09:55 pm - Something to prove and nothing to lose This is a long-overdue outpouring. I've had too much gin tonight.
I wanted for so many years to not want to be famous. The artists (musicians, poets, actors) I respected were reluctant spotlight subjects, reticent to share; I could never respect the talentless heiress famous for being famous. When I was twenty (almost exactly ten years ago) I picked the name Unwoman in solidarity with an imagined underground rebel community I *wanted* to be a part of. I was a TMI-spewer and wannabe troublemaker. Then I met my future exhusband who, while acting outwardly supportive, somehow made me feel like all my dreams were petty and worthless. I would like to blame 9/11 for our relationship. I clung. I chased the red flags it took me years to see. Eventually I became cloistered and embodied the Protestant work ethic. I worked for other people. Dayjob, and family -- a child I loved like a best friend, for whom I was not allowed maternal feelings and who was ripped from me bitterly, as punishment, without even a goodbye, when I decided to reclaim my body. The partner irretrievably in debt even while making three times my salary, who would never, ever admit he was wrong about anything. His goal was that I recognize my passions as merely a hobby and behave like a decent American wife and save my body just for him.
(In case you can't tell, I am still recovering from that horrible divorce and the ways I was muzzled. I was not allowed to tell my story. He made me feel guilt like no one should feel, and still it was not enough, yet as soon as he found my replacement just a few months after I finally decisively left (the girl I tried on wedding dresses with, an exfriend without even the decency to tell me -- come on girls, chicks before dicks, right?!) he acted like he'd won some great prize yet somehow I was just as guilty and cruel as when he'd told me I ruined his life as I walked out the door. But there are no winners in divorce, just survivors.)
I worry that everything I do is because I have something to prove. Then I wonder at my motivations from the beginning. But really, isn't it only natural that I'm compelled to *communicate* with other people through my music? Isn't that the point, to connect to people with my songs the way that songs have touched me? "Don't forget the songs that made you cry, and the songs that saved your life?"
All of this is to say, I probably need your help more than I've said before. I need more people listening to me, knowing who I am. I desperately need respect for what I put into this. So that is my confession, that I'm a little bit desperate. I went into this thing ten years ago, guns blazing, full of hope, and that hope was promptly and justly crushed as I didn't know what the hell I was doing as a self-published musician, or who I was and what I wanted, or that my desire for serious romance was a hindrance, and now I'm trying the same exact thing and just counting on the idea that I'm ten years better than I was then because even in the darkest years of my slightly terrorized domestic existence I kept playing and writing and producing. Thank you, thank you, me of the past for sticking with it. (But, uh, honey, couldn't you have been just a little firmer or better disciplined or more willing to say no?)
This is not friends-only because I don't want any secrets. I want to be transparent about my weaknesses or humanity or whatever it is that makes me want what I don't have. (Hello, wikileaks, I have learned from your example on a tiny individual scale.) How else could anyone learn from my mistakes?
I plan to put together a list of ways you folks can help me (with getting other gigs and such; I am not quite yet making enough money to afford San Francisco rent), in the next few weeks, but for now, just including a song on a mixtape once in a while, or talking about a song of mine that you like on facebook or twitter is all I ask. This link, http://unwoman.bandcamp.com/, and the fact that the three albums on the top row are free (pay-what-you-want), should be a good start.
You don't know me, I don't know you, but please allow me to say: thank-you. Thank-you for having the courage to share this part of your story with us. I know that it cannot be easy to do: I recently escaped a very violent and abusive relationship as well, and have used my own blog to try and come to terms with what I experienced and the aftermath thereof. Please keep writing - first, for yourself, and second, for us. You are making a difference and will continue to do so in ways that you cannot yet imagine.
Like you, I am a musician as well. For me, writing and performing music is as essential as oxygen. With that in mind, please allow me to remind you to never apologize for your abilities to anyone, ever. If anyone tries to make you stop, remove them from your life; otherwise, they will be like a cancer gnawing at your soul. Based on what you wrote above, though, it sounds as though you already know this.
Keep writing. Keep playing. Keep singing. Remain honest to yourself. And again, thank-you.
Thank YOU. Thank you so much for reinforcing my momentary loose-lipped strength. I have such a hard time writing anything even slightly personal when I'm sober (and I'm usually sober) but it's extremely helpful to know that you relate and appreciate my sharing.
You're completely right about removing people who don't understand from my life. Now that I'm a little stronger than I was, and have known what it was like to buckle under, it's easy to say "I need this, and don't even THINK about keeping me from it" to a partner, and I'm trying to be forgiving of 20-year-old me for not being able to say it.
I'm also at the stage where I need to forgive myself for allowing the things from my past to happen to me. The past cannot be changed, but it's not a total loss if we learn from it and come out stronger people in the end.
Again, thanks. I continue to look forward to reading your entries here, regardless of the subject. Also, do please let me know if you should ever make it up to Vancouver to play. It would be great to be able to see you perform live!
there's nothing to lose when asking friends for a boost, for a word or reminder here or there. Especially those of us who love your great music, all your hard work, and who want to shine a light on it! When you share how your divorce muzzled you and your art, you reveal your experience with adversity, you show your strength to get through it, and your motivation to overcome it. These qualities can't be divorced from you. If you need a boost, it's fine to ask for help; bring on your list, and we will do what we can!
