Tuesday was somewhat the same. I inked and then I inked some more. Mike & Marie picked me up in Little Man and we drove over in the bitter cold to SBX's house with an apple pie in tow. We're seducing SBX so she gets addicted to the tv show '24' just like we have and tonite would be her second taste of hyper-kinetic cliffhanger heaven. SBX made a delicious and spicy [!] vegetarian chili. The Haze wrote a short story about brave children who confront their fears and read it for us. It was a chilling piece coming from the mouth of such a young nipper. Kids to bed by 9PM, we watched the show and ate. '24' rocked the kasbah and left all four us biting nails and pulling hair. With tensions reaching critical mass and a killer cliffhanger, SBX was sucked in, hook, line, and sinker. 3-weeks hiatus before we found out what happens next! Fie, holidays, fie! Kisses, and we drove back to our separate abodes. I spent the rest of the night...that's right...inking.
Guess what I did Wednesday? Mm-hm. Inked. At the art table. On 2-ply Bristol board. I do this at least 5-days a week every week [for the past year], so it comes as no surprise that I draw. A lot. It just seemed like that's ALL I was doing this week. Not much thought going into preparing for my London/Paris trip next Tuesday w/SBX. What more should I bring besides clothes, a book, my camera, and something to scratch on, anyway? I'm going for the experience. Not to relocate. Ergo, my dull yet vigorous week at the art table. Drawing. Getting work done so that I continue to stay on a modicum of a schedule and have something invoiced for when I split. When did pleasure turn into business?
But, I did manage to hit Jim Hanley's Universe and pick up new comix, have lunch w/SBX, have a fight w/SBX, make up w/SBX, and go home to work. So, I wasn't totally chained to the art table. I got to add stress to my stress just in case the gray in my hair wanted to be white. While inking, I stupidly let the Barbara Walters Year End Special soil my home. Babs was interviewing who she considered to be the most fascinating people of 2002, w/the most fascinating candidate being Laura Bush, the first lady. Say what? How cheap! Obvious! Pandering! And then the segment aired and I was near tears. Okay. So, what was it that had my face red with wet? The First Lady talked about stress, and 9/11, and how hard it was to be living in the White House married to the President of the United States, and I felt that she was really down to earth. She talked about tradition and values. Not necessarily her traditions and her values, but the dogma that all people NEEDED a sense of tradition and values in order to get through a day. That, those were the very things that allowed us to pull through and walk the dog, no matter how bad we felt or failed. That, she has seen her share of misery and that it is the repetition of something sound, a tenet that we subscribe to, that makes us strive harder and further than our scope. Now, I'm sure I read a whole lot more into the 5-minutes Babs gave Bush, but it made me realize what was missing in my life. Not just the stuff I complain about on a daily basis but, the stuff that sits deep inside and gets to the root of those frustrations. Epiphany. I wanted somebody who, when I couldn't find it in me to draw that page or make that phone call, that I was doing it for them. For us. Not just for me. I realized that I've spent more than half of my life like a mercenary, doing things by myself for myself because I'm too damn proud to ask for help or too damned narrow-minded to seek the same thing from another perspective. I want a support structure. A system that allows for pitfalls and yet builds strength, exponentially. The combination of dating SBX and witnessing how she lives her life FOR her kids, which impacts my life, and The First Lady's 5-minutes preaching the practice of tradition and values, brought clarity to me and my little arrow. I was humbled.
So I spread the wealth on Thursday when Mike Fiffe came over to knock off 4-pages of erasing and filling in blacks like a star champ. Fiffe is good people and his company lets me to sometimes play in the kitchen and cook. I made us some coffee, fried eggs and sausage, with a bagel on the side. We worked hard and I played some 60s jazz from the IMPULSE archives to ease the afternoon. SBX was taking her girls to a school Xmas party after work but would be back by 9PM to putter about and write Xmas cards. I grabbed some UK style Indian food from the CURRY SHOPPE and biked over to SBX's house to watch the finale of SURVIVOR [a show I watch sporadically], and draw a few Xmas cards of my own for editors, family, and collaborators. SBX arrived in the middle of some immunity contest and she was half-stepping. We weren't on the same page about this and that, which led to static boiling underneath the surface and rising like a volcanic pimple about to pop. So, rather than explode, I stepped aside and was back home drawing revisions and cover sketches for THING #4, based on ideas that Dorkin, Lis, and I were trading, when I would've rather have been snoring in the comfort of SBX's cradle.
Friday was a day for some catch up and penciling. Turned around another page and drew a few more Xmas cards. Draw, draw, draw. It's all I do. The day passed into night and I was on my bike to SBX's to pick her and Ola up for an early evening party in Park Slope, thrown by the mother of one of The Haze's schoolmates. Only, The Haze was sick and staying home to bake a ginger bread house and recover.
