Short Story: Another Failing Artist.

Short Story: Another Failing Artist.

(441 words) 28 August 2018

By Steven R.A. Markin

Most of his time in the spring had been spent walking trails and enjoying the outdoors after a long Canadian winter of school and a rough breakup. The paths where his refuge, walking meditation is what he would tell people who stopped him to chat quickly. He was friendly and nice, and many people seemed to enjoy chatting with him, but he didn’t care to talk too long. He often wanted to keep moving. Keep the thoughts going and experience as much of the environment as he could.

The hikes came to an abrupt end one morning.

And nearly three months later, he still can’t seem to ease his mind, even after getting back to the gym, eating healthy and sleeping on schedule, speaking with counsellors, and enjoying conversations with his family and friends again. But unable to go back, and unable to feel like himself, even during a walk throughout the day as the helicopter would often fly overhead, just as it flys above, over and over again throughout the days, the early mornings, afternoons and late nights, and even slowed down on his way from school, as if stopping above to look down on him, reminding him and making him feel even worse of a person, like he is someone who is not.

He was told to regain his life back, he thought. To live again. He knows it deep down that he must live again because they don’t know him as his friends and family do. They only go off of assumptions. Maybe trying to ruin him just like the media so easily did without any evidence, with two broadcastings, in the newspaper, and a goddamn tweet. But of course, the news moves on to the next. Everyone does, but only him, he is left to walk with these thoughts of desecration feeling like he is a nobody in a city until his case is resolved. Resolved, he repeated to himself. Then what? Maybe he’ll get to go to school in the fall. Perhaps he won’t, he thought. Maybe bankruptcy will be enough to finally create the art that had so wonderfully graced his depression. But who creates art to make money, he thought. Money, he laughed saying to himself. Money is all that they are interested in. He told the truth, and now the truth is, he would rather be another failing artist who escapes in his paintings, a recluse, than someone who makes others feel like shit. And maybe one day, someone will hang one of his paintings with a smile instead of the tears and heartbreak it took for him to colour the blank canvas.


his paintings

Finding your identity while dealing with depression.

Finding your identity while dealing with depression.

July 2018

by Steven R.A. Markin

If you are like me, then you have had many changing ideas of who you are and what you want to be throughout your lifetime. I have wanted to be Batman, most of the Ninja Turtles (too dumb to be Donatello), a Ghostbuster, and a writer, and pretty much anything that I have had an interest in. I still want to be Batman, but I don’t think it is going to happen, because, I mean, you have to be Bruce Wayne to be Batman, and I have no idea how to be a Billionaire; therefore, I am a writer.

I have had quite the imagination and always wanted to be important to people. As life has gone on, life events have inevitably occurred, I have lost more than I thought I could handle, and I have had to learn that being an older sibling and first born comes with great responsibly (almost a Spiderman reference!). I have saved my mom’s life, twice. But I have felt lost, and still do most days, when it comes to what I want to be. My friends are in relationships, working in their careers, and coming home to their spouse and even children (and dogs – I want a puppy!). Which is excellent, and I am happy for them, but what am I doing wrong? Sure, they seem stressed, and when I would ride my bike or go to the gym for 3 hours, I wasn’t very stressed, and some of them were jealous, but I was jealous of them for working towards what they wanted. When asked what I do, I say that I am a writer, and occasionally, someone takes an interest in what I have to say, and this motivated me to learn more.

But I am a time waster. I have been lazy and putting my focus in the wrong direction. In a relationship, I am one of those people who focus on the other person too damn much. I end up losing myself after a period of time because of no longer doing the things that make me, me. Instead of writing at night, as I almost always do when I am single, I will be watching a movie and cuddling. Lovely, I know, and I miss it, but why do I stop altogether? I never stop talking about being a writer, or telling people that I am working on a short story, or a poem, or I am a part of the Alberta Writers Guild . . . Blah blah blah. The thing is, I don’t balance my time well, and I should find time for both the relationship with my significant other and the person I am dating (it’s funny to me). Seriously, there needs to be a balance, time for yourself. Keep working at your craft because saying that I am something gives me purpose.

