The Fires of Mars

  Jun 3, 2018   Edmond

In every great story a hero is confronted with adversity and the possibility of losing their dream. It forces the hero to reach further than those before them, to take risks to achieve things extraordinary. It could be a villain who threatens to take all that the hero has worked for, or a situation that leaves the hero morally torn pitting their dreams against the reality of life. In one of the oldest pieces of western literature our species has, one I can’t help but constantly refer back to is the Iliad. Homer wrote that Achilles had his choice laid before him. Unlike most stories, this choice was a literal one spoken to him by his mother who informed Achilles he would have to choose his fate: “two fates bear him towards deaths end” Thetis says in the story, informing her beloved son that he had to choose between a fulfilling, healthy life filled with love, a family of many generations and contentment, or to be forever remembered through eternity as the finest warrior to ever live, at the cost of his life. The stories that truly excite me have undertones and secrets; that only when studied carefully, can be revealed (the reason I have a love for Hawthorne.) In the poem the Iliad the ancient Greek words that make up Achilles name is the combination of “ákhos” and “laós” like most Greek words they each carry many meanings, the first: pain, distress, grief or sorrow. Laós could mean nation, soldier or people. Achilles name tells us many secrets: most would interpret this as Achilles and his Myrmidons would bring grief to the people through war, I like to see a deeper meaning: that his name is a noble reference to the overall theme in the Iliad, that to reach glory, you must endure the sorrow and suffering and ultimately make the soldiers sacrifice for the greater good, for your name to be remembered, to earn your place in the Elysian Fields.

Violet and I had found a rhythm. Somewhere in the mess of everything, all the chaos of my time in London, I knew she would be a mess at the end of all this, not fully understanding the years I had at my feet to try and survive alone and on the edge of this fucking razor. I was torn between the beauty and comfort of our relationship against the brick wall of guilt I kept running at, knowing the future of all relationships for our Villain. The truth is, she’s the perfect woman, loyal, supportive, dangerously gorgeous and wanting more than anything to have a happy existence where creativity and home cooked meals rule each day. I think deep down I knew I just couldn’t give her the married life and children she so desperately desired, at least now I couldn’t, but the future only holds more missions of grandeur and trying desperately to get to space. I knew that she just wasn’t reckless enough to amplify the qualities that would create the monstrosity I desire to be. Is it too much to ask for someone that has all that Violet has, yet is switchblade dangerous? some one to burn me down so I can rebuild...there I go romanticizing. Poets never really get to love. I should be ashamed to have ever forgotten, and continuing to forget. Aside from the selfish greed for companionship trying to shield myself from the lonely years that lie ahead, I was consumed constantly with worry about her mental state. She was in therapy for a year following her last break up. If I would affect her dreams negatively, I could never forgive myself. I can think of nothing more viciously cruel than standing in the way of someone’s dream and with each day I was sure I was gambling with Violets.

There was a shift at some point, I woke and the energy was different, the fog that clouded my thinking cleared, my body wasn’t in as much pain. The day was the 21st of May, I got a major art project off my plate and immediately it cracked off being reposted by one of the tattoo magazines. Suddenly I had the approval of my peers for the first time in my career. The next morning, early to rise, I was blasting through minor and major tasks and getting ahead of the whole game. The broken vase of my existence was dangling in my mind, the exploded pieces floating there and all that was left was to piece it all back together until the next time I was to smash it against the preverbal floor. I could feel the cosmos lending me strength and confidence; I welcomed it with so much relief. I was truly starting to consider the whole of my existence. With Mars shifting in my favor and his energy for war I climbed to my feet, ready to face the coming challenges head on. Things would be fine I repeated until I could believe it. Things would be fine through sheer force of will if necessary. Meditation & yoga, a nice bath and suddenly the dark thoughts were gone. Powered by my sense excitement for what was coming. Who could stop me now? Only me. When I start to feel the last days in a country closing in, no matter the circumstances, I become electrified with a new spirit and energy. The cycle of despair and bipolar highs are fucking exhausting. At one point I had trained myself to use that energy, the highs and even the lows to push myself mercilessly, I had lost that, somewhere in my self-pity and my relationship.

