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Wear My Art On My Sleeve

When I was a little girl, I helped my step grandma complete a puzzle one summer.

I don’t recall it perfectly, just that it was some stupid, soothing almost Thomas Kinkadesque picture of a stream or some shit like that, and when we were done, she had it glued together and framed, and gave it to me. It hung in my bedroom for many years, but only in the last few years have I realized I don’t know where it’s gone. Perhaps my stepfather took it when my parents divorced, I mean it did come from his mother so that would make sense I suppose, but I had a hand in that too. A part of that is mine. There’s so much that’s just gone now, so little left for me to hang onto, that I cling to anything I’ve had a hand in, which is why I defend my art so vehemently. Even if I myself am not good enough, I know with full force that my work is good enough. The problem is, a lot of art is so introspective, something that will make people think and analyze themselves and question things, but nobody wants to do that. Everyone is too happy being spoonfed what to think, what opinions to have, and then being told they came up with said thoughts and opinions in the first place, so they can feel clever.

I want this to be made perfectly clear. I am not saying I deserve anything, any praise, recognition or what have you. My work might, who knows, but me as a person? God no. I don’t deserve to be famous or popular simply for making something people like. People like my artwork, that’s a separate entity from me. I just want to be able to do it, to live comfortably enough doing it, and to have people enjoy it. I just want to make others happy, feel connected to something, to make them…not…feel like me. I am so unhappy, that I work actively to make those around me feel good, so they never have to feel as low as I’ve felt, or do feel. I want to make them better. I want to make them what I’m not. What I can’t be. Look at how unhappy artists are. Sylvia Plath put her head in an oven, Van Gogh lopped his ear off. I’m not saying I am anywhere as good as these people, because heaven knows I am not, but I don’t want anyone to feel as bad as I do.

So many people tell me to give up, that maybe I should delegate my art to being a “hobby”, saying it doesn’t “provide for me”. No. I would rather starve than fail at the one thing I was put here to do. I haven’t been doing this for 90% of my life to have it be boiled down to a fucking “hobby”. So many people hate their jobs, and keep the things they’d love to do instead as their careers as their “hobbies” simply because it doesn’t “provide” for them, but where’s the fucking logic in that. If I’m already this unhappy doing the thing I love, the thing I was put here to do, why the fuck would I ever do something that’d make me even unhappier, with less time for the thing I love to do? Perhaps if my parents had wanted me, if my family had loved me, if I had been fulfilled in that sort of way, I could say “Okay, well, this is just a fun thing to do on the side”, but the way I see it, when the only thing I’m here to do isn’t good enough, then there’s no reason for me to be here at all.

Art…it’s all that I have. It’s been my entire life. An escape from the ever ongoing existential dread that is my existence. Movies, books, television, music, comics, painting, drawing, video games. Art in all its glorious outcomes, it has been my friend. I came home everyday, from a school where students endlessly harassed me and teachers were of no help, to parents who yelled at me for not being better and made no effort to really know me or help me, who told me I’d never be good enough. I came home to that, every single fucking day, and having art, any kind of art, any medium at all, be my only escape…

…I have to give back to it, for all that it’s given me.

Hey. I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, then maybe you’d like these other things I made, like my webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, my writing over at Medium or my podcast, “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality”. If you really like what I do and really want to support me, you can either donate directly to the PayPal or help out at my Patreon. Thank you so much for reading, it means the world to me.

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My Mom’s Going To Haunt Me

It’s gotta be some sort of cruel irony that I’ve spent a good portion of my life running away from my mother both in a physical sense and a personality sense, and yet despite all the effort, I’m going to wind up carrying her around after she dies since she has chosen to be cremated and as her only child, I’ll be stuck with her ashes.

My mother has made this stance of hers clear for years, likely ever since her brother died when I was a little girl. She says that she hates the idea of being buried (too confining, as if your corpse would notice), and that she doesn’t want to be reincarnated and thinks by being burnt that you cannot be brought back because your essence is literally released into the universe. While I don’t make fun of her for these things, shit, we hardly even speak, I also don’t believe in it myself. But, the fact remains…no matter how far I run, how hard I try to break free, how much I tell people I want nothing to do with my family and they don’t care about me either, I will end up with my mothers remains, because I am her only child and it’ll all fall down to me. The only upside to this is that my father likely won’t be cremated, so thank god I won’t end up with them both.

