Cruel Children Part One

One thing that we never are is alone.

 

I am a chronically lonely person, so I have to make phrases like this my mantra, or I might just walk off of a cliff.

 

Why am I so lonely?

 

I don’t know. I just am. Do I need a fucking reason? Leave me the fuck alone.

 

Sometimes when I feel alone, I listen to David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust years. One of my favourite songs is Rock and Roll Suicide, and I just love the part where he sings out, give me your hands because you’re wonderful, and I feel like he’s singing it to me, but that’s the way the song is supposed to make you feel. That’s the point. Now I’m saying it to you, whoever you are. Whatever colour your eyes are, I know they’re beautiful, if you speak a different language than me, I know it’s lovely, and complex, and romantic, and filled with words for which mine has no equivalent.

 

Give me your hands because you’re wonderful.

 

And when you’re singing along at the top of your lungs to your favourite song set to the maximum as you take your morning shower, or when you’re driving your car home from work, I’m applauding you. Whenever you’re dancing alone in your bedroom with only your shadow for company, and all the shadows of your past, as you work through whatever pain is dragging down your heart, I am applauding you.

 

I love you. I really fucking love you.

 

I read this article about chronic loneliness once. I don’t remember the name of it, or where I read it, but I do remember reading, and understanding, that one of the monsters that fuels loneliness is rejection.

 

Everyone gets rejected, it’s a fact of life, but I think that social outcasts, those deemed unworthy, and who fall outside of what popular culture considers worthy of praise, get rejected the most. I’m not talking about obvious weirdos with obvious issues that are fucking sick, I’m talking about outspoken women who challenge the patriarchy, minorities, the elderly, people who exist outside of the gender binary, lesbians, and gay men, and just anyone who is a true original, anyone who is a kicked down underdog, like me, like you.

 

I think that sometimes some of us get rejected so much that we begin to reject ourselves, and we do it in the worst ways. I know I have, and I’ve done this by not showing the world what it is that I am truly good at, which is making art, and writing, but I’m changing that right here, right now, by simply sharing myself with everyone, and telling my stories, and I’ve got nearly 40 years of stories about what I’ve seen, and what has happened to me, all swimming around in that galaxy of scars that exists within the inner world of my mind, that place I am trapped in, but can’t bear to leave.

 

My entire life, I have always felt apart from everyone else, and I think that I first recognized this feeling when I was five or so, when I started going to school, and it must be known that I hate school, even college, I could never finish it, because I hate it so much.

 

All the kids were playing. It was recess, but no one was playing with me. I stood at the peripheral of all the make believe in a purple jacket, and purple Cabbage Patch Kids earmuffs, my hands in my pockets, wanting to play. All of the other girls seemed to be blonde and wearing pink coats, and then there was me, with my pale face and eternally messy dark brown hair, my lopsided grin, and a scar on the side of my nose that looked like a string of snot.

 

Will you play with me?

 

And the little girls would snicker, move on, or outright ignore me. So I followed them.

 

Will you play with me?

 

Finally, someone agreed to play with me on the teeter totter. It may have been a boy, or it may have been a girl, I don’t really remember, but it’s not important now. I would have preferred to swing, but these were all taken, and there was this system, you see, of swinging for a bit, and then saving the swing for your friend to go next, and as I had no friends, I had no right, according to playground politics, to a turn on any of the swings.

 

But one child agreed to the teeter totter, that now extinct piece of playground equipment wherein the momentum of two bodies causes a long plank of wood to go up and down as you push at the ground with your feet.

 

What a lovely plaything this teeter totter was, but it was also the most dangerous game to play with any child, because snubbing, and ignoring the moon pale brunette with the funny scar is small compared to the way in which it is made publicly known your place in the playground pecking order, and this was always done on the teeter totter, or during that game I don’t think schools allow anymore, Red Rover, Red Rover.

 

I was so very excited. Finally I had a playmate, but we had to hurry because recess would be over soon.

