Forgettable Songs vs things that feel lived in (but still growing)

An example of how segmented my mind can be:
 
I recently expressed a small sorrow, where I realized I was barely writing songs this year (compared to years of “hundreds of songs a year” like I used to awkwardly say, or my 365+ songs last year)
 
Just now I realized that 2 of the last 3 releases were songs entirely written that day or week, for that month’s release.
 
Like September and October are albums of all new songs.
 
Maybe I didn’t realize it because they went straight to album, instead of into my private personal recorder or phone where I quietly learned them without sharing for a long time. That process always made a song feel so real, like a lived in blanket or pair of slippers.
 
This new way means I feel so much at the moment my heart and mind are stirred to write, and then most of them are abandoned almost instantly (oh wait, that’s the same as with the recorder! no one knew i was doing it tho…whoa, just realized that too…each year of hundreds of songs, I’d only learn to play 3 or 4 of them…)
 
I guess I just realized I’m the master of forgettable songs, how to write things fast, repeat yourself often, and once in a blue moon, be lucky enough to stumble on something really inspiring or inspired.
>>>
Okay so I just named this post.  It was a Facebook post til it got so long that I felt self-conscious…even with this community of my 1,200 most trusted friends (no wonder we all ‘brand’ ourselves…there’s never been a time in human history where we had to present ourselves so consistently and similarly (to our own known self) to so many people…)

Not sure where or why I’m going with that.

Basically…just saying, this is why it’s so hard to find yourself.

Or “be yourself.”

The further away you get from those epicenters, the less people relate to you, or want you…and as you pull away more and more, it gets really lonely…except or until, those rare moments in time when a lonely soul becomes an epicenter, and people become curious about their strangeness…

I wonder sometimes.  Is that what this is? Finding myself while paying attention to what irritates people?  What makes people connect?  I know long rambly blog-style posts on my Facebook are hard to relate to.  But other times – very rare times – we are lucky to embody a truth that is so shared in humanity, at that current time or always, that it becomes looked at.  And those rare few get rewarded for being themselves.  And also scorned and envied.  There is so much complexity to this process…

Basically I spent the night wondering how or why my heart has grown so much, just from challenging myself to do things I’d always wanted to do.

I think I’m , sort of , maybe , growing up?

Or rather…having the time and space, without trauma (this time around) to process arrested development… which I actually think is common with those with post-trauma stress… disorder or just basic humanity, all labels and stigmas aside.

So I feel like, here I am, sitting on the edge of a cliff – looking out, seeing all of you, people I’ve admired all this time, worried if you’d really see me…not taking the time to pause and let you know, my life – truly – has been a secret obsession with a non-stop seeing of YOU.  I come off perhaps like I want you to see me.  But that’s because – inside my own heart, in my own private spaces – I’m always thinking about you.  I want some space for me, or for someone to return the favor.

And it never occurred to me – until very recently – like very very recently – that I could give myself my own gift.  I could take that focus and put it on myself, not as a creator or talking, speaking outwardly, creating content, hoping to be loved or accepted or at the very least tolerated…but even tolerance involves inclusion, and if you are a social being (which we really and almost secretly all are), you first need to feel included to also feel tolerated.  And if you don’t feel included, it is like intolerance (imagined)…when really it’s just un-observance.

The people I always admired – from rock stars with no time free to write back all fans, to friends and acquaintance I looked up to who never had time for me – I always thought the solution would be to finally hear from them.  I never thought it would be to try to understand them.  To look at their busy lives and see how many people they know, how many people they love, how many people want their time…to really see them as people. To see myself in them and vice versa.

I would want – if I were them – to be understood, for how busy I am, to be tolerated, for ghosting you… not because I want that persona, but because my life is short and my own, and I want to pay attention to it.  Not constantly think about you, and how you seem disappointed in me or my actions. I would want to live my life and time with my closest people, not to shut you out or make you feel small, but because my time and attention are precious to me.  I care about those closest relationship – and no matter how much love, we just can’t have those close of relationships with everyone.

I think that’s why I’m a hugger.

It’s an instant way to hold someone a little too long, to give them a little too much of you, and to take some of them in.  It’s a fast way to communicate that I care about someone.  It doesn’t mean I’ll have time for you (though I wish I would) – it means I care about you, and if I had all the time, I’d choose to get to know you!  Stranger, long lost friend, new friend, all the friends.  I HATE (and I rarely hate things) this idea that love can be finite. That to love you, I have to love someone else less.

I don’t believe that.  Love is so expansive.  The more I have for my sister, the more I have for my partner.  When I feel like my love for them is in competition with each other (I rarely feel this, but if/when I do…) I have to realize that’s not love.  That’s time. Or attention. Or energy. This is why I trust flow. This is why I require freetime…

I’ve learned that to negotiate time when love is involved, for me, it has to be very fluid.

Natural. Relaxed.

Things schedule themselves enough naturally…I’ve worked so hard to schedule all my life.

Everything and anything that needs scheduling.  So I try to let anything that doesn’t NEED to be on a schedule, be part of the river of ideas flowing through me…

When to write that friend back…
When to dream…
When to journal about said dreams (real or waking)…
When to make lists…
IF to make lists…

All of it I just let go and flow with time like it’s my friend not foe…

And I know this is right for me and those like me, and not for everyone.

Of course I go to work at 2:30/3 every workday.  Or at 11am some days, eating dinner after 9pm most nights when I’m done teaching.  That is something you need to schedule…and I’m hypervigilant about stuff like that.  I’m also hyperfocused on contracts, communication related to deadlines, and other A student type things.

And the more I connected things all around me – the more came my way – the last thing I wanted to do was schedule it all ‘perfectly.’

In fact stuff like this – moments like this – times I felt connected were previously (since 2006 or 8) were blown up, sabotaged.  I think, over and over again after that. There’s something people say about success being harder or worse than failure…I think that’s not well put…

Like, I mean, success means you have to do more things.  To keep it.

Failure means you get that spacious feeling and get to dream and start again.

Success is a puzzle and once it gets going – if you start to see the picture in it – you can’t change pictures, you can’t alter the trajectory, people can’t dream anymore and wonder what kind of puzzle picture you’ll be when finished, it is now 100% clear that you will be cats.  500 tiny cats, or some puzzle analogy I ran out of steam before finishing.

…Played one of my favorite shows yesterday, surreal really.
Opened for Mutual Benefit with my band cloudlight.  Love that band, even tho it’s so hard for me.  Bands are so intentional, making a commitment to people and time and envisioning together, it’s so hard and wonderful and weird…I don’t know.  There’s so much that we are getting to be part of because of this band, or that I am as Jessica in The Rainbow.  Communities of people are saying hey and giving me a smile or friendly word or two…and I think I forget when I start paragraphs like these, that even my own self-involvement, my own being excited about my own projects – collaborative or solo – is that they connect me to and with all of you.  I literally float after meeting a couple people in Minneapolis or Milwaukee, I feel bigger and more aware of the world and how people are thinking differently in different places and at different times…

Like Minneapolis 2008 is very different from Minneapolis 2018…when I talk about whether or not I would have moved there, or ever would, the years I’m referring to are so different, environments change, motivations, ways of living…I think there’s something so fresh and so fragile about going around and meeting now-people of any place, even one I’ve been before…

I hope you see this reading as an arrogant self-involved confident list of personal insight that is perhaps or actually HIGHLY unrelateable…

Because it would or will serve my point.

That I’m unrelateable because I’ve felt like this inside for so long but I figure it’s so unlikeable to share thoughts like this, to be this version of “being yourself”…without seeming lame or tragic…

I think it just IS lame or tragic to be this constantly reflective…which is probably why I rarely do it anymore.

Hence the progress.  Hence feeling more real.  I feel more obsessed with others than ever, but also feel a heavy burden lifting that says it’s okay to hit pause on that and stare at myself, and my closest loved ones, and dearest more trusted friends and be very intentional about those areas of closeness…and don’t allow space to come between them just because it feels selfish.

I think this is coming off highly convoluted.

I guess all I’m saying is the most self-centered-seeming are really others-obsessed and giving themselves no love (they are giving you all the power, waiting for you to give some back – giving you all the attention, waiting for you to give some back)…

And perhaps – I mean no ill will – those who seem the least self-centered, are actually adept at going inward and facing themselves, connecting with themselves, and actually giving themselves so much attention and love and care and intuition and gravity, that actually those might be the most self-centered of us of all.

