The Last Unfinished Work

"The Last Unfinished Work." 12/24/14. Acrylic. 4x5'.
“The Last Unfinished Work.” 12/24/14. Acrylic. 4×5′.

I’ve been involved with a lot of girls and it’s a personal point of pride that I’m on good terms with almost all of them. The girl I dated the longest [six years] remains one of my very best friends. I even remain friendly with most of my “one night stands.” There are two exceptions. There’s Heather, who I unintentionally put through emotional hell and who I’m on okay terms with but who (justifiably) has some hard feelings. And then there’s Nicole – a girl I dated last year. Our relationship was fucked up to such an extent that I don’t want to be friends with her. It’s true that I sometimes behaved in ways I’m not proud of but this girl was manipulative in ways I’ve never otherwise experienced. And I’m ashamed to admit that I fell for it – I allowed myself to ignore the obvious signs and I allowed myself to be manipulated. I’m not happy about that and I harbor some resentment that this person used and abused me as she did (even if it wasn’t as intentional or malicious as it now seems). It’s my fault to the degree that I let it happen but that doesn’t make it okay. I’m not mad about it anymore but I don’t have any interest in a friendship with the girl.

There are two big pieces of art that I made about our relationship. The first has yet to be posted online. This is the second.

What follows are the compiled journals written in the course of creating this painting. They don’t tell the full story of our relationship but – even still – they make for the longest fucking addendum I’ve ever attached to any of my paintings. It’s a lot to absorb. More than I want to. Some of them are written on the canvas. Some are blog entries. Some are blog entries that I didn’t have the guts to put online. Some are Facebook posts. And a lot of them are private journals that I never had any intention of sharing in any form. A lot of them are pretty embarrassing. I’ve done my best to arrange them chronologically even though I’m not 100% certain of the exact dates some were written.

 October 6th:
I saw a new psychiatrist last month so I could get my Adderall refilled here in Chicago. She wanted to put me on Wellbutrin too. “No,” I told her. “They tapered me off all that stuff before I got out of Tranquil Shores. Antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics – they thought maybe I didn’t need them after all, having addressed my root issues with other types of therapy.” But I’m going to call tomorrow to make an appointment. I’m ANGRY ALL THE TIME and it’s making me miserable.

That feels like giving up. Like a “chemical solution.” But I don’t care right now. I had told her, “Yeah, I get depressed a lot but I’ve got reasons to be depressed. Isn’t medication for people who are unreasonably depressed?”

All of this talk about psychiatric drugs is gonna make this painting perfect for the group exhibition, “The Meds I’m On,” that I’m showing at in the Spring. Or it would have if I hadn’t just explicitly acknowledged it anyway.

October 11th:
We got into a fight and she pulled out a secret stash of oxycodone. I don’t know if she’s been using drugs the whole time and hiding it or if this is unusual for her. I panicked. I wanted to use. I wanted to not feel the way I was feeling. She wouldn’t share. That’s probably for the best. I gave up on the idea but wanted to be with her all the same. I said, “I need you.” She said, “I need you to leave.” We’re broken up now and I’m spending the night in the van and losing my mind. I can’t describe the panic I feel – over her, over drugs, over everything. It’s really cold.

October 12th:
We’ve reached this really cool understanding that everything wrong in our relationship is my fault so now we’re in a great place emotionally where – one minute – she wants to make out with me and – the next – she’s “not comfortable” with me in her bed so I need to go sleep on the floor in the living room.

 October 13th:
It’s been a week [since I decided to get back on antidepressants and antipsychotics]. I still haven’t called [my psychiatrist to actually get those drugs prescribed to me]. Things got better and then… much worse. I am living in a state of perpetual anxiety. I need counseling. I want to make this girl love me but – what I really need is another girl. I mean, ultimately, I know that that’s not the answer. But I need to get out of here and I know from experience that the best way to get over heartbreak or rejection is to find warmth and acceptance from someone new. In any case, I can’t keep staying here – not so long as this remains the state of our relationship. I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack. I’m all nerves. Nicole is unstable and unpredictable. She told me last night that she didn’t want me in her bed but then woke me up in the living room at 3am to invite me back to bed. Still, she was cuddly but didn’t kiss me and I need at least that much affection. I’m praying (literally) that she’ll be in a good mood when I pick her up from work in an hour. – and that she’ll stay that way for the duration of the night. I want her to want me in her bed tonight. And to want me physically as well.

