Mini-GISH, April 25 & 26

This was not the epic, team-bonding, tear-your-hair out rollercoaster of the traditional, annual, week-long GISH hunt.  But it was a welcome, silly, doable distraction, and for once, I feel like my entries were reflective of the best of my abilities.

Having the hunt be one day — somewhat oddly, somewhat understandably — took some of the pressure off.  My standards, given the very, very tight time constraints, were lowered to something actually approaching doable, and I was able to be gentler with myself about what was actually possible to get done in a 24-hour span.  As a result, I actually completed more entries during the one-day than I did during the whole week of the annual hunt last year.

Of course, the tasks were easier, given the time constraints and the fact that literally no one can leave the house, but it was still a fun, creative activity, and it allowed my son and husband to get in on the action without too much stress as well.

Misha emailed earlier today and confirmed that he’d like to run another mini-hunt in the coming weeks.  Registration for this one was $15 and proceeds went to COVID-19 relief and No Child Hungry, so it benefits worthy causes.  If anyone reading is interested in possibly participating, check out the official website here.  While I am definitely interested in participating, I also hesitate to spend the money on another mini-hunt when the week-long August hunt looms closer and closer.

We organize our team via Facebook group, and since submissions are entered by the person who completes them onto the GISH site itself, we don’t all always get to see every entry, unless they are also uploaded to the Facebook group.  During week-long hunts, when people are aiming for something of a higher caliber (since it’s for points), often people will post variations on a challenge and ask for input or suggestions.  This year, with only 24 hours, less of that happened.  Here is a small smattering of what was shared to the FB group:

Post-GISH, I’ve been mostly sketching; I got my new sketchbook and my new microns, but have yet to crack open either.  The sketchbook makes sense, since my goal is to fill the previous one before moving on to the next, but the microns is just that old, completely counterproductive instinct to horde art materials.  Like, I don’t want to “waste” this ink on anything less than something stellar (which I probably don’t need to mention, is ridiculous).  Old habits die hard.  I still have some details work to add to my last three sketches, but after that I will likely share them here and then upload them to my gallery.

Hope you are all keeping busy and staying safe.

A One-Day Weirdness Oasis (plus some art)

Since dropping my two challenges, I’ve gotten my house mostly clean, started up a new project at a fandom wiki, and done two pieces of art, so overall, I do feel like I made the right call.

In the past I’ve used monthly challenges to force myself to do creative work, and while he challenge would push me to create stuff for a month, I would then go into creative hibernation for basically the rest of the year.  The last several months, I have been actively creative.  The challenges were great fun in getting me to conceptualize ideas and open up my mind to what could be art fodder (song lyrics!  What a fucking treasure trove of inspiration!  But also, simple things!  Women lounging in bed!  People gathered at a funeral!  It doesn’t have to be a sweeping and grandiose landscape, there is beauty in the mundane!)

While visual art has been sort of booming (or at least, not stagnating), I do have a lot of work to do to kickstart my writing habit outside the confines of poetry challenges.  I’m going to have to set aside some time everyday to just, I don’t know, free write?  Try to construct/compose a poem?  Put pen to paper, at the very least.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

But none of that is happening today, because today is the one-day, stay-at-home, mini-GISH!  I’ve talked about GISH in other iterations of this blog (which really isn’t helpful for a large number of people currently here, but long-time readers may recognize the name). GISH is normally a week-long multi-media international scavenger hunt combining bizarre challenges, acts of creativity, radical kindness, and general weirdness, run by Supernatural’s Misha Collins.  It’s one of the highlights of my year, and I’ve headed up my own team since 2014.  This year our regular hunt will be in August — whether or not the quarantine is still in effect, with items being modified for those of us still under quarantine — but this one is designed as a fully at-home hunt, with proceeds directly benefiting COVID-19 relief efforts and feeding low-income kids.  Kick-off is at 3 pm EST, and it runs for a full 24 hours; I’ll be able to share what we’ve completed by 3:30 pm tomorrow, so I hope to have some fun stuff to share with you all by then.