I met Violet the next night at a little boutique hotel in the city where we got dressed and I did some Roxy’s and MDMA, then after months of waiting, off we went to see the Rolling Stones. It had always been a dream of mine, to see the boys at home. I had dropped £700 on the VIP package and after wading through horrendous crowds and trains we arrived at the gates. We passed through security and as they scanned our tickets, they didn’t work. We had to wait an hour to get them replaced, some bullshit about them doing this to any tickets sent abroad, which was frustrating because they insisted to send them to America only so they could be shipped back by me. They were really killing my fucking high. After sorting that out we had to queue to get our VIP swag. The merch was shit, the seats were too, but still, it was the bloody Stones in fucking London and nothing could stop us now. I was dosing MDMA, Roxicodone and mixing in a Valium and a Ritalin here and there while Violet brought cocktail after cocktail getting me loopy as all fuck. I could feel my kidneys and liver just saying “well…what the fuck ever…it’s the Stones.” The boys were in rare form, my heart did ache a few times knowing that in their mid 70’s it was likely the last time I would be seeing them. The one thing the world has learned, (of very few things) is that you can never count the Stones out, they truly are a marvel of humanity, performing so frequently, for so long and not slowing down in the least. If I could see them in a small venue I could die a real witness to true rock n roll. Violet had never been to a show like that, she glowed from the stage lights, wore a big smile and I believe she really enjoyed herself. The MDMA had washed away all my fear and anxiety and for those precious hours at that show where nothing in the world mattered to me but those precious songs I knew so well. A familiarity that felt like those songs were actually part of my body or soul, like some crucial limb or organ. As those songs rang through the spring air, weaving into the air around us, surrounded by tens of thousands of people feeling precisely as I was at that moment. All those people being brought together despite differences, cultures or politics, only music could ever do something so divinely miraculous. The price tag mattered none. I was filled with joy and wonder, I marveled at the magic of it, and then, as the night became dark at London Stadium they played their encore and it was over like someone shook me awake from a dream. It was another box checked on my list of life experiences I’ve always hoped for.

The next morning we enjoyed room service when we woke, Violet left immediately after for work, my head was fucking pounding. It felt like chasms were opening in my skull. I showered the residue of drugs and liquor off me just to head straight off to get tattooed. I took a little MDMA to set me upright. Once I was dressed I started in on the Roxy’s before I left the hotel room. I arrived, an hour later than our usual time as planned to accommodate my hangover. Even with the drugs, and more drugs once there, my hangover was determined, by mid-session I was 60mg into it. I sat through 4 brutal hours of being tattooed; I could smell the MDMA and cheap arena vodka coming from my pours as the needle strikes pounded the pigment into my skin. When all was done I could hardly make sense of any of it, I paid, unable to count my money without help and with a slightly lightheaded buzz I rolled out, caught the trains and busses heading south to my own bed. I had to take a Ritalin to stay awake on the train and by the time I got home I was wired out of my head, I finally gave up on sleep around 0100 and ended up painting through the night straight until the cursed birds and light of morning. I did my yoga with the sun, did some more Roxy’s and with no sleep, headed back into London for a full shift at the tattoo shop where I zeroed, yet again. Putting up so many zeros at work was starting to weigh on all that was happening, it did create opportunity to paint like mad through the entire day, but that didn’t pay for transport or food. I just happened to look while I was at work and by some miracle the sold out Chromeo show, only blocks away from the tattoo shop had a few late tickets released. I couldn’t believe it. I snatched up two saying fuck the cost, assuming I could just not eat that night while hoping Violet could join. She agreed, wondering where I could possibly find the endurance after the Stones and no sleep. When the clock struck 7 and my unpaid shift was finished I was headlong for the door simultaneously dosing more MDMA and walking my way towards the club. I was in a haze of sleep-deprivation, minor shock from being tattooed the day before and fueled purely by Ritalin, MDMA and Valium. By the time those Canadian Funklordz went onstage I was bouncing off the bloody ceiling, drunk as piss thanks to cheap cocktails from Violet and high as a kite. It was a tiny venue, about 800 or so and everyone was singing, drinking, dancing and keeping pace. The energy was fantastic and I can’t remember the last time I so thoroughly enjoyed a show.

After the Chromeo show, I narrowly navigating myself to the last of the mostly cancelled trains south, catching the last one before bus replacements began. I made it most of the way south until I was forced to catch a bus for the rest of the way. Somewhere in the midst of all this, during this wonderfully epic week, something clicked between Violet and I. She was suddenly less needy and was showing an understanding to how complicated and fucked my head and life was. She had been taking care of me in ways I was grateful for. I finally got home that night, and without dinner landed face down in bed, eyes shutting near immediately, drunk and exhausted. Friday morning found me working in bed, high as fuck on Opioids and just sailing from all the fun I had that week, laughing at the fact that I spent thousands of pounds in the last 5 days and zeroed every day at work.

