#77: The Goal Isn’t To Get Stronger, But To Enjoy Life

Things have been frantic lately. The past week has been almost unbearable. But I’m feeling like I’m myself again, and I’ve gotten stronger after all that’s happened.

I really wish that my news was that I were living somewhere other than Georgia, that I were far away from my mother and that I’d never have to see my family again, but that isn’t what happened. I fantasized about it a lot though, I imagined a rock band’s tour bus breaking down in the neighborhood across the street, and while I walked to the gas station with two of the band members, I sang for them and they invited me to come on the road with them and I began living life as a musician, and experiencing all the love and excitement and youth that I’ve dreamed of.

I actually considered, closer to reality, asking Jimmy to take me back. Not as his boyfriend, but to let me stay with him. It kind of goes to show that all I’ve learned from my mother is how to manipulate people and make them feel sorry for me until they assume responsibility of me. Jimmy didn’t respond though.

I quit the job at Five Guys. I knew from the moment I walked in on the first day that it was a mistake. I don’t know how. It could be that I went in with such a bad attitude that I stopped myself from ever succeeding there. But I just knew that I couldn’t do it. I could have held on longer, but the best way to describe it is being trapped, and that was after only four days of working there. Because of an argument with my mother in which she, as usual, behaved like the mean, selfish child that she is and decided that the best method for punishing a ten-year old is to attack her on a personal basis, hurt her feelings, and tell her that she’s not as good of a child as her other children, and my response that she was acting like a bitch, as well the ensuing argument about her being a bullshit Christian (as though Christianity isn’t bullshit to begin with), during which I was told that I was kicked out of her house earlier this year for “denying Jesus Christ,” and when I replied that I don’t give a shit about Jesus Christ, well you can imagine.

She was doing this weird thing of not saying she was putting me on the street, but saying she was going to move the camper to a trailer park and make me pay to live there. When I have no money. Even had I kept the job at Five Guys, I wouldn’t have had money to live on my own. Progress is not enough for her, she expects me to go from completely dependent to completely independent immediately; when I told her I quit the job I had, she assured me her fiance would kick me out, which he did not, because I have another job lined up at Pottery Barn. I talked to one of the manager’s and he all but assured me the job, and today my mother (who is also a former employer) missed a call about a background check, so my chances of getting this job at Pottery Barn are looking very good.

It’s taken me a few days to calm down. To calm down from the panicked feeling I had a few days ago. Not panicked like a panic attack, more panicked like I simply cannot handle life. It wasn’t emotional, it wasn’t raw and open and filled with tears and yearning and longing, it was dry and frantic and I felt maimed and incapable. I cannot live here much longer. But I think I’ll do better at this job at Pottery Barn, much better, and I may be starting school here in Georgia soon. I need to be away from these people, and take care of myself. I need to have freedom.

For now, though, I’m alright. My situation seems to fairly stable enough, and I’m going to try and go back to North Carolina for this weekend, and maybe see Nathan. I’d like to walk around the block there and experience that again, with my new ability to survive out in public that a few days of working at Five Guys gave me. I did not overcome my anxiety while there, but it just stopped controlling me. And I never want to come home smelling like wet potatoes, raw meat and onions ever again. No more restaurants for me.

I got my keyboard hooked up, though the smaller amp will only let me plug in one half so I have the old problem of it being loud on one side more than the other. But playing piano has made me feel a little more like myself, maybe a little calmer and more stable, and probably relieved me of some of the things floating around in my chest and my brain.

