On being successful in the past—and trying to live up to it again.

I’ve done very little with my life so far. This may come of as self aggrandizing but it’s not meant to. I’m just lucky enough to have done some cool stuff before getting ill.

I started school at 4.5. Was that my first success? Now that I think about it–no.

Walking by my own power was. It’s something most people can do, but I needed years of extremely painful physical therapy and countless hours of parental help to stand on my own. Let alone walk. Without their help, I would have been on a walker or wheelchair for most of my life. So I can thank them for that easily enough. I’m grateful for every hike and bedridden rest period I’m able to take after a long walk.

So I wanted to talk about past successes.

My first commission was to a Royal Family in Africa. Unbeknownst to me, one of my dad’s coworkers is a legitimate princess. She wanted a portrait of her father for his 80th birthday. As well as a piece based on a family heirloom. She gave me a picture as reference but it was missing the lower half. This was almost a decade ago, when google was relatively young.

I literally spent a month searching for this heirloom in photos until I found a picture of it on someone’s mantle piece. Two days before it was due. It was not my best work. But she seemed happy enough to offer more.

My first paid camera gig was to photograph a rocket launch for NASA and the Air Force. I was amazed by the people more than anything. I did get to meet an Astronaut, who eschewed my Nikons for his Canons. I’ll admit their focus blur is buttery and I wish I could try some of their tech. It was the intense controlled focus they all shared, even when taking a break. They had spent ages working on this one shot–the last one the person who invited me would be doing, as far as I know–and by some unfortunate circumstances the cloud cover would not break over our location for anyone to see it for more than a second or two before disappearing. The shots I got were worthless. My partner’s shots were better. I’m glad I was allowed to bring her with me.

My first and only viral(ish) post came once I learned that not everyone had synesthesia and I began drawing what happens in my head with sound. A few million views came from that before I got weirdly nervous and scrapped the folder. I did reupload it later, but it was no longer relevant and that was fine-though I’ve seen it’s influence seep into some cultural things (that I probably could never prove, hah). It’s interesting to watch honestly, but I’ve never been able to replicate that level of attention again and that’s fine.

So now my goal is to get a book published or get some of my art into a museum while I work on my scientific endeavors. Just for some permanence. I was taught to burn my art as a child as it was seen as clutter so I’ve grown up with a healthy indifference to my work. It was only after my partner asked me to not do that did I start keeping pieces–though now I’ve got scores of pieces with no place to go, and an itch to cleanse myself of them if they’ll not improve my living any longer.

It was a short rise, and after that I blipped into the obscurity of the masses once again, which is alright so far–though I must admit I wish I could make a living from my art as my hands are still capable. Or perhaps a book of which I’ve written (this part is a little fuzzy at the moment. I haven’t slept and it’s 6:03 a.m.) 5 (two half books) pieces, 3.5 young adult pieces for my niece and nephews and 1.5 autobiographical diary style pieces. Oh and a hundred page 1st volume of my comic, and a silly art book that’s just for fun.

I don’t really enjoy attention that much, as it makes me physically uncomfortable. I think it’s growing up in a locked bedroom for twenty years that caused it. I once worked at a call center, and after figuring out how to get the maximum pay check mathematically–and posting it to the workers board, got a round of applause from our training group. It freaked me out so much that two days later I quit. But not before sharing the guide with the I.T. guy so it could help save the branch I was leaving–as it was one of two being considered for termination.

My understanding, according to my friend who worked there for months after, was that it worked so well for so many people that the higher ups came in and had to rework their entire pay structure to be less effective. I find that hilarious. Not for the workers affected by the changes, but just that it caused that level of turbulence.

One major success for me has been trying to go back to school. This time for multiple forms of engineering, as I’ve been teaching myself all that I can figure out how to as I design things. I have failed classes, as I do have ADHD-1 primarily inattentive. It’s likely called ADD now, but I’m too lazy to pick up a DSM-V to verify the name. Plus I got paranoid and ill for months this last term, which totally fucked me over. It was shameful. But I was able to finish my 3D modeling class and I’m in love with that sort of stuff. It’s hard, yet fun when finished.

The school is 5 miles away from my house. I can’t afford gas to go there every day, so at some time I’ll have to learn to walk there. I decided I would try it, with my backpack full the first time. I haven’t been hiking in ages. It was a stupid thing to do.

But I was successful.

Someone even left messages along the route which I wanted to share with you, just so things are kept in perspective on whatever this journey will bring.

Good luck with what you’re doing today. I’m going to try learning a new art technique if I can, before packing for my flight.

-J.