Another Day

Today is not a very good day.

I always begin my writing by talking about how I regret not writing more. I’m working on that. I’m working on a lot of things.

I get the feeling this little journal entry is going to be scattered.

Oh well, at least I’m writing.

My anxiety appeared yesterday. Not that it ever went anywhere, but it just kind of showed up and decided to reek havoc. It does that. It tears apart foundations, it sinks it’s teeth into life rafts, it finds the broken locks and fixes them back up again. It’s weird to think about it that way, actually, because I usually think of anxiety as a friend.

If Anxiety were a creature, a personified person, I would think of him as a friend. Kind of a shadow of me, and he’s all curled up and he’s sad, and scared, and I sit with him. When I put my arms around him they sink into his shadow skin, and inside he’s warm and wet and dark chocolate black, a safe place deep underwater where you can breathe. So it actually makes me feel guilty now to describe him the way I just did, as a snake, a serpent trying to devour me and keep me locked away with it’s fangs.

I have a feeling I’m making less and less sense the more I write. But I’ll keep writing. Sometimes that’s all you can do is keep writing.

The anxiety is worse some days than others. The depression is the same. It’s not the same disease though. It’s weird, actually, to think of it as a disease. Like, if you speak English, you don’t think of English as a disease, it’s a part of you. My depression and anxiety are a part of me, so I don’t know if I’m comfortable thinking of them as a disease. My coping mechanism has always been to embrace them, make friends with them.

At any rate. The day before yesterday I was off work, and had a pretty decent day. Then yesterday came around and I felt nervous about going to work. This is common. Lately the hours leading up to going to work have been pretty stressful, and I’ve had to do everything I can to keep myself feeling positive, listening to positive music and doing relaxing things while I wait for the afternoon to roll around. I try and make the most of the my day, even if it’s not always terribly productive.

One thing I’ve been wanting to do more is write. I used to do these kind of mashup blog posts where I’d talk about myself, my life, everything I was interested in, what music I was listening to, things I was into, all of that. I’d like to start doing it again. Creating those blogs gave my life some meaning, made me feel like I was doing something productive. I don’t really go back and read them but I know that one day I will, and they’ll be important. Just as this will one day be important.

I’ve gotten so used to the dread, the anxiety, the depression. It’s almost drab to describe them now (I’m pretending to be smarter than I am, I don’t know what drab means, but it probably works. Okay I googled it, it means dull, that’ll work). Everyone describes their anxiety the same way. Maybe I’m only thinking of it as a friend because I just want to be special, I always want to be special.

This is getting very rambley.

Anyway, yesterday I was getting ready for work, and I lay down in bed and realized I just felt shitty. I couldn’t specify what it was exactly. My throat has been somewhat hoarse, which I haven’t helped by doing a lot of singing, and I have a feeling I may be coming down with something but not for a few more days. Anyway I decided to call out of work, and I had to lie to my boss that I threw up in my car, which I felt very guilty about. I was relieved, but I know from experience that running from the thing that gives you anxiety only makes the anxiety more powerful.

I have medication but it doesn’t work very well. One is an antidepressant and that works okay, the other is supposed to relieve panic attacks. The panic medication doesn’t REALLY work, but I’ve discovered that it helps calm me down a bit, usually at the cost of making me feel incredibly melancholy and lethargic. In fact, that’s probably why this post is so melancholy, and why I feel so unmotivated. I was pretty excited to write earlier, and now here I am.

Anyway, I took a nap. I didn’t do much with the rest of my day. It occurred to me that I needed to clean my room, I always feel better in a cleaner space. I’ve been watching Doctor Who recently, I started with David Tenant (I’ve seen the first three episode of Christopher Eccleson’s Doctor, I’m sure I’ll come back to him). Parts of the show are very sad.

So today I’m off again. I’ve not done much with my day. I haven’t cleaned. I played video games for a bit. I came here, to the coffee shop, to download some more Doctor Who. I played a bit in my iTunes library. I thought about my future, about where I am. I went to the craft store to look for a nice journal, couldn’t find one. I want a journal to use as a lyric book. I can’t write by hand very well because it hurts my hand and I have too much to say, but I would like to have a physical book with lyrics. It would be a fun project, a fun thing to have.

I’ve been writing a lot of lyrics lately. I think some of them are good. Maybe I’ll post them here soon.

I don’t think I’ll have a panic attack tomorrow because of work. But I am dreading going. I know that means that I have to go, in order to beat the dread. But I am so tired of fighting it. I’ve decided that it would probably be good for me to start looking for a therapist, trying to get medical aid if I can, and looking for a new doctor as well. I don’t have insurance but I do have a job, and that’s a good first step. Maybe I’ll start getting enrolled in school too.

I’ve thought about studying I.T. and getting a job in that field. I’m not crazy about computers but it’s something that would allow me to work at a desk, and what I would like most is to have a desk job, preferably one with benefits. I also need a gym membership.

There’s so much to work on that I don’t work on anything. My diabetes, my anxiety, my health, my job, my music, my writing, my blog, my novel. Usually I just stay in bed. I masturbate and watch porn, or play video games, and eat. I eat a lot of sugar free ice cream. It upsets my stomach but I eat it anyway.

This isn’t what I wanted. I wanted to live in Delaware with my new family, with Zack and Robert and the dogs. I want to go back. But I can’t. Not yet anyway. I want to, though. I just… don’t know where to begin. I have to stop fantasizing about going back to Delaware. I’ve accepted that this is where I live now.

