Heavy like bubbles floating away.

Heyyy. Here’s a little blog entry for ya, or for myself, I honestly don’t know who I’m talking to anymore.

Long and easy work week. Lots of emotions, lots of time to work through them, lots of stress I think that’s what people call this…

To stress yourself out for a dying industry, I honestly don’t know what or why I’m doing any of this.  I’m just a ball or bucket of stress lately and I will not see a penny from this and it’s not fun I want to just watch Netflix and cry for centuries, all the people walking both ways for water, all the people starving, my luxuries, my easy treetop perch, my tree to sing in or on or whatever metaphor I’m on right now…

I miss last year’s challenge when every other day I could phone something in, half-ass some strange YouTube video that you could barely hear, just to say “i did it” at the end.  Trying extra hard some days, if it was fun, but mostly not. Just a song. Just the fun creative part.

Now I feel compared to.  Compared to my own past albums, compared to other people every time I use the word “release” – I’m “releasing” an album. It’s like, no you’re not, you’re doing a challenge…that’s apples to oranges, you’re cheapening the word Jess.

But I AM doing a challenge, and I can’t tour these albums, cuz I’m too busy, and I wouldn’t want to tour half of them or more, cuz I haven’t REALLY finished a REAL one in ages…since Misfits or maybe Childhood…I mean Survival Skills was polished too, and great, in my little humble personal opinion, it is good songs, but it is old songs that bring m e pain so I wouldn’t tour that. And who tours or plans a music video for songs they wrote in Elementary School.  I mean, I was planning that, but the balls got dropped, kids and families were making clips for me and I followed up a bunch but it fell thru, for now anyway, and maybe that’s for the best…

The music video addition to the challenge is/was pretty epic.

I also failed on my “walk every day” challenge.  Been off that for about a month. Or two.

It’s been hard. I don’t know how to have such a split focus anymore.  Albums, recording, performing, preparing for shows, being in a band, focusing on new members, adding temporary members to my solo project, teaching piano, running a business, doing accounting and bookkeeping, being my own boss, promoting, making sure I’m doing enough to earn a living, always feeling a few steps behind.

I think I don’t like this challenge. I think I’m trying to “use it”, as an opportunity.  Why am I so afraid of myself, my natural self, in the arts – i.e. sans challenge?

Because I’m disappointed that I’m not like others who are succeeding.

I see kids write albums in childhood and just release em.
People write angry or punky or sad songs in their teens and 20s and just make bands and practice and FOCUS and go for it. They just do it. Maybe they change then, or outgrow it, but it’s not this thing they wanted that they then STIFLED.  That’s my reality.  My whole life’s reality, after 6th grade.  Things I wanted to be or become and stifled.  I don’t know how to stop telling that story. I guess I am wanting to do this. I want to do this blog. I want to release these albums…maybe skipping months if I’m tired, make up my own rules, why not!?  I mean, I released two albums already this month – More Survival Skills, and a preorder for Chicago Albums 3-12, but I decided they don’t count (AHHHHHHHHHHH! why?!?)  I don’t know if this is because they weren’t the one I “slated”…I don’t know what I think anymore.  I think I just need less PAST stuff up on my page. I need something new or newish before tomorrow night ends.

If it’s a few days late, maybe I’ll be okay with that.

Maybe not.

These rules. This game. What is it? I don’t know why I’m doing this to myself!

This blog is for posterity, so I never forget how hard this challenge is. It’s awful. I hate it. It’s like having a job but the job is just showing up for myself finally, not getting paid for it. Just following through finally on the albums I wanted to release for forever but kept letting whole YEARS tick by,.

Did you know I also want to finally finish scoring my old original musical that I wrote in college?  It has a lead sheet and script but no piano score, cuz I always play piano when its produced. And there’s recordings of all the songs…but that’s the next “past” thing, after the 130 songs on “Chicago” are finished releasing (I have until November 22, cuz of pre-order timelines/limitations, and they are too scrappy to release as is, so I’m having to add filters to smooth out the sound, albeit more lo-fi but that’s okay…but it’s time consuming work, I hope to have motivation to finish it but I keep wanting to avoid all this work whenever I don’t “have to” do it…i.e. not a final week of a month…my own standards keep lowering and lowering…like I have no real ambition or hope for this to mean anything other than “hey look, this is how to be prolific” and maybe I can lead more workshops on writers’ block…at this point, I’d be happy helping kids write musicals again, running CAMMPs, something I developed years ago i.e. Create-A-Mini-Musical-Play…it was fun and helped pass on my love of creativity…if I could travel around and inspire and help people create in this way, or via creativity workshops or talks on self-esteem and blasting thru PTSD using creativity…I’d love this. This is what I really want at this point. To talk to others, to help, to lead, to inspire…my music is so weird and insular, I have never really developed a huge fan base or even really a small one…some die-hard fans here and there…but I just don’t understand what people want, or how to be what they need, even tho I feel like I have so much to give.  This world just breaks me.  It breaks my spirit.  So many people have tried to help me be more commercial or successful, and honestly I just don’t think I have it in me to figure out what is successful in this world, or how to pretend to care about those things…

I wonder if other failures have woken up one day and suddenly realized that was the team they are on.

