Mount Moon, “You Don’t Know”

art.pngSo, I had to go and make a graphic explicitly for those moments when I encounter, see, hear, or watch something that I want to share solely because it speaks to me on some level, but not necessarily in a way that… lifts me up (i.e., something I would save for Friyay posts).  This is the first post of its kind, but I don’t foresee it being anywhere close to it’s last.

I first encountered this song through Welcome to Night Vale, but I return to it with fair frequency, and on more reflective/melancholy days, I relate to it more closely than I would necessarily like to.  I’m in a pretty good mood at the moment, but I listened to it on a whim this morning and thought now was as good a time as any to share it.

There once was a time that we knew damn well we’d be wise beyond our years
Now we’re old and it just seems we’re getting dumber
There once was a rhyme that would bring peacefulness to both of our ears
But this music lets us know that we’re not getting any younger

My mother would not be proud of my mouth
But I can’t get a sentence out without some sacrilege or sounding like a sailor
Every time I go home for the holidays and tell her how it’s been, the look on her face says it’s obvious I have failed her

But you don’t know
No, you can’t go where I’ve been
And I don’t know
No, I’ll never get where I’m going

And every day I hear somebody say something like
“Yeah, I just got back from China backpacking and giving food to children”
I have never strayed too far away from this east coast where I remain
In my heart I am so envious I could kill them

And I am running out of time to do the things I used to say that I
Was put on this earth to do by God in His heaven
Seems that I believed in something then
Dear lord, what happened to my head?
Now the days go by so fast I have no time to let ’em sink in

But you don’t know
No, you can’t go where I’ve been
And I don’t know
No, I’ll never get where I’m going
And you don’t know
No, you can’t go where I’ve been
And I don’t know
No, I’ll never get where I’m going

Two Weeks to Go Time: GISH 2019

lifeupdateI am having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that we are two weeks to the day out from GISH 2019.  If you don’t know what GISH is, I’ll embed one of their official videos that can help explain it (I’d also strongly recommend visiting the website).

I’ve done GISH every year since 2012, heading up my own team (Team AllHailtheGlowCloud) since 2014.  We have about nine recurring members this year, two new-to-us members, and about two days left to recruit the remaining four.  I’m going a little crazy trying to scout social media for people who still need a team, which is my fault (sat on it for too long; really should have started recruiting a month ago).

GISH is always an interesting and exciting time, if more than a little emotionally exhausting and frustrating.  Being part of an international team — even one with great members, like mine (luckily) has always been — means I have very little local support for tasks.  My husband tries to be supportive, but has limited time because he works much longer hours than me; I have limited transportation for location specific tasks, since I don’t drive (and my husband has the car at work most of the time anyway); and while I have a number of acquaintances, I have very few friends to augment any group tasks.

So each year is, for better or worse, a great exercise in creativity and resourcefulness, but also a harsh reminder of exactly what my limitations are.

While I’m not always able to produce a lot during GISH, I find myself always impressed with the efforts of my team mates.  And, okay, I guess if I’m being totally honest, some of my own efforts wind up turning out better than I expect — and I have definitely grown and improved from year to year.  I’ve pulled out a few pieces of work I’m incredibly proud of on an art and writing front (sort of wish there were more writing tasks, actually), and with the advent of the GISH app and the allowing of some collaboration between teams (and former GISHers not currently participating), I’m hopeful that I might actually be able to do some of the group items this year.

Either way, this is going to be a fun two weeks of (hopefully successful) recruiting, planning, and team-building.

And hey, if you are someone looking for a GISH team, we still have (as of this posting) four spaces left.  Please reach out!  We’d love to have you.

Here is a small sample of past submissions, mostly of some of the art we’ve created for GISHes in the past; and who knows, I may venture further down memory lane in the coming weeks with more photos and videos:

 

Friyay!

friyay positivity.pngWell, hello Friday.  Today is the first day of my weekend, and I am antsy to go and start some chores so this evening and the next two days can be relaxing and creatively productive.  I’m also excited to resume my Friyay posts, and give you a small sampling of some things that have made me happy this week.