Saturday Violet treated us to see Solo, I was so high on MDMA and entwined with the Dragon that I started nodding out during the film. That night she and I got pretty wild in bed after the film. I was a little wound up from that pinch of MDMA and couldn’t keep my hands off her. She was thrilled to have sex after a bit of a drought and a “too drunk to come” scenario the eve of the Stones. I stayed at hers that night, while she went off to dinner and a show with her celebrity boss. While she was out, I painted and painted away, knocking back the drugs more and more and nearly finishing a huge painting. I was thrilled to have the free time to paint. I felt so much more productive doing art in a different space than I’m used to.

Wednesday was on me before long and my invite to visit the film studio had been arranged. I jumped a train and headed north all the way to the “Londonwood” area on the northern outskirts of the city. I was picked up by Violets celebrity boss’s personal driver and driven to the set from the train station. After all the turmoil and scraping by, I believe it was somehow a path to my experience that day on set. I was driven into Pinewood studios, where so many big films have been made (including star wars and a zillion other movies that I’m not going to look up now.) When I arrived outside the set I saw Violet peaking out a stage door. I was on set for less than 1 minute when the Director came over and shook my hand, (the fucking director!), joined by her celebrity boss who, with a handshake said, “Edmond, from (my home town) right?, hello there!!” those two were joined by a producer and the director immediately started asking about my connection to the story that their film was loosely based. I was prepared, high enough to sparkle and in rare form the words slipped from my silver tongue. I told them a rushed version of the story, I was prepared for very short attention spans and having to rattle things off quickly. Seeing Edmond in form is quite a thing, off my tongue quickly lashed out the details I had, about the eerie way fate had led me to Violet, to the discovery of my connection to the film and ultimately to the moment that we were all experiencing right then and there. I've signed a NDA about all I spoke about and saw on set so I can’t explain specifics. What I can tell you is that the set was brilliant, it was being shot on the 007 sound stage where the first Bond film was shot (and probably most of the films afterwards) the set design was wonderful, FUCKING wonderful. I can’t wait to see the picture. After the initial commotion of arriving a quick tour of the set, Violet handed me a set of fancy, wireless headphones and a monitor she had arranged so I could watch the shots unfold just like the director was in her director tent with the producers, assistant directors and other people that belong in fancy tents.

While actors, film crew, extras and the director with a train of producers following her zipped off (followed closely by Violet, preparing for her bosses next scene.) I was alone to sit and tinker with my monitor. The monitor was an iPad, wirelessly connected to the feed coming from the two cameras set up (one on a crane and one at ground level on a tripod. On that iPad was an incredible amount of wonderful information and opportunity to learn, everything from the ARRI camera serial number, the current frame rate, shutter speed, the lens being used, synced time code, and everything the DP would be sorting out. Just to be treated so kindly and given special accommodation to hold this little monitor that few were privileged enough have access to, was enough to make the day incredible for me. Up to this point of my day, I was just overjoyed that someone had finally taken notice of me, I had been feeling so invisible; Further, someone had dedicated the time to give me an opportunity to be so close to so many talented people witnessing the heart of what it takes to make a film. My heart was beaming. After a lifetime of coming close, working hard, failing and dusting myself off, I was being allowed to peak through the window into just a tiny part of the process and art form that I love so passionately. At that point if someone had said "I’m sorry Edmond, but I’m afraid that is all we can let you see today, you’ll have to wait outside until Violet is off work in 4 hours” I would have said, “Oh my God! thank you so much everyone I’ll be sitting on the steps outside, this has been so amazing!” Fortunately, That wasn’t the case.

