Tag Archives: clean time

18 days clean in 2016

I’ve been such a reckless fuck-up that the state might put me in jail.

That’s pretty fucking crazy when I pause to really think about it.

My heart’s stopped a few times. I’ve been arrested, committed, and hospitalized more times than I can even remember now.

Why am I still alive?

I’ve taken everything for granted. I’ve wasted everything. And yet here I am.

I don’t know how my story ends but I have a really hard time envisioning any kind of future. I’m staying clean but I’m not sure what for.

shitty children suicide stitches

I’m still working on my “Suicide Stitches” series. Tonight I’ve been sewing up “Shitty Children.” If you look close at my blurry iPhone photo, you can see that the biggest tear goes across the entire painting. It’s definitely coming together though. And this one was especially bad. In addition to the rips, the frame that the canvas is stretched over was snapped in three places. Earlier today this painting was nothing more than a crumpled pile. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made on it so far.

Did you see I’ve got a webstore up on my agency’s website now? I don’t even know if it’s live and processing payments yet but check it out.

Snowflakes Anonymous

“Snowflakes Anonymous.” 11/22/13. Acrylic, watercolor, and spray paints, food coloring, markers, pen, resin sand, cardboard and EBT card – on 24×30″ stretched canvas.

This piece took me over a week to finish. That left a lot of time for different issues to pop up, play off each other, and rearrange my ideas. I started it one nigh while I was thinking about missing Tranquil Shores. Then I thought about how I might like to work at a place like that except… For starters, I don’t have enough clean time. I’d have to pretend like
I didn’t fuck up at any point. That made me sad. You know what I eventually realized though? Fuck that. Someone recently complimented my honesty / willingness to be vulnerable through my artwork – “especially for someone with so little clean time.” That threw me for a loop! There was nothing mean-spirited about the comment (it came from someone that’s been really positive and supportive) but still – the implication is that I’ve only recently started getting well. In reality, most of the pieces she had seen and read about were created before that – sometime after my previous clean date (the day I got to Tranquil Shores: August 17th, 2012). And I didn’t really start getting better ’til December 12th. The vast majority of honest text in my pieces was always scribbled out up until that point.

So – yeah – I may have fucked up over the summer, but that didn’t hit the reset button on my recovery; I didn’t fall down into a gutter with a needle in my arm, desperate and miserable as ever. I made a mistake, called myself on it, told the people I needed to tell, and carried the fuck on and moved forward with the things I know to be good for me and good for my mental health and emotional well-being. And you know what else? The dangerous position I allowed myself to be in (that led to my relapse): it was worth it. That month I spent working on that project – it had incredible highs, some (very obvious) lows, I learned a lot about myself, a lot about the world around me, and – overall – was a better stronger person when all was said and done.

And it still affects me today (both positively and negatively). I wouldn’t say I regret any of it. Life is for living and anyone that’s really living is gonna fuck up every now and then. That’s not a preemptive copout for future relapse, it’s just reality. You can count on my not repeating that mistake but I’m sure as shit gonna fuck up at one thing or another!

Back on point: on Tuesday, I was reading the NA literature and I realized that so much of it really has nothing to do with me. It’s totally undescriptive of my thinking and my behavior. Not all of it, but enough of it. Does that mean I’m gonna quit going to meetings? No. But it explains why I stopped going more than once a week back in February – and why my
counselors at Tranquil Shores didn’t throw a monumental fit about it the way they’d always done with everyone else. I may not be some beautiful fucking snowflake, thoroughly unlike all to come before me, but – you know what? I am different than a lotta people and meetings, meetings, meetings isn’t the fucking cure-all for everyone.

And if you wanna get technical – it’s got nothing to do with the twelve steps as they were originally written (and are still written in the AA text). Same with sponsorship – there’s nothing in the original text about going to meetings or finding a sponsor. It’s just about working with / helping other alcoholics [or addicts]. And I do that shit constantly. I hate a lot of the attitudes that dominate the rooms of AA and NA: “Do this or die” (especially when “this” isn’t even part of the program). You know why they think that the only people who succeed in recovery are the ones that continue going to meetings for the rest of their lives? Because the people that come back are the one that fucked up and needed to come back; they never hear the stories of the people that leave their group and succeed because they don’t have any reason to come back around and tell their tale. It’s right for some people – not everyone. And fuck the notion that “clean time” is the only measure of success. I do pretty okay. I like myself. I like my life. And it’s been that way for a while now. It didn’t start ’til I got clean (and then some) but it didn’t go away just ’cause I had a lapse in judgment. I still have that time. There are documents of it – all over my walls and all over this website.

SECOND (reason I can’t get a job at a treatment facility), I don’t think I’m cut out to work anywhere. I’m not some wild, outta control basket case but that’s ’cause I know what I need to do to keep my grip. When things get rough, I’ve got tools I can use to get ’em back on the right track. But mental health is a chore and I can’t schedule my emotions. Being on the clock, being on someone else’s time… it doesn’t work for me. I have too much to do – sick or well, fucked or not. So while I might like to do some volunteer kinda stuff now and then, I don’t think that “getting a job” is anything that’s ever gonna work out for me.

From there I was thinking about something that’s occurred to me before: that I could almost certainly qualify to receive disability payments. Up ’til my “recovery” began, I’d have taken those without a second thought; I had (and still have) no moral objections to something like that (even if I were/am fully capable of working). But getting disability doesn’t really seem in line with what I’m about these days. My brain might be a little off but I’ve been creatively building a life out of that, through my artwork. I’m not sure I want a label like “disabled” on me.

