Tag Archives: September 2013


"Autobiography." 9/30/13. Watercolor (with acrylic outline). 16x20" stretched canvas.
“Autobiography.” 9/30/13. Watercolor (with acrylic outline). 16×20″ stretched canvas.

When I was asked to consider how I present myself to the world, I was able to identify four different “roles” that I play. While all of them are genuine parts of who I am, what’s not genuine is how I’ll focus on (or “play up”) whichever will best suit me in some situation. These days, I try to be authentic but I (of course) still do it to some degree. We all do.

I like this cartoon a lot but—in all honesty—it’s kind of bullshit. I hardly ever put myself out there in such a way as to risk being rejected by a girl. I just thought this up one night because I knew it’d be cute and it’d fit well with my “wounded child / stray dog” persona that some girls seem to find so endearing and attractive.

As redundant as my art may be at times, it’s incredibly rare that I’ll make the same thing twice. This cartoon is one of those exceptions. Below are some journal excerpts that explain why I wanted to create this image again and [bonus!] paint a pretty good picture of a kid with low self-esteem, trying to solve his problems with female attention.


Tranquil Shores Journal, November 16th, 2012:
Saw Kelly at the Church of the Isles meeting last night. First time since she bolted from Tranquil Shores. She came up to me and was really flirty. Lightly kicked me ‘cause I was sitting on a curb smoking a cigarette and then sat down next to me. I kicked it with her at the Fairwinds table. Or – rather – I sat down at a table and they all sat down with me. She didn’t sit next to me, but across from me (which I commented on). We made funny faces throughout the meeting, with occasional little comments. I drew a picture of Satan with the caption, “Anal Sex and Goat’s Blood,” and passed it across the table to her. She asked if she could keep it and then pointed out that the crumpled paper on the table (that she had thrown at me a little earlier) was actually a note. I uncrumpled it; it said, “You’re hot.” I gave her a look. After the meeting, we traded numbers. I’m looking forward to that. Though she does have a boyfriend, he just got arrested so I don’t think it’ll be an obstacle. Not that I want to date her anyway. I do think she’s cool, but she’s not ready to get better. They don’t get to keep their phones in Fairwinds but she gets out in eight days.

I broke up with Chelsea. She keeps going back and forth. Trying to be mean to me, begging me to still be with her, saying I used her, trying to pull me back in with sex appeal (“I want you in my bed right now; I want to have sex with you so bad”). It’s all over the place. For the time being, I blocked her on Facebook. I think it should stay that way so she’s not perpetually flipping her shit every time there’s any activity on my page.

Alexis coins out in three weeks. I’m not thrilled about that.

Met another girl at the meeting on Tuesday. Lilly. She’s from Lexington. I said I had some friends there. “Anybody I’d know?” I asked if she ever went to shows or was at all into punk. “Sort of.” Turns out while she didn’t know the kids I named, she is friends with Infected (that sorta-metal punk band on A.D.D.). Outstanding. [I don’t know those guys, but that’s close enough to my world]. She was cute. Not insanely hot, but definitely a cute girl. We talked for a long while before the meeting, while Alexis sat to my left feeling totally neglected (I’m sure) which I kind of enjoyed. I had done the same thing with/to her back when Kelly was at Tranquil Shores and it only got her to pay more attention to me. At one point, Lilly was fishing in her bag for something to show me that she thought I’d get a kick out of. She couldn’t find it and told me she’d show it to me “next time” so after the meeting, I asked for a pen and gave her my number and Facebook. She hasn’t hit me up yet, but it’s only been a couple days.

The property staff is out of town for some training seminar so the clinical and office staffs are filling in as our weekend babysitters. Should be fun.

Tracy came by and I played “Song For the Desperate” for her. She liked “parts of it.”
When she left, it was just Ashley and I. We talked about girls and boys and rehab romance and I told her about Jesse’s coin out and running into Kelly last night. I also tricked her into telling me how much Tranquil Shores pays her (and then pointed that out). It was fun talking to her. I think she’ll be a good counselor.


Tranquil Shores Journal, December 6th, 2012:
Kelly never called but word is Fairwinds decided to hold her for another 30 [which means she still doesn’t have a phone]. For the first time since I saw her there, we went to Church of the Isles for our meeting tonight. I was looking forward to it all week ‘cause Fairwinds is always there on Thursdays. Until tonight… Maybe I’ll see her when we come back on the 20th.