Did you know that an Oscar Peterson [jazz pianist] was playing on the cd player at the party? No? You didn't? You want to know why you COULDN'T have known [besides the obvious reasons]? Because the host made sure that the volume on the stereo was set to BELOW ONE on the speaker dial. A half above ZERO. Why did the host do that? Because, I presume, they were encouraging that -- yeah, go ahead, say it out loud, -- that people TALK TO EACH OTHER. Gab. Trade sauce. The hosts of the party wanted to encourage conversation. "About what?" you ask. Not the dozens, that's fer sure. Okay, so what DID they talk about? Let's see, almost everyone at the party was in their mid-to-late 30s and early 40s. Almost all of the guests were parents and awfully tired by 9PM on a Friday night. So, what COULD they be talking about? One clue: hear the screaming of children upstairs? Bingo! They were talking about their KIDS. They weren't talking about a movie they saw, a book they read, a recipe they innovated, or a painting they did. Shit, they weren't even talking about the food on the table in front of them or the tasty wine they were drinking. They were talking about their KIDS to OTHER parents. Like parents need that? Like parents have nothing more to discuss with each other than little Bobby Sue's bed wetting problems? Whatever happened to the dancing? The drinking to get drunk? The 'seven minutes in heaven' in the broom closet? The MUSIC? Where was the volume?
I used to go to parties armed with a mixed tape or two that I made at home on my trusty ONKYO and TEAC with the vinyl records I'd been buying since I first drop a few dollars on THE SUGARHILL GANG'S "Rapper's Delight." Tapes that I would defy any pair of hips, from Hawaiian to paraplegic, to NOT shake their groove thang to. I would bum-rush parties and take over whole rooms with my magic numbers. Sometimes the host would feel emasculated and dart me the hairy eyeball, but they could never deny my prowess when they saw their guests stripping, dancing, grinding, and making a party HAPPEN. The kind the social grapevine parades and gossips about. A night like that would end with envy. Folks wanting to get with me or know me better. All because I had the wherewithal to put Biz Markie next to Queen and split the difference with The Bar-Kays. Doesn't take a genius to edit beats next to each other and come prepared to bring the noise. Sometimes I enlist in my soldiers, Cooly C and/or Mike, to cover tactical points and get the ball rolling. We'd kidnap those boring rooms by taking off our shirts and gliding to the music. Roughing up the floor when the beats called for it and never EVER letting a body utter more than two syllables unless it was a bark or a moan. Nah, party conversations are for dead people who talk diapers.
I stopped bringing my mixed tapes to parties about a year back when I realized that, even though I was capable and others were not, it didn't mean it was my onus to foist my party dogma upon their affair. It wasn't my right to make them right. So, I buckled. Took a back seat. Don't drive. I sip and I stare at their volume control and wonder why the stereo is on. Try to stand polite and, if I can make that impossible connection, then great. Otherwise, cut my losses. Which is maybe why I don't go to many "parties" anymore.
The party put me in a mood and allowed for another roller coaster of static with SBX. It's really starting to get out of hand and depressing the both of us to no end. SBX is stressed. I am stressed. And, we can't seem to rally nor huddle, much less cuddle. Xmas Holiday is a muthafuckin' bitch. That's right, I'm pointing fingers and taking names. I won't take the blame for this recent trend of hate and rage. It's not SBX's fault and it's certainly not mine. It's way too out of character from the both of us to act like such belligerent ninny's. So, yeah, SBX and I enjoyed another fun filled night of "I hate you!" and "Go Away! I hate you!" [my particular fave: the one/two combo]. I tried to leave four times and couldn't. In times of critical stress, my default is to flounder and stick while SBX's default is to push away and retreat. So, we fell out and had midnight make-up sex. I brushed my chest against her back. She moved back into me. She put her butt and legs against my dick and thighs. I started fondling her. She got wet and moved into a position for some easy intercourse. We made love. It was quiet. Nice. And then, SBX woke up during her orgasm. I didn't realize she was asleep. She was semi-startled. Made me feel weird. Like I had violated her. Fully awake, SBX perpetuated the sex act until I was the little engine that could, and did, and we laid there. Confused. Drenched in heat. Took me three hours before I finally fell asleep for four.
Saturday morning, the girls ran in and hopped onto the bed where their smiles and kicks were a warm welcome. I split early and went home to ink a page and finish penciling another. I got an email from HELLBOY editor Scott Allie answering an inquiry I wrote to him about an available slot for the upcoming HELLBOY anthology that all my good buddies and favorite cartoonists are writing/drawing for. I lied and told him I had a 2pp HELLBOY idea I wanted to write & draw. He told me to submit it. Jeepers. I didn't have an idea. What to do? So, I thought about HELLBOY and my sensibilities and decided I would take a romance angle. Replace HELLBOY for BILLY DOGMA and add a demonic slant. I remembered a post I wrote awhile ago on LJ ["Little by small"] and decided to convert that piece into a 2pp comic and see what I could get from it. I called Bob Fingerman about it and he scolded me, reminding me that this anthology was an "all ages" effort. Hmmm. So, I turned a word like "horny" into "frisky" and erased any mention of loins and libidos and titled it "Hell's Half Acre." Fingers are crossed that Allie & HELLBOY creator, Mike Mignola dig it. If not, it can easily be made into a BILLY DOGMA story. Which reminds me, I need to do something for the upcoming ALTERNATIVE COMICS anthology for May 2003's "Free Comic Book Day."
SBX came over, dog tired from her day with the girls. Her "Xmas Day" as it were with them, dropping them off with their father before he takes them to Colorado for their holiday break. She was in tears. Never having missed a Xmas with them before, SBX was missing her two little angels already. It was quite understandable and I talked her through it. Hell, I hadn't enjoyed a Xmas in years. But, I could remember what it was like to anticipate the morning of December 25th, and that's all you need to sympathize. We shut up and watched the first half of FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, before hitting the night skids.