Yearly Goals

New Year’s looks different in 2020, but less different than you’d think.

We were never ones for huge get-togethers or parties to ring in the new year. The last few years, it was dinner with a couple of friends, and then joining another small group (like, seven other people) for some games and drinks before heading home around 11 and watching Bob’s Burgers until we fell asleep. So while I wish I could play Balderdash with my Game Night crew, or have a glass of wine while watching The Twilight Zone or The Three Stooges with my folks and my brother for the fifty-millionth time, I’ll be okay doing the Zoom thing for (hopefully) one more major holiday.

The two things that I am keeping consistent, though, have been The Big Clean (ughhh, that felt so good), and goal-setting.

2020 was a weird year for obvious reasons, but on a more personal level, it was weird because the goals I was most certain I’d fail at were the ones that I made the most progress with. Practicing art and drawing and not abandoning works and projects just because they were initially imperfect or disappointing; sticking to things; putting myself out there creatively. I had some degree of success with all of those endeavor this year, which isn’t just cool progress on 2020 goals, it’s… huge progress for me as a person.

I’d like to keep up the momentum this year. My main goals for 2021 are:

  1. Keep going out for collaborative art projects. I need to be more proactive about being social and “networking” with the artists I’m working with, but this could yield good opportunities and growth for me.
  2. Consider gallery submissions again. My first submission went nowhere because it was literally a week before COVID shutdowns, but I’m a far better artist nine months down the line, and ready to try again.
  3. Start making and collecting ATCs (Artist Trading Cards)! These have fascinated me since, no joke, the late-90s, when I first heard of them, but I never really explored the whole concept. I’ve been looking into it recently, and it seems like a lot of fun!
  4. Make it a point to buy art (and art can include jewelry and clothing) that I genuinely love, not just mass manufactured pieces because they’re cheaper (note: sometimes I genuinely love the mass manufactured piece, and that’s ok! But the deciding factor should be whether or not I love it).
  5. Practice mindful eating and exercise. I’m not interested in getting “thin.” I’m not even interested in losing weight. But my cholesterol is through the roof, I’m pre-diabetic, and I’m hypertensive. I want to drink more water, listen to my body, eat cleaner foods (i.e., more lean proteins, fruits, and veggies, with an eye on cholesterol and glycemic index) and get in some enjoyable movement every day. Having a sedentary job and being on lockdown in a highly urban area with a young child means I have not gotten out of the house and gotten moving in a very, very long time.
  6. Practice digital painting more.
  7. Read more poetry, and start writing my own again. I want to be okay with the idea that a poem can take days or weeks to write, especially if the bulk of my creative energy is going elsewhere. But I miss poetry, and I’d like to touch base with it again.
  8. Be more organized and utilize the schedules and scaffolding I’m putting in place for myself. The check-lists are thorough, cleanly designed, and detailed. And I need to learn to use them.

Those are the big focuses. For all my long-term goals and ambitions, my DayZeroProject bucket list is a living document (which you can find here; feel free to follow!), but the goals listed above are priorities for the year.

What do you hope 2021 holds for you?

The Big Clean: Halfway Home

Yeah, halfway. Can you believe? I didn’t think I needed a room-by-room, play-by-play like I gave last year, so I opted out of it. I’m sure you’re all devastated.

The kitchen and both bathrooms are finished; today is my bedroom, and (if I’m making good time and feeling adventurous) Bear’s room (Bear’s room is officially scheduled for tomorrow, so if I don’t make it there today, no biggie; it’s basically a stretch goal, tbh). I count the two bathrooms as one because, honestly, both are very small, and one of them is technically a half-bath, so like — really, really small. But they are also the absolute least pleasant rooms to clean for obvious reasons, so knocking them both out in the same day and being done with it would likely have been the goal even if they were considerably larger.

The kitchen was the most time consuming room by far, because quarantine plus a whole lot of cabinets and drawers with not a whole lot of organization plus one person with an awful set of executive functioning skills equals absolute fucking chaos. The majority of clean time was cabinets, drawers, and the refrigerator (which, honestly, I don’t know that we’ve ever cleaned? And, hoo boy, was that patently obvious), but which was worth the effort, because damn if they don’t look amazing now. I legit keep opening the fridge just to admire it. It’s pathetic, maybe, but I will take my glimmers of joy where I can get them, and if you had seen the fridge in it’s before state, you too would be suitable impressed by its current state.

