thalia hall

SEATTLE DISPATCH! i answer lots of questions (FB round-up), plus a life/tour update….

hola comrades!

greetings from the road….well….that was the first week of Book Tour. seven nights of signing non-stop and a shit-ton of hugs.
i took last night off in seattle – whitney and i crashed at ksenia anske’s house, who’s our seattle tour guest tonight – and borscht and vodka were consumed in quantity:

yesterday on the flight to seattle, i think i took my first real deep breath since january.
i read the entire fucking new york times for the first time in 7 months.
i finally looked at the window and felt calm. thank fuck.

for all of you who are reading the book and loving it, and SHARING it…thank you. my gratitude is deep.

the book tour has been incredible, the stage getting deeper every night as i talk to my interview partners (so far: amy cuddy, thomas dolby, kyle cassidy, brandon stanton, peter sagal, dessa, and kevin kling….). the topics that seem to be rising to the top: compassion, pain, vulnerability, trolling, fear and regret, how art matters…and a smattering of lena dunham, fraud police, trolling, and the real-life/internet divide. it’s been like having an awesome dinner party every single night.

we’ve been filming every night of tour, and will start pummeling you highlight by highlight with the footage…..(if you subscribe to the youtube channel most of the interviews have already been posted)….they’ve been amazing. aaaaaaamaaaaaaaazing. and…i owe you a longer blog about the amazing kambriel crowdsourced kimono….but here’s an amazing picture of Me in It, after the amazing show in chicago at thalia hall.

i look like a unitarian minister in this kimono, for sure. UU ministers on twitter agree. her blog about the kimono is here, and it’s cry-worthy. thank you for sending in fabric. it’s been literally keeping me warm. it was fucking ten degrees in minneapolis.

i made a pitstop that day at the chicago school of rock and we played a short set for a crazy crowd of a few hundred people:
1. in my mind (afp)
2. how soon is now (the smiths)
3. don’t you forget about me (simple minds)
4. mad world (tears for fears, but also kinda the gary jules version)
5. sing (dresden dolls).

the kids KILLED IT. footage coming soon.

and some beautiful shots have been surfacing from the signings (this is from NYC, by jimmy franco):

turns out, found via facebook, that this is Sarah Staalesen….
and then Cyrill Xavier Nikolai Damgård added this response on facebook, which made my day….

and this made my day today….jaime (@wojo4hitz) came to the show in DC and bought two books to hand-deliver the next night to another show she was going to….tegan and sara. mission accomplished:

THANKS JAIME.

more soon, more soon.

i love you guys, from the road.

and HERE’S THE Q&A from facebook the other day. thanks to nikki for pulling the relevant material off facebook and organizing it into bits!

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On The Book Itself + Tour

Millicent Hughes: Amanda Palmer, were there any rituals, mantras, meditations you did to help keep you focused when you were writing your book?

Amanda Palmer: does three strong flat whites in a row count as a ritual? because i became a coffee FIEND while writing this sucker. in all seriousness: i spent SEVEN SOLID weeks, with no days off, in melboune australia writing this book. not editing: just writing…like daily word vomit pouring out of my mouth. my days went like this: wake up at 10. go to yoga. get out of yoga. pick a cafe. take laptop to cafe. order coffee #1. write 1,000 words. order coffee #2. write another 1,000 words. feel awkward being at cafe #1 too long. move to cafe #2. order lunch. order coffee #3. write another 1,000 words. make a phone call or two. write another 1,000 words. go to bar #1. order wine #1. write another thousand words. order wine #2. watch words getting blurry and my abilty to type decrease. order wine #3. write 200 words. delete 200 words. get sorrwoful. bum cigarette from cute bartender. contemplate not writing a book. give up. go home, go to bed at 1 am. wake at 10. repeat. i did this for seven weeks without a break. wait: that’s not true. i did take one night off to go to white night. that was wonderful.

Kristen Valentine Lepionka: What made you decide to write the book “out of order” with stories moving back and forth in time? It made for a very rich read and I’m curious about what you were thinking when you chose to do that.

Amanda Palmer: it made more emotional sense. and it’s the way i like making art. all the plays i’ve ever written skip around in time – i think it makes for a more visible emotional truth, sometimes.

