I wrote this post on facebook tonight:
“Life isn’t fair. Way too many beautiful, undeserved things happen for me to ever call it fair.”
And then friends started texting or asking, “Um…WHAT HAPPENED?!”
Well, my one friend asked, “So, did something actually, like, HAPPEN…or are you just being grateful?”
I didn’t skip a beat and said, “Just being grateful.”
And, actually things DID happen. ARE happening. Though, they might not be what you’d call headlines.
I have such dear friends, a family that emotionally fits me like a glove, and I am so well loved by an extraordinary human being who calls me his girlfriend; I am staring out the window at a soaking wet windblown sky that will waken me tomorrow morning looking completely different–an unending idea of color variances and patterns that make things like chevron, houndstooth, and paisley feel somewhat boring in comparison; I am playing a show on Sunday night–my first in Boston and I am excited to get up on a stage and be myself with the aid of a microphone; I am learning how to make new things with my sewing machine all the time (the as of yet still illusive button hole be darned!); I am taking a million (or so) classes; I am fascinated; I am discovering how beautiful Boston is (the public garden! the Boston Common! Libraries FULL of books! People who say CAHHHHH when they mean car! Beacon Hill! Paul Revere’s house!); I am working on dreams, trying to coax them out into the intimidating light of reality; I am breathing and alive and sleeping at night and awake in the day and laughing at mostly appropriate things (who am I kidding? It’s a mix).
And so when my friends ask me, “WHAT HAPPENED?!”
And I say “Nothing, really…”
I DON’T MEAN NOTHING AT ALL!
I mean all the above.
And more–lots more, too.
I just don’t always feel like texting all that, is the thing.
I’ve been so busy recently.
It’s kind of amazing.
All weekend I was taking a certification for barre classes.
And I will be teaching some of those classes soon.
It was a blast; I LOVE moving and learning and encouraging people to live their best lives.
And tonight, I had rehearsal with a bassist and drummer who will be accompanying me this Sunday night at my show.
And I am also so excited about my latest project that I am making.
I can’t say what it is because shhhhhh, it’s a surprise for someone who reads this blog from time to time.
And I just booked a show at Rockwood Music Hall that I will be playing this summer in none other than New York City.
ALSO! I am getting a looping pedal! Oh, the harmonies and beatboxes and all around awesome big sounds I can make with that thing. I CANNOT WAIT. I will lock myself in my room with it and neither of us will leave until we understand each other. Translation: I will google the heck out of youtube to figure out what knobs and pedals to push to make it sing.
Oh, also–I have found a way to take free classes again! That’s the best thing about teaching–you get to jump into as many classes as you like without emptying your bank account. So between Monday and Friday, I will be taking seven classes.
It’s really nice to have multiple reasons to put on pants every day.
So many things.
Like, when is it, exactly, that you do not have a million things on your to-do list?
Or how do they build tunnels underwater?
I really wonder that one.
Whenever I venture through a tunnel, I think about the people who built it and I am IN AWE.
I could never build a tunnel underwater.
I’m pretty sure I’d drown.
That’s why I am not even gonna try.
I also wonder why people care so much about famous people.
About what they eat and what they wear to the gym.
I guess I figure that what I am going to eat for dinner tonight matters a lot more than what someone I’ve never met and who doesn’t know my name is going to eat for dinner.
Celebrity is an interesting phenomenon, right?
People who troll twitter in defense of anything said against Selena Gomez, defending her to the death with hurled insults of their own and ugly, ugly words–
Why do they care so much?
Don’t they realize that a). she’s just a person, b). she doesn’t know their name, and also c). there are probably people who do know their name who could also really use some defending and some care and some interest in what they wore to the gym and what they ate for dinner. Maybe even eat a few dinners WITH them. Love the people you know. Care for them. Take interest in them. It’s a fascinating world when you start changing your focus to what’s immediately around you.
And another thought.
I sat down in front of this video tonight.
It made me cry.
It made the person sitting next to me cry, too.
And something struck me.
“Make people happy,” said this seventeen year old whose days were too few among the people he loved so well. “Make as many people happy as often as you can–when I do that, I know that I’m on the right path.”
*I am not going to get into the whole disclaimer about people pleasing; DON’T DO THAT; read Melody Beattie’s book about Co-dependency if you think that’s a good idea or if you think that is what that quote is suggesting*
What I am saying is that here is a simple, clearly defined goal. Live in such a way that is beneficial to others. The details will work themselves out, but there’s a life calling in there.
Here’s to Tuesday being full of just that.