She has the next three days off and has talked about going out of town. If she does, I’ll have three days to breathe and (hopefully) find somewhere new to live. If she stays, it could be the best thing or the worst but probably both. Her moods flip in an instant, seemingly without cause of any kind. I can already anticipate it: she’ll alternately want space and want me out of the apartment and then she’ll want me right there, holding her. My own emotional condition is too fragile to be with someone so similarly disturbed. The only way I can see this panning out is if she has a total change of heart and decides that I’ve been sufficiently punished (or proven my dedication and resolve to be a better partner) and that she wants me back in a more absolute (less trial-oriented) sense. I want that so badly. More than anything. I want to be happy. I want us both to be happy.

October 15th:
I’m at Dr. Ableheary’s, about to go in. Since the fight that actually culminated in a break-up on Saturday night, I’ve been relegated to sleeping in the living room. That first night, she pulled me back into bed at 3am so I thought it’d happen again but it didn’t. I woke up yesterday morning. It was 9am and her bedroom door was shut. I did a few things around the apartment, she didn’t wake up (or come out of the room anyway) so I left, off to run errands and be productive. I brewed some coffee and left her a note (“call me if you need anything,” etc). She never called. I came back at 2 or 3pm. Packed up some art that had sold and needed to be shipped. She still didn’t come out. I wasn’t anxious all day like I had been on Monday. But I was overwhelmed by a crushing, permeating depression. My thoughts turned to suicide very early in the morning – before I was even out the door. They didn’t leave me even as I went through my day. The only relief came when I was on my way back to the apartment, when I realized that I had everything I needed if I really wanted to die. I didn’t commit to it but I started going about my day in preparation, as if it were a sure thing. Really, I was just hoping I’d see her when I walked in and everything would be better. That hour that I spent packing art, knowing she was in the bedroom, could hear me, and wasn’t coming out, was excruciating. I packed as much as I could stand before I decided that I should just go ship my packages and maybe find a good spot to die. I turned to my canvas, propped against the living room wall, and in crude black lettering, scrawled the words, “THE LAST UNFINISHED WORK.” That was my suicide note. I wanted cigarettes, which were locked in the bedroom – and I wanted to see her. I knocked on the door, she let me in without saying anything. I grabbed the cigarettes and stalled in the doorway. “If I had a problem, would you want me to talk to you about it?” She said I could. I told her what was going on, she asked for my keys, made me call Dr. Ableheary, invited me to lie down next to her. But she didn’t make eye contact and wasn’t very comforting. She started to warm up a little. Eventually, I asked if I could kiss her. She kissed me. We started really kissing (the first time since the morning after we broke up). And then we had sex and I was okay again.

She finally sat up in bed and became communicative. The rest of the night was pleasant. We didn’t really do anything but if I walked out of the room for even a second, she wanted me back, wanted my attention. Which was nice – just to be wanted. Still, when we were getting ready for bed, she indicated that I should still sleep in the living room but that she might come and get me. She did eventually. Thankfully, I was still sleeping when it happened or else I might have woken alone, in a deep depression again. I fell asleep in her bed. When I woke up, she was less playful. She had (basically) wanted me to entertain her but I had fallen asleep instead. She was pretty unresponsive and then – after about an hour in the bathroom – totally unresponsive. It was only after I stopped paying her any attention that she wanted it again. Today and yesterday afternoon, she was complaining about how “sick” she felt. She only perked up just as I was leaving for the appointment because she got an email about a job interview tomorrow. She said she wanted me to take her shopping when I get back tonight. Prior to that, I couldn’t get her excited about doing anything or even relinquishing her clutch on the blankets. Her mood swings are dramatic, instantaneous, and powerful. Which isn’t necessarily anything new but the way in which I’m able to address them has changed now that the status and dynamics of our relationship have. I used to have the power; she has it now. It’s uncomfortable. I’m working to make myself an indispensible support so that I can turn that back around. The important thing is that she’s receptive to affection again. I can kiss her, she’ll kiss me back. I need that. I told her I loved her – as a human being, independent of any romantic relationship we might have. But I want her back as my girlfriend. Why? It’s hard to say. She’s not my best possible mate. We’re both damaged. But a well-adjusted girl isn’t going to want to have anything to do with me. Maybe she is my ideal partner. Maybe we can help each other and grow together. I’m embarrassed that I’m apparently on the same level as a hardly-treated bipolar twenty year old. I want her so badly to be well, to be happy, and to be with me. I want her pills to work. She’s on all these new meds right now and on her period and she keeps saying she wants Xanax. She can’t be trusted with drugs like that but if I had one to give her, I would. I just want her to feel okay.

