An Emotionally ExhaustingWeek

A few things this week:

I’m writing this slightly more than 48 hours post-full vaccination!! I got my second dose of the Moderna vaccine at Gillette Stadium on Saturday at a bit past 11 am. The whole vibe there could only be described as “festive,” honestly. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and most (possibly all?) of the people coming through the West Clinic were there for their final doses. I walked in at 11:05 for my 11:18 appointment (technically, three minutes earlier than I should have, but I wanted to hit the bathroom first — hey, Gillette is over an hour drive from my house, and I had my morning coffee before getting in the car, ok?) and I was sitting in the post-vax observation area by 11:16. The observation deck door was open, with people post-vax milling about outside, taking selfies over the field, so of course I had to step outside. God, what a gorgeous day. Being outside has become a rarity for me; being outside on a gorgeous spring day, knowing that I could finally breathe a little easier, was an amazing feeling.

Watching that number go up in real time did funny things to my insides, guys. Just, the idea that — while we aren’t out of this yet — that this is finite. It was an emotionally as well as physically exhausting day.

The side effects hit a few hours after I got vaxxed, and peaked mid-afternoon on Sunday with chills, body aches/weakness, and a pretty bad headache. Still, given how hyped up the possible side-effects were, I feel like I got off pretty easy. I had certainly felt better, but I had most definitely felt way worse. I spent Saturday and Sunday on the couch and in bed, drinking a lot of water and watching a lot of YouTube (namely Simply Nailogical, NerdECrafter, and any and all James-Acaster-on-panel-shows compilations I could find), and after crashing last night around 10:30 (very early for me, who usually doesn’t go light’s out until about 11:40), I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. My arm is even less sore than it was after my first dose. I’m incredibly excited for more and more of my friends to get their final doses so we can start getting together again.

And to continue the ride on the emotional rollercoaster, tomorrow is, at long last, Bear’s IEP evaluation. I have nothing but respect for Bear’s teachers, but the remote learning journey is absolutely failing him, and casting in stark relief all of his learning and behavioral issues. As a highly-intelligent, hyperlexic, inattentive, hyperactive, emotionally dysregulated child, he is basically the perfect combination of both a young Kira and a young me, and we — and Bear’s teachers, for what it’s worth — are banking on a diagnosis, and hoping that getting an IEP in place will help when we finally get back to in-person lessons in September.

Oh man, September. I keep thinking about going back to work, and every time I do, I start crying. I miss going to work. I miss seeing my coworkers and my kids. If fall is one of my favorite times of the year in ordinary time, this fall is going to be the most highly anticipated ones in my life.

That’s it from me. Stay safe and sane, everyone.

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.

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.

End of Summer

We are in a lull between a string of storms making their way across New England. The first batch barely left an impression; about an hour ago, I noticed a notification from my weather app that I had missed timestamped at 11:55 am that notified me rain was starting in five minutes. If that happened, I didn’t notice it. Actually, no; I left the house at 1:30 with Bear in stocking feet, and the ground was dry, so it definitely didn’t touch us. The second one was pretty firece in terms of rain, with a couple of good peals of thunder, but over within an hour. The sky looks like another might come through soon, but right now it’s still. I’m hoping the humidity will break when the last one rolls through.

It’s been a quiet summer in terms of storms; I remember childhood summers where we spent days upon days watching the weather channel, monitoring rain moving through the area, being shepharded downstairs by my mother on the days when they worst of them rolled through. When we were slightly older, I remember distinctly sitting out on our three-season porch with my dad as the storms came in; my mother hated it, which, I think, is part of why we did it (I mean, honestly I think that’s part of why my dad did it, too; my mom was insufferable when bad weather was coming through, talking incessantly about nothing else, harrassing people into bunkering with her, etc.) I still love the smell of ozone, and that strange moment of perfect stillness right before the first major wind whistles through the trees. There hasn’t been much of that this year. Not for us, at least, and here we are at basically the end of summer.

