I’ve neglected my blog for so long that it’s hard to know where to start. While anyone who follows me on Facebook is pretty up to date with the gruesome details of what’s going on in my life, here’s the gist of it for anyone who’s not up to speed:
I moved in with a girl in Chicago in July. We broke up in August.
A day and a half later, I started seeing another girl in Chicago. That lasted three months, until Thursday, when I finally left.
I love the girl but the relationship was incredibly dysfunctional and it had me more fucked up, twisted around, confused, depressed, anxious, and suicidal than I’ve been since December 2012.
While I’ve neglected writing the statements for my artwork, I’ve still been actively creating new pieces. The lack of updates can be accounted for by (1) not having had the new pieces photographed yet, (2) not having their statements written, and (3) the fact that these new pieces are HUGE and the last two have each taken more than a month to complete.
My charges are still pending and still stressing me out but I’m still (sort of) optimistic that some kind of a resolution can be reached – or at least resigned to accept the punishment that’s being offered as part of the plea deal that’s currently on the table.
As the weather got colder in Chicago, I saw a dramatic decrease in my print sales when I’d go downtown to set up, paint, and sell. Consequently, my income this last month is lower than it’s been since January, which is stressing me out but not killing me.
I desperately needed to get out of Chicago to escape my shitty relationship, so I’m in St. Louis now. On November 22nd, I’ll go to Minneapolis for the Rivethead reunion. On November 24th, I’ll return to Normal/Bloomington, IL for my next court date. From there, I’m not sure what I’ll do but if I have to accept the plea deal, I’ll be put on two years probation and will need to choose a state to serve it out in, since my movement will be restricted and I’ll have to be physically present for monthly check-ups. My art career would warrant that I choose either New York or California but I would probably have to choose Florida for the sake of my mental health, as that’s where I’ve got the most emotional support. In theory, I would be able to apply for travel permits to leave the state for my “job” (for example, to go to Minneapolis for my exhibition in March).
When I left Chicago on Thursday, I left without Chris Spillane. It was six months ago that I petitioned the court to have him picked up by police and put into detox and six months since I picked him up from detox and brought him out on the road with me. He now has six months clean, a job, a place to live, and everything else that could be reasonably expected of relatively well-balanced kid of our ilk. When I return to Illinois for my court date at the end of the month, he’ll have the option to rejoin me but I suspect that he’s gonna keep on in Chicago, building up his new life.
In September, I started seeing a psychiatrist in Chicago. In October, she put me back on antipsychotic and antidepressant medications (in addition to the Adderall that I’ve been on for ten years). The last time I was on antidepressants was as an inpatient at Tranquil Shores in February 2013. The last time I was on antipsychotics was (I think) as an inpatient at the Wellness Resource Center in February 2012, though I almost went back on them in January 2013.
Anxiety and depression destroyed my appetite the last month or so and I’m skinnier than I’ve been in at least twelve years. That’s good because I have body dysmorphic disorder and being this thin makes me feel good about myself. It’s bad ’cause… I don’t know… ’cause people say it’s bad…?
I have no idea how this all comes across as a whole but here’s what I think should be the important point to take away from it all: October was a bad month but – here, in St. Louis – I am safe, and cared for, and feeling eight million times better. I am no longer suicidally depressed and though I am afraid of what will happen once I leave St. Louis in two weeks, I am okay and I am once again grateful.
I’m going to spend the day with my current work-in-progress, possibly do some layout work for a new flier or work on written statements for finished pieces, and – tonight – I’m going to go downtown to see Rational Anthem play with The Copyrights and The Murderburgers.
If you wanna buy some art right now, that’d be pretty great.
Rain. Tent started leaking. Put things under the table for cover.. Moved some paintings inside. Ground was flooded when I got back. A lot of stuff is very likely damaged. Trying to figure out whether the appropriate respond is to kill myself or to just laugh it off.
