Dec 31, 2009

My Blue Sky

When I was about 11 or 12 my parents divorced. My dad moved out. Eventually since he worked with American Airline, he moved to their main airport, Dallas/Fort Worth. For quite a while I flew there every other weekend. I got to know Fort Worth really well. After a few years he moved to Miami. I was there the week that Hurricane Andrew hit. It didn't seem so bad until the next day. All the trees over ten feet high were on their sides. I forgot the name of the little island we used to go to all the time. I think it was called Boca Raton(I might be getting it confused with another island). I loved it there. A beautiful island just off south beach with a cool lighthouse and a quiet beach. After the hurricane that beautiful island was practically decimated. Today it doesn't look so bad. But I remember thinking how fragile nature could be. A whole island. Beautiful one day, completely destroyed the next. Before that day it had withstood decades of storms.

But Dallas was first. I remember it was around '88 and I would stay up late and watch Saturday Night Live which was live because it came on at 10:30(because of the time zone). I remember how it felt staying up in bed listening to my walkman and seeing the strange town lights outside. Feeling a city I didn't know. The way the world felt. The clothes we wore and the styles. The kind of music that was out(B-52's, Salt And Peppa, Tears For Fears, the last hurrah of hair metal, the cool indie music of the time). It had a feeling. Almost a taste. I have no idea even how to share that. Maybe if I ever make a movie in that time I can do something to get that feeling.

Then, just as now, I had feelings for girls. I had one in particular that I liked. I remember thinking as the airplane left the tarmac that every second is taking me farther away from her. I remember seeing the san ramon valley where I live and thinking, she is somewhere down there. She is within my vision right now. And I still can't see her.

I would land in Dallas, look to the sky, it's billowing clouds that seem to reach so much farther then the clouds back home. The sunrise(I'd often take the red eye flight saturday morning or friday night). The colors, so many more than at home. Dallas was flat. Later it was Miami. Which was more flat. You could see the sky stretch out in every direction for maybe fifty miles. It was so much bigger in these places.

Those clouds, that sky, it was mine. Everyone I knew(aside from my dad) was living under a different sky. Their clouds looked different. The blue that they saw was a different hue(being thousands of miles away and a different time of day). Everywhere I looked, this all belonged to me. No one else shared it with me. It was my world. My blue sky.

I went away one summer when I was 17. I had a pretty steady girlfriend, but I was in love with this girl who I had seen the last few years. Usually around town or at local concerts. We would always look at each other like two children across an empty school yard. I had finally spoken to her the last few months. She was the hot goth chick and I was the lead singer in a band. And there wasn't a lot of those around at the time(now there's plenty). We were nothing alike but perfect together. I was just obsessed with her(I'm that kind of guy I guess). But I still had my girlfriend and I was going on vacation for like three weeks. I came back to find my goth chick had kind of dated my good friend and my girlfriend had broken up with me. Both of these turned out to not be a big deal and with my new cache as lead singer to a band I had psuedo groupies. I went out with one of them and then unceremoniously dropped her(and I'm not proud of that) the moment I started hanging out with the goth girl. We started going out and that lasted for many years, till about after college. But that was the happiest years of my life. I did the impossible. I got the girl I wanted above all others. These things happen.

All my time living my different life in Miami and Puerto Rico that summer had left me with nothing when I came back. Luckily I was able to pick things up again. But it did solidify my fear of having my own place, alone, with no one to share in the highs and lows. Just my own blue sky. Ever since I have a really hard time being alone and single.

I went on a cruise the summer 2003 with my mom and my sister. One day it was completely clear out. I went out on deck to draw. I looked out. The ocean was one uniform navy blue color. The sky was it's deep blue reflection. Everywhere I looked, it touched the ocean. No land. A desert of water. It was my sky. I had a hard time believing even fishes and sharks would be out this far. Just a bunch of people on a boat. And I only knew two of them. I felt alone. I felt like all this space was crushing me. I looked away and decided not to see the emptiness.

I started watching Roxanne with Steve Martin on Netflix on Christmas. I thought about how this was the movie to watch if you've ever had a muse or some one who inspired you. And I liked it. I loved it when I was a kid. But it really put in my face that this whole thing was kind of a little bit too Cyrano de Bergerac for my taste. All this stuff I wrote in this comic and blog. And I got mad at myself. I didn't want to talk anymore. I didn't want anyone to know my inner thoughts anymore. People don't share those things because other people hurt them. And I got hurt. I obviously didn't want to. Cyrano doesn't win the girl in real life. But we all know I lost whatever this was. We all know I didn't get the girl. Or any girl that would satisfy me. Whenever I met any girl I liked recently, I mean really liked, she was taken. I became a friend. And I think, I can't talk about this girl, or having a broken heart because one will never talk to me again. Wouldn't I feel better if my failures were only known to me? Maybe.

