Yup, as I said in this week’s Dustinland comic, I’m a man, and I like to garden. I feel like I should be in a support group. Mostly because it’s all ornamental stuff. I think it’s cool to grow vegetables when you’re a dude, but as soon as you start talking about hydrangeas, people look at you like you’re a weirdo.
I think most people just don’t get it. If you’ve never gardened before, veggies make sense. That’s stuff you eat. Cool. You grow it, eat it, back to nature, straight from da earf. That makes sense to people. But growing flowers because they’re pretty? Isn’t that what sitcom moms do?
I think a good way to explain the satisfaction of growing things that you can’t eat is bonsai. Picture Mr. Miyagi, patiently snipping away at his beautiful bonsai plants. You can imagine the pleasure he feels, slowly taking care of this beautiful thing that grows bit by bit, requiring little yet so easy to kill. That is the essence of gardening. There is a joy in growing things. Planning it. Starting things small. Watching as it grows. Making it work. Fixing things that don’t work. Even bitching about it when bugs get the best of you or some supposedly amazing plant turns out to be little more than a pile of brown twigs. Honestly, what inspired this comic was simply the act of me going out into my yard and bagging up all the dead leaves that had covered the yard (acting as a little blanket for some of the more sensitive perennials) over the winter. Just clearing the yard up, uncovering the few green little buds coming up, that alone gave me a sense of satisfaction and calm. Even in Queens. Especially in Queens.
This week’s Dustinland comic was inspired by my buddy Russ. He’s an authority in vaping aka e-cigarettes. Basically the dude smoked for years and years and never was able to quit. Then e-cigs came along and boom, he’s done smoking. Sure, he still vapes all the time, but he feels great. Anyway, I recently heard that he’s supporting a lawsuit against the city claiming their soon to be enacted e cig ban is actually illegal, so I called him and asked what the deal was.
You can find out more about that from Russ’ podcast Click Bang! Me personally, I don’t smoke cigarettes. Never have. And I was so happy when they banned smoking from bars. But this… this just seems stupid. Here’s something that people are using to kick the habit, and we’re going to make it more difficult for them? Why? Well, that’s what the strip is about, so no need to get into it again here. But yeah. NYC. Come on. Bloomberg is out. Enough with the nanny state thing.
This Dustinland comic just came to me during a recent email exchange with a friend. It has nothing to do with my kids. It’s actually based on something I experienced before I became a dad, back when I used to see some of my friends who had already had kids. I’d see them every other month or so, and their kids would be completely different little people each time. Really, it’s amazing how much they grow and change in those first few years. And we were kind of just discussing that and then it hit me—what if that rate of growth never stopped? We’d just be weird giants with amazing vocabularies—and probably ESP and other cool powers. Honestly, I could have taken this strip to a really epic, bizarre place, but I don’t have time, so you get six panels instead. Check back in two months from now though—I’ll be way smarter by then.
This week’s comic is pretty much what the title says it is: People I see at the supermarket—in Queens NYC. I have a feeling the supermarket experience is very different in most other parts of the country. For example, you can walk down an aisle and not be completely blocked by one solitary confused dumbass and their cart. See, in NYC, space is expensive, so supermarkets have to jam everything into tiny cramped narrow aisles. And when you combine that with the lack of peripheral vision I referred to in my strip, well, lets just say you wind up retreating from 50% of the aisles.
To give you a quick behind the scenes on this strip, let me take you through the panels.
1: I really did hear people complaining about the excellent beer selection in my local supermarket. Not because they were teetotalers. They were looking for beer. There was just TOO MUCH. “Too much beer! It took me an entire 16 seconds of browsing before I found my case of Coors Light!!!” Andy Rooney would be proud.
2: I guess large assed ladies have the right to wear tights on such casual outings. It just seems… unusual that this is such a frequent sight. Maybe I’m looking too hard. I could be an ass man and not know it.
3. It’s always depressing how often a large, unhealthy and frankly dumb looking person has a cart full of processed garbage.
4. My wife said “maybe they’re stressed because they can’t read English. Think about how stressed you’d be trying to figure out diced or chopped just from the pictures.” Good point.