 

We took our positions on either side of the apparatus of shame, as children ran about, their sneakers crunching on the playground gravel, spread over the concrete, and all of the laughter, and screeching of tiny voices, and the playground attendants blowing on their whistles. I remember that the air smelled like snow, the trees were barren, and it was cold.

 

I had a playmate, a playmate, let’s go then, let’s play.

 

My playmate went up first with laughter and joy, and then I went up, screeching at the top of my lungs like children do sometimes when they get to use their outside voices, and up and down we went like this for a few turns, and I felt happy finally. We kicked our feet harder then, to send the other one up faster, and we called out to each other, faster, higher, faster, higher, and then I was squealing, because teeter totters are so much fun when you are five years old, and the butterflies inside your belly as you fly up, and then drop down, are simply divine when you are a child, and no other kinds of pleasure exist yet.

 

Higher, faster, I cried.

 

My companion of the moment was at the bottom, and I was at the top, and then it happened, and in the blink of an eye, all of the laughter become lodged in my throat, as it that wall of oh shit, as my little frienemy hopped off their end of the teeter totter, and ran away, trailing bubbles of mean spirited laughter.

 

And there I was, suspended in midair for what seemed like ages, then I felt myself plummeting down onto the gravel covered cement, tears pricking at my eyes, making them sting, as the lodged laughter formed a lump in my throat. I tried to jump off, and I thought in my childish mind, you knew Rose, you knew. You saw this coming, you knew. And I should have known, I should have seen it coming, because never in the history of ever were other children nice to me, and still to this day, people, especially other women,  have this wicked contempt for me that I cannot, for the life of me, fucking understand.

 

The impact knocked the wind out of me, and somehow, my fingers got smashed, and then the world stopped. I couldn’t breathe, or hear, and then I realized that this had been planned, as that cruel little child joined a circle of sniggering children, hands cupped over their mouths as they whispered into each other’s ears, while casting sidelong glances at me.

 

I lay on my back for a moment, looking up at an overcast sky being scratched by the branches of leafless trees. In the distance, I heard a bell ring, and a whistle blow, and all of the children stood in lines, respective of their grade and classroom number. All of this softened, and slipped, and I closed my eyes, and cried, because everything hurt. As my breath returned to me, my whimpers turned to the ragged sobs of a very tired child who has had enough.

 

I was more humiliated, than physically injured, but everyone knows that emotional abuse takes longer to heal than bruises and scrapes on the skin, and sometimes the damage done to the mind, and soul is permanent.

 

That day was permanent, and I know that it was, because that was the day I truly felt the walls close in around me, that invisible partition that separates me from feeling included with other people, and makes me feel lonely. It’s here now, it’s all around me, right now, and no matter what I do, I cannot tear it down. It separates me from everything, and everyone else. Seldom have I ever felt as though I really belonged anywhere, or to anyone.

 

Because of this wall, I have trouble relating to others, there is so little common ground between me and anyone I know because of this space that I am trapped in, and I feel awkward because of it, and yet, I really want to be the center of attention, and I really want people to like, to love me, and yet, I feel so underserving of any love at all. In my mind, I am unlovable, and I feel this so strongly that at times, I will sabotage love, and my own happiness, and success, all because I don’t feel that I deserve it.

 

And so I sobbed there on the playground, my bright white face now red with snot dripping from my nose. An attendant called my name, only she didn’t say Rose, she said Jenifer, and I don’t go by my first name, I never have, I go by my middle name, and I don’t know why my parents chose to do this, but they did, and at times it has caused confusion. So, not recognizing that I was being called to, I remained where I was, now curled up in a fetal position, savage tears wetting my face, until I was pulled, rather roughly, by my elbow, to a standing position, and led inside.

 

This has been my life over and over again with my so called friends. The assumed friendship and cooperation is always a ruse, a lie, a prank, with the ass of the joke being me. Where is the justice in any of this? What did I ever fucking do? What did Eris ever do, because she was hated too, and so she started a war, and so I started wars as well.

 

I became a trouble maker, because I don’t like being hated for no reason, so I created reasons.