There are things, this time around, that I’m not doing; I’m not scrubbing down the walls, for one, and that’s probably the biggest change I’ve made. After last time (which was three years into living here) I realized there wasn’t such a significant change that it was was something that warranted being done every year, especially if we are consistent about dusting the walls as part of our weekly cleaning routine. Neither of us are smokers, we don’t burn a lot of things in the oven, etc. Aside from visible stains and marks (because we do have a kid, let’s be real), I didn’t touch the walls except to dust them. Let me tell you, it was a huge sanity-saver. I want to be thorough, but I also don’t want to waste my energy doing things that are unnecessary, especially this year, when my energy is so low in general. If I’m going to expend energy, I want to make it count. That energy can be put toward cleaning out my closet, or scrubbing the kitchen floor — something that actually needs to be done, and something I tend to shirk in the day-to-day.

Today is my bedroom, which is weirdly exciting. Since my wife started transitioning and collecting a shit ton of feminine accouterments — makeup and perfume and jewelry — but has not really thought about dedicated organization for them yet, this year’s Big Clean for our room includes a ton of organizing, cleaning out, and rearranging. I’m looking forward to finding permanent homes for her new possessions, and making them something integrated into our living space instead of just scattered across our bedside tables and bookcases.

Right now, I’m waiting on lunch to replenish my reserves, and then it’s back to work. I feel like once I get the house organized, the next thing on the roster is going to be doing a little shopping, since I’m determined to buy some new art for the house (since I’m incredibly dedicated to purchasing things that genuinely bring me joy this year) and I definitely need a new planner (since it looks like there will be an end to quarantine at least by mid-year (!!!) and even before that, I want to be able to organize my work stuff, home stuff, and personal projects in one place). And then it’s just… run down the year. I won’t be sad to see it go.

Hope you all are doing well, and finding a last burst of energy to set things in motion for a positive personal start to the new year.

Stay safe and sane. We’ll get there.

Happy One Year, Merry Christmas

I’ve stuck with this blog one year.

I’ve had this blog for, I think, going on four years at this point. It’s undergone so many changes because, much like my mother before me, I am literally never happy with anything for very long. I had a really hard time finding a genuine voice for this blog, where I could be candid but still sort of focused, where I focused on creativity and productivity, but could still feel comfortable sharing stories or anecdotes from my own life. I vowed at the start of 2020 that this would be the year I stuck with projects, this blog included, and not abandon them during the inevitable awkward, getting-on-your-feet stage.

I don’t think I’ve gotten the hang of this blogging thing down one hundred percent yet, but having stuck it out for a whole year, I feel like I’m getting closer. Hopefully in 2021 I will refine it even further.

But for now, let’s put that aside.

It’s Christmas Eve. A very different feeling Christmas Eve, but not without hope for the coming months. And not without excitement for tomorrow morning.

We’ve got games and movies and Zoom calls, and a boatload of snacks sent from friends, and delicious Chinese takeout and gifts to all look forward to tomorrow. I’ve got ten days off to clean and organize and recoup and return to the work grind refreshed.

Today is doing some picking up to keep from getting overwhelmed post-gift-opening, and then old school holiday vids (as in, all the shit I grew up with that my son had yet to see), and when my wife comes home she has a “family” gift for us, and then it’s just chilling and games until bed (my son has been learning how to play Boggle, and is… like, getting weirdly good at it for a six year old?)

I hope this year encourages you to forge new traditions and find innovative ways to celebrate with friends and family from afar. I hope you are as hopeful as I am for the upcoming year, and I hope you have enough on your plate to satisfy you without overwhelming you.

I hope you are staying safe.

Cheers, everyone.

PS: I run a Simu Liu thirst blog (um… yeah), and this was my last post before my holiday hiatus, and has been my most popular by far. Enjoy.

The Big Clean 2.0

So we are past Thanksgiving, which means — in my eyes at least — it’s basically Christmas. And once it’s (basically) Christmas, the year is (basically) over.

Can you believe??

There are some days I wake up and 2020 has felt interminable, and some mornings where I wake up surprised at the chill in the air because part of my brain has stalled out in mid-March, but either way, next week in the first week of December. 2020 has days left in it.

