Oh Is It This Day Already?

I'd thought I'd make a bigger deal out of this, the final entry in this year's 365 Project, but the truth of the matter is, I've got too much to get done to spend more than a few minutes updating the blog this evening (I'm already running late for tonight's engagement).

So here you go, two more masks:
Snake and Dog

And perhaps I'll take the time to wax eloquent tomorrow...


My Wild Ways

I woke before my alarm this morning, and as I lay there warm and comfy in bed, I pulled out my phone and made out the day's To Do list (it has occurred to me that mayhap there is something a teeny bit off about this sort of behavior, but since I don't actually need to do it to function [most days], I think I'm still on the sane side of neurotic...)  The list consisted primarily of household-related tasks.  Yes, I was committed to a day of, as I put in on Facebook, "exciting household chores!"

I got up and got on that, plowing through such fun activities as picking up the bedroom and vaccuuming the upstairs, cleaning the kitchen, doing dishes, and starting laundry.  I even picked up downstairs!

And then, around 0900, I got the text:

"It looks like a dry-ish day.  I'm going to climb outside- anyone interested?"

It was my climbing bro, KB!  I was a little confused, however:

"Are you... making a joke?  It's like pea soup where I'm at."

KB proceeded to convince me that it was clear skies down in Portland, and since my skies were rapidly clearing as we exchanged texts, I gave my Self a Talking To.

"Self," I said, "we should go climbing."

"Ugh," said Self.  "It is cold outside.  And I have a whole To Do List of things."

"That is lame, Self.  Go do something fun, instead of stuff that makes you feel grumpy and resentful."

"But... indoor-things?  I am mentally prepared for indoor-things.  We made a list of them, and it's what I was expecting to spend the day doing."

"No.  It's sunny outside.  How often does that happen?  Quit being a damn stick-in-the-mud and let your climbing bro rescue you from being Lame."

And so Self caved, and I told KB to come pick me up, all the while feeling like a wild and dangerous woman who was shirking her responsibilities (but not really because hey look at all the stuff I'd already gotten done!) He gave me one last chance to change my mind:

"No pressure, though.  There is a good chance it will be too cold and/or wet and/or shitty."

"It will be awesome.  I'm changing into layers right now."

And do you know what?  We were both right- it was not just cold but fucking cold, and the first route we looked at wasn't just wet but had water actually flowing down it- but it was awesome anyway (in large part, I'm sure, because we did not actually attempt the flowing-water-route).  Especially awesome was that I got to have my first real rappelling experience (I don't count the one during college orientation- I'm pretty sure that wasn't rappelling so much as being lowered via a belay- but it's been ten years so I really don't remember...)
Here is KB setting up for our rappel
We only did one route, but it left us feeling damn good (the parts of us that could still feel, anyway) and we agreed it was a place to come back to once summer comes around.

(You might be be pleased to know that once I got back to the house I continued with my To Do list, and still managed to get most of it done.  And so you see, Self, you can fit in both play with work and be a well-rounded and Highly Satisfied human being.)


Half Grown Dog Love

After letting Isis outside this morning she and I had a playful romp around the kitchen, including a highly satisfying game of Tug- after which I fed her, and then she followed me around while I made my own breakfast.  She was being so cute, and I found myself so incredibly full of love for this little creature we've taken into our lives that I knelt down in front of her, took her beautiful puppy face in my hands, gazed deeply into her expressive little eyes, and told her how much I love her.  And did she sweetly lick my chin in response?  No, no she did not.

True Story.



Water Babe

I have no idea from whence this sprang, but spring it did.


The Sheen's the Thing

Here is more of the Rat:
Shiny shiny shiny pants!

And I've had more thoughts on the overall costume for the Rooster, as well, so you may see an updated doodle of that in the near future.

In other news, I got back on the wall with both hands today, and I've only got a little soreness.  I'll be staying off it for the next few days, then back on again.  Healing is the most obnoxiously slow thing in the world.


'Twas the Day After Christmas...

...and all through the house
A Creature was stirring
(She wasn't a Mouse)
She is a thief.  A rat-burglar, if you will.
So here is the beginnings of round two of the Masks- I don't have time to get as detailed as I did on the last one (things called "work" and "social engagements" are getting in the way) but maybe I'll remedy that tomorrow.  Her stones are not the expensive rubies, emeralds, and sapphires of the dancer's mask, they are are smoky and clear quartz, and varying shades of amethyst, unlikely to draw attention in the crowd.


Family Christmas

"You're my family now."


