What I Miss

I talked to my friend Melissa via Discord for the first time (with the exception of “you still ok?” texts) since December.

We’ve been friends for eightteen years, so long stretches of not a whole lot of talking — because I have a kid, because she works a weird retail management schedule, because we both have anxiety (which is incredibly mentally draining) — is not unusual or particularly upsetting. With COVID, though, this absence from each others’ lives has been longer than intended or anticipated. So chatting was good; more than good.

She mentioned a post that popped up on Facebook Memories that morning, of a beach trip she, I, and my sister took, nine years ago (holy shit); we reminisced about how drunk we got, and walking back from the bar to our hotel, how worried all of us were that she was going to run into the sea “to make sweet, sweet love to the waves, as was her wont.”

Oh, God — I miss the beach, I said.

I miss going out and getting buzzed, and I miss streetlamp lit walks back to our hotel, and the smell of saltwater and the crash of waves in the background. I miss bad karaoke at La Bec Rouge, and free Sour Apple shots on Ladies’ Night, and mind-numbingly hot waitresses, and seductive indie guitarists playing on the patio.

I told her how, every once in a while, I get struck by how badly I miss something that COVID has changed, or taken away, and how I keep thinking I should write about that, even though it seems like everyone and their mother is writing about it, and I couldn’t possibly add anything exceptional or new to the mix.

You should, she said. It’s good to think about. It’s good to keep in perspective, and to aknowledge an appreciation that you never really considered before.

So, here are the things I miss that I’d never really appreciated before.

I miss stopping to grab a latte at Dunks before an all-day shopping spree with my wife.

I miss calling my mom up in the early morning and asking if she wanted company, then packing a bag with stuff for Bear and heading to her house to spend the day there.

I miss impromptu McDonalds run with my sister and her kids.

I miss propping open the front door, and letting Bear play with the neighbor kids (as long as I could still hear them!) until dinner time.

I miss standing outside my son’s school with the other parents, waiting for the janitor to open the doors for afternoon pick-up.

I miss listening to podcasts on the treadmill at the gym.

I miss piles of air matresses on the floor, hard cider, and old I Love the 80s reruns at sleepovers with my friends.

I miss clandestine cigarettes out on my sister’s back porch after the kids have gone to bed.

I miss stocking up at the grocery store for supplies for a weekend potluck.

I miss scrounging through clearance racks at the change of seasons.

I miss sitting and reading a magazine in the Children’s Room at our library while Bear plays with the hand puppets and Thomas the Tank Engine activity table.

I miss rainy nights in the Boston’s Theatre District, and long walks between the restaurant and the theatre before a show.

I miss the early morning anticipation in the admission lines for Comic-Con.

I miss cosplay meet-ups in Boston, I miss conventions, I miss packed-to-capacity panel rooms with a hundred nerds in costume.

I miss midnight movie releases and line parties.

I miss my sister stopping by hours early before a party with alcohol and baking supplies.

I miss sending my son to school on field trip days.

I miss crowding around a computer with my mom and brother to play an escape-the-room game.

I miss knowing my wife has something wonderful planned for our birthdays, or anniversaries, or whatever special occassion she’s remembered (the day she gave me my ring, the day of our first date, the day we met it person, etc.)

I miss impromptu hotel stays with fancy dinners when my wife thinks I’ve been too stressed lately.

I miss… the freedom of not having to plan for my every move, to take into account every possible precaution to make sure I’m not bringing home a potentially deadly pathogen. I miss being able to be impromptu. To be spontaneous. I missing being able to do, without having to mentally measure physical distance or remember to bring masks or stock up on hand sanitizer.

I miss being able to write my chronic anxiety off as “excessive.” I’m tired of my fears being vindicated. The novelty has worn off.

