Zia Hassan

Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie A Life Changing Album

It was 1998. I was living in Egypt and I had taken up acting and singing at school and finally felt like I had a place in my community. For the first time ever, I was accepted (or whatever the closest version of accepted is in middle school) by a group of peers.

My best friend at the time considered himself a playwright, but I didn’t take him seriously until he submitted a play under a pseudonym to a contest at a local university. He won, which meant his play was to be produced, and I went with him to the auditions.

We didn’t really tell anyone about our age (13) at the time, and I actually auditioned for a role in another short play and got it. So I spent time traveling between my home in Maadi and the American University of Cairo, which was a cab and metro ride away.

My co-actors and director didn’t know how young I was. They all assumed I was a college student, but I had a full goatee at age 13, so they were very surprised to discover that I was actually a child. Thankfully they didn’t judge me too hard.

There was a college girl who was in the play with me and she used to drive me home each night, because she lived near me. We’d talk about all sorts of things and every week she’d play the same record on the way home: Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie by Alanis Morrissette.

I was only kind of familiar with Alanis – I knew all the hits of course, but this album had about 18 songs and some cut bone deep.

That I would be good,

Even if I gained 10 pounds.

That I would be good even if I did nothing.

That I would be loved, even when I’m not myself.

That I would good, even when I am overwhelmed.

Or this one:

Thank you India,

Thank you terror,

Thank you disillusionment.

Thank you nothingness,

Thank you frailty,

Thank you, thank you silence.

And Unsent, her unsent letters to exes:

Dear Terrance I love you muchly you’ve been nothing

But open hearted and emotionally available and supportive

And nurturing and consummately there for me I kept drawing you in

And pushing you away I remember how beautiful it was to fall asleep

On your couch and cry in front of you for the first time you

Were the best platform from which to jump beyond myself

what was wrong with me?

Despite Jagged Little Pill being an album full of amazing lyrics, there was something different about her follow up. It was almost like she was spilling herself onto a page, and singing her feelings in a way that was so authentic it made all the other artists I was listening to at the time sound bland.

It was her lyrics that invited me to write poetry with a new lens. My 8th grade English teacher was surprised at how mature my poetry was in her class… she didn’t know that it was because Alanis inspired me to be raw, and myself, and unencumbered. She helped me learn to speak to my own heart. And eventually that led to me writing my own songs.

Thank u, Alanis. And thanks Tamara for the gift of this monumental album.