self-imposed deadline + bad time management = short, sub-par entry!
This is another one of my learning-to-draw-with-charcoal sketches from January. I’m not gonna try to spin a narrative out of it, but this little scrap of paper does have some significance to me.
The charcoal was a gift from my friend, Mary Beth – someone I never would have met (let alone had the opportunity to become friends with in any other context) – but who was one of the most influential forces in my life, at the point when that sort of thing mattered the most. I was just beginning to get ready to try to figure out what kind of a life I might want to have. Mary Beth was the first person to push me toward art as a “career.” Without her, I don’t think I’d have ever had the confidence to put myself out there as I have or to try to sell my art.
Despite the caption/title, this is an example of me trying; trying to draw things I hadn’t drawn before (a bird, a cup, an axe, a Disney cigarette). I’m pretty sure that Bukowski’s tombstone says, “Don’t Try.” Which – if I understand correctly – is in line with the whole Yoda “do or do not, there is no try” thing. I guess that’s sorta what I was saying here. I mean – sure – when I look at it, I don’t see much. It looks like failure. But it’s not, really; it’s a product of that time in my life. It’s not much so far as “art” goes, but it’s an artifact from an important period in my life, and that’s worth something to me.
Sometimes (when I’m losing my mind) I wanna do everything; I can’t sit still (until ALL PROBLEMS are completely resolved). In that frame of mind though, I’m usually only capable of making things worse. “Don’t try” isn’t a bad message to send myself at times like that. Sometimes, sitting still is all I really ought to be doing and I have to beat myself into realizing that attempting anything else is just gonna prolong my torture.
That’s it! Now I’m gonna get started putting together something decent for tomorrow.
I didn’t draw this for the person that gave birth to me; it was for someone that’s actually treated me like a son (for just under a decade now). Without her support (and the support of her family – which I consider my family as well – my real family) I don’t know where I’d be today. Probably dead. I was sifting through images, looking for one to share in tonight’s entry when I saw it. Given my day, it seemed sort of appropriate… And I mean that: only sort of. Because it’s something I made for someone who’s shown me unconditional love – someone that’s been a force of good in my life. And today was about something completely different…
I spent just over three hours today sitting in my seat on the airplane, scratching contempt out into notebooks. A flight’s never gone by so fast. And I had already spent a good deal of time writing about it earlier this morning – when I woke up to find a mean, shitty, evil comment left on my website last night around 3AM (by the bag of shit that likes to call herself my mom). I’ve tried to be patient and compassionate with her over the years. I’ve tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and cut her some slack because – in her own shitty way – I’m sure she loves me and I’m sure she’s doing her best. But her “best” is really fucking terrible and I give up. I’m not going to wear myself out, trying to have some semblance of a relationship with someone that won’t call me (or even pick up my calls) – preferring instead to communicate with me solely by way of spiteful, fucked up comments posted publicly on the internet. She’s always insisted that I hate her – and ranted at me (mostly through Facebook, until I blocked her) about how I’m dead set on convincing the world what a terrible human being she is. Up until now, that couldn’t have been less true. (Run a search on this website for the word “mom”; I haven’t tried it yet, but – of more than 150 entries on just about every subject – I’m pretty sure there’ll be little to any results and I’m almost positive there won’t be anything that fits her description of my writing). I mean – FUCK – she managed to interpret last night’s entry as some kind of coded disrespectful insult against her… It was just a picture of me with my hair combed, wearing a suit!That’s some schizophrenic level shit further up the charts than anything I ever imagined even at my most drug-addled and sleep deprived. This person isn’t well (obviously) but mental illness can only excuse so much – and it’s not a free pass into my life.
Can you tell that this shit upsets me? That it hurts me? I had no intention of writing more than a quick blurb but I get worked up just thinking about it. She’s really fucking awful and – for my own sake – I can’t afford her any place (at all) in my life anymore. I don’t enjoy focusing on this kind of negativity. It wears me out. It’s bad for me.
I deleted her comment, changed the setting on my website [from now on, comments have to be “approved” before they’ll appear on the site], and I erased her from my phone.
