My life has been full of difficulties. I’ve had the kind of life where I lost everything through no fault of my own, fought for my life and survived, was driven to the bottom of the darkest parts of my psyche, got a taste of what it feels like to live for many years with absolutely nothing to lose and thus no fear, no shame and no sense of regret until I started building myself back up again. When asked about my personal difficulties, I could easily write a novel.
To sum it up, I was musically gifted at an extremely young age, basically a child prodigy, writing full songs by age 8 and selling songs to directors for shows by age 11. At that young age I wrote my first 400 page science fiction novel as well. I was performing, piano and vocals by age 13, and on my way to a Broadway career at 16 when I was afflicted with an illness that made me unable to walk, so confused I didn’t know who I was, couldn’t move, in so much pain I couldn’t swallow food, lost most of my hair, and lost my voice. I emerged after a while – about six months of immobility and another few years of intermittent disability. Many of my IQ points never recovered and I lost my voice forever; I now speak in a whisper. On top of that, my first boyfriend who was my hero during all of this, devoured my virginity and my innocence and ultimately broke my heart.
My entire life was spent working my hardest at school and music, only to have it all taken away. With my voice I lost my identity and sense of purpose. With my boyfriend I lost my faith in love. I started living life as a symbol of myself. I could no longer do music, and expressed myself through very intense photography in college.. nudes of myself covered in blood.
My outfits were extreme; what was left of my ruined scraggly hair that fell out from illness was dyed bright pink, and I was a vampire, sucking the innocent blood from beautiful men who loved me, hungry and thirsty for even a momentary taste of something pure, someone else looking at me with love, another artist looking at the world with wonder, another musician playing his heart out. I was on my knees for such childlike wonder and aimed to devour it as though I could recover but a modicum of my own dreams. Once I had sucked him dry and become the main focus of his attention I would toss him out and aim to devour the next innocent.
My creative outpour was extreme – I slept once every other night or every three nights, had no real schedule, though I always made it to class and aced everything – and constantly created; had no real friends, just outpoured photo after photo, and other projects, which were hung all around the school. Within months I was in charge of the photo department but was sneaking in through a window I propped open after hours, to blast Marilyn Manson and NIN and have all four enlargers to myself so I could super-impose dead cats over my naked body and exploit my losses and my rage. I had to take copious amounts of LSD and force myself to play piano in order to cry; the rest of the time I was angry, lusty, hungry, empty. My masochism was directed mostly at my body – I would starve myself and eat nothing but vegetables for weeks – not because I thought I was fat, but simply because I wanted to prove I had enough control to do it. Everything was about control, control, control.
I would work out alot, barely sleep, barely eat, make my body into a perfect sculpture and a symbol of my own pain, deprivation, loss and suffering. I took a lot of self portraits. I conducted experiments on myself, taking LSD and trapping myself in various scenarios (like on a mountain with nothing but a notebook, in my room but not allowed to use anything for expression except a keyboard that was being recorded)… to ‘see what would come out.’ My body was a vessel for self-expression and I had to force it to cater to my whims. My sex life included violence so extreme that I’d be full of cuts and blood and could not even shower because the water hurt my scratched up skin too much. I had an alternate name, Anäeia, which I called myself only in my photos, and it was my ‘vampire name.’ Short for “Annihilate.” Everyone knew me as a legend, because of the power of my work, but I hardly spent time with anybody, and prowled around the campus late at night with my giant headphones, my pink hair and long trench-coat making love to the wind. Anyone I spent real time with was either an artistic collaborator, a mind-game opponent, or ‘prey.’
I came out of that by spiraling even lower, into cycling through downers and opium and other things..until finally I hit rock bottom and drank half a bottle of acid. I saw the underside of hell and worse. Luckily I blacked out for about 8 hours of that trip. When I woke up, it took some time for me to have any idea who I was, and I had to build myself back up from scratch. My best friend & nemesis helped me by challenging me to do logic games and arts.. pushing me hard so I could remember who I was, and not just continue living as a shell of myself. After that, I cleaned up. No more drugs and wild sex and escapades. I wrote two complete novels and parts of others. Ultimately I became very focused on writing a fantasy novel and slowly started writing songs again, singing through my whisper. Somehow during all of this I managed to graduate from a great college with straight As.
After college I worked for a few years then moved to the city to front my own band, singing through my very undependable whisper, and building a healthy lifestyle around the aim of sustaining as much vocal capability as I possibly could. I wrote all the songs, arranged, auditioned the band members, played keyboard and sang, managed, promoted, did websites, ultimately produced the album. I also managed an apartment where roommates came and went, and invested lots of money into building rooms in the loft so my rent could be lower & I could focus on music. My life became full responsibility, living my dreams, chasing my childhood dreams at full force, and no interest in men or drugs.
Now my health has betrayed me again, and I was forced to move back upstate because my chronic illness did not take well to the city. My whispery singing voice evaded me again and my band fell apart through no fault of my own. But I am contentedly and calmly writing my book in a gorgeous location upstate, taking long walks, exercising, single, solitary and independent, and completely in love with life. None of my friends are local, and I am happy spending most of my day on my home planet in my novel.
As long as I feel like a human, an animal, and a symbol at once, I feel alive. I am being true to myself. Every shower is so carnal it’s spiritual; every motion connects my body with the cosmos; I am true to my instincts. I embrace my tumultuous emotions; they are fuel for my work and my purpose. My body is my canvas, my clothes are my paintbrush. Everything I own, wear, and do is an expression of self. I am a vessel through which music, art, stories and messages emerge.
This is always the case, regardless of my state of health. But just being me isn’t enough. I need to stand for something, to express something; my battle against the odds, my rise from the ashes. Even my dedication to expression in and of itself is something to stand for. Having something to express, a passion and a purpose which means something to me, gives me a sense that I am living rather than surviving. But regardless of the shape or meaning of my expression, strength comes from only one source: integrity. As long as I have my integrity I’m living; without it I am surviving. The loss of integrity is the only loss that is truly devastating. As long as my expression, my purpose, my existence, my friendships, and my choices are connected to my sense of integrity, I am whole. To me, integrity is, simply, being true to myself. The world can take my assets… my health, my work, my money, my hair, my friends… but if it wants to take my passion and integrity, it will have to kill me.