Continuing to fight against a fixed, resolute force in your life will only cause that force to root itself deeper in the ground. Constant attempts to reconfigure and realign that force around a different perspective will only drain your sense of self worth and purpose. When you come into contact with this kind of negative force, do not let it surround you and take hold. Break yourself away before the thought of changing it consumes you.
The other night I was so lucky to be invited to a one night only event with Sara Bareilles singing the songs from her new musical, The Waitress. It was a life changing event and intensely struck a chord deep in the roots of my musical soul. I remembered how much I absolutely love and cherish musical theater. I was raised in the world of musical theater, basking in the thrill of the lights, the costumes, the set, the rise of the curtain.. But the aspect I loved the most about the theater was the ability to transform into another person; become a character that was completely different from me and enter a vibrant new world on the stage. The characters I was fortunate enough to play in high school were strong, brave, complex, and had clear goals, stopping at nothing to achieve them. I poured my heart into these roles because I found my voice through them. My confidence as a performer lifted me up so high.. I knew the world of the stage absolutely needed to stay a constant in my life as I grew older. That’s all I wanted to do.
Our moving plans were finalized once I mailed our Brooklyn landlord a check in order to secure our room for July. Handing that tightly sealed envelope to the US Postal worker was, for me, the most gut churning part of our decision up until that point. All the hours of talking, discussion, and preparation were now solidified in this one envelope. My heart was racing as I stumbled out of the post office. Is this really happening?? I was feeling so nervous, scared, a bit guilty.. I sat on the curb staring at the ground waiting for Scott to come get me. A red car pulled up in front of me which I ignored, as I was crouched too low to the ground to see the driver. I didn’t recognize the car until Scott called out to me. Frightened, I jumped up remembering Scott sold his beautiful, black Elantra stick shift for this automatic so that I could drive to my new job in Brooklyn. Feeling more guilt stricken, I slowly peeled myself off the ground, opened the car door, and slinked in the passenger’s side. For the first time since we made this decision, we both gave each other the same look at the same time. A look of calm, but genuine look of uncertainty.
The decision was made.. then unmade..then made again. We spent most of the last few months staggering between feeling so certain and so doubtful. Should this be an emotional choice or a logical choice? Or a responsible choice? As Scott and I sluggishly contorted ourselves to fit on a packed subway car, at the peak of our mental exhaustion, I secretly took out my pen and pad to make a pros and cons list to ease my throbbing brain. So many cons teamed up against one lonely pro, but that pro is what was making the decision so hard… Scott watched me stuff them back in my purse and would not have thought anything of it until he saw the big, bold title that read Moving Home at the top of the pad. Dammit!! I didn’t want to get into it now… Every few days we seemed to replay the same frustrating conversation that just went in circles until one of us held up our little white flags. I shyly handed over the pad and after a second of frantically scanning the scribbles he said, ‘You can only think of that one pro??’
I stood by the dusty school window sharpening a new box of pencils as my cooperating teacher went into another classroom to gather more supplies. I focused my attention on the raindrops sliding down the windowpane, trying to breathe steadily as to avoid teardrops sliding down my cheeks. As I shoved each new pencil into the sharpener I could feel the sadness and anxiety bubbling up inside me. The sky could cry openly and honestly, yet I had to keep my professional composure even with an inner storm brewing. I became so jealous of the sky. I wanted so desperately to cry out ‘I don’t want to do this!’ and run right out of that school. My lifeless expression masked an internal panic attack. I felt like I was in prison as I looked through that dusty window. My mind was racing, scanning each page of my life to see what I had done to get myself in this position of such anguish and despair. Questions began crowding the outermost limits of my brain seeming to reach my forehead. The relentless pounding caused a huge headache behind my eyes leaving my face hot. ‘What have I done? What have I done?’; a continuous loop played in the background of this twisted mental circus.. but I just kept robotically sharpening. The pressure was rising allowing the warm, salty water to reach the flood gates I was fiercely trying to keep closed. A few stray droplets escaped from the corners of my eyes and I quickly wiped them away as my cooperating teacher sauntered back into the room. I planned to say my cat died if she were to notice the evidence of my brief emotional breakdown.
