This Friday, 3/12/21, my recently remastered single, Animal, will come out for your streaming pleasure. I haven't "released" anything on a major platform since I was sixteen, but that's a whole other story for another time. Anyway, I'm pretty excited.
What's Animal all about? A lot of things.
Here's the easy part. On the surface, it's about a chance encounter with a mountain lion in the rolling hills of coastal Pacific California. I was on Artist Residency at Djerassi (see March-April 2018 blog posts for specifics on how amazing that was...) and I was avoiding a specific hiking path on the property because I was told that a family of mountain lions resided around that area. On one of my last days I decided that I was paranoid and opted to hike it. Caveat: almost every hike I took was a solo one. I loved my community time with my fellow artist residents, but I'm a loner at heart and also leaned into the solitude.
On this particular afternoon, I left my phone and headphones at home, settled into the rural landscape and sad to be leaving. Once I got deeper into the tall grass I heard a snarl. It was like a growling kitten, but about two octaves deeper. I saw some of the leaves, taller than me, rustle and then slow. I raised my hands above my head, screamed at the top of my lungs, doing and odd stomp-dance in place, and sprinted all the way back to my studio.
I was dripping with sweat when I arrived. I Googled mountain lion growls, and sure enough, they matched the sound I heard in the wilderness. I paused for a moment of gratitude and called John.
"Are you sure?" He asked.
"Yeah, I'm sure. Listen to this!" I sent him a short Youtube clip that showed what a mountain lion growl sounds like. After he heard it, I affirmed: that was exactly what I heard.
I checked with my residency director who confirmed that she had picked up several startled artists from that exact area of the property who'd encountered the mountain lion family as well. That was all I needed. I poured myself a glass of wine and sat down at the beautiful baby grand piano to write.
As I mulled over the language of the song, feeling badass as hell, I realized that this experience wasn't so different from the many instances in my life where I had been cornered, attacked or coerced by powerful or not-so-powerful men to behave in ways that would ultimately be damaging to me.
I thought -- what if I was the mountain lion, and they were the little 4'10" woman walking by?
It might not have ended so well. Weakness of the mind always results in weakness of the body, and my mind is sharp.
As I get older, I settle into an odd strength. I feel in control of my surroundings, my relationships, and to a certain extent, my future. I know what I want, ya know? If I can stand up to a mountain lion, I can stand up to a sleazy agent. I can stand up to the pressure to do something I don't want to do. I can stand up to myself. Animals know how to do this. It's a survival technique, and I'm a survivor of many things. What better confirmation of growth could I have been gifted?
So, yeah. I realized that day...I'm an Animal amongst the Animals for the first time.
Anyway, that's the story. Don't wear it out. I won't. Ask any other questions if you have them. I'm an open book.
Until tomorrow, stay well, stay safe, and stay kind. Oh, and stand up to your personal mountain lions. The key is to be louder than they are.