Friday, March 31, 2006


my friend ben chappel died last night. or early this morning, i'm not sure. he was at home in new york. emily called and told me.

a few days ago i read a long feature article in the boston phoenix newspaper about how your myspace page lives on after you're dead, and about how people started using myspace pages as computer-memorials, posting to the dead as if they were living. it struck me as really odd, but obvious. people have to mourn.

so this is my post for ben.

i met ben about a year ago, he was interviewing me for a magazine in new york. he showed up at the restaurant with a girl friend of his and when i asked him how he was, he told me the truth, that he had had a horrible night last night, last night was a reunion with the german girl he had been in obsessive love with for ten years. i guess it didn't go well. so instead of talking about the dresden dolls for his article, he laid his head in my lap and told me about his broken heart. it was the start of something beautiful. after that, we randomly emailed a lot but didn't actually spend any time together until a few months ago, when our e friendship was growing stronger and we kept trying to make plans. we had a way of communicating on email that was totally frank. we would go days or weeks without communicating, then ben would email me from his blackberry and chronicle what he was doing in his life. then i would write back and we would sometimes keep this going for an hour, describing exactly what we were doing and seeing. we never, ever called each other. it seemed wrong to do that.

i loved our correspondence, and i kept all of our emails. i went back and read a lot of them tonight, and it pieces together about anything you'd want to know about either of us. i would email him from a cafe in bordeaux, france, and tell him about my fears of how i would feel when i came home and about the people i had loved and lost in my life and about the waiter and what the wine tasted like and the rain looked like and the air smelled like. he would email back from his friend's house in harlem about how he couldn't sleep and what went through his head all night, about the dirty pane of glass he was seeing, about his aunt, about the shoes he bought. we never pressured each other. often it just felt like we were two alone people reaching out to each other and talking about our alone-ness and enjoying the stories that came with it. i will save all of these these, i will continue to save them the way i save things. this is an excerpt from one of his early emails to me, one that struck me:


+ In fall, with luck, I will be wearing a scarf, stepping out from my
Montreal flat, and heading to some sort of English Lit or what-have-you
class. I hope leaving all the things I've built, but that bring me no
feeling, is the right thing to do. Are people meant to feel passion,
or support themselves, or both? Can you do both? I don't know.

+ I am listening to the new Okkervil River EP that I treated myself to
today. Ultimately, my 16 cds came to over $200. The woman with the
shaved head asked me if I was holiday shopping, and I lied and said
yes. She told me that I get four free sandwiches in the cafe upstairs,
one for each $50 increment I spent.

+ I never graduated college but I sit in an office and I teach
(taught.) a class at Columbia. I wing it all. People are charmed and
easily fooled. People are unaware as to how easy some things are, and
that keeps me in business.

+ I am writing a very long email to you. When people surprise you with
signs and songs, for your birthday, you are offered a lot of liquor. I
apologize for what that yields: a long, rattling, pointless email to a

+ I saw your section today, in the record store. There was one CD
left. The Dresden Dolls. I was alone, with headphones on, wandering
the aisles. The music was about New York. I went and bought a New
Yorker book of stories about New York. I imagine sitting on a mountain
in Montreal, bundled up, knowing no one, knowing not where my life is
going to go, reading about the city I'd captured, used up and left.

+ I am making rash decisions in my life, and leaving all I know. I
must weigh the possibility that I am trying to run from myself, who, as
my friends say, will be the same wherever I am. I think I just need
some time off. I think it can be that simple.

+ it's ten past four, and the song said, "we might die from medication,
but we sure killed all the pain." melodrama is appealing, but
overrated. it is also hard to avoid. we are human.

+ i am no longer going to capitalize.

+ i am afraid that if i end this email, i ill be forced to do something
mature and relating to sleep and work and the rest of the elements of a
life i'd never planned on.

i will tell you secrets, and you can feel free to never respond to this
e-mail. i just need to write. you don't need to read it. this is the
only outlet i have that has any intrigue attached to it. i will tell
you things about me, and i will write, also to myself, things about me.
you can, if you feel like reading this, read it in chapters. dickens
published great expectations in pieces. can you imagine it being 1812,
or whenever, and waiting to find out what pip's great expectations
were? can you believe that television has replaced, in cliffhangers
and weekly episodes, the compilation of a novel? what walt whitman did
in the city i'm about to leave, just republishing the same compilation
of poetry over and over, expanded, has been replaced by TV ON DVD
sections at Virgin. The owner of Virgin has his own reality show on
FOX. The owner of FOX is .. well, you know about what he does, I
imagine. you're a well informed woman. Though, I must admit, I almost
did buy Arrested Development on DVD, until I realized I probably
wouldn't watch it more than once.

