general

I wanna get better.

Posted in general on August 13th, 2017 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on I wanna get better.

Months have passed without a blog here, literally, and I confess — for awhile I almost forgot that it exists. My regular job has been consuming more energy and mental faculties, as over time I have grown to embrace my role in a more proactive coaching and leadership position. While this has not improved my financial situation (i.e. I have not gotten any substantial pay increases) it has helped to further transform how I regard myself. I feel personally invested in, and intensely energized by, motivational speaking, problem solving, sharing knowledge and skills, and helping other people to become more successful. I work with truly wonderful and unique individuals. Being part of and managing a team has improved my communication and listening skills, taught me how to better delegate tasks and relinquish control, increased trust, expanded my ability to view different perspectives, and forced me to develop healthy ways of asserting myself and resolving conflicts. Skills that I probably should have developed as a child, but better late than never! My coworkers have become something of a surrogate family for me — my supervisor adopting the voice of a mother or therapist, as I have occasionally needed. I cannot understate how much change I have experienced over the course of this year. I am tired, yes, but I feel whole and unburdened for the first time in my life. The normal disappointments and mundane pitfalls of life are mere stumbling blocks. I feel equipped to handle almost anything. Ultimately my long-term goal is to return to my artwork and creative business full-time, but it will be bittersweet when I am finally able to move on. Right now, I am where I need to be.

The two-year anniversary of loading my entire life into a 6×12ft U-Haul trailer and moving across the country is rapidly approaching, and with it, the rush of memories. There were many factors involved in my flight, but the one on my mind lately has been freedom from things. My ex-husband was a collector of things, and I became one as well after years of fruitlessly attempting to fill my empty heart with empty purchases. I wanted for nothing, and I was the most miserable I have ever been, drained of passion and vigour. And since moving to Saint Paul, I have filled my small apartment, but now I am surrounded by gifts and mementos and photos and art and books and scraps from the other creatives that have drifted in and out of my life. Little I own is worth much of anything, but I am so grateful, and my world so enriched. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of wild flowers and lanky weeds, friendly hellos from strangers, and by the way sunlight scatters over rain puddles on the sidewalk.

And the greatest pleasure I cherish is not fine food, drugs, sex, or the myriad other ephemeral distractions that serve as the garnishes of life, but laying in bed and gently caressing the person I love as he drifts off to sleep. A casual, sincere, and fearless intimacy I have never known before — someone brave enough to believe in me and take a risk. Someone open-minded and patient enough to struggle through our issues, together. Someone confident enough to show the masculine vulnerability I have come to recognize and appreciate. Someone strong enough to love me without reservation. I am in awe of, and humbled by, the heart placed in my hands, and regardless of what the future may hold — these are lessons that cannot be unlearned. I know peace.

Stephen and I have kept a full schedule since MSP ComiCon 2017, attending smaller shows around the Twin Cities area and Chapel Con in Albert Lea, MN. Chapel Con was an impressive effort for a first-year convention, though I did take a considerable loss after our hotel and travel expenses. In spite of that, all of the volunteers were so enthusiastic, excited, and well-organized, that I will almost certainly be back next year. Next weekend, August 19-20, I will be at the brand new MN Fan Fest 2017 with my brothers-in-art Lance Ward and Bennett Pisek. Stay tuned for more opportunities to see me and my work.

Along with the personal revelations of recent months, a unity of purpose and vision has emerged. My scattershot approach to creativity has not, and likely will never, change. But I no longer sense a division between, for example, my comic work and painting. My artwork, characters, humour, storytelling, videos, and even websites are all part of the larger body of work that makes me who and what I am. They are interconnected, and I am simultaneously building up each to maintain the symbiotic relationship between them. I do not exactly fit into any one box or label, and I am more okay with that now than ever.

BLOOM

Posted in general on April 8th, 2017 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on BLOOM

This winter seemed as if it might last forever, compared to my first here in the Twin Cities. The shimmering lakes along my commute have finally surrendered their ice, and the snow has trickled away, leaving behind its funeral of brown and crunchy things aching for the signs of life. I have been steeping myself in flowers waiting for spring to unfurl — short hikes along the creeks and rivers, afternoons and evenings in the park, faces warmed by the sun. Perhaps the winter only feels so long because I never missed such things before.

In recent weeks a friendship has begun to form between myself and another local creator, Lance Ward. His body of work resonated with me immediately — I believe we shared a connection in part due to the similar soul-baring nature of our works, as well as the duality of being both comic artists and painters. His introspective, and sometimes-effacing, self-portraiture and deep symbolic paintings speak in a different dialect of the languages I use myself. I am also fond of his daughter, Ruth — a budding artist in her own right. We recorded a few podcasts together, and I am excited about ways we might collaborate in the future. Artist to artist, it is nice to have someone who understands your struggles. In particular someone also so inclined to self-vivisection.

