Posts Tagged ‘money’

Open mic at Ould Triangle

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Did a spontaneous open mic last night as a means of dusting myself off. It was a nice enough experience, largely because my pal Carl, whom I hate with the fire of a thousand suns for all eternity, was there hanging out with me.

In terms of the venue, I doubt I will be back. The layout was awful for actually paying attention to what was going on on the stage, with the pool table taking up the space where an audience should be. It’s not really my jam in terms of social atmosphere for playing music, and while I got a nice reaction, I’m more into selling nowadays — and I literally had a guy who missed my set tell me that my album of music that he was oh so interested in hearing when he thought I was yet to play wasn’t worth his money, cause it was 2 bucks more than another drink. Like literally exactly the kind of person who inspired Buy My Fucking Music Asshole.

It would be sorta poetic, really, if it didn’t happen basically every fucking time.

WIP: I Hate The Fucking Internet Today

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

I’m working on a maxi-single for I Hate The Fucking Internet Today while simultaneously fleshing out the lyrics (WIP = Work In Progress, afterall).

It will be 5 songs I think, 4 of them versions of this one, and I think I’m gonna tack on What Kind Of Asshole Are You. I have a fast/cute solo ukulele version, a piano version, a guitar/looper version, and an Not Applicable version.

Been mucking around with the song this eve. Like, for long enough. But I had this urge to practice it again, even though now is the right time to stop.

While I was sitting there thinking about whether to push myself, I realized that my motivation to do that is out of fear that I will lose the mojo unless I force it down my own throat to exhaustion.

Like I actually have the story in my head that I will forget how to work the looper patch I’m setting up and practicing on, the foot dance I am literally fucking choreographing for myself around a song I’ve been chewing on for months.

I’m not really sure if this is actually how I learn, but I am pretty certain that the impulse comes from a deep insecurity and lack of confidence in myself in part because, get this: I find it so exhausting and strenuous to learn shit.

Like what the actual fuck.

#triggerwarning #mentalhealth

Monday, June 19th, 2017

#triggerwarning #mentalhealth

I’ve been struggling badly with my mental health since last fall. It’s been pretty awful in general, and then the small shred of resource and sanity I felt I had — my van/house/freedom — did what vanhousefreedom things do when they have 204,000 miles on them, and started breaking things.

Expensive things. While I was 3000, 1400, and 800 miles from ‘home’, which is a place I don’t really identify much with anymore, that I can’t afford to stay in, but is the most familiar to me.

I’m broke, in quite a bit of credit card debt, which is rising as I’m trying to take care of my body, which is also really pissed, and enjoyed a ratio of playing shows that leaned toward the ‘really sad empty dive bar’ sorts of ways far, far too often for my tender worrysome heart.

I’ve got pals and a warm place to sleep, which is helping me not completely lose my shit. I’m also spending most of my time manically making slapdash art, or sobbing and paralyzed and thinking about how easy it would be to clip an aertery and be done with this shit.

Every day, though, I do something meaningful to get better. I’m seeing a chiropractor to take care of my spine. I got that horrible inflammatory IUD pulled out, and acknowledged my gratitude for the ten years of effective birth control that little angry shit provided me. I’m on antibiotics for an infection I’ve likely had for about 8 months. And for now, I am living somewhere I can actually stand up in.

For a while, I was taking classes to get my massage license back before recognizing the returns were not sustainable (and, let’s face it, I’d be much better off making sandwiches 8 hours a day than going back into the job of touching people). But I enjoyed the classes and I learned things. That’s what you take classes for, right?

I’m also working edges like usual, one of which being to get better at letting go of money when I spend it, rather than being attached to the notion that everything I spend money on be some sort of investment.

I’m having a particularly hard time working up the nerve to get back into therapy, though, and to get on meds, which I’ve recognized it’s time for me to do. Like, actually do, and go through with, this time. I have an appointment with my primary care person in July to talk about it, but frankly, I’m really worried I’m not going to make it that far.

I’ve attempted multiple times before when it’s gotten this bad, and self harm is becoming a regular thing to deal with the sobbing fits, like the one I am stuck in right now while attempting to get ready for the one damn thing I committed to doing today.

I spend so much effort holding in a wall of sadness behind my face, and when the dam breaks, relief doesn’t come with it. Just more pressure and exhaustion. I think about doing the morning walk-in freeforall at the clinic, or going to the ER, usually multiple times a day. But I don’t.

I’ve been trying to figure out why, after so many years of being capable of getting help after how hard I worked to get there, I’m so stuck now.

I feel like my spirit is broken and no one can help me.

I’m consumed with fear that hopping on a medication rollar coaster will make it worse, and I don’t think I can handle anything more.

It seems I’d rather smack at myself qnd bruise my own face to feel relief than walk outside and pull weeds out of the ground (and risk fucking up my back again, I say to myself. Oh, my back went out while putting my pants on a half hour before a band rehearsal about a month ago. Did I forget to tell you that? Probably).

It’s hard to remember a time I’ve felt so alone.

But even moreso, I am finding that I am deeply mistrusting of the health field now. The last two therapists I had (out of four) had pretty shit boundaries.

Both relationships were helpful in ways, but ultimately the situations were very messy and consisted of a lot of loss, especially the last one, which was long term and complicated and multifaceted and ended traumatically.

There are quite a few things I used to be interested in/enjoy that I no longer enjoy after realizing I had to get out of that relationship. And getting out at all kicked up so many self criticisms I have about my limitations in maintaining close connections, and so often being the one suffocated and scrambling to get away.

When that relationship broke, so did my last frayed ties to the ‘healing community’, my trust in it, and my trust in my abilities as someone who was once a teacher in that realm. It broke my confidence in my worthiness to continue to be any type of healing guide or mentor, too. For the best, maybe, but disorienting all the same.

Of course, as I have created distance, I have recognized where being in unethical ‘healer’ relationships enabled me to be unethical and damaging to others myself in my care practice.
For the bulk of my time in the scene, I was surrounded by and looking up to healers and mentors providing therapy to people they were fucking, providing therapy to people they then started fucking, providing therapy to friends who didn’t ask for therapy, incepting their own notions and beliefs into vulnerable people looking for their help, having unintegral boundries and phasing in and out of roles without communicating or garnering consent.. the list just went on and on. And I belonged there. That’s the kind of shit I did, too. I think about some of the things I chose to do now and cringe so god damn hard.

It was a shitshow and I’m glad to be out, but, I’ve not found an alternative for the positives being in those communities allowed me to receive. The modalities, when respected in safe containers, were very powerful and helpful to me.

My trust in writing, which in the past has brought me a lot of connection and relief in the absence of stable relationships, has also faded. I no longer feel empowered by posting vulnerable shit like this and writing about my mental health struggles here. Or anywhere really.

