Creativity Dump

I’d forgotten how fun Twitter prompts were.

Back in the day, like a hundred iterations of the blog ago (ok, so probably like, early 2016) I used to do Twitter prompts all the time.  I don’t know when or why I fell out of it; I think because I felt obligated to turn every prompt into some elaborate, epic poem, when really the point was to create a piece of micro-poetry that could — gasp — be posted on Twitter.

Returning to it this past week, man, it is fun.  The really strictly condensed prompt tags like #hintfiction (25 words or less), #storyin12 (12 words or less) and #hangtenstories (10 words or less), as well as #haikuchallenge have been a source or real, genuine creative enjoyment for me these last few days.  I’ve actually decided to start a monthly archive of my filled prompts on my Poetry and Other Writing Page.  You can read them here.

I also finished a drawing last night, which got a much, much warmer reception on Facebook than I was expecting:

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I am ever grateful that tomorrow is Wednesday.  Hopefully I can be a bit productive around the house and maybe even get some exercise in.

Take a minute to breathe, guys.  In and out, slow and steady.  We can do this.

 

The Brainweird

I have The Brainweird.

It’s not a term I came up with — you see it a lot among neurodivergent folks — and I usually use it on the lighter end of things, for the little inconsistencies and annoying quirks of my brain rather than the more disruptive stuff (which, thankfully, has become slightly more manageable the older I’ve gotten).

Today’s edition of The Brainweird is how I manage to feel absolutely useless and stagnant even when I’ve objectively accomplished a fair amount of what I’ve set out to do.  We (Bear and I) went to my mom’s today.  We each happily did our own things, and then reconvened to happily do some stuff together, and Bear got to spend some more time with Boopy and Goob again (I didn’t come up with those names, by the way, it just happens to be a convenient fact that my friends have given their spawn goofy nicknames that translate well to a certain degree of anonymity).

In our “doing our own thing” interims, I’ve done a fair bit of art, completing one project and starting in on another, and wrote a number of Twitter poetry prompts,  and yet I still feel like I could have done More, in some way.  I can look at the work I objectively did and know that the work is at the top of my game (not flawless, but the peak of my ability at the moment), and still feel like I’ve failed in some way.  Part of me feels like maybe it’s that something so self-indulgent as playing at being an artist, especially at my age and skill level, is almost unacceptably selfish (which is not something I ever project onto anyone else, so this isn’t aconcept that I ever globally apply, it’s really just me who apparently doesn’t deserve to do this for themself. So, yeah.  That’s where I’m at at the moment).

It might be — and I’m hoping it is — in part hormones¹, because it really sucks to not be able to enjoy my accomplishments even when I’ve finally actually accomplished something.  Not helping is the fact that my vacation is essentially over, and there was so, so much more I had hoped to do (even though, again, I did a lot of what I set out to do, which was relax and work on art).

My last finished drawing is something I am incredibly happy with, though I’m dissatisfied with the shading.  Still, I can see how far I’ve come since I started drawing/painting in February of 2019:

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It’s Friday night, and I hope you have something fun or relaxing lined up to treat yourself.  Enjoy your weekend.


¹Lending some credence to the idea that it might be at least in part hormones, I finished The Sun is Also a Star the other night and bawled my fucking eyes out.  So, I mean, something definitely up, yeah.  (I’m still slowly working on The Fifth Season, but I spend so much more time with my phone than me (borrowed) physical copy that it’s slow going.  I’ve also got a digital copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to start).

Little slice of life

I spent the first official day of my vacation at my parents’ house.  Bear got to hang out with the kids — including his cousins — and I got to spend some time with my brother and sister, which is an increasingly rare occurrence, especially since my sister and I had kids.  And honestly, I adore my niece and nephew (and Bear, obviously), but I’ve got to say, more and more I keep thinking that my siblings and I need to plan a Just Us night out.  Nothing especially crazy, just a night out, maybe at a local pub, without kids.  We could leave the kids at home with our partners, go drinking, and then come home and crash — hell, even at my place (my son is quiet, a heavy sleeper, and out like a light by 8:30 even on a bad night).  I miss having time to just shoot the shit with them, you know?  The last time we even really came close to that was our cousin Nikki’s wedding, and that was October of 2018.