But some part of me still won’t accept it. I don’t know. I wish the future were bright, like it was in Delaware. I wish there were promise, and hope.

I wish I weren’t near my mother. I wish she didn’t drain my will to live with her presence. No matter how nice she might be, still, being near her is terrible for me. It hurts me.

I’m hurting.

I’m afraid. I’m always so afraid. All this time has passed since I was that boy in 2010, writing about discovering Tori Amos. And really, where have I gotten? What’s changed?

Today I feel useless. I hope tomorrow I don’t feel so useless. I hope that one day it won’t all be so hard. I hope one day I can do something I’m proud of.

I hope one day I can have a friend who’s close by, who I can touch and hug and kiss and fuck. A boy who I can love. Someone I can come home to. Someone I can look forward to things with.

Today, I’ll just survive.

If I were to die, I would want someone to know about my writing. All the work I’ve done on my book, even if it’s all notes in emails and Google Docs.

But I shouldn’t talk like that. I don’t want to die and I’m not feeling suicidal. I guess maybe I just wanted to write it down just in case. I’m not going to delete it. I’m just going to keep going.

Some days your writing is good, some days it’s awful. Same with your mood, with your voice, with your achievements. But if you keep moving, something will change, for better and worse. And the promise of change, maybe that’s what hope is.

Keep moving.

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Why I Love Kesha

My relationship to Kesha is a curious one. She appeared at a weird time in my life.

On the surface, Kesha seems to be everything I hate about pop music: trite unoriginal pop songs with simple melodies and attention-grabbing hooks but otherwise little substance, cliche or vapid childlike lyrics, shallow subject matter that deals only with partying, sex, vague relationship woes, and verse-rap bragging peppered in between overly-synthesized and overproduced electro pop that is substantive enough to be entertaining but not enough to be unique, and lackluster vocals that are autotuned to the point that no one could have seriously thought the artist was ever really a decent vocalist to begin with in the first place.

I get that. I get the problems with Kesha. I get the reasons that people don’t like her. The above paragraph might lead you to believe I can’t stand her, but curiously nothing could be farther from the truth.

I started out hating her for all of the reasons mentioned above. Like everyone else on planet Earth in 2009, I too was subjected to endless repetitions of her breakout single Tik Tok on the radio, and like everyone else I was annoyed by it’s vapidity but secretly just a little bit entertained by it. But really, I genuinely didn’t like her. She sounded plain trashy. She clearly looked like a hot mess. Her aesthetic has always been “rave girl who hasn’t showered in several weeks and rolled around in garbage and glitter.”

But the truth is, Kesha is not what she appears to be. And the weird thing about is, she isn’t the OPPOSITE of what she appears to be either. She makes frivolous pop music, and she MEANS to do it, she means what she’s saying. She WANTS to be a pop star, and she isn’t making pop music ironically to try and expose the flaws in the medium. The pop music she’s making is genuine.

There are a group of listeners who consider Kesha to be another drop in the bucket, overly-autotuned pop singer cranking out tunes mostly made by producers, with little talent for songwriting or for singing. This is not the case. Kesha isn’t vapid or dumb. She’s incredibly intelligent, she has a genius IQ and received nearly perfect SAT scores. She’s driven and passionate and knows what she’s doing. However, don’t let that lead you to believe that Kesha is in fact an architect and student of Victorian literature whose lifelong art project has been to deconstruct the mythos of the pop star by playing one, laughing pretentiously in her study at night over a glass of sherry at plebeian pop fans who’ve bought into her charade.

The thing that makes Kesha unique among a slew of pop stars is the fact that she’s entirely authentic.

She comes from a humble background. In a life story that seems almost too perfectly fitting with her dirty rave girl aesthetic to be true, Kesha’s mother got incredibly drunk at a party and doesn’t remember the hookup that led to her becoming pregnant, and nine months later gave birth to Kesha Rose Sebert without the slightest idea (or worry) about who the father was. Kesha was raised by her single mother, a wonderful hippie songwriter called Pebe, and together with her brothers the family seems to have lived in an open, accepting home environment. Kesha definitely has hippie elements in her personality, and she speaks with a gentle slur that makes it sound like she’s always intoxicated, and a Californian accent that immediately calls to mind the movie Heather. I think. I’ve never seen Heather. Moving on.

Kesha moved to Nashville to become a musician, and spent many years writing her first album Animal. She made a lot of friends in the business, including fellow newcomer Katy Perry, and her first major role in the pop world wasn’t in her own song but as an extra in Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl music video. Go watch the video and near the end there are several sexy blonde girls sitting around a pool with Katy, and there she is, she even has her own close up shot for a moment. Kesha also wrote songs for many other musicians while working on her first album. The first song to put her on the map was Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” a simplistic and artless reworking of the classic song You Spin Me Round by Dead Or Alive into a sugary pop-rap tune with almost no substance whatsoever. When Flo Rida was working on the song, he decided he wanted to try out having a female vocalist on the chorus, and Kesha was working nearby in the same studio, so she was pulled in and recorded some vocals for the chorus. Because of some legalities, or the absence thereof, when Right Round became a worldwide smash hit, Kesha received absolutely no royalties for the song, and continued to live the life of a starving artist scraping to get by, while her voice was playing on every radio in the country and she remained unknown and unpaid.

