A friend made a joke that hurt my feelings. I put my response in a drawing.
If you wanna make me angry, suggest that I’m lazy or somehow less than self-sufficient. My job is emotionally fucking taxing. Every day that I’m not getting more famous feels like some kind of a failure. I’m in the business of trying to convince strangers that I’m extraordinary. It’s a fragile position to be in.
It’d be easy to say that your desk job is an easy, coward’s way out but I’m not gonna ’cause I couldn’t do that shit. But don’t tell me that I have it easier on the streets, selling my story and my essence to people that – 9 times outta 10 – don’t even wanna make eye contact with me.
You don’t got it any harder or any better than me; it’s just different. I don’t shit on your desk; don’t act like you’re better than me. You’re just more stable. If you think my job is easier then – by all means – there’s plenty of room in the marketplace.
This was one in a series of four drawings that I made two months ago. I realized last week that I’m angry. And that I have been for some time now. Back when I was still on heroin (and all throughout my life even before that) I had a really terrible temper. By the time I got out of Tranquil Shores though, I had learned to control it. And – honestly – I don’t even really think I needed to control it at that point. It’d flare up occasionally but, for the most part, I was happy enough that things didn’t get to me the way that they always had in the past. I’m realizing that that’s no longer the case and this drawing is evidence that it’s been that way since (at least) mid-summer. I’m hyper-sensitive and it’s fucking up my life. I think I need regular counseling again and (as much as I hate the idea) I’m even considering new medication.
On another note, my legal situation remains unresolved and I am (consequently) still accepting online orders to help with my legal expenses. Check out my GoFundMe page for more info.
Zack and his mom were in the front yard when we pulled up to get him. From inside the van, I heard him say my name and when we spilled out, he pointed me out and said something about “Mowgli.” I thought that was pretty funny seeing as we have pretty similar taste in attire and I’m constantly scratching at real or imagined bugs in my hair. It’s an apt comparison.
Today is Tuesday – that’s my one day of the week when I have a routine in the outside world. I meet with my counselor at 10 AM and then go to an NA meeting at noon. It’s a reason to put clothes on. The rest of the time, I tend to not be very dressed. I ride around town without shirt or shoes because my only destinations are Alex and Angie’s (to do yardwork) or the convenience store up the street from my house. Sometimes I keep a shirt or shoes in my backpack though just in case. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m pretty free. I do whatever I want to do. Not only do I not have to put on a uniform or a collared shirt every day, I don’t really have to put on much of anything. That’s only significant insofar as what it says about the world and life I’ve built for myself.
I made plenty of friends in the years when I was a college student, but I only made one friend in college. He’s pretty much my only non-punk rock friend. By which I just mean that he’s my only friend that didn’t at least grow up in the punk scene – he’s my only friend that’s not connected to that world at all. He’s married, he has a mortgage, an advanced degree, and he just got a promotion at work. He’s well-adjusted (relatively speaking). When we were in school together, I was always cynical and angry and just chock full o’ nihilism, gloom, and doom. As much as he enjoyed that comedy (because it was so over-the-top as to be parodical) he’d try to get me to see the bright side and not be such a miserable little shit all the time. Tonight he sent me a text to ask how I was doing. “Great! Working on a huge painting right now. How are you?” His response was a little less enthusiastic so I called him.
He’s bored with work, with life. He doesn’t get to spend his time doing the things that he likes to do. Years ago, on the occasions when he was feeling a little less cheery about the world, I couldn’t offer him anything but commiseration (and maybe some I-told-you-sos). But tonight we talked for a little over an hour and (at the risk of being presumptuous) I’d like to think that I was actually able to help him feel a little better. Together, we came up with an idea. A change he could make to free up more of his time so that he can get a little more enjoyment out of this whole “being alive” thing. I don’t know if it’ll necessarily turn out to be the right thing, but that’s not really the point.
I’ve gone over this before but… fuck what the world wants you to do. I don’t have a job, I don’t own a home, and I run around this city looking like Mowgli from the Disney Jungle Book. He asked me what am I gonna do if something falls into my lap that I can’t handle, that I can’t afford. We went back and forth for a while over different hypotheticals, discussing different outcomes for different problems but the “what if”s kept coming. Finally, I came up with an answer that satisfied him. “I don’t know what I’d do. But none of that stuff has happened. I have everything that I need today. If something changes tomorrow, then I’ll deal with it tomorrow. I don’t live in fear or with anxiety over what might happen. I live for today and – today – I’m happy.” He liked that. Whatever it is that he needs to change, I hope he figures it out and follows through. He deserves to be happy and it’s not outside of his reach. (The same can be said of just about everyone).
Speaking of Zack (um… like, nine paragraphs ago). He told me last week that my worldview is (are you ready?) a little immature! (Unbelievable, right?!?)