October 16th:
On our way to her interview at The Fortress [the BDSM dungeon she wants to work at], she said something about her penchant or proclivity for dominance. “You’re lucky I submit to you,” she added. I reached out and touched the side of her head. “You’re messing up my hair,” she fussed. “That doesn’t sound much like submission,” I said.

The power dynamic of our relationship has shifted. I think I’m succeeding in bringing it back around. We fucked on Tuesday. I need to fuck again today. I need for her to submit to me. I’ve been very attentive to every one of her needs these last few days. I’ve run errands for her, driven her everywhere she’s wanted or needed to go. I’ve cleaned up after her, done her dishes, fetched her whatever she’s wanted to eat or drink. I slept in the bed last night. I’m not prepared to move back to the couch cushions and the living room. I need to keep up my forward momentum. We’re kissing again now but – sometimes – I still sense her hesitancy to really kiss me back. I want to make her mine again. It’s a careful balancing act. I have to make all the right moves, balance my moods and feelings with hers. It’s a carefully paced, calculating kind of game. Sex makes it easier. Sex gives me power and confidence.

I’m waiting outside The Fortress for her right now. When she gets out, I want to take her home, throw her on the bed, and fuck her hard. I want to choke her and slap her and force my dick down her fucking throat. And then I want to clean her up and drink huckleberry sodas together and be warm and love her until we fall asleep.

 October 17th (12:33 am):
As fucked up as everything got at times, I feel really good right now for these reasons: (1) I fucking love this girl and I’m never happier than when I’m just hanging out with her, joking around; (2) it bums me out so hard that she doesn’t want to sleep next to me (regardless of the reason) but her recognition of my feelings (in allowing me to sleep beside her) makes me feel like my feelings matter too (and seein’ as my feelings have been ALL OVER THE PLACE this week), it means an extra special lot to me; (3) her statement that her next relationship will “probably” be with me. My insecurity tells me, “she doesn’t mean that; she just wants to keep you on the hook,” but I’m electing to trust her – I’m putting my faith in her, I’m believing that her words are sincere, and I’m telling my insecurity to go fuck itself.

I love this girl. That’s paramount. And it feels less and less like “a choice” all the time. I don’t understand love; I’ve always seen it as something I can flick on and off like a light switch. And maybe that’s still the case, maybe I’m just really invested in the way I feel in the moment. But this girl really is unlike any other person I’ve ever met and – while all of this hurt and pain this week is INCREDIBLY hard to deal with – I don’t think I would be in love with her without it. Maybe this is the kind of shit that actually makes relationships for real. Maybe you can’t really love someone without all this shit. Anyone can be cute or charming or fun to have sex with but that’s not a real basis for any kind of meaningful partnership or even friendship. There’s gotta be something deeper. Maybe all the trauma can be described as “growing pains.” I mean, if I’m being totally honest and I ask myself, “What was the basis of our relationship before this?” – it’s… Well, I don’t know… I want to say it wasn’t anything super meaningful but I’m not sure if that’s even true. That day I ran off to get high and she sat in my van… that feels like something real and significant. That was borne of conflict too… I think that’s the stuff that’s got real meaning. The all-happy-all-fun shit is nice but I want someone I can go to bat for (and that will go to bat for me). She’s proven that she’ll do that. [I didn’t get high that day].

She says she needs space; I can fucking relate. I need to do a lot of work on myself. I’m fortunate though in that my time spent working on myself results in paintings and journals, which are how I make a living. She has to go to a job to make hers, which leaves less time for reflection, meditation, etc.

On the one hand, I need my own place. The only good option I have though is down in Springfield [two hours from Chicago]. With my income drying out with the cold, I’m not sure I can risk renting a room here in Chicago. It’s gonna be cold as fuck this weekend but I’m gonna have to suck it up and hit the street tomorrow and Saturday, even if it means making close to nothing on account of the cold. I really wish it was still warm and I was making the kind of money I was back in the summer.

Part of me thinks that we need that space apart so she can heal but part of me thinks of Julia and her boyfriend and that conversation Nicole and I had: “Wait – they used to live together and it didn’t work out? So what the fuck are they working toward?” But that’s different… our shit fell apart for reasons that had very little to do with the fact that we were living together. It was about my attitude and my ideas regarding “conflict resolution” (i.e. run away (or at least threaten to) anytime we had a problem).

