In August, I was arrested and charged with a crime I didn’t commit. I’m struggling to articulate the effect that my arrest had on me. It stole my momentum, erased my confidence, and cancelled all my plans.
I had an exhibit booked in Seattle for the month of November. That was cancelled the same day that the news of my charge hit the internet.
Being out on bail in September meant that I couldn’t risk selling prints out on the street (since it’s technically illegal without a vendor’s license). And given the nature of the charge against me, I wasn’t sure it was a good idea for me to be out like that in public anyway – underneath a banner with my name on it.
Now that the case is over, it’s too cold here in Chicago to sell outdoors. When I tried last year, I found that once it gets this cold, people just walk right past me without stopping.
I’ve got no money.
It hurts to admit that. Especially now that I’ve just turned thirty. I suddenly feel like a total loser.
If I had turned thirty six months ago, it would have been fine. I had money then, I felt accomplished then, I had things going on back then, and had more plans for the future.
I don’t feel like I’ve got much of anything today. Consequently, I suddenly feel a whole lot older and like a whole lot more embarrassed. I feel like a failure.
I need to relocate to a warmer city where I can make money but I signed a lease in Chicago so that I’d have somewhere to live for what I thought would be a long drawn out legal process. And then the case was unexpectedly dismissed less than two weeks later.
I’ll leave anyway when I feel the time is right but I don’t know where to go. Like I said, my momentum is gone and my confidence is shattered.
In the past, I could just pick up and leave because I was living out of my van. But now I have Wallis with me and we need an apartment. She needs to be able to work and have her own life. That’s not possible when we’re living out of a van and constantly on the move. We need to settle in somewhere.
That job offer from Elite Daily came in at just the right time. It was right at the moment when I was starting to figure out what my next move ought to be. I was still all fucked up by the events of the last couple months but it seemed perfect; like it was maybe exactly what I needed. And it seemed to be going really well – right until it wasn’t. And then it was a huge disappointment when it didn’t work out.
I looked into the possibility of writing for another company but ultimately decided to start my own. Time will tell whether or not that’s going to develop into anything or just be a short detour in the path of my life.
My older sister just called in the midst of writing this post. After talking to her, I’ve decided that I need to figure this out and get it over with already. I need to stop waiting for things to work out and I need to just make something happen.
To that end, I’m packing up and leaving Chicago. There’s nothing here for me. It will be obnoxious having to travel back to Illinois on December 4th for the next hearing in my stupidly drawn out Adderall case from 2014 but I don’t want to sit here rotting in the meantime just so that I don’t have to incur extra travel expenses.
It looks like I’m going back to Florida. Sarasota-Bradenton to be precise. I’ll be able to work on Vapid Planet from there, Wallis and I will have a place to stay, and I’ll be able to make trips to other nearby cities to sell art every so often.
For as much as I talk and write about Wallis, I’ve never really shared the full story of how we first came together. I’ll save the cute elements of the story for later and just give you the important part that hasn’t seemed relevant until now.
When I met Wallis, she was actively addicted to heroin. She was trying to not be on heroin but (like most addicts) she was finding that to be a little tougher than she could handle. We hit it off really quickly but I told her on our very first night together that I couldn’t be around that sort of thing. I told her that if she wanted to continue spending time with me, she couldn’t be using drugs. (I’m way too fucking fragile to not relapse if a pretty girl has a needle and a bag of dope to share with me). She told me she didn’t wanna use. I invited her to go with me on a road trip for a week – up to Illinois and back. In the course of that trip, we fell in love. Which was a problem because it meant we needed to figure out what we were gonna do to keep her from going back to heroin once we got back to Jacksonville. We decided that she’d need to quit the strip club and get another job (nobody can stay off drugs in that environment – no addict anyway). I told her I’d cover her ’til she got a new job and then – when it was time for me to leave Jacksonville – she’d quit her new job and come with me. Sound familiar? I did for Wallis the same thing I had done for my best friend, Chris, a year prior. I brought her out on the road with me to keep her off drugs. To show her another kind of life. Like Chris had done, in exchange for “all expenses paid” she’d just help me with my set-up, selling art, whatever. (And like Chris, it pretty much worked. She never used once; not while traveling with me anyway).