Attention Grabber

Today's image brought to you by the Chinese Zodiac!  Specifically, by the sign of the Cock, which is (as you may have surmised) my sign!  Here is what some sources have to say about the typical Cock personality:

Roosters are extremely sociable and prefer being the center of attention, always bragging about themselves and their accomplishments. 

Although let's be fair, here- is it really bragging if I'm just Stating Awesome Facts About Myself??


Aaaanyway, between thinking of the Chinese Zodiac and masks (and masques, for that matter) I came up with this little drawing- which I brought home and colored, because I didn't have to work a full day which meant I had time for such shenanigans.  (Also I baked a pie.  Because awesome.)
In my little mental narrative, she is a dancer hired to perform at a masque.  I may do a series...


All's Well that Inks Well

So I was at a friend's house today, watching her put some beautiful calligraphy on a box, and I said, "I've been thinking of getting a dip pen- where do you recommend I start?" and she, being the lovely sweet creature that she is, leaped up and gave me two from her own collection, plus a spare nib.

I got home and thought I'd play with my new acquisitions, only to discover that my India ink was gone, all gone- all except for one tiny phial I use to refill some of my fancy pens, so I put a bit of that into a teeny divot of a thing I had lying around, and while it wasn't exactly an ideal inkwell, it was good enough to satisfy my craving to play...
Cats and rats and derpy dogs.

I'll have to get some more after Christmas, I think.  ^_^


Tyet Isis

Here is a thing I am working on:

But my head hurts now, and I need to get off the computer.

(read about tyets here)


Happy Solstice!

Also, happy The World Once Again Has Not Ended.

(or maybe it has, and we're too busy to notice)

Here is a quick sketch I did of Artemis and Apollo arm wrestling, and Artemis is of course winning because, well, Solstice.  But tomorrow Apollo will start to get his fist off the table, and in about six months it will be his twin who is on the losing end.

I like the concept, if not the execution- I expect I'll revisit it at some point and make the anatomy a little less, "Things do not do that thing that you have drawn there thing..."


Okay "Wonderful" But Not "Pregnancy Wonderful"

Holy crap, you guys REALLY want me to be pregnant!  I've gotten more hits on my "Wonderful News" than any other post, like, ever.  (I make the jump from that to "people want pregnancy" from the private messages I've received asking about it).
Anyway now I feel a bit like a cad, because my wonderful news has nothing to with my reproductive capabilities.  I am not now, nor have I ever been (to the best of my knowledge) pregnant.  And seriously, if/when I do happen to conceive, I promise I will give you a totally awesome reveal, and not a smarmy little, "I know something you don't know!" post.  Scout's honor.

But back to that wonderful news.  I shall preface it with a story.

Almost three months ago I was riding my bike to work, and I took a right-hand turn.  As I did this, a van turned left onto the same street, and as it approached me I thought dreamily to myself, "Wouldn't it be nice if that van side-swiped me, so I didn't have to go to work?"

Needless to say, the van did not side-swipe me, but when I realized what I'd just thought (in all earnestness), I couldn't let it go.  In fact, I got to work and sort of broke down because I suddenly came to terms with just how incredibly miserable I was at my job.  And it was not my job, per se- I happen to love my job, and the company I work for.  But my boss had driven me to the point where I woke up every morning feeling unhappy because I had to see him, and I'd burned through all my sick days by autumn because there were some days I just couldn't face going in.  So I felt trapped and miserable and it was a dark, dark time in the life of O.

I tell you this so that you will understand why I flipped out with joy on Monday and made such a cryptic post.  Monday was a my own personal Christmas Miracle day because that was the day my boss came in (late) and stated that he was leaving the company to pursue opportunities elsewhere.  And then I helped him clean out his office and then he was gone and I never, ever have to see him again.

I felt... freed.  I felt so incredibly light, and I hadn't even realized how heavy I'd become.  My stress levels plummeted, and I've spent the past three days in a delirium of joy.  So no, I am not pregnant- but I am pretty effin' joyful nonetheless.


Brush it Off

Found an old brush pen in my bag today... it led to doodles, and made me yearn for my copic.
Guess which one I drew with my left hand...
Also I want a fountain pen, but I think it's probably too late to change my order with Santa...


More Left

Had dinner with an old friend tonight who is also an artist, and we talked about the benefits of doing left-handed drawings.  Which, of course, led to (you guessed it!) more left-handed drawings.
And, of course, more introspection on my part.


Wonderful News, Everyone!

I got some really fabulous news today...
True story.

...but I can't share it quite yet.  By the end of the week, probably.  For now all you need to know is that I am feeling approximately one jillion times lighter in spirit than I have for a very, very long time.