 

Shove me down on the playground, and I will put tacks in your chair.

 

Call me a country ass white honkey one more time little black boy, and I will smash your face, and bloody your nose with this text book, because all racial slurs are bad, you jerk.

 

Invite my (so called) friends to a party, but specifically ask that they not bring me? I will show up anyway, give your boyfriend a blow job in your bathroom, and steal your Victoria’s Secret fragrance collection. After that, I will get drunk, and strip naked in your front yard, dance like a stripper, and puke up all that cheap wine you served all over the lawn.

 

Yes. I became that bitch, but I’m not like that anymore, because trying to be mean back always backfired in the end, because I’m not really a mean person, and because it didn’t change the fact that I’d been rejected by my peers for whatever reason they chose, and I was still lonely. I am still lonely.

 

I’m an unseen parallel dimension existing alongside this reality, and few people there know that I exist in the way that I do.

 

It’s dark here too, but I can light it up sometimes with my dreams, and if I do this, I know that others who are like me will find me, and we will love one another completely and as we are.

 

I love you completely, and as you are, whoever you are, so give me your hands, because you’re wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration and Art

We all attach ourselves to whatever frequency is pulsating our names, be it the one we were given, or the one we chose. I chose Alizarin Rose for myself in 2004, though my given name Is Jenifer Rose McCann, and I have always gone by Rose.

 

I am a paintress first, you see, and Alizarin Crimson is a colour that I paint with often. It’s this deep translucent red colour that I love to use when I express the hair on the women I obsessively paint, who are generally set among those barren winter trees that I love so much, holding that hearburst that is my brand, and  is almost always there as well.

 

It goes without saying that everything I create is an expression of my inner world, and the women I draw, and paint are an expression of me more so than they are a true to life portrait. I paint these things because I don’t know how to paint anything else but myself, and this world within my head that I inhabit. Seldom am I completely with you in your world. I can’t be. I don’t feel belong there. My paintings are like my writing; I only write about myself because I am all that I know and this mess of a life that is mine is complicated and confusing and full of mystery that I seek to discover. Like Frida, I examine myself because I am so often alone.

 

This frequency that pulsates our names, it’s not new, it was there all along. It is, to me, this unseen, but very much felt spectrum of colours, sounds, and shapes, that glides in a continuous loop above our heads and within our hearts, and it is made of all these threads that are in turn made of smaller threads, and so on, that are all connected, and each section is a part of a gradient that is different from whatever was before, or after, but it’s important to remember that before and after mean nothing to a circle, because it always begins where it ends, and it never ends, it just keeps circling, and calling out our names.

 

As artists we reach up and within and we take a piece of this looping ethereal fabric, and we become entwined within the weave of what inspiration is, and some of us take sections that are close to each other, and this is what creates art movements within a generation of artists, thus giving a voice to those who, for whatever reason, have no voice with which to express our shared human experiences. As artists it is our job to share with others this voice of compassionate understanding, it is our job to give a voice to those who have no voice, it is our job to shine a light because we are beacons of passion and understanding, and ultimately, we belong to the world, and as we create, and share our art, we inspire others, thus catching them up in this cycle of inspiration.

 

Sometimes we let go of one section, and take up another. Always we bring things forward in the minds of other individuals who are disposed to listening, and observing, thus setting them on their own paths of discovery and healing. Art is all about sharing these discoveries, and connecting the larger outer world to our deeper inner worlds, and whatever it is that lives there, and always we must expand and grow, and facilitate this in others or we have not done our jobs as artists, because if I can keep one lonely individual alive by writing the things I write, and painting the things I paint, then I have done everything that I was meant to do as an artist, and I want you to know that I love you, whoever you are.

 

I am generally a very lonely person, no matter what the circimstances of my life. I always have been. As I write this, I will be 37 years old on the 25th of February, 2016, and I suspect that I will always feel lonely and isolated, no matter who I love, or who is loving me in return. Absolutely I am bitter, and that’s okay, other people are bitter too. This loneliness, and bitterness that I feel is an integral part of who I am as an artist at this point in my life, but it does not keep me from laughing, or loving, or living me life, and I certainly won’t allow it to make me hateful, or defeat me. Instead, it drives me to search myself, and to create, and to reach out to others for support, and to support them in return.

