”Art is confession; art is the secret told. But art is not only the desire to tell one’s secret; it is the desire to tell it and hide it at the same time.” —Thornton Wilder
…and here it is, Dear Reader, my secret told and hidden:
It’s just a quick sketch; a sloppy doodle.
Yet it holds among its scribbled lines and smudges the entirety of my being at this present time – several layers of meaning and significance – my soul laid bare on paper and screen for all to see and few to understand. But that’s okay.
During my little mini-vacation from on here last week I had a few personal revelations.
I came face to face with things inside myself and I have since begun to sort through and deal with things in my past and in my present so that I can more accurately plan for the future. Now, if only that was at easy to do as it is to type…but change is rarely easy. Not even when it is sorely needed.
My artistic ambitions for this year and this blog still stand, though.
I will keep making an effort to stick to the word count, image production, and professional goals that I made a month ago – even when it is hard. And it is.
But enough about my personal struggles!
The falling angel above will hopefully mark the transition from the personal to the professional sphere on this page. I’m sure some personal issues will appear – the page is about me, after all – but with a bit of effort I will hopefully be able to provide more interesting topics as well.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” ―Theodore Roosevelt
Happy last day of the year, Dear Reader! 2014 was a pretty good year for me.
Artistically, I have branched out, improved, and taken a few steps further toward something resembling an actual career. I haven’t been as productive as I would have liked because I kept myself busier with personal issues than I had expected, but we all struggle to manage the limited time we have each day.
Professionally, both my writing and my visual art has been well received, though it has not yet led to many paying gigs. I have made new contact, though, and my followers on her and twitter have grown from zero to over a thousand. As I ease toward 2015 I feel I have a stable platform to stand on and that I am on my way in the right direction, at least.
Personally, I’ve made a number of new acquaintances, a few new valuable friendships, and I have grown incredible close to an already very valuable friend – a friend who has been invaluable for my personal growth this year. I’ve done a lot of work on myself, dealing with life and personal issues, and I’ve slowly begun sculpting myself into a new and improved me. 2014 has also been the first year of this millenium that I’ve been completely single – something that has been good for me, I think.
Not everything has been all sunshine and roses, of course. It never is.
The year has seen me struggling with my sense of self worth, my self confidence, and my self image – there’s been a lot to deal with on many levels and many of my friends have suffered this year. It has been no small feat to avoid slipping into my old behaviours and patterns, but for the most part I’ve done well.
All in all, though, I can’t really complain.
The good outweighs the bad by a fair measure, which is pretty darn amazing when you think about the state of this world.
I’ll leave you with a little insignificance I penned recently, after an idea I had years ago: In Passing
Happy New Year, Dear Reader – thank you immensely for this year, and I hope to see you in 2015!
Thirty nine years ago, a boy and a girl were born half a world apart – today, only one of them gets to celebrate.
The boy – me – I’m still here.
The girl – Mindy McCready – lived to be 37.
I cannot really begin to describe what she came to mean to me over the years, so I won’t even try. ‘Quite a lot’ doesn’t really cut it, but it will have to suffice. I only really got to know her a bit and sadly we never had the chance to meet, but even so the loss of her hit me hard.
So, Dear Reader, I celebrate this day in her memory.
To say that Mindy led a stormy, troubled life is a bit of an understatement. She moved to Nashville at the age of 18, having promised her mother that if she didn’t make it within a year she would go to college. Exactly 51 weeks later she signed her first record deal. Her debut album Ten Thousand Angels came out in 1996 and went gold in six months, and as the video of the title song reached CMT Europe she appeared on my radar. Over the next few years she released two more albums, but dwindling sales led to Mindy being dropped by her label. It took three years for her to sign with a new company and release her fourth album, Mindy McCready, again to poor sales. Once again she found herself without a label.
Her life took a sharp turn for the worse, and she didn’t release any new material for six years. The song I’m Still Here was released as a download on Mindy’s official website, signaling a return to strength and the upcoming album of the same title. It would be her last.
Her career was back on track, the album sold well, and her life seemed to be turning around for the better again. She was busy being a mother and working on a new record with her boyfriend David Wilson. But on January 13th 2013 Mindy found her soul mate on the porch of their Arkansas home, dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Five weeks to the day after his death, she followed him.