I’m afraid to lose her but maybe it’s one of those “if you love something, set it free” kinds of deals. If that’s the case, maybe I should go all the way to Springfield. Really get some time apart. Really give her space and room without any expectations of anything. If what we have is real then it should still hold up a month from now. And as much as I don’t wanna be away from her at all, maybe a little distance would be as good for me as it would be for her.

My darkest thoughts are the ones that tell me she’ll want me to stick around just to shuttle her around town. I know she could ride around with someone else and I know she likes me but maybe that’s the thing… she probably couldn’t get rides from someone that she’d also like as much as she likes me. Kind of like how I could live in another girl’s apartment but not a girl I like as much as I like her. As much as I love her, as much as I love being with her, and as much as I love being able to help her in every little way I can imagine, maybe we should remove all the practical/convenient aspects of our relationship and see how well it holds up. That seems so insanely trivial that it doesn’t even warrant testing but a little time apart might be helpful anyway so maybe I should just go to Springfield for just a week or so.

I really hate the idea of being away from her (and I hate the idea that she might be okay with being away from me) but if we’re just talking about a week, then that’s nothing we weren’t gonna have to face up to soon enough anyway.

It bums me out that she doesn’t care about my art. It’s like a window into my fucking soul and she seems sort of indifferent to it. If she really loved me, I feel like she’d be my biggest supporter. Maybe not though… it’s hard to say. Maybe I bleed that kind of sentiment and history every day and it’s not necessary to go to my artwork to find it. And some of the girls that do love my artwork are some of my best friends but they’re not in love with me so…

Maybe nothing matters and it’s all bullshit. Or maybe not.

It’s fucking bizarre the way she’s able to identify my own shitty inclinations and behaviors better than I am. I’ve never been with anyone else that could do that. Or maybe I just wasn’t receptive to hearing about it in the past. Heather definitely couldn’t do it in any case. I can remember that far back. She’d just stare at me silently. Not that I blame her. I’m not easy to date and not easy to talk to (when there’s criticism involved).

1:26 am:
I was wrong. Knowing she didn’t want me in bed with her… it was awful. I told myself I’d stay just since I had already come in but… I didn’t even make it ten minutes before it was more than I could stand. I’m sleeping on the couch cushions tonight.

I’ll stay in Chicago through the weekend, sleep elsewhere tomorrow and Saturday, and then make my way to Springfield on Sunday.

1:40 am:
Sleeping on the couch cushions makes me suicidally depressed. Turns out it’s nowhere near as bad as trying to sleep next to someone that doesn’t want you in their bed.

I don’t even know if I can make it through the weekend in this city. All my good feelings from an hour ago are gone. Everything hurts.

 2:27 am:
I wish I were dead.

2:29 am:
If she doesn’t want me now, why would she want me tomorrow?

 2:30 am:
I deserve to be loved. I deserve to be wanted. I made a mistake. I’ve apologized. I’ve demonstrated real remorse and resolve through my actions these last five days. There’s nothing left to change except her feelings, which I can’t control. When she’s ready she can let me know. I am special. I’m not to be taken for granted. I deserve to be earned too. Love me or leave me. I can fall in love again. I want you but I don’t need you. I don’t need anyone. I’m Sam North.

October 18th:
Wow. I thought I was going to come home and crawl into bed with Nicole. Instead, I show up and Rick is here and they’re sitting side by side on the couch and she’s not totally dressed. I like Rick but she was fucking him right before me so… what the fuck is that?

We have “things to talk about” tonight, she said. Shit to work out. If she wanted to hang out with some other guy, why the fuck did she insist that I come back here tonight when I SAID I WAS GOING TO STAY THE NIGHT SOMEWHERE ELSE?


What the FUCK. I am fucking angry.

[The next day, we “officially” became a couple again].

October 21st:
Nicole started at The Fortress, doing domination work. Her first day of training was today but she’s been trying to dominate me for about a week already and it’s gotten more extreme these last two days. She says she wants me to be her “sugar baby” and that I don’t need to worry about selling prints to make money, She doesn’t lick my asshole quite like she used to and I spent a lot more time licking hers. That’s fucking fine on its own but she’s ALSO going to be doing “submission work” at The Fortress, which strikes me as being far more sexual in nature. If she wants to submit to someone, she should fucking submit to me. It’s not about the money; she’d make more than enough by just doing domination work. Which means it’s about pleasure and – part of being in a relationship (which we are again, officially, now) means that – you’re supposed to do that kind of shit with your partner.

