just sharing

there are things about a jersey diner that subdues any ajita inside me: clanging plates, butter-slathered smells in the air, the dripping stains flowing down my never-ending refill coffee mug and a general clamor while inhaling an over-stimulating plate of breakfast grub.

i don’t know if it’s decades of collected memories stringing together to bring me a sense of comfort or just that i find myself quieted in places of constant motion but in times of stress, or celebration, i’m usually parked in a diner chair. the pandemic has taken away from the usual din of the common eatery but i still happily take my seat outside, thank the waitress every time she comes by and let my thoughts gestate.

it always helps. well, any time you jam your face with high calorie food helps. i just always feel at home in my state’s food staple location.

i sat and reflected that it’s been exactly one year today since i got sober. a whole year. to top it off, today i signed the lease on and paid for my new apartment. i get the keys tomorrow. my boyfriend comes with me; a sweet, loving man.

had you mentioned all this would happen to my drunk and drugged up face while i was lying there on an IV this time a year ago, i would have burst out crying with claims you were harassing me. so many speakers have said “life beyond your wildest dreams”. i pictured mounds of riches and a seaside condominium.

beyond my widest dreams to be happy, balanced, alive, in love and with an apartment where i passed a credit check. that’s my reality right now, like, holy shit.

tomorrow when i walk into this brightly lit place, lie down on the hardwoord flooring and stretch with a sigh, it’s going to be the first breath of new life.

i can’t beat that.

just wanted to share.

regards,

v.

news from moscow

I dreamed last night my father took me to a halfway home with an underlying secrecy. We had to beat a crowd to the shady alley door and used a special keycard to get in. He led me to a tiny but nicely finished room with a wooden floor. It was then he said I was to stay here because he said he “did not want to take care of me anymore”.

I begged and pleaded not to be left there, that I was sober, that I didn’t need to stay there, that I could take care of myself fine. He backed up slowly towards the door between a line of people on each side waiting to get in, I suppose.

I walked down the narrow stairs after him and out-stretched my hand, pointing, “You should be here, not me, you’re the one who told me ‘if it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t be stuck in this piece of shit country’”
The room fell silent and he looked around awkwardly. His face didn’t look like him, he seemed gaunt and hunched over. Maybe because he was already dead.

“Yeah,” I barked, “That’s what you said to me; those are the things you said and the things you meant.”

At that point he tried to take a step closer, whether it was real remorse or he just wanted it to look that way in front of strangers (as I was so used to him doing), I spit on the ground between his feet.

“Don’t touch me! I spit on you! I want nothing to do with you” I had my fists clenched staring adamantly back.

With that, he dropped back and walked out the door.

Hours after waking, as I filtered through my old emails in a less active account, I stumbled across one that arrived shortly after I was released from rehab titled “news from Moscow”. It was dated November 19th. It said my father had just died and to call a number.

I’m sitting here waiting for my family ties in Russia to ping me back and see if it’s true. I don’t know how to feel about it. He was my abuser and I keep pushing down this welling sense of relief that he’s gone. He showed me little love. The love he did show me were just words in moments of inebriated, floaty happiness. It was right back to disgust after that.

I sit here in a mixture of emotions: on one hand the man who made me feel like the salt of the Earth is gone from it and on the other hand another member of my family dwindles and dies. Both my parents are gone, my grandparents are old, only my brother and I remain. It’s a mixed bag.

I wondered a lot about this day and how it would make me feel. A large part of me is just ready to go back to work tomorrow. The email asked at the time to call about making arrangements. Me? I hadn’t spoken to him in 8 years. I once considered forgiving him but I never made the effort. He had a new family and wife in Russia we knew nothing about. I think she’s stepmom number three. Too late for all that now.

Just letting it all sink in while I wait for this phone call back. It’s been a while, I imagine someone had been reached about the situation by now or else the phone would have rang much sooner.

… There it is.

