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.

Settling in with Exhaustion

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I don’t talk about my work online, because I work at a public high school and even barring the very real rules and regulations we have regarding information we can divulge, I also simply don’t like discussing work publicly.  Suffice it to say, I honestly and unabashedly love my job, and my students, and my coworkers, and know how unbelievably privileged I am in that regard, but today was hell for reasons completely removed from my students or fellow staff.

I was literally reduced to a shaking, sweating, heart-pounding wreck by a series of increasingly uncooperative copy machines.  Oh my God, it was the most frustrating thing I’ve experienced in a long time.  I have very little patience for technology; its sole purpose is supposed to be in service of making our jobs easier, and when it massively fails in what is literally its only purpose — and not only fails, but actually accomplishes the exact opposite and infinitely complicates and hinders my ability to do my job — I get pissed.

I’m generally a fairly laid-back person at work; I mean, I have anxiety, but that’s an internal issue, and is not affected by nor does it majorly affect how I interact with students.  Sometimes students frustrate me, sure, but generally, 1. I can reason with them and usually come to some sort of understanding; 2. I remember what it was like being a teenager, and know not to take any of their obstinance or attitude personally; 3. I understand that they have an internal life that I am not privy to, and generally accept that any behaviors they exhibit are a result of them sorting through and processing their thoughts and emotions (in other words, I get that they are probably Going Through Some Shit, and I have empathy).

The copiers get none of that leeway.  Just print my documents, for Christ’s sake.  It is literally your sole purpose.  Geez.

But no.  Today they jammed on literally. every. document. Every. single. sheet.

For almost an hour.  Guys, I was livid.

But it’s over.  Ugh.  My assignment for tomorrow keeps me far, far from any of the tech that was the bane of my existence today, and by the end of tomorrow, I will have basically crested the highest hill on the road to Mid-Winter Break.  I think I’ll make it.

Tonight I’ve gathered my microns and am going to start inking and continue sketching the micron piece I’ve been holding out on, and probably begin the sketch for a subsequent one.  I’m really interested lately in drawing really mundane scenes, as I’m sure a few of you may have noticed — someone listening to music, someone reading a book (this one is someone sewing; the next is someone brushing their teeth).  I don’t know why, but it feels very satisfying to populate their environments with trinkets and tchotchkes, bits and baubles.  It gives me the same little voyeuristic thrill I used to get reading people’s personal LiveJournals, or driving by a house at night where the shades were drawn open, catching the blades of the ceiling fan casting shadows across the room in the blue light of a TV set to a channel I didn’t recognize, or catching the retreating silhouette of someone carrying trays of food into the kitchen.  I’m sure I will tire of it soon, and in the greater scheme of things, I mean, does it carry any artistic merit?

Who knows.  But it’s fun.  And sometimes I’m allowed to make art that’s just for me.

Tomorrow is Tuesday.  Keep on keeping on.

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.

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.

Days of Our Lives

So, still not perfect, but oh my gosh.  Following the tips from this tutorial, as I said I would, yielded much more positive results.  I will be focusing on eyes this week, using the tutorial as a guide, and try eyes in different expressions and from different angles.  Hopefully by deconstructing the face (to start) I can become a little more fluent at drawing human faces.

Today was one of those days at work that lasted seemingly forever.  It was the last day of finals, one official exam and one session of make-up, so I had no students.  Luckily, I’ve gotten slightly better about using my time wisely, so I read about 125 pages of one of my books, did a review of Lesson 12 and started in on Lesson 13 on my ASL, and did some substantial work on my next micron drawing.  So despite being a “do nothing” day, I feel like I did a fairly decent amount.

While I was at work, my sister sent me an event link for a Onesie Bar Crawl in Manchester (which is the city adjacent to where she lives), with the tag, “lots of fun stuff coming up,” which made me more than a little wistful.  I like where I am in my life; I spent so many years being told that so much of what I have — a house, a full-time job, a spouse, a kid — was going to be beyond my reach because of The Way I Am, that having all these things, wonderful on their own, is especially satisfying.

But I sometimes miss The Before Times, when I had the freedom to basically just pick and choose what frivolous thing I wanted to do.  In so many ways, on paper, my 20s looked miserable; I was living with an over-bearing parent and had virtually no privacy, I had neither a license nor a car; you’d think it would have been unbearable.  But I lived near a train leading into a big city, I had friends with cars, I was within walking distance of cafes and movie theatres, and — in some ways, most importantly — I had a job and very few financial responsibilities.  I was living in a rent-controlled apartment (paying about $500/month, utilities included), I was single, and my student loans were still in their grace period.  In so many ways, I had more freedom than I’d ever had at any other time of my life.

And everything was possible!!  I was still looking at graduate schools and figuring out what I wanted to do, and I actually had money to seriously consider going back to school to pursue it.  I was single and had dozens of dating sites to peruse at my leisure.  I had disposable income and infinite energy, and late nights in Boston getting bleary-eyed drunk and stumbling through the streets with my closest girlfriends talking about career woes and blowjobs and travel plans and birth control, and just, everything felt like it was just on the precipice of Happening.  There were so many beautiful nights with friends that were full of vodka and pillow talk, and laughingly pouring over salacious OKCupid messages from interested strangers.  I am happy with my husband, and how comfortable I am with him (more so than I’ve ever been with anyone in my life), but I also miss those first few tentative Instant Messages, signing on to a message with his name on it, the aimless fantasies about who he was behind the screen, that first stumbling face-to-face meeting at Borders Cafe.

I had some beautiful nights, full of beautiful moments, that I know I’ll never recapture.  And none of those moments, none of those nights were ever anything earth-shattering; I mean, we did enjoyable things — went drinking, or caught a movie or a show, went into Boston, hung out at a comedy club — but nothing to write home about.  But I still remember walking out through December twilight with the man who would be my husband and my two best friends, two miles through the snow to the cafe where we met up; I remember every word Andy said making the three of us burst into giggles, and I remember knowing even then, with fair certainty, that this was the man I was going to marry.  We trudged through still-falling snow and met up with two friends at a bookstore cafe where we spent ages browsing books and looking at maps (again — So Many Possibilities) before catching a train to see a stand-up show and grab some Chinese food at the Hong Kong.

Dinner and some comedy.  Nothing Special.  But I can still feel the sting of the cold on my cheeks.  I can still smell the books in that shop.  I can’t explain it, but there was something about that time in my life that made the most mundane moments palpable with What Could Be.  Every night was the night my life could change.  Every night was the night I could find my true calling through a drunken revelation;  I could hop on a train and not come back; I could hook up with the girl I had a crush on since college; I could fall in love.

I know there are still possibilities laid in front of me.  They just don’t feel as tangible, as vibrant.  I miss that.  I love what I have, but sometimes I still want More.

I wish I’d savored it while I was still in the thick of it.

It’s Wednesday.  Happy halfway.