“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 ❤

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