Maybe – later in the week – I’ll share some of the stuff I wrote today. Or maybe I’ll really give her the evidence she wants (to support her ideas about my writing) and post a list of every rotten thing she did to me when I was a little kid. Granted – that’d be some spiteful, unhealthy, feed-the-hate kinda shit on my part – but it might feel good to put it out there….
I try to be loving with every thing that I do. I’m not being loving right now – and I hate that I’m feeling this way. But – honestly… her death would be welcome news. (And I’ve felt that way for a long time). It used to be that I knew how miserable she was and I couldn’t envision a scenario in which she’d ever get the kind of help she’d need to change and find happiness; it was a compassion thing – the same as the consolation that comes with the death of a sick pet (“at least the suffering is over”). But now… today… – I’d just be relieved to know that I’ll never again have to worry about her trying to hurt me.
Some people are just too hard to love. I guess I’m going to try to focus on the people that I can love – focus on the things in my life that are good. And hopefully all this evil, rotten shit will pass and I go back to pretending she doesn’t exist.
[Update: I think I just managed to block her IP address which will be good insofar as it prevents her from ever seeing anything I make/write and having any reason to comment AND insofar as it eliminates any desire in me to post anything solely out of spite, since she’d never see it anyway].
For the first time in more than two years, I have people-colored hair. That’s ’cause I went to a country club for Thanksgiving today and THEY’VE GOT RULES, YOU GUYS. I also had to get it cut since it had a bunch of weird zig-zags cut into one side. And (as you can see) the occasion warranted the donning of my suit, for the fourth or fifth time since I bought it for that Duke Law interview (that I never went to) back in 2007.
I’m flying back home tomorrow so I wanna make the most of the time I have left. I’ll pick back up with regular posts (art/stories/etc.) tomorrow.
“I get a physical at least once a year. Not by design. It’s part of most places’ intake process.”
I don’t remember if I had this idea or if I just drew something that developed into a kid in a straight jacket and then added the caption after the fact. Either way, it’s silly but it’s not really a joke. The only check-ups I’ve had in years were all in treatment centers, mental wards, and methadone clinics.
I’m still outta town, visiting a friend. Today, I met James; he’s seven years old and really great at Mad Libs. For example:
Yesterday my friend Poop and I walked across town to see Santa at our local poop store. But there was a long line of kids waiting to poop with Santa. As expected, he was a big, round poop who wore a bright red poop. Whenever a little kid came up to him, Santa would sit the child on his poop and ask, “Have you been a good little poop this year?”
James has been lucky to find his niche early in life and I admire his confidence in ignoring his detractors and refusing to deviate or stray from his vision. He knows what works and he delivers.
I made this for my counselor at Tranquil Shores last year because I’m a sweet, sweet boy. And also maybe a little because she kinda sorta played a huge role in saving my life and is one of my favorite people ever. The little bubble of text says, “I know you’re required by law or something to be nice to me, but a weaker soul would have definitely snapped my neck by now (U.S. Constitution / Hippocratic Oath be damned). Thanks for not giving up on me, even when I try to. Oh – and … HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” Technically, I wasn’t even supposed to know it was her birthday but I found out by virtue of a happy accident so… I took advantage of it.
I don’t know how my personality comes across through my writing on this website but I joke around a lot (and propriety is not my strong suit). One of my favorite things about Tracy (on a personal level) was the way she’d react to that. As a counselor, she’s really serious/professional/by the books. Joking around in our groups wasn’t really something she had time for. So whenever I cracked a joke in group, I’d look over to gauge her reaction and see just how much trouble I was in. She can make a more serious face than any serious face that’s ever existed, so if she had that expression (her “ice cold death stare”) when I looked over at her, I could immediately feel my soul being ripped from my body and shredded by the demons now feasting upon it in hell. That face could wreck me. But sometimes I’d look over and see her smiling – which would be the best thing ever. And every once in a while I’d get a laugh out of her, which would be the SUPER best thing ever. As bad as the ice stare could make me feel, the laugh would make me feel equivalently at the other end of the spectrum.