What gives me a sense of identity, being a writer does remember? Although I have had many journals, and I have loved creative writing in class, I have had a hard time with words: pronouncing words, understanding words, and remembering them have been a great challenge for me. My vocabulary is quite limited to how I talk if I don’t use my resources, but this also makes my stories more understood to a broader range of audience. In university, I would do rather well with creativity and understanding of the content, but I was significantly penalized because of grammatic errors. I got tired of losing senseless marks. It is hard to say you are something when you aren’t good at being that something, but I am a writer.

So, I went to workshops. I went to plenty, even ones that I already thought I knew about, and I came out with learning something new, even if it were just one thing. (I am surprised how many students do not use workshops that we pay for in our tuition!). I purchased grammar books and read them on my way to school most mornings and during summer break, and re-read them, and again. Boring, I know, but I hated not understanding my craft. I wasn’t good at English, but I am a writer. In college, I won an English Award and on the envelop read Engblish. Sums up my life. Anyway, I worked at learning and gaining tools that helped me identify myself as a writer. The idea of identity provides a purpose for me, and, allows me to look at life in a certain way. I am often listening to others and paying attention to conversations (yup, I admit it), but it allows me to wander through life being more active and listening. I use a lot of what I see and hear, life experiences, in my work (a lot of depressing undertones – haha); although most of my work sits in piles and in journals and in my head (which is a different story), I have plenty to offer. But one thing is for sure, my mindset is that of a writer.

How do I put my identity into practice?

  • I joined a writer’s guild. It is free for students, and when I joined it, I looked for others who are involved.
  • I listened to what they had to offer, not so much their work because I don’t have too much time to spend.
  • I look to see what events are being held, contests in magazines, or seminars, I try to be proactive in experiencing as much as I can on writing that not only allows me to gain knowledge of my craft but helps me to see the bigger picture: that being someone is important to me.

Why is having an identity so crucial for someone who suffers from depression?
I don’t know. Maybe because it keeps me active and provides a feeling of importance. I have spent the better part of this year trying to finish my work and as mentioned, being included with others who are like-minded. This has given me a lot. Yes, I have come a long way from secluding myself in 2007 (downright isolating myself for nearly 3 years), I am depressed some days, and somedays working and even getting out of bed is too much, and then I think of how I feel when I am working on my craft, when I am writing poems or a short story. Sure, I often try for a 20-minute walk to clear my head and if my depression is too severe, I stand outback focusing on my breathing, but something happens, I get an urge to do what makes me feel like me, and that is to write or to do something that is associated with being creative. And to be honest, writing has saved my life. Not only just to get out of bed some days, or to help me sleep once I get a lot out of my head onto paper, but without this identity that I have given myself, I would be completely lost and even feeling worthless. I would rather be lost in life but with a purpose (because I am a writer).

Our attitudes towards ourselves and perceptions of life are essential. I don’t believe in being positive all the time. I think this is like lying to yourself, so be honest and real, and just know that you can and will make it through. Do your best to stay true to yourself, find who you are, and learn all you can because we experience life differently, which is exciting to be different, but some people share a lot in common, find these groups if needed. And maybe being different is for a reason: more diversity and more identities, and perhaps even a richer life (not Bruce Wayne rich, but, like, with a purpose.)

Thanks for reading.


My acrylic paintings for sale on etsy

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Short Story: bullies

Short Story: bullies

(1042 words) 27 Feb. 2018

By. S.R.A. Markin

I am a loner again. I am better off this way, and more used to it. Besides, I can’t stand people. I never really have gotten along with most people anyway. I still can’t believe how much I got picked on when I was in Elementary, I thought while waiting for the bus.

I would come home after school, puffy faced, and head to my room to cry in my pillow. I would soak that damn pillow for the first hour or two before being called for dinner.

Then mom would come in and sit down at the edge of my bed rubbing my leg telling me such kind things. Then if that didn’t work, she would say that she is “going to kick the shit out of those little fuckers.” I don’t know why I always insisted she didn’t. I nearly begged her not to go to school and hurt anyone. Even looking back, I question if I saved a couple of lives.

I was a chubby kid if you haven’t picked up on that, and I got picked on. So, I guess it was my fault? That is how it works, because kids who are polite, shy, and keep to themselves, are one thing, but if they are fat, well kick the shit out of them. Right? That is what I started to believe, anyway.

I had a few friends in school, and this pretty much stayed the same even until now. Although the faces change here and there, having one or two close people is often as much as I can handle. My friends in elementary couldn’t stick up for me. A couple of them have tried, but this lead to them being pushed to the ground or bullied as well.

