Normal Fuck b/w Who Do You Work For?

"Normal Fuck b/w Who Do You Work For?" 10/21/13. Acrylic painting. 16x20" stretched canvas.
“Normal Fuck b/w Who Do You Work For?” 10/21/13. Acrylic painting. 16×20″ stretched canvas.

Though it had become fairly regular with my expressive art therapy pieces, it’s been three months since I last felt compelled to cover my canvas with a sprawling journal entry. My newest painting though…

I take Adderall. If I don’t, I’m unproductive. But sometimes I can’t take my Adderall. Because I haven’t yet taken my Adderall. As much as I’d like to be clever – that’s not a joke. And when I admit that, it feels kind of pathetic.

I still don’t have a job, but I work at least eight hours a day. Many days, it’s much more than that. The work that I do is probably the only work that I’m capable of doing at this point in my life. It’s good for me and (it seems to be) good for a lot of other people too. It certainly seems to have more of a positive impact on the world than my work in [let’s say] a gas station would. It’s too bad that it doesn’t pay as well.

I’m not sure what my “job” is… Do I just do what I do, or do I need to dedicate the same kind of energy to marketing myself? I don’t wanna do that any more than I wanna work in a gas station.

I think a lot about “success” lately. I don’t think it’s just freedom (from rules, bosses, schedules, orders), I think it’s also… – I want to say freedom from anxiety – comfort (internally / spiritually). Excepting my EDD freak-outs, I stress about not having enough money to 1) pay bills and 2) keep Heather in love with me.

Look at that! I finally fucking admitted it!

You know… for a second, I thought this was big. But, really, it only means that I’m just like every other normal fuck on the planet.

Oh – shit. That is big.

Growing up, my dad taught me (or at least tried to teach me) a few things. One of those is at the crux of this piece. “If you don’t make enough money, (sooner or later) she’ll leave. It doesn’t matter how much she loves you. If you can’t afford to do things like go on vacation, then – eventually – she’ll find someone that can.”

My biggest regret (or possibly just the one I think of most) is something I said to Heather when we first started seeing each other. I was still living in Tranquil Shores then, so I was very much a blank slate; no one really had any idea what the fuck my life would look like even 30 days into the future. I had recently decided that I wanted to live, essentially, as I was at Tranquil Shores: I wanted to dedicate myself to art and other creative projects, and have a little time left to do standard mental health / recovery sorta stuff. When I told Heather, she asked how that could possibly be tenable in the long-term. I assured her that I was really clever – that I’d make it work somehow. And that “shit – if all else fails, I’ve got a fucking law degree from Georgetown – I can always go get a regular job. Work seasonally (or something like that). In any case, if I ever needed money, I’d be able to come up with it.” And why not? I always had in the past.

But “why not” is that I’m not a fucking drug addict anymore. Sure, I was always able to come up with money before but that’s because I was okay with heading over to the nearest college and stealing laptops (or anything else valuable I might come across). And – in case it doesn’t go without saying – I don’t do shit like that anymore. All that aside, what I emphasized was simply that I’m really clever and that things are going to work out for me. I think I was more lacking in thoughtfulness than I was being dishonest.

When she told me she liked to go on vacations – and asked if I’d be able to afford something like that – the word probably rang that old bell in my head and sent me into panic mode. Without a second of pause, I just said “yes.”

Because of all that, I feel like I started this relationship under false pretenses – and now that I’ve already suckered her into liking me, it’s not the kind of thing I can just take back. In the end, I know it won’t make any difference (whether or not I promised to be not broke one day); if I don’t ever make money (and it is an issue for her) it’s not like she’ll be obligated to stick around just because “she knew what she was getting into.” Then again, I was a heroin addict and a mental patient so… it might be fair to say that she knew (or at least should have known) what she was getting into either way.

I selected the “most outrageous” text from this piece for the title because I want to distract from how uncomfortable I am with the real subject. ”Who Do You Work For?” would make for a far more genuine title. I like it because it implies Heather and myself, as well as (potentially) a third-party audience (with – or instead of – Heather). After all, so much of the journal reads like I’m defending myself / trying to justify my life to someone. And just mentioning anything about financial anxiety within a piece of art makes the whole thing feel like a commercial solicitation (which also makes me uncomfortable).

Although, as Heather pointed out, I’m well aware that my pieces with journal entries on them as way less salable than the others and that by using her name in the piece (rather than a generic equivalent like “my girlfriend”) I made it even less salable. Which makes me happy – to spot concrete evidence that, though I might stress out about money in relation to my art, that tension isn’t influencing me in such a way as to detract from my (or my art’s) authenticity. I don’t ever make something with salability in mind; I just fucking make it. So while I may prove to be a commercial failure – so long as I honor myself and my expression – I can still be a personal success. And maybe that’s enough…


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