To Try

I’ve often though about decorating some glass Dollar Tree vases, but not really considered polymer as a viable medium with which to do it.  So when I saw this tutorial on my timeline, I was thrilled.  I’m looking forward to designing something (the leaves are nice, but it can be literally anything) and giving it a shot in the coming weeks.

To Watch/Get Hype About

So I don’t know who else is a Steven Universe fan, but I am a huge SU fan and I am so excited for the movie (still a little salty that Teen Titans GO got a theatrical release and SU is relegated to TV, but you know what?  Let’s not dwell, right?)  This is kind of a silly trailer, but it makes me happy some stuff is finally getting released about the movie, and with San Diego Comic Con coming up in the next couple of weeks, I’m hoping more info and more sneak peaks will be available soon.

To Read

(Two very different things.)

Poetry:  “Woman with Button Earrings,” by Lily Hicks (Age 14). Rattle is my go-to poetry source, and I love when they feature and profile young poets. This poem in particular is very much my aesthetic — and was, even more so, as a teenager — and evokes the kind of imagery and atmosphere that I longed to be able to produce myself at 14, and rarely could.

Fanfic:  “Archangel of Healing,” by Nnm (Good Omens).  Ugh, my fucking heart.  I will consume, at any time of the day or night, literally anything in the “Crowley was Raphael Before He Fell” tag, and this one was recommended by Shippers Guide to the Galaxy, and is well worth the read.

What’s lifted you up this week?

My Brain Doesn’t Trust Itself

adventures of the everydayI’ve been working at my job for fourteen years.  Fourteen years, guys.  I feel almost as at home in that building as I do… well, at home.  I know my coworkers’ rhythms, I know the routines, the programs, and the schedules — even the off-season ones.  I’ve been working Extended School Year itself for a decade, missing only the year when I was halfway through my pregnancy and (literally) couldn’t stand the heat.  I’ve worked every grade level, every skill level, every permutation.

All this to say, I know my job, okay?  So then why, for the love of Christ, did I spend an hour this morning freaking out over the absolute most basic aspects of my assignment?

And this happens every goddamned year, too.  Always, without fail.  First, I have a shitty night’s sleep the previous night, because I’m wound up and anxious about the start of something “new” (every iteration of a “first day” elicits this reaction in me — transitioning is hard).  Then, I get through the night, get up, get ready, and go, and spend the entire ride to work checking and double checking my bag, convinced I’ve forgotten something (this at least has precedence, because I forget something roughly, oh, every other day or so.  What’s awful is that once I’ve checked for and found said item, I’ll still stop and check for it at least three more times.  Lest it be summoned into the ether, for Christ’s sake).

Then I get to work — super early, too, because I have to carpool, and I only have the one ride.  You’d think that getting there early would be relaxing, right?  No rushing, just sit down, settle in, maybe bring a book?  And it gets to be; after the first day jitters are over and done with, it’s nice getting there more than an hour early and just sort of chilling.  But that first day?

Today I spent literally an hour doing laps and growing increasingly anxious that:

  1. I was in the wrong building.  The wrong building, people.  It’s always been this building.  It’s only ever been this building.
  2. That I had the date wrong.  You know, the same date it’s been forever and always into perpetuity (the Monday after the 4th)?  The date that was in my planner, on Google calendar, and in the three separate emails I got over the last few weeks reminding me about ESY??

And it’s gonna happen again tomorrow!!  You know how I know?  Because it’s already started.  I’m already second guessing where I’m supposed to be (this is a separate program conducted off-site), even though this program has always had me meet at the same place, and I confirmed twice with the lead that the schedule and routine was the same as last year.  Twice.  A program that I, again, have worked before (though granted not as long term, this is only (“only“) my fourth year).

