Tori Amos: “Playboy Mommy.” I want to write this story. I wish I could ask her about this song, where it came from, how it grew. After all, it might be a cover, but I doubt it. Tori has always been a goddess to me. I mean, Goddess. She can do no wrong, personality or her job… She got me through puberty with relatively few scars. I was that one melodramatic, depressed, angsty girl, and she appealed to the goddess in me. She put, and still does place, me in touch with my femininity. It doesn’t hurt that she’s Neil Gaiman’s bestie, either. I’ve not seen her live yet. I know when I finally do, I will need kleenex. I will probably sob. Like a Beatles fangirl. That’s how much she means to me and sooooo many other women across the world.
Anyway, this song doesn’t make me cry like so many of her others. I think it’s beautiful, a bit tragic, and I want to know more, even though I’ll have to make it up. I imagine a woman in a black trench coat and dark, dark glasses, standing alone at a grave with her back turned. When she leaves one rose and walks away, the image disappears… The only other thing I think is that maybe it will be best told in first person, posthumously. Her daughter’s diary. I love posthumous pov. You don’t find many that are good, but I’m an Alice Sebold believer. Anyway, why or how she’s at the grave of her daughter, I don’t know yet, but that’s just the start of it. I hope it comes to me eventually. The intrigue of the story has been rolling around in my heart since I bought this album so very, very long ago. I want to understand it and I want people to hear it and see it, but mostly feel it. And just maybe it will be a ghost story. Maybe it already is.
I may be in relative danger posting this, I don’t know. He still lives in town, as far as I know. And he knows where I live. So, I have been inspired, partly from my first muse’s request, that I write this story down; fictionalise it and make it into a novel. He swears it will be my 401K. Fine, I get why. It’s ghoulish, nightmarish and horrifying. That sells. But, it’s ghoulish, nightmarish and horrifying. And it’s my past. And I don’t know whether I want to go back there and invest SO MUCH ENERGY into thinking about it and writing a new story around the truth.
Oh yes. See, his suggestion started when he was bitching about his ex girlfriends. I’m like, “you pussy, you have nothing to cry about. I have a cannibalistic serial killer as an ex. Shut the fuck up.” And he’s like, say whaaaa?!? So, I told him the story. I’ve told several people the story. What? It’s a conversation piece. A CHUNK. Evidently we taste like pork and Satan loves me.
See? Nooooooooooooooo. I’m sitting here laughing because I can laugh at it now. Now. When he told me, I immediately threw up and hit the door. It was one hell of a story, full of plastic bags and body parts and pure insanity. Voices he heard and what they told him to do (kill me). The thing was, why I believed him, because what the fuck, if you heard this story, his story, you’d be like, no fucking way. Nope. I believe everything he said to me because he cried. He sat there and sobbed and begged my forgiveness for what he had done because he was in love with me and wanted to marry me.
I KNOW!!! WHO ELSE BUT ME? WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE ME? GODDAMMIT.
His name was Chris and that’s all I will say. But he tricked me. See, I have this name superstition (this will so go into the novel because it’s just so quirky). I have a name superstition and there are certain names I don’t like the sound of, or too many serial killers had the name, or my abusive ex husband has the name (as well as two other exes that were ridiculously toolish). If the name rhymes with something that’s off, it’s a no. Well, Chris is a good name. I thought I was safe. So I dated him… for six months of horribleness. Then, I saw his driver’s license. Gary Christopher. GARY? GARY?!? Check the Green River Kille: Gary. Gary: rhymes with Scary. It. Added. Up. This superstition works every time, I swear to God.
So, third novel will be a lot of elements of truth with a lot of elements of fiction and hopefully, you’ll not know which is which. Maybe I’ll post the truth up here one day but I don’t think so. I’m still scared of that motherfucker and I don’t know if he stalks me online. He’s a big guy; 6’4″ with a long stride and one hell, I mean, one hell of a tight bowstring temper. Don’t make the guy angry. Just don’t. My guess is this: Paranoid Schizophrenia (voices, hallucinations) mixed with OCD (that one was obvious, really) plus Antisocial Personality Disorder (no pity, the guy had no pity and no heart, really, except for himself). Yeah, don’t make him angry. He’s done it 86 or something, I forget, times, he’ll do it again. Oh yeah. I just said that. Happy Halloween.