I changed my mind about the secrets. This e-mail is much too long.

Attached is the sloppy representation of the framed photo you suggested.



so a few months ago i went down to new york for some reasons and one was to go on a date with ben. we met in a cafe in the village and we sat and talked for a few minutes. i saw that he had an iPod and headphones and i asked him if he wanted to hear a song from the new record, which we had just finished but not mastered. over guacomole and beer and wine, i popped open my mac on the table and he plugged his headphones in. i played him necessary evil first. while he listened, i typed him a note on a blank screens, telling him that i had tried to keep the song off the record, and he answered via typing back. from that point on, realizing that communicating via typing was far more comfortable for both of us, we conducted the next two and a half hours of our date without speaking. we traded headphones back and forth and typed and ordred beer and wine and more food as the hours wore on. the waitress thought we were crazy. i would play him a track from the record and he would play me a song form his iPod, mostly wilco and the silver jews, and some okkervil river. we would make occasional trips to the bathroom.

then we went home to his apartment, hung out with his two cats, and read in bed together. we just held each other for dear life and fell asleep. we fell in that kind of love that you fall in for a while when you're with someone, barely talking, knowing that you know each other on a level, that you don't need details, that your relationship is just What It Is, that you will hold each other in the night and the morning and then the next night, you will be in different beds in different cities. not asking. not becoming attached, because you can't. because your life isn't built that way. because you scare all your girlfriends away, ben said, because they all say you care more about your cats than you do abou them. because you aren't ever in one place long enough, amanda said, to grow attached enough to a person to really fall in love the way you used to. not that you don't want to. i left ben in the morning and went back in the afternoon. i thought about him. i wondered what would happen if i ever stopped touring. and came to new york, and stayed. would we fall in love? probably. probably not.

then i left. ben ended up helping me shape and edit the introduction text for the sheet music book, because he was brilliant writer. we were about to embark on a project for one of the magazines he writes for to try to conduct an entire weekend of speechless sticky-dating and print the entire date in the magazine. we thought that might work. i went to new york this past weekend and ben called me on saturday and left a message. i got busy and distracted. i didn't call him back and came straight home to boston, emailing when i got back...apologizing. i never heard back.

in memorandum. here is the first, last and only almost-wordless date between amanda and ben chappel, which he asked me to email to him a few weeks later, so it too was saved. i added the "A" and "B" because it wasn't always obvious who was writing. but i left the typos in.

i think ben would approve of my sharing this. people connect in the strangest ways. you don't need to explain, you don't need to worry. you take all the love you can get, how it comes, before it goes away because it does and it will.


Subject: THE DATE
Date: February 6, 2006 10:08:12 PM EST

A: i fought really hard to keep this song off the record
B: why?
A: i dont like it


A: so did everybody else

A: i like this one

B: i remember the first time i heard backstabber at subtonic, afterwards a friend i was with and i were obsessed with it.


we still talk about that song!

A: of all the recordings, i think it's one of the two weakest, but its still ok.

B: we also still talk about two headed boy at that show. brilliant

A: b side

B: aeroplane one of the best albums of all time

A: agreed

i've been explaining it to older people as the seargent peppers of the nineties

B: and now jeff mangum is on some weird religious crazy solmething or other.

i have this great solo album of his, live at jittery joes, where he plays an amazing version of two headed boy 1 & 2

A: do you think we communicate better through writing?

B: probably, but i communicate better through writing in general.

i can never find the words to say, but my fingers can always find them

more time to process and no worries about getting htem out of your mouth.

thats the weird thing; i never process. i just type type type and it comes out faster than words, and i never re-read

A: im the same way i think it also has to do with things just seeming better thought out when they have time to come out of your fingers than your mouth. except that that sentence didnt really make sense.

B: i got it. my mouth does ok when im comfortable, or drugged.


A: thats life.

A: thi sis paet of the problem with internet dating and IMing. perhaps people who fall in love over the internet should ease into their relationships by meeting at bars but only typing ewith each other fotr a while

B: and it helps me to have the music

A: yes, i could be in japan right now and the quality of our communication would be about as good.

B: yes. i'm much more epressive through stickies.

A: i have to say though, i really am enjoying the added bonus of eating and dri knig witbh you while we communicate.

there is a hip bandplaying in the bar and i cantg place it but i bet you know it

the candeliers in here are the same as the big one they had at the studio where we made this record

B: not so far from home

A: i'm getting soup

do you want anytjhing?

B: another beer please

A: this is the girl anachronism of the new album

B: though it reminds me more of half jack

A: uhh ohhhhhhh

B: no good good. not the same. great

i want it now
A: greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedy

B: that i certainly am

"god i love communicating"

"i just hate the shit we're missing'

A: this song is about our relationship

B: yeah right
A: close enough

when anybody asks, i'll tell them you'tre mute

B: i may as well be

nevermidn i forget the quote
something like, "better to let people thing you're an idiot than to open your mouth and prove them right"

A: this is true.
you've almost heard the entire record.

