the painted brain
Hey Stigma! Weâ€™re Watching You.
spiritual mind, meditative soul issue four - july 18th, 2009 the theme says it all, acknowledging the challenge and offering the solution. creation can be both spiritual and meditative. so can working together. a lot of people came together to produce the fourth issue, our first as a sponsored non-profit. what is this thing called mental illness? who gets to decide? maybe thereâ€™s a right way to live in this world. all we can really do is try to find the right combination of spirituality and meditation, reality and fantasy to help us get through another day. a new day is here for the painted brain. thanks. -dave cover: Lydia Lam backcover: Amer Azad hawk: Sarah Leedom
the painted brain a project of Community Partners
table of contents On Resiliency - Thoughts of Matt Lord Meditative Mind, Creative Soul - Poetry from the Workshop The Mental Health of College Students - Marissa Minna Lee Spiritual Meditations - painted brain fashion â€˜09 Wounded but Not Broken - memoir by Ke AndrĂŠ Bell-Washington Smokey the Cat Four - T.A.F. The Soloist - a painted brain review Open Letter to Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Jr. Second Annual Pamela Lucia Internation Colouring Contest
4 5-13 14 15-19 20-27 27 28-29 29 30
Matt Lord, a peer advocate at Daniel’s Place, discusses resiliency, both how to develop it and how to convey it to others: “Resiliency refers to the personal qualities of optimism and hope, and the trait of good problem solving skill. It leads individuals to live, work and learn with a sense of mastery and competence. Resilience is learning to see life through a new pair of glasses. It is being willing to stop just experiencing life and to start shaping it. Resiliency may be gained through positive experiences as a child, but this is in no way necessary. In my experience with conveying resiliency to others, I start with helping the person accept where they are in the present. I highlight all the positives in their current situation as well as the resources they are already involved in or can get involved with to gain positives. I try to pencil out a modest picture of the future that will come if they maintain their current path and ascent. This is an essential foundation. It makes what happened in the past ok. I’ve seen ‘the past’ remain a constant deterrent and fuel for depression, negative thinking and lack of motivation both in my own life and in those of many, many people I’ve worked with.” 4
spiritual mind meditative soul poetry for issue four came from many sources, including our poetry and writing group at danielâ€™s place, general submissions and a very special addition of members of the t.a.y. academy in long beach. the theme has been a guiding principle for the development of this issue and this project as a whole. help us define the next theme by joining the editorial committee, listed in the back of this issue. Nectar
We disconnect to reconnect Trying to make some telepathic connection Spiritual minds levitate in the 4th dimension Gravitating towards meditative souls Residing in the grooves of an elliptical darkroom - Nectar
Instructions Life is to be. Anyone you want to be. We are all born free. Which no bible can say For that you need to discover, or recover. For life is to be And what want is what all should want, is to be free. If you don’t want to survive then you should live We are born free so we die free.
Today I see my therapist I think my emotional feelings are in check We usually talk about goals and dreams Of an artist And how my schizophrenic symptoms carve my life. Today I reflect the image I portray Of the page of blank lined note pad Poetry becomes like a whistle And it is time to take off Fly like a bird Whistle in the wind, the sound is an art A form of different depth Within my poetry’s page had a DJ That portrays a painted page of perfection And a passionate picture becomes a drum beating Pitter patter That bird is now humming These days I love to remember happiness Like water so hard to hold So needed and used My paint brush is heavy, tired, but never confused. So I take off to cart out my sky Transparent blue white And even more baby blue horizon my be the thinnest line Between love and hate It seems my pictures say love and hate. Get along in a beautiful way Even if my clouds are gray, There is no tragedy in paint Only the gifts that god has given That shows me the way. Sun rises, blue skies, My friends all say I see Windy warm dusk A different way Night falls, moon shines I say, don’t we all see different anyway? Shadows below See, with an open mind and open heart Stars in the dark heavens. Stay away from fear at the start Art, music, poetry. by Emani From canvas to footnotes, in every form present Who you are to the upmost Between the lines, every genre is close Spiritual souls and meditative minds meet. Beautiful acts so sweet. by Marcus White
Forgotten From the top to the bottom to the top I stop. At the core I’ve forgotten. In the middle of my thoughts, taken far away from safety. The picture is there; the memory won’t escape me. But why should I care? There’s a place so dark you can’t see the end. Skies cock back and shock that which you can’t defend. As the old motto comprehends, watch the clock as the pendulum swings. Then the rain sends dripping an acidic question. Forcefully thus: the power of suggestion. Then with the eyes tightly shut, looking through the rust, rot and dust. A spot of light floods and pours over the rusted world of pretend. The eyes ease back open and it’s dark again. Moving all around, screaming of all the ups and downs. Pollution is manifested in perpetual sound. The wheels go round and the sunset creeps past chain link and concrete. A little piece of paper with a picture drawn floats on down the street ‘till the wind is gone. The memory now is like the picture was then. When the paper’s crumpled up it can’t be perfect again. by James Slaughter
