Empathy, pyromania, etc
Hi, my love.
Been staying with my parents this week. Reflecting, baking pie and challah, hanging with silly adorable neighborhood cats.
(Through some feat of iPhone trickery both José and my nana pointed out that the cat looks enormous?!)
(So here is another photo to prove he is not a monster cat)
In any event. All in all this week has provided a break.
(At a moment where I don’t really feel like I need a break.)
Nope. Right now, fresh off of an international move, I’m ready to get cracking.
(And the world, it seems, isn’t.)
Still it is lovely to be up here, monster cats and all.
The same teensy village outside of New York City we’ve talked about so much.
I have deep love for its beauty and deep habits in it that go back decades.
It’s here, after all, that I became a little fledgling artist.
And here, after all, that I learned all my people pleasing.
A baby empath in Hastings on Hudson.
(A trendy word these days, “empath”)
(Used often, tossed into pseudo-psychology instagram reels)
(Most are slightly helpful, though they never really get to the crux of it)
Which is that I am a completely permeable human. Equipped, even 34 years in, with little to no defenses unless I put up dramatic and socially impractical walls.
(Sounds hellish, doesn’t it!)
(It kind of is!)
I’ve been that way since I was a kid in this cutie town.
Cried harder, laughed harder, crashed harder.
My hero parents did their best and handed me a journal when I was four. Their attic, one floor above me right now, is full of tubs and tubs of those journals.
(At some point, harrowingly early [maybe at 8 years old or so?] the word “stagnant” starts to show up in my writing. It stays as a theme from then on... another topic for a another ttalk)
Not now though, my energy perilously low.
Somewhat close to a 2009 entry from that tub of journals.
(Dull, dull, dull.)
(I wonder who this empath saw 13 years ago to get to that state?)
(Or was it just the obvious fact I never realized - that Manhattan is 1.629 million enormous personalities layered drastically on top of each other?)
(Aka a nightmare for any empath?!)
Not just any empath, as it happens. Your girl has the great fortune (or misfortune, depending on how you look at it), of having that word beat.
Some sort of turbo empath. I often sense, for example, the exact thing a person is most insecure about. Can feel when someone is grieving, hiding something, has malicious intent. Feel physically ill when someone is hurting, fly alarmingly high when someone is happy.
Suffice it to say: Your girl is not just a fracking empath.
Your girl is a SPONGE.
I completely absorb people and their feelings, like a wild gangly curly haired human chameleon.
The kind of wild gangly curly haired human chameleon who would likely have been shunted off in old world societies to either get executed for witchcraft or work with the neighborhood shaman.
(Which works well as a songwriter, turns out)
(Contributes greatly to my ability to command a stage)
(Helps me know when you need a pie the very most)
(And is not so great for, you know, daily life and things.)
Daily Life. Eeeeep. In that t-talk for another time we’ll talk about daily life aka where my album is, the challenges of the business, how difficult it is to stay still when I’m so ready to move. But for now here is our queen Ezgi from Rainbow Blonde putting my mind a bit at ease.
Ezgi. A treasure. I hope you have an Ezgi in your life.
(I hope Ezgi! has an Ezgi in her life! For that matter!)
And Ezgi is right.
I’ve put the fire of my heart and soul into our label, into our new artists, into my family, into José’s summer tour, into, into, into. And that fire has, to some extent, consumed me.
But I’m not sure that I’m ready to call it a full fledged burn out just yet. Maybe it’s just my inner pyromaniac, but fire —figuratively or literally — has always played a key role in my creation. It has spurred me, inspired me, often provided the impetus to combat the “dull, dull, dull” feelings and push further.
Take our wüdbürner, for example. The perfect one in Hamsterdance you and I have kvelled so much about.
More than burn out the wüdbürner allowed me to burn through.
I burned wood, the tissues I cried into, paper inscribed with things I wished to be free of.
(One night, in particular, I went ham)
(Wrote every single thing I wanted gone before I returned to America and lit it up)
(It took hours)
(By the end the fireplace was a smoldering rectangle of the detritus I needed to let go)
I let it go, I thought. Or at least I did my best.
Returned to America ready to get cracking.
And now I’m back here, in the very town where “stagnant” first entered my 8 year old lexicon.
Back in the states, but not home yet.
(What is home, anyway?)
(Especially for someone who moves so much?)
(How much more do I need to burn before I figure that one out?)
For now it’s looking like we may finally end up in the land of fires, aka Los Angeles, again.
The last time I lived in LA I was a shell of myself, fresh off a vocal cord surgery with almost no songwriting credits to my name. I crash landed into town with the intention of writing for three months.
Stayed for 2 years, by accident. At first with my uncle Danny and finally in a perfect teensy-tinesy 300 square foot Los Feliz Studio.
I burned, burned, burned there.
Had so much kindling for a fire that had been raring to go.
(I threw iterations of myself into that flame)
(Old fears, old hang ups)
And, eventually, burned the very bridges I thought were so essential to my time there.
(Those bridges weren’t essential, in the end)
(They were shoddy, built on false foundations)
(The light of their flames led me back to New York, José, my family, Becca, my Grammy nomination)
Led me back to strong foundations. Foundations that could withstand fear and fights. Foundations that could tolerate and love the kind of nut who has been using the word “stagnant” since she was 8.
It’s a familiar fire here in this beautiful home.
A comfortable one.
But after all this, after a global pandemic and a world shakeup, I’m not sure it’s the kind of flame I need right now.
It seems, instead, that it’s time to lay new seeds in the fertile ashes of my former LA bridges.
My hair shorter, full of more silver and more wisdom.
I’ll arrive differently this time - a full version of myself.
In my own clothes, no makeup.
Ready to burn.
More next week.
ps: this week’s ttalk was an instagram community sourced group effort. Thank you, endlessly, to Cassidy, Trish, Shai, Viktoria, Renée, Sam and a cutie who asked to remain anonymous for your instastory suggestions.
pps: I love you.
ppps: if you’re new here or have been perusing, you know that Taali Talk is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.