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Still Here, Still Beautiful [Aug. 29th, 2014|01:22 pm]
[mood |creativecreative]

It's been about 3 months since I launched my T-shirt shop and art blog. The blog is getting some degree of love; I usually get WP upvotes and a number of Facebook likes. I have sold 2 T-shirts. Naturally, these designs were fast adaptations of images that I didn't spend much time on. The designs that took me weeks to draw, which get the most attention and the most views, have not actually sold yet.

I've been experimenting with digital painting. The results are interesting but not quite ready for prime time, if you know what I mean. I thought this one was OK but it's the least successful post I've made all month. It could really use a lot more work, but part of the blog project is that I need to plan ahead, and I had planned to upload this image at that time.


The most successful thing I've done so far is a series of incredibly poorly drawn comics. The main character is cut and paste into every panel, with her expression and arms changed slightly. It still takes me about 3 hours to draw one. They are kind of funny, if you have a sense of humor sort of like mine.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 1.16.13 PM

This is one of the most popular panel I've drawn.

Well, at least someone likes my drawings. Apparently my 7-year-old nephew was so inspired that he's been drawing his own serial comic, which he then shares with his entire mailing list via Google docs. My nephew is pretty sophisticated. Or maybe that's normal behavior for 7-year-olds now? My stepkids don't do anything like that. While the digital artwork can be sort of hard to decipher, the text is pure gold. It starts out as a man vs. elements story, with an autonomous fellow who lives on a boat. Eventually he finds some treasure (the treasure is gold, apples, and steak) and then gets into a fight with a pirate over it. The conflict is resolved unconventionally (spoiler alert: the protagonist murders and cannibalizes the pirate). The last couple of panels involved a "fishy person" (she appears to be a mermaid). I guess all I ever wanted to do is share my art and inspiration. So I'm a success.

Still, I wish people would click on my 
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Why don't you say what you really feel? [Jul. 9th, 2014|04:07 pm]
[mood |angryangry]

T believes that all my bad dreams are precipitated by fear of abandonment, but what really frightens me is that, when I have nightmares, they usually involve me losing my filter, raising my voice, and telling people exactly how I feel. You can't go through adulthood without your white lies and your pleasant, smiling faces (to mask your anger/rage and disdain/contempt), especially in delicate situations. You can't tell people how you really feel if you need to continue working with them.

At the same time, you can't let people walk all over you, trample on your rights, or use you. It's a fine line.

I just spent 2 hours of my life trying to balance on that line as 5 months of plastering a reasonable, approachable mask over my actual feelings is about to come crumbling down. It's not that I had any real expectation of honesty, and yet it's still a massive punch in the face to realize that someone has been blatantly lying to you, and that they will cheerfully go out of their way to hurt the people you love. I didn't have any real expectation that they would be reasonable, based on past behavior, and yet I thought, maybe this time will be different.

It's weird that I am the tactful, reasonable, responsible one. Spending some time with my family last week really hammered home the way my family's narrative (I was labeled, from the age of 2 or 3, as the "bad" child) affected me. In fact, they still believe that I was a bad child, despite the fact that I didn't drink, smoke, do drugs, flunk classes, steal, get in actual fights, or pretty much do anything except beg to be left alone to read and write. This kind of screwed me up: years of being told how selfish I was caused me to become altruistic in a way that doesn't always serve me. I wish I was actually selfish. My crimes as a child: not wanting to do chores, not always getting along with my siblings, and bristling under my father's tyranny. My knowledge was never honored, but my infractions were always punished. Because I was bad. Only by making myself subservient to others could I be seen as good.

I love my family, but their perception and treatment of me was based on bad heuristics. Now I have to overcome the ideas that I learned as a kid, that certain behaviors were unacceptable from me, even if those around me were allowed those outlets, and even that certain thoughts were unacceptable, and that I naturally deserved all the pain that came to me.