I made my first trip to a store today, set foot inside a retail establishment for the first time since March 12th. It was terrifying, even though everyone wore a mask and kept their distance (though that was really encouraging to see). I have my first social event tonight that isn’t just with my family, in the form of an outdoors, socially distanced get-together for the 4th — nine people including us, BYOB, some food but all single-use disposable serving utensils and all disposable plates and cutlery, plus a bevy of sanitation precautions for bathroom usage and hand sanitation. It makes me feel a lot more comfortable going somewhere where I know we and the other guests and interested in mantaining all the safety protocols, but man, I miss not having to worry about safety protocols.

I miss the days when the biggest social safety protocols I had to worry about was keeping my wallet and drink close by and arranging a designated driver.

But if we keep living like this, we keep… living. And honestly, I will trade conveience for peace of a mind and a chance to safely see my friends. I hope all of you realize that that’s a worthwhile trade off.

There’s a lot to miss, but there’s a lot we can still do if we’re just conscientious about it and follow the experts’ guidelines.

Stay safe and sane, everyone.

Ringing Out #Pride

I’ve had murals on the mind, as of late.

I’ve had a lot on my mind, as of late; I’m sure I’ve mentioned it.

This is the crossroads of those two things.

A few days ago, my husband of ten years became my wife of ten years. Or rather, revealed she was my wife of ten years — coming out is about recognition and revelation of what has always been there, however deeply it may have been buried.

One of people’s first questions over the last few days when she’s been telling people she’s trans is for them to ask — either bluntly (as my father-in-law did) or with more subtle, gentle language — if she and I were staying together.

I mean — yes, of course. We love each other, and gender is incidental to me at best (my own gender being fairly ambiguous, and my sexuality being pretty flexible). Any fears or concerns I have — and I do have them, don’t get me wrong — are focused entirely on the cruelty and intolerance that others are capable of, not of my own feelings of attraction or affection towards her. The relationship between she and I, our own interpersonal give-and-take, has not changed. Will not change, at least not directly or dramatically from this, and at least not any more or less than any relationship shifts and changes over the years as both parties themselves grow, and shift, and change.

I cannot imagine not being in this with her for the long-haul. I cannot imagine her not being in my life.

And so, as Pride Month winds down, and my wife begins living her life authentically, I painted our closet doors with our Pride flags.

From left to right: genderqueer and bisexual (mine); trans and lesbian (hers).

The weather has turned from warm to hot; the typical summer thunderstorms have been rolling through all day, teasing a break in the humidity.

We’ve been invited to some social events — all outdoors, all socially distanced, all COVID safety guidelines compliant — and are hoping to get out a little more frequently with smaller groups of friends in the warm weather. I know there must be some mental health benefits to seeing people, and I know (intellectually) there are safe ways to do that, so we should probably make an effort. I miss the sun. I miss seeing people’s faces.

Stay safe, sane, and inside — or outside (masked and socially distant, of course).

Life Update

So life has been kind of a lot lately. Not bad — I don’t want to give that impression; we remain incredibly lucky — just a lot. It’s a combination of things that are so minute they don’t warrant individual examination and things that are simply not my right to divulge at the moment, but either way, life has sort of gotten in the way of creative endeavors.

I mean, not entirely. I have three #DrawingPride sketches that are in the works, I have two other sketches I’m slowly puttering away on (one in the planning stages, one that’s in an early draft in my sketchbook), I still plan on doing the Tarot set, and I’m working on setting up a few hopeful side hustles for the summer and beyond.

Working, I guess, has not been the issue, but feeling capable of the focus needed to actually see anything through to completion has sort of dwindled and died.

Temporarily, at least.

