Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Learning to Draw A Story: My New Hobby

The words don't come anymore.

They haven't, not for awhile now.

I guess, to be honest, that isn't entirely true.

The words DO come, but mostly in fragments.

They hold hands, in some shy, chaste form of courting.

But, they refuse to consummate their union.

There's no mating, no creating of more words. No birth of a post.

Wow, see what I did there? I just totally sexed up sentence forming.

I'm sure this is a sign that I should totally stop writing, like, RIGHT. NOW.

But, I never was one to take a hint.


When words fail, then it's time to turn to pictures. Or drawings?

Oh, yeah...I'm learning to draw.

I've always doodled, but mostly inanimate things.

Recently, however...my doodles became more animated.

It's kind of amazing, really, the things we discover about ourselves.

I'm not an artist...yet. Some of my friends would disagree with that emphatic declaration. But, I'm not sure I can claim such a title at this point of my self discovery journey. I don't feel I deserve it. I haven't worked for it, and therefore, haven't earned it.


Same goes for 'talent'. I do suppose I have some - I can mimic and mash up images I've seen to create what I want. That's either talent or creativity - possibly both.
I certainly possess the ability to follow step-by-step drawing instructions...mostly.
I often tweak it...a bit....

(Dinosaurs drawn from instruction book. Outfits and personality straight from my imagination)

This may be 'talent'. I call it an ability to follow direction with a heaping side of quirky. What I bring to the drawing table is imagination - those of you that know me, KNOW I am full to brimming with imagination.

Above 3 images were possibly created after too much Bourbon.

I used to love writing flash fiction stories. An idea would come and *BAM* a super short story would flow from my fingertips. Since those words aren't as available to me as they used to be, my brain decided it STILL needed an outlet for certain thoughts. One of those thoughts is the desire to look on the outside the way we feel on the inside.

Everyone loves a mermaid.

"I'm tall, thin and beautiful"

Work in progress - Dragon wants to be a unicorn.

I have more images in my head, which may some day come to life.

I  go to drawing class once a week through the community center. My goal is to learn the fundamentals of drawing and to connect with peoplewho can help me continue to tell stories, even when words fail. I'm even considering drawing meet-ups. Yes, me...Ms. Shy and Introverted. Drawing is, apparently, luring me out to frolic on the dark side. Scary stuff.

What's also scary is sharing with you. Despite an outpouring of supportiveness, it is never easy to let people see what I've created. Each time I post a drawing on Facebook I know there will be a small group of friends who love it. I also know there is a group that think I've lost my mind...again. And, there is a fear that people will think I do it just for the kudos (the compliment kind of kudos, not the granola bar).

I share because I am still a work-in-progress. At 45 I'm finally starting to say "YES" to things that interest me, instead of wrapping those nagging voices in duct tape to shut them up - because, people can't hate what you don't create, right?

But, the desire to create and let those voices speak is becoming too great to suppress - I'm giving in and going for it.

 Inspired by a greeting card I found at Trade Joe's.

p.s. I may even start writing again.
p.p.s. This post doesn't count as writing.
p.p.p.s. If you make fun of my drawings, I'll probably cry.
p.p.p.p.s. Then, I'll hunt you down and pinch you.
p.p.p.p.p.s. Really, really hard.
p.p.p.p.p.p.s. And maybe kick you in the shins.
p.p.p.p.p.p.p.s. So, be nice - I'm a newbie.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Human Canvas - Phase One: Art In Progress

Oh, the itch. Itchyitchyitchitch!

And the twinges of pain, when the skin puckers and pulls - the tortured skin pulling against the unmarred.

The will to not scratch is hard to summon - instead, scratching is replaced by a brisk slap to the uppity area, as if punishing the skin for having the nerve to react to what has been done to it.

Such is the lot of The Human Canvas during the healing phase of a new tattoo.

I've got at least 3 more sittings, approximately 6+ more hours, of actual tattooing - along with a repeat of the healing process. Every. Stinking. Time.

Why do I do it?

Well, I guess...

Because...I want to.
Because...I live by so many rules, that I feel the need to break a few - specifically, the one that says I'm too old for this.
Because...I lack common sense.
Because...Today's artist are phenomenal with what they can create on skin.
Because...I want to literally imprint my figurative heart on my sleeve. Did I use literal and figurative right in this case?
Because...I'm mostly nuts.
Because...When everyone is 80 their skin will sag and be full of liver spots and bruises, so aged tattoos will just make it a bit more interesting. We'll all sit around the nursing home playing a game of  'Guess The Ink Blob'.
Because...I'm bad-ass. O.k., not really...but for the sake of this post, let's just pretend I am.