I really really don’t enjoy promoting myself. That’s the toughest part about being an artist, I think. I didn’t get into this business because I loved to make a good sales pitch; I got into it because there were times I couldn’t breathe well until I wrote a song. Because the world felt out of control until I found just the right words to string together, and then, suddenly, the insurmountable-ness of it all became more doable.
Because I couldn’t stop smiling when an audience assembled before me; I was the candle and they were the match. Because it hurt too badly to think that life was nothing more than a series of accidents and random occurrences–me being one of them–and the depth and connection and story and transcendence of LIFE is, for me, felt acutely when I create and perform.
So pardon me for doing it as much as I humanly can.
But all this to say, it feels tiring to peddle yourself on facebook and twitter and all the other online haunts that we frequent in an attempt to ignore the dishes that have piled up ONCE AGAIN.
But then, there’s another angle, too. One that I try to remember. I am not selling snake oil. I am not promising that anyone will immediately become richer or thinner or healthier or happier or suddenly meet THE ONE by reading something I’ve written or buying my music or coming to a show (side note: maybe I should try that!). I am simply letting them know that these things are available. And people have told me that they like these things. That they find them helpful or beneficial in some way. Which is always so encouraging and incredible to hear, by the way.
But, my point is this: I have no hook with which I will eventually say, “GOTCHA!” I am an artist. I make stuff. People might like the stuff I make, but they certainly won’t know about it unless I tell them. And thank goodness for youtube and that viral video and facebook and other people who spread the word–THAT is amazing when it happens.
But still, in the meantime, or even during all that, I need to share. Nobody judges a doctor for ”shamelessly promoting” himself because he hangs a sign on his door that says who he is and what he does . Rather, we’re thankful that he’s clear about what he offers; thankful that we know where to go when we get hurt.
Artists need to realize that we provide another kind of place for people to go–both when they get hurt and otherwise. And it’s a good thing to let others know. It makes for a less confusing world when we have clear definitions.
Now excuse me while I go remind twitter of what it is I do.
Though I will have to say it 1,000 more times at least, this thank you is no less significant for it.
Okay, there is something I have to say. This will probably be random, too, as I do not currently have an all-encompassing theme under which to file this post. But do you see what I did there? I did not end that sentence with a preposition (though I could have easily gone that route). So, at least there’s that.
Let’s hear it for the team!
Team Blog Post With No Thesis Statement!
And No Improperly Placed Prepositions, Either!
One thing I have to say is that my brother Jason Seth Latshaw basically does EVERYTHING I NEED HIM TO DO on the internet.
“I need a secret page!” I say, and voila! there is a secret page. “I need a cover for my album!” and he gives me a cover for my album. “I need a red label across the cover!” Bam, it’s done.
You understand where this is going. HE DOES IT ALL. I have no idea how to do the stuff he does. And also, he’s busy. He’s writing stuff–many many words a day–hiking all over the Santa Monica mountains with POISONOUS SNAKES and barefoot hippies, too (I’ve seen them, guys), fathering children (which makes it sound like he’s impregnating multiple women, Big Love-style, but that’s not the case; I only mean he’s an active, moment-by-moment father to his kiddos), and being a husband to an awesome human (not an alien, you’ll all be relieved to know). Plus, he’s been doing goodness knows what for Suzanne Somers (and he now proudly has the thigh master in his home to prove it. Actually, he has a few. Guys! I think she very well may PAY HIM in thigh masters!), but I highly suspect that what he does for Suzanne Somers has something to do with the internet and nothing to do with fathering children.
All that to say, he is very generous with his talents and whenever I ask him what his fee is, he flat out COMPLETELY ignores me like I’m spam on his Instagram account. It’s downright irritating.
And very kind.
And I am indebted to him.
Now, he is not the only person I am indebted to. There are many. But this is not an oscar acceptance speech, and I am not going to bore you with a yearbook long list of names shouted at you over a swell of orchestral music. I only mention him because, yet again tonight, I had to ask him for one more thing. And he took it in stride, ignored the whole fee section of the conversation, and just said to send him the necessary information.
He’s VERY annoying.
And very kind, like I said before.
And, again, I am very indebted to him.
I think, though, that you cannot live in this world for very long (not even for a second, actually) without being indebted to someone. It all starts with the person who carried you around for nine months in a belly full of essential organs that moved on over JUST FOR YOU. I mean, guys! She rearranged her large intestine for YOU!
And then it continued. Maybe you didn’t have the best parents in the world, but there was a teacher who was kind. My mom had a maid who loved her enough to teach her how to eat an orange and take her to her church. The other church. The fun one where they sing really loudly and are moved by the Spirit and there was my mom, the only little white girl in the pews, utterly entranced by it all. And feeling loved.