Things I’ve Been Doing Instead of Being Creative or Productive

  1. Solved our first Hunt a Killer case! One month and probably about sixteen hours of work later, 30s theatre icon Viola Vane has been laid to rest. No spoilers for the case, but I will say the hunch I was so certain about for the last couple of boxes was way off. We’re already mid-way through Class of 98 (box-wise, though I feel like I really need to go back and comb through the evidence more thoroughly), and we’ll be getting the first episode of our next serialized case shipped tomorrow.
  2. Started (sort of) rewatching Adventure Time. I don’t remember what spurred me on to decide to start the rewatch, but I’ve been picking and choosing old favorite episodes for a couple of days to revisit. I’m seriously considering starting a full, linear rewatch very soon.
  3. I’ve read 20 fics for The Fanfic Summer Reading Program. I did a deep dive back into House and Sherlock fandoms for my first week of summer challenge. I’d forgotten how much I loved both of those fandoms, and I might wind up continuing to read in them despite my Nostalgia Week being over.
  4. Realized that because of quarantine-induced lack of personal purchasing, my personal budget for June is $300. I’m not looking to go and blow it for the sake of blowing it, but I am looking at potential “just for me” purchases to brighten the days.
  5. Started playing Dream Daddy. Woo, boy, am I late to this game, but I’m having so much fun. This game is hilarious, and it makes me so happy that you have the option of being gay or bi and of being cis or trans. So far I’ve completed Joseph’s track and Robert’s and… I’m pretty sure I got the “bad” ending for Joseph, but I think… I think I got the best ending I could for Robert? I don’t know. After I go through the whole game once I’ll prob restart it and try to get different endings.
  6. Bought my son his summer wardrobe. If any of you have kids, go see if The Children’s Place summer sale is still happening, because man. I got the Bear eight shirts, six pairs of shorts, and a pack of underwear for about $67.
  7. Brought my sibling-in-law in to expand our Dungeons & Dragons party (via Discord and Tabletop Simulator). They’re playing an existing character that they’ve made and played for other campaigns. Bear loves getting to talk and hang out with his entle, and after yesterday’s hour-and-a-hald D&D session, they stayed on the call chatting and hanging out for another four hours.

I’m hoping you all are doing well, holding tight and preparing to ride the (sigh) “second” wave of this virus (we never saw the crest of the first wave, but let’s not get into that). I have read that with proper precautions and a slow and responsive reaction to medical data we probably can do a slow reopening without seeing a major spike. But again, that requires people to act responsibly and… well, you all know how that goes.

But all of you are cool, responsible folks. Right??

Stay safe, sane, and inside. Cheers. Hope to have some cool art stuff to show you all soon.

Selling Out??

I’ve started to slowly mirror my Art Gallery onto Artstation, to (hopefully) reach a wider audience, and to find professionals whose work inspires me. And, ideally, to maybe make a little extra money selling prints of some of my work. I know most of my stuff isn’t up to snuff yet, but I made prints of five works that I’m proudest of, and that I think hold their own as complete, individual works.

We aren’t scraping the bottom of the barrel my any means and I don’t want to make it sound like we are, but because of COVID I am losing my usual summer income, so I’m trying to find the potential for some passive income. I like having a financial buffer, and I definitely feel that way now more than ever. We will be fine without it, but I would still breathe easier with it.

If you have an ArtStation account, please follow me! I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the number of artists on there at the moment, and am feeling more than a little shy (which, I know, doesn’t bode well; sometimes I just take a little time to warm up).


Tomorrow, after much much wailing and gnashing of teeth (read: after rescheduling three whole-ass times because I can’t remember my own class schedule) I finally have a time slot to go into work and retrieve my belongings, one of those being my work-issued laptop (finally. Only three weeks before the end, too). I’m a little concerned that when I walk through those doors tomorrow morning, I might burst into tears, but c’est la vie.

Not much to remark on today, but I have some projects and plans for the weekend and beyond that I hope to share soon, so hopefully I can be productive going forward.

Stay safe, sane, healthy, and indoors.

Tactile

Still working through some serious art block. I think I have an idea of something I’d like to draw, but I’m just not feeling it at the moment. I’m still doodling — wouldn’t even call what I’m doing sketching, honestly, it really is doodling — more or less nightly, and I’m currently attempting the #SixFanarts Challenge (check Twitter for a bunch of way, way more talented artists’ attempts at it), which is at least keeping me drawing. Still, not feeling particularly inspired on that front at the moment.

