Fifteen Alligators

I might not like my earliest art, but I think I like the chronological approach to this blog/gallery so here’s number two.

"Fifteen Alligators." August 22nd, 2012. Oil pastels on scrap paper. 9x12".

“Fifteen Alligators.” August 22nd, 2012. Oil pastels on scrap paper. 9×12″.

Here’s how my first art group worked: we paired up, each person had a turn to talk, and each person drew something in relation to what they talked about as well as what their partner talked about. I drew “Kicking Dirt” after my partner talked and “Fifteen Alligators” after I talked. Neither has anything to do with the conversation. And all I remember about the conversation was being really weirded out by my partner’s facial expression while he was listening to whatever it was that I had to say that afternoon. He looked super attentive. Like – to such an extent that it seemed exaggerated. Maybe it wasn’t; maybe it was just new to me. I don’t know, but as you’ll see from this next journal excerpt, my perception (and, more generally, thinking) wasn’t exactly top-notch at this point.

The following is part of the same entry (from 8/19/12) that I excerpted for my first post. In fact, it starts exactly where I chose to let the last except end. Keep in mind that I wrote these with the intention of never sharing them with anyone. So a lot of this stuff is… Well, I’m not comfortable with it. Part of me thinks that posting these is a waste of time and that they’re totally uninteresting, but part of me thinks that they might have value insofar as they really are totally raw, very private journals from a very vulnerable/confused time in my life.

A quick note: Since I never intended to share these, I wrote things that I have no right saying to anybody (you know – stuff about other people… people that aren’t me). So before I get to any of that stuff, I decided today that I should start replacing all the names of people that I referred to in these journals, even if I only mentioned them casually / innocuously. That seems like a responsible thing to do, right?

Tranquil Shores journal. First entry (cont’d).
August 19th, 2012. Sunday. Around 5:30 am.

I’ve been staring at the wall, lost in dumb thoughts for fifteen minutes now.

Sophie said she thinks I’ll pick up another rehab girlfriend. Does she not realize she’d be my only prospect? Or does she think I’d go for someone like Elizabeth? I don’t think there’s even a third option. In any case, I told her I’ve got no intention. That’s what fucked me up both at Hazelden and at Wellness. Plus she’s leaving soon. And she’s a twenty-two year-old mess who still texts with two addict ex-boyfriends and who think she can be in recovery and still go back to selling weed… which she says she gets in forty-pound bundles from Hawaii, California, and Colorado… which – as anyone who’s spoken to her for even a moment can tell – is an outright lie. So basically, she’s a mess. Fuck. I kind of like it. It’s so funny when she “worries” about other people. Kid, you’re fucked – worry about yourself. Or wait… am I doing the same thing? I think it’s different insofar as I say, “so-and-so’s fucked,” not “I’m worried about ____.” And I perpetually acknowledge just how fucked I am. Fifteen percent of addicts recover! Or is that five percent? Let’s say “five to fifteen.” That’ll be the new tagline.

I wanna play my bass and rip off that Unfun song. “Society/Friends.”
I also don’t wanna get up.
And I’m still about to shit the bed.
“And that’s not so cool.” (!)

Read philosophy last night. Nietzche and Schopenhauer. Sadly, Shopenhauer had the more lovable, relatable material for me right now. Plus he didn’t lose his fucking mind 44 years in. What stood out to me: lowered expectations. The world does not have a great deal to offer us and happiness is not guaranteed. Basically, FUCK “The Promises.” Drugs make life worse, but abstention doesn’t guarantee that it won’t still be terrible. People have difficult lives for a lot of reasons. Drugs are not the root of all evil. But are drugs the reason my life sucks? Ehhh, that’s the question. If “yes” then I guess I can overcome – and then move on to trying to overcome the next biggest reason my life is shy of ideal. Until I’m all out of reasons or until I get to one I can’t beat. I guess it’d only be rational to kill myself after an honest attempt at that process. “Rational” is the wrong word. The only “rational” thing to do is to kill myself right now. Unless I have some meaning or purpose to my life. Then I can choose to live. How long do I look? How long do I fight to overcome the terrors of my life? The “terrors of my life?” Those words just came out of me. God, I’m an asshole.