I no longer feel fueled or that I am ‘helping’ anyone by sharing my stories, after a lifetime relying on that to make finite connections while constantly growing and transforming and leaving people behind who were important in my life but wanted me to stay the same when I needed to move on.

I simultaneously feel like such a loud obnoxious burden, and that I’ve forgotten how to take up space.

I feel like a complete sticky fucked up projectile mess, and also like I’m so constricted I can barely breathe.

But maybe broaching the subject now that I’m onto this will shift something. I’ve got shit to do, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let today be another fucking day I beat myself in the head to stop crying long enough to get it done.

P.S. if you are like I’ve been in the past and have become again and are hurting yourself to deal with your overwhelming emotions, this might help you feel like a little less of a freak about it. It helped me to remember how normal this all is, for all of 5 minutes, anyway.

Serendipitous gifts

Friday, August 5th, 2016

“The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”
James Baldwin

Just now, I texted everyone I have a current iMessage conversation with “Thank you for being human with me”. It is because I associate those people with the ones I maintain the closest friendships to because we share our phones messaging app between devices.

This is, invariably, a false equivalency, though it became more balanced when I changed my phone number and worked through (am still working through) who to tell.

The truth is there are many filters that would leave deserving people out of the loop about this mass, and yet personal, messaging spree I just went on, but what alarms me is to discover that the selection process is not as intentional as I’d like to think it is.

It’s not even a selection, really. It’s laziness, lack of awareness, automation, which causes me to turn to iMessage. The fucking automation. The fucking machine that plugs my supposed need for that kind of connectivity and false belonging to sell me unethical products that are not meant to last.

Look. There are people I will never talk to again who deserve to hear me say “Thank you for being human with me”. Every single person I’ve ever met deserves this recognition. And I deserve that recognition from all of you. And I think it’s fair to say that it seems pretty universal that we have all been unconsciously programmed not to acknowledge one another in this way, but to pretend that we do. Like the quotes in Embodied said on the walls of Fred Wildlife Refuge,

“I am the collective effort of everyone I’ve ever known.” — Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

Apart from never being able to truly trust anyone, I wasn’t a hacker, or a bone fide hardware geek. I appreciated that stuff, but I was drawn to hackers because I was a *communicator*, and I could relate to hackers. I like being clever and sneaky and destroying shit as much as I like creating it.

For a long time, being a part of the hacker community — and later the little red studio, specifically, had me feeling very special. I felt popular, I could say whatever the fuck I wanted, I threw weird parties, and I had a community with which to be creative.

In both those instances I’d locked societal woundings with whole communities, and the learning was fertile and priceless. We were communicators who wanted to build our own god damn platforms, to cultivate relationships with our expression forms, and with technology, that mattered.

Well, as far as I can tell, most of us still want to do that. But where the fuck are we? What the fuck are we doing? We are on facebook, and google, and twitter, and none of us trust these fuckers with the soul we give to them.

How is it that we got to the point that your fucking words, your thoughts, your fucking anniversaries, your fears, your personality scores, your rants, your sorrows, your calls for justice AREN’T YOURS, AREN’T OWNED BY YOU, instead being fucking manipulated and distilled and romanticized for profit.

What the fuck.

My space. My fucking space.

That’s fucking better.

I have a deep desire to be in structured school, with a goal, challenges, variation, and letters after my name. So many of us do, I think; we crave knowledge, a safe space to explore not already knowing, guidance, and we crave our own continued understanding. We crave the idea of education that the educational system abandoned in order to survive civilization.

For people like us, right now the best we can be doing is learning by teaching what we know to our communities, but more importantly to each other, our fellow activists; especially those of us who recognize that without drinking water, without being able to be naked outside in the sun, without food, without air, without the ancient peat bogs and rainforests holding so much carbon for us, we are fucking lost. Those of us waiting for the cleansing fire. The birth to the destruction to the birth.

It’s people like us that need to be learning from people like us who are focused on different parts of The Thing.

Start hosting workshops to teach the shit you know. Start risking your ego to make a difference, to open yourself up to learning by empowering others. Make that shit happen, and do it with fucking integrity. Give credit where it’s due and don’t make money off the backs of those society deems yours. Admit you don’t know it all. Explore. Let them come to you, and when they do; Teach.

Teach.

Y’all want fucking revolution? Then let’s use our fucking skills to prove it, and create one.

One day at a time, one habit at a time, ween yourself and take responsibility for your own shit.

Stop fucking leaning on the systems you recognize are corroding your fucking soul.

Learn what it is to nurture and toil the food you eat before you eat it. Learn what it means to be have less stuff. Explore options of supporting yourself that don’t rely solely on the internet, or invisible slave labor. Invite a friend over to your house to chat. Share your mentors with the people you love. And ffs stop fucking maneuvering your most precious relationships via fucking text messages, ya fearfulass Previous Me insufferable text-dumping asshole.

I’m not sure exactly what that looks like, but when I really sit with what it feels like to give facebook and even instagram the product of my mind, I feel a gross sense of self betrayal inside. I’ve grappled with it a long time, but I think I’ve made good headway lately.

And I’m fucking watching you, Patreon. Every greedy fuckshit mistake you make by us, I’m holding your asses accountable and taking fucking notes. You have to earn the shit out of my trust. The shit out of it. Do better.

The Notebook

I am noticing one of the blockages I experience around my writing, is that I rarely write. I type. And that’s different.

I have also noticed that my organization of ideas is scattered as shit. Self sent text messages, voice memos, emails to myself, google spreadsheets, soundcloud, patreon, my blog, the notes app on my phone, and hardcopy notebooks — all house my fractions, experiments, and prose. Ideas for my current album, Cold Front, span all of these mediums. Even if I wanted to work on it, just going through my fucking notes is like looking into a shattered mirror.

While I excel during projects when I allow the process to be messy, and I do best while fragmented and having multiple, different projects in the fire at once, I recognize that I lose myself in obsessive tracking and procrastination when I do not start those projects from a place of organization, grounding and levity.

It is time to carry a notebook. Everywhere. And to utilize technology as a backup, a failsafe should something happen to it, rather than.. Whatever the fuck it is I have been doing. Amusingly, I was just gifted one by a new pal.

I made him sign it. Oh, the pressure I put upon y’all.

One of the people who passed through my life at one time is a very famous, beloved author. He understands the value of a hand written page. I am thinking about him as I make this commitment to myself, and my work, to intentionally try things just a little bit differently, now.

Besides. I know how the brain works, at least in regards to how it processes information in the context of expression methods. I learned this as a student at Brian Utting. Writing, with my hands, on paper, making marks, will download the essence of what I want to capture into a place that is very unlikely to be taken away from me, even if something happens to my notebook.

And when I was out in the woods, exhausted, overwhelmed, spread to the breaking point while literally holding up another human being, losing my own mind and breaking my own heart and remembering what really fucking matters; the safe, private notes I drew to myself kept me going.

Keep Going.

