Growth & Lightness (that breezy feeling)

piano video screenshotHmmm this may be a weird post.  Weirder than usual.  I don’t know what I’m going to say, yet I already made a title for it haha.

Wrote a little something on Instagram today…

“Thinking a lot about what we put into the world vs what we keep in our minds. Some things have been sacred to me all my life, unintentionally. Since putting out my album of childhood songs from actual childhood, i’ve had this strange feeling of lightness and moving forward. But it’s also heavy and sad in a way. That time in my life feels more real to me now and almost unintentionally, I have decided to continue the process. This month’s upcoming album was always supposed to be about trauma but I thought it would be songs written in the past few years. Instead I’ve decided to record/release an album of songs from high school through my early 20s, songs I never thought I’d release because of how painful they were for me . But they are good songs and maybe they can help someone. So stay tuned for some heavy trauma songs at the end of this month. Tho if I’m honest there’s a lightness about them too. Curious to see how I feel in August when I reintegrate all this too. Xo ❤️ps haven’t been writing, maybe 10 songs since the 365 challenge ended in Feb? Here’s something from today. Just a little ditty*. Bye!
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#newmusic #oldmusic #lettinggo #movingon #integrating #healing#beingyourself #wereallgoingtodie #someday #giveitallaway #xo

(*to hear the song clip, visit my @jessicaintherainbow instagram)

Sooo I don’t know.  That’s where my brain is.  I realized I hadn’t checked in since right after the Childhood album, and a lot has changed and settled in my heart.  It doesn’t feel so vulnerable anymore, this sharing.  It just feels like work, like God’s work or life’s work or a calling or a weird mission like a missionary for the universe trying to comfort other misfit souls through my strange challenges and approach to life perhaps?  I don’t know.  I believe in capital G God but I don’t think that’s the point of my version of prayer (all songs are prayers, all yearning is prayer, all life is prayer to me…I can’t see all things or be all things, but if there is a creative force in the universe, it has a broader picture than I do and hopefully can see more what needs to be done than I can…so I try to just follow like the little peon I am…is that strange? I think being small makes you feel larger, where trying to be large makes you feel small…and who knows really why we exist at all! I mean we are specks of dust and ants and we are in an endless streaming supply, why not enjoy being alive while we can, if we’re all going to die?)

I’ve been reading Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, the most genius kindhearted soul on the planet in my opinion, and I just can’t get over what perfection it is to experience someone’s clear life-work.  He is someone who has clearly found his muse and voice and calling, and what a beautiful life of craft and listening and GIVING he is living.  If you haven’t read the speech he gave at a commencement (‘Congratulations, by the way’), it is brilliant and I highly recommend it.  Pema Chodron’s too (‘Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better’ I think it’s called)…hers is almost the opposite, if I remember right, but both are humble and kind and wise as heck.  I could shrink down to a tiny seed and spend my life in books, if I weren’t too curious about what all this is, pouring through me… I think my decade of journalling to heal from trauma is about as peaceful as it gets for me.  Purposely avoiding output, focusing inward, or if outward, then creating but rarely sharing.  But now, so much in me feels healed – or on its way – and I feel foolish whenever I consider going back to my old snail’s pace.  Like all this prolific-ness is easy for me, AND impossibly draining of course, but I guess I mean it’s easier for me to understand and structure when I have a plan of being constantly prolific or outputting…as opposed to that 3-year or 2-year cycle some musicians do, carefully crafted work, I think I’ve just never understood it.  It makes the Final Product feel like a Big Deal to me* (borrowing the Capitalization to mock/challenge Importance concept from The Tao of Pooh…which should be called the tao of pooh, if it wants to understand itself…)