My kids, getting to know them as young adults and trying to see myself in them in some way, even though they grow up in someone else’s custody, (because Arizona’s Domestic Violence laws are just… I can’t even say), is just fascinating to me. I just ran across a post the other day on my Rated PG family Facebook account, as opposed to my “anything goes” except for phallic photographs and unmentionable furs and especially hate, account that is my default. I rarely use the family one because at this point; my son Kiah has no internet access and that’s really my only means of communication with him because his father is a prick and gets off on separating us intentionally. Even if it takes moving hours and hours away. I keep two accounts in order to protect myself from my sociopath ex husband and to use one account as a base for administrating pages that I don’t think are any of his business. Also, I intentionally keep my son off my default account out of a mother’s responsibility to set an example for her son. And I told him that. He knows about my other account. All of my friends do too. He understands and is cool with it. And he also knows that I must keep secrets from his father because unlike my daughter, he remembers.
I need a warning label and I am not about to let my son see that part of me yet. It’s not that he’s not mature enough. I was absolutely horrified when he found my author page and read one chapter of my WIP that is dark and intense and really frightening and he liked it. I panicked. We had a talk so that I could sort out how that chapter made him feel. “Creepy, mom, and sad, but you’re really, really good.” *mind blown* When I popped in my other account the other day there was a photo that I hadn’t seen that Kiah tagged me in. And it brought all of these following memories just flooding back… of me. Great times when I was truly one wild hellion mare that wore no saddle, no bridle, “fuck you and you and you and you, you fucker fucking fuck.” I love my son so much. He’s such a sweet joy and like me, such a cheeky little git, although much more polite, which is exactly why I’m trying hard not to corrupt him.
My daughter Aubrey is very much different. She has a bit of a dry, subtle wit and she’s much more calm and serene, although not at all serious. Her favourite thing between us is me secretly texting her British swear words and telling her what they mean so she can use them at school… SEE? I’M HORRIBLE. Still, though, she’s just kind of poised and contained. If you had known me when I was her age, there is no way in bluddy fucken ‘ell you would ever say that we were anything alike except in looks. At right around her age, I lost my virginity to a very handsome, notorious rakehell named Joey that all the girls wanted and I mean all of them. I wanted him too; he was a trophy. I know, scandalous. Then we committed and I got to know him and we bonded and were on again off again for five years. He still has photographs of us together from those days. I think he might have been in love with me, although I was absolutely clueless back then. I would have never even dreamed that I had gentled The Virgin Surgeon, Joey Shover. But, looking back now I remember every time he would surprise me and show up, tap on my window at 2 am and wake me up for a chat (let’s face it, chatting was not really his goal, I was no dumb chicken), I would let him stand outside my window for hours, whispering to me in my satin lingerie (me, not him, although that would have been aweshum) that covered just enough, but never enough for my father’s taste. Then, I would tell him to go home and not let him come in, even though he had walked more than ten miles from his house to mine, for hours. I never gave an inch.
I have a serious superstition about names. Michael is definitely tops on my list. For both wondrous good and icky bad. Two Mikes brought my best, closest friend in high school and I together and then ripped us apart. The one that brought us together is one of the most special Mikes in this world and always will be. The one that tore us apart, I don’t remember what he really looked like anymore. But still, he was a Mike. By my freshman year of high school, I was very good at sneaking out of my bedroom window, walking half a block to my best friend Leslie’s car, which was idling with the lights off, laugh, hop in and then we would haul ass and go out all night, smoking and drinking and then I’d sneak back in just before my mom woke up. I skipped school for weeks at a time, (still graduating with honors, and lettering in academics and maintaining, somehow, by the grace of some unknown God, a 3.6 GPA). Leslie and I helped each other with homework. Sort of. When finals came around, we were both fucked in different ways, so like always, we got shifty. I wrote her term paper for her and she gave me all of the answers in the Geometry exam that we kind of smuggled to each other in the halls on a Friday. At the end of it, I got a B on that exam (SCORE) and she got an A+ on her essay (a better grade than I got on mine, at least you now realise where my loyalties always lie). Outside of the chains of academics, we would just drive all day, aimless except for the object of not ever getting caught. We had conspired together to foil both our school and our parents, by intentionally missing a day and waiting right by the phone for the school to call to report the absence by an automatic operator, and then we would block the number. Savvy. Free and easy under the sun and with the sea salt of the Gulf in the wind, we would go to Clearwater Beach an hour away and hang out, or spend the day in Ybor City, wandering the one time legendary bohemian and cultural hotbed of Tampa since its founding, where Teddy Roosevelt was served Cuban cigars and sandwiches overlooking the brick top roads and Art Deco style buildings. This was where only the coltish but wise enough, at least on their licenses, went on weekends; to drink, dance, see shows and get laid. We’d walk or drive for hours, completely happy, no worries, no cares and when we got hungry we were also always broke, so we’d share a meal at a cheap restaurant with both of our lunch money and leave a .15 tip. i felt so guilty. We’d laugh like horrible, shitty teenagers and joke, “why bother?” But we still felt bad.