I’m not about to become some little fucking house boy to her but if she wants to pay for everything: cool. Right? I can spend more time making and marketing art instead of setting up and breaking down on the street to sell prints everyday.

But the submission work bothers me. Should I just not care about it? It’s hard to care about her and not care that she’s getting off with someone else. Okay – when I put it that way – it seems really fucking obvious that it’s not alright.

I came to come scoop her up as soon as she called but I’ve been sitting outside The Fortress just waiting on her for twenty minutes now. Which I’m sure that she just fucking loves (keeping me waiting). She says she doesn’t suck my dick enthusiastically lately because I haven’t “earned” it. Last night, I gave her a backrub, filled her prescription, did her dishes; this morning, I helped her put in her extensions and drove her to work; then I cleaned up around the apartment and am now sitting outside, waiting for her. Yes – she pays the rent at the apartment but even that… we’re still in our first month and I bought $600 worth of furniture and appliances for the apartment already so… we’re pretty fucking square in the financial regard. Do I throw fits sometimes and get upset? Yeah but so does she.

I’m doing my best. I give her my best. She should do the same for me.

 October 24th:
I want an anthem of empowerment. Something unequivocally positive. One that says, “It didn’t work out, it’s no one’s fault, and that’s okay. Here’s to the future and to happiness for both of us.” I’m still trying to make it work but I need to know that I’ll be okay even if it doesn’t. I need to find a way to frame the dissolve that won’t hurt. That I can live with. [I want art that I identify with that can comfort me].

[On October 25th, we broke up again. Pretty amicably initially but then it devolved into a fight. I packed up all of my stuff and just as I was about to leave, Nicole pulled me back into bed and we had sex. We decided that maybe we didn’t work as a couple but that we still liked each other a lot, we wanted to still live together, and that we definitely wanted to keep fucking each other. That lasted until the 29th, when we started fighting again].

 October 31st:
Tonight is Halloween. I started this [painting] on the sixth. Everything in my life has changed and changed and changed and it’s all exactly the same. I just got a message from a girl in LA (that I don’t know). She said we’d be good for each other. I asked if she thinks I should come out there so we can BUILD A LIFE TOGETHER and she responded with total sincerity that I should. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t considering it. Then there’s the girl I have a crush on in Texas, who I think might also be crazy enough to have me come down there and just give it a shot, despite the fact that we barely know each other. And the girl in Florida who knows me well and still loves me and wants me back. Or the girl here, in Chicago, who says she wants me but sometimes asks me to sleep somewhere else. FUCK – when I put it that way – all other things aside, it’s obvious that this isn’t the one.

November 1st:
My life with Nicole is bullshit. She doesn’t respect me at all. She treats me terribly and spins it (anytime I say anything) to try to pin everything on me. I’ve become the best fucking boyfriend in the world, trying to be perfect for her, and it doesn’t make a bit of difference.

I’m leaving tomorrow. That’s all there is to it. I need to fucking leave. This is an awful trap. She doesn’t appreciate anything that I do for her. She’s the fucking worst. I don’t know if she does it knowingly or if she’s really this fucked up, stubborn, and blind but I can’t take it anymore.

I don’t know why I even give a shit. Fuck this fucking girl. She doesn’t deserve me. I’ve been better to her than anyone I’ve ever been with. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. FUCKING KILL ME. She’s turned me into this weak-willed little shit and I hate it.

November 2nd:
Nicole is asleep in bed and I’ve still got ninety minutes to kill before I’m supposed to “break in” and “rape” her. And – of course – Chris Spillane is on the other side of town. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO ‘TIL 10:30??

Ugh. My life is so hard.

November 3rd (afternoon):
I keep all my things in my van now and have taken to wearing my house keys around my neck; they rattle and make a lot of noise. It’s a reminder to my “girlfriend” that I can remove this necklace and be gone in an instant.

November 3rd (late night, in Normal, IL (for my court appearance in the morning)):
Last November, I wrote something along the lines of: “I wanna wake up alone on my birthday [Nov. 4] in a city where no one knows my name or wants anything from me.” I said I wanted to travel, live out of a backpack, have adventures. I said I liked “sex for the first time” and long distance friendships.

Mission accomplished, Sam.

It’s been a fucking year and tomorrow’s gonna be quite the fucking day.

Wish me luck. I’m 29.