What the Left Hand Knows

I don't know why I feel like I'm not allowed to be sad that my grandmother is dead, but there it is.  Maybe because it's the holidays, and it's just too damned cliched to miss dead people during the holidays.  But the melancholy keeps coming up, and I keep shying away from it.  It's like my conscious, dominant brain says to my subconcious, "No, not now.  You can be sad later, when it's not so pathetic."

...but it wasn't my dominant hand I was drawing with today.


Colors Aren't So Hard

Here is some gimpy-handed coloring for your perusal:

I figure I'll get back to drawing like a reasonable person tomorrow.  We shall see.


Obligatory Left-Handed Post

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so obviously ambidextrous:

::sigh::  No.  No I am not.  Oh well.


Weird Day

It was, as you may have surmised from the title, a weird sort of day.  The sort of day where you end up standing in an awkward stance, staring out at... who knows what.
It's a good thing I did this drawing while at work.

There's plenty  I could say about it, but I'll just give you the lowest and the highest.

The lowest is that I have once again injured myself.  By being stupid.  I strained some tendons in my right hand, so I won't be climbing for at least a week, and we'll have to wait and see if I'll be drawing for a few days.  Needless to say, this makes me Grumpy.

On the other hand, this evening we went to the Portland Cello Project's holiday concert (Beck the Halls Holiday Spectacular!), and it was awesome.  I am in all sorts of Amazing Moods because of that.  This is our second year going, and I have to say that I think it now officially qualifies as a Holiday Tradition for us.

Yay Holiday Traditions!



That is all.


Climbing and Other Things That are Good for Me

So, as you may have noticed, I don't exactly follow a Standard American Diet.  As it happens, my gluten intolerance is actually only a partial reason for this- my sensitivity to sugar is another.  Unlike gluten, however, it's possible for me to have a little sugar with no ill effects- and if I'm going to have ill effects they don't show up until the next day.

You can see how this might lead to Badness.  Especially when combined with the attitude of, "Well I've already screwed myself over- might as well go whole hog!"

It started with Thanksgiving, of course.  I let myself have a day of indulgence.  And if I'd left it at that, it probably would have been fine.  But did I leave it at that?  No I did not.  "You're going to be in pain anyway," whispered JerkBrain.  "Might as well make it worth it!"

So I had too much sugar during the Thanksgiving weekend, and I followed it up by continuing to Not Avoid Sugar, and do you know what?  JerkBrain was wrong (as JerkBrain often is): it is not worth it.  Last week I woke up in swollen-joint agony, and I've been dealing with that (and the Other Effects of Too Much Sugar) ever since.

The joints are bad enough, but today what I want to write about is one of the Other Effects.  Namely, adrenaline surges.  A few years back a doctor diagnosed me with dysautonomia, which is doctor speak for, "We don't know what the hell is wrong with you, but sometimes your autonomic nervous system just freaks out for no reason."  Thanks to the change in my diet, however, I've pretty much come to realize that one of the triggers is too much sugar.  Anyway, I spent most of today in what is best described as a sort of low-grade panic (even tho' I knew it was just my chemicals, and I wasn't actually afraid of anything) with the nausea and tingling that accompanies un-used adrenaline.   Needless to say, climbing times could not come quickly enough, and in fact I left work early because I couldn't stand it any longer.

I got to the gym and went through my stretches (which was somewhat helpful but not really the thing) and then I got on the wall- and enjoyed almost two full hours of serenity.  It was brilliant.  The adrenaline was put to good use, and I stopped feeling sick.  Of course, within about half an hour of leaving the surges were back, but they were reduced, and bearable once more.

The whole day has gotten me thinking about why I do the things I do.  I make the lifestyle choices I do so that I will feel good- both physically and mentally.  But every once in a while I forget that, and JerkBrain does its best to convince me that I am a martyr, making sacrifices and missing out on fun things and by gods I can have sugar if I want to you're not the boss of me!


Yeah.  And the thing is, the seductive danger of JerkBrain is that it's right; I can have sugar if I want to, and stay up late, and drink too much, and not do my yoga.  I can do all of those things- but then I have to pay the price, which JerkBrain always sort of conveniently forgets to mention.  And the price just isn't worth it.

Trying to draw my way to serenity didn't work.  (I need ink and brush for that...)


Recapturing Christmas

Let's be honest, here.  Christmas is not really my "thing".  Hasn't been for a long time.  Say, oh, eighteen years or so.  Don't get me wrong- I'm not one of those bah-humbug kind of people- my lack of enthusiasm in no way makes me feel like others should have a similar lack.  But in terms of genuine Christmas Spirit, I'm more of a faker than a maker.