I don’t at all feel guilty that we nicked random lawn ornaments, flashing traffic barriers and street signs; including a huge, heavy as hell, solid concrete deer with embedded metal antlers. Leslie and I thought it was just plaster or plastic, but by the time we tried to snatch it and discovered that it weighed at the very least 75 pounds we were already in the middle of this unknown family’s front yard, exposed in the moonlight, away from the small copse of trees that would have hidden us. We were too invested in the challenge and dare of the situation to back out so we tried very hard and failed to contain our co-conspirator “oh shit, we might get caught” giggles that were making us cry and our guts hurt, and together we pushed, pulled, yanked, shoved, wrangled, wrestled and finally dragged that beast of a prize into her car. When we hauled that thing in the back seat, its tail broke off trying to get it in. Why did we do this? Because because. Because hilarious. Because dumb. Because hell yeah, we’re eternally 17 and hot-as-hell honey blonde, bad ass bitches, hair down to our asses and Hellfire in our eyes. After we escaped without a hitch, laughing until we were sobbing, we didn’t know what the hell to do with it so we dumped it at my boyfriend Billy’s house, who I had seduced and led by the nose, even though he was way too old for me. Trust me, he was powerless. I was way too old for my age and yet too young for my flesh because of the horrible environment I grew up in.
Leslie and I would wreak havoc just for the dare. We were both completely complicit and totally guilty. We reinforced each other’s horrible, shameless behaviour whilst our mothers hated each other and blamed the other’s daughter for being the bad influence on theirs. It got to the point where we were so close that it horrified my father because he thought I was gay. We were attached at the hip for a long time, until the name Michael came between us, when I learned the true and gutting betrayal inevitably wrought by the human mating instinct, an arguably ne’er do well, unknown vocalist with looong black hair and a golden throat and two beautiful teenaged girls. Where something intangible and un-guaranteed was chosen over deep girl love, kinship and friendship. And I still wonder if there are any regrets.
Until that happened, we would tip over portable toilets on construction sites, all of them,. so that the crew arrived at work the next day got a really shitty surprise. We smoked pot and sorted out that “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses had to be the very longest and most intricately layered song in the universe. Leslie’s little brother Jerry, who was 13 or 14 had a mad crush on me and I thought about seducing him but then I wouldn’t, as I actually did have moral limits, even if they weren’t learned from my mother. He was a really sweet, sweet kid who thought I was a legend because I played guitar and could nail “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix easily because my instructor insisted I learn it when I switched from classical to electric. He just thought it would be wicked for a female guitarist to whip that song, along with AC/DC, Black Sabbath and more, and do it pretty well for a lazy shit who didn’t ever feel like practicing. So to Jerry, I was an unattainable and disreputable sex goddess that made pirate with his older sister who he idolised and I played a Jackson heavy metal electric guitar with EMG pick ups and a rare, custom, one of two white on black, ridiculous, hideous spider web finish worthy of Dave Mustaine of Megadeth (GAG). To Jerry, that was the dog’s bollocks. He started taking lessons from my instructor and lucky him, unlike me, he chose a vintage Telecaster, that I was too dumb to grab, not knowing what a smashing guitar it was. I was touched and really fond of him. I teased him and flirted with him mercilessly to make him feel good, but it never went anywhere from there. I knew my own nature well and that might have devastated him.
Leslie and I were voracious and unstoppable and we just didn’t give a care. We drank way too much and nine times out of ten it was Cuervo Gold. Yikes. The first time I got well and properly off my face, we were jumping on the bed, half naked monkeys in our lingerie. It very suddenly went all wrong and I ran to the bathroom and hurled. It came out of my nose and I was sure that I was going to die of alcohol poisoning and I kept begging Leslie that she needed to take me to the hospital but she assured me I would be fine. I learned that an early (or really late) afternoon Burger King hit would help settle the roiling nausea and the evil pink slip of payment the next day: that legendary, horrid, unshakable Jose Cuervo Gold hangover. I cannot even sniff it to this day.
