#119: Heavy Steps

walking

The best way to describe how I’m feeling right now is “over it.” And I just am. Honestly I’ve grown so absolutely weary of the constant struggle to get up and go to work and fight the relentless anxiety. I am just ready to let go. And i don’t mean commit suicide, or even stop going to work.

Just… Its too much to care about anymore. There are important reasons why I need a job. I need to pay Robert and Zack for allowing me to live in their house rent free for nearly a year. I need to buyfood. But… What is worth this? What is worth this struggle? I don’t know how long I have to live, and here I am wasting precious days working a menial retail job, and for what? A paycheck that doesn’t cover any expenses and the privelage of more tedious work?

At least the anxiety has decreased significantly. What was once a steady pulse of hot fear has melted into a thick blanket of apathy and submission. I’m feeling more and more like Marvin the Robot fromHitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, who is programmed in such a way that he is literally incapable of feeling enthusiasm or joy, and constantly laments his station as a glorified servant instead of putting his abilities to use.

I’m angry. I’m pissed off that I’ve come so far in life and yet here I am, still walking the sales floor and greeting customers, folding towels and pulling plates to the front of shelves, exchanging inane useless chatter with strangers just so I can have someone to talk to.

There are so many jobs I’d be happy to do.  It doesn’t have to be something illustrious. What I’d love would be data entry. Just to sit at a desk quietly, listening to audibooks and typing numbers into forms. Or a personal assistant, bringing someone coffee or organizing files. Or a secretary, keeping things organized and greeting people from the comfort of my seat. I could even work a government job, as long as I can just be in an office, sitting down. I don’t know why that’s so much to ask.

But no. You need a degree to sit at a desk. And in order to have a degree you have to go to school, and in order to go to school you have to have the time to do that instead of working, or the emotional and mental fortitude to go to school as well as work a menial job, and I just don’t have either.

I don’t believe I’m going to get another chance at life. And its killing me to waste my life in retail stores and restaurants. I want to matter. I want to wake up in the morning and do something I care about. But there’s a mentality in our culture that no one gets a “free ride.” God forbid I subsist on someone else’s money or in a simple home paid for by the government, even though I have a mental illness that severely handicaps me emotionally when it comes to working out in public. If I had a physical illness the government would be happy to give me a check, but because people still don’t believe mental illness exists and it’s just an excuse to be lazy or have a bad attitude, I’m expected to shoulder a burden much worse than the burden carried by people who are doing more physical labor than I am. I have to fight the world every single day.

And I’m so tired of fighting. I’m so tired of wasting time.

Give me a piano, let me earn money with that. Give me a desk and an office in which to write my stories, let me earn money that way.

Give me a safe place to sit and read and learn, to walk the neighborhood listening to music, to communicate with people, to fight the loneliness and battle the darkness that follows me every day in my shadow.

Even if I did no work at all I wouldn’t be getting a free ride. The battle I fight is ongoing and not always visible, but I’m fighting it. I know what you’re thinking, I’m just making excuses for being lazy because I don’t want to work. There’s a mentality that “If I had to bust my ass for money, so do you. If I had to suffer, so do you.”

But I’m already suffering. My full time job is surviving the day. Even in a day in which I have no work at all to do, I can still find myself fighting for my life against the anxiety and depression that pose a very real threat to my life, not to mention my well-being at the very least. You can call in sick from work with a fever or a stomach virus, but I can’t call in stressed and emotionally exhausted. There are days off from an office job or a retail job. There are no days off from mental illness.

And besides, the attitude that because you worked hard for what you have then everyone else had to work just as hard, that attitude doesn’t make sense to me. If you had to suffer through unnecessary pain to have success, why would you want other people to suffer the same as you did? You might say “it isn’t fair that I had to work hard and you don’t,” but what is fair about wanting someone else to suffer? Is it a bitter desire for revenge against life that leads people to think it’s so wrong for someone to “freeload”? What is freeloading? I mean look at that term. I carry my anxiety and fear with me everywhere I go. Even if all my needs were met by other people, my load still would not be free. I would still by fighting against my mind and my body. Anxiety isn’t just having a bad day or feeling sorry for yourself, its an actual disease that affects your body, it is NOT “all in your head.”