So the words we use, carry weight, because in this case the right idea just wasn’t conveyed.  At least to me…

I am a recovering others-obsessed type, trying to become more me-obsessed in a healthy way, not in a begging for attention sharing anything way…

Me-obsessed in taking the time to analyze where I’m letting myself down, I mean, like that.  Trying to be my own guide…not just letting me ramble and wonder if anyone will listen or read it.

Maybe this one is relateable, or maybe it’s the least relateable of all.

I don’t know, like I honestly don’t.

Maybe that’s what blogging is…or maybe I really am just an undecided person.

I encourage you to find who you are, what you love, or some other tidbit…then if the world seems not to care, just show them anyway.  Street corners, wherever…don’t worry how many people come, give yourself permission to just do it.

Then when you do it, eventually people might come…and if they do, then be aware you’ll realize, then and there, it’s been about the other people all along.  You wanted their love and now you have so now what?  What are you going to do with it?  You are going to surely let them down, because they all have different ideas of what ‘good’ is.  I don’t know…

It just all depends on if you want to ‘become’ something, where you’re going – who you think you are, or if you are content where you are.  Having reached the top, some may ask you to go higher, but where you are is beautiful and you meant to come down…you saw the work involved, realized which things were you and which things weren’t, and you said ‘okay this is it.’  Until that ‘it’ was fun and people were kind and you reconsidered.

It’s okay, I know this sounds horribly arrogant, for a horrifically unfamous person to talk openly about their experience going from completely unknown to relatively unknown.  What is unknown?  Anonymity, openness, decision, potential.  What is known, even relative?  Predetermination, set things, schedules, decisions already made, now to follow through on.  Anyone who knows me even one ounce, for one day or second, knows that my heart resonates with the first – even tho I’m pushing myself to learn how to do the second.  I think and hope and imagine that’s okay…I don’t know. Why push ourselves to do or be anything?  I feel like mine is drastic and strange curiosity.  Like why not just ask others how x y or z felt? Why try to live it?  I mean if you’re not naturally a certain way, why try to become it?  Only to realize how hard it is, and wonder who is naturally wired like this?  It’s hard and strange, imagining my life as linear…it reads like a story or a novel with too many chapters, and I’m not that old.  I mean we’re all aging and clearly I have a past…MFA, Chicago, NY, Conservatory training, jobs in theatre all over, piano teaching… but with relationships and my relationship to music (personal music, JiTR and Jessica Fogle singer-songwriter stuff) I feel like I’ve had so many strange chapters, including these new ones of the past 1 yr and 8 months, challenges up the wazoo, I don’t even know why or how…oh yea, I sucked at activism and the world was on fire and all I could do is cry and express.  First words, then music, sometimes piano, sometimes words, sometimes real and grounded, other times highly existential to the point of ridiculous (it took a mountain to remind me that I’m afraid of death and maybe shouldn’t talk about it all the time…even more afraid of physical pain, which pretty poetry can transcend until it happens to you or someone you know…)

This blog entry is wild.  I haven’t been blogging, haven’t wanted it, feels gross and oversharey.  But then I watched an hour show that was just talking about the nature of time, like casually, impromptu stuff from people I like…and I remembered people’s unformed thoughts can have value.  Maybe this has value to you.  There’s so much out there to read or do…I can’t imagine why you would be watching this, or reading this, or allowing me to unfold in your heart and mind.

A friend of mine reframed this for me recently…maybe you like watching someone in your culture go on a journey.  Maybe what’s relateable is not the details but the unfolding of my heart, through words and stories.

Maybe not though.  For any one person who gets something from this I’m sure there’s at least 20 who aren’t reading now…oh wait, that’s like that anonymity I crave (while talking)…maybe that’s my secret power!  Talk so much that only those who like you would still be listening now!  Thereby attracting only kindness to you, cause no one else even has time to explain to you how overwhelming this is for them (or insert their own word – annoying, space-taking, invasive, just too much, crazy, etc.)

But I know I’m on a journey, in a process, learning from all the changes I’ve been making.  4 more albums to release this ‘year’ (April 2018- March 2019)…I want them to be good, but I also want to have a life that I love.  And enjoy.  And friends, and family, and a significant other to hold.  I have to balance them, or give up on quality.  It’s my only solution.  Which is like CHOOSING negative reviews (all the people who are like, what is this? even lofi nowadays is more beautifully curated than what I’m putting out…someone called me Rainbow Punk once, and I think that or Lullaby Punk is about right…Punk just records on a handheld tape recorder and says fk it, i’m done, this is it… that’s how i feel all the time, but it isn’t a genre for beautiful music, or soothing music…in the soothing music world, there is an expectation to make every sonic quality soothing, to make it all good, aurally, sonically, ever little stray sound…do I shoot myself in the foot by not getting better at this?

Yes. This is what I meant earlier, it would be HIGHLY selfish – in a wonderful way perhaps – if I could learn to ask myself these questions and do the work to accomplish the solutions – all the while ignoring what I think others might be thinking of how I’m doing it…if I think about them, I don’t have time to think about solutions in my own brain.  Right?  This is new to me.  Like really, just box people out to get stuff done? Is this what all you people I’ve clawed at my whole life are doing?  Not worrying about replies or smiles, just focusing on what needs to get done…and that’s why you share such beautiful things, because you’ve made time for doing so?

I want to learn from you, and be more like you.

I will try.  I’m sorry if I not only appear more selfish in the process (more absent, more aloof) but if I accidentally really become so.  Like if I really focus on me enough to have something beautiful enough at the end of the day to give to you…I think I’m getting tired (finally, i.e. growing up, where I started) of giving you half-finished unbeautiful to almost-beautiful things.

I want to give you something beautiful, the way I hear the work of those I admire…I could list so many here, but instead I’ll keep that for myself, and will imitate your habits, and try to become more like you.  Carefully doing the work, not for praise or glory, but to create beautiful things to share, when they are ready…because why be half-beautiful?

Thankfully I’ve surround myself with people who think about this all the time, or just are more deliberate than me (thanks Bryan for crafting our cloudlight record…my casual or sloppy ways are a kind of indecisiveness, untrainedness, mixed with indifference or boredom…a lack of care…you care so much, about every detail…I do too, I guess on some piano parts…maybe I’m just untrained in audio recording, and bored with my frustration with that, so I just move on…)

Wow. This was a long unexpected one. It’s 4:30 am.  Opened for Mutual Benefit last night.  Feeling so much goodness…it’s been a beautiful worthwhile process, trying to become.  Or rather, letting go of hiding who I’ve been becoming without effort.  More like pulling back the curtain on something…I mean, effort in the details, the work, the curating shows, the bringing people together, to our house, fests, out to see us, appreciating people openly, as openly as possible, but it’s so embarassing…to be this gushy and open, in a world that doesn’t talk like this.

But curtain back.  This is what I look like in journals.  I’m sure it’s laughable to many.  Why are they still reading?  They’re not, I trust.  Those who are…what do you relate to? What’s the resonance? I want to understand how and why we connect the way we do…and I don’t know how to do so succintly.  It’s a curse…but it fills time, and maybe for some, that’s a useful thing.

I will fill time for you all day, seriously I have like 14 albums online, and lots more songs I could send you if you run out (2014-2016 is seriously untapped…lemme know)

Okay gotta end on a joke. Mostly cuz I feel like I can’t stop…not gonna comment on that, just…

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Didilly doo + thanksgiving feelings

Hello blogland…

I don’t know, haven’t been feeling the need to do this.  Probably because I haven’t been working on albums lol…

Should have written after I worked my butt off on a kids album for a week, only to discover it was a MUCH bigger project than this lo-fi monthly album process can accomodate.  Was sad for over a week about that… never really talked about it with anyone except my sister.  THEN a few days ago, the computer I made the album on CRASHED.  I have the album, somewhere in there, backed up…but it’ll take weeks to recover (first repair computer, then restore album via Carbonite…)

Soooooo that’s not my December release I guess.  I’d hoped for it…even made a cute Bandcamp page…but it’s not meant to be …yet (?)