While remaining friends, several weeks after leaving me for his own personal issues, the lover mentioned in the previous post found he was not satisfied with his life as-is and returned — stating he made a mistake. We have both been through, and are still going through, a lot — and we have been growing together, helping to foster each other’s improvements. I will not pretend that things have been flawless, but neither of us are the type to rush to anger or hold a grudge. He is able to make me feel protected and safe, while allowing me the freedom and space I need to grow. He is more interested in myself as a person, while being respectful of my work. We can discuss anything without fear of judgement. He can take it as well as he dishes out. He is comfortable with my neediness for the physical affection I have been deprived of for most of my life. He is kind and patient and fatherly when I require that, but stands as an equal, or follows my lead as the winds change. He is not a perfect man, but he is a good man, and our relationship has been good for me.

Last month, we babysat for his one-year-old grandson for about three days. While I found caring for a baby surprisingly natural, and I would happily do so again — the experience did confirm for me that I assuredly made the correct decision having myself sterilized all those years ago. I have been told more than once that I would make an excellent mother, but I need my silence time so desperately to work, and I do not believe I possess the spirit of sacrifice necessary to care for an infant. I am content to help other parents with their children, and be a mentor or teacher when possible. ‘Tis the convention and travelling circus lifestyle for me, and long hours inking into the night.

I am finally conquering the anxiety and insecurities that have plagued me as long as I can remember. One of the most critical elements has been to stop blaming myself for every problem under the moon and stars — the realization that, whether someone wishes to acknowledge it or not — most people are just as fucked up as I am in their unique ways. We are all struggling with our own battles. What separates us, and determines our success, is the ability to evaluate our own patterns of behaviour honestly — and objectively — and be strong enough to make the changes necessary to achieve what we want. In the end, we are all responsible to ourselves for our own happiness.

Another important element has been exorcising negativity out of my life. I do not mean in the practice of being unavailable for friends in need of a helping hand, but the kind of chronic cynicism, pessimism, self-hatred, self-loathing, and stagnation that tends to drag down everyone in its vicinity. This is purely self-preservation. I have discovered that I am simply too sensitive and easily influenced by the moods of those around me. Anxiety and insecurity in others draws out my own. Lack of motivation in others saps my enthusiasm. People who believe poorly of themselves make me feel poorly. I am grieved for those wrestling with these issues, but I can only control my own happiness. I have surrounded myself with people that embody the same adventurous spirit and lust for life that I enjoy. I have many positive relationships with independent, energetic, vibrant, and non-judgemental women — something lacking in my life as an adult. My people are those that live boldly, fear no rejection, fear no pain, and see failure as a learning opportunity to do better next time.

I made a video this week exploring my identity — the monster I feel I created to survive, emotionally and intellectually — and my process of breaking free, making peace, growing, and learning how these facets of my personality can coexist while being true to myself. My “show face” is a performance; part of me, but no longer a mask that I use to avoid hiding any truth or vulnerability. My first video attempts the same themes, but focused on communication.



Life is good. I have been pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone — trying foods I have historically disliked, pursuing previously-unkindled interests such as poker and sports — even going to some games! — exploring novel outlets for my creativity. Searching out enriching experiences to live life to the fullest and broaden my horizons. Being thankful for each day that I am given, and never taking anyone or anything I care about for granted. Bloom.

Queen of the Assholes

Posted in general on December 28th, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Queen of the Assholes

It has been quite awhile, has it? I have been doing much better since making room to breathe and clearing myself of undue outside influences. Time alone, and with friends that give me the space I need, has enabled me to reset my baseline and stop feeding into the cycle of anxiety and overthinking. Freedom from being smothered, from having my head fluffed and fellated, from having everything done for me, from violating my personal space and trust. Perhaps on the surface these things appear to be helping me but, in fact, they create an environment of dependence where I am sheltered from any consequences for my actions and stifled from personal developments. These things do make me dependent on you. That is not healthy for anyone. I am partially at fault for perpetuating this codependency. There are no evil-doers or archvillians in my story, only flawed people doing what they think is right. A line was crossed in the most intimate and damaging of ways that cast everything in a foul light. I did my best to honour a promise, but could not. Old wounds were reopened, that I thought were healed, but were not. I am not stupid. If I were a person with no conscience or shame I would have carried on as if nothing happened. I would not deliberately close off my main support. I would not burn a bridge that might be important to my career. My mistake was trying to make amends with, and to resurrect the past. That is on me. Not establishing and enforcing better boundaries. That is on me. Boy howdy, have I learned much in the last year. But I am taking care of myself first, and if that makes me an asshole, or makes my life more difficult, then so be it. I can finally move forward.

I have finally learned to forgive so I can stop carrying this pain.

