In the comments section of my first piece for xoJane, it was revealed that I in fact used to be an Etsy “celebrity” of sorts, something that I don’t really like to talk about or advertise. But, yes, I had a somewhat popular shop on Etsy called Cubist Literature (now just the name of a blog I’ve had forever) where I sold silk-screened tees, appliqued vintage/thrift clothing and hand knit accessories.
I got to be the featured seller on Etsy and I got lots of blog coverage. I was on the local morning news once in the studio to talk about what I do. And there was even a blurb about me on the Martha Stewart Show. But all this is stuff I’m kind of cringing about as I write it.
I mean, I always get embarrassed talking about that kind of stuff and looking at older work of mine. But the real reason I don’t like to think about this time in my life, specifically 2006-2008, the peak of my Etsy “celebrity” status, is because of the mess of a person I was then: a speed-taking, aspirin-addicted, hermetic alcoholic experiencing an existential depression. I even got myself admitted to the hospital because of it.
This was back when I was in college and living alone in a two-bedroom apartment in Houston’s museum district. I would stay in my apartment most of the day unless I had to go to class. A large portion of my diet consisted of anti-depressants, too much shrink-prescribed Adderall (two 30mg extended release capsules a day, to be exact) and tons of booze, especially that cheap Texas beer, Lone Star.
A large portion of my days consisted of starting and stopping projects. And pacing my apartment a lot, letting ideas and thoughts flow, and writing crazy shit on the Internet. I honestly loved the feeling of being slightly buzzed and really sped up on Adderall. It made me feel crazy, yeah, but really good and harmonious, too.
But when the Adderall sort of wore off after awhile and I didn’t feel like another pill, I would take that powdered pain reliever BC Powder. Arthritis strength. Because, I found by researching the back of the boxes, it had more caffeine in it than regular strength. It’d give me the extra kick I needed to do whatever it is I was or wasn’t doing. I was able to remain alert until I passed out drunk. Plus it took care of any dull imaginary ache I had.
I continued to take two or three BC Powder packets a day for a while. Until one day when I started not to feel well. I got up out of my bed, walked to the kitchen, walked back and collapsed on my couch. And I couldn’t really get up, so I had to crawl back into bed, where I was afraid to move from.
This get-up-and-collapse routine continued that day, but I wasn’t worried yet. I mean, I was still able to crawl around my apartment, so at least I had that going for myself. I just thought I was really sick. I didn’t get worried until I had to crawl to the toilet, where I took a black shit. Very black. Black-black.
The sight of a toilet full of black poop is utterly shocking and unholy, so I knew I had to get to the doctor. I called my younger sister to come help me. When she knocked at my door, I collapsed in front of it and couldn’t get up. She was trying to open the door but couldn’t. I was immovable and heavy in front of it.Eventually she got in, loaded me up in her car, picked up my mother, and headed to the doctor, who said that there might be internal bleeding and referred me to the hospital. There as I lie in the temporary hospital bed and had doctors and nurses doing their work on me and around me, I felt so useless and stupid.
When I looked over at my mother and sister, who had been so strong and matter-of-fact before this, and saw them weeping, I knew I had fucked up really badly. It was such a depressing sight. I’d gotten myself to a real low point in my life.
The nurse needed a urine sample from me, but I wasn’t able to go. So, she had to get out the catheter. Having a tube inserted into my penis was probably the craziest pain I’d ever experienced. It was so surreal having something go in the out hole. It hurt so bad I began to laugh. It was weird laughter.
Eventually the verdict came in: the BC Powder plus the excess booze had made my stomach full of holes. It made me bleed internally (hence, the black shit.). I lost two pints of blood, which explains why I could barely walk without falling. I needed a blood transfusion. Fast.
I had to stay in the hospital for about three or four days (I found that blood enters the body at a very slow pace). My mother stayed by my side all day long. She’d leave late at night and come back early in the morning to be by my side. Sweet mother. I love her.
But it was a scary experience. And a very sad one. So, when people bring up how I was an Etsy “celebrity,” I don’t think of all the appliqued T-shirts and hand knit accessories; I think of blood and booze and speed and depression. I think of the catheter and black shit. And I think of the time I made my mother and sister cry. Those thoughts are just too strong for me to forget.