I wrote another entry a few hours later. It’s short.

Tranquil Shores journal.
August 19th, 2012. Sunday. 11:15 am.

I’m sitting in an AA meeting at the Indian Rocks town hall.

Happiness is a choice. That’s what Vivian said to me this morning (and what I used to say to other people, a long time ago). The problem (well, a problem) is that the choice seems to require shutting off your brain. Because you have to make the choice despite the lack of reason behind it. Or you need to find a reason. I’m not dead yet, so I guess I must have one. Should I (can I) make the choice?

 

It’s pretty tough for me to look at these old journal entries, but that probably means it’s good for me to do so anyway. One last thing: I was going to post this update earlier, but I had computer trouble. I went to a friend’s house to borrow a power adapter. On the ride back, almost home, I turned toward my street. The gates were down, the lights were flashing red, and a train was coming. I didn’t stop. I sped around the gates and over the tracks. At that moment, “High Fives” by Dear Landlord started playing in my headphones. And I don’t think I’ve ever felt better in my life.

Kicking Dirt

I want to have a place online to share my art and my writing. A place where it can be sorted, searched, and viewed easily. Ideally, this will function both as a blog and a gallery.

I’ve decided to start at the beginning and work my way to the present. When it comes to pieces about which I have nothing worthwhile to say, I’ve decided to post excerpts from my journals. Below is my first piece and first journal entry after arriving at Tranquil Shores in August 2012.

"Kicking Dirt"     8/22/12 Oil pastels on scrap paper 9x12"

“Kicking Dirt.”  August 22nd, 2012.  Oil pastels on scrap paper.  9×12″.

This was my first piece from expressive art therapy group. I was on Suboxone. My last shot of heroin had been five days prior. I had been forced to participate in art groups at other rehabs and I wasn’t happy that it was happening again.

Tranquil Shores journal. First entry.
August 19th, 2012. Sunday. 4:43 am.
It’s been thirty-seven hours since I checked in at Tranquil Shores. My third treatment facility. After getting kicked out of Wellness – and the five month disaster that followed – I was pretty sure I’d never go to rehab again. But things have been too desperate. The last few days, all I did was shoot up, cry, and think about dying. I wanted to die, but I was scared. In my head, I used Riley’s suicide as an excuse to not kill myself. I told myself that I can’t put Elena through two suicides in two months.

I still thought about killing myself a lot today. In retrospect, that’s what got me Baker Acted when they kicked me out of Hazelden. It didn’t matter how cool I was that day, there had been too many blinking red lights leading up to it. It was a liability thing. I need to word my discontent more carefully this go-around. But I would overdose if given the opportunity. I’m too scared to do anything that isn’t failsafe.

My withdrawal symptoms are next to nothing so far, but I’m pretty sure that if I don’t get up soon, I’m going to shit the bed. The diarrhea’s been a constant.

I’m giving up on getting back down to 135 pounds. I’ll be happy if I can get down to 145.

I got my record player and some records out of storage before I checked in. I have my own room right now and it’s nice, sitting in here, not having to worry about getting heroin, and just spinning records. They even let me put my Traffic Street posters up on the wall. I’m like a dumb animal driven by a compulsion to mark my territory. God forbid someone comes in here and doesn’t immediately know just how punk I am. Speaking of which, I stupidly put a red blotch and pink streaks in my hair last night. No one was talking to me at the smoking table so I went upstairs. Thought of it, did it, and went back down because, apparently, I’m just that starved for attention. What the fuck is wrong with me? It looks really dumb. Just like me!

I’m pretty sure Elena threw out my letters from Candice. (She was pretty mad when that car she loaned me back in Miami was stolen in a bad drug deal). I wonder what she – I mean Candice – thinks of me (of us) right now. I wonder what I think of us. Do I actually care about her or was our dependence on each other pretty much the same as our dependence on heroin? And how about Elena (and Mark)? I stole sixty dollars from the drawer at the dealership on Thursday. Fuck. I’m awful. How do I face that? I don’t want to have to face that.

 

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).