In lieu of an actual proper post with, you know, original content (because this week has not been kind to me) I will instead link you to a post directly from the insidious beard-tendrils of the terribleminded Chuck “the-bearded-wonder” Wendig, on the topic of ‘finishing your shit’. Mainly because I need to, you know, finish my shit.
“Believe me when I tell you: Life will not break your heart, it’ll crush it.” ―Henry Rollins
Things end, and there is preciously little we can do to prevent it.
Once again I find myself at the end of something; in a place of transition. Changes are happening at the coffee shop I’ve frequented for the past 8-9 years. The new manager is making stupid decisions, relocating and firing some of the best, most hard working people on such tenuous grounds that it seems impossible to not see it as a personal vendetta.
One of the people who has to go happens to be one of my best friends, and her case in particular has been handled with such sloppiness that I simply cannot ignore it. Now, I have a choice to make. Do I continue to give the coffee shop my – not insignificant – business, or do I find another way to get my caffeine fix? I’m leaning toward the latter.
For one, having already lost four of my favorite baristas and now losing two more, frequenting the establishment won’t be as joyful as it once was. Also, keeping up a happy face to the manager is not going to happen – my sense of loyalty forbids me – and as a regular it really helps if you get along with the proprietor. But it’s not an easy choice to make.
Coffee shops hold a very special place in modern life.
For the creative of us, they have become nearly religion – I know many people who work out of them, balancing privacy and social life, income and expense, familiarity and change of scenery. They are so much more than a place to go buy coffee – they are a place for dates, pit stops during busy days, breaks and relaxations, study and work. They are life and romance and friendship.
Back when coffee first reached Europe, men would go to coffee shops to discuss politics and business and philosophy. In the 19th century, they increasingly became the gathering place for local artists and writers – along with pubs and cafés that served absinth, of course. Many artists and thinkers have turned to coffee as their drug of choice over the centuries – Voltaire and Balzac are reported to have imbibed over 50 cups a day, at their worst (or their best, maybe), and both Bach and Beethoven were big coffee drinkers.
This particular coffee shop has really been my home away from home for the past seven years. I’ve seen seven managers and scores of baristas come and go; I’ve made several friends and many more acquaintances; I’m known by staff and regulars alike and I have never once been mistreated. Even though the recent rebuilding took away part of it’s charm, and even though stricter policy from the main office and the new management has further dampened the atmosphere, it is still part of me. I was there first.
At a modest count, I’ve spent over 4,000 hours at that café – talking, writing, drawing, laughing, crying, meeting new people and old friends. I’ve given it more business than I care to admit, but it and its staff have given me so much in return. I know its workings in and out and I’ve even helped out with things on occasion. This current turn of events make me angry, sad, upset and even hurt.
Regardless of where I go now, it will be with a heavy heart.
I do not particularly like change – at least not when it is forced upon me. However, I do realize that it is a necessary part of life – without change there will be no growth, no progress. And we need progress, all of us. And come to think of it…
How much progress in this world has not been fueled by coffee?
”If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
Summer is drawing to a close.
The past three months have been something of a roller coaster ride for me, Dear Reader. At the start of summer I had one of my dearest friends living with me, playing havoc with my previous lazy lack of routine and minding my own, giving me time and structure enough to become more active here on my blog and other social media. I took the opportunity to finish some short stories, create some art, humbly almost-not-promoting myself and my online presence. Despite injury, battling inner demons and failing to maintain the routine my lodger so graciously bestowed upon me, I have managed to go from two blog posts a week to a loosely upheld goal of five.
During the past month alone my readers here have doubled, my followers on twitter tripled, and I’ve made new friends, acquaintances and contacts. My list of projects and assignments have grown and I’m sending out work for consideration on a more frequent basis. I now have something resembling a viable plan – perhaps a tad too ambitious since there’s at least one goal I fail to uphold each week, but it is better to aim higher than we can reach. How else will we grow tall enough to get where we want to be?
But, Dear Reader, I must apologize: I only managed to hold on to my promised weekly routine for exactly…one week. There will be no sketch of the week this week. The truth is I have spent very little time at home, focusing on friends and social activities instead of creative work. It was sorely needed after my previous week of near-isolation. Consequently, I do not have much more to say right now, but I hope to be more entertaining next week!