There’s a famous quote, “We all become our parents”. That quote is a load of giant bullshit. While that quote might be totally applicable to people who like their parents, admire traits their parents have and want to emulate them as adults themselves, it’s absolute crap for people who have been abused by their parents and spent their lives running away from them. I assure you, aside from a slight overlap in musical taste, I have nothing in common with my mother. We have very different “religious” beliefs, political stances, overall viewpoint of the world and so on and so forth. And it goes beyond your usual “millennial” vs “baby boomer” aspect. First of all, I don’t really consider myself a millennial more than any other reason because I hold a lot of values held by Generation X. While I recognize it isn’t ideas that determine what generation you’re a part of, it’s the year you’re born in, I still hold fast to that belief. So this gap between us goes far beyond the usual generational differences. It’s likely it goes far beyond that because of how she treated me most of my life, so please, do not ever compare me to my mother. I assure you, we aren’t alike. In fact, I am so different from my parents, I don’t even take after them physically.

Hilarious. I’ll spend years running away, trying to escape a woman who made my life a literal living hell a lot of the time, and made my self esteem go in the toilet, and it won’t matter how far I go or what I do to put distance between us physically or otherwise, because in the end, all that matters is that she’s gonna end up in my possession anyway. She’s going to get what she wants; being stuck to me, always a presence in my life in some way. She’s going to be a presence in my future childs life simply because she’ll be there in an urn. I guess there’s truth in the whole “you can’t outrun your problems” concept.

So okay, my mother will have the last laugh because she’ll force her way into my life one way or another in the end. I can’t fight it. Sometimes you just have to give applause to dedication. Sure, she may be with me in an urn, but, as someone who didn’t expect to live past 14 and is now nearing her thirties, the fact I’ll outlive my mother, someone who made me want to die for so long, is a somewhat comforting fact and one she can’t take away from me.

She’ll never truly win.

Hey, I’m Maggie. Did you like this thing I made? Then you might like some other things I make, like my webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry” or my writing over at Medium. If you want to support all the work I do, you can donate directly at my PayPal or follow and donate at my Patreon, where for a dollar a month (the basic tier), you get posts early, along with behind the scenes content! Anything you give goes to survival and is greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading!

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This Won’t Hurt A Bit: The Life Penalty

this won't hurt a bit(2)I think I’ll start this column off by sharing a quote from a piece I read in the latest American Thief zine:

As if we didn’t already have a problem with prisons to begin with, but now with death essentially being eradicated, this makes The Death Penalty a laughable defense. Nobody is scared of it anymore. So do we just keep these people behind bars, forever incarcerated, spending billions of taxpayer dollars on people we can’t kill anymore? That seems to be where we’re headed, and that’s…disconcerting to say the least. Life used to have a single solution for everything, and that solution was death, and without death…what do we really have?

So, with that being said, let’s discuss what the people in charge think the solution should be. Now, I’ve heard a number of ideas thrown around just in the hospital staff break room I work at, but one woman said something that stuck out from the rest. She said, “they should just institute the life penalty.” We already have life sentences, for people who’ve done horrible things to spend the remainder of their lives in prison, so what exactly is the “life penalty”? The way she described it was fascinating to me, and I’ll try very hard to phrase it as accurately here as possible:

“They should just institute The Life Penalty. Instead of killing them or incarcerating them forever, they should let them out under eternal supervised parole, make them get married, have a family and take an underpaying 9 to 5 job, so they can see how miserable life is.”

Yeah. I mean, I was a bit offended, because I frankly don’t find that life all that terrible, but it got me thinking, we’re really for giving hardened criminals a life but we won’t help our homeless? We won’t give health care to our own sick citizens? We won’t even pay for kids to have better equipment to learn on in schools? The prisoners in American live better than the free citizens. Well, okay, I’m in a good mood, let’s humor this prospect. So, what do we do to those criminals who are too dangerous to be let out? Do they get to come out and get the life penalty as well? That doesn’t seem very fair.

Listen, I personally am against the death penalty. I think it’s a ridiculous double standard, the whole “We’ll teach you that killing people is wrong by killing you!” sort of mentality, but this isn’t much better honestly. I recognize, like many other people in this country right now, that we need some sort of law or prison reform of some kind, but I’m in no way even remotely qualified to begin to comprehend what that could entail or become. However, I will relay an incident that happened this last week to me at the hospital.

It was when we were changing shifts for The Sick Zone, and I was on duty. I was standing with another nurse there by the name of Mindy, and we were just shooting the breeze while she waited to get off work and go to dinner. We were talking about one thing or another when we heard someone yelling from down the hall, and another nurse came out to tell us that they had a killer they’d brought in from the prison because he’d been stabbed, and now needed medical attention, so they were going to take him up past The Sick Zone to the upper area of the hospitals. This guy apparently killed his family, and felt no remorse for it, and then went after his neighbors. As they wheeled this maniac past, up to the area where peoples lives are saved, it hit me that the reason he was being saved from The Sick Zone was because prisons take care of their prisoners with health concerns. A legitimate serial killer was getting better healthcare than a law abiding citizen. Someone who’d killed multiple people was going to have his health taken care of by the state, and a single dad with 4 young kids was going to die because he’d lost his job from being too sick and couldn’t afford any treatment.

