Xoterica 33: The Edge

Artemis Sere Xoterica 33 The Edge

““Know the difference between a catastrophe and an inconvenience. — To realize that it’s just an inconvenience, that it is not a catastrophe, but just an unpleasantness, is part of coming into your own, part of waking up.““ (Bruce Lee)

I'm not typically one that pushes life to the brink. I lived a charmed life for a long time, and forgot what the edge looked like.

Until recently.

I went from six figure lifestyle with stability and upward mobility, to a skin of my teeth scrape for survival, bouncing off social programs and onto roads I never expected to traverse again.

This blog is a thank you to those people in my orbit that have kept me from sliding over the edge over the course of the last year and into an abyss. For privacy purposes, I won't reveal names, and since these amazing, gracious, selfless humans aided the human behind this artistic mask, I will keep the specifics of individual help secret.

But you know who you are. The empowering comments, cards, and messages of belief and encouragement as I struggled to stand. Reaching out when I seemed to have drifted away for too long. The active displays of genuine concern, like long distance hugs, offering me work or a loan to get by during this difficult time, or checking in on how I'm doing. The compassion. The trust. The love.

Love keeps us from reaching the cliff; care keeps our lives from careening out of control into a freefall with an inevitable crash.

All around me, I see the survivors of such a fall. Broken, irreparable lives. Doomed finances and futures.

Diminished and regressed existence.

Squalor and compromise.

The decay of the present day is palpable. Millions of people have been pushed to the edge by circumstances beyond their control, by choices that had catastrophic outcomes, and by breaks and fractures that don't heal without focused help, support and patience. Millions go to work every day while sick in order to maintain financial survival - not just stability, but income that keeps their lives from sliding into tragic decisions. Millions have put survival over proper health discipline due to lack of insurance, stability options, and/or healthy opportunities (including me). Millions sacrifice more than we can ever truly understand, and stress more than we can comprehend.

2020 has brought me as close to the edge as I have in the last two decades.

At the end of June, I suffered an accident while on the job that brought me centimeters away from tragedy. While using a table saw to rip trim for a new flooring job, the glove of my right thumb got pulled into a spinning saw blade. Before I knew it, the teeth ripped through my right glove and into my flesh, almost severing the tip of my primary thumb. The cut was deep enough that I could see the tip of my right thumb bone, though the angle of the cut kept the tip of my thumb from coming off completely.

See the photos at the end of this blog for graphic detail. I apologize for the quality of some of the images; it was difficult to do anything with my right hand for a few months, including take photos with my left hand. One-handed phone use proved difficult. 

Given that it was my first major injury since I was a kid, I think I handled it as well as someone could without health insurance. I was calm, cool, collected, and focused to heal my own wound, even though my co-worker said what followed from my injury "looked like a murder scene". I took a dive from champion for worker safety into the bloody pool of those injured on the job.

Accidents happen, and my injury was truly an accident. I was watching what I was doing, and I wasn't distracted. I just happened to miss when the blade caught my glove and pulled it into the blade. Life is like that - you feel safe until that quick second that chaos pulls you into the saw. My quick reaction saved the tip of my thumb from being completely severed off.

It was not the first time I cut wood with a saw, and it won't be the last. I don't fear the edge of the blade, but I am more respectful of the power of chaos, of the possibility of doing everything you can to protect yourself from the edge of the cliff or the apex of the spinning blade and still falling victim to the unexpected. Precaution and focus are always necessary when dancing with danger, and any slip can lead you faltering off the precipice and into tragedy. 

Today's danger will bleed you dry faster than you can properly transfuse. I suppose my previous experience with the edge gave me the confidence and patience to live through my present turbulence while maintaining my sanity.

I can only hope the rest of those helpless people on the edge right now have a chance at and the strength for stability like I have.

Four months later, my chopped thumb is mostly healed (by my own attention to healing), and the bloody event served as a pivot in my professional direction and artistic legacy. Instead of focusing on finding a vocation where I can use my hands and stay active, I've returned to my Marketer roots and am exploring what can grow out of those dismissed skills. Instead of working in an industry that varies based on the season and on your ability to survive the elements, I'm working from home and with my head. Instead of facing a future as an artist (and human) without an operable right thumb, I have a second chance to breathe life into my art.

Instead of disabled, I have become refreshingly enabled.

But I was lucky.

In order to survive over the last few months, I took jobs that put me out in the public and into the thick of the decay. Out of social distance and isolation and into the faces of people that couldn't be bothered with masks. Out of protective spaces and into covid-possible crowds. As an Uber and Domino's driver, I've visited abandoned houses, destitute families, places strained by lack of resources, and burned husks of buildings trashed by riots and protesters. I've smiled through hundreds of rides and deliveries that resulted in zero tips. I have seen the diversity of the urban landscape around me like no time in my life before.