The movie I watched the next day was Breakfast Club and Alley Sheedy says something like "When you grow up your heart dies." I didn't want my heart to die. I didn't want to lose hope. I didn't want to give up on one of the only three things I want in life(to do a comic and to do a film would be the other two and I've done both independently and pretty soon for real). I'm the kind of guy who makes things happen. Who can do the impossible. Weeeeell, except get a girl I like to like me back. That is harder than anything else. Maybe it's impossible for me. So I give up. I let my heart die. I disappear into nothing.

I look at the sky. I look at the vistas around me. I see nothing. I want that beauty back. I want that person who brings it back. Who brings the color to the flowers. Who makes the sound of waves a symphony. Whose simple gaze at me is like an x-ray blessing. Who makes me smile uncontrollably.

I have a lot of great things happening in my life. The friends I hold close are the best ever. I have a publishing contract, interest in my movie, interest in my other very big project. But...I just DON"T CARE. Right now I am looking at the very real possibility of having lots of money, versus being broke. It's literally a roll of the dice. And I do not care either way. I share all this with no one. I go to sleep alone. Every once in a while I'll wake up from a dream or maybe just have a certain mood and I imagine there is someone next to me. I don't know who. Just someone I would love. And my arm goes over there, and the bed is empty. My life is empty.

I told my sister that I might pull an Ambrose Bierce(look him up, at least I'm not planning on doing a Hemingway) and if I did I would keep in contact with only her. I can't look my friends in the eyes and pretend like I like another minute of this shithole place. I have potential jobs that would take me away from here. I can just disappear and never be heard from again and still do what I want somewhere where no one I know will ever see me again. That is where I'd have my own blue sky to make my place in and maybe find happiness. But...I don't know.

My heart is what fuels me. Not money, not attention, not compliments. Just expressing my heart. I'm not looking for sympathy. To me, sympathy is like excuses. It don't change shit. I know my friends care. I'm looking for something that friends can't provide me.

Right now, I am sitting at home on a wednesday afternoon writing this. There is no one I like. No one I love. Not for many thousands of miles. Her sky is not my sky. Her clouds are her own. I can look and look and I won't see what she's seeing. I see my own blue sky. She sees hers. She shares it with someone else.

I have my lonely little view. The hills wedging me in. It looks like the end of a tunnel. Uncertain, indistinct light blinding me. Filling me with nothing. Empty. Dead. No joy. I'm still driving towards that emptiness.

But I am longing for the sky I used to share. The one I want to share again.

Our blue sky.

I'm finished.



Ed Remmell said...

You are very talented.
I read your graphic novel "Thought Balloon Man" ... interesting concept, well done.
You should try to make some art for galleries, if you haven't already.
BTW, my favorite graphic novel is "The Sandman" by Neil Gaiman.

Adrian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ed Remmell said...

Do you know how to meditate, BTW? If not, then you should find someone to teach you how to do it. It will help you detach from your emotions, which I suspect you need now and then. If you do 30 minutes of cardio workout each day, and get those endorphins flying (as well as beat your lower monkey brain into subservience), that would also do the trick - the key is to stick with it.
I have read some of the Preacher stuff, I liked it. I'll have to check out "City of Glass".

Adrian said...

I think you're right. I worked out a few times last week and felt better(before things went downhill, but I could tell something was up).

For a guy I really run on emotion a bunch. Most of my friends who are girls like that but at the same time I can't help but over do it and they tell me I have to wait or just not care(waiting has gotten me more screwed over in life than any other single thing I can think of). I sometimes think I wouldn't even have so many friends if it wasn't for all the drama I always bring. Not on them, but for them to help me with.

When I draw a lot it serves as a form of meditation, especially the inking process. I have to hold my breath and concentrate, but at the same time it doesn't really take up my thoughts when I am doing it. It's why they say inking is sensual. All those little strokes of the brush and then those long perfect thick to thin lines. You have to control your hand and eyes so much you end up losing track of time.

Besides City Of Glass, some other great graphic novels are anything by Dan Clowes(especially Death Ray), Adrian Tomine, and Chris Ware(his last issue of Acme Novelty about the rocket to Mars was my favorite thing I read last year. Nothing sadder or with more impact that that single book). If you like Garth Ennis(I love him) check out Crossed. It's not funny at all and makes you not want to live every issue. But that's why it's good.

Also if you like Thought Balloon Man one of my idols was Joe Matt whose self effacing stories showed how far you can go with autobiographical comics.

Jeffrey Brown has been making comics very similar to mine(except he did it first). Someone showed me his stuff after they read Thought Balloon Man and at first I was totally devastated that I was doing almost the same comic(until my comic deviated a bunch, now its pretty different). check out his comic Every Girl Is The End Of The World For Me. It's pretty good and very similar at first. Also Clumsy is great. And his comic Sulk, while completely different is really funny.

Ed Remmell said...

