Mountain feelings, an inside job

What happened to me…
I don’t recognize myself…
I think I need to go on a long walk in Michigan to figure out how the mountains changed me…

Here. Something is swampy here, to me.  I have a picture of Michigan with the basin showing, the whole center of it is water…

I never had this thought before, or understood my own sensation of this place, prior to living 8,000 ft in the air for a week…the air was thinner, drier, and I felt calmer. Less prone to so many words…my mind was clearer, or just my emotions were, maybe.  I don’t know. It’s hard to separate what affects what. Things happened, emotions, feelings, kids conversations…so much love. Being a busy aunt when I’m usually a spacious and schedule-filling piano teacher…time alone is my usual MO, but on this trip I was rarely alone.  My bf is a lovely human who cares so much for me, but sometimes we are like co-habitating introverts, different show interests, different needs, we do a lot separately in our downtime. And I’m a transplant and all my friends live 40 minutes away…I find myself prone to isolation, solo projects, …


I mean, Colorado changed me so much somehow that I don’t even like blogging right now.  Why share all this? What am I keeping track of? Yes this challenge has been hard. Everything feels hard. Why push myself. Why not just age and have dreams I never filled like many people…why not age and realize I “meant to” be x y z and I “wish I’d” released 12+ albums but I didn’t. And just let it be one of those sad things, but also enlightening, where you realize maybe you didn’t do xyz because you were too busy having a family, caring for someone, doing other jobs, etc.

Sometimes what we actually want isn’t what we think we wanted.

Why isn’t it just okay that I never became super public about my creativity?
Why have these super self-pushy years where I MAKE myself share a song every day (instead of the 300+ songs I wrote a year, since 2015-ish, that I like and enjoy listening to alone) why share them? why think anyone else would care? they are scrappy and clearly I didn’t want to start sharing them or polishing them or I would have gotten better sound recording equipment…and when I did have my boyfriend’s to use, I did, but I kept with the scrappy thing, the tons of output in terms of number of songs, but almost no polish. Sometimes layering for fun, but an inability to get too lost in critical listening and editing…probably because I spent years on one album once, super detailed examinations of every little thing, but then no labels wanted it.  So why bother?

Maybe it’s that. Maybe it’s that I’m in an industry that I’m aging out of.

Age has been on my mind. The older I get, the more I see what a young industry this is. The only old people involved in it were famous at 22 or something…it’s not welcoming to the old and the experienced, unless there was once fame involved.  More for women, some men can keep going past 30…but most women start to…

I don’t know what I’m talking about really.

I just know I feel a lot right now, in this swamp, in my isolation…
Family in Minnesota, and Colorado now…
Here I am 11 hrs from anyone from my past, this strange start-over life here in Michigan…
Not really knowing who I am.
I stayed here for love…I think it was the right thing to do, I don’t doubt that.
But right now it just feels random.
Found family is a thing, and even that feels like it isn’t quite real or happening here…

Maybe sometimes in our lives we feel more alone than others.

Maybe not having had children, partly just due to life situation, partly due to wanting to focus on music (and now seeing what the result of that is, a life of aunt-ness, and feeling separate and semi-lonely, even with friends and a great-as-anything boyfriend…)

It’s hard to reconcile.

I have an easier life because of it.  No kids to care for or pay for.
We can take risks, we can travel.
We can focus on writing or shows.
It’s great, when it’s great.
But there is something stabilizing and grounding about caring for and carrying on a bloodline…

I feel like I’m floating in space and time and no one really needs me all that much.

While in Colorado I became aware of the stories I tell myself,
how I create a lot of my sadness…
how if I wanted I could start telling better stories.
I could stop this blog nonsense and use my time and life to imagine whole worlds like the kids stories I told my niece, about Rainbowland.
I could speak and live in metaphors and healing and symbols and save the planet by soothing hearts, not everyone but certainly more than all this weepy bullshit is healing anyone…

And honestly, I don’t remember the last time I felt like it was in my power to stop the flow of this river.

I don’t remember the last time I thought – hey F-ing trauma, and all your results on my life. Hey 9-11, hey junky boyfriends, hey traumatizing ex-husband, hey all you people I gave my time and heart to, hey PTSD in all stripes, I don’t want you, I don’t owe you anything, I’m off to live in a big F-ing fantasy and YOU CAN’T STOP ME.  I’m off to make kids books and videos – not for kids, FOR MYSELF.  Because I need a way out of the madness of my own mind, the sadness of my own heart, the broken spirit…I need a return to “Rabbitland” the musical I wrote in 6th grade for drama or speech class, I need a return to sewing pillows for Home Ec, or when I made a kids’ album once as an adult (tho it was for the wrong reasons – it was to “get famous” or make money or do something practical…as if making kids music will for sure pay off economically)…

I need to do this FOR ME.

