Sleep deprived

So I told myself a few days ago that I’d take a break. I’ve been painting nonstop for about two weeks. I had several orders. Quite frankly, it burned me out a little, which was the whole point of having a few days of lazy, useless days filled with bad television and masturbation. But by god if I could stop myself. What do I do? Paint some more. And I can’t sleep.

I’ve had snippets of sleep, 3 hours one day, 4 another. This has been going on for a few weeks. My mind is constantly going, giving me the runaround through a bunch of pitiful memories I’d much prefer to forget. It’s been 8 months? What the fuck is there to think about, sweetheart? Shit is over and done.

I’ve been trying to control my thoughts a little more. I get obsessive about things—I admittedly have a lot of OCD kind of tendencies. I probably wash my hands about 35-40 times a day. I have this thing about needing my hands to be clean. Imagine the same thing with thoughts—I’ve heard these sort of things go hand and hand. I will literally replay a moment of humiliation over and over and over. It gets to the point where I will put my hands on either side of my head and push. And even then, it won’t go away.

I was thinking about it, and ridiculously, Harry Potter came to mind. I kept thinking about building a sort of mental wall, something to block out the sound. Instantly, I get this mental image of a heavy steel door, like one that might be at the entrance of a bank vault. It’s shimmering and solid and seemingly impenetrable. I put that stupid bitch behind it. I can barely hear her screeching above the sounds of her clawing and pounding at the door.

Don’t like being locked away? Each time it comes back, I put up the door. The monsters pound away at it, but true to its nature it doesn’t budge. I know one of them has gotten an axe, and much like The Shining, I see the door bend and dent, but even then it does not fully yield. I think I’m going to keep the door.

And I still can’t fucking stop painting. And Christmas has come already, apparently. I wrapped up my boyfriend’s present in some horrible, glittery wrapping paper that covered me in sparkles for the entire day. If I so much as move a little too quickly, I’m suffocated in a cloud of glitter. Why so early? I decided to have a bidding war on ebay and got the gift sooner than I intended. Thrill of the chase and all that.

I also feel like I accomplished something today:

I brushed my hair.

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Eating away time

The one thing I can’t stand about art is my own unforgiving criticism of my own work. It’s so bad at times that I generally give up when I’ve only just begun. I have no faith in my abilities, and I’m trying to figure out where that comes from. Low self-esteem, I suppose. I’m doing this one painting on commission, and I’ve spent well over 20 hours on it. I’m caught between hating it and trying to give the recipient what they want. What is desired isn’t aesthetically appealing to me, so I just keep sitting in my chair staring at the damn thing, scowling and cursing at it under my breath. I should be perfectly capable of backing away and realizing that it is what it is, but the urge to pick at it is irresistible. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last two hours, sprawled out on my floor, glaring at the damn thing. I’m exhausted from doing it. I’ve been at it since 9 this morning, off and on, and now it’s 7. And I can’t stop. I don’t understand it, but I can’t stop. At the same time, I want to lift the huge fucking thing and throw it out a window and into the road so a car can run it over. 

I’m irritable and tired. It’s like the telltale heart; a pulsing, beating thing that can’t be ignored. It’s going to keep wriggling in my brain like a worm working through the meat of a rotting apple. It’s fucking there, leaning up against the wall. And yeah, I’ve got issues and that shit is STILL fucking there. I want to finish, strap it in a box and send it away. But it’s not done, it’s still not done after all that damn toiling. 

How can something be so hateful and consuming when it’s not speaking? But it is speaking! It’s fucking hideous and oh god, did I really spend all that time on it? And if I don’t spend more time on it, it’s never going to get better and I’m going to have to send it wrapped in a paper bag because I’m so ashamed. But if I spend all night on it, it’s bound to get worse, but if I leave it for tomorrow I won’t be able to sleep. It will be there leaning against the damn wall, this wretched monolith magnifying my insecurities and humiliation. All night. And I’ll see it in my fucking mind’s eye and it’s not going to go away. My hate for it is not going to disappear. 

Even if I cover it with a sheet, I’m still fucked. It’s going to take hours to fix that garbage. 

Practice makes perfect? And the skull hunt….

I got up early. Yes, feel free to gasp in utter astonishment. Okay, it wasn’t that early, it was 11:30, but hey that’s an improvement from the day before when I rose from slumber at 5:00pm after being awoken for dinner….Haha. No one can surpass me on that one. Hell, I would have slept even later if I hadn’t been woken up. Anyway, on with it.