Fucking finally, honestly. Despite being cautiously optimistic about the new year — Trump finally ousted, several potential vaccines, a number of personal projects on the horizon — I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself. There’s still a ways to go, I know, and likely I’ll be spending the earlier part of the year still mostly homebound (which isn’t necessarily the worst thing, honestly). But, if I’m going to still be stuck at home, my home is going to be my fucking sanctuary.

So, it’s time to start prepping for The Big Clean 2.0.

I did a Big Clean last year; it was part of the earliest days of this iteration of the blog. Essentially, I made a massive list of things to do around the house, and tore the house apart, one room at a time, in the liminal space between Christmas and New Year’s. Walls were scrubbed, cabinets were reorganized, matresses were flipped, linens were laundered, closets were cleared out.

After spending most of this year in the house, rest assured that there is much to be done this year as well.

The purpose of The Big Clean — my entire point in doing it last year — was the idea that, I am most creative and more productive when I set myself up for success. I have considerable executive functioning issues, so the more scaffolding I can put into place to establish organization, routines, schedules, etc. the better my mental, emotional, and creative health. In the past, that has meant creating daily schedules and checklists, buying and organizing craft and home storage, and getting a daily planner.

Most of those items from last year have fallen by the wayside as my needs have changed and adapted to our “new normal;” my morning routine is significantly different to what it used to be, my nutritional and exercise needs are drastically different (and my health, as I’ve mentioned before, is suffering as a result), and my systems of organization need refining, especially as I am using my crafting supplies more frequently and need to figure out how to adapt the storage to be both more mobile (I do a lot of work in my living room) and more inconspicuous (for the same reason).

It also means refreshing my perspective, my goals, and my personal space — both online and off. My bucket list, for example, has lain stagnant on this website for a while — I frequently forget to update and check in on it, and it doesn’t get a ton of engagement. That last part doesn’t bother me per se — I keep it because I like documenting my progress in pursuit of goals for personal accountability, and that was a major part of starting this blog — but, sans regular engagement, I often forget that it’s there, and if I’m not checking in on it every once in a while, I’m likely not making any progress on it, either. That being said, there are also a number of goals I’d put on this list out of a feeling of obligation, and goals I kept off out of a sense of them being a bridge too far, and neither of those things is really conducive to keeping a bucket list. The items should be a true reflection of your personal goals and desires, and not dictated by how obligated you feel to achieve them (“I should really put ‘write a novel’ on there, even though I really don’t love writing long-form fiction, because isn’t that the ultimate Writer’s Aspiration?”) or how plausible they seem (“I mean, touring around Italy sounds amazing, but would we ever really be able to afford it?” Bitch, if you make it a priority and shop smart, you might). I will be moving my bucket list, going forward, to a social bucket list site — DayZeroProject, or one of the Bucketlists, .org or .net ,who knows — which I can still link from here, but through which I can also gain targeted engagement with likeminded folks, so that hopefully my goals will stay closer to the forefront of my mind than they do with the current, less dynamic system.

I’m also going to take down my art page and link instead to an off-site gallery — I’m currently on DeviantArt, and actually like the community, so I may stay there and link to my DeviantArt portfolio — in order to save space on my account, and I have a lot of poetry from past NaPoWriMos and other older, abandoned projects to include in my Writing archive.

This weekend, I will be setting the list of To Dos for The Big Clean 2.0; I learned some things from last year that I will be implementing this year (i.e., the proper order in which to tear apart a room to avoid driving yourself crazy; where you can cut corners without feeling like you’re slacking; where the extra time and effort is really needed, etc) and made some discoveries along the way (such as how satisfying it is to own actual art from independent makers as opposed to mass market trinkets, and how that’s going to be a goal of mine in 2021, as well as creating a place in my home to properly display it (that’s going on the bucket list; you’ll see).

Anyway, I have my work cut out for me this weekend, since along with all this planning, I have two piece of art I’m working on, and a lot of organizational stuff I need to do in order to prep for work on Monday and Tuesday.

Speaking of prep, I leave you all with a question: what are your favorite storage and organization solutions, especially for 1.) makeup, 2.) art supplies, and 3.) holiday decor? And what is your favorite planner? (Analog, I don’t love planner apps or anything digital (though I do add social events to our Google calendar and use alarms).

Anyone else, with a glimmer of hope in their hearts, planning for the new year?

Stay safe and sane. Stay hopeful.

