December 17th, 2002


This Bitter Mirth

Woke up Tuesday morning to an empty bed and almost broke up with SBX. She was downstairs in the basement doing...


SBX took the morning off from work to spend quality time with me and return the rental car during the day rather than late the previous night. So, okay, that’s good. Why was she doing laundry, then? Grumpy, I went downstairs to the ground floor and sat on a chair. Waiting. Playing with my thumbs. SBX came up from the basement with a cheery smile. I wasn't going to bite, so I spit. See, I'm useless in the morning. My faculties are distorted. My balance, off. My head, woozy. I err to the negative rather than the positive. This does not fare well for the lover in my life, because she is the first line in defense to reap my tired wrath. No, nothing crazy happened. I didn't take a swing or bust a wall. I don't do that. I was stiff and brisk. Not bringing in the day right because I felt that SBX had started OURS off wrong. We went upstairs to supposedly indulge our stolen hours and I couldn't succumb to the proposal of a romp and bustle. So we fought.

Recounting our fights is starting to bore me because they're always the same. It's either a detail about something preposterously insignificant in the grand scheme of things, or something so incredibly paramount to one's dreams and station in life that it's impossible to fix within the confines of a half-hour melee. Why can't we fight about stuff that lands in the middle ground? Stuff that normal people fight about?

Wait, what's normal?

Turns out SBX didn't want to wake me up. She being an early bird and me the night wolf makes for certain sleep negotiations -- the bane of our relationship. Something that I am trying my best to learn to respect, for SBX truly needs respite. I coast on less sleep but could probably due with better rest. Maybe I wouldn't be so cranky in the morning? I'll take note. Anyway, our debate got melodramatic and suddenly we're discussing NOT going to Paris for Xmas together. Yeah, it got ugly. She was at wits end. I got real sad real fast. I couldn't imagine splitting from her. So, we agreed to huddle. To try and stop in the middle of future arguments and figure out the root of our problems before differences spun out of control into threats and break-ups. Like two football players taking a time out and discussing the game plan. Only, were both quarterbacks. If my legs were better, I'd play running back like Tony Dorsett did in the 80s for the Dallas COWBOYS.

Showers. Dress. Kiss. Make up. Got us in the rental and over to Carroll street to pick up my Marvel pages. SBX snagged us bagels and coffees for the trip over the Brooklyn Bridge and into Manhattan where we dropped off the car at Avis in midtown. Another kiss and I apologized for withholding sex. She cracked a smile and we split ways.

I spent the rest of the day chipping away. At Marvel, I dropped off THING 2 pp1-8, covers 2 & 3. Editor, Andrew Lis and I discussed a killer cover for THING 1 and I jotted down some ideas: something simple yet severe. Something that will POP off the comix rack. Picked up Marvel swag off the shelf: CABLE: THE SHINING PATH, and CABLE: THE END, HULK: BOILING POINT [for Mike & Marie], X-FORCE: THE FINAL CHAPTER, and Lis gave me MEKANIX 1-3, a mini-series he's editing. I did a small X-mas shopped for SBX, including scoring myself MISSY ELLIOT's "Under Construction," and a DVD of MIAMI BLUES for just $9.99! I paid bills and realized I only had $300 available to me before my next Marvel check. Panic! This got me depressed. What with the morning SBX scuffle and now my financial status in question, I was feeling like a loser. Worried, I finished penciling THING 2/pp9, and started on pp10. Eric Saul swang by for Chinky-Winky and we watched '24' over at Mike & Marie's pad. The show is getting ILL. I loved the final cliffhanger of the episode with the protagonists' daughter in massive trouble with the bloody body in the trunk of the stolen car. Outstanding.

Wednesday was easy. I penciled a page for THING 2 and Marie's best-friend Danielle, came over. We set the evening aside to write toasts for Mike & Marie's upcoming wedding reception party in DUMBO on Saturday. Danielle set up camp on my futon couch and I plugged into my computer. We wrote for hours, ordered Thai food, and quit by midnight. Recounting childhood memories about me and my best buddy Mike, was a lot of fun. I typed out three, single-spaced pages. I would need to cut it down to half a page. I would only get it down to one dense scroll.