anyway, i am doing things my way and i am fine with it for me, and in no way do i think everyone should do things this way because i think it comes off a little crazy and weird at best, or just haphazard and sloppy and wasteful of talent at worst. i guess i also have been thinking of how lucky i’ve been, to be ignored during these healing years.  that no one is writing scathing reviews of my work or not-enough-work.  or no one is criticizing me openly.  i am lucky.  the only reviews i ever got in papers have been glowing (for “Were the World Mine”) – or super local and kind.  I know this is abnormal, and I know the more I put out into the world, the more likely the “haters” will start speaking out and up…I mean, they are not “haters” that’s not who they are, they may want to help me, save my talent, save me from my sloppiness, I don’t know how haters work.  I almost went into dramatic criticism for my critical eye, and dramatic lit degree (at the nudging of my professor), but I couldn’t stand the idea of spending a life tearing people down.  Even if it was to help everyone be better.  And I’m not good at being critical of myself either.  I mean, I see the flaws but…I like em, or I don’t mind em, or I just don’t see the point in being hypercritical.  Maybe that’s not true.  I dunno.  I like flowing, and listening, and following the muse.  What is this blog post about anyway?!?  I have no idea…

Well, as I said in the Insta post…I guess I’m embarking on my high school/college/early 20s songs now.

I’m terrified and exhilirated.  Like standing in line at a roller coaster.  Knowing these all fall in line, in the void, in a massive pile of work, makes each album feel a little less surrounded by pressure (my own)…which has helped it seem/be more fun.  Who knows.  Maybe they are all sub-par, even for what I could do.  All I know is, they are starting to EXIST.  And previously they DID NOT.  So I have to love this challenge, these challenges, even if they’re bringing my sloppiest work into the world – I can blame it on time constraints or just accept my lack of interest in Perfection.  I don’t know when I lost it, I WAS an A student.  All thru college and scholarships, etc.   Somewhere, some literature I read, some play I saw, some movie, some music…pointed out to me, all this stuff is Stuff.  Not real. Not meaning anything in and of itself.  If it moves you, great. If it’s nonsense, criticize me or look away.  But I don’t see how spending a lifetime in silent refinement does anyone any good.  It was certainly driving me crazy, a lifetime of not-doing but wishing-to-be-doing.  Boring.

Okay, rambles out.  xo Jessica

p.s. *note (disclaimer cuz I hate meanness due to differences): I think for some people, things being a built-up Big Deal is a good thing…for me, unless it’s fun and breezy, I get lost in self-importance and take everything Too Seriously, and I just can’t anymore. It isn’t fun, it makes no sense to me, and it weighs on my soul.  So to each their own – I respect those who do epic polished projects, not that you need my approval – the world tends to love people like you (but I love you too). ❤ ❤ ❤

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Vulnerability

Releasing music is so second nature to me now, that you would think (I would think) that feelings would soften or change or shift to the point that I almost wouldn’t feel anything…negative or positive, just an everyday thing like doing laundry or getting a good grade on a test or taking a long walk and feeling proud of yourself or just the joy of adventure.

But instead it still feels raw, every time.  Like needles, tingling my skin.  Like wondering, what do people think? What does this look like from the outside? I know why I do this. For me, it is fresh and interesting and unique, to use my time to create and share what I’ve created.  And that’s reason enough. And all these challenges are a way of playing catch-up perhaps.  But from the outside, I can’t imagine what it looks like to see someone formerly more quiet (well, long speeches on Facebook but not prolific with works) suddenly blast all their music and words and art and weird nonsense in my face.  I would be…judgemental?  I mean, I hate to think that anyone judges anything…but I think it’s human nature when we try to make sense of things.  We observe them, and give them a label or some sort of identification.  Good, bad, interesting, annoying, weird, sloppy, beautiful, profound, crazy, boring, inspiring, useless, poignant, etc…

I know everyone has a different view of everything.  And people have used so many different words to describe what I’m doing.  And I wonder how I’m becoming more able to even imagine this variety…

It used to hurt just considering the vague idea of a negative comment on something I shared.

Yet my heroes have them all over their pages.

