Sometimes you feel like a whore, and sometimes you feel like a god. You suppose that means that youíre both, or youíre neither, or youíre one and you wish you were the other. If the last one is true, then youíre probably not a god, because who would really want to be a whore?

You donít really think that youíre selling yourself, or that the lyrics you write so lovingly by hand, in your notebooks and on disks you store in a small box, protected by soft cushioning and with your life, if someone tried to destroy them, are fake. You donít think it until someone tells you that they are.

Itís always felt real to you, because itís always been your life. You went from Mickey Mouse Club to being a fucking pop star, and yes, you were always pretty and shiny and happy, but thatís just who you are. Youíre happy, because youíre loved and in love and successful, with friends who honestly care about you, and you were born pretty.

Youíre a fucking pop star, and youíre okay with it. Because all your friends are pop stars. Because you write songs that make people happy. Because you finally have the power to inject a little flavor into the pop. Youíre a pop star, but thatís just who you are. Youíll never be Trent Reznor, and Britney will never be Tori Amos, but youíre okay with that.

That wouldnít make you happy. Youíre happy the way you are.

Its only when you read the reviews, when people call you and the best, smartest friends youíve ever had puppets, when people say that the music you pour your heart into is empty, meaningless crap, that you feel like maybe its not worth it. Maybe it wasnít worth it, escaping Lou and TransCon, fighting to make music that youíre proud of, fighting to have control, if people only say the same things they did when you were being controlled. Maybe itís not worth it, being pretty and happy, if people only think that itís an act.

Sometimes you think about scarring your pretty face, so that you can test it. So that you can see if the fans will still love you. So that you can see if that will make people stop thinking that youíre fake, if the pain that you donít feel is etched across your skin.

And then you call Britney, and she reminds you that your hair is freakish, and your nose is funny, and youíre not really all that pretty, sweetie, and tells you about the song that sheís writing, and she sings it to you. Her voice is strong and proud and happy, and you think it sounds like nothing youíve ever heard before.


For Dale.