Until then, these are the last two pieces I completed.  I have severely mixed feelings about the drawing; I love, love, love the monstrous mouth.  I think the shading and coloration on it are wonderful.  I am upset by her head and face; I messed up on the mouth, and the lines for her hair were faint and I definitely outlined too “wide,” i.e., her head is bigger than I would have wanted it.  The biggest issue I have, though, is my cheap pencils don’t blend and don’t give the coverage I want,  I need to invest in wax-based pencils like Prismacolor.

The painting is not 100% complete, but I like the concept and am moderately happy with how it’s turning out.  Acrylic will probably never be “my” medium, but I feel like I’m getting incrementally better.

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I just want to end by saying, I know I talk about feeling the need to make “good use” of this time, and I want to clarify: we are experiencing trauma.  I know that, and I need other people to know that.  Everyone copes with trauma differently.  Keeping busy and doing projects make me feel better; they help me manage my anxiety, they make me feel proud and accomplished.

That being said, I will gently suggest that if you are mentally and emotionally capable of doing so, finding a hobby or a past-time to fill the time, simply because in my experience it makes time pass more smoothly and gives my mind something else to focus on.  But it’s not a competition.  You don’t owe other people “productivity” during this time, and maybe your new “hobby” is finally binging every show you always swore you’d “get around” to, or developing a five-star island in Animal Crossing.  That’s fine.  If that’s helping you cope, that’s wonderful.  But try to find something to keep you afloat; you don’t have to defend what that is to anyone.

Stay safe, stay sane, stay inside.

Throwing in the Towel (NaPoWriMo/A-to-Z)

Ah, I hate to do it.  But I think it’s for the best.

I am proud to have made it to April 20th; given the momentous shift my life (our lives) has taken in the last month and a half, I am incredibly and sincerely proud of anyone who has continued to create, especially for themselves, for the sheer purpose of creating, and I include myself in that; I’ve not produced the greatest work of my life during the past twenty days, but I’ve created something every day, and I have a lot of raw material to work and rework and build off of.

All this to say, I’m dropping both challenges, both A-to-Z and NaPoWriMo.

I’m planning on continuing drawing, painting, and writing, but I’ve opted to also take on several other projects that, with the addition of parenting/homeschooling and maintaining a household, is making the challenges a burden rather than a fun creative exercise.  I still have several ideas I’d brainstormed for upcoming songs (from A-to-Z) that I want to follow through with — it just won’t be on the work-a-day schedule.

Good luck to those still seeing this through, and I wish you all a successful final ten days.

 

NaPoWriMo: Day 19

Left Behind

The night after the funeral, I walked
Still naked and damp from the shower
Through the hallways of my house.

I lingered in the doorways like a ghost,
Shadows settling like dust in the corners
And crevices of each room.

I moved through darkened rooms by touch,
Trailing my fingers along planes and angles,
The familiar geometry of my life,

Stopping to trace the curves
of my mother’s mantel clock,
The strange organic prickle of succulents,

The skin-soft leather of our old loveseat
Where she sat, heartbeat-warm, alive,
Less than a week ago;

The sweet peach note of her perfume
Lingers like a sharp exhale
Every time I fluff the pillows.

My fingers twitch instinctively
Against the cool ivory keys of the piano,
Striking one lingering, discordant note.

It’s strange how much the same
This world remains, I think,
Without her in it.

Her fingerprints still mark the edge
Of the glass-topped coffee table;
Her slippers tucked under her chair.

These are the remnants of a life,
This is what we leave behind. I wander,
A ghost. An orphan in my own home.


Prompt Day Nineteen:  Based loosely on the idea given by the prompt of a “walking archive.”

A-to-Z Challenge: Odalisque

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So: still behind.  I have a sketch for “N,” but it’s 8:15 pm, I have no clear workspace, and I want to do an acrylic painting for this one, so I need to do some cleaning before I add that whole mess on top of everything.

That being said, another colored pencil drawing.  No photo reference used for this at all, and I took a fairly literal approach to the song just because I wanted to attempt a drawing with a little more of a “dynamic” character, and I wanted to try to draw a figure with no reference.  Success (to a certain extent) on those fronts.

