Editor’s Note: This one will probably be long and include a lot of deep introspection. It’s going to wander a bit and be pretty stream of consciousness and less well thought out than most things I write, because really, its more just me trying to figure out my screwed up life right now. If you care about my crazy, insane, meandering, splintered psyche, I’d totally to hear your thoughts. Everyone else, please just ignore this. I’ll try to do something amusing tomorrow.
I’m going to be happy.
That’s probably really stupid sounding to most everybody, but it’s really a big deal to me. You see, normally I’m not happy.
When I was seven years old I decided I wanted to be an artist. It started with wanting to draw comic books, and as I grew older it kind of blossomed beyond that. So much so that by the time I was 17 and going to college I enrolled in art school even though teachers, counselors, friends and family members urged me to go into the much more profitable field of computer science instead. I eventually decided to "be smart" and take both art classes and programming classes so I had something to fall back on.
Let’s back up for a second. I had a lot of problems in highschool. Problems with my family. Problems with being a teenager. Problems with clinical depression. Problems with feeling like an outsider. Problems with being poor. Problems with life. I was basically a depressed and sometimes suicidal kid. In a lot of ways I was really shy and awkward. You know, just like every other teenager in america who thinks they’re in a boat by themselves. Honestly, I really didn’t like myself very much.
I made a decision when I went away to college. I decided to be someone else. Someone I did like. It didn’t happen totally overnight, but pretty damn quick. Everything from drinking myself silly at crazy parties, to sex, to white water rafting, to buying pinball machines, to cross country roadtrips to… I dunno… whatthefuckever I wanted to do. I had a blast. I became a completely different person. "Mav" had been a nickname that I’d used since I was 13. But in a very real way, over the years, I simply killed "Chris" off. I always find it funny when people try to call me Chris as a way of being personal with me. There is no Chris. There really isn’t. No one in real life calls me that. Maybe my mother on occasion. If I hear it in a crowded room, I don’t even look up. You’d have to say it like four times to get my attention. I don’t even know who that person is anymore. You might as well be calling me Barry or something.
A funny thing happened in college. I started hating art. I had a lot of problems with Carnegie Mellon’s art department. A lot of heart ache. If I were smarter, I wouldn’t have let them effect me. But even though I may technically be a genius, I’m apparently not very smart. So I did. And because of a lot of bitterness towards people who made me hate the one thing I’d ever dreamed of doing my entire life, I gave up on art. I honestly didn’t pick up a pencil to draw for about four years.
But I was learning something else at the same time. Computer Science, isn’t really about computer programming. It kind of is if you go to a community college or a technical school. But when you’re at one of the top five computer schools in the country. Not so much. It’s really about, well "Computer Science." Which, basically is something I don’t really care about which makes it really hard to study something.
I decided to become a writer. Probably a big reason is that it still felt like being an artist. It was being an artist. It was another way of telling a story. Of creating. And over the years I found that I really did love it.
Anyway, when I was graduating and started looking for jobs I decided I had to be responsible. I had a whole lot of debt to pay off and I knew that I’d be able to do that a lot better in the IT industry than I would being an artist or writer. I didn’t even look. I was 24 years old. It was time to grow up. The dreams of a seven year old child were just that. Dreams. It was time for real life.
I think that’s where it went wrong.
See, I had told myself that I was just trying to get out of debt. That when that was done, I’d return to being an artist and get on with real life. I found that I didn’t really HATE doing "real work" but I didn’t like it either. But so what, no one likes their job, right?
It’s nine years later. Nine fucking years. Steph and I had an argument the other day where she asked me point blank why nothing ever makes me happy. She said ever since she’s known me (nine years, I met her a little after I graduated), I’m always depressed about something.
Funny thing is, not caring about what you do apparently over a long enough time, turns into "hating what you do." Especially when it keeps you from what you want to do. Part of my unhappiness with various jobs over the years has been that I’ve worked for a lot of people who are in the business of doing a lot of things which I am philosophically opposed to (this is already long enough without me getting into details. But I’m very altruistic about certain things, and I get really depressed when I’m doing work that ultimately is serving causes that I consider… well… evil). But another big part of it, is that i resent work from taking time out of my day when I could be doing important things.
Work to live, don’t live to work. Nothing describes me more. I was talking with my mother the other day about that. A lot of people tried to get me to "hide my blog" when I was looking for a job. "Maybe you should take down all your sexy pictures on flickr. Maybe you should lock all of the posts where you talk about being prolegalization of drugs and prostitution. Maybe take down the stuff about being in favor of lowering the legal age of sexual consent, drinking, and voting. People might not want to hire someone like that." Well, see, there’s the problem. I AM someone like that. If its that important to someone that their employees not be sex crazed, pro-political reform, anarchistic, hedonistic artists, then maybe its best that I don’t work there. If they can get past that, and see that I am actually a really nice guy who’s pretty damn good at what I do, then none of us will be living lies, and maybe I might get along there. The only reason I work at all is so that i can afford to live my life as a sex-crazed pro-political reform, anarchistic, hedonistic artist. Or at least that’s the line.
