Archive for the Personal work Category

Lesson One: The Irish Goodbye

Posted in Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Personal work, Rants with tags , , , , on December 26, 2011 by ccartlidge

A few days ago, I practiced the Irish Goodbye at my own party.

Call me the damned Barefoot Contessa: I planned it, I decorated for it, I baked for it. I made mulled wine. I even cleaned of my own volition and not because the apartment smelled like it needed a bleach-based power wash: BECAUSE I WANTED IT TO BE NEAT. (This is a bit shocking, take my word for it.) It was to be grand. However, In spite of honest company I was freshly sick, exhausted, my head was pounding with abstraction and pressure and the ironic holiday music wasn’t helping.

Also, I’d spent the morning crying. In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. I wasn’t in the mood to party. (A sub-lesson: trouble walks together with expectation.) So I did my best, then slipped away.

I’m not proud of this, but honestly I just couldn’t handle saying goodbye to my house full of friends. There are a few “socially acceptable” reasons for leaving a party early, one of them includes being incoherently drunk and I wasn’t. That had already been taken care of, and since I would never be able to upstage that particular exit, I wisely crossed it off my list. Neither did I have it in me to fake one of the other acceptable reasons for leaving a party early (sudden illness, another engagement, discovering irrefutable proof of alien life, living somewhere else, etcetera), so… Zmija.

I felt bad about it, but otherwise it would have been worse for me and awkward for everyone else. As an oversharer and a person who finds self-delusion slightly hideous, it’s difficult for me to lie on the spot or successfully evade questions which have doleful answers. I would have convinced no one. Or I would have simply caught hell. I wouldn’t have dealt with it gracefully and would have gone to bed angry as well as depressed.

The truth is that when you are in the process of realizing the myriad of ways in which you are an asshole, you probably shouldn’t go to parties. But it was our party, so I enjoyed the camaraderie while I could and inevitably allowed the melancholy to wrap its arms around me. My less-than-glorious exit allowed me the best of both worlds: I climbed out of my hole long enough to remind myself that the world remains essentially the same, then crawled right back in for processing. The Irish Goodbye saved my night.

Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. This was my lesson.

I felt better in the morning.


Here Comes the Free Fall

Posted in Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Personal work, Rants with tags , , , , , on December 23, 2011 by ccartlidge

Apparently, I was wrong: I am a force of nature. In all the wrong ways I feel like a tornado whirling through the remnants of a beautifully decrepit midwestern barn, a miserable hailstorm ruining a perfectly good crop or Hurricane Katrina barreling towards an assuredly ill-prepared New Orleans.

I wish I could say I only hurt myself. I can’t though. The barn is a pile of centuries-old wood chips, the crop is toast, and New Orleans is a shell of its former self. It was a soulful place with lots of lovely magnolias and above-ground cemeteries. And now? Cockroaches. Huge fucking cockroaches living among the ruins of the city. They say justice comes swift and I feel it coming for me soon. It’s deserved. I’ll consider myself lucky if it comes quickly, as I would be tortured waiting for the other shoe to drop. In retrospect, it seems quite naïve to think about riding that high wave all the way to the shore.

They also say that it’s better to regret something done rather than regret something not done. This seems to imply that learning comes from mistakes made, not from easy living. What have I learned? I’ve learned that stages two through four can sometimes come all at once.

I have a headache and just now started feeling worn out. Happy Holidays.

The Art of Determining the Animal by the Smell of its Shit

Posted in Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Personal work, Rants with tags , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2011 by ccartlidge

As it turns out, “Life, Death, Neutrality, Dogs” was just part one of a series based on making fermented cider from rotten apples. This part is about decisive intent being ever so rare! Fun!

Decisions are easy to make, yes they are. (No, they’re not.) They are for a number of reasons. (No, they aren’t.)

These reasons explained over the years and have become ingrained in us as a result of exposure in our collective childhoods. We are implicitly taught that life is black and white, that decisions are easy to make because the best choice is always obvious and surrounded by a bright halo and, in fact, the best choice is obvious for no other reason than only two choices ever existed in the first place. The wrong choice smells like manure on the type of summer day that turns breathable air into stifling-hot magma-gas and that’s never the best option.

