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.”
I painted this for a friend’s nursery (and wrote this) after the birth of his first child.
Sometime in April, I found two baby birds that had fallen out of a nest and were clearly dying. I’m embarrassed to say so (which strikes me as a pretty strong indication that I should) but that little incident sparked serious thought – about my priorities, my responsibilities, and how I spend my time. I felt stupid since (apparently) I need to be confronted face-to-face with a dying animal in order to consider it. And I felt weak for being affected by the encounter at all.
About an hour before I had planned to start painting this, I was reminded of another incident where I had felt similarly weak. In twelve-step programs, the sixth step is to become ready to have God remove all of one’s character defects (and the seventh is to actually ask God to remove them). For me, step six meant spending a considerable amount of time actually considering and listing my character defects and then really thinking about whether I truly wanted to stop indulging them. Regarding the seventh step… I talk about faith in relation to other pieces and it’s not the crux of this painting so I’ll just say that one of the best things I’ve ever heard in Alcoholics Anonymous (one of very few things that actually stuck with me) was: “If you’re gonna pray for your character defects to go away, you better fucking act like it worked.”
I did those two steps and realized, “Shit – if I just committed to being honest, I can’t really sneak out of rehab tomorrow to meet up with a girl.” (A scheme I had hatched earlier in the week). So I called the girl. “Um… this is going to sound really dopey, but I have to cancel… I just did my seventh step so I can’t be dishonest and sneak out to see you.”
The buildings in this painting are arranged like the ones at Tranquil Shores. The one with the bird at the window was my room. I often contemplated sneaking out by stepping out of that window and onto the roof of the adjacent building. (I never followed through, but only because I had easier means of sneaking out).
I’ll never forget when Kyle’s mom left (or, more specifically, the day she came back), her attitude, and Kyle’s response… We were sitting in his room when she showed up at the house. She was really happy to see him and he was just… blank. Emotionless. He looked bored by it. I’m sure he wasn’t bored, but he was hurt and I guess that’s how he protected himself. Or maybe he was angry and that was his way of getting back at her: acting like he didn’t care. I don’t know why Kyle’s mom left and maybe she didn’t have a choice, but I saw how the way that she left hurt my friend. She loved him, but she fucked up. My parents loved me and they fucked up. Kyle has his own kid now and I have faith in him as a dad, but he’s going to fuck up in some respect somewhere along the way. We all do. It won’t mean he doesn’t love his daughter, it just means that he’s as shitty, selfish, and imperfect as everyone else. I might do tremendously terrible things in some moment, but I never have that intention; I’m just misguided, short-sighted, frustrated, or [whatever].
The mean looking bird is in my window because it’s me. It’s me and it’s my dad – and my mom. It’s Kyle’s parents, it’s Kyle, it’s his girlfriend, and one day it’ll be their daughter.
“Take what you need and leave the rest” is a slogan that gets used a lot in the contexts of substance abuse recovery and mental health treatment. “Take what you need and leave the nest” is a silly, little bird/growing up pun that I came up with for this piece to show everyone how clever I am.
I struck out on my own at a pretty early age. Some people seem to never leave home. It doesn’t matter. When it comes to parents, family, and home (or anything really), get what you can out of it – all the good lessons or experiences available – and then move forward to what’s next. Don’t dwell on the bad. Resentments only hurt one person – the person holding them. Forgiveness can still be tough, but it’s easier to forgive someone when you remember: they mean well, baby bird.
On an unrelated note, I just fixed a lamp with a soldering iron. If anyone needs the wiring in their house redone, I’m now taking appointments.
Who says a full-length can’t be 19 minutes long? The first three tracks on this thing are so good, they could have cut it off right there and called it a full-length and I still wouldn’t have argued.
I’ve sold art to strangers before but only one person I don’t know has ever bought a “custom” cartoon. So here’s what stalled me in making this…
Thought #1: don’t think I know this person, but what if I actually do and just don’t remember? Then if I give an impersonal cartoon, I’ll feel like a jerk.
Thought #2: Maybe I should do some Facebook reconnaissance, see what I can find out about the person and see if that gives me any ideas.
Thought #3: That feels/seems weird.
Thought #4: Maybe I just make a cartoon about my anxiety regarding this?
Thought #5: That’s lame.
Thought #6: That’s honest. And I’m really grateful for the support, but I don’t need to put myself through this kind of anxiety over $25. Pretty sure that’s the last thing this person intended/wanted when they paid for this. And now that it’s past due, I’m just making it worse with every day that goes by. I’ll just make what I’m feeling and send a free print to make up for the delay.
So this was the last of my Kickstarter rewards that needed to be sent out. I finished it just now, but it was almost entirely done at last night’s show, after every thing was all set up, but before I started talking to people and watching bands. I feel a lot better now that it’s done. It’s been on my to do list, every day, since June. I wouldn’t have ordinarily colored it, so – doing that – I feel like that little bit extra also helps to compensate for the lack of personalized meaning (for the recipient) and the tardiness. I feel relieved.