Sunday, July 25, 2004

Stickage #8 (and then a whole lotta rambling)

Introducing "Bi-Polar Gemini Girl" in the,, single panel...of Stick Figure Drama!, Stick Figure Action! Yeah!

The li'l cartoon marks the 8th appearance of Stick Figure Drama, meaning that I've been doing absurd thing for two whole months. And y'know, I'm still having a ball.

There's something about this medium, and something about being published in a community that I don't reside, that allows me to strip off *any* elements of self-censorship and just do anything that crosses my psychotic little mind. I don't have to worry about whether or not someone I bump into in the supermarket liked or didn't like what I put in last week's cartoon, I don't have to worry about pissing off the town as a whole..I can just do, and say, anything I like.

I think this is proving to be an incredibly solid learning experience for me. As I've said in (much) earlier blog posts, my goal, artistically, is to be able to just say and not stress out about what people think or feel about what I've said. Of course, this is a "perfection" kind of goal, and one I struggle and strive towards, having not yet quite reached it.

But this stupid little cartoon, with badly-drawn stick people, has given me the outlet I've always wanted, the platform where I can just say whatever the hell is on my mind.

And I swear to God, two months into it, they'll have to pry Page 6 of the 100 Mile House Advisor out of my cold, dead hands before they replace Stick Figure Drama.

Where I'm sitting right now, I feel like I did nine years ago with my column -- excited at the prospect of publishing, thrilled at the notion of communicating something to people. And it's kind of a weird but ultimately positive time for this cartooning gig to appear, as I plan to bring my column to a close at the end of the year. Now I've got another creative outlet to replace it with, one that I'm actually excited about, one that I'm actually thrilled to be doing, unlike the column with, some weeks, has become a chore.

Not lately, mind you. Truth is, this whole year has, so far, been a thrill. Since admitting in January that I planned to end the column at the close of 2004, and that I'd write any damn thing that crossed my mind, I've done just that. It's still been probably 75% similar to "Caught in the 'Net"s of past, but that other 25% -- when I've really let loose and just written about anything that took my fancy, that has been a blast.

Even that other 75% has been fun for a change, because I knew that if I had wanted to write about something else, I could. And would. The weeks I spent *not* writing about something else, that was a choice, and there's nothing wrong with that -- choice might start with the same two letters, but it's not a "chore".

For that reason, I'll admit I've had some second thoughts about ending the column. It's starting to be fun again, but at the same time, I kind of feel like I can only play this "I'll write anything I want, and you'll like it," for so long before even *that* gets old.

I really, at this point in time, do not know what I'm going to do come year's end.

I'll tell you, though...I got what is probably one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received just today, and it came courtesy of this ol' blog right here, and the little "comments" feature. Take a gander at this: 

Todd, dear heart, I strongly recommend you sell a few things, buy a ticket, and get out of the country for an adventure in another culture, another country. I'd suggest the South Pacific: Samoa or Micronesia are great places of indolence, self-indulgence, lethargy, and vivid people and scenery.I think, more than anything, you are suffering from Canadianitis; a condition of cultural tunnelvision and angst that isn't even remotely healthy.Get out for a while. You'll have fun whether you want to, or not!
-- S. O'Sullivan 
 While I'm not sure I'd necessarily agree at the terminology (I'd be more inclined towards "North Americanitis" as opposed to "Canadianitis") I certain agree that it's not healthy.

And really, I could write -- fiction, journals, film scripts, whatever -- from anywhere in the world, if I wanted to. Heck, thanks to the Internet, I could continue cartooning from wherever I happened to be -- Samoa or Micronesia or even Botswana (don't ask -- private joke).

So, why don't I? Why haven't I?

Well, I'll tell ya...

Something occurred to me tonight. And yes, it was a relevation that followed a few drinks, and might not be a relevation I agree with come tomorrow, but it's not tomorrow yet.

I've long felt that I wasn't properly and truly experiencing life. I was just kind of sitting back, playing more the role of an observer than participant, and kicking myself in the ass for it.

But tonight it struck me for the first time that, maybe, as much as I kicked myself in the ass, maybe I didn't want to be anything more than an observer. Someone who does what he can to record the goings-on of the world around him. Someone who is best suited to slither back into the shadows and let things occur without his direct involvement.

Communication does not necessarily demand involvement. And really, that's all I've ever wanted, I think.

I remember, as a child -- probably no more than nine or ten years old -- putting on little plays for my brother, starring a half-dozen teddy bears that we had accumulated over our childhood. Satirical knock-offs of Star Trek (though I'm sure the word "satire" wouldn't enter my vocabulary for another few years) they starred Captain Kirby of the Starship Enterpoop (the latter ripped unashamedly from the pages of Bloom County) and involved a whole of silly, mindless, but on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of adventure.

I wasn't a terribly popular kid in school. I kept to myself, was quiet, got my work done, mostly maintained pretty good grades (up until high school, but that's another story altogether), but I didn't have a whole lot of friends. I was shy, yet desperate to break through that silence and actually *communicate* with people.

And when I acted out my terrible space operas for my brother, using nothing but teddy bears...that was my outlet. That was my forum for communication. And I'll tell ya -- as much as he'd hate for it to be said now that he's an adult -- he was a fantastic audience. He laughed in all the right places, grew quiet in all the right places...and those moments right there are, probably, what spawned the story-telling instinct I have.

Unfortunately, that story-telling instinct kind of merged with the bitterness that grows out of being the shy and quiet kid that doesn't have a whole lot of friends. Leaving me telling stories now about people who are lonely and at the end of their rope.

I think I've lost my train of thought somewhere...

Ah, yes, communication over participation.

I guess what I learned from an early age is that communication was what mattered -- whatever medium it appeared in. Participation was secondary, and, really, not even necessarily relevant.

I think that's what's wrong with me; why I feel it's so difficult to actually *live* my life, instead of wasting it by just sitting at home and, say, writing in a blog. Because the participation was always secondary.

I got lucky and found an outlet for my desire to communicate at an early age -- I started my column when I was 20. Ten year of communicating. Ten years of not really participating.

Fuck it's terrifying to be coming to these kind of realizations at 30, with almost half your life behind you, thinking about how much you've missed out on, thinking about how much is still left to miss out on if you don't *do* something about it, now that you've finally figured it out.

Thank you, S. O'Sullivan, for making me think about getting out of this rut. I'm not sure, at this point, if I'll follow your suggestions to the letter. But hopefully, between them, and the realizations I was already dancing around, I'll find some way, before I die, to make my life mean something to the only person it should really matter to -- me.

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