Suppose a tree gives each falling leaf it’s own funeral, how long ago were the wakes of each brown, brittle leaf i passed walking to my new home, that one summer. i used to step on them, i liked the feeling they made, crushed below my shoe, and the cracks they sounded. But something happened, those cracking sounds became screams, and i realized i left each fallen leaf a corpse, shattered on the ground, in pieces. i cried when i left the old home. i was told to leave, yet, at the new home, crying in the shower, curled up in my arms, all i heard was the voice of the one who kicked me out telling me, one time, when he had made me cry, “be strong.” These leaves on the sidewalk were resting, in peace. i didn’t want to hurt them the way i had been. i didn’t know who i was, or what was happening to me, but i didn’t want to bring them down with me. i was one of them, my oak tree threw me away, and i had stepped on what little brittle was left. Thankfully, neither of us gave me a funeral. by nick lopez
robot by dewayne lynch
I went down to the beach last week Before my martial Arts Karate class. The sun was on my face, I felt the wind of the ocean breeze. I said hello to everyone I knew, I was thinking about the old ary days and all the experiencece I had through life. Smoked a couple of cigarettes and I felt good Hanging out at the beachIt is like my home near home Everyone knows me because for the stoner I am. It felt good to be with everyone I knew. I am not a popular guy by I am well liked by many others. -
Untitled #1 I’m in Daniel’s Place just inhaling the uniqueness. I bring this energy that brutally bounces off the walls, straight into the hearts of many. Different figured faces with beauty from the inside out, the inside of the heart is compressed with no stress. I press the top of the pen so it opens just so I could have the privilege to free this combustion of the fusion life I think is a shadow we follow filled with lulls, floor to the sky. This is just a piece of the pie I disguise with vocals. I’m a local from the west, finding my way out of this train of thought. Negative I fought. Putting food on the table. Mentally stable. I don’t believe in fables. I’m a witness. by Jules
I wish every day was a Friday, The second of the month. My day, the flowers seem to come out On pay day Did I give it away? Could I afford that flower? No, I couldn’t. I just picked it from my neighbors yard… But the meaning is still the same. Do you love me just for the rose or has it been the way I bring them to you Day after day, Month after month Or the way I bring everyday for the last six months? I know you. My love is like the way wind used to ring throws Wind chimes in your grandmother’s house. My love is the wind-song Inhaled by you as the breath goes in and out While you sleep. -Thomas Mountain
The Scratchy Pen Writing is so scratchy, It flows to the needle-point pen. My spiritual mind meditates when writing on the lines of paper But my soul holds the pen. My pen is a mighty sword and left without sin So picture writing on paper, Where should I begin? Filling in the description, My pen and pad have had a collision This is my vision. Colorful words hit the page And it seems like a relay race When I release the rage. I’d rather be tagging in the alley way Or painting on canvas until my Meditation becomes medication Like leaky dye or ink spots that Suddenly end. Writing is still in the hands of the scratchy pen. -Marcus White
Untitled #2 Spiritual mind, meditative soul is rushing bold, so it’s told. Creativity flowing though the bic, mentally sick, vocally big as I roll lettering off the tongue. peeling how I’m feeling with the stroke of the brush. In the past, hearts I touched. Much experience with pure intensity as I open the jaw as I pay the price for the price of being nice. So far I experience everything at least twice. Finding peace as I take the road of the stepping stones. Sinking as I pick the destination after cracking the combination. Words with a slur. Vision blurred when I open the eye in the morning. Storming a physical, walking, talking, feeling, being. Leaving towards the direction of diversity many are worse than me, ignoring the worst, In my mind I am first. Now the secret has been told, glory worth move the gold. by Jules
The Strength in people Among us with the Power to say please Speak softly and murm urs What are they ridden of and bring them To pray. Thank you! Please pray!
Life With life comes obstacles That are running down the road With e, and a time of change For who I want to be and the Places I’ll see sometimes I wish I can just be me. Life is a lifelong Journey of obstacles that don’t Stand in my way, I wish I will never be In a state of gray. Life brings me new adventures and new surroundings That life throws at me, but I never Back down and never quit, I always stay positive and clear Sometimes I wish I never took that last beer.
It is okay to w eep in the ev ent of a traged There was pro y bably no way to prevent it fr So do not bla om happenin me yourself g And do not le t it affect you to the point w Never lose ho here you bec pe, instead o ome saddened vercome trag By summoning edy with a pa all of your in ss ion ner might whe Create unity n there is a cr with others in is is. time of crisis Because ther e is strength in numbers Put all of your minds togethe r to combat tr Ease your stre agic situations ss and anxious ness with true Because it will patience all be over- th at is only inev It is okay to w itable eep in the ev ent of a traged Next time ther y e will be a w ay to prevent it from happen ing. by Corey
by Spencer Allen Pedersen
You Your aura glistens in the sun, shines in the dark. Your light is bright that your soul shows thru your eyes. When you speak the words flow so smooth, No breaks in your thoughts, no clouds in your mind. You find the answers before the questions asked. Glowing halo above your head will never fade. You have angel wings, to fly above the earth, soaring in the sky casting Your beauty on all you meet. You give hope and your love freely. Your smile heals the pain of many. Thank you for who you are. Without you in my life only tears would show. No more crying; you’ve brought so much peace.
