Is it odd that I can pinpoint a life event that completely destroyed my aspirations to draw? Even if that event happened forty-one years ago?

I’ve had an interest in art and the creative since my first memories. As I recall, there was always an internal desire, maybe even a need, to draw, paint and express.

However, back in those days, at least in my reality, the encouragement or support to pursue the creative arts as a profession or even as a hobby was non-existent. The authorities over my life said verbally and by example it was more important to pursue a skill set that would ensure an income, prosperity, financial security, put food on the table and pay the light bill.

Yet, I felt compelled to draw, I wanted to draw. I mainly sketched, doodled. In middle school I started to draw comic book super heroes. I dreamt of drawing for Marvel and DC.

Unlike in today’s society where comic books and super heroes are normal, cosplay is generally accepted and there are Comic Con conventions. Back then, that kind of fantasy world was considered stupid, silly, a bit gay, illogical and to be hidden and avoided if you wanted to be normal.

With my paper route money and income from cutting grass and other odd jobs, I had amassed a small collection of comic books. I was serious about the collection, storing back issues in plastic bags, keeping current issue on display.

In those days, comics books were hard to come by, at least in my reality. In the store, comic books were displayed on a rotating wire rack next to the magazines. The range of titles and publishers was limited.

Today, there is a retail shop totally devoted to comic books, graphic novels and super hero memorabilia less than a half mile from my house. There are several such retail shops in the city.

Slowly, I learned that many people, my peers and especially those holding the greatest influence over me believed drawing, the arts, painting to be a hobby, something you did when there was disposable time and money. Which, of course, disposable time and money were as scare as a blue moon, even for the middle school aged kid who had a paper route, did chores and whatever else the parental authorities deemed was necessary for a delinquent to keep from being idle.

As I transitioned into high school, a school with a typical art department, the philosophy of making a living via a respectable profession started to take a deeper hold. Although I wanted to be involved in the arts and theater and other creative endeavors, the practical ‘college bound’ curriculum didn’t allow much wiggle room.

I had a taste of the disdain and contempt for comic books and art in general during a first semester English class where the assignment was to give a speech on something that interested you. Of course, my topic was my comic book collection, the investment I had made from my personal income and the return I expected. I was taken aback by the jeers, the giggles, the utter disdain and blanket contempt for my topic as it wasn’t the normal sports or car related topic as my peers presented.

Within that freshman year, other veins of depression, worthlessness, peer rejection, bullies began to inflict torment on my mentality. Soon, it was hard enough just to make it through a typical high school day and then contend with turmoil at home. Drawing, comic books or the arts in general lost much of its desire.

I gave up collecting comic books as I began to see it as an impediment to gaining social acceptance. Yet, a desire for art and creativity still bubbled in my soul.

And, so, that brings me to this life event that certainly did alter the next four decades of my life.

In the second semester of my freshman year, my afternoon study hall was in the school cafeteria, filled with typical cafeteria tables freshly cleaned from the lunch period. Three students were assigned to each table. There was plenty of space for each student although it wasn’t a very private venue.

The freshmen were usually grouped together apart from the sophomores, juniors and seniors. Why, I don’t know but it was the policy. However, I, as a freshman was exiled to a table with two seniors.

Thankfully, I knew one of the seniors at the table as he lived in my neighborhood. I thought it would be a safe space.

However, he didn’t acknowledge me. I was a nerdy freshman who didn’t dress well and socially awkward. He was a popular guy from a wealthy doctor’s family. He had his friend sitting next to him. I was the lone man out.

Cortez was his name.

I accepted the silence, after all it was a study hall. Besides being a wealthy upper class Senior, he excelled at his studies and he did study while in study hall.

But, still, a nod of acknowledgment would have been encouraging, maybe even life changing.

A day or two later I casually spread some papers over my ‘workspace’. On one of the papers was a small sketch of a super hero that I wanted to develop into a larger drawing. It was just a quick sketch with several poses and not refined in any detail.

Within moments of its exposure, Cortez and his sidekick were pointing to it, laughing among themselves obviously amused at my inept sketch of a super hero. Although I did not hear what they whispered, the pointing, the laughter, the air of ridicule that began to circulate over me was enough to know they were laughing at me and my artist creative expression.