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is complicated; I don’t know that we, as Americans, celebrate any unproblematic holidays, given the mottled history of the country, but I also think that having a day devoted to reflection, gratitude, giving, and family (found or biological, both are valid) is important. We generally keep our celebration focused on those personal aspects — expressing gratitude, reflecting on our privelleges, and hopefully considering what we can do to help those who are not as fortunate as us — while acknowledging the complex and problematic origins of the holiday.

None of that I guess is especially relevant to the meat of this entry, but I guess as a personal blogger, I just kinda wanted to get my personal feelings on the holiday out in the open. Do with that as you wish! And if you have any good recommendations for books targeted towards 5 – 8 year olds that delve into the complex truth of the holiday, could y’all end them to me?

Anyway, because of the surge in COVID numbers and the corresponding surge in my own ambient anxiety, today was spent at home, getting some chores done (like, an hour and half of the three of us just tearing into Bear’s train wreck of a room), Zoom/Meet hopping, and taking phonecalls — between it all, we got to talk to/see my father-in-law and his wife, my brother-in-law, my sibling-in-law, my mom, my dad, my brother, and Kira’s mom. In the midst of it all, I decided, rather spur of the moment, that I was, in fact, going to cook a pseudo-Thanksgiving dinner, despite there being, in practicality, only two of us (Bear eats… very little, both in terms of breadth and volume. Whatever I made, he likes wasn’t going to eat it).

So I foraged around, and managed to scrounge up two ham steaks, maple-butter sweet potatos, steamed baby carrots, potatos au gratin, and mac and cheese. While things were cooking, I happened upon a jar of Dole cling peaches in juice, and a couple of Pillsbury pie crusts, so I made a peach and vanilla tart for dessert. Nothing was groundbreaking, but everything turned out well, and we ended the day well-fed.

How many families didn’t? I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately; how in my daily life I bitch and moan about work stress, but I still have the luxury of not only having a job, but having a job that granted me the flexibility to work from home, and on top of that, a job I enjoy. How I’ve been able to keep my job, my income, my home during this pandemic. How my quality of life, financially at least, has stayed the same. How we were able to keep our insurance, and how, while our insurance has not always covered everything, it has covered life-altering HRT for Kira and the consultations and bloodwork I needed for my diabetes scare.

I have so, so much to be grateful for, in spite of the pandemic.

My family, and friends; the chance to work on growing as an artist; a steady job and supportive coworkers; a livable wage; a home with functional heat, water, and electricity; clothes that fit; a spending budget; a wife and son who love me.

And even more things that the pandemic has taken away, or put on hold; how much will my appreciation deepen for those things now that I’ve lived life without them? How amazing will that first dinner at the winery be, post-COVID? How absolutely refreshing the smell of the ocean? How exciting the dimming lights before the curtains rising at the Opera House? How validating the first win when we have our Game Nights back? Hell, how ridiculously Zen the simple act of browsing the aisles at Target while sipping Starbucks?? And how fucking drunk am I going to get barhopping with my sister when this is all over??

Seriously. I have so much to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to.

I hope today was a relaxing day for you, however you celebrate, or whether you celebrate or not.

Stay safe and sane.


I also keep a gratitude journal, often for more mundane experiences or things, on Tumblr: @plum-blossoms. If you also keep a gratitude journal, I would be happy to follow or be followed by you.

Darkness and Light

It’s ten minutes to four as I start this entry, and it feels like 7 pm. It’s been getting gradually darker outside for the last 40 minutes, which has left the living room (where I’ve been camping most of the day) glowing cozily in the light of the tree.

Yes, we put up our Christmas tree. We have a five-year-old, and his year (and ours) has sucked. Its been my mantra for years, but I will stand by it most vehemently this year: let people have their silly, insignificant little joys. Let them have their frivolous fun. Just, for God’s sake, let them eek whatever enjoyment they can out of the fleeting moments of levity this year.

And for those who just can’t seem to muster up the enthusiasm for the holidays (or anything) right now, that’s also okay. This has been a clusterfuck of a year; it’s been rough, and traumatic, and depressing, and some people have been hit especially hard. We all cope in different ways. But that’s just it: we all cope in different ways. Putting up my tree and cranking Christmas carols is cathartic for me. Like, is there something to be said about the agressive pushing and commercialization of the holiday and it’s increasing encroachment on the calendar? Oh, absolutely. But maybe not this year, ok?**

This has long been my favorite part of the year, and even though this year is going to be a lot different, I still love the chill in the air, the lights and the music, finding gifts to make people smile, and having time at home with my family.

