burning my face off

full (16)I love fire. I was afraid of it as a child, but as I grew older and began to challenge myself to other new and frightening experiences, I decided it was time to meet flame and make a connection with it.

A few years ago, in the middle of a bad relationship, I watched my lover breathe a huge fireball. In a very unsafe and exaggerated manner. But Oh! it was beautiful, billowing out of his mouth. I was hooked. I learned through friends who had been doing it more carefully-to look up into the sky and send the breath with the flame, to sputter just right so as not to splatter, to use the right fluids…to wet down my hair and tie it back, to clear the area first…all the standard precautions. I began to breathe fire often, at most occasions, dancing under fireballs at parties, on the beach, even alone, in the desert, on a solitary road trip. Just to see it dancing. Just to feel the glare on my face.

I love fire.

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I’ll be back…

I’ll be away for a few days, solstice was lovely and i hope your holidays are too.

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print edition of poetry book!

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The print edition of my poetry book is now available!

For those of you who prefer actual ink on paper.

The book of essays goes to print tomorrow, there’ll be a kindle edition of that one as well. Pick one up! Or get both, that’d be awesome too. Or share the link with people who like poetry, the kooky bastards.

I’m pretty excited about all this. I’d never have done it without prodding, but now that it’s done and published I feel good about it. I’ll post links to the second book tomorrow once it goes live, and probably put a few new paintings up later tonight too (I have one or two things almost finished) 

UPDATE: Print and kindle editions of the essay/art/tattoo book are here!

The third book in the series will be mostly images: that one won’t be out til nearer the end of the month. And I am planning a kickstarter this month, for the horror coloring book, I’ll update when both of those projects begin!

Originally Published on: Oct 4, 2013

all sweetness and light.

just another negative asshole on the internet

just another negative asshole on the internet

I was reading someone’s site earlier, an artist someone pointed me to for ‘ideas about selling more art’.  The artist makes good stuff, illustrative art made from collage, very design-y, very positive and girly. It’s good art. Their art is on all kinds of stuff.

So I started reading their posts, and reading through their archives, and looking at the stuff they’re doing. And holy hell, talk about happy positivity and sugar smiles. Not a single negative thought, or statement. Not a droplet of anger, or unhappiness. I mean this girl is sweet as pie. Her life is made of rainbows and cupcakes. She’s never posted about being poor, or being sick, or being lonely. Not once. She’s pretty, she’s only a bit younger than me, she’s always encouraging, she has not a single personality flaw. And she’s nice about it too. She has her stuff licensed for home decor things, and has other companies wholesaling it or retailing it, and sells only originals here and there if the whim comes.

Listen, you guys. I see people like this, and I start to feel so shitty on myself. Like- I watch horror movies, and I curse, and I get negative. I’m often poor and sometimes sick and always a little off-kilter. I have done things wrong in my life and will likely continue to be fucked up in new and surprising ways on a regular basis. Sometimes I get in arguments, or drunk, or say things that are crass or offensive. I’m extremely imperfect and not always a good person.

And so, if I am not sweetness and light, how the fuck can I ever succeed? Success seems to require this…this peachy keen persona, this happy-up vibe and I just cannot do it, can’t fake it. Even if I could there’s decades of evidence for all my failures and bad behaviors! I mean…I don’t even know how one lives without troubles and fuckups and bad times. I couldn’t even write this post without cursing. I don’t even know if that can be real. But apparently it is real, and there are people like that, and they make GOBS of money on their works, without even doing much actual work. 
28308_1344575736648_1298901221_30981550_4061441_nCupcakes-and-sunshine people discourage me. I don’t know what to do now. This should be an inspiring post, but the more I read there the more I realized I will NEVER have that kind of following, that kind of draw. I’ll NEVER be a nice happy positive person that nice old ladies want to chat about at some frilly gift shop, it will just NOT happen. There are no major contracts for wholesaling in my future, there will be no fluffy bunny pillows at your local department store with my name on them, you can exit through the gift shop but my work isn’t for sale there.

I can try as hard as I want, encourage others to try, but in the long run, I’m still a negative asshole, and I still get depressed, go broke, have toothaches, and offend people. I love what I do but I also love to read true crime, look at gross and gory pictures, watch shitty horror movies and make fun of stuff. Do we have to be perfect to succeed? Do we have to grovel?

This life, how do people live it?

So then I go look elsewhere for something else to read. I hit on an article talking about Van Gogh and how great it is that his work has so much recognition, how high the prices are at auction. Man, he’s dead. He died broke and miserable.  And wasn’t some of his work “cultural appropriation”? All those japanese masks and flowers… also, dude was negative, unhappy, self-destructive, and all the rest.