No one tells someone in a hospital bed with a terminal illness to stop feeling sorry for themselves, get out of bed and go to work like the rest of us. Because that person is physically unable. What if you’re physically able but mentally unable? What do you do then?

Exactly the same thing you did the day before. You go to work like everybody else and you do the same tasks as everybody else, only the work you’re doing is a thousand times harder because your brain and your body are constantly devising new and inventive ways to harm you. Tonight while I was working I was folding towels and suddenly realized that I was standing on the opposite aisle from where I’d started. How did I get there? When did I walk across to another aisle? Had I blacked out? I looked around and realized that I hadn’t moved to another aisle at all. I clapped my hand over my mouth when the room started spinning and the wave of disorientation hit me. Which way was the exit, which way had i been facing before, where WAS I?

This is something that has never, ever happened to me before and it felt very much like I was in a dream. I don’t think it’s going to cause me problems in the future, but who knows? What if I start feeling disoriented all the time? What if it makes my panic attacks worse?

I’ll just have to keep going to work and nothing will change.  No one will have sympathy or compassion for me, at least not enough to alleviate my suffering by giving me some other task, because there aren’t any other jobs there to give.

I just have to keep getting up and fighting my own body and mind every day.

And the truth is my stamina is running out and I’m losing the ability to keep fighting. I don’t know what will happen if I can’t fight anyone. I doubt it would mean that I’d hurt myself. But what would I do? Would I just stay in be and refuse to move? Would I stop eating, just stop living, and just exist? I cant imagine that’s a real possibility.

But I’m so tired. And I’m just crying out to rue universe, please, give me something else. I’m willing to do the work, I just can’t do this work. I can’t keep working these public service jobs, I cant keep ringing up groceries and standing on my feet for eight hours, I can’t keep dealing with the crowds and the noise and the lines of people, I just can’t. I need something else.

I don’t want something else, I need something else. I need it. I can’t survive this way. I’m so tired of fighting.

I’m exhausted.

gray-ocean

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#111: I’m Still Trying

Caesar

I’ve wanted to write again for over a month. That seems to always be the pattern: I want to write, then I don’t, then I’m mad because I missed all these observations and thoughts I could have chronicled, and then when I do write I’m apologizing to myself for not writing. But I’m going to keep trying, even if it’s hard. I want to get what it’s my head down.

I started a journal once before online (actually many times before online, but this is one in particular), on LiveJournal. I wanted to try something new, but I ended up only writing six entries. Since this numbered series is supposed to be similar to that, and I’ve already cross-posted my LiveJournal entries over to this blog, I considered making the previous entry number seven and this one number eight.Maybe I will do that. I don’t know.

I realize that’s a boring thing to start this off with. I have a thing about numbers, and organization. I have literally spent most of my free time in the past six years organizing and maintaining my iTunes library: keeping the B-Sides and Demos in proper order with uniform cover art, keeping everything numbered properly, having things in correct chronological order, organizing and re-organizing and re-organizing bonus tracks and B-Sides. It’s labor intensive but it gives my mind something to focus on.

I honestly want to go back to the beginning of this entry and just erase everything I’ve just written because even I think it’s boring.

But that is not the point!

The point is to get it out of my head and into here. The point is to have a living record (what does that actually mean, anyway? I’m totally bullshitting on using that term properly) of my life and my thoughts.

So here’s what I did today.

It’s Saturday. Blessed, sweet Saturday. The Thursday two days previous marked three months that I began working a full-time job, at a desk, in front of a computer, for eight hours a day with an hour lunch break. When I first started, I was deliriously satisfied at having landed full-time work, much less in my dream environment of an OFFICE. I couldn’t believe it.

But as time went on, it slowly starting dawning on me that this wasn’t an office. This was a retailer I worked for, and I was in their office space, and yes there were desks and computers and cushy chairs, and a coffee machine and conference rooms, but there were also things MISSING. Windows, for instance. Our office is actually just two huge warehouses that are somewhat insulated and the walls are strewn with huge ceiling to floor curtains. There are no windows, there is no sunlight, there is something that almost passes for a skylight above but really doesn’t because it’s just one dirty covered window that lets in some small amount of light. Two weeks ago the power went out for a while and we were on various backup lighting systems and it was like it was the dead of night in there. It gets incredibly hot when it’s hot outside, and freezes when it’s cold outside.