When we left Jacksonville, it was for Minneapolis, where I was to be featured in a gallery exhibit. Halfway through the exhibition’s run, we returned to Jacksonville for a week, so I could bank at One Spark. On the drive down, Wallis started talking about going to see old friends – friends that she had, historically, used drugs with. I told her that this was a terrible idea. She argued that I needed to have faith in her. I responded that I’d heard that same exact sentence and had this same exact conversation many, many times in the past (with another girl) and that I knew perfectly well how this was gonna end. I told her that if she wasn’t willing to forego the reunion (and the inevitable relapse that’d come with it) that I couldn’t be her boyfriend anymore. One Spark was going to be an incredibly important week for me financially and I didn’t wanna fuck it up by spending the whole time worried about whether Wallis was safe. She said okay (as in okay, then you don’t need to be my boyfriend anymore). There was no hostility or drama beyond that but when we got to Jacksonville, we went our separate ways. Wallis relapsed that very first night (thought she wouldn’t tell me until later), but called me the next morning and spent the rest of the week by my side like a lost puppy. On the night before I was to return to Minneapolis, she broke down crying, told me she had fucked up, and that she still wanted to be with me.
I first had the thought years and years ago, upon hearing Rivethead’s “In My Heart a Warehouse Burns For You.” The last lyric in the song is “I love you just as much as I hate the man.” I’m not exactly the biggest fan of cops or authority figures of any kind but when I’m really fired up and full of hate, there’s only one target it’s ever directed at: me. I still listen to that record (The Cheap Wine of Youth) all the time so the idea of captioning a painting with “I love you just as much as I hate myself” had occurred to me on a couple occasions but I didn’t wanna be derivative. Then, when I bought Pretty Boy Thorson’s An Uneasy Peace (the final song of which is called “I Love You Even More Than I Hate Myself”) I had a bit of a god dammit moment. That should’ve been mine! The song’s awesome and it doesn’t matter that the lyric is similar to another. I started thinking about it though – that line – and whether or not it was actually true (for me). I was dating Wallis and I absolutely loved her but did I love her more than I hated myself? I wasn’t really sure. I decided that sometimes I’m afraid that I could never love anyone more than I hate myself. After all, we had weathered the storm of her relapse but I was sabotaging our relationship bit by bit with my low self-esteem. I wrote about some of that anxiety in the bottom-right corner of the painting:
It’s so much harder to travel with a second person. Staying with friends feels like a much bigger imposition and I can’t stay with girls I meet. That’s probably the hardest part. But I love Wallis. (And I really like fucking her). And I think she needs me. I tried to leave her in Jacksonville but it didn’t work out. I hope she’s with me because she really loves me and not just ‘cause she’s scared to go back to “real life.” It if doesn’t work out, it’s probably gonna be because I can’t stop thinking about fucking other girls, which I know hurts her (and is really so selfish and dumb - and even mean - on my part) but really has nothing to do with her. (She’s so fucking hot and sexy and cute and beautiful). It’s just my insecurity and my compulsion to fuck every pretty girl, to prove to the world (and myself) just how fucking wonderful and desirable I am. It’s not helping that girls are throwing themselves at me these days. But I know (or think) that shit won’t make me happy. And in the end, I’m just gonna want someone to love me and I love Wallis.
There’s another, shorter string of text higher up in the painting, similarly inspired by punk rock: “I was listening to that Gateway District song where they sing, ‘I’m always falling way behind and you go on and on and on.’ If only I knew someone like that. Maybe I’d have someone to look to. Everybody I know is struggling. Everyone I know is as hopeless as I am. (Or worse).”