Leah Culbertson-Fægre: You’ve mentioned that when you started writing the book you had a suitcase full of reading material you thought you’d be working from, but ended up making it more memoir and less research. My question is, can we have your reading list??

Amanda Palmer: ooohhh! YES! thats a wonderful idea. off the top of my head: Daring Greatly, Brene Brown. The Gift, Lewis Hyde. Free Culture, Larry Lessig. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (she’s a big inspiration to me, as a writer). Cyndi Lauper’s memoir. Alexis Ohanian’s book about starting reddit, the title of which i’m forgetting. Kathy Acker’s “blood and guts in high school”.

Jennifer Pierce: I was at the Cedar last night, wonderful! (I am one of the freaks that read the book already.) Did you see the basket of free tampons in the bathroom there? I saw it and thought, how perfect! If Amanda needs one, she won’t have to shout out. All bathrooms should have the Good Karma tampon basket.

Amanda Palmer:  ALMOST ALL YOGA STUDIOS have free tampons in the bathroom. and i’ve seen some restaurants do it. hooray

James Tarraga: Amanda, you mentioned that there were a good number of stories you fought to include in the book, but they still got cut. Are you thinking of releasing these stories in some other way?

Amanda Palmer: that’s a great question, and I’m still not sure of the answer. the book was nearly TWICE AS LONG as the finished draft when I first compiled my two months of non-stop writing. there were a lot of stories cut, but the majority of the stuff cut was “internet stuff”….things about how I use twitter and the blog and so on and so forth. I figured that stuff might even be compilable into a little book of its own. but as far as the cut stories, I may just blog them bit by bit….

Ronald Ghaleb: Will the book be translated to French ? When ? My mother does not read English and loves you ! She saw you at La Boule Noire in Paris in 2008 !

Amanda Palmer: YES! it will be, and german, and portuguese, spanish, and japanese, and many other languages….i’ve sold off rights at this point to about 9 different countries. i have no idea how long the translations will take, but i’m hoping to come to paris to promote the book whenever it’s out. tell your mom to come say hi.

Nadia Elizabeth Tucker: Hello Amanda, Firstly, I’m only a quarter of the way into your book (it’s the first real book I’ve read for a long time other than my university textbooks) and it’s an absolute pleasure to read – and lose myself in – your streams of consciousness and personal philosophies. Truly, thank you for making it so polished and so very genuine and sincere.

Question: You’ve said it’s felt very empowering being able to resist reading the inevitable negative feedback from various sources. I’d imagine it’s incredibly difficult not to – what are your tips for resisting that kind of masochistic temptation?

Amanda Palmer: thank you! i’m glad you like the book…..really, it’s just like resisting anything. wine. cigarettes. drama. when i decide that i need to cut something out (like, say, i decide to go sober for a month, which i did the month before i started writing, to clean my system) then the best way i’ve found, is to announce my intentions to everyone around me. that way i’m beholden to my entire network of friends, and my community, and stepping out of my commitments feels like a breach of trust to them, not just against myself. so when i decided not to read any reviews (which came out of a long conversation with Jamy Ian Swiss, my book doula), i told neil, told my publishers, told my team, and them, lastly, told my blog. and i turned off my google news alerts. and after i did all that, i was like: well, NOW if i click on the link i see on twitter saying “17 reasons amanda palmer’s book is made of pure bullshit” i’m really….breaking my promise, to everyone. so, final advice: announce your intentions. it helps.

On Love & Friendship

Kate Large: When you were talking about getting married you asked “can we both sleep with other people?” Would you describe yourself as having an open marriage, and how does that work? Or did you just feel you needed to ask? And a giant hug on the abortion stuff.

Amanda Palmer: thanks. hug taken. (abortions are hard and lots of people don’t talk about them. but pretty much every girlfriend i have has been through one or more). and our marriage…yes, it’s open. sometimes we close it down if there’s too much going on or it feels like we can’t manage the extra-ness of other people or energy in our lives. but basically, it works, and we have a 100% open communication policy about it. we can do what we want, and there aren’t super-hard-fast rules (and the rules that we do have change as needed) but we need to inform each other of every rollick. we’ve learned a lot about our own preferences and jealous tendencies over the years. certain things really set each of us on edge, and we don’t find out what those things are until we bump into them. it’s not an easy way to do a marriage – in some senses it’s way easier to keep things closed and simple – but neither of us wanted to ban ourselves from intimacy with other people, and it’s been a given since the start of our relationship.

