Here we go again. Welcome to the blog blast of the section that I call The Kingdom from the book Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 3: The Keep. The Kingdom is an explanation of the work itself. You can’t understand any writer unless you know their work. So Friday we began at 6 p.m. and I will release one blog every two hours and fifteen minutes. That means we’ll finish the story of my work and its future, my work and its past, at 7:30 on Sunday evening. There are some crazy things in here. Some setbacks we never could have made it past without the people who care about me. There are some crazy things in here. Plans that I have and things that I’m doing that, simply put, are impossible. But everything’s impossible until it’s finished, until it’s been done or accomplished. There are some crazy things in here. Dreams so wild and so immense that to think they’re within reach you have to be a little unhinged. And while reading this small collection of blog posts, you’ll hear the rantings of the Lunatic of Fantasy. You’ll find in these posts the past, present, and future of the writing of Jesse Teller.
One Friday, Sasquatch decided we needed to have a movie night. He had a lot of things he wanted to show me and top on that list was Frankenstein. I had seen the recent one, but the old one, the classic one, I had never seen.
Have you seen it? It starts in a graveyard. A man comes into screen with a shovel. He jams the shovel into the ground and spits on his hands, grips the shovel and begins to dig.
“Why do they do that? Why spit on your hands like that? I don’t get it,” I said.
“Well if you had ever done an honest day’s work in your life, you would know that the spit helps him get a better grip on the shovel.”
This is it. This right here is where everything goes wrong. Because my answer to that should have been, “Fuck you, you don’t know me. I have been working my ass off all my life. I worked working class jobs until my fucking mind would not let me do it anymore. Then I started working on my craft. I am a worker from the start. But you don’t know that, so you make assumptions.” I should have said, “Kiss my ass,” and left it in his court. Maybe he comes back and apologizes. Maybe he writes me off and I never see him again, but I take the hit then immediately hit back.
But that is not what I did. See, there is something broken in me, and so we find ourselves here. Here in this book with me writing about the good influences in my life and the bad, trying to search to see who I should be listening to and who I shouldn’t. We come here to my desk, iron with ringing hammers of keystrokes, where I always come for answers, to see who I let in my mind and who I don’t.
Because I just took it.
I took the hit and I sat for the rest of the movie feeling bad about myself. I watched that movie with a broken heart, and hurt while I watched it. I laughed when he said something funny. I told him over and over again how great a movie it was. I did everything I was supposed to do to have a great time with the man who had just insulted my work ethic and my background, a man who had seen me and heard about my production.
And when the movie got to the point when the light shines at the top of the stairs, and the big thick shoulders can be seen in the shadows, and slowly it turns around to reveal the face, that was the moment. In movie history, it’s an iconic moment. If you haven’t watched the actual slow turn and the reveal of the face of the 1931 Universal Frankenstein, find a way to do it, because in that reveal, a thing rolled over in me.
It would not wake until that night, but it rolled over inside my head. I don’t have a name for it, and as its creator, I hope I never see it again. But I can tell you what that thing was comprised of. After being told I had never worked an honest day’s work in my life, after his dismissiveness and his chuckle, it was a blend of Teth, of Jack, of Prince, of Shadow, but no Guardian, and Artist, but no Adam. It was a blend of a thing that had Ronin, and throwing itself against its bars, Thirteen. It rolled over, and it would take hours for it to groan to its feet. But you’ll hear that story in a couple of paragraphs.
I let him talk to me like that and I hugged him when I left. Told him how great a time I had and I went home.
But see, that is not where I left it. I steamed about it all night and by the end of the night, the creature that had been crafted within my mind, gorgeous but not, the monstrous abomination spoke. I wrote a scathing email telling him that he knew nothing about me, or what I was and where I had come from. I yelled at him and told him he was an ass. But the damage was done. My self-esteem was shattered for weeks. At my disability appeal, work had been taken away from me, and I had not gotten over it. Even though Bekah had wings of orange, the room was on fire and Katherine jumped over and over again toward my lap. My self-esteem, when it came to work, was pieces, shards. You can glue them together to form a worker.
Did you know, and I don’t know if this is true, it might be an internet rumor about a culture I’d love to understand, but did you know that when a cup, plate, glass, vase, is broke in China, they seal it back together with molten gold, so that the cracks where it did shatter are stronger than they had ever been.
I don’t know if that’s true. It could be internet myth. Let’s pretend though, let’s close our eyes and pretend, that what I have been doing from Chaste in 2004 to today, 2022, has been slowly with molten gold reconstructing my ability to work. This thing may be a panoramic, maybe it’s just a pot of tea, a vase, not a sword. But whatever it is that I am melding back together with golden seams, was held up before Sasquatch as the creature with yellow eyes. The abomination roared words of Biblical anger, of the fall of a man, and quoted its creator’s words.
I was broken for a while. But Bekah would bring me back. And when I finished the book I was working on, I felt better about myself.
But not really.
A few weeks, I’m not ready, but while we’re gone, Katherine has a stroke. We’re back at the house and there is a turd in the living room. This never happens. I look in the office and see Katherine laying weird, her back legs splayed out, her eyes looking for answers to why she can’t move.