by V. Lee
Attempt to establish and authenticate the self Find stillness in the mind between the lines Of the labyrinth Awake and Liberate Center the spine Inhale experience Exhale change Ascend your mind to mirror your breath Loosen the limbs Release the tension Tilting your head from side to side Untie those knots in your neck Clear your vishuddha Give way for air flow Allow your chest cavity to open The lungs to expand
Feel your rib cage opening As your anata pulsates Send out unconditional Devotional love Listen to the silence Close your eyes Bask in the rays of the beings of light Invoke a partnership with the Angelic Realm As your body cradles within their wings Sway with the lulling motion Tune into the physical frequencies Inner peace through miracle of mindfulness by Nectar
I am a person of light A person of wishes And a person of might My wish is strength And a prison of might With this curse I just might. -To Dan, Sorry about that Sparkle Sparkle like water Or stars in the sky Sparkle like the moon Or the sand that sparkles when it dries. Sparkle like rubies, diamonds, or pearls. Sparkle on the inside You sparkle like the planets and the sun that shines over the world. by Emani
Who are you? Hi, I’m a stranger, Someone you’ve Never known If I were to say Something to you I would say who Is your best friend And what is your Favorite movie? What is you’re favorite color? If we were friends we would be Able to talk and go to the movies and If you need a companion I’d be there to let you strive on your guide and adventure! by Kristen Armstrong
Listen.... So simple, So brave, Such energy explodes in all directions When you’re around I’m not tired, It’s not late & life is not confusing.!! I pray you help us ALL I pray you don’t leave IT ALL You are the universe You are the one that changes hearts! the one that grows flowers without force the one that follows us everywhere insideout everything making sense out of everything no matter what....when ......or how the thunder that’s inside me tells me you’re right ! i feel calm and connected good and new, important and of value too. by Evelyn
She pulls down the diamond encrusted satin sky Draping it across her silky mocha body Swimming in a sea of connectedness One sheâ€™s been yearning for for years. Days where she found solace in the beast Of the cities underground quickly diminish. In times when demons forced their way through the gates of her mind She found herself fetal in the corners, Where heated flames venged for her flesh. Silencing her mind through the meditative Power of the miracle of mindfulness She finds her celestial soul mate. No longer hindering her quest in the liberation of disarray, For the human potential of waking life has found its footing. Free from the gamin-like souls Of such lividly bruised Violet hued lips Miracle awakes mindfulness. Balance between mind and soul conquered horrors Now impregnable to sorrow, The spiritual mind illuminates the atmosphere. by Nectar
The Mental Health of College Students report by Marissa Minna Lee
The results of the study on “Mental Health of College Students and Their Non College Attending Peers” (http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/ content/short/65/12/1429), published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, were released earlier this week. The study points out an issue I feel is often overlooked in the TAY population--the prevalence of mental illness among college students. There is a perception that college-attending students need less support and mental health services than non-college attending TAY, and that the academic success of college students is an accurate indicator of robust mental wellness. Well, as you can see, the findings of the study beg to differ. The study found that, counting substance abuse, “almost half of college-aged individuals had a psychiatric disorder in the past year.” Most significantly, the study also found that “The overall rate of psychiatric disorders was not different between college-attending individuals and their non–college-attending peers.” According to the study, almost 1 in 5 young American adults has a personality disorder that interferes with every day life. This was the second most common problem behind substance abuse. There were some notable differences between the populations. College students were significantly more likely to have alcoholuse disorders while non-college attending TAY were more likely to have drug use disorders or nicotine dependency. Despite this, college students were less likely to receive rehab treatment for alcohol or drug abuse disorders than non-college attending TAY. Marcus White by Amer Azad
Overall, the study found that fewer than 25% of college students with a mental disorder sought treatment. I would like to remind everyone, as we consider TAY issues, to not forget the importance of treatment and prevention interventions for TAY who are in college! Many TAY are college students, and for the TAY who are not, attending college is still a hopedfor and likely eventuality. To me, this is undeniable evidence that mental health providers MUST work with higher education institutions to ensure that all TAY have access to appropriate mental health services.
spiritual meditations pb fashion â€˜09
models: Marcus White, Robbie Rabei, Nectar and Ke AndrĂŠ Bell-Washington photographers: George Taylor, Robbie Rabei, Amer Azad and Evelyn Saucedo
spiritual meditations the second annual painted brain fashion shoot came together with team work, dedication, skill, crossed fingers and adventure. our theme, soulful meditations, relates to the them of this issue. this year, hollywood! next year, who knows? thanks for the generous support of Karin Ward and Kari Storch who helped make this shoot possible. spiritualists- right Marcus White Robbie Rabei Nectar Ke AndrĂŠ Bell-Washington crew - far right Evelyn Saucedo Amer Azad George Taylor 18
Photo by Kevyn Major Howard
Wounded But Never Broken By Ke André Bell-Washington
Dedication My life story is dedicated to Elaine Williams who taught me that I am enough and D.W. Brown who gave me, “The Invitation.” Preface It’s October 1st, 2008 and I am beyond stressed out. Most of the friendships and bonds I made with people at Daniel’s Place died away and it’s only my second day working as a part time receptionist. I reunited with an old friend that same day and he wanted me to go to his AA meeting to support him. I said yes because I had nothing better or else to do. Little did I know that while I was listening to these stories from the recovering alcoholics, I was really inspired because I could relate. Not because of the alcohol itself, but because of the universal pain that is loneliness and hopelessness. Then all of a sudden,
the meeting group’s leader asked me to come up and say a few words. I initially said no but many others persuaded me and I reluctantly got up. I have been an aspiring actor for over seven years and it’s almost second nature for me to feel comfortable speaking in front of people but this time around I froze. I just didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to lie to them and say I have an alcohol problem. For all of my life, I built up so many walls around me…No one could get through to me…UNTIL NOW. I AM TEARING THEM ALL DOWN AND I HOPE THIS WILL INSPIRE ME TO BECOME A BETTER PERSON, AS WELL AS INSPIRATIONAL TO ANYONE AND EVERYONE WHO READS THIS. My name is Ke André Tyri Bell-Washington and I am “Wounded but Never Broken”. Part I: Parental Guidance Suggested I was born in Los Angeles, California, on June 25th, 1984 at 2 AM. My birth parents are Kenneth Ray Bell and Antionette Maria Washington. They