All this trauma music, has broken me.
Listen to my Childhood album if you want to know me.
You WILL HEAR THE SHIFT.  Pre 5th grade I was all Casio pop.
5th grade on, after Sara died, and I felt the burden to soothe and heal the school (when I could have just healed myself) and it went to my head, and then everyone turned on me, and boys were mean, and I got lost in sadness all thru HS, all of that…boys, drama, being disliked, compounding my shame, not good enough-ness…never good enough…trying to change to be liked, change for others…my songs became needy, whiny, obtuse, sad sad sad…all my heroes were sad, Sarah McLachlin, Fiona Apple, rape victims all of us, abuse victims, college was sad, wanting a man to love me for who I am when honestly, I was just so F-ing sad.  Who can love that?  Other than a super human wonder, who sees broken hearts and takes them into his own?

It’s so rare, I got so lucky to find a heart who saw mine and helped my healing, and was patient with me.  I have it in my sister too.  Patience while someone heals from complete brokenness, I don’t know how anyone does it… but two people have done it for me, and countless others have helped in small ways, and honestly it just feels selfish now to continue to wallow and weep here in this swamp, to stay broken by continuing to talk about the past.   There is a world of doing, a world of being, a world to create and be and do and I know how and I see the path and I know what I can do if I’d JUST SHIFT FOCUS.  It IS that simple, I’ve made 17 “ukulele talk” recordings of inspirational stuff for teens (back in 2015) unreleased, I’ve recorded at least a dozen Rainbowland rambles, song sketches, stories, characters half-developed, I have tons of material and info that could help someone…all saved for “later” as if I need to get this out first, and maybe I’m aging myself faster, by pushing all this out.  Maybe these two years – or year and a half – of pushing, has led to realizations that would have taken me another decade.  Maybe crazy people in the world and in the news, woke me up and made me speak and tell my story and finally heal from this fame obsession and hope for becoming a Fiona Apple or Sarah McLachlin or Tori Amos or Joanna Newsom, as if that’s some easy path or good comfortable life?  To be admired? What is that? To craft?  I have already toured, many times, only twice as a singer/songwriter (plus one-off regional shows, blah blah brag moment), but for a year and a half non-stop hard touring with a children’s theatre…many people’s schedules and needs, nonstop, in a van, hotels, movement, places, not much time spent, sure it sounds cool, but it’s exhausting, you don’t belong to a place…it’s intense.  My favorite tour was all around WI/IL/MN last year, for my solo record made up in a weekend, around Thanksgiving, time between shows to see family, it was great.  Alone.  I liked it.  I could still do that, maybe kids songs too, libraries…why do I have to be something grandiose?  When and how will I get over that? I LIKE SMALL.  That’s the hilarious irony of me spending all this time to be bigger, to make my resume bigger, to be more impressive to you, Mr. Library director, or venue owner…

I don’t want your approval.

I thought I did.

I’ve wanted my own.

I’ve wanted permission to do what I actually want to do.

Not what I think I should want, not what would make me feel or look “cool” (b.s. word by the way, wake up to this people).

I want permission to go outside and breathe the air, mountain air perhaps, see the sights, realize over and over and over and over how SMALL I AM.

That’s all I want.

I was such a success junkie as a kid, ambitious by default, all the awards and As and gold stars and 1s at solo and ensemble and state and whatever whatever it’s all whatever!  It will make you MAD!

Like angry 🙂

I have my sanity.  I mean, enough to say “this is insane” – sharing all this with the world.
Except I know almost no one ever will read this, so it’s not shared with “the world.”
It’s public, just enough that I feel like I matter – that this healing matters – that this isolation is chosen, like I can break free and be part of this crazy current honest open world we’re in, where people share shit, all the time, and it’s okay, worlds don’t end, life doesn’t break wide open…it just is. It’s no big deal. It’s not news.

I’m proud to say this saves me from medication.

Crying, talking, facing things, having friends who are confidants, even if it’s only 2 or 3 or 4 of them, saves me from needing to numb it all.