One day, in particular, I recall being outside next to our trailer extension classroom in Chase, B.C. I was shoved by some guy, who was two grades ahead of me. Who I am pretty sure failed a grade, so maybe three years older? He had two friends, and they also exchanged unpleasantries. I wasn’t equipped with fast wit like they were for comebacks. Regardless, I took a couple of shots to the gut.

Nearly 17-years-ago, and I recall the bullies words:
“I bet a turkey dinner will come out,” he said before hitting me again in the stomach.

“And stuffing,” one of the other’s said.

The funny part, and what made me laugh was that their punches didn’t hurt. I mean, I was laughing while getting punched, and this must have pissed them off even more because more blows hit my chubby body. I was chubby, not very fat, so they should have been able to hurt me physically. The shitty part is that I didn’t know how to fight back. I couldn’t hurt them.

A few days later, and after years of bullying, my mom had enough. I am certain she would have done this much earlier if I didn’t hide the fact I got my ass kicked on a regular base from a couple of my peers.

Mom told my dad to teach me how to fight. We went for jogs that nearly destroyed my chubby asthmatic self. My lungs would feel like fire. They would burn as I wheezed into my inhaler trying to breathe in so the medication will help me. I wanted to go a little further because I thought this would help me to hurt those boys. I jogged as many times as my dad took me out, which was often.

My parents got me a bench press and a set of weights that look like they were straight out of the eighties. So am I, so I guess it works? They got me two bench presses. I am still uncertain about why two. Maybe they wanted me to hurt those boys as much as I wanted to?

I learned to push the weights from off my bitch tits, as they called them, and curl the weight with my fat stretched marked arms. I was getting faster and stronger, but I still didn’t know how to fight.

Eventually, I was put in karate to learn to defend myself. I am pretty sure this was my mom’s idea. My cousin was in karate as well, and she knew about my bullies. She was teaching me a couple of things about how to throw punches and kicks and what areas to hit. I wanted to be like Bruce Lee against those boys.

I remember being in karate class having to fight someone. Each punch and each kick landed on the padding over my chunky body. I was told to punch and kick back, but I couldn’t do it. This boy wasn’t my enemy like those bullies who I wanted to hurt.

The karate instructor came over one day after many failed attempts from me punching a wooden board. He brought a wooden board. We stood outside in the backyard. I would bow, then throw a punch like I was instructed. I never threw the punch very hard. He eventually left leaving the board for me to practice on. I remember bringing it up to my room and sketching dinosaurs on it. I painted a stegosaurus that was colorful and vibrant. Of course, the dinosaur was a herbivore and extinct, but large and in charge, and that is what I wanted to be. I sat the painted wooden board on my shelf above my bed.

I never did get my revenge on my bullies. I only thought of hurting them. One ended killing himself, and who knows what happened to the other two?

I got on my bus that arrived at university after a long day of school work and training in the gym. I couldn’t imagine what would happen to the two boys who may be still alive if they tried anything with me now. Why should I even care? I am creative, strong, fit, I have a couple of carrying friends who would stick up for me, and I am a sweet-hearted person. I am doing okay, but then again, kicking the shit out of those little fuckers would feel nice.

 

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Non-Fiction: Chase B.C. to Calgary AB. -’94

Non-Fiction: Chase B.C. to Calgary AB. -’94

(302 words) 20 Feb. 2018

By S.R.A. Markin

I had an interest in playing outdoors, toys, and supervillains.
My few friends were close like brothers and sisters. We spent our days together, most days, playing and being creative. Our toys were characters in our worlds, and each had their unique attributes.
Blake moved away to Drayton Valley, and I was too young to understand. I thought he went to another planet. I stayed back for a while with Colin and Candice until my dad came home and talked about living in Calgary. My life had friends. My world had my toys.
One afternoon, after months of packing boxes, we drove away. We left behind grandpa’s boat. We got it after he had died. We left my toboggan and a couple of boxes of toys. We left Colin and Candice. I waved to my house and my friends, and for some reason, I felt a slight tear in my body like Velcro.
The night was eerie. I sat next to my sister in a big U-Haul. She slept. I was bug-eyed and watching the road. The lights shone only a near distance ahead of us. Lights dimmed as they came nearer. Clouds danced on the dark road. My dad leads the way. Behind us, mom drove with my baby brother in our van. My dad protected us throughout the night.
After hours of watching lights and clouds, we stopped at McDonald’s. It was open 24-hours, and I got a burger and a toy. I was excited to eat my burger so late. I have never had the pleasure to eat this late at night before.
Back in the truck, my dad drove smelling like coffee. My sister went back to sleep and lightly snored, and I showed my new toy the road to my new world.
I named my toy, Animal.