I’ll leave aside personal feelings about the disgustingly corporate nature of American meat production, the unsustainable nature of raising livestock, and the fact that cow-flesh in particular is too greasy to make up for the uninspiring flavor and therefore is an unacceptably expensive meat to dislike but tolerate anyway (Or I won’t). Regardless, where halos remind me of the clinical phenomenon of organized religion, the smell of cow shit makes me nostalgic. I smell this and I’m riding the bus to school, getting secretly drunk with high school friends in an open field and eating freshly picked peas in a tree with my sister. Shit is deep.

The black-and-white posterization of life is a sometimes useful tool as art and analysis, but even then is inherently false. Cow shit smells like gray to me, even though it may just smell like shit to someone else. Most things do, although gray is sometimes green, chartreuse and bright blood-red.

That any decision at all has been easy for me to make is almost mind-boggling given the devastating amount of options to choose from, and scary too as this indicates a lack of analysis on my part. Were decisions easy because the choice was clear? Or were they easy because I wasn’t paying attention?

I wasn’t paying attention. Neither were you. The intellectual gravity of gray (and green and chartreuse and bright blood-red) is a force of nature: awesomely dark and wretchedly bright. The gray makes life worth living. Gray is the wrong choice, the best choice, and no choice at all. That shit is deep. And confusing.

Life, Death, Neutrality, Dogs.

Posted in Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Personal work, Rants with tags , , , , , , , on December 14, 2011 by ccartlidge

I’m not a writer. I just needed an activity I could take part in alone and drunk in a dark room. All people have their weaknesses, the comforting thoughts and actions that for better or worse become a temporal part of their analytical grieving process. As an attempt at growth, I’ve chosen to temporarily eschew my more instinctual, corporeal processes in favor of something more academic. So I write today.

Human life may simply be periods of grief and guilt and occasionally happiness with neutrality shoved between, like an overstuffed bookshelf. Some books are cover-less from years of reuse, others are textbooks covered in dust (because hardly anyone reads textbooks after class is over), others are gifts and still others are social buys which are only present as an homage to vanity and the wish to look a certain way to certain people. It’s unfair that dogma and social constructs fill in the neutrality with unrealistic expectation. This is a bit like proclaiming Catch-22 a classic after not being able to get all the way through and never intending to finish. All relationships with humans or dogs or inanimate objects end until one doesn’t. Even that ends in loss, however, so really all relationships end.

Death defines life and, despite best efforts, everyone dies. My parents will die. I love them. I LIKE them. Lots of people don’t have family they love and genuinely enjoy being around. I’m lucky this way (and I’m still an asshole). They’ve taught me or otherwise provided me the opportunity to learn every piece of information I know, and they are going to die one day. My only sister, one of the few people who at least pretends to understand who and why I am even if she doesn’t agree, might be continually disappointed by her students and children and get cancer and if she’s lucky will die before she gets too old to enjoy the rest of her life. And fuck my life. I’ll complain about terrible tsunamis and clear blue skies but perhaps never find another tornado equally matched. Even worse, I may not be a tornado at all but a sad, sad mist. I never want kids (because how could they turn out okay being raised in a culturally barren future-world by an angry, confused, feminist, anxious-as-fuck atheist?). I may never be calm or ridiculously talented or even be lucky enough to have a fleeting genius and I’m going to have to live with that. And then I’ll die.

All that might be true. The fact remains, however, that without horrifying inevitability, fleeting joy wouldn’t exist. Life would truly be neutral, and that would be the real tragedy.

I might get a dog. (I’ll call him Tom Selleck or Mustard Gas Dog. I like to think dog people are well-adjusted because for a few short years they have a companion who doesn’t judge and likes to cuddle.) I’ll deal with being the bad guy and learn from my mistakes. I’ll embrace the fact that I’m not nearly as charming or interesting as I’d like and stop dealing with my problems by finding other people with problems. I’ll make concessions to move on to something new.

I want to be a well-adjusted tornado so badly, but for now I’ll just deal and appreciate the truth that life averages out to neutral. Perhaps some unrealistic expectations exist simply as a reminder that lightness is an integral part of darkness.

Did I mention I’m not a fucking writer? Fuck.

In anticipation of Day of the Dead

Posted in Personal work with tags , on September 7, 2011 by ccartlidge



I just did these for a friend’s Day of the Dead show next month in Denver.

My professional page

Posted in Design, Personal work on July 17, 2011 by ccartlidge

So, here’s a link for you and you.

My freelance interests have a home.

Design and Illustration

More about Hemingway

Posted in +/- Minute Sketches, Literary Masterpieces, Personal work on July 11, 2011 by ccartlidge

Nothing says “Come to the party or else” like Hemingway with a gun.