This is where the infamous dollar sign in her name comes from. Her name is almost always stylized as Ke$ha, leading to some cute jokes in which people pronounce her name Kee Dollar Sign Hah, but it was conceived as a joke about the irony of the circumstance Kesha found herself in: everyone would assume she was rich, being in a worldwide hit single, but she got cheated out of any share of the money. As time would tell, she was cheated out of a lot by the music industry and the shady characters therein, and I’ll come back to that in a bit.

So, enter me. A ninenteen year old gay kid living in the south, struggling desperately to deal with a tumultuous life, and just coming out of a rather powerful bout of Christian zeal. I spent about a year of my life completely devoting my time and energy to being a Christian, and I took it very seriously, and I even achieved some small level of peace, but ultimately I realized it was a coping mechanism, and this time when I came out of Christianity I left it behind for good.

I was fairly aimless at the time. I’d hated school my whole life, and I’d graduated a year earlier. I did not want to go to college because I just hated school and didn’t want to experience any more of it, but I didn’t want to work either, both because I hate the tedium of boring and strenuous minimum wage jobs, and because I’ve been dealing with debilitating anxiety since I was sixteen, complete with rolling panic attacks that for all intents and purposes never really end or begin, but just go on forever. I wasn’t medicated whatsoever at the time, and I was struggling with severe agoraphobia that was developing in my life.

I was in a relationship that was both abusive and incredibly unsatisfying. I was entirely aimless, I was sad, I was lonely, I was horny, and I was frustrated in every possible way. Spiritually, sexually, emotionally, and mentally, I was frustrated to a breaking point. But I’d never had any suicidal tendencies (yet, that would come later) and never self-harmed, so I had no outlet, no real way to truly break down.

My boyfriend and I took a trip to Virginia and spent the night at some friends’ house. These friends happened to be another gay couple, and they threw a party which involved two more gay couples. One of those couples left once the drinks started flowing, leading to there being a grand total of six of us in the house. We got drunk, we got horny, and I, having never actually been drunk before, was eager to use the “oh it’s my first time being intoxicated” excuse to put as many dicks in my mouth as I could before everyone started to say no.

Does that sound a little rapey? It probably does. I can’t say I was in a good state of mind.

At any rate, there was a lot of sexual activity that night between just about everyone, pairing off for a few minutes with one another at different points. The radio was on, and Kesha’s hit single Tik Tok was booming through the house and I put my tongue into several orifices of several guys, and then spent the night in a cuddle sandwich with my boyfriend and one of the others who had broken away from the pack and basically let us fondle him the entire night.

All in all, it was pretty fun.

The next morning I had something of a hangover, which is honestly quite rare for me.

On the way home, Tik Tok was playing on the radio.

I don’t know why, I don’t understand it, but suddenly, I just got it. I enjoyed it. I had fun with that song. It was great. I didn’t want to stop listening to it.

Now, I know it sounds more like a joke than a real story: I never really liked Kesha until I participated in a drunken six-way gay orgy with some delightfully Virginian, slightly trashy gay guys. But it happens to be true.

When I got home the following day I honestly felt like I was still drunk. I sat in my bedroom, my head swimming, and looked up Kesha on iTunes, listened to the samples from Animal and read some of the reviews. I was disheartened. The reviewers were all mostly saying the same thing: the music was samey and average, the lyrics were so juvenile they sounded like they were ripped from the diary of a sixth grader dealing with boyfriend drama for the first time, and her singing voice was terrible and autotuned to the point of ludicrousness. I agreed with all of these assessments and quickly decided that Tik Tok was in fact a guilty pleasure, and that in general I still disliked Kesha.

But I couldn’t quite get that song out of my head.

My dysfunctional relationship progressed, as did my anxiety. I dove headlong into a Tori Amos phase from which I have never resurfaced, and mostly forgot about Kesha. I did torrent Animal at one point and gave it another cursory listen but I wasn’t terribly impressed. I fell in love with Imogen Heap, Florecne and the Machine, and many others, and continued to keep Kesha mostly out of my mind. When I finally broke up with the aforementioned boyfriend it happened to be right at the same time that my agoraphobia and anxiety had gotten so bad that I’d developed the curious symptom of alternating between sharp pains on the entire life side of my body or being completely numb in the same places. I was finally put on medication, and like magic, my panic attacks just disappeared. I was riding the first wave of stimulants I’d ever experienced, since I’d never done any kind of drugs before, and I was riding high on the antidepressants which elevated my mood and let me have gloriously peaceful and undisturbed sleep at regular intervals, and the relief and freedom of being done with an abusive relationship and having the freedom to love and to fuck whoever I wanted, provided I could find someone.

It was then that Kesha returned.

I don’t exactly remember what caused it. I just remember being high on my antidepressants, feeling adventurous and excited about going to gay clubs and finally getting my young adult life started, and I went back to those downloaded audio files from Animal, and turned them on, and I became completely hooked.

I listened to Animal front to back, non-stop, for several weeks. I didn’t listen to almost anything else. I fell absolutely in love with the music and started to learn a little more about Kesha. I still understood a lot of the complaints: some of the lyrics were trite, but there were also a lot of hidden gems that you wouldn’t have guessed existed. Tik Tok and Take It Off were big hits all about partying, but other songs on the album lamented the darker aspects of being a party girl, of trying to find solace in living in the moment and enjoying the night as much as possible because it’s all you truly have. Hungover, Blind, Animal, and Dancing With Tears In My Eyes are all very emotional songs about the loss of love and the difficulty of trying to live day to day in a haze of partying. There’s a longing in these songs for something, an emptiness, and a willingness to be up front about the good and the bad, to be unapologetic about sex and fun and relationships, to call things like the way they are.