I trust me, and my mind, which god damn fucking WORKS, to level up about the kind of care, thought, and and attention that goes into my functioning effectively. Efficiently. Conservation, restoration, nutrients; they are not just for the world around me, and not just applicable in the literal senses I am learning these skills via.

I trust me to fucking take care of myself, even though I have spent, and will still spend, effort and time struggling, and making mistakes, in that department.

I am ready to take another step towards strengthening me, so I can hold what it means to be bigger. Braver. More. Less.

Funny, how significant, this dumb little shit can be.

I’m Courtnee Fallon Rex, and this is only barely scratching the surface of what kind of writer, activist, teacher, and human being I can be when I am fulfilled in my work, selective with my friends, appreciative of my fans, careful how I spend my energy (and why), have the means to support and nurture myself, bathe, farm and harvest my own food, am seen, and paid, and create and perform my music on my terms for fans who truly appreciate my. Fucking. Work.

So thank you, for being human with me. I know I am not alone in this. I know I am not alone in my frustrations, my desire to see more empowerment outside of the constrained, incompetent systems that are all we’ve ever been truly encouraged to know ourselves by. In every career path I’ve taken, I’ve been the one standing up and asking: Why? Why are we bowing? Why do we immediately attempt to contort under these strains, these fucking invented, arbitrary oppressions? When the fuck are we going to stand up?

We are. It’s just.. slow. And I am going to keep doing what I need to do, respecting the influences, the tides, and the sheer fucking magnitude that is the task of standing up. Over, and over, and over again.

I am angry, at society. Today, and to some degree, every day. Today I also accept the possibility that this will not change.

Returning home has been a long, steady, breakthrough; a return on previous investments. Level: up.

Next challenge: learning how to respect my opponents.

Ugh.

ROAD UPDATE: Pensacola

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Originally posted to my Patreon community at https://www.patreon.com/posts/4413008

Mississippi: OH EM GEE you’re heeeeere omg yay! Here, have a welcome center with all kinda free camping with picnic benches and spigots and shit and a FUCKING NASA SPACE CENTER!!

Alabama: Fuck you. Welcome center closed.

Florida: Fuck you. Show us your vegetables. Then welcome center, maybe. Also toll roads. Also palm trees. Also fuck you. — Facebook

The above selfie was taken in the divey bathroom at The Handlebar last night in ‪Pensacola, where I played an impromptu show for a tiny, tiny audience in a mostly empty bar. I got a nice fueling practice in and made my beer money back.

New Orleans shaped me as a musician. It is different now; stronger. More solid. More joy in it. Truly beginning to embrace and simultaneously transmute the darkness. Thank you for that. I like being a performer. I just needed to figure out what kind of performer I am. It’s taking a while, but I think I am well on my way, now.

Here are some amazing pictures of me doing my thing, taken by an amazing man: http://neevita.net/louis-maistros-lower-decatur-street-new-orleans/

And here is some soul healing no nonsense darkness for anyone who might be feeling the pitch lonely creeping in today, or know someone who is: http://blog.neevita.net/archives/14927

I plan to be in Florida playing and enjoying the weather/beach for a bit, then moving up northish. I’ve shifted my long term plan, and will be back in WA state this summer rather than heading all the way up to the NE. I need to see a doctor about a few things and get my motorcycle sold.

Keep Going is a year old today. It is an album I released last valentines day about healing, heartbreak, patriarchy, sexism and rape culture, which is surprisingly soothing and, if I may say so, well-crafted. It’s well suited for the day particularly if valentines gives you the intense desire to side eye the fuck out of everything.

Http://courtneefallonrex.net

In a somewhat fitting turn of events, on the same day as Keep Going’s first birthday, Wounded was played on That Indie Thing with Rob on sinwebradio.com! As far as I know, this is my first radio play from the album. https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1182534628424252

Also, Reverbnation keeps sending me emails complaining that my ranks are slipping. So, this seems like a good time to mention that there’s a pretty decent sampling of original music up there including most of my originals from Keep Going and a couple of my old ambient electronic tracks. It is representative but also not too long. If you wanna go stream ’em and give RN something happy to mail me about I wouldn’t mind. :)

I’ll be picking from my Feb 14th random pool of $15 a month and above potential art receivers and notifying the winner today. $5 and above Patrons: Also look for another Seven Deadly Days of Naked (SDDN) post in a few minutes.

Glad you’re all here with me,
-nee

Milestone acheived: A new mantra

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

For the last 6 months or so, my self mantra has been “I love myself”.

I say it to me randomly, I say it to me when I realize it’s been a while since I said it, I say it to me when I’m sick or feeling badly, I say it out loud in the mirror sometimes.

It works well for dealing with depression, too — I still feel tired and need rest and recovery, but being depressed is not an experience in being hopelessly sad as it once was, and I credit my self talk with that.

I also credit that new self talk with my recent experiences of basically never tearing myself down when I’ve made a mistake, the most notable incident being when I wiped my own blog database.

I’ve noticed lately a new mantra emerging. Not to replace this one (I’m keeping it) but to add to it. And it’s a doozy, for me, one that has taken a lot of growth to come to, and has been almost as hard to learn to say — for different reasons, including embarrassment, social conditioning and a deep sense of identity.

It is: “I am not poor.”

Because I’m not. And I never actually have been, actually, poor.

I’ve had to make hard decisions about what my money was going to pay for, and I’ve had to go without things, some of which many people view as integral to a basic life.

But I’ve never been so poor that I couldn’t maintain a bank account, and got caught up in the circular scam of high fee check cashing joints and payday loans.

I’ve never been so poor that I didn’t have ID.

I’ve never been so poor that I starved.

I’ve never been so poor that I didn’t have some form of transportation, be it public or a bicycle or a car or a motorcycle.

I’ve never been so poor that I couldn’t get at least a small line of credit, and I’ve never been so strapped that I had to get marred in using that line of credit for basic life needs for more than a small amount of time.

Part of why I’ve never been in those situations is because I’ve had help in those time periods where without support I would have needed to resort to those things, many of which are choices that are incredibly difficult to come back from. Much of that support until last year stemmed from my romantic relationships.

But when I am honest with myself, those situations were a matter of choice, no matter how limited in my options I may have felt at the time. Just like moving into the van and leaving Seattle was a choice, as much as it felt like the entire world was rejecting me and spitting me out of the city.

I was in the position to lean into the support of others to sustain my life not as a need, but as a privilege. A means to live my life the way I am compelled to live it and to contribute to larger society in the ways I discover I am best suited, which often fall outside of the normality of a financial structure that’s become a matter of course for most everyone else I know.

And that has not been easy, by any stretch, to accomplish, or to receive, or to ask for, or to maneuver. I do not live a comfortable life by many, many standards.

