This is going to be different than my previous armchair philosophy posts. I’m swollen with feeling, and I really just need a moment to speak on my life. It doesn’t happen to me often, or if it does, I’ve gotten quite good at cramming it into the crannies of my subconscious.
To be frank, I’m falling apart. I’ll be thirty in a few months, and I am no closer to where I want to be. I’m about to move into a house with my friend (ex-girlfriend) and my sister, but nothing seems right. Everything is at a peak. Stress is mounting in the background of my mind, drown out primarily by my own demands for positivity and my responsibilities with the Mallory Bash web comic.
My parents have always struggled to get by, and now they’ll be booted from the house they’re in, hopefully with a cash-for-keys deal. Even then, the only income they have is SSDI from my aunt, who is one of my three parents. All three of them are in disrepair concerning their health. Two of them have had cancer recently and the third is busted from head to toe from a lifetime of manual labor. On that topic, I might also have melanoma, but I can’t find out because I can’t afford health insurance or a visit to the doctor. Especially not a specialist.
So I might have cancer eating away at me, and I don’t know about it.
I run a web comic that I love dearly, with a modest–but dedicated–readership. It’s growing in popularity, though, and that’s about the only thing keeping me going. I’ve got over three hundred subscribers. I’m an artist who knows nothing about automotive mechanics working as a parts driver at a suspension shop. I like my coworkers, but they all know that I’m itching for something else. It’s a good job that pays fair for someone without my particular dreams. But I’m tired of hearing people at the shop and other places I visit telling me that I missed my calling, that I’m wasting my life in this job because I’m such a good drawer. It’s not easy to get into the animation industry, particularly if you’re a tremendously poor boy in Indianapolis. I’ve got no network here. I’ve got no prospects. I’m frittering my time away working constantly at a job that isn’t what I want for myself and working on a comic that even my friends and family barely read.
I’m lonely, that’s what it is. And I’m exhausted. I’m tired. Of everything. To be clear on that, I’m not suicidal–never have been. But since this melanoma thing became a possibility, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t occasionally almost like a relief to think about. I’m more concerned about my family than myself if it were the case that I died of cancer anytime soon, because I don’t know how they’d take it. Not well, of course, but how “not well” is what scares me.
I’m a storyteller. I need to be telling stories. I need to be in the animation industry. It’s not just a desire, it’s a requirement. But I’m so busy working and clinging to the little darlings of my own fickle fortune that I can’t seem to get out of where I am. I’m dying. I’m drowning here, and all I can think to do is stare at the sun on the other side of the water and hope that when the last breath comes, I’ll float back up and find myself in God’s good graces.
I’m almost thirty. I’ve lived a life of poverty and anxiety, and I can’t remember the last time I was truly happy, if I ever have been. Even so, I don’t feel like a pessimist. I have all these daydreams of a modest life and a family, with an animated series under my belt and a formidable list of charitable acts that I never tell anyone about. I know I could do good if I had the resources, and I don’t want anything grand. The days of desire are behind me, and all I want is some relief from this insurmountable stress. I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders and I’m hobbling on a busted ankle.
I also don’t feel like I’ve been treated unfairly. All things considered, I’ve been remarkably fortunate. I grew up in a very poor family, but I have a college education–and the debt to prove it–and I have a very tight, dedicated group of friends that I get to see every week. But beyond the external graces, I’ve got so little to show for my life that I can hardly muster a clear thought.
Everyone seems to have faith in me. Everyone keeps telling me that I’ve got all this talent, all this charm, that somehow I’m secretly some kind of rock star that hasn’t hit his stride. That I’m doing big things, and bigger things are coming. But they say these things because they want to believe them. I have nothing to prove them right. I have no evidence. And I feel like I’m failing them, and I’m actually somewhat of a burden. I need help all the time. I need money, I need time, I need care. I need people to spread the word of my web comic, but it really doesn’t seem to be happening, and I can’t bear the thought of myself being demanding of others in regards to my own life–my own goals.
I don’t know what to do anymore.
This move is going to be expensive, and I’m praying that it doesn’t fall apart. My car isn’t reliable, either, and I have no prospects for rectifying that issue. Not enough money, not enough resources. And all I’m doing is complaining.
I came back from Los Angeles with my tail between my legs. That’s the honest truth. I went there on an exchange program thinking I’d make a name for myself in a few of the right circles. But those circles are enormous and everyone out there is trying to get something from everyone else. No one trusts anyone, so it’s nearly impossible to get in. At least, that’s what it seemed to be. I wanted into Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network, and I’m working my ass off trying to impress them, get their attention. But they have a pool of very talented artists and writers right there in L.A., right there from CalArts. I’m just a backwater cartoonist with no way to live. No way to get to them. Why should they pay for me to move? I can’t blame them for that.
I don’t even know where to begin. There’s so much I don’t know and so much of what they want is security. They can’t be faulted for that. They spend a lot of money on those artists, those creators, and they need some indication that they’re making a good investment. I don’t believe I’m entitled to anything from them, I just wish I could get an opportunity to show them what I can do. In person. There were so many gained and lost opportunities while I was there. I just wish I could go back. To be a part of it again, to volunteer and network and be with other storytellers. Say what you will about the L.A. sort, but they’re passionate about their craft.
I’m just watching this life drift by me, and it’s maddening. I feel like I’m crazy sometimes. I feel like the last kid picked in kickball. And I feel like a sad-sack just putting all this out, because it’s all just whining. It’s just bitching and moaning about problems, but everyone has problems.
I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s hard to want to do anything when you feel like you’re running in circles around the same dying fate. I know I’ll press on, because it’s the only thing I can do. I just wish I could relax every once in a while.
I’m almost thirty and I want to be a father. But I can’t, not with my life in the state it’s in. Not with my finances as they are and my fortune looking so debilitatingly stagnant. One of my friends has a daughter, and the kid is just unfairly adorable. She likes to draw with me, and I feel bad that I’m attaching myself to her because I want a child of my own. It feels terribly sad, but most times I just ignore that feeling because I love the way she lights up and says my name when I walk into their house. She’s a great kid with great parents. A secure life. She’ll have all the opportunities afforded to her, and her parents will support her mercilessly.
Well, I don’t think I have much left to say. I think I’ve gotten it all out, except for the deeper guilts that I’ll just keep to myself for a while. I don’t believe anyone reads this blog, and that’s totally all right. It’s the reason I chose to use it in this way, for just this one post. It’s out there, so maybe I’ll start feeling the catharsis soon.
I’ll keep trying to fix my life. There is no other way.
Thanks for reading, those who may eventually see all this. I feel a little better now.