If that is at all true though, it’s at least partially his fault.
“Do what you really wanna do. Don’t fucking ‘yes, sir’ through your whole life like a fool, kid. I hope you don’t really need the lies. Don’t fucking waste your time with the world always dragging you down.”
She might be scared, but that has nothing to do with me, my choices, my attitude, or my … how I’ve been.
I’m ambitious and I have confidence but moving out starts the ticking of the clock. It sets the deadline for my success or the date of my failure. Not moving out is what I’m comfortable with. But how long is it okay for me to stall intimate relationships so that I can enjoy myself (and do the things I want to without worry)?
Is it okay for me to be okay? Complacency. Fear. Priorities. GROWING UP. I understand far less than I let on. Strange that someone with all the answers in interactions has nothing but questions when alone.
That’s the text within this piece – painted in my Friday expressive art therapy group at Tranquil Shores. It was getting closer to the time Heather and I had talked about picking up and moving to Jacksonville. We were bickering a lot. I had asked her what was really going on. When she failed to come up with anything, I suggested that maybe she was scared about moving to a new city. After all, it wasn’t me. I’m itinerant! I’m punk! All we do is move. We have no roots. “I don’t live anywhere!” She, on the other hand, had never moved to a new city before so she was scared and that was making her irritable. Obviously.
But this was expressive art therapy and (in therapy) we don’t look at what’s wrong with other people, we look at ourselves. So that’s what I tried to do as I painted and – when I started writing – all of this suddenly came out of me.
God dammit. It was totally me. I was terrified. If I moved to Jacksonville with Heather, I’d suddenly be responsible for rent and utilities and who knows what else. I had been out of (inpatient) treatment for three months and thus far was doing great. I was supporting myself without having to give in to reality and get a real job. (Which – in hindsight – I realize may not have been all that impressive a feat considering that I had absolutely no bills to pay). But if I moved to Jacksonville and came up short on money for bills one month, all of a sudden, I’d have to admit that I was wrong. I’d have to get a job and acknowledge that I couldn’t support myself creatively…
Maybe I should just break it off and stay in Bradenton and live with Taylor’s family forever…? I don’t need a girlfriend or to be an adult or…
“Moving boxes and little else” is an acknowledgment that I had moved more times than I could count but was terrified to move forward.
But I did! And – so far – so good.
This piece is important to me because the process of creating it really was revelatory. I had spend a lot time thinking about this stuff and had gotten nowhere. After I made this piece, the bickering between Heather and I stopped completely. It’s pretty remarkable how much garbage sometimes lurks just below the surface (and how badly it can fuck me up). This piece is proof that art is essential to the maintenance of my mental health.
Here’s the song I quoted in this entry. It’s from the new Dead Mechanical album out soon on Toxic Pop (who split released the last DM full-length with Traffic Street (that’s my label, you guys!)) When I lived in DC, I spent a lot of time in Baltimore. When I wasn’t copping or shooting heroin, I was usually at a Dead Mechanical show. (Sometimes both!) But getting to see them play all the time was definitely one of the best things about living up there.
Here’s another song from the same record. Just ’cause.
Hit the Toxic Pop website to check out the album art (by Julie Benoit!) and pre-order the LP, which starts shipping next week. (I know the site says that it starts shipping in early August, but Mike (Toxic Pop) sent out an update changing the shipping date due to delays at the pressing plant).
This painting is currently for sale. Or – if you’re not a big spender – you can pick up a signed and framed (behind glass) print/poster that’s the same size as the original.
Says: “I don’t accept what you consider fact, truth, or reality. But I do believe in freedom right now. And I’m gonna do my best to try to be happy. I’ll let you know how it works out.”
It was in response to being told that – what I’m doing / how I’m living – is okay for now but will have to end really soon. That I’ll need to get a real job or learn to draw boardwalk caricatures.
I drew this “for” the insert for (Rational Anthem’s) Whatevermind LP, but decided that it didn’t fit and – beyond that – almost seemed antithetical to it.
Actually, I just remembered: this didn’t start out as an expressive piece, I had something in mind, but I made a mistake (and since I was using ink, I couldn’t correct it) so I just worked around it and it turned into this.
We’re en route to Des Moines. Show tonight should be good. Rational, Copyrights, Tight Bros, and Lipstick Homicide. Kind of strange though: doors at 4, show at 5, and it’s 21+.
Found out The Heat Tape got added to the show tomorrow in Carbondale. Their album was my favorite thing on the planet that first week in Sarasota to make “No Real Than You Are.” It was actually when one of those songs came up in my headphones and I didn’t immediately feel great that I knew something was wrong. I wanted the feeling back – the one that I had gotten, riding around town listening to that album just a few days earlier. Raccoon Valley Recordings (and my response to it) were literally my mental health gauge.