On Thursday, I penciled THING 2/pp11 and revised the Mike Toast. SBX helped me edit it and murder some darlings. I went to Jim Hanley's Universe in the evening to buy new comix [a day late!], and got a disturbing call from Lis re: THE THING schedule and a possible inker to expedite pages. For various budget and business reasons, Marvel needs to publish a certain amount of comix by the first half of next year and they are short on books. Lis has to fill the gap. We were hoping to release THE THING in the latter half of 2003, but he may need to bump it up to early Spring. That would most likely mean that I would need an inker for THING 3 & 4. I was really bummed by this threat. I begged Lis to fill the gap with another series and he's working on it. He knows how much doing full art on THE THING means to me. Drawing this comic with Dorkin is a dream come true. I don't want to spoil it. Fingers are crossed I get to finish my baby the way it was intended.

Picked up SBX at her job and we walked downtown to Cibar where the Cobite Xmas party was being held. SBX rallied me with good thoughts and we entered the feast with holiday cheer. Cobite is the last part-time I gig I had before working full-time freelance for Marvel. At Cobite, I was a graphics monkey who created faces for buttons, logos, drew holiday cards, and occasionally designed websites [no, not programmed, designed the way pages would look and create navigations for]. In today's world of computers, I am basically useless. 5-years ago, my pal Lisa Lippman hooked me up with a gig at her father’s company to replace, then graphics monkey, Jason Little [who was taking a gig as an assistant to comix editor, Heidi MacDonald at Walt Disney Adventures magazine. Since then, MacDonald has gone from DC/Vertigo editor to an online comix reporter for PULSE!, and Little went from working at MTV Animation to creating SHUTTERBUG FOLLIES, published by Doubelday books]. At the beginning, there was a lot for me to do at Cobite with promise of a ton of work. We designed a lot of websites, finished a manual, and did a bunch of small, in-house projects. I became a sort of court jester type guy for the company and was kept around for moral support and levity. Cobite took me on and accepted me for who I was and what little my graphics abilities could yield. They knew I was a cartoonist at heart [and in practice], and could never, would never become a programmer. This kind of relationship lasted for 4-years and it allowed me to write & draw my comix, build a professional career, and pay bills. I will forever be in gratitude of Cobite's kindness. They are one of my close extended families.

So, SBX and I immediately got drinks flowing at the party; Cosmos for her and Bourbon on the rocks for me. Hung out and caught up with the lovely Hanne, Lisa, Robert, Anna [who’s looking mighty fine, like a Puerto-Rican Mary Tyler Moore], Jorge, Julian [--who is actor Jeffrey Jones son. I asked him how "pops" was doing. He punched me in the arm], and a bunch of Cobite co-workers. Shilpa couldn't make it due to a final art class she was attending. A shame. Would have been nice to see her. I got a Cobite gift; a key chain Leatherman. An amazing device. SBX got a fancy silk scarf and we snacked on a delicious spread of food. I gave Cobite copies of my TANGLED WEB comic, since they've always supported me in my work and I try to keep 'em hip with my inventory.

Satiated by Holiday mirth, SBX and I left and walked over to the subway. An itchy eye and a long yawn coming from SBX's inebriated noggin, made me realize that she was going to be going home alone tonite. Again. This soured me. We had another fight. Yes. It is true. We did. Instant fights have become our new frame of reference. It sucks. Our fight was about the usual caveat of her needing those glorious 8-hours of sleep, something I respect in theory but never in practice. So, the rest of the evening went to shit. F-train came and SBX got on. I did not. We stared at each other through the subway car window and it moved on down and deep into the tunnel without me. I was angry. Sad. Demented. I hopped the next F-train and got out at my stop. I called her on her cell and home phones. No answer. This got me riled yet worried. So, in my drunken stupor, I got on my bike and cycled to Park Slope. Halfway there, SBX rang me on my cell. She had just walked in the door. Her train got stuck a few stops from 7th AVENUE. She was going to sleep. She didn't want to fight anymore. She was tabling our differences for the morning. By the time she was wrapping everything up on the cell, I was in front of her door. I told her that I wanted to come in and fix things. She wanted sleep. I wanted to come in. She said "good night' and the cell went CLICK.

SBX wouldn't let me in the house.

