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*Be aware this piece contains semi-adult themes*

I threw your record into the corner. A young man in my math class had recommended your cd to me (he also later recommended that I come to his house to "spank the monkey") and I had taken his advice when I realized I could get one more free cd from the company my mom was joining. I listened to the well-known songs on it and threw it into that corner I just mentioned and went on with my life. Pre-teens are merciless judges.

"Went on with my life" seems like a very haughty young lady saying she had better things to do than listen to an alternative band's third cd in her room alone. I doubt the words could be any farther from the reality. Doing nothing was an art I had perfected along with sitting in my room alone. When I say "went on with my life" I mean that I went on to my everyday existence of being teased at school and ignored by my mother. I mean that I pulled myself out of bed in the morning to face the insecurity and doubt that plague millions of teenagers across the United States, and indeed the world. I watched my dad drink himself crazy daily and consoled my mom when he tried to make her crazy too. I intervened when my mom shouted at my brother with words you don't use on a child, and held the tears back when she turned on me. At least once a month, I built up a wall around me when my dad started blaming me and telling me what was wrong with me. I was lonely, but that was my life and I went on with it. And I ignored you. Music wasn't a big part of my world yet and so you definately weren't. Television was one of my escapes and I usually turned to it or my pet parrots for consolation. I couldn't turn to my "best" friend who brutalized me and teased me for my innocence in the world of drugs, sex, and alcohol. That was my existence and I don't remember feeling anything in those transitional days, but I kept going.

However, I don't want you to feel sorry for me. There was one person. Someone who was important and special to me. A beautifully intelligent and rebellious teacher who befriended me in seventh grade and remained my friend throughout middle school. I can still remember him telling me to be myself and listening to me for long hours after school had gotten out. Just those two things meant the world to a lonely young girl. Exspecially since I was utterly abandoned by my friends. The "best" friend I mentioned earlier moved away and got throughly caught up in the hedonistic lifestyle she condemned me for not joining. My other friends stopped talking to me, and many of them teased me to impress the popular crowd. I wasn't suicidal or homicidal (though that would change in the future) but I was frustrated and oblivious about life in general. I never expressed myself and felt repressed all of the time. It would have bubbled over if it wasn't for my mentor, this crazy art teacher. He stimulated me to start drawing again and got me to talk in class. As I started coming out of the shell I lived in I leaned on him heavily to help me believe in myself. That's when tragedy struck. I passed eighth grade and left the school my teacher friend worked at. I had thought my past was harsh, but my future looked even dimmer.

I started high school lonelier than in middle school. i developed a crush on a boy who thrilled in making fun of me to impress the popular girls around him. I attended a haunted school, plagued by tremendous pains in the past and reborn to artifical sympathy that overlooked even my obvious depression. I can still recall learning about teasing and bullying in class, being encouraged to stand up for my peers in the face of laughter and yet never benefiting from that courage myself. I suffered on in silence. Days turned into weeks and months of this silence. As I'm sure you know, when depression festers in you and finally explodes the pain is deeper than any flesh-bound wound could rival. I lost a boyfriend to the delight of a newer, harsher group of "friends" who were very ready to set me up with someone terrible for me. I firmly believe they simply wanted to see how far they could push me. However, I missed my boyfriend very deeply and without him everything went down the drain for me. I locked myself in my room and that is the moment I discovered you.

I was cleaning my room depressed and lost, when I uncovered your third cd and flipped it into my stereo more out of apathy than desire. The first few tracks played and I realized that I could relate to all of them. Every word felt like a part of me, and within a few days of cleaning and listening to your cd I knew every word. Now I walked around the house humming your tunes and writing your words with adolescent flair all over my notebooks. That summer I bought both yor first and second cds and fell more in love than ever. All these joyful words are certainly not ment to suggest that I didn't suffer through the ensuing years. I did indeed. One of my dearest friends committed suicide my sophomore year, ruining the metality of my classmates and myself. Classic reading was replaced by tears and textbooks of US history was overrun by my teacher's decent into depression and evetual replacement. For me personally, the pain I felt at my friend's loss was only surpassed by my pain from a young man who pressured me into far too many sexual acts and spoke to me like my father did. I was a slut and a whore to him...and those words cut deep. But throughout it all I heard your voice singing to me. Begging me in some indirect way to cling on to life. And cling I did indeed.

My father's drinking escalated. My mother's depression deepened. As if running parallel to them, I felt myself sinking deeper into despair. I had spent most of high school floating as high as I could on my damaged wings and hoping that in my lonliness I could be saved. But now...even in the alleged safety of my own home, I was not allowed to remain unmolested. There comes a point, as many of us can attest, that you just rot away from the inside out. Decay of the spirit is common in depression and with mine entirely hollowed out, I collapsed into suicidal tendencies. Cutting, choking myself, throwing up (not to be confused with an eating disorder, I threw up on an empty stomach) until I spit blood, and tearful awakenings in the middle of the night haunted my existence. I had but one friend on my side, but elsewise I was alone and utterly ignored. As my peer relationships worsened (particularly with guys) into anger rather than blatant ignorance, I became rather homicidal. I wrote death stories in my notebooks that would have costed me explusion if a teacher would have glanced over my shoulder at the wrong moment. And on it went, on and on as the days went by.

Perhaps you are wondering your place in this tale of mine. It is a multi-faceted purpose that you ought to be proud of. In a time when teachers ignored my failing grades and black clothes, my friends told me their problems and never asked about mine, and my parents hurt more than helped me, you were there. In the days of darkness, I fell asleep singing your songs. For every problem I encountered, I found a song and I belted that song in my room, imagining my opponent before me. You came from a poor place like me, felt alone and disgraced like me. Yet, you had hope for the future. A wise mind that saw beyond the tenacles of drug and alcohol addiction to the bright light of independence. In many ways, you and my band mates are the closest friends I've ever had. You reminded me to be strong in times of need and stayed the razor from my wrist many times. I am better now. Much farther along then I thought I could get, and your band is breaking up. Oh how times changes, huh? That's what made me want to write that somewhere on this planet I could document that the "stupid guy with the short blonde hair" and his bandmates saved my life. I met you once in Denver, Colorado and that brief moment of exchanging compliments and knowing that you knew you were appreciated, was awesome. Perhaps someday you'll read this and realize just how much you meant to me, and surely many other fans around the planet. Then maybe you'll close your eyes, smile, and feel the tears of joy. Somehow, we'll be connected because that is just what I did the first time I connected to your voice alone in my room.

"God grant me distraction."

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The following comments are for "For the Love of Art (PG-13)"
by Darkshine Raven

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