Lastly, a heartfelt welcome to my new readers – and of course a big thank you to those who return week after week to follow my aimless ramblings with the hope of seeing something worthwhile…
“Can miles truly separate you from friends… If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?” ―Richard Bach
As some of you may know I have housed a lodger for the past two months – one of my newest and dearest friends. Today marks the end of that arrangement, as she is getting the keys to her own place. The move itself will likely stretch out over several days to a week and might keep me a bit busier than usual. My aim is to try and keep up my schedule for this site and my creative pursuits, but in all honesty that schedule has already been broken. Twice. So I’ll throw all pretense to the wind and say that any updates you get the coming week should be seen as a bonus. In the midst of the usual insanity I am also recuperating from my back injury (quite nicely I might add), processing the upcoming final episode of my favorite tv series Californication, as well as saying good bye to the manager of the coffee shop I frequent – which brings me to the topic of today’s ramblings:
Life changes on us, constantly. I’d go so far as to say that change and death are the only two certainties of life. However, we should not view change as a series of endings and beginnings – after all, very few things ever truly end. Most of the time things change and transition into something else; something new and uncertain or something familiar and safe. If we are lucky those changes bring more good than bad. Now, I don’t know about you Dear Reader, but for me the past few years have been full of apparent endings; full of new beginnings and fresh steps taken. Yet when I try to think of them I realize that they all flow together and mix into one another: one new thing in my life would not – could not – have come into being unless the old made way for it. A lover turns into a friend; a friend to a flirt. A job opportunity turns to dust, leaving time for fresh assignments. Circumstance and chance turn a casual acquaintance into a deeply beloved friend. If we do it right, life will keep throwing these changes at us in the best of ways, granting us opportunities and wisdom in return for our short comings and failures; for our rejections and misadventures.
Everywhere we go the events of our lives morph and change and twist away from us so they can deliver new gifts, new challenges, new experiences. Without the tumultuous events of the past year and a half I would not have a lodger to say my farewells to – might not even have this friendship, even – and what a loss that would be! These months have brought with them the unexpected side effect of better routines, higher productivity and a much larger enjoyment of life. How then could I possibly view this as the end of something? While sad to see her go I am also happy and excited to have been part of this interlude in her journey to her own corner of the world and all that it entails. I’m delighted to see her off, knowing that her influence on my life will remain in ways I could never have expected when she first carried her boxes and bags over my threshold.
This post turned a lot more personal than what I had initially planned, and I hope I haven’t bored you too much with the details of my life. It is a hazard of using late nights to write about emotional subjects, I fear.
Godspeed my friend, and fare the well – may the lilies of peace line your path, and may you find a rainbow behind every turn!
Read – Illusions; the Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah; Richard Bach
“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” ―Richard Bach
…to say good bye.
This little coffee shop has been my home away from home for many years. I first started frequenting it when my first watering hole, visible just behind the lovely barista in the photo, lost their best salesman. As a philosopher, scholar, and rake – he was the center point of a small gathering of intelligent dissidents of modern society. Everything from politics, religion, literature, music, history and the spreading lack of common courtesy was vented and discussed over the coffee urn there, and there were stories told that I will carry with me until the day I die. But I digress!
When that man – now my Brother and Confidante – left his post, there was little point in lingering. The circle of intellectuals scattered to the wind, and I retreated morosely to the other coffee shop, notebook in hand. At first it was just the occasional coffee. Then a sandwhich. Then, as my hours shifted I had a daily coffee break at Gullmarsplan, I hung around more. Slowly I got to talking with some of the staff and some of the regulars, and before I knew it I was spending more and more time there. Now, the shots of espresso I have been served at that counter number well into the thousands, all of the staff know be my name and then some, and I can myself name most of the employees that have come and gone over the past decade.
I’ve met many wonderful people while seated at that counter, and it has served as a place of inspiration, discussion, flirting, and some truly good times! Tonight it is closing for renovations and when it opens again in a fortnight it will be completely remodeled.
The staff will remain, the coffee will be unchanged, the regulars will most likely keep coming in – yet I fear it will never be quite the same…