My little sister joined me on this adventure and loved listening to Kesha with me, and was actually nice enough to buy me a physical copy of Animal with some money she’d been given, which I still have. Later on, when Kesha started to release singles for Animal’s companion EP Cannibal, I downloaded them all as they were released and ordered a copy of the two combined into one two-disc album (Animal + Cannibal) that came with a cute little “K$” temporary tattoo which I intended to put on my cheek at my first concert, and which I have still never used but remains in the case. When I attended my first real concert last year, the Dresden Dolls at Coney Island, I was sad when I realized I’d forgotten to bring along my Kesha tattoo for my first concert. But at least I still remembered. That’s something.

The companion EP Cannibal was a great nine-track romp that fit the atmosphere of Animal perfectly while managing to expand on it. The songs were still about partying and having fun authentically and unapologetically, but there was a song called The Harold Song which absolutely broke my heart and still continues to be one of my favorite songs. It’s a beautiful and melancholy song about the loss of love that really affected me at the time because I was dealing with a terrible breakup, and this song was a companion in that pain and darkness for me. At first I thought that Cannibal deliberately mirrored the songs on Animal (Grow A Pear has a chorus very similar to Tik Tok, elements of Tik Tok are incorporated into Cannibal, Animal itself is included as the last song in remixed form, and many other songs seem to borrow elements of songs directly from Animal), and I’m still not sure if it was done intentionally or if the song structures were just all very similar and working from the same pop framework.

Kesha is honest and authentic, and I think that that’s what makes her special. I think this is also the reason that people like Kanye West, but I just can’t bring myself to think that guy is anything but a self-absorbed douche. Kesha delivers pop cliches with a slight wink because she knows it’s cliche, but she’s doing it authentically. And she isn’t a bad vocalist either. The thing that confused me the most about Animal was the fact that Kesha’s voice is very unnecessarily autotuned in many of the songs.

Kesha is an incredibly prolific songwriter, and there are literally more than a hundred demos for Animal that never made it onto the album. One song, a completely acoustic breakup song called Goodbye, is a really great glimpse into an unfiltered Kesha with all of the pop trapping stripped away: her voice is soulful and unique, and her intonation is similar to Alanis Morissette. Her vocal ability is surprising, it doesn’t completely blow you away, but it’s not at all what you’d expect after hearing so much autotune and vocal effects on her album. She also released another EP between Cannibal and her second album Warrior called Deconstructed, which contains simplified emotional mixes of several of her songs, including The Harold Song, with her vocal ability really put on full display.

I still don’t really understand why she chose to allow herself to be autotuned so much when she didn’t really need it, although considering the dynamic between herself and her producer Dr. Luke that came to light later, it’s not difficult to imagine that maybe he made the decision for her. I don’t really know.

And with that we come to Dr. Luke. Kesha came forward and filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke for raping her, and for abusing her. I don’t really know if there was physical abuse, and I’m not going to look it up. The thing is, I’ve purposely avoided learning the details of this lawsuit. Kesha’s entire career came to a halt because under her contract she was unable to release any music unless she dropped the lawsuit against Dr. Luke, and he vehemently denied ever having abused her, despite many other women in the music industry coming forward to say they’d suffered abuse at his hands as well. Honestly, my heart was just too broken for Kesha to read the details. I couldn’t handle it. I was having a hard enough time holding my own life together, and to know that someone who I had come to greatly admire and respect had been hurt so badly, and who was being treated unfairly by an unfeeling system, it was too hard. It’s why I still don’t know all the details. I do know that eventually Kesha was forced to drop the lawsuit so she could continue to make music, but I still don’t know many more details. I know that during her absence she appeared at a few live events, and at one of them gave an incredible performance of When It Happens To You by Lady Gaga, a song about surviving rape.

Kesha also briefly had her own reality show which I watched the majority of online and greatly enjoyed. It really showed her beautiful personality, and the general carefree and honest way in which she lives her life. It made me smile to watch it, and it gave me hope.

I used to have this poster on my wall, and alongside the topless poster of Lady Gaga, I imagine that anyone looking at my room was probably really confused about my sexuality

Kesha inspires me. Her strength, her dignity, her willingness to create. There was a moment during Kesha’s reality show where her little brother was attempting to write a song, and she was giving him writing advice. The advice was this: “You have to be willing to let yourself suck.” As a musician and a writer, this has been one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever absorbed. What she meant was that when you start out at anything, you’re not going to be incredible. With drawing, composing music, or writing, you start out as a novice, and even your best, most polished efforts, are still going to be less than perfect. You’ll probably experience a few flashes of incredible creativity and accidentally stumble upon expressing yourself honestly and with style, but you have to be willing to let yourself create something that is less than perfect. Kesha’s hundreds of demos are a testament to that. Many of those songs are not that great, but they’re all honest and authentic, and that’s the thing about Kesha that I admire so much.

You have to be willing to let yourself suck. You have to be willing to create whatever is in your heart, and sometimes it’s not going to be great, but you have to be willing to do it. Lady Gaga has said something somewhat similar, which is “You have to respect your vomit.” She was referring to one of her songs, and about how the lyrics come in a rush, and she just word vomits them out, and that she then chooses to respect her vomit, respect those words for being authentic and in the moment. This proverb doesn’t inspire me quite as much but it’s worth mentioning in conjunction with Kesha’s advice from above.