But logic isn’t going to shake this anxiety.  Logic never does.  I am going to feel antsy and slightly panicky literally until I see my lead walk up to the building tomorrow morning, and that kind of sucks, but I don’t know what else to do about it.

After tomorrow?  Ah, the rest of the summer should be smooth sailing.  I’m honestly really looking forward to it!  But these first two days, man.  These first two days, my brain just short-circuits and it’s non-stop panic mode.

Hopefully I can get a decent night’s sleep, and find quick respite in the morning.

Fuck Anxiety Brain.

Art Project: Birds on Black

artprojectHere’s where my family really shines:  whenever I’ve gotten onto a particular art “kick” — crochet, collage, paper crafts, altered boxes, etc. — they have always collected, found, or otherwise procured all manner of ephemera for me to work with, which is why to this day, my basement and craft room are crammed with knitting needles and crochet hooks, empty toilet paper rolls, back issues of dozens of magazines, and empty cigar boxes and Altoids tins.  I’m not always able to use everything given to me, but it’s nice having a tangible sign of support, you know?

This time around it was the unexpected gift of several square black plastic plates — the ones that are “nice,” but also still disposable, you know the kind.  My grandfather had been picking them up at the Dollar Tree and giving them to my mom in numbers that she was absolutely never going to need or use, so she asked if I’d like some, “to paint on or whatever.”

“What would I paint?”  I asked.

“I dunno.  Flowers.  Or birds.  Or something.”

So that’s how I spent some of my time last night.

I figured, since I couldn’t use my preferred technique of a wet wash (I just don’t see how that could feasibly work on a non-porous surface), I would aim for a style that was slightly more impressionistic, and would work better with the thick layers and textures I would have to utilize to get the coverage I wanted.  These are three of the six plates I was given, and while they were a bit of a rush job, I was excited to try them out and sort of blasted through a few things.

I’m happiest with the bird perched atop the lilacs; more pleased with the berries than the bird in the final painting, and happier with the bird than the blossoms in the first one.  Overall, there are things I am very happy about with all three, and things that I am less thrilled with, but perhaps have learned from.

The biggest challenge was painting something without having a pencil sketch on an outline present (since you can’t really sketch on this kind of plastic.  Having to free-hand everything was difficult, but I’m pretty happy with how most of it came out.

I’ll take suggestions for the remaining three plates!  I enjoy painting birds, but would like to try something new.


If you enjoy reading my ramblings or keeping up with my projects, consider maybe donating a few dollars to my Ko-Fi.  Thanks!

Vacation’s End and Camp NaNo: or, The Perils of Writing Fanfic

lifeupdateThe thing is, I know I should be incredibly grateful that I get the vacations that I do, you know?  That I make a living wage (well, when combined with my husbands, at least) and still get built in vacations scattered throughout the year.

And I am!  I know I am amazingly lucky, to have a job that not only gives me breaks, but also ample sick time (good for those mental health days when you’re hanging by a single, fraying fucking thread).  But it doesn’t stop the end of vacation from being a bummer.

Not because I don’t like my job.  Because, as I’m said many, many times before, I am also insanely lucky to have found a job I genuinely like, with coworkers whose company and collaboration I genuinely enjoy.  But there is so much else I want to do, and when work is added back into the mix, I so rarely find the time or energy to do them.

This lead in week to summer has been mostly spent doing the typical summer festivities, especially if you have kids — sleepovers, parades, fireworks, pool parties.  It’s been fun, but I am looking forward to this last long weekend to be something a little quieter and sedentary.  I’ve even managed to get some painting done, as evidenced in my last post.

My current — entirely self-imposed — struggle causing me to lament how little time I have left in vacation is the July round of Camp NaNoWriMo.  Yeah, I know, I know; I have written fairly extensively about how Camp NaNo generally doesn’t work for me, but I’ve also spent a good chunk of this year succeeding at things I’ve historically failed at, just by laboring through the stagnation and the sense of impending failure, sucking it up, and fucking Doing the Thing.  I’ve made greater strides in my art and in my social life in the last seven months than I have in, hell, several years prior.