I've loved tattoos since I was a kid, well before every hipster in the universe started sporting them. I loved them back when only military guys and scary bikers got them.

Despite their increasing popularity and normalcy, people still have some pretty strong opinions about tattoos. While I'm not entirely sure Hubbypants likes having an inked wife, he's been silent about any displeasure while being outwardly supportive - I'm truly a lucky gal.

However, I do think, should Hubbypants decide to leave me, that I'll have a hard time finding anyone as accepting. Basically, by inking-up, I'm guaranteeing my future as a lonely, crazy cat lady - I've already got 3 cats...for practice.

I suppose you'd like to see what my new work of art looks like, right? Of course you do, duh...

Sadly, the picture quality isn't all that great,
but fear not!!
My next appointment is in just a little over 3 weeks,
so I'll be back to whine some more share my progress! 
I know you'll be waiting on the edge of your seat
 to read more adventures of The Human Canvas!

p.s. I've totally glossed over how much getting a tattoo hurts.
p.p.s. Like, I'm not kidding, it fucking hurts.
p.p.p.s. Anyone who gets a tattoo is crazy.
p.p.p.p.s. Speaking of crazy, can cats be trained to be minions?
p.p.p.p.p.s. Because, really...if I'm going to have a lot of them, I might as well start working on an army to carry out my plan of world domination.
p.p.p.p.p.p.s. Wow, I guess I really am a bad-ass after all.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Wagon

The Wagon was so much taller than She remembered.

When She fell off of it the last time, the ground felt closer - the fall shorter.

Now, She stands staring up at the drivers seat - a shadowed figure holding the reins that were once hers.

"Your wagon has come and gone," The Shadow hisses, "just accept the new dreams and plans I've made for you. Your place is there...on the ground, not up here in the What Could Be. There is no room for you up here."
And the wagon grew taller.

A noise rose from the back of the wagon, smaller shadows peering over the edge, shouting down at her, each baring the mark of what is already etched into her brain: Fear, Failure, Doubt, Insecurity.

They taunt Her with stories of all Her past failures - convincing Her how easy it is to not even try. "Regret," they shout, "is just a fact of life. What's one more to add to the mountain? Just give up, this wagon belongs to us now!"
And more shadows appeared.

She looked around her, at all the comforts that giving up offered - knowing that the familiar would accept her back with open arms. 

The Shadow sat at the head of the wagon holding reins She willingly handed over. She watched as decay started to seep from the Shadow's hands into the lines that harnessed all of her plans and dreams - threatening to spread and contaminate all future attempts to create a new part of Herself. 

And so....

Despite her fear of heights...
Despite a climb that seemed impossible...
Despite the threat of losing her grip and hurtling toward the ground...again....
Despite the assault of taunts thrown by shadows that have overtaken HER wagon...

She decided the reins were hers...and She wants them back.

And so, She reaches up to grab the first spoke of the wheel...

and begins to climb.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Giovanni's Last Chapter

I found something today.

Two somethings, actually.

We are painting our family room, or at least we will be once we've removed all the furniture from the room. Part of the preparation involved purging a filing cabinet of college school work of mine...from 2009 (I'm a late bloomer). I threw most of it away, but there were a few pieces of early writing that I just had to keep.

In 2009, during English Comp 1B at my local community college, my professor gave us a creative writing assignment. This was NOT a creative writing class, I was NOT a creative writer - it stressed me the hell out. Even the assurance from him that merely trying to write something was worthy of an A did not detour me from fretting over it.

The theme of this particular class was "Love Sucks". Yeah, Mr. Teacher was the king of negativity and felt the need to assign reading that made one want to jump in front of a train. Most. Depressing. Class. Ever!

One of the stories was Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin. The novel has 5 chapters, so our assignment was to write a 6th. The reason I'm going to share this with you is this - my teacher really liked it. Also, too? He said I made him rethink his hatred of the main character. That was huge, for me.

So, if you've read Giovanni's Room then you'll get my final chapter. If you haven't, then you won't. But, I hope you enjoy it anyway.


 Chapter SIX

I was taken aback by how much my father had aged during my residence in France.  Had I been gone that long? Or, was it the burden of my absence that brought about the years that now etched his face?