I’m not sure how that’s going to play out this year; for a long time, my state was at something like a .5% positivity rate, so we opened up our quarantine pod to my parents and brother (and the family they live with). Now with rates soaring again, even though their lifestyle has not changed (they are still exercising all the same precautions as they were at the start of the pandemic), I’ve become paranoid and nervous once more. There was never a plan for a big gathering, but I had considered stopping by to see them over the long weekend, to do a Hunt a Killer box or have a movie night. Now, I’m not sure about seeing them at all for the foreseeable future.

This is the first time, I think, since the start of the pandemic, that I have acutely felt like I’m going to be missing out on something important. My birthday hasn’t been a major event in years (my last “big” hurrah was my 30th, and even that was only about six people, and a fairly cozy upscale brewery experience), and our anniversary has traditionally been a quiet affair (an overnight babysitter, a really nice dinner out, and then home to cozy up and watch Netflix, because we are secretly 80 years old). The winter holidays have always been the consistent biggest celebration of the year since… huh. Since I was born, really.

My folks went all out on Christmas. I mean, gift tallies in the thousands of dollars, seeing every conceivable relative on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, prepping and eating massive amounts of food, bottles of wine and bear everywhere, heaps of homemade pastries, new frilly outfits, special breakfasts. Going to a Catholic school — as I did for sixteen years — meant that even the run-up to the holidays was festive. We had nativity plays, devoted Christmas prayer services, holiday gift exchanges, Christmas talents shows, movie days. The holiday was huge and immersive.

We… have pared it back. Quite a bit. We do the tree, and some crafts; we always visit Kira’s family on Christmas Eve and mine on Christmas Day. We watch holiday movies and play Christmas music, and I make a special breakfast Christmas morning. My parents still go all out, and Bear, as well as both Kira and I , are showered with more gifts than we know what to do with, but our at-home affair is more modest. Even so, it’s going to be quite a deviation to not be able to tour around and see the families this year.

I mean, I get it. I understand it.

It still sucks.

But. I’m hearing news of three viable vaccines; I’m hearing some of the early rounds could start being distributed next month. I’m hearing experts hopeful that this will be “over” by mid-year 2021. I feel like we still have a ways to go — and I don’t plan to abandon the mask in public anytime soon (or ever, honestly; I think it’s a great idea if you’re sick, or in huge crowds, or during cold/flu season), but it’s still nice to see the glimmer of a light at the end of a tunnel. It’s nice to think of this as something finite. I will sacrifice a face-to-face Christmas if it means full freedom to visit my parents, and play with my game Night crew, and have dinner at our favorite vineyard spot, and hold the babies my friends delivered in the midst of COVID, and be the Matron of Honor at my best friend’s wedding.

And hey, maybe we can have a Christmas in July.


**An addendum to the, “don’t be a dick about people celebrating the holidays early:”

While no one should be crapping on your happy-fun-times, where you are simply trying to find some joy in this dumpster fire of a year, neither should you be compounding other people’s troubles or hardships. While there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. Retail workers, who are some of the hardest working and least appreciated people on the planet in ordinary time, do not need to be dealing with a Christmas rush this year, and — sorry — have a right to be upset at masses of unruly crowds, this year more than ever. COVID is still happening, people; string up your lights, put up your tree, buy gifts online, send them to your loved ones, hunker down at home in front of the computer with a big mug of hot cocoa and have a fun Zoom Christmas (or go and see the select members of your quarantine pod). But stay out of stores. Stay away from crowds. Shop local when you can; shop independent makers; shop digitally.

Stay safe.

Artist

In an attempt to get back into reading while still pursuing my Special Interest of the
Moment, I (digitally) took out a couple of library books about art. The one I’m working through right now is called Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon, the author of Steal Like an Artist.

I have this perpetual concern that I don’t complete enough work to ever gain any credibility as an artist, or that I don’t have the raw talent to ever confidently call myself one. I came late to the game in terms of doing art; or, at least, in the corners of the internet art world in which I lurk, it certainly feels like I have. Realism is not really something I strive for; I think I would like trying to dip my toes in it at some point, but I really loved more stylized, illustrative works, so those are the sorts of artists I’m following. People who produce webcomics, independent illustrators, character designers.

