Happy Birthday to Jen,
May I never see her again.
I ‘secretly’ took a little trip to Phoenix just now. Jen’s 21st birthday was Thursday, and her mother invited me to a surprise party for her a couple of weeks ago. So … I put together a gift, got myself insured to drive and permission to do so, wrapped up a $399 gift in hand-crafted, original wrapping paper, faced my ridiculous fear of driving and went down the hill to see her again. As you may remember, I was her date for Valentine’s Day, just last weekend. So … after a little communication hiccup that put me early and late to the party in the same evening, I arrived to see Jen back in the arms of her ex-boyfriend.
But I’d just spent a nerve-wracking three-plus hours behind the wheel of a car (I had to make a couple of side-trips; there are always things to get when one of us heads down to the valley), so I wasn’t about to just turn around and drive home. So I played along. And along. And along. Until I just couldn’t stand it anymore and very politely made my leave. May I never have to play along with Jen again.
Among the complicated, frustrating things about the situation of being around Jen and her S.O. is that he has no idea of my feelings for her. And she has warned me that if he got even a whiff of it, he would very likely become violent in defense of … whatever it is he thinks they have. So no matter how much I wanted to, there was no reasonable way for me to show any signs of affection for her last night. I tried a couple of times and she very quickly stopped me and gave me that look. I hate being ‘the other man’.
Fuck. Enough of that. Enough of her. I know her current S.O. was ‘the other man’ to the one before that, but I know it because she’s kept me on the sidelines for the last 6 years. Too much. No more. Jen, in case there was any doubt, it is a gift now to save me the pain of having to see you again and again and again while you work it off otherwise. If you ever decide seriously that you’re interested in being anything more than just friends with me, I’ll consider talking to you again, but not before then.
Good luck in Sweden.
Anyway, after driving around three hundred miles in the last two days I’m feeling pretty good about driving. Part of it, I think, was all those hours driving alone meant a lot of hours driving without someone sitting in the passenger seat nagging me about my driving. Nagging me about not driving fast enough (because I don’t want to drive too much over the speed limit, anywhere), nagging me about weaving all the time (less and less all the time, as I get the feel for the interface; I’m used to bicycles, people!) (and I weave 200% more than than when I’m walking, silly), giving me ‘tips’ when my creepy mind has more of the real driving rules memorized than they may ever have. When it was just me and the car and the road, it was fine.
Also, my combined driving hours of experience are now between 18 and 20 or so. Which coincides pretty well with my normal range of tolerance for any new setting, experience, or activity. It takes me, on average, 20 to 24 combined hours of experience with a setting, experience, or activity to become acclimated to it enough to begin to be myself. This applies to social settings like clubs and bars and people’s houses and bible studies (as I was explaining to my father the other night, re: my near-silence at our new bible study) as well as activities such as playing a particular video game or sport or (apparently) driving, and also to settings such as this: cooking in a particular kitchen, riding my bicycle in a particular neighborhood, etc…
Things like the bible study meetings which only exist for a couple of hours once a week at most seem to take a long time on the calendar for me to become comfortable in; it’ll be probably May before I begin to speak my mind and heart at this bible study. Things like clubs can be easier, because it is likely to spend more time at them per visit; it was not uncommon, when I went out dancing with friends, for us to arrive early-ish (such as 8 or 9, before a cover was charged) and stay until close (ie: 1AM), thus giving me four or five hours at a go, and allowing me to finally be comfortable after only four or five times there. My good friends, I think, have become used to this. When we would go to a new place and I would stand silently on the sidelines the entire time, trip after trip, they wouldn’t question whether I was having a good time beyond a normal friendly query. And if we kept going to the same place long enough, I would ‘suddenly’ begin to act differently, finally feeling comfortable with it and able to ‘mix in’.