This world is broken right now. I feel stirred up daily by the social war, the growing opposition we all have to each other…
it’s disgusting and terrifying to see the way we’re vilifying each other.
Christians and Liberals is what it comes down to…
Acceptance, love, tolerance…everyone who most needs these things, is the least willing to give it to each other right now…
Who started it doesn’t matter…another country, a crazy pot-stirrer in chief…

What matters is calming down.
Wars begin like this, and I don’t want to live in a war.  Do you?
Deep breaths everyone…
We can have conversations again, no?
Can we hear each other?
Can we see that we are each others’ enemies?
Can we try to be kind even when expressing opposing views?
I know a lot is at stake.
I know there are people whose lives are being torn apart.
But somehow, we have to communicate these ideas to each other with kindness and tolerance and even love…

I’m not saying go hug a mass murderer…

I’m saying be kind, as much as you can, when calling people out…
before anyone else feels so accused and hated that they hate you back…

I don’t know.
I hate this message. It’s not popular on either side.
I am on one side…I believe my side is right.
But I believe that makes me the enemy to the other side.
I know that.
And I don’t want to be the enemy.
I want to REALLY see “COEXIST” come to life.
Somehow, I want all these very different people (because I am a Liberal Christian, if I’m really really honest…I am very liberal, socially, in that I believe in love and tolerance and accepting people who are born with different passions and tendancies than I am, and I don’t believe its my job to have opinions on it…but I am also very Christian, in that I say the Lord’s Prayer whenever I’m afraid, I feel darkness all around this world and want to be saved, and want others to be saved from it…I don’t want anyone to suffer, I want people to know healing and peace and a deep spiritual love…I believe in my own smallness, and was raised Presbyterian, and have no reason to believe God isn’t real…my nun Grandma lived to 93 and became a nun in her 80s and no single person ever helped me more in one instance…her words, at my moment of angry despair, changed the course of my life…and it felt spiritual and necessary…I can’t make that up, also while living in NYC during 9/11, and unable to go back to my apartment because it was below 14th street, a mile from the towers, and then continuing with school even tho I was afraid, the Presbyterian church at 12 W 12th street helped me more than any other thing…in reframing my fear and sadness for humanity… so please know, you really can feel pulled to God and be a super strong liberal…I don’t know why this is hard for some people to understand…I guess if I had a million dollars, and felt the need of the world and like I had to give it all away, I’d want to protect some of it too…maybe that’s what’s really going on? Maybe I’m a liberal because I’m poor-ish and need societal help, and maybe when people escape that life, they don’t want to turn around and give it all back via extra taxes or they’d be poor again like everyone else…prosperity gospel is something else…

Sometimes I think I should edit the crap out of these, like whoa Jess don’t share all that.

Other times I think, this is the whole point – share the complex thoughts and feelings of this time, so I can remember and understand what a year of releasing an album a month felt like.

I don’t think there are answers or solutions that fix this for all people…

All I want is to know that there’s a purpose…and even that I don’t get to know.
This is a depressing place and / or maybe I’m just depressed right now.

It’s hard to come back from a trip to see family, and go on with your life and responsibilities…especially when there were mountains involved.

All these topics.
All this feeling.
This is my mountain.
I’m trying to climb upward for once in my life, not dig downward, creating holes and pockets of despair to fall into.
I’m trying to stop digging holes…
One might start by deleting this, but I think I’ll finish out the challenge, and the year of album releases, including this blog even tho it’s crazy…
and then I’ll let myself move on from this.

Whatever this is.

Writing is strange.  Words have power.  In this case, I’m HONESTLY not sure what I’m using my power for.
Is it for good? For evil? (i.e. spinning wheels, self-destruction?)

I know that it’s like dropping things into a void…

Not knowing where that void leads to…

I suppose I could also go work on the Friend Ship album…edits and tweaks and things I want to change a little, to give you something joyful and strange to listen to.  To those who like my music.

I wish I were a little less strange, most of the time.
I wish becoming who I have become could look a little more calm…

Maybe that’s why I’m sad at the loss of 8,000 feet.
I felt calmer there.
I don’t know why and can’t explain it.
It’s like I knew the mountains won.
The mountains were bigger than me, in every direction.
I was tiny and insignificant, but could create a simple life – teach piano, write songs, teach songwriting, it was lovely but tiny. I was tiny and everywhere I looked I was able to realize it.  No ego problems there, can’t conquer a thing.  And I miss it, cuz here I get lost in my head, lost in this swamp of feeling…and I feel big and powerful and like everyone is listening (and they’re not).  It’s just how this place makes me feel.  Both isolated (lonely) and powerful (heard)…I think it’s all in my head.  But maybe it’s not.  Maybe people are paying attention to me here, because I’ve been on the radio here or in the press, and people actually read this shit, and maybe that’s like a drug and not a good one…

Maybe the mountains helped me realize what words are worth saying.
And which ones you should leave in the dirt.

Thank you mountains, I’ll be back soon. ❤

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