I Sat there all alone in my folding chair, which was next to Violets that was next to her Celebrity boss’s chair (the lead actor.) I was dressed sharply after saying "screw it” to the cost I was able to get a few shirts dry-cleaned so that I would not arrive looking like Violets near destitute, traveling, homeless, gypsy boyfriend (LOOK that way anyway). After watching a couple scenes unfold I was joined by one of the executive producers. He was the producer that officially invited me to visit. He came over and introduced himself and I shot out of my chair and thanked him immediately for the opportunity to be there. I never told anyone about my background, my passion for film or even felt like it was necessary. I thanked him profusely, with enthusiasm, near adulation and then we got down into it. Talking about my connection to the story. He immediately pulled up a video from an old National Geographic relating to all this and scrubbed into a relevant part, and suddenly there was the person I knew on screen, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen this documentary earlier. It caught me a little emotional, talking to this producer, INSIDE the magic of the pictures, being treated like I was supposed to be there, like they wanted me there. Each person I met was so incredibly warm and kind, full of smiles and happy and so very full of energy while insanely they zipped around the set moving this, adjusting that, hauling things for the people over there, gaffers choosing which color tape to use, which lighting would be best, which direction should actor-x turn to camera? counter-clockwise or clockwise?, people in green screen suits, me with my tongue on the floor watching those gorgeous cranes and cameras go up and down. It was fucking intoxicating. The producer and I continued our very casual and comfortable conversation. It was important, at least to me, on a personal level to share something with this total stranger and give a fuck about the story together. I guess that is what makes a good producer, whether they do or don’t care, that is the feeling that you would want people to feel when they talk to you about a project, letting your enthusiasm drip off of each and every word. Producers are just fancy hustlers, no different than me.

The simple fact that all these Hollywood types were listening to me made my heart swell, so much so I had a bit of an emotional hangover afterwards. This wasn’t any small time film; it was a major studio production and had Hollywood elite producing it. I was literally walking on air the entire time while there, and was devastated when it was over. They shot about 4-5 scenes while I was there over about half a day, 3 with Violets boss, only a few lines in each shot. I got a daily, a schedule about how each day would go, what part of the script would be used and where on the set, magical doesn’t begin to describe the way I felt. The set design, the lights, the cranes, the cameras, the set photographers, the NDA, the buzzing electricity of these story tellers, the HUNDREDS of hand painted signs all over the place, the incredible detail that went into every poster on the wall, or menu, flyer, literally everything had been designed from the floor up and was marvelous. So marvelous that within my first hour during my set tour I said to Violet “Christ the designer is brilliant, they must be working overtime with all this typesetting” a few moments later I found myself in the art department, being escorted by another PA and being introduced to the people that worked there.

The design office was like any cubical office really, but even before I could get through the door I was in awe of the access to materials and resources. In the hallway were large format printers, and a die cut machine, a 3d printer in the corner and all kinds of wonderful toys of technology. Once inside I shook a few hands until I met the lead designer and quickly learned that SHE was the sole print-designer for the project. A quick intro turned into about a 15 minute conversation about design, my background & hers, my grandfather and sign painting, how she got a lot of access to fonts for the film but still had to create a lot of new stuff to keep things fresh and exciting since there was such an enormous variety of typesetting through different time periods throughout the film. I asked how long she had been working on the project, assuming they would at least let her start first and give her a lead, when she said January, I nearly choked. She had done so much creative work smashed into such a small time I couldn’t believe it. I praised her work, got to see what she was working on at that moment and the conversation turned into two people speaking about a common job and commiserating about the difficult things and celebrating the rest. It was brilliant. I gave her a card and some stickers, which she complimented and compared my styles to some of the 70’s era stuff she had done. I told her how much I admired what she did and thanked her so much for her time. Suddenly Violet was there too, I was worried about time becoming an issue, and keeping her from her job, since it was literally to make sure her celebrity boss wants for nothing (she says its been the easiest job she’s had in the pictures) I began to rush a bit, and moved over to meet the assistant art director and head art director. We talked mostly about 3d printing and how it’s utilized in the models and even on set now, in ways I was astounded by.

Back on the set and I was smiling so much my face was starting to hurt. I couldn’t help it, it was all so intoxicating. I was also high as fuck on Roxy’s, ensuring I could out pace anyone I would come across. I spent a couple scenes just happily seated behind the directors tent, watching my monitor while Violet and everyone just whizzed around me tucked out of everyone’s way, watching my monitor and being giddy, I was especially careful to stay out of the path of her boss, everyone was descending on him all the time, I could immediately see how that gets incredibly difficult.