And so, in a surprising twist, I ended up loving an artist who I thought represented everything I hated about manufactured pop music. While, yes, the element of pop manufacturing is there, Kesha’s honesty and brazen authenticity still shines through, and even though some of her songs are a bit cliche, her music is a surprise. Her personality is a surprise. Everything about her is a surprise, if you assume that the dirty glitter party girl you see on the cover is as shallow as her surroundings suggest. I don’t know how much irony she injects into her style, but Kesha is a worthwhile person and a worthwhile musician. She’s an activist for animal rights, she loves the gay community and has immense appreciation for her fans, and she approaches life with the kind and passive attitude of a hippie but the fortitude of a revolutionary. Her voice is real and true, even though there’s sometimes a layer of autotune.

Fearies Awakening #4: A Procession Of Virgins

town square
One of the difficulties of writing a novel is that you can be really excited to write something at a point in the story which you haven’t reached. This is certainly the case with me, and in the past I’ve just written whatever comes, but this time I feel that it’s important to stay with my characters on go on the journey with them. So I find myself needing to hurry up and get to where I want to be without rushing or letting the story suffer.
Writing, or at least the kind of writing that produces a full book, requires discipline, and self-discipline is not something I’ve always excelled at. However, I know from experience that if I just let my ideas sit in my head and never get around to writing them, they’ll lose their magic and their power, and my writing will become stale. There are also days where you just aren’t as good as other days, and you have to keep writing even though you know you’re only operating at about 80% creative power. Today is one of those days. And I had to really push through to keep writing the story. However, I accidentally discovered that there were some really cool aspects of this scene that I hadn’t seen coming. Previously all I had done was write down the majority of the Virgin’s prayer in my notes.
So, the story continues. Because I’m not operating at fully capacity today, I apologize if the text seems a little sloppy, but I’m confident that if I keep pushing myself to write, I’ll stay at the top of my game. And I hope you find today’s installment interesting.
***

They came to the Central Square, which was ironically a very large circle, with a crowd packed in a wide ring around the circle, being held into place by several soldiers in full ceremonial armor. To Lucas’ right, behind the crowd, were the steps leading up to the closed double doors of the Grand Cathedral. Straight ahead, a path led from the circle up the cobblestoned street toward the castle, and as just as Lucas had settled on a spot where he could see through the crowd relatively well, Rex had started pushing his way through the crowd, a hand clasped around Hephaestion’s wrist, who in turn grabbed Eric as he was pulled along, and Lucas was nearly yanked by Eric into the crowd.

Lucas and the others came out at the front, standing at the edge of the ring. Lucas looked ahead toward the road leading to the palace and he could see them.

The sunset had reached it’s apex and the golden light illuminated The Virgins, who were strolling toward the square in two neat single file lines, probably about fourteen in all. They wore long, flowing gowns of fine silk, in pastel colors of robin’s egg blue, canary yellow, pale lavender, and many other colors. No two gowns were alike, and they each wore about their heads fine silk veils, through which their well-kept hair could be seen and their faces could be detected, though the features were always difficult to discern. Lucas had seen this garb before, worn by the Virgin of New Alexandria, who he assumed was among the procession, though even as they approached it was difficult to tell them apart. The hues of their hair could be detected, and the veil was thin around the area where their eyes peered out, and their eyes could be seen well when approached up close, though approaching a Virgin was an honor that had to be bewstowed.
Their flowing gowns gave the appearance that they were actually floating toward the Central Square, rather than walking. As they filed into the wide circle, they poured like flowing water to the edges of the circle, and began to move their arms and legs in a slow dance, and at the very back of the procession, a Virgin much older than the others, in a gown and veil of pure white, strolled to the center of the circle. The crowd recognized her and there were a few hushed whispers: this was the Grand Virgin. She knelt down and placed her hands together in silent prayer, bowing her head.

A hush had fallen over the crowd as the Virgins danced, their long sleeves and billowing gowns fluttering in the breeze as they twirled silently, beneath the silk could be seen the universally white garments beneath, hugging tight to their slim bodies. There was no music, no drum playing, but they all seemed to be moving together to the same rhythm, and silence fell heavier and heavier as the dance continued. The men and women watched spellbound as they danced around the edge of the ring.

And then the Virgin in the center lifted her head and stood, and she faced heavenward and began to speak, in a loud, clear voice that was at once commanding and comforting. It was impossible not to hear her voice as it reverberated off the stone walls of the Central Square.

“Our Father,” she began, “Whose heavenly throne is that of pure light…”

Everyone recognized the invocation as the way in which all prayers to the Father began. She continued, and as she spoke the Virgins began to edge closer to the center of the circle, straying from the edges.

“Our master who sees beneath him the toil and suffering of all creatures. Our protector who loves even the stray child. You have sent forth to do your work the Angel, in your love you have sent a Redeemer. Blessed are those who accept the gift you offer freely.”

The Virgins raised their hands in unison, and their dance took on a supplicant quality. Those there eyes were too far away to be visible, it was easy to imagine them filled with longing tears of mourning for the lost.

“Angel of light,” continued the Virgin, “Our teacher. Show unto us unworthy children the path that the Father might have us walk. Give us courage to follow your light. Give us strength to overcome the trail of sorrows. Give us mercy, that we may be lifted from the Yoke of despair.”

The Virgins circled closer to the Grand Virgin now, and the pace of the dance quickened, their silken sleeves flowing in the air, making it impossible to discern one from the other, only a mass of colors in which they all seemed to be one. The voice of the Grand Virgin began to boom and echo across the Square.