I'm happy to plug you and your stuff, and bravo to you for saying this. So many women have their dreams ground into the dirt by the guys they date or marry and are told it's their fault for being weak or stupid or not good enough. It's all bullshit. You are AWESOME.
I know. At least when I was sowing MY post-divorce wild oats it was in a very friendly manner.
His stories of how all the women in his life had betrayed him always used to impress me with how he managed not to be a misogynist given his history. What we learned is that misogyny can take many forms and some are invisible.
Yes, thank you for sharing. And thank you very much for sticking with it. Your music is extremely powerful, so many of your songs make me want to give you a hug and offer assurances that it gets better.
I happily try to spread the word of your shows as best I can and I'll gladly do whatever else I can to bring your music before people.
Your story is very similar to my wife Mel(instantkarmma) and her ex husband. All the way up to being told she was ruining her life and him turning their church against her. From what I've heard from her and her high school friends that know him, he was a control freak that would barely let her leave the house. You and she are very brave to speak out about it, and I think it's important that you do. Mel even wrote a song about it.
We even have the same issue of wanting to be heard as artists but not wanting to be seen as "fame chasers." Just wanted to let you know that there are people out here that "get it" and appreciate what you went through. Keep up the fight!
Oh, wow. I am so glad your friend was brave too. Great song.
My ex was so insistent that he supported my music, coming to a lot of my gigs and roadie-ing for me (which I totally don't need) but when I talking about going on tour for longer than a week or quitting my dayjob he made it clear those were unacceptable.
I had a girlfriend that was the same way. In my old band she would go to shows and say she supported us, but would scream and yell whenever I had to go to rehearsal or stay in the studio. Mel's ex husband, and yours it seems as well, crossed the line into abuse as far as I'm concerned. I'm glad I found Mel and we can support each other. It's amazing being able to play in two bands with my wife! We play with Nathaniel Johnstone and Civita. Here she is:
We haven't been in touch in a million years of course, but I've been wondering about you, and I'm glad to have these insights into how you're doing. It's great that you can express yourself this clearly and pull together the various aspects of your life in this way. Maybe I need too much gin too.
And if you ask for support, you'll be surprised at how often you get it! We artists and musicians need to be less shy about doing this.
Your post resonated with me on a personal level too. I was also in a horrible post-9/11 relationship (aside: I often wonder about the extent of the personal/psychological effect of this event on artists and peoples' life choices) where the other person actively discouraged any pursuit of music. It also took me years to regain a healthy perspective and break free. You should keep writing & exploring this story - it will definitely help others - and at some point I may try telling mine as well.
Wow, that is a strange coincidence! I am definitely interested in hearing more of your story. To actively discourage something your partner loves, that is heinous.
In my case our first date was the Friday after 9/11 and I don't know why or to what extent the attack affected this, but I fell for him hard, on a bunch of false pretenses, then used the fact that I'd fallen for him hard as an excuse to make a poor decision and pursue him. (I make dumb decisions sometimes.)
I've been listening to your music for years (I found a set of emails from early 2001 that I sent to you telling you how much I enjoyed the music and asking questions about them). I happily jump on new releases, even if timing has kept me from making it to shows (but I'm changing jobs to one that involves less travel, so hopefully that will be less of an issue).
I would say you've definitely communicated through your music in the past, and i'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say next.
Also - your music helped get me through my own separation/divorce - a process that started just a few months after first finding "Lament for Peter Pan".
Also, also - your music helped kick off a renewed interest in the cello that resulted in me getting one and starting lessons (only to get damage my knee a few months later which put a stall to the lessons - I really should restart those).
I wish I still had my emails from 2001. I can't remember your particular email, but I didn't get a lot of fan mail then (nor do I now) so I'm sure it was very important to me at the time. Thank you for sticking with me!
Oh -- quick question -- which version of Lament for Peter Pan? Piano or electronics?
I am working up a new live version of the song right now and really excited about it. It's for backing tracks, cello and viola, but I've been wanting to record a good piano version for a while now, too.
It was electronic - also, it looks like i got a copy of some pro tools plugins from you and I shot you a record invite code a few years ago - so there's been some random music-oriented back and forth over the years :)
It is pretty clear to me at the very beginning when I met you that you are always a musician that wants to have a music career more than just a part time job. So he really should have known this before he married you. I am happy that now you are free to pursue your dreams without having people holding you back.
FWIW, There's nothing wrong with caring about what people think of you, of wanting to be famous or for people to appreciate your art. What would be the point of painting a great portrait and then hiding it in the attic? The point of art (or one of the points, IMO,) is to communicate something, whether it be a story or an emotion or a fleeting image or idea... and how can we communicate if there's no one to talk to?
Paying the bills doing something you love ain't bad, either.
Our society tells us that we shouldn't care what other people think or seek acclaim in other's eyes, but this is only meant to be general advice. We are social creatures and dependent on each other for our survival and emotional well-being. Taken to extremes, not caring what others think leads to sociopathy, isolation and depression. On the other extreme, caring too much what others think turns us into martyrs, sacrificing our true souls just to make people like us--and that doesn't tend to work, anyway.
This is all a long-winded way of saying that it's good to want to be famous for excelling at something you love. And I wish you the best of luck.
I've read this a few times in the last few weeks, and I'm moved to tears every time. I've even been tempted to try and trade in the CD's at the local used book/music store, but The only ones not personalized and signed are Blossoms and Casualties. :) I've smuggled a couple of posters in to a couple of places though.