A-to-Z Challenge: Generate/Grenade/Gun

I didn’t write a vignette for this one yet, nor is my brain cooperating to write one now (I’m halfway through my second glass of wine, and it was a day that warranted a two-glass-of-wine night, so there you go), but some of the inspiration that words lent was something along the lines of: someone being shot, and the ramifications thereof. Each bullet generates a series of distinct possibilities even before the bullet emerges from the victim’s body — there’s a world where they die, a world where they suffer permanent injury, a world where the bullet narrowly misses a major organ, a world where it barely grazes their arm — and it generates paths and possibilities for their assailant, as well. Will they be haunted for the rest of their life, will they be vindicated, will they repent and seek forgiveness, will they walk away scott free, will they spend the rest of their life behind bars, etc.

I liked that I conceived of this is a slightly more abstract way; I made a few short notes to myself, but I would like to see the moment from two perspectives, the silhouette of the victim getting hit with the bullet, and the bullet itself, barreling through, generating a galaxy of possibility in it’s wake.

Again, to refresh: This month I am generating three words a day using a random word generator, and creating a rough sketch and short prose vignette based off of the words. My five favorite will be turned into fully-fleshed out digital paintings and short stories in May (and likely beyond).


Anyway, Day Seven, woo! One whole week of A-to-Z. In the interim, I’ve been slowly working — off and on — on a digital piece, and I’ve been applying to some zines as interesting ones are popping up via Twitter. Most of my energy has been going towards work– as in, my day job — trying to keep my head above water with regards to chores (failing that pretty hard-core right now) and making some tentative plans with people now that my sister, brother, mom, dad, and wife are all or will all be vaxxed by next Friday! I am beside myself ecstatic. We still have to be careful, because we all have young kids who can’t get vaxxed yet, but as long as no one is taking the kids gallavanting all over town and all the adults are vaxxed and continue to observe safety measures (masks, distance) in crowds, it will be nice to get Bear some socialization again. He is sorely lacking for it, and his behaviors have been skyrocketing again.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. Tomorrow is Friday, and I am thrilled. One more week until Spring Break (which will be spent mostly at home with my newly vaxxed wife (ahhh!!), but I may take a day to induleg myself at my parents house so my mom, brother and I can catch up on the frankly embarrassing backlog of Hunt-a-Killer boxes).

Cheers. Stay safe and sane, all.

A-to-Z Challenge: Fox/Fire/Fashionable

No one seemed to know who she was, if the furrowed brows, and the ill-hidden whispers were any indication. Certainly, in theory, that was part of the point of a masquerade, in theory; mystery, anonymity. But in plain reality, a birthmark, a throaty laugh, the twist of a lip in a familiar smile, the cadence of speech — there was littler mystery as to who anyone behind the paper and silk masks were. David had greeted many of the guests by name, wrapped his arms around them in a familiar embrace.

But she… she was different.

“So, how do you know the host?” he asked, sipping his wine when he turned to the table they were sharing. She tipped her head to the side, observed him from below the frames of her red and golf-foil mask.

“Intimately,” she said, a smile twisting the corner of her lips.

He choked. She laughed.

“Sorry,” she said. “I couldn’t resist. But honestly, it’s a long story, and not nearly as interesting as you’d like.”

“Oh? How would you know what I like?”

Her eyes flashed, gold and luminescent in the dim light.

“I have some idea,” she said. The curl of her lip revealed a glint of teeth, ivory white and unnaturally sharp.

He swallowed. She held out a hand, slender-fingered and elegant. Her nails shone crimson and gold like her mask, sharpened to a fine point.

“Come with me and we can see if I’m right,” she said.


Day Six, and one day behind — again. I know, I know, this is a repeat of every year. My brain isn’t working so good right now, guys. I’m in a slump — partly hormone-fueled, I’d wager — and having a hard time getting out. Still, every little step forward is a win. And however unsatisfied I am with any given entry (see the Insta caption for that), I have to keep in mind that it’s all supposed to be conceptual this month. I’m only putting together blueprints in April. Final products will be assembled in May.

That being said, the prose piece here was fully stream of consciousness, and written directly in the text editor as I was assembling this entry, and I’ll be honest — I’m pretty proud of this little bit of writing. It’s been ages since I’ve written anything — let alone prose — but I have been uncharacteristically happy with how the writing for this month has gone so far.

Anyway, in an attempt to get myself out of my mental slump, I think moving around and perhaps some chores are in order, so I will be doing that soon after I hit publish.

Stay safe and sane, everyone.

