As for the text: Chris and I were staying at Kendra’s on our way to Lexington, I was being my usual charming self, and – after one of my especially boastful/obnoxious comments – she remarked, “This is why you’re sleeping in the living room.” I thought that was pretty hilarious so… four and a half hours later: another masterpiece in the books.
Which reminds me… Mike, won’t let me give him a tattoo with a sewing needle but he is going to let me tattoo him with the gun he just got. So that should be a fun new experiment…
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].
In early November, Alexis and I were “just friends” but it was obvious that something was going on. We walked into the room laughing, toward some empty chairs near Delia. “So when are you two going to get married?” she asked. “Pffft… What are you talking about? We’re just friends,” I said as we sat down. Alexis turned and whispered in my ear: “So… when are we going to get married?” I smiled. At this point, that kind of flirting was still a bit of a lapse in our usual insistence (even to one another) that this was a strictly platonic friendship. “Hmm…That’s a pretty serious commitment. I might need some time to think about it.”
A few minutes into the meeting, I motioned her in a little closer. “Okay, so here’s the deal,” I whispered in her ear, “We’re not allowed to be in relationships until we’ve had a year clean, right? So we can’t date until next August… Recovery: twelve steps, the last of which is “helping other addicts,” which is why – you know – the joke about fucking someone you meet in recovery is “the thirteenth step.” So – from that – you could say that the fourteenth step is getting married. So… 12, 13, 14: December 13th, 2014. By then, we’ll have known each other for two and a half years, in which we got our year clean, started dating, and then spent a year and a half together as a couple. 12-13-14.” I pulled back from her ear with a smile to see her reaction. She loved it. She looked giddy.
Alexis: I love you. I wish we could communicate like before but I guess this is how It’s supposed to be. I’m sorry for being a shit but I’ve been working out my own demons. It isn’t easy on my own but I’m managing. Will I get to see you again?
Sam: You can see me pretty much anytime you want to.
A: That’s not true. I can’t leave the county. Have you talked to Tracy since you left [Tranquil Shores]?
[Tracy was my counselor, as well as hers]
S: I didn’t leave. I was just desperate to get you to open up. And I was hurt and angry – feeling like you had locked me out. Feeling unloved, neglected, and rejected. So I was probably trying to fuck with you a little bit. To get a reaction out of you and get you to call me back for once. I’m sorry for doing that.
A: So you didn’t leave? You LIED TO ME? Played mind games?
S: Yes. And not that there’s any excuse for it, but that’s what I felt like you were doing to me when you’d disappear for four days. Or lie to me and promise that you’d call me at a certain time and then ignore my calls and just text me a day later. But like I said, two wrongs don’t make a right. You’re going through your own shit, I’ve got my shit. So – yeah – I’m sorry. I was hurt and desperate to get you to talk to me.
A: This is what our relationship has become?
S: Lexi, I didn’t do this alone. You can’t put it all on me. You practically ended our relationship on New Year’s Eve when you disappeared all week and then refused to tell me anything about what’s going on.
A: What have you been going through?
S: There was this girl that I was totally crazy for. We met up one night and I told her how much I loved her. She told me how much she loved me and how she knew it was for real. And I was so happy. I couldn’t wait to see her again. We made plans for NYE but she never called me back. And then, when she did – days later – she wouldn’t tell me anything about what was going on. But I knew something serious was happening because she also stopped going to groups and seeing her counselor (who she had always seemed to love). I didn’t know what was up, but I was terrified for her. Because I loved her and cared about her so much. Even a week later, she was still being spotty and still wouldn’t tell me what was going on. I would have told her anything but she wouldn’t tell me even one thing. It got to be more than I could handle. It hurt too much, worrying about what this girl was going through and at the same time dealing with the pain of being locked out by someone that I had bared my soul to and opened up in a way I never had before.
S: That’s what I was going through.
A: I’m not dead, Sam.
S: I know you’re not dead. But there were a few days where I was afraid you might be. And I’m still scared that you might be mixed up in something dangerous. But I’m not letting it get to me.
A: I’m here for you. Always.
S: Kid, I love you to death, but you can’t say that. You’re NOT always there for me. You won’t ever answer my calls or call me and you only respond to my texts half the time. But that’s okay. I accept that.
A: So because you’re assuming everything, that’s how you want us to be?
S: No. I want us to be partners. But I can’t always get what I want, so I’m settling for being your friend. To whatever extent you’ll allow me to be.
S: If I could, I’d see you every day. But if all you want from me is the occasional text, I’ll take what I can get.
A: We did see each other every day. We had that. I want to hear from you daily and see you.
S: Can I call you so we can talk for a minute?
A: Talk of what?
S: About whatever. I can just tell you about my weekend. I just like to hear your voice ’cause I miss you.
S: If you don’t want to talk on the phone, that’s fine. You don’t have to stop texting me just to avoid it.
S: Hey – by the way – did you see that picture of my Lexi tattoo?
A: What tattoo?