[November 4th was my birthday, my court date, and the day that Nicole was supposed to meet with her psychiatrist and (afterward, she promised) finally decide whether she wanted to actually be in a relationship with me or just keep leading me on. When I got back to Chicago from Normal, she was in bed. “It’s time to go to your appointment,” I told her. She wouldn’t get up. Wouldn’t go. Even though her decision of whether or not to “date” me was supposed to be contingent on her conversation with her doctor. She was once again stalling. Trying to keep me hanging around without committing to me. “How am I supposed to interpret this?” I asked. She just laid in bed, with her eyes closed. FUCK. I don’t remember what happened from there but I do remember that my birthday present was supposed to be tying her up and peeing on her. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Nothing did. I forget how the day ended but I remember thinking that it was the shittiest birthday of my entire life. The next day, I started to leave Chicago. I got an hour out of town before I remembered that I had forgotten something. I went back and Nicole convinced me to stay. The next couple days, she was alternately affectionate and cold. We fought a lot. I decided that I was leaving on the 7th (after my own psychiatric appointment) no matter what. I did. I went to St Louis].

 November 7th:
I love the girl but after THAT NIGHT [October 11th] (when she got high and we broke up (the first time)) I became so desperate to win her back that I became this submissive little coward. I tried so hard that she started to take me for granted and lost respect for me. It made me resentful of her and of myself.

Here in St Louis, with a family that cares about me, I feel eight million times better. I have a bed to sleep in and don’t have to worry about whether I’ll be asked to go find a different one on any given night. I have a place to work on my art, without having to worry that any minute I’ll be told I need to go away for a few hours.

My legal situation is still pending and still stressful but the main source of my anxiety is now behind me. I don’t feel like I need to go to sleep just to escape my life and I don’t dread waking up tomorrow. I don’t feel like a tool and I don’t feel like I’m barely hanging by a thread.

Rational Anthem, The Murderburgers, and The Copyrights are playing here in STL tomorrow. What perfect fucking timing. On top of everything else, I’m gonna get to see a bunch of my friends and some of my favorite bands. I think like might be cool again. I feel grateful again.

 November 8th:
In September, I started seeing a psychiatrist. 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 (I think) was as an inpatient at the Wellness Resource Center in February 2012 (though I almost went back on them in January 2013). I’ve also started meeting once weekly (via Skype) with Tracy, my counselor from Tranquil Shores.

Anxiety and depression destroyed my appetite this 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…?

 November 8th (late night):
I left yesterday. She called tonight. She wants me back.

I know I shouldn’t take her back but I wanna.


November 9th:
We’ve been talking on the phone every night since I’ve been away. She says she really wants me back. She’s being really flirty and affectionate and tellin’ me about all the wonderfully fucked up sex stuff she wants to do with me. She’s really working to lure me back in. We’ll see.

 November 10th:
I redid the crude black lettering that said “The Last Unfinished Work” in my usual large, white, block-lettering. Just below it, I wrote: “This painting almost got to be my suicide note. I changed my mind so now I’m finishing it. SORRY FOR THE CONFUSION.”

November 12th:
I’m listening to “I Typed For Miles” by Jets to Brazil. Sometimes singing along isn’t enough. You gotta take a five second break from painting to run across the room and jump down hard or fall to the floor and roll back. I don’t even care about this song until the last lyric but I will sit through the five minutes it takes to build up to that OVER AND OVER again. I can listen to this song on repeat all god damn day [and I have been for more than a month now] and I will sing along to that last line like I am ready to break apart and cry forever.


November 15th:
I don’t know what’s up with our “relationship” but we’ve been talking about making pornography or doing live webcam sex stuff together.

I’m not well but I feel okay. Right now.

Is it possible that it’s mostly sex? Is it fear? What risks am I willing to take? What’s wrong? What’s healthy? I have no idea.

My Adderall dose isn’t high enough.

I love her but I’ve learned to trust my impulses and judgment – it’s how I survive – and she makes me doubt all that. I don’t know what’s what when I’m with her.

When I get back to Chicago, I don’t expect her to take me by the hand, lead me to the bathroom, look into my eyes, and say, “Pee on me,” BUT IT’D BE A SWEET GESTURE.

November 21st (back in Chicago):
When you’ve gotta pee and the girl is tied up, blindfolded, and kneeling in front of you but you JUST CAN’T.

How embarrassing. Talk about #performanceanxiety, you guys.

[On November 24th, I went out to Yorkville with Nicole to spend the holiday with her family. While there, we started “dating” again].