And, oh my God, so many of them are so young. Decades younger than me, sometimes. Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years old, with a few years of consistent practice under their belts. Then here I am — pushing 40; having stalled out of drawing entirely at about fifteen, with very little consistent practice even before then; two years into teaching myself to draw, with myriad gaps and fits and starts in between.

And I know it shouldn’t be discouraging. I know. I know the factor that separates us really is time — time devoted to learning techniques, to practicing, to actually doing. I can see the progress I’ve made it two years, even with all the interruptions I’ve had; imagine what I’d be doing if I didn’t have a full-time job, a child, the responsibilities of a household, raging ADHD…?

So every once in a while, it’s nice to get a reminder like this:

There’s this idea that’s hard to shake, that I’ve spoken about extensively before, that you’re not an artist until to reach a certain level of skill. But remembering that artists grow and evolve, and that even mediocre artists are artists — I’m defined by the act of creating, not the quality of the art I create. And the more art create, the better that art will be.

I mentioned to my wife today — this year has been markedly different from the last few. This year, my periods of “art frustration” — feeling “empty,” feeling like I have no ideas, or no inspirations — have been unusually few and far between. They haven’t been non-existant, of course, but the bigger impetus to my output this year has been general stress and ambient chaos — and frankly, I am just going to put it out there that I feel like most of that has been well fucking warranted.

But I’ve had ideas. I’ve had a steady flow of thoughts and projects that I’ve wanted to work on. I’ve pushed writing to the backburner for now because art for my in more muscle memory, and with how crazy the world has been and the toll that has been taking on my mentally, that seems like it’s for the best, but I’m even starting to have ideas for writing projects again (I fully intended to start NaNoWriMo — ha!!! Like I wasn’t going to be driven to the brink of losing my shit by the election), and am keeping a running tabs of ideas to work on when things calm down in the world, both the one outside and the one within.

It’s almost like, once you start creating — once you move from the doing nothing to the doing something — you start to gain momentum.

You start to notice yourself getting better, and you start permitting yourself to dream bigger and take more risks.

And you start wanting to do more, and more, and more.

This is the first year of my life that if someone asked me, I would tell them I made “art.” I haven’t made the leap to not qualifying the word yet; I’m afraid I would still append “amateur” to “artist.”

But last year, I would not have even used the word “artist.”

I’m making strides. Earlier this year, back in March, I took a leap and submited three of my pieces to a local exhibition that was meant to elevate the work of women and non-binary artists. Sadly, this was the week before COVID really took hold and lockdowns began, and I don’t know — with my city still in the red zone, and cases rising again — when or if that will ever actually happen. But that doesn’t take away the fact that I took that shot. It doesn’t make me less proud of me for taking that leap.

I just took another huge (for me) leap. I don’t want to say what it is yet (“I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious”), but I will let you know when decisions have been made and plans are set in place. I am cautiously hopeful, but whatever happens, I am proud of myself for putting myself out there and taking a chance.

This year has been good for some things.

I hope you can think back on a few bright spots. I hope you can carry something out of this year that brings you hope, or comfort, or pride.

I hope to post more frequently. I know, I say that a lot. I’m trying.

Stay safe and sane, my friends.

A Little Each Day

I want to go back and see when it was, exactly, that I bought my tablet, but honestly, it doesn’t really matter. The fact that I’ve had it for any length of time without breaking it out to take it for a test run is sacrilige, quite frankly. And I know for a fact that I can count the time in months rather than days or even weeks. Totally unforgivable.

I finally started in on an analogue drawing a did a couple of weeks ago. After yet another long bout of producing little-to-nothing, I sat down on a day off and decided to just commit something to paper for the fun of it. And honestly, despite having no pre-conceived notion of what I was going to do (or — let’s be honest — because I had no pre-concieved notions of what I was going to do), I had a blast, and was quite content with what I came up with.

Last Friday I had nothing but consults on the docket until 1:25 pm, with — I knew — a high probability of getting stoof up. So I staked out space in front of my wife’s computer, logged into my virtual meeting rooms, and loaded up PaintShop.

My consultees never showed, but I started teaching myself rudimentary, inefficient digital painting.