Right now, all I can really manage is to smoke cigarettes in the rain, listening to The Credentials with a blank expression.
The other new piece from Thursday night. The one that’s mean and shitty and makes me not like myself.
“Diaper Baby” by Sass Dragons seems appropriate right now…
I don’t care. I want attention. It doesn’t matter just where it comes from.
I’m as needy as the day I was born. Like a crying baby.
SOMEBODY CHANGE ME.
Before I went to bed at 8 AM, I uploaded the new high-resolution photos of 28 and Eradicating the Threat of Happiness.
Both are available in my webstore, as are prints of my newer pieces.
The good people of the Wunderground collective have been sweet enough to include me in their quarterly event at 1904 Music Hall. If you’re in/near Jacksonville, come hang out with me on January 11th. Art, music, burlesque, spoken word, food… IT’LL BE AN EVENING.
On the drive back to Jacksonville tonight, I wrote in my journal. At one point in the process, I felt like I’d had a major breakthrough. Now – just a couple hours later – I’m not so sure. In either case, I think it’s worth sharing. And (above all) what matters is that I was feeling tremendous anxiety when I started and (at least a semblance of) peace when I was done.
Journal: Christmas 2013
The last time I made a playlist was July. The music I like gives most people anxiety but it’s an extremely rare occasion when it has that effect on me. But I’m feeling way too fragile right now to risk hearing anything that I’m not totally prepared for. I need really to be comforted right now and I’m counting on this music to do it.
We just hit the part of the highway with no lights. I’m writing in total darkness now.
Heather’s so sweet. I know she never intends to do me any harm. That’s why it’s hard to leave her. I don’t know if I understand love so – sadly – it has to be a practical consideration.
I know I can’t ever be alone. I fall in “love” way too fast. So if I’m gonna be with someone, it should (probably?)be her…
She’s not great at making me feel loved, which is something I desperately need. But maybe that sort of thing goes both ways. Maybe a girl that was better at making me feel loved would also be great at hurting me if/when she wanted to. Fuck. I can be (or am) such a fragile fucking baby.
I met this girl in November. She took in the whole story behind Autobiography and pointed at the girl in it. “That’s your mom,” she said.
I didn’t like that. I’m pretty sure my disgust registered on my face before I could even think to mask it. With a smile, I responded: “I reject that. I don’t agree at all.” I had just met this girl. What the fuck?
“That’s fine,” she said. “You can reject it. But it’s still true.”
When I shot down her interpretation, I meant what I said. But – of course – she’s fucking right. As much as it’s killed me to realize that and as much as I hate to admit it.
When my mom used to constantly badger me about how much I hated her, I’d tell her I loved her and ask her to stop. I really didn’t hate her. But I kind of do now.
It’s one thing to have an intellectual understanding that your parents did their best – and to use that to “forgive” them. It’s another thing to really make sense of everything emotionally, connect all the dots, and really get a grip on it. ‘Cause when you realize now that I’ve realized that it’s not about the individual incidents of especially fucked up shit that she did, it’s about the life-threatening defects ingrained into my every fiber that she cut in and fucking cultivated for years… It’s about the fact that every time I feel rejected by Heather in the slightest, I wanna run away from home all over again.
I told Heather again yesterday that she hadn’t done anything wrong – we’re just not a good match because she doesn’t have the kind of affectionate personality that I need to feel loved. She responded that she loves me 500% and didn’t I know that? I told her that I had that information in my brain but that I don’t often feel it. Shit – how could I?
No one’s ever gonna be able to do anything that’ll make me feel loved all the time. Just as my art (which is really just the maintenance of my (relative) sanity) is a full-time job, another person couldn’t possibly give me what I need unless that was their full-time job too. Or – more accurately – were on call 24/7. ‘Cause a lot of the time I need to be left alone to “work” (paint, write, or do various backend business-of-art or website kinds of tasks). But the second I need love, if [insert the name of any girl I’ve ever been with here] can’t deliver exactly to my specifications in that instant… well, then IT’S NOT WORKING AND WE’RE JUST NOT RIGHT FOR EACH OTHER.
