PROGRAM NOTES (by Sophie Webber)
This piece is a tribute to the life story of Amanda Lenetta Asque, an incredible woman who in spite of being a victim of substance abuse and many other traumas, was able to transcend the hardships life dealt her, and is now a substance abuse counselor in Chicago who frequently travels nationally to help women in need. In her own words, "My struggles are not in vain; they are a means for me to connect with hundreds of other women to inspire them that life is beautiful."
The spoken word portion of the piece here is taken directly from an interview I had with her 2015. Amanda's recounting of her life events was at times incredibly lucid and insightful, and at others more fragmented. This fragmentation alternating with haunting clarity is reflected in the parts of the interview I chose for this piece. The music that surrounds Amanda's voice is comprised of cello, piano, the sounds of Amanda breathing, street sounds, waves crashing, and electronics. The work divides roughly into three sections:
AMANDA NARRATIVE TRANSCRIPTION
“She wanted a boy, I know that, and here I come, this big, bouncing… I think I came here on fire.
And what I mean by that is I had this enormous amount of energy, but I didn’t know what to do with it…
I was everywhere, and I was so tiny...
I was just like on top of the world --in the beginning...
If you told me to go right, I went left with an attitude,
Me you couldn’t tell me nothing, nobody could tell me nothing, I didn’t like authority or anything.
(sound of Amanda breathing)
My Mom, she was really beautiful, but there was always something,
you could tell there was something bothering her.
I thought it was the fact that we were born.
She was never at home, she was either at work, or school, ...or something
But I do want to say, she did the best she could, I think.
I’ve lived everywhere from Kittery, Maine, to… She always moved all around… My Mom met this guy, and fell in love with him, and moved us into
So many people.
Each project was about 20 storeys high, 10 ...20 apartments on each floor,
back in 1984.
My Mom was never at home, I was staying in these Projects
--All hell broke loose.
About the age of, between 4 and 6, I was molested by my babysitter...
I was working for Sun Times Newspaper, you have to leave early in the morning, and while I was waiting for the bus this guy pulled a gun on me, pushed me in the alley, raped me. I was 19…”
“...They used to call me shit color, all that kind of stuff, and that’s when my drug use started, they introduced me to cocaine, freemason, at sixteen.
Cocaine was my problem.
I never got satisfied, no relationship ever satisfied me.
At that time I became a full-fledged heroine-addict.
One was too many and a thousand was never enough.
I found out that I had an addiction that begged to be fed. And it didn’t care what I fed it with… Relationships. Drugs. Whatever.
I just couldn’t stop, and I don’t think I even wanted to, at the time, because it made me...
(sound of waves crashing)
“I was in so much pain, my eyelashes --I couldn’t stand them to touch, the withdrawals were so tumultuous, I was throwing up, I lost all my bodily functions. I could hardly breathe. They kept me in detox for like, 11 days, ‘cause I was ...out of it. My body had been so toxic for so long, I...almost died.
(car and street sounds)
When I came to St. Martin’s I had two little pigtails. No teeth, I had lost all my teeth… to the drugs.
(music gradually shifts and lifts)
During that period, though, that first week, I met Marge, she came along (high, sing-song voice) “Hell-o!!”... Girl, please, it’s too early in the morning for all that! ...and she played a song, “We are Women. We are Women of Faith,” ...and it’s the way that we sang in solidarity, it’s like everyone understood why we were there.
….And I had to fight my way all the way back.
And start rebuilding, restitching (pause) my fractured personality.
I worshipped things, and mistreated people… because there was a hole in my soul...
So I got busy, I started doing parenting classes, anger management classes… everything they told me to do, I lined up with it.
I’ve got this relationship with God that I never thought I’d have. I never realized how much he loved me… until I started loving me.
‘Cause I knew God has had his hand on my life for a looong time.
My whole life has done a 720.”