I see. The liquor took him.
My father’s dead.

v.

taste of life’s colors

artless3 (1)

 

10 months, 11 days sober.  10 days without cigarettes.  i’m going for the trifecta.  turns out quitting smoking is easier than quitting drugs and alcohol, especially when quitting smoking doesn’t end in seizures and rehab.

speaking of rehab, i ‘graduated’ treatment a couple weeks ago.  coining out, as they call it.  twice in the span of one year i’ve done this, once inpatient and once outpatient.  there’s a first for everything.  one of the first actions of self-care i ever did for myself was go to rehab.    i’m playing with the idea of going back down there for alumni day when it comes to my one year.  i never thought i’d be eligible to stand up there with the same people who came to inspire us.

all i know is i don’t want to start the speech with “i was sitting in those seats just like you once”.  i mean, i see how it feels to say that now.  half of it has to do with telling those people they can make it.  the other half is total disbelief.

i actually sat up to do that drawing today.  like, i felt like i wanted to.  it’s still shit to me, but it was good to feel something.  i even wrote some stuff down today.  i’m overdue for a gratitude list.

i put in vacation time for end of july.  that marks my one year.  the boy and i are going away to spend time together, pandemic or not.  we like just relaxing without the need for social interaction so it works out perfectly.  going down to more desolate beaches and staying for a few nights.  hopefully the crowd is just drawn to the boardwalk areas.  i’m okay with staying away from those.

the weather has been beautiful.

i’m glad to be able to notice that for myself.   my mood has been good even if all i have on TV is marathons of investigation discovery.

i’m so close to my money goal and months away from my moving date.  i’ll be living a new life soon.  i can almost taste it.

good things come to those who wait.

 

 

v.

lost with my pencil

artless2

 

i’m trying hard to not pay attention to any specifics or technicalities while i’m art-ing.  the constant voice inside of my head after formal training is “wrong, wrong, wrong”.  aestheticism has been eradicated.  i would give anything to look at a drawing or a piece of art or even a movie without criticizing color, angles or technique.  an ignorant viewing.  ignorance really is fucking bliss.

being out of practice has a lot to do with it, the inability to execute my ideas successfully.  a large part of it is this feeling, like gum stuck in the back of my throat or something, this inability to have an even flow of inspiration.  i used to journal wildly, filling sketchbooks left and right, characters appearing in avalanches.

now, my ideas are faced with roadblocks:  do you have your composition set, is that line in the right location, do the widths vary correctly, is the spacing here adequate.  all of these things a feel like cement hurdles dropped in a rolling lush green field that take the fun away from frolicking across.

bam, bam, bam.

topped with the sense of low-tiered self doubt, it’s a marathon where you feel like you’re in last place and everyone is watching you stumble in the olympics.

i’m doing my best to do art for my sake even if i think it’s coming out like snot.

but the goal is to quell the idea that i even think that.  i look forward to the first stroke that doesn’t hold that notion.

 

 

 

v.

artless love

ARTLESSV1

the idea to title the drawings “artless valentine” hit me like a sack of shit earlier today.  i haven’t been able to draw, i can’t think of what to draw.  it’s been a part of my heart and soul for as long as i can remember.

all i could think to put to paper was how i couldn’t think of anything at all.  the fucking irony.  and then i remembered what this blog was called

at the time, it was a joke to the lack of grace in my life; the poignancy of the mess.  now, here i am, meds raised up and inspiration pushed down and i just can’t express myself as clearly.

the frustration i feel from closing my eyes and seeing nothing is dulled by the perfect balance my emotions have gained.  i’m not enraged, hell, i’m almost nothing.  i’m happy though; happy my life is getting better, happy that i can think clearly, happy that things are progressing at a very good pace towards a better future.   all this is good but my creativity suffers.

it’s hefty price to pay for the adjustments that have been made to my mind but a sacrifice that with work perhaps i can overcome.  i can’t feel like i used to feel, inspiration doesn’t strike the way it once did, i no longer get a ‘high’ from making something come to life.  it feels like i’ve got nothing in the tank but my motor just keeps running.

my brain just won’t produce the colors for creation that it once did.  ideas that bloomed like flowers bursting out across a vast meadow in an alarming fashion are now thoughts that are aligned in a well-organized, marching formation.  very useful to keep my sanity.  my depression at bay, i barrel through life level-headed with an adamant sense that everything will turn out fine and that things are certainly within reach to accomplish.

but sometimes i miss that emotional explosion.  it’s been with me my entire life.  i used to believe it was just something i could retain, control or even conquer.  now in my thirties, i don’t think that it was possible without the help i’m getting now.  it’s just something i need to accept, a part of me is a wild thing and eventually there may be ways to combat it but for now there are sacrifices to make.

so today, i started to draw about how i couldn’t draw anymore.  sure, this page comes off as bleak and hopeless, but really it isn’t.  i kept it simple. i made it fast.  the words are actually more descriptive than definite.  i know i’m not empty.  i know i just can’t flourish the expressiveness i want to when i want to.  that itself is just another small battle in the war.

i know i feel artless but there’s still love in there.  art is still my valentine.

love is always messy.

