One of my favorite stories to tell people about me is that I used to believe I was the reincarnation of Joan of Arc. When I was eight, nine, ten, really honestly just a baby. I had a picture book about her and she was so beautiful to me, this girl with her bright bright eyes. In the paintings the sky behind her was always so blue, the sun shining on her armor. I thought she looked so tall. I believed in reincarnation the way I believed in everything, vicariously and with open, reaching hands. I felt myself carrying this Joan of Arc purpose around with me, fluttering gently underneath my ribs. 

It is hard to write a children’s book about Joan of Arc without doing some (understandable) glossing of the Facts as They Stand, and so to me Joan was mostly a figment of something bright and brave, a gleaming thing eventually dissolved into smoke. I called my mother to write this piece, asked her to find the book in my childhood bedroom and describe it to me, but she couldn’t find it—I don’t remember but I wonder if we gave it away at some point, if some other girl is running her fingers over the lines of Joan’s face, gentle with wonder. 

My parents had every Narnia book on audiobook and I spent so many hours listening to them while lying on my back in my carpeted room, sea-foam green and blue, posters of horses on the walls. Whispering along to the audiobook with Lucy the Valiant, “I think—I don’t know—but I think I could be brave enough.” I chewed cheap stringy gum and curled my hair by putting it in braids overnight and all the time my huge baby heart was searching desperately for something to defend. Searching for a way to be a girl who talks to saints.

I am not telling you a new story but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. I am young so I am still waiting to grow out of anything. To be a girl is always, a little bit, to be a story about a girl. A dozen stories about a girl. She’s the kind of girl who. This song repeats this sentence over and over but it’s not the ending that matters.  She’s the kind of girl who. Every avenue of being a person a kind of girl. A kaleidoscope human built out of stories. A thousand invisible forms stretching off into the distance, all of them never coming home again. Her patron saint, broken and lame and absolutely insane. Listen, I am pretty crazy. I don’t like that word but I am pretty pretty crazy and sometimes I read back through the journals I kept when I was fourteen, fifteen, sixteen and I was so paralyzed by a hunger to be believed, to be a shining thing like nobody else. A startled fly frozen in the delicate amber of my sleepy little life. She’s the kind of girl who’ll smash herself down in a night. She’s the kind of girl who’ll fracture her mind til it’s light. Probably I am. Probably I always was.

This song gives advice, over and over again. So darling let go of her hand, let go of her hand, let go of her hand. It insists. “You’ll be to blame,” it says. Listen to me. Those girls are only trouble. But still, Regina’s voice is also a girl-voice, gentle and warm, matter-of-fact. Regina singing “she’ll break her own heart and you know that she’ll break your heart too”. The girl in the song is still a girl. The girl in the song sings the song, too. I think back to my smaller self and I am so fond of her that I almost can’t contain it. Biting my nails chewing my gum breaking my own heart like a thousand more of me I, too, sometimes feel brave.

- s


Made a lyric comic (rest of it is under the cut to prevent dashboard clogging)

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I started falling in love early. Three times before age sixteen –– I’ve never written that anywhere, because it sounds too hysterically self-aggrandizing to be true, but as a wise man once said, feelings are the only facts, and the only word I had for how I felt was love. Maybe if I’d been allowed to read more magazines I could’ve brushed them off as crushes but I was raised on fairytales and crushes were for people at summer camp. I had no use for a lipgloss-sticky word cribbed from teen movies. I needed everything so much bigger.

But what fairytales don’t teach you is that love can end: it starts with a flood and it ends with a trickle. You believe you cannot live without someone until the moment you realize, actually, you can, and not only that but you will, and not only that but you must. What once seemed like an unending wellspring of feeling, feeling so much you were on the verge of drowning, lifts, lessens. You dry out. You wake up clean.

At twelve I reckoned only in soulmates and forevers; by fourteen I had to find new theories that could make sense of the material of my experience. Guilt rested cloak-like on my baby shoulders whenever I thought about my personal failures to reach happily ever after. My own particular neuroses — we won’t go into the laundry list of their origins — meant being burdened less with fear of being left than with fear of leaving. I was terrified to discover that I had to orchestrate endings. I was terrified to think I might break hearts.

So I looked for new stories. There aren’t many good ones, especially for girls. The easiest way to shoulder the guilt is by assuming you are the problem, so I adapted a view of myself as fickle, or especially flighty. It turns my stomach with squeamish sadness to read old journals and see how often I called myself a whore — a fifteen year old’s way of scolding herself for not wanting to be with someone forever, the way the tales teach.

I envied the way men in stories got to be so callous about endings. There were so many ways for them to let go without consequence. I yearned to live so easily, always able to amble on to the next big adventure without invalidating what came before. I needed my own version of Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, my own James Bond movie, some way of learning to throw myself against the hard surfaces of the world in order to grow stronger instead of cracking.

