Blog / 2023 / What Have You Contributed of Value Today?

January 23, 2023

Since last fall, I’ve had the misfortune of dealing with a real estate agent who’s trying to sell the building I live in. The agent believes that, because they make a lot of money and I’m just a renter, they can say and do whatever they like to me. They’re essentially a walking prosperity gospel, the embodiment of all our society’s most toxic ideas about the value of a person being linked inextricably with the number on their bank statement.

The other day, they’d made an appointment with me, but, at ten minutes past, they still hadn’t appeared and they hadn’t communicated with me about what was going on. I texted, requesting an ETA. They didn’t respond. I called. Nothing. It wasn’t until the agent was a half hour late that they informed me that the inspector that they needed to let in had been held up and would probably arrive in another fifteen minutes.

Everyone knows that when you have an appointment with someone and you discover that you’re going to be late, the first thing you do is reach for your phone to inform them. But this agent insists that they left their phone in the car, which is why they didn’t know I wanted an ETA.

Sure, kitten, and I left my brain in the blender, so I 100% believe you.

All this is aggravating, to be sure, but not unusual. Wealthy people crap on people with less money all the time, so why am I going on and on about it?

Because this ill-mannered person has, over the last few months, kept one question on loop in my mind:

What have you contributed of value today?

It’s my question for the agent, and, I’m sure, their question for me. But, while they’ll never be able to see my value, I can tell you exactly how they’ve made the world a better place: they’ve inspired me to make a painting!

It’ll be part of Everything’s Fine, the series about mental health that I’m live-painting again on Twitch. And this video clip from last Wednesday’s session explains what it’s going to look like.

[video transcript]

You can see more archived footage on Twitch, or you can join me live through the end of February:

Mondays 12p to 1p EST
Wednesdays 7p to 8p EST

Come just to watch or, if you sign up for a free Twitch account, you can write to me during the broadcast.


I’m working on a couple of other, uh, drawings for paintings for this series. So this is a piece about—well, I think the title is gonna be Too Much and Not Enough. Maybe with a parenthetical that says something like: based on all available data. Or something like that.

So it’s a figure made out of measuring tape with a scale for a face, and this, I think, will be a bank statement and this is a phone with what will have like a social media, you know, count of friends, of comments, of likes. And then I think there’s going to be like a mugshot measuring behind it. Sort of making it criminal in a sense too, like criminalizing “you’re not right, you’re too much, you’re not enough.”

This started off like this. Um, you can sort of see the evolution, like I had no idea what I was doing with the hands. And eventually I sort of figured out this croissant-like situation that looked good enough.

This is the early version—the earliest version of the measurement piece, which I think is very bad. I’m much happier with where it’s gotten to at this point. But this is how it started.

The next time I go live is Monday at noon, New York time, and, um, this has been lovely. Thank you for making my re-entry so easy!

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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