But what it really comes down to is that I’ve been lying to myself for a long time, about my situation, about my opportunities, and about my lot in life. Because all that time, from when I was 5 years old and understood but couldn’t hold my dad’s fears of being evicted, his constant struggle with earning and leveraging money, I’ve identified as being poor, as being class oppressed.

I’ve seen and read and experienced some of what poverty really, honestly, looks like. In real life, rather than just on paper as an arbitrary number.

I am not poor.

And I never was poor.

And that’s really just the truth of it.

Achievement: Unlocked

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Friendly neighborhood reminder: With the exception of odd, inconsistent jobs as I travel, I survive directly on crowdfunding. Patreon is how I eat, write, create, and Keep Going. If you follow my posts/activities please consider signing up to support me there.

Http://patreon.com/courtnee

Friday, August 28th, 2015

“You don’t hate Mondays. You just hate being a slave.” — Gazi Kodzo

Friday, May 1st, 2015

I’ve broken through. I’m done with the fear phase.

I am so fucking glad I am getting out of the cycle of modern capitalist society.
I am so fucking glad I will no longer have the weight of paying for a stupid fucking building on my shoulders.
I am so fucking glad I will no longer be fighting tooth and nail to gross $20k so that I can actually net $5500 after taxes, licenses, continuing education, and fucking expenses in order to make that stupid money.
I am so fucking glad I am done writhing in the grotesque in-between place I’ve been festering in for YEARS resisting leaving all this absurd fucking shit behind even as it’s been crumbling around me, begging me to fucking wake up.
I am so fucking glad to finally be feeling some fucking sovereignty and some fucking freedom.
I am so fucking glad I am getting the fuck out of here.
I can’t fucking wait.

Amazon Wishlist for van buildout and basics: http://amzn.com/w/2WL00KSMHSOXW
Patreon link to help, and follow art and music updates on the road: http://pateron.com/courtnee

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Last call for:

Pay what you want Keep Going (digital version): http://courtnee.bandcamp.com

Be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of limited edition Keep Going CD by signing up to support me at patreon by Feb 28th ($15 or more a month) http://patreon.com/courtnee

As of March 1, Keep Going will be $10 to download.

<3

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

Thinking about becoming a patron of mine? Sign up at the $15 a month level or higher before the first of March and I’ll enter you into a special drawing for one of the limited edition versions of Keep Going. Also, my bi-annual art giveaway for the same support level is coming up April 2.

My Patreon campaign: http://patreon.com/courtnee

The album: https://courtnee.bandcamp.com/album/keep-going

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

“Money is the biggest driver of illness in our human world. It’s gotten so bad that upper-class people do not have normal mammalian responses to others suffering.” -Mariamma Jones

Finding Amanda: An internet love story

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Amanda Palmer and Courtnee Fallon Rex Photographed by Steve Kuhn The Art of Asking Book Tour. Sat, November 22, 2014. First Unitarian Church – Los Angeles

When I was young, I thought I had all the answers. Or at least, I thought I knew the problems, the deeper causes of the things I was seeing in people, that needed answering.

And I thought, since I seemed to be the only one who really *saw* what the problems were, saw them and felt them in my guts and talked about seeing them and feeling them in my guts, I was naturally responsible for fixing them, too.

All of them. Everywhere.

That turned out to be a bit of a problem for me. One I’ve since largely solved in my growth, accepting my role as a healer, an activist, and learning about boundaries.

Back then, I kept wishing I had been born earlier, so I could have been a part of the uprising in the 60’s, when “shit mattered”, when the ambient rage against this profoundly sick world order had a focus and a voice.
Now, I really really miss the 90’s.

I did my best to rebel and find my own way, but internalized a contempt for my own perspective and an intense hate for my sensitivity.

As a tiny girl I had started cussing and spewing sexist racist shit like a motherfucking truck driving military sailor, and I basically hated everyone. I lied about my age (when I was 11 I was 14) and hung out with older boys. I started smoking when I was 9, drinking when I was 10. I stole shit and resold it at school. I experimented with drugs.

In middle school I had found my niche as a leader of a small group of nerdy weirdos. I, like most middles schoolers, was bullied and pushed around, once by a large group in my own front yard.

I was the girl who peed her pants laughing, daily, at lunch. I was the girl who responded to being given flowers by immediately eating them. I was the girl who stayed at school until 6pm hanging out with the uncool teachers because they cared about me and I didn’t want to go home to an empty house and I secretly loved and adored them even though that wasn’t cool and I don’t think I ever told them how much they meant to me and I wish I had now (Thank you Mr. Pericone, Mr. Ebi and Mrs. Wollard).

By the time I was 15 I was so acutely aware that the system was a sham, I was going insane. I saw so clearly the dynamic of perpetrated violence in society, and in my life. I saw the pain hiding in peoples eyes, but I didn’t have the support to find my ground to stand against it. Everywhere I looked what I saw was how we were killing each other, and how I unconsciously contributed to that cycle.

I hated High School, even though I barely attended, and once I went there, I immediately fell deeply into drugs. I’m talking deep. Few know how bad it was. I quickly dropped out to join the workforce with a fast food job, so I could go on USEnet and use my minimum wage to buy Nirvana bootlegs, and more drugs.

I had no direct examples of self-supporting ways to cope with the cruelty of the world, and if I did come across them indirectly, they weren’t cool or appealing anyway because they weren’t ‘powerful’ like domination and violence seemed to be.

Emotionally, I was broken open and rawly empathic, connected with attrition and the damage we inherently do to one another simply by existing, and enraged at my impotence in fixing it. Physically, I was, frankly, killing myself.

I hadn’t lived enough then, well enough, to have the decades of varied experience and intense healing it would turn out I’d need in order to break out of my patriarchal conditioning and trust the instincts I was trying to snuff out. I was going crazy in part because that’s what I believed I was.

A new (digital) hope

In early 1995, in Sacramento California, from a commodore 8088 connected to a shell account with crl.com on a screechy modem with an actual WIRE, my dad showed me how to get on this Internet Relay Chat thing he’d told me about.

CRL’s root .ircrc file had a bunch of dead servers referenced in it, and I’d spent likely not nearly as long as it felt like I had being suicidally-frustrated with trying to figure out how to get the fuck online. Dad swooped in, figured out there was a /server command, and my life thus changed forever.

There were words on a screen attached to real-yet-fantasy humans who, when they weren’t talking about overthrowing governments and anal rape, were telling me I was not alone. That the social system we inherited was fucked and we were going to unfuck it by fucking it. There was a space, suddenly, to tell people what I saw.

There were vulnerable conversations about emotion and loss and pain where the ‘real’, world had been about image and learning how to be an expert on being fake. I’d found people who weren’t afraid to talk about the despair we all felt, through a medium that protected us better than any person had.

That was where, I thought, I found salvation. And for a while, I suppose I did. I wasn’t a sad sack high school nerd druggie statistic everyone fucking picked on, I was a social engineer in the thick of a god damn underground hacker revolution that only some people picked on.