 

 

v.

afterglow

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it’s funny how when things go wrong for a majority of your life, it isn’t consequences or downward spiraling situations but the moments of actual love or goodness that scare you the most

i’ve spent more than half my life collecting and keeping things that meant the most to me as close to my heart as possible.   some of those things were material objects, some of them were friends and others were emotions, like the love another person.  i’ve always carried with me this innate sense of dread; a fear that things that i felt most comfortable with would be ripped away from me forever.   i could pinpoint losing my mother as the start of all that.  even until her final days, she always reassured us things would turn out just fine, until they didn’t.

the things that mattered to most at different times in my life became the central objects of my universe.   when i was young, those things were the friends that were as misguided as i was, banding together to form a spartan phalanx against the world.  when i discovered love and what i was assumed was being loved back, nothing else would take then place of that happiness, even if i was hurt or dejected as a result of it.  i still fought for it to become a reality for me.  when i grew older, i cherished what i could keep by working:  artwork, my first apartment and the things in it, collecting things with my own money and poured all my focus into the material gathering in my life.  all the other things that came before the next rolled along with me until i had my own katamari ball of disillusioned practices and bad psychological habits.

then i lost it all.  and regained it.  and lost it again.

somewhere along the line, i realized that i couldn’t just work on what was outside of myself to make my world better but rather i had to take control of my universe instead.

i strongly believe that i am in control of what dictates the world around me: what happens, where i can go, the alchemy of life which people refer to as coincidences.  the way i live my life and the things that occur in it are directly a result of my symbiotic relationship with the universe.  i give, it returns.

i spent the last 15 years ravaging my body from the inside out.  i spent time hurting and numbing my insides with anything i could grab, turning to the mutilation of flesh when that wasn’t enough whether it be self harm, piercings or even tattoos albeit in artistic expression.    when i start hearing those weird quips of sobriety like “life beyond your wildest dreams” and that “one day at a time” sentiment, i thought that this was some selling sour milk to cows hokey hallmark nonsense.

after being sober for this short time for the first time in half my life, things have happened that i wouldn’t have imagined ever would.  it first started with the small realization that even the feelings was experiencing were in and of themselves a taste of a wild new life.  love, sadness, clarity, epiphanies, confrontation, manageable anger: these were things that i not only had no prior control over but hadn’t actually come to feel for over a decade.    when i realized that i could think and feel like what i now realized was normal, my mind was fucking blown.  and that was just the start.

for over half a year now, i found trust in people, i put a piece of my heart up with fantastic results, i applied and achieved a job position and am finally leaving a place that caused me disdain and duress.   i communicate with people without a horrid sense of paranoia. i can focus on and see a creative stimulus bubbling in my mind, even though it may not come so easy it is there.   i can cry from sentiment.  i can laugh with actual humor.  shit, even my skin tone changed.  and did you know vitamins do wonders?

in the last 30 days alone, i had more changes happen in my life than had happened in the last five years.

when i began to fix what i was doing to myself, things began to flow into my life that i never thought i’d see.

i used to tell people when they felt down, encouragingly in my drunk and drugged ass state, that they should always focus on doing the best for themselves; that when they made the best they could out of who they were that they would give off a glow, like a firefly.  eventually, another will see this glow in this shit dark of life and will specifically be attracted to it.  just them.  that glow.

you can never hear your own advice.  doesn’t help being three sheets to the wind and higher than a hippie in a hot air balloon.

i’m excited to emit a light.  it’s the first time i’ve had a way to see in the fog.  every day it’s a little less like silent hill out there.  every day, a little less confusing of a fog.

i’ll keep glowing; steady, sure and bobbing along.

 

 

 

v.

phoenix

i’ve been in shiftless form the last month. depression came over like an unwanted drunk friend that you can’t just kick out, slowly knocking furniture and babbling nonsensically with open ended stories. i sat there with “uh-huh”s and lies of “i get that” all the while not being able to do a damn thing for myself. i walked around straightening out the disarray only to turn around to another instance of cleanup. comparable to walking uphill picking up discarded items falling from a moving truck with its doors open.

i came to the difficult understanding that i can’t defeat all of my imbalances alone and sought the help of doctors to increase my medication doses. for the first time in my life i’m reliant on medication to give me solace in the flatlands of my emotions. i always believed i could reason with or delve deep enough into myself to come to logical conclusions about my issues. turns out it’s a lot harder when your mind is where the problem is in the first place.

