"What a weirdo."
Lately, she's become the person that people love to hate. And it's not totally unjustifiable. Your teenage idol has screwed up in some pretty big ways since the first time you heard her sing. She gave a TED talk about crowdsourcing that ignored the privilege that allowed her to accomplish all that she's done. She carelessly created a hurtful caricature of conjoined twins, and ignored her critics while embracing those that defended her. She made a gross Klan joke. In a lot of ways, she let you down.
She shaves her eyebrows but not her armpits?!
She's a human kind of hero to you. The kind that makes mistakes you can't fix. She is loud and she is often unapologetic. You might not revere her anymore, but you still look up to her. Not from afar, not the way you look up to Wonder Woman or some other unreal idol. She's more like an odd friend you're only partially in touch with. You don't hate her, and part of you still loves her.
And you definitely, absolutely owe her your life.
Nothing about this adventure is safe for work.
I don't necessarily believe there is a cure for this So I might join your century but only as a doubtful guest I was too precarious removed as a caesarian Behold the worlds worst accident I AM THE GIRL ANACHRONISM
You were a teenager when you first heard Girl Anachronism. You were learning how to eat again after the worst bout of depression you've ever experienced made you forget what it feels like to want to live. You suddenly Felt Things and you had no idea what those Things were or how you were supposed to deal with them.
You had no idea that music could sound like this.
You were a weird kid. You had more bullies than friends growing up, and your Best Friend in the Entire World only loved you on the condition that he could use you to feel better about himself. You know now that you're queer, but at the time you thought at best you were 'straight but not narrow'. You we pretty much only staying alive to find out how Harry Potter ended. You were still figuring out how the internet works, you were sick and scared and shy, and you didn't have what you might call 'peers'.
Someone else in the world actually Got It and cared enough to let it all out. So in the cramped closet-slash-office of the house your parents tried and failed to build a home in, you could listen to this song over and over and over again, and feel like you weren't as lonely as you thought you were. You bought everything you could (two CDs at Newbury Comics) and downloaded the rest. You still know all the lyrics, even though it feels like it's been years since you last heard this album.
That's probably because you listened to it nonstop during 2007.
Your parents got divorced. Your cat died. You had no idea if you were going to college. All those things you thought were constants... weren't.
Gravity works slowly if you notice it at all Some of us are getting mighty lucky If you had to live with this you'd rather lie than fall You think I can't fly well you just watch me
That was the first time.
There is thing keeping everyone's lungs and lips locked It is called fear and it's seeing a great renaissance After the show you can not sing wherever you want But for now lets all pretend that we're gonna get bombed So sing
It's weird to find out that a stranger loves you
Not in a creepy, exploitative way. No, Amanda loved you and wanted nothing from you. She loved you because you were strange, because you loved her, because you were a confused little misfit trying to get your shit together. She probably would have loved you even if you hated her. She loved you with the kind of love that just wanted you to be happy. Unselfish is what you would call it today.
Sing cause its obvious sing for the astronauts sing Sing for the president sing for the terrorists sing Sing for the soccer team sing for the janjaweed sing Sing for the kid with the phone who refuses to sing Just sing
You had no idea you needed that.
You saw her in concert, and she hugged you.
She wrote on your belly, and looked in your eyes and told you that you were important to her, that she was glad you were there. You sat onstage with her. You went alone and it felt like being in a living room full of friends you didn't know you had. Other oddballs. Strange-but-not-strangers. At every single concert, she waits until everyone who wants a moment with her has gotten one. You tweet at each other.
She told you that you were a person worth being.
Not in spite of your weirdness and eccentricity. Not in spite of the shape of your body. Not in spite of the crappy things you went through. You were enough. That was the second time.
You wanted to be an artist... or something
But why? You were so talented, why would you waste your talent on something as frivolous as art? When schools were plagued by violence, the war seemed never-ending, and Obama's first year in office didn't bring all the change you thought it would. Why would you do something silly and selfish like become an artist?