“Give us knowledge to know the Father’s path, to hear the words spoken through his messenger. Divine emissary, have patience with we children of darkness, born in sin and trudging through murky waters.”

The Virgins spun furiously, so quickly that their forms were blurs, that it seemed as though the gowns and the figures beneath them had truly become a sphere of light which emanated from it all colors of the spectrum.

The voice of the Grand Virgin became ferocious and powerful. Lucas could hear the emotion in her voice and she struggled to be heard over the silent chorus of color that encircled her, her face and her body invisible within the bright cloud.

“Your alone is the light to eternity! Yours alone is the voice of Heaven! Through you are peace, love, and hope! Through you are wisdom, courage, and strength! Through you is the light made manifest, that the darkness might be driven forever, unto the White City, unto the final age, unto the doom and the resurrection, and unto the end of all things!”

In an instant the Virgins dropped to their knees, and the swirling mass settled around them, their gowns falling to rest on the ground. They seemed so otherworldly within their gowns and veils, as though they were not women at all but spirits dancing, and now the dance was done. Lucas strained to see their chests rising and falling, trying to prove to himself that they were humans who breathed.

The Grand Virgin bowed her head. “In the name of the Father,” she concluded.

An chorus followed from the many voices of the crowd in the Square, “In the name of the Father,” they repeated. The Grand Virgin did this again twice, and each time the crowd responded in the same manner. Lucas did not call back the benediction with the others. He always remained silent during prayers. It wasn’t forbidden, though it usually elicited confused responses. This time no one was paying attention to him. Rex had uttered the benediction each of the three times confidently, his voice quivering, Eric had joined silently, and Hephaestion had said it the first time but not repeated.

Lucas turned to see Rex had tears in his eyes and he reached up with the back of his hand and wipes them away.

The Grand Virgin raised her bowed head and gestured for the others to stand, they did so and then bowed toward to the crowd. The crowd began to applaud and cheer wildly. Lucas could now see smiles on the faces of the Virgins. From the edge of the circle came several members of the New Alexandrian council, one of whom came to stand in the center, and over the chatter he announced that the Feast of the Father would now begin in the dining halls of the Grand Cathedral, and the crowd parted to make way for the Virgins, led by the Grand Virgin, who proceeded again in two single file lines up the steps, and the great doors were opened. The procession of Virgins went inside, and council members filed in behind them, and then the townspeople were allowed to follow.

Lucas tried to stay near to the others and had a hand on Eric’s shirt sleeve, but was quickly knocked around by people clamoring to make it to the Grand Cathedral, and eventually he had to make his way out of the crowd and stand back at the edge of the Central Square and stood on the sidewalk by a storefront, waiting to see his friends in the crowd. He looked among the sea of faces for them but he couldn’t make them out, then suddenly caught a flash of Eric’s red hair in the waning sunlight, and he made his way through the crowd to Lucas and stood on the sidewalk with him. “Rex already went in!” he shouted over the commotion, “Hephaestion is looking for you! I told him if I found you, I’d tell you to wait for him!”

Lucas nodded.

Eric smiled and ran back into the current of people. Lucas found a bench nearby and sat down.

Several minutes passed. Dusk was beginning to fall. The crowd was thinning. People were still proceeding from the other streets into the Central Square and toward the Grand Cathedral. Lucas did not feel particularly hungry, but then, most people attending the Feast of the Father were there for the ceremony and not the food anyway. He found himself lost in thought, remembering the swirling chorus of color from the Virgins, the way their bodies moved so quickly and so silently that they seemed to cease to be human at all.

Lucas had always found Virgins slightly disconcerting. It wasn’t that they were intimidating, in fact it was precisely the fact that looking upon a Virgin seemed to fill everyone with gentle calm that he found so confounding. He never quite understood how or why it happened, but upon beholding a Virgin, people seemed to be filled with peace, and this is why such a large procession of Virgins was such a spectacle. And these Virgins had come from Augustine, the holy city, and the seat of the Church of Light. They were at once revered religious icons and also respected on a level rivaling royalty. To Alexandrians they were respected even more, because New Alexandria had no royal family anymore, only a steward whose position, like the royalty itself, was entirely ceremonial.

Lucas felt something nudge his shoulder and he jumped. He looked beside him to see Hephaestion had sat down next to him, and he leaned forward with his elbows on his thighs, smiling at Lucas. “Pondering the mysteries of existence.”

“Virgins scare me a little,” said Lucas.

“I think they’re supposed to,” said Hephaestion, “But it was quite a show, huh?”

“It was,” agreed Lucas, and with a sigh he stood, “Off to the Feast then?”

Hephaestion’s warm smile became a sly grin. “I had another idea, actually.”

Lucas tilted his head in genuine bemusement. “Yes?”

“Well,” Hephaestion glanced around, and though the crowd had thinned there were still plenty of people passing by, though none seemed particularly interested in the two young men. “Remember last week when you told me about the royal library?”

“The one in the castle,” remembered Lucas, “Yeah, it’s closed up. No one tends it anymore, I tried to convince my father to give me the position of the library’s retainer, but he said it was a foolish request and that I should focus more on my studies.”

“But you said you’ve seen it before, right?” asked Hephaestion.

“Well yes,” said Lucas, “But I was much younger, and it’s back when the library was actually open. Now it’s closed off along with the rest of the royal wing of the castle, even the Steward doesn’t live there.”