Anyway, those 2 hours have gotten my heart rate up. My mind is racing. I'm not an anxious person, but I am filled with anxiety (although it's mitigated a little by finishing the task...at least I don't have the anxiety over accomplishing it, just over what comes next). This afternoon seems lost. Now I'm just figuring out how to calm down.
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Things I Have Done [Jun. 23rd, 2014|06:50 pm]
[mood |bitter]

When you're feeling crappy, that's the perfect time to update LJ!

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 6.46.59 PM
Ever considered acquiring a little wisdom for your phone?

But seriously. I have been busy with PROJECTS. What projects, you might wonder. Well, funny you should ask. I started a blog (which was one of the projects) to talk about the other projects. It's called QWERTY vs. Dvorak and you might as well click on it. People seem to enjoy it; I've done zero advertising/hyping/sharing, and have hardly even shown it to any close friends, and it's already getting likes and follows from random Internet people. So I must maintain that momentum.

Basically, as an escape from whatever it is that once compelled me to spend every waking moment writing, I've turned to visual art and graphic design. I'm sort of at the end of my rope, at least for the time being. I'm almost 40. I have an MFA. I've written 10 novels. And everybody and her mom has a book coming out besides me. I literally got a form rejection letter from an agent WHO ASKED FOR A PARTIAL. People I know who have no interest in writing, or only started writing seriously a couple years ago, have agents and books coming out. And I am good writer. People have been telling me for 30 years that I am a good writer. So, I'm pretty sure there's some kind of global conspiracy. A black list, if you will, for people who must never be given the chance. I accept that. I have to keep submitting, but I do it now with zero expectations. How liberating.

I'm only kind of half-decent artist. But, you know. That last 800-page novel almost killed me, coming on the heels of 6 years of copywriting. But anyway, I made some designs, and you can buy them on T-shirts, tank tops, hoodies, onesies, tote bags, throw pillows, phone cases, notecards, and so on.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 6.44.43 PM
This could be your well-dressed torso.

The way I see it, no one will be interested in my T-shirts. But at least I'll know it's because I'm not that great at drawing, and not because the universe is trying to squash me like a bug.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 6.40.07 PM

Show someone how much you love them with this squid versus whale design I drew. Or don't. It literally makes no difference to me. Misunderstood, starving artist suits me like no other identity ever has. 
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Randall Munroe Nails It Again [Apr. 30th, 2014|12:13 pm]
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I still exist [Mar. 27th, 2014|05:44 pm]
It's just that LJ isn't as much fun considering that I have literally one RL friend who still posts here on a regular basis. I'm following a few interesting people, but my life has been too good for the whiny rants that this forum is now best suited to :P

I quit my job recently. Actually, I quit it in November, but I was apparently so incredibly important that they needed 13 weeks' notice. So actually, I was there until Feb 28. And this morning I got an urgent message from the CEO begging me to do a little work for him. Couldn't even wait one month, although I had specifically asked him not to contact me until August at least. But, as it turns out, not having any income makes me far more nervous than I had anticipated, so I'll probably give him a couple days a month. At least I don't have to do any of the horrible administrative tasks that made me want to jump off the roof. (My home, like most in the region, is a single story, so it wouldn't have ended the pain anyway.) I guess I should be happy that I'm perceived as being that good at my work, but the truth is, writing for a corporation has made me kind of hate writing :(

I've been working on visual art, mostly. I went through Nick Bantock's Trickster's Hat, most of which I enjoyed immensely. It's 49 exercises for creativity. Some of them were wonderful. Some were kind of stupid. Most were enjoyable. Highly recommended. I actually created quite a few pieces I'm really happy with.


The resolution is compromised, but I had wanted to illustrate this poem in almost exactly this way for years, and I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

I've also been trying to learn a little Photoshop and trying to work with a digital drawing tablet, which is not all that intuitive. I'm going to have a T shirt design ready pretty soon.

It's been a year of marriage, and I'm still in love with my husband. We had a busy weekend for our anniversary. First, our best friends got married, and I officiated the ceremony, so that was a big to-do. Then we went back to the B&B where we got married and had a nice desert celebration, filled with mostly birds and hiking.

