Half Jack

“I see my father in my face
I hear him in my laughter
I run as fast as I can run but
Jack comes tumbling after.”

My resemblance to my father is actually very unsettling. Not only do I look just like him in the face, but I also have a lot of the same mannerisms, I have the same tone of voice, and it’s even weirder because I mostly grew up without him so I didn’t purposely adopt his mannerisms.

I really hate my father, and I try not to think about him most of the time, but there have been moments when I’m laughing and see my smile in the mirror, and when I smile I look exactly like him. And then my face will fall when I see the resemblance. And I’ll feel him underneath my skin, clawing and trying to get out, like a demon who’s possessed me, but he’s running in my blood and I can’t get him out.

The only thing you can try to do is make peace with it. There can’t be peace between my dad and me, so the best I can do is try not to hate him. It hasn’t worked yet, and I don’t know if hating does more harm than good for me. But sometimes hating him sustains me, and sometimes it hurts. I fantasize all the time about punching him in the face, about him coming up to me one day when I’m successful and I look him in the eye and tell him what a loathsome creature he is.

We’re never big enough to house the crowd. The people who’ve affected us, the good and the bad, live inside of us. Our love for them or our hate for them, both will keep them alive. They hurt us and they leave wounds, or they pierce us with love and they leave wounds, and either way we try and stitch the wounds up, but we let them in and the stitches pull apart.

Jack, or Greg, or whoever it is, he lives inside of us, and haunts us. I look in the mirror and see his face, and I know that I’m capable of the same evil he is, that I inherited his curse, his power, his intellect, his wickedness. I know that I can become the monster he is.

When I was a baby, my father stood over my crib, and he said to my grandmother that when he saw me laying there, so vulnerable and innocent, he wanted to hurt me, the same way his father hurt him. I think it was a brave thing for him to admit. I wish he had been brave enough to keep admitting the things he was afraid of.

When my dad was a young child, his father held him over a cooking grill and lowered his little feet onto the coals and burned them. His father put cigarettes out on his head. Is it any wonder he became a monster? Usually I hate him, usually I’m mad at him.

Sometimes I feel sorry for him.

My Jack was hurt by his Jack, and his Jack was probably hurt too. If I have a child, will I become Jack? Will I break them? Can I be trusted? Can I trust myself?

We carry multitudes. We exist and we exist and we exist.

Some days I’m half Jack, sometimes I’m only a quarter, some days he’s barely noticeable. I want to exorcise him. I want to get him out. But he’s always going to be there. And my body feels like an unclean temple, an unsafe place with no peace or privacy.

I keep hoping I can cleanse him away. I keep hoping the water is clean enough.

If I washed him out, would I still be myself? Is it better to cleanse ourselves of wickedness and lose the wickedness within us, to be empty even if what we’re missing in the darkness? Or do I make peace with it, do I forgive him, do I choose to love him because it’s the hardest thing to do, and it’s the bravest thing to do, and I can be brave where he was not?

I won’t say it to him. But right now, I love you. I’m choosing to love you because it’s the only way I can keep from being destroyed by you, dad. And I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry for what you’ve suffered. I’m sorry that you probably suffer now for what you did to me. I’m sorry that you destroyed me. I’m sorry even though I’m your victim.

Half of me is love, and half of me is hate. Two halves are equal.

I’m halfway home. I hope that home is love and safety. I hope that home is hope. I hope that home is a baby lying in a crib, and a Jack who doesn’t want to hurt him. Like my father, there’s a part of me that wants to consume and destroy everything. It’s the curse he passed down to me. It’s the black hole inside me that wants to absorb and rip apart everything I touch.

I have to be brave. I have to admit it. I can’t be afraid like my father was. I have to admit it so I can overcome it.

Brave enough to get this out. Brave enough to love. It starts with loving you, and then I can love myself because I’m not angry at you anymore. Loving you is not a one-time thing. It’s a journey. It’s a path toward forgiveness. I have not reached the end of that path. I don’t even know if I’m at the beginning. I don’t know if I’m halfway home.

But I hope I’ll get there.

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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.

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.