I spent a couple of hours art-ing today, which was nice — I did a relatively quick (like maybe an hour and a half?) drawing in my sketchbook, and started another one , the latter being one that I had on the brain for a while, the former just something to occupy my hands while I sat and chatted with my mom and sister this afternoon: 20200217_162447

Today was immensely enjoyable, but also very much just about spending time with family and family friends in that sort of low-key, very familiar sense — wonderful to experience, but not exciting fodder for a story.  It was chasing toddlers, singing silly songs, laughing with my siblings, going with my sister on a McDonald’s run, coloring with my son, doing my nieces nails, etc.  I was dropped at my folks house at 7 am and picked up at about 5:30 pm, so it really was basically the whole day.

It’s Monday.  If you were off for the holiday, I hope it was relaxing, and if you weren’t, you are amazing, you are wonderful, and I hope people treated you with the kindness and respect you deserve.  You’ve gotten through the hardest day, just put one foot in front of the other; you’ll get where you’re going one step at a time.

Vacation

Tomorrow is Friday, and Valentine’s Day to boot.  Andy and I actually make fair effort to prioritize couple time (a privilege, I recognize; we are incredibly lucky to have my retired mother live so close by and  be perpetually willing to babysit), but it’s still nice to have an “excuse” to go out and be self-indulgent.

Bear is staying at my parents’ house tomorrow night, so Andy and I have the evening and the earliest part of Saturday to ourselves.  Honestly, having the morning to ourselves feels like so much more of a treat — not being awoken to the sound of a five-year-old trying to teach himself how to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on the recorder is a luxury you don’t recognize until you start being roused every morning at five a.m. by a one-man woodwind concerto.

Tomorrow is also, notably, the last day before mid-winter break, and I am so excited to have a week to pursue personal projects; I haven’t had a break that was filled with familial or domestic obligations since August, and I’m incredibly excited to get time to work on some creative endeavors (and a little bit of self-care, as well).

Today I did quite a bit of reading, and am 3/4 of the way through The Sun is Also a Star (I’ve got a soft spot for YA fiction, but haven’t been reading much of it in the last few years), and about 1/5 of the way through The Fifth Season.  I also did a little bit of art and wrapped up not one, but two drawings:

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Tomorrow is Friday!  Sing a little song, do a little dance.  You have arrived.

Recovering

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I’ve not been keeping up with my creative endeavors, but I’ve not been entirely slacking, either — I’ve got one more day, officially, with this challenge before I move on to lips, though at some point I think I’ll need to revisit noses (I hate them.  I hate them, I hate them, I hate them). Lately I’ve just been trying to recover from being sick — because inevitably, when I take a sick day for any reason than actually being basically bedridden (as I did this past Monday), it is all but guaranteed that I will get terribly sick in subsequent days.  So, getting sick wasn’t exactly a surprise so much as it was confirmation of the curse that’s followed me for well over a decade at this point.

I was determined not to take an additional sick day as a point of misplaced pride, so I carried cough drops, kept my hands clean, and went through a lot of Kleenex and hand sanitizer.  This is our last week before mid-winter break, a beautiful nine days off with no obligations, before the long haul of March (the month of No Days Off and MCAS testing) hits us full force.

Being sick knocked me on my ass, though.  I’ve not gotten any sign work done, and even reading has kind of been a slog, since my head has been full of cotton and I’ve been distracted by how badly my throat hurts (ugh, it had been a while since I had a full-on sore throat, and it is such a miserable experience).  All of that has more or less subsided (throat is still tender when I yawn, but swallowing is okay now).  I’m starting to look forward to getting back on track with my art, now that my head can actually hold onto thoughts beyond “So tired, need sleep.”

Today Bear and I sat down and did Valentine’s for his class.  Oh man, let me tell you — what a wave of nostalgia when he brought home The List of Classmates.  I remember sitting down every year and spreading things out in front of my like I was some master craftsman — colored pens or pencils, tape (if I was sending a goodie along with the Valentine), stickers, envelopes — and crossing names off with this, like, refined precision.  It was honestly probably the most organized and on top of things I had ever been (or like, would ever be) in my life.

