I didn’t do this. The truth will come out. Thank you to those who continue to support me. As per advice of counsel, I am unable to make any further statements at this time.
Okay, here’s the difference between now and the other two times I’ve used since getting clean: this didn’t happen in the course of some short out-of-town project. Those times, I finished what i was doing and then had to leave town to get back to my regular life. This time, it happened in the course of my regular life. I don’t have anywhere to run to, I still have things to do here in NY, there’s nothing pulling me “back” to anywhere else. The fact that it’s really easy to cop dope here doesn’t help. I thought I’d be able to bounce out of the hospital with a smile on my face and a “well that’s over – what’s next?!” attitude. And I did feel that way for a minute. But the residue of this shit is sticking with me and won’t leave me alone. And I feel alone. And I wanna use. I kinda really wanna use. And I can’t even remember the last time I felt that way.
And it’s not like I think it’s gonna be fun or that it’ll even be okay. I know it’s all bad, I know it’s all downhill but I still can’t shake the feeling. I’ve already had the thought of “well, if I’m gonna use, I might as well OD intentionally this time (and without anybody else around to call 911). ‘Cause I don’t like feeling like I wanna use. And even though I know this shit’s temporary – that I’ve lived without this feeling for the better part of three years now – the present bias is strong in me. And for all the positivity and optimism that comes with my current brand of nihilism, my personal philosophy doesn’t include any great reasons to continue living unless I’m enjoying it. And I am (I guess) – for the most part – up until moments like this.
I don’t fucking know. I’m not saying I wanna kill myself. I’m definitely not saying I need to go back into treatment. I’m sure this shit will pass in another day or two. I just… my head’s just all fucked up right now and I’m not enjoying it. I’m probably making it out to sound worse than it is.
I love you guys, I appreciate your support but – seriously – I’m going to be just fine. I’m going to be great. I’m not going to use again and I’m going to continue conquering the universe. (If you don’t believe me, I’ll be happy to accept bets and collect your money when I prove you wrong).
Now, I know it might seem like a “cry for help” or something because I posted from the hospital but that was not my intent at all. My intent in “coming clean” immediately after fucking up is twofold: (1) When I tell someone I’m clean, I want them to believe me and the best way to accomplish that is to be perfectly honest and forthcoming anytime that I’m NOT clean. If everyone sees that I volunteer that information freely when I could have just as easily kept it private and secret, then they have no reason to doubt me when I tell them that I am, in fact, clean. (2) My story and my recovery are a huge part of my art, career, and income. It would be disingenuous to tell my story and sell my art without telling the *whole* story. That’s not who I am and that’s not what I’m about. I believe in rigorous honesty and total transparency.
So… with that said, I’m gonna sleep this shit off ’til tomorrow at which point I’m gonna buy a playstation controller and destroy Kyle at NHL 2001. On Thursday, I’ll be bouncing around Brooklyn, harassing art galleries and, on Friday, I’ll be back on the streets of Manhattan, painting funny faces, peddling art to strangers, and trying to charm Tinder girls into sleeping with me. Cool? Cool.
Here’s a picture (from Friday night) that I found on Instagram yesterday.