So I decided to go back to an old love, which is Sculpey, and decided to make some altered boxes.

These are just the tops, removed from the (Altoids) box for ease of construction and baking. The eye and stitched skin one went surprisingly quickly (the skin tones are all tints from an old Wet and Wild eyeshadow palette — a really great Dollar Tree find that I always keep in my Sculpey kits (if you’re making anything with skin tones, a neutral matte palette is so much better than mixing colored Sculpey; that also applies to baked goods, like if you’re making cookie or cake charms)). The fruit one, though, took what had to be at least two and a half hours because of all the individual pieces, but I absolutely adore the vibrant colors and am probably proudest of that one.

I don’t have a ton of other altered box ideas in my head at the moments (well, maybe one or two) but it’s really gratifying to be able to switch mediums when one just hasn’t been working out for me, especially after so long (been at least, I’d say, two years since I’ve touched Sculpey).


My family’s murder box (Hunt a Killer subscription box) came today, woo! So tonight after Bear goes down I’m pouring myself a big glass of wine, cracking open my Murder Book (yeah, I have a notebook that is specifically my Murder Book, for working on the cases), and getting on Facebook Video Chat to knock out another suspect with my mom and brother. Not the worst way to start the long weekend.

Tomorrow, masks on, we’re going to have a socially distanced yard visit with my family; it’ll be the first time I’ve left the house/been in the car/seen them since March 12th. I’m super high anxiety about it; I feel my chest constrict every time I think about it, but I’m afraid if I don’t take the measured, safe steps now, my anxiety will become more and more insurmountable (we’ll all be outdoors, masked, more than six feet apart (they have a decent sized yard) and we’re all fairly low risk for carrying it, since aside from grocery stores and pretty isolated office work, none of us have left the house in nine weeks, and we are all being super cautious; it’ll be fine. It’ll be fine).

I know places are starting to open up — too soon, but there’s nothing I can do about that — but stay safe and keep staying in as much as you can. This isn’t over, but if everyone actually did their damn parts and acted responsibly (I wish I had confidence in my fellow Americans acting responsibly but, honestly (and sadly) I don’t) it might be manageable for now.

Anyway. Stay safe, sane, and healthy, everyone.

Before & After & Dungeons & Dragons

I’m still fighting some hefty art block; I went from having a running roster of ideas at the ready to spending hours doodling and gesture drawing just to come up with something.  I know that I’m going about things the “right way,” i.e., actually sitting down and going though the motions to unblock myself instead of swearing off drawing until “inspiration stikes,” but it’s still frustrating.

That being said, I finally went down to the basement and grabbed my Inktober 2018 sketchbook, and, again — wow.  There actually wasn’t a ton of stuff in it analogous to anything I’ve been drawing lately, so I just took the two drawing that were full-face portraits and am comparing it to a drawing I completed last weekend, on Mother’s Day:

So… that’s encouraging. I still have a long way to go, but holy hell, did I come a long way already.


Today was a low-key day. I finished a drawing (which I’ll upload later), puttered around the house a bit, called my mother, and embarked on what is sure to be a journey full of ups and downs — started to learn how to play Dungeons & Dragons.

Bear has been asking my husband to teach him for the last few weeks. I’d like to say it was watching my husband run his own D&D and GURPS campaigns over the last three years (twice a week, from out home via Tabletop Simulator and Discord voice chat), but no. No, it’s because he’s overheard us listening to Dungeons and Daddies1 (not a BDSM podcast) for the last six months, and has decided it’s the coolest thing in the world. So my husband has essentially been shown up in the eyes of his son, by four fictional (and debatably competent) dads on a podcast very much not intended for children. I think we’re going to win an award for parenting some day guys, I really do.

