Tag Archives: expressive art therapy group

I Took a Picture of You While You Were Sleeping Because I Think You’re Extraordinarily Beautiful and Because I’m Kind of a Creep Insofar as My Respect For (or Maybe Just Conception of) Personal Boundaries Leaves Something to Be Desired; Also: Slumber Party!

"I Took a Picture of You While You Were Sleeping Because I Think You're Extraordinarily Beautiful and Because I'm Kind of a Creep Insofar as My Respect For (or Maybe Just Conception of) Personal Boundaries Leaves Something to Be Desired; Also: Slumber Party!" 3/8/13. Oil pastel, tempera, pencil. 7x18".
3/8/13. Oil pastel, tempera, pencil. 7×18″.

“Gift Horse” was the best birthday present I’ve ever given to anyone. I don’t mean for the recipient – but for me. Because there’s nothing better in the world than going into the bedroom at night or waking up in the morning to find Heather fast asleep cuddled up with it in her arms. When I see that, I feel so loved. I mean – I’m not the horse but (maybe because I made it[?]) it feels like I’m getting to look at her cuddled up to me…. [or something like that…]  – that’s the best explanation I can come up with anyway. But she’s so beautiful and she hugs it (even in her sleep) with such conviction that… – it’s just really nice. It makes me really happy.

I love her a lot.

And I don’t wanna disturb her by turning on the lights just to take a picture but, luckily, I have this one from a few weeks ago.

heather pierce

And – just this moment – I’ve realized that this is the perfect opportunity to share a piece that I haven’t yet… [yes – the one with the title]. “Took a Picture” was the product of one of my Friday afternoon expressive art therapy groups, back when I was in outpatient mode. Earlier that day…

I opened my eyes and looked over at Heather. “Do you know how much you laugh in your sleep?” she asked. I smiled. “Is it a sinister, maniacal laugh? Do I sound like I’m plotting evil?” She laughed. “Not at all. It’s really happy. You sound really happy.” “Hmmm, well – don’t tell anyone that… or  tell them, but say that my eyes are open at the time – my cold, dead eyes.” She rolled hers at me.

Heather didn’t have to work early that day but – when she did have an early morning shift – she’d only come sleep over the night before if I agreed to “no funny business.” Of course, I would promise. And though I don’t think I ever once actually honored that promise, she’d take my word for it every time (like a total sucker). And even once I did go to sleep, she said I’d sometimes contort and throw my body across the mattress like a maniac. What a joy it must have been to share a bed with me!

It hadn’t even been three weeks since I moved out of Tranquil Shores and back into the real world. How was my life this wonderful already? How could I possibly deserve to be waking up next to this girl each day?

This piece existed in a strange limbo for a long time because I titled it as soon as I finished it and immediately wished that I had used the title for the caption as well. Because the original caption – though based in authenticity – felt contrived. I wrote it without forethought in a “stream of consciousness”  sorta way, but I had essentially quoted myself… which I didn’t like at all. I had this “rule” though – against altering anything once I had deemed it finished. Eventually, I got over that and – now – the title and caption are one in the same and the piece finally feels right.

  • That original caption was: “She stays over even though I keep her up. (I’m a sexual terrorist). And when I sleep, I thrash. And I laugh. A lot. Not with cold, dead eyes. It’s joyful. Don’t fucking repeat that.”
  • took-a-picture-framedThis piece is available as a 14×6″ print.
  • The original drawing is also for sale but given its strange dimensions, the frame isn’t quite right. Then again, it looks kinda cool like this…
  • Check out “Gift Horse,” the catalyst for this entry.


Ready When You Are

"Ready When You Are." 6/7/13. Oil pastel. 9½x12”.
“Ready When You Are.” 6/7/13. Oil pastel. 9½x12”.

It was Friday so I drove up to Tranquil Shores for my session with Tracy and my weekly expressive art group with the kids that were still inpatients. Earlier that week, I had found an apartment in Jacksonville. When I told Tracy, she was really surprised. (I had been talking about moving, but it was just a few days prior that I actually started looking for a place, so it all happened really quickly). “Seriously?” she asked me. “Well, let me get the papers for your discharge.”

Somehow that hadn’t occurred to me: that moving away would mean I’d be officially discharged from Tranquil Shores. My life was about to change and it was just now registering. It made me sad. It even made me a little angry, though I’m not sure with whom. (Probably myself). It was a really great afternoon; everyone at Tranquil Shores couldn’t have been sweeter to me or more supportive. But… I didn’t wanna leave. I didn’t want it to be over and I guess I was as caught off-guard as Tracy had been.

After my session, I went into the art room for group. I felt good overall, but had that little streak of darkness in me. I got an idea in my head of a sorta vulture and I liked it. I wanted to draw something that lived off dead flesh – something sustained by failure.

But still sorta comic and fun.


(Especially relevant) status update: Heather’s friends are getting married in Englewood next weekend, so I won’t be too far from Tranquil Shores. On Friday, I’m going to drive up that way and meet up with a crew of kids I went to treatment with for lunch, and then I’m gonna go in for the expressive art group just like I used to. I’ve been really excited about it but am getting more nervous as it gets closer. It’s gonna be a totally new crop of kids. I’ll still know all the staff obviously, but it seems kinda strange to go to group with a bunch of patients I’ve never met before. I hope I don’t wimp out. I hope it goes well.