I decided to actually attempt to improve my driving; I’m getting very antsy about this whole ‘job’ idea. Who knows, maybe just a desire for cold hard cash here and now. Plus once I start making money wherever I end up working, then I can start paying the insurance on the car for myself, which will take an IMMENSE amount of pressure from my shoulders, and surprise surprise, actually make driving a pleasurable experience rather than a torturous one. I crash, I pay for it, plain and simple—that would be an independence I have been waiting for since I was 15. Anyway, today was throw myself into the pits of Hell day. I parked in horrible spots on purpose, drove across roads I typically avoid because the highway traffic is a pain to cross over, and even tried my hand at parallel parking. It wasn’t fun, but I did it. I was in a very stubborn, angry mood all morning, so it was a good day for me to finally ‘face the demon’ so to speak.

Later, after I got home, my dad was telling me about an elk skull he saw when he had been hunting about a week prior. Somehow, by some miracle, he actually agreed to go with me and show me the relative area it was in (he couldn’t recall exactly where it was, only a general spot). More driving lessons, in which, he did not yell once. Truth be told, I haven’t driven with him since I was about 16. It got so depressing and made me literally want to hate him, so naturally I was not thrilled at the prospect at having to be in a car with him while I was driving it. But hey, this time no stick shift, wonderful automatic and plenty of hours driving with mom (all the way to Vegas and back once, even).

Driving there went well, it was finding the skull that was a huge pain. He knew it was by this old wrecked car, out in the field beyond the road, but unfortunately the area was full of underbrush and toppled trees, which made the search…difficult. It took a few hours of straffing back and forth, over the same sections again and again. I’m surprised he tolerated it that long; who knows what got into him. He checked one side, I the other.

After a long while, he finally was starting to admit defeat, that someone must have found it and taken it. But I knew it was out there, even if we wouldn’t find it today. Skulls stay on the side of the dirt roads for years, so the likelyhood of someone taking this particular skull in the middle of a field wasn’t all that high at all.

We had to search A LOT. There was a ton of ground to cover, and it was raining off and on. Generally I enjoy the rain, but not in this instance; the cloud cover made it difficult to spot the distinctive white of a sun-bleached skull that on a sunny day would stick out vividly. I did find a few small bones, and searched quite a bit in that area but came up with nothing else.

I was in the complete opposite direction on my dad, when I finally see him, just barely, in the distance. I pick out something big and white that he’s carrying, and realize that he’s found it. He sees me and stops, and waves the skull above his head. He also found an arrow, which made him happy because he’s been trying to collect all the bow-related equipment to get better at archery.

The skull is blindingly white. It’s crushed in a lot of spots, but it’s still pretty cool, being an elk skull. I also finished the skull I was painting today, and glossed it finally. I added a few more flowers and crazy shit to it; it came out better than I expected it to. Then I have the new one to work on along with another skull that my dad and godfather found; it actually has partial antlers though again, a somewhat crushed face. It’s very small too, it’s a deer skull rather than an elk skull.

This is the one we found today. You can tell it was out there for a long while—there was no gunk on it whatsoever, and it is very white from being exposed to the elements for so long.

This is the one my dad and godfather found on the side of the road no less. It’s very small compared to the others; the teeth are about human-sized, whereas the elk teeth are the size of quarters. The side is smashed in, but I really like that it still has a bit of the antlers on it.

A side view of the same skull. You can see the other one next to it, which makes it seem about the same size, when in actuality this one is quite a bit smaller. But even that elk skull next to it is small in comparison to the one I have hanging on the wall of my bedroom….

The painted elk skull. The gloss really helped bring out the colors of the paint; they were very dulled before because of the black spray paint. I had to do several coats over each painting (hence some of the mistakes) because the color kept fading out because of the black underneath it. It was a pain, but I’m glad it came out alright in the end.

A side view. I decided to do a flower design around the eye socket…how charming. Haha.

Another side view. I tried to vary the designs, but I’m not all that creative about flowers and happy things. I had to set the skull aside for several days because I kept running out of ideas of what to paint onto it that was…fitting with the theme.

Close, top view. That’s the ‘eye of nature’, and some other random crap. The larger flowers are ones that I learned from an artist who used to paint me. She gave me a few lessons on how to give flowers a bit more depth and demention, so that they aren’t so plain. I really never thought that I would ever be painting again, especially something that would need flowers. It was interesting trying to pry that old information out of my head….

Another close one of the top of the skull. I don’t know what’s with that one crazy design, I just decided I wanted something big that wasn’t a flower.