Jacob Schnabel: In your book you said you had never read any Neil Gaiman before meeting him. Do you think it’s important that you read everything he writes and vice versa, he listen to everything you’ve recorded?

Amanda Palmer: actually….no, i don’t. i’ve read almost everything he’s written since we met, but at a guess i’ve only read about a quarter of what neils written. it’s a little lopsided: i’ve only (only??) made about 7 albums. but you can hear them all in one afternoon….

Joanna Shelton: how are you ever going to answer all these questions?

Amanda Palmer: i’m not :)

Whitney Hudson Wright:  How is Anthony doing?

Amanda Palmer: thanks for asking. he’s here, you know, lurking on facebook. (C. Anthony Martignetti). he’s….not great. the bone marrow transplant that he was supposed to get a few weeks ago was delayed because they found cancer in his brain. and his white blood cell count is really low. they drilled a hole in his skull and put a shunt in so they could admister chemicals directly into his brain to defeat the cancer there. he’s in the hospital today getting that treatment, plus his usual chemo for the leukemia, and it’s all a bit scary. he’s been sick for so so so long, but he keeps hanging in there. it’s been hard to be on tour while all this is happening. i don’t want to lose my friend. and if he goes, i want to be around. it’s why i haven’t scheduled any other touring or anything for the next six months. i plan to just be in boston, with him, going through whatever needs to be be gone through.

Christina Stephens Allison: I adore you. Fucking. Adore. You. I don’t have a question, but just wanted to let you know other fans are here watching, supporting, loving. xoxo

Amanda Palmer: thanks xxxx

Laura Day: I found your book really inspirational, just wanted to thank you for writing it

Amanda Palmer: love.

Kat Anderson: How are you doing?

Amanda Palmer: awwww, thanks for asking. i love this question. i’m okay, actually, and so so relieved the book is finally out. the show last night in minneapolis was just INCREDIBLE….they keep getting better and better and deeper every night. having Whitney Moses Bodywork on tour with me is wonderful too….she’s a great road manager and my good friend and a perfect wingman, and this timing is perfect for her because she’s got a wrist injury and can’t work at home (she’s a massage therapist usually). this morning we woke up early and swam and worked out together and talked about life. i just drank a double espresso. i’m flying to seattle in a few hours. life feels manageable.

Liz Simon: Hi Amanda! I actually came to your midnight book signing in Cambridge, and was a little too overwhelmed to think of anything meaningful to say to you when I got my book signed, and then felt really dumb afterwards for missing the opportunity to connect with you in some way since I’d been in love with your music for years. But I realized a question I’m really curious to ask you – I’m about halfway through your book and I love it so much already, so I’m really sorry if this is something you talk about at all in the second half of the book. I struggle a lot with impostor syndrome as well (Just finished my degree in computer science at MIT, and I’m constantly feeling like I’m not really cut out for that field)… I was wondering if you ever struggled at all with impostor syndrome in terms of labeling yourself bisexual (like fears of not deserving that label without proving or justifying it somehow) or how that experience was for you – because that was a huge thing for me growing up that took me until very recently to realize how to deal with. I saw a quote by you on this that I loved but was just wondering if you had any other experience to share. Thanks for answering our questions, I think you’re amazing.

Amanda Palmer: hmmm. not really. that’s one area of my life where i haven’t felt a whole lot of stress. i made out with my first girl when i was probably, i don’t know, 17, and i knew back then that i was attracted to both sexes at different times for different reasons. i came out to my parents back then and they were like “oh look, another cute and teenage phase, like your vegetarianism!” and i felt totally patronized. and look, ma. i’m 38, still making out with girls and boys, and still not eating steak. who knew.

Amy Alcenius: Since you are just out of the shower and still browless, my question is “How do you decide what your eyebrows will look like day-to-day?

Amanda Palmer: i don’t plan them. i doodle according to what i think looks aesthetically pretty. they’ve morphed over the years. you should see what they looked like back in….oof….2001? they were way thicker and ornate. they’ve thinned out, dude.http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/…/uncate…/dresdendolls.jpg

Val Thomas: I absolutely love the part where you make Neil say words with his adorable accent. What other words are your favorite, and can you get him to do a YouTube video saying them ???

