Tag Archives: parents

Mother’s Day

"Mother's Day Card 2013." 5/11/13. Pen. 5x7".
“Mother’s Day.” 5/11/13. Pen. 5×7″.

I didn’t draw this for the person that gave birth to me; it was for someone that’s actually treated me like a son (for just under a decade now). Without her support (and the support of her family – which I consider my family as well – my real family) I don’t know where I’d be today. Probably dead. I was sifting through images, looking for one to share in tonight’s entry when I saw it. Given my day, it seemed sort of appropriate… And I mean that: only sort of. Because it’s something I made for someone who’s shown me unconditional love – someone that’s been a force of good in my life. And today was about something completely different



I spent just over three hours today sitting in my seat on the airplane, scratching contempt out into notebooks. A flight’s never gone by so fast. And I had already spent a good deal of time writing about it earlier this morning – when I woke up to find a mean, shitty, evil comment left on my website last night around 3AM (by the bag of shit that likes to call herself my mom). I’ve tried to be patient and compassionate with her over the years. I’ve tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and cut her some slack because – in her own shitty way – I’m sure she loves me and I’m sure she’s doing her best. But her “best” is really fucking terrible and I give up. I’m not going to wear myself out, trying to have some semblance of a relationship with someone that won’t call me (or even pick up my calls) – preferring instead to communicate with me solely by way of spiteful, fucked up comments posted publicly on the internet. She’s always insisted that I hate her – and ranted at me (mostly through Facebook, until I blocked her) about how I’m dead set on convincing the world what a terrible human being she is. Up until now, that couldn’t have been less true. (Run a search on this website for the word “mom”; I haven’t tried it yet, but – of more than 150 entries on just about every subject – I’m pretty sure there’ll be little to any results and I’m almost positive there won’t be anything that fits her description of my writing). I mean – FUCK – she managed to interpret last night’s entry as some kind of coded disrespectful insult against her…   It was just a picture of me with my hair combed, wearing a suit! That’s some schizophrenic level shit further up the charts than anything I ever imagined even at my most drug-addled and sleep deprived. This person isn’t well (obviously) but mental illness can only excuse so much – and it’s not a free pass into my life.

Can you tell that this shit upsets me? That it hurts me? I had no intention of writing more than a quick blurb but I get worked up just thinking about it. She’s really fucking awful and – for my own sake – I can’t afford her any place (at all) in my life anymore. I don’t enjoy focusing on this kind of negativity. It wears me out. It’s bad for me.

I deleted her comment, changed the setting on my website [from now on, comments have to be “approved” before they’ll appear on the site], and I erased her from my phone.

Maybe – later in the week – I’ll share some of the stuff I wrote today. Or maybe I’ll really give her the evidence she wants (to support her ideas about my writing) and post a list of every rotten thing she did to me when I was a little kid. Granted – that’d be some spiteful, unhealthy, feed-the-hate kinda shit on my part – but it might feel good to put it out there….

I try to be loving with every thing that I do. I’m not being loving right now – and I hate that I’m feeling this way. But – honestly… her death would be welcome news. (And I’ve felt that way for a long time). It used to be that I knew how miserable she was and I couldn’t envision a scenario in which she’d ever get the kind of help she’d need to change and find happiness; it was a compassion thing – the same as the consolation that comes with the death of a sick pet (“at least the suffering is over”). But now… today… – I’d just be relieved to know that I’ll never again have to worry about her trying to hurt me.

Some people are just too hard to love. I guess I’m going to try to focus on the people that I can love – focus on the things in my life that are good. And hopefully all this evil, rotten shit will pass and I go back to pretending she doesn’t exist.

[Update: I think I just managed to block her IP address which will be good insofar as it prevents her from ever seeing anything I make/write and having any reason to comment AND insofar as it eliminates any desire in me to post anything solely out of spite, since she’d never see it anyway].

