The four drawings in this series were all completed following (what I guess I’d call) a “break-up.” We weren’t officially dating but we spent virtually every night together for a month straight. I was the one to end the relationship but I wasn’t happy about it. I don’t think I even realized it at the time but – in hindsight – it’s hard not to recognize that I was outright mad. At what exactly, I’m not sure. At the time, it was easy to fault her drinking for all of our relational issues but (while I definitely think it was a factor) I think my own emotional insecurity and low self-esteem was just as much (probably more) to blame. Maybe that’s what I was so mad about – my inability to feel okay in a relationship. The slightest bit of criticism or the slightest disagreement would push me over the edge and I’d find myself instantly packing my things until she was able to soothe, comfort, and calm me. The night she was too drunk to manage (or too drunk to care) was the night I finally left for real.
This is the angriest of the four drawings – the one in which I really get mean. It says:
What about any of this [me, my lifestyle, my personality disorder] made you think that I’m boyfriend material? Enjoy me for what I am or don’t.
I don’t wanna come across as one of those “I wouldn’t belong to any club that’d have me as a member”-types but – seriously – if you wanna date me, something is seriously wrong with you. Your emotional issues are worse than mine and that’s saying something.
If your past is littered with broken friendships, there’s a reason your past is littered with broken friendships. It’s got nothing to do with the universe. It’s YOU. It’s the people YOU choose to surround yourself with. It’s the way you behave and the kind of people that behavior attracts.
I’m a bit of a broken fuck-up but I’m not so broke to stick around for this. You could’ve chosen to be better. You’re on the precipice. You chose not to. You chose old habits.
Enjoy “drinking [your] dinner.” It makes me sad but not that sad.
I finally understand all those straight edge songs on the radio!
For those of you keeping score at home, here’s the “Hindsight’s 20/20 Recap.” 1) When I got to Chicago, I was in no fucking shape to be any kind of a partner to anyone. 2) We attract (and are attracted to) people who are about as emotionally healthy/sick as we are. 3) I thought I was leaving because I was too well for this girl but we were probably at just about the same level. 4) I might be flighty and insecure but drinking (as a coping mechanism) sucks and will only ever make everything worse; it precludes so much as the initiation of any real, lasting solution.
It’s worth pointing out that this drawing was finished in August and the relationship to which it refers is not the one I bailed on last week. (This one ended a day and a half before that one started).
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.
Check me out! I’m being an angry crybaby ’cause I heard second-hand that someone (that I don’t even know!) implied that I can’t really be trusted because I’m a drug addict.
You know how long it’s been since I injected drugs? You know how long it’s been since my compulsion to inject drugs inspired me to do something dishonest? Not to mention: I’m itinerant as fuck! Nobody knows me. I’m in a new city every day. I can be whoever I want each time I roll into a new city. The only reason anyone I encounter these days knows that I am/was a drug addict is ’cause I fuckin’ tell them. I wear everything on my sleeve ’cause I’m okay with who I am. I’m fuckin’ proud of who I am. Good and bad.
So fuck off with that shit.
What’s this have to do with my new piece, “What I Do When I’m Not on Tinder?” Very little! I’m just trying to kill two birds with one stone by venting and simultaneously writing a statement for a new piece. But if I wanted to contrive a connection, here it is: Even my Tinder profile introduces me to “potential matches” with an opening salvo of, “I don’t shoot heroin anymore but I still have a personality disorder. It’s nothing you’d notice most of the time.”
“What’s Tinder?” you ask. Well, you poor unfortunate soul, it’s a dating app for smartphones that matches people based on geographic proximity (“[this user] is two miles away”) and whether or not you swiped left (“nope”) or right (“like”) on their profile – which is comprised of no more than six photos and 500 characters of text. It’s superficial, shallow, and lots of fun! Once two people have swiped right on each others’ profiles, the lines of communication are open for messaging and (potentially) making plans to meet in real life. And now that Tinder’s introduced their newest feature (the hilariously-named “Tinder Moments,” a Snapchat-like feature which allows you to upload an additional photo, revealed only to your “matches” for 24 hours (who are then prompted to “like” or dismiss it by way of swipe)) it’s also become one more social-networking-avenue for a sad little boy like me to collect the validation-via-clicks for which I’m so desperate.