It seems to be devoid not just of light, but of hope. I’m reminded of the lyrics to that one Radiohead song that I’ve never heard the original of before, just the Regina Spektor and Amanda Palmer covers: “A job that slowly kills you, bruises that won’t heal.”

After my life was saved by two friends who allowed me to move away from the Carolinas and from my dysfunctional family and incredibly abusive mother, I spent the first month or so having crying breakdowns every night. I was like a dog that had just been adopted from the pound, and I was still so scarred by my past that I couldn’t accept that I might have a home, or safety, or love. But over time that fear went away and this became my new home.

I lasted about a month at the new job before I started to realize that I not only hated the job itself, but the whole concept of full time work. I always thought working full time with weekends off would give my life some kind of structure, but it turns out it just fills my life with forty-five hours a week spent in a muggy dark building away from the sun, and away from my actual LIFE. I hate being hidden away like that. I get two days off but I feel like I need much more than that. I honestly am beginning to doubt whether or not I can work AT ALL.

What would a happy work-week look like for me? I have no idea. Unless I were doing something that I love, and I don’t really know if I can paid to play piano, write books, and play video games. I want to go to college but how? I’m twenty-five now, I don’t have as many resources available to me as would have been when I was eighteen and just graduating. Even if I go to school I need to work a full-time job at the same time and how do I do that? What would I even go to school for? I say English, music, or literature, but what would I do with that? Would I teach? Could I handle the stress of teaching? I’ve been warned against teaching by everyone and I’ve never been particularly interested in it. If I were a teacher I’d have to hide who I am too.

I’d like to live in a hippy commune, rolling around naked in the flowers every afternoon, fucking boys and maybe sometimes girls throughout the day, reading at night, and falling asleep in the arms of friends. I’d like to wake up to the smell of nature and the wet dew and the rising sun, and yet I don’t want to live out in the woods. Maybe a cabin somewhere? I mean I’m genuinely trying to picture what my perfect life might look like. I guess in my dreams for the future I’m always rich and successful, and I’m either at home writing novels or out on the road touring as a musician, playing piano and singing to adoring friends every night.

Will I ever get the chance to do these things? When I was twenty-one it seemed like there was still all the time in the world to figure these things out. Now I’m twenty-five, almost twenty-six, and it seems like while there may still be time, there doesn’t seem to be any MEANS to make these things happen. And what do I need to do, keep on slogging through work full time, having unfulfilling Grindr hookups that leave me grossed out and ashamed when I have a few moments of free time, spending the weekend sitting still and trying to recuperate as I recover from the withdrawals symptoms of leaving one antidepressant behind to start myself on another?

It seems like I’ve gained so much of what I thought I wanted: a safe home where I live with friends, a stable job, good income, the ability to get food when I need it, a place to put my books and my music. And I do still want all those things, but I didn’t know I would still be suicidal once I got them. I didn’t know I would still struggle against the debilitating tears, fear, and loneliness, pushing down on my chest every day. I didn’t know I would still reach over to the other side of the bed at night and wish Nathan was there to hold.

It’s been over a year now and he’s still on my mind all the time. I feel lost without him. I think of things that I want to say to him, I see things around me and I want to show him, but he isn’t here, he’s back home, in Georgia, and he just isn’t going to be a part of my life no matter how much I miss him. And it isn’t that I want him to be in my life, or that I want to get back together, but I do miss him. Even though I don’t regret my decision to step out of our relationship, I still spend a lot of time thinking about him, missing him

I want to find a new person, but last year I was with a new person for three months and I genuinely forget that he ever existed in my life. I had a new relationship with not one but TWO guys, in a polyamorous relationship, they were both Pagan, and I even ended up homeless and they gave me a place to stay. Then there was upset, an actual physical fight, lots of screaming and wailing and at one point I even tried to cut myself (unsuccesfully, as I grabbed a butter knife), then ended up being made to leave. And I forget about those things ever having happened all the time, I forget that I had a relationship with those two guys, I talk about Nathan and say he was my last boyfriend but I forget that there were two in-between then and now. Why do I forget them so easily? I had thought I was happy. It turns out I was just as unfulfilled as before.

But doesn’t having a rebound relationship mean it helps you to get over the old one? Well, yes and no. It was nice, but still unfulfilling.

