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Work in Progress
It is an important fact to me that more of us do not change our last names with the same enthusiasm and creativity as first names.
I have recently started a new journal. One whose past entries I can’t read. It is supra-linear—I can only add and move forward, never look back. In it, I write in the voice of the meanest voice in my head. I started this type of writing at the recommendation of my therapist because my father reappearing with such ferocity in the last month was so incredibly difficult, and we identified a mean voice that wouldn’t let go of my throat. I need to note that it is not his cruelty that breaks me. I think I said elsewhere but my dad telling me I’ll never amount to anything in the arts, was sadly a strength-building exercise. His negative confidence did more to propel me in my work than almost anything else has in my life. It wasn’t his meanness. It was his sudden and dramatic departure. It is when he abruptly leaves and tells me never to look for him again that I quit.
I set my hand on fire.
This journal is a ball of rubber bands. It starts loose and then before you know it you have a sport, and it’s almost playful. Almost half of the hundred sheets of paper within the notebook are full. That’s more than many day books I’ve bought over the years to represent an organization of time I have never fully mastered. I am so good out of the gate and nowhere to be seen when the ribbon on the horizon comes into sight. I wonder where this story ends.
We’ve learned in the recent past that the stories of demons are not what they seem.
Janet Jackson. Monica Lewinsky. Sinead O’Connor. Sylvia Plath. Britney Spears. I order them alphabetically by their last name so don’t overthink the sequence of how I remember them.
I’ve started Sinead O’Connor’s memoir recently, and think that like my new journal, I may not be able to re-read this. I appreciate that she begins with music as salvation. I didn’t realize quite exactly how religious she was but her god axis is so profound—between her own voice and God. She reminds us periodically to sing in order to get through the trauma of her story, but the fodder for song is so incredibly traumatizing. I am fascinated by her complete and fulfilling relationship with her father. It’s so rarely thus.
Sylvia Plath’s truths are criminally forsaken. TL;DR: old letters she wrote were “rediscovered” in 2017 by the Guardian, and indicate that her famous British poet husband Ted Hughes, vaunted for decades as a solemn widower, had relentlessly physically abused her. The linked essay acknowledges that Plath had been describing the abuse in her work and sent these “discovered” letters after all, meaning someone knew. So sadly, this is considered news in 2017, over sixty years after she committed suicide having barely turned thirty. I hope Ted Hughes is burning in Hell. But also: Plath was their generation’s Kurt Cobain, and Courtney has been blamed for his suicide in that she introduced him to heroin (allegedly). Is Courtney Love the monster his fans claim she was? I want to know the truth.
Monica Lewinsky is a Twitter celebrity now! Wow. That’s it. That’s the (sentence).
Britney. My heart slows to a halt when I think of young stardom such as hers. Watching pre-teen porn happen in real time is surreal, even when supplied it in abundance from a Japanese context my whole childhood. I am just a hair older than her and still want to shield her.
Janet Jackson. The Jackson family. Nipplegate. Ribgate. Who was Latoya in all this? MICHAEL. Jesus. I cannot fathom what “psycho-horror drama, V.C. Andrews by way of Jordan Peele plus the grace of negative ions and Polynesian magic from Hawaii where she spends so much time now, but interpreted by dolphins not humans”-style narrative would be unraveled in her vitriolic journal.
It is an important fact to me that more of us do not change our last names with the same enthusiasm and creativity as first names. Sure, the decision to keep a family name or adopt a marriage partner’s is a big one, but who has the guts to erase the fact that they came from anywhere at all?
Does it take a relationship with God to get there? The saints and shepherds to Jesus all get new full names. Do Jains who break ties from even their own bodies? I want to break out of my name and into my own pages. I want to be canonized by the time I reach the finish line.