“But you know how to get there, yes?” asked Hephaestion.

Lucas furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. “Well… yes?” he ventured.

“Excellent!” Hephaestion leapt to his feet, “Then we’re going on an adventure!”

Lucas’ eyes widened, “Hephaestion, we can’t go into the royal wing, we can’t even go into the castle!”

“Your father is still there, right?” asked Hephaestion.

“Yes, he probably is, but he of all people wouldn’t let us in.”

Hephaestion shook his head with a grin, “We tell the guards you’re there to see your father and they let us in, and then we sneak into the royal wing!”

Lucas folded his arms. “What’s gotten into you?” he asked amusedly, “You’re not usually this mischievous.”

It was now that Hephaestion indicated a brown satchel on the bench behind him. Lucas suddenly realized that Hephaestion had been carrying it since joining the party after the bout, but hadn’t thought about it or wondered what it might contain. “Well,” said Hephaestion, “I may have found something I’d like to share with you,” and at this he made a gesture with his hand that indicated drinking, “and I’d like to do so in a private location,” he waggled his eyebrows impishly.

Lucas breath caught in his chest for a moment, then asked “Where did you get… that?”

“Borrowed,” said Hephaestion with a grin, “From the stores beneath the military academy. I’ll tell you the story later.”

Lucas raised his eyebrows, “And of all the private locations, you choose a secluded area of the palace?”

Hephaestion folded his arms in mock annoyance, “Are you up for it or not?” he asked in an entirely friendly tone.

Lucas shook his head, “Fine, I didn’t really want to go to the Feast anyway. But you know my father will eventually be leaving the castle, and if he doesn’t notice us, he’ll certainly notice my absence from the Feast.”

Hephaestion waved a hand, “That thing goes on for hours, we’ll be back before he notices you’re gone.”

“What about Rex and Eric?” asked Lucas.

Hephaestion looked thoughtful, “Well, I kind of wanted to spend some time with you.”

Lucas’ heart jumped into his throat and he swallowed quietly. “Alright,” he said finally, “But we need to go quickly while there’s still a crowd. Security at the palace is pretty relaxed under most circumstances, but we’ll probably find the place positively deserted if we can make it through the front gate guards.”

“Yes!” Hephaestion whispered and snatched up his satchel. “Lead the way!”

Must Be Dreaming

I don’t feel entirely alive today.

There have always been days like this. They vary in severity as far as the melancholy goes. Today is a light-melancholy day.

It has always been this way.

Maybe it has to do with how much I’ve always loved rain. Rain is melancholy, but it’s something that makes me feel safe.

I have diabetes. I’m not as bothered by it now as I was a month ago when I found out, but it’s something I have to keep in mind now. I can’t eat as many of the things that I used to. Although that isn’t always because of the diabetes, it’s as much because of the lack of money.

I’ve been adopted again. And this time my adopter’s have kept me for eight months. I’ve been adopted before. In the end the adopter’s always get tired of me and make me leave. But this time it’s my fault. These two have done everything they can for me. I’m not mad at them. And they haven’t told me I have to leave. But the fact is I need to come up with money, and it’s hard to do. I don’t know why it’s hard to do. Maybe because everything is hard for me.

I shouldn’t have left the first good full-time job I ever had. But I did. And it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting it back. So now I have to rough it. I still have a chance to make things right here. My current job gives me about fifteen hours a week which is nothing, but I can make double that by putting in hours at another store in the area that’s about an hour away. I don’t know if this will destroy my car or suck up all my money in gas, or what… I just don’t know.

In many ways I’m doing better. My surge of determination last week made it possible for me to have a better perspective and more positive attitude about my job. In truth, it isn’t too bad. I guess the fact is that it’s work, and work just isn’t going to be fun. It’s been fun in the past, but maybe not every job has the potential to be truly enjoyable. It’s okay, I’ll find a way to get through it. There are advantages. I just have to look for them.

But I won’t lie, working has always been hard for me. To suspend my existence so that I can go do something I’m not interested in for a large portion of every day, it feels like torture. It’s hard to remain positive, to retain a sense of who I am that way.

I went for a walk today. Well in truth I went to buy pizza and when I felt guilty for eating something gluttonous and unhealthy, I needed to go walk it off so I wouldn’t feel completely useless.

I’ve found myself listening to Frou Frou and Imogen Heap today. I always love Frou Frou. It takes me somewhere else.

I spent a lot of time on the walk thinking about where I’ve been. The people I’ve loved.

What a life it’s been, you know?

Something I’ve wanted to do for a long time is to write a farewell letter. Like, if I were on my deathbed, what I would say, how I would reflect on everything, what I’d learned, what I’d felt. Kind of like a suicide note without the suicide. I haven’t felt suicidal in a while now. But I do like to reflect on everything. I guess the thing is, now that I don’t want to die I’m afraid of losing life. That is how the world is, you only get the things you want when you don’t want them anymore, and you only get hurt when you aren’t afraid of being hurt. I don’t know if it’s confirmation bias or karma or just a sick sense of balance in the universe that has to keep everyone continually moving up or downhill, or else standing in one spot.

I came to write because I knew I should. I want to write, it makes me happy to write. But most days I feel that I can’t properly say what I want. So today it’s disjointed and fumbled.