So – contrary to my understanding up ’til this moment– this is on me more than it’s on Heather and it’s not some incurable defect that she needs to be solely responsible for maintaining an awareness of and behaving accordingly (because she “signed up for it” by getting involved with someone who’s so openly an emotional basketcase). I need to step back in these moments and remind myself of these things of which I need to be reminded. Still, if she’s my partner, she does need to be “in it” with me and make a little more of an effort to actually express that love she says she has for me. She can be pretty cold. And in some of those moments, there’s not gonna be anything I can do to not feel unattractive, unloved, and unwanted. Worthless, and undeserving of love. This new understanding of myself won’t always be enough. Sometimes feelings are more important than facts.
This is a real breakthrough for me. Right now, in this moment. It’s not the only one from the last 48 hours though.
Driving to Manatee from Jacksonville, we had another of our four hour drives without speaking. Not in as hostile a way, but things were tense so I kept busy as she drove and, when I took the wheel, she slept. Then, when we got to the Owens, I went in alone without a goodbye. (We both just looked at each other, waiting for the other to initiate it, as I collected my things from the backseat). Then she went to her parents’. I did my thing with the Owens and with my friends in Sarasota and we didn’t see each other for two days. We didn’t spend the holiday (which means nothing to me but something to her) together. The few texts we exchanged were not especially productive.
I opened up to some friends yesterday and acknowledged that a lot of the problem – what I felt – was sexual rejection. I’ll decide in an instant, at anytime, that I want to fool around, make some gesture toward that, she’ll shoot me down for whatever reason, and I’ll feel like shit. In her defense, I know where and when she will/would be in the right frame of mind for that and I rarely act on it because it’s when I’ll usually be busy working. Our schedules are wildly different and I need to work on compromising mine more, seeing as hers is handed down from a company and mind can be whatever the fuck I want it to be. It sucks but I feel constantly burdened with a need to be productive and I’m rarely willing to set aside and stop working because I’m terrified that I won’t be able to get back on course fast enough once I’m free to pick back up.
“It’s harder to be yourself than it is to be anybody else.” My problems are so petty, small, and (really) within the bounds of my control. Still, they’re monumental monster motherfuckers and THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES WITH WHICH ANY HUMAN BEING HAS EVER BEEN FACED. I say that jokingly but it’s equally true and false. It’s real and it’s a struggle that won’t ever end. It’ll only morph and evolve. As I do…
I got away from myself and the other “breakthrough” to which I alluded. I was talking to some friends about this stuff yesterday and the response I got went from “you gotta end it (for your own sake)” to “you gotta end it (for her sake).” At one point in the conversation, the feedback I was getting, the direction that the conversation had taken, and the things coming out of my own mouth had me feeling like the most sociopathic, seriously damaged, selfish mental case on the planet. I felt like a calculating monster with an impressively evil skill-set, who was so distinct from normal people that he didn’t even have the slightest idea or awareness of what he was doing or the full implications of his decisions and behavior. I felt sicker than I’ve ever felt – like I could be some murderer, smiling at the cameras.
I probably could be. I just remembered – I had been thinking about conscience just earlier in the day. Some friend of Clifford’s murdered his girlfriend and then turned himself in. What a sap, I thought, when Mclane told me about it. What a weak human being.
I considered it further: I would never do that. You buckle down and live with the secret. No good comes from that confession; just move forward, asshole.
Well – not really. He needed to be caught; I mean, he’s clearly dangerous. But if Ikilled someone, Ishould just move forward… Learn from my mistake and accept that the consequence for my actions is having another fascinating story that I can’t ever share with the world.
WHAT’S WORSE THAN THAT?
