Wanted to stop by and let everyone know that I am still alive, that I am still here. The last six months have been full of turmoil, dramatic changes and many unexpected revelations. I attempted to document slightly fictionalized reflections of what was going on here [On this website], and, up until the last couple of weeks, I think I succeeded in doing that. But even I have limits to what I can endure before succumbing to extreme fatigue!
About twenty-four weeks ago I discovered that my wife and companion of sixteen years was leading a double life behind my back. That she was, in fact, leaving to start a very different life with someone I honestly despise. This sudden surprise set in motion a series of events that would end up taking me down new pathways that I never would have imagined before– But I’m already jumping ahead, sorry.
About half of the worldly possessions that we had acquired over the years were suddenly gone from the home. She was gone as well. The place was a mess, a total disaster. I was left with nothing at all in the kitchen– No plates or silverware, no groceries, nothing in the cupboards. Even the beloved coffeepot was gone! No bedding left anywhere. Three pets that I had grown so accustomed to [A Persian cat and two lovebirds] had been whisked away with everything else.
When all of this first happened I had been working on a series here on Fictional Machines called “Disconnected from the Dystopia” [Which, of course, was rudely interrupted by my life being destroyed]. It is a loosely written epic poem of sorts with an illustration to go along with each page. I had written the rough draft of the first 200 pages or so and had finished / posted the first fifty-nine pages when everything fell apart. I do still plan on finishing the final draft of this tale and posting the remaining 140 pages of it here, but there are a few other projects that I need to do first.
Anyway– During the first couple of weeks of the breakup I created and shared “Absent,” “Without,” “Within,” “Withstand” and the twenty pages of the “Withdraw” series in rapid succession. This whole set has been linked at the top of the home page under the name “The Cycle of Sorrow.” These were all created under extreme stress and heartache, when the wound was still very fresh and part of me believed [Somehow] that it would still be possible to fix this– To work it out with her and return to the comfortable life I had enjoyed for so long.
By the time that I posted the final page of the “Withdraw” series I had packed up what was left at the place and paid off what remained on the lease there. The decision to move somewhere else was made almost immediately due to violent threats I received from her intoxicated boyfriend at that time. Although part of me welcomed the battle that would follow if he actually went through with the threats and broke into my home, I knew that avoiding the conflict and regrouping at a new place was in fact the right thing to do.
I toured many places that were for rent in the city [Even a couple that were outside of the city limits] before settling on an old house with wood floors and interesting woodwork around all of the doors and windows. I moved everything into my new home [Which is really just one giant art / writing studio with a couch, a bed, a kitchen and a bathroom.] and spent a ton of money replacing all of the necessary items that were missing. And I spoiled myself with a few extra purchases as well.
During this era I posted the 100 images called “Remnants of the Wasteland.” Separated into groups of five images with a quote above each set. The series was meant to be a grim meditation upon the direction the world seems to be speeding towards most days– And how avoiding another World War is something that needs to be openly discussed by everyone. Unless you are a complete psychopath, I think we can all agree that we do not want to live through something like that.
During those days I was very lost, confused. I was still flabbergasted by the betrayal by the person I had perceived to be the love of my life. Echoes, memories, reflections and regrets. There were many unanswered questions [Hell, some of them still have not been answered]. I fully understood by that point that it was over, that a new chapter of my life was opening up– But the details of that new life were still a complete mystery.
I obtained a luxury car with heated leather seats, a sunroof, twelve speaker surround sound, the works. Spent a couple months getting to know the machine [How she likes to be handled, etc.]. A strange pattern emerged where I would leave for a drive every evening after the sun went down– Aimlessly drifting around the city, outside of the city and even visiting nearby towns. Sometimes I would stop to talk to random people and take photos / jot down a few lines of writing. The other nights I just continued to drive without stopping– Music blaring from the speakers and the ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts. In many ways this period was like the war on terror: Expensive, ongoing and with no clear objective.
More about that period of time will be shared later.
Then I started another series that has now been linked at the top of the home page as “Sixteen Shadows” around the end of November [And shared the final, sixteenth part of this series just a couple of weeks ago]. The title refers to sixteen posts that are separate from each other in theme / style / content with the underlying concept of relaying information and / or messages through art and photography. Some of the sets are more sequential than others.
This was all quite the departure from my original plan for this website, since Fictional Machines was first created as a home for my short stories [And even “Remnants” had some words included with the quotes]. But I had so many projects going offline by that point that it was the only way to continue posting new content. I decided that it was better than just letting this site flatline for a couple of months!
As if all of this wasn’t enough– I am working on a couple of books I have been asked to do and I started the year off with an art show this January [Displayed forty-eight framed pieces and sold many of them– The first of many shows for 2014, if all goes as planned]. I am also developing a new series for Fictional Machines that will be a hybrid of many different styles and, more importantly, it will be a series that will allow me to bring in some of you talented folks to collaborate on certain pages / certain chapters of the tale! I hope to have the first couple chapters of that completed and up before February is over. Believe me when I tell you that I am just getting warmed up here.
I also want to sincerely thank everyone for your continued support! You have no idea how much of a difference it made on some of the really bad days during this whole ordeal to be able to share new work and interact with you all– I would not trade this online community we are building for anything!
My marriage officially ended yesterday. I observed a judge perched upon a throne of bureaucracy addressing sixteen years of life as if it was nothing more important than a traffic ticket. Just another form going into another file cabinet somewhere. Two people left the courthouse and went in two separate directions. Upon returning to where I had parked the car I noticed a frozen and trampled flower laying on the snow covered concrete. I took a picture of it, then pried it loose from the snow for a closer examination. As I held the battered petals in my hand I found them to be as cold as her heart.
original writing and photography by j. e. lattimer
© 2014 j. e. lattimer all rights reserved