Standing in the doorway, facing his questioning eyes made me want to flee; after all, fleeing seems to be what I do best.  But the long journey across the ocean was for a reason; I had to face him to reveal myself, a telegram or letter would not do.  I do not know why, after all this time avoiding myself, that I suddenly felt the need to reveal to my father that Butch was not the man he envisioned.  Perhaps it was the endless hours staring at the ocean and seeing Giovanni’s face in every crest and cloud, in every ray of sunlight, that made me crave the harsh punishment I knew my father could be capable of.  What I did not expect though, was to find him so much older and so much more frail.

“David? Is that really you? Why didn’t you wire ahead to say you were coming home?”

“Hi Dad.” I set my bag down, my one bag that contained all of who I had become.

My fathers eyes glanced at the bag, “I take it you are not staying?”

“No, Dad. I can’t, at least not yet. I need to tell you something, before I lose the nerve forever.”  And there it was, right there on his face, the ‘knowing’. He’s known all along and now he is coming face to face with his most haunted reality.  

“David, please.” he said looking up and down the hallway. “Come inside won’t you?”

“No, it has to be here, right now.”  I could feel myself breathing and I look down to see my chest moving up and down; I gazed in wonder at how it was possible when I suddenly feel so dead.  “I don’t know who I am, dad. I’m not Butch, I’m not David, I’m not even sure I’m human.  Hella and I have called off the engagement. She left me when she found out….”

It is hard now, so hard to find the words. I practiced them on the ship, day after day, even rehearsing them with the ship steward I had befriended. He found it amusing that I planned to travel “all those thousands of miles to get punched in the face”, for he was sure all American men hated men who loved other men. “But you are different”, he said stroking my bare back as we lay there in my bunk, “you are not a man, you are a fag.”  He was right. I am American and I wanted to hurt him for that; and the small part of me that was a man wanted to punch him in the face until nothing remained that could smile at me with shrewd contempt. But I didn’t, he was right; I would not be a man to my father.
I saw my father shrink before my eyes, becoming more hollow.  Knowing spread across his face and he sways slightly, griping the door for support, “That isn’t the life for you, David”, his voice soft as a whisper.

“It isn’t a matter of choice anymore, Dad.”
“You can overcome this, it’s possible you know.”

“How can you say that?  How can you even know what I’ve been through? How can you even know what it took to stand here in front of you today?”  

“Listen to me, David. You can change this,” his voice becoming desperate, “It’s happened before, to someone I know.  You surround yourself with women, you bury yourself with them, then you marry and have a child and you carry on with your life, like normal people do.  You can change this, David. You can change this.”  

He looks down at his feet, using his other hand to further steady himself in the doorway. His stance effectively serves to bar my entrance should I suddenly decide to go in and make myself at home.

It couldn’t be. What he said, what he implied could not be true.  “Who, Dad, who is this….person you know who lived such a lie?” I knew the minute the words took their fateful leap off my tongue that I really did not want to know.  Yet, my mind reeled and his silence spoke volumes.  It was then that another horrible truth started to seep into my thoughts and I ask the question before I can stop myself.  “How did my mother die?”

“What the hell are you talking about, David? How does your mother have anything to do with this? It was a sudden illness, you know that.”

“No, actually I don’t. I don’t know anything anymore.  Did she know….about you, I mean?”  I did not come here to hurt him, but suddenly I wanted nothing more than to make him suffer.

My father’s face crumbled, the sadness now unrestrained, he begins to weep silently.  I knew instantly that my mother’s illness was shame; the only cure that she knew of to escape the pain was to take her own life. I did not expect the reality of truth to hit me so hard.  I pick up my bag, my life, and I leave.


It is supposed to be easier now.  The conversation with my father is over.  My room is small, often dark, and affords a view of all the pleasures poverty has to offer.  No doubt it is this view, the bleak neighborhood, which is causing the man standing in front of me to fear the future well being of the child.  The nurse, sensing his unease, clutches the child closer in her arms trying to shield it from the bewilderment and angst emanating from me.

“I’m sure this comes as a great shock. I assumed you already knew.” The words the man is speaking seem to come from somewhere else. The whole scene playing out in front of my eyes seems to be happening to someone else.

“No. I had no idea. Hella and I parted in France. I never knew she was pregnant.”  The baby turns and looks at me and then, perhaps sensing my own fear, begins to cry tears from eyes that look so very much like my own.  “The child can’t be mine. Are you sure you have the right man?

