She's Not Me: A Love Letter to Jenny Lewis
I feel like I know Jenny Lewis.
I love Jenny Lewis. I've loved her since Rilo Kiley. Her lyrics are just so vulnerable, raw, and real. Her voice: perfection. Her style: flawless. She dated Jake Gyllenhaal which caused me no end of jealousy in 2004. But what I absolutely love about her is vulnerability and complicated lyrics. They are just honest and they are about making mistakes and the regrets that come with it. Her lyrics are basically "I did myself wrong." She writes about herself and doesn't care about likeability. Compare this to say, Taylor Swift, who is like "I do terrible things but please like me." Jenny Lewis doesn't really care. She's fabulous and for me way more relatable.
She's Not Me: Let's make it about me
I first heard that song during the spring of 2015. I barely remember that time, that is how awful it was. My father had passed away suddenly that winter and my heart was broken. My mind was in a constant state of fuzziness. It was like I had just taken a test I had crammed for and been stuck in a terrible weather on the highway. That awful feeling where you are just spent and your body is stiff and tired and your mind is racing. You feel like all your energy is spent just getting through the day. I actually looked in the mirror and thought "I will never be happy again." I was having dreams where my dad was alive and telling me that I was just having a nightmare. To quote Cormac McCarthy, "then I woke up." My mind was on fight or flight mode. To be honest, I was fighting a lot. I was abrasive and combative. Once my husband came home late and I hadn't eaten and I threw a jello cup at him. I yelled at a hipster Whole Foods clerk because he wasn't getting my bread fast enough. I gave a lecture and while I was prepared while I was giving it, I looked like an "old Irish witch" to quote Kimmy Schmidt. I hadn't showered and one of the executives where I work was there. I also got in the worst fight I have ever been in with my sister. I can't remember what I said that's how angry I was. I basically blacked out. I know my husband told me to calm down, put on some shoes, and leave the hotel we were staying at. I know I said some unforgiveable things. My sister forgave me but I definitely was completely to blame for that. I sometimes feel like an outlier. I have struggled with this with other women most of my life. This is not saying, I don't love women. My best friends and honestly soulmates are my dear friends. This isn't saying I don't love my husband. He's my better half and I adore him. I have women in my life who push me to be better (my mother and sister are a huge part of that). But I'm not put together. Which is why trying to brand myself and trying to blog feels like a lie in someways. Who wants to be like me? The self doubt is intense and I have to fight it. When I was single I went on a date with someone in my best friend's grad program, when it didn't work out he told my friend that he was physically attracted to me but I didn't have an edit button. He was not the first to have said this. I had a relationship with someone who basically manipulated this. Like he'd point out someone was only physically attracted to me, but only he could handle my personality. He would then point of the new guys character flaws and say the new man wasn't "worthy of me." On the flip side, he would say I wasn't a good person and I was "crazy." Sigh. When I talked about that relationship, my therapist actually said "that's messed up." There's a reason I didn't have a serious boyfriend until my husband. In retrospect, my fear of dating and hatred of it let me focus on myself and friendships. It took me years to realize, I was happier being by myself and there were people who loved me for who I was. In the interim I found Jenny Lewis. She's too fierce for mediocre men. Which brings me to She's Not Me with one of the most perfect videos ever made from Jenny's clothes, to the people in it, to the theme, to the song itself. Let's observe it:
The line "But she's not me/ she's easy" is how I feel dealing with a lot of other women. But she isn't deprecating with other women, it's like "I wear faboosh pastel suits, I have fun friends, and I mess up." This is who I am and I'm doing the best I can. So after a spring of burning bridges and acting out, to hear this song just really hit home. It's interesting because this video on YouTube has a lot of dislikes because Jenny Lewis talks about cheating on a partner. My fave comment "how dare she call another woman 'easy!'" Completely, missing the point of the song. People are complicated. You can mess up and still be a good person. It reminds me of that song by Skeeter Davis "Don't They Know It's the End of the World?", which is deceptively melancholy. Like it sounds like some teenage torch song but it's super raw. Like Jenny Lewis has this gorgeous voice, the song is upbeat,, and it's so brutally honest. None of my favorite women are 'easy' in the sense that they compromise who they are to be better liked. The ones that are extremely well liked are simply awesomely good people. However, they are all layered like all women. Women generally don't get to make mistakes the way men do. We're trained by society to be hard on ourselves. We also are supposed to forgive men for their transgressions. I'm totally guilty of this. My brand is basically ride or die, oversharing, and unwarranted enthusiasm. If I like you, you're stuck with me. See her previous band, Rilo Kiley's song "Portions for Foxes." So even though she's saying the other woman is "easy", it's really about knowing herself and accepting it and still loving herself. I know I had to do that even in all of my own imperfections. Some days it's easier than others. The "she" isn't the bad guy, she's just different and that's OK. It's a really interesting song with a lot of layers. In the meantime, I'll be coveting Jenny's fashion sense, laughing with my friends, and dancing around my house singing it.