The first stage of the campaign was character creation — Bear decided to be a Fighter hill dwarf (or “dwarb,” as he says) and I’m a Druid halfling named Veerle. Bear has apparently heard and retained enough of the aforementioned podcast that he began wildly casting spells that a. he cannot cast because he does not have magic, and b. did not apply in any way to the situation:

Bear: I Rage!
Me: You rage?
Bear: I Rage at them!
Me: You don’t have Rage.

Bear: I cast Speak with Animals!
Andy: You can’t. You have no magic, and there are no animals here.

Bear: I attack with a spell!
Andy: You… you have no magic. And there is no one here to attack.
Me: We literally just arrived in town. We haven’t even seen any people yet.

Eventually I just looked at my husband and mouthed “I cast Magic Missile!,” because I feel like playing with him is going to be stuck in a very innocent version of the Dead Alewives skit.

Sketch is from ’96 (I remember it from high school) but this animation is cute.

All in all we played for about two hours; Bear’s first time in combat, his first roll was a crit hit and he took great pleasure is describing how he cleaved a goblic clean in twain; I, uh, crit failed at least one of my rolls and by all rights should have been permadead, but we fudged the rules since I was the only other player and Bear didn’t want to play alone. He got a kick out of it and is looking forward to playing more tomorrow. It would be nice if this could become a weekly thing, but we’ll see how long this holds his interest.

Hope today was a day of some rest and relaxation. Stay safe, sane, and inside.


1 Highly, highly recommended. I often re-listen to it at night before I go to sleep, and I’ve woken my husband up laughing on even the n-th re-listen.

Busy Hands

I think I’m going to recommit to learning American Sign Language this week.  It’s been ages (I don’t even know how long, honestly) since I’ve gotten any practice in.  I stalled out at Lesson 13 sometimes in probably February and just haven’t gotten back to it.

I know a lot has been said, including by me personally, about not feeling pressured to be “productive” or to emerge from quarantine with a bevy of new skills in tow.  But my anxiety has been hovering around baseline (with a lot of restrictions on social media consumption), and if I’m in a headspace conducive to pursuing an interest, I might as well — I certainly have the time to fill.

Even though it’s been a while since I’ve pursued any ASL studies, I remember feeling about it the way I feel about drawing now: how strange and unfortunate it was that I put off practicing it for so long under the baseless assumption that I would be no good at it.  And not just “no good” to start — everyone starts out not being good — but never any good.  I had somehow convinced myself that I would never get any better at either skill, because I had this perception of myself as being uncoordinated.  Which, to be fair, I am; but there are different kinds of coordination, and coordination can be improved with practice.  Within a couple of weeks of starting sign practice, I was remembering and recalling signs, able to show some dialectical variations; I was actually learning.  I was getting better.

So I’m going to start setting an alarm for 2:00 pm each day, and take an hour or so to work on ASL.  My work is done for the day by then, and any chores I do with any regularity should certainly be out of the way by then.  Let’s get back on track.


Speaking of improvements, I recently unearthed the mini-sketchbook I bought from Dollar Tree back in 2018 when I decided I was going to try my hand at Inktober, and oh my God, is that sketchbook a revelation, let me tell you.  Again, I know I have a long way to go, but it’s amazing how, even with sporadic practice (it’s really only since December/January that I’ve made art/drawing a regular part of my routine) my art has grown in leaps and bounds.

I have three new drawings to upload anyway, so I think I’ll try to find something relatively analogous (in subject matter or composition) for each of those in my Inktober sketchbook to do a side-by-side comparison.  That ought to be good for a laugh.


I spent some time today working from a resource my husband uncovered on Twitter¹ called Croquis Cafe.  They have both a Vimeo and a photo reference gallery of nude models for gesture drawing, anatomy drawing, etc. and it’s really great.  I did a few sketches of their model Tamara and was happy with the results.  (Also, please notice the emphasis — the subject matter is entirely non-sexual, but it is still full nudity, so NSFW, if that’s relevant to you).