Forgive myself, and forgive others. Flawed people.

Recently I was thinking, and I realized that all of the friends most active in my life now are new bonds formed since moving here to Saint Paul. Unburdened by baggage or ghostly incarnations of me, they are also the healthiest, most positive, reciprocal, and egalitarian relationships I have ever had. They treat me like a regular person; not a special snowflake, or a fire-breathing demon. And I believe I have been a net benefit to their lives as well. I no longer feel lonely, and have had a tremendous lifting of my spirit — along with a sense of contentment and peace like I have never known. The phrase, “The ones that broke you can’t be the ones to fix you,” remains with me as I re-examine my ill-fated desire to right the past. I did not know how to forgive or to let things go. That is on me. And with this fulfillment I have found, yes, my drive to work myself to the bone has softened. My artwork is no longer the be-and-end-all of my existence. You know what I find more rewarding than drawing comics? Holding my friend’s kid’s hand and walking him to the restrooms at the movie theatre, or buying him a snack. Watching him jump around while he excitedly babbles at me about Minecraft. Yes — I have lofty goals — but I am not going to sacrifice real life for them. I am not satisfied with my output over the past year. But I also rebuilt my entire life, and work an exhausting full-time day job with a commute so I do not starve. I will get there when I get there.

But you rest assured, I will fucking get there.

I am happy to advance my careers when and how is right for me. I am happy for my real friends. I am happy with my day job. I am happy with my home. I have a small potbelly and stretch marks, but I am happy in my own skin. I am only concerned with the opinions of the people I love. I am happy.

I found myself mutually swept away in another brief, but intense relationship, of which the romantic portion ended quite amicably. While incredibly painful, it was also a transformative experience, helping me to heal and work through many deep-rooted issues and come out better for it. It is the closest thing I have ever experienced to what one might call a soulmate connection. Mutual bluntness combined with no defensiveness or pretensions, along with innate ability to see through each other and communicate well, created a foundation to learn what we each needed and wanted. He made me feel accepted, safe, and loved like I have never known as an adult. He made me unafraid to love and to trust men again. He made me unafraid to be myself. I will not profess to speak for him, but I believe he experienced growth and a new perspective as well. I am grateful for every second with him and hope we remain friends always. We will walk the path that is best for each of us, in friendship.

There is no room left in my heart for anger, bitterness, guilt, jealousy, regret, or shame — from myself, or from anyone else. If you have a problem because I am attractive or unattractive, that is on you. If you have a problem with my makeup or how I choose to manipulate my own image, that is on you. If you have a problem because I enjoy dancing and singing, that is on you. Believe the worst about me — one-sided stories and lies, if that is what you need to do. Throw stones and curse me from up on your crosses and high horses, if that is what you need to do. I have only ever spoken the truth as I perceived it. I am genuinely remorseful for those that have been hurt along my journey, but I refuse to apologize for caring about someone, for being imperfect like everyone, for speaking my mind, or for challenging someone to improve. I am beginning this new year in a healthier place mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually than I have ever been. Any noise you make attempting to drag me down will fall upon deaf ears. Go pound your fists upon the sand. I will be here, same as always, chugging along at my speed, refusing to give up.

Life is more than awards, comic books, conventions, or the Internet. One day Sol will become a red giant, and reduce everything humanity has ever known to ashes. If you choose to waste your precious, fleeting time on this planet gossiping about what Jin Wicked has done wrong now, that is on you.

I will be here, same as always, refusing to give up.

Clarity

Posted in general, love on October 3rd, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Clarity

“I knew you were trouble as soon as I laid eyes on you.”

The road to Hell, as the saying goes, is paved with good intentions. Both my sins and the trespasses upon me are many — the intention to make amends, the intention to change, the intention to love, the intention to help, and the intention to heal. Some have met with success. Others have done more harm than good. I can recognize my own hubris and presumptuousness.

“I’m easy to please. Just do what I say, and don’t do what I say not to do.”

Until recently, my head has been full of voices — not the false phantom voices of insanity, but a more insidious refrain anchored in reality. The silver tongues of friends and lovers, flattering in one ear, while accusing in the other. Advice twisted by rose- or shit-coloured glasses; always, always couched in concern for my personal needs and well-being. Opinions biased by experience, desire, and wishful thinking. I am asshole. I am brilliant. I am crazy. This is who I am. This is how I should feel. This is how I am broken. This is why I do the things that I do. This is how so many have abused and mistreated me. These voices became more influential and persuasive until I was dependent on them, and I lost the ability to think for myself or to make independent decisions.

You know my rules. I’m starting to think you like drama.”

“I got this. I got this. I got this. I got this. I told you, I got this.”