I’m got Prismacolor Premiere in my Amazon cart, so I’m hoping that will improve my product.  (Also I need to do a lot of work on foreshortening, yes, I know).

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Odalisque

They’ve come to find you odalisque
As the light dies horribly
On a fire escape you walk
All rare and resolved to drop
And when they find you odalisque
They will rend you terribly
Stitch from stitch til all
Your linen and limbs will fall
Lazy lady had a baby girl
And a sweet sound it made
Raised on paradise, peanut shells and dirt
In the railroad cul-de-sac
And what do we with ten baby shoes
A kit bag full of marbles
And a broken billiard cue? what do we do?
Fifteen stitches will mend those britches right
And then rip them down again
Sapling switches will rend those rags alright
What a sweet sound it makes
And what do we do with ten dirty Jews
A thirty-ought full of rock salt
And a warm afternoon? what do we do?
Lay your belly under mine
You’re naked under me, under me
Such a filthy dimming shine
The way you kick and scream, kick and scream
And what do we do with ten baby shoes
A kit bag full of marbles
And a broken billiard cue?
What do we do?
Lazy lady had a baby girl, and a sweet sound it made

NaPoWriMo: Day 18

Coffee

It was ritual;
Rising long before the sun,
Winter sky still dark;

Color diffusing
(Black to purple to pink)
Until golden light

Flooded the kitchen.
There was magic in the first sip,
Sitting cross-legged

On the kitchen bench,
The newsprint, dark and pungent,
Staining my fingers black.

The smell of coffee
Like a promise to myself;
“Today will be okay.”


Prompt Day Eighteen:  As ode to something mundane; an example given was a cup of coffee, so here we are.

A-to-Z Challenge: Make You Better

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Notes:

  1.  I’m perpetually behind, wee!  It just wouldn’t be April if I wasn’t scrambling to catch up on at least one challenge.
  2. I have plans to be caught up enough to post “P” on Monday (which means the following Sunday will have me caught up entirely), but that means I’m going to have to do a bit of spamming either tonight or tomorrow.
  3.   I really need to invest in replacing my finer tipped pens and getting pencils better than my son’s Dollar Tree set.

Micron and colored pencil.

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Make You Better
I want you, thin fingers
I wanted you, thin fingernails
And when you bend backwards
I wanted you, I needed you
Oh-oh, to make me better
I’ll love you in springtime
I lost you when summer came
And when you pulled backwards
I wanted you, I needed to
Oh-oh, to make me better
Oh-oh, to make me better
But we’re not so starry-eyed anymore
Like the perfect paramour you were in your letters
And won’t it all just come around to make you
Let it all unbreak you to the day you met her
But it’d make you better
It’d make you better
I sung you, your twinges
I suffered you, your tattletales
And when you broke sideways
I wanted you, I needed you
Oh-oh, to make me better
Oh-oh, to make me better
But we’re not so starry-eyed anymore
Like the perfect paramour you were in your letters
And won’t it all just come around and make you
Let it all unbreak you to the day that you met her
And it’d make you better
Did it make you better?
Make you better
And all I wanted was a sliver to call mine
And all I wanted was a shimmer in your shine
To make me bright
‘Cause we’re not so starry-eyed anymore
Like the perfect paramour you were in your letters
Won’t it all just come around and make you
Let it all unbreak you to the days you met her
But it’d make you better
It’d make you better

NaPoWriMo: Day 17

Heart Flowers

Inside your heart, he says
Are flowers, one for each person
You love.

I imagine his heart is a grove
Alight with blossoms;
Every stranger on the street
A seedling.
I have never known someone
So eager to love,
His soul a fertile landscape,
Thriving.

Sometimes I think the soil
Of my heart is deficient;
How many buds, drooping,
How many leaves curling in
Upon themselves.

But somewhere in my heart
rooted deep and stretching
It’s magnificent inflorescence
To be warmed by the sun
Is a flower the exact shade of aster
As my son’s eyes.