I am not sure how it happened for you, but I know it has. And it is probably happening right now, actually–a reason for you to feel indebted, to be grateful, to say thank you.
And this is how it should be. Good deeds spur on good deeds. If enough people feel indebted, then we will all be spending our lives trying to show our gratitude, and I think that paints a pretty breathtaking picture.
So maybe I do have a point, after all. And it’s this: take a minute to reflect on who it is that is making you feel indebted, lately. Thank them. Maybe with a note, if it’s just too terribly awkward in person. But do it. And then go and make someone else feel indebted.
And we’ll all be so grateful and we’ll never end our sentences with prepositions and the world will be a happier place for it.
It’s 4:47 in the morning, and I just saw that my EP is live and available on itunes.
If you feel so inclined, you can purchase it here!
(and you can do that as many times as you’d like)
(but I am really not sure why anyone would do it more than once)
(unless you’re my parents and worry about me paying my bills)
(but there’s no need to worry, mom and pop!)
And here is a lyric video I made for the song, Lately, Darling.
Okay, now I am gonna try my very best to go back to sleep.
But oh! I started working on a new song that I am liking. It’s bluesy. It utilizes chords that I don’t normally write with. And it’s fun to sing.
Okay, good night/good morning.
I once read a book called Art & Fear. It was required reading for me at the time, and it came as a very pleasant surprise that it was, indeed, interesting. It’s nice when things you have to do turn out to be things you’d like to do anyway.
Not like the Western Literature class I took at the University of the Arts. Western Literature, guys. Dickens and the Bronte sisters, I thought. That’ll be sweet. Maybe Shakespeare, too.
Well, it was further West than that. It was all the way over to Greece. Maybe it’s my terrible geography skills, but that came as a surprise. And not a pleasant one this time. I tried my very best to get through Euripides, I really did. But it was hard, hard work. Nothing I would be doing, anyway. He could write a whole lot of words and they’d all be stuck together like glue, those words. So dense, that you couldn’t see through the verbiage to even understand what it was he was trying to say. The point. The picture was difficult to grasp.
Ha, which might be how you’re feeling right now.
But that was my first C on a paper in my whole scholastic career. I went up to my professor with tears in my eyes–the only dancer among a sea of WRITING MAJORS (hello! That should have been my first clue!)–and asked him how I could improve my grades.
God bless that man, he told me. He broke it down. And I eventually pulled off an A. But I also almost pulled out my hair while wading through Greek literature. It’s much less Hollywood than the movies would have you believe, guys. Much less Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom and much more pages and pages of one sidetracked instance in a battle. And once you get through that, there is no real reward because YOU ARE STILL READING ABOUT THAT SAME BATTLE.
But all this to say, by comparison, the book Art & Fear was a gift from God. It was relevant and digestible and I totally knew what the author was saying. Imagine that!
One thing that author–who is a fine artist, and also teaches fine art at a university–related a conversation with his little four year old daughter. He was getting ready to leave for work in the morning, and she asked him where he was going.
“I have to go teach big kids how to draw,” he answered, simply.
She looked at him like he had told her the most shocking news ever. Her eyes got wide with surprise as she said, “You mean they FORGOT?!”
I love that.
I love how children live life so honestly. They don’t create nearly as many brick walls in their minds as we do. They haven’t mastered the art of conjuring up every excuse in the book for why it is they cannot do so-and-so. They draw and paint and dance and sing and discover everything and anything with abandon.
They can hardly imagine a world where there are rules why they can’t do these things.
Sometimes I need to remember that, yes, we should and will always be growing and learning and bettering our respective crafts–but the very best way to do this is by, well, DOING it. You won’t win any medals for the things you sat back and didn’t do.
On the other hand, if you do them–then you will grow. And you be honest and at one with your life, since you will be doing exactly what is in your heart to do, anyway.
And if you did forget how to draw–well, it’s not too late. You can start now. You can start doing just about anything now.
Though, if you’re thinking about starting a Western Literature class with a bunch of writing majors, you should realize that you will not be studying Dickens.
I am currently working on a project that involves a lot of drawing. SO MUCH DRAWING. I mean, enough to make it so that, really, if I am currently doing anything other than drawing, the thought, “YOU SHOULD BE DRAWING!” holds court in my mind.
But I cannot draw for 24 hours straight. Other things must be attended to. Like, I have to play basketball games with TJ. YES, lately, we’ve been playing one-on-one games of basketball. And it’s hilarious, because neither of us are very good. But he is better than me, and now I fantasize about becoming really good at basketball, if only to beat my boyfriend at a game that nobody is watching.
It is good to have dreams, friends.