Leslie also knew when her neighbors were on vacation so we broke the lock on their screen door, sneaked in their yard and skinny dipped in their pool for no reason except how scandalous it felt having water slide over indecent skin. We wrecked the fuck out of Leslie’s car on the way home from seeing the horrible band Jackyl live. By far they were the loudest (and one of the most obnoxious) bands I’ve ever seen. It was a mid-sized arena and the band had an enormous, way too cocky wall of Marshall amplifiers packed in stacks to the ceiling and within five minutes my ears were bleeding. But, she and I never, ever regretted that night because the opening band was called The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies and although we were far away from the stage, we both heard that singer’s voice and looked at his sexy southern spellbinding and absolute Jim Morrison swagger and we were both instantly hypnotised. That started our fangirl obsession with Mike Farris and his unbelievable, powerful, naturally perfect and unique voice. On the way home from that show we were speeding, going about 90 on a deserted interstate, with my boyfriend trying and failing to catch up from behind, his blood pressure probably sky rocketing trying to keep calm at our utter rapaciousness, since he had a decade on us. When we almost missed our exit, which wasn’t really our exit, i just panicked and thought it was, Leslie tried to make it and we spun out 360 degrees and crashed into the railing of an overpass and almost died on the highway that night. Leslie had been drinking beer at the show, which I didn’t like, so I had abstained. We both freaked out about calling the cops or her parents and so we dashed and tried to pretend it was a hit and run.. Poor Billy, who just had one of the worst scares of his life, had absolutely no power to talk sense into us.
As far as the SCW band, (their nickname) no matter who I went to see them with, I didn’t care, I never missed a single show when they came down from Tennessee. It got to the point of extraordinary. As of today they are still the very best band I’ve ever had the absolute pleasure of witnessing live. My passion for them and their three albums of Southern boogie I had on constant replay was enormous. The passion I had for the soul in Mike’s voice was even more heady. It was just as passionate as how tight, bounce a quarter off a porn star’s ass cheek tight, they were live, even when they were annihilated on jet fuel and white powder. They were magical. The first time we saw them headline a gig in St. Petersburg at Jannus Landing (legend), we got hit on by one of the guitarists. We mugged him off before we realised he was a band member. Despite our regret it was lucky for him we were so arrogant, as we were both dicey and taboo for a musician, being so young and untried. Awkward, but fuckawesome. When he learned how young and naive we really were, he changed his mind. He was always a good guy. He had this certain smile on stage when he looked at you, unmistakable in its friendliness and open acknowledgment of kinship and respect.
I’ve met a whole hell of a lot of bands, but I only got to “meet” Mike himself once and it vibrated my spine so hard that I’ll never forget the small details. After that particular show, I was standing outside near the stage door and when the band came out. Mike, who with his talent alone made me swoon, but with his darling looks, he completely made me flail and fangirl and gave me the vapours and I mean SHIT. LOSE. MY. (I never fucking cried though, thank you very much, but I did have to wring out my panties after every gig, I ain’t even gonna lie). He was the first one to walk out, more of a bit of natural and easy strut than a walk, completely wet from sweat, his long hair hanging in his face, true rock star. He ignored the half naked groupies straight out of hand. But when he saw me, he directly halted in front of me and got in my space to the point where I was, “hey now, whut? I’m cool. It’s cool. Everything is cool.” He never said one single, solitary word. He gently reached for my face and held it in both of his hands and kissed me sweetly on each cheek like I was cherished. It was a true and proper, non-sexual elegant greeting where I was concerned since I had done a lot of growing up overseas and that was very significant to me, Then he turned, still ignoring the crowd who were witnessing this event with pure jealousy, popped up on the bus and didn’t come out the rest of the night.
And when the rest of the members stopped to chat us up, one of the guitarists, Rick, keenly looked at me and said, “I know you, you’re at every single one of our gigs, front row.” and the rest of the band, Bob, Steve, and Terry, acknowledged the same. I thought to myself, holy green mac and cheese crap balls (well, quite a bit more profane than that, actually), I realised that if they recognised me, then they were paying specific attention which also meant they might be either attracted to me (which blew my fucking mind because I always thought Leslie was the looker between us) or were touched by my absolute devotion to them which was just as good, maybe better, in my book. I was so amazed and moved by all of them knowing who I was by sight, if not name, because I truly loved each of them to bits. I idolised that band like none other.
I still get a bit fangirly about it to this day, edging on 38 years old, just thinking about that night. Every Michael I’ve ever met or known is pretty much a legend and very significant to events in my life, both good and bad But with Mike Farris it is his voice, his soul, his amazing swagger and his gorgeous personality that has stayed with me, that changed me. He does gospel now, and though I am not Christian at all, I still am compelled to listen to him. His voice still gives me shivers and he’s currently an underground legend as far as vocalists go in the Nashville area. When I eventually found him on Facebook, we had a very short chat and I just asked him, like I ask everyone that means anything to me, if he had heard of the blues musician Chris Whitley and he said, “that guy was an absolute hero and legend.” Dear Mike Farris, You’re Fucking Perfect. Love, Me.
