charcoal and chalk
90 × 60cm
I have a fascination with architecture and history. I have been trying to fill all the holes in my knowledge of world history for the last hm twenty years yikes.
It is very hard to find the kind of building that I would like to photograph or paint in Western Australia. We are just too young a country, and I feel the lack of history keenly at times.The room I took from an image I found online and the figure is of my own invention.I sold this piece quite early on in my career (not that long ago really) for far, far too little.
But hey, I got to eat well that week…
I found this letter today. i wrote it 8 years ago, when i was working as a stock manager and fucking it up completely, costing the poor bastards who employed me so much money… though I tried SO hard.
it is I believe an example of believing in the wrong thing… not myself, i mean… anyway… here…
I actually went to work today. I am learning all about stock management…
I looked in the mirror today and had to look again to make sure it was me, and then waved my arms around a bit and tried some unusual facial expressions. I have approximately the same haircut that I did when I was fourteen. At least I’ve stopped wearing the pastel shirts though. It was me.
In the mirror that is.
Problems with despair.
I have given up drinking now. Oh, yes. No more hangovers in the morning for Paul. I have looked that cold frosty beer with the condensation forming on the outside and the perfect crisp bitterness and just the right amount of head on a hot day when I’m surrounded by friends gazing out to sea after a hard day’s work and said “no thanks, no way man, I don’t want none of your sublime idealised taste, nor do I wish to partake of the feeling of absolute release that you can bestow upon me with the simple action of me drinking you.”
And I’m better.
I can now not only get, but also hold a job.
Yea, verily, and I don’t feel that I am particularly likely to get beaten up or fall down any stairs and getting arrested is not really on the cards any more either.
But I am the same.
I really am the same.
I don’t feel sick as much, and I’m not quite as anxious because now I actually know what I did last night, but I am the same.
The cool thing about being an alcoholic was that there was always the feeling that somewhere in my future was a sober version of myself that was going to take over the world and if I wasn’t cursed with alcoholism, then (and when that curse was lifted and the gypsies got back to their wagons) there would be world conquering Paul. Paul that was unstoppable. A Paul that knew what it was that he was supposed to do.
This vision, I think, really did sustain me in my, um, darkest hour. Or hours.
“Ooh, just you wait, world.” I’d be thinking as I tried to comb the vomit out of my hair. “When I clamber and scuttle my way out of this ‘ere gutter,” I’d say as I eased myself gently back into it and settled in the mud, blood and refuse, “why I’m gonna be able to, you know, just like, know how to live man. There’ll be this job that’ll be just, you know, satisfying like. And this woman I’m going to have we-e-ll. Is she going to consider me doomed and scary? I think not. Is she going to adore me? I don’t think that she will have any choice in the matter. That world peace thing? Fixed. The ozone layer? Painted over, man, and all those hippy faux intellectuals? In death camps, man, cause I’ll be runnin’ things.
“Swartzenneger? Little guy compared to me.
“Pink Floyd? U2? Who were they?
“Picasso? I can’t even spell Picasso. Is there an “f” in there, I dunno.”
Why would I be depressed if I didn’t drink any more? And why would I possibly be angry if there was no blood in my eyes in the morning?
Why, if I could keep my hand steady, I’d be guiding the universe.
But this, sadly, turned out NOT to be the case.
It turns out that I wasn’t really meant to do any of these things, and though some of them may have been possible for me when I was young enough to take the path that would lead to the kind of success I had always believed myself destined for, those years have already passed. Not only that but in the process of the very very very slow learning curve that showed me that it was not really a particularly good idea to drink all the time, my confidence, my faith in myself and the power that I believe that I once held in my hands from that, got beaten out of me with a big blood spattered stick.
The truth, of course, is that I am JUST ANOTHER GUY.
I am JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.
It’s very hard to accept.
And like, now I don’t have any excuses either.
But it’s not really a conceptual thing at all. It doesn’t have very much to do with the IDEA that I’m an average person.
I’m learning to cope with that, just like Doogie Howser had to, y’know, when he was passed seventeen and they kept the series going anyway.
The romantic worldview is the problem, you see. Particularly when you apply it to yourself. It doesn’t really work, and just fucking can’t really, can it?
I had to take the batteries out of the clock in the lounge room. It kept saying “tick” at me. It just would not stop.
“Tick. Here goes some more of your youth Paul,” it said to me as I examined the hairs on my forearm in minute detail again, “and – yep, just thought that I’d remind you. Tick . There was some more. And what are you doing with it? NOTHING. Tick. What can you think of to do with it? NOTHING. Tick. Oooh, there’s some more just dribbling away. Tick.”
I didn’t throw it across the room though.
I wish I could do stuff like that. I’m so fucking reserved. Wild boy no longer. I don’t hit stuff no more, don’t party no more, my body won’t even let me fucking sleep in any more.
I keep waking up at six thirty.
What the fuck is up with that?
I wake up in the morning and there it is.
Sword of Damocles or hole in the bridge or spark just not firing in the neural network. I wake up, and I feel okay, I’ll be making plans, considering options, lying there in the dark (my room has no windows, you see. Insular, really.) And then it will well up inside me, a cold palm on my young man’s heart, and I remember this feeling of loss, of open-mouthed breathtaking, unsupported grief. That that is me and my decree, what I know understand and loath.
We have options. I think that I am useful enough to be able to possibly make a difference in the world. But in the action of giving up drinking I had to let go of the delusion and embrace the understanding that I had always had in the deepest part of me. I know that I will not make any difference, not really.
I am not going to be a great anything.
Where the hell did I go?
(I DO HOPE, I DO BELIEVE, THAT I WAS WRONG, THAT I HAVE MUCH YET TO DO. I AM GLAD THAT I LOST THAT JOB. AH WELL… love to all, paul.)