B: well if i had one id let you listen to it too.

A: youre a very nice man-boy

B: im working on b eing more the former than latter, but it takes a significant amount of time to figure that bit out.

A: you didnt have

what song are you on?

B: my alcoholic friends

A: this one is good. its about me and brian starting a backalley abortion clinic

i'm going to eat some soup, really excited.

B: no more coat hangers

what kind of soup

A: vegetable blackbean.

you didn't have a strong male rolemodel.

B: i was the male roldmodel. mother's shrink, sister's dad

how much younger was the sistewr?

22 now - 4+ years younger


A: i grew up with my stepfather mother and sister, 4 yrs older/ my mom left my dad when i was 1.

my stepdad had two kids, my older stepsister lisa, who was a bookwrom, and karl, who was the coolest older brother type in the world. he painted and played bass and he died when i was 21.

B: how did he die

A: slowly and painfully from lou gehrigs disease

it sucked.

B: a childs death\\shit

makes the parents unable to separate the other from the child sometimes. i can't i

A: my hangover is officially gone

B: but now youre so tired!

i am too.

A: are you going home to bed?

B: i dont think ive gone to bed before 3am or later in at least 10 months

it's inconceivable. more likely home to watch law and order on tivo and do freelance crap. that is, after all, my life.

A: thats heartbreaking.

B: its ok. i have the best 2 cats of all time and i like law and order.

A: its better than navigating real people

B: good pointr. i was going to take the subway home and read until the ambien knocks me out.

i have chronic insomnia and got ambien for it -- i took 20mg and that didnt even put me to sleep. then my shrink decided it was anxiety-based (DUH) and gav eme klonopin. now i have no health insurance, quit all my brain-meds, and need to use a sleep mask to have any chance of falling asleep.

songs over.

A: dp you want one more?

B: absolutel6yv

very possib;ly best track on the record

up in arms

no hitler and no holocaust!

revisionist historian. thats what errol morris' "mr. death," my favorite of his films, is about.

A: it's horrifying.

B: i think of you whenever i watch hedwig

songs over

A: i think if you hear two more youl be complete

B: then dont mess with my itunes

A: im going to silently pause, go piss and come bac k and start again without a vocal word, ok?

B: wilco - smile all the time

is playing

how do you beat loneliness

smile all the time

another song: "the ashtray says, youve been up all night"

another song: "a fake sunset on a television set could upset her, but i never could"

i love that line.

very representative of very many people.

A: true

we were recently doing a theater workshop and the show is about weeping. anyway

one actor told the story of how his brother was at the hospital with the whole family crowded around their very sick cancerous other brother. everyone was weeping, except him. a few days later, he started to weep openly at a tv ad for the united negro college fund and their mother lacerated him
"how can you cry at THIS and not at your dying brother??"

B: when i was 17 my best friend was murdered; i have never cried for him, but he is the hardest lost ive ever experience. earlier this past year another good friend was killed in a car accident and i never cried for him, either, but i did stop going to classes and doing work.

my grandmother's dog is named "paxil"

A: you need to come to the onion cellar. that's where they give you onions and knives instead of drinks and the dresden dolls are playing a 4-week residency next year.

B: theres a silver jews song with a line, lets see if i can remember it now, something like, "i hate when they hang mirrors behind the bar; because i hate to look at myself when i dont know where you are"

A: good.

B: its better written by him -- i cant type. -- he would never use "hate" twice in one line. i just cant remember the first substitute.

another line of his, which inspired my fake band called "all my favorite singers," is "all my favorite singers couldn't sing."

thats how i feel about him. because he can't sing.

A: almost none of my favorite singers can sing.

what song?

B: mandy still

your battery has lucky 13

A: unlucky 12 now

B: 11 is mine.

A: 8 is mine

B: you should put your band name on the mp3 id3 tags

A: these are just home recordings, not mastered...

B: i know but they sound mastered.

i dont know how you managed that, but i cant imagine them sounding better

"she's the kind of girl who looks for love in all the lonely places"

A: hi

B: i love the jeep song

the best line in this song is the same spot second time around..."she's the kind of girl who leaves out condoms on her bedroom dresser/just to make you jealous of the men she fucked before you met her\"

that is so dangerously female

oh im at that line NOW



jesus, women, how can you look in the mirror in the morning

A: i'm getting used to it slowly.

B: well. i don't even know what to say about that. i guess you've acquainted (oops) yourself with lucifer, then.

A: are you done?

B: done what?
A: with the song....