Stay busy, safe, and sane everyone.  My husband is picking up reusable face masks for us tomorrow, courtesy of a friend who made them for us for free (two each for Bear and I, five for Andy since he’s an essential worker).  I’m hoping this makes me feel secure and safe enough to leave the house to go for walks and get a little fresh air, since I am actually starting to get a little stir-crazy.


¹ I deleted and recreated my Twitter yet again, because I still don’t know exactly what I want to use it for.  I start doing Twitter writing challenges and amass a following of folks who are very much Twitter Writers, and then I lose interest and start posting about, like, DnD Real Play podcasts, and I just know they’re all going “WTF?” and meanwhile my reading list is just haiku and self-promos (which is an absolutely valid use of Twitter, but I’m definitely not the target audience).  If you use Twitter for a smattering of personal.creative things, hit me up: @milkandkerosene.  I have zero followers and like, two tweets at the moment.

Creative Break and Family Time

I’m itching to crack open my new sketchbook.  Why??  I have several pages — like, more than several, really, though I’m definitely running low — in my old sketchbook, but I’m aching to open and start in on the shiny new one.  Do a lot of artists have multiple sketchbooks going at once??  Are they frequently thematic, or sort of an “anything goes” situation?  I plan on using the pages in the old one; I stopped doing really thoughtfully planned pieces with a lot of reworking and started doing more illustration- and comic-book-style drawings, because they were good ways to practice perspective and anatomy without having too much of an emotional connection to the work (which always leads me to second-guessing, obsessive reworking, self-editing, etc).  I’ve also been doing loose, experimental perspective sketches, so I’m definitely still using the old book.  I don’t know.  I feel like not giving myself permission to open the book is akin to my old habits of hoarding art materials until “the right time,” but I feel like starting it now feeds into my habit of starting multiple projects and than slowly abandoning them, one-by-one.  Advice?


I haven’t done any real art in several days (though I might post a sketch I did of a “Disney-style” witch illustration I did, which I kind of like despite some fair anatomy issues, and a mermaid (for Mermay) that I feel similarly about, despite similar issues).  I’m waiting on my watercolor pad to arrive, because my son made an art request that actually I really liked — “I want a Queen surrounded by birds” — that I sort of instinctively conceived of as a watercolor, so I want that to be my next significant project.

Plus, you know.  I’ve had other things to do.

I’ve been feeling incredibly lethargic lately, so a couple of weeks ago, I ordered a fitness journal in an attempt to start tracking things again — not so much calories, per se, though I will note them if it’s easy enough (calorie counting drove me bonkers, it plays into my worst obsessive tendencies) — but just general accountability.  It tracks glasses of water consumed, what you ate for each meal, what you did for physical activity, how long and how well you slept, how you feel that days, and how you think you could do better tomorrow.  Around the same time I ordered it, I got an email from some coworkers saying they set up a Wellness Challenge, to run from May 4th (around when my Fitness Planner was set to arrive) to June 2nd.  It seemed like perfect timing.

When my Fitness Planner arrive Saturday, days before the Challenge was set to start, I decided it was a great time to get other things in order as well.  So, I flew through and got the house clean, reset all my alarms so I’d get back on an actual schedule (5:30 seems excessive, though, so I set them to 7 am), broke out an old binder to use as an organizational “command center,” and re-committed to actually having checklists, to-do lists, and daily purpose.

It’s four days in, and it’s working for me so far.  I’m doing a little housework each day, writing out simple lists of priorities each morning, and doing — at the very least, in terms of physical activity — the ab circuit and daily challenge for my fitness challenge each day.  Also, re: water — hey, did you know drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day makes you feel significantly less tired?  It’s true.  Weird how that works, right?


