Tag Archives: November 2012

Little Sam (Little Devil)

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 I killed someone, I should 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.



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.

"Little Sam (Little Devil)." 11/7/12. Tin foil, masking tape, felt, marker, glue. 4" (tall).
“Little Sam (Little Devil).” 11/7/12. Tin foil, masking tape, felt, marker, glue. 4″ (tall).

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.
  • 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.

Little Red Boy

"Little Red Kid." 11/6/12. Crayon. 11x8½".
“Little Red Boy.” 11/6/12. Crayon. 11×8½”.

This was a treatment assignment, one morning in group. To draw a portrait of my “inner-child.” Or – more accurately – to let my inner child draw his own self-portrait (using just a few crayons (of my choice) and my non-dominant hand). So… this is me at age four.

There’s not much I feel like writing about it beyond that explanation, so here’s an excerpt from my “life story.” Since I’m pairing it with a drawing of me as a kid, I chose a part about my childhood but not that particular age.


Sometime during third grade, it was decided that I’d test for Pine View, the “gifted” public school in south county. IQ of 140 or higher required for admission. My parents wouldn’t tell me what I scored because they didn’t want Racey and I comparing.

I started fourth grade at my new school and was relatively okay with the change. I got along with the other kids better than I had at other schools and some of my friends from the last one had made the switch as well. There was one important difference. I had always been the destroyer of other students without even having to try; I constantly got the best grades on everything with very little effort.  Some of the kids here though were smart. Maybe even as smart as me. That would’ve been okay had they not also been extremely motivated. Like me, they enjoyed being the best. Unlike me, they were willing to work for it. In hindsight I can also see that they had something with which I was almost totally unfamiliar: an alien concept called “self-esteem.” They wanted to get the highest grades they could, but seemed less concerned with how well their peers did. I, on the other hand, would be thrilled with any grade – no matter how low – so long as nobody else got a higher grade. They wanted As; I wanted to win the contest in my head. I needed to win the contest in my head. I may have been an uncontrollable, argumentative, morally-challenged basket case of a nine year-old, but so long as I was smarter than the other kids, that made it all okay, right?

It was time to buckle down, put in the necessary time and energy and learn to be proud of my achievements independent of the performance of my peers.

Yeah. Right.

I’m not sure if I was aware of it at all at the time, but I called an audible and went with a brilliant alternate strategy. “If victory’s not guaranteed, just don’t play.” I may not even know how to play chess, but if I never sit down at the board, all you can do is guess. I could be terrible but I could be Bobby fucking Fisher. Prove me wrong. You can’t.

From that point on, I did a half-assed job on everything. I was still well-spoken enough for everyone to know that I was intelligent; I had just opted out of the contest that might have given someone evidence that I wasn’t the most intelligent. The kids at Pine View loved to accuse each other of having parents that bribed the psychiatrists who administered their IQ tests for admission. I had the lowest grades in class, yet no one ever pointed at me. “Sam’s smart, he just doesn’t care.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I cared a lot. But what else could I do? Try, and risk failure? No way. These kids can’t think they’re better than me. I can’t think these kids are better than me.


When fourth grade started, there was still only one band that I really gave a shit about. A couple months into the school year, they put out a new album. I had a bunch of favorites but, on the day I got it, the best song was “Brat.”


Signed and numbered prints of “Little Red Boy” are listed for sale in my webstore.

I Am Impossible

"First Day of My Life (Story)." 11/28/12. Colored pencil. 6x8½".
“I Am Impossible.” 11/28/12. Colored pencil. 6×8½”.

Jesse coined out and went on vacation with friends of her parents. She’ll be back, in two weeks, as an outpatient, and she’ll be living on property again. That makes me really, really happy. I don’t know what I would do if she left for good. She’s the source of all that’s good in my life. She’s what makes my life worth living. You know… since I had met her a couple weeks ago anyway.

We talk every day while she’s gone. I tell her about the note I got from Hal. She has something to tell me but won’t say what. I’ll get it out of her when I have her in person. I don’t think for a second that she’s relapsed. But she has. And that’s not fair.

Jesse got back two days ago and, yesterday, started to really push. She wants to get high. “That’s a terrible idea,” I tell her. But then something MONUMENTAL happens. This morning, she went off-property to go do something other than hang out with me. Naturally, I’m feeling rejected and depressed and  am in a really dark place again [unreasonable as that may be]. As she always does when I get this way, she’s distanced herself, which is – of course – making me feel even more rejected. But I know how I can feel better and win her back.

I call Stacy. She’s at the hospital because her sister is giving birth but – if I can meet her there – she’s got some thirtys on her that she’ll sell me. [Florida. It’s always pills with these kids.] Close enough. I set it up and look for Jesse. When I see her, I creep up with a grin that tells her everything she needs to know: “Go sign out and park your car at the strip mall. Soon as the coast is clear, I’ll sneak off property and meet you. We’ve got an errand to run.”