were just 16 when I was born. My birth father is practically a stranger. He was never around when I was a youth and when he did finally come in contact with me, I had just turned 18 and he was incarcerated writing letters to me from prison. I was really bitter about my life and I wrote him back, telling him he was a sorry excuse for a man and to never write to me or have any other kind of contact. I have never regretted it. My birth mother, however, is an entirely different story. She was intelligent, very pretty and was also street smart. This is only the surface because what lies beneath is someone ugly, sad and to some extent tragic. Despite getting straight A’s more often than not, she would get into fist fights with students as well as teachers, go out to parties and drink heavily, and was sexually active at a very young age. Just four months after turning 15, she became pregnant with me. It’s a flat out miracle that there were no complications during her pregnancy or my birth because she hid this for seven months. This was intentional because she knew that if anyone in the
family knew about it, they would have made sure she would abort me. Maybe to my mother’s best interest, she should have done it. She would’ve had a great future. She did graduate at the very top of her class in high school, but little did she know that keeping me would kill her ambitions and dreams, as well as shatter my self-worth during my upbringing. Part II: The Biggest Mistake Just one month after I was born, Antionette went back to her wild partying ways and that month was devoted mainly to lose all of the baby weight she had gained. The partying would last for the next 8½ years until she was pregnant with my first sister, whom she would later name Ashley. During these years she became bitter and could go from 0 to 60 in a snap. Whenever she was upset or couldn’t get her way with the guys she was with, she would take out her anger on me in any way, shape or form. All of the bruises, cuts and welts from the leather belts and extension cords healed and faded away, but she always hit hardest with the things she said. Many of the things she said I won’t write because I want to keep this story clean, but she would make fun of my physical appearance (mostly my weight), how I wouldn’t socially interact with my peers, often questioned my sexuality (sometimes in front of friends and relatives), read my journal when I used to keep one, and even once told me that I was going to be a ‘useless bum’ just like my father is now. The one thing she said that was the most painful was when she was on the phone with a friend and said she is pregnant with Ashley. She told her friend that she’s gonna become a real mom this time around because she messed up with me and that I was the ‘biggest mistake of her life.’ From then on, I would despise her every time she would call my name. When I looked at her or even thought about her, I saw red. This would last until I was 15 and sent to live in my first foster home. I went back to live with her, thinking our problems could end but things got worse and the state revoked her parental rights.
We would see each other sporadically for the next three years and I decided, ‘Why save a relationship if there was never one to begin with?’ Her and I have been estranged since February 28th, 2004, the same day as my second sister Britney’s 7th birthday. My mother and father should have known better than to become parents, young and naive as they were, but it happened anyway and I don’t respect them. I know in the bible where the 5th commandment says, ‘Thou shall honor thy mother and father,’ but it’s just impossible. How can you honor someone who you either don’t know at all or who has given you nothing but misery? Whenever I pass on, I want to be with God and enter His kingdom for eternity but I am going to have to do it some other way than this. Sorry. Part III: Kids Can Be Oh So Cruel My first day of school happened when I was 3 years old. I had yet to say my first words and that made me painstakingly shy around the other kids, but from my first day to my graduation from kindergarten they were really kind. I made a lot of friends and we played all kinds of games both inside and outside the classroom. Then came the first day of elementary school and that’s when the teasing and taunting about my weight and my slow speech started. This was around the same time that my older cousins were starting junior high and they also took their aggression out on me one way or another. Being naïve as I was then, I figured that as soon as I graduated from the 5th grade and start junior high, I would start fresh and even become popular. I became popular alright, but for the wrong reasons. At the time, I was living in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with my mother, Ashley, and her father who was unemployed. We were always strapped for cash and the only clothes she could buy for me were from K-Mart, Target and if I was lucky J.C. Penny. The teasing was relentless. I thought it would never end. One early morning while I was walking to school,
I noticed that one of my classmates was right behind me, leaving the same apartment building. Turned out we lived seconds from each other. We laughed about it and later became great friends. His name was Alex. He and I had so much in common. I would later become friends with his friends and they introduced me to the Richstone Family Center. We all lived right next to it. Things were starting to go well for me from the end of 6th grade and all throughout 7th grade. Then things started to become more and more complicated. During the 8th grade, almost all of the students at school were going through puberty and were becoming attracted to the opposite sex. I would tell my friends I was too shy around girls and that’s why I would never ask them out, but in my heart I knew that wasn’t it. I think they probably knew as well, but they didn’t press me on it at first. Then they began to ask me this immature and very offensive question, ‘If Jack was stuck on a roof, would you help Jack off ?’ Anyone with half a brain knew that to ‘Jack off ’ means to masturbate. I was getting sick of the low blows they would pull on me and by the time I graduated from junior high, we all
had grown apart. Part IV: Teenage Gangland I wanted to start anew on my first day at high school looking my very best, and I did…my Sunday best. I still lived in the same one-bedroom apartment with my mother and now had two younger sisters. Ashley was 5 and Britney was 1½; their deadbeat father was now out of the picture. All of the clothes I was getting were from K-Mart and not only did I get dissed for wearing non-brand clothing but I was also facing gay rumors. These rumors would become infamous. There was one about me giving fellatio to a guy in the school’s bathroom stall. I wanted this to all end by any means necessary. During this period, a new group of
kids moved into the building and these dudes were bad ass. If you even looked at them in the wrong way, you got one in the jaw. I knew that if I was in this crew the gay rumors would stop and to my surprise, they wanted to take me under their wing. I was rebelling against my mother because she didn’t approve of anything I did, so why should this be any different? This group had a ringleader and his name was Lee. He was young, black and didn’t give a damn about anyone but himself. We started doing petty things in the beginning like stealing candy from supermarkets, breaking neighbor’s windows by throwing rocks, and giving wedgies to other dudes physically weaker than us. Things started to take a dark turn when the group started to gang up on an Indian boy. Lee, as ignorant as could be, started instigating that the boy was throwing up gang signs. They all just ambushed him and by the time they were done, he was unconscious and had to go to the hospital. They told me that this was a gang they made up for themselves and they wanted me to be officially in with them, which meant that they would have to jump me, ‘so that I wouldn’t break.’ Right then and there, I cut off all ties with them, though they didn’t see it that way. From then on, I had to carry a butcher knife and mace to protect
Ke André at 13 with Brittany at 7 months and Ashley at 4.