Side view, more close this time. I did a daisy. I also lined the teeth in red, which I saw on a lot of day of the dead skulls that I looked up. I like the red because it reminds me of gums, oddly enough. Makes it more ‘alive’ or something.

There are mistakes here and there, but I’m rather happy with it. I’m just glad I didn’t entirely ruin the skull like I thought I would.

Projects: An excuse to be occupied.

I’ve been trying to keep busy; staring into space gets old after awhile.

I’ve had a halved elk skull sitting on my deck for at least a few months, telling myself that I’d get to it eventually. Apparently ‘eventually’ was a few days ago when I was struck with a creative streak. Don’t ask me what happened, I have no idea…. I think it was the curtains. Yes, I moved beyond “caveman” and decided that sheets just weren’t cutting it. Now I have curtains to match Salem’s fur. They don’t have black curtains anywhere; it’s this huge mystery I can’t solve. Curtains are technically there to block out light, so what the fuck is somebody supposed to do with white curtains? I’ll never know…. Anyway, I had to make curtains. Came out quite nicely, actually. Who knew I could be so domestic.

On with it…I’m rambling today…. So let’s just pretend that black spray paint is my muse, because I took one look at the can, then glanced over at the skull and had an idea…. I was spraying the curtain rod things, because they were unevenly painted and bothered the perfectionist in me, but that damn skull, I saw it when I walked by with the can…. Well, I have an obsession. I shouldn’t have really even kept that particular skull, as it was in HALF and broken a lot inbetween, but I can’t resist skulls. And I knew it was going to look like shit if I just glued it together with superglue and glossed it over with furniture gloss. There are pretty substantial chunks of skull missing compared to the others I’ve collected—it is in very bad shape compared with Belial, but elk skulls are hard to come by, so hey….

I spray painted it black after I glued the two pieces together. I made certain to cover over the teeth with tape so that they could stay blinding white, which is a nice contrast to the black.

There it is just black.

Then I did something totally unexpected…I took out my paint set…. I think originally I was thinking “day of the dead”, you know, the happy flower shit. And then this is what happened:

I only realized when I started to paint the eye on the upper part that there was a whole theme to it. I was putting meaning into it. Nature, life, death. Nature sees everything, she accepts it all, perpetuation, cycle, etc. The eye is red, because to any normal person nature seems cruel and uncaring, but it’s just her way.

It’s not done. I have some blank spots to fill in and I’ll gloss it over when I finish painting on it.

Why I write.

I had a teacher (a highschool teacher) tell me once that my opinion didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I could write a good paper. My rebellious streak couldn’t handle that, so I wound up with many a C on my papers because I blatantly refused to not give my opinion when a paper asked for it. My teacher had pretty much instilled in her students that there was a “right” opinion, and any paper differing from that opinion was “wrong”. She never actually said that I was wrong, instead she spent her time lecturing me, telling me that I’d have to rewrite my paper. After a fourth rewrite, she’d tell me that my paper still needed work. Everything about it would be perfect, English has always been my strongest subject, and when she started going on her political tirades during school, I finally realized what I was doing wrong. I wasn’t writing what she wanted; my view was the opposite of hers.

The results of this were rather bad. I’ve never had a high self-esteem to begin with, and being told I was a terrible writer came as a crushing blow to an already pathetic ego. I had given her one of my short stories, which she promptly butchered and told me was awful. She said my lead character was too depressing and cruel. It struck me as somewhat ironic, as the events in the story had all happened to me, and my lead character…he was me.

I started out thinking that I knew what I believed, that I was good at something, then by the end of my highschool career, I was so far in my hole of depression at that point (not because of writing, but a slew of other problems), compounded with all of this talk of how I’d never be a good writer, that when I took my year off I had to spend the time repairing my ego to its former deflated self in order to be able to survive college. And of course, then I was told, college would be different, harder but different. Ha.

The entirety of my schooling (minus highschool), I’d come to believe that I was an okay writer. My stories weren’t the kind that got read in front of class, but they were enough to get me As and Bs on papers. My friends feigned interest in my writing, but soon stopped praising me when I didn’t incorporate them as characters. I was only good when I wrote about them. Otherwise, they told me that didn’t like my stories. I didn’t pay them much mind though, as my elementary school teachers and junior high teachers had always told me that I was an excellent writer. I’ve never been excellent, but I’ve been passable. If you want to know the truth, what I did was never good enough. Someone was always so much better than me. My mother used to say sometimes, “there’s always going to be someone better, just don’t worry about it”. I’d secretly wonder to myself, why can’t I be that person? Why must I always be second? I was never the best at anything, which probably had a lot to do with how I felt about myself. One of my friends wrote so much better than me, another friend was far superior to me at drawing. I was just stuck in the middle, mediocre, never anything more. And I knew I never would be.