So… that’s what I wrote as we made our way back to Jacksonville tonight. I probably started around 9pm and put the pen down a little after 10…
I looked in my other notebook at the pieces I have left to add to the website and – given everything I wrote about tonight – one of them jumped off the page and struck me as being a perfect fit.
(Relatively) early in my stay at Tranquil Shores, we got an assignment, in art therapy group – to make a figure of our “inner-child.” Like most of my inner-child stuff, I focused on myself at age four.
This thing isn’t totally devoid of substantive meaning but – obviously – this wasn’t an especially probing assignment. It was mostly fun though and I felt pretty pleased with myself when I finished it.
When I typed up my journal entry, I linked to a few entries which struck me as relevant.
Autobiography: watercolor cartoon (regarding codependency, rejection, and self-esteem)
After I journaled, I felt well enough to skip around and listen to songs that would have made me nervous earlier in the night. One of them was “Debt” by Pipsqueak, the acoustic band which was initially just the kid that sang in Snuggle (and – more recently – Murmurs) but now has a second member, playing cello and also singing. It was great before and it’s great now.
I could describe my day in a way that’d sound horribly tragic and it’d be totally true. Shit – I could frame my entire life in such a way that it’d sound really awful…
But… as much as I feel like a crybaby in this moment – as stressed as I am right now – I know that the other truth – the one in which my life is awesome and I’ve got nothing but good things to be grateful for… it’s a better story and it’s better for me. And like I said, it’s totally true.
So – with an eye toward focusing on the positive – check out how happy this kid is….
And that’s from just earlier today!
I posted that photo on Instagram a little bit ago with the caption: “The (former) police officer and the KING OF THE SUPER PUNKS had a few disagreements when they first met last January. But *today* Robert bought a painting from his friend, Sam, who happily posed for a photo before he parted ways with the piece, less than 48 hours after its completion.” That was after Robert had posted it on Facebook with the caption: “I am now the proud owner of an original Sammy ThrashLife canvas! He is an intelligent (went to law school) and talented artist I’ve had the pleasure to get to know; he creates edgy works via stream of consciousness and drawing upon his emotions at the time.”
And all of that’s really awesome. It means a whole, whole lot to me. This little art thing I do… it’s my life. It’s saved my life. It’s brought people into my life. It’s made me a better person. It’s made it all worthwhile.
It’s what I do when I’m feeling down – to pull me out of that and get me back to a better place… it takes me places I never used to go.
Here’s one of my very first pieces, from November of last year; I made it one night when I was feeling especially depressed and suddenly (well, by the time I finished it HOURS after I started) I wasn’t depressed anymore.
In the past, when I’d felt as I did that night, it was an occasion to do way too much heroin. A few times in an attempt to fatally overdose, other times to just not have to exist for a little while. But – you know – I was in rehab so it seemed like the thing to do would be to maybe just create that image. It’s a mixed media collage – can you see the little cartoon syringe that I drew and glued onto my arm? The caption says, “Is blue a good color on me?”
Here’s a song I like a lot.
“Rejoice despite the fact this world will hurt you. Rejoice despite the fact this world will kill you. Rejoice despite the fact this world will tear you to shreds. Rejoice because you’re trying your best.” – Andrew Jackson Jihad
Numbered, signed, and sealed 12×18″ prints of Winter Colors are available in my webstore.
If you’re interested in the original piece, please get in touch.
“Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t kill yourself. You TOTALLY can.”
This was my last piece before I moved out of Tranquil Shores and back into the real world. Until that morning, I had been operating under the assumption that I’d be staying for at least another two months or so but – as I found out when I went into the clinical office that morning – I only had ten days left. I was really upset – kind of shattered. It caught me completely off guard. I walked back to the residential property, went into my apartment, and painted this. It’s only on my jacket because I didn’t ever have canvases at that point and I was all out of cardboard.