Parents (I’m Not Sorry)

"Parents (I'm Not Sorry)." 12/11/12. Pen and pencil. 2x3"
“Parents (I’m Not Sorry).” 12/11/12. Pen and pencil. 2×3″

I drew this while sitting in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, one night after “Clarity” and “Chrissy Fit” and one night before “No Accident.” I guess you could say it’s about stress and coping mechanisms. Cigarettes, yoga, whatever. I chose the kangaroo with the overgrown kid ’cause the things that stress us out most tend to be (1) problems we’ve created ourselves and (2) things that – long after we have any reason to – we continue to carry around with us.


I’m still sick and I’ve been feeling especially under the weather today.  I’m good emotionally though, so I’m very grateful for that.


The original is still available, but the image pictured here is the 4×4″ print that I have for sale in my webstore.

Kill Your Parents

"Kill Your Parents." 4/5/13. Oil pastel. 12x18".
“Kill Your Parents.” 4/5/13. Oil pastel. 12×18″.

Here’s a piece from April and a statement from May.

I got out of rehab in February, but I’m still technically “in treatment.” Instead of twenty-five hours of group therapy each week, I’m down to three and a half. That’s one group – expressive art therapy – on Friday afternoons.

This piece is a little off for two reasons. At the start of art group, there’s a meditation, intended to lead us in what we’ll make. I was late and I missed it. More importantly, there had been an influx of new patients since I had been in group the previous Friday. And though it’s way more tempered than it once was, I still struggle with this strange impulse when confronted with new people (particularly in this kind of setting) – I feel like I have to let everyone know just how fucking outrageous I am… So I drew my drawing and then when it came time to title/caption it, I went with something not at all representative of how I was feeling, but something that would show the new crew how god damn wacky and edgy I am.

In that sense, this piece is kind of a failure. Because it’s not totally authentic or honest. In two other ways though, it’s a success. First, expressive art therapy isn’t about setting out to make something and then making it. It’s about making something – anything. It’s about making whatever comes out onto the page without premeditation or commitment to some vision in your head. When I first sat down, I started drawing an image that I had dreamed up for use as Rational Anthem’s summer tour poster. But I caught myself and stopped.

Second, it’s a success in that it’s got me writing this, right now. Acknowledging my neurotic compulsions and being honest about what an attention seeking, other-people’s-perceptions-of-me obsessed, insecure basketcase I can sometimes still be.

They Mean Well, Baby Bird

I painted this for a friend’s nursery (and wrote this) after the birth of his first child.

"They Mean Well, Baby Bird." 5/15/13. Tempera, acrylic, colored pencil. 12x16".
“They Mean Well, Baby Bird.” 5/15/13. Tempera, acrylic, colored pencil. 12×16″.

Sometime in April, I found two baby birds that had fallen out of a nest and were clearly dying. I’m embarrassed to say so (which strikes me as a pretty strong indication that I should) but that little incident sparked serious thought – about my priorities, my responsibilities, and how I spend my time. I felt stupid since (apparently) I need to be confronted face-to-face with a dying animal in order to consider it. And I felt weak for being affected by the encounter at all.

About an hour before I had planned to start painting this, I was reminded of another incident where I had felt similarly weak. In twelve-step programs, the sixth step is to become ready to have God remove all of one’s character defects (and the seventh is to actually ask God to remove them). For me, step six meant spending a considerable amount of time actually considering and listing my character defects and then really thinking about whether I truly wanted to stop indulging them. Regarding the seventh step… I talk about faith in relation to other pieces and it’s not the crux of this painting so I’ll just say that one of the best things I’ve ever heard in Alcoholics Anonymous (one of very few things that actually stuck with me) was: “If you’re gonna pray for your character defects to go away, you better fucking act like it worked.”

I did those two steps and realized, “Shit – if I just committed to being honest, I can’t really sneak out of rehab tomorrow to meet up with a girl.” (A scheme I had hatched earlier in the week). So I called the girl. “Um… this is going to sound really dopey, but I have to cancel… I just did my seventh step so I can’t be dishonest and sneak out to see you.”