And I spent so much time last year being an atheist, and now I feel like I’m going back down the path to being Pagan. Which is great, I like it, but I always feel insincere. I’m not brave enough to be an atheist, and I don’t have enough faith to truly believe in the Divine. I want real life witchcraft and magic to influence the magic in my book, but where is my book going? It’s changed so much in my head. Characters that used to be the most important have left entirely, and I don’t know what’s happening anymore. I finally started over in first person and I love it so far but I haven’t written anything more after the first chapter, which I need to revise.

I’m feeling so lost. Why, after gaining so much, do I still find myself faced with the same problems?

Today I walked dogs at the animal shelter. Zack drove us there, I was going to go by myself but I’m glad he came. First I walked a pitbull named Caesar who pee’d on everything and then kept trying once he ran out, and cuddled with him a bit before we swapped him out for another pitbull named Gunnar, who was a bit more distant but really interested in walking around and exploring. I got a lot of good exercise from it, even though I was literally so exhausted from walking down to a culdesac and back twice that I ended up taking a three-hour nap when I got home. How can I ever start working out regularly or running / walking / jogging, if I can’t even handle taking a dog for a walk?

I don’t mean to be negative, if I am being negative. I spent a lot of time when I first started this blog trying as hard as I could to be positive because I needed positive energy in my life. Now I’m not even sure what a word like “positive energy” means. I don’t like faith in God, and I don’t really care enough about science to truly seek the answers. Maybe I don’t like what I know I’ll find: that the universe is vast and my existence in it has little meaning either way. That’s what atheism has brought to me, a feeling of knowledge and even of boastful, arrogant pride that I’m now trying to unlearn, and also a fear of oblivion. I don’t want to stop existing. Can it be so easy to just stop existing? Can it be so easy to believe in an alternative?

I’m filled with questions. I’m tired. I’m always tired nowadays.

I have to get away from this job before it kills me. I have to keep trying. I have to keep doing good things in my life.

I ordered two books on Wicca. I jogged last week and walked today. I’ve stopped drinking soda from the machine at work and almost entirely switched to drinking Powerade when I’m working. I bought tea and chai. I’m trying.

I need to stop staring at my phone all day. I need to get online for a good purpose, to write or to do something productive. I have to stop wasting so much time.

I want my body to be better. I want my heart to be better. I want my life to be better.

I’m trying.

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#78: And The Only Solution Was To Stand And Fight

Me Stuff

There have been some developments in my life lately, some of which I’ve already talked about, the most pressing matter being that I quit the job I did have at Five Guys Burgers and Fries because, well, I hated it, and I couldn’t bare another moment of it. Well to be honest I probably would have eventually gotten used to it, but it was an awful feeling, and I couldn’t think about anything other than how much I hated the job, and maybe I psyched myself out, but whatever, it’s time to move on. I have another job now at Pottery Barn (retail? Heck yes), and while I’m nervous I’m also excited about this job, because I think I’ll enjoy it and I don’t have to flip burgers and come home covered in acne and smelling like potatoes; and I’m probably going to be doing mostly stocking, which would be great, it’s just the kind of repetitive job that doesn’t deal with people that I think I might enjoy.

Also I’ve been trying to meditate, or at least to calm down a little. I found these podcasts on iTunes for meditation and I go to sleep listening to them, not every night but when I do it helps a lot to calm me down. I think the most helpful thing I’ve found is that when you’re angry or you’re afraid or you’re panicking, the best thing to do is to embrace that emotion, to feel it fully and accept it, and it flows right through you and you’re left with peace. I found a video on YouTube earlier this year where someone said something similar about overcoming panic attacks, to embrace the fear, to give it love, and it no longer has power over you and you’re free from it and the anxiety leaves. It’s a very helpful philosophy, and I hope that if I need a way to calm down I can remember this and use it.

Really, I feel like I’m on the edge of being an adult, and I’m so happy about that, I just hate being near my family. I don’t feel like I can do anything when I’m around my mother, I don’t want to be here, but I need to be here because I’m provided for, even at the expense of some intense emotional issues, and to make things better I’m starting college in January. It’s this place called North Georgia College, it’s not specifically a military school but it seems very military-oriented. It is, however, a community college, so I’m sure that there’s a bit of everything (I, as you can perhaps tell, am not a military person). But the best part is that they offer student-housing, and I think I read something that said living in the dormitories is $200 a month, which I could easily pay if I save the money I make from this (possibly temporary/seasonal) job at Pottery Barn. Then, I’ll be out of my family’s house, living on my own but still closeby everyone, I have a truck here that belongs to my stepfather that I’m free to use (in fact, he may have even already given it to me), and once I get my license I should already have a lot of things in place for myself.

