Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Beginnings...

Everyone has to start somewhere. I began my first blog (Old School Heretic) after I re-read this particular line from Andre Breton; "The mind which plunges into Surrealism, relives with burning excitement the best part of childhood." Fairly innocuous stuff. For most people. But not for me. I sat back and asked myself what was the best part of my childhood. And I sat. Quietly. For a long time.

I couldn't answer the question. Not easily. Not clearly. Not without stirring up a lot of unpleasantness.

So, like Tyr placing his hand in the wolf's mouth, I stirred things up and went in search of an answer. I dug up all my old artwork that had been packed away, the stuff I had drawn as a kid back when I drew things nearly every waking hour. A lot of it has been lost. Thankfully. But a good bit of it survived. So I sorted it all into piles. One of the larger stacks was stuff I had done in Junior High. The Seventies. I had my first winter without pneumonia back then. One whole winter without getting deathly ill. That was a big thing for me then. Still is, really. I was fortunate to have an incredible teacher take an interest in what I was doing. Mr. Schroeder had me show him all my sketches and doodles. He examined them like they might be hieroglyphs or somehow worth something--my family were fairly outspoken that I was wasting my time. Schroeder did not think that I was wasting my time. He took me to the back of the classroom, showed me the basics of how to use pen & ink, markers, watercolors. That was the high-point of my existence. The happiest time of my life. That would definitely be 'the best part of childhood,' as far as I'm concerned.

I was raised in my grandparent's house, with a folding vinyl door, listening to my grandfather's nightmares every night. I spent nearly every winter confined to my bed with raging fever, fighting to breathe, drenched in sweat, hacking up blood, my lungs increasingly scarred from pneumonia. My heart stopped more than once. They were sure that they had lost me a few times. I still wake-up expecting to be packed in ice or to feel those cold, steel paddles on my chest. There is a good bit of other stuff I used to try very hard to forget or to bury...but you have to take the bad with the good. What happened, happened and I survived. Abuse ends. Eventually. After a fashion. The hateful, hurtful words echo on. And on. But in time it fades, sort of. Becomes less important. Less defining. You never get past it, but you do outlive it, and in my case you get to prove them wrong and go on to live a good life, on my own terms.

I grew up surrounded with other people's regrets and nightmares, on the edge of a swamp, in the clutches of a perpetually bickering old couple who could never fully decide whether they were resigned to having my brother and I around or resentful of our presence. It wasn't like we had too many options. We both tried to run away...but there simply wasn't anywhere to go, and no way to get there. A pointless exercise in futility. So I withdrew into my comics, books and drawing.

Growing up the way I did, my rebellious streak was essential to my personal survival. Being sick so often, getting stuck in my room, sometimes pinned-down in my bed...I began to look upon my time cooped-up in my room as a form of incarceration. I just could never figure out what crime I might have committed to merit the punishment. But it wasn't all bad. I read a lot. Books, books, books...and comic books as well. I was able to scrounge and accumulate quite a collection of dog-eared, ripped or cover-less old comics, often by the grocery bag or box full during the summers when we went to farm auctions. A lot of old farmers really liked comics. I was also able to pick-up all manner of books from the thrift shops when we went into town. We didn't have much. Money was always tight. I did get a small allowance, so I learned early-on how to scrimp and save and wait or do without. Or make it up myself. Maybe it was all those pages and panels of gonzo cosmic art drawn by Jack Kirby that I read while going through a bout of fever, but I started to make up my own stories, drew my own characters, built my own worlds...

My first piece of art sold over summer vacation. I received a check. It wasn't much, but it meant the world to me. My grandparents had to take me to the bank to cash it. I had made money with my scribbling. That changed things. Made it 'real' somehow. The negativity never went away, but they were less sure of themselves. I was also getting taller. Stronger. I didn't get quite as sick, nor as often, any more. They were getting older. The beatings stopped. I finally had my first winter without pneumonia. That was also the year I discovered Tolkein, Moorcock, Zelazny, Heavy Metal (Metal Hurlant), and Dungeons and Dragons...all within a few months of each other.

Old School Heretic arose from some twisted, ugly roots as a way to re-examine and reclaim the good stuff from out of the muck and mire of memory and circumstance. Hereticwerks grew out of that process. For the last couple of years I've systematically mined all of those old drawings, notes, maps and other stuff--the debris of all those years ago. I've re-acquainted myself with it, revised it, reworked it, reclaimed it. I've come to terms with these fragments and figments from out of my past. It hasn't always been so easy, but it has been liberating, and well worth the effort. But I'm done with 'what was,' and 'what might have been,' for now. I'm much more interested in what new things I can come up with from here on out. Moving forward. A fresh start. A new beginning.