When we weren’t constantly going to rock shows, Leslie and I found other hapless adventures. Our favourite, favourite time of the year was the Renaissance Festival because that was where the most beautiful, long haired, bad romance novel cover, perfect looking men (imagine Fabio only 10000% more attractive) in only kilts, boots and the skin on their backs were out and sheeny in droves. They were everywhere, wolves in a forest of lambs. They worked the archaic children’s rides and Leslie and I would sit down on a bench and just stare and drool, especially at a particular one, watching them flex and push the rides, until that one, the hottest one, went on break and walked by us and said, “a dollar to ride, two dollars to watch.” The Winningest Fail Ever.
Now, it’s 2014. My daughter is a graceful ballerina; serene, sweet, dutiful, non judgmental, polite and mature young lady (who even says “wanker” with an elegant way about it). I love her more than life itself. She is wise and already self aware, composed and full of a kind of a glowy grace that I never had. No wonder, her name means “Ruler of the Elves.” I’m so grateful for her the way she is, it makes me feel very happy to know that she is going to make sure things work out for herself, but I kind of want to see more of my scrap and spirit, that cagey bite when she’s stepped on instead of the crushing hurt. My son Kiah turns 13 on the 27th, one week. I’m flipping out. My baby, the last child I will ever have, is going to be a teenager. When I went to my exclusive Facebook family account that we’re friends on the other day to take care of something, I scrolled down to see the last picture Kiah tagged me in. He is trouble and I am full of pride… and horribly terrified.
I haven’t thought of these past events and shenanigans for a very long time now. I am bemused that I thought of them tonight of all nights. After many, many years of being railroaded and bullied until my spirit was broken, another Mike gave me a kick in the teeth (in the nicest, ingratiating way he could, but I am not stupid), woke me the fuck up to how pathetic and useless I had been for over too many years especially the last one, and reminded me that just because I want someone, I don’t need them and I will not be a sycophant. I may not be as beautiful as I was at 17, but I am still better. Stronger, wiser, and I don’t have to knock over toilets to prove it. Or steal concrete deer (although, I might do that again, honestly. It was fun, and my balcony is just missing something). I’m too deep, passionate and intelligent and too damn good for simply two dimensional. I don’t deserve two or even three dimensions. I need at least six. I won’t get it, I’m sure, because as Buddha said, “life is suffering.” But I’m not going to hang my hopes on little stars… I’ll send my wishes up to the celestial.
Even though I don’t need this creature that probably isn’t even real, he still helped me remember who I am. Maybe he would be worthy. Maybe not. I’m sure I’ll never know and I’m still deciding if I care. I threw down a gauntlet in front of over a hundred people, Politely slammed a couple of doors in a couple of faces, shut down and engaged myself from my spiritual, animal core. And I’m ready. I had lost some control of my goals and definitely lost control of my tits, which is very rare and it was stressing him and me out, just separately.. I never ever thought I’d get that wild, heady, unbroken and ‘do try to stop me, asshat’, force of nature filly back inside of me. I don’t have to. She’s still there. She’s just been cranky and full of malevolence and malcontent; snorty, ears pinned, on stall rest for decades. She needs a lot of paddock time. A little stretch, a bit of crow hopping, a few five foot rails and fences to take, a whole hell of a lot of gallop and eternal green and hopefully English fields of free.
Anyway, I’ve set up a playlist here of SCW for any reader to listen to if you haven’t already. DO IT NOW. They had this warmth in their melodies and a sweetness and genuineness in their lyrics that were meaningful and full of light. They broke up because they were misunderstood by the cows only into popular music. Many people don’t get it like I do. I guess it must be a Southern thing. I was born in Alabama, raised in Florida and across several countries in Europe, but I’ve always had the South in my bones. Every time i go back down there, I feel in my very DNA a familiar affinity with the scents and sounds of the Deep South. Despite Flannery O’Connor and the like, it’s still very hard to describe. It’s a vibrant and rich reverence, a dark moist soil love for huge oak trees that drip Spanish moss. It’s the forests and the Smoky Mountains when the blue clouds settle down and cuddle them and you’re standing above them, looking down on that love, the twisting blue-green and granite fisted highways in North Carolina and Kentucky, the pure gorgeousness of the entire state of Tennessee and the friendliness of its people. It’s unmistakable in its humble glory and truly significant, especially if it’s engrained in you, etched in your bones… born and raised below the Mason Dixon Line.
***Although the diehards have always begged SCW for a reunion tour, it will never happen. I’m hoping by saying never, I should never say it, know what I mean? Mike split to get sober and take proper care of his wife and family. I have no idea where the other guys are, sadly. Mike is such an upstanding man and I’ve always admired him from afar; even when he was at his lowest point in his own personal hell. These days, he still has that swagger and swank, just in very different ways. He’s gracious, kind and loving towards everyone. A wonderful husband to his wife and father to his children. A truly graceful and iconic Southern gentleman (still has rock n’ roll hair and sexy panache though, I feel so guilty for my arguably nefarious admiration of such an upstanding, moral, happily married guy, but hey, I’m a poncy, naughty mare).