Most of the day had passed and then after finishing a scene, while walking back towards his chair her boss asked me to come over with a hand wave and a “so what are you plans Mr. Edmond?” I hopped up, carefully set my monitor down, rehearsing what I planned to say in the little time I assumed I would have to say it, reminding myself not to ask for a photo with him. When President Obama banned selfies because he was exhausted from never having the chance to look people in the eye, I got a glimpse into how lonely that must be for people in the spotlight. We sat down and spoke for what must have been 15 to 20 straight minutes, filled with eye contact and personal, brilliant conversation. He pulled his chair closer to mine and we both sat relaxed letting the conversation evolve. He is an incredibly intelligent man, and his overall demeanor impressed me but especially by his vocabulary, which was Jeopardy worthy. We started talking about what was next for me, my lifestyle and then moved onto tattoos. I was able to shift the conversation back to him when I asked if he had any. He did, a small tattoo that was hidden from view, something he was proud of, tiny and meaningful. I got to speak to him about the two things I had planned. The first was to thank him for treating Violet with such kindness and for the opportunity and therefore for having me join them on set that day. Second, I was able to speak to him about one of his films I admired and asked if his worldview was altered after his research and diving into a role of the historical figure he played. His answer was so good I wish I had it recorded, I found myself wondering how one curates such lovely words to have on tap while his vocabulary beautifully illustrated his views. We covered so many topics while we spoke that my head started to spin a little. We spoke at length about the ability to really make a difference in creating a fair and just world, and the responsibility each has to do so. We spoke about insomnia, how he really wished he took more than two weeks off between a theatre gig before heading straight into this film. We spoke about freighter travel, being at sea, tattooing at sea, and then we spoke at length about Wes Anderson, to quote him directly “the conversation would be four words: Wes Anderson wants…YES.” I cracked up a bit at the power of celebrity, but then we really got into the heart of why Wes is such a prolific director and how brave he is to have stuck to his guns and made movies the way he sees movies being made. By this time I could see a few people hovering about to burst our little bubble, I mentioned it, he shrugged it off and said, they’ll drag me away when they must…and we continued. It was an honest conversation where I held my own, confidently making long periods of eye contact and making sure the conversation was more he than I. it was a fantastic experience that I won’t soon forget. I learned a lot about myself in that conversation. Valuable lessons that will likely lead me to out perform myself as I continue on.

There wasn’t a moment while I was on set when I feel I was bettered. The glass wall separating me from movie stars, success or the illusion of celebrity had been shattered into grains of sand at my feet. I had next to nothing for cash, I had a thousand pounds to raise for my last two appointments and not enough time to do it, no clue where I was going next and this monumental shift had shook my reality. This time in the Uk has been filled with surprise attacks and disappointments; especially after I worked so fucking hard to make sure I would be able to maintain a lead on my finances and not fall into starving and traveling in rags yet again. If I wouldn’t have been put in that situation to have forced to leave my last job, I would be so far ahead by now id be celebrating with champagne and extra trips to Africa…but that is not what happened, and I’m glad. Meeting Violet, having her take me to my first real movie set, to meet the people I did and gain all those priceless interactions I always assumed were out of my reach made me realize how close I’ve always been to getting the things I’ve always wanted out of life. Which is simply to just have the means to express myself artistically in a way that can inspire emotion in other people and change the fabric of reality in some small way, while making a contribution towards a better tomorrow. The magic of everything that day, even now, while writing this, is still tingling in my chest. One thing I understood while I was there, being a director, an actor, a filmmaker wouldn’t be enough for me anymore, I would love to create the few passion projects I've been filming in my head for the last twenty five years and leave it at that, but being locked in what’s essentially a pole barn dressed in illusion for days on end would be impossible for me now, after this experience in freedom and adventure. The screenwriters and documentary film makers…that’s where the only freedom could really be had if I was to move forward with any career in film.

I was buzzing for a few days and stayed in this strange daze of drugs and euphoria after the studio in some kind of over-stimulated ultra-creative psychosis. I slept very little that week and the fires of Mars burned hot while I created piles of work setting up new and exciting projects and knocking them out in hopes that I would be able to make more money by drop shipping paintings and selling other creative assets over the coming year. Eventually I found myself staring down my final 2 appointments to be tattooed and what I would hope would be the final confrontation with the Dragon. I received 7 more Roxy’s in the mail. I’d been threading myself carefully through the Dragons eye, just enough to avoid withdrawal, but not enough to be completely out of control. Eventually I was ordering enough quantity that when I would lose control and do my full supply I would run out before I could order more. Making sure deliveries would land just before the weekends so that I’d be stuck with no way to have them in the post until Monday morning making it impossible to go more than 4 days straight on the dope before waiting a few more for the post to arrive.