What's selfish about art?
“There’s no “correct path” to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to art school, getting published, getting signed to a record label. But it’s all bullshit, and it’s all in your head. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.” ― Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help
She loved you unconditionally, and taught you how to do the same
She shared her most personal fears. Her deepest hurts. Her strangest thoughts. With you. She didn't even want money in return. When she paid her rent as a living statue, she shared intimate moments with complete strangers every day. She left a hat at her feet, asking but never demanding.
I’ve been breathing evil air Sharing needles with the sky Looking up remembering Regina said they're just old light. But you somehow understood My oversaturated skin You held your hand up to my neck And played me like a theremin
You might have survived without knowing how to do that. But would you have ever lived? That was the third time.
You somehow made it through college. You were an adult. You registered to vote. You got a job. And you were determined. To be an artist. To be a good person. To get everything done by the time you were thirty.
Too bad the economy was a mess, you were drowning in student loan debt, and you had no idea how to get what you wanted.
You felt like a failure. You spent all your time working at a job you hated, and had no energy to write the Great Masterpiece you thought you needed to give to the world. Instead of taking care of your friends, you were crashing in their apartment. Instead of being a good daughter, you were seriously considering never speaking to your mom again. Instead of saving the world in a feminist blaze of fury, you were struggling to survive, and didn't have the luxury of making progressive choices.
And you were sure it was All Your Fault.
So play your favorite cover song, especially if the words are wrong 'Cause even if your grades are bad, it doesn't mean you're failing Do your homework with a fork And eat your fruit loops in the dark And bring your flask of jack to work And play your ukulele
So you listened to Map of Tasmania on repeat. You felt like a total goofball. You smiled on your way to work. You spent an hour in Times Square dressed in all-gold, and you stood very very still, and you left a bucket at your feet and blew kisses at strangers.
You called yourself The Weirdo
It wasn't just the statue. It was everthing. You reminded yourself that Amanda worked ten years to achieve moderate success. You found out that she still has to borrow money sometimes to pay her bills on time. You realize that you're not a failure: the definition of success you have isn't working. You spent less time worrying about the bullshit you can't change, and started worrying about the stuff you actually can. You got your own apartment. You started making the art you WANTED to make. That was the fourth time.
IT TOTALLY BACKFIRED
Your best friends were all breaking up with each other! You got fired from your shitty job! You decided to break contact with your mom the same day she spontaneously decided to visit you at your house so you had to tell her in person! Everything went extremely wrong! Like unbelievably wrong! Like you had no idea how wrong things could go wrong!
But for once, it felt like you were going to be ok.
It was the worst year of your life, objectively. Being unemployed and single and constantly hungover and basically hopeless is not a sexy look on anyone. And maybe it was because you've been through this before, and come out the other side. Maybe it was because you had friends this time, and projects that you felt like you wanted to live to complete. Maybe it was because Amanda taught you something that first time, about living and dying and screwing things up. Maybe you just got lucky.
But you were fine.
The French kid who wrote an e-mail To the website late last night His father raped him and he’s scared He asked me “How do you keep fighting?" And the truth is I don’t know I think it’s funny that he asked me ‘Cause I don’t feel like a fighter lately I am too unhappy You are bigger on the inside But your father cannot see You need to tell someone, be strong And somewhere some dumb rockstar truly loves you. You’d think I’d get perspective From my few years by the bedside It is difficult to see the ones I love So close to death
While you were having a hard time, so was she
Her best friend was in the hospital (he died last week). She was being ridiculed for the way she looked, for her audacity, for her book. For daring to be. This wasn't the sadness Olympics. Your grief and her grief were different beasts. But what she did, what she has always done for you, is transform her grief into something tangible, something that can be expressed and then released. She taught you how to do that with your own. She's not absolved of all responsibility for all the unfortunate things she's done, and neither are you. But every life is a pile of good things and bad things. And she added so much weight to your pile of good things. That was the fifth time.