Learning To Love You More
HELLO ASSIGNMENTS DISPLAYS LOVE GRANTS REPORTS SELECTIONS OLIVERS BOOK

 ASSIGNMENTS:

 

 

Assignment #14
Write your life story in less than a day.

Anonymous

REPORTS:

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  • Born Lafayette, LA in 1976, where people still brag about being named the US's party capitol by Playboy magazine the year I was born.
  • Parents divorced when I was 11 months old. No siblings. All of my friends growing up had divorced parents.
  • Before my Dad moved to TX when I was 5, he owned a camera store, safelights and newspaper photographers were commonplace.
  • We moved to the country outside Lafayette when I was 6. There were no kids around, so I rode my bike alone all the time.
  • I never got into toys but read a lot of books and wrote stories and poems.
  • In first grade I was sent home for writing a story about selling cowshit as chocolate.
  • They switched me to a hippie school with beanbag chairs, and there were only a few kids in my grade. The teachers wrote the day's assignments on the board in the morning and we just had to finish them before the end of the day. They let us listen to RUN DMC on the record player if we finished our work early.
  • I was a serious child, perpetually concerned with acting "mature." My Mom told me I had an "old soul" and I took pleasure in that. I had these kind of out-of-body spells, but CAT scans and EEGs revealed nothing, and I eventually outgrew them.
  • After the spells went away, I began to get ripping mirraines that lasted 12-18 hours. This was when I was 8 or 9. I would howl in pain, vomiting, wishing aloud for death.
  • When I was 10, Paul Simon's Gracland came out, and it's still my favorite CD.
  • First there was breakdancing, then there was skateboarding.
  • I would lip-sync songs in front of the mirror and imagine that the girls I liked at school were in the audience. Maybe I wasn't as serious as I remember.
  • I read The Stranger at least 6 times in the seventh grade. Do the Right Thing was a favorite movie.
  • We moved back to the city of Lafayette when I started high school.
  • My best friend's grandfather was the first person to sell pizza in Lafayette, and we ate at his restaurant every single night one summer. House salad, six-inch mushroom pizza, and those little breadstick crackers.
  • The first time I got drunk was on Mad Dog 20/20, the grape kind. I was so excited. I was the "really fucked up" guy at this huge party, and I puked all over my friend's car and had to wake my parents up because I couldn't get the key in the door. Even so, I couldn't wait to do it again. - I didn't wait long.
  • First job = bus boy and soda jerk at a 50's style diner. One night after work a cook got me high while the Beastie Boy's Paul Revere played on vinyl. It was a very happy and thrilling moment.
  • There was a KKK show on the public access channel and the opening theme song was "When the Children Cry" by White Lion. I never got the connection.
  • I got a camera and a key to my uncle's darkroom. The local art alliance showed a photograph I took of a clown sleeping at the Texas State Fair.
  • The day OJ killed his wife I moved to Texas to pursue an art degree. When I left Lafayette, Johnny Cash was on the stereo, and when I drove into Dallas, it was Operation Ivy.
  • I couldn't believe there was a nude model the first week of drawing class. I couldn't believe they expected me to be able to draw him.
  • Near my dorm, bats used to fly out of this chimney, thousands of them. During the fall we would to take LSD and watch them. There were so many ideas I could never verbalize or hang on to.
  • I spent Cinco de Mayo 1995 in jail for stealing a Mojo Nixon CD and some others I can't remember. I think of that every May 5.
  • There were yards and yards of library books coming in and out of my apartment at all times during college, as well as bags and bags of weed and cases and cases of beer.
  • My first art sale was to the big photography gallery in Dallas - a grid of color prints called "Every Possible Combination of Generic Pop-Tarts Available at Albertsons, if Having Only Two for Breakfast."
  • There was this phase where my roomate and I would videotape ourselves sitting around until we forgot the camera was there, and then we'd sit around some more, studying ourselves on TV.
  • The Aphex Twin CD Richard James seemed to change everything, or at least open up a set of new doors.