So, my goal for January is this: to have my license, to be driving regularly, to be doing well at my job, have money saved, and begin college living in student housing. I know this is odd, but living in a student dorm is literally one of my dreams. Like, along with being a famous musician and traveling the world and finding love, I want to live in a dorm and have college friends, and do college things, and go to parties, and not go to parties, and go to people’s rooms and fall asleep in people’s beds and have boyfriends and break up with them and play pianos in big auditoriums. It’s something I desperately yearn for, and unlike being a musician, it can’t wait forever, because I’m getting older. I’m 21 now and I’ve barely done anything close to growing up. I need college, on many levels. I need to have friendship and happiness and laughter in my life.

This whole Georgia thing has been a big clusterfuck shitfest ever since I got here. First there was the whole long-distance phone-flirting thing with Chris, then came the possible relationship that Jeremy that completely sunk when I found out I wasn’t attracted to him whatsoever, then dealing with his obsessive depression over me, the awful job at Five Guys, the multiple threats that I was going to be kicked out in the middle of nowhere Georgia, and then more recently I got involved with someone else who I knew from the beginning was a bad idea, had an uncomfortable experience and hurt his feelings, I mean really this whole fucking move has been terrible, and my life has been flipped upside-down, which is hard to do when I barely had a life to begin with. I live outside in a camper on an uncomfortable piece of foam stretched over a table that serves as a well-enough bed, I’m trapped in this house most of the time, I’m fighting to keep my agoraphobia from coming back, my vision seems to just be getting worse and worse so that I can barely see anything, it’s just a whole fuck of a lot to deal with.

But I’m going to do this job at Pottery Barn, it was what I wanted and I got it, seasonal or not. I have to get away from this family, I have to make friends, I have to play music and I have to do all the things I want to. The time for waiting is over. I’ve spent the time since I was 13 years old dreaming of life being different, and now I’m going to make it different, if it’s hard, I’ll just get stronger until it isn’t hard anymore.

Entertainment Stuff

Yesterday I started a new novel, The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I know, I know, please hold all comments ’till the end. I’ve read the Twilight series. Yes, it is true. I read them all before the first film ever went to theaters when I was in 12th grade. It was an okay series. Since the series blew up and became a massive fandom, a lot of people have made some pretty valid points about Stephenie Meyer’s writing style, but altogether, there are much worse author’s in the world, and I’ve always thought that she seems like a nice person in interviews, even if Twilight is just the teensiest bit fucked up. The Host does share some similarities with Twilight, but it’s a different story altogether, and it’s pretty immersive. The obvious similarities are the main character, a teenage, dark-haired female, falling madly in love at first sight with an overly masculine, musclebound hunk. However, their quick attachment to one another is somewhat more believable because The Host is set on a post-apocalyptic Earth in the western part of the US where 5 billion of the world’s human beings have been wiped out and their bodies possessed by alien parasites, as opposed to a rogue clan of moralized vampires going to high school in a rainy town in Washington. Also, the main protagonist, Melanie, is a thousand times better of a character than Bella. Melanie is driven, powerful and fearless, fighting to keep her younger brother alive, where Bella is an angsty, self-loathing pushover. The love story is also much more romantic, two people living in hiding, fearing death at any moment, as opposed to (ahem, let me equip my droning, robotic monotone and narrow my eyes) “Oh, Edward… you are… so… beautiful…” (yawn), “And I… cannot… stop loving…um… you… Please… I want you to have angry rough vampire sex with me… and please also stalk me… and watch me sleep at night…”

The story isn’t told from Melanie’s perspective entirely, because our main protagonist is an alien named Wanderer who has been placed inside Melanie’s body, but Melanie’s consciousness has not faded, and Wanderer is left sharing Melanie’s feelings of longing for Jared, along with her own feelings of inadequacy and weakness for not being able to control her host body. So far, all of Melanie’s story is told through dreams and flashbacks. As was the case with her previous series, Meyer does have a tendency to get a bit giddy with her descriptions of rippling pectorals and squared-off jawlines (seriously, what the HELL is this woman’s obsession with JAWS?), but so far The Host has been a far more rewarding read than Twilight.