There’s a brighter, happier pair of sentences in the top-left corner – the product of a moment when everything was right in the world. Amazing sex with Wallis and I’m driving to the gallery showcasing my art while listening to “Another Way Out of Here” by The Murderburgers. The thought occurred to me that “nothing in this world makes me happier than an energetic, upbeat song about suicide.” I gave it a second thought. Is that true?I concluded, “Except (maybe) hitting girls in the face during sex.” I smiled. That’s pretty funny. I’m pretty fucked up. The things that I enjoy are – well – a little odd. This was all well and good at the time. I posted a close-up of that part of the painting online and it was met with positive feedback and just a little bit of “Oh, Sam…” But before I even got the chance to write the statement for this painting (as I am now), that photograph – that caption – would make the rounds on the internet elsewhere and garner a very different kind of response. You see, when I wrote that, it was about sex with Wallis. Sex which includes light consensual fake-violence (or whatever the fuck you wanna call it). Wallis likes getting slapped in the face during sex. And I like doing it. Win-win, right? Well, yeah – until you get accused of a violent rape and the media picks up on the story and uses your art to support the idea that you’re the kind of person capable of violently raping a nineteen year-old girl you just met. Sitting in jail, I wondered how I was going to break the news to my friends and fans that I had been accused of this horrible fucking crime. I bailed out, Chris Spillane picked me up, and after ten minutes of discussion he tells me, “There’s one more thing we’ve gotta talk about, Sam. The publicity on this story is not good right now.” Publicity? This story? “What the fuck are you talking about?” I googled my name and discovered that I didn’t need to worry about breaking this news to anyone. Some reporter knew or figured out who I was, wrote an article about me complete with images of my art (like the “hitting girls in the face” one) and everyone else picked it up and ran with it. Suddenly, strangers on the internet were talking about how I was the kind of person who PUNCHES girls in the face. I was a scumbag and I was definitely guilty. What the fuck? I’ve never punched a girl in the face! I slap! Playfully! And only with girls that WANT me to! But none of that mattered. What mattered was that it was incredibly easy to paint me as some kind of violent sexual deviant who had finally gone off the rails and just started violently raping people. Freedom of expression has its fucking consequences apparently. The charges against me have since been dismissed by a judge who (after hearing all of the prosecution’s evidence and the girl’s testimony) ruled that there was no probable cause to believe that any crime had been committed but the evidence in the case isn’t all public yet and I’m still having to deal with (well-meaning) assholes who think I deserve to be castrated for something I never did. At the time of this writing, this is all still incredibly recent so I’m still working out exactly how a person does deal with something like that. (I’ll let you know when I figure it out).
Flashback to five months before that nightmare though – back to when I was still working on this painting (that’d later incriminate me in the court of public opinion). I wrote that I was feeling “stuck in a rut. This spot [on the street] isn’t super profitable [for selling prints]. I don’t even wanna write about what else is going on. I don’t want to muddle up this painting that I’m not even happy with. My little sister is killing herself and today I blocked her phone number because I’m tired of her asking for help, not taking my advice, and then texting me updates on her self-destruction that she knows will just upset me. I really need the validation of some sales to cheer me up today. If I make less than $100 today, I’m gonna feel super depressed.” And then – to remind myself what a dipshit I am for worrying about how much I make in one particular day, I added: “I’ve made $7,000 this month.” True as it was, it didn’t really help me feel any better in that moment. I continued writing – about an interaction I had with a guy who stopped to watch me paint: “Someone asked me yesterday if I really hate myself and why. I had a hard time articulating it [the way that I feel sometimes]. He said he thinks I’m not as unhappy as I let on. I’d do a much better job explaining it to him today: I’M UGLY, PALE, OUTTA SHAPE, MEAN, SHITTY, POOR, FEARFUL, AND IN A CONSTANT STATE OF STARVATION FOR VALIDATION.”
Reading that now, remembering that day – it’s kinda scary. Everything in my life was going so well and I still had this monster inside me, gnawing at my insides, telling me that everything was awful. That I was awful. I’m really grateful that I don’t feel that way about myself all the time. Arguably, my life is way more fucked up now (on account of the VIOLENT RAPE ACCUSATION) but – I don’t know – I feel better today. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to fight this awful thing. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to become stronger. Maybe it’s because enough other people hate me now that I can take a break on the self-loathing. I don’t know. I’m not sure. But after separating in late-June and spending two months mostly apart, Wallis and I are back together full-time. We’re living together in an apartment in Chicago and it’s been really great. And you know what? I love her WAY more than I hate myself. Not just ‘cause I’m not hating myself so much right now but… This girl… After all we’ve been through. After all I’ve done for her and all she’s done for me… Words are insufficient to express my gratitude, affection, and love for her. I’m probably gonna marry her.
And you know what? When it comes to “falling way behind” versus “going on and on and on,” maybe I do a little more of the latter than I allow myself to recognize sometimes. Maybe I do a lot more of it.