Causally, as if I was unaware of their ridicule, I placed a page of class notes over the sketch. It was now hidden but I could still feel their amusement.

I never sketched another character, superhero or not after that incident. Never spoke about comics. Packed up the small collection I had. That collection didn’t see the light of day until I gave it away to a local boys club years later.

From that moment, I believe drawing or creative expression was just not ‘me’, I devoted myself to journalism in high school and broadcasting in college. For me, it was a merger of creativity and practicality.

I made a living in the ‘field’. Although my employer constantly chided me for being too ‘artsy fartsy’. I married, created two kids, divorced, married again, added two more kids, divorced again. In those forty years, there wasn’t much, if any creative expression. It was life as society requires, earn a living, pay taxes, pay bills, raise kids.

I rediscovered a love for comics and comic art in early 2002 when I bought a single comic book from a Borders book store in West Lafayette Indiana. However, I didn’t buy many more in the years following. Didn’t draw. Didn’t pursue anything creative but devoted my time trying to give happiness and fulfillment to others who would eventually leave.

I regret the four decades of loss caused by the insensitive laughter and directed ridicule of a single peer. Although his ridicule was the pivot it was certainly preceded by the lack of support and encouragement from people who could have directed me.

Now, later in life, I’m single and have paid down marital and other debt so I have a small amount of disposable time and income. As such, I have restored some of that creative passion. I paint in a Jackson Pollock abstract splatter and drip style being large canvases and building the strainer frames.

And, I try to draw. I’ve purchased several figure drawing books intending to teach myself how to draw people, faces, scenes in this new year of 2018.

I wish I had a better support system back when I was young and naive. I wonder what I would have become had I studied and practiced what was a passion back then. In those days, at least in my reality, it was better to work to pay bills and manage a respected life of illusions than to dwell with fantasy of comic book super heroes and other creative expressions..

If I had that support and encouragement from the people who I believed should have encouraged and supported me, maybe the Cortez incident would not have made such a pivotal impact on my life. Yet, the lack of support or encouragement from those who should have and the ridicule of my peers, drawing or anything creative wasn’t to become a part of my life.


Drew Skillman a Failure?

According to Office Narcissist #2, he is.

I am not a fan of drag racing nor of motor sports in general. There was some interest in my youth when I tried to become a gear head. But after living life and trying to be successful in two failed marriages and raising four kids, I have no interest.

This morning, the office is abuzz about this drag racer guy, Drew Skillman, who won big in the NHRA US Nationals at the local Lucas Oil Raceway. Here is a link to his website.

Good for Drew. I wish him and his team more success. I can believe that his big win at the 2017 NHRA US Nationals is a combination of luck, hard work, persistence, continued effort and skill.

However, Office Narcissist #2 proclaims Skillman’s success is only because of the deep pockets of his father, or grandfather, of the Ray Skillman Auto Group fame.

I know nothing about the Ray Skillman Auto Group other than it is a local collection of car dealerships in central Indiana and Drew’s father and/or grandfather are owners. I  probably looked a new car at their dealerships over the years I’ve lived in central Indiana. The last new car I bought was a Honda Civic EX from a dealership not connected to the Skillmans. That was in the year 2000.

However, I do know that success the Skillmans enjoy, either at the dealership level or the drag racing level or at the personal level, is a result of the previously mentioned hard work, skill, luck, effort, persistence and a host of other attributes. They played their cards right and with a lot of hard dedicated effort and some luck won (or is winning) the game.

Yet, Office Narcissist #2 implies that Drew Skillman was given his success at the NHRA US Nationals because that is what wealthy fathers or grandfathers do …  hand their kids fame and success. He asserts Drew Skillman had nothing to offer other than an ass to sit in a driver’s seat and fingers to press a button at the right time.

That grinds my psyche.

My father is wealthy and built a successful business. But I was never handed that kind of simple success. In fact, I’ve failed at much, if not all, of my effort.

In fact, during the years I work at the ‘family business’ I was ‘held to a higher standard’ as the owner’s son. And therefore endure more hardship, lack of support and verbal floggings from the owner that others did not.

Not that my father never come through in my despair and desperate moments. He did. However,  my father didn’t give me a portion of the company he built. Yet, he gave to others, my younger brother included.