myself, but it was eight of them against me and I knew I had to get out of this, alive or dead! Part V: Little Boy Lost It was January 1st, 2000 and I was virtually all alone. The friends I had been close to now wanted to beat me down till I wished I was dead and my mother had completely abandoned me emotionally and to some extent financially. She left me alone all throughout the holidays with very little food and water. Because of her, my Christmas spirit is dead and I loathe Thanksgiving and New Year’s. To this day, I still feel this way. For the past three months, I had been doing everything I could to avoid Lee and his posse, but my luck was running out and one day when I was ditching my class to make it home early. They found me and in a split second I blacked out. As soon as I woke up, I found out I was in the hospital, bruised and cut up from head to toe. Antoinette showed up and gave me this ‘I told you so’ look and then leaves saying that I can walk home. When I got home, I overheard a conversation she was having with a friend over the phone. She was telling her friend all of my business and ends with, ‘This is what he gets for not listening to me. He deserved it.’ All I could think about was getting rid of this psychological pain and heartache, so I grabbed the biggest kitchen knife there was and that was when I became a cutter. If anyone asked about the scars, I would say they were from when I got jumped. One would assume that if a group of people physically assault one person, the whole thing would be over and done with. Wrong. They were out for more blood. At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore and for the first time, I attempted suicide by slicing my wrists. My mother still wouldn’t budge and still wouldn’t apologize for her actions. After my second suicide attempt from overdosing on prescription medicine, the state took me away from her and I was sent to live in another foster home. Verneda ‘Boo’ Blahut my second foster parent, welcomed me with open arms
when she first saw me. She was a definite antidote to my first foster parent (whose name I won’t even mention) because that woman was mean as hell and was homophobic too. Not Boo though. She would tell me all kinds of stories about her life that would be more entertaining than anything on TV, and best of all she could cook! I gained fifteen pounds on her cooking alone. She had so much love for me and wanted nothing but the best for me. My foster brothers, and especially Boo’s grandson Jeremy didn’t see it that way. They would steal my possessions, destroy priceless personal objects and call me every homophobic name in the book. Jeremy was the ringleader and he was a demon seed. It’s because of them that I couldn’t tolerate living there and Boo couldn’t take all of the arguing between them and I. Just six days after turning 18, I ran away from there, going back to square one. During that time, Laurlee Boyd was my high school guidance counselor at a nonpublic school called Slauson Learning Center. She first taught me that NO ONE CAN TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO IN LIFE. I told her that I always wanted to be an actor and she suggested that I take a class at West Los Angeles College. All of the negative energy I was holding during my formative years, I could turn into positive energy and I will do so through performance. Part VI: I’m Ready for My Close-Up! My very first theatre class happened in February, 2002. I was extremely nervous because I wanted to make a great impression to the professor and be considered talented by my peers. By the time the class wrapped in June, I had received respect from both the professor and the rest of the class. The class was a breakthrough for me not only as an actor but in coming to terms with my sexuality. For the next two years I would move from foster home to group home to psychiatric hospital to homelessness. During that period I went to West LA College on and off to study theatre. I was frustrated because the college had no theatre department. We had to
raise money ourselves for all the short plays we did. I also felt like I was being typecast as a teen with a lot of angst. I knew I had to get out of the box. Four months after my 20th birthday, I moved into my very first apartment by myself in North Hollywood. I would live in this one bedroom, one bathroom for the next two years. Since I lived in the Valley, why not go to school there? I started going to Pierce College in February 2005. I played all kinds of multifaceted characters from a ruthless gangbanger to a happy-go-lucky southern gentleman to an accused child molester. I was also going to a church called Christ Chapel of the Valley. There I also did religious plays. I realized that I didn’t just want to be an actor, I wanted
to create a legacy. I know it’s been said many times before, but I really don’t do it for the money. I do it because I want to inspire a better way of life through imaginary circumstances, from the comedic and light-hearted to the dramatic, controversial and to recreating real events. My legacy is to break ground for black actors as well as gay actors and especially gay black actors. It will take time but I know there are many people who are like me. They just need someone to open the door for them. I want that person to be me. It was always easy to perform on stage but it was another thing to perform in front of a camera. I had to perform a monologue in front of the camera for everyone to see. You know how they 23