S: The ghost from the painting I made way back in October when I first started trying to figure out if I was in love with you or if I even knew what love was or if I was capable of loving someone. And – next to it – “14.” Because I did it on 1/2/13 (the same numbers in the same order as 12/13). So – you know – to complete the number: 12/13/14.
A: Where’d you tattoo it on your body? That’s seriously about me? Wow, Sammy.
S: It’s right above my right knee, in the only spot that I don’t ever patch on my jeans so that it’ll always show.
A: Where’s mine gonna be?
S: Wherever you want it to be. But you’d actually have to meet up with me to get it. Will I get to see you sometime this week?
A: Up until an hour ago, I thought you’ve been in Sarasota. I definitely crave and truly miss your energy. Why the ghost though?
S: In the painting?
S: This sound lame but (when I made it) it was because I felt possessed or haunted by doubt and uncertainty. And then (when I did the tattoo) – even though I didn’t doubt my feelings anymore and knew that I loved you – it made sense to reuse it. Not just because that was the first thing I painted about my feelings for you but also because I felt like you had disappeared. You were there one minute and gone the next. Like a ghost. Which was scary (like a ghost) because I thought you might be dead… like a ghost. And I was upset again – about something going on with us – just like i had been when I first painted it.
S: I miss you a ton, kid. I still think about you all the time. One of these days, you’ll have to let me come see you, or at least hear your voice. But it’s nice even just to text.
A: I’m laying in bed so I don’t sound cute right now. Sleepy and in pain.
S: You always sound cute but it’s okay if you don’t feel like talking. Sorry to hear you’re in pain. What hurts?
A: I pulled a muscle.
A: Think I may just be getting old.
S: Aw. I’m really sorry to hear that. I pulled a muscle in my arm that’s been hurting for a week now. Not bad though (sometimes not at all). I hope it feels better soon.
S: Yours, I mean. I hope YOURS feels better. Mine, I can manage.
A: Lol. You’re cute. We’re just linked and connected in some strange cosmic way I suppose. It feels good to talk to you. You make me feel at peace. It’s weird to explain.
S: You don’t have to explain a thing. Even if it’s just texting, you make me feel the same way. When I’m not losing my mind worried about you, you’re pretty much my favorite person on the planet.
S: And hopefully those days are done with. I’m gonna do my best to just hold it down and deal even if I can’t get in touch with you for days.
A: That’s where trust and faith come into play.
S: Yeah, you’re absolutely right.
A: Don’t lose your mind. And I couldn’t possibly be your favorite person. There are a lot more interesting people out there.
S: Well, you’ll have to introduce me to some of them then, I guess. I sure haven’t found them on my own.
A: Stop making me smile. It hurts.
S: So when I get my “vehicle” this week, you gonna let me come over and tattoo you?
A: What vehicle?
S: If I tell you, you promise not to make fun of me?
S: I’m getting a scooter. I should have it by Sunday. Not exactly a car, but it’s a start. Plus, I can paint it and cover it in stickers and stuff, so it’ll be REALLY, REALLY PUNK.
A: I love it. Fucking adorable and so totally punk.
S: So does this mean I can scoot on over and draw something under your skin?
A: I’m laying down now. It’s time I try to get back to a schedule of early bedtime, up early.
S: Okay, I should do the same.
A: I love you, Sammy. Sweet dreams.
S: Love you too, kid. Sleep tight.
If you’re reading that and thinking, “Nobody writes messages like that,” you’re half right. Mine are unedited but she writes messages like a normal human being (without “proper” capitalization/punctuation, with typos, etc.); so I changed that when I typed this up for… um… uniformity? Otherwise, it’s pretty much a straight transcript.
When asked about this tattoo, I don’t usually mention the girl – only that the ghost is my emblem for borderline personality disorder (as it came from an expressive art piece created in the midst of an episode / incident of particularly strong “symptoms” – and used in later pieces when I was either experiencing or commenting on the same). Both explanations are equally true (and very much related).
The first thing about this conversation that jumps out at me is the way I was trying so hard to be okay with what was going on, when I should have just turned my back and ran. She wasn’t in a good place and I had “fallen down” with girls in situations just like thisso many times.
Second: She says “That’s where trust and faith come into play” and I respond, “You’re absolutely right.” She was absolutely wrong insofar as she was suggesting that I should trust (and have faith in) her. And I knew that even then. But I chose to knowingly misunderstand her, which enabled me to agree with her. Because I did have trust and faith (or I was trying to have them anyway). Not in her – (she was obviously fucking up hard) – but in … everything, I guess. I was trying to believe that everything was happening exactly as it needed to (or – at the very least – the only way that it could happen). Whatever had happened so far, I was just hoping that she’d spin herself back into Tranquil Shores before shit got really bad.
I just finished my most impressive work to date. (Our futon pillows don’t fit in regular pillow cases so… needle + thread + two pieces of fabric leftover from when I made “Gift Horse” + fabric marker = “Case For Pillow”).
In between addressing it and sticking it in the mailbox, I scribbled some shit on the back of an envelope while smoking a cigarette. Seven months ago, I wrote a note in my phone that said, “I’ll get to that landfill one day.” I don’t remember what the fuck that means, but I remember that it was really funny at the time! Now… not so much. Eh.