Plus, back in April, while I was already doing Blogging A-to-z and National Poetry Month, I decided to take on the April round of Camp with a fan fiction that had been nagging at the back of my mind, and actually wrote 4k on it, with actual interest, drive, and intent to continue.  So, I figured, why not give it a go again this time?

I fell head first and hard into a fandom¹ in early June, and it seemed the obvious choice to write in, and about mid-way through a month, I got a bug in my bonnet for a pretty NSFW, PWP fic² that, over the following two weeks, actually morphed into what I realized could actually be shaped into a really thoughtful and potentially poignant character study.³  I was itching to write this thing, especially since, as much as I absolutely adore the fandom and the fic that is being produced, the vast, vast majority is variation on a single theme, so my idea would actually be relatively unique, which wasn’t a must for me, but definitely felt like a plus.

So I geared up, and got myself psyched for it, and read a ton of fic for “inspiration” (and because I just love the characters), and then July hit and — I wrote fuck all nothing for the first three days.

It’s the fourth, and I’ve still only cracked 200 words (which, hey, is something.  It’s less intimidating than a blank page, and I feel like I have some semblence of direction now).  Last Camp, writing in a fandom that had pretty similarly hit me fast and hard and was relatively new when Camp rolled around had gone so smoothly.  Not that I didn’t have a few stops and false starts, but even while writing between other challenges and working full-time, I cranked out over four thousand words without a hell of a lot of thought or effort.  So what’s different?

Weirdly, I think the fact that I’ve been immersing myself in fanfic this time around has actually been detrimental.  Yeah, even though they tell you to read if you want to write.  Yeah, even though they say “write what you know.”

Fanfic, I think, is tricky anyway.  If you’re writing an original story, it’s not like you’re completely free of limitations.  Your characters have to be believable, and act in ways that are believeable.  Their actions and motivations have to have internal consistency, and your readers have to understand, at least to some degree, why your character — based on what we know of them through the text — is behaving in the way they are.

But writing original fic, the only version of your character is the one you’re writing.  So long as you’ve taken the time to flesh them out and you maintain a sense of consistency within the narrative of your work, then the character reads like a fully developed character.

Writing fanfic, you can write a very internally consistent narrative.  But you can absolutely write it wrong.  Because the character already exists — and because your audience is, of course, people who already know and love this character — and because the character already exists in the minds of your readers who understand them and relate to them in a very idiosyncratic way, it is incredibly easy to write a character in a fanfic that just reads wrong.  No matter how beautiful the prose.  No matter how intricate the plot.

And that is incredibly intimidating to me.  I have clicked on fics that have come highly recommended for the quality of the writing, and had a very visceral reaction to the way a favorite character is written because, goddamn it, no, this is not how they would act.  This is not what they would say, this is not what they would do.

If I’m reading a story featuring your original character Bob, and Bob does X, I may or may not like his choice or agree with his motives, but okay — that’s just what Bob does.  I guess that’s the kind of guy Bob is, whether I like him or not.

But if I’m reading your fanfic, and, say, Gregory House, or Dean Winchester, or The Doctor does X, I am going to have some very strong opinions on whether-the-fuck-or-not any of them would actually do The Thing.  And it will make or break a story for me.

So yeah, it’s intimidating.  To the point of stagnation, at the moment.  My April Camp fandom, prior to literally a week or two before Camp started, had no fanfic on the ‘Net.  Can you believe, in this day and age?  None.  Right now, it’s got two.  If I thought writing in an incredibly small fandom (with no fic to hide behind) was intimidating, my new fandom has grown by almost 4,000 fanfics in the last month (and that’s just on AO3).

And some of them are good.  So many of them are good, and some are real good.  How do I compete?

(I don’t; I know it’s not a competition.  But it’s still harder than I thought it would be).


¹ Good Omens fandom.  I read the book a long time ago — fifteen years, at least — and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until the series that it really became a fandom for me.  But it’s spread like wildfire, and I am loving it.