Later that year, I had to move out of the valley and back to South Central LA. I was definitely not happy about it and planned to move out of that part of LA before New Year’s, so a case manager from G.L.A.S.S. (Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services) suggested I go to a facility called Daniel’s Place where I could possibly get help. Daniel’s Place is an outpatient mental health treatment program for adults 18-28. I Ke André in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof didn’t know that at the time, I thought say the camera adds ten pounds on you? it was a housing program. It sounded a Well it adds fifteen pounds on me and I lot like one. My very first day entering was 183 pounds at the time. I didn’t even DP was on Wednesday September 6th, recognize myself looking at the tape. I 2006. I am always shy when meeting was becoming a cow and all of the new people and this wasn’t any different. confidence and self-esteem I had gained In the next three months, I was ‘the new from community theater throughout guy.’ The very first person I met was case the years vanished. I knew if I wanted manager Wayne Bauer. He no longer headshots soon and wanted to look great works there but I still keep in touch with on camera, I had to do something and him on a regular basis. He introduced quick. me to everyone, members and staff. I told him about my living situation and Part VII: All You Can Eat…and Purge he told me there was a member who was looking for a roommate who could pay It was St. Patrick’s Day, 2006 and my $375 a month. I met with the person weight has ballooned to 198 lbs. All of and it sounded like a great idea. The the diets I tried had failed and I will be apartment had two bedrooms, one damned if I reach 200 lbs. I was getting bathroom and was minutes walking desperate…and bloated. I hadn’t had a distance from Beverly Hills. To make bowel movement in two months, so I this long and dramatic situation as short bought laxatives for the first time and and sweet as possible, DO NOT EVER took three tablets. I finally had a bowel MOVE IN WITH THREE PEOPLE movement and with that alone I lost 9 YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT! I lbs. I figured that if I ate a little less and had to learn that the hard way, so hard had three tablets every day, the weight that I could not come up with the money would melt away…and it did. I would to move into another apartment. end up losing 49 lbs. in just four months. When you’re in drastic situations Even thought I was pencil thin, I still you have to make drastic changes so I took three tablets a day. moved into the Samoshel shelter on January 16th, 2007. Then on top of that, my three-a-day laxative habit was no longer working. I stopped losing weight. That habit was the only thing I had that no one could take from me, so I felt like I had to keep it. Three tablets a day turned into six, then ten...fifteen... twenty-five and what happened next was my first suicide attempt in years and my first laxative overdose ever. I swallowed over a hundred tablets. Not only did it give me chronic diarrhea for three days, I also developed acid reflux. I threw up food and all the laxatives my body could 24
not take in. I had to check myself into Cedars-Sinai. I told the doctors what I did and the next day they diagnosed me with an eating disorder ‘not otherwise specified.’ They could not pinpoint anorexia nervosa or bulimia because I had symptoms of both of them. My mind, body, heart and soul were feeling and thinking two things: I’m pissed off that a doctor who knows nothing about me would say something like this, and I’m hungry as hell and wanna guzzle down a cheeseburger. All of this was a manifestation of the teasing and torment I suffered by my ‘friends,’ cousins, classmates at school, Antoinette. No matter what I did well, I was never good enough for her and I was either ignored or got a back-handed complement, but when I did bad she could not wait to discipline me. She is a rotten woman and all of the anxiety, nightmares and the spiritual void I feel is because of her. That was when I knew I had officially hit rock bottom. I struggled with this eating disorder for the next two years until my last laxative overdose on May 1st, 2009. I ended up swallowing over 200 tablets. My friends Thomas and Erica drove me to the hospital. My kidneys were weakened and I had to stay in the hospital. This was starting to break down my body. The crap that I would puke out rotted a tooth and broke a root canal. It had to be pulled out. It’s also damaging my skin and my hair is falling out, but all of that pales in comparison to how worried Thomas and Erica were about my state and condition. This is an every day struggle for me. I’m only a meal away from relapse and it doesn’t have to be a huge meal. I also realize that I am not just affecting myself when I do this. I have 35 days free of laxatives and hopefully, by the time of the release party, I will be two months clean. That is the current goal I want to reach. Part VIII: Love Takes Time The title of this part of the story is actually the same name as a song Mariah Carey sang and released in 1990. There
is something about these three words that ring so true to me, more than any 3½ minutes song ever could. When it comes to romantic relationships, I flat out suck. They never seem to last. I think it’s passed down from generation to generation. My grandfather left my grandmother and their two kids. Kenneth split from Antoinette when he found out she was pregnant with me, and all types of bad boys were attracted to me, from queer metalheads to homothugs. I’m not saying I didn’t have a good time. I just don’t see myself having a long-term commitment with either type. Then when I least suspected, my bad luck turned a complete 180°. Just two months after turning 18, I notice a man noticing me. He was 5’11” with jet black hair, brown eyes, olive skin, stocky but muscular. He was PERFECT! I never saw any man that gorgeous in person. I was still shy around people I didn’t know, but there was no way in hell I was going to pass this one up. So I introduced myself and we hit it off from there. His name was Gerry. We would talk on the phone every day and whenever both of us were available at the same time, we would meet up. Every time he would kiss me or hold me in his arms or even just gaze at me with his