Moving on, been in cloudlight land mostly, lately…show at the Park Thtr, now with Mutual Benefit coming up. Lots of practice. Playing with our friend Travis a lot lately, on drums, that’s nice…letting go a little, holding that rope (tempo) gets exhausting, it’s nice to be a little more auxiliary…

Today I peeled ALL the stickers (70 total?) off my car, to get it ready to sell.  Woo.  Whew. All the woos and whews…

I’m exhausted. Strange time to blog.  Just seemed stranger to have such an old blog…
Came here looking to copy/paste a press quote for a package I’m sending to WYCE for Jammie consideration…

It’ll be strange to let go of a package lovingly made of 8 albums, all lo-fi, all made this year, for consideration for awards when I know they are so so so so lofi low-quality compared to studio recordings that people invest money in (not just time).  (I invest LOTS of time…and heart, love…you name it, if it’s feelings, they’re in there)…

Who knows. Blogging is weird and pointless mostly.  Me talking. I like journalling better. Here it feels strange like, why am I sharing this?  I guess I wonder if someone somewhere would be helped by me being more transparent.  I don’t know if it’s true.  Good experiment tho.  I think we’d ALL be helped by ALL of us being more transparent…nothing specific about me, just transparency in general.

We talk in generalities, when we are helped so much by details and specifics…

I love you world.  But honestly I love God more…and the clouds and treetops and things that make me feel like I can float away and be elsewhere…not because a specific place is better or would be better…just because I sense non-being would be better…well that’s a contradiction…it wouldn’t be anything!  I just think all we strive to be is be-loney…baloney? be-lonely? it’s ridiculous…unless you can find a way to make it fun, build community, find friends, focus on true friends, let go of things that are serving lower purposes, accept you can’t help everyone, keep your head down, do the work, focus on what you can do, all that good stuff…

I hope to help, where I can…but also I’m exhausted. It’s all so much, and I love life and doing things, which is why no matter how exhausted I get excited about the next thing…

New car, tour I’m planning, shows with friends, wacky wild giving myself a chance to be and breathe and have a fun life…middle school and high school weren’t fun for me, felt left out and alone most the time…or like I had one friend at a time, didn’t relate to most people, had problems with the few people I did relate to, or we moved apart, etc…school got bigger, there were drug problems in our school, boy problems, things people did to be cool that were highly dysfunctional, all the trying to fit in…LOST MYSELF.  You didn’t want to stand out at that age, standing out meant having no pack and being alone.  I lived alone, because as much as I tried to fit in I never really could.  4’11” and talkative and bright nerdy teachers pet and music/theatre person…so many places I didn’t fit and wanted to . So. desperately.

Thank you to the one-on-one friends who were there.  I remember you so fondly.  Unless you’re one of the ones that turned on me with meanspirited teasing… I still can’t handle teasing to this day, because of some of the cruelty from those years.

I wish it wasn’t something kids do, kids go thru, so many kids, not just me…that is good to know and remember.  We all have crappy middle school or high school stories. Or college maybe?  It’s all a mess.

Try if you can (to myself, and maybe you) not to get lost in it.

It’s universal stuff.  Everyone hurts.  All hurt has origins.  It’s okay, you’re not alone or unique in pain.  We all have it.  That’s both frightening and DEEPLY comforting, if you let it be.

Hugs xoxo

 

 

Wasted

No I’m not wasted right now lol (though I did just pour a glass of wine, but I rarely drink more than a drink or two, and only occasionally or in phases…sometimes, lots of times, it doesn’t agree with me or I don’t see the point).

This blog post is called Wasted because I feel like I’m becoming an expert on the strange ramifications of a “wasted life” that you later try to recover…either through therapy, or creativity, or through a strange back cataloguing like I’ve been doing lately… (Childhood album, Survival Skills (H.S. thru early 20s), and More Survival Skills (early to mid 20s) – basically spent my whole summer going to the past, and it left a gaping hole in my now-timeline, that is bothering me, and now I have to fill by using THIS now to fill THAT past in, with content appropriate to those moods and feelings…which is a waste of THIS now, and later I’ll have to fill in this now once it’s past, with catching up on things, anyone who makes to-do lists knows what i’m talking about…)

The time for dreaming is NOW.
But the time for DOING is also NOW.

You can’t do or be both.

If now feels like dream time, or reflect time, or be time…then just be and dream and reflect.

If it feels like DO time, then do it, by all means.

But this idea that we can catch up on a life – via lists, exhausting all the loose ends…I’m losing it, I’m getting over it.

I was ABOUT to announce next year’s challenge.

But maybe I won’t do it.

Or I will but what things will I sacrifice that 2019 would have held, that would have happened organically?

I miss organic.

The challenge was going to be called (or will be called) “52 Unfinished Things”

And it was a chance to have a weekly challenge for once.

Mostly musical balls I dropped, projects left unfinished, so many things…

But I’m thinking, now, if a ball got dropped, was it maybe because I didn’t want to play with it? (catch metaphor, coming to mind?)

I don’t know…

If I do the challenge, and we’ll see, I’d like to invite you to do it with me.

You can pick your own lucky number…whatever you choose. And it can be personal, or career…but a week is a good amount of time….

A Monday to a Sunday.  OR A Tuesday to a Monday…that way weekends can just be enjoyed!

I think I would finish musicals, or release a kids album, or write that xmas album, or do that favor a friend asked for in 2008 (score a song they wanted to sing in auditions), or some other thing…I mean, not all the things.  Maybe go to the gym…or maybe a peace week, or a nature week…

Maybe it’d just be called “52 Things”

I dunno.
This just stresses me out.

But follow-through has been hard for me…
And I’d like to book tours, library shows, send out resumes, and do more in general…but every thing like that is always full of boring busywork…so I often would just choose more and more writing…or relaxing (in addition to work).(and now releasing albums too)

I was good at school when things were assigned.

I might even take suggestions.

Finish those music videos, make that art (sayings and doodles to hang on your wall), sew stuffed animals for my kids videos, so many things I want to do, that get buried or pushed aside on a list of 20+ things…

Is this you?

Organize closets, basement clean out, buy cute baskets, make a sticker collection, paint a room…I know so many people full of ideas…write a book, a play, a poetry collection, but they get lost in the long list of things that must be done in order to accomplish a larger goal.  Maybe if we do it together, it could be fun…

I don’t know.

4 more lo-fi albums.  9,10,11,12 …then a release party.

Tonight I’m moving albums 4 and 5 (or 3 and 4, depending how you count) over to jessicafogle.bandcamp.com

Because the tone is Chicago, they don’t fit my JiTR vibe at all…I don’t want to play the songs live, except maybe 2 of em, but I just wanted to preserve them, and honor my past.  I did that now…ready to let go.  Move on…

Starting to, move in that direction anyway. ❤

So my nows can be nows, so that work can be honestly assessed and not piled up in my head.

Even head-piles are like saying yes when you mean maybe or no.

LATER is a cruel thing to say to yourself.  What is later?  If you’re not passionate enough about something to do it NOW (or very close to now, as soon as time realistically frees up), then maybe you aren’t “meant to” (wanting to) do it at all.  Why lie about that?  Why not JUST SAY NO!

Working on this and so many things.  Tired of wasting a life…well, tired of living out the remnants of a wasted life (prior to 2014), and thinking that I have to devote 2017 and beyond to honoring those dreams…

I want to have new dreams.  I am so close.  Getting these old dreams out of my system so I can see who I really am NOW.

Friend Ship is pretty now, so is Childhood (strangely! songs from 1st-7th grade :)… maybe the mistake was when I thought I had to do ALL past stuff just cuz I wanted to do 1st-7th grade past stuff!  I mean, my motivation for that was that I love those songs and I feel whimsy and wanted to let go of Trauma Jess…and relearn my younger self…and instead I finished it and then said “welp, now I have to be a historian and preserve EVERYTHING” which is CRAZY cuz I write too many songs.  The ones I released don’t even come close…pretty close but not close enough.

Gonna still put the Chicago albums 3-12 up there…and maybe over the years, if I’m bored, I’ll relearn those and rerecord those 10 albums …for fun, ya know.

Did I not just learn anything?

I guess it’s progress that I said maybe?