The Life Penalty? Please. Now that death has all but been eradicated, the only people truly subjected to the death penalty are our own citizens whose country won’t take care of them. This whole damn country is sick, and I may be a nurse, but I’m only one woman. I can’t fix that.

“This Won’t Hurt A Bit: Memoirs From A Post Medical World” is a satire health column created & written by Maggie Taylor that comes out every other Monday. If you like this, you might like some of her other work, like her webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry” and her writing over at Medium. You could also donate to her via PayPal. Thanks for reading!

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The Black Sheep

There’s no questioning it, I am the black sheep of my family.

Even back when I was involved with my family, I was always the odd one out. Whether it was christmas spent together or some vacation, or hell even just day to day life, I was always the one who didn’t belong. So it only makes sense that I’d come to be the black sheep. About three years ago, after leaving my abusive family behind in the dust physically, I cut off all contact with them on social media, leaving them forever in the dark about my doings and whereabouts, not that they were ever remotely interested to begin with, as the only reason any of them had friended me on Facebook in the first place as simply to relay information to my mother so she could use it against me. When my girlfriend and I visited California, where I’m originally from, a few times in the last two years, I never saw any of them and the few texts I did receive possibly seeing any of them were mostly, “Why don’t you talk to your mother? Why do you talk about her that way!?”

So I’m the black sheep. But, because I have no siblings and nobody really cares about me, I’m not one of those cool gay aunts that people routinely ask about, who’s shrouded in mysteriousness but who is really way cooler than my nephew/nieces parents. No. I’m just the one who is completely forgotten. Nobody asks about me. Nobody wonders what happened. Nobody tries to contact me. On one hand, it’s wonderful, because I have nobody left to let down and disappoint except myself, but on the other hand a part of me wonders what was so wrong with me that even the people I was born into don’t care about me. It’d be one thing if I was just the sort of black sheep I mentioned before, the one who’s shunned her relatives herself, who is surrounded by questions, but I’m not. I’m the opposite. I’m the one who got shunned. I’m not the one people ask questions about. I’m the one nobody asks questions about. After a lifetime of abuse, you’d think that this would be a dream come true, not having to deal with those people anymore, but…

I just never felt welcome anywhere with any of them. Even though my extended family, aunts and uncles and whatnot, weren’t directly abusive to me, most of them also never really made me feel all that welcome or genuinely loved. I always felt out of place and only there because I just happened to have been born into this group of people. Rarely did anyone ever bother to actually get to know my interests, so christmas or birthday gifts were always relatively generic. Clothes. Not even clothes I liked. Media. A lot of time, media I didn’t like, more of a “oh, she likes movies! This just came out on DVD, get it for her!”. Even to this day, I wonder who really knows me. It’s not like it’s that hard to know who I am or what I like. I post things I like to social media, I talk about my interests & hobbies openly. It just seems like nobody bothers to listen. And I’m not saying this in a “Why doesn’t anyone pay attention to me!” sort of way, this is more of a “Well, I guess….I’m just not all that worthy of being known or cared about” sort of way. See, the thing about abuse, especially abuse from people like your family, who’re supposed to love and care about you, is that that then carries over into every other relationship you ever form from then on.

I have people I know who care about me. Certain close friends. My girlfriend. And yet…a part of me is absolutely convinced they don’t. That they’re doing it out of pity, or shame, or because they feel they have to because nobody else has. I know this isn’t true, but when you become so used to abuse, so used to it that you need it to survive, then you believe it no matter what. Call it stockholm syndrome if you must, I don’t care what label you assign it, but what I do know is that I suffer from it and I suffer greatly. What’s even more sick is still missing it. Is missing these people despite knowing damn well what they did to me and how they made me feel. I’m the black sheep. I’m the deserter. Not because I deserted, but because I was driven out. They had an entire flock, and saw me and went, “She’s not like the others, get her out of here.” Even growing up, the few friends I did have, I always had to contact them, they never made an effort to contact me. I’m not just a black sheep to my family. I’m a black sheep to every single relationship.

Then, you might meet some people who make you trust others again. Who make you believe that you are worthy of being loved, are capable of finding people who care about you. You’re so starved for attention and affection and kindness, that you latch onto them and trust them deeply. Then they hurt you too, in ways similar to or worse than the others before them have, and make you really retreat back into your hole. They shatter that trust they’ve built, because they were using you or just didn’t really care all that much. That’s what happened this summer. Someone I trusted for 4 years, someone who considered me a part of their family, they in turn wound up being just as bad as my parents, and destroyed any hope I could have for trusting others again for a very long time, and they took no responsibility for it. No, like all other abusers they wanted the abused to take the blame. Once again, I’m the black sheep, cut off from contact of someone I trusted for years.