brown bedroom eyes, my heart would melt and my blood would boil. He felt the exact same way, though he did have one concern, the age difference. I was 18 and he was 38. I didn’t feel concerned. If anything, I prefer dating older men. They know what they want in life. Gerry was my first love. My entire family would have a fit and then some if they found out I was dating a man older than my parents. So I kept it secret for as long as I could...until I got caught. I don’t know exactly how I got caught but someway, somehow, my third foster parent found out. Then she told my mother and not surprisingly, my mother told everyone she knew. They made him feel so bad and ashamed for something that’s not even a crime. Gerry and I tried to make it work but there were too many obstacles we had to overcome. We decided to end it...and I never saw my first love again. This was a breakthrough for me on how to be physically loved without feeling violated, especially since I experienced sexual abuse when I was 9 years old by an uncle. I don’t know or care if he’s dead or alive now. When it was happening, I didn’t cry, scream or shout. I wasn’t getting any love from people I should have been getting it from. So when my
uncle was starting to do certain things to me, maybe I would have appreciated it. By the time he was done getting off, I just felt empty inside. Far more empty than my birth mother has ever made me feel. I would try for the next 11 years to fill this emptiness by meeting all kinds of people, just to find some sort of emotional or spiritual connection. I was 20 years old, an out and proud gay, but I didn’t have a boyfriend. I would hook up with guys few and far between, but that wasn’t good enough to fill the void in my life. I would always look down on guys who would go to sex clubs and bathhouses, and ignorantly assumed they would spread HIV and other STD’s. Guess whose doing that exact same thing? For the next four years, I was going to sex clubs and bathhouses being, I’ll be blunt about it, a slut. During this promiscuous period, every time I finished having sex with a random guy, I would get hungry. Food was my cigarette after sex. When my weight was out of control, guys would turn away from me immediately. This was when my eating disorder started and the more I lost weight, the more guys would hit on me. At my thinnest, I was 138 lbs. at 5’10. Some would say that’s the perfect weight for this height. Others would say 25
Epilogue On Friday June 5th, 2009, I was involved in something that I thought would never happen to me. I was in a car accident. Besides having a splitting headache for an hour, which would come back at times, I was physically OK. The driver wasn’t injured, but his car was totalled. If I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt it would have been much worse. Out of all the times I cried wishing I would die, the suicide attempts I made time after time, the thousands of laxative pills I have ingested over the years, this car accident finally put a boot on my ass and made me realize how priceless life is. I have now lived in a studio apartment in Koreatown since June 2008 and I now have headshots. There were and still are people who want to see me fail in life, who want to see me die because I am a young man who is both black and gay. There will always be hateful people on earth. Then there are the people who love me unconditionally,
care about my well-being and who want to see me succeed to the fullest. There will always be great people on earth too. In my 25 years of life, I have learned that every person born on this planet either adds to or subtracts happiness from those around them. I also learned that we do this subconsciously because we all have the need to feel special. This need will bring out the very best in some as well as the very worst in others. My first love Gerry told me I was named Ke André for a reason. The ‘Ke’ part means that I, and only I can hold or drop the key to life. I still have that key and I am NEVER EVER letting go of it. I AM STILL HERE. I CHOOSE LIFE. I CHOOSE SELF-LOVE. I AM AN OUT AND PROUD GAY BLACK AMERICAN MAN REPRESETING! I AM WOUNDED BUT...well, you know the rest. Afterword It’s Saturday June 13th, 2009, just past 2 AM. I can’t believe it’s over. Eight and a half months in the making! Having participated in the last Painted Brain magazine as a spokes-model with an eight-page fashion spread, I wanted to be heard as well as seen. Granted, I did
perform at the second magazine release party, more than two years ago, but that was Ke André, ‘the actor’. I know that I can bring so much more than one performance. The main reason why I wrote this story and came up with it’s concept was to inspire strength, courage and perseverance in others as well as myself. The title, ‘Wounded but Never Broken,’ also has a reason behind it. It’s to tell the reader, “Yeah, I’ve been pushed down to the ground, but I’m getting back up.” Without struggle, there is no progress. Sure, I could have given it a pretentious, self-important title like, ‘Confessions of a Gay, Black Man, the story of Ke André Bell-Washington. How could everyone relate to that title? Not everyone is gay…or black…or even a man…and most definitely does not have the name Ke André Bell-Washington. ‘Wounded but Never Broken’ is a universal message for anyone who has ever in life faced adversity based on his or her race, gender, age, color, religion, mental and physical health, national origin, sexual orientation, class, etc. I really hope that everyone who reads it gets something positive out of it. Something that can be useful to their everyday lives.
Smokey the Cat Four by T.A.F. We have moved to a new house and it is a totally new environment. Smokey has been a little scared to go outside because he is not used to it. For a while he has just been wanting to stay in the house. A couple of weeks have passed and all he wants to do is go outside. There are many new things that he could do now. The street has a lot more traffic compared to the old house because it is not a dead end street. Plus there are a lot more people. Smokey likes to go up to anybody and brush up against their legs. He is a little stuck up . The neighbors have been telling us that we have a friendly cat, but we already knew that. Lately Smokey has been chasing birds, squirrels, racoons, pretty much any animal he sees except dogs. Smokey’s a little bully. 26
smokey by Amer Azad, Dinosaur by Sarah Leedom
it’s unhealthy. I really don’t care what my weight is and I never really did. I just wanted someone to be physically attracted to me. To be somebody’s somebody. I just needed to be loved.