My mood right now is definitely corrupting my usually joyful description of Tinder. It’s shallow, superficial, and a lot of fun. It’s super speed dating. Say the wrong thing to some girl? Who cares! Just scroll down to your next match and start again! It’s totally meaningless (just like everything else in the known universe)!
I finished this drawing three weeks ago but have held off on sharing it on my website, Instagram, and Facebook until now because I only just got a proper high-res photograph of it. There was one venue through which I shared it immediately upon completion though – and it proved to be my most popular TINDER MOMENT to date!
I’m ridiculous. (And pretty okay with it).
Full disclosure: As revealed in the statement accompanying my commissioned “Bleed Blue Tatoo” piece, I’ve “started getting laid again,” am getting all the female attention I need, and have consequently been inactive on Tinder for a week or so. I’m also taking bets on how long ‘til I fall apart again and rediscover its utility. Hit me up for the current odds! Who knows? Maybe this very entry will be the spark that burns it all to the ground!
In September 2012, I was working on my first major assignment at Tranquil Shores. About halfway through, one of the questions wasn’t really a question; it just said to draw an image of powerlessness. Fuck that. (This was around the time that I had just started to sort of sometimes enjoy art). I skipped the question for the time being and went to the next. “Powerlessness can creep into how you feel about yourself. If you were painting a portrait of yourself today, how would it look? Do you go to bed or wake up with feelings of shame or grief? What about the things you’ve wanted to accomplish that remain undone? What feelings do you have when your actions go against what you know is right? Share the way you really feel about yourself today. Paint with words a self-portrait of your inner feelings.”
Here’s how I answered (on 9/11/12):
If I were painting a self-portrait of my inner feelings today, it wouldn’t look quite like my inner feelings. I feel a little too okay right now and – as we all know – only art born of anger, discontent, self-loathing, misery, pain, poverty, and/or shit is worth anything. So whatever I painted would be too contrived to be any good. Unless I successfully recalled some darker moments and managed to displace my current sort-of-pleasant state of mind.
I don’t usually wake up with shame. Well… sometimes. I always did when I was using (or a lot anyway). The things I want to accomplish will be fairly simple if I stay clean. Well, making another Troublemake record will be. Maybe not becoming at peace with myself and the world. Fuck, but I do sometimes act contrary to my intentions and then I feel really stupid, foolish, and inferior. Like when half of the things I say in a day (okay, less than that) can be heard escaping my mouth. That hurts. But generally, I feel enthused and intelligent. (I hate having to say good things about myself or about how I’m feeling though). It makes me feel self-conscious. And then less of whatever I was feeling before I said it (particularly when it comes to positive attributes). I’m definitely far more concerned with how others will perceive me than I have been at any other point in my life. I can’t feel good about myself and say it without it disappearing or at least fading.
Sometimes I feel confident, appreciated, (relatively) important, or even powerful (in some sort of sense) but the moment I acknowledge it, I feel insecure, discouraged, hurt, and lonely – which I soak in until those feelings morph into hopelessness, anger, apathy, and recklessness – which I use to ruin everything and ruin myself. Eventually, I feel outright hateful (though I direct most of it inward, at myself).
Maybe I don’t have to fake it after all… Maybe I’m really not in great emotional shape and I can paint a really awful self-portrait. I guess I could say… “I’m a bit miserable – not coming apart at the seams; things aren’t as bad as they seem but they ain’t much better…”
If I’m not always totally aware of these things, I’m at least thoughtful, but I’m also prone to confusion, self-doubt, and depression. It can be a little volatile. I’m a little volatile. My strongest “inner feeling” is instability. I don’t feel stable.
I finished answering all of the written questions within two weeks, but it wasn’t until October 2nd that I finally went back and drew the image of powerlessness that I needed to call the assignment complete.
I drew this on a Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday morning, I was pulled aside and told that I was being discharged. I was getting kicked out of my third treatment facility that year. It was raining. I had no way to get anywhere and nowhere to go anyway. Someone gave me a little bit of money to help get me wherever I might decide to go. I spent the next couple hours arguing with myself: whether or not I should use it to go to a shooting range where, for twenty-five dollars, I could get my hands on a gun, put a bullet in my head, and just be done with it.
