This post is going to be a little long because it’s different from the traditional update post/ snarky journal rants. I really need to own up to the fact I’ve been in a slump for a long time and I guess this is a way for me to cope with that fact.
This post is a reflection on the past, the next one will be an admittance of my present situation, and the third is what possible outcomes may entail.
And it’s a bit hard to write as it’s very personal.
This Journal Entry will primarily be about my past.
So . . . my childhood can roughly be divided into two segments. The time I knew my mother and then the time after she died. I was eight years old. The time I remember before that incident all comes to me in blurry tidbits, some warm and wonderful, others scary and chilling. My mother, I could tell even when I was young, was no saint. But I did know that she loved my family and myself very much. The best memory I have of her is her reading her science fiction and fantasy novels to me at night.
Her death was bizarre more than a tragedy. I remember that I didn’t cry immediately when I heard the news. Everyone else was sob city but I honestly didn’t know how to handle, how to process, that information. I cried my eyes out later and I still find myself crying alone every so often when I hear just the right song or experience just the right moment that gets me thinking of her, but when I was a child, the concept of death itself was just so all-encompassing, so world shattering, so . . . real. It blew my mind. (FYI, my green eyes and red, curly hair comes from my Mom and I’m more than a little vain about it, which is partly why I grow it out so much).
The rest of my life my parents comprised of my Father and my Grandmother, both of whom, along with my younger brother, practically molded me in ways I’m still discovering. And I’m constantly thankful they’re still alive.
But from my mother’s death, I knew that everybody dies. Nobody is safe. My family tried to make me feel better by telling me she’s in Heaven and I appreciated the sentiment but knew, I still know, she is dead, and she is never coming back. I knew, from a very young age, people, real people, not statistics, not strangers on the television, but real people that have a real effect on you, die.
When I learned this, when I accepted this, I realized happiness in life, fulfillment in life, is the most important thing in the world. Real happiness, real fulfillment, an elusive state of actuality where if I were to die right now I’d have no regrets, was the most important thing in the world.
Ironically, perhaps because of this desire, I’ve been very unhappy throughout my life. In seeking this all important nirvana, perhaps I’ve merely neglected to pay attention. Or my life really was shitty. I don’t know and it’s not fair to compare. Actually my life was neither shitty nor amazing by any standard but my own, and as I’m emotionally in a constant state of flux, it’s hard for me to objectively criticize myself, so I’ll get back to ruminating.
Elementary and Middle school were both joyful and nightmarish. The worst, the absolute worst bullying in my life was in middle school. I was awkward, I was poor and went to a poor school where everybody laughed at how I tried to act smart while wearing rags. My own pears called me names and laughed at me because I actually LIKED learning things but perhaps they were somewhat justified in their teasing because, if I’m going to be honest, I liked one-upping my peers academically (getting better grades than everyone else, being teacher’s pet, etc.) almost as much as I loved learning. But I had bad social skills and almost no discipline outside of homework.
That all changed with music. I’m not going to say I was born with musical talent. I personally don’t believe the “it’s in the blood” BS people say about musical inheritance. Truth is I practiced my butt off to better myself. But I loved the hell out of music and my father, who is the best Dad ever (no, you’re Dad doesn’t compare; my father is the bestest best Dad there ever was or will be.), was more than happy to help patronize my interest in music. He was a brass player himself but I still think musical inheritance is a load of BS.
I practiced all the time, and not only that, but I learned a key thing about practicing, a principle I try to take with me whenever I learn something new. It’s far better to do a little of something every day than a lot of something in one or two days a week. (Why yes, this does apply to my current comic slump, but I’ll get to that).
This self-discipline bled over into highschool and wow, what a change! I went from poor kids in normal classes to extremely rich kids in AP classes and most of them weren’t jerks! God, it’s amazing what affect poverty and moderate affluence has on people. The worst, I mean the worst bullies I’ve every encountered, looking back, came from very poor, broken households where people have just given up and want nothing more than to bring you down with them. Of course, I didn’t know this at the time, just that I really, REALLY liked AP classes. I didn’t care that it was harder, that it, combined with Band, was sucking my life away, that I was missing out on so many other really cool things like Pokemon, or Video Games, or Star Trek, or The Simpsons, or any form of technology newer than my five year old computer that still had dial-up and ran on Windows 95. Or webcomics.
Because of my dedication I really didn’t have a rebellion faze until College, nor did I really know what I wanted to do with my life, and that I would eventually drop out of college from being so fed up with school. No, at the time, for the first time in my life, people weren’t making fun of my Goddamned Shoes! Wow.
I still had my One-Up academic mentality, but I was gradually learning a new skill. How to endear myself to others. Not exactly how to make friends per se, but knowing that by doing favors, people would like me.
I liked being liked.
That’s an understatement. I craved it, I yearned for it. If getting the best grades meant being liked by the Teachers, then doing little small favors for people would mean being liked by my peers.
