to tiny moments more than ever ans learning to say yes to unexpected things. So I wouldn’t trade these recent growth experiences for the world, but just wanted to reiterate this in blog form (because I need to keep track of how hard this challenge is and how much I’m growing or not growing or just what I’m struggling with), that the point of this blog is to document all the feelings of this 12 albums in 12 months challenge. Definitely harder than the 365 Day one, or just different. I’m learning so many new things about myself and what’s been getting in the way of sharing my music when I’ve been a conservatory trained pianist since I was 19 and writing songs since I was 3 according to my parents and have wanted to be living this lifestyle (i.e. recording and releasing music + playing shows) since as long as I can remember, but couldn’t find my way out of all of the shit that came at me in high school and college about what I should do with my life, so the journey back to myself – which was writing lots of songs just like this ever since I was in elementary school – has been very twisty and weird and involves a lot of shedding and learning not to give f*€is.

Okay I’m voice texting this to myself while waiting for car repairs on a walk in Norton Shores …should probably go see if my car is ready. Bye ❤