Bear and I picked out Toy Story valentines, but he wanted to do something a little Extra.  There were some Valentine’s packs that had little treats, but most were candy (and the school has a no food treats rule, because of food allergies), and the ones that weren’t were stickers for properties that we’d never heard of.  So, Bear and I spent the afternoon making bracelets for his classmates.20200209_141155
I’d had the elastic laying around from a mail trade with an online friend about five years ago, and the plastic beads let over from making pride charms seven or eight years ago.  The letter blocks were an impulse buy from Dollar Tree within the last two years, and I was thrilled to finally get to use them for something.  The whole ordeal — letting Bear address and sign all the cards, making the bracelets, sealing them — took about two hours.  He had a great time, and it was nice both spending time with him, feeling like a Pinterest Mom for once in my goddamn life, and getting to do something moderately creative after nearly a week of stagnation.

Tomorrow is Monday.  Starting is the hardest part, but chill out, charge up, and start strong.  You can totally do this.

Endings

This is the last of the Week of Eyes sketches, and the first several sketches in my series of noses.  I’m not displeased with how they are going, and I’m certain then will look better in anatomical context, but man — I still hate drawing noses.

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I have spent the last several day consumed by the fannish aftermath of The Good Place finale.  There’s a popular meme format around Tumblr called “________________ Spoilers Without Context,” which usually uses images unrelated to the given media that will obliquely harken back to a moment in the show/episode, but only if the reader has seen said media.  I can’t find one for the finale yet or I would have linked it.  Suffice it to say, approach this one armed with plenty of fluids to keep you hydrated.  If you’ve any thoughts on said finale, I’d love to hear them.

It hurts letting this show go, far more than I anticipated it would three years ago when I started watching.  I initially started watching because my husband had been intrigued by the premise, and we caught up with it via Netflix — the first season was a whirlwind that was hard to walk away from — we marathoned the entire thing in maybe a week, and that took an incredible amount of restraint on our part.  Since then, watching week by week, it became one of my absolute favorite pieces of media of all time, with some of my favorite characters, and one of my favorite ensemble casts ever.

I am not someone who knows how to like things casually.  I don’t “sort of” get into a lot of things.  More often than not, I am either entirely disinterested, or I am in, with every fiber of my being.  This was a show that captured my whole heart, and I will miss it with my whole heart as well.

There is a passage in a book by Banana Yoshimoto that I often point people too when they try to talk about that feeling of a favorite piece of media — be it a book series or movie franchise or show — ending, because it captures the feeling (for everyone, but especially for those of us with various media as our Special Interests) so well:

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From Goodbye Tsugumi, by Banana Yoshimoto

I’ve been going back and reading some of my favorite fanfic in the aftermath of the finale.  I try to keep this blog relatively tame, so I sadly can’t link a lot of the fic I read, ahem (though, as deeply and utterly as I am in love with Chidi/Eleanor, I can enthusiastically recommend most fics tagged Hellstrop (or Eleanor/Michael)).

However, there was one fic I sought out today that I read when it was still new.  It remains very underrated, and it deserves so much more love than it’s gotten.

somewhere else, by zedpmTahani, Chidi, and Jason reckon with being alive.  Written prior to the premiere of Season Three, it would now be considered AU, but it is beautifully written and satisfying, with so many moments that ached, much in the same way the finale did.

It’s Saturday night, guys.  Go do something good.

Bookish

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Surprise!  I feel that this sketch is definitely evocative of surprise, so that’s a win.  I’ve got one more day of eyes (I think I’ll post the full sheet of eyes at that point), and then it’s on to noses.  In the meanwhile, I’ve had about four false starts on another micron piece that I hope to begin in earnest tonight, even if it’s just the roughest blocking out of shapes, and then on Friday night/Saturday, I hope to break out my new acrylics and my new brushes for the first time.

I finished White Fragility today, eleven hours before my digital loan expired (down to the wire!), making that Book Number Three for 2020 thus far, which is, hmm, three times as many as I read all last year.  Yes, shamefully, I only read one book in all of 2019, and even that was only to encourage a student who had been assigned to read that book for class.  It wasn’t for lack of interest, I just couldn’t seem to allocate time for reading in my schedule.  I’ve resolved to make it more of a priority in 2020.