That was part two of the story I started to tell yesterday.

I’m pretty sure anyone reading this already knows but just in case… A “thirty” is a 30mg oxycodone pill. More commonly known as “blues,” but I’ve always hated that name. It’s too cute. If you had asked me about it back in the day, I’d probably have said something like… “I shoot heroin and – absent that – synthetic heroin. But never blues. There’s nothing colorful or fun about this.”

Really, I think I was just upset that my SUPER COOL DRUG HABIT had been co-opted by half the dorks in Florida and I didn’t wanna use the same terminology as them. I was dangerous; they were cuttin’ loose! … Fuck that.

[Check it out, guys! You can be a douchey elitist when it comes to just about anything!]

The drawing I chose for this entry was drawn on the day that I shared the first half of my life story in group at Tranquil Shores. It was also a day on which I was similarly upset because I felt similarly rejected by a girl that I was similarly in treatment with.

The tombstone behind me reads: “Sickle Cell: November 4, 1985 to Any Day Now.” The original drawing was damaged before I ever got a good picture or scan of it, so this image is the best I can do.


Life is Stupid

"Life is Stupid." 11/16/12. Pen. 7½x10¾ “.
“Life is Stupid.” 11/16/12. Pen. 7½x10¾ “.

I’m still not ready to share my painting from yesterday so here’s one of my earliest drawings. It’s almost a year old now.

Since I don’t have anything worthwhile to say about it, here’s an excerpt from my life story project, written right around the time that I drew this.


Speaking of my stupid smirk – my stupid crooked smile – it’s not natural. It was practiced. I used to smile like a human being. At sixteen though, I trained my face to smile with just one side of my mouth. I think I thought it made me look more devious. I remember it was really hard at first but I practiced it for so long – consciously forced myself to smile that that way for so long – that I can’t help it now. That says something about me, I think. About how concerned I was with making a certain kind of impression – and not a good one. It also suggests that I’m tremendously fake. Honest people don’t think about smiling as they do it and, thus, wouldn’t have a moment to decide what kind of smile to display. But me: every time I smiled, I chose to go with that one. My smiles were premeditated. They were very conscious responses. With me, it’s all planned; it’s all pretend.

Selfish Program

"Selfish Program." 11/29/12. Colored pencil. 7x11".
“Selfish Program.” 11/29/12. Colored pencil. 7×11″.

I drew this eleven months ago. It’s only the fifth thing that I ever made by choice (and not as part of a treatment assignment). People say that Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous (or, more generally, recovery) is a “selfish program.” It’s not about self-interest or self-serving as much as it is… well… let me put it this way. The girl I dated for most of 2012 – we went to go “visit” her family in St. Louis when Miami got to be more than we could handle. (I say “visit” because her parents agreed to a week but – desperately wanting to not go back to our lives in Florida – we stayed for more than a month). Anyway, something her dad always said that stuck with me is this oxygen/airplane metaphor: “Put on your own mask before assisting other passengers.” Meaning – if you don’t take care of yourself first, there’s a good chance you’re not gonna be much good to anyone else either.

At Tranquil Shores, the first major assignment everyone has to complete is the “First Step” (not to be confused with the first of the twelve steps; this is something different). Anyway, it’s the assignment where group feedback is the most important (and the only one where everyone’s really supposed to be as honest and blunt as possible and call the person out if they’re full of shit). The morning that I drew this, I was losing my mind (a pretty regular occurrence back then). On the one hand,  a friend was presenting her First Step and I felt like I’d be letting her down if I didn’t give her my full attention. On the other hand, I had my own mess to sort out and I didn’t want to listen. I wanted to get out of my head, get away from damage, destruction, hell, and shit. I wanted to color.

So I did.

Mental health doesn’t happen on a schedule. As much as I’d love to always be there for everyone, I can’t. If my own life/head is a mess, I’ve gotta deal with that first. And it’s worked out; if you were to ask my friends, I’m certain they’d say I’m a better friend today than ever before. So – as the block letters behind the fence in this drawing say…

Selfish program.


  • This piece is currently on display, as part of my first art show, now running at Sun-Ray Cinema in Jacksonville.
  • I also have signed prints available in my webstore.


"14." 1/2/13. Calligraphy ink and sewing needle (tattoo). 1x2".
“14.” 1/2/13. Calligraphy ink and sewing needle (tattoo). 1×2″.

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.


In writing my statement / story for “Another Opportunity For Growth!!!,” I did some digging… I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did find this conversation from a week after that story (and two months after the one at the start of this entry).

Texts: January 13th

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.

[no response]

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.

[no response]

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?

A: Yeah.

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?

A: Yes.

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: Yup!

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 this so 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.
  • But that didn’t happen. The night of December 30 remains the last time that I ever saw her.

Spoiler Alert

"Spoiler Alert." 11/3/12. Watercolor and colored pencil. 12x18".
“Spoiler Alert.” 11/3/12. Watercolor and colored pencil. 12×18″.

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.