B: yes. rice chex now

A: did you hear this one?

B: yes

there won't be any second coming

this is the saddest one

years ago i gave a friend your first album, and she was delighted by my "coin-operated boy dance"

i would move around like a puppet when i was drunk

A: charming.

B: it was.

A: can i come to your apartment adn read while you work? we dont have to make out or anything, i just think it would be nice.

A: yes and you can charge too.B: lets go i want a cigarette


A: i dont give a shit.

B: me neither

A: i suggest we dont talk but when we get there, i can plug my computer back in and maybe we can type with each other.

B: ill pplug in mine and you can get on my airport and we can just IM on my couch.

A: i dont know how to IM yet

B: well ill teach you. you have 5% left, lets go/


goodnight ben.


thoushaltnot said...

Very sorry to hear that, Amanda. Hang in there. *hug*

And yes, I noticed the Camus.


minipeds said...

Truly heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I hope that you can find a way to preserve these conversations and keep learning things through them. I wish I had a text record of all the meaningful things I've heard and said between close friends. :hug:

thehosik said...

Started a blog just to comment on this because it moved me so much. Now don't know what to say.


juxtagon said...

So sad, and yet so sweet.

Sorry for your loss

this this this this this said...

you can make me cry for someone i never knew. (or did i? does reading two extracts from his conversation, learning your perception - does that mean i knew him, in some way, in this age of internets?)

i told you not to stop writing in this, though i never comment (i forgot i had this account.) i mean it. it's good for you. writing-but not. journal-that-isn't. maybe one day this will be your myspace, and people will play your albums and print your electronic thoughts.

how depressing.

mm said...

I'm really sorry to hear that but at the same time I'm really glad you shared such memories with us.

kymberlyn said...

i just wanted to let you know how truly sorry i am for your loss. you're both very lucky to've had such a deep connection - try to hold on to that. thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Theboywhodestroyedtheworld said...

Sorry for your loss. I lost a friend a few years back, i think the worst part is never getting to say goodbye, but i guess as long as we say goodbye in our own way, trying to reach them (i guess im agnostic..), we could make peace. Ive never been any good talking about death.
Thankyou for being brave enough to share so much:).

andrea said...

im sorry.
from what you posted he seemed to be a truely nice person.
write a song for him, or play hallelujah. that'd be nice.
RIP Ben.
Thank you for posting Amanda.
Now we all got the chance to know this person a little bit.


Heather said...

There's not necessarily much a stranger can say to cushion a loss...I'm not sure how you mourn personally, but when it is that you're ready to cheer up, I recommend plenty of Shirley Temple...Perhaps your defenses are stronger, but she has almost always worked for me. Which is not to say you should rush into getting over it or anything, this is not one of those get over it's just a suggestion for future reference. It's always good to look to the future. Until then, just hang in there, surround yourself with (pretty) things and take good, good care. Hang around in memories of him. You have a lot of good ones in that brain of yours and now would probably be a good time to open them up and immerse yourself in them. I'll be sending you as many lovely thoughts as is possible xx

Baron said...

Sorry for your loss Amanda.

People connect with other people in special and unique ways.

Thank you for sharing some of your connection with ben.

ramona said...

i knew and loved ben too.

we spent our freshman year of college holding each other for dear life in our sleep. though we weren't lovers. or in love. just very good friends. none of my friends really understood what that was like with him. but i'm glad you experienced it.

Sunni-T said...

I had a friend I never met, cos he couldn't meet anyone [he was real sick and housebound, as some people are] But to this day I have his emails to me that full of wisdom, love and courage. I'm sorry that lost someone who meant so much to you. But glad for you that you knew him and that he touched your life and your heart. Like I'm glad for me I knew my friend.

blahtron said...

I had a lover...we had the same sort of relationship...we understood...she left...i have another lover...i still long for understanding.

I am truly addicted, you are addictive.

there is so much love for you x

Marrei said...

I'm so sorry, Amanda. I'm glad Ben is living on in your memory. You rock!

Adelle said...

....their are very little things that make me cry....but that did.i know you cant sugar coat a loss..but i will say i am sorry least ben still lives through your emails..keep them safe...and he'll still be with you.x.A.x

unimportantxsn said...

haw daing. that sucks. i'm very sorry. i usually hate when people say sorry after something bad happens to me. i've never had a real close friend die, but once when i was in maybe 3rd grade some kid at my school died by getting kicked in the head and i cried for at least 2 days. i told everyone i knew him but i really didn't. yup. now i think you should go here.

June Miller said...

I'm terribly sorry, Amanda.