But I let it get away from me. Steph told me that she hated that I was never happy. When I work, I bitch about working. When I’m unemployed I bitch about being unemployed. The thing is, she was actually wrong.
Maybe it didn’t show all that well.
I’ve spent most of today watching football and editing my 365 Book. A collection of the first year of this project. The photos, and edited versions of the thoughts that I’ve had. (It’ll totally be for sale sometime soon, and everyone in the world should buy one) I’ve been able to relive last year and see where I was as a person. Maybe it didn’t show, but I was REALLY happy when I wasn’t working. Actually, I was ecstatic. Because for the first time in my life, I really felt like I was what i wanted to be since I was 7. I was an artist. I didn’t have work to distract me. Every day was filled with me thinking of ideas and creating and posting them to the internet. And every day I got feedback from someone. Sometimes more people than others, but every single 365 day pic I have ever posted has had somebody say something about it. Sometimes positive, sometimes negative. I started the Tarot project. There was interest there as well. I basically had 9 months of being the person I’ve wanted to be my entire life. If that wasn’t clear to anyone, I want to make it clear now. That was the time of my life.
What I was depressed about was my guilt. That was the biggest problem I’ve had this year. I felt guilty. Basically, Steph had to support me. Especially once my unemployment and savings ran out. And I felt awful. I felt like my irresponsibly living out my life’s dream was killing hers. I was a burden on her and I never wanted to be that. I love her too much. So THAT’S it. That’s the reason I wanted to find a job. If I had the the option of living in a trailer park somewhere, making enough for the bare essentials by bar tending or something but still being an artist that that got to communicate with a couple of his few hundred fans every day of his life, I swear I would NEVER have gone back to work. But I couldn’t do that. It was time to be responsible again.
So I’ve gone back to work. Its only been two weeks. But I’m already kind of depressed. Why? Is it the fact that I’m making a lot less money than I expected (less than I’ve made in years)? I was thinking that was it, and it probably is part of it, but really, I’m making a ton more than I was when I was a bum.
No, actually its that I kind of hate the job. Not through any fault of its own, or the people there. I hate that its taken being an artist away from me. I don’t know if you can tell. But starting the day I went back to work, my daily motivation to work on photos took a serious nosedive. Basically, I don’t have the energy to do anything when i get off work. Deep down, I consider it a step backwards. It may be something I have to do, but its going back to being a nameless cog in the machine and away from being a romantic artist. It makes me tired. And being tired and not being creative depresses me. Which makes me even more tired and means I get even less done. I used to not sleep. Last year when I was working, I was sleeping maybe 4 hours a night and trying to get all my creativity done late at night. The last 2 weeks, I’m sleeping like 8 hours a night, and when I get home from work, I don’t have the energy to do much more than eat dinner and crash in front of the TV for like 4 hours. It’s an evil viscious circle and I hate it. And I hate me for doing it to me.
I can’t do that anymore. I can’t close my eyes and let another 9 or ten years go by. I can’t let some faceless entity take away the one thing I’ve wanted out of life since I was a child. And I can’t despise myself for not being the man I want to be. Not after I’ve lived my dream of doing it for nearly a year.
So here’s the new deal. I’m going to be happy. I can’t very well quit my job, because that would be unfair to Steph, but I’m done putting off my life.
From here on out, I’m the person I want to be. That means I work so I have enough money to live. And I live that life to the fullest.
– I will be an artist. I will do my best to create because it makes me feel special. To me art is created with glamourous shouts of beautiful models, with great composition and perfect lighting. if certain global technical companies happen to think that its just inappropriate whack material, fuck’em.
– I will play video games and pinball because I enjoy them.
– I will buy toys for myself because they make me happy. Getting out of debt is all well and good, but I’m done denying myself for it. I want something? From now on, I buy it.
– I will get drunk from time to time. Fuck being responsible. I like being silly.
– I will have crazy wild sex because I’m a slutty perverted bastard. Somehow, someway, I’m going to have an orgy with out-of-control, self-destructive former teen pop princesses and child stars who don’t know how to drive or wear panties. And I’ll film it and release it to the internet.
– I will jump up and down on the bed. Because I bought it damn it, and I can.
– I will quit smoking WHEN I’M DAMN GOOD AND READY!
– I will party like a rockstar. In fact, I’ve decided that I’m going to have a Halloween party. I was waffling on it, because my parties are expensive, but I love Halloween and fuck it.
– I will wine and dine with kings and queens and sleep in an alley and dine on pork and beans.
– I will finish my 365 book and my Tarot card deck and dammit, I will sell copies of both.
– I will start some other photography projects I have ideas for.
– I will catch a bolt of lightning and keep it in a bottle.
– I will fight the demons of Mt. Midoriyama.
– I will bring back Disco and Funk and New Jack Swing. And I will start the second Alex Vanderpool Era, because the first one really didn’t get enough play. I know many of you may not know what the first Alex Vanderpool Era was. Don’t worry, you will.
– I will die. One day, maybe tomorrow, maybe in 100 years. But I will die, and I’ll de damned if when I do I look back on any of this and regret a fucking thing.
– I am going to be happy. Fuck it.