Fuck. I just OD’d. I woke up in an ambulance. Cardiac arrest. I’m embarrassed. “I don’t shoot heroin anymore” – that’s, like, half my schtick as an artist. It’s kinda false advertising if I am, in fact, shooting heroin. But I’m not. Not regularly anyway. The last time I used was seven and a half months ago and I owned up to it (through my blog) the very same day that it happened. I mean – that’s kinda why I overdosed: ’cause I got no tolerance. Two bags. Two! That’s it. That’s what almost killed me. Fuck… thank God I’m not fucking brain damaged or nothin’. My heart stopped. There was no breath. If [my friend who I’m not gonna name] hadn’t acted as quick as he had, I could be brain dead or just plain dead. I’m so embarrassed. I don’t know if I’m ashamed. Honestly, I don’t really know how to feel. I mean, all this shit… I’m still just kind of coming to. I’m writing this from a hospital gurney. I feel relatively coherent but I’m still a little disoriented. I guess that makes sense, seein’ as how my heart just resumed beating within the last half hour. Ugh. This whole incident isn’t especially compatible with my narrative. It makes me feel weak. What’s the opposite of integrity? That’s the feeling I’ve got. I guess I’m done writing for now. My heart monitor’s beeping a lot and I guess the narcan’s wearing off ’cause I’m feeling kinda sleepy. I wish I could get outta here and smoke a cigarette. I’m not looking forward to having to explain this incident in any detail. How/why it happened. I’m glad I’m okay though. It’s good that I’m not dead. I’m such an idiot sometimes. Can you imagine if I HAD died tonight? From heroin – at THIS point in my life/journey? I know I don’t owe anybody my “sobriety” (or whatever) but I still feel like I’ve somehow betrayed people’s trust by using tonight. And I don’t really have an excuse. I just did it. Okay – now I’m really done writing (for now). I’m so hesitant to post this online while I’m still in the hospital. So soon after it’s happened. But I don’t wanna keep this a secret – not even for a minute. I don’t wanna lose anyone’s trust and (I know I already will have inevitably lost some, just by using tonight but) I feel like coming clean about this incident – immediately / as soon as possible is the best way to prove that I’m not someone that hides things. I might fuck up sometimes but if I say something (like, for example, “I’m clean”) I want people to know that they can take that to the bank. So – yeah – I fucked up tonight. It’s not a regular thing. I hope you’re not too disappointed in me.
“Joy” is a fake name. Sometimes I have to use fake names.
Incoming Facebook message (May 27th) from Joy: I haven’t spoken to you since high school. I used to think you were just the coolest.
Sam: I don’t recognize you but you’re pretty cute so I sure wish I did!
Joy: I remember you from some parties… AND MYSPACE.
And so it began. She told me she was a model and an acrobat. Asked for my phone number so she could text me some photos. I happily obliged because I’m an incorrigible flirt. We started texting back and forth pretty frequently. She told me she liked my blog, complimented it as “raw,” “honest,” and “brave.” We talked about potentially meeting in person one day, we talked about having sex, she sent me a lot of really suggestive texts, I responded in kind to a degree but not like I would with a lot of other girls because she had already told me that she wasn’t into the kind of rough sex stuff that I am. After about a week though, I started texting less. I wasn’t going to be seeing this girl in real life anytime soon and I had – you know – a life to live in the meantime. I can’t be wrapped up in all day text message conversations all the time.
After a couple days of not much interaction (about two weeks after we first started talking) I hit her up. “Does it even matter?” she said, “You hate me.” That was my first red flag. I wasn’t texting her as often and her interpretation of that was that I hated her?? The next day, she apologized and started texting me more often. My responses were far less frequent and far less detailed than before but I kept the conversation going.
Toward the end of June, she told me that she might have an opportunity to stay for free in a really nice apartment in Manhattan – for two months – as a house/catsitter. A few days later, she sent me a long message:
I think you should come stay with me and sell your art here. No rent. No parking fees. A warm bed in a plush place. If it goes well, you can stay as long as I stay. Maybe you’ll make really good money. Hustle to get in some galleries. […] You help out so many people… And so many people have helped ME out… I wanna help someone. And you’ve been on my mind the last few days.
“That sounds amazing,” I told her. I had been wanting to get out to New York, to meet with galleries for a long time. But the city is so big and the art scene is so big that the prospect was a little overwhelming. Having a place to stay, a place where I could feel welcome and not like an imposition – that made it a lot easier. This was going to be an outstanding opportunity.