Amanda Palmer: HA. you’ll have to make that request of mr gaiman. but honestly….download any audiobook. The Accent pretty much works with any word. one word i left out that i love: massage. he stresses the vowels totally differently. it’s adorbs.

Kori Lloyd: Did you ever expect to be such a large form of comfort for your fans?

Amanda Palmer: no. i didn’t. when i started this, at 25 in the dresden dolls, i had no idea that the relationship would grow into such a family. i didn’t even think to fantasize about it…all i knew is that i was a performer and a songwriter and i wanted to be able to make my living that way. in the book, though, i talk about going to see the legendary pink dots for the first time…and how amazed i was that the crowd felt like a community, like a family. so i knew such things were possible.

Amanda Palmer: wait, i’ll paste that excerpt in….

“You probably don’t know who Edward Ka-spel is.

Edward Ka-spel is the singer of my favorite band, The Legendary Pink Dots. They formed in the early ‘80s in the UK and they’ve been recording and touring for more than 30 years. They still play to crowd of hundreds more often than thousands, and their fanbase resembles a small family. I’m in this family. I joined when I was 14 and my first boyfriend, Jason Curtis, started making me Pink Dots mix tapes. The psychedelic mash of synthesizers, violins, and drum machines, plus the raw emotional honesty of the lyrics, stole me straight out of the clutches of the “standard” alternative music I’d been listening to (The Cure and Depeche Mode, mostly). But along with the music – which we had to hunt down in used CD record shops – came the community.

The first time I saw the band play live was at a small all-ages club in Boston. I was 16. I had barely experienced any live music, and certainly nothing like this: a band I loved, on a stage five feet in front of me. That night changed my life: I was finally experiencing, in person, the songs that had been the soundtrack of my life for the past year, the lyric-images I’d memorized after hours of headphone listening on walks to school, the worlds that had been unfolded into my heart through the channel of my ears—I was hearing them, here, now, in a moment that would never exist again. I was standing in a room with 300 people who seemed to have formed a helpful, warm, connected comradeship by virtue of loving One Thing, and, by extension, one another. It seemed that this whole scene of people had formed a sort of open secret-society around their love of this strange music. I hadn’t even known this was possible. I also hadn’t been expecting to meet the band.

Meet the band? I asked Jason.

Yes, he said, they always do this. And he was right: there they were, selling their own CDs and shirts while holding court in the dim light of the club as the grumpy bar crew dismantled the stage. I stood in line, waiting to meet Edward, trying to think of what I could possibly say that could have any meaning to him whatsoever. And then, for a moment, we were face-to-face.

It’s my dream, I said, looking right into his eyes, to make music as honest as yours.

Edward smiled and took my hand. He was as kind and warm as if I were a long-lost friend. We chatted for a minute, what about I’ll never remember. I was floating.

The conversation was fuzzy, but I’ll never forget that brief encounter. I didn’t feel like a fan meeting a rock star. I didn’t feel like a groupie. I felt like a friend.

Two years later, when I was about 18, the Dots came through Boston again on tour, and I was lucky enough to be invited to tag along to the after-party, being held at my friend Alan’s house, where the band was crashing. Alan ran the fan’s online bulletin board system. After the show, we sat in Alan’s living room, sharing beer and stories. Jon, another member of my trusted Pink Dots family, and who hosted the band’s website, said, out of the blue: Edward, did you know Amanda’s a songwriter? She plays piano. She’s pretty good.

I froze. No no no no no no no, I thought.

Edward actually looked interested.

Really? he said. Do you have any of her recordings?

Alan, do you have Amanda’s demo tape kicking around? Jon asked.

I’d made a four-track tape recording of a few of my piano songs with a few cheap microphones in my parents’ living room, and Alan had one of the twenty copies in existence.

I think so, said Alan, rummaging around in a milk crate. Yeah! Here it is….

No no no no no no no no, I thought.

He popped the tape into the stereo, and I sat there trying not to throw up while Edward and the collected company listened to my singing through the speakers.

Hearing my own voice paralyzed me. Another voice that I knew intimately rose up inside of me:

I can’t write songs. I can’t sing. I have a fucking phony English accent and THESE PEOPLE ARE ENGLISH. How humiliating. And god, my lyrics are so pretentious and stupid and self-indulgent. Who the fuck do I think I am?