My husband, himself a voracious reader, issued himself a challenge last year.  As someone who reads primarily speculative fiction, he resolved to not read any books written by cishet white men in 2019 (with the exception of new books released in series he was already currently reading).  As a result, he’s acquired a fair collection of speculative fiction by people of color, women, and queer/trans authors, and upon his urging (and that of several other friends), I’ll be starting in on N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy.  I actually attended a few panels with Jemisin when she was a Guest of Honor at Arisia several years ago, and although I haven’t read any of her work yet, I remember enjoying a lot of what she had to say about the process and craft of writing, so I look forward to starting the books.

Side thought:  Sometimes I get a terrible case of choice paralysis when it comes to books.  I feel like, part of me wants to be at the literary zeitgeist, reading all the most current, critically acclaimed novels (either literary award winners or popular, NYT-bestsellers, take your pick at any given moment); sometimes I want to read all the books deemed “classics” in their respective genres; sometimes I want to latch onto one author and read them extensively.  I just feel overwhelmed.  I want to read things that are relevant (i.e., current or popular), but I know a book doesn’t lose it’s merit simply by being older; I want to read the classics, but I’m never sure where to start (or whose definition to take into consideration regarding what makes a classic); when I find an author whose voice I love, I want to explore them deeply, but I do tend to fall into repetitive ruts, and I’m always wanting to expand my repertoire.  You’d think the vastness of the book choices available to me would be exciting — and I mean, it is — but I also feel like I’m drowning in options.  And realistically,no matter how I chose to proceed, I’ll never be able to read all the books that I want.  That’s it’s own kind of tragedy, right there.

Anyway.  All this to say, I’m reading again.  And I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far, and I hope to discover some wonderful books and authors in 2020.  And feel free to leave me book recs whenever.  I’m trying to remain open to literally anything, so go bonkers.

Work has been draining as all get out, and it’s only Tuesday.  I am incredibly lucky to have and wonderful support system of coworkers I genuinely like and appreciate, but I will still be happy to put this one behind me when the weekend gets here.

Tomorrow is Wednesday!  Up and over the hump.  I got you.

Food for Thought

Day Five in The Week of Eyes:

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It’s in no way perfect, but I feel like looking at this drawing, even in isolation from the rest of the face, it’s clear that the intention is smiling/happiness.  If I want to be a more expressive artist and better at rendering the human face, I feel like this is stepping in the right direction.

Yesterday we met up with some friends and their one-year-old for lunch at our favorite local Indian restaurant.  Bear surprised me by trying subji, chicken korma, and some samosa — and liking all three!  Of course, he filled up on naan, tandoori chicken, and a huge mango lassi (which our waiter had put in before Bear was even seated; they know him so well), so he didn’t eat a whole lot of the new food.  Still, I’ll take what I can get.

We’re still in the, “all I want to eat is mac ‘n cheese/chicken nuggets/fries/corndogs” phase, though we seem to be inching slowly into slightly better territory.  He’s all for fresh fruits (apples, bananas, grapes, blueberries, cherries), and he’s started eating things like seasoned chicken breast, homemade meatballs, soups, and turkey sausage, along with fruit purees and organic fig and fruit bars.  So, it’s slow going, but it’s progress.  At least I feel like he’s getting a few servings of fruits, veggies, and general nutrition along with all the processed junk.

I’m very careful, as I want him to have a healthy relationship with food — one that I was never able to have — to avoid telling him that any foods are “good” or “bad” foods, just that some are “more nutritious,” and some are “less nutritious,” and we need to learn to balance them.  Far be it for me to take away his chicken nuggets!  Just, maybe he could eat them with a side of fresh carrots now and again, you know?

You know, there was a time when I thought maybe part of my “art” would be cooking; that I’d be able to forget myself and escape into creating delicious food, but something about cooking — maybe the mess inherent in the process, maybe the multiple step recipes, maybe the necessity of multitasking — that exacerbates my anxiety in all but the absolute ideal circumstances.  If my home is otherwise pristine, if I’m mentally relaxed and have ample time, I still enjoy playing around with recipes, but between my hang-ups in the kitchen (as a cook) and my son’s (as an eater), I have periods of being especially ambitious followed by long stretches of the most simplistic meals imaginable.  I mean, Bear doesn’t complain, but sometimes I have to wonder if I’m part of the problem.