 

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Reflections of a 31-year-old student. #3

Reflections of a 31-year-old student. #3

(438 words) 13 Jan. 2018

By S.R.A. Markin

I have had some trouble thinking about what to write for this blog series. This week was the first week of my 8th semester in university, and I have been finding it very difficult. Although I have attended all my classes so far, and I have listened and taken notes (I often don’t make many notes), I have had this intense feeling of not fitting in with my peers, and not wanting to be in school. I have sat in the back, or off to the side in the classrooms, and hidden away on the third floor on campus whenever possible.
As for the school books, I have found these difficult to purchase because I am unsure how much longer I would like to continue this endeavor (and yes, I am close to finishing my degree and minor).
I have had plenty of time to hang out with my girlfriend because our schedules allow for us to work out and eat lunch together. Unfortunately, I have been unkind to her, and we have been fighting and trying to figure things out. (I am thankful for you.)
This week has been rough because of me. My perception has changed. Maybe all the stress has caught up with me, and I have not responded well.
The satisfaction of being a student has been predominant for me over the last 7-or-so-years. I am a high school drop-out, and there is no post-secondary schooling at the university level on my mother’s side (although my sister has a diploma!). I went back to college (in 2011), starting from grade 10 material, making the honor’s role throughout all of the terms and completing diplomas in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and English while working. I received three awards during my time there. I then worked for almost two years as a manager before being accepted into university. Here, I have been on the honor’s role (Dean’s List) throughout each term, and I have won one award. I have done pretty well for someone who has had a teacher write in his Jr. High yearbook that “Steven sleeps in class, and thankfully he doesn’t snore.” Too bad I threw out my yearbooks.
The point is, I need to care again. This outlook is unfair to me, and especially to my loving girlfriend who has had to deal with me. She tells me to enjoy life, to enjoy school, the gym, writing, and everything else (thank you, love). And you are right. I do need to enjoy life again because giving up is something I have done before. I don’t mind failing, but fuck giving up.
Thank you for reading.

 

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poem: blew It

poem: blew It

(100 words) 7 Jan. 2018

By S.R.A. Markin

when my SOS isn’t received,
i try again
my fingers are bloody and numb
from scraping a blade on stone
i only get sparks
the humidity dampens the flint and chills my bones
i shiver away my heat,
and my core restricts the cold air
i have been here for longer than i can remember
the days are short,
and the nights are long
when she was here, we kept warm
little light attaches to the wool,
so i lightly blow
the flame goes out
because i blew too hard
i lost
my chance again.

 

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Reflections of a 31-year-old Student: #2

Reflections of a 31-year-old Student: #2

(305 words) 4 Jan. 2018

By S.R.A. Markin

Maybe caffeine and school isn’t always a working combination? But having someone who loves you while in school is.

I would like to be able to relax and not stress out. I am not like that. I sit at an empty staircase away from the busy hallways. My back hurts from slouching and sitting on the hard ground. My face feels greasy and my ears are warm. People walk past and they distract me. I am waiting for my girlfriend whom I just walked to class. We have a class together right after this one. I wish I could say that I am pleased to take the class with her, but I am anxious.

When I started university, I had no friends. I knew no one. My peers in high school either attended much earlier in their lives or not at all. I would find quiet places to sit and read or look at my phone. I would often go for walks outside to cool down, no matter how cold it was outside. In my second year, I would skip the first days to hopefully avoid icebreakers.

Now, I have someone who I am waiting for. She is waiting for me as well. This is our second class taking together, the first was a science fiction class, now we are taking a physical literacy class. I know one day I will look back and be appreciative of having her attend a class with me. I did this with our science fiction class. Why can’t I just learn to enjoy the now?

I will go wash my face, drink some cold water, and try to slow down my breathing. I can deal with the icebreakers. I can’t deal with hurting her feelings and ruining what time I have with her.

I will show up for her.

 

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