was very impressed by the acting and storyline of the movie The Soloist. Jamie Foxx did a great job playing a man with schizophrenia. Knowing what it’s like firsthand to live with schizophrenia, I felt like it was a pretty accurate depiction of what it’s like to suffer from schizophrenia. And it was also very touching to Robert Downey Jr.’s character go from just trying to write a story to truly caring for Nathaniel, and even sleeping with him on the street. Steve Lopez went to great lengths to try to improve Nathaniel’s life, get him mental help, get him off the streets and into his own place and even perform again. The greatest part about this movie is that it is a true story. I hope the movie helps to remove some of the stigma that people might have about the mentally ill. This was one of the best moives I’ve seen in a while, and the fact that it’s a true story makes it truly amazing and moving. I give it two thumbs way up. David Fox
e are but lonely lost souls on a quest for a grander purpose for our lives. When we have lost ourselves in a hundred forms of fears we search for a person, a situation that will give meaning to our own lives. Sometimes, it’s the life of another that moves us giving us a glimmer of how our life is 28
important in the big scheme of things when all seems destroyed momentarily. This is the case for a privileged yet lost denizen whose path crosses with an intelligent and charismatic schizophrenic homeless ex-Julliard student. Steve Lopez (Robert Downy Jr.), a LA Times journalist finds himself serenaded by the virtuoso sounds vibrating from Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Jr.’s (Jamie Foxx), battered two string violin. Following their first accidental meeting under a statue of Beethoven, Lopez, decides to write a series of articles about how a once child prodigy and Julliard student winds up a homeless street musician begging for coins and bills for his astounding melodic classical talent. Through Lopezs’ continued discoveries of Nathaniel’s back-story, he finds an inner rhythm with Ayers, gradually guiding him across the line from a journalist “out to get a story” to an altruistic citizen genuinely concerned about a destitute man “down on his luck.” Thus, leading to an unlikely friendship where Lopez becomes increasingly involved in the rehabilitation of Ayers. Such rehabilitation included delivering an antique cello passed along by a sympathetic reader, reacquainting Nathaniel to concert halls where equally talented musicians filled the air with harmonious sounds and cello lessons feeding his soul’s need to create music. In addition to providing Ayers’ with renewed tools for his adoration, he connects Nathaniel to a social service agency in Skid Row from
Back to the Future, in tribute to Michael J. Fox by Larry Rozner
which he was able to obtain mental health treatment, housing, food and other of life’s necessities. Unfortunately, a bereft Ayers finds himself engulfed in feelings of being a “charity case,” causing the relationship between the two men to unravel. Later, though, Nathaniel discovers he is not only a recipient of guidance but he too is being of service to his counterpart. This insight results in the mending of frayed ends and the reconciliation of their friendship. “The Soloist,” is a story of bring together two apparently dissimilar loners, each trying to find their way through their own world and one another’s world, the emotions Ayers’ passion and music evokes, as well as exploring the social element of the homelessness in one of the most indigent areas of LA, Skid Row. Director Joe Wright, I believe, conjured an accurate, beautiful and yet terrifying depiction of schizophrenia as experienced from the inner components of an afflicted mind. In addition to Wright’s imaginative camera work, soundscapes and visionary scene sequencings that helped convey Ayers’ malformed and horrifying filters in An Open Letter to Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Jr.
which he receive his realities, Jamie Foxx carries out the role with keen technical proficiency. Robert Downey Jr., though playing second fiddle to Foxx still brings forth a captivating solid performance. The film definitely provides viewers a window into the world of the dramatic ups and downs of a debilitating mental illness, the power of humanism in a grim-stricken world and endows us with a sense of hope. The characters are flawed, out of sorts and more prone to downfalls than victories but still they persevere, and through such perseverance they emerge victorious in their own right.
movie with the power and weight to carry out the messages of triumph and tragedy for people afflicted with mental illness. This movie had an extra element of feeling and emotion to me, because I have bipolar disorder. This movie is a great way for the general public to get a window’s glimpse into theworld of people who daily struggle with these diseases. Yossi
dear nathaniel, thank you for allowing your story to be told. the group of us that went to see the movie talked about how it related our own experiences for almost two hours afterwards. your story helped us hold onto the belief that music, or art in general, can carry us through and can be a constant when nothing else seems to be holding. we at the painted brain believe in the spiritual, meditative power of art, the creation of art, communication through art. we would love the opportunity to hear you play or to talk with you or both. we respectfully request an audience with you, it would be an honor. please don’t feel pressured, but if interested, write to us at daniel’s place, 1619 santa monica blvd., santa monica ca 90403 or by email at email@example.com. -the painted brain
colouring contest design by marcus white
The Second Annual Lucia Pamela International Colouring Contest Our elite panel of colouring contest specialists poured through the four dozen submissions to this yearâ€™s contest and made the tough decision to reprint only those that appeared completed. The winner for this yearâ€™s contest, designed by Marcus White, is Emani Holt from the TAY Academy. Her entry is featured on the upper left. Thanks to all our contestants. watch for our next contest on the website under contest - www.thepaintedbrain.org
get involved! young women’s poetry and writing group venice family clinics on wednesdays - 5:30 to 6:30 art and performance group daniel’s place on saturdays - 2:00 to 5:00 editorial committee is forming - contact us we’ll meet once a month at various coffee shops firstname.lastname@example.org help us start a new group and please keep contributing thanks 31