There's been a bit of unpleasantness here and there, but not enough to bother ranting. There's always going to be people who are so into their own trip that they fail to see how other people are actually real human beings. Some of you may be familiar with my 1% theory of what's wrong with the world: 1% of everyone is a psychopath, and about 24% of everyone is people who are idiots, weak-willed, or simply willing to back the powerful regardless of the implications. Too bad the 75% of us who aren't selfish assholes or religious nuts can't form our own collective and leave the folks who like to watch the world burn to their own devices. But actually, my problems are really just clueless people who are so clueless they don't know they're clueless. cf the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
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Year's Beginning [Jan. 3rd, 2014|02:34 pm]
[mood |sicksick]

Never got around to doing the LJ Year in Review for 2013 because I was posting less than once a month. Some months would have been blank. Plus I guess I'm far less interested in personal social media than I was in 2005. Hardly even posting anything but pictures on Facebook. Still love LJ as a platform, but it's not fun unless all your friends are using it too.

2013 was a weird year for me. Getting married was a big aspect of that. Did a lot of traveling: 3 trips to CA (LA, SF, and Death Valley), 2 to Sedona, 1 to NYC, a 3-day road trip from KS, and an overnight visit to Santa Fe. Became overwhelmed with my job, which I promised myself I would not be doing in 2014. Gave notice in November and am just starting to train my replacement. I sent queries to dozens of agents, 2 of whom agreed to look at my book, both of whom rejected me.

This year, I will work for myself. Making money will not be the objective. Just making art. Sadly, the year is off to a lame start. Didn't sleep at all NYE because we partied late and I was too keyed up, and didn't sleep the next night, because I caught a rotten cold, and even though I slept last night with the help of Nyquil, it was a fitful sleep, and I'm strangely weak and disoriented today.

This is me on New Year's Eve. I'm 39, or about halfway to senility. So I only have so many more decades to accomplish my life goals.
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Breathless [Nov. 27th, 2013|01:18 am]
[mood |excitedexcited]

Today, after about 6 months of planning, I gave notice at work, in order to focus full time on my art. It was just time to throw away the safety net preventing me from pursuing my dreams and achieving my full potential. I have a number of visual art and text projects, some of which should eventually be revenue-generating, and enough money to cover my expenses for a year or so. Tabor believes in me, and all that's left is to throw myself into it (after I find my replacement at work and train her). It's a lucky opportunity to have someone to support and encourage me to take this leap. All I've ever wanted to be was an artist, and that's the intention.
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The Cities by the Bay [Sep. 21st, 2013|01:24 am]
[mood |sillysilly]

After a wildly successful 6 days and 5 nights at camp (I wrote 21,500 words on my novel Greenpunk, a 600 word book review of The One and Only Ivan, and the homepage for Sarah's website, plus took 2 hikes in the Red Rock area, visited Montezuma Well, Sedona, and Camp Verde) I had a week at home with my darling husband before we went our separate ways again: he had a week of business in Atlanta, and I came to San Francisco to see family and friends.

Sarah got me from SFO and took me to Oakland. We hiked Coyote Hills and ate Indian food and enjoyed ourselves. The next day, I hung out in the Berkeley Library, which password protects their wifi. Then we went to my brother's in San Francisco and I made dinner for Sarah, Tina, Josh, Becka, my brother, and the 5 kids who come along with some of those people.

Wednesday, I hung out with my niece while my nephews went to school. When everyone came home, we went to the food trucks for dinner and I had the least wonderful tamale of my life.

Thursday I tried to work, but the database would not play with my brother's network for some reason, so I just walked around the city, dodged tourists, watched some hale and hearty German women swim in the frigid bay, and then came back to eat leftovers and play with the kids.

Today I had Chinese for lunch with Becka, after which we spent a very long time remembering where she had parked her car and amused ourselves with reminiscing and relationship talk. Then I got some groceries and walked up the suckfest that is Lombard Street. I made some food and Sarah and her friend Mark came over for dinner, after which we walked up an even worse hill.