  • On April 15, 1998, I was drunk and stoned and had lost my W-2s. I faked it as best I could, but came up with a $5,232 refund. I knew that couldn't be right, so I switched the 5 to a 2 and mailed it in. A month or two later I got a check for two thousand dollars.
  • A few years later the IRS came looking for that money, plus interest, plus penalties.
  • My favorite things were photographs of banal places, so I moved to Lubbock, TX for grad school. Buddy Holly, Joe Ely, and Terry Allen were all from Lubbock.
  • When I got there I thought it was weird to be drinking so much without all my friends there.
  • In ocean-flat Lubbock I felt like the drawing of the Little Prince - a man standing alone on a curve of the earth. I loved the personality of Lubbock but couldn't continue school there.
  • I made the decision to move to Houston on a passenger jet. The decision, while monumental at the time, was marked by a banality that I recognized from Chekov and Carver. And maybe a little Hopper.
  • I moved to Houston and got a prestigious, low-paying job with a non-profit art organization. I read a lot, drank a lot, smoked a lot, and looked at more art than I ever had before.
  • The job sent me to a conference for the Society for Photographic Education. I felt important, representing my organization at such a young age. More importantly, I fell in love with an artist finishing up her graduate degree.
  • Miraculously, she agreed to move to Houston after school and have a go at it with me. Our first real date was to see a Cornell / Duchamp show at the Menil Collection.
  • We got along like beans and cornbread.
  • It became painfully evident to me how much working at a non-profit can suck if the ingredients weren't all right, so I quit and took a cushy job typing envelopes and fetching lunch at a blue-chip art gallery.
  • I began to get serious about publishing art criticism, while maintaining my art career.
  • One art group in town gave me a nice contract job that was to last for a few months, but I collected the checks and never did any of the work, despite their pleading and threatening. I couldn't figure out why I was doing that.
  • Debt collectors began to call between 12 and 20 times a day. Out of shame and fear, I tried to pretend they were solicitors when my girlfriend acted concerned.
  • One day I pulled up in front of my house and started sobbing, but couldn't figure out what the hell was wrong. Neutral Milk Hotel was on the stereo. I began to lie awake in bed, thinking of all the terrible things I had done in my life, back to childhood. My most frequent thought was "what the fuck is wrong with me?"
  • I had my first solo show and the museum bought one of my pieces. I wasn't writing much because I had pissed off all the editors in town.
  • July 23, 2001 I was sitting in a crummy sports bar on West Clay St. and I had what can only be described as a moment of clarity. I dashed out of the bar and went home to ____, crying. I put on a Radiohead CD and told her that my life was out of control and that I needed help.
  • Help came though Alcoholics Anonymous. I cried every day the first week, ashamed that my life had reached that point.
  • After the first week of meetings, I felt very real, positive results and quit crying. I became very active in AA.
  • I was up my eyeballs in debt, so I started working two jobs. A former editor offered me a regular writing gig, which I hesitantly accepted. I never had a single article late for her, which was miraculous for a screw-off like me.
  • Life goton track, and better than I had ever experienced it. I know that sounds like a movie clich´┐Ż but I don't know how else to put it. I made up with old enemies, paid back my debts, and started to sleep peacefully through the nights.
  • We had been wanting to leave Texas for a while - the pollution, the sprawl, the heat, the noise - so we made plans to head up to Oregon.
  • We also decided to get married.
  • It was all a great whirlwind. There were 5 jobs between us, plus writing and AA meetings, but it was such a happy time.
  • The only time I got nervous about getting married was backstage at the wedding and I looked at the clock at 5:58. We were walking down the aisle at 6, and I felt a little overwhelmed at that moment. I got over it.
  • The word "wife" was funny for a while
  • Everything that follows is too wrapped up in the present to chronicle and turn into history. I know I left out so much, like talking to David Byrne, and the Choose Your Own Adventure book I wrote in 5th grade. And I didn't even touch on the chilling Bukowski-nut years. Catch me in person and I'll tell you about the time I served a wedge of brie to bell hooks.