Willa [who I met at Blind Pass recently] was at the meeting though, so maybe it’s for the best that Kelly wasn’t. I sat with her and pulled (what I guess is now) my “Church of the Isles” trick: I drew a picture and passed it to her. It was a fucked up looking kid offering a flower to a pretty (but disgusted or annoyed) looking girl, captioned “My Autobiography.” She said something nice but didn’t ask if she could keep it. But she did pass me a note with her phone number in it.

After the meeting, I went outside and sat on the curb to smoke a cigarette. Alexis came out and sat down next to me. I pulled the “My Autobiography” cartoon from my pocket and showed it to her. “Did you make this for me?” she asked. I froze for just a second and then nodded and smiled, “I did!” She was really into it. It’s funny how things play out sometimes.


Journal, April 7th, 2013:
On top of everything else that happened yesterday, Alexis sent me a text. It’s gotten less and less frequent and I’m not sure why she even bothers at this point. It’s so pointless and she acts so oblivious. I tried to have a conversation with her and when that proved impossible, I just asked her to please send me a picture of my cartoon like she promised. It’s the one thing I’ve made that I don’t have a picture of. She told me when she moved out that she hung it next to her bed but I can never actually get her to send the picture. I think it’s because she knows it’s the one thing she’s got to keep me from ignoring her outright.


Journal, June 21st, 2013:
Not that I expected her to show up this weekend [for the Tranquil Shores Alumni Reunion], but I just found out that Alexis violated her probation (again) and is almost certainly going to jail for the next decade or so. I saw it coming but it still… it’s just sad how fast she went from “shining star of recovery” to “totally fucked in the head and making all the wrong decisions.” We both let each other fuck us up a little bit but she was still my best friend for a while there—and I really thought she was going to do well. I really wanted her to do well.

In any case, it’s a safe bet that I’m never getting a picture of that cartoon. Is it fucked up for me to even think of that?


Journal: September 25, 2013

I feel sick to my stomach but the problem is all in my head. Funny how that works, huh?

I remember when I used to directly address with total transparency whatever was crushing my fucking soul. These days, I don’t have the guts. I can’t handle the consequences.

This strikes me as the kind of shit someone writes or says when they’re relapsing. I’m not, but this is probably also the kind of shit someone writes *just before* they relapse.

Luckily, I know myself well enough to know two things. 1) If there were drugs right here, I’d be fucked; but immediate and effortless accessibility is a prerequisite for me to fuck up in that way. 2) I’m a fucking basketcase, overly invested in the present moment. So while I might feel like I’m in crisis right now – realistically – I’ll paint a fucking picture, go to bed, and tomorrow I’ll be manically happy about some stupid pop punk song and be okay until the next time something brings my regularly simmering gloom, shit, and misery to its boiling point.

I’m gonna go play with some fucking watercolors.

I don’t like this version of me. I don’t like that I allow things to affect me in this way. There have been moments when I’ve shown more strength than I am right now. I hate that I’m talking like this again. And so shortly after acknowledging and writing about the last time I found myself here.

Countdown to the feelings of shame, embarrassment, and regret consequent to writing this entry… 5, 4…

I have friends that call me when they’re in a rough spot. I have a lot of friends that turn to me when they’re struggling. But I don’t turn to anyone. I turn to the fucking internet. I don’t have the courage they have. Why am I better at being a comfort to others than I am to myself?

This song just came up on shuffle.

An F.Y.P cover by Off With Their Heads.

You Make Me a Worse Person (I’ll Feed My Negativity and Roast in My Fucking Hate)

"You Make Me a Worse Person (I'll Feed My Negativity and Roast in My Fucking Hate)." 6/21/13. Colored pencil. 9x12".
“You Make Me a Worse Person (I’ll Feed My Negativity and Roast in My Fucking Hate).” 6/21/13. Colored pencil. 9×12″.

I had to bring my scooter with me because I was going to be in south Florida for the next month. When I loaded it into the back of her car, I accidentally scraped the bumper. She was angry.

The document verifying that I had completed my community service was due with my probation officer that afternoon. I asked if we could stop somewhere to print it out before we left town. That was also a problem.

We were in no hurry and my probation was on the line. This was important to me. Why was it an issue? I didn’t understand. I was hurt so I didn’t insist upon it; I just got in the car, dejected.

