The art of failing

“Good art is incomplete. Never finish a piece of art.” –Mr. Jim

∇ This girl told me she spent a year working on a teeny, tiny drawing. She went to art school because she wanted to make gigantic pieces of art, but by the end of it, she discovered that tiny art was cheaper to make.  She spent a year working on this super tiny 4X4  canvas. After a year, she held in her hands a masterpiece; something she could be proud of.

I hold in my hands something too. it is a 9X11 certificate of withdrawal, which I stood in line for. It isn’t quite something that signifies accomplishment. It contains no brush strokes.  In terms of its worth, it doesn’t mean much of anything.

∇ In my inbox sits unanswered emails from Professors. You were tardy. I need to see you after class. Why didn’t you turn in your learning logs, did you even do them? etc. etc. I have attached an extra copy of the syllabus to remind you of the times and dates this class meets. email. email. You need to withdraw, even though I’m not supposed to tell you that.

Heart sinking. In the back of my mind is the Jewish wedding song, “You took this madness on yourself.” The sad song starts playing and I start to see my hand in front of me, held out towards the canvas. I’m making art. Tiny red markings. Red x’s.

The canvas fills up. F. ..C. ..D… F…. The light comes in through the window. I can see the lines of each little mark, dot and line connecting and stretching across the canvas to form a web of self-authenticated failure.  It’s not the fly that was caught this time, but the spider.

As I look at this piece of art, I see a picture that reveals the flaw to be unjustifiable. It’s not the system to blame this time, its not the corruption of mankind around me, not the actions of any other person, but me and me only who is to blame for this. This piece of trashy art which symbolizes my academic collapse. My beautiful transcript; my hope for an easier life, a brighter future: staring back at me as if it had just been regurgitated out of a vomiting pig. And down it goes, swirling down the garbage drain. Good-bye school. Good-bye classes which i loved, good-bye transcript, good-bye financial aid, good-bye classmates, professors. good-bye.

And just like that, the past three months of wasted labor are sucked down the drain. Vanity.

Vanity. All is vanity.


What I did learn, however, is that it’s impossible to please everyone. It’s impossible to focus on too many things. And although it’s not crucial to have a good home environment to be successful as a student, it definitely helps to have a place to live where you feel comfortable.

The good news is that I now am able to empathize with my dad more than ever. I figured out the reason why he would joke about poisoning himself when we were kids. It was because he felt like a total failure.

And it is somewhat inebriating in itself, (the very act of failing) to see that you have not created what you wanted to with what you were given: that you aren’t the person you want to be.  and wow, just wow…how easy it is to fall back into the same old shit.  it’s hard to accept responsibility after you fail. It’s easy to blame others and so hard to face yourself and to realize that your actions caused this.


The hardest part is realizing that even if there is a new beginning, there is another chance that you will fail again, that you may never get the outcome that you want. Nevertheless, come Sunday, I will be starting my new list of goals on this blank white space which exists on the flip side of my withdrawal certificate.

  • figure out what is worth it to me
  • help mom clean the garage
  • acclimate to being back in this weird town
  • unpack
  • get a job
  • save for a car



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