So fine. I’m the black sheep. I’ve accepted that, and you know what? You all need a herd to be with, but I don’t, and I’m finding that maybe it’s better this way, because it’s taught me to survive on my own. To be strong. That nobody except me can tell me how worthy I am and how capable of success I can be.

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any shame?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags the same;
One for the parents,
And one for the “friends”,
And none for myself
Because that’s where it ends.

I’m Maggie Taylor. Did you like this thing? If so, well, I make other things you might like too. You check out my webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, or my writing on Medium. You can also submit a piece to my new site, “Sad Party”, where I encourage others to share their struggles with mental illness so others don’t feel as alone. Also working on some other big projects for the end of the year, so be on the lookout for those! Thanks for reading!

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This Won’t Hurt A Bit: The Sick Zone

this won't hurt a bit(2)The hospital has a problem. We have sick people.

I know, that sounds weird, and thanks to the current way of the world, it is, but it’s a real issue. Thanks to medicare not specifically backing the whole immortality thing, and if it does cover it it doesn’t cover it for poor people, and class war, we now have created a zone specifically for sick people who are dying who can’t afford to live. This is becoming ridiculous. So now, the rich people who can afford to not die, who are only here for checkups or to make sure they can come back to life, they have most of the hospital, and we have cleared an entire 2 floors and dedicated that solely to the “poor” who can’t afford to live. We’ve called it The Sick Zone. It’s essentially full of poor, dying people, who, as the rich said, were “making them uncomfortable”. Yeah. How do you think the poor feel, you rich piece of…

Anyway. I’m on shift with 2 other nurses to basically cover the entirety of The Sick Zone. We empty bedpans, give people their medications, all the usual stuff everyone used to do and have done to them here, but now it’s just two floors worth of people. Hospitals have now become a place of comfort, rather than medicine, and only for those who can afford that comfort and not want anything discomforting, you know, like somebody dying, disturbing said comfort. A few nights ago, I was on the late shift and was fixing a mans medications for him while he laid there and told me about how sick he was, how scared he was, but how, if given the choice, he still wouldn’t want to live forever. Surprised, I asked him why, and he said it all in one word: Tedium.

Existence is tedious. Having to find ways to fill your life, whether they’re hobbies, social activities, work, you name it. It’s hard enough to do that for the amount of time you’re alive, but god, to have to stretch that ad infinity? It’d drive any sane person up the wall. I for one really understood his plight and couldn’t admire his decision more. He told me that he’d done his time, like it was a prison sentence, that he’d done his duties; had some kids, worked his job, accomplished his goals and this was the end of the line. This was existential retirement, and I couldn’t agree more. A lot of people work in the medical field because they are life affirming people. They believe so greatly in life, wanting to help others better their lives but not me. I am in medicine because death has been something that’s been a big part of my life, and I’m comfortable around it. That’s why I think they put me on The Sick Zone.

Then there’s the terminally ill patients looking to end their lives. We have a few of those in The Sick Zone, awaiting their paperwork approval, since the ‘sanctity’ of life has become law of the land. Imagine that. Imagine having to fight for your right to die. Ludicrous. What do the people against this think? “Oh, but they still have some time left to be in absolute agonizing pain!” Idiots. See, growing up, my parents tried to have a second child, and the baby that would’ve been my little sister died a few months after being born. While my mother became relieved to still only have to worry about one child, my father did the exact opposite. He was grief stricken, and started being as “pro-life” as one can be. This confounded me to no end. Why be so attached to a concept that the thing that died couldn’t even comprehend? Why be sad for them, when they themselves never got a chance to even see if they might hate life or not. American Thief did a poll a few months ago back when this whole shitstorm started about being born, and of those polled, a whopping 78% admitted that if given the choice, they’d have opted out of birth, simply because life hasn’t been worth it. I think that says something.

Listen, I’m not here to pass judgement (not that that’ll stop me from doing so, hey, I’m a pissed off nurse okay?), I am here to help those in need. That being said, a person should always have complete and total control over their own body and what happens to it. I mean, everyone except women do, so I guess we’re sort of there. But whether it’s what medications to put into it, what surgeries to have applied to it, what to do with it after death or leading to your death, it is your body and it should be your decision. Death is no longer an absolute. Death is now a product you have to try hard to buy.

We’ve done it, Capitalism. We’ve turned death into a profit.

“This Won’t Hurt A Bit: Memoirs From A Post Medical World” is a satire health column created & written by Maggie Taylor. If you like this, you might like some of her other work, like her webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry” and her writing over at Medium.