Your relationship with Ben--actually, your connection--is similar to the one I have with someone I've met recently. While I'm not sexually attracted to him, I have the utmost respect and adoration for him, and I'm thankful to know him. He's the closest equivalent to a crush on a guy I've ever had. Already, though our relationship is still young, I'll know that I'll miss him terribly should I happen to lose him. I can only imagine how you're feeling right now. I wish I could assist you with coping through this, but this is something you'll do yourself. I've no doubt. You're a strong woman; I'm sure you'll fair well in the end.

Take care, Amanda. The both of you are in my thoughts.

madreindeer said...

It's been nearly four years since I lost the girl I loved (she was just 18) and I still have her last e-mail to me, describing a dream she'd had about Dairy Queen, of all things. Life goes on and I rarely look at it anymore, but every but now and then when I am reminded of her, I open it -- just because somehow it seems so immediate on your computer, the same as it did the first time I ever read it. It doesn't yellow with time the way a paper note does. I don't think anyone will ever understand the connection we had, and they don't need to. Your relationship with Ben is yours and yours alone. No label will ever do it justice. There's a lyric by Nine Inch Nails on "The Fragile": "I can still feel you, even so far away ..."

I'm glad you had Ben, Amanda. And you always will. Your fans -- and your friends -- are with you.

A Unique Alias said...

It was very disconcerting to read that conversation as it occurred, as if it were just sliced out of a tube of time and then framed.

My girlfriend and I share an apartment, and occasionally instant-message each other from opposite sides of the room when we could just as easily talk. It alters the level/nature of a conversation in an interesting way.

Thank you for sharing this.

The sun, it has passed
now it's blacker than black
I can hear as you tap on your jar
I'm listening to hear where you are.

Mystery Bug said...

The kind of blog entry that rips you apart, yet is comforting in some way. I'm sorry for your loss, and I'm not sorry you had a chance to connect to a person in an odd way.

I have had odd connections like that, and they seem to haunt you more than the "normal" ones. Exchange of words and emotion can happen through the wire. I hope you feel support of your fans coming through. Take care.

Mystery Bug said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stella said...

i never know what to say with things like this... everything always comes out wrong... but i shall try nonetheless...

i'm so sorry for you loss. reading your diologue made me feel as if i were a part of your special relationship as well.

my prayers go out to you and ben's family.

Lights on Lonely Sidewalks said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lights on Lonely Sidewalks said...

much apologies, especially to everyone that knew him and his family, I'm glad to know a little about him now, thanks to you. Here's to Ben.

it's just me, diana. said...

this is truely moving, for a relationship, or more of a friendship like this to exsist without a care in the world. it's insane how you never know what you can have from someone that will be so meaningful. be strong A, and best wishes.

"Tell me your secrets, ask me your questions, now lets go back to the start." - Coldplay.


Mark said...

i spent some time with you last night in denver. your words about ben touched me. Some other bloggers I read also are mourning ben this week and it prompted me to learn more about him. Once again you (and ben) have prompted me to make a difference, to take some risks, to be honest. Thank you.

Just Some Girl said...

I was so moved by your performance last night in denver when you sang "hallelujah" for ben. It was so beautiful. You filled me with so much emotion as you sang that i wanted to burst inside.
I wanted to read what you posted about your friendship with him here on your blog and I was moved agine. You should feel so lucky to have words from a friend you can keep with you forever even if you can't keep them.
~~Big hugs~~

Leslie said...

I don't really want to "apologize for your loss" because as we can see, you've heard that enough times. And...the words I'm sorry, in my opinion, mean almost nothing in the situation of a death, especially coming from the keys of an obscure fan of your music sitting at her computer.

But, what I do want to say is that I understand that relationship. I understand that connection and how much easier it is when it happens in typed words. And, the way you can sense what the other person is feeling. How you can reach out to a person in such a deep way, by just sharing your inner thoughts with one another. Because...our inner thoughts make up what we really are. They are the most important thing about us. And, I understand what it's like to lose that person, and still have the emails and the conversations saved on your computer. A file name which contains every shred of thought and emotion within the minds of two people who joined into one through the act of conversing. And I get how those conversations and that like stripping off the layer of yourself that everyone else sees, and sharing what's underneath. It's raw. It's beautiful.

You're coming to columbus on saturday, and I wish I could come but I didn't get a ticket in time. I will be there in spirit.



yes, girl said...

This entry
was extremely moving.

i am, ofcourse, sincerely apologetic for your loss, however i doubt that means much, considering the circumstance of a fan commenting your personal blog. but i'm not commenting for the usual sympathy && apologies.

i'm commenting to say, for a blog entry of someone i don't know personally to move me to tears, this entry shows clearly just how much you cared for your friend, Ben.

basically, i admire the way you're carrying yourself. and the friendship you had with this Ben came off as a fairytale to me, the kind you read and pretend that you're the one in the story because the relationship described is something you desire that much.

i am done.
and i send you my love.