Whatever.  Life is weird.  I’m having fun, in a weird “this isn’t really all that fun” sort of way.

Love you world, hugs to you – hope you voted today.  And if you wanna hear my newest album, I really like it, it feels very now.  In that, my heart is in it, now.  Super intensely.  And it represents where I’m going, too.

Maybe that’s what feeling current really means.

Maybe “current” has that double meaning…it’s not just where you are, but also where you’re going.

So when you spend time on a time capsule, etched in stone, it’s like engraving a rock that now you will walk away from (or float down stream from in the current) and then it’s like, hmm what’s the point?  If you didn’t mean to continue rock carving as a profession, or you aren’t saying things in stone that you now feel, why etch them? What is there to preserve, when it will all wash away?

The things that will stay with me are ephemeral, fleeting, transient, and PERMANENT all at once.  Like this lesson about time, and the now.

I wanted to release two other albums, that got pushed aside for these ones…Time & The Sky (aka Day 104 of 365), and Tiny Traumas, adding up (or ‘out of body, in your skin’) …

Those mean more to me.
Not because the songs are better, but because they are unhealed wounds, words I’m still journeying with…not to etch in stone for others, but to keep rereading myself, to float with, to absorb, those songs (from 2014-2018) are far more appealing to me, and that was MISSED.  I wasted that would-be now, to share a long-past…and I can’t get it back…

Unless?

Maybe those songs are still calling.
I honestly don’t know.
I have so many albums and songs from 2014-2018…I can’t keep up.  Way more than 4 more.  I don’t know what to focus on.

Follow my heart and my own need, I guess.

Hope you all can too. ❤

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, …

Why?

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.
Somehow.
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.
Simpler.
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. ❤

Dreamy Day <3 <3 <3

Hey world. Or hi you. Whoever reads these, I don’t know.

Went to a party at my friend Luna’s house last night and saw so many people I love, good times with Bryan and all the friends…I can’t remember the last time I was social with no objective like playing or listening to music…maybe when my family was here in early July?

I think it’s good for me. I forget to ever feel dreamy with others.
I think normally I feel dreamy alone and like life has objectives with others.
It’s good…feeling this.

This morning Bryan’s drum kit came in the mail from Farmers Foot Drums (well he ordered some pieces used, and bought 2 key pieces from them brand new)…it was Christmas morning here. Normally I’m rigid about waking up time and journaling (ironically, rigid about my time to relax and waking-dream)…

but instead I went to the basement with him and we had a mini jam sesh, I’m a decent chill-punk drummer (no not punk, indie rock? mellow indie pop?) – I just make shit up but it’s fun.  Bryan is a real drummer, it’s fun watching him relearn what he knew in HS.

It makes me think of art and all the things I’m not a “real” whatever…

Ryan, my dear friend, convinced me I’m a real artist too, it’s not about training.
It’s about what you love doing.
Maybe I’m a real drummer too… I find it relaxing

We had twinkle lights on and sat in the couches and floor futons usually for our guests…I rarely enjoy that space.  It’s so magical for house shows but I rarely just let myself enjoy that vibe alone.  It was a good experience this morning…

As for music…this whole busy month culminated in subbing for a college class on Songwriting.

I’m still a bit speechless about this experience.

Dan Rickabus asked me, and that alone is a speechless experience, he’s such a dream human.

And Fiona Dickinson recommended me when she couldn’t make it, and that friendship has been life-altering already, without the recommendation to sub for him…

I’m leaving out details but basically feeling too dreamy rn to write this like a story.

Just sayin, from my 2nd floor fairy room the outside looks like magic, perfect clouds, dreamy air, friends in my brain, projected in the sky…all of you, helping me and sharing with me, not just the collaborators like Jes Kramer and Micah Middaugh and Nathan K and Bryan Ralph and Maddie Jackson and Hunter Zhao and Gabrielle Schaub / Van Lente and Fiona and everyone…it’s just such a feeling.  It’s so hard to describe.  The treetops here are full of you.  I look out the window here, and see my neighbors roof and puffy white clouds on a clear blue sky and treetops..still green in this direction (tho my dreaminess started looking out the 1st floor front window at a vibrant orange tree, a pale shade but super bright somehow and dreamy…cried a little thinking about how much I’ve come to LOVE trees without leaves…it’s a line in a song now, it’s my dream, I love trees without leaves, which is like a return to something, and it makes me feel not sad about fall at all, like all this color is heading TO something, not the loss of something, or the moving away from something like summer…I know most people just see death or dying like an end, death of leaves, death of summer, i see going TO the trees without leaves, it is a look, a vulnerability, a sense of beauty and simplicity/complexity so profound that i don’t like these words I’m giving it…it’s something for me…something big and meaningful…I hate being cold, but heat is nice and bundling is nice and when the cold weather stabilizes I can adjust to it…winter storms suck but every region has its problems and things to bow down to…)

Anyway might do two albums this month because this whole challenge has limits and problems….in May I did a “not real to me” feeling album.  A sketch.  In July I did albums from pre-2014 when I said I wouldn’t.  I mean except Childhood in June.  I guess I did a lot of pre-2014…which doesn’t feel Jessica in The Rainbow to me (cuz I made that up for a 2014 release, and music before then has a different tone and feel to me, I don’t know why but writing songs in Michigan is different for me than Wisconsin or Chicago or NYC)

So I had planned to release one in July called “Tiny Traumas, adding up (or ‘out of body, in your skin’)” to honor this returning to my skin that I’ve done the past few years…but it felt thin to share that, without including my not-so-tiny traumas with you.  When I was really broken and never reassembled correctly…from middle school on, I kept waking up to things, realizations about who I was, who I was pretending to be, who I kept hidden, including pain and trauma.

So here, I shared a lot more than ever before, which is great for me…but also, it’s a lot to catch up on a life.  I can’t.  It’s not possible.  So this is just gonna look messy. Non-linear.
I want to release the kids’ music I’ve been brainstorming since early 2016 but it’ll take focus. I thought I had to be done with all this trauma music and sad songs and adult ‘career’ i.e. scene life with almost no money and not a real business, i never knew how or wanted it bad enough, sent to labels occasionally but mostly just focused on writing and sharing…or for a decade, not sharing…just becoming an indie singer-songwriter in my own private mind (mostly, some shows, spread out, 2006-2016 but having a hard time sustaining this vision of myself thru even the tiniest of disappointments)…

But I can see working a little harder with kids music.  Maybe it makes more sense to me.  Maybe I can envision having things to sell to moms.  Maybe promotion will be easier cuz I know you’re literally looking for things to entertain and educate your kids.  Maybe I don’t know enough authentically resonating mister rogers types in the world… we’ll see.  I love playing music for kids, but on my terms.  Not thru organizations that tell me to be a clown.  I have a past in this and its gross to me…smiling extra, being unnaturally hammy instead of just being a slightly more hyper version of myself, mixed with bringing it WAY down…kids vibrate in such weird ways, highs and lows, extreme play mixed with quiet intense focus on legos or something…I like reading crowds and changing for them…mellow is boring to some kids, but I think it’s good for them.  I dunno… I have a whole world invented, and characters, it’s just when I’ll have the time and focus to really prioritize this.  Maybe I never will… so that’s why I might just half-ass the Tiny Traumas album, make it super DIY original versions with almost no polish or editing, and then also release a little preview teaser of the kids album, just to announce it to the world in some way.  By world I mean my 20 or 100 or maybe 200 people who are curious about what i’m doing.  No commercial appeal really, just Facebook friends.  But I’d like to reach strangers someday, I just don’t know how yet. Learning…