Bartender is where I found it. Here is the wretchedness of a rough-edged, hard-shelled, whiskey-soaked narrator rendered in quiet girl-tones. Here is the responsibility of hurt made bearable by an incontrovertible gentleness. Here is an acknowledgement that the ache of losing love is a hurt too. Love will be the death of me, not by drowning but by its opposite.

Sometimes when I was a kid I’d get the chance to play in the ocean all day, throwing my body against the waves, leaning and leaning against the force that came pushing through the sea and held me up, and sometimes, at the very end of the day, stretched out salt-smoothed and sun-warmed under an unfamiliar blanket in a strange place, I could feel the waves pushing against me, ghosts rocking me to sleep. That’s how it feels after two shots of whiskey and a beer chaser, and how it feels to remember a love that you were in once and aren’t in anymore: the force of waves you once threw yourself into fading slowly until you wake to a new day.

- c


Blue lips, blue veins

Blue, the color of our planet from far, far away…

[Blue Lips, Regina Spektor]

idk if I have the sTRENGTH or tIME to do a complete songcomic now but I’ve been experimenting with this style of inking in my midtone sketchbook. This song inspired a whole bunch of imagery with me and i’d love to explore it more definitely! I liked the thought of pre-revolutionary Alfred being a little farm country yeoman in the early 1700s, growing up, and then moving to the new towns springing up on the coast and being overwhelmed by all the people :0


PIano Rock / Singer Songwriter
Associated With: The Dresden Dolls, Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra
RIYL: Regina Spektor, Tori Amos, Joanna Newsom, PJ Harvey, Fiona Apple

Sometimes I feel like I no longer relate to Amanda Palmer and put her songs behind me and then she throws herself in my face by releasing a song like Machete. I remember what an incredible songwriter she is and why I fell in love with The Dresden Dolls in the first place over 10 years ago. This song was written for her best friend Anthony who passed away from cancer last year. Bring the tissues. I prefer the musician Amanda over the social media queen Amanda or the book writing Amanda (although it was a good book). I just wanna hear more and more songs and see her go out on tour again.

“i have never liked the box of knives
you said was a paradox because you’re kind
but withstood a childhood that robbed you blind
of love that was safe and so you learned to fight
x3 what do i do with this stuff?
it seems like yesterday i called you up
i had a terrible case of the past
i didn’t know how to get it off
i didn’t know how to get it off and you took
your machete
and you sliced through the vines that wrapped around me
and you said
i don’t know what i’m doing
so i’ll just keep on cutting
it’s worth a little blood to get your arms free i have never liked the box of knives
you said was a paradox because you’re kind
but withstood a childhood that robbed you blind
of love that was safe and so you learned to fight
x2 what do i do with this stuff?
it seems like yesterday i was in love
i kept of covering the soft parts up
i didn’t know how to get them off
i didn’t know how to get them off and you took your machete
and you hacked through the woods in the surrounding
and you said
i don’t know where i’m going
i just know that i’m heading from
the dead things piling up behind me and you took
your machete
and you carved out a path to my chest and you said see
there’s nothing not worth keeping
you’ve felt so many beatings
nothing’s going to work if you believe me
nothing’s going to work if you believe me i have never liked the box of knives
you said was a paradox because you’re kind
but withstood a childhood that robbed you blind
of love that was safe and so you learned to fight
x2 i have never liked the box of knives
i took it to the oceanside the day you died
i stood out on the dock
no matter how hard i tried
i couldn’t drop them in
and i collapsed and cried: what do i do with this stuff?
it seems like yesterday you were alive
and it’s as if you never really died
and it’s as if you never really died. and you took
your machete
and you said boo guess who
but seriously, beauty
you said
see ?
you get the drill now don’t you
it’s not a will or won’t
you can’t keep making symbols out of nothing so i took your machete
and i sliced off your head and you laughed
and you said see
it’s just like anti matter
it’s dumbo’s magic feather
you don’t need me here to cut you
you don’t need me here to cut you
you don’t need me here to cut you
you don’t need me here to cut you.”

i’m still fucked up over “your hair was long when we first met” and the image of a lesbian “samson” asking her first female lover to cut her hair

the speaker cutting samson’s hair is a realistic representation of samson choosing to code herself as a lesbian, yes, and it’s also a symbol of her “downfall,” i.e. the disapproval she and the speaker will face for being true to who they are

“history books forgot about us/and the bible didn’t mention us, not even once,” because the stories of wlw have been deliberately left out of the record, but despite all this erasure leaving no examples to model themselves on, the speaker and her samson tried to make their own way together

ultimately, they were young (i’m imagining teenagers) and couldn’t deal with the homophobia they faced where they grew up (“oh, we couldn’t bring the columns down/yeah, we couldn’t destroy a single one”) and had to end things

but the speaker doesn’t regret any of it, and that’s why the song ends with a repetition of, “you are my sweetest downfall/i loved you first”

this is the only samson and delilah symbolism i ever want to consider again and i’m crying