In my answer to the “self-portrait” question, I quoted a song. As I drew my image of powerlessness, I had another song on my mind. Here are both.
“Sorry Sam” by The Slow Death I wake up in the warm sun on a folded out futon. Get some water from the bathroom sink and try to figure out what happened to me. And when I say, “I’m doing okay,” – it’s mostly overstated. I spent my nights forgetting, my afternoons regretting, all the stupid things I said and everything I should have done instead. And when I say, “I’m doing okay,” – it’s mostly overstated. I’m a bit miserable, not coming apart at the seams. Things aren’t as bad as they seem, but they ain’t much better.
“Wrong” by Off With Their Heads Sit back and let me tell you about the sadness, about the beast that’s been gnashing its teeth trying to destroy me. It rears its head every time I’m alone. In the middle of the night, if you don’t answer your phone, it snarls at me. It hides underneath my bed and it sinks its teeth in every corner of my head. Don’t try to stop it, don’t try to control it, don’t try to defeat it, don’t try to console it – it’s unstoppable and it’s a part of me. Your best bet is not to get too close to me. Stay the fuck away, stay out of its reach or it will poison you like it’s been poisoning me. It tells me what I’m supposed to say and it controls every move that I make. You’ve got me all wrong. It’s not “the real me” screaming you away – it’s that selfish sadness ruining every day. Everything is wrong.
“Sorry Sam” comes from The Slow Death’s 2011 album, “Born Ugly, Got Worse,” on Kiss of Death Records.
“Wrong” comes from Off With Their Heads’ 2008 album, “From the Bottom,” on No Idea Records. (Though it was originally released as “I Hate My Stupid Ass and I Hope I Get in a Car Accident Tonight” on the band’s 2007 split 7-inch with Dukes of Hillsborough, on ADD Records).
5¾x4″ prints of “Nothing Helps” are available in my webstore.
It’s such an unbelievable coincidence that – if I were someone else, reading this – I’d probably call me a liar but… this is a painting inspired by Donnie (my roommate for five of my months at Tranquil Shores) and I was all set to feature it in my blog entry for last night when – at the last minute – I decided the image was too blurry and that I should write-up a different piece instead. As I found out within seconds of opening my eyes this morning, Donnie is dead.
It’s against the rules but I (very sneakily) recorded my coin-out [the ceremony to honor completion of a treatment plan]. And I’m really glad I did it because it’s nice to listen to every once in a while. I just listened to Donnie’s segment and it made me smile pretty big. The first words out of his mouth were “You know how to push my buttons better than anyone I’ve ever known in my life.” And the reverse was true too. I don’t know that I’ve ever been angrier with anyone than I was with him just one week prior (the day that I painted this). But as he went on to say, “We have some things in common. We’re both drug addicts, we both hate each other, and we both love each other.” Which kind of hits the nail right on the head. Back when he said it, I was a little disappointed ’cause – as much as I had an equal part in our conflicts – I always just wanted us to be friends. I was a little sad that he chose to acknowledge the darker part of our relationship in that moment. But – looking back – he was doing exactly what I always say is so important: he painted the full, honest picture. And I’m really grateful for that.
The title of this painting is mean as fuck. Donnie had a family up north that, in his addiction, he had almost completely lost touch with. It hurt him so much that – before I had met him – he did a six month stint of inpatient treatment in which he kept his kids a secret. The day that I made this, I said a lot of fucked up shit to him but I didn’t ever say anything about that. As mad as I was, I didn’t want to take it that far so I used the painting to get my meanest thoughts out of my head. The first sentence of the caption, “the world’s not black and white,” is an allusion to a conversation I had earlier in the day, when I asked Tracy under what circumstances it would be okay to burn a person alive. When she told me it’s not ever okay to set another human being on fire, I said “that sounds like the kind of black-and-white-thinking characteristic of mental illness, Tracy. In this world, there exist shades of grey.”
The night before, I had taken a shirt that Donnie had given me and went out to a parking lot at the end of the block. [I was allowed by this point to go on short walks if I signed in and out]. I set it on fire, let it burn for a minute, stomped it out, and then took it back to my room to paint some text on the back: “WHAT I LACK IN EMOTIONAL MATURITY, INTELLIGENCE, AND LIFE SKILLS, I MAKE UP FOR IN PUSH-UPS!!!” That, I figured I could get away with – especially since I had been working out a lot too around that time so (while it was definitely my “Donnie shirt”) the statement could have easily been applied to me as well. After things cooled off and we weren’t mad at each other anymore, I showed it to him and he agreed that it was pretty funny.