Clouds.  Treetops.  Cozy teddy bear and dog sweatshirt.  Coffee with almond milk creamer in a big rainbow unicorn mug.  About to go to the Y.  Good day for a bike ride, playing some cloudlight tunes tonight at Bry’s boss’ gig at the Armory.  Kinda a throw together thing…just because.  Leaving for Colorado in a week to visit my sis, hope I can handle the altitude…tried getting more in shape but I’m just not the best worker-outer…talked with my parents for 2 hrs (almost) yesterday…they live in Minnesota, near my brother’s family, it’s a dreamy area too.  Gotta head out there soon, I try to see them all twice a year, but that’s why I’ve gotten more money-motivated.  Need money not just starving artist / piano teacher salary, if I want to visit family so much.  Never thought I’d be this spread out without being somewhere more intentional like NYC or LA.  Michigan feels random to me, and it is.  Moved here for an ex and just stayed…I’m still surprised about that.  It frustrates me every time I love it because it feels so random and bizarre to have ended up here…like the years pass by and I’m still here and I don’t know why, except love of a man I met here a year after that separation, and he needed things here, to grow into who he needs to be, and I had nothing else going on, no reason to go anywhere else (options but nothing felt perfect, except the Pacific Northwest but it felt so random too, in early 2016 it was all I thought about…) and by then I loved him too much anyway to go anywhere without him coming with me, and then that’d be random for him…

So this all just evolved.  Ladyfest, house shows, playing more shows here, caring about all of you.  Most of my friends are in Michigan now.  Most of the music I love is happening here, or is willing to tour here.  Or is near here, in Chicago.  Rent is cheap, nature is plentiful, there is a scene…it’s interesting, small, and weird.  I like it.  Sometimes when I leave, I drive back randomly north up along lake michigan (I’m from Wisconsin) and think, this is so random or “I hate it here.”  Cuz I really do in some ways.  There’s a spiritual intensity here that isn’t in other places, especially Chicago or NYC or London…or Appleton really…it was academic.  I loved that.  Racine was just a place, devoid of a specific one feeling, I liked that too.  Minnesota too…it’s spacious like a prairie.  I don’t know, this area feels dense like a forest and full of magic and full of God and I don’t know what.  I feel like I’m protecting something.  I feel like I’m convincing all of you to stay on the path of light.  I feel like there is a propensity for darkness here and light takes effort and intention.  I don’t like that.  I don’t like how easily some people here skew to the dark.  I’ve talked about this with non-native friends, how many people we know or knew need anti-depressants here…something feels extra heavy.  The politics, the spiritual or religious shaming, the warring beliefs, it’s intense like the densest of forests and even people on the same sides don’t agree on things…

I wish I could wave my arms and make it all stop and say NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW and look around you and here here here here here…be here. See the birds and trees and light and color, you are in paradise, you are fighting over future things while living in paradise…but I know I’m wrong, people want us to zone out so they can power grab and money grab and create systems that are toxic and self-serving like more money and cushy jobs while people in Flint literally DIE YOUNG from poisoned water…they may not have died young yet, but someone who has had her life ruined in ways by trauma, I know what it feels like to have physical ailments that shorten your quality of life…I haven’t died yet or anything, duh, but I think about all these injuries in my body, all the ways I was checked out and pushed thru pain and jobs I shouldn’t have, and…

Blogging is weird.  I want to apply the philosophy I use when writing is private, which is say anything let it flow.  But this IS public…so sometimes I feel a tangent spinning and think, hmmmm….

Giant aloe plant to my left…like 18 aloe plants in one, need to repot these babies.
Spider plants too, EVERYWHERE.  So many babies…

I’m realizing how strange it is to have friends.
I think I’ve moved so much, or my friends have moved, how hard it is to feel close to anyone when you’re not being real.  When you’re being a construct.  Most my life I’ve been a construct.  Maybe since 6th grade traumas?  I won’t tell you those because my life feels almost painfully non-private sometimes, of my own choosing, and some of these middle school ones are sacred wounds to me…they are the source of it all, and why I took a strange path, and prior to middle school, I look at elementary school me, and I make sense.  My code lines up with my personality which lines up with my actions which lined up with my thoughts…I remember the feeling of elementary school me and things felt direct.  Severe trauma, sexual or otherwise, breaks the connection I think.  Makes people float outside their own lives, observing it, wondering about it, examining and “trying” to be something

Some people try to be something for money or for a business.

I LITERALLY CANNOT RELATE TO YOU.

I’m worried a bit that I’ll never find financial success of any kind because I just can’t – or refuse to – structure a life.  My life.  This one lifetime.  The only time I’m this age, releasing albums in this way, being this version of me, in this place, doing these shows, being friends with these people, feeling these things, dreaming these dreams…it’s all so…

Anyone can see their life this way.  It feels dreamy to see your life like this moment is beautiful…even in its pain and things not going your way.  It’s the only time you’ll be this age, at this moment, it’s the youngest you’ll ever be again, it’s now.  It’s something profound to me.

I wish I could just transfer this feeling into your heads instead of all these words I give to you.  Because my words probably stir up thoughts that aren’t useful to what I hope to share in the world…

Maybe I need to finally write that piano-only album…

Or improvise it

Once upon a time that was my intention too.  But it’s…it’s all so much.
A life like this…do you know I want to put all three musicals I wrote online somehow (2 are collaborative, one with an MIA collaborator, the other is, well hey Danny, lemme know if we should update that music someday…)

I literally can’t keep up with what flows through me.  The more I try to keep up, the more ideas and hopes and dreams the universe seems to give me…plus the more people know me, and ask me to be part of things.  It’s impossible, it’s too much, but it’s a dreamy kind of too much, and I’m learning to say no, for the first time in my life, I can feel it in my bones that NO is a superpower, learning to measure and consider and weigh options and choose based on how strong a pull something has…versus if it feels nice or neutral or friendly, but would take up all my time, I walk away from that now.  But if it feels intense like the best dream, like HEY I wanna be professor someday…you mean I get to try it NOW? and then putting every molecule into thinking about that for a week, while getting to try it (thank you again Dan!!!) I mean wow.  How did I never learn this…to measure things against that excitement and relevance…and leaving free space in my life like pockets, watching for that resonance and connection…

Here.  Right here.  Bryan just came in, to be in my presence but also cuz we have YMCA plans that I’m delaying by being so chatty here.  He is a gentle strangely patient soul for how intense and deep he is.  He runs very deep and has very strong opinions, but he leaves the surface of himself calm like still waters…it’s different, it’s something I’ve never known.  It’s the opposite of things I’ve known…the deeper someone runs in my experience was often the more tumultous they were.  Maybe it’s just cuz he tries to keep his deeper waters to himself (haha and we are so different, I keep sharing mine more and more with ‘the world’ and it helps me…I think this wouldn’t help some people, it brings more energy into the mix).

I hope everyone finds people they resonate with.  Friends, family, lovers, boyfriends, partners, whatever you resonate with, I hope you seek it…my sister was my best friend for 10 years and I learned to hear her direct frank opinions before I could ‘handle’ Bryan (he’s very direct about things, that used to rock my boat so much…like in Chicago I couldn’t hear any negative feedback on anything, was way too fraglie, probably why I didn’t release most things, and hid out inside a dysfunctional relationship…I mean all relationships have dysfunction, but that one was particularly toxic for me…nothing is without its benefits though, and maybe I needed to hide then…)

Back to clouds.  Grayer now.  Tree tops.  White car.  When I was a kid I would be bored in my day-dreaminess sometimes and I made up a game…white car meant yes, red car meant maybe, black car meant no…what did green car mean?  I never wondered that, or blue?  Maybe like closer to black or white like kind of?  I don’t remember.  Anyway I would ask the universe questions and pretend the cars answered them.  Sometimes with decks of cards too (red yes, black no).  And I knew it was imaginary and / or super unlikely that the universe could correlate / co-create my questions based on what car or card would come by, but despite the imaginary quality it always led to interesting ‘answers’ which provoked more and better questions…I loved it.  It was super random and filled time and made me feel dreamy, like the universe could talk.

I later came to feel like I could hear God himself, but that’s another story for another day.  One that is unfinished, and the narrative keeps changing.  Even if it’s all imagination, it feels like a charmed life.  And it certainly keeps the songs and words flowing…

Love to you, peace on this day, find things that soothe your soul, be a maker like me.  Make your home, make your schedule, make your time, make up your mind, anything…don’t just consume.  Express.  I don’t know if sharing broadly has any value, but I did this privately for 10+ years before sharing like this here, and it had a personal value to me, becoming such good friends with myself.  Hope you find this too.  xoxo Jessica

Hey moment <3

Hey moment, this is this moment (12:09pm on Tuesday Sept 25th) but the title is inspired by a moment decided yesterday while making up a 9 song album in a day…

And really it was inspired by a moment earlier this month, shared on YouTube and Instagram, where I explained WHY I need to blog and vlog and connect so deeply with so many people so much of the time… sharing all this process, because I need to mark this time, and this time, and this time, and (as I said then) say “Hey moment!” to each moment as it passes, at least while I’m doing this much.