But I was just a little hesitant. I thought it was strange that – despite growing up in the same city – we didn’t seem to have any mutual friends. I asked some of my friends about her and their responses weren’t exactly comforting. She was – as I was told – not an easy person to get along with. (And that’s putting it lightly). Going to New York, to stay with her, would be a little bit of a risk. But when I got the go ahead from the court to leave the state of Illinois, I was too excited to not take her up on the offer. It’s not like I had any other city I needed to be in at the time; my next exhibit was in Seattle and I wouldn’t need to be out there until October.
I started driving to New York but along the way, I got a phone call. It was her and she was crying. “I’m having a panic attack,” she told me. I asked her what was wrong, what was happening. She said that she felt trapped in the apartment but felt like she couldn’t go outside either. She was anxious and uncomfortable and nothing was wrong but everything was wrong. I did my best to talk her down from the ledge. She regained her composure and said she was going to go out to the fruit stand across the street. We hung up. Fuck, I thought. This doesn’t exactly bode well.
The night that I got there, she said she wasn’t sure if she wanted to have sex yet. I said okay but that night in bed, while I was falling asleep, she started to fool around with me and we wound up having sex after all. I was really gentle, really vanilla, really boring. We had talked about what I was into, she had said she wasn’t sure she could handle it, and I had told her that that was fine. That we could do whatever she was comfortable with and maybe slowly try to incorporate some more dominant/submissive stuff and see how she liked it. That’s kind of how it always goes whenever I have sex with someone the first time. Unless they explicitly tell me “yeah – I want you to do this, I want you to do that,” I’m not gonna chance it. So I played it cool and just had regular-people-sex with her. When I was just about done though, I whispered in her ear, “I’m gonna cum on your face.” “Do you want to?” she asked. “Yeah.” She said okay. So I pulled out and I came on her face.
And she immediately started crying.
I gave it some time. I didn’t wanna upset her any more than she already was. I didn’t wanna make her feel bad. But, eventually, I had to tell her, “If you’re not comfortable with something, you’ve gotta tell me.” “Well, it’s just that no one’s ever done that to me before,” she said. “Okay, well, that doesn’t really change anything. I don’t wanna do anything that’s gonna upset you. You had even told me before I got here that I could cum on your face so long as I ‘was sweet afterward and cleaned you up with a warm cloth.’” “I know,” she said, “I’m just… I’m sorry. I don’t know.”
We had already broached the topic of “what if we’re not sexually compatible” before I even got to New York but it quickly became a regular topic of conversation once I was there. “It’s not a big deal,” I’d tell her. “We don’t have to have sex. We can just be friends that don’t have sex.” Her response: “I know but I wanna make you happy. If that’s what you’re into then I wanna do those things.”
This was awful, terrible news. I told her that I was already happy and that – even if I weren’t – she couldn’t make me happy. And what’s more: if she wasn’t into [whichever kind of sex act] then I wasn’t gonna wanna do that with her. I’m into violent shit and I’m not gonna do that kind of stuff with a girl who isn’t enjoying it just because she wants me to enjoy it. That might technically be consensual but it still sounds like abuse to me and it definitely doesn’t sound fun.
We tried to fuck a few more times over the course of the next week, sometimes with better results than others but it didn’t feel natural or right or good. And there was other stuff going on too. By my third night in town, she had told me that she loved me – and that she was in love with me. “You don’t know me well enough to be in love with me,” I told her. “You’re in love with some idea of me that you got from my art and my writing. You hardly know me as an actual person.”
But even that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst was her mood swings. One minute she’d be perfectly fine, the next she’d be having an anxiety attack about a delivery coming to the apartment or a scheduled meeting with a photographer. I’d do my best to soothe her nerves, calm her down, and everything would be okay. I could handle those mood swings. The ones I couldn’t handle were the temper tantrums. In an instant, she’d FLIP THE FUCK OUT over some insignificant little thing that – more often than not – had nothing to do with me. One morning she woke me up, SCREAMING at me. Holy shit, I thought – what is happening?