I wanted to run. I wasn’t ready to be judged, and certainly not here, in this room, by my hero. After two songs (one a fast-pounding punk rant about my nail-biting habit, the other a dirge about the loss of my virginity set in a metaphorical playground), Alan snapped off the tape player.

There! She’s good, right? Edward and the band nodded affably and the conversation turned back to the show, politics, and other bohemian topics.

I was shaking. I stepped outside to smoke a clove cigarette, and was sitting on the steps in the cold autumn darkness, lighting it, inhaling sharply and trying to calm myself down, when the door rattled shut behind me. It was Edward. He sat down next to me and lit his own cigarette. I’d never been alone with him before.

I want to tell you something, Amanda.

I had no idea what was coming, but I trusted him to be kind. God, I trusted him more than anyone or anything else in the world at that moment. But I was still afraid.

Yeah? I said, nonchalantly.

Your songs are good, Amanda. And I’m not just saying that.

I stared at him in awe.

I get given a lot of music, he continued. It’s like that on the road, you know, we get handed mountains of demo tapes every night. And they’re, you know, not always good. Your songs are good. I don’t know what your plans are. But I hope you keep going. I just wanted to say that.

And he stubbed out his cigarette and went back into the house, leaving me on the porch, feeling an emotion I can only describe as ecstasy. I stayed on that cloud for days, walking around in a daze, thinking that my fate had somehow been decided for me.

Nobody had ever said that to me before. Nobody qualified, at least. Nobody who really counted. I try to recall the size and height of that feeling every time I’m talking to a younger musician who summons the courage to play me their stuff. I bear in mind that I may be the only full-time musician in their life who’s ever said,

Yes. You’re allowed to go do that.

The next time they came through Boston on tour, I was in college, and came back to town for the show. I talked my parents, god bless them, into hosting five English indie rock stars (plus a merch guy and a sound guy) in our suburban house. Some of them slept in the attic, some in the van outside, and I slept over at Jason’s so they could take my bed. Early the next morning, I hurried back to fix them all breakfast before they drove off to the next tour stop. Seeing my favorite band eating in the dining room where my family celebrated Thanksgiving made my brain turn upside-down. I had never put so much love into a batch of scrambled eggs.

I’d learned that it was pointless trying to tell these people what their music had meant to me. It meant everything. Their songs were the soundtrack to my life. I was modeling my style of songwriting after their catalog. But it would just sound trite if I tried to explain it out loud.

But I could make them eggs.”

On Life

Jillian Freund: Was there a moment in your life that was so significant that everything else in your life became defined as either pre or post that moment? What was it?

Amanda Palmer: well, you could look backwards and see a lot of those. meeting brian. meeting neil. anthony moving in next door. but i never had a OH MY GOD HOLY FUCK IT ALL MAKES SENSE moment where everything changed or came into focus. or rather: i HAVE had those moments (usually tripping, or drunk, or deep into day 4 or 5 of a yoga or meditation retreat) and what i’ve learned is that there are degrees of enlightenment. i don’t think you get hit with the magic stick and then it’s all different. or at least; that hasn’t happened to me. and i’m not waiting around for it. i’m perfectly happy inching closer and closer to understanding things every day.

Angel Andrews: I love how you are trying to cover up your breasts… But YOU MISSED ONE!! Hehe

Amanda Palmer: sometimes i move a bit too fast.

Kristin Riedelsberger: Are you afraid of menopause?

Amanda Palmer: afraid? i mean…not really. are you afraid of death? i figure…it’ll happen, and i’ll deal with it then.

Janina Scarlet: Hi Amanda, I’m a psychologist specializing in depression and anxiety. I’m reading your book now, it’s amazing! Thank you for writing it. I was wondering what advice would you give to people struggling with depression/anxiety, who are too held back by it to follow their dreams

Amanda Palmer: i struggled with depression quite a bit when i was younger, and was even on meds throughout most of college, which, in retrospect, wasn’t the wisest idea. they squashed me creatively and turned me into a bit of a survival-zombie, when the truth is that it was my environment more than my brain that was the problem. but i was too young to really have that perspective, at the time. for any of my friends struggling with depression i advise mediation and yoga (it helps me a LOT to stay strong and positive and not dip into the blue depths) and exercise in general. it’s amazing how a jog a day will keep me from getting sad. i’m a fan of therapy as well. i think many people who medicate (legally or illegally) don’t realize that they’re simply masking the symptoms of bigger stresses and sore truths in their lives that really need to be aired out and dealt with. just facing the truth of your self and your life on a constant basis can often be the way out. therapy can get you there, but there’s lots of paths.