I’ve discovered a new musician, her name is Amanda Palmer, and she is one half of The Dresden Dolls. I had heard about Amanda Palmer from a Tori Amos podcast, where someone mentioned Amanda saying that she tried to listen to Tori and wasn’t very into her; people seem to think Amanda hates Tori and having read a couple of her blogs where Tori is mentioned, she has a lot of respect for her and is completely honest about her opinions on Tori, which pretty much are about the same as mine. She sometimes hates Tori’s music and sometimes loves it, and mentions that the first couple of albums have some great songs, and that she may hate this song and love that one. That’s pretty much how I feel. I’ve tried very hard to like Tori’s newer music, but after her third album it all went downhill, with one or two songs worth listening to on an album and a lot of other’s that just aren’t worth the effort. Her music doesn’t really have discernable melodies anymore, her voice is hard to listen to, and frankly a lot of it is boring. She seems to make songs that could have some potential and then just leaves them at that. That’s how I feel about her music anyway, and having tried to force-feed myself Tori’s entire catalogue, I’m entitled to have my opinion and feel how I want to about it. The Tori magic is the 1996 Dew Drop Inn Tour; that’s where the soul-shaking stuff happens, the demon and the goddess clawing their way out of Tori’s mouth and rushing through her fingers and moving her body and screaming and bleeding all over the stage.

But back to the Dresden Dolls, and Amanda Palmer. The Doll’s first album was released in 2004, and it’s the one I’ve listened to the most so far, with some really inspiring and refreshing songs. Right now my favorite is Amanda Palmer’s 2008 solo debut, Who Killed Amanda Palmer. I discovered Amanda and the Dresden Dolls when I came across Astronaut on a nifty music program called Spotify (it’s like last.fm and iTunes thrown together), and I’ve been watching interviews with Amanda and listening to her music and I even learned to play Astronaut in a very basic form. She performs the way I want to, she throws herself at the audience and the emotion and the music erupt out of her all over the room. As it turns out, she also uses Kurzweil keyboards, which is the very kind I have. It gave me a nice boost of confidence in the electronic instrument I once deemed unfit to play because it didn’t have weighted keys.

But as for the music itself, I wasn’t able to purchase anything because I have no money. I did learn, however, that Amanda’s debut, as well an “Alternate Tracks” version, and a reading by Neil Gaiman that is something of a prologue, are all “name your price” on her website, taking a page from Radiohead when they gave fans the opportunity to pay whatever they felt their newest album was worth. What I didn’t realize is that there is literally no minimum, and you can download the music for free if you want to. I wanted to support Amanda but I have no money and my accounts are in the negative, so I downloaded them for free, as well as all of the Dresden Dolls albums, which are also “name your price” on her website.

Apparently, however, the record company screwed Amanda over and she gets absolutely none of the proceeds from the sale of the album if you purchase it from any retailer other than herself, which is probably the reason why there’s no minimum on the album. If you’re going to be getting the album and she’s not going to be making any money, you may as well get it for free from her instead of donating twelve dollars to the record company, who isn’t going to give her a cent of the profits from her own major-label, Ben Folds-produced album.

Also on a related note, the other Dresden Doll, Brian Viglione, is seriously sexy. I don’t know what it is, because in truth he looks a bit weather-beaten, but he’s so well put-together and always shirtless and well-defined, there’s something extremely masculine about him, more so than in other men. I think it adds to his sexiness that he enjoys cross-dressing, and he just seems like a genuine, awesome person. I’d tap it. For sure. Although since he’s straight, I’d probably have to settle for him tapping me. I’m down.

And, get this! When Amanda goes on tour by herself or with Brian, they don’t stay in hotels. THEY STAY WITH FANS. Yep. They come and crash at your place. That is awesome. Amanda and Brian are more in touch with their fans than anyone I’ve seen in their position: they answer all questions, if you send them something to autograph they’ll autograph it and mail it back to you, they encourage you to send in your music if you’re a musician and promise they listen to everything, and if they like you they may bring you onto their label and they may let you open for them. They’re just so genuine, and it’s really about the music for them. One person mentioned that the Who Killed Amanda Palmer songbook had a binding that snapped shut, and Amanda said they were working on a new binding for future editions and that she could trade it in. So genuine!

She’s really just an inspiration and exactly the kind of musician I want to be. I don’t feel the need to mimic her either, because I just get her; she makes me want to be myself, and not copy Tori Amos or anyone else.

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