I am a musician, scientist, writer and photographer. I didn't start calling myself an "artist" until I finally quit my job in the service industry and became a "freelance artist".
I don't know why I held off taking on that title for so long––it's actually well-received. Confusion ensues when one seems to have too many occupations. I don't think people like it when they can't immediately understand someone by equating them with their occupation.
Today I was on the sidewalk with another artist and we were sort of attacked by a guy. I say "sort of" because he didn't hurt us, even though he physically hit us; it was the kind of hit that you respond to by screaming, "Don't touch me!" The man immediately began hit-touching my friend, who swatted him away. We sped our walk to his apartment on that block and were pursued. "Hey!" the man screamed. "Next Thursday when I see you, you better talk to me!" He followed us to the front door––things were going to escalate in a bad way if he tried to chase us inside, but he didn't.
Don't touch me! As soon as I said it, I felt a trickle of shame gather into a stronger flow in my frontal lobes. I already knew, instinctively I guess, what I would later conclude about the man: that he was having a manic episode.
He was dressed in a suit many sizes too big for his thin body, as if it had been handed to him as he left his assisted living situation: Go out and be nice to people and try to find a job. On the outside of the suit he wore some kind of idol on a chain, both made of a cheap looking metal painted gold. And his cheeks were pocked all over. None of these tipped me off as much as his eyes: manic eyes beam an intensity; desperate, angry, frustrated to the edge of tears.
I was scared and I was sad.