So far, this journey has been a bit dizzying, yes? Well, as you may recall, I really didn’t know where this all was going when I first began this craziness. This was, more or less, nothing more online to take up some cyberspace – a bit of psychobabble regarding life and the random taking of certain liberties from it. This was about the pursuit of slap-happiness and the search of the “New American Dream.”
As you know, my life is in transition. Not only am I now in the process of moving into a new apartment, but I’m also in the process of unpacking and downsizing my possessions. A great number of the boxes I’ve gone through haven’t been opened in 7 or more years. The reason behind this is simply living an unstable life for, well… quite a long time now. I’ve lived on the streets, in broken down cars, and spent a while bouncing from one eviction notice to another. This, as you may already know, is no way to live. I have merely “existed” all this time, similar to this blog. But, in both, I have discovered a couple of problems. Of course, I would like to take up a few hundred words and explain these problem as it helps to understand why they’re there and how they came to be. Obviously, there’s no real desire to bore the living hell out of you. So, if you suffer from ADD, ADHD, or sheer laziness – or you just happen to have a short attention span and/or a dreadful fear of being bored to death, feel free to skip to the end. Eventually, I will start talking about a few hypotheses I’m testing out in my quest for solutions. Just look for the magic phrase, “Proposed Solutions,” in bold, friendly letters below. Now, for the rest of you… grab some coffee. It’s going to be a long, slow, painful ride down Memory Lane.
The statement was made in the first post that I needed a change of routine and a change of lifestyle. The problem is… I’m not your average 9-to-5 kind of guy. Oh, I’ve tried to teach myself to be one. But, let’s face it… it’s probably much easier to teach a fish how to breathe air.
Like a great number of people on the planet, I’m an artist. Now, what that actually means is obscure, really. Artists are all unlike one another, probably more so than those whom are not artistic. Being creative is just the tip of the ice berg. Artists tend to have their own unique way of seeing life which not only sets them apart from everyone else, but apart from one another as well.
This is not to say we’re better or worse than everyone else. No. This is just to state that there are those differences that set us apart. In my case, for example, I cannot, for the life of me, hold down a steady job. Something always happens that triggers events which lead to either my untimely dismissal from a job or which causes me to simply cut my losses and walk away from it.
My last job was in Denver at the beginning of 2009. That lasted a mere seven weeks. Each paycheck I received in that time was shorted, building up to almost $10,000 in unpaid wages. And, between that and the wreck in Kansas, I lost everything. But, what I haven’t explained was why I was in Denver in the first place. Well, it’s simple really. I was trying to build a “real life” in my attempt to change how things were for me. I was trying to do more than “existing.” And, like they say in football, it was a “false start.”
Bottom line, I dropped the ball. I thought I was doing the right thing and had it all under control. But when I got hit with opposing forces, I fumbled in the worse way. I was not prepared for that and, while standing outside of a cheap motel room in Oakley, Kansas, I realized just how fucked up things can get.
The term “rock bottom” is a bit of a misnomer. The bottom is more like a collection of soot and ash, like the aftermath of a house fire. When you hit it, you left to look around at the scorched ruins of your life and make your attempts to salvage the remains.
When we returned to Florida after being “rescued” by my roommate’s father and brother-in-law, I fell into a deep rut. The job market here was non-existent. I have spent the last year and a half trying to find work, coming up empty on almost all fronts. I did find a gig with an alumni directory business, but that didn’t work out. I’m no salesman and getting on the phone trying to conduct interviews isn’t my bag. The first night I was on the phones, I had something similar to an anxiety attack. That job lasted a whole 3 days.
Like many times before, I am out of work. (Not a good thing to be without when trying to move into a new apartment, but it couldn’t be helped really.) The house we moved back to was my roommate’s parents house and, well… things went south for all of us. Back in the beginning of this year, my roommate’s mother passed away suddenly. And, thanks to my lack of income, we found ourselves a thousand plus dollars further in debt at the end of each month since. Bottom line, we lost the house. My roommate’s father is moving at the end of the year, but he has graciously decided to hook us up with a place we could move into and loaned my roommate enough money to help us get into it.