Speaking of, tonight’s dinner was grilled cheese (a classic), which gave me time to sit and finish my third micron drawing.

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Tomorrow is Tuesday.  Keep climbing that hill.

In a bind

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This was a rather haphazard sketch today, as I was balancing the laptop on my lap (where I had the reference picture on my browser), my paper on top of that, and my son literally bouncing on the seat beside me asking me one-hundred-and-one questions about Pokemon (all of which, I am one hundred percent certain, he already knew the answer to).  This was supposed to reflect a more fearful expression; I feel like maybe it’s a good representation of trepidation or hesitation, but not so much fear, per se.  Still, I have three more days left in my Week of Eyes, so I think I’m going to try surprise, laughter, and sadness/crying for the last three attempts.  Noses will be next, because I struggle with them like nobodies business and I desperately need the practice.

I hit a milestone to cross something off of my bucket list; I earned the Amazon credit I planned to use to buy my binder, but now I’m feeling strangely nervous about it.  It’s probably my natural anxiety about things, but I feel like lately I’ve just been reading a lot of cautionary pieces about wearing binders (and of course, there are safety precautions to be taken, and most of them boil down to make sure you take a break, listen to your body, don’t keep wearing them if they hurt, make sure they’re the right size for you, etc.), but it leaves me uneasy.  It wouldn’t be for full-time use (I wouldn’t be binding everyday anyway), but it would be nice to have for the days when I just don’t feel femme at all.

I have enough other non-binary and trans friends that I feel like I should just ask, though most of them are more casual acquaintances (conventions friends and such) and I would feel slightly awkward asking them directly.  I might just scream into the void on Facebook and see if anyone offers up anything useful.  I’ve been doing some reading, but I always feel more reassured (or more persuaded) when people I know personally give me their own takes on these things.

Tomorrow is Monday.  Take a breath, take a bath, read a book, have a drink.  The week is full of possibilities, and you get to decide how to approach it.  Best of luck.

Today I’ve Learned

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I’m not sure it’s quite as intense as I had hoped to go, but it actually does bear more than a passing resemblance to the reference photo I chose, so for that alone, I am happy.  I can’t believe how reading one tutorial and watching the accompanying video has made such a huge difference in my approach to drawing eyes.  I’m going to try to find more tutorials on YouTube and maybe start making some playlists for reference — grouped by, I don’t know? Theme?  Medium?

Today has been a “blah” day.  I woke up at 6:30 and lazed about until my son came bounding in and urged us all up and out of bed.  I quickly discovered there was no milk for my coffee (I’m not a “fancy” coffee person, but I can’t stand it black), and spent hours just trying to motivate myself to do anything with very little success.  My major accomplishments today have been grocery shopping and getting the dishes done.  I’ll have to be content with that, I think.  I’ve gotten a Weather Advisory on my phone that we’ll be getting a “potent storm,” but there’s no definitive indication about whether it will be rain or snow, though honestly, I wouldn’t say no to another snow day or two.  I haven’t had an extended break that wasn’t full of obligations, whether familial, social, or household-related since the summer.

Although, apropos of nothing, I did learn something today!  My son, ever curious, asked me today what a baby donkey was called (it’s a foal, by the way), and I wound up falling down a donkey-related rabbit hole on Google and discovered that while an animal born by a mare and sired by a donkey is, of course, a mule, the biological reciprocal of this (born by donkey, sired by a stallion) is called a hinny.  A hinny.  This has inexplicably made my day.

Also, male donkeys are known as jacks, and females are known as jennies.  I have no practical application for this knowledge at the moment, but I always like discovering more technical and precise language because when I do write, I find that specificity in chosen language is incredibly satisfying.¹

I am hoping to wrap up my third micron drawing tonight, and perhaps develop a game plan for chores for tomorrow.  Dinner tonight is going to be chicken noodle soup, made from one of the deli’s delicious rotisserie chickens, and I’m hoping that that, and a nice mug of tea, might help me feel a little better.

I hope you are all having a lovely Saturday.


¹Tangential to that, one of my favorite things to look up are collective terms for groups of animals.  My favorite of those are: a crash of rhinoceroses, a bloat of hippos, a flamboyance of flamingos, and an unkindness of ravens.