for the last 15 years i’ve been abusing booze and junk just to quell this brewing storm of discomfort. i let it dwell and swell and churn and after an untreated period of time it became a permanent notch in my functionality. balls.

slowly, i’ve been straightening out my emotional posture and breaking through my eggshell peck by peck. the most frustrating part of living in that fog is all that it takes: takes the flavor out of food, the magic out of love, the groove out of music. i tried a thousand combos just to distract from the nagging sense of eeyore-dom only to have it just be another fruitless encounter with a feeling of failure.

the doldrums. i receded like a sloth in molasses deeper and deeper into a collection of soft things and warm blankets, caressed by the TV light and scenes in my head of a greener grass that i could see even with the shades drawn tight. hello darkness my old friend. i threw myself at the gym, to the outside, to murmuring crowds and cluttered places. i couldn’t draw, still kind of can’t.

but i started to write again. all of a sudden, i achieved my goal of saturating one small notebook with thought smear. the itch to write brought me here while i’m in between books to soak up all the excess. i found a flow that helps me chip away at this dam that erected itself in an instant in front of my face. sharing, writing, talking, reading — i needed to dig around for a while until i found what worked.

today i woke up with a silly grin and good expectations. what a change from two weeks ago. i have a sense of being grounded and am digging my heels in a little bit. my heart feels warm in the brisk morning. the things that are good are fantastic and i feel less like the only gray form in a world of living color.

i can be grateful for that. another day sober, another opportunity to face these developments head on and find another solution. it’s like a trillion piece puzzle and i’ve got my whole life to do it.

rock and roll

v.

renaissance

a lot of my time used to be taken up by sitting and focusing on how i hadn’t put together the big picture yet. i would stare at the posted images and status updates that would fly by my phone screen in a flurry, all of them detailing some idyllic life of accomplishment or blissful achievement. i would shrink backwards into my pillow, drunkenly scowling and wondering why i, at 30, had nothing to show for it than a mean mug disposition.

this year i turned 31 in rehab. again, not as ideal as i would have hoped. you know something though? i was fucking thankful: thankful i was going to remember my birthday for a change, thankful that i was of sound mind and more than anything thankful that my liver wasn’t failing in a dingy hovel and nest i’d made for myself of strewn belongings.

i went from blackout to back up and i’ve stopped feeling the shame i originally did.since then, i found a way to create with my hands that has started to spark some marie kondo joy, began saving to excuse myself from this hectic state i’ve called home for my entire life and most importantly stopped hating myself for what i hadn’t even given myself the chance to become yet.

sure, if i place that in the grand scheme of shit it would seem menial. but it’s not. i would have never dreamed i’d be anywhere near this state mentally. medicated, stable, loved; all these things i ignored the possibility of being. turns out when i let those lights into my life, shit flipped in a better way.

i used to wake up and burst into tears. check that into a memory box these days. i couldn’t look in a mirror without a grimace, a sigh and a voice of distaste. i trashed the trash talk. i used to hate looking people in the face, smiling or having any sense of wanting to interact with them at all. i respond to strangers in my path of motion and have no issue telling that lady that her dress looks extra slammin’ today. pay it forward.

those nights i spent looking at the lives of other people? turns out deleting access icons from my monitors solved a lot of problems logging in and continuing that destructive shit for me. i haven’t looked back into spying into what i misconstrued as the happy lives of others.

no one’s totally got their shit together.

the mashup of sitting online and trying to piece the puzzle of what others have that i don’t has been a monumental waste of my time. i can’t compare myself to every person that’s walking around with their camera out and facebook on; that’s just not fair. you post what you want people to see, that’s fact. i don’t go posting my shittiest art on the internet; i’m posting my most proud of works and the things i think really put a shine on my style. same goes for people and what they want to show about themselves. no sense in focusing on that as the entire central figure of life.

that’s just not how life rolls.

creating a life and creating art fall into a similar swing : an idea comes to mind, you mull on it a while, you sketch out some possibilities, you destroy some possibilities, you make one try, work on it a little, go for another try, get farther and farther each time, make mistakes, fix them and then eventually you end up with this show-worthy result. you dote on it for a while. others are aware of it. it fades into the background, always there to be remembered and admired. wash, rinse, repeat. sometimes you do art for others, sometimes they don’t like it, sometimes you have to rework it until you both agree. sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. either way, you’re always able to get a blank slate and roll with it again and again.

the well of creativity is bottomless.