Of course, I have left out one major detail. In this time, I met a lovely lady in Shanghai who offered to help me out in a huge way. And, as I’m sure you have already guessed, something happened. In this case, things didn’t work out. Why? Well, what can I say? I fucked it up. Caught between trying to rediscover myself and failing at finding success, I found myself greatly conflicted inside and blew it all. To be completely honest, though, the whole idea of getting that help scared the shit out of me. I totally did not know how to handle it.
Of course, my old therapist had a word or two for this phenomenon. What that word or words were, I have no idea. That’s nothing new, though. There are many things in life I’m clueless on. Thinking “inside the box” tops that list.
Some people are nonconformists by choice. I am by default. This goes back as far as I can remember. Despite my intelligence, I did horribly in school. I often found myself bored with the studies and angered by how the human race existed. I was, for the most part, an outcast. Most people considered me extremely too weird and/or simply too socially awkward. This hasn’t really changed much, but I have discovered that beating myself up over it was a little more than a waste of time. Now, I just do my best to have fun with it.
Now, I’m a pretty much just a nice guy with strange ideas regardless to how I’m judged. I like helping people out just for the sake that it helps them out – and it gives me something to do while trying to help myself. Sure, I’ve been a victim of my own kindness a few times, but the pros outweigh the cons and I’ve learned how to spot most of the risks. Still, this habit really doesn’t do much for me in the means of an income – especially seeing how I do all of that for free.
I’ve also noticed something else… being nice to people creeps most people out big time! Sometimes, it seems most folks would rather find me lurking outside their window with a butcher knife than to give my assistance with their flat tire on the side of the road. Why that is – again, I have no clue. Just how things are, I guess.
Anyway, seems none of this behavior translates to employment. Or, maybe it has…
At work, the more I do, the more I’m just expected to do. It never led me to getting a raise, but it has lent a hand in getting me ripped off on many occasions. Bum luck? Eh… if you believe in luck, I suppose. But, something has got to change. This is no way to go through life, trust me.
And, now… some Proposed Solutions:
Back when I decided to dedicate my life to art, I had only one goal in mind: to make a living from what I could create. I figured if I couldn’t find a job and had the damnedest time trying to keep a job anyway, I might as well create a job for myself. So, seeing that the only thing I’ve been success with is creating art, it seemed logical that I should start there and see where it could take me. Sure, my first few attempts at this fell to earth Hindenburg-style. But, why give up? It’s not like I haven’t had some success with all this. I still freelance and have been doing that for 13 years now with small bursts of clients from time to time. I did create the position I had in Denver (and practically everything about that company was based off of a few ideas I brought to the table) from which I was ripped off. I did manage to get three degrees from college – all for the price other students were paying for just one – and did so with a 3.45 GPA. Not bad for a guy living in his car, right?
But, I have talked about becoming an author for years. I’ve spent those years studying the craft and teaching myself the lessons learned by the great masters. I have wild ambitions for becoming a filmmaker, too, and have done the same in that craft as I have with writing. In fact, I give credit this ambition for getting me into photography – another passion by which I am now possessed. Of course, talk is just talk. That’s why I finally sat down and started writing again a few months ago. Sure, it may not appear so by all those words above this line, but I’m tired of talking about it. I’m tired of being easily discouraged, distracted, and derailed. I’m tired of being fearful of repeating failures and I’m absolutely sick of being afraid of success.
Like I did with college, I have got to see things through to completion. Abandoning projects gets me nowhere. I don’t want to be that old barfly bitching over a bottle of bourbon about how I could have been somebody. I want to be the owner of that bar who throws those wild New Year’s Eve parties bragging about the “good ol’ days” and telling people to pursue their dreams by any means necessary.
Yeah, obviously I’m not that guy yet. But, that’s kind of what this whole thing is all about, no? This is that journey. That graphic I made to headline all this promises a novel. I will fulfill that promise. When I say that I am looking to make something out of life through my art, it’s not just because I have that undying passion to do so, but every intension to see it through as well.
And, yeah… there will be a few bumps along the way. There’s going to be some detours ahead. That has to be expected. That’s life in all its majesty. But, I will find a way to reach this journey’s end. And hell, if any of what I’ve said reminds you of your life, perhaps this could be your guide to find your own way Out of the Ashes.