Melissa texted me this morning that a work friend brought her a pumpkin coffee this morning, and that, for me, is one of the surest signs of imminenet Fall. There is a part of my brain that’s still stuck perpetually in March, when time existed and I had a rhythm and a life outside of this house (and a tight, tight circle of other people; though how grateful am I for those other people). Seeing September on my calendar already seems like a joke, thought I hesitate to call it a cruel one. It means time is passing, and — for me at least — faster than I could have anticipated. I thought this situation was going to drag, but it actually hasn’t. We’re moving. Time is passing. Things are changing. However long it will be before we see an “end” (and an “end” is going to be a gradual thing anyway, not a one-and-done set point in time, but regardless), we are moving towards that “end.” We have not stopped. We have not stood still.

I hope you are all still moving forward. I hope you are all still pursuing whatever ambitions lit your flame in January. This is not the year I had envisioned, ot by a long shot, not by any stretch, but I have made more progress towards some of my goals than I thought I would even back when we thought that was going to be an “ordinary” year.

I hope you are finding joy in moments, and in the increments of progress you are making on your ambitions and projects.

Stay safe and sane, everyone.

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.

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.

Missing Work

Today was the first day in a long time when I did nothing art related. Well, I’m doing a massive Reeves paint-by-number that my sibling-in-law gifted me back when they were downsizing in prep for their temporary move to Sweden, but nothing as “authentically” creative as my own drawing, sketching, or designing.

Part of that was time constraints; I had synchronous (video) classes today at 8:30, 9:30, and 11:30, with 10:30 being occupied by a trip to the school to retrieve some essential belongings. Being back in the building was bizarre. The hallways were all one-ways, with designated up and down staircases; half the classrooms were torn apart for the summer cleanings, so the hallways were packed with all sorts of classroom detritus, doorways to classrooms with newly waxed floors were hung with caution tape; signs and posters for upcoming events and club meetings that never got to happen were still hanging on the walls. It wasn’t “burst into tears” sad, but it was “dull ache deep in my chest” sad.

I’m glad I brought my keys as sort of a last minute whim, because when I got to the room I needed, it was locked. Opening it was like opening a little time capsule. Krissy’s umbrella was still hung up behind her desk. Stapler and paper puncher still on the table where Patty, Kyle, and I were sitting when news of the closure came in through e-mail. When I opened the cabinet where I usually kept my laptop and found it empty, I had a moment of panic until I realized, oh, wait — the day of the closure, I’d spent some time on my laptop, at the desk in the back. The laptop and bag were still propped against the filing cabinet under the desk where I left them, 11 weeks ago.

My mail box was empty, but my cap and gown had come in, for the graduation ceremony that would have been June 1st. The ceremony that I would have carpooled with Kathy and Patty for.

It’s weird, and I don’t think I realized it at the time, but man, what a difference it made just… seeing people’s faces? Only a few — they were tightly controlling the number of people in the building, and only at a distance — but just seeing other human beings in person, who don’t live in the same house as me? I’m not really a “social” person, I don’t make friends easily and I’m uncomfortable in most social situations that don’t have clearly defined rules and roles, and I have managed to completely take for granted how significant of a role in my social needs fulfillment that this job — full of people I’ve worked with for years in an environment and role that I know like the back of my hand because I’ve worked here for nearly 40% of my life — fulfills. How much stopping into a classroom and chatting about TV, or my son’s latest escapades, or school gossip, actually meant, how much it actually bouyed me along and helped me feel tethered to something.

Quarantine has not been bad, honestly. I am incredibly fortunate to be in isolation with people I love, incredibly lucky that I can do my job from home, incredibly privelleged that we have not lost income. But there are moments and days when I’ll think I’m totally fine, and then I’ll get a work email or see a video the kids put together, and I just lose it. I just utterly lose it.

I miss commiserating with people I feel comfortable with. I miss the kids. I miss sitting around the tables in the learning center and shooting the shit once the last kid leaves. I miss faculty meeting where all the teachers act like goofy middle-schoolers and our department head surprises us with donuts. I miss hiding out in the vocational office during a free block, or running copies as a favor to a friend.

But so it goes. We’ll see what the fall brings us. When I do finally find myself back, I know we’re going to celebrate. I’m looking forward to it… whenever it is.

Stay safe, sane, inside.

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.