A-to-Z Challenge: Early/Encouraging/Earthy

It had started with a solitary air plant, the wispy, spidery fronds reaching out towards her like lazy fingers to run along her cheeks unexpectedly as she glanced past to retrieve her keys or her backpack. An unobtrusive little bromeliad, hanging in a homespun macramé pot holder, just above her desk. She thought little of it, though she would find herself idly paging through her notebooks on rainy mornings, before sunrise, her fingers carding through the overgrown leaves as they would through a lover’s hair.

After that it was small clipping left over from store bought herbs; sprigs of rosemary carelessly potted just to see what would spring up, small pewter pots of mint and basil perched on the windowsill overlooking the campus quad. Then, slowly, succulents, robust little creatures that could withstand the days of neglect when exams were in full swing, or the stretches of scatter-brained insomnia when she was assembling the final pieces for her portfolio.

She had barely noticed how far gone she was until Jackie came by one night near the end of term. She looked around, mouth slightly agape, pushing through the wayward striped fronds of a spider plant to enter the living room proper. Callie busied herself with pouring coffee as Jackie slid a collection of old ceramic mugs packed with sprigs of chamomile and sage to make room for herself on the kitchen bench. She sat gingerly, eyes roving around the greenery encroaching on far more of the apartment than Callie seemed aware of.

“So…” she started slowly. “Is this some… like… hedge witchery thing?”

“Some… wait, what?” Callie said, placing a mug of coffee before both of them. She pushed a succulent, it’s fleshy leaves purple tinged, tot he edge of the table to make room. “What do you mean? Hedge witchery??”

“Well,” Jackie said meaningfully, gesturing. “I mean… come on.”

“I literally have no idea what you’re talking about,” Callie said honestly. She took a long sip of her coffee, tucking her feet up under her.

“But… I’m intrigued,” she said, reaching out to run her fingertips over the soft edges of a plush plant. “Tell me more.”


Day Five! That write up with literally stream-of-conciousness, though I had the idea for the sketch — or at the very least, wanting to do something with a lot of plants and greenery — since I generated the words, about two weeks ago. I’m not one hundred percent sold on this exact sketch — I think I’d like something with her more “among” the plants, with more a sense of her surroundings and how encroaching the greenery is on the totality of her space — but I like the idea.

Also, it’s really hard not to over-think the sketches and be like, “no, that’s not nearly good enough! I’m not a top-tier artist but I have standards1” I have to be like, “Bitch, chill, it’s literally a sketch, if you even pick this one it’s going to be redrawn completely in May! It does not have to be perfect!”

That being said, onward and upwards. I was definitely in a better place mentally today than I was yesterday, though I am still not at 100%, but I have high hopes for tomorrow and beyond.

As always, stay safe and sane.

A-to-Z Challenge: Day/Dismissal/Direct

Today was a poor mental health day for me; I didn’t sleep much, and everything seemed overwhelming and oppressive. I managed to do a very, very rough sketch, but I didn’t write a vignette to go along with it. However, the prompts — day, dismissal, direct — have very strong sense memories for me, and the scene I sketched resonates with me quite a bit.

When I was in high school, my school building was, for all intents and purposes, on a riverbank. We were not directly on the banks of the river, I guess, but when the river flooded — which was not uncommon in the spring — our school would have to close, because the parking lot would become unusable, many of the roads in and out would become dangerous to navigate, and some of the basement-level classrooms would flood. This would mean, mid-day sometimes, they’d have to call the day and send us home.

This was in the mid-90s, pre-cell phones, and our school had two office phones and one pay phone off the social studies hallway. The lines, as you can imagine, for a school of about a thousand students, were unbearable. So, for those of us who lived within walking distance, walking was often the less frustrating option.

My best friend and I would usually leave together, heading towards my house; now, while the girl in this sketch is wearing a uniform, that’s sort of a conflation of the experiences of my high school and middle school experiences. My high school had a massive strict dress code, but my middle school had a proper uniform. Given how badly the surrounding streets would flood, we would often be wading in Catholic school khakis and buttons downs through knee-deep water, squelching most of the way through the city, along the flooded park, back to slightly drier land and busier streets. The rule was, because our folks hated us walking home through that much and mess, that if we were to do it, we were to take the most direct route to the house, which was about a twenty, twenty-five minute walk.

So of course we routinely stopped at a bodega to grab snacks and pet their cats.

The bodega I remember the most was almost claustrophobically small. There were bins of tostones and bundles of sugarcane on the counter, shelves of Goya treats and soft drinks in the cooler by the door. The huge, tortoiseshell cat would lay on the understocked shelves, watching you out of his one good eye.

We’d stop on the stoop to unwrap gold foil packs of Maria cookies and pop open cans of tamarind soda and guanabana juice. By the time we got back on my house, our feet would be rubbed raw, the flood water staining our pants stiff.