² So here it is, my secret’s out: I write (and read) smutty fanfic.  I’m an adult, I’m allowed.  But because I’m paranoid and try to keep my real life persona and my fandom life separate (except where they naturally intersect with like-minded adults, like at conventions), I might discuss fandom and fic here in the abstract, but don’t ever expect any links.

³ Legit, how did this happen?  It really did start as a vague idea for a short, smutty kink fic, and suddenly I’m researching the hierarchies of angels and specific Biblical accounts of events because this all evolved so far out of my control.  What even is writing, anyway?

Art Project: “Choking”

artprojectPainting is a relatively new interest of mine, or at least, I’ve only actually been painting since January — I’ve been saying that I’d “like” to paint for ages now, but only in the last six or seven months actually taken the plunge.

I’m not very good.  Which I guess I should expect?  I’ve only been at it six months, I’ve had no formal training, I took a full month-and-a-half off to participate in various challenges, and it’s not like I have time to sit and paint for hours and hours a day.  I mean, it’s a skill to cultivate, not something I should expect to be awesome at right at the start.

And honestly, I’ve seen a lot of improvement over the past few months, just as I can see a lot of ways in which I still have to grow.

To make an effort towards actually becoming better, I’ve tried to focus on human figures, particularly faces and hands, as those are both favorite subjects for me to paint (I might have a bit of a hand kink, honestly?¹) as well as things that give me a lot of trouble.  I had an idea for a mixed-media piece in mind for a long time, and had been putting it off for a while for fear of, well, fucking it up, I guess.  I tend to build up projects in my head, have a very set, clear visual image of what I’m setting out to commit to canvas, and the fact that it so very, very rarely matches up means I procrastinate on the attempt in the hopes that at some point I’ll simply arrive at the level of skill and talent I’d need in order to do the project justice.

(Of course, you don’t get to that level without painting, but let’s not go crazy by bringing logic into this.)

So, given that I had time off this week, I finally made an effort.  And… well, it’s not nearly as good as I hoped, but it’s probably a shade better than I expected.

The proportions feel off, first of all, though that bothers me less than you might expect, and I’ll be honest — I’m proud enough of the way the hand turned out that she could Untitled design (1).pngproportionally look like a T-Rex, and I think I’d be a-okay with it.  Look, I know it’s not perfect, but that’s the best damn hand I ever painted.  I certainly wasn’t going to roll the dice and attempt a repaint after getting that on the first shot.  

I’m also incredibly pleased with how the background — which was a spur-of-the-moment, last minute addition turned out.  That’s a Dollar Tree stencil, by the way, and I am inexplicably proud of that fact, as well.  My camera does not take the best photos, so it’s less obvious here than looking at the painting in real life, but the metallic on black, and the busyness of the background does a lot to make the figure stand out, and I love that.

I’m less thrilled with (though not totally hating) her facial expression.  I had a very clear “look” in mind, a very visceral, panicked expression that I just don’t yet have the skill to capture.  As it is, she looks vaguely distraught, but also like maybe she’s wondering if she left the oven on??

The roses themselves I’m very pleased with — this is the second batch, after badly scorching the first (look, it’s been a while since I’ve used Sculpey, and may have mis-remembered the bake time/thickness ratio), though the pink ones are a little more, uh, vibrant than I would have liked (I’m going to try to mute them a bit with some matte pink eye shadow (which is awesome for shading Sculpey) before I seal them.  I still feel like the floral piece is a bit sparse (you can see small patches of canvas in the gaps between flowers), but that will be a project for another day.


¹I have the fairly idiosyncratic tendency to become very enamored with particular body parts, and they are never the ones that most people would guess.  Even in people normally considered unattractive, I have fallen head over heels.  See:  Steve Buscemi’s shoulders; Mackenzie Crooks’ hands.

If you enjoy reading my ramblings or keeping up with my projects, consider maybe donating a few dollars to my Ko-Fi.  Thanks!