 

This loneliness I feel that sits in the backseat, and sometimes drives is where nearly everything that I create comes from. Perhaps that is the thread I cling to within that ethereal loop of inspiration that is within, and without every artist, no matter what kind of art is being created, but I’m not really sure. I’m not really sure about any of this, it’s just how I feel in this moment, and I had to tell you all about it, because maybe you’ve been thinking the same thing.

 

All I can be sure of is that I am here now, and if anyone reading this has ever felt like I do, and I know that so many of you do, then it must be that our names, our hearts, our minds, and our souls, are pulsating on similar frequencies, making similar sounds, and shining in similar colours. We are tuning in on each other, and though we may feel alone, we are not alone, and we can all sing about this together, because there is nothing sweeter than feeling you are understood by a stranger who speaks fluently your language of love.

 

The House On Broadway Part One

I’m digging deep into my mind, going back, finding memories, because it helps me to think about who I am now, and it helps me to write, and to process my pain. I have these memories from when I was very young, before I could use effective verbal communication, when I was barely more than a baby. Do you have these kinds of memories too? Do you think about them? Do you think about the thoughts that were pulsating through your mind before you had the language skills necessary to express them? Well I do have these memories, and I am able to access them by remembering the houses that I lived in when I had these thoughts.

 

Until I was about four, or five years old, my family lived in a this big old Victorian house in Springfield Missouri, a small rural town about three hours away from where I actually grew up, in St. Louis Missouri. I remember this house being so huge, massive almost, or maybe it seems so big in my memory because I was so small at the time, and it seemed to have so many rooms that I would hide in, and play my secret games with dead insects, and pebbles, and dolls that I would give unique haircuts to, because I never could tolerate things all being the same, but then I never could tolerate being the same in any way to anyone else, and this has always brought me personal strife, but I feel I can’t help it. I am who I am, and I am an artist, after all.

 

The house on Broadway was haunted, or whatever you want to call it. I believe in the unexplainable. I believe in every God. I believe that a spirit can inhabit a stone, and I believe that I lived in a haunted house, and I will get to that, but first, I have to walk you through this old Victorian house as I remember it.

 

It was a two story house. I can open the front door in my mind, and there is a living room, and a staircase leading up. The front room leads to the dining room, the dining room leads to a sun room that in my memory is made of windows, and there is a back door, and a long steep concrete staircase leading to a fenced back yard. Off to the side of the dining room, there is a kitchen with a breakfast nook, then a bathroom, and a master bedroom.  Upstairs there were two bedrooms that I remember, one for my two brothers, and one for me and my sister, then a short flight of stairs leading to what used to be called “the maids quarters”, but my parents rented this out as an apartment to their gay friends, Bernard, and Darell.

 

I am the oldest girl, but I am the middle child. Jeremy is the oldest, Jacob is next, I am third, Emily is the fourth, and later, Katie came. I had four siblings, but now I have three, because Jacob is dead, but, that’s another story, and I have to stay inside of the house on Broadway.

 

It was in this house that They began coming to me, they were these shadows that to me looked like these dark fluid noodles, and that’s what I called Them, The Noodles.  I would open my eyes, and I couldn’t move, and that’s when they would come to me. They would be there, moving about the room, and I felt safe with them. They would sit in the wooden rocking chair that was between my bed, and Emily’s crib, and they would observe me, and comfort me. I felt like they cared about me, and maybe they did, because they weren’t scary yet, but I was innocent then. When they were with me, I wouldn’t feel so alone and different, but then, They knew the terrible secret I was keeping, because they saw it happen.