My social life was with criminals on IRC, where I could explore my rage, screw the man, and say whatever the fuck kind of offensive abusive shit I wanted. I spent my time on meth and anything else I could find, listening to The Prodigy, chain smoking reds, fucking around with linux and waiting for the years to cycle to the next DEFCON.

I started maintaining my own web pages, gnashing my teeth about the worlds fuckedupedness (and how it caused me to feel), in 1995. I was one of the first webcams on the internet. I had my own irc channel (#nee). I had fans.

People emailed me often to tell me they’d found my site and how much what I was writing mattered to them. That my words mattered to them. I kept expecting waves of hate. They sent me fan art. They shared their stories. They told me I had saved their lives and that my spews of misery and hopelessness gave them hope. They told me I helped them feel less alone.

The first time someone told me I should write a book of my life I had been alive 15 years. I was a social advocate without really knowing it, a musician without accepting it, a community leader without being responsible for it, a digital artist. A flawed and miserable human being, with an intimate community online that fueled and supported me, nodding, saying; I see what you see, thank you for saying it.

mainhttp://journal.neevita.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/main-404x348.jpg 404w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" />

As a musician I had a bit of a business on the original mp3.com in 1999/2000, but had started recording cover songs long before. I went by the name Not Applicable, and I insisted, vehemently, proudly, that my music would always, always be available for free, on my site.

But things change, and so did all that.

The RIAA destroyed mp3.com, and with it, my faith in the world supporting my niche-y emo-enya never-gonna-sell-shit-for-sony music. I went from identifying as an empowered independent artist with a support structure that validated me, from being featured and interviewed by ABC news (and my cam images being used in the original piece as well) regarding the success of the movement I was a part of, to feeling displaced and bullied and utterly rejected, with my dreams in flames at my feet.

With the fall of mp3.com, I also went from being a part of a community of artists and musicians who were, once again, revolutionary, by collaborating worldwide via audio files online, to drifting alone in space. I was always in the top 3 of the ambient electronic charts, and many people sent me remixes of my work and collaborated with me by finding me there, including one of the trance musician idols I’d had at the time, and lots of unknowns who are still unknown.

We were a creative artist economy birthing cross-pollinated artwork existing inside the payback for playback and DAM CD models for making money. It wasn’t going to make us all filthy rich, but it was a god damn fucking internet revolution utopia all the same.

I shrugged it off and didn’t let myself think about losing that community part all that much. I spewed anger at how unfair mp3.com’s demise was, and suddenly focused on the money, the wopping $2700 I’d made in a year, because of course it was just weak and selfish and shitty to want support and connection and love from people.

It had taken such immense courage for me to share my deeply personal and vulnerable music, music that made me cry from being so good and double over in pain for being so raw, music that rose out of me from a dark place I didn’t understand. I kept waiting for the hate to come, especially after I joined the mp3.com community from sharing my songs by DCC sending to friends in my IRC channel.

mp3.com was my taste of vitality as an artist. It was the first place I was confronted with irrefutable proof from strangers that my music was good. It was my bridge, back when I was still the only Courtnee on the internet, and the internet was all the connection with the human race I had that fucking mattered to me. It was a community that I’ve never found a comparable replacement for.

The hate never did come. Perhaps because it never had the chance to. For my efforts, for my courage, I received virtually nothing but waves of acceptance and love, feature after feature on the site praising my work even though I was a screwed up crazy hermit making weird whiney sad music that would never end up on the radio.

Losing that relevance changed me, reconfirmed my doubts in myself. I utterly loathed the music industry, threw up at the thought of playing shows. With mp3.com, I had let myself open up, and feel some hope. The loss of this flow of connection for me was staggering. And because of it I hardened.

I turned to the other revolution I was a part of for comfort and belonging while grieving my artistic self, to find it wasn’t there anymore, either. The geeks, the remaining foothold of my revolutionary home base, are no longer the underdog freedom fighters, and they haven’t been for a very long time. They’re the ruling class in the same system we despised.

It hurts to see your revolution become the system. Maybe even more than it hurts to see the revolution get flat out crushed by it. It’s a fucking betrayal I can only barely wrap my head around, but I feel it in my body. It’s a fucking betrayal I keep seeing over and over again in my life. Seeing the entropy, seeing the fear, seeing how the people who are doing what is most needed in this world are getting fucked and assimilated.

It got under my skin when the powers that be managed to napalm the countryside we were beginning to settle with mp3.com. Feeling like I almost had it, like I was almost valid — and then I closed my eyes and covered my head while the power in the world which already had way more than it needed clubbed me, and when I opened them again everything was different.

I didn’t realize how much I was still hurting. Not until Amanda walked into my office.

I can articulate now, after a lot of processing, and galvanizing our connection a few weeks ago by performing for her and her fans in Los Angeles, I hated Amanda Palmer because she represented for me the person I was who died with mp3.com and the internet as I had known it. Died “because” I didn’t have what Amanda Palmer had — a stream of fanbase supporting her when her conventional link to them [a record label], which I knew would have fucked me, fucked her, too.

She represented who I could be now if I hadn’t divorced from my core and spent years of my life chasing money and stability betraying myself in the tech industry before finding my way back to myself.

She represented for me the damage I did to my soul by choosing to take that path, for going through the motions while shutting down who I really was, for taking the RIAA attacking the home I’d found in mp3.com so unbelievably personally.

She represented the pain in becoming even more isolated and quiet as a musician, my most vulnerable and profound form of art, the paralyzation of being introverted and insecure and losing my foothold.

She represented the reality of only knowing how to be a solo musician making music in the safety of my dark little cave and posting it on the internet.

Healing is a pretty important aspect of being a revolutionary. It’s hard to cheer someone on who breaks through the glass ceiling you’re still concussed from smashing into and weakening for them.

In the rise of the digital music revolution, the unsigned artists of mp3.com got royally fucking fucked. As we grew in closer path alignment over the years, Amanda served as a screen for me to project that disembodied grief.

I had it first. I was there first, I had it, I had the following, I had the waves of love, I had the future, I WAS the future, I was AHEAD, and then I fucking wasn’t. In utter projective emotional simplicity that makes little logical sense, I was an Amanda Palmer before Amanda Palmer.

And then I wasn’t.

In the decade after the blow of mp3.com, and countless other events that knocked my fragile sense of self around back in those days, I am finally beginning to feel and trust in the ripples of reward for the tremendous amount of exertion and surgical accountability it’s taken to come back to where I am ready to step into myself again. Into my seeing, into my caring, into my vulnerability, into the vivid authenticity that steams off of me as a performer and a music maker and a singer, into my talents, and into my contributions.

It’s been a long decade.