Since reading and thinking about art didn’t cheer me up any, I’m going to watch Body Bags- and maybe a couple other shitty horror movies- and snuggle the dog.

holiday cards of all kinds.

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except in my house it’s solstice. hawkins has a huge box of ancient holiday cards, spanning from birthdays to halloween and every other holiday you can think of.

I’ve raided this pile to make my own holiday cards. most of the ones he has are pretty sappy, glurgey pictures of kittens laying on puppies and babies, twinkly reindeer and hearty santas with smiling children.

I can’t resist. I used a white matte paint marker, a calligraphy brush and ink, and a gel pen with glittery black ink to rework the cards, every last one of them.

I have never sent out cards before, it’s a new thing this year. I’m not sure why this year of all years but there you have it.

If you click through to read more, after the card pictures, there’s a pile of all the new stuff that I’ve been posting since last round of new-things-for-sale! I think anything you all order before the tenth is definitely going to get to you all on time, and I have a feeling that gifts you order up until the fifteenth have a good chance of making it as well. After that…well shit man, you need to buy presents early if you’re a present-buying person.

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new things after the jump.

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a story from my youth.

still not cool enough.

I was ten years old, and the house I lived in was next to a small playground/park. Of course back in those days I was usually unsupervised; I spent most of my time climbing trees, swinging on the swings in the little playground, or catching minnows and salamanders in the crick next to it, or climbing trees in our little patch of meadow, or looking for animal skulls or bones in the swamp behind it. I feel like I should draw a map, but these little places were maybe within a few acre’s range of my house.

Unsupervised outside was the usual routine then. Almost every kid in my little neighborhood was the same- this was the seventies, and parents threw their kids outside as much as possible, only calling them in for homework, dinner, and bedtime. This was before video games, before the internet. We had TV but there was nothing on for kids my age at that time of day, right after school.

One day, I was at the swings, and two slightly-older, really cool looking girls that I didn’t know were there. They were on  the swings, hanging out together, talking. I wanted to be their friend! I really really wanted them to like me. They were just amazing! They had cool haircuts, and awesome clothes, and wore makeup, and they were talking about really cool stuff like riding bikes and smoking and where they were going over the summer. They were rich white girls from town, just hanging out in my little playground by the woods. I was in awe of them the way only a ten-year-old bookworm math geek can be in awe of worldly, confident and successful people. My heart was swollen in my chest, and I grew enthusiastic as I listened to them chat with each other.

I tried to talk to them, and they started teasing me. “You’re too young,” one of them said, “You’re too young to hang out with us. Go away.”

Of course I didn’t go away. I kept trying to get involved in their cool conversation. In retrospect I was being incredibly annoying, in retrospect all kids that age are annoying most of the time. One of them finally asked me a question. “How old are you, anyway?”

My heart leaped! They were going to be my friends! “I’m ten, ten years old!”

I will astound them!

I will astound them!

“Bullshit!,” she replied, “There’s no way you’re ten. You’re like…eight. Eight years old. Stop lying.”

“NO I AM TEN I AM NOT LYING” I felt my face get red hot. I was in fact pretty small for my age- I was the shortest person in my class, and always unhappy about it. I was also embarrassed, ashamed, I don’t know why now and I didn’t know then, either.  I whined, “I’M REEEEEEALLY TEN YEARS OOOOLD”

She looked at me and said, “Prove it. Show me your report card or something.”

“I WILL” I said, and started running home. I got home, shuffled through papers (seriously, I was in awe of these two girls) found my latest report card, snuck it past my mom out the kitchen door where she stood smoking a cigarette (“what do you have there? why are you being sneaky? get back outside and play”) and ran at top speed back to the swingset, triumphant, ready to bask in my newfound coolness. Not only did my report card have my year in school on it (proving my age) but I ALSO had straight A’s that year! They were bound to love me after seeing that. I will astound them! So I ran with my paper in my fist, fast as I could, back to them. And when I got back to the swingset…

They were gone. They’d left. Those two girls didn’t care who I was, how old I was. To them, I was a pestering annoyance. Asking me to prove something was their way of getting me to go fuck off so they could escape my affections, their way of putting me down, of making me leave. I was so crushed, and suddenly, a lot of things made sense to me in a horrible new way.

Tests at school? Proving myself to people who didn’t care. Homework? The same. Chores?Proving myself to my parents, who should have already believed in me. Pretty much any kind of showing off, speaking up, explaining myself, anything, was people who disliked me, asking me to prove myself, in order to waste my time or get rid of me. Success was just a sham.