 

Ever since I can remember, there has been this invisible wall between me and the world. It surrounds me, and confines me, thus regulating me to my own mind, where I developed this rich inner world that did not require others, though I longed to share it. My inner world was, and is so very beautiful, but beauty can be so heartbreakingly lonely, and such is my existence here, now, as then. I have never felt like I was a part of anything, or that I belong here among you, so I stay inside of mind, because it’s safer there. This has always been, and will always be, and no matter how suffocating the loneliness, this huge head of mine is preferable to the realities, and disapointments awaiting me in your world.

 

The two gay men who lived in the maids quarters were not a couple, but they were friends.  Darrel was a drag queen, and both of his ears were pierced, and you must understand how radical this was, being that we all lived in a small town in rural Missouri, and it was the 1980’s. Darrel had a collection of wigs, all of them big, and curly, and black as ravens wings, resting on mannequin heads that he had decorated with the most wonderfully garish makeup. They were like little alters, those mannequin heads, and I loved to look at them, because all of the glitter, and bright colours made me feel happy, and in my childish mind, I thought that they were beautiful, and I thought that Darrel looked like a princess whenever he would dress like a woman, and I wanted to look like that when I grew into a lady. One time, I remember Darrell was babysitting me, and decide that it would be fun to play beauty parlor, so he did my makeup, and I remember there was a lot of black eyeliner, bright blue eye shadow, and the reddest lipstick, and he crowned me with a curly black wig. Then he stood me in front of a mirror, and told me that I was queen, and I felt so special in that moment, it was a kind of magic that I can’t forget, because I won’t forge itt. I can’t allow only pain to live in my memory, there has to be some kindness within my darkly beautiful inner world, right?

 

The only thing that I remember about Bernard though, is that he was black, and that once he took me to church with him, and I was not very happy about this, because I hated church, and anyone who was raised Catholic knows that Mass is terminally boring. But this church was different. There were all kinds of different people there, and a rock band, and I remember being given a tambourine, and then encouraged to play it and dance, and clap my hands. Then there was a puppet show, and snacks, arts and crafts, and then all of the children were allowed to play while the adults talked and mingled, and drank fruit punch from little paper cups. It was lovely, but I never went back, and I don’t know why, but I can only assume it had something to do with my dad believing that only Catholics go to Heaven, but Dennis McCann is a terrible person, and an even worse parent, so he would think a thing like that because he is an ass hole, and my respect for him at this point in my life is nonexistent.

 

Whenever I remember the house on Broadway, I seem to remember that there was also a back staircase, but I’m not sure, but I remember something like that existing in that house and I think that it ended in the kitchen. I remember creeping down these stairs when I was very little, just out of diapers little, or very near to it, so that I could slip into bed next to my mother, and nurse. Yes, my mother nursed me until I was two years old, and I remember it. I have very few kind, and comforting memories of this woman, the sweetness of breast milk being one of them. Do you know what breast milk tastes like to a child? It tastes like steamed milk with honey, and it’s soft in your mouth like melting butter, and this memory is wonderful to me, because I felt so loved in those moments, and they are such a stark contrast to my later memories her, Brenda, for as time passed, and I grew older, she always reminded me what a bad little girl I was, and that I was a disappointment, and a burden, but she did that to all of us, and I don’t know why, other than she was angry at her life, and so she took it out on her children.

 

And so it was that one night I came creeping down these stairs, and Dennis was standing in the kitchen kissing a man. It wasn’t a peck on the cheek kind of a kiss, but the deep kind. It was the kind of kiss where you tie your tongue, and lips up in a knot with someone else’s, and you come away breathless, wet, or hard, and ready for what is next. My dad was kissing a man in this way, but I did not think anything of it, just as I did not think anything of the two gay men, one of whom was a drag queen, living upstairs in the maid’s quarters. I only wanted to be picked up and placed in bed next to my mother so that I could nurse.