The buildings in this painting are arranged like the ones at Tranquil Shores. The one with the bird at the window was my room. I often contemplated sneaking out by stepping out of that window and onto the roof of the adjacent building. (I never followed through, but only because I had easier means of sneaking out).

I’ll never forget when Kyle’s mom left (or, more specifically, the day she came back), her attitude, and Kyle’s response…  We were sitting in his room when she showed up at the house. She was really happy to see him and he was just… blank. Emotionless. He looked bored by it. I’m sure he wasn’t bored, but he was hurt and I guess that’s how he protected himself. Or maybe he was angry and that was his way of getting back at her: acting like he didn’t care. I don’t know why Kyle’s mom left and maybe she didn’t have a choice, but I saw how the way that she left hurt my friend. She loved him, but she fucked up. My parents loved me and they fucked up. Kyle has his own kid now and I have faith in him as a dad, but he’s going to fuck up in some respect somewhere along the way. We all do. It won’t mean he doesn’t love his daughter, it just means that he’s as shitty, selfish, and imperfect as everyone else. I might do tremendously terrible things in some moment, but I never have that intention; I’m just misguided, short-sighted, frustrated, or [whatever].

The mean looking bird is in my window because it’s me. It’s me and it’s my dad – and my mom. It’s Kyle’s parents, it’s Kyle, it’s his girlfriend, and one day it’ll be their daughter.

“Take what you need and leave the rest” is a slogan that gets used a lot in the contexts of substance abuse recovery and mental health treatment. “Take what you need and leave the nest” is a silly, little bird/growing up pun that I came up with for this piece to show everyone how clever I am.

I struck out on my own at a pretty early age. Some people seem to never leave home. It doesn’t matter. When it comes to parents, family, and home (or anything really), get what you can out of it – all the good lessons or experiences available – and then move forward to what’s next. Don’t dwell on the bad. Resentments only hurt one person – the person holding them. Forgiveness can still be tough, but it’s easier to forgive someone when you remember: they mean well, baby bird.


On an unrelated note, I just fixed a lamp with a soldering iron. If anyone needs the wiring in their house redone, I’m now taking appointments.


Who says a full-length can’t be 19 minutes long? The first three tracks on this thing are so good, they could have cut it off right there and called it a full-length and I still wouldn’t have argued.



That feeling when you get to the grocery store, unaware of anything that you’ve done wrong, yet the one person who’s supposed to love you, is very clearly feeling anything but love for you. So you withdraw and stop trying, only to have her take out the car keys and say she’d just rather go home. And since the idea of going back to your “home” with this person, who clearly has no degree of affection for you, sounds about as appealing/energizing as … its not an exciting prospect. So you walk back to the car with her, grab your bag, smoke a cigarette in the parking lot as she drives away, and then start wandering in the general direction that your *current* residence is. But you look down a side street and see the water. And it strikes you that maybe the best course of action is to just sit on the ledge with your feet resting on a rusted out sewer pipe just above the water’s surface.

This isn’t anything I’ve ever experienced, but it seems like something a lot of other people might be able to relate to.
[end sarcasm]
When I’m away, she’s terribly in love with me, can’t stand to be away from me, and can’t wait to see me. And once I’m back, she’s just frustrated with me almost all of the time. For no reason. Or at least not one that she’s willing to share with me or address in any way.
I meet with mental health professionals twice a week. I might not be the poster boy for wellness, but I think I’ve achieved some level of awareness and I think I do a pretty good job at expressing myself, my feelings, and my needs.
She, on the other hand, won’t talk to me about shit.
What am I doing here? Why are we a couple? Why are we living together?
Maybe it was naive to think that the first girl I got involved with at the end of my two years in and out of inpatient treatment would be the one for me.
Or maybe it can work.
I don’t know, but this is a bummer.
Did I mention that it’s raining?
“Uncertainty.” 7/29/31. Acrylics and Ink. 16×20″ stretched canvas.
Painted two days ago, at a time when I was feeling pretty disconnected. The only thing that I could recognize when I was painting it was the way i felt so in love with her every time I looked at her.