“I Love You Even More” by Pretty Boy Thorson & The Falling Angels
“Another Way Out of Here” by The Murderburgers
“Waves and Cars” by The Gateway District
“In My Heart a Warehouse Burns For You” by Rivethead
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.
“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.
In September 2014, I was arrested for being in possession of 40mg of Adderall. Adderall is one of three prescription medications that I take daily. It was first prescribed to me in January of 2005 and I have been on it consistently ever since. My prescribed dosage has ranged from 20 to 40 mg/day.
The Adderall for which I was arrested was in a bottle with my friends’ name on it. She gave it to me when I babysat her for two days, leading up to her entrance into a detox facility (for which I made the arrangements) on account of her problems with crack and heroin. I was happy she offered it to me because – as I travel for my career – it’s not always easy to get my prescriptions renewed on time each month. Finding a new psychiatrist in each new city that I visit can be incredibly difficult. Waiting lists for new patients to get a first visit are regularly as long as two to five months. I’m rarely ever in the same city (or state) for that length of time.
After my arrest, I brought in my pharmacy records, doctors’ notes, as well as newspaper articles and letters from friends and fans, testifying that – not only am I not a drug addict but that my life is built around that very fact and that I regularly help those still struggling with drugs to overcome their addictions.
The prosecuting attorney was not interested in any of these facts. At the time of my arrest, my own Adderall prescription was not current and it didn’t matter how long I had been on the drug or that I wasn’t abusing it in anyway, or that my life, career, and essence are diametrically opposed to drug abuse. I was offered a deal: “complete two years of probation and keep a clean (felony-free) record.”
My lawyer advised that we file a motion to suppress the evidence in the state’s case against me, as I hadn’t consented to the search which yielded the Adderall of which I was “illegally” in possession. If it didn’t work, I could take the deal. The motion failed, as the judge ruled that my friend’s consent (obtained outside of my earshot) was valid for the entirety of the vehicle in which we were traveling.
After that hearing, the prosecution withdrew it’s earlier offer and replaced it with “take the felony conviction on your record and either (1) complete two years probation or (2) serve one month in jail.” I requested a continuance to give the matter more thought. I sent in more records, proving that I had managed to keep my prescription current in the (now) nine months since my arrest; I had more letters mailed in – this time from family and people with whom I’ve dealt in my art career. I hoped this would sway the prosecution to reconsider. They did not.
On Wednesday, I went back to court resigned to accept the jail sentence (as probation would prove too great a hindrance to my career and the travel which it necessitates. Moments before I stepped into the courtroom, I allowed someone’s advice to sway me into choosing probation. I figured that I could serve it in Florida (which is still my permanent legal residence) and I had a few personal reasons to return there that I let myself believe outweighed the importance of career and travel.
It was so ordered. I left the courtroom and went to the probation office to sign up. It was there that I was told that my “residency status” in Florida was insufficient to warrant a transfer of my probation. In fact, I had no residency status sufficient to warrant a transfer anywhere outside of McLean County, Illinois (where my arrest took place). I would have to serve my two years of probation in the middle of Illinois where, needless to say, I would be unable to maintain a career as an artist. (There is no art scene there; there is no market for my artwork there).
I went to speak with my lawyer. “They can’t transfer my probation to Florida,” I told him, “I’ll need to take the jail sentence instead.” “Okay,” he said, “We’ll file a motion to vacate.” “Am I free to leave the county and the state in the meantime?” I asked. He nodded. “Should I go back to the probation office and tell them?” I asked. He nodded.
I went back to the office, told the woman at the front desk, and drove to Iowa City to visit my friends. And then I got a call from the probation office. “Until a judge approves that motion, we’re still legally required to complete your intake for probation,” I was told. “If you don’t come back and complete your intake by Tuesday, you’ll be in violation of your probation and a warrant will be issued for your arrest.”
I called my lawyer but only got his receptionist. He’s yet to get back to me.
I have an outstanding opportunity waiting for me in New York City right now. It’s one of the most important cities for the arts in the world and one that I’ve had on my list since day one. I need to go to New York and capitalize on the opportunity before it’s too late (which would be approximately two months from now). But – at this moment – not only am I unable to pack up and head to New York, it seems that – by Tuesday – I may be trapped back in McLean County for who knows how long.