So I’m sitting on my knees on the hardwood floor in my office, where I made a 9 song album with space sounds and piano and electric keys and I feel good about it overall…I like at least half of it, the other half has glitches and problems (MIDI cut out on two songs and I could barely salvage anything from those halves of songs, but I’m leaving it in cuz it’s funny to write/release an album in a day, just because you said you would…so there it is, it is done…although people on Facebook gave me permission to edit and listen for a few days, so maybe i’ll do that…they said yes it still counts if I do that 🙂

I dunno.

I’m tired and drained AND recharged.

Harvest Gathering was WONDERFUL.

 

As expected.

I’m overwhelmed tho by how much being THAT social takes out of me, mostly in the leading up to it.

I’m okay once I’m there and my being adjusts to being…so full of people and moments.

At first I can barely handle it.  Once my show portion was done, and I was just there to support others, then it was great…well, after a half a day of adjusting still.

One time a close person in my life told me about children who have a hard time adjusting to things…or it was a hard time with ‘transitions’…that made sense and I’ve understood myself ever since.  like it’s 12:15 right now, I teach at 3pm. If I don’t make choices the time will drain by and I’ll regret not getting outside today (it’s lovely and perfect bike weather lately)

Also I have to make an album cover, plan 2 more shows this week (cloudlight, and a kids’ one in GH – I think they’re on my shows page)

And I have some friend time planned ahead…and a show at our house in 12 days to promote…oh yea and a duo set to plan with Gabrielle (we’re Snow Angel, for October 6th anyway 🙂

It’s fun.

Do things, make art, be you, have friends, be alone, let go of rules in your mind…at least for your free time anyway.  These are things I’m listing for myself, need the reminder always.  Okay maybe this was a bad time to blog, I’m rushing and busy and really wanna get on my bike and get a soft pretzel and get my heart rate up.  Visiting my sis up high in the mountains next month, and I want to at least be used to heavier breathing, even if I’m not super in shape by then.

Love and hugs and be good to yourself.

Jessica

Ambition

This is a big topic for me. One I never thought I’d talk or write about. Because it’s trained in us, from a young age, to want to ‘be the best.’  But ever since 19 or so when I started reading Taoist literature and Buddhist things and taking the words in my original Presbyterian faith more seriously (first not, but then again at 22)…I realized capital-a Ambition doesn’t line up with these.  But this caused a divide in me because I’d “won awards since elementary school” (in quotes because I always say “yada yada” after I say stuff like this…not because it isn’t true, but because I love saying this story)

Let me list my awards.  Mind you, at age 10 I hadn’t researched competitions, this was from other people seeing my talent and skill and hard work and unique-to-the-area obsession with songwriting…and they thought proposing entering competitions and winning awards was the right use of such talents and interests (in hindsight it was probably more detrimental than good, in my opinion).

I am listing to get this out of my system once and for all.  But also to brag, because it’s what ambition did to me, and I think that’s funny and sad and almost tragic.  It gave me awards and talent and skill and obsession with being good or better than others, and what do you do with that other than brag or subtle brag about it?  it’s the seed of my undoing…because I live in a world that hates bragging, hates jockeying for position, though we all do it, and doesn’t trust people’s motives and the past 10 years people can undoubtedly feel my split (do I want to help you, or be better than you? do I want to be real, or be recognized for how real I am?…etc)

-Kindergarten, my music teacher pulled me aside to tell me about my talent, asked me to perform a solo in the talent show.  Family told this story for YEARS after.  It WAS cute, the song was called “Me, Myself, and I” (also prophetic…as I had a hard time collaborating, both from my obsession with being the best and being in charge, and also cuz I advanced my music skills so high I didn’t relate to the people I’m most like)

-Elementary School, 4th grade, told my original songs are great, music teacher (different one) helped me score one on staff paper.  When a friend passed away (this is the real story, and where my heart is), I wrote a song for her.  But the people around me saw this as talent not heart, and while they did a good-for-me heart thing (have me share it with the school, among tons of other songs I wrote), they also encouraged entering a statewide songwriting competition.  Helped me make sheet music for that song too.  Then I won, and went to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, for my award.  It was strange.  I got a medal on a rainbow ribbon.

-Oh I have some swimming awards too by now, all taped to my bookshelf.  Mostly 2nd places but some firsts.  But they are so cool to me.  I liked being recognized and remembering how well I did at things.  Also by now I’d gotten As on papers, projects, worked hard, was passionate, wrote stories about the life of a roll (a dinner roll), my creativity had a home and was validated – elementary school was a good fit for my whimsy.  So all in all, I became feedback obsessed, accomplishment obsessed, being good obsessed…I don’t know if I needed it to be better than others.  But slowly over time, doing something that’s all about winning, makes you seem and sound that way.  I could have lived in my own private universe (like I do now) and had it be all about rising to personal challenges and accomplishments.  But the people around me loved the winning, and maybe I did too.  It felt good to make them happy.

-By this same time, I’d played a few kiddie piano recitals, and my teacher was excited about that too.  And flute.  Tried to stay 1st chair my whole life, no matter how hard it got, and mostly succeeded.  Piano competitions, having to be good at songs to ‘do well’ at competitions and recitals, even if I hated those particular songs, was a regular piece of my childhood at this time.  I would work on pop/rock songs, and write songs, and sometimes my teacher was cool and we’d work on that too.  But the theory/technique/lesson books were the backbone and we moved fast and it always led to competing.  I hated failing or doing less-than-well, but sometimes I just really didn’t like the songs, and I really hated the serious tone of lessons and being corrected all the time. It was overwhelming. I didn’t want to quit piano, but I hated how hard it always felt.  In hindsight I would have loved a teacher like me – lesson books yes, but no competitions, tons of accommodating to style (pop/rock) but still distilling basics and core concepts, and trying to help kids warp speed advance in their area of interest.  But hey, this is me trying to be the best again.  There are flaws with an approach like this too (certain kids need more structure and more negative feedback than I can give).

-In 5th grade, going back a bit, I won my first big award – not just the statewide songwriting award, followed by an offer to play that song and others in front of the whole school, but also asked to write a 5th grade graduation song.  Holy shit did that go to my head. Oh I was the lead in Alice in Wonderland too (well, first act Alice – they wanted the lead part to be shared, maybe there was a life lesson in that – I was actually fine with it, just doing half, but I remember others liked to compare and judge us against each other, and tell me who was better…).  Anyway, I loved it. Loved the challenge. Loved being center of attention. Loved how hard I had to work. Loved the opportunity to shine. People supported me too at first.  It was lovely.  I felt a social shift for the first time around then…mild and subtle at first, but once they asked me to “make 4 part harmony” for the graduation song I wrote, and cast people in it, and teach it to them (I went to an arts school, we did 3 hours of Chorale 3x a week, and harmony singing was a big part of it), I ended up being called a bitch behind my back.  Probably was blunt and not a kind teacher.  When it wasn’t right, especially over and over again.  This haunted me and made me afraid of groups and peers.  But honestly, I probably a) was being a bitch, or b) was impatient, frustrated, not sure how to teach people who weren’t getting something, and c) only in 5th grade so it was a tough position to be thrown into with my peers (to be put above them and made their teacher).  I attracted and sought softer kinder people after that, knowing I was so dominant and “bossy” (another word for it – but Girls Rock type groups try to get us to be okay with these qualities, but honestly when it’s 10 people in one room, someone has to back down and follow, which I also later did in group situations, to be liked or keep the peace)…anyway, this one led to performing that song with my own mini-choir (I sang/played piano).  And at the end of that 5th grade graduation ceremony, I co-won the “renaissance award” that my school gives out.  An award for people who excelled in the arts.  This was the beginning of me hating awards.  At the time I liked it, dopamine high, feeling “the best” like “I did it” but over time it was an insidious seed of poison to my entire being.  1) because I co-won it with a now-friend (co-uncle to our married siblings) so we grew up distantly knowing each other after we moved to different schools…and I barely knew him in elementary school, but when we co-won it was strange because he had never done anything flashy or showy, like I had, or won awards like I had, but they split the award.  Whereas my brother had won the award all by himself, one year earlier…and he also didn’t do anything as showy as me, like win statewide awards first or write and perform a 5th grade graduation song.  Do you see the beginning of that seed?  I was confused, rightly so, as kids should be, at “what I did wrong” to not win the award by myself.  Or by, “what’s wrong with me” that they split it.  Or a strange feeling of “not good enough”.  Which makes no sense after all that stuff, all that sharing, which was originally about my friend who died, and it should have ALWAYS been about that.  And the 5th grade graduation song could have been just about feeling sad we’re moving on, but instead it became about how to work with others and being called a bitch, and then being excited to share all this stuff I did and seeing not everyone was as excited about me as I was about myself.  Kinda normal 5th grade stuff…our parents build us up, in certain types of homes, and the world lowers us down a few pegs, cuz no one loves us as much as our parents* do.  And that’s a hard lesson to learn.  (*of course this isn’t true in all families, but it’s a cliche for how often it happens)  I just learned this lesson very quickly and very loudly and very, for me, embarassingly.  Plus, my family loved and celebrated awards and success and good grades.  So the emotional message at this time was incredibly mixed.