I swung on the swings for a while, alone, and then my mother called for me to come eat dinner. And that was that.

This memory is small, and isolated from other memories of my life at that time. The feelings that go with this memory are HUGE, and have made me feel that same burning shame, that same disappointment, even now, even into my adulthood. It’s incredible how massive the exact moment of disillusionment with the world can seem, when you’re young. I think it was two years later I started smoking, started slacking off in school, and sort of dropped out of the race to succeed in life. To this day, I am uncomfortable explaining myself, proving myself, showing my background or history or performance with people, or attempting any accomplishment that I can’t personally enjoy attempting. I stopped worrying about failure, that day.  I still  feel like doing some things is a waste of my time, is a fruitless effort for people who don’t give a damn. Still. I still feel that way. 

We all have our moments of realization, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. I’d have to call this my first epiphany. I think in one way it has served me really well, though. Because of the life I have lived and my lack of concern for social markers of success, I’ve done things that I loved, lived a very interesting life so far, and seen a lot of amazing things I would never have encountered if I was running the rat race. SO I am ok with this memory, this moment in my life. It’s all right by me.

The Secret Soul of America

images (2)I know a lot of folks from other nations who have a poor perception of Americans. They usually refer to wars, police actions, attacks, and poor choice of presidents as their reason for believing something terrible about us. They are missing the key to changing all those terrible things we do-
We are not bad people. In fact, we have a secret soul.

I know, you’re thinking of the blues, or of rap, or of Mark Twain, or about our affable naivetie. This is not what I mean.
Mr. Rogers. He is, in fact, the secret soul of the US.

(more after the jump)

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I am crazy wild this minute- excerpt from essay on the experience of mental illness, by Lara Jefferson, 1948

This, and the previous excerpt I posted, are small selections from the book “The Inner World of Mental Illness”, published by Harper & Row in 1964. It’s one of my favorite books, written by a variety of people in very different circumstances and with very different afflictions; all the stories have the same undertone of fear, grieving, and pragmatism.

I’ve read this book to shreds, literally.

Most of the chapters in it are excerpts from longer books written by the mentally ill, but some are merely short pieces, collected by doctors or nurses. I’ll post more of these if enough of you want more of them.

The book includes a variety of mental illnesses, so if you’d like an excerpt dealing with some other disorder, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best.

This excerpt is from “I am crazy wild this minute”, written by Lara Jefferson in the 40s. It was written on scrap paper and wrapping paper in a state hospital.

When her writing was discovered by staff, she was given a typewriter and encouraged to continue. Hospitals at that time were much more chaotic, and psychosis was not treated with as much compassion or medical understanding as it is today.

Had I been born in the age and time when the world dealt in a straightforward manner with misfits as could not meet the requirements of living, I would not have been much of a problem to my contemporaries. They would have said that I was “Possessed of the Devil” and promptly stoned me to death- or else disposed of me in some other equally effective manner.

I know I cannot think straight- but the conclusions I arrive at are very convincing to me and I still think the whole system is a regular Hades itself. …

I cannot conduct myself as the rules set forth because something has broken loose within me and I am insane- and differ from these others to the extent that I still have sense enough to know it; which is a mark of spectacular intelligence- so they tell me.

Here I sit- mad as the hatter- with nothing to do but either become madder and madder- or else recover enough of my sanity to be allowed to go back to the life which drove me mad.

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positivity

workingI like what I do.

It took a long time to get better at it (and I’m still only okay,) and during most of my life I have come across as a cynical, pessimistic person. I’ve usually played down whatever I was doing that was good or that I thought was awesome, just so as not to jinx things. I’ve jinxed stuff before and I don’t like it.

But through all of it I think I’ve always held deep inside a fundamental sense that things will eventually, somehow just be OK and that whatever I was doing at the time, as long as I enjoyed it, it made me happy, then all the rest would work itself out.

You have to decide what you like. That’s the hard part. I happen to like orange, so I painted my house orange inside. I mean, I rent, but fuck it, right? As long as it’s left how I got it… it can be orange as long as I live here. So bright orange, bright baboon-ass red, straight shock pink. All next to each other. I also like having tons of fun things laying around to pick up and make art or play with. So it’s kind of a haphazard mess of weird instruments, odd bits of plastic, paints. I live in Ville Villekula.

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just some halloween costumes.

clockwork orange costumeI am too sick to do anything for halloween, which is terrible. I have food poisoning…

so here are a few photos of past years.

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