There’s a Rush song about Living in the Limelight and how ultimately it’s better to accept alienation as a price for fulfillment and true joy and boy did it ever apply to me. My need for being perfect, for being the best, followed me through high school and into college. To one-up my life.
And that’s when, during the spring break of 2007, in my second year of University, my life changed completely.
Simply put, I discovered the Internet. And with that, Webcomics.
At the time I was already disgruntled with college life. Really? This all seems like more highschool. I’m paying out the donkey’s rear for this?! Will I even get a decent job that I like? What do I even like? What am I doing here?!!
That spring break, sitting at the computer and just taking it easy for once in my life, I happened upon a webcomic about Transgendered people, and I believe the name of it (though it might have changed) was called Transgeneration.
It’s annoying but at this point I feel I should back up. See, there’s one other thing about me I’ve neglected to mention until now. Ever since puberty hit I’ve kind of felt like two people. Not really a girl full time (though sometimes it certainly feels that way) not really a boy full time, but sort of shifting back and forth. I had to find some outlet for this need to express myself and since crossdressing was so expensive and I was scared of anybody finding out, so that outlet became writing and that writing was called Max and the Magic Lens. It was my life, my one way of capturing my true feelings and letting them loose on the world. I kept it secret from my family for years until I finally finished the book. It’s passé now, but let’s just say I got rejected once, uploaded the chapters here on DA, and never really wrote another novel again. That may change in the future, but that’ll be on my FUTURE titled journal entry.
Getting back to webcomics, though, I had never really considered turning my half-assed marginalia in actual comics with visual characters doing all kinds of crazy hijinks and letting my own gender confusion joyfully take part in it all. But other artists did. Dan Shive, Chris Hazleton, The creators of the Wotch . . . they enthralled me and were the crystallizing influence on my eventual decision to drop out and pursue art as a career.
This decision has had a massive effect on me, to this day, and one I’m both thankful for, and extremely perturbed by.
Simply put, from 2007 to about 2012, I was obsessed. Utterly obsessed. I didn’t see struggling artists barely making ends meet I saw successful entrepenuers with incredible business strategies. I didn’t have feelings of shared sorrow, but feelings of intense envy, even rage. Here I was working my arse off and here were these other people making a killing. I even wrote things . . . stupid stupid things . . . on different forums that I still feel ashamed of now but can’t erase.
I was obsessed and from my college rebellion I had regressed into an angry little child, unaware of the world, and demanding happiness from it.
To my credit my art has gotten better, but I always ask myself, has it been worth the price? Would I have done better to stay in school, to get a decent career, to not anger so many people with my own petty ignorance?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s just as well. Maybe, had I done things differently, I would have died in a fire. Who can say?
But I had forgotten self-sacrifice, I had forsworn real life needs, for my insatiable lust for One-upping even the web-comic artists I had admired. I even neglected getting a job and became a leech on others.
Again, ironically, by trying to One-up those with whom I was obsessed with, I had become a total looser.
Finally, things came to a head when my father sold the house I had lived in for sixteen years and I was forced to find a place to live. To get a job. These were some of the most miserable years in my life.
As many of you know I tried my hand at truck driving . . . it didn’t go so well. From being bullied by middle schoolers I was now being bullied by my own bosses. And I had to sleep with them!
Anyway, it humbled me a bit, to say the least, and from it at least I was able to pay off some debts I owed, so I’m thankful in that regard. But I never wanted to drive a semi again.
And, of course, I paid for that desire. I didn’t drive semis anymore. Now . . . now I was living out of my car . . .
This was way, way harder for me to accept than the concept of Death. It took me two whole months to come to terms with this.
Me?! Homeless?! Destitute?!
I did everything right! I did no drugs, I had good grades, I never, not once, got in trouble with the law. I WENT TO COLLEGE!
Heh, it’s kind of funny in hindsight and boy am I happy that I can laugh on it now, because it really, truly changed me. From that experience I learned something that had eluded me my entire life; it’s not always about me. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes you go to college and you end up homeless. Sometimes you can seem successful and be in the worst kind of hell. And it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, what race you are, what gender you are. We all go through our own hells in our mad quest for desire and fulfillment, and instead of trying to one-up each other all the time perhaps it’s better to prop up each other instead, to appeal to other’s feelings and be the side character in another person’s story.
I still harbor feelings of self fulfillment and I’m learning how to appreciate myself better as well, but from the time I was homeless onwards I will always remember to play a bit part in somebody else play and that a non-primary role can be just as important as a main character, that sometimes we are needed as support staff, rather than as the eager pre-madonna .
Well, as you know, eventually I got myself out of homelessness by admitting defeat, going home, getting an old job back, and I’ve been at that dead-end job ever since. It barely pays enough for my own autonomy but I can’t save a dime. However, I’ve since gained an ever increasing circle of friends IRL and they’re keeping me well above the abyss of depression.
So, if any of you are interested, my next journal entry will be about my present condition, and after that it will be about what possible futures may be in the works.
Thank you all for listening and thank you all for sticking with me.
You guys are a treasure.