Everyone always told me that at college they wanted to hear your opinion. I’d come to the conclusion that the only reason they now supposedly wanted to hear my opinion was that they were sure I’d already been brainwashed enough in highschool to hold the same opinion they did. Oh how wrong they were. My year off had done me some good.

I spent my days of boredom and isolation developing an opinion of the world. An opinion that led me to believe that not only am I not good enough, but the people around me do not hold to that standard either. Sure, I’m a horrible person. I’m self-centered (which is odd considering the self-hatred that runs through my veins), I’m misanthropic, I’m rude when I don’t like someone, my beliefs are so eccentric that even weird people sometimes don’t get me. I’m fucked up, yeah. But I managed to gather enough proof that not only am I an idiot, but I do know a few things, not much, but enough to pull me out of the flock of sheep as a misshapen, mangy wolf. Compared to the other wolves, I am nothing, but at least I am above the sheep. Sounds all rather conceited/inferiority complex, doesn’t it? I really don’t get much how it works either, but I understand it enough to acknowledge that it’s true, and that whatever I do, I will be trapped in this vicious whirlpool until my death.

My novel began during that year, and slowed to a screeching halt, when again, I stopped believing that I had any ability whatsoever. I know now that I will always hate my writing, and it will never be satisfactory, even if I write everyday of my life.

Upon entering college, I immediately was thrown back into the same situation that I’d experienced in highschool: an English teacher that hated my opinions. She was nice enough to tell me I was a good writer, but her grades spoke otherwise. I quickly discovered upon several experiments that there was a trend…. The papers that I had “faked” myself on…had good grades. What do I mean I faked myself? I gave the opposite opinion than what I would normally give. And let’s just say..those papers…they weren’t half as well-organized and put together as the ones where I’d spoken my mind. I knew instantly that this was the game my other teacher had played with me. And again, I decided that I was going to stand by what I believed, even if it meant not getting the grade I wanted. My mom talked to me again, this time telling me that, “just write what she wants you to so that you can get a better grade in the class”. I’ve never been one to bow down to authority, I may have pretended to, sure, but my brain was never in it.

Everyone that spoke in the class was on the teacher’s side, so I wound up being the one person army on the end of the room, responding to each and every comment the enemy made. They’d just sit there and stare at me, dumbfounded that someone had found flaws in their shitty little assumptions and repeated statements made from their servile minds. I hated every one of them. My teacher seemed somewhat taken aback that the youngest person there was also the most outspoken, and she often was forced to admit that I was right about some things. Regardless of my grade (which came out pretty good in the end due to a paper I had to write about my own writing), she hadn’t been mean. She wasn’t the malicious sort of teacher that my highschool one had been. She was genuinely concerned about our writing, and even with her bias, I didn’t completely hate her.

It was good, I guess. Good that in my first round of college I was again confronted with someone who couldn’t keep their opinion out of their grading. It’s strange, because all of that critiquing and nitpicking at my writing probably made me a better writer in the end. That, along with one of the best teachers I’ve ever had (I plan to take more of her classes), an anthropology teacher whose entire class was based upon using facts instead of opinion.

I will never like my writing; it’s a fact I’ve come to face. It will never be what I want it to be. I’ll never be able to write satire like Chuck Palahniuk, I’ll never be the poet like Edgar Allan Poe, I’ll never be a philosopher like Friedrich Nietzsche, I’ll never be able to make religion interesting like Anton LaVey, but I figure that the more I spend trying, I can’t get worse.

I write because I’m stubborn, and I don’t give a shit if it sucks, or if you or I don’t like it. I write because I like to say things that people find disgusting, or that make them uncomfortable. I write because my life is a pile of meaningless garbage and writing gives me something shiny and new that I couldn’t have otherwise. Most of all though, I write because I want to rub it in all of their faces. I want them to know that I don’t care. They can tell me I’m terrible, my books would go straight to the discount bin, or that my characters are too villainous, my plots too dull and uneventful, but I’m still going to write, because I just don’t care.

And on a side-note, I have to say, the talk of college being the place of “freedom of speech”, somewhat true, in the sense that if you have the balls you can get away with saying whatever you want. But just remember: your grade might suffer.