I was twenty two and the circumstances were and still are bizarre to this day. But he changed my life-more for worse than better, but still, better as well. It is those better ways that keep me loyal to him in the small ways that I am. I don’t hate him, no. I don’t. In fact, a part of me will be forever deeply in love with him because he was the first man, even before and more thoroughly than my own father, to advocate for me, to push me-my limits, my buttons, my levels of absorption. It was him. He was the first man who told me that my personality, my brain, my everything; I just blew his mind. He’s not the only one that’s said it but to this day, he’s the only one that counts. He was my first and my most powerful muse. He told me that I could do anything I ever wanted to and that he was proud of me, that he believed in me. He told me I would get an agent and I would be one of the best writers ever read and he was the first one to say it and the only man that meant it without any reference to himself and he took no credit of any kind from it and he was the only one who knew what the fuck that meant when he said it.
When I speak of him with anger or hate it’s not pointed at him, not entirely. Because really, what could he do? He and I were too different. He broke me and he knew it. He owned me; him saying those things to me, he loved me, and that he wanted me to be his wife if only his dog Rupert could be the best man. That I would look gorgeous with the heavy weight of his diamond on my left hand. He knew that when he wrote out ‘Mrs. Rana Esposito’ and said softly that it had a beautiful ring to it… he knew that it took the fire and indifference about me that he loved away. His love, for the first time, and forever after, made me completely weak. He was the one that showed me that true love was a drug and I needed it more than heroin. How could I ever blame him for losing that spark-even when it made my light go out for good? Do I miss him? Yes I do. I still miss him every day. Our cranky chats, when he’d hit me up when he needed me, when things were shit and he needed someone to help him work his kinks out and go back to being Mr. bad ass rock star… I miss that. He only ever apologized to me once. Only once. I felt like he owed me a lot more than that. Many, many more apologies because he said and did a lot of shitty things to me, but I’m glad that he didn’t hand them out when he didn’t mean them.
He was and is a man with very few regrets. If I am something to him at all, I need to find comfort in the fact that I am one of those few regrets that he has. I know that he regrets that he hurt me. I know he does… Or he wouldn’t have come back like some sort of revolving refraction of my past… pop his head in over and over and try ‘us’ all over again… Because like me, there was always something for him about me that stuck with him, that left some sort of mark on him, even though it was much smaller and more shallow than mine.
I’m most angry and insane about not his loss, but about what it did to me. The night he broke my heart, I remember it perfectly. I was at our beach house in Florida. We had been on the phone and he let the hammer swing down and I hung up, the phone just barely clicked on the receiver, a tiny, quiet end of a conversation and a life… and I got up off of the canopied bed and walked out onto the balcony overlooking the beach and just looked out at the black ocean feeling this warm/cool breeze, hearing the heavy surf and I remember the screened in area, the tiny squares and metal smell of them. I remember the black metal railing that I fisted until my knuckles went white. I remember the perfectly trimmed hedges just beneath the balcony, framing the concrete parking lot. I remember the shade of yellow that the paint distinguishing the parking spaces became underneath the street lights in the parking lot. I remember the moths and mosquitoes that flew around those lights… The halo around the lights that was blurry by both the contrast of the light against the night sky and my quiet tears… I remember the exact and huge, heavy, all-encompassing feeling of succinct and final loss and devastation and the harsh realization that it would never, ever be the same for me… It felt like I had a mass grave of bodies packed in rows on my chest and I couldn’t breathe. If I inhaled the sobs would explode and I would shatter. For days after, I sat in a corner with my arms wrapped around my knees-barely speaking. It’s so damn easy, just thinking about those nights, those weeks, those months, those years, to have it come back to me… not a mild reflection of the misery, no… but that same horrible deep, ripping agony, the kind that you hear your own fascia around your guts and your heart tear in your ears, the kind that is way, way too fucking real…it comes back as fresh as it did that very night, after eleven years… so easily.
He broke my heart every single time after when he inevitably would lose interest and leave again. But, because it never fully healed after the first time, it didn’t hurt quite as much… But all of that pain still belongs to him. He was the toggle switch that changed my fate. He inadvertently pushed me down the path towards the cliff that I jumped off of. The one that led to the abuse and the rape and the complete and utter destruction of everything that I could have ever been before.