Tomorrow I'll have a little time with my brother and the kids and then go home. It's an interesting city with lots to see and do and I have a lot of family and friends here, but it's a ridiculous place to live. Traffic sucks. Parking sucks doubly. There are too many people, including tourists, including tourists standing in the middle of Lombard taking pictures of the road. Real estate prices are a JOKE. Everyone's on top of each other all the time. The air is bad. The hills are ridiculous. The only way to live here is to maintain the polite fiction that it's normal to stuff this many people into such a small and inconvenient space and that you can't actually hear your neighbors watching TV/tap dancing on your ceiling and that it's totally worth it to pay $1200 for a 4th floor walkup studio apartment with no off street parking because CULTURE and TECHNOLOGY!!!!

Well, I'm happy for the people who are happy here, but I'm happier to get back to Tucson where we figure a million people need at least a couple hundred square miles in which to respect each other's space, and it's humanly possible for a middle class family to buy a house, and we know how to make a tamale. And, oh yeah, we don't build streets on 45 degree inclines and then knuckle around like gorillas trying to get up them.

I just looked it up: Tucson proper is approximately 225 square miles with a population of about 500,000 (double both those number for the metropolitan area) with a population density of 2.5k/mi2. San Francisco is less than 50 square miles with a population of about 800,000 (and about 10 times that number in the metropolitan area) with a population density of 17k/mi2. Just thinking about it makes me shudder.

Don't take this personally if you love the Bay! Just my opinion based on my comfort level. Also I miss my husband. Also, I somehow ended up with a toddler in my bed and she snores.
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Upcoming Things [Aug. 14th, 2013|08:34 pm]
[mood |future-looking]

Nineteen days until Desert Rats Writer's Camp! And then, a week after we get back from Camp Verde, I'm going to San Francisco to see everyone there! And this weekend, we've planned a massive Harry Potter marathon and will watch all 8 movies, starting at 11 am Saturday and probably finishing up around midnight or so Sunday!

This book I'm writing, which I've been writing for a bit over a year, is well over 100,000 words long, more than 400 pages, maybe halfway done. It's a monster. Got some other projects to work on at camp, too: my Alphabet of Desire and a short story that riffs off vampire conventions.

So far, 2 agents have looked at The Hermit but I'm still not a NYT bestselling author, let along an author with a published novel, let alone one with an agent. Not that I expect to ever achieve any measure of real success in my life. But, you know, I keep trying. 
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Last Second Road Trip [Jul. 21st, 2013|10:11 am]
[mood |proud]

If you enjoyed the Jodie Foster film, Contact, based on Carl Sagan's novel by the same name, you may recognize the Very Large Array, a massive, posable grouping of radio telescopes out in the New Mexican desert. You have to get off the Interstate to see them, but it's worth the trip, in my opinion. This detour also took us through Pie Town, New Mexico, where you can eat an apple pie made with pignolas and green chiles at the Good Pie Cafe, which I did.

It was an impromptu trip. On Saturday afternoon, my husband called me to explain that his mother's best friend needed surgery and would not be able to drive her to Tucson, where she'd been planning to move for six months. Saturday evening he and my brother-in-law bought me a plane ticket, and Sunday morning we drove to Sky Harbor (it's usually cheaper to fly from Phoenix than from Tucson) and I flew into Kansas City, where my brother-in-law picked me up and drove me to Manhattan, Kansas.

Monday morning we supervised the moving crew, said goodbye to my mother-in-law's younger sisters, and drove to Oklahoma, where we had dinner with her older sister. This marked my first stay in a Mennonite home. Tuesday we pressed on through ranks and files of thunderstorms across Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico, right to Anna's door in Albuquerque. In Albuquerque, we celebrated Mom's birthday with New Mexican food and margaritas. The last leg of the journey, featuring the VLA and pie town, concluded with a drive over the White Mountains (which were primarily, as far as I could see, red and green) and a breathtaking/heart pounding trek through the Salt River Canyon.

Now Mom is only waiting for the moving van to catch up with her so she can move into her apartment and start her new life. 
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