Someone once told me that real friends fight. That if you’ve never gotten into an argument with a friend, you must be bullshitting each other an awful lot. And that’s what it was always like with Donnie. We didn’t argue about nonsense. It was always about real, serious shit. We’d call each other out when one of us was fucking up. And (naturally) – since we were both smarter than everyone – I’d constantly have to tell him when he was wrong about me and he’d constantly have to tell me when I was wrong about him. But we always seemed to work it out and get back to a good spot. Probably because each of us was always right about the other (and wrong about ourselves), even if it took us a minute or two to realize it. We were pretty good at keeping each other in line.
Which isn’t to say that we were constantly at each other’s throats. After we both moved into the real world and weren’t roommates anymore, we didn’t get into it like we used to. I even stayed with him in his new apartment when I came down to visit once. But even before that, as roommates, we got along more often than we actually fought. I can’t even count how many nights we sat up in our apartment talking out everything going on in our lives. There were days when I felt like I’d accomplished nothing or had no meaningful interpersonal connection with anyone – until just before bed when Donnie and I would have one of those conversations. And I know I helped him too ’cause he’d tell me so. Shit – for his first two months, I talked him down from his constant “I’m leaving THIS Friday” every week! We got our sponsors together. Did our fourth steps together. We were never “best friends,” hanging out all day; we didn’t like any of the same shit. I liked drawing and punk rock; he liked football and Hoobastank. But we were close. There was one week when I was overwhelmed with thoughts of self-harm. “Is there someone you can reach out to before you do anything to hurt yourself?” Tracy asked me. “Yeah,” I told her. “Donnie.”
Last year, when I wrote all those Christmas cards, I had the foresight to snap photos of some of them before I handed or mailed them off (for posterity or [whatever]). I just checked and – sure enough – I have a picture of Donnie’s. I’m struggling to admit it, but the tears are welling up. I wrote something in his card about faith, which reminds me of something I used to say back then: that I had more faith in Donnie than anyone. I really thought he was gonna “make it.” The last words in the card reflect that too…
I’d say “do good” but I know you will anyway. Love you, buddy. – Sam
It feels like a goofy thing to say but … all things considered, he did do good. He did a lot of good. And I’ll miss him. I already do.
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].
I was still inpatient when I made this. It was the product of the my first episode after “No Accident.” A full month had passed since then, which was longer than I could remember having gone without an emotional breakdown of one kind or another but I was still pretty disappointed with myself. If December 12th (the day I made “No Accident”) was my “emotional sobriety date,” this was most definitely my emotional relapse. I picked right back up with the kind of negative self-talk that had ruled my brain for most of my life. The body of the text reads:
I thought I found a place where I belonged. I wasn’t wrong. At the time. But time has passed and I don’t fit in here anymore. I can’t stall. I can’t adapt. I have to move on. Ready or not.
I’m already dead.
I don’t measure up. It’s who I am. It’s not sad. It just is. Nothing lasts forever and we can’t all be astronauts.
I’m not exactly sure what I meant with that last word. I’m sure it was an allusion to something I had heard (or something that had happened) recently. The rest of the text in the piece appears in bits and pieces, scattered throughout.
THIS MIGHT BE BULLSHIT.
It’s time for me to go home. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Please break my hands and kick my fucking teeth in.
[I’m] tired of me taking up space and time.
Fuck my stupid fucking life.
No amount of any anything from me could ever be enough.
Tonight was the opening reception for my first art show. My emotional reaction to it was very much in tune with the painting I’m working on right now, so I’ll probably work it into that and share more about it once the painting is done.
In a few words though, the response tonight was such that it could very easily be interpreted as having implications that are either wildly positive and encouraging or terribly crushing and depressing. I’m working to get to a place of strictly gratitude though (and I’m almost there). To the people that did come out, I can’t thank you enough. Not just for showing up, but for really showing up. It means a lot to me. It’s keeping me going.