I’m not sure the sentiment warrants any explanation but it’s a play on the misuse of “can” (in place of “may”) and a response to anyone who says that suicide is wrong or selfish. I think that’s true in some instances: the moment you decide to have kids, for example, I think you forfeit your right to kill yourself. To bring another life into being and then decide, “ehhhh… maybe life’s not worth living after all,” – that’s kinda bullshit. But in my case – back when I was seriously contemplating (and occasionally attempting) suicide, I didn’t have anyone in my life – no one that I felt I owed anything to anyway. I was isolated, hopelessly stuck on heroin, and every day hurt. Living was reallypainful. I think it was my older sister (I don’t remember for sure) but shortly after I got out of the hospital for an overdose in September 2011, I got a phone call.
“That’s a really selfish thing to do, Sam,” she said.
Fuck you, I thought. “You wanna know what’s selfish?” I asked. “Expecting me to endure this kind of pain every day – to keep on with this shitty, empty life, devoid of any happiness whatsoever – so that you can call me on the phone two or three times a year.”
Obviously, my life didn’t have to be that awful but – at that point – I didn’t have what I needed to do anything about it. And while I’m glad I didn’t die, I still (basically) feel the same way. Things turned around for me but there are plenty of other people who aren’t so lucky – people who struggle for decades with mental illness and addiction and never find any kind of a light. Carrying on with each new day is a gamble that doesn’t always pay off. And while I’ll always try to encourage someone to try something different / take another shot at life before they throw in the towel, I still wouldn’t tell them that they have to keep going. There are certain people whose deaths would devastate me but I know how bad life can hurt and I’m not gonna deny them relief. If you can’t take it anymore, it’s your right to check out – and the pain others might feel from the loss isn’t on you. After all – if it’s more than they can stand, everyone else always has that same option…
Although – if nothing else – suicide is pretty dumb – and sorta lazy. The thing about it is that it’s usually the result of feeling trapped in some situation. Being afraid of the consequences of breaking out [of whatever position]. But in killing yourself, you’re gonna break out of it anyway so why not first take a shot at another route of escape? Throw some shit in your backpack, get on a bus to some city eight hundred miles away, and just see what happens. Have a fucking adventure. If you can’t handle your problems: DON’T. Quit your job, forget about your lease, disconnect your phone, and just start over. Worse case scenario: you’re still unhappy and you kill yourself a week or two later. But if you’re not determined to be miserable (and you actually make an effort / try something new) chances are you’re gonna figure it out eventually. I did.
I’d like to think I offset the gloom of this entry with a little bit of optimism, but if I fell short, maybe this’ll make up the difference. It’s a song that is totally unlike most of the music I listen to, is (in a lot of ways) every thing that I usually detest in music, but that (for whatever reason) has a really positive, exciting, happy kind of effect on me.
Signed and numbered 7½x12″ prints of “Suicide Jacket” are available in my webstore. If you’re interested in purchasing the original (jacket), get in touch.
There’s not much I can say that I haven’t already, in my statements for the other 12.13.14 pieces and others relating to codependency (like “Girls Are Not Pokemon“). As indicated in the graphic, this is a diagram of Figure 12.13.14 or (in reality) it’s a diagram of how I was feeling one day in December 2012 – like an interchangeable asshole, with a life not worth living.
However, as I mentioned on Thursday, sometimes there really are fruits of being a contemptuous bag of dicks. In this case, it was my friend David asking me to adapt this drawing for use as a t-shirt for his label, John Wilkes Booth Records. They came out really great and you can pick ’em up in the JWB webstore for a measly $10.
And so long as you’re already throwing your money away, allow me to present the first release from Traffic Street in more than two years. Technically, it’s a reissue of the Like Bats EP we put out back in 2009 but this time around it’s on cassette and it includes something we’re choosing to keep secret because… well – there are only 100 copies sothey’re going to sell whether we tell you or not and secrets are just more fun.
Buy cassettes here. Buy prints of (either version of) “Unspecified Selection” here.
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).