 

The man my dad was kissing pulled away. I stood there in my t-shirt, and training pants, staring, and wanting to say something, but the words in my mind would not come to my mouth, so I could only scowl. Then my dad spoke to me in that annoying high register baby speech that I absolutely hated, oh look at you sweetie, do you want mommy? I stomped my little bare foot on the torn linoleum, and thought, of course I want my mommy you fucking idiot. But I couldn’t make my little mouth say this, because my tongue kept getting in the way, and my mouth could not make those shapes and sounds, and I was very frustrated because the Noodles were in my room and had woken me up, and I was in need of comfort, and here this asshole was, not giving me my mommy.

 

All of these things that I wanted to say to my dad, they exploded in my mind, and I wanted to tell him what I thought, but I just couldn’t connect the words to my mouth. I wanted to tell him to talk to me in his real voice, and I remember thinking, Dad, you’re a fucker, but I just couldn’t fucking say it, and anyway, my mom wasn’t at home, she was working nights as a nurses aid in a retirement home, and I wasn’t allowed to nurse anymore because Emily had been born, and I wasn’t the baby anymore. So I did the only thing I could do, I screamed the shrillest scream I could muster, and I peed on the floor.

 

I don’t remember what happened  after that, or who the man was that I saw Dennis kissing, but what I do know, is that after that night, words came to me more easily, and ever after fuck has been my favourite of all the words there are to use, because the word fuck can be used to describe nearly anything, and I say it often.

Fuck.

 

 

 

Simple Rose

Don’t call me a girl.

For I have not been a girl

In a very long time,

And I am not a lady either,

Having not the reserve,

Nor the social grace.

Neither do I want to be a woman,

For I am not the other half of a man.

I am a simple rose,

And maybe I am bitter,

With thorns that rip and tear,

Please remember,

They only serve to protect me.

But I will not wither in that ice,

Instead, I will burn it away,

And be free,

And do the thing

That frightens you the most;

Use my voice.

 

 

 

My Old Lovers

The thing about drugs

Is that they never judged me,

Or ridiculed me,

Or told me

That I was awful

At all of the things,

That I love to do.

They coated the pain

Of this chronic loneliness,

And sadness,

That I have felt

All my life,

In a sea of forgetful warmth.

Drugs never abused me.

I abused drugs.

They made me feel different,

And happy for a moment,

And I thought

That I could unlock parts of my mind,

And sometimes I did.

But, at the end of the day,

I found myself, more often than not,

Locked in the dark, dank, and lonely closet

Of the despair

That is addiction,

Isolating myself in dirty public restrooms

With a dull needle

Full of blood in my arm,

A glass pipe in my mouth,

Burning my lips and fingers,

Powder flaking

From my bleeding nose,

My face stuck to floor,

In a pool of dried vomit.

After each blackout,

After each overdose,

After each suicide attempt,

I would wonder;

How did I become

That which I never thought

I would never be?

Let Me Drown

Let me drown, and please don’t stop me,

Because I never promised you anything.

I never said that I would stay,

I only said that you could come in,

And so now you occupy a space

That I am just now leaving,

And that’s not my problem anymore.

I’m not your problem anymore.

Let me drown, and please don’t stop me,

I told you that I don’t like to share

Anything that lives inside,

Or what I have declared is mine.

Let me drown, and please don’t stop me,

The door is open, and I am going,

To a place where you are not,

And I can exist in solitude

With all of these lonely moments

That I have had to live.

Inside

I live alone inside of my sad little brain,

And it’s not big enough for this inventory of thoughts,

And I can’t shut the factory down.

So I create art.

I don’t know what else to do,

I’m not good at anything else,

And it hurts so fucking bad.

And I think that nothing

Can soften the jagged edges

Of what I have to live with;

Myself.

And all of the judgment

That I have received

Is nothing

Compared to what I do

To myself

In my own mind

Whenever I am alone.

I hear them,

And this is what they say;

You are a moron,

And a fraud.

You are am imposter.

No one wants to read your sophomoric ramblings,

Or look at your silly, girly paintings of trees.

You’re a poser, and you shit in a bag,

And you fucking stink.

I fight with myself constantly,

And I don’t know how to fight back,

Or how to win,

Other than

To do the things

That I am most

Afraid to do.