Having things in order also means I have time (and energy!) for other stuff.  A couple of weeks ago, my mom told me my brother (who lives with her) got a Hunt a Killer subscription, so when the box arrived two days ago, he forwarded me and my sister photos of all the documents in the box, and I got online and Video Called him, my mom, and my sister, and we worked on that first box for two hours.  It was a lot of fun, even though we finished the objective of the box pretty quickly (like within twenty minutes).  There was still so much to go through and decipher, and it’s been fun messaging back and forth with them about theories and things we’ve read on the forums, etc.  I wish I could work with them in person, but this is still a lot of fun.  And honestly, my sister almost definitely wouldn’t be able to join us in person anyway, so this isn’t so different to how we would have to arrange it regardless of the circumstances, if we wanted to do it as a team.

On today’s roster is trying to get a little exercise in (the goal is 25 min, plus the ab circuit), clean out the fridge, take care of the upstairs bathroom, watch some Gravity Falls, find a good book to read, and meet up with my family after Bear goes to bed for happy-murder-fun-times.

Hope you’re all taking care of yourselves and each other.  Find something to do each day that makes you feel good.  And water!   Drink water!  Apparently that’s important.

Daily Life and Daily Sketch Dump

Since giving up on my April Challenges (good on those who followed through!), I’ve gotten back to doing regular ink work, sometimes in conjunction with watching some tutorials, sometimes just one my own and off the top of my head.  These are not photographed for the gallery (I’ll take better care doing that some other time), but here are the as-of-now finished versions of my three latest sketches.

I completed the foreground the first sketch (the fairy) simply in order to test a few pointers I got from a YouTube video¹.  I opted to fill out the image today while on a conference call, since I still felt in looked a little sparse.  I could have been more conscientious about the shading on the flowers, but over all it was always intended as a “quick sketch,” so I’m not going to agonize over it.

Second drawing I did just as a quick study of hands, since they (and feet, and to a lesser extent, noses) are still the body parts that give me the most trouble.  I added the plant yesterday, and the roots, extra leaves, and quote today.  Again, for something that was sort of spur-of-the-moment, I’m satisfied (looking forward to breaking out those new microns, though; look at the weight behind some of those hatch lines).

Third one I’m just really, really happy with.  Figure and birds were drawn partially from three different references, flowers were free-handed.  Completed it yesterday in its entirety while listening to podcasts.


Bear has been having a difficult time, lately.  He’s up every night and in our room, something that had become a rare occurrence before COVID-19 and quarantine became his day-to-day reality.  He says he’s happy about being at home because he can be with me and play whenever he wants, but I can tell it’s hard for him.

We’ve been letting him out on the porch in the nicer weather; I hesitate to let him downstairs because it’s already difficult keeping him and his friend next door apart.  They started out yesterday chatting from the porch and her window, and then moved to her being in her yard and them both drawing with chalk together-apart (she on her retaining wall, he on the porch), when we noticed the volume of his speech getting quieter.  He and she had pulled their jackets up around their mouths like face masks and were trying to sneak into the yard together.  Something similar happened today, as well, but this time he had an intense crying jag after.  I don’t want to keep him inside, because I think that’s counter productive, but I don’t know what to do.  I try to be as direct as possible with him about the severity of COVID and the seriousness of the quarantine without scaring the absolute shit out of him, but he’s five.  Even though he’ll tell people he can’t play with them or that they can’t see each other because of quarantine (something he’s repeated to his cousin multiple times over video chat when Ben inevitably asks him when they’ll see each other), he just doesn’t fully “get” it.  Which is a blessing, in some ways, but a curse in so many others.

His teacher messaged me to set up a Zoom conference tomorrow at five with a few of his classmates, which I think will do him a world of good.  I asked him today what the first thing he’d want to do after quarantine ended was.  He said, “Go to school.”  I think he needs the face time with his teacher, if no one else.  He went from seeing her every day and giving her a hug before we left to suddenly not seeing her for, we told him, two weeks… three weeks… six weeks… not again until at least September, at which point she’ll no longer be his teacher.  I honestly mourn his ability to say a real goodbye to his teacher and classmates.  It’s the same way I feel about my Seniors.