I called her home phone over and over again. I had a key for the front door and used it but it only let me into the vestibule. The interior house door was locked. So I knocked and I knocked. Asking for SBX to "please let me in." I saw her shadow move about between her bathroom and bedroom upstairs. She ignored me. I pleaded, "let me in." She ignored me. I rang her phone. Knocked on the door. Pleaded. Again. Again. Finally, SBX called my cell phone and told me she was scared of me now and that I woke up her daughters and they were afraid and crying. Again, she asked, "Please leave. Would you please leave." I was stunned. Ashamed. A monster. I immediately left her freezing cold vestibule and cycled home crying all the way. All I wanted was to lie next to SBX. Sleep next to my woman. When I got home I listened to my answering machine and SBX left a message telling me that she felt terrible by what I had done. She felt bullied by me. She was afraid of me.

I was devastated.

Yeah. That was way bad. Terrible. The worst. I almost didn't recover from that blow. Crashed on the couch and woke up shivering in the middle of the night. Had I dreamt the horror of this evening's drama? I played the answering machine message over again. Yes. It was all true. I sat down at my computer and wrote SBX a long email about feeling humiliated. I apologized for bullying her. I went into my bedroom and stared at the wall. Sleep took me and gave me nightmares. I was in Hell.

Woke up and waited for SBX to respond. Call me. Email me. Show up on my doorstep to tell me everything was going to be okay. The clock ticked and tocked. Finally, SBX responded to my email and it was solid. Poignant. Stern. Safe. Wanting to put last night behind us, we spoke on the phone and started to repair feelings. Sensitive and hung over, we both felt better but still really raw. SBX was heading into a few meetings and the chill out for the afternoon would allow for me to draw the next page of THING 2. So, I did. To get some air, I went to Postal Plus and got my mail. Two DVDs arrived: OUR MAN FLINT, and IN LIKE FLINT. Silly spy parodies that I've wanted to check out for some time since the 60s is my favorite era for fashion and color. I suspect the movies will furnish such pop-diamonds.

At 6:30PM. I bought SBX a beautiful red rose, gave her BJORK's "Greatest Hits," and the girls AKIKO Vol.4. They were all in their pajamas and insisted that we were having a pajama party. So, SBX gave me a pair of pajamas identical to hers. The kids were wearing pink outfits and we in red plaid. We were matching couples. I helped The Haze with her X-mas shrinky-dinks and the pizza man rang the door. We watched THE PRINCESS BRIDE, a gift I got for the girls and we all enjoyed the William Goldman fantasy. It was a little "scary" in parts and the girls wondered if the actors REALLY DIED in the movie.

Mike & Marie picked me up from SBX's house @9:30PM and we drove over to the Rockville Party. Raf played solo jazz guitar to set the cheese and wine vibe, and later Cooly C spun vintage disco and soul for us hip-hoppers sipping whiskey.

Spoke to Larrondo about LJ politics and recent hassles. Met the inimitable Pivovision, and we spoke about the horror of high school reunions, her Pennsylvania origins, and the wonders or growing up in NYC, which we agreed should be declared its own country since it doesn't resemble and iota of America. [least ways, not the way the TV show COPS portrays Amerikkka.]. Bumped hips and elbows with Pango Lafoote, snapped on Frank Pledge, chilled with Dablo & Stacy D, Blazm & Debbie-Webbie, Jennifer Carter & Colin, Jim Burton & Rachel, Mike & Marie, Danielle, Lisa Schorr & Peter, Doug B. & Giovanna, Craig Lechner & Damon, Dave Schaye, etc., etc. There were a lot of folks I used to hang out with on a weekly basis that I barely get to see annually these days. It was a good party for nostalgia.

@3AM, I hopped a taxi to Wo Hops in Chinatown with Lechner & Damon. Ordered and ate my standard fare: Hot & Sour soup, steamed dumplings, and Beef with Tomato over white rice. We talked about "back in the day," and what our futures might hold if we keep our eyes on the prize. Lechner told me that one of the things he liked about me so much was my ability to snap/insult/bash/roast myself BETTER than anybody else, no matter how hard I was attacked. It always perplexed him how I had the upper hand like that. I told him it was simple survival of the fittest. That, I could snap on my mom better than anybody else could. Never letting my adversary get the best of me. Proving that it's all just a bunch of ineffectual words. Sticks and stones. Sure, there are the days when the merest constructive criticism from a close pal or an editor sends me running to my mommy, crying about all the bad people in the world who are out to hurt me. But, I won't shine a light on those infractions. Those are my demons to battle.

I bought SBX a Wo Hops t-shirt, got home sound, and tore a hole into a dream cloud. This was a rough week and I needed those 8-hours SBX was preaching.