But – also on Tuesday – I realized that I use food stamps and… is that really any different? It’s basically partial-disability with no questions asked. “Oh? You don’t make enough money? Okay, here you go. No – we don’t care why, just take it.” Strangely enough, the very next day, I met a girl who does receive disability payments (and for borderline personality disorder!) That had me actually considering it for the first time but it wasn’t ’til later that night I realized that – immediately after meeting her – I volunteered to pick up a shift at Sun-Ray over the weekend if they needed any extra help. AND THEN(!) I had to modify my offer to exclude Saturday because I’m going to some kind of seven hour “personal growth” / mental health thing tomorrow.

Just like that – I went from ruling out work because of my obligations to myself and my mental health but rejecting the prospect of disability payments on principle, meeting a girl on disability with the same issues I have and starting to reconsider,  to unthinkingly offering to work, and then realizing I couldn’t because of a (very concrete, specific) mental health obligation.

For now, I’m gonna keep on as I have been. I already have everything I need. Well, maybe not a sense of security but what fun would that be?


Hey – speaking of “clean time,” “clean dates,” and what a beautiful fucking snowflake I am… When someone completes their treatment plan at Tranquil Shores, they have their coin-out ceremony and they get a little keychain with their clean date on it. Here’s the one they gave me back in February.

Clean date key tag

Yes, that is an “X” in place of a clean date. No, I had no idea that mine was going to be different and – no – of all the people that have been through the program, no one else has ever gotten anything other than their actual clean date.


Something I wrote in this entry reminded me of a lyric from a song I haven’t heard in a few years. “She asked me if I want to die / I said of course I do sometimes / Anyone who never wants to die / must not really be alive.” And now that I’m listening to it, I’m realizing that it’s right for this entry in more ways than one.


I got the Like Bats cassettes in the mail today. They’ll be the first new Traffic Street release in more than two years and will go on sale tomorrow! (This is a one-off sorta thing though; I’m not picking back up with Traffic Street for real – not anytime soon anyway).

I've had that box of inserts and covers for three years now!
I’ve had that box of inserts and covers for three years now!


Fun fact: Did you notice my (expired) EBT/foodstamp card glued to the top-right corner of the canvas? Did you notice that it says “ASK FOR VD” on the signature line? Just below that, it says “ARTS SUBSIDY” which I added after the card was on the canvas). I wrote “ASK FOR VD” on it back when it was still valid though – back when I first got it in March. I am a ridiculous human being.

This piece is available for purchase as a 12×15″ print. The original sold in December 2013.

Website changes / first Jacksonville NA meeting

Up and running for two weeks now and I changed the sitemap today. I think I’m going to really divide the writing and the the visual art a little bit more. I set up a gallery so that all of the drawings and paintings I’ve put up thus far can be seen on one page. From each image, you can click a link to go to the blog entry it was originally featured in, but from now on, I think I’m just going to add the images to the gallery and feature the statements there. And then I’ll use this (the frontpage) as more of a daily journal. So far as older writing like the (gasoline) story from yesterday’s update (“Funny”) or the rehab journals, I’m not sure yet. It’s early though and I’m still figuring this out so we’ll see.

I had a session with my counselor this morning, in which I decided to go to an NA meeting here in Jacksonville. I journaled about it afterward because it affected me more powerfully than NA or AA meetings usually do (in a good way). As the day went on though, I found myself feeling more and more depressed. Unreasonably depressed.

I feel really, terribly inadequate.

And since I don’t like feeling this way, I’ve got to do… something.

I don’t think I’m going to use Facebook anymore. I’ll let my website post updates for me when I post here, but I’m not going to post anything directly to my page. If you’re not a fan of these updates, tonight would be a good time to hide me from your newsfeed or remove me from your friends list.

Heather read my “life story” project last night. All 165 pages in one sitting. I was scared because it’s even more personal/confessional than anything I’ve written/posted here, but I think it was a good thing. She also told me last night though that – one thing that’s been different about me since I was away for a month to make that movie – I’m less positive. Less upbeat. And way harder on myself. I’m a lot more critical of everything I do, say, and feel. And she’s right. It wasn’t an easy month and a lot of things changed. Mostly though, my ideas about myself and who I am. I’m still sorting all of that out. Obviously, I slipped up (see: “Diazepam” from 8/1, for example) so I’ve “lost” my clean time, but that’s kind of a bullshit statement/sentiment anyway. My “clean date” was in August but I didn’t really get much better until December… but the time that I did have, spent doing the right things, doing well, doing good: I still have that. I didn’t “lose” it. And I’ve got a lot more of it coming up so long as I take care of myself and make healthy choices.

Tonight or tomorrow, I’m going to take steps to ready myself to approach some businesses in Jacksonville (later in the week) about the possibility of putting pieces on display, on consignment.

I’m also going to keep (as I have been) selling off the material things in my life that I don’t really need. I feel weighed down by so much of it. I want to get rid of enough that I can get rid of the furniture that’s been holding it all. Then again, this could be some type of substitution or projection. I don’t really know. Well, I know one thing: selling off a bunch of books and records isn’t going to make me happy. My issues are a little deeper than “clutter.”

I finished a piece today that I’m really excited to share, but it was made for someone else’s project and I don’t want to steal their thunder so I’ve got to sit on it for a little bit. It means a lot to me though and I’m really grateful that I had the opportunity to make it. More on that later, I guess.

I shipped the last of yesterday’s orders today. Some got little thank you notes with dumb little drawings on them. Nothing remarkable, but for some reason, I really like one of them, so I’ll just share that.