Finding that I was still so emotionally fucked up over a website going down a decade before was an embarrassing reality to resign to in order to write this, but it’s just the honest truth of things. The impact to fragile hiding 22 year old me, losing mp3.com and what it represented in my life, at that time and at that point in my delicate career, caused a painful rift between me and myself that has taken a long time to sew back up.

Thank you for helping me heal it, Amanda. Thank you for helping that part of me come back.

Why poor people stay poor

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

It’s amazing what things that are absolute crises for me are simple annoyances for people with money.

Because our lives seem so unstable, poor people are often seen as being basically incompetent at managing their lives. That is, it’s assumed that we’re not unstable because we’re poor, we’re poor because we’re unstable.

So let’s just talk about how impossible it is to keep your life from spiraling out of control when you have no financial cushion whatsoever.

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2014/12/linda_tirado_on_the_realities_of_living_in_bootstrap_america_daily_annoyances.html

The Pomplamoose Problem

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

This explosion of vitriol illustrates the absurd standard America holds artists to. It’s a dangerous, impossible standard that is repressing self-expression and killing culture. It’s not dissimilar in impact to the political arguments that keep so many living in poverty by voting against their own interests for politicians who take away services that were at least intended to make the middle class accessible to all. The American artist is expected to be both a saint and a martyr.

Operate outside the capitalist system and we’ll praise you for your creations, call your poverty a quaint kind of martyrdom that has nothing to do with us, and at the same time resent you for being holier than thou. Try to operate within the capitalist system and we’ll call you out as an imposter.

This resentment is something we have to take a long hard look at. We might think it comes from the idea that a tiny percentage of artists can get famous and filthy rich, or that others – despite financial struggles – have interesting and exciting lives where they perform and create while we’re stuck in a 9-5. But really, this resentment comes from the fact that when we devalue the arts, we devalue our own creative impulse.

http://www.artistempathy.com/blog/the-pomplamoose-problem-artists-cant-survive-as-saints-and-martyrs

Three days of food for $14

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

I got:

Celery
Carrots
One Russet Potato
One Sweet Potato (which I haven’t used yet)
An Onion
Two cloves of garlic
Package of stir-fry chicken on sale

Eating celery and carrot sticks for snacks and lunches, still have half the onion and garlic left, and have still been keeping this tiny crock pot full and at the ready for the last three days, likely another.

I will just need another $3 package of meat before I will be needing anything else to keep it going.

Thank you for the gift, Serret.

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

“We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.” – Richard Buckminster

Road Trip Cancelled. Plan of Action: Engaged

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

I have, roughly, $6000 in unappropriated savings, at current.

I also have, roughly, 3 months left at my less-than-market living situation.

This has incited an exceptionally stressful dichotomy of needs; and a sobering wakeup call to how unbelievably fucking expensive it’s gotten to live out here.

I gave up the studio this month to slice my office rent, and started taking on more clients, 5 days a week. Exhausting, but working, too, I think.

The problem I’ve been most running up against, is that I don’t have anywhere viable to go, and I don’t have the savings required to buy or build my tiny house on wheels.

The secondary problem, is that the family whose property I have intended to live on has also been anticipating another year or two of time to prepare for me.

We’re all a wee bit stressed out.

I’ve run numbers on getting just a house shell on a trailer with no services or furnishings to crash in like a bum in a train car while simultaneously building the rest out as much as I can with whatever extra cash I can put into it over the summer.

I’ve run numbers on getting a shipping container and insulating it and welding a hole in the ceiling to build out the loft space for my bed, also no furnishings or services.

I’ve run the numbers on getting an enclosed cargo trailer high enough to put a loft in. Again, no furnishings or services.

All of these options provide me with no comforts, require me to pay to store everything I own, require that I find a place where I can build and weld with no building experience and an accelerated timeline, and cost ~$10k to do it right.

So, I’ve made the decision that I will be getting an RV to live in.

I want a tiny house, yes. I want a lot of things. But the bottom line is that I have managed to save up $6000 bucks toward freedom housing, and I need a place to live that CJ and I can move into in August. RV’s are where that’s at.

At this point in my life, more than needing things to be pretty and cute and designed perfectly, I need a place that is mine, that I can afford, that I can modify and count on, and that I can take with me; which was the root of what the tiny house project was meant to accomplish.

So, that means my road trip is cancelled. I’ll be flying directly to and from Palm Springs (I have a second room in my suite, would welcome sharing the cost with someone, and the airfare round trip from Seattle was a paltry $220; so if you think you might want to take your own Palm Springs vacation from June 12 to 17th, hit me up) to get my certification in grief recovery and come back immediately – to work, and search, and hopefully, find home.

It also means I’m selling nearly all of my stuff and furniture, which works out well since I’d like to manage a couple more grand over the next few months to get a nicer trailer with more to work with.

And lastly, it means I’m looking for a place to park and hook up; Land ho!

I’m pretty excited, and feeling ok about how things are shifting; If everything works out, having a home will be way better than a motorcycle vacation would have been.

Like, way better.

Dreeeeeam. Dream dream dreeeam…

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Whenever I want you all I have to do
Is dream

#Tinyhousefund updates

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Depending on how taxes and my office space turns out in the next couple months, I may have nearly $5,000 saved for the house!

It’s about time that I start consider whether I am actually going to build it myself (no place to build or building experience, so potentially not..), in which case I may soon have enough to get the trailer and start on it, or if I’m going to continue to simply save and buy one/have one built for me.

So I spent a lot of time last night when I should have been sleeping looking over tiny houses. It’s been a few months since I did a search, and more and more options are becoming available.

I particularly liked this one, if I go for working off of another person’s design: http://padtinyhouses.com/books-plans/sweet-pea-tiny-house-plans/#!prettyPhoto

And for pre-built, I really like the Boulder, which is actually somewhat affordable, unlike a lot of the houses that are cropping up in searches lately. http://rockymountaintinyhouses.com/for-sale-the-boulder-27350/

I’m still trying to find one that’s a little bigger, more like 10′ by 24′, and if I have it built I will still likely design a lot of it myself. But more and more, I just want a tranquil little space of my own, and I’ve taken to looking at tiny house listings periodically to see if perhaps I can simply buy one outright sooner rather than later.

The road to home is long, but continues.

Good days

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Today, I said goodbye to my Taylor 114ce guitar, which has been lovingly callousing my fingers on behalf of my dear friend Jonathan since 2008. I traded her for a Mitchell acoustic/electric ukulele, as well as a Mitchell acoustic/electric thin line guitar, both of which feel amazing and sound great.

It was time, and I feel really good about it. I kept the Taylor case to remind me of the gift and all the loveliness that guitar brought into my life. It got me through some pretty hard times.

I’ve had a few good days lately. On Friday, a show I had been looking forward to for the last few months turned out really well, despite some rehearsal challenges. I’m currently encoding the video so I can distribute the evidence around.

The day after that, this happened, and I was finally able to write about this, too. Oh, and I found my minature sketchbook I thought I had lost.