We had a four-hour drive and in that time we didn’t speak at all. Eleven days after moving in together and just two days after the explosion of sunshine and fucking rainbows that was “Out All Day,” this is what came out of me… In bits and pieces, it says:

FUCK EVERYTHING. I’m ready to be dead now. This is a drain. I failed today. Can I say “everyday?” Fuck community service. Fuck being a responsible human being. Fuck the scratches on your stupid fucking car. Fuck our apartment. You make me a worse person. I’ll feed my negativity and roast in my fucking hate.

[If you’re not familiar with borderline personality disorder, that’s what it looks like]. Here’s what I wrote about this piece when I was done with it:

I don’t wanna share this ’cause I don’t wanna give people the impression that I’m unhappy. But fuck that. Real life isn’t a simple narrative on a straight trajectory in one direction. My art can say, “I couldn’t be happier,” one day, and “fuck everything, I’m ready to be dead now” on the next. That’s reality and I’m not into painting a picture of my life that’s any less honest than I’m capable of being.

This scribble isn’t exactly “art fully realized” but I held on to it like I would a photograph. It’s a document, an artifact, or a memory – and not a bad one. This was cathartic and it was an opportunity…

I didn’t have my website yet but I was already regularly sharing my artwork and (sometimes) related writings through my Facebook page. To that extent, my day-to-day and my emotional process had become a public spectacle of sorts. I always feel awkward acknowledging this but my art has come to mean something to people (friends, fans of my old record label, even total strangers). I’ve received more than a few emails and messages from people telling me how powerfully they’ve been affected by something I made or wrote. I’ve been regularly called “an inspiration.” [I feel especially awkward acknowledging that]. But it’s been amazing, encouraging, and – in turn – has truly inspired me. One consequence, however, is that I feel like I have a responsibility now. With this piece, I had a choice: Did I want to be some icon of hope or did I want to be honest about what my life, in recovery, is really like? In sharing it, I opted for the latter, and I’ve done my best to honor that decision every day since.


When I first added this piece to the website, there was a journal entry from that day (9/22/13) along with it.  I later decided to make that a separate entry.

Weird Kids With Bad Teeth

"Weird Kids With Bad Teeth." 2/27/13. Acrylic paint, pen, duct tape. 4x4".
“Weird Kids With Bad Teeth.” 2/27/13. Acrylic paint, pen, duct tape. 4×4″.

I alluded to this piece in “Titrating,” when I described myself as feeling scared, stuck, and trapped, but smiling. (See the red text in the background).

Like the pieces in “The Weak End” series of paintings, this (along with several others) started out as one large painting that I eventually cut up into a lot of smaller ones. Unlike that series though, all of the paintings in this series (“Your Higher Power is Literally Garbage”) were painted and repainted so much that they don’t really share much in common.

In the center of this piece is a strip of pink duct tape that I drew on, while riding in the car, because I had no paper. Yet another weird/poor drawing of a kid with fucked up teeth. It’s pretty representative of my belief that I’ve got a lot more willingness than I do talent (or even creativity).

As often as I feel “inspired,” I’ve got nothing. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have the need to create something. So I do. Because it’s good for me. It helps me, emotionally.

And if you read my last post, you know that right now is one of those occasions where I desperately need to create something. And I knew that I’d come to that conclusion if I wrote up the entry for this piece, which is why I chose to write an entry around “Pulp” first. I wasn’t ready to do what I needed to do to get better. But I am now.

UPDATE (9/23/13): Now listed for sale.
UPDATE (12/1/13): SOLD! Now listed for sale as a 4×4″ print. 


I’m in the middle of a silent temper tantrum, by which I mean I’m not talking and have dedicated myself to staying miserable until I exhaust myself. I used to do this almost every day, but they’ve been pretty few and far between since the day that I consider my “emotional sobriety date.” So – of course – I’m angry and now I’m even angrier with myself for this than I am about the stupid incident that sparked this episode.

Here’s the other of my two 9×12″ learning to draw with charcoal sketches from January.

"Pulp." 1/17/13. Charcoal. 9x12".
“Pulp.” 1/17/13. Charcoal. 9×12″.

In February 2012, I was kicked out of my second rehab in as many months. I found myself running around Delray Beach with the girl I had been kicked out with. I’m not going to try and diagnose her state back then but – if I did something that bothered her – she could flip a switch and go from being totally in love with me to telling me what an ugly, worthless, pathetic, despicable piece of shit I was. On one occasion in our first week out on our own, we were staying in some little shitbox motel. (If you’re familiar with Delray, I’m sure you know it). I don’t remember exactly what went wrong, but it had something to do with heroin or getting more heroin. And – in case I didn’t already hate myself enough (I did) – she was really piling on as much hatred and vitriol as she could manage, to ensure that there wasn’t so much as a shred of self-esteem left in me.