I’m sure that Drew Skillman work hard long hours over a long time to be a success. I can’t image a person who rises to the top of his field, drag racing in this case, was just handed the NHRA US Nationals because of the wealth of his father and/or grandfather.

So, when Office Narcissist #2 makes those sweeping statements about the fame and success of kids of rich and wealthy parents, I sort of get grinded.

It takes a lot to suppress my emotions like this. I ask where is my fame and success? Why wasn’t it handed to me, as the Narcissist says it is handed to all the children of the wealthy.

Thankfully, for my own mental health, I found a pair of blue tooth headphones and a white noise website to stream out the narcissistic rants of that man.

It is odd, however, the Narcissist’s parents were extremely wealthy with high level corporate jobs in broadcasting and manufacturing, home and acreage in an exclusive Indianapolis suburb. Wealthy enough for the Narcissist to brag about their wealth and upon their death, his inheritance.

Unless that was all a lie. Which, knowing the man, could be the case.

Yet, with the uber wealth of his parents, he isn’t successful by any means. He is just a laborer who, like me, who grinds out a daily living.


Take a Sad Song

Lately, I can’t stop listening to the Beatles’ Hey Jude song. Especially the lyric …

“Take a sad song and make it better.”

Last night, I watched dozens of Hey Jude you tube videos, including the original Beatles video, several solo performances by Paul McCartney and even more covers by other groups and people.

I almost cry with this song. In fact, I almost cry when any sentimental song comes up on the play list.

I would qualify my current life as a sad song. So much deep depression that I can’t seem to shake. Feelings and beliefs of worthlessness and inadequacy that span my waking moments. It is overwhelming.

An episode occurred last week that has certainly derailed things for me. I had spent the last 4½ months hoping, wishing, praying that a certain event would take place by December 31. Unfortunately it didn’t take place.

As simple as giving 4½ month request to have your oldest adult son move out of the house into his own apartment has been reduced to a heap of wounded spirits and emotions, hatred and regrets. It feels like a tree chipper has shredded my soul.

It is a sad song. My feelings of worthlessness, despair, lack of skill and ability as a parent and a human being has reduce me to tears at the slightest tender or sentimental song.

(Good grief. I’m a fifty five year old man. I should have my shit together my now.)

Before this emotional meltdown, sleepless nights and inner turmoil sparked by last week’s event,  I had taken some measure to make my sad song better :

  • Enrolled in a credited web development class at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) which starts today (1/8/2018).
  • Continued with a painting project and hung some finished paintings in the house
  • Bought a treadmill to restart a long defunct walking/running program
  • Started a ‘learn to draw” self-education program in spite of my religious sensibilities and what others say is bad and sinful.

Friday night was the worst night in this recent series of sad days with movement toward an outcome that wouldn’t be beneficial to anyone.

I survived those bleak hours. Now, I’m trying to make my sad song better. Hopefully the above list will make the sadness better.

On a slightly humorous note …

I wanted to hang my latest painting in the basement ‘work out’ room. Yet, the angle of the basement stairs, the height of the hallway above the stairs, the dimensions of the painting (8′ x 6′) wouldn’t allow for it.

I found that kind of funny for some reason.


Latest painting. Finish in November 2017. Untitled. 8′ x 6′.


Happy 2018

Happy 2018.

I’ve been in a funk. It started about April – May of 2017. I wasn’t able to get out of it. I’m still in it as 2018 begins. But, hopefully, maybe I can climb out (or roll out) of it in 2018.

At least that is a hope. A New Year’s hope.

Depression is a grievous companion. I can’t seem to shake it. The 20 mg of Paxil takes the edge off. But, it doesn’t take it away.

My Post Nikki life hasn’t been all that great. Thankfully, there hasn’t been any tragedies but the zest for life isn’t there.

This morning, the first work day of 2018, I have to listen to an office narcissist talk about the major and minor details of his 2017 European Christmas/New Years vacation. I have to listen to him brag how impressed the backwards Europeans were with his American winkle.


Anyways, I do have a semblance of a plan for 2018.

  • Get back into calorie counting.
  • Exercise more.
  • Blog more.
  • Teach myself to draw
  • Paint more
  • Reduce the amount of Diet Mountain Dew I drink
  • Increase the amount of water I drink

Anyways, I wish everyone a great 2018.

Chapter One


She answered not looking away from the glowing notebook screen that illuminated her soft cheeks.