- Marisa

west said...

im not sure i know loss as close to anyone. i walk through life thinking i know next to everthing and just realize daily that i live in a void by everyone else's experiences.
i am sorry for your loss. i hope that it is slowly getting better. there are only so many special people in the world and you seem to meet (and we are lucky to be shared) some of the most interesting.
i hope to be nearly ad in depth as you are. as many times as i am sure you have heard, you are truly an inspiration. your words are more to the soul than most anything i hear. i just want to thankyou for your insights of people, love, and life...of which oneday i hope to experience more thoroughly.

moussaka said...


Cera said...

Im really sorry to hear that amanda :( although in your loss, it has opened my eyes to how well IM lets us contact. one of my friends is kinda like your ben... we only contact through MSN and text message... but we know so much about each other, its unbelievable... without IM and email many friendships would be lost.. or never even started in the first place... bens story is very moving.. theres nothing else i can say but ..sorry. with or without emails, he will be with you whenever you feel he needs to be..and you will always have something physical to remind you of him...make a backup of them for a rainy day.. you can always look back on them and reflect on the good times.. you can never lose a friend. all the best. Cera. (completley off the subject but keep up the good work!) -x-

Sally said...

I wish I had a Ben in my life :)

evolasme said...

amanda you scare me sometimes, you remind me of someone i lost many years ago, the same sensibilites or lack there of, You and juli are the only to people in the world that could have a date via post its ans still make it something so sweet, Sad Ben is gone, strange as it may seem i have the feeling there was more there, and there it will stay.

Ryan K said...

that made me teary. I started reading the typed conversation but had to stop, i felt like too much of a voyer.
would give message of condolence but they almost always seem like bullshit coming from a stranger

Rachel said...

he seems like a beautiful person to have known, and im glad you met in such a natural way...

im sorry...

thank you for sharing. it's a touching story and a work of art in itself.

ashlee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ashlee said...

no better way to honor him than to make us know him and care without even typing to him ourselves.

you made me miss my friends. the ones that are gone.

thank you. with all of me, thank you.

SallySally said...

I had a friend like that once. Years ago in high school. He was six hours away and without a computer so we actually snail- mailed each other, which in a way was even more special because it felt that much more physical: working on the letter in a notebook anywhere, checking my mailbox for his sloppy handwriting, knowing he had left his impression, literally, on the page. And also similarily we were literary wallflowers who were perfect in prose- land and awkward in real life. The difference between my friend and yours is that after a few years we tried to make a romantic relationship work long distance, and it didn't. There was nothing terrible about it, or him, but it was like stepping through the looking glass, we were in alternate realities that were perfect seperately but impossible to mesh. It kind of tainted everything too, because we stopped corresponding after that. It just wasn't the same. I haven't seen him in years but I still think about him.

I'm sharing my story to say, if you ever caught yourself wondering what might have been, that sometimes there is a closeness that is perfect because of its distance. I'm sorry you lost your friend permanently and without fucking it up like I did though. But hopefully you can add him to that little list of non- romantic soulmates you have/ will encounter and just keep him in your heart and smile. I think you've inspired me to try writing to my friend again, which I should do now so I don't chicken out. Thank you so much for sharing that bond with us.

mr. greg said...

very moving, and thank you for posting the eulogy that wasn't given for ben at his funeral (something he would not have liked--a chuck taylor, different colored sock honor guard took place, silently, tho, and he would've have liked that). i was with ben when he got suss, his small, mercurial black cat. even though he bought her at a store. i argued against it because she wasn't a shelter cat, but he just had to have her. (it was like that with ben in a lot of ways--he just had to have--the first to get the $150 Calvin and Hobbes Mammoth Compendium, no question.) but the thing was, he really *did* love his cats more than the myriad girlfriends in his life--he told me the same story--that the female bipeds in his life were always jealous of the female quadrapeds in his life. he never actually denied this, and why should he? he loved them more because he *could* love them. they were such a constant in his life, really. as if everything and everyone else were electrons, moving in and out of existence. we spoke about 10 days before he died. he talked me through tricking my mac into seeing a USB web cam that i had ("macs don't *do* USB, man; firewire *only*"). i was so happy to see that perpetual child/man after a year or so, and he told me (as if confessing that he'd been bad) that things were on the upswing, and he was doing better and better; getting healthy and such. we chatted for half an hour, and that was that. probably the best conversation that we'd had in a long time--thanks for that ben. it's strange now--the words "ben is dead" keep popping in and out of my mind randomly throughout my day to day world, as if reminding me that some creative light has gone out. and even though it was always a bit surreal knowing ben, it's even more so now that he's integrated back into the great question mark; and we're all the lesser for the loss of all those interesting things he would be into and create having been undone, as only he could do them, really. he designed this web site for me once that was supposed to be for my band( it's still on a server somewhere in the IM tells me that "yumsnappletea is offline." that's a fitting metaphor for our friend; he really was one of the first real citizens of the Web. thanks again for that "story" of ben. ben loved stories. we were all better for having been characters in his. -ben's friend greg

Andreas said...

i'm felt so mixed about this. i am happy that you got to share this time with him and us. i am sad that i never had a chance to formally meet him. thank you for sharing this.

writingmiles said...