I was an A student all through school, won competitions, scholarships, special awards, creativy ones, had what felt like a Midas touch for awhile…everything musical, so long as I didn’t have to run the business part, if I could swoop in and music direct or lead kids or write songs, and others could make it businessy and successful, then I was gold.  This went on so long, even my musical in college was a resounding success.  But I worked on it for over a year, focused, and with love. Like the few albums I went all out on.

But even in the case of the musical, which I’ve produced multiple times, it always went well because I was in places with resources and had help.  A youth group that loved me, a school (university, later grad school, all their resources, or the high school I was an accompanist at, which allowed me to create programs and extra-curriculars…)

I have always needed help.  With anything that involves organizing, structure, systems, etc.  I honestly need an assistant, to learn how to market and promote and be a business…but there’s just no money coming in, and its a catch 22 because no money WILL come in I’m guessing without an assistant.

Well I guess I’m not pretending anymore…did you know I’d like to be more successful?

I think I act a good game, that it doesn’t matter to me, cuz when I’m around all of you I hug and smile and TRULY do just feel loved that a few people came…or more.  But in my heart, home alone, it hurts to not sell records, to love my own music so much and feel like its a faucet to a gift that’s all sparkly like unicorns, but when I look at the world I understand that without polish or branding or help, it’s too messy and weird to be palateable to strangers.  And this is where I normally say “and that’s okay.”

I think when I’m not working hard it IS okay.

I think that’s a catch 22 / chicken egg thing too… in that, the reason I stopped working hard is partly because my quiet solo weird music wasn’t catching on.  Playing with cloudlight is partly a dream because I’m with others who infuse it with their energy, and the mix of us is pretty sparkly…and its good, and it catches on more than I do alone it seems.  Power in numbers and all that.  And I like that.  And it doesn’t hurt myself esteem anymore for that to be true.  At first when we made that band, I felt weird about how much more attention it was getting than I ever did solo.  But honestly, I feel a pull and a magic with Bryan, and I love harmonizing, so that love and joy in singing those songs – even the saddest ones – probably ripples out into the room.

So that is nice.

And honestly learning that I might want to focus more on paying work, if I’m going to work THIS hard, isn’t the worst thing to be learning.  I want to complete this challenge, and I’m glad for all these past songs to have a place to live on the interwebs, and it was SUPER educational singing them again and playing them…but it also made me feel REALLY current.

Like so current, like all that past is a wisp of smoke, a puff of nothingness, a sentence, a void…just , gone, let go. Like that.  Done.

So now, to have 115 more Chicago songs to clean up, just to say “look I made all this” just so people believe me when I say “I write hundreds of songs a year and have since 2014, and maybe 50 a year since 2008” they’ll be like “well duh, obviously that’s true cuz look at all that crap you have online”…whereas before I was so scared to be out here that you would never know I was prolific except for me talking about it. Which was annoying.  And HAHA I’m sure this is far less annoying (lol haha jk its annoying I’m sure…maybe not to anyone who reads this far).

I’m tired and “backed up” and have been meaning to post since my week of two shows and Girls Rock volunteering in Grand Rapids…all that crying, performing with sunglasses…I think I’ll go on my social media and find all my super serious posts from the last week and a half or two, and post em here for posterity, cuz I went thru some really heavy sh*t and didn’t write about it here, and I feel like I’m becoming a different person and I think its been alarming those closest to me, but it’s like snakeskin, it’s just falling off and I’m being my inside-me and I don’t know, it’s not scary to me but I see how it could be scary to some who know me as someone who is historically good at holding it all together a little more privately.  I don’t want to be a spectacle, but I can’t help it right now…this challenge is too hard and I can feel the energy backing up when I don’t write about it.

But to anyone I know casually, or in a professional setting, I am still the same me…this is just a weird journal splattering thing I’m doing while getting through this “release an album a month for a year” challenge.  It hurts.  Like I feel like I’m going against nature. These are supposed to be birthed, so to speak…and I’m pushing, way too hard, and trying too much, but trying not to try, cuz I hate the sound of trying…but I just …I don’t know what else to do.  I have to finish this challenge. I didn’t know it’d be this hard. I didn’t know I’d be inspired to release all this PAST STUFF!?!!?  I didn’t know the boxes of stuff in my house pre-2014 would bother me so much, fear of seeing old stuff pre-divorce, from other dark times…I just didn’t know.  I guess I should have slated 12 specific albums.  Instead I keep letting the mood of the month decide, and my sis moving and family visiting flashed me back so hard…and it all started with those dang songs I love from 1st thru 7th grade.  That Childhood album is probably the most important one to date, for this challenge anyway.  Those songs were my everything at that age.  I mean I loved art and dancing and so many things, but that became my identity, especially in 5th grade. Performing original songs. I had such good self-esteem back then…puberty was so messed up for me.  Did I say that already?  Yes, like 10 or 100 times?  Okay, well…I don’t assume people read these so please forgive me.

