When I sent cards to the people I care about for the holidays in 2012, I didn’t end up getting most of them mailed out until early in 2013. With that in mind, I figured I’d play it safe this time around and draw something that’d play off my anticipated tardiness. So (of course) the cards ended up being totally ready to go with more than enough time to spare before Christmas. But that’d mean my joke wouldn’t work! So I held off on asking for addresses ’til I figured it was late enough that people wouldn’t suspect I was asking for the sake of Christmas cards and then waited even longer (January 1st) to actually drop them in the mail.
I held off on sharing this cartoon ’til now because I wanted my friends to see it for the first time when it showed up in their mailbox. And then a couple months went by and I just forgot about it.
So here it is, “Happy Martin Luther King or Valentine’s Day! (punctuality’s not really my strong suit).”
If we’re pals and you didn’t get one, it’s ’cause (1) I asked for your address and you didn’t give it to me; (2) I didn’t ask for your address ’cause I thought I already had it but you’ve moved and I don’t know it; (3) you were just one of those unfortunates that was probably on my list but got lost in the shuffle. Better luck next year! (And in the meantime, send me your god damn address). I love all of you.
I’m still not ready to share my painting from yesterday so here’s one of my earliest drawings. It’s almost a year old now.
Since I don’t have anything worthwhile to say about it, here’s an excerpt from my life story project, written right around the time that I drew this.
Speaking of my stupid smirk – my stupid crooked smile – it’s not natural. It was practiced. I used to smile like a human being. At sixteen though, I trained my face to smile with just one side of my mouth. I think I thought it made me look more devious. I remember it was really hard at first but I practiced it for so long – consciously forced myself to smile that that way for so long – that I can’t help it now. That says something about me, I think. About how concerned I was with making a certain kind of impression – and not a good one. It also suggests that I’m tremendously fake. Honest people don’t think about smiling as they do it and, thus, wouldn’t have a moment to decide what kind of smile to display. But me: every time I smiled, I chose to go with that one. My smiles were premeditated. They were very conscious responses. With me, it’s all planned; it’s all pretend.
I started offering t-shirts with my artwork on them recently. Originally, the plan was just to offer shirts featuring my simpler cartoons, but I decided that there was no reason not to open it up to include my paintings as well. Since some of my more expressive paintings though can’t exactly be transferred to a shirt, the plan was that if someone wanted to buy a shirt like that, I would “adapt” the piece for the shirt (just as I had with “Merry Christmas 2K12”).
My friend, Ren, had said she wanted a shirt and when I posted my newest painting the other night: “That’s what I want!”
I wasn’t 100% certain she was even talking about the shirt, but I was immediately excited. I love that painting and the story behind it but – as soon as I saw her comment – I realized that its caption could also be the basis for a really cool cartoon.
At that point though, I was suddenly not so excited. The problem was that I had wanted it to be as big as possible (for the sake of the t-shirt) but now – looking at it – it felt like two separate imaged stacked on top of one another. But – after scanning it into the computer and playing with the layout – I’m really happy with the finished product. Thanks, Ren!
Aside: I feel a little funny about there being so many “products” related to this piece but it’s not like I’m not making the stuff that I want to make. My life costs between six and eight thousand dollars per year. I’m pretty excited that I haven’t had to get a regular job in order to pay for it yet.
Update (same day): “Welcome to Delray Beach” is now “Greetings from Delray Beach.” Makes more sense to change it for this piece.
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?
“The Promises” is a passage in the Alcoholics Anonymous text. Don’t quote me on this, but it’s something like: “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through, we will know a new freedom and a new happiness, fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us, the dog will stop peeing on the futon and pulling snotty tissue out of the garbage can.”
In early recovery, I hated The Promises. It just read like bullshit to me. I drew this cartoon while sitting in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. It’s just some snarky bullshit—I’m crazy, I feel like I’ve got a boot to my head crushing my skull into the ground, but – oh yeah, sure – I believe in The Promises!
I had been off heroin for about four months, trying in earnest to do everything I could to get better, but there was resistance in me that I couldn’t shake; it was keeping me from really moving forward. This cartoon is from the week when that would finally change though.
Taylor really likes Harry Potter. She’d watch the movies on an endless loop as I sat next to her working on Traffic Street stuff. Even after she broke up with me and I moved seventeen hours south, she called on the eve of the last movie’s release. “You should go see it at midnight too and it’ll be like we’re going to see it together!”
Heather and I had been dating for three months and had plans to hang out. I called her. “Oh – I just finished reading the first Harry Potter book and now I’m watching the movie – I’ll call you when it’s over.”