I don’t know.  Vulnerability is strange and hard and easy at the same time…

It’s almost like, once you force your hand and move outward into the world, you see how vulnerable we ALL are.  And there are alternate life paths…one involves death bed regrets of wishing you did more (or anything, or your calling, etc) and another involves regrets around actions you did take, ways you could have done them differently.  I’ve been in the first camp for so long, that I believed the mantras about sharing and letting go and being yourself so you don’t have regrets…but I don’t think that is true anymore.  I have shit tons of regrets still, despite all this output.  It’s just that the regrets are specific now, not vague.  My old regrets were related to dying with all this music inside me.  Fear of getting in a car accident, having 15+ albums never released that no one would ever hear because I was too afraid to share most of it…to now, releasing so much that each move comes with a million regrets, wishing for more time, more polish, more organization, more thoughtfulness, more skill on a particular thing…overall I see the growth and it excites me.  It’s super personal in nature, so maybe not worth sharing…but my voice is growing in strength, I can hit notes I didn’t used to be able to, just from working outside my comfort zone (including this Childhood album, but also in cloudlight), I’m becoming more resilient to disappointment and confusing vibes among friends and acquaintances, almost starting to even develop thicker skin for perceived gossip and judgement…I don’t know.  Maybe it’s not actually thicker, just that I’m so busy and sharing so much that I can’t get too hung up on any one thing, any one show, any one album, any one way I sense a person judging me.

I mean, I judge myself.  You likely judge yourself.  We’re all pretty harsh in our own ways.  Just feeling reflective and curious about it.  Because this post-release feeling was extra jittery tonight.  Like hard to feel good about.  Probably because these songs aren’t… ???  I mean, releasing songs you wrote in 1st-7th grade is like an extra layer of vulnerable.  Because they are meaningful to me, and I wanted to preserve them, but I can’t imagine most anyone else wanting to listen to them, except maybe for kitsch factor.  And that’s not why they were created.  So it feels more like a twist in the gut, having them out there, than I was expecting.

It’s okay.  I’m okay.  Life is okay.  Health and what not.  Basically healthy and in good spirits.  Just really freaking tired, spent almost every free minute the past few days on this, and I’m just really freakin tired.  Thought I’d have half of today free 😦   Instead I was editing and listening back and mastering and remastering up until 11:22pm.  Had to release before midnight if I wanted it to say “June 2018” as the release date 🙂

Well, there’s a blog post.  Month 4, here we come.

This is a heavy one, coming up.  I already decided the theme…not ready to talk about it yet tho.  Too exhausted.  (It’s 1:29am, the night of the release…just watched a little Japanese reality TV, haven’t zoned out in awhile, maybe that’s what’s making me feel weird, some of the themes discussed were ones I’m sensitive to…I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but I have to watch my input/intake carefully, if I read/watch certain things, it affects me almost as deeply as if I were experiencing it).

Night ❤ Jessica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cute makeup & show day nerves

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Love you all. xo
Jessica

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

 

 

 

 

 

Mid-June thoughts, spiritual in nature.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here you go, anonymous friends.

……

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…….

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

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

…..

 

O…kay…

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

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

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

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

Jessica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technology and meaning

Hello, it’s Day 424 j/k…it’s just a day.  And I’m in shock right now because this 2nd album is getting so close to done, well WAS getting so close to done, when the computer I’ve been working on (not mine, Bryans) had some sort of malfunction…he’s asleep after a long day, and I don’t know what to do.  For about 3 days now, people have been encouraging me to push this 2nd album out and get it done, but my inner rhythms have said PAUSE.

I didn’t know WHY they said pause, so I listened to others…

3 days of it.  And finally the COMPUTER forced me to pause.

What is that? Am I ascribing meaning to something random and coincidental?  Or is there meaning in the universe, when we’re not listening to CLEAR intuition, things slow us down or halt us until we DO listen?

I don’t know.

I just know that I hadn’t thought about the possibility of malfunctioning technology when I agreed to release something every month.