I am looking even more forward to my first house concert for Craig and Mark at the end of the month, now. :)

Life is good.

I really need to get a selfie fisting money into my bloody mouth for economical posts like this…

Monday, October 21st, 2013

”If a man has an apartment stacked to the ceiling with newspapers we call him crazy. If a woman has a trailer house full of cats we call her nuts. But when people pathologically hoard so much cash that they impoverish the entire nation, we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and pretend that they are role models.”
~B. Lester

In search of assistence

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

I am looking for someone local to Seattle who is technologically savvy, understands DeviantART, Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, Reverbnation, Hootsuite and the like, or posses the skills to easily learn these platforms.

Your job will be to take perhaps an hour or two a month to post/keep my profiles updated with new artwork and music, plug updates into HootSuite to remind the internet about events and shows, things like that. The problem you will be solving is the overflow online tasks – I will still maintain most of my own online presence.

The majority of the information and images that you will be responsible for aggregating will originate from neevita.net and this blog, but there may be situations in which I will email you something specific to be dealt with.

EXAMPLE TASK: Update neebow.deviantart.com with images posted to neevita.net since the last deviantart update.
EXAMPLE TASK: Update Reverbnation and Facebook when I play public music shows, and schedule updates via Hootsuite with reminders as the show date nears.

The right candidate needs to be efficient, security minded (no passwords on post-its or saving my passwords in your browser on your laptop) and detail oriented (you’ll need to remember to specify tags, titles, and properly organize submissions on the various websites I am a member of), as well as having critical thinking skills (Check to see if the gallery I am showing in already has a Facebook event to market, and if so don’t create a second one).

I prefer someone who is able to respond to small update requests quickly, but I would be willing to try a more structured arrangement for the right person.

Your payment will be one 90-minute session with artful touch (http://artfultouch.info/) a month.

This is a small but very important job. Please send your resume/credentials to courtnee@neevita.net to be considered.

Looking out for #1

Monday, July 8th, 2013

The last year has been… hard. The last few weeks… have reminded me that sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall into place.

New client this morning, local 360 lunch and shopping for tea and sexkitten pretties with David, currently sipping sangria while awaiting a prescreening of Pacific Rim (mech vs. godzilla) action, which I was invited to by Mr. Neilhimself, who agreed to sign the copy of “Ocean..” I bought today for a friend. Smiling? Oh yes. – Facebook, July 4 2013. I caught the fireworks from the deck of a 27th floor highrise that night, too.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to write through a lens of inherently carefree positivity, for what seems like quite a change from my end.

The theme among those who share my journey is that of an “it’s about time” sort of bent, with some “ride the wave as long as you can because you deserve it” thrown in for good measure.

I agree. It is rare for my life to have this kind of ease and excitement to it, and I have committed to myself that I will unabashedly ride this wave for as long as I can.

The whole of my trip, including connecting profoundly and nearly seamlessly with my once-distant-now-close friends Per and Ingrid in Stockholm, and returning to Seattle (despite my reluctance to return to America) to the immense validation and opportunity I’ve experienced in the last week are taking their wonderful toll.

Even for the rough parts, including much of my time in New York where I was gritty, sick, depressed and fucking working while on vacation, bared impressive fruit in their opportunities to test the bounds of my courage and grace under fire. Which, I guess I was up for, this time.

A few important arrangements that were not working well in my life have since been addressed (skillfully, may I add – it doesn’t always happen that way) because of the time I had to be with myself and figure out what was going on, even if the experiences themselves were somewhat agonizing.

For the time being, it seems as though the floodgates I normally keep closed to this kind of feeling for whatever reasons (in order to focus on what I consider to be the important work in my life? Guilt? Self harm? Lack of space? Ignorance?) are open.

I am giddy and goofy and affected and expansive. I am thinking of others and able to reach out and help more. I am not worried about money. I am bathing myself in the affections of the wonderful men in my life, treating myself and allowing others to treat me, eating good food, cooking, snuggling my cat, sleeping in, enjoying my work, and playing.

Many thanks to Neil Gaiman for choosing to publicly attest to his excellent taste in massage practitioners ;)

Inside, I am wearing a sparkly tiara. A black one.

There is light shining in through cracks I’ve apparently been urgently stuffing dirty oily rags into for as long as the backscroll goes. The light from these spaces is illuminating the floating dust in the air, challenging my eyes, and killing bacteria.

All of the people in my head are on vacation, smiling, grazing, laying in the grass, resting, when I look to them. In comfort and relief, they are sighing. Sometimes, I cry a little. It is good.

I am finally figuring out how I want the key of my relationship map to look. Like, how I REALLY want it to look, in reality, not in some kind of socially perpetuated soulmate fantasy my childhood self created an eon ago. And I can see better why I have kept making the same mistakes, letting myself so often be drawn into vortex after vortex, letting them get in my way.

Though some of the changes I’ve made in my life, like releasing my most treasured lover from any form of fidelity to me, are scary, the part of me that yearns for a sense of security that I never find in partnerships is gaining some perspective about the definition of insanity.

Whether I manage to blackbox my way into doing it again, for now I am keenly aware that I have spent quite long enough martyring myself for my imperfections in relationships.

Why must I only be either the perfect smothered partner with someone, or hopelessly alone? Why is part of me so violently convinced of that? Some day, I will know the answer to that question, I am sure – for now, I am satisfied that this part of me is no longer captaining my emotional ship.

Currently, for whatever reasons I came to this place in my life, I am for myself, wholeheartedly, because I completely want to be, not because I am punishing, running, or protecting myself from the sickening vulnerability of being loved. Due to finding my place in that, I am also finding myself more open to the significance of others in my life than I have been in a very long time, and as such my relationships are blossoming again.

It seems I got precisely what I needed from my travels. Good reflections, revelations, time off, lots of food, the right kind of solitude, an appreciation of just how wide and far reaching my options are, and an equal amount of appreciation for my capacity to take any number of them by the balls and own the living fuck out of it.

While on vacation this time, I looked back to my takeaway from my big solo road trip in 2011, and was surprised to see that though I had forgotten I’d written a wishlist at all, I have made great strides in addressing all the wants and lacks I had discovered – most notably figuring out the Tiny House thing, and changing my perspective on a couple aspects of my life, like how much time to give myself between commitments in a given day.

This trip, I came home knowing how I would shift things and why my proposed changes, even with uncertain outcomes, would work – and my timing was perfect this year, returning just as the sun decided to come out. For me, of course. Duh. :P

So. This is what it’s like facing the world when *I* am taken care of already.

I see…

Chilling. Accurate. Infuriating.

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

http://www.vice.com/read/filthy-lucre

When you fly Virgin Upper Class out of Heathrow, you go through a separate set of airport security.

