Right now, tonight, I am lying in my bed, charged up with energy, but not sure if I should try to get anything done. It is long past my bedtime, and just a little bit ago, I was too tired to watch TV. Perhaps TV is just too tiring, too mind-numbing right now. Then again, it is Thursday. There really isn’t anything good on TV on Thursdays right now. I tried to lay down for bed. I took all my clothes off, took my extra garlic, turned out all the lights and lay down in bed.
“My mind is racing, as it always will. My hands tire. My heart aches from half the world away.” – REM
On my stereo right now, on repeat. Track eight, Out Of Time, and I don’t want to turn on the lights to find out what the name of the song is. This could be the saddest dusk you’ll ever see.
I saw two movies tonight. In between, sitting in the very dim light of a theater, waiting for the second movie to start, I couldn’t help myself. I drew a comic. Not just a strip. This thing took up a whole page, told a story, and had a punchline. I came up with it in seconds and I couldn’t have stopped myself from creating it if I’d wanted to.
I try to believe that I don’t remember my childhood, but I think I remember about as much as most anyone else. Sometimes it takes a little jogging to get my memories going, but the memories are there. I remember that even at a very young age I was drawing comic strips. My older sister and I used to sit around, literally all day, just drawing comic strips. At the time, we built tiny boxes with a little square cut out so we could show the comics one panel at a time. I think the idea was that it was like a TV show, but looking back on it, I was creating comics to be viewed through tiny windows long before web comics were invented.
That’s what’s just been running through my head. I’ve always done comics. I’ve always painted. I’ve always written. It’s not just something I wish I could do, or something I pretend I want to do to make myself seem more glamorous or artsy, it’s something that has been a part of me from the beginning. I heard someone say recently that a person’s entire personality is set in place by the age of six. I remember I wrote my first book (okay, it was a short, illustrated story, but I was young – it was a book) when I was in the second or third grade. Science fiction, if you can believe it. A theme I’ve written again, more than once, since then: someone’s scientific device does something they never expected it to, and wackiness ensues.
(I seem to use the phrase “wackiness ensues” to describe any kind of activities that come after an interesting setup. “A duck and a zebra walk into a bar. Wackiness ensues” – could be the description for a television pilot I’m writing; the important part is always the characters, the setup, not the wacky activities that take place.)
Let’s see. If I started Kindergarten at the tender young age of four, and I skipped most of First Grade, I must have finished Third Grade at the age of seven. I was doing comics way before that, and already writing amazing stories. I can’t remember painting on canvas until a little later on, something like my tenth or eleventh year of life, but I was certainly painting bisque from an early age. Maybe that’s why I get ideas for sculptures sometimes. I’m certain I get at least that part from my dad; he’s always working on one sculpture or another, and even though things get in the way of him finishing a lot of them, he has some really brilliant ideas and has created some really beautiful things in his life. I only hope to be able to create things like that straight from my imagination into three dimensions. The last thing I sculpted was a face. Not a head, a face. In fact, it is clearly a three dimensional representation of the face from a comic or cartoon, not a human being. I’ve never been very good at re-creating things that exist in the real world on paper, and I didn’t expect myself to in clay, either, but I do like it.
“My heart aches from half a world away”
I’ve always done comics. I’ve always painted. I’ve always written.
I’ve never made love. I’ve never had sex. In fact, at this point I’m so terrified that my inexperience will become problematic, that I will be unable to perform, that I feel like I don’t want to have sex at all. Ever. My performance anxiety is so crippling that just before I grabbed my laptop to write this, I couldn’t even masturbate. My performance anxiety has leaked into my fantasies now. I try to become aroused, to pleasure myself. I try to imagine making love to someone, or having sex with someone, or even just try to remember one of the good blow jobs I’ve received, and in my mind, in my imagination, I can’t maintain an erection and/or I can’t please my partner, and that is NOT a pleasure. I remember that once I was “very good with my hands” and could give out orgasms like candy, but I remember it like I remember sitting on the living room floor with my sister drawing comics all day on lined paper; it’s just not something I can reproduce. The last time I had my hands on someone, I felt like a scared teenager; I was lost. I’m not looking forward to trying that again any time soon. In fact, I’m actually dreading my own honeymoon, with no wedding in sight.
(Did you know that my penis curves to the left? When I urinate, the stream goes off to the left, so I always pee with my penis pointing off to the right so my stream will go straight down. Fully erect, the head of my penis points nearly forty-five degrees to the left, relative to the base of the shaft. Sometimes I imagine that my future wife will have a “lazy” or damaged right ovary, and we will be unable to produce children naturally because my sperm all goes the wrong way.)
Doing comics makes me happy. Painting makes me happy. Writing makes me happy. I’m probably more happy now than I would have been if I could have come up with a masturbatory fantasy where I didn’t fail. Being in love, giving of myself, sharing my life with someone: these things make me happy too. They come very naturally to me. I am an artist and a lover. I worry that my comics will not ever pick up a regular audience, that they will be looked down upon because of the art or the writing or the copy-paste I use freely. I worry that my paintings are so amateur-ish, that I will never be any better, that my paintings will never hang in a gallery or museum or on some stranger’s wall. I worry that my writing is too long, too short, too emotional, too dry, not personal enough, not realistic enough, too personal and realistic and that I will never write well enough to please myself or to be published, that I will never even finish one book. I think worrying about not doing enough for someone I love, about not being good in bed, about never finding someone to be with and love mutually through good times and bad, comes from the same place in me.
I think that just as I don’t let my own self-defeating attitudes and feelings stop me from picking up my graphics tablet or a pencil or a paintbrush, or setting down in front of a typewriter, I should not stop myself from loving. I made some comics today, and as I was making them, every time I read and re-read the dialogue, I laughed. Even if I never share them with anyone else, even if I start receiving hate-mail when I do, they were still worth it, because I enjoyed them, and enjoyed making them. It is the same way with love, I think. Even if my love is not mutually felt, even if the person I love hates me, or marries someone else, or moves away and never returns, loving them is worth it, because I enjoy being in love, and doing things for the people I love, and seeing them live their lives the way they choose to. A comic no one reads and love for someone “half a world away” are not worthless to the person that created them.
My communications teacher once challenged the class to try to come up with something about their lives that they couldn’t change, and three things about their lives that they would like to change. Something about the infinity of possibility, I think; don’t dismiss something because it is hard or seems out of reach – there is nothing you can’t change about your life. I was the only student at that time who was able to find the exception, and probably no one since has seen it – I saw it right away. The thing about my life that I cannot change is my past. There are things in my life that I have regretted, but never for very long. I cannot change the past. Anything and everything else, I can change, but not my past. So, I don’t try.
I think it is that sort of thinking that gives me so much hope. I believe in the infinity of possibility, and that although it may be difficult and take a long time, there is nothing I can’t change about my own life. I believe that everything is going to work out okay, and even though I don’t know how much longer that will be, I never stop believing that it is true. Still, sometimes I forget little things like that and do things that aren’t in my best interest, or that have nothing to do with changing my life for the better. Luckily, although I can’t change what I’ve already done, I can work harder to make up for lost time.
Well, I’m obviously past the really good, self-introspective, share-the-pain sort of writing. Sort of doing that utopian, happy-go-lucky, everything’s wonderful now sort of rambling that I seem to get into. Also, it’s so late that the date on this thing is wrong, and I have to wake up in the morning. So, I’m going to go try to imagine that I can maintain an erection for a while and then get some sleep.