Beckie Wooten: I just want to say thank you. Your book is helping to fill some of the awkward cracks and spaces in my heart. I haven’t finished the book yet but I do have a question: Do you still have the Bride dress?

Amanda Palmer: don’t make me cry. that’s a sore spot. it went missing about three years ago and i’m starting to lose faith that it’ll turn up.

Camilla Ortolani: how do you manage anger ?

Amanda Palmer: this quote helps: Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
-Buddha

Gypsy Chasen: Hola, This may or may not be book related. I just received mine but haven’t read it yet. The book is called “The Art of Asking” but what are your thoughts on the “Art of Saying No”. This is a difficult thing for me when I want to help but I just can’t.

Amanda Palmer: ah yes…it’s a crazy flipside. sometimes it feels like they’re really two sides of the exact same coin. i have a really hard time saying “no” as well, and because i get asked so many things by so many people all day, i’ve really learned how to say no. the key, i think, is graciousness and gratitude. it’s the same attitude when asking: ask allowing the no, otherwise you’re demanding. and when it comes to saying no, do it with apology, and grace, and as much recognition as you can muster for the legitimacy of the thing being asked….if it is indeed legit. and sometimes it’s a question of offering what you’re able to, without stretching yourself to the max of what’s being asked. if someone comes asking something of me for something that feels out of line, like “hey! amanda palmer!!! sorry to bother you while you’re eating in this cafe but my sister at home is a huge fan, can you stop eating and make a video for me to send her birthday, and can you hold this sign i just made for you while you do it, and can you also sign my boyfriends pile of sandman comics? he’s next door and i just texted him to come over……?” i usually answer these requests not by saying “wow, you’re demading, fuck off”, but some variation of: “listen. i’m eating. i love you. but this project is too large at the moment. gimme a piece of paper, i’ll write something for your sister. now, go away, i love you….and let me eat” xxxx

On Music

Lauren Thurman: AMANDA. I hope no one’s asked this yet! Do you write lyrics or melodies first? This question is very important to me

Amanda Palmer: they usually arrive together. but it really depends on the song.

Benjamin Walter Hopkins: Yo do u like abba y or n

Amanda Palmer: very funny, ben. you’ve heard my “winner takes it all”. you know me, beyoncé….don’t pretend you don’t. now go hug yourself.

Danielle Yoshihara: Amanda, your music has gotten me through quite a few tough times over the past ten years (thank you). Lately I’ve been overwhelmed with a horrifying, crippling fear of death along with the death of several people in my life. I have never been religious and the thought of potentially disappearing forever is something I cannot comprehend and is starting to interfere with living. I won’t go into the horrible details. This has never been an issue before. I’ve always felt ok with death and very much alive. I don’t know where this came from but the only way I can think of to feel better is to discuss it with people of different backgrounds and beliefs. You’re someone I respect and if you could share your thoughts on death/afterlife with me I would be forever grateful. Thank you again for everything.

Amanda Palmer: i feel you. i think about death a lot. i’ve been dealing for three years with the idea that anthony might die and be out of my life forever. and i dealt with a lot of people dying on me at one time when i was 21: two grandparents, my step-brother karl (who i worshipped), and a boyfriend all checked out on me within 9 months of each other. i constantly remind myself that death is part of life. not separate from it. being too attached to your life can do this thing you’re talking about, where fear of death gets in the way of living. i’ve herd stories of buddhist monks in certain traditions who do this: when a monk in their community dies, they lay the corpse out for a week and while the corpse begins to decay, the monks just sit there and meditate on the passing of this being. that may sound morbid to some, but i think it’s beautiful. the more we look death and the reality of it in the face, the more alive we can feel. we’re so “protected” from real death in this western culture: hospitals and funeral homes and our death rituals are built to keep the ugliness of death out of sight, but i think that often harms more than helps us.

