“Beachtown Graffiti.” February 14th, 2013. Mixed media. 33×13”.
On Sundays, we have a twelve-step meeting here on rehab property that’s only open to current patients and alumni. When I walked in, two of the kids told me they had a great money making scheme that I was gonna want to get in on and that they’d tell me about after the meeting.
“Sam, I have a friend who makes two thousand dollars a week, beating off in front of a webcam.”
“I thought you were gonna pitch some kind of business plan that you wanted my help with. But – what – you guys are gonna do this and figured you’d just give me a heads up in case I wanted to do it too?”
“Oh – no. WE’RE not gonna do it, but we figured you’d be into it.”
So – obviously – nobody’s making two thousand dollars a week just to masturbate. But they had a point. I could probably make SOME money by jerking off or putting things in my butt or – you know – doing whatever somebody asked me to do. I think. I mean – these sites still exist so far as I know. I did some research and found a company that seemed legit. I filled out the paperwork, sent in some pictures, and got approved.
But my counselor says that I’m not allowed to be a prostitute – even if it is just on the internet. Not while I’m a patient here anyway.
She wants me to get a real “job.”
So if I understand correctly… if I give someone an hour of my time for three hundred dollars or one hundred dollars or – you know – whatever… If I’m touching my genitals during that hour, I’m a prostitute. But if I give someone an hour of my time for EIGHT DOLLARS an hour… I’m not a prostitute? So long as I don’t have to show anyone my penis?
This doesn’t make sense to me. If I were to do the webcam thing, I could make a decent amount of money and still have lots of time to do the things that are important to me.
If, on the other hand, I wanted to make the same amount of money by – let’s say – washing dishes or bagging groceries, I’d have to sacrifice virtually ALL of my free time. Leaving myself with no opportunity to do the things that make my life worth living. Now THAT sounds a lot more like “selling myself.”
Right now, I feel more free than I’ve felt in my entire life. Six months ago, I was enslaved by heroin. Everything I did… none of it was by choice. It was all directed at shooting heroin, getting heroin, getting money for heroin, or getting shit that I could sell to get money for heroin. I’ve struggled and I’ve cried and I’ve done a ton of work to get to a point where I don’t have to live like that anymore. To get my freedom back. And to use that freedom to discover those things in this world that are meaningful for me.
And now I’m supposed to just give it up and go get some shit job?
What was all of this for? If I’m gonna be a slave, does it matter whether it’s to a drug or to some assistant manager at Publix?
And – so far as taking the bar and becoming a lawyer is concerned – all that shit, it’s all the same to me. Work I don’t enjoy is work I don’t enjoy. It’s all just washing dishes.
Why am I suddenly concerned about money anyway? Because I want to be financially independent outside of a treatment center. Why do I want that?
Basically? A girl.
(Not that any girl has ASKED me to do any of this).
And REALLY, it’s for me. But a girl factors into it.
And it’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s kind of THE BEST thing. But – you know – it’s suddenly a salient issue, where it very recently was not. Whatever.
SO…. do I wanna pull it together and be a grown-up… or do I wanna move to a real city and sleep on the street with a backpack full of paints?
These are just thoughts that I have. They’re not beliefs. They’re fleeting thoughts. They’re a reflection of where I was at in different moments as I painted this. No one needs to read into this, get any ideas, or “point anything out” to me.
I’m striving to be honest, but I’m probably mostly still full of shit.
It’s not a big deal.
That’s all for my “artist’s statement.” Here’s what’s going on today (August 8th):
There was a point in time not so long ago (June) when I’d go back and forth between joy and misery. But it felt right and it felt okay. There were reasons. I was grateful that I was capable of experiencing those highs and those lows. Things are different today. Heather was right that I’m more critical of myself lately, but I think that’s because there’s more to criticize. I just feel off.
But I’m still hopeful. I think I can get back to where I was. I’m missing the confidence I had December through June though and feel like I could crumble under the wrong set of circumstances.
The morning was great. I went and did yardwork for three hours. It’s tedious, I always seem to hurt myself, and (when I stop to think about it) – really – I’m getting paid less than minimum wage. But – I don’t know – on the ride home, I always feel pretty great. Especially when the right song comes into my headphones. And today – as noted this morning – it was definitely Dead North and it definitely made life seem perfect.
But thirty minutes later, I felt overwhelmed, inadequate, and destined to fail. It took me almost all night to work through it – but I was still productive so I’m grateful for that. Mental health really is a chore. And a choice – though not always one that’s easy to make. [Whatever]. It’s a struggle. That much, I know.
Here’s a piece from February, shortly before I left treatment. The statement was written on the same day the piece was finished. While I still think the general idea/sentiment is right on, I can say now that I don’t think I would have ever gone through with this “employment” lead. What makes me think that, you say? Oh, have I got a story for you…
But it’s late, so I’m off to bed with a prayer that I find the courage to tell that story here tomorrow. Thanks for reading. Drop me a line if you give a shit.
Update (11/17/13): Three months have passed but I finally told part of that story.