Reputation Prologue & Poems

Prologue

Here’s something I’ve learned about people.

We think we know someone, but the truth is that we only know the version of them they have chosen to show us. We know our friend in a certain light, but we don’t know them the way their lover does. Just the way their lover will never know them the same way that you do as their friend. Their mother knows them differently than their roommate, who knows them differently than their colleague. Their secret admirer looks at them and sees an elaborate sunset of brilliant color and dimension and spirit and pricelessness. And yet, a stranger will pass that person and see a faceless member of the crowd, nothing more. We may hear rumors about a person and believe those things to be true. We may one day meet that person and feel foolish for believing baseless gossip.

This is the first generation that will be able to look back on their entire life story documented in pictures on the internet, and together we will all discover the after-effects of that. Ultimately, we post photos online to curate what strangers think of us. But then we wake up, look in the mirror at our faces and see the cracks and scars and blemishes, and cringe. We hope someday we’ll meet someone who will see that same morning face and instead see their future, their partner, their forever. Someone who will still choose us even when they see all of the sides of the story, all the angles of the kaleidoscope that is you.

The point being, despite our need to simplify and generalize absolutely everyone and everything in this life, humans are intrinsically impossible to simplify. We are never just good or just bad. We are mosaics of our worst selves and our best selves, our deepest secrets and our favorite stories to tell at a dinner party, existing somewhere between our well-lit profile photo and our drivers license shot. We are all a mixture of our selfishness and generosity, loyalty and self-preservation, pragmatism and impulsiveness. I’ve been in the public eye since I was 15 years old. On the beautiful, lovely side of that, I’ve been so lucky to make music for living and look out into crowds of loving, vibrant people. On the other side of the coin, my mistakes have been used against me, my heartbreaks have been used as entertainment, and my songwriting has been trivialized as ‘oversharing’.

When this album comes out, gossip blogs will scour the lyrics for the men they can attribute to each song, as if the inspiration for music is as simple and basic as a paternity test. There will be slideshows of photos backing up each incorrect theory, because it’s 2017 and if you didn’t see a picture of it, it couldn’t have happened right?

Let me say it again, louder for those in the back…

We think we know someone, but the truth is that we only know the version of them that they have chosen to show us.

There will be no further explanation.
There will be just reputation.

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If You’re Anything Like Me

If you’re anything like me,
You bite your nails,
And laugh when you’re nervous.
You promise people the world,
because that’s what they want from you.
You like giving them what they want…
But darling, you need to stop,

If you’re anything like me,
You knock on wood every time you make plans.
You cross your fingers, hold your breath,
Wish on lucky numbers and eyelashes
Your superstitions were the lone survivors of the shipwreck.
Rest In Peace, to your naïve bravado…
If life gets too good now,
Darling, it scares you.

If you’re anything like me,
You never wanted to lock your door,
Your secret garden gate or your diary drawer
Didn’t want to face the you you don’t know anymore
For fear she was much better before…
But Darling, now you have to.

If you’re anything like me,
There’s a justice system in your head
For names you’ll never speak again,
And you make your ruthless rulings.
Each new enemy turns to steel
They become the bars that confine you,
In your own little golden prison cell…
But Darling, there is where you meet yourself.

If you’re anything like me
You’ve grown to hate your pride
To love your thighs
And no amount of friends at 25
Will fill the empty seats
At the lunch tables of your past
The teams that picked you last…
But Darling, you keep trying.

If you’re anything like me,
You couldn’t recognize the face of your love
Until they stripped you of your shiny paint
Threw your victory flag away
And you saw the ones who wanted you anyway…
Darling, later on you will thank your stars
for that frightful day.

If you’re anything like me,
I’m sorry.

But Darling, it’s going to be okay.

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Why She Disappeared

When she fell, she fell apart.
Cracked her bones on the pavement she once decorated
as a child with sidewalk chalk
When she crashed, her clothes disintegrated and blew away
with the winds that took all of her fair-weather friends

When she looked around, her skin was spattered with ink
forming the words of a thousand voices
Echoes she heard even in her sleep:
“Whatever you say, it is not right.”
“Whatever you do, it is not enough.”
“Your kindness is fake.”
“Your pain is manipulative.”

When she lay there on the ground,
She dreamed of time machines and revenge
and a love that was really something,
Not just the idea of something.

When she finally rose, she rose slowly
Avoiding old haunts and sidestepping shiny pennies
Wary of phone calls and promises,
Charmers, dandies and get-love-quick-schemes

When she stood, she stood with a desolate knowingness
Waded out into the dark, wild ocean up to her neck
Bathed in her brokenness
Said a prayer of gratitude for each chink in the armor
she never knew she needed
Standing broad-shouldered next to her
was a love that was really something,
not just the idea of something.

When she turned to go home,
She heard the echoes of new words
“May your heart remain breakable
But never by the same hand twice”
And even louder:
“without your past,
you could never have arrived-so wondrously and brutally,
By design or some violent, exquisite happenstance
…here.”

And in the death of her reputation,
She felt truly alive.

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