birthday of Our Lord and Savior
Monday, December 25 2000
That painting I was working on. Click to see the brushstrokes.
Though my parents aren't religious, they both come from Christian traditions and in my family, Christmas was an important secular holiday characterized by undeserved rewards. There were lean years in the late 70s when my parents could only spend $20 each on my brother and me, but $20 was a lot back then and just the fact that I didn't know what I would be getting was excitement enough. Consequently, Christmas will always be the standard against which all my good times will be measured. For example, during my early sexual experiences (with Jewish chicks mostly), the only pleasure I had to compare it to was Christmas. For this confused, fetishizing reason, there's something faintly erotic about the smell of pine trees.
I'm a long long way from those days now. This was the first Christmas in my life that was absolutely the same as every day both before and after. Last year I was in Michigan and had gifts heaped upon me with extravagance known only to Bathtubgirl's mother (and possibly Imelda Marcos). The year before, times were tight and Christmas dinner had come from Jack in the Box, but we'd still had a scruffy little tree of sorts, decorated mostly with bad CD-R media. That year, the gifts from Bathtubgirl's mother had come just the same, born via big brown sleighs piloted by clean-shaven multi-ethnic Santas in brown suits. It takes a lot of courage to wear brown.
Every Christmas before that had been celebrated in some form or another with my immediate family. Usually, at the bare minimum, there would be stockings stuffed with candy and there would be some kind of bird (usually duck) roasted for dinner. If nothing else, Christmas was always an injection of fresh new socks into my improvised (and increasingly dumpster-dived) wardrobe.
But this was my first Christmas spent entirely alone. My housemate is back with his family in the East, Bathtubgirl is in her Venice Beach apartment, too poor to afford a plane ticket home. And me, I'm poor and lonely and reclusive and not having too bad of a time, even if there is no tree and no decorations in my house. One of the "merry" friends of my "merry" neighbor wished me a "merry" Christmas last night while I was out on the front stoop preparing a board for that second painting I began last night, and that was really all I needed for Christmas. Today I've got a little of the Christmas spirit; I'm wearing the "GUS"-emblazoned Santa hat I made for that Christmas-theme housewarming party back in December of '98.
I'd been going through a wave of depression for the past several weeks, but suddenly I notice that I'm no longer down in the dumps. I'm not drinking as much booze and once again I'm full of energy. But I have so many things I want to do I end up dabbling a little in all of them and making no progress in any of them. Yet even in this respect, I'm gradually improving. I finished the bar scene painting last night and I'm nearing completion of the second painting. It's the biggest run of artistic stamina since April of 1998. Shit, it's almost tantric.
The second painting I was working on. Click to see the brushstrokes.
Of course, the real reason I had so much pep and energy tonight was that I took not one but two different kinds of attention deficit disorder medications from my housemate John's supply. Yesterday I'd had a time-release 10 mg. tablet of Adderall and hadn't been terribly impressed, so today I took one of those little sky-blue guys along with a fancy 10 mg. capsule of dexedrine. The dexedrine looked like particularly powerful mojo; it comes in a bicolor capsule containing two different colors of tiny translucent beads inside.
After I'd had those, I easily managed to finish that second painting, and then turned my attention to three paintings that have been languishing in an unfinished state for months (or, in the case of one forest scene, since April 1998). I made great progress on all of these, feeling like the effort required to bring them to "completion" was trivial at most. When I was done with them (not that I really was done, mind you, I was experiencing something of a speed tweak-out, and hastily-rendered judgments frequently accompany such tweaking), I looked around for other things to do, but there was nothing left to be done! Well, what I mean is that there were no tasks requiring simple actions left to attack. For whatever reason, activities as complex as four track recording or the somewhat similar process involved in Flash animation did not appeal to me at all in this state. Such time-line-based creativity is too sedentary, too contemplative, and setbacks are frequently of the semi-catastrophic variety. Painting, on the other hand, is perfect for the speed high; it is low-commitment, requires strong visual focus, and is reasonably physical.
Part of the reason I'd taken stimulants was because I had plans to hang out with Linda late tonight. Yesterday, you see, she had promised to come visit me after all her Christmas responsibilities were behind her. Tonight she didn't call until something like 1:00am, but I was wide awake when the phone rang. Indeed, I'd been trying to calm my nerves by drinking brandy, but it wasn't appealing to me at all and wasn't having any sedating effect whatsoever. So I was trying transitioning to a different stimulant instead: caffeinated tea.
The soundtrack for the night, that one perfect song I wanted to hear over and over again, was "It's Not Too Beautiful" by the Beta Band. Somehow a pirate copy of one of their CDs showed up in the CD changer and I can't get enough of that song. It's the perfect tweak-friendly wee-hours-of-the-morning psychedelic anthem, and at eight minutes long, it never seems to end. It comes and goes, it shimmers and seems to die out, but often as not, it bounces back on its own. When it does finally end, all you have to do is skip back to the beginning.
When Linda arrived, she didn't even have any of the Christmas presents she'd gotten for me, since she didn't have a lot of time and wanted to save something like that for Friday when we could spend more time together.
Oh this is bound to be good, Oral Roberts University Biology Department's Homepage. Evidently students are allowed to dissect cadavers, but I see no mention of things such as "mechanisms of speciation."
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