It’s not really a secret, but I occasionally have to battle severe depression and despondency, on top of PTSD and brain damage. I can hardly balance a checkbook or wake up in the morning without problems, but I’m running two websites, drawing cartoons for several papers, and most importantly, not killing myself or anyone else. However, I never take a break, which is why the updates here have been sparse since mid-May. My brain flipped the lights and took a break for me. I had a breakdown.
I don’t have chronic headaches, so in the words of Ahnold, IT’S NOT A TUMAH. I am alive and healthy at 45 years of age. I feel like a 28-year-old man. I don’t crow about it because folks reply with “sure, but you can hardly do basic math”. Numbers make my head hurt. Numbers only tell you how much money you owe, or how soon you will die. Numbers are never poetry. Numbers are a credit score. A blood pressure reading. A call for time of death.
I can spell any word I’ve seen in print; I cannot do long division. It’s a trade-off. Much as an illiterate can survive in society, so can an innumerate. And, much as an illiterate feels shameful about their shortcomings, so does the innumerate. I’m like Butt-Head; I’m angry at numbers. If an American is illiterate, he or she can find helpful assistance. For innumerates they hand you a calculator and tell you not to act like a baby.
This is how the mere act of staying alive becomes overcoming a personal flaw.
Maybe you’re mentally restrained by something you can’t change about yourself. Surprise; just about everyone is. They just don’t tell you, because they fear that you will take advantage. And you will; it’s human nature. The difference is how you deal with that nature. Three simple words:
Don’t play victim.
When you play the victim, you validate the negative charges people levy against you. You give your enemies a free win. Oh, you say I’m stupid because I can’t do math? You know what I can do? Put a thought in your girlfriend’s head, with little more than a look, that will make her leave you and run to me. Have fun alone with your tenth-grade fractions.
See? I’m not a victim, I’m me. Adults are behaving worse than the kids on my grade school’s playground. Every argument is based in spite, and amounts roughly to “two wrongs make a right”. You got away with this, ergo, I get to do that. My perception of you is this, ergo, I get to act like that. Everyone is emotionally reactive, at all times. No one gives anything in any situation, because what if they get nothing in return? Why, they would look quite the fool. Better harden up to prepare for that imaginary scenario!
Better toughen up your attitude, in case you encounter those hard-faced people from other countries that you see in pictures on Facebook. Of course, they are a thousand miles away, so you’d better harden up towards your friends and loved ones instead. They might think you’re a pussy.
They have no idea what your problem is. They’re just trying to lead their lives. While you turned into a spiteful jerkoff, based on things you glanced at on the Internet. Based on your fears of being victimized. You’re all shell and no creamy center. Nobody likes that.
Do you see how easy I make this shit look? It only looks that way because I forged a routine, over years of struggle, to make it seem easy. It’s actually a tightrope walk. Sometimes my right hand shakes so badly I can’t ink a decent line. Sometimes ignorant and jealous persons fuck with me and try to threaten my working environment. Sometimes I go flat broke and spiral into suicidal depression at the thought of “drying the well”. And hey- what if I did strike it rich on my cartoons? Isn’t that the ultimate goal?
Why, so people could cluck about how I “had it easy”, living large off my juvenile scribbles? They already cluck about how my poverty is a clear indication of my rejection by the free market. Yeah, fucker, wake up tomorrow morning to a world with no cartoons. You’d be in a padded cell and straitjacket by lunchtime, you mincing little ignoramus.
I can live with innumeracy. You could never live without cartoons. Not for one day. Just as you couldn’t live without the military. You can’t even grow food for your own survival. Oh- you think you can? How did you learn, from a cartoon diagram?
Cartoon pictograms are the oldest form of art known to our species. The world can either shift priority back to that form, and reward its practitioners, or continue to slowly die. Like you, I will die eventually. I spend my life honing my skills so that the world will be enlightened even after I’m gone. People only care about your sex life so that they can categorize and reduce you as an individual. Your mystery disappears, and soon after, so does your public identity. They take away your uniqueness and your ability to make your mark. History and popular culture have proven this, emphatically.
I don’t care if no one notices what I’ve done until I’m deceased. Such is the way of all things. No one ever noticed that I’ve been spelling out a rude epithet with the days of my blog’s calendar since September of 2015, after all. If I hadn’t been doing that all along, my motivation to make regular updates would have evaporated. You must create motivation where there is none. This is the will of the artist. Not the will of the attention-starved dilettante who gives up every Monday morning.
Someday, you’ll understand.
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