I am not your master. I am not a puppet. I am not a toy. I am not a pet. I am not your everything. I am not your afterthought. I do not want your pedestal. I do not want your self-serving protection. You are not my therapist. You are not my caretaker. You are not my keeper. You do not have the right to assign yourself any of these roles. I do not exist to bolster your self-worth, either as a trophy, or to make you a martyr. I am not a merit badge for your sash.

“You want to give me everything, but you can’t do what I tell you to.”

“I knew when you came to me that your marriage was over.”

I am a person — truth. I am a monster, sometimes. Beautiful, perhaps, in my flawed way, and fierce. I do my best to be a decent person, but life has made me what I am. Like a mirror, to be close to me is to be willing to confront the dark truths that you do not like about yourself. The function of the artist is to observe and reflect. No promise was ever made that art must be pretty. I do not wish to be coddled and told that I am not a monster. I need those who can see the firestorm behind my eyes and confront it, unafraid. Those secure and strong enough to temper — and be tempered by — my heat. Those who can view me objectively as an equal, without fawning or subservience. Those who do not attempt to control me, or to presume what is in my best interest, regardless of intention. Did I not listen? Or have I listened too much?

“I promised myself that I would always love you unconditionally.”

So many sides of the same multi-faceted die; to help me, to hurt me, to serve me, to insulate me, to rescue me. Whichever way it is cast, I am infantalized and stripped of my autonomy. I am ashamed and humbled for allowing myself to be manipulated in this way. I can forgive, but I cannot forget. Never again will someone else tell me who I am, how to feel, or what to think.

“You are becoming the person I always knew you were.

I am the person you all refused to see.

Being Wrong

Posted in general on July 13th, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Being Wrong

Something kind of wonderful has been happening to my brain recently; most noticeably amplified in the past week. It is as if all the gears and mechanisms of my mind have come together, everything is finally in sync, and I am afflicted with a clarity of thought and vision that I was previously incapable of.

Like a child learning a new word, the abstract idea of boundaries has become internalized to me, and I now recognize its application everywhere. Empathy! Respect! Consent! My ability to see people as their own, separate entities has a strange and fascinating newness about it. This has come alongside my own development as an individual. Mastering my anxiety and insecurities frees me from my obsessive tendencies, and allows me to share my needs confidently, as well as honour those of others. Another roadblock removed to intimacy.

Before deleting my dating profiles, I texted someone my phone number. Last week, I had dinner with him. That turned out to be one of the most enjoyable dates I have had, and I fancy him a lot. I made clear that I would like to meet again, and then left the ball in his court. The amazing thing is not my lack of fretting over this, but that I do not have any urge to fret. It feels incredible.

I am reposting this from the ephemeral hole of Facebook:

Forcing yourself on someone, in the form of contact or communication; unwanted and unwelcome gifts, favours, or charity; and violation of body or personal space; are all wrong. I am guilty of all these things, and no matter how good or pure the intention, doing them without consent is wrong.

Over the past few months, I have been on the receiving end of all of these, and learned firsthand how shitty it feels. I wish I could time travel and change the past, but all I can do is learn my lessons and be respectful going forward. Someday I might get to be a real girl! Also: Don’t touch my stuff.

Obvious? Yes, but really understanding this has been an epiphany for me.

Imagine this hypothetical scenario: Your car is dirty, and needs to be washed. You are busy, tired, and complain to a friend that you do not have the time or energy to wash your car. Your friend repeatedly offers assistance. Finally, you ask them if they could pick up a coupon for the local car wash. Days later, you discover they have driven and washed your car, far beyond what you asked. Your friend has spare keys for emergencies, and because you travel together often. Your friend is also aware that you are uncomfortable with other people driving your car, and have general issues regarding trust and personal space. But they drove your car without explicit consent, and furthermore, reset your programming on the stereo, disordered the documents in your glovebox, and added an air freshener and other accessories you do not want. They cleaned out your trunk, rifling through luggage and other intensely personal items.

This is a breakdown in communication and lack of healthy boundaries.

Your friend had good intentions and wanted to be helpful, but in the process, violated your trust and feelings of autonomy and independence. You may feel betrayed, guilty, indebted, ungrateful, and embarrassed. Your friend may feel ashamed, unappreciated, taken advantage of, rejected, and unwanted.

Both parties in this situation have legitimate grievances, and that pain could have been avoided with better communication and clearer expectations. Both parties have the right to feel hurt. I have experienced both perspectives.

No matter how badly you want to help, only the recipient gets to decide what you may and may not do. I have not respected that. And I was wrong.

No matter how much you care or love them. Still not your decision.

I will be the first in line to admit that I am not the best artist, comic creator, or creative writer. I am not the most beautiful woman. I love to dance and sing, and I am unashamedly not very good at either of those. Though I always try my best. In my opinion, where does my greatest strength lie? In my ability to adapt, change, and grow: my willingness to admit when I am wrong.