Lauren Hatch: I’m loving the book so far. The part where you described not wanting to get a “real job” after college because you just wanted to be a Rock Star really hit home with me. How did your family react to that and how long did it take them to get used to you being a Rock Star/statue girl? (Maybe you go into this in the book but I haven’t finished it yet)
Also, I’m excited to catch your show in Portland in a couple of days and if you need anything while you’re in town let me know (beer? wine? coffee? scrambled eggs? :D)

Amanda Palmer: hahaha. you know, my family was REALLY wonderful and tolerant when i left college (and QUIT grad school, where i’d been given a full scholarship and stipend for two years!!!) and decided to busk in the street. they didn’t poke me for about three years, and then they had “the talk” with me. i was probably 25. and they were nervously, over dinner, like “sooooo amanda. do you think you’re always going to be a statue?” and i was like, “no. i’m going to be a professional musician, with a band. but i haven’t figured out how to do it. hang on.” and they looked worried. so i appeased them by telling them that i could always just go to massage therapy school. which was, in the back of mind, my life plan B. i loved giving people massages and even had my own massage table in my college dorm room, which was how I earned my spending money while my other friends went and worked in the library or campus cafe. and my parents, i gotta say, are really proud of me. even if they don’t totally understand the lifestyle or the choices, they appreciate that i’m an artist and totally different from the rest of the family. and i don’t take their patience for granted. they could have been real assholes about it.

On Writing

Cori Martinez: I am a sporadic poet. I don’t know how to feel like a legitimate artist. What is the best way to put yourself out there, begin sharing, and attempt to feel “real”? (I also struggle a lot with feeling….pretentious..)
Also:
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to ask for, professionally or in your personal life?
p.s. Your book is resonating with me in so many ways. Can’t put it down. Thank you. (p.p.s. I’m the girl who had a tattoo of you in chicago!)

Amanda Palmer: well, i write about this A LOT in the book. here’s a little excerpt, i’ll cut and paste….

“I’ve had a problem feeling “real” all my life.

I didn’t know until recently how absolutely universal that feeling is. For a long time, I thought I was
alone. Psychologists have a term for it: imposter syndrome. Before I knew that phrase existed, I
coined my own term: The Fraud Police.

The Fraud Police are the imaginary, terrifying force of “real” grown-ups who you believe – at some subconscious level – are going to come knocking on your door at three in the morning, saying:

We’ve been watching you, and we have evidence that you have NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE
DOING. You stand accused of the crime of completely winging it, you are guilty of making
shit up as you go along, you do not actually deserve your job, we are taking everything
away and we are TELLING EVERYBODY.

I mentioned The Fraud Police during a commencement speech I gave at an arts college, and I asked for the adults in the room, including the faculty, to raise their hands if they’d ever had this feeling. I don’t think a single hand stayed down.

People working in the arts engage in street combat with The Fraud Police on a daily basis, because much of our work is new and not readily or conventionally categorized. When you’re an artist, nobody ever tells you or hits you with the magic wand of legitimacy. You have to hit your own head with your own hand-made wand. And you feel stupid doing it.

There’s no “correct path” to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to university, 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.

When you’ve “made it” in academia, you become a tenured professor. It’s official. Most of the time, though, “outside” appointment and approval (Congratulations! You’re an official
Professor/CEO/President/etc.) doesn’t necessarily silence The Fraud Police. In fact, outside approval can make The Fraud Police louder: it’s more like fighting them in High Court instead of in a back alley with your fists. Along with all the layers of official titles and responsibilities come even deeper, scarier layers of oh fuck they’re gonna find me out.

I can imagine a seasoned brain surgeon, in the moment before that first incision, having that teeny moment where she thinks:

For real? I dropped my cell phone in a puddle this morning, couldn’t find my keys, can’t hold down a relationship, and here I am holding a sharp knife about to cut someone’s head open. And they could die. Who is letting me do this? This is BULLSHIT.

Everybody out there is winging it. To some degree, on some days, of this we can be pretty sure. In both the art and the business worlds, the difference between the amateurs and the professionals is simple:

The professionals know they’re winging it.

The amateurs pretend they’re not.”

——————————————
if you want EVEN more Q&A reading pleasure….i also did a live Q&A over at the guardian US last week…..

with @kaylaepstein in the beautiful @guardian US offices in NYC answering questions at the SPEED OF LIGHT. head to twitter for links to join the chat #artofasking

and the highlights are HERE.

SEE YOU SEATTLITES TONIGHT.

xx

a

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