December 1st:
I got on a plane yesterday to transport my little sister from a mental hospital in Boston to a treatment facility in (conveniently enough) Illinois. I’m on the return flight now. A couple days ago – in Yorkville, with Nicole – I got fed up with her shitty, cold attitude and told her I was leaving for good. She countered by saying she was finally willing to commit to me, that we were partners, and that I have a home with her. But she doesn’t want our Facebooks to say that we’re in a relationship. I don’t know how to interpret that any other way than that she doesn’t want people to know that she has a boyfriend because she doesn’t want to limit her options or opportunities in any way. So – basically – I’m assuming that she doesn’t have any plans to be faithful (and has maybe been sneaking around on me already). I’m not willing to be hurt like that so I’m gonna go sleep with another girl before I go back to the apartment tonight. I already slept with another girl last week but that was a few days before Nicole was willing to commit to me so – at that point – I wasn’t under any obligation to be committed or faithful to her.

In any case, I leave for Florida in the morning. I don’t have to be back in Illinois (for court) until January 26th (nearly two months from now). I told Nicole I’m only going to Florida for a couple weeks but I’m not sure that I’m going to come back until I have to so that would be the end of this short little “committed” phase of our relationship (for the third time).

I love her but I just don’t trust her and she’s not as loving or supportive of a partner as I need. When I used to ask her why she didn’t want “Facebook to know” we were dating, she wouldn’t reassure me in any way (that she loved me or wasn’t ashamed of me) – she’d just get mad at me.

I know the honorable thing to do would be just to break it off with her but I’m afraid of losing her even though I know it’d be the best thing for me.

As mean as she is to me sometimes, the way I’m behaving now – all this secrecy and sleeping around – makes me feel like kind of a shithead.

December 7th:
I brought her to Miami Beach [she begged me to], but I threw a fit and shipped her back to Chicago. She called last night. I said we should get married.

The way I feel when we hold each other and everything’s okay…

She’d look cute pregnant.

I need to stay the fuck out of Chicago.

 December 9th:
All the girls in the world – all the sex – doesn’t change a thing. When I close my eyes, it’s Nicole that’s there. I love Nicole. [I’m writing this on the painting because (I think I feel it but, more importantly, because) when Nicole saw this painting she was upset that everything I had written on the canvas was negative. I felt like I should balance it out with something sweet].

 December 12th:
I relapsed today [for the first time in seventeen months].

December 13th:
I’m still using. I haven’t bought any more drugs but I bought enough yesterday to last me through the weekend. I’m not going to get rid of the drugs as I’ve been advised. I’ll be all out within a day or so though. That’s when I’ll be done.

 December 15th:
Okay, so I’M NOT SURE IF YOU GUYS HAVE PICKED UP ON THIS but I’m – you know – a little shaky lately. I’m not going to use again. That happened, that’s done. All that matters (about that) for now is that it’s not a concern. It’s not going to happen again. I’m good. BUT… everything else is a little up in the air.

A friend sort of accidentally pointed out to me last night, “You’re not following art anymore; you’re following girls.” And that’s totally true. I have this drive in me to find a satisfying, fulfilling relationship/partnership. That drive has become (at least temporarily) stronger than my drive to really effectively (/successfully) pursue my art career. I’m also not enchanted by the idea of constant travel anymore. What sounds way more appealing to me is finding a city that I can settle down in (at least for the winter) where I can make a daily income selling prints while I’m set up on the street. That seems like it’s Miami, where I can also walk in to galleries and pitch myself for exhibits. I could also do that first part in Jacksonville (though not as profitably probably) but there isn’t much in the way of an art scene that I could use to line up exhibits and sell my original paintings. But Jacksonville does have the added bonus of being a city where I have just a ton of support, from both friends and fans.

I’m gonna fuck up all kinds of personal shit by saying this next part but (I want to get back to using this blog as a real honest journal so…) fuck it – I’m just gonna put my cards on the table.

I still feel like I’m in love with Nicole and she wants me to come back to Chicago. We tried so many times to make it work and it just didn’t work. But I still have feelings for her and I would still give it another shot even though I know I can’t make any money in Chicago until it gets warm again and even though our relationship might end badly for the umpteenth time and I’ll be in this same position, only with less money and back in the Chicago cold.

On the other hand, there’s Heather, who I’ve consistently felt like someone that I could have a meaningful, functional relationship with. When I’m with Heather, I feel very much in love with her. The problem is that – when I’m by myself – I think about Nicole more.