Anyway, while you may or may not experience a similar thing yourself (I expect that you do, but with not as much as 24 hours needed), it should be clear enough that I can say that I feel that I have finally reached that point of acclimation with driving that I do not expect that it will seem such a big deal with me in the future.
Of course, finding the gas money and time may be. But we’ll see.
On that note, going to Phoenix doesn’t suck too bad when I have the means to get myself around the entire town instead of just where my feet can carry me. ie: I dropped by Zoe’s place to pick up a sander he’s lending me for some detail work until I can afford my own in a month or two, and whereas it took me over 45 minutes each way to walk there on previous visits, this time it was around 5 minutes, and no big deal. You may not have any idea how empowering it was to be able to just get up and make a quick trip down the road to shop for lampshades today. Or maybe you do, and you felt it when you were 16.
So I’m ten years behind the curve on the driving thing; so what? I got here eventually. All of a sudden between lack of severe anxiety about driving, lack of a job with a schedule, and my dad living here full time to take care of my grandparents, the horizon is moving. If this furniture-building thing works out and I end up making money, even just a little bit more than I need to keep my bills paid and make it to the ‘event’ trips I’ve already got in mind (ie: Comicon this summer and a Bahamas cruise this fall), I expect I’ll find the time and money to take other trips. See if I can find that little spot of land my dad owns outside Albequerque. See Melissa in Vegas and the new Star Trek Experience they’re working on there, just because. Drive the PCH all the way up and cross into Canada. Ideas for trips, I have; I’ve always had them – it was just a matter of trying to convince someone else they wanted to/could go along. Screw everyone else; I’ll take myself.
Such confidence and high hopes, Teel. You must be nuts. You’ve got to work to keep your bills paid, you know. I know, I know, and in another ten or twenty hours of working on furniture I should be totally at ease with it (something about working around here makes everything take longer; I’m expecting to reach acclimation at around 30 or 40 hours of concentrated furniture work) … though on Wednesday I was feeling pretty in-the-groove while working, so maybe I’m already getting there, and it’ll all be relatively easy/comfortable from here. If that’s the case, then I should be able to more easily work faster and longer hours and feel better about my work. The fact that I’m not really very far from getting some actual product actually done helps, too.
Anyway, since it looks like I’ll be able to be reasonably easily making money (you know; just as easily as it is to put hard work and long hours into it) reasonably soon, I think I’m feeling like I’m going to do something with the temporal freedom this kind of work allows.
Speaking of work; have I mentioned that I’m looking forward to trying a new tactic in my art when I pick it up again? I know that Focus On: Art doesn’t start until … almost May, it looks like. Still, I may do one or two pieces between now and then, and when I do, I’ll use this new tactic. It’s not thoroughly defined, but it involves something akin to painting things that I can see with my eyes instead of only things I can see in my mind… though I doubt I’ll be doing landscape work any time soon.
Part of what I’d like to do is find some people willing to model for me in person. I’ve basically never been able to work with a model before, and I think it’s part of what’s been missing from my work. Perhaps been the definition of my work, since I’ve painted what’s been around; images from my heart and mind and TV… instead of images of people. Maybe the reason I haven’t been selling my artwork is that people can’t identify with my mind and heart. Perhaps if I paint other people they’ll see something they recognize. Then again, if I paint the people I see through the filter of my own mind, as is the only way it really could be, perhaps people still won’t be able to identify with what they see.
I got a good idea for a short story or novella on Thursday, and some inspiration recently regarding another novel I’ve outlined but not really begun, and I think I’ll be able to get some good work done on those soon. It is still Focus On: Writing, and I haven’t been getting as much done as I’d hoped, but there’s still lots of time to go.
And seriously, people; the PDF of my novel is only $5. Certainly you can afford $5. It’s a good novel. I promise.
Oh, and Iain, how about those 4-Hour Comics? You up for one this month and/or four on 24-Hour Comic Day?
Anyway, it’s getting late. I should go to bed, lest I fail to wake up tomorrow.