I exchanged a charmed life for a complex, complicated road. I swapped upward mobility and unshakeable stability for struggle and wisdom. I traded an existence of suburban, closed comfort for brutal reality and recognition of the edge.

Backing away from the brink is a constant work in progress. It has taken me swallowing my pride and asking for help in ways that I've never done in my past. It has been humbling and tear-jerking. It has been difficult and stressful. It has been inspirational and empowering.

But most of all, it has been renewing.  What doesn't kill you truly does makes you stronger.

As long as you don't tumble completely off the edge. To those of you who have helped me from discovering what that fall looks like,

thank you.

#xoterica

Artemis Sere Xoterica 33 The Edge
Artemis Sere "Dissecting Halos" Original 16 x 20 Acrylic + Art Resin

SERESTATIC: Cleaning Out the Closets

Artemis Sere Serestatic Cleaning Out the Closets
Thursday, October 15. 42°. Mostly sunny, blustery.
 
 

Time files fast these days. Feels like just yesterday I was pulling out my summer clothes and readying for warmer weather. The seasons are swiftly changing with the roar of Canadian winds, and I'm now  exchanging button-up shirts for layers and thicker jackets.

Fierce winds push loose leaves across the yards like yellow and orange tidal waves smashing on brown beaches. The garden out back withers away and crumples to dust. The glorious plants that I grew over the last few months fight for survival in a house with few good bright spots. No matter how hard I try to keep the falling foliage under control, there is no denying Aeolus.

The cold is coming. The season I dread the most is knocking at the door. And with it, another six months of breathing dustbox air, of shoveling the driveway and marching through knee-high snowbanks, of short days and long nights, and of seldom feeling refreshed in the face of biting winds. Now we also have to fret about influenza and novel coronavirus -- on top of doldrums, seasonal affectedness disorder, holiday stress, and dangerous roads.

I despise winter almost as much as I do Donald Trump. It brings out the worst in me, recesses all of the good momentum I try to build during the year and withers me physically away, chiseling my health away with every passing winter season. I tried to move away to warmer climes last year, but it didn't work. 

It was a flawed, miserable attempt at escape from the anchors that drag me down in my life. 

Thankfully, I currently have a great, interesting job where I get to work from home. Much has changed since I left the professional world for a different path, yet a lot has remained the same. There are many disappointing and disheartening parallels to where I was in my life ten years ago, but I remain vigilant and hopeful this time around.

I've got great, supportive friends. I've found my voice and my platform, away from the buzz and turbulence of social media. I've survived the jump off the cliff and the rock bottom depths. I've found renewed confidence in myself, my art, and my place in this space. I've come to appreciate the silence away from the feeds and bickering.

I'm at peace with a "less is more" approach, and am finding that the more I clean up my life, my content and my story, the less stress I encounter. Simplicity has its merits, and an overencumbered life has gravity that cannot be undone while beneath it.

Minimalism leads to clarity, because too much stuff, too many voices, and too many commitments causes distraction and confusion.

With all of my possible might, I'm going to do my best to continue to clean up my life over the course of the next few months as I'm in virtual hibernation.

Many of you who are subscribed to this blog saw a flurry of posts recently. This blog has been running since 2010, and I've had several iterations across different platforms (livejournal and Blogger). Over the course of the build of this site, I ported content from those sites into this one, and didn't move content out of Draft status. Additionally, I made live some previous blogs that were under lockdown, and published some content that was more more personal and less polished than my newer work. Rather than trash all of those imperfect content pieces, I've decided to share them, so the story of how I got to who I am now is more clear for everyone.

I've got Echoprism Vol2 to finish and release, and a publishing calendar of exciting projects next year, including the tenth anniversary release of "Obscurious". A lot to do, with too little time to accomplish it all.

No more hiding, no more bullshit. The closets have been packed with closed boxes, clothing containers, and chattering skeletons for too long. 

If you're reading this, thanks for being part of my journey, and caring about the static of this artist's life. I appreciate your patience as this experience evolves. I'm a one-man creative army, and I have a lot to tackle.

Less is more. More space. More time. More life.

#serestatic

Artemis Sere Serestatic Cleaning Out the Closets

45 Reasons Why I Despise 45

45 Reasons Why I Despise 45

(Originally published October 16, 2018. Updated and bumped due to the coming election and current relevance.)

Seems like there's not a day that goes by now without the 45th President of the United States doing or saying something that makes me want to turn in my U.S. citizenship and find a new place to proudly call home.