I think that’s it for tonight.  I want to finish this album tomorrow, or close…and I hope it turns out okay, but to be honest, it’s getting boring spending SO much energy on albums I can’t even send to the local radio station because at the base of them are those lo-fi recordings from last year’s 365.  “If only” I’d used a better mic or pro studio all last year.  About to release a new Friend Ship – with all these great collaborations – but it’s a little handheld recorder for part of it, with some background sounds, like “Misfits, in love with the World” and I ran out of time to edit as much as I did for that one.  So the levels aren’t perfect. I did SO much work on Misfits, and I love it SO much, only to realize I can’t send it to radio or charge much for it – because even with all that crafted polish, it’s still DIY lo-fi and you can’t fix that if the source recordings are like that (like field recordings, almost impossible to make perfect or clean enough for radio then).  And I LOVE those songs, so it makes me sad…and motivates me to start recording things that are much cleaner.  Even my album from last November that was made in a weekend is cleaner, because the original source recordings are made in a studio.  No stray sounds, good mic placements, etc.

I feel motivated.  I wonder why I need to “learn for myself.”  Parents, this is why you should let kids make their own mistakes.  People always tried to talk me out of my lo-fi love, but it made me want to rebel against them…I liked the sound of lo-fi and still do.  But some of my favorite lo-fi musicians sound just as good if not better when all polished up.  So I think if I’m gonna work so hard, I wanna have something I can show for it – that I can sell and send off and really be proud of and feel is professional.  I’ll still finish this challenge, including all the lo-fi gems “slated” for upcoming albums (vol 1 is cute, and vol 5/6 is sad but hopeful in a weird way…I think that’s it, plus the Friend Ships, there are two more after this one…oh and a restoration project from December 2015…sh*t I guess its a lot of restoration…maybe I’ll change my mind, I don’t know if I can handle this much work for no purpose…unless I found all my fellow lofi lovers somehow!  that’d be a dream!  I know there are fans of lofi stuff, but lofi lullabies? weird piano/keyboard/space sound/street sound/noise and quiet singing existential ditties? i dunno…I wish I knew my genre so I could tag correctly, I feel like the more I make up my own genre, the less I know where I belong…existential pop + dream folk is my recent tag, sometimes bedroom pop, or freak folk…but i don’t feel like a freak…those kids are cooler than me, I’m just weird, tho honestly i don’t feel weird, mostly i think anyone not being like me, sharing everything and creating things all the time, is weird…but i guess its weird if you’re weird and think you’re not weird, so i guess i’m weird, i think i just don’t WANT to be weird, i’d rather be normal or accepted by normal people, or liked by all, but also i want to do whatever i want even if its weird and have that be considered cool or normal or inspire others to do the same things…and i guess its weird to even have that expectation or hope, i should just be okay to do my own thing, but i never have been okay with that, it feels lonely, like i’m some weird island, when that’s not what i’m trying to be, i’m trying to connect with all of you, and be liked…well, if i’m honest, every time i’m liked i’m liked really passionately, and it usually overwhelms me and then i accidentally push those people away, especially my super fans, and i don’t mean to, i just get overwhelmed, like i don’t know how to be or what to say, like i always fully engage but then get exhausted…cuz i only talk this much to clear something out of me, not to take more in, or inspire more to be said, especially not by me…this is me trying to let something go, not start a conversation).

What a mess.  Sorry, world. I would do better if I could.  I *could* go on medication, but then I couldn’t write.  Or not as much, or with as many swirls and doodles.  And I love swirls and doodles.

Maybe I’ll sew stuffed animals again soon. Did you see that, in 2011, from the kids’ album with my ex?  We – I mean I – made stuffed animals, and stuffed magnets, and all kinds of cute merch. Don’t look it up, it’s dead – I gave him the rights to the album. But maybe I’ll make new characters someday. Maybe I’m so sad this month cuz I’ve only really been eyeball deep in old sad songs (high school years thru mid 20s…oh and late 20s/early 30s last week with the Chicago albums).   Maybe I need to move on and really hear other sounds…really lighten up again…kids music, christmas music, or just these friend ships.

OR I should stick to the slated plan and work on Tiny traumas, adding up (or ‘out of body, in your skin’) next month.  At least those are current trauma songs.  Ugg…

Saying a prayer right now.  I hope this is helping someone, more than just me.  I get the overall feeling this will help me more in hindsight, than while going thru it.  Love to the world.  Sorry again that I’m so down right now.  xo Jessica

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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).

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