But sometimes I have to take breaks from my drawing project to work on other projects. Maybe even other drawing projects. Like last night. When TJ asked me to do something for his show. He handed me a whiteboard, and then he handed me lots of blue and black sharpies of all different sizes.
“Here’s a board for celebrities to sign,” he told me, “Can you put my logo right in the middle of it?”
Well, suddenly, I knew what my night was going to consist of.
(And I was really excited to have an assignment. A NEW one, at that)
A while later, I had done this:
(you can see Kelly Clarkson’s signature already on there from when he interviewed her last week)
And it’s funny, no matter what the project is, if I get to make something, I am generally a very happy and focused person. Hours will go by and I will forget that I need sleep and food and water, etc; all I see is what’s right in front of me.
And I found something today. I found it in TJ’s phone, and it’s over a year old.
When we first started to become friends, he took this picture of me. New York City is in the background, and you can just barely see a flower that I am wearing in my hair. I am happy in that moment; I can see it on my face. But I had never seen this picture until today. TJ is a ninja at taking photographs, I suppose.
So * **THIS–
Is officially HAPPENING.
May 14th, you can purchase it and put it in your ipod and then go running up hills and stuff.
Or just sit down, if you’re like me and don’t absolutely adore going up hills.
(but the hills are good for you, just like they’re good for me, so let’s try to conquer them, okay? okay)
Oh–I had to write something about my music for the music publication stuff. Thought I’d share it here, since I generally spread a lot of words around this place, anyway–I mean, what’s a few more?
Jessica likes to rap cause she likes to dance, and rapping is like dancing with your words. She started singing to her animals out in Pennsylvania when she was just a girl; they liked it so much, she tried people, and they seemed to like it as well. She’s been compared to Jesse J and Jason Mraz and most recently, The Spice Girls, but she’s pretty sure that guy was drunk. Besides, when pressed, he couldn’t name one Spice Girl, so she didn’t take the comparison too seriously. Most of the time people tell her they don’t know how to label her, so she says her name will do just fine. You’ll find her listening to artists ranging from Eminem to The Civil Wars, and if those two acts ever collaborate, she’ll certainly cover it and give the world a high five, not necessarily in that order.
Jessica has performed all over New York City, in Toronto, Tokyo, London, and LA. She’s played in clubs and living rooms and wooded stages with twinkle lights. The songs on this EP took a lot of living to make. The best songs come from hearts that have felt more deeply at times than is even comfortable, and her heart has done just that. Oh, and Rob Thomas tweeted about her, too, telling the world to watch out, cause they’ll see more of her. That was a moment for the journal, for sure.
Thanks for coming by here and being so kind and encouraging and supportive and interested.
It really really means a lot.
Just like it’d really mean a lot if you buy this EP.
You’re the BEST.
*photo credit: Jenna Leigh Teti Photography
**album artwork: Jason Latshaw (I linked his instagram account, cause he’s really mad that I have more followers. SO GO FOLLOW HIM! He posts really pretty pictures that make you wish you were in LA.
A guy sits down next to me. Slides in close, and so I’m ready for a conversation. So far, everyone I’ve spoken with has said really kind things about my performance. I never mind those kinds of conversations, to be honest.
Guy: “Hi,” he says with a smile, “I’m Ryan.”
(Or Tyler or Mason or Jordan or Evan or Insert Any Kind Of Cool Male Name That Hasn’t Been Unusual For Ten Years Now)
Me: “I’m Jessica.”
(I know, Jessica. I’ve no room to talk)
I return the smile. We shake hands. Someone is singing their little heart out in the background.
Guy: “You’re on your phone a lot.
Me, not quite sure what to say: “Yes…”
Guy: “I mean, A LOT.
Me: “And have you come here to rebuke me?”
I mean this honestly; suddenly, I have no idea why this guy has sat down so close to me, and I’m uncomfortable.
Guy: “No, I just noticed it…”
Guy: “I don’t mean to be…”
Me: “We have free speech.”
*Second round of silence cause the first one was so fun!*
Guy: “I guess you’re doing a lot? On your phone?”
My body language says IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
But I say: “I am.
*the silence is on a roll!*
Guy, ending the latest silence with: “I’m really not trying to be an asshole…”
Me: “I’m sorry if I distracted you.”
Guy: “No! It’s not that…it’s just well, I guess I noticed and thought to say it just because, well, see, I’ve been staring at you all night.”
Finally, the guy leaves.
But not until he tells me that I remind him of a cross between Anni deFranco and The Spice Girls.
THE SPICE GIRLS.
My friends, I think what I’ve just described to you here is quite possibly one of the worst pickup attempts ever.