Really – all of that kind of ties into what made her such a great counselor though. She wasn’t some robotic super-counselor incapable of being a human being at any point but she also wasn’t someone who could be “won over” and manipulated with charm. I can bullshit a lot of counselors (I’ve had a lot of practice!) but Tracy could detect my bullshit even when I didn’t realize it was bullshit. And she had just the right level of tolerance for all of it. She’s compassionate but she’s not a sucker. Really, she just knows what she’s doing. She always knew when to guide me and when it was best to just let me flounder and figure something out for myself. And when I put it that way, it makes me think of how – in some of my one-on-one sessions – I wouldn’t really wanna talk about anything; I’d say I was all out of issue or problems to talk about. And I don’t think she ever once responded with a question like, “Well, what’s happening with […]?” (If I had to guess, I’d say she knew that only I knew what was fucking up my brain on any given day so trying to ask me about something would only serve to move us away from talking about whatever that might be). I’d sit there, alternately making/breaking eye contact and squirming around in my chair, occasionally smirking or laughing or jokingly trying to play counselor to her (“What’s on your mind today, Tracy?”). And she’d just sit there, looking me in the eye, until I’d finally start talking about what I needed to. No matter how long it took. Other times were more like the scene I drew, which also (as noted) required patience (and a lot more).
I love all the counselors at Tranquil Shores and I got a lot from all of them but – as my primary counselor – she was just right. Somehow, she always seemed to know exactly what I needed to “get better.” Even before she became my primary counselor – WHEN SHE KICKED ME OUT. As shocked and outraged as I was initially, it wasn’t long before I realized that it was exactly what I needed – it was what had to happen. Unlike the other times I had been kicked out of treatment, this one had a profound effect on me. I realized (fairly) quickly that I hadn’t been the victim of a terrible injustice but had been given exactly what I deserved. I resolved to get back in and – after a letter, a couple phone conversations, and a meeting – I was given a second chance. Or (more accurately) a 634th chance.
When I came back, I remember a conversation with Sandy, the program director, about who would be my primary counselor. Before I was kicked out, it had been Rob, who (like all the counselors there) is awesome. I told her I’d be happy with whatever choice the treatment team decided was best for me. I don’t know if it had anything to do with their decision, but I did say one other thing on the subject – about the counselor with whom (up to that point) I had had the least contact: “I think Tracy might be a good fit,” I said smiling, “because she’s mean to me.”
Which (as much as I half-meant it at the time) couldn’t be further from the truth.
The plans were made and my flight was booked just a few hours before I made my way to the airport; I left Florida this morning to visit a friend for the week. She picked me up at the airport and we went back to her place, where I found this watercolor painting that I had given her after painting it back in February. It was my first time using non-Crayola watercolor paints, which were a gift from a friend. The special (watercolor specific) paper I used was also a gift from a(nother) friend. I’m very lucky in that sense. The words are still a little uncomfortable but… I’m very blessed.
I’ll be fairly preoccupied until I get back to Jacksonville on Friday night, so don’t take it personally if I don’t respond right away to comments, texts, emails, etc.
And if you ordered the Like Bats cassette and/or any art/prints last night or today, my apologies for the delay. I had no idea (or even any reason to suspect) that I’d be taking this trip until earlier this morning. I’ll ship everything out just as soon as I get home.
There’s not much I can say that I haven’t already, in my statements for the other 12.13.14 pieces and others relating to codependency (like “Girls Are Not Pokemon“). As indicated in the graphic, this is a diagram of Figure 12.13.14 or (in reality) it’s a diagram of how I was feeling one day in December 2012 – like an interchangeable asshole, with a life not worth living.
However, as I mentioned on Thursday, sometimes there really are fruits of being a contemptuous bag of dicks. In this case, it was my friend David asking me to adapt this drawing for use as a t-shirt for his label, John Wilkes Booth Records. They came out really great and you can pick ’em up in the JWB webstore for a measly $10.
And so long as you’re already throwing your money away, allow me to present the first release from Traffic Street in more than two years. Technically, it’s a reissue of the Like Bats EP we put out back in 2009 but this time around it’s on cassette and it includes something we’re choosing to keep secret because… well – there are only 100 copies sothey’re going to sell whether we tell you or not and secrets are just more fun.
Buy cassettes here. Buy prints of (either version of) “Unspecified Selection” here.
has borderline personality disorder and a heroin problem. In 2012, he got clean, discovered art, and traveled the country, painting and writing. Three years later, he went back to heroin and quit painting. He's currently hard at work trying to get clean or kill himself (depending on the day).