Probably too much in shock to know if I lost anything (anything I hadn’t backed up yet…I think THANKFULLY I backed up a few days ago)…

But we don’t have another computer that can run ProTools right now…well we do but…

I’m feeling the weight of my limited funds, and way too big dreams…

He’s using an old computer (the one I record on) but just bought a new one, for his work with a recording studio…and I can’t hijack that one (he was going to let me use/borrow indefinitely this one that’s now not working)…

Sometimes life feels super silly…I’m not saving anyone, I’m not curing anything…I’m just a little peon making songs, and hosting house shows, and making people smile or cry with my way of being.  And it feels good to be needed in this little world, but maybe this 12 albums thing is overkill.  I don’t know…I KNOW without a doubt that it’s for me.  To prove that I can, to be transparent about my prolific ways, to get over saving my life like this is some dress rehearsal while YEARS tick by with nothing done…

So I dunno, I’m ready I’m willing, and I’m poor haha.  I mean, I guess there are worse problems.  By a million.

So in rethinking all this…maybe I’ll go back to an old idea…a sketchy album cover I made late one night, and a rough album with all the songs on it on their purest form…citing the hard drive crash and overwhelm while living in “friends month.”  Basically this album of 23 songs w/ friends in em, or about friends, has reminded me of all the love that surrounds me and I’m terribly overwhelmed because in thinking about these people, I also fanned the flames of connection with all of them, AND with other friends…and the whole thing reminded me why I only have a few close friends usually and am otherwise an introvert, hiding in the shadows.  Being out in the light draws people to you, and when people are drawn to you, you take on their joys AND their sorrows…and I think everyone must have a different threshold for how many joys and sorrows they can hold in their skin.  Me personally, I was loving this friend album so much, and working on it EVERY DAY and then I got sick with pink eye and strep and felt like the universe FORCED me to slow down…and coming back from that, had to curate a 12 band/musician house show, that more or less PULLED me back out from that…antibiotic brain barely being gone, mind barely coming to, heart getting unflooded, looking around, coming up for air, seeing this puzzle and puddle of friends and frenemies and comparison to everyone in the industry, seeing all the ways I do it wrong, am not like my “competition” and am seemingly not trying…who am I letting down, who thinks what I’m doing is crazy, or social/career sabotage, on and on…I think I so enjoy being in my skin, taking walks, having a silly weird crazy flighty bird-loving nature-loving brain, that I forget that how I appear is possibly not as enjoyable as the experience of being me.  I probably appear all over the place at times, happy then emotional, etc…I don’t know.  I think there’s a lesson in this very crazy May.

I wish I knew what it was.

Thank you all for reading, if this helps you, or ignoring this, if it makes you think less of me.

❤ Jessica

p.s. if you come to my house shows, all I do is smile and hug people – and in a way that feels closer to the ‘real me.’  this feels like complaining with the hope of catharsis, and then I go away from it feeling untransformed sometimes, like this time, and i think…well if only i could just smile at everyone and hug everyone and feel the warmth of connection when I’m feeling sad at a harddrive crash and sleeping boyfriend and possible project rerouting (i.e. no fun layers to this album, just the original files from 365?)…I don’t know.  help!

Hugging Nellie McKay…

There are few things that will change you more than hugging one of your biggest heroes and getting to tell her she changed your life (or saved?), and having her be so so kind and tell you to keep going with your music.

This post doesn’t make much sense, maybe I’m leaving out too many details haha (like I was sobbing, and it was the wordless parts that changed me, didn’t know we’d get to meet her at the merch table or I’d have emotionally prepared myself lol), I’m still 2 hrs from home in a Burger King drive thru getting coffee, maybe I’ll write more when I get home, or maybe I should save this moment for myself, but yea I just sat 10 feet from yet another hero of mine this year (some I’ve seen, some I’ve opened for or performed on stage with), and in this case I saw how real and surreal she was, all at once.  Her joy and energy and kindness and genuine talent and insight (those lyrics!!!) is absolutely bigger than life. My boyfriend always tells me that famous people are just people, and that helps me so much too, to keep in mind, but ALSO they put their gifts in the world and in this case her gift TRULY changed me from the inside out.  When I first heard her, during the hours and hours of repeated listens, and now again tonight.

Thank you Nellie. Forever a fan! (And friend in my heart, thank you so much for the warmth and kindness and hugs! 🙂 ❤️⭐️💕😊

Jessica