life should the be the same way.i can’t let some artist’s block keep me from painting my own picturesque work. can’t make the art if i don’t give it a go to begin with.

v.

drawing a blank

my journal entries have been replaced with sketchbook entries as days turns to weeks following my discharge from the recovery center. after nearly six years of inactivity, i’m surprised at myself.

when i was sitting in long-term care, i had my sketchbook. i always had my sketchbook. did i draw in it aside from an amphetamine-fueled frenzy? no, not really. looking back through it, all i saw were violent scribbles, massive paint-overs and a lot of x’d out material. carved pencil lines, ink on ink on ink, marker over marker… and i remember sitting there for hours with no actual end game in sight. i thought the entire time i was wracking my brain on speed i was this super-creative and productive person. turns out i was just a speed freak paddling along.

it wasn’t just in art that i got that feeling, but work, home life, social activities… i was fueled by my medication and calmed by spirits. a constant battle of super ups and crashing downs. a closet speed freak and an even deeper closeted drunk.

everything eventually caught up with me five months ago when i suffered my seizure and landed in ER. i thought that things like that happened to drug addicts from some big binge or an overdose. my downfall came from a steady three-year decline into intense depression and abuse. all that shit that i internalized manifested into obsessive need to bury things down as much as possible by laying whatever i could on top.

these five months that have gone by have felt like three years and three years felt like nothing at all. i’m not even sure what year i returned to the north and when my drinking and abuse started: two or three years ago? i have to look at timestamped pictures to put together my timeline of the recent past. my brain sure as hell can’t. i’m still practicing revving it back up from memory loss.

before it all even happened though, art wasn’t prevalent. you’d think, hey, you graduated with a diploma in commercial art, you can get work, hey you can draw; so why don’t you? same reason people with intense depression stop taking care of themselves, stop feeling interested in everything they love, stop wanting to move. i just couldn’t create anymore and i went and took the totally wrong turn at Albuquerque to try to get there. do not pass go, do not collect two-hundred dollars.

if it wasn’t for the girls and the community at the recovery center, i wouldn’t have begun to open my heart up to the work that i could be doing. i felt supported, cheered on and encouraged and it wasn’t just people looking at my drug-induced artwork, it was people looking at my sobering mind and what could come out of it. gratitude is what comes to mind the most. i started to doodle, i started to draw, i started to illustrate, i started to finish the sketches i began. sitting in recovery, i drew an upwards of thirty finished drawings. like, holy shit.

even today, sitting on this rainy day, i’m uploading work and doodling some more. enjoying a quiet day just me and my thoughts. not something i thought i’d accomplish. i’m getting the whole picture together in more ways than one.

v.

revival

i went to my first NA meeting tonight since coming home from the recovery center.  i enjoyed my time there, even running into someone I hadn’t seen in the last ten years.  there was a swelling warmth in my heart and i was reminded what i got out of sharing and listening to others share.

going to gatherings like that one remind me what i’ve regained from quitting the drinking and drug abuse: feeling.  it’s pretty astounding how you can take feelings for granted once you lose all sense of them; feelings like waking up from a dream and having a moment to reminisce on it instead of battling a violent war of anxiety about the oncoming day, feeling a sense of satisfaction from giving someone else a moment of happiness rather than fulfilling a promise due to shame and guilt from putting it off for so long or even just the feeling of having a string of thoughts that come together to form a clarified idea.  i’m grateful for just being able to exist as a conscious human being.

at some point, the intake of drugs and alcohol became less of a daily enjoyment and more of an enslaving necessity.  i raced myself up my stairs every afternoon after work, arms wildly searching for a bottle to ease the stress of the first i’d grabbed that morning.  my fingers would seek through the darkness in the three A.M. hour to find liquid reprieve to my shaking limbs and rushing thoughts.    i’d slam the prescription bottle against my forehead in the waking hours and ask myself over and over not to put the pills down my throat.

what a waking nightmare.

the vicious cycle of depression, amphetamine abuse and alcohol intake was impossible to escape from without the aid of the rehab.  the meetings allow me take precious minutes to be able to remind myself by sharing with others about where i came from, how things happened for me and where they’ve taken me today.  i’m pretty grateful for that.

it’s been a long journey of reading through older journals, nonchalantly mentioning how i’d choked down 200 mg of adderall and avoided sleeping for three days to get work done to how see the world now.  in the grand scheme of things it’s only been just over 90 days but it feels like 10 years.

i want to feel the next ten years this way.

tomorrow’s another day.

 

 

v.