“Forgive me, sir, but I’m afraid that question can only be answered by Hella,” and the man squirms slightly, apparently uncomfortable keeping such close company with death.  “We have brought the child’s, I mean Giovanni’s, belongings.  It isn’t much, but Hella left some money in a trust fund to care for his needs.  Hella also requested that you be given this letter”

I see my hand reach for the letter, receive the letter and then fall back to rest at my side. “Wha..what did you say its name is?”

His name is Giovanni.  Seems a bit of an extravagant name for a child who isn’t even Italian, but then Hella was an unusual woman.  Shall I have the nurse bring his bag inside while you sign the receiving papers?”

“No!”  The sound of my voice, so high and shrill, astounds even me. The nurse took several steps back and volleyed a desperate look between the man and I.  He is quick, “This is no doubt difficult, but you must understand that I have a duty to carry out Hella’s wishes as defined by her will.  She requested custody go to the father, which is apparently you.”

The saccharine smile on his face hides nothing. Hella is getting her revenge, “What about Hella’s parents? Can’t they take him?”

The man shakes his head, “I’m sorry to say they have declined any contact with the child. He is all yours.”

“And should I decline? You’ve no proof that I’m the father.”  The truth being there is no amount of denial in the universe that could defend against the fact that the child is the spitting image of me.  I feel like a monster; this child is my flesh, my blood, and I want the man and his anxious nurse to make him disappear.  “I just don’t think this is a healthy place for child. There has to be some other option.”

The man’s eyes grow small and hard, he does not want to leave the child with me any more than I want to take it.  “The orphanages around here are full right now. There will be a bed available for him in a week. Until then, he has no one.” He stares at me, his lips tight, the muscles in his jaw working to control the anger that seethes beneath his starched, white collar.

I step aside to let them in, the nurse immediately goes to work like a little bird building a nest.  And then they were gone.  The room is completely silent but for the roar of my own blood pounding in my ears.  “This is wrong” I say to myself over and over.  “This can’t be happening.”  We stare at each other for a long time, Giovanni and I; and then he drifts off to sleep leaving me to calculate how many hours, minutes, seconds would need to pass until I am free of him. One week.


Hella’s letter couldn’t have been more cruel.  David, If this letter makes it into your hands then it means I have been given the ultimate freedom.  Bearing this child of yours has been torture for me; it is like carrying a huge ball of shame that kicks at my insides.  It is a parasite waiting to eat me alive. I thought I was free of you, free to get on with the life you came so close to destroying.  I guess you got the last laugh, because it is in fact, destroyed.  The doctors tell me that I am frail and childbirth might be difficult.  Of course it will, I must endure it alone.  That is something you gave me, David, loneliness.  The doctors suggested that I have a plan, someone to care for the child should I die during the birth. You have hurt so many people and you should be punished.  This is your punishment; if the child is a girl, she will be Hella and if it is a boy, Giovanni.  I know what you did to Giovanni; I know you used him like you used me.  I can’t feel love or the expectant joy that women feel when they are with child. It eludes me. What is there for you David? Destruction or redemption? Perhaps neither, then you will be dead like me. Hella  


Never, not in a million centuries, did I envision once again standing in front of my father’s door.  How I arrived here from the orphanage, I do not know. But here I stand, wet, cold, full of fear with the smell of feces, urine and vomit still assaulting my nostrils. Are they all that way? Does every orphan become a nobody?

I push the buzzer with such urgency and force that I’m sure I will push it right through the wall where it will land at my father’s feet as he reaches for the door.
“David? What’s wrong? Who is this? What happened?”  My fathers questions are frenzied as he looks me over, fearful and unsure of what is about to play out before him.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what to do. I can’t bring him back. I can’t fix it. Please help me not destroy him again. I’m sorry.”

The fright on my fathers face dissolved.  He looks at Giovanni, his sleeping head resting against my shoulder, and steps aside to let us in.  “Come in David. We should finally have that talk.”

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Time to Start Being More

Next week marks the 6th month anniversary of my foray into the No Longer A Stay At Home Mom arena. 


I'm not sure what I expected from the part time, a few days/hours a week, job offered to me so many months ago. The friend who presented it has an All Knowing Eye - in that she predicted the job evolving into full time and beyond.

She was right.

We're busy. We aren't just busy, we're over busy. Not only are we over busy, we're launching a new company - yeah, we're THAT kind of busy.