Flood days are among my fondest memories from high school.

Day Four done! Onwards and upwards to Day Five. I think I have up through “K” planned, but this weekend I’ll have to buckle down and load up the random word generator again.

It’s getting later and I have felt exhausted all day. Stay safe and sane, guys.

A-to-Z Challenge: Correspondence/Craft/Contact

I added a row every time I missed you, it said. Stitch upon stitch upon stitch for every lost kiss, every missed movie night, every meal eaten at a place set for one. There were days I was afraid there wasn’t enough wool stocked in all of Vermont to keep up with how much I missed you.

“Sappy ass,” Victoria muttered, her mouth twitching up at the edges. She looped the scarf around her neck, once, twice, the length of it sweeping her feet, spilling over the edge of her bed as she lay down. She held the letter parallel to the mattress, squinting through the one eye not obscured by her duvet.

By the time you get this, we’ll be on the cusp of Spring, Danielle continued. I thought I should send it to you while you could still make some use of it; and honestly, if I held on to it for any longer, there’s a good chance you’d open the door one morning to find the fraying ends of it encroaching on your doorstep. It’s really in everyone’s best interest that I send this out now.

Victoria closed her eyes, breathed in. The wool smelled faintly of the peppermint tea that it had been packaged with, and the cloying smell of Danielle’s ginger and lemon soap. It smelled of morning coffee, and the cedar logs that she’d burn as she worked on her knitting on the couch, the TV on but turned low, bright colors and a low hum in an elaborate pantomime.

One more term, she ended. One more term, and my life will be mine again, ad your again. Ours again.

Ours again,” Victoria repeated. She closed her eyes, gathered the feet of felted wool in her arms and held tight, imagined the curve of Danielle’s back against her chest, the flutter of a heart beat beneath her pressing hands.


Day Three! And, uh, only one day late! This was a “planned outage,” so to speak, so I’m not exactly upset about it; having Sunday off lends itself to being a make up day.

As a reminder, this month I am generating three words to use as an inspiration for a sketch and a short written vignette. The ones that I like the most will be taken and fleshed out — the sketches turned into proper full digital art pieces, the vignettes fleshed out into proper short stories — in May. I’ve got to be honest, this is the most enthusiastic I’ve been about an A-to-Z in the last several years.

I’m neither in love with not particularly upset about this entry; I like the quaint idea of writing actually, posted letters to your love; I kept penpals for years as a young adult, and well into adulthood (I was collecting snail mail penpals via LiveJournal well into my 20s), but I feel like no one does that anymore. Which is such a shame. Who doesn’t like getting mail?? Still, of the three I’ve done so far, this is the one I’m least attached to.

Hope everyone is doing well in their challenges. I don’t anticipate this is the only art I will complete this month — I’m currently working on a digital piece, for example — but I’m also not going to force the issue, either, since May is going to be a busy month already, though I’m actually really looking forward to it.

Stay safe and sane, everyone.

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

2badge

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).

20200419_155656

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

A-to-Z Challenge: Make You Better

2badge

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.

20200418_171601

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

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

2badge

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.

20200417_101052 (1)


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

A-to-Z Challenge: Stuttering (Kiss Me Again)

2badge

Look, I’m going to level with you all:  I’m hormonal, I have monstrous headache, I fell behind on chore and challenges, and a new OTP has eaten my brain, so today I wanted something quick, cute, and kinda goofy.

With this being said, a quick (like, fifteen minute) micron sketch.  (Also, I suck at facial hair, holy shit).

oakson

Stuttering (Kiss Me Again)*

It’s been, it’s been, it’s been, it’s been
Su su su such a long time, long time, long time
Since anybody touched me, touched me, touched me
The way that you touch me

So if I stutter, stutter, stutter

Then I feel so so so unsexy
So maybe I’ll just keep my mouth shut
at least until you kiss me
So kiss me again
Cause only you can stop this st st st st stuttering
Kiss me again
And ease my su su su su su su su su su suffering
I know I know
It’s so it’s so sy sy sy sy sy symbolic of everything
Everything that’s wrong with me and you
So tell me what I’m supposed to do
Oh it’s been ages since we’ve been really honest
But I can make ch ch ch ch changes if you really want this
So kiss me again
Cause only you can stop this st st st st stuttering
Kiss me again
And ease my su su su su su su su su su suffering
Kiss me again
Cause only you can stop this st st st st stuttering
Kiss me again
And ease my su su su su su su su su su suffering


* This song came utterly unbidden into my head as I was folding clothes, for no apparent reason.  Haven;t thought about it in years.  Incidentally, it was my custom ringtone for my husband when we first started dating.