I went into the bathroom. I was crying. I looked at myself in the mirror and couldn’t fucking stand the sight. It made me angry that I was the person looking back at me. So I started punching myself in the face. I don’t remember how many times. Enough that, for a good while after, I looked like someone had kicked the shit out of me pretty well.

Which I’ve always been good at. I’ve always been good at beating myself up. But that was the one time when it was most literal.


I’ve had thoughts like these today. I have had these impulses today.

This seems appropriate.


The Google search that brings the most traffic to my Storenvy site is “rough sex images.” Something tells me these people might not be finding what they’re looking for…

I got an awesome package in the mail from Justin at Underground Conmunique today. And just in time to utilize my new li’l record listening station that I set up yesterday.

Adorable. (Right???)

Every song by The Heat Tape sounds like another song by The Heat Tape. It’s a good thing that they’re all really, really good.

VBS thanked me on their record insert (which warms the cockles of my little heart). Wanna hear a funny story? When I first agreed to do the Vacation Bible School split with The Brokedowns (which as we know, wound up on It’s Alive after Traffic Street crumbled) I requested that VBS record extra songs so that I could pick and choose since I thought their track record was a little spotty. Before that happened, I wound up releasing their split with The God Damn Doo Wop Band, which featured “The Swarming” (a song better than anything most bands ever record) and since then, they’ve yet to record a single song that I wouldn’t be proud to release. If anyone’s ever (inadvertently) “shown me,” it’s definitely those guys. I might only just now be getting a physical copy of their album (“Ruined the Scene”) but I’ve been listening to it since it came out (two plus years ago) more consistently than (maybe) any other record to come out in that time. If you haven’t heard it / don’t own it, do yourself a favor and correct that.

And so long as I’m rambling – speaking of awesome packages from Justin… he was the first person to send me a care package when I was in treatment at Tranquil Shores. We’ve only met (briefly) a couple of times, in the midst of whirlwind fests, so for him to go out of his way like that for me / show me that he cared… it really meant a lot to me.

It’s really easy to bum out about how awful this planet can be, but it’s not all that much harder to take a step back and really recognize just how outstanding it can be. People can be rotten sometimes, but – far more often – (in my daily life anyway) I see, again and again, evidence of just how wonderful a lot of us are.

Originally this update was just gonna be a couple sentences but since it’s gone this far…

"Eye." 1/17/13. Charcoal. 9x12".
“Eye.” 1/17/13. Charcoal. 9×12″.

I think this piece fits in well with what I’ve been writing about. My friend, Mary Beth, was about to leave treatment and go back to Atlanta so she was granted a day pass to go out with her nephew. When she came back, she had a bag of art supplies that she had bought for me. Stuff that I had never used before. This is one of my nine “learning-to-draw-with-charcoal” sketches that I did shortly thereafter.

And it’s funny that the only person that currently owns a print of this piece is my friend, Doug, who I met at Awesome Fest 4 when he invited me to stay in the room he had reserved at [whatever that hotel in San Diego that used to be cool is called]. Not only did he let me stay for free, but when I found out that Dead Mechanical had nowhere to sleep, I sheepishly asked if … could they maybe… possibly… also sleep in the room? “Of course!” he said without a second thought. AF4 was the most fun I’ve ever had at any fest and Doug was definitely one of the people that made it what it was.

So… here’s to people like Doug, Mary Beth, Justin, and those lovable tykes in Vacation Bible School. I wouldn’t wanna live in a world without ’em.

Here’s a video of Vacation Bible School playing at Awesome Fest 4. (Perfect!)

I’m gonna take a little time now to do something nice for someone. (If you’re not at work right now, you should try it too!)

Ugly and Dreading Everything to Come

"Ugly and Dreading Everything to Come." 9/8/13. Pencil and marker. 1⅝x2⅝”.
“Ugly and Dreading Everything to Come.” 9/8/13. Pencil and marker. 1⅝x2⅝”.

I knew it’d be a problem. No one took me seriously. I gave up – I wanted to be agreeable. Now the consequences are here and I hate myself. Addressing it directly now will only make it worse. So – here I am – fumbling around with vague bullshit. I want to say “am” but will settle for “feel.” I feel weak, dependent, vain, and trivial.

This piece is really little, you guys.