Um, hi. Depressing, but in a sweet way. Reminds me of a Raymond Carver story, "A Small Good Thing".

I am terribly sorry, though. Had I read this before I'd met you (I'm the poor sap that works at the Boston guitar store that started babbling "like a 4-year old", and was clearly embarassed as such), I would certainly have offered my condolences. As it stands, I can only offer support as a fan.

Good luck.

stratosphere said...

I met the love of my life four years or so ago.. I live in New York, her home is in California. We've been friends for three years and three months approximately, she became my love 9 months or so ago, though she's been my love for much longer. She now goes to school in New York, I see her every weekend. We met for the first time about a year ago. Right around this time.. give or take a month or two. To lose her would be the greatest devestation of my life, and that feels and must be an understatement. I can't imagine your pain. You're in our thoughts.. though it does you no justice.. i'm sorry for your loss, love from your fans xoxo

classicgrrrl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
classicgrrrl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matty K! said...

your relationship with ben is one that i have run into before. there is such a connection that is too strong for words... writing is better. the one girl i have ever loved and i only truly communicated through poetry... i saw you in denver a few days after this post... you are an amazingly strong woman... i dunno what i would do if emily (my love) was to just be gone.. you are an inspiration... i have been going through an extremely hard time these past two weeks... and your new cd has helped me in so many ways... thank you amanda... you are an amazing talent and am glad to tell you that you have affected my life in a way that no other singer... whatever... has... thank you

Matt Kinkel

Girl Anachronism said...


I'd just discovered this Diary, yesterday. I read about Ben and your love. Today, listening to one of your songs (forgot which one), and came me this idea about something to remember him, I don't know. Then I thought about a song name: typed love.

Didn't write anything, but wanted to give this suggestion about this deep, funny, sad history of yours. About this endlees missing...

huge heart hug.

beloved66 said...

Oh yeah, this is the Ben I knew. Love the quote: "I never graduated college but I sit in an office and I teach (taught.) a class at Columbia. I wing it all. People are charmed and easily fooled. People are unaware as to how easy some things are, and that keeps me in business."

People are multifaceted and show whatever they want to make different impressions on those they meet throughout their lives.

I knew Ben as an ungrateful, ingrate and narcissist. Even though I did something for him that he NEVER could have done on his own he screwed me over, not once, but so many times that I had to cut him off.

Yeah, I remember conversations that we had about him "getting over" on people who were unaware of his deviant side. I tapped right in to it because of an incident that he caused between us.

Sometimes it's not a bad thing when people die. I, for one, am glad that he is gone from this planet, never to return. One more of "them" gone that makes this place a cesspool.

It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if died in his sleep from an illegal drug overdose. His family unfortunately didn’t have an autopsy done though. Gee, I wonder why. Because they’re Jewish?

Funndeath said...

I know its quite late to reply but I recently discovered this site through Google. I set up a blog just to reply.
I teared up while reading this conversation with Ben. It brought out bittersweet emotions in myself I feel for you. I think I understand your relationship with Ben. I have one such odd relationship myself. And I like communicating without saying anything.
Well , Rest in Peace , Ben. And you should keep reading these messages , Amanda. Its always good to remember the lives of those lost.
- Funn

katonthewall said...

dear amanda,

i don't know you, and i don't know ben. but i sit here with that familiar sick twisted knot in my throat, because i made the unfortunate acquaintace with with Death of a Loved One/Death of a Friend when i was 17. now at 25, i've had to meet up with him twice more. i know the point you reach when there is nothing to do but cry and yell and make noises you didn't even know you could make...but suddenly, they are so fucking possible, it seems all the more fucked-up that they are reserved for moments like yours.

i am so sorry, amanda. i can't tell you how much ran through me just now, reading your conversation with ben. i only wish i had the same for mine. thankyou for posting it - thankyou for sharing that with all of us.

- kat from washington, d.c.

(p.s. you were introduced to me through someone who says he's a friend of yours from boston - scamus. true or not, the songs have affected me from the first listen. again, thankyou.)

Adrian said...


I don't know why I'm commenting, I keep thinking that you have something better to do than listen to the certain people who come to pick at the vomit and crap that you have dispersed from your head and put into writing.