I did just finish reading City of Glass, BTW. And Death Ray (I had previously read Ghostworld, and some other issue of Eightball).

Death Ray was great!

City of Glass was an interesting read ... difficult subject matter, the art is excellent and matches the story. I didn't like it as much as Death Ray, because it seemed pointless and somewhat contrived. But it was a pretty good attempt at capturing a nervous breakdown on paper, as well as getting inside a crazy person's head. So, from that standpoint, I found it pretty interesting.

I'm sorry to hear you can't find the right girl ... but I expect it gives you more fuel for your writing/art! ;-)

Adrian said...

Definitely read that last Acme novelty by Chris Ware if you liked Death Ray.

City Of Glass was to me a post modern take on noir detective novels. The case of mistaken identity. The search for some one. And the thing about it is that he starts to follow this old guy down a stair case of craziness until identity doesn't matter. Words were almost mystical, that's why the art was so fascinating. Words became patterns and breaking that to find some kind of true language was seeing the form of things differently. Like I said crazy. So it ends with a loss of identity. The answers no longer mattered because the questions were not asked anymore. It's anticlimactic, but I thought that was the point in this case.

And the girls were all good to me. Regardless of how close we got(or did not get) to anything they treated me as well as they could. That's all you can ask for. I was just wrong for them. They were the right girls for me. But I'm taking your advice. Meditate.

Anonymous said...

"I'm finished"....really? Any plans to continue graphicapparatus in 2010? Miss ya.

Adrian said...

I meant a few things with that statement.

1.I'm not going to in any way pursue that girl in my comic, or bother her again. I completely give up. My feelings for her are the same and I think highly of her, but if I am nothing to her then perhaps I should remain that way. Perhaps she never knew me and never will. Thats just the way it is I guess and the way it will be forever because I can never do anything to change that.
In a side note: on Friday night after making a colossal blunder with a wonderful woman I flat out told my friend that I don't care what happens tonight I am going to get thoroughly wasted. You can stay here with me, make sure I don't do anything stupid or you can go and I'll still get thoroughly wasted. He asked what happened and I couldn't explain. All I could come up with is that no matter who I have been with, no matter how close, no matter how many mistakes, one girl was always accepting of me where the others were not(at least for periods of time). I said if I were to somehow call the girl in my comic she would answer and be nice no matter if she didn't want to know me or not. I can call my ex, I can call a bunch of other girls, but the common thread is that they never knew me in some sense or didn't accept me anymore even if we were still friends(although I'll admit I screwed up royally on friday with my only other favorite in awhile). Hence my high regard for that one girl.

2.I had a bunch of kick ass jobs that would make me a bunch of money. None of them reflected who I was or my voice as an artist. In fact all they did was impede me in my journey to make art that reflected some part of me. I don't care about money. I care about happiness. With a woman I love and my art. So I quit one and put another on hold.

3.I quit girls. I meant it too. The only wrinkle was a drop dead gorgeous woman wanted to hang out with me that same day and we did that for a few days so I couldn't and wouldn't just not be with her. I screwed up and now I don't want to pursue anyone ever again. I hate it. It's humiliating and embarrassing no matter how you do it. Its the same few steps over and over with the same outcome a bunch of times. Meet someone, like them, get their number, call, go out, sex, relationship. The only part I like is the sex part. Okay I'll admit I like the relationship part a bunch too. But all that bullshit before is so painful with so many pitfalls I can't do it again for a while. And truthfully I know a girl or two who would forgo those steps and still I am so hurt I don't want to hook up right now. I just want to be friends. I can't take another broken heart. I've been hurting for years now. One day it will kill me.

4.I'm done with this area. I think I stuck around because of friends and because of a long lost love but those things are over. I'm done. I fucked up with everyone. At least the people I cared about. I can't even get certain people to talk to me anymore. I want to go somewhere far away where no one knows everything I ever did wrong. Where I'm new. I'm trying to get some dude to pay me enough to work on some stuff in LA but thats a long shot so who knows. Maybe its time I moved to France or Australia. Get this shit done with. I can do my comics anywhere I want. I have a good enough camera I can film almost anywhere and actors are everywhere you go.

Adrian said...

The comic isn't over, the website isn't over. I need to promote my products. But I'm done talking about my life for a while. It hurts too much and when I think about it I start getting anxiety. I drunk and smoked myself into oblivion the last week because it was the only thing that made me not miserable. I stopped doing that eventually.. And I am feeling well enough that medicating myself would feel weirder. But yeah, it was touch and go a while there.

Expect a post on late monday or early tuesday. But it won't really explain anything, sorry. People want to know me they're going to have to see me face to face for now on.

Ed Remmell said...

FYI, here's something artsy I did once (completely different medium):

Adrian said...

That was great. The monkey thing had me laughing pretty hard. Plus the fact you picked a ronald reagan monkey movie. I was surprised how well it all went together. I need to buy that program.