And, I wasn't prepared to like my job as much as I do. It's kind of annoying, y'all. Really.

It's so much simpler when you can go into the office, do whatever needs doing and whatever "doing's" you don't get to...meh...they can wait, after all...I'm just an employee.

Am I right?  That's simple shit right there...easy peasy.

But, what happens when you like that job? What happens when you care whether things get done? What happens when it makes you feel all hivey and agitated when you can't get around to calling people back rigth away? What happens when all that drives you into working overtime - overtime that you feel guilty billing for (which you often don't, because you've lots track of the hours you work) because you KNOW that expanding a business and launching a business take oodles of money?

Yeah, you suddenly find yourself NOT just an employee, but an investor (not monetarily, but emotionally).

I attended training this past week to learn an accounting program we'll use to track both businesses. Sitting in a room full of people who were much more knowledgeable is sobering. I started thinking about all the books I need to read and classes I need to take to be the Office Manager they need and deserve, all of which I don't see myself as currently.

This is all related to my own ongoing self esteem and confidence issues, to be sure. However, you can't fault my logic. They could have done better hiring someone else, because there is always someone out there who is just 'more' of what you are. And, this is my blog so I can purge all of my feelings here...so there.
What they did get in me is someone who cares. I care about where money is being spent, even though I'm terrible with budgets, math and numbers - I want to learn not to be. I care when I screw something up, even when my boss says it's okay - it bothers me to the point of dreaming about it, or worse...laying awake running over every detail. I care that I can't complete all the tasks every day that need completing, I care that some customers get pissed off (every business has this, no matter how great...but I still care). I'm thrilled when we win bids, even though I tremble in my shoes thinking about how we'll manage it and whether I'm organized enough to handle it. I'm THRILLED when checks come in. And I feel protective - of my boss, of the business...all of it.

I'm trying to figure out my place. Those books and classes I mentioned? I don't know whether to take the leap and start learning ALL THE THINGS, because I don't know what my bosses have in mind for me. Do I have 'a place' and should I stick to it? Or, do I do what comes natural to me and just sort of insinuate myself into the fray? Do I just go out and learn ALL THE THINGS (as is my inclination) with the anticipation they'll need me to posses those skills? Or, do I do it with the intent that if I move on at some point I'll have the skills to do so? And, when will I find time to learn ALL THE THINGS...or the energy?

I answer to more than just one person now, too. With the new company launching, there are 3 bosses. My skin prickles and ignites when I think about not letting just one person down, but 3! I have no idea how they see me occupying space in their future vision of the company. I'm pretty sure they don't either, it's all so new.

I like the feeling of being part of something that is growing wings and talking flight. I'm anxious for organization and a direct vision on how tings are going to work - I need definition on what my role is going to be.  The problem is, it is still evolving - the ducks are being put in rows, the chickens are being counted before they are hatched...all those things that small businesses must do to get off the ground. It's exciting and frustrating and thrilling and just thinking about it now is causing a hot flash - cue tingling skin and hives!

So, there you have it. All this is why I'm not writing much....or at all, really. All of this is why I'm not as active on Facebook or why I haven't picked up a book in months or why feel sort of paralyzed.

My goal, for the next 6 months is to figure out what role I'll be playing in my professional life - because I have to own that, at least.

My goal, for the next 6 months is to figure out what personal goals I want to accomplish to further my creativity outside of work.

My goal, for the rest of my life, is to stop putting off ALL THE THINGS I want to do for enjoyment and self improvement - take those baby steps!

It's time to focus on what I want from this next phase in my life, regardless of the role others have in mind for me.

Time to start being 'more'.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

A City Through My Eyes - Chicago and Cleveland

BlogHer'13 was awesome!
Traveling is awesome!
And a bit of a blur.
The words I need to write a real blog post have grown wings, 
found an escape via my ears and 
flown the belfry.

While I work on capturing those flighty words 
(visions of me leaping in the air with a giant butterfly net entered your mind, didn't they)
 here is a photo tour of my trip to Chicago, with a side trip to Cleveland thrown in. 

This is both cities, through my eyes...in no particular order.
 I hope you enjoy the tour. 

Oh...and...these are my images, thus the lack of image credits. 
All the credit goes to me! 
No, actually...Instagram gets the credit for having all the cool
photo effects that allowed some of these images to POP! 
So...yeah...thanks Instagram!