He gazed at her. The notebook sitting on her lap supported by long lean legs that have seen miles of road and treadmill. Small rounded breast that popped from a firm torso toned by countless hours. Even her neck was firm, partially hidden by her flowing blonde hair.

She sat on the porch swing, gently swaying back and forth in effortless glide backlight by the mid morning sun. The only word that came to mind was, stunning.

Dave wanted her. He always wanted her. Who wouldn’t want her, he reasoned. He wanted her then and he wanted her now.

On the porch he stood in his bathrobe, a tattered rag of thinned faded flannel. He pulled it tight to covered his belly.

“No”, he questioned.

Her hazel blue eyes finally lifted from the screen to cast the answer.

Her sports bra was still damp from a morning run. She ran with her girl friends. They assembled on the front porch of the house, chatted about kids, life, groceries and husbands. Maybe not in that order but usual topics. Depending on the day and weather, the group decided on mileage, a route and then began to run.

On this particular day, a bright Saturday morning of low humidity, they ran to Gigo’s Gym, a relaxing four miles away.

At the gym, they sipped purified water infused in vitamins and other nutrients. They talked more about kids and life and husbands and jobs while toning and exercising body parts. Once pumped with energy that originates from a dopamine progression, they returned to the front porch via the same four miles, where they high-fived and hugged and made future plans.

The group, numbering five on most Saturdays, were known as the Running Club, a mix of mid to late career women who found solace from life’s issues from physical activity. Husbands were encourage to run along with their wives although it was unusual if any did.

Dave was interested in physical activity of course even if a thin damp sports bra was included in the mix.

His wife was the de facto leader, elevated to local celebrity status by losing over a hundred pounds and blogging about it on the increasing popular Carla’s Run. She took her position too seriously, Dave thought at times, cataloging miles, calories, reps and participation and attitudes to share progress with those who ran with her and followed her on the web.

“No”, he repeated, maybe questioned. He didn’t mind the damp bra.

(to be continued)

I was Sniped

I watched this auction for the last 5 days. I placed my bid shortly after the auction was listed. I checked on it every day, multiple times a day to see if I was the highest bidder.

I was for all those days.

Ebay thoughtfully sent a reminder to my phone five minutes before the auction ended. I signed onto the account and watched the seconds tick down to 3, 2, 1.

Cool, I won this auction for a price that I thought was an extreme discount as my max bid was 100% beyond the starting bid.

I was excited to win this auction. After all, it’s been five days.

I was the sole bidder while the auction was online. I had a hard time believing that I was the only bidder. Certainly there were other interested people. The item was a vintage photo from the early 50’s and selling for less than the price of a pint of my favorite IPA.

I had fallen in love with this photo, imaging who the people were and what had become of their lives. I am developing an enthusiasm for vintage photos and have already purchased several from eBay.

A friend asked what I do with these vintage photos of people I will never know. I replied and said that a printed photo needs to be saved, if possible, so the memory of these people is persevered, even if I don’t know them, even if I am the only one who remembers, even though I never knew them.

Plus, I included, I scan the photo and add it to the slide show and my digital hoard. And, just to be transparent, the girls are cute in these photos and the cars are new and the homes are antique.

I told him I looked forward to adding this photo to my “collection” as I was clearly the winner in this auction. He walked away and mumbled something. I couldn’t decipher but maybe I heard ‘loser’.

When the counter ticked to zero the “You’re the highest bidder” statement was replaced with “you’ve been outbid”.

Seriously … at the very last moment … the very last second.

WTF. I was watching. How could this happen. Is this legal? Who would do this? I’ve been in this auction since the beginning. I was the only bidder. I’ve devoted time and emotion to this.

I had heard of “sniping” only through the Weird Al parody song “Ebay”. I can recite the lyrics if needed. I thought it was a myth.

I’ve lost a few auctions at the last minute, some that I was watching but didn’t have the ability to bid again. But, those auctions didn’t rise my blood pressure like this one where I lost at the zero second and there was absolutely no time to react. And, maybe I had fallen in love with the photo, maybe with the girls in the photo. That’s what losers like me do when they bid on eBay I heard someone say.

After I calmed down, I looked up the reasons why you can lose an auction at the last millisecond. And, now, I have some new strategies.