5. I have not given up! I still try to make it fun for my little guy at the store. But I do get it. Totally.
6. Yup. Just stand there. Don’t move. No one in here but you.
This week’s Dustinland comic compares two different states of mentality regarding the workplace. Or careers really.
When I was young, I was aimless. I didn’t care about work, and I had a pretty easy dead-end job, 9-5, in and out, no stress. So on the day-to-day side of it, life was great. No worries. No nightmares about looming presentations. No fear of layoffs. But in the grand scheme of things, it was stressful. Now, I was getting paid peanuts, which was fine at the time, since I was young and didn’t really need much besides money for beer and rent. But looking toward the future, I knew that would be a problem. And even worse, the bigger picture… there was really no place to go, no “up.” Just a steady dull career of churning out the same thing for a barely increasing wage. No pressure, but no future. And that was it’s own kind of long term awful stress.
These days, I take work a lot more seriously. It’s my career. My life. I have a family to take care of. I have pride in what what I do. And I have a career where there is a lot of potential for success. So looking forward, things are much improved. And in the wallet area, that too. But now there’s a different kind of concern. A day to day creeping. A consuming stress. Even physical pain. Yes, it’s that cliche career stress you heard about all your life, growing up, watching TV and movies, reading books, seeing the stressed out fat, balding out of shape white collar father with an ulcer in a migraine. Lying in bed, thinking about work, even dreaming about it. Checking your email while on vacation. Ah, mo money, mo problems. And freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. There’s got to be a reason they’ve been writing song lyrics about the same subject for 50 years.
Posted in work
Tagged career, job, office, work
Between this week’s Dustinland comic and last weeks, you can kinda see where my head has been. Hmmm…. I’m too busy, do I even have time to draw this comic that’s not making money, man… if I could just win the lottery. But really, I would like to win it. I know it’s supposed to make you unhappy, according to all the stories you hear, but I just find it hard to believe that I would not be happy with even the exact same life as I have right now, but with the addition of millions of dollars.
After all, I just want the simple things. Bills taken care of. Good school zone, not a problem. College savings, no longer a consideration. Climate change, still a problem—but I can afford to go all green in every way, build my own geothermal house and buy some Teslas, grow my own everything on my own farm, complete with a bunker just in case bad things go down real life zombie style… I’d be set.
Plus I’d have time! Finally time to get into shape, in between my luxurious vacations and shopping trips. You know, trips to buy a few new guitars. So nice duds. A better entertainment system. Shit, I don’t even have Fios, now that I think about it. Oh, and I’d buy comics. Most of them. Why not? Hell, throw some original art in there. Some black and white Tony Millionaire prints. Chris Ware. Maybe even Wally Wood. Why not.
And I’d STILL draw Dustinland. If anything, I’d draw it more. So yeah, there you have it. Want to see more Dustinland comics? Hook me up with a winning lotto ticket, and you’re good to go. Because really, I never do play. It’s statistically ridiculous. Oh well, back to the drawing board. Literally. Or not.
This week’s comic is not a solicitation for props or support. I’m not fishing for compliments. I’m just working out some issues I’ve been having lately. You know, it takes a lot of time and effort to draw comics. Well, at least some comics (don’t worry, I won’t get into that whole thing again). And for me personally, I have been struggling to make time lately. Between parenthood and holding down a career, finding a few hours a week to spend doodling can be difficult. And when you’re watching your traffic slowly wane away, you start to wonder… is there a point to all this?
Now, I don’t have an answer. And there’s no reason to repeat myself here. Basically, I’m just trying to work it out. And maybe that’s what my comic is for after all. Maybe that’s what all true art is for. Not expressing yourself, but understanding yourself. Figuring out what matters, what drives you, what you really care about and enjoy. And if other people happen to enjoy watching you do so—hell, watching me do so—then great. Even better.
Call it what you will. Psychological crutch. Fantasy world. Pipe dream. Therapy. Whatever it is, I’m going to keep doing it, whether Reddit likes it or not. Maybe the time will come when I call it quits, but I’m going to try to put that off for as long as possible. Preferrably as long as Charles Schulz did, even though we work/ed under somewhat different circumstances.