Maybe that’s because I’m genuinely in love with Nicole or maybe it’s because Heather and I just haven’t been intimately close in seven months and I (consequently) feel somewhat detached from her.

Here’s where I’ve been fucking up. All week, I’ve been telling both of them that I want to come back to them. And that’s true. But obviously I can’t be with both of them. I was sort of planning on going back to Jacksonville, giving it a shot with Heather, and – if it worked out – somehow breaking the news to Nicole that I wasn’t coming back. Or – if it didn’t work out – stalling for time while I figured that out and then returning to Nicole.

All of that’s pretty shitty. Even though I have no ill intent, it feels like I’m kind of “playing” them both. Or at least not being totally honest, which I guess is bad enough on its own.

Heather, also, has someone else that she’s seeing (long distance) that she’s planning to visit next month. I’m not at all threatened or worried about that but maybe I should just let it run its course, go back to Chicago with Nicole, and then (if it doesn’t work out with her), come back to Florida after my next Illinois court date (Jan. 26th), and THEN give it a shot with Heather.

Or maybe I should just go down to Miami, alone, and do my own thing, pursuing art and not worrying at all about girls. But that’s not really possible. I’ll get caught up with some new girl or I’ll just be too preoccupied and depressed and – as soon as I have a sad day – I’ll run back to the arms of whichever girl will have me.

I could also sit tight, here in Bradenton, with my “fake family” (the Owens) and try to focus on my own shit, try to sort out my issues (with the help of my counselor) hunker down, make more art, write more journals, and just take it easy. My fear in that though is that I’ll just get caught up in laying around the house or hanging out with friends and not being productive really on any front.

Not to mention – without the validation that I get from art (sales) or girls (sex) I tend to slip into darkness.

I wish I knew what would make me happy.

December 17th:
I’m not happy with this but I’ll never be happy with anything.

The last unfinished work…

EPILOGUE (what’s happened since December 17th through the day of this writing, March 28th):
A couple days before Christmas, I got back to Jacksonville. I started seeing Heather again. Soon after, I started seeing a lot of other girls. I got carried away. I was behaving like a sex addict; I was using girls like drugs. I remember feeling depressed one night in January because my date for the night had fallen through. I complained to my friend, Mike, about my hopelessly sad situation and the terrible rejection I was experiencing. He pointed out that I had already had sex with two girls earlier that same day. I thought about it and realized I had had sex with something like ten girls that week. That was too much but – admittedly – I was having a lot of fun (for the most part). I had realized that I didn’t need a girlfriend (or that I didn’t want one anyway).

I talked to Heather; told her I couldn’t be in a committed relationship but didn’t want to stop seeing her. She couldn’t handle that so we stopped seeing each other. She gave me back all the things I had made for her back when we were dating. A week later, she asked for them back and I didn’t think that was a good idea but I gave them to her. I put her through a lot and didn’t really think she needed reminders of me sitting around her apartment. I wanted to let her move on. I’m not proud of it but I wanted someone to love me and I pursued her for that love – and then when she started to give it to me, I changed my mind.

And then I continued to sleep around.

Until I met Wallis. We got wrapped up in each other really quickly. And it was easy. It wasn’t like it was with Heather (who’s feelings I was constantly hurting) or Nicole (with whom everything was a dramatic bipolar ordeal). I didn’t have to walk on eggshells with Wallis and I didn’t have to worry about her liking me one minute and wanting me to go away the next. It was nice. Nicole had been trying to entice me to come stay with her (when I went back to Illinois for court) with all kinds of promises about all the depraved sex we were gonna have. I sent her a text and let her know that I would not be visiting. And that was that.

As my relationship with Wallis has gone on, I’ve realized more and more just how fucked up my relationship with Nicole was. That’s not how people who love each other treat each other. We remained friendly for a couple weeks until she made a couple snotty remarks to me online. I don’t need this shit, I realized. I blocked her number and took her off my Facebook. I’ve always said that I don’t let people into my life who bring about more negativity than good. Nicole was not a good partner or a good friend. Not only am I over it, I’m fucking bored by it. That’s why it’s taken me this long to transcribe my journals and write this statement. I can’t wait to do the same for the one other piece I made about her so I can put this all 100% behind me. Finally writing this / getting it off my to-do list is such a relief and feels so good.

I hate being the kind of guy who has bad things to say about an ex but – like I said – I got nothing but praise for everyone else I’ve been involved with and am still friends with almost all of them. This one’s the exception. Sorry for the negativity – I’m almost done with this shitty little chapter.

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