-When I was in middle school, I kept submitting to these competitions, and won statewide two more times. The new school made an even bigger concert for me, of my songs, and even better my peers liked em and asked me to play before choir started each day.  Until they suddenly didn’t anymore.  I never knew why.  Also that mixed with friends who wrote me kind notes and called me a “sweet girl” but said they weren’t going to be my friend anymore.  I was shut out from the cool kids and inside crowd multiple times, I thought I had done something wrong (and maybe I had) but finding old notes showed how nice they were about it…it was still wrong.  And hard.  And not wrong at all.  Maybe I talked about things they didn’t care about, maybe I didn’t get into the music of the times enough.  My friend from Massachusetts always sang harmonies with me when she visited her grandma down the street…that was such a good friendship.  It was always just harder for me to find people I connected with.  Maybe cuz I always wanted to write songs.  But I wonder if the way ambition affected me, plus getting good grades, made me see the world in, I’m either succeeding or failing.  Like, did I tell these friends at the same school that I ‘failed’ when I got a good part in 6th grade (Minnie Faye in Hello Dolly) but a ‘bad part’ in 7th grade (chorus, and as a man, in Calamity Jane).  I was hyper aware of doing well, being the best, being average, being rejected…how did I learn this? Is it societal?  I think it’s school and family.  I had success-oriented adults all around me in both fronts.  The ones who weren’t REALLY stood out too, and I loved them (Mr. Murphy in 6th grade – loved you most, so cool! Mrs. Lenart in 4th grade too)

-By middle school I had so many 1* rankings at Solo & Ensemble for flute and piano, so many 1s for piano competitions that I don’t even remember…accompanied others for their parts too, and made $20.  Kinda like what I make as a musician today (kidding, sort of…).  It was fun to make a CV later…it had a HEY LOOK WHAT I CAN DO feeling.  And whenever I was isolated, or an island, I liked these awards. They affirmed someone thought I had value.  Meanwhile I kept being voted off the island socially…finding new friends, usually one-on-one cuz the big social groups were hard in 5th and 6th grade, being sort of asked to leave by a note from one or two of them, when I could tell some people in the group still loved me and liked having me around, it became easier to forge one on one friendships so I didn’t have to deal with all that.  But I think I often lacked play dates, and played or biked alone a lot, in my head, writing songs, maybe we’re all lonely a lot…but all thru middle and HS I changed friends so much.  Not sure why.  Maybe they left me, sometimes it was schedule, or maybe I left them…maybe I didn’t like being hurt.  Maybe I never got close to people after the initial heartbreaks in 5th/6th grade (and yes, people, childhood social pains are real and will define you for your whole life, if you don’t look at them…or even if you do sometimes).

-Back to awards…so much. So much.  Grades, AP classes, Chopin competitions, winning a scholarship, oh in 4th grade I was “one of only two people picked to go to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago for a day-long field trip.”  In High School I was “one of only two people in my whole class of 400” picked to represent our HS at Badger Girls State, a week of learning about politics, mock style.  I liked being good at things, not science or politics in general.  But people saw my passion for learning almost anything, and because they didn’t see me all day, didn’t know I was always like that.  First chair flute, solos at the state level, 1*, anything that made me feel like I’d won or was better.  I don’t know if I felt like I had a choice.  I loved winning.  It filled something in me.  8th grade was the first year I submitted and DIDN’T win the statewide award for songwriting – AND IT CAUSED ME TO STOP WRITING OR SHARING SONGS FOR ALMOST 4 YEARS.  That’s the problem.  That’s the whole problem.  I let other people be a measure of what I did.  I gave so much weight to other people’s opinions, specifically in the form of awards or other big social validation, like valuing crappy Simon on American Idol.  He’s one person, they were one peoples, everyone judging me.  But anytime something went wrong, I stopped taking risks.  Socially, competitionally….and that’s the story I used to tell.

But I’m starting to tell the story of, there’s something wrong with ambition in the first place!  For me to “win” others have to lose.  For me to be the best, who are all the many not-bests?! And if it felt so bad for me to lose that one time in 8th grade, to shut down for 4 years, how many potential songwriters were shut down each year I won in 5th, 6th, and 7th grades?  Yes I got to tell that one “I’m a winner” story for 3 years, and let it serve my identity.  But if you look at my story, it only built up my success into more of a big deal, which made failure more of a big deal too.  So either way I left discouraged from all the comparing and offering of awards.  And meanwhile, when I was in 8th grade, ONE other person got to feel that high, while the rest – including me – thought we did “something wrong.”   This can be subtle, like “I wonder what wasn’t as good about that song” to “I guess I’m not meant to be a songwriter”…when in reality, it’s crazy that we’ve created a world where HUNDREDS (or thousands? millions?) of people create, write, share, and we say “okay now only one will win this time, and the rest of you should go home and think about what you’ve done wrong (aka that wasn’t “good enough”)”

THIS IS CRAZY.

This doesn’t even reflect the business world.  Where you should live in a town with lots of piano teachers if you want to be a piano teacher.  And don’t try to be the best (first of all, don’t “try” in that way…just focus on personal best and quality), just find your niche.  How are you different, unique, and then your base will come.  People who need what you are/offer.

This is true with the real music industry and scene too.  Not everyone likes my music, or my friends, or their friends…taste is unique and individual, and I am not “winning” and neither are others really.  Even those with million dollar recording contracts, many times are sculpting something to fit the most people’s interests, like market research.  Whereas I’m whimsically being myself, as are a lot of the non-ambitious musicians I know.  We fall in a “maybe they’ll like me, maybe not” category – while others market and watch when and where people clapped the most (which songs, etc, I used to do that back in Chicago, when I was more driven), which ones land.  Then I almost violently changed, forcing audiences to accept me playing my slowest least flashy songs.  I needed to do this for me.  Just cause I have a conservatory degree and can “wow” with piano chops, I didn’t (and often still don’t) like that feeling of “wowwing” an audience.  It brings me back to all this ambition stuff. And in my experience, people don’t listen as much to the words – or the emotion – when the main thought is “wow” and the main emotion is “impressed.”

So here I am with my Chopin and Beethoven loves, some injured arms, sometimes I like playing flashy stuff still…but I mostly like music for its emotional soothing/healing potential.  Or just its emotional resonance in general.  Highs and lows.  Not, did I impress you, not did I win awards – or the social/financial equivelant of an award.

I wanted to wrap up but I left some out.