In spite of this, I remain optimistic but my optimism doesn’t snuff out my anxiety, which is sometimes pretty overwhelming. This level of anxiety is not good for me. The last few days, I’ve caught myself entertaining stupid, self-destructive thoughts.
I won’t give in to them though. I’m going to be okay.
Hopefully, I’ll have a better idea of what’s happening by tomorrow or Tuesday. Wish me luck. (And/or buy some art).
Here’s a picture from the 4th of July party/punk show at the Cedar Falls Skate Park yesterday. I’m the one in the middle, clearly having the most fun, without a care in the world. (I’m actually less of a bummer right now than this picture indicates; I just wasn’t 100% comfortable posing for a photo with a bunch of other shirtless dudes, even if they are friends). I’m awkward. I was never in a frat. Whatever, dude.
Last week, Wallis and I got into an argument. It was nothing serious and we resolved it pretty quickly but it prompted us to consider parting ways. After all, life on the road is one thing for me but – for Wallis – it can kind of feel like putting “real life” on hold. She doesn’t have to work or deal with any kind of responsibility or – you know – anything. She’s kind of just along for the ride. So after traveling together for five months, it felt like maybe it was time for her to return home to Jacksonville and face off against reality and see if she can stay clean without me as a twenty-four hour baby sitter.
On Friday, I bought her a plane ticket for Monday afternoon (today). That’d give us a few more days to spend together, which is something we both wanted.
Over the course of these last few days, we’ve talked a lot about whether this is what we both really wanted. And it seems like our heads were pretty much in exactly the same place. We didn’t wanna let go of one another but agreed that it was probably time. Our feelings said “no” but we felt that, logically, this was the right move. Even still, I’ve felt sick to my stomach all day.
Just now, I took out my phone to check the flight information ’cause it’s time to go to the airport. I had a new email in my inbox: “Status change from Southwest Airlines. Your flight has been cancelled.”
There doesn’t seem to be any inclement weather anywhere between here and Jacksonville. I don’t know why the flight was cancelled but… it makes sense. It just sort of does. I don’t know where we go or what we do from here but… I guess we’ll figure that out.
On an unrelated/here’s-a-picture note, Wallis took this photo of me taking a break from painting (to brush my teeth) one night in the Iowa City downtown pedmall last week.
I’m all done in Minneapolis and currently sitting in a coffee shop in Madison, Wisconsin. Tomorrow, I’ll try to make some money selling prints at [whatever they do in this city for Memorial Day] and then I’ll spend the next couple of days crashing galleries, trying to find a good match for a future exhibit. On Friday, I have court in Normal. I’m pretty sure, at that point, that I’ll get put on probation and have to return to Florida because that’s where I claim “residence.” I might be stuck down there, legally prohibited from traveling for a while. If not, I’ll flip right back up to the midwest for Dummerfest in Milwaukee, where I’m all set to sell prints while my favorite bands play the best music in the universe. After that, I’ll try my luck out with a few galleries in the city and then probably return to Chicago for a bit. If I’m stuck in Florida, I’ll start lining exhibits up down there, I guess.
NEWS… Let’s see… my minivan died and I bought a new full size van. It’s pretty excellent. It’s got a full size bed, a ton of storage space, and plenty of extra room in which to can actually stretch and breathe. I’m really, really excited about it. It makes life about twenty times more comfortable / less stressful. Here are a bunch of pictures from the last month or so.
That’s all for now! Hopefully I’ll have all my new pieces properly photographed and ready to add to the gallery soon! And … um… other stuff too…? I don’t know. Just read my Facebook; I update that all the time!
OH! And giant thanks are due to John Schuerman at Instinct for hosting my first proper midwest exhibit; Griffin Snyder and Zack Gontard for putting me and Wallis up while we were in Minneapolis; Justin Francis for all his help not just with getting the new van together but the old one as well; Jessie and Annie for letting me set up at One Last Party; and Chris Johnson and Kelly Lone for letting me use their basement for storage!
Justin runs a screenprinting shop in Minneapolis, Tee Squared; highly recommended to bands or anyone else that needs shirts printed!
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).