And in other entertainment news, Florence + the Machine’s second album, Ceremonials, was released a few days ago. Due to a combination of me having no money and no patience, I went ahead and downloaded the leaked copy of the album a day before it’s release date, but I still intend to buy it when I get the chance. I haven’t heard the album in it’s entirety, I did however have a fantastic time listening to the studio version of Bedroom Hymns, the song I was most looking forward to. Both Bedroom Hymns and another song, Strangeness & Charm, which was our first glimpse into the new album (Florence performed the song live at the Hammersmith Apollo for Between Two Lungs, the UK re-release of her debut album, and many times on tour afterward) are featured on the second disc as B-Sides, but that doesn’t inply that they’re lesser quality songs.

In fact, I haven’t really been brave enough to listen to most of the album yet, because of the sheer LENGTH of the thing. Every single song is between four minutes long and five-and-a-half minutes long. The other thing about this album is that all the songs are very similar, they use the same instruments: harp, chamber choirs, tamberine, strings; however the interesting thing is that this doesn’t hurt the album. Usually when songs all blend together it makes for a bland, uninteresting album, but Florence is unbelievable as always and even though most of the songs are grand explosions of sound, using the same giant choirs and dramatic electronic effects, the songs still keep their own unique personalities. She’s still just as talented as she always was, and this album is a full, lush work of art, but it is very intimidating. Imagine if every song on Lungs were Cosmic Love, or a 5 minute long version of Drumming Song. It’d be grand and incredible, but a lot to take in all at once.

One reviewer said of the album, “Ceremonials suffers from a repetitiveness that’s akin to looking at a skyline filled with 100-story behemoths lined-up one after the other, blocking out everything but their own size.” I definitely see his point, but I’m not going to criticize Florence, this album is a triumph of creativity and sheer epicness, at least from what I’ve heard of it so far.

Surprise! Dream Stuff

Oh yeah, I also had a dream about Florence last night. This is actually the second time I’ve dreamt about her, the first time I was on a family camping trip and just ran into her at a campground. I remember that when I woke up I was really mad because I didn’t ask her why Swimming was never included on Lungs. In this dream, she and Tori Amos were performing, together, in a store in the mall that was a sort of combination of Hot Topic and a restaurant. Afterward I was sitting down and caught sight of Florence on a nearby couch, and we moved to a booth and started talking together, and I remembered this time to ask her why Swimming was never included on Lungs. She got sort of fidgety and kept saying, “Ummmm…” and couldn’t seem to come up with a good reason, but basically I got the impression that she felt that Swimming felt like a B-Side, and when I said this she agreed. Swimming is fucking awesome, by the way, so don’t blame me for what dream-Florence says to me. Interestingly after I woke up and went back to sleep, I had another dream about Tori, except that instead of it being modern-day Tori like in my previous dream, it was 1992 Little Earthquakes-era Tori (score!), and I was seeing things through her perspective, and she was doing an interview walking around on a sidewalk (in what felt to me a lot like a strip-mall across the street from where I used to live in South Carolina, where I once applied for a job at a sandwich ship) talking about being a musician and being famous, and she said that a store offered to tile her floor for free if she became a member of their store.

Oh! and one more thing, I’ve been listening to the Dresden Dolls lately. That’s not entirely news since I’ve mentioned Amanda Palmer in the last few blog posts, but if you want to get into this band I seriously suggest starting at the beginning: the first Dresden Dolls album is really a fun experience from beginning to end, I’ve listened to most of it, and it all flows very well together. I’ve heard bits and pieces from all of their other albums, I like the opening track, Sex Changes, from their second album. Amanda’s newer work seems to involve a lot of ukelele and sillyness, and while that’s all well and good, it seems like she’s stopped doing full-on studio albums for a while, since about three quarters of her second solo album, Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under, are live recordings, and the follow up album in 2013, Amanda Palmer Goes Into The Bush, probably will be as well. But, people are allowed to make music however they want to, and her talent hasn’t stopped shining through on any of her projects.