“DON’T USE FUCKING GLASSES AS ASHTRAYS!” she screamed. “THIS GLASS IS FUCKING FULL OF CIGARETTES!”
The glass she was holding, she had picked up from the counter by the window where she smoked cigarettes (I had smoked all of mine out on the fire escape the night before). I walked over. “These are all Pall Mall Blues with the exception of one Camel Menthol that you bummed from me last night. I don’t smoke non-menthol cigarettes; these are all your cigarettes. I didn’t use that glass as an ashtray; you did. Why are you screaming at me?”
After episodes like that one, she’d eventually calm down, apologize, become sweet and affectionate once more. But it was too much. It was more than I could handle. And it was every day. Several times a day. I told her that I could continue to stay there if we could just be friends. No more kissing, no more touching, definitely no more fucking or physical intimacy – and I’d be sleeping on the couch instead of in bed with her. She said she wasn’t sure if she could do that. That she was in love with me and that it would be too hard. I assured her that not only did she not know me well enough to be in love with me but that people don’t treat the people that they love the way that she was treating me. This was seriously fucked and it was seriously not okay. I left but she invited me to come back later that night and I did, to sleep on the couch. She woke me up in the morning, yelling at me again. I told her that it was totally over. That we could still be friends but that it wasn’t a good idea for me to stay in the apartment at all. I told her that she could call me anytime – if she was freaking out, having a panic attack, if she needed a friend. But that that was all that I could be to her: a friend.
A few days after I left, there was one night when I needed a shower and I was in her neighborhood. I didn’t wanna go all the way out to Brooklyn just to shower and then have to come back out to Manhattan. I offered her five bucks for the use of the shower. She asked me to just pick up some toilet paper on my way over. Deal. I stopped at the store, went to the apartment, and took a shower. Before I left, she offered me some leftover pizza. We hung out and talked as it heated up. Everything was okay, we got along fine. After I finished eating, I gave her a hug and said goodbye. She texted me later and said that if I wanted, I could come back that night and stay on the couch. I told her it was nice to see her but that we’d better not push our luck.
About a week later, she called me and invited me over. I took a shower and – again – she offered to let me stay over. This time I took her up on the invitation but told her I’d need to move my van (to somewhere it could be legally parked overnight). After I moved it, I went back upstairs and told her, “I’m gonna go downstairs to the deli and get something to eat. Would you like anything?” This was not acceptable. She got really mad at me. Told me that if I was going to stay, then I needed to just stay. She yelled at me for leaving to go move my van and for not having gone to the deli (which is literally underneath the apartment) before I came back upstairs. She called me “gross and manipulative.” She told me that I’m a bad person.
So… that’s about enough of that. I left and I blocked her number. The convenience of a place to shower or sleep isn’t worth the way that this girl treated me. I was in one shitty relationship before and this time I wasn’t even dating the girl. I barely fucking know her. I understand now why none of my friends from Sarasota had nice things to say about her. I understand now why (as she herself told me) she’s never had a “boyfriend.” I feel for her because she’s clearly lost and in a lot of pain but I’m not gonna be her fucking pincushion.
Is New York more difficult without having the apartment as a base of operations? Yeah – absolutely. But if I really need a place to sleep (an air-conditioned place to sleep) I’ve always got my friends in Brooklyn and Queens, I’ve always got Tinder, and I’ve always got the option to just sleep in the van. It’s been about two weeks now since I stayed with Joy (and a few days since that last time I went over) and I’ve been doing just fine. I’ve started hitting up some of the galleries around the city; I’ve set up my table out on the street a few times and made a little bit of money; and I’ve gotten to see a lot of friends I hadn’t seen in a long time (and gotten to make some new ones). Now, when I need to do work on the computer during the day (like writing this blog post), I just stop in at some coffee shop and buy a fucking lemonade and take a seat. It’s not so bad. Some of these places even have bathrooms.