With a ticket that costs $4,000 round-trip, you swipe your boarding pass, go up a sleek private elevator, and pass through security and passport control that is delighted to see you. “Lovely suitcase,” they coo. You’re whisked away to the Virgin Clubhouse, with its free facials and single-malt scotch. Except briefly, you never interact with the airport’s general population.

Some months ago, I got to fly first-class from London. Until then, I’d never realized it wasn’t just a recliner in the plane and some cheap bubbly, but rather a separate sphere of being. In first-class, you weren’t groped or barked at or treated like a combination of a terrorist and a cow. Instead, paid servants pretended your presence was a gift.

After years of work trips crammed in coach, being forced to show my underwear to the TSA, I felt like a guttersnipe in a palace. I loved it, but it was also deeply strange. “These people don’t really like me,” I thought, no matter how skillfully they acted like they did.

Until you see it, you never realize how separate the sphere of the rich is from that of everyone else.

I came from a middle-class, divorced home. As is typical, the upper-middle-class end of the split went to my dad, and the lower-middle-class to my mom. Like most people trying to make it in an impractical profession, I spent years living in rat-infested tenements with roommates who threatened to kill me in my sleep.

Unlike most artists, I started to make money. Not 1 percent money, but more than my mom ever dreamed of. Once I did, I started to realize how broken the idea of American meritocracy was.

Meritocracy is America’s foundational myth. If you work hard, society tells us, you’ll earn your place in the middle class. But any strawberry picker knows hard work alone is a fast road to nowhere. Similarly, we place our faith in education. Study, and the upper-middle class will be yours. Except the average student graduates $35,000 in debt.

Artists too have their myths. The lies told to artists mirror the lies told to women. Be good enough, be pretty enough, and that guy or gallery will sweep you off your feet, to the picket-fenced land of generous collectors and two and a half kids. But, make the first move, seize your destiny, and you’re a whore.

But neither hard work nor talent nor education are passports to success. At best, they’re small bits of the puzzle.

A fine artist, (successful, credential-festooned, with inherited money), told me that I was too focused on commerce to be an artist. A real artist endured poverty. Being poor was edifying, filled with moral uplift. I spent weeks in a murderous rage.

I’ve never been poor. I have always had the safety net of loving, middle-class parents. But what he said brought me back to me at 20, feverish and propped up against a subway pillar days after an abortion, on my way to a naked-girl job that I thought would get me raped.

What the artist was pretending he didn’t know is that money is the passport to success. You claw a few bucks and use those to get more cash, while never growing ill or vulnerable, never caring for a child or sick parent, never letting your place slip on that greasy pole.

For my friends and I who fought our way to moderate financial success, money came from transgressing society’s norms. It might have been fucking rich dude after rich dude you met on Seeking Arrangements. It might have been stabbing your stomach each morning with a syringe of hormones, in order to sell your genetically desirable eggs. With much luck, it required doing the ambitious work everyone said you weren’t ready for, then getting mocked and rejected for it, until, slowly, the wall began to crack. You could never do what you were supposed to, never stay quietly in your place.

My friends who came closest to attaining the American Dream did it by breaking the rules on how to get there. The standard plan—college to secure job to home you own—was either unattainable or a path to the American debt nightmare.

Those with money usually think they deserve it. But most people who make the world run—who care for kids, who grow food, who would rebuild after natural disasters and societal collapse—will never be rich, no matter how hard or well they work, because society is constructed with only so much room on top.

Once, I met with a man who runs an idea festival. He was a great admirer of businessmen who became Buddhist monks. “I don’t like protest,” the man told me. “It’s too much about ego. Ego is the problem with America.”

I thought of the workers busting their backs lifting boxes at warehouses, while an electronic tracker yelled at them to work faster. Are their egos too big?

So much of the difference between the experiences of rich and poor comes down to kindness. Kindness is scarce. Kindness must be bought.

If you have money, you can pay to live in a bubble of politesse. Excellent wine choice, sir. Here’s your gift bag, madam. Often, you don’t have to pay for it. The mere promise that you might will keep you sipping prosecco and deserving of servile attentions. Soon, you think this treatment is earned.

Meanwhile, we treat the poor with casual cruelty. Single moms on welfare have their homes searched by police to make sure they’re not hiding a man in the closet. But it’s too much to ask bankers to justify the bonuses they sucked off the public teat. The poor get stop-and-frisk, drug tests, and constant distrust.

Newt Gingrich, whose idea of hard work is refraining from cheating on his wife, suggested that poor kids learn work ethic by working as unpaid school janitors. Rich children’s work ethic is presumably absorbed in utero.

I told the festival coordinator that we needed a radical redistribution of senses of entitlement.

My own sense of entitlement served me well. I got my first job at a candy store when I was 14. I worked in the stockroom. I would open a box, take out a smaller box, put a rubber band around the smaller box, and put it back inside the big one. I lasted two days. This job, I remember thinking, does not make use of my intellectual abilities. When I did need work, I went straight into the naked-girl industry. Honest employment was a treadmill. It’s extreme privilege to believe your life is too valuable to waste.

Every dollar I clawed, whether it was from modeling or an early gig drawing cocks for Playgirl, served to amplify my advantages. Art is sometimes seen as gnostic freedom. But being an artist means you’re in thrall to cash.

My last art show would have been impossible without the money and network of contacts I’d built. I never could have hauled massive slabs of wood up to my old fifth-floor walk-up—never could have painted them in the lightless room I once shared with three roommates. Without an assistant, I never would have had the time to paint my show. Without sponsorships, I never could have afforded the paint. Sometimes, curators look at the work, and say, “Why didn’t you ever paint like that before?” I’d answer, “Because no one gave me enough money to be able to.”

A decade of practice honed my talent. But cash let me express it. To pretend otherwise is to spit in the face of every broke genius who can’t afford materials or time. It’s to say I got here because I’m better than them.

I am good. But it’s never just about that.

An artist, like an activist, is expected to financially hobble herself. Purity is as important as survival. There’s a constant criticism for earning “too much.” But as we slash the social safety net, once basic things—a home, college, a dignified old age—become mirages. It’s near impossible to live the average American dream on the average American salary.

Not talking about money is a tool of class war. A culture that forbids employees from comparing salaries helps companies pay women and minorities less. Ignoring the mercenary grit behind success leads to quasi-religious abundance gurus claiming you can visualize your way to wealth.

Even we successful artists do it. It’s easy to ignore luck, privilege, and bloody social climbing when you stand onstage in a pair of combat boots. It’s easy to say that if people are just good enough, work hard enough, ask enough, believe enough, they will be like us.

But it’s a lie. Winning does not scale. We may be free beings, but we are constrained by an economic system rigged against us. What ladders we have are being yanked away. Some of us will succeed. The possibility of success is used to call the majority of people failures.

Celebrate beating a treacherous system. But remember, there is no god handing out rewards to the most deserving. Don’t pretend that everyone can win.

@MollyCrabapple