Donald Trump has soiled the highest and most-powerful position in the land, and his ego and determination to carry out his vendettas grows by the day. While I railed against the Bush administration and the dumbness of Dubyah in the 90s, my disdain for Donald Trump has never been so strong. I was not a fan of him in the 80s... or the 90s.. or the turn of the century. In fact, I've never been a fan of Drumpf -- either when he was plentifully and playfully grabbing pussies and engaging in lewd sexual harassment, or when he was running his media empire and firing celebrities for fun.

The world will be a better place altogether when Donald Trump and his American oligarchy have moved on, and truth, justice and respect have the podium again. I'll add more links to specific items as I come across them.

Feel free to add the reasons why you dislike Donald Trump in the comments below.

Welcome to the United States of Madness

  1. Trump disrespects humans who disagree with him, often mocking their opposition to him. He is the biggest bigot in the Western world.
  2. Trump protects his insecurities by trashing and tearing down others.
  3. Trump is vindictive against those who oppose him, and often carries his grudge into vendettas that can last for decades.
  4. Trump has a callous disregard for the less fortunate, weak people who didn't start off with a million dollar loan from Daddy, and those people who don’t align with his white vision of an American.
  5. Trump cannot admit his faults, yet is quick to highlight and criticize the faults of others.
  6. Trump is a misogynist and disparages women, assigns rude and sometimes racist nicknames to them.
  7. Trump has an ego bigger than Jupiter.
  8. Trump is a liar, believes his own lies and the fabricated truths of others.
  9. Trump does not support personal transparency, and protects his lies through an endless web of untruths and misdirection.
  10. Trump is completely selfish and self-serving.
  11. Trump is an emotional fraud.
  12. Trump is a financial fraud.
  13. Trump is a religious fraud.
  14. Trump is a gaslighter.
  15. Trump is a tyrant and demagogue.
  16. Trump is a wall-builder, not a road or bridge builder.
  17. Trump is a divider, not a man of harmony and synergy. He is the most partisan President in U.S. history.
  18. Trump is an isolationist.
  19. Trump is a hypocrite, who cares very little about personal integrity.
  20. Trump is an enemy of the Fourth Estate, continually criticizes the talented journalists in America and calls any news that he doesn't agree with "fake".
  21. Trump uses spray tan so cheap that he looks like he fell off a Sunkist truck.
  22. Trump speaks with hand motions, as if he were trying to conjure truth like a magician (or shadowbox the ghost of MLK).
  23. Trump has the body of a horse and the head of an ass.
  24. Trump believes the his family is an American monarchy.
  25. Trump is an expert nepotist.
  26. Trump reportedly drinks a 12-pack of Diet Coke a day, eats unhealthy fast food regularly, and rarely exercises. He's had a few too many Trump steaks.
  27. Trump is infatuated with his daughter, Ivanka, and speaks of her in creepy ways.
  28. Trump is more interested in global destabilization than advancing the USA as a leader on the global stage.
  29. Trump is a puppet/muppet hybrid – a strange mix of Statler, Waldorf, Big Bird and Snuffalufagus.
  30. Trump is a horrible judge of character.
  31. Trump has delusions of grandeur and an inflated sense of self (in addition to an expansive waistline).
  32. Trump uses Twitter as his megaphone and his rallies as his platform for pushing the most recent conspiracy theory that he read or heard.
  33. Trump's moral compass shifts based on the alignment of his base.
  34. Trump condones hate as an American value.
  35. Trump criticized the swamps of Washington, yet has built an Alligator park on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
  36. Trump owns a Dark Tower in NYC (which includes offices of foreign-owned states -- which should cause conflict of interests -- and costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a day) and is the resident Randall Flagg of America. Sorry, Stephen King; the comparison works too well to ignore.
  37. Trump could care less for couth, culture and traditions of other countries.
  38. By not criticizing the actions of white supremacists, racists or other misogynists, Trump has made himself complicit in the evil actions of his supporters.
  39. Trump regularly attacks the integrity of the experienced subject matter experts around him (see Dr. Anthony Fauci), and would rather have counsel from crazed crackpots like Alex Jones, Steve Bannon, Kanye West and Dennis Rodman.
  40. The Apprentice and "The Art of the Deal".
  41. Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, and is a climate change denier (even while the country suffers chronic wildfires, rise in hurricanes, and irregular temperatures across the country).
  42. Trump uses superlatives as if they were language laxatives.
  43. Trump is part of the white-male-privilege, good ol' boys network that laments the demographic shifts in America.
  44. Trump would prefer to rule like Putin and renovate the Constitution, with unending Presidential term limits and uncheckable power. He has sewn the seeds of upheaval by failing to commit to leaving the White House at the end of his term, as every other President has done before him, regardless of turbulence during their appointment.
  45. Trump leads by tyranny and authoritarianism, not by democracy nor example. His is the first true American Dictator, and has created the united states of Madness.
45 Reasons Why I Despise 45