As I’m sure is obvious, this is pretty early in the painting process; I’ve laid down flat color as part of the background layer, and am adding more layer with contouring, highlights, shadows, etc. It’s bare-bones basic, and probably an incredibl inefficient and messy way of doing things, but… you know, I’m figuring out how to make the machine do what I want it to do. Maybe not in the easiest way, maybe not the fastest way… but actually in a pretty fun way? Like, it’s cool thinking, “hey, I’d really like to get her hair looking a certain way,” and then puttering around and figuring out my own homebrew way of getting that to happen.

Maybe I’ll actually watch/read a tutorial some day. That day isn’t today. Probably not tomorrow, either. But some day.

I spent another hour and a half working on it today, and I’m hoping to wrap it up by the weekend (I’m bound by my work schedule and by Kira’s computer use; if she’s home, I can’t use her computer, so it’s going to take longer than I’d like it to, but I will get there eventually).

Hope you are keeping creative, safe, and sane.

I’m still here!

This has been an unexpectedly long time away from blogging that I’m hoping to end with this post. Not that this post in and of itself is going to be especially deep, or especially funny, or especially thoughtful. Really, I just want to break the silence and say, yes, I am still here.

Since last we spoke:

I was prescribed Paxil, which my insurance refused to cover; so I was prescribed Prozac, which my insurance was asking a 100% co-pay for (how…is that different from just not covering it?) which I then opted to simply not pick up.*

I tried weed to see if it would be helpful for acute stress/anxiety, but had a really poor reaction to the THC, which sucked a whole damn bunch.

My mom bought me CBD oil, which is working wonders for her and my dad (chronic pain), and I pick that up tomorrow.

Bear started K2, all online. He’s been pretty into so far, honestly, and has been doing pretty well behaving during the Zoom meetings, at least as well as I would expect a five-year-old to.

And… I’m working from home.

Holy fucking crap on a cracker. Let me tell you. The instantaneous relief I felt from that phone call felt a lot like euphoria; weeks and weeks and goddamn weeks of relentless anxiety and uncertainty, gone.

I mean, to be replaced by the daily anxiety of trying to juggling homeschooling a kindergartener synchronously while simultaneously teaching a class via video conferencing myself, but hey. That will eventually become routine.

I have a job. I have an income.

I….have not done any art in weeks. This is going to a long road back to feeling creative.** Actually, it’s going to be a long way back from feeling anything but exhaustion, I think.

But I’m here. We’re here. And we’re doing ok.


* The meds were a new prescription, I’m not just ditching my meds. Don’t just ditch your meds, guys — talk to a doctor first. Also, I’m not anti-med by any means, I just feel like in my situation, I’ve got a handle on the chronic anxiety, to the point where it’s really just background noise and not really something I feel like I need a daily medication for (and with the work-for-home allowance, even the acute anxiety has lessened considerably. I’m actually feeling functional again).

** I will be participating in Drawtober in October and NaNoWriMo in November, so at the very worst you’ll see me working then!

Another Work/Life Update

I have some reassurances that the things I am concerned about at work (don’t you love how vague I am?) are being considered.

Ok, so, namely — I need to work remotely. We live in a “red zone” city, and my son is on mandated remote learning, which means the child care inherent in in-person schooling is gone (and honestly, it would have been disasterous to put him in school even if that were an option, with something like 4000 active cases in our city). Also, if I enter the building, I will not be able to bring him to my mother’s house — they’ve let me know, in no uncertain terms, that they cannot take him, and I one-hundred-and-ten percent agree. Both my parents are nearly 70, my mom is asthmatic, physically disabled, and partially sighted (complete blindness in one eye and partial sight in the other), and they share their home with two people who are also immunosuppressed. I could not and would not take that chance.

So my options are COVID Emergency Leave or remote work, which I parroted back more than once to HR, my building principal, and my department head. My department head (and two of my co-teachers) did say that I was specifically requested by certain teachers to do remote work with some of our specialized population via the remote learning academy, and that the schedule will be out “soon;” I’ve heard nothing from the building principal, but this is her first year as principal and literaly everything is a shitshow, so I’m cutting her slack. The gist of this is, I have hope that I’m being heard and my needs are being met, which is better than I’ve had in several weeks.


I woke up this morning to a full Twitter inbox because someone tagged me in an art photoset — they’d used my modelling photos from FatPhotoRef! It was really cool! I’ve never been used as a model before. My wife and I are going to take some photos tonight based on requests from the Discord, so hopefully I’ll have another set up there in the next few days.

Ugh, fate willing, I will have more fun things to talk about than continued work drama soon.

Stay safe and sane, everyone.