we..I was pushing us beyond our desired limit, we released a short promo video on Facebook about our upcoming album set to be released next spring. The inspiration for the song Permission, which we also planned to be the title of the album, drew its inspiration directly from my last post. The idea of receiving ‘permission’ for something is rooted in our childhood and how we were raised. Obviously in school going to the bathroom, sharpening your pencil, and being the paper collector all required permission from a teacher. However, at home the concept of permission takes on a much more complex dynamic. The word is thickened with a desperate yearning of approval and acceptance from the two most influential role models in your life, your parents. Growing up, I learned that permission, very much like my religion, was as straight and solid as a metal arrow; wherever it pointed it pointed. No discussion. No questions asked. Because I was not raised in a ‘talk about your feelings’ kind of house, I accepted this arrow as truth and never rebelled.
As I crossed over the Manhattan bridge late last night, I gazed at the beautiful city. For the first time in months I got butterflies in the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t stop thinking, ‘I can’t believe I actually live here’, with a dreamy smile lighting up my face. I was so incredibly happy in that moment. Several aspects about Manhattan have spontaneously conjured up this sense of joy: walking through the Union Square Greenmarket, discovering a new cozy cafe, stumbling upon street fairs, emerging from the subway tunnel knowing exactly where I am. The minute I notice that excitement clench my gut I take a step back to fully realize that what I’m experiencing is in New York City. In addition to sprinkling my days with dots of ornamental bliss, this city has also held my hand as I transitioned into adulthood and truly became my own person. New York has toughened me up quiet a bit and has given me countless opportunities to grow in ways I never could have imagined. However, these maturing developments have caused me to question my goals as a musician which led to painfully open and honest discussions with Scott. I have made some internally shocking discoveries about myself and the real reasons why I wanted to move to New York in the first place; reasons which were buried under my vague, fixated ambition of being labeled as a ‘successful musician’, a term I couldn’t even clearly define for myself pre-NY.
The song that pushed us past the breaking point producing our most complex realizations about our direction as musicians was written while jamming together at Riis Beach in Queens. The sound perfectly complimented the scenery and the words were written effortlessly, probably because we didn’t sit down with the goal to write a song. It just happened because we were just having fun without setting any expectations. Although we only toggled between two chords throughout the entire song, it flowed beautifully echoing the back-and-forth motion of the waves. We called it Tip Toe. The chorus was simple and lovely:
Still feeling ill and a bit nauseous from food poisoning we shared during our last few days in San Diego, Scott and I anxiously returned to Brooklyn with such an excitement and a great new determination to prepare for our first full length album. We had a more focused direction with new goals I knew we could accomplish by the end of the year. I was ready to push as hard as I could. So after a full day of flying we busted down the door to our tiny hotbox of a room, opened all the windows, blasted the fans, and sat back to listen to the one song we had already begun to record in Logic- Tip Toe. Not saying much we played it again.. something was wrong. We played it again.. we were tired and maybe the food poisoning had reached our brains preventing us from hearing this correctly. We played it again… and again for only seconds at a time before we stopped it wincing and confused. It wasn’t interesting at all. The parts weren’t working together. All the things we seemed to loved about the song began to fade after each playback. We shut it off and went to bed completely deflated, but itching to fix the song as soon as we woke up.
Last July I took the plunge into the heart of one of the most overwhelming and revered cities in the entire world with my best friend and love, Scott. I had set incredibly high expectations, painting beautiful images of our new life in my head. Of course there would be moments of uncertainty and struggle, but it would be perfect. How could it not be? This is New York City! A magical, magnetic force attracting millions of creative souls desperately searching to carve out a name for themselves. I was so sure we could achieve this and shine in the completely oversaturated market of indie musicians. This was our time to make it. However, my idealized fictions were quickly pulled right out from under me. My unshakeable confidence withered as we sat rocking unconsolably in the corner of our tiny room. What had I done? My burning need to escape from home was so strong that I threw all rational thinking to the wind, packed up our lives, and dragged Scott behind me. What was I trying to prove?