I myself had a Zoom conference with my department today, and scrolling through the three pages of attendees faces literally made me tear up.  I’m not an especially social person, but I’ve always taken for granted how much of a social thing work is for me, and how far that went towards fulfilling my social needs.  With that gone, I’m sort of lost.

I’m hoping to get more art done today, but barring that, maybe some binge watching or some work down in the basement.

Hope you are all holding up and being kind to yourselves.


¹ I’m considering putting up an old-school “links” page, for things like my favorite YouTubers (ArtTube, BookTube, general entertainment), forums I frequent, podcasts I enjoy, etc.  We’ll see if I can get that done by the weekend.  That’s the goal.

Gearing Up (31 Day Challenge: Days 30 &31)

31dayblogchallenege

30.  Something I Miss

I’m starting the third week in quarantine, and while I honestly feel like it’s moving a lot faster than I expected, I miss a lot of things I took for granted.  I miss morning announcements at school.  I miss the bus rides to the job site with the kids.  I miss stopping at my mom’s house after picking Bear up from school.  I miss unpacking Bear’s backpack everyday.  I miss kicking off my shoes when I come through the door after work.  I miss throwing some PJs in a Market Basket grocery bag and spending a Friday night at my mom’s.  I miss sitting outside a restaurant with an app for the table and a cold margarita.  I miss sitting around a Learning Center table right after the bell rings and catching up with my work friends.  I miss popping into Dollar Tree just to see what new trinkets they have.  I miss my niece and nephew.  I miss Boopy and Goob.  I miss being able to make plans with people.  I miss knowing when I’ll see people again.

31.  Why I Blog

Because it feels less like shouting into the void than keeping a diary does.  There are still some things I would never write here, some things that would get relegated to a diary, or to a vent session with a trusted friend, but it feels better putting things — thoughts, gratitude, goals, creative work — somewhere where others could stumble on it.  It feels less lonely, and more “real.”


And with that, I finished.  March did not end where I expected it to back at the beginning of the month.  But, anyway.  On to the next.

This morning, one of my work friends shared in an email that our school was still doing virtual daily announcements.  I clicked on the link she sent and it took me to the schools TV and Video Production page, and a video of the young man (a Senior) who’s been doing the daily announcements everyday for the last four years.  Something about seeing him sitting alone in his room and reading the announcements (“Today is Tuesday, March 31st, and it would have been a Day 2″) caught me really off-guard and made me cry.

On the flip side, today I had my second virtual conference (this time with my vocational staff and a couple of vocational students), and it was really reassuring and heartening to see everyone.  Seeing them, both staff and kids, at home with their families, and to see what they’ve been doing to keep busy (lots of kids doing art challenges! Drawing, singing, dancing) has been very grounding.  I have another conference next Tuesday at one that I’m looking forward to.

And I’ve started prep work for A-to-Z, because I function best if I throw myself into things (and I just feel better in general if I keep myself creative and productive).  I’ve got some work done on the “A” and “F” entries, and I’ve got to say, working fast definitely makes a difference in quality (I already caught a major error in my “F” drawing, but I’m certainly not starting it over; maybe I’ll make it a “spot the error” challenge, and the winner can get a shout out, ha ha), though the quality is still much better than I was producing during my first Inktober.

I try to set myself daily goals, but today has been rough after a mostly sleepless night.  The house is a mess and I have two week worth of laundry to fold, which I would like to get done before tomorrow, but tomorrow is Andy’s day off, which means a greater chance of being productive.  We’ll see how things go.

On the self-care docket today, though, is hopefully a manicure, a few episodes of Gravity Falls, and finishing the library book due back on Friday.

It’s Tuesday, but hey, time is imaginary in quarantine.  Stay safe, sane, and busy.  Try something new, or rediscover your love of something old.  Be kind to yourself and those around you.