What is perhaps the hardest is that he was the water that mixed my creative process into a seething, raging, beautiful thing and now, after all of this shit, my creativity-the very essence of me, the entire point for my being on this fucking planet: my writing, my art, my music-my first nature, is the most difficult thing for me to face. I dig my heels in and back pedal away from it with emotional violence, a beaten horse. I only find the opposite of solace in it now. It’s fucking beyond painful to try and work; to knead and push and callus my hands and write and draw and play. It’s all agony and uphill for me because I judge my work not on its beauty because that has disappeared. I judge it on the pain it causes me-by the memories. The reason my novel has taken these long years to even get towards half way complete is because it is, in truth, about him. Him and me, and all of the what could have, should have, would have… and it hurts to go back and work on it, even though it’s such a fucking worthy and beautiful story, as much as it’s morphed and moved into different spaces since. Because still, whenever I see my main character, it’s Anthony’s face, his tattoos, his eyes, his hair… his life. His life… and the complete barrenness of mine.
My most favourite song that he co-wrote with his first band Lynch Mob, he played bass and did back up vocals. This was from their first album, when I discovered him at 14. I had pin ups of him on my wall. Ironic, this song being my fave. In the extreme.
I poo poo bad writing. Like I have the right. I’m American. So there. I don’t know, maybe I’m in the wrong here. It is obnoxious, the nay-saying. Bad creators have been spilling their sewage in the masses’ drinking water since creating began. If not for shit work, we’d have no decent perspective to examine the good. It can’t be all good. But does it have to be mostly bad?
Not that I enjoy bitter critics. I’m one of those people that wholly believe that those who cannot do, critique (harshly). That comes out of my own experience. I enjoy good, fair, elevating criticism that pushes your boundaries and makes you work harder, but asshole critics that say meaniehead things are just useless. And yet, I do it. Oh lo Hypocrisy, thy art my master. But, at least they mostly deserve it, the shit ones.
Writers, you want to be my friend. You really do. It’s not that I have power. No, I have no power and I’m grateful for that. I am just honest. If you ask me to read your work and I think it needs work, I’m not going to tell you it’s good, if that’s what you want to hear, don’t bother. And if I say, “this is fucking fantastic,” well, it’s fucking fantastic. I mean it.
I think, though, what bothers me most about bad creators… is that they usually have annoying personalities to go along with their crappy efforts. Writing seems to come the easiest to the people that do it the worst. I’m sorry, but if you can bang out your sci/fi, steampunk, mystery thriller romance in two weeks and you’re so assured of your skill that you can’t help but smile at the grace of the sun, you suck. I say that with no bones. I’ve seen it. And you’ll probably get published. And get movie deal after movie deal after movie deal.
My compass does not lie in structure or grammar or rules. I break all the boring rules in my own writing, because fuck you. In fact, I’m waiting for an inventor to create some sort of self punishment device for bad grammar modification for myself. I’ll need an adverb setting, a comma setting and an ellipses setting. I’m terrible. So grammar, all that is temporary and aside from my major point. My compass lies in emotion and how it is conveyed. My conviction swims in poetry. I was a poet way, way before I ever attacked prose. All of that other stuff surrounds the emotion and builds it up or knocks it down and so it is important, but there are many sources for that and you can find them. If you want to know if your words have heart, have meaning, have BEAUTY and have relevance to a creature that has more emotion than most, you come to me.
I sound so arrogant and self assured here, like I am the be all end all judge of decent words. No, not at all. Don’t mistake me. But, I don’t exactly have much else. I can’t do much else well but create. My skill lies in my passion. And I have passion. Too much passion. I’m a severely jaded, sorely abused, half dead revenent of a Brontë sister. So full of love, romance and passion but unloved and unknown to any man’s unselfish soul, so I put my heart and my broken pieces in my prose and I expect everyone else to as well. And if you have no heart, no passion, no soul, I have no use for you. Your presence offends my nature. Go away.
I’ll give you examples of beautiful writing and I’ll give you an example of maybe some of the shittiest writing on the face of the earth. Tell me I’m wrong.
“Girls were born knowing how destructive the truth could be. They learned to hold it in, tamp it down, like gunpowder in an old fashioned gun. Then it exploded in your face on a November day in the rain.”
“That kind of tenderness couldn’t be permitted to last. You only got a taste, enough to know what perfection meant, and then you paid for it the rest of your life. Like the guy chained to a rock, who stole fire. The gods made an eagle eat his liver for all eternity. You paid for every second of beauty you managed to steal. ”
“So many things in the world have happened before. But it’s like they never did. Every new thing that happens to a person, it’s a first… In that night I felt expansion, as if the world was branching out in shoots and growing faster than the eye could see. I felt smallness, how the earth divided into bits and kept dividing. I felt stars.”
“I hold his name close as my own blood and I will never let it out. I only spoke it that once so he would know he was alive.”