I think no flower
Has ever known a more attentive gardener,
Has ever been more well-loved,
More well-tended,
Or more beautiful.


Day Seventeen:  I asked my son, again, what I should write about.

“LOVE!”
“That’s broad.  What kind of love?”
“FAMILY LOVE!!”

The idea of heart flowers is actually something he came up with when he was four; I absolutely love the idea, and this is not really a worthy use of the concept, I don’t think, but I hope to return to it sometime.

A-to-Z Challenge: Last of the Real Ones

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Some light housekeeping:

As I mentioned, I had a massive “duh” moment and realized that I mistakenly thought I had weekends off on the A-to-Z Challenge, when really it was only Sundays, so I am already two days behind and am likely going to resign myself to being three days behind, because it’s 9 pm and I am exhausted.  So expect two entries tomorrow for A-to-Z, and then one a day (including Sundays) hopefully from now one.

With that done, I also want to mention with regards to these challenges, I’m not necessarily trying to illustrate the song.  I feel like I need to point that out.  These are using the songs as a base of inspiration, and I can’t always pinpoint why a particular song conjures a particular image, but there you go.

I couldn’t find a Decemberists song (that inspired me, at least) for the “L” challenge, so I went with Fall Out Boy’s “Last of the Real One.”  Micron and colored pencil.

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The Last of the Real Ones

I was just an only child of the universe
And then I found you
And then I found you
You are the sun and I am just the planets
Spinning around you
Spinning around you
You were too good to be true
Gold plated
But what’s inside you
But what’s inside you
I know this whole damn city thinks it needs you
But not as much as I do
As much as I do, yeah
‘Cause you’re the last of a dying breed
Write our names in the wet concrete
I wonder if your therapist knows everything about me
I’m here in search of your glory
There’s been a million before me
That ultra-kind of love
You never walk away from
You’re just the last of the real ones
You’re just the last of the real ones
You’re just the last of the real ones
(You’re just the last of the real ones)
You’re just the last of the real ones
(You’re just the last of the real ones)
You’re just the last of the real ones
I am a collapsing star with tunnel vision
But only for you
But only for you
My head is stripped just like a screw that’s been tightened too many times
When I think of you
When I think of you
I will shield you from the waves
If they find you
I will protect you
I will protect you
Just tell me, tell me, tell me, I
I am the only one
Even if it’s not true
Even if it’s not true, yeah
‘Cause you’re the last of a dying breed
Write our names in the wet concrete
I wonder if your therapist knows everything about me
I’m here in search of your glory
There’s been a million before me
That ultra-kind of love
You never walk away from
You’re just the last of the real ones
You’re just the last of the real ones
You’re just the last of the real ones
(You’re just the last of the real ones)
You’re just the last of the real ones
(You’re just the last of the real ones)
You’re just the last of the real ones
I’m here at the beginning of the end
Oh, the end of infinity with you
I’m here at the beginning of the end
Oh, the end of infinity with you
I’m done with having dreams
The thing that I believe
Oh, you drain all the fear from me
I’m done with having dreams
The thing that I believe
You drain the fear from me
‘Cause you’re the last of a dying breed
Write our names in the wet concrete
I wonder if your therapist knows everything about me
I’m here in search of your glory
There’s been a million before me
That ultra-kind of love
You never walk away from
You’re just the last of the real ones
You’re just the last of the real ones
You’re just the last of the real ones
(You’re just the last of the real ones)
You’re just the last of the real ones
(You’re just the last of the real ones)
You’re just the last of the real ones

NaPoWriMo: Day 16

Poetry

The blank page beckons
(By turns taunting and tempting)
Urging idle hands

To work in earnest.
I pick up pen, put it down;
Flip to a fresh page

For a new fresh start;
How my mind loathes a blank page,
How its purity

Intimidates me:
How shameful to sully it
With imperfection.

I pick up the pen,
And, by and by, the words come.
Are they the right words?

Maybe the right words
Are nothing more or less than
The ones that you write


Day Sixteen:  Off-prompt.  I asked my son what i should write about, and his answer was “poetry.”