After some discussion about my finances and my ideology, Violet hit me with the “it’s your choice” shit. She implied that all my suffering is in my hands and all I would need to do is stop traveling and settle down. That was probably the moment I gave up on all of it. It’s easier to believe that, to ignore the responsibility I feel to continue, how compelled I am to set an example through action. I tried yet again to explain that my life was blessed and cursed to be my own, long ago and although arrogantly at times, the higher purpose here is break the mold of what’s possible, what could be learned and confront racism & the world community with a merciless commitment to make it fucking better. I explained that my sense of responsibility is important to me because I can do what I do and therefore should, for the benefit of all those that might never get the opportunities to travel in their lives. There was a confrontation building between us, she could never understand how those words are the hardest for me to hear, while true in some regard, at the same time it always seems like there is a lack of understanding of the greater picture and what it could all mean someday.

I managed to stay off dope for about a week and caught some of the wonderful adrenaline surges and clarity. Like waves crashing in my mind, my body celebrated the lack of chemical influence. I started looking for a job abroad, still with no idea where I could be going. In London, money on short supply and thinning by the second. I was faced with raising £1050 to pay for my tattoo, and then be free of the cost of a back piece for the rest of my miserable fucking life. I was lucky, so lucky I would have to call it fate that I caught a half sleeve once afternoon and was able to raise about a quarter of what I needed one of my days at work. I sold a couple prints of paintings and my next appointment was looking like it was covered.

Elsewhere, Violets boss was inquiring about Africa, she told me he was speaking to another celebrity on set about heading into Africa for the first time in need of life experience. This is within a days of talking with me, and whether it’s arrogant to think it was my influence or not, I have to assume it was, a seed was planted and inspiration followed. I asked Violet pointedly, if she thought it was our conversa…she cut me off. “Not one doubt in my mind babe.” Echoes of former scribbles in my head: “If I could inspire one person to leave and explore then I would truly have succeeded” or something like that; written long ago by a less experienced me, tallied up as the goal to make this all worth it. Well Edmond there it is, you’ve succeeded and in a way more glamorous than you could have ever imagined. The next time I’m filled with doubt, suffering and wondering if anyone will ever care, I’ll think back to this accomplishment and all that it means and will mean in the future. I can only imagine the aftermath of his first trip to Africa and how much his view of our species and planet will be radically altered.

I stumbled on a job lead from a well-known tattooer in the states; he gave me 4 shops to contact in Holland and Luxembourg, all completely in the “cool kid club” which I’ve never been sure if I belong. I wrote them all messages asking for work, by the next morning I had two responses, one was a polite no the other was a “who is our mutual friend” email. I don’t name drop when asking for a job, making sure my work stands on it own. I assumed he already took a look, so I told him, he was nice and I immediately had a good feeling about the whole thing. I’ve never been to either country, with or without a job; it’s probably the best of very few options. It was up to the Gods now, I was aware that they were drawing the map for me at this point. Within a few emails I had a solid invite to work for a couple weeks sitting in for another tattooer who would be leaving for the exact time I needed to leave the UK that doesn’t qualify as coincidence in my world. The shop was famous and was out of my class. That same day I was Invited to “pre-wrap” dinner with Violet, her boss, the director and the other actors from the film. I couldn’t fucking believe it, he specifically asked if I would come. It was planned for the coming Friday.

That Wednesday, just barely swinging the money, I sat for my second to last tattoo appointment. my tattooer and I were having fun and talking all kinds of shit. I was excited to learn that she had ordered a test tube shaker on my recommendation and it arrived during my appointment. It was from the 70s, old, bright and fun looking, I was just excited to know that someone listened to me and was equally excited with the purchase for their shop. We laughed in excitement as I showed them the best ways to rattle their ink bottles, its funny how something so seemingly trivial in a job like tattooing can make so much of the day easier.

Suddenly I was wielding influence and money, swing trading crypto and finally making at least £50 a day at work as the calendar turned to summer but the rain and often cold of June convinced us otherwise. I had a couple of fortunate days that week at the shop and had a few sterling left in my pocket. Thursday I got word that the dinner with Violet and crew was canceled but with the job in Holland it all kind of washed out. I was a little anxious about the meal anyway, sitting at the “table” so to speak, I was worried I would be completely out of place, it was one thing to visit the set, quite another to drink, eat and be electric in close quarters. So while canceling dinner was a little disappointing, I was, at some degree, relieved.

Not having commitments for dinner on Friday gave me the opportunity to finish the paintings I had begun and I was excited for the opportunity to do so, after a lazy morning, right as I finished yoga, laughing in the face of a deadline to finish 8 small paintings, dinner was back on and I was caught scrambling to wrap up, pack, iron a shirt and get to London by 8 that evening.