I find it slightly funny that here I am writing this, and I'm sick again. I've missed Bujilli, but it couldn't be helped. My health took a nose-dive just after the holidays, but I am getting better. I won't bore you with my revised dietary scheme, nor my renewed exercise schedule, or any of that crap. Suffice it to say I'm back to drawing more regularly. Writing daily. Getting things done. Next week or next month, whenever it works out, Bujilli will return, and so will I.

New stuff.

Yeah.

16 comments:

  1. After reading this post, I'm sure of one thing. You're a survivor. I'm glad you're living life on your own terms, taking what you can from the past, and looking at moving forward.

    Sorry you're sick, and I hope you feel better.

    Thanks for participating in my blogfest!

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    1. I prefer to see myself as a thriver, despite having gone through some serious health issues recently. I tend to bounce back. Thanks for hosting the blogfest. I'm looking forward to getting caught-up on reading everyone's posts once I get back on track after the recent detour/derailment...

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  2. Thanks for being courageous enough to write about your own life. As someone who works in the cold and families field, I know that what you experienced is deeply personal and painful. It is also important to break the silence. It can be liberating on a personal level and it also sends an important message to both young people and adults who are presently suffering in silence: You are never completely alone, there is something special about you, and someone nearby can see that.

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    1. Bad shit happens. It doesn't matter whose fault any of it ever is--what matters is what we do about it. There is no virtue in enabling bad things. Silence equals acceptance. Suffering is pointless; it is better to get busy doing the good stuff and not let the bad stuff hold any of us back. Arguing or complaining about a mess doesn't get it cleared up, nor does any of that move things forward toward anything worthwhile. I feel very strongly that it is important to do what one can to make the world better for having passed this way...and not to buy into anyone else's second-hand negativity. (Got plenty of my own custom-made and home-grown negativity to work with, thanks.)

      Being hurt on any level sucks. Letting that hurt fester and poison everything from deep within sucks even worse. Clean the wounds. Heal. Get on with the rest of your life. Like one of my dearest friends from way back used to say; 'The best revenge is success.'

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  3. Wow. Wow and wow. Amazing post. I was just stopping by from the blogfest to say hello, but I'm now following. I couldn't not follow you after that story...I'm really glad you made it out of there and learned to live life on your own terms.

    I hope you feel better soon!!

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    1. Hello and Welcome! The time I have been blessed & fortunate to have with my daughter has made a profound difference in my life. She has taught me a lot...

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  4. Sorry to hear you're unwell, but there are worse ways to spend your convalescing time than drawing and writing!

    Much more sorry to hear about your childhood experiences. I don't really have anything 'constructive' to say, just that it sounds like the creative world you live in is incredibly colourful and vibrant and beautiful!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. I'm doing a lot better. Actually, the ugly-nasty stuff from my past is a big part of what made me who and what I am now, so I don't regret it so much as just wish it hadn't ever been necessary...and I wish that no one else would ever have to go through that crap...but they are. So it is important to let them know that they are not alone. It passes. It doesn't have to cripple us or hold us back. We can do much better than just survive. We can get on with life. We can thrive.

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  5. incredible story. not your average childhood. the kind of true story that makes an audience feel real emotion. especially with a happy ending!

    they say the best revenge is living a great life. so glad you overcame! and are still overcoming! hope & pray for a healthy new year full of more of your creativity!

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    1. Hopefully not an ending just yet, but certainly quite happy--our daughter is preparing for High School graduation and going on to college. Very exciting. I am also married to an incredible woman and our life together just gets better and better each year we're together. So, yeah. Aside from a few health matters, things are pretty good and I'm looking forward to getting busier and more productive than ever in the near future.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by! I look forward to catching-up with what you've been doing at your blog. you've always been something of an inspiration for me.

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  7. Stopping by from LG's blogfest. I'm sorry for all that you suffered. I rejoice that you survived and now thrive. Rock on, Dude.

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    1. Hello! The trick is not to let the nasty stuff hold you back, in some ways the bad things tend to act like scaffolding, once you've done the necessary repairs, it's time to tear them down and get on with whatever we're here to be doing.

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  8. Wow. What a story!

    I think the best part of childhood is the innocence. I wish I could go back to that way of looking at the world.

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    1. One major reason I dived back into Surrealism was the challenge Breton posed in his statement that to explore Surrealism is to relive the best parts of one's childhood...and that has been a very interesting, very educational process to engage in, personally. For one thing, I don't see my past as any sort of burden any more, but rather a rich, fertile soil (loaded with plenty of B.S.!) from which I can grow all manner of cool, new things. Kind of a combination of gardening and alchemy, but with pictures and words and all kinds of made-up worlds and stuff.

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