I used to fantasize about having a mother. I do have a mother, but I hate her, so I fantasized about being somewhere and being loved. I love watching the Osbourne’s and I would fantasize about being adopted into their family, with Sharon Osbourne as my mother. Roseanne was another mother figure to me, at least I think she was, but I might just be borrowing from Sara Gilbert calling Roseanne her TV mom. But whether I thought about it at the time or not, Roseanne did feel like my mother figure. And there were others.

I was brought out a period of flat suppression of all emotion and creativity by Imogen Heap. Today as I listened to Shh, I imagined that she had adopted me. I was living in her house, holding her daughter and singing to her as Frou Frou played over the speakers. I played her piano while she made dinner.

Now that I’m an adult, saying things like this makes me sound creepy. If an eighteen year old fantasizes about being adopted by one of his idols and having a family with a mother figure who means something to him, well, people are sympathetic. They think that kid must have been through some bad stuff, he must be lonely, he must want a functional and nurturing family. But when a twenty-six year old says it doesn’t sound so sweet, it sounds like the behavior of a stalker. I guess it’s fine if someone reading that I fantasized about being adopted by a musical idol thinks I’m a stalker, I know I’m not and I don’t have to justify my thoughts to anyone. Of course if I really thought that I wouldn’t have written this paragraph.

Look at that, a thousand words.

I used to listen to A Thousand Words from Final Fantasy X-2 alone in my bedroom, and I used to think about Koji.

I’ve never talked about Koji, have I?

It’s such a long story, and frankly I feel like this whole blog post is reading like the diary of a serial killer or a suicide note.

Ah well.

I only know how to express myself the way I can. I can’t apologize for that. My voice is the only thing I have.

Maybe the story isn’t so long, but it’s complex. When I was twelve years old (it was the summer after seventh grade, so I was either twelve or thirteen, I’m not sure), I fell in love with a character from an anime, the fourth season of Digimon, a character named Koji Minamoto. I used to like watching the transformation sequences when they turned into Digimon because their clothes all ripped off, and that was the closest thing I had to a real sexual experience, seeing these characters naked, particularly the main character Takuya who I found the most attractive, but for some reason it was Koji I fell for. What happened is that I was masturbating one day, the way I masturbated back then was to rub my cock into my bedsheets, so I did that, my face buried in the pillow, and I sort of began to fall asleep and half-dream while I was doing this, and I fantasized about myself and Koji, in this cave by a fire, and we were having sex.

And I was happy, and we were in love, and I was able to hold someone else close to me and touch them and fuck them and feel loved and safe. And so, I accidentally dreamed this person, Koji of my fantasy, into existance. And he began to come back when I masturbated, he’d be there in my fantasy, and I would talk to him, and he was with me even when I wasn’t masturbating, and I thought of him, and I roleplayed stories of our adventures outside all by myself, and I wrote fiction about us together.

Then one day I realized I needed to let Koji go, so I left him in this desert, this place in my mind where I took us, a place where I could leave him and move on, and he wasn’t angry at me for letting him go. But I let him go. And after that, he was gone. I tried to bring him back again later, went back to the desert in my mind and I would bring him back but then I’d realize he wasn’t really back, it was an image of him I was creating in my mind. An imaginary reflection of an imaginary character.

I really felt loss for Koji. I carried him all the way into high school, and by this point I’d begun to give the time when I met him certain names. I referred to the time period as Seventh Grade Summer, and then I began to call it Paradise. I would think about the time I was with Koji, when I was all by myself that summer, watching TV shows and writing Final Fantasy fanfiction and reading and just enjoying myself, and I called it Paradise. Things changed though, when my mother bought me an incredibly nice bedroom suit that was so big and fancy it would barely all fit into my room, but I was incredibly angry at her for changing the layout of my room, because I had all these emotions attached to my memory of Koji and of Seventh Grade Summer, and changing the room changed everything. I was incredibly mad at her which she didn’t understand, and looking back on it I feel sorry for upsetting her so much. I did a lot of things then that were cruel, but it was in response to the cruel and angry way she was treating me.

When I fell in love for the first time with a boy when I was fifteen, I eventually told him about Koji. He actually tried to tell my mom once about Koji because she was mad at me for something or other, and he was trying to help her understand, but he never got to tell the story.

There are so many stories. Michael, the boy I loved when I was fifteen. Koji, the imaginary lover. The times I spent alone. I spent so much time alone. With my video games and my TV shows and my movies and my imagination. It’s all I had.

And now here I am. A different person in a different world. And I love Robert and Zack. I love them and I just want to make them happy. And I want to be safe here, to know this is my home. So I have to keep working. I’ll just keep trying, that’s what I keep telling myself. I’m not always strong. In fact I’m just not a strong person in general. But I’m trying.

This is all probably because I didn’t take my medicine on time today. I mean, I have melancholy days anyway and I had them before I started taking medicine, but still, that’s probably what led to this.

I hope tomorrow is better.

I feel so scared, and so alone. I feel like I’m on the brink of being made to leave Robert and Zack. It isn’t because they’ve done anything unreasonable, either. I just… I don’t want to go. This is my home and my family now. I can’t leave it. I can’t lose another family.

I just can’t keep losing everything. Every person I love goes away. Every person I trust betrays me. Robert and Zack have not betrayed me, I’ve betrayed them. And I just want things to be right. I feel that awful feeling when you’re about to break up with someone you love and you don’t want to but you have to. And I DON’T want to go, but I have this cruel feeling that no matter what I try, I’ll be ripped away from them, only to miss them as much as I miss my boyfriend who I broke up with two years ago now.

I’m scared. And I don’t know where I am or who I am or what living is.