A Ghost Story

Watercolor & ink painting of a glowing ghost surrounded by specs of dust and spider web.
You’ll Get Through This
5″x7″ watercolor & ink on 6″x8″ paper

I’ve spent my childhood and adolescence with TV noise in the background because, I was told, it was too quiet. The problem is, it wasn’t just ambient background noise to me. I paid attention to it. If someone was home, the TV had to always be on, which taught me that I should always be watching TV. Since striking out on my own at 19, I gave myself the gift of this “too quiet” but for me, it’s “perfect.” I won’t focus on the past too much, because I can’t change the past like a TV channel, but I can shut it off. Here’s why:

I grew up watching a lot of American TV, learning English, and was raised by sitcom families like The Brady Bunch, Family Matters, Full House, I Dream of Jeanie, I Love Lucy, Bewitched, Happy Days, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Taxi, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Boy Meets World, The Wonder Years, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Two And A Half Men. That’s just a few off the top of my head. A lot of those were a part of Nick At Nite and TGIF on ABC. Oh, and I was raised by MTV music videos, but hear me out: first thing in the morning and immediately after school, because TRL on MTV.

All of this every day, usually 1-2 hours in the morning and then 4-5 hours in the evening. I’VE BEEN PREPARING MY ENTIRE LIFE FOR: nothing.

I’m not upset. I’m just disappointed.

I remember none of my training because now, all that TV is a blur. I don’t remember much detail about what I watched. I couldn’t recap a single episode for you (I could probably rap some of Eminem’s The Real Slim Shady for you, though, please.)

But all of those shows and music videos weren’t a waste of time, because they have been ingrained and programmed into me subconsciously. When I think of them, they feel like ghosts of the images replaying in my head, whose unfinished business is to support and encourage me, to make up for the support and encouragement I needed but didn’t have. Since being on my own, if I watch TV, I’m watching TV intentionally. I pay attention, from start to finish, until the credits end, because I read the names, like I did as a kid.

My real art desk.

And like a totally well-developed adult, I continue to develop healthy boundaries, standards, and practices based on these fantasies, idealisms, and images that are not real but were written by real people, whose names I’ve read in the end-credits – people who believed in their ideals so much that they created and worked on these shows, and had so many viewers, like me, love them.

My real painting process of “You’ll Get Through This

I’ve never had the TV on while I paint. If I haven’t been painting, instead of TV noise, I’ve been talking to myself, a lot. Like, entire conversations, out loud. Talking to yourself requires that you are there with your thoughts and that you pay attention to yourself. You are your own TV.

A real rainbow I saw in November.

♥ Tatyana

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