-Scholarships to college
-a fellowship awarded to me for my “unique talents and interests” which funded a semester in London
-Best music in the Nashville Film Fest and people writing big reviews about us nationally
-rave reviews of my original musical in college, for which I “wrote, directed, played piano in” and it was my “first musical” written “at age 21” (in quotes not because not true, just because I liked these sound bytes and seeing people’s impressed faces…)
-got into Tisch in NYC on scholarship, “famous people sung my songs” there and later, future Belle in Beauty and The Beast, I was “Sebastian Arcelus’ music director” (he’s a lovely human – but did become Roger in Rent, and the lead in Elf on Broadway, etc),
Wendy Robie from Twin Peaks, Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda and I shared earbuds while I taught her to sing my songs for the movie, which won awards all over the country…these things filled that bucket, of am I good enough…
-being offered a production of our grad school musical, paid $1800 royalties just to let them perform it, right out of college.  They “flew us out to see it” and paid for us to stay in fancy hotels for their awards gala.  All while under 25.  (I’m trying to say these things in impressive sounding ways)
-there’s so many more from music directing, including knowing or working with famous people…it dwindled after that… especially after I left the educational world of constant feelings of being awarded/rewarded, and entered the world of “that’s great, but how will you pay for life?” (most of these things were unpaid or barely paid, or paid in one lump sum, not in an easy-to-pay-for-life sort of way…)

OH here’s more
-wrote a musical long-distance and was paid royalties to have them perform it (adaptation of Christmas Carol), which I did just so I could say on my resume that I’d had original musicals produced on “both coasts”
-music directed on off-off-Broadway, and understudied as pianist/music director for Off-Broadway’s Hello Muddah Hello Fadduh
-told by legendary Broadway directors/professionals that I was “going somewhere” and had them gush at me for transcribing their revue…
(FOOD for that ambition brain)
(am I bragging now? or showing you the confusion? I don’t know…I think it’s both, it’s gross)
-music directing in Chicago too, but needing to earn money, got confused…how to live (MD positions were contract, and life requires work at all times…didn’t have the stamina or schedule flexibility to work all the time for a stipend, AND still pay bills including grad school loans)
-Offered an internship in Dramaturgy at the Goodman Theatre.  Unpaid tho, 6 months.  Couldn’t do it. Started with Child’s Play Touring Theatre instead, almost moved more into that world, Second City, etc…but again. Money.  Found my way to the much less glamorous ‘teaching piano’ and I’ve been here ever since (except a brief pause of working as a pianist for a HS choir – some glamour, inside glamour, and the Travel Channel filming us and zooming in on my hands, and using a version of Jingle Bells that I arranged…but overall, I couldn’t apply my ambition-obsession to a tiny town/school in West Michigan, after such heady experiences with it in NYC, Chicago, more…and by then, I realized how ambition juxtaposed with how to support yourself, and how to be yourself…

I even used ambition to avoid writing songs, and sharing my real passion (which was clear to me in 6th grade and earlier), of being a singer-songwriter…and returning to it wholeheartedly at age 25 felt like coming down off the success-ladder I’d been on, all that NYC music directing and awards and back pats, and starting to climb a new ladder of being a “real” singer-songwriter, and being a “no one” at open mics at 25…I dealt with those feelings of inferiority the whole time starting out in Chicago, after already building such a huge resume in such an unrelated topic (despite having secret private songs I’d written since high school, after the 4 years gap, but just stopped sharing and got no sense of “success” from…only shared with 1-2 people and even they occasionally turned on me, or got sick of my sharing them).

So I probably lost my love of success a bit when I had all that success on the wrong ladder.  It’s why I tell people to cut and run if it’s the wrong ladder, because climbing more once you know it’s wrong for you doesn’t help anything (I was being pushed to be a professional music director of other people’s shows – but I knew I was a writer/performer of original stuff, at heart – so all the MD success impressed people, but made me feel a bit empty, like I was working hard at the wrong dream).  Even this paragraph feels empty, cuz it’s a story I USED to tell…telling people to cut and run so they can get on their right ladder, to hurry up and FIND SUCCESS.   And I just don’t believe in that version of success anymore.

I dunno.  I just think when it comes to “success” and “failure,” especially in the arts or other historically low-paying fields, I worry that it’s unintentionally cruel and unkind that this world creates pockets of success in small towns, especially while kids are in school and have no bills to pay, and lets those kids think they’ll “make it” somewhere, then if it’s arts they might move to the big cities with those dreams, only to find there’s often no money in it…so if they have intense stamina to also work full time, and aren’t saddled with debt, they can sometimes do it on the side…but to succeed you need that full-time hustle…sooooo it doesn’t work out for 90% of us or more perhaps…THEN wasn’t the real problem the words said to these kids in the first place? Or left unsaid, but just implied by constantly pointing out to them that they’re “the best”? Even with getting all As at school.  Isn’t that creating a self-expectation, for who they “should” be in the world?  What about emotional issues?  What about practicality of the field they’re in?  What about arm pain in their chosen field?  I care because it’s not just me.  If it were just me, I’d whine all day and you could laugh at me.  But it’s all of us.  It’s sooooo sooooo soooo many of us.  It’s a common story.  The failure story.  Which isn’t looking honestly at how the failure is just a violent swing of the pendulum from the “success” story.  And both get in the way of authentically finding yourself, and being yourself.

Ambition is a strange drug….
It’s toxic, it pits you against other people, even just in your own mind.
It makes you want to be “better than” and makes you hyper-aware when you are “less than.”
Neither are true.
Both are lies and hurtful to your sense of youness.  Your humanity.

Everything I read in those wisdom books, feels true.  Worst part is, those books exist because someone was so wise they ended up celebrated and that looks like ambition.

***

Had to take a call…it’s on a similar topic.  All my 20 years of piano training makes it hard for me to be in bands, without being impatient or not on the same page as others.  Things that come easily to me now, as a musician, only do because of all this training…but socially, and as a bandmate, this doesn’t serve me.

So I guess it’s been a heavy year, realizing all this.  Charisma and other things make bands successful, not just someone with conservatory chops.  And what IS “successful” anyway?  Is it money?  Is it recognition?  Does this all fall in the category of “success” (money or fame or followers) that later disappoints, because no one has it for all time? It always eventually goes away?

I’ve looked at fame as a strange drug for a long time now.  Long before sharing so much, so publicly.  This is like, this year, or two, is like me reverting to my childhood self – sharing a ton – but without the clear goals or ambition.  Except, if I’m honest, a vague one, that all this sharing of music can lead to an improved resume that’s more accurate to my passions.  I.e. if I never “get followers” or “make money” (haha that one shouldn’t be in quotes) from my original music – as is, without changing the music to be poppier or more commercial (more polished, yes, but that’s hard and costs money and overwhelms me, I’ll go back to trying on that someday)… if ALL that “fails” , i.e. doesn’t produce any results except more people knowing me, more authentically, including the embarassing parts, the failing parts, the confusing parts, the condemnable parts…then at least I could do a little library tour to small towns or maybe big ones (more people doing somthing, i.e. big cities loving creativity, means more demand) and teach about how to not have writers’ block, how to be prolific, and how to use the creative process as your own personal therapy.

Haha could “at least” do something like that? When if I’m honest…it’s what I REALLY want to do. I want to inspire people, to make to do to create to be themselves.  Make up recipes, make a colorful home, or an all black-and-white one, you do you!  This is my biggest passion in life.  All those “shoulds” – including competitions, getting As, winning awards…both confused and alienated me.  Like an addiction.  Success is an addiction.  Yes I need to make money.  I need to find people who need what I have to offer.  Then I have to value myself enough to charge for my services.  Need to be realistic that gas costs money, time off work costs money, car repairs and payments cost money, healthcare, etc…and all that together, means I need to ask for a certain amount, and if a library or arts organization can pay it?  And/or charge people $10-12 to come do a workshop or class with me?  Like a yoga class?  Meaning they value it too, help with creativity, and don’t need it to be wholly free…then maybe all these forces converging is just what money and “success” really is.  (money should be in quotes too…it’s just trade, trading energy and effort, helping each other, the one helping is pausing their growth to give back, and the one receiving is growing…or maybe both grow, I don’t know, maybe the growth and learning IS really in the giving…I don’t know what I’m rambling about anymore…I have so many things to do, should probably go do them.)

Thanks September for helping me see my own flaws and ambition.  For helping me see the ways I’ve wanted to be “better than.”  The ways I need to at least make money (including darn loan payments) but the ways, for my ego, I don’t want to be celebrated…because eventually it dies or turns on you, and that feeling causes as much blockage as never being celebrated in the first place.  Think of old rockers, confused why no one is as excited about them anymore, hiding in their apartments or touring to casinos…dealing with all those feelings of being a dying star.  I already feel like a dying star, and have since 6th or 7th grade.  I just now have some words for it.

xo Jessica