I said my goodbyes to her, and when I decided I was going to put her to sleep, I called Sasquatch. I called him and asked him if I put my dog to rest would he come to the house and help me bury her. He agreed, and from that moment to October 31, 2019, I took body blow after body blow from him.
See, he had been there when I needed him, so I gave him every benefit of every doubt. I took it all, over and over again, until he committed a sin I could not forgive. But we will get there. First I will pause here. The man helped me bury the animal I loved the most. The warrior that saved Guardian. The one that taught me, that screamed at me with barks and kisses, that I was worth loving.
She was found in a cardboard box. When she died, they placed her lovingly in a cardboard coffin. Guardian wants to dig up her bones. He wants to put them all in a casket that he crafts himself with a lathe and a hammer and a pot of stain. He wants to carve her name into her coffin so that he has something to throw his body across. But what do we do then? Because we are not long for this house. We are headed with boot from the marching warrior, with Croc from Guardian’s Fighting Partner, with the high heel shoes of Willow clicking behind us, and Rayph’s rubber on the road, we are headed away from this place. We are headed towards The Keep.
I left her favorite blanket wrapped around her. And it was this man who helped me put her in the ground. He brought a head lamp, a stone breaker, a pick axe, and his own shovel. While I sit here with you and I hate Sasquatch, because I do, I breathe for a moment in the fact that he helped me set to rest Guardian’s girl. However, if I had called Tiger that night, he would have, too. But it was Sasquatch.
So, let’s wait here. Soak in this moment and understand that this right here is my great weakness. I assume that if a person does one great thing that I really need help with, that they are somehow in a circle of friends that can’t be broken. I idolize anyone who does anything nice for me. I think I do it because I don’t think I deserve it. Maybe because I think I can earn them to want to be with me, so I worship them.
Either way, this right here is the biggest scar I have left.
This right here is why we find ourselves in another Reality of the Unreal Mind book. This one last nail I have to hammer down. This one last thing I need to make sense of.
Oh, and God, but we will get there.
So in his search for meaning in his work, he found the Stations of the Class. The thing he hated the most in his life was school and he had a lot of opinions on why. The system was broken, Sasquatch told me, and he could fix it. What he needed was a damning piece about the way schools work and the way they should, how education gets in its way and what should be done to fix it.
He decided on fifteen pieces. Just like the Catholic stations of the cross, he was going to do fifteen big pieces on the way the school should be and its flaws. And this took research.
He talked about it with everyone he knew. His wife, his friends back in New York where he was from. All his art teacher friends. Everyone who would sit still long enough had to hear about his upcoming piece. He went to a show in town by a group of artists called The Beehive Design Collective. They worked on a massive piece that talked about nature, I think, I could be wrong on that. Sasquatch somehow managed to talk his principal into letting him cut out of work early to go to this exhibit, and he went. He got there and talked to the artists about the piece he was working on.
They asked to see any of it. Asked if he had any sketches on him, or anything he might share, because they would love to see. He left that show deciding he needed to shut up and get to work.
I was ecstatic, because I had been asking him when he was going to get started for over a month. We had talked for at least twenty hours about every nuance of the piece and he had yet to start it. He pulled out a piece of paper twice as big as the Big Pieces and created his first attempt.
He hated it. He did not like his first draft at all, and halfway through the first station, he quit. He had an idea for another project, and he was ready to work on it.
This was a year of monsters. He would draw and ink and watercolor one four-by-six piece of paper with the image of a monster of some sort. He would do one every day for a year and he would have a one man show. Sell them at twenty dollars apiece and he would have boo koo bucks! He had it spent already.
I remember when I got home that night he sent me a message that said how many square feet of a museum wall it would take up. He added, “I’m such a badass.”
But I knew by this time that he would not finish it. I knew he was not there yet, was not in the place where he could see a project through to fruition. But I had hope. I had promised to get him there, and I refused to give up on him.
Now right around this time he comes to me with a book. It’s a book of sticker art. See, there is this famous artist, I don’t know his name, who does art for the bottom of skateboards. He made his fortune, and his name, making these boards. They are gorgeous, and sought after, and he’s brilliant, and pretty damn famous, but his side hustle is stickers. He will, every now and then, create a sticker, and it sells very well because he’s a genius and an established artist.
Sasquatch had bought this book of his sticker creations and he was going nuts about it. He said that was what he wanted to do. Let’s make stickers and he will sell them online.
I said, “Is this really what you want to be known for? Creating stickers?” I did not tell him that this was this guy’s side hustle. This was not what made him famous. I let that part go because I was sure Sasquatch knew what I meant.
But he didn’t. He immediately came back with, “Yeah, why not?”
I let it go, but I knew I had to try to pull him away from this. No artist ever made enough money selling stickers to support a four-member family. He needed to make art he could sell for a price high enough to make a living.
But this will come up again. See, I think it is over. But with Sasquatch, nothing is really over.
Even years after, so many years after, it is still. Not. Over.