Residence permits, life of an underdog, etc
Hey, you! I missed you! Before I start, I wanted to say - you can comment directly on these, and I would love you to. We’re all still settling into this little weekly newsletter vibe, but it has been pretty joyous for me.
Okay, back to thoughts.
This week was … fine. We finally left quarantine. Turns out, if you exist in leggings, gain twenty five pounds, do not one second of physical activity and then move to a city where you have to bike everywhere, you … may struggle.
I have been wheezing this week, my loves. WHEE. ZING. If you’re Dutch and saw a head-wrapped lady screaming “MOTHERF*#*ER” at the top of her lungs all over your city, I apologize. Well, I don’t know you that well just yet. Maybe you were craving a profanity laced colorful lady? If so, you’re welcome. I live here now.
This isn’t my first experience losing it on a bike. My super healthy yelling behavior dates back years, to when my dad patiently tried to teach little 7 year old me how. Furious that I couldn’t do it on my first try, I picked up the bike, hurled it at a brick wall and destroyed it. This has tracked throughout my life afterwards: For years, I wouldn’t even try things if I didn’t know I’d excel right away. It’s a destructive pattern I’ve worked hard to shift in myself, even specifically picking things that require lots of practice/trial and more importantly error, like baking.
(She says, acting all high and mighty.)
(So why don’t we talk about how this week went?)
This week, on minute 40 of our third day of biking in masks, halfway up a hill with my ass feeling like it was going to fall off? I swear on my life, you guys.
I got off the bike.
I didn’t throw it against a brick wall. But I veryyyyy dramatically dropped that bike to the side of the road.
And sat on a bridge in Amsterdam.
It’s not so much the struggle with biking. That part I can live with. But something about this week just took it out of me. A lot of people in my life hit a wall this week with their nearly year long lockdown. I think I, too, finally slowed down enough for it to catch up to me.
This isn’t easy for me to talk about publicly. Through it all, I’ve been really wary of complaining about how our life has fared in Coronavirus times. This ties in to a general feeling I often have as a working musician: That I am privileged to do what I do, so I shouldn’t rock the boat too much.
But in reality, our entire life has fallen apart. We’ve lost community members, friends, and our literal livelihood. José and I lived in the center of just… endless death for a while before anyone really knew what to do with it. We’re here now, in another country, trying our best to make it work.
That’s working for José, thank god, because José is really famous here. I’m so grateful for his amazing fans, and for his truly brilliant skills as an ally, as he pushes for business folks to get on board with me as an artist, too.
But it’s slow, and like all things it’ll take time. On Wednesday night we had a call where we had to hear some difficult news about me. Even over a decade in, it’s still difficult for me to set my ego aside and hear about my standing in the music business. It stings every single time.
I end up in a very real place of wondering: What’s the point?
If you’ve been with me long enough, you know this isn’t new. I’ve been a tough one for people to place for a long time. I’m not a virtuosic pianist, but I can and do play. I’m not a folksy idealist, but I’m not a fully gritty city girl. I’m funny and want to bring you into my joyous Jewish baking world, but I’m also a fiercely private person. I’ve fought against using my body and looks to get further, while still respecting those who joyously choose to.
For whatever reason, likely just out of survival, the lack of industry love that comes from not quite fitting in has driven me. I’ve made a career of it, of thriving while people aren’t expecting things from me. And I thank you for being one of the people who gets it. There isn’t a huge amount of us just yet, not enough to impress the kind of people on Wednesday’s call. But that makes you all the more special. I’m so excited for the future with you.
In the meanwhile, I just want to remind you, and by extension me: Being the underdog in any business is a huge asset. Let. Them. Doubt. You. Let them focus on the fast, shiny bucks around you. Keep creating.
You know what happened the day after I threw that bike on the ground? We had a magical day. We got our Dutch residence permits. We opened a Dutch bank account with a brilliant man named Marvin. I made my first real successful challah, with flour from an absolutely magical place called Baking Labs. A lady named Phoebe helped me get exactly what I needed. She had a British accent and a perfect face.
I hope you find your Phoebe this week, but if you’re in the weeds like I was pre-angel-flour-fairy-godmother, just know I’m sending you out my love.
Till next week,