“Even when it started to snow she did not lose her sense of direction. Her feet grew numb, but she did not worry about the distance. The heavy winds couldn’t blow her off course. She continued. Even when her heart clenched and her skin turned crackling cold it didn’t matter, because the pure and naked part of her went on. The snow fell deeper that Easter than it had in forty years but June walked over it like water and came home.”
(I had to separate them somehow, sorry… I just can’t leave just a blank space between the skill and the drivel, because that might insinuate that just because they’re all collections of words, they might belong together).
“Olivia leaps up and retrieves my jacket, which Grey takes from her before she can hand it to me. He holds it up and, feeling ridiculously self-conscious, I shrug it on. Grey places his hands for a moment on my shoulders. I gasp at the contact. If he notices my reaction, he gives nothing away. His long index finger presses the button summoning the elevator, and we stand waiting – awkwardly on my part, coolly self-possessed on his. The doors open, and I hurry in desperate to escape. I really need to get out of here. When I turn to look at him, he’s leaning against the doorway beside the elevator with one hand on the wall. He really is very, very good-looking. It’s distracting. His burning gray eyes gaze at me.”
I tried to skim through an excerpt of Twilight to post here, but I just can’t do it. No fortitude. After reliving the good quotes, which literally reduce me to shambles just reading them once again, I can’t. If you want to know who the authors are, here… the first two quotes are from Paint It Black by Janet Fitch. That book inspired the title of my own novel, Until Her Darkness Goes. The next three are from the first book that blew my mind. I think I was 14 when I read it. That is Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich. The last quote is the very last paragraph of her first chapter. That is the first and last novel that made me fall in profound love and understanding with a character in just the turn of a few pages and then killed her off in the first chapter. Yes, June died in that snow. She froze to death. It was suicide.
The abomination quote is similarly, the last paragraph of a first chapter… Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. I think I liked Thatcher more than I like E.L. James, as far as English women go. I love the UK with all my heart and soul, I just think that James needs to be kicked out before I move there. We can trade places. She can come live in hellhole Arizona where I live, a state that just loves to victimise women and make them less than human, also where she can be neighbors with her golden cow Stephanie Meyer and I can go live in England. All settled.
Allison… I’ve known her for a few years now, via facebook only, sadly, but one day. ONE DAY. She will have her gin and I will have my whiskey and we will par-tay because we’ll be celebrating her blooming writing career. She’s brilliant, really. I wrote a review of this novel on amazon. It should be up shortly. I am pretty sure I accidentally spelled Palahniuk incorrectly. Ugh. Stupid cheeky “h.”
It took me forever just to start this book because I knew the gist of the subject matter and I have my sordid history and I was honestly afraid, knowing how Allison writes, that it would trigger me. That’s really saying something. To be honest, it did trigger me. And you know what? I’d do it again. And I will do it again. She is pumping forth more words as we speak, including a sequel to this piece. Pretty soon, she’s going to have loads more victims, and I’m not even lying, I’m not jealous. She deserves this. She deserves it richly and she’s worked damned hard for it. Oh and, I’m just slightly fucking well way over chuffed for her because SHE SIGNED A DEAL WITH GILLIAN FLYNN’S AGENT. HOLY SCHMIT! God, when I heard that I was just like… *mind blown*. I told her, very seriously, that I could not wait to read Stephen King’s first blurb on one of her novels. It will happen. I know it. If he doesn’t die first. He’s starting to look a little dusty, which makes me afraid and sad for the world. Hang on, Stevie! She’s worth it!
More about this novel that I wasn’t comfortable putting on amazon is that yes, it’s beyond gore. It’s beyond horror. It’s beyond sick. But I can take that. I’ve had ruthless, depraved things done to my body and my self esteem that can never be healed. I’ve had loaded and cocked guns, safety off, shaky finger putting pressure on the trigger, to my head in front of my children. I am not scared of a little bit of mess and bits of flesh. I don’t (believe it or not, from my posts so far) inflict it on myself often anymore, because that’s just stupid. The trauma of this prose, this story, is in the powerlessness. it wasn’t the gore that really shook me, it was the subtext. What caused me the most suffering when I read it was the reminder that there is no safety and there is very little choice. Once certain things are set in motion, once you are under the complete control of a monster, that is when your soul is stolen. It’s not the physical pain. Morphine does the trick for that. It’s the sense of knowing what’s coming next and not being able, not having the strength, to do one good god damned thing to defend yourself or the ones you love. You can only hope for oblivion or revenge, and in that hope, and trust me, you fucking pray for revenge, at least for a while, and when you do, you lose what’s left of yourself that you find worthy. That’s what this book is really about.