I started offering t-shirts with my artwork on them recently. Originally, the plan was just to offer shirts featuring my simpler cartoons, but I decided that there was no reason not to open it up to include my paintings as well. Since some of my more expressive paintings though can’t exactly be transferred to a shirt, the plan was that if someone wanted to buy a shirt like that, I would “adapt” the piece for the shirt (just as I had with “Merry Christmas 2K12”).
My friend, Ren, had said she wanted a shirt and when I posted my newest painting the other night: “That’s what I want!”
I wasn’t 100% certain she was even talking about the shirt, but I was immediately excited. I love that painting and the story behind it but – as soon as I saw her comment – I realized that its caption could also be the basis for a really cool cartoon.
At that point though, I was suddenly not so excited. The problem was that I had wanted it to be as big as possible (for the sake of the t-shirt) but now – looking at it – it felt like two separate imaged stacked on top of one another. But – after scanning it into the computer and playing with the layout – I’m really happy with the finished product. Thanks, Ren!
Aside: I feel a little funny about there being so many “products” related to this piece but it’s not like I’m not making the stuff that I want to make. My life costs between six and eight thousand dollars per year. I’m pretty excited that I haven’t had to get a regular job in order to pay for it yet.
Update (same day): “Welcome to Delray Beach” is now “Greetings from Delray Beach.” Makes more sense to change it for this piece.
It was Friday so I drove up to Tranquil Shores for my session with Tracy and my weekly expressive art group with the kids that were still inpatients. Earlier that week, I had found an apartment in Jacksonville. When I told Tracy, she was really surprised. (I had been talking about moving, but it was just a few days prior that I actually started looking for a place, so it all happened really quickly). “Seriously?” she asked me. “Well, let me get the papers for your discharge.”
Somehow that hadn’t occurred to me: that moving away would mean I’d be officially discharged from Tranquil Shores. My life was about to change and it was just now registering. It made me sad. It even made me a little angry, though I’m not sure with whom. (Probably myself). It was a really great afternoon; everyone at Tranquil Shores couldn’t have been sweeter to me or more supportive. But… I didn’t wanna leave. I didn’t want it to be over and I guess I was as caught off-guard as Tracy had been.
After my session, I went into the art room for group. I felt good overall, but had that little streak of darkness in me. I got an idea in my head of a sorta vulture and I liked it. I wanted to draw something that lived off dead flesh – something sustained by failure.
But still sorta comic and fun.
(Especially relevant) status update: Heather’s friends are getting married in Englewood next weekend, so I won’t be too far from Tranquil Shores. On Friday, I’m going to drive up that way and meet up with a crew of kids I went to treatment with for lunch, and then I’m gonna go in for the expressive art group just like I used to. I’ve been really excited about it but am getting more nervous as it gets closer. It’s gonna be a totally new crop of kids. I’ll still know all the staff obviously, but it seems kinda strange to go to group with a bunch of patients I’ve never met before. I hope I don’t wimp out. I hope it goes well.
Alexis was planning on moving back into her parents’ house when she got out of treatment. She had the option of moving in with her grandmother, but didn’t want to for reasons she’d never really explained to me. When I’d try to talk to her seriously about why it was so dangerous for her to move back “home,” she’d use her little-girl voice, make puppy eyes at me, and say things like “But I wannnnnnna.” It was frustrating. I cared about her. If she moved back into that house, she’d be living with her sister, who I had also been in rehab with. And unlike this girl, her sister had never shown any interest (that I’d been able to pick up on anyway) in getting clean and getting her life together. Alexis was different. She had the potential to do really great things with her life really soon. Her insistence on moving “home” was the only indication that was wasn’t 100% set on really living. On being better.
“If you move back home, you know how that story ends.” She looked at me with a mock I-haven’t-the-faintest-idea expression. “No? Can I ruin the ending for you? You fall back into it, violate your probation, and go to jail.” She shrugged me off and kept trying to be cute. It was still more than a month down the road and – shit – she was pretty good at being cute. I gave in, laughed, told her we’d “revisit the subject.”
As time passed, I’d continue to let her know that I cared and try to lead her in a better direction but – ultimately – I knew I had to accept that it wasn’t something I could control and do my best to not stress out about it.
In the end, she moved back home and fell off, just as anyone could have predicted…
And now, she lives behind bars and gets to be a cautionary tale on my fucking website.
Which is so stupid and tragic and… insignificant.
I don’t know. It is and it isn’t – and it’s [whatever] to [whoever]. You try and make sense of the world… I’m just gonna stick with the comfortable little philosophy I’ve developed. Or maybe I’m just gonna elect not to think about it.
She and I used to sit in the courtyard at Tranquil Shores and listen to records on my little portable turntable. Here’s the first song from one of the albums we spun the most. I love it a whole lot, but it makes me kinda sad sometimes.
“710” by Sundials
That same month, she asked me if I’d make her a bracelet like the ones that I wore. The only reason it has my name on it is that she specifically requested it. I applied the color (which is hair dye) with a q-tip and a sewing needle.