But then I think about how you need this, this constant attention, as you put it yourself in one of your myriad of posts, somewhere last year or the year before, in the haze of recording, performing, trying to keep your head up above water with Brian and trying to make music that touches and inspires people.

I just listened to your whole new album on the way to the local community center to use the internet, I downloaded a couple of tracks and then decided that I must absolutely buy it because it is surely the most pornographic and skankily music I have heard (and that almost always is a good thing)...

Someday I'd like to have at least some of the life that you have now, meeting people that you never get to see again, having all these things that you have, the attention, its almost incromprehensible to small minded australians like us.

Amanda, and enjoy it all while lasts, because I am sure you will be old and bony in 30 or 40 years time and look back on it and simultaneously hate it and love it, and decide which of the two emotions is the right one.

Peace and candy to you.

Jack P Toerson said...

It's interesting when something moves forwards over an electronic medium.

With email, and (excuse the pun) attachments formed via email, people become engaged with each-other through ideas and in many ways it's pure. It's not a superficial thing, like you've caught each-other's eyes in a bar.

I've never fallen in love via electronic communication but I've certainly become attached to people in a positive way.

Ultima Esperanza blew me away for that reason. In that there was this idealised version of people via personals and the Internet, versus the grubbiness and complications of real life.

It sounds like Ben was a unique and special person, and your write-up does him justice. This Dresden Dolls Diary entry certainly explained your loss eloquently enough. Which, given you pen songs, is a bit of a bromide.

deadprincess said...

i think these are the best kind of relationships. one day i too hope i can find one. it hard when people dont ever learn how to shut the fuck up. pity someone so wondeful had to die.
thank you for posting it keeps me from giving up.
<3 claudia

SmilesonTheOutside said...

Wow, that conversation reminds me of all the ones I had with a really close friend of mine. Scary kinda. Well, we're not that close any more....

Rosie said...

I read this entry for the first time about a week ago. Now I can't seem to sit in front of my computer without at least reading the silent conversation you two shared.

This is's so beautiful and completely, horribly unfair at the same time. I wish, like everyone else, that I could say something of some sort of solace, because your music has been that and more for me. But I'm just another fan.

I'm so happy you had someone like Ben in your life. And I am so sorry for your loss... Thanks for blogging. You have such a way with words.

Hang in there.

sophisticatedpointofview said...

I've read this post about 5 times in the past two days, and it still breaks my heart. it sounds like you had a very unique relationship, which I could only hope of finding. no one deserves to lose a close friend. I hope you're doing better.

louise, 15, denmark.

Dawn said...

Hello Amanda,
Ben was one of the greatest inspirations in my life, and when I found out what happened, my life literally came to a standstill. He was definately one of the most caring people in the world, and I'm glad I came upon your post, it reminded me a lot of the times I shared with him. I even remember him telling me how cool you were.
Anyway, your memorandum is beautiful, and am very happy you shared it. said...

We have started a website aimed at internet dating but with loads of security and virtual rooms for couples to have a date in. Ther is a Zen garden, restaurant, and Funpark along with other communal chatrooms. You can also rate the date afterwards which goes on the user's profile for others to see.
I see by your blog that we were right to develop this area ;)

giuliocc said...

Amanda, just read here
That couple surfing is a new social habit that is forming in cyber-cafes.

To eliminate organic contact from your partner, (touch, speech, smell) and substituting it for electronic contact whilst your supposed beloved is 2 foot away, is either feigning love or having a masturbaation fanstasy. If you are unable to tell the difference then you are in worse shape than I first thought.

meilah said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
meilah said...

that was just incredible... really moved me. i think you guys are amazing and yeah keep up the good work. 'yes, virginia' hasnt left my cd player since i bought it and 'delilah' is no.1 most played on my itunes! quite proud of that actuallly... see yuo guys xxx

Anonymous said...

I'm listening to "The Living Room" (a video on youtube from the paradise), and i just came back to this blog entry that I had read a while ago. i wondered if you were talking about ben (chappel).

anyways, that song now has a large impact on me.

Anonymous said...

I was writing and suddenly light went off. Should I keep my feelings just for me? I feel really touch, lost my parents when I was so young I can feel the pain/happiness again while I read yours (those between the lines). I dont sorry, things like this happen and makes us be what we are. Give me an smile.


PD Im just an stranger. All we are.

sexy said...







rachel. said...

i knew ben a long time ago, and this post has been really wonderful for me to read. i miss him and his words so much. x

Betty Felon, The Pretty Villain said...

I met Ben 13 years ago this October. He was sweet. He was a good friend. I still look him up sometimes when he crosses my mind and read the poems I have of his from years ago.

I'm glad you wrote this. Really, truly glad.

rachel. said...