There is, however, and antidote to my habitual holiday "meh".  And that antidote, dear readers, is children.  Children and Christmas are friggin' awesome.  And when I'm around children, I can submerse myself in their Awesome, and leave all my emotional bullshit baggage behind.  Double Awesome Plus.

So Eel and Bee are visiting, along with their parents, and we all went out to the Festival of Lights.  Lots to see, lots to do (lots to pet, which I was not expecting but hey, I will happily pet a Christmas bunny anytime, anywhere.)  There was even an angel, which Eel was not 100% sure he was down with:
"Can she fly?"
So I'm feelin' pretty okay about Christmas again.  Go kids.


Geometric Wishes

I've been playing around with star designs for a friend's tattoo.  Behold tonight's effort:

Wishes of Light
It's not there yet, but I like the swirly effect... back to the drawing-tablet, I suppose.



The sun is not up, but she is.

Butter, sugar, vanilla.  Cups of corn starch and almond flour.  The hum of the mixer is hypnotic- it would lull her back to sleep, if she let it.

No it wouldn't.

Sleep does not come easy these days- it is, in truth, a relief to have an excuse not to be in bed, not to lay there obsessing over laying there.  Instead she can obsess about pulling the cookies out at just the right moment- a hint of gold on the raised edges of the creamy white crenelations.  Spritzgeback are delicate confections, easily ruined by even sixty seconds too long in the oven.

Everything has to be just so.

She will devote many hours to this task today, this careful mixing and pressing and baking and shifting and packing, creating layer upon layers of the traditional cookies her oma used to make.  Oma hasn't made them in over a decade, and for almost as long it has fallen upon her to provide far-flung family with that small part of the holidays so unique to their heritage.  She wonders, briefly, how that came to be?  If everyone cares so much for the old traditions, why is she the only one to keep them?  She who, when she is honest with herself, doesn't care at all any more.

What is the point of traditions, after all, if there is no one to pass them on to?

She lets the cookies cool, then carefully shifts them, one at a time, to the wax paper she's covered her kitchen table with.  They line up in perfect rows, not so much because that's important to the process, but just because the effect pleases her.  Order.  Control.  Sweet little soldiers, marching off to battle against... what?  The passage of time?  The loss of what once was?  Bitterness, she decides as she dusts them with confectioner's sugar.  It is only fitting they be marching off to battle bitterness.

She picks one of the cookies up, examines it.  It looks perfect.  She pops it in her mouth, letting the taste of butter, sugar, and almonds melt on her tongue.  Delicate.  Perfect.  She cuts the wax paper to line the tins, and begins to place the cookies in concentric rings.  One of them breaks, and she stares at it.

Delicate.  Fragile.  So easily broken.

She wants to scream.  She wants to throw the pieces across the room, throw everything across the room, to destroy and destroy and destroy... but she doesn't.  She just stares at the broken pieces, and then puts them in her mouth, where they too crumble into nothingness.


It's Not the First Time I've Been Called Cold-Hearted

Last night's dream was and intense, and kind of bizarre.  And my husband laughed at me and my arrogance, but I'm going to tell you anyway, because quite frankly I think there's a good story seed at the core of it- I just need to let it compost for a while.


In my dream I was in a large parking lot and came across a guy packing up his truck (big truck, like a moving truck.  It was teal.) after a sort of farmer's market bazaar type thing had come to an end.  He was alone, and asked for help, so even tho' I felt a little weird about it I went ahead and helped him- but I was smart enough to call Nathan and give him a description of the truck I was helping to load before I came home.

Turns out dream-paranoia was all for the best, because I totally ended up being kidnapped, drugged, and put to work in a sort of extremely high-end brothel that catered to the very rich (mostly lawyers, for some reason).  The drugs they kept in our systems removed our emotions, so we didn't feel anything, and certainly didn't care about anything.  Because of this, no one tried to escape because, as mentioned, no one cared.  Except, in my case, they'd underestimated my ability to think without emotion (this is the part where Nathan started laughing, damn him).

See, even tho' I didn't actually care about the situation I was in, I could remember not wanting to be there- so I got all coldly logical about following through on the decision I'd already made, even tho' it didn't have any sort of current emotional meaning for me.  I saw people who knew me, and they were shocked to see me working in that place, but since I wasn't upset they assumed I was okay where I was.  During one part of the dream I managed to find a cell phone and call 911, and calmly tell them what had happened to me- and I was hyper aware of the fact that they weren't likely to believe me, because I was so dispassionate about the whole thing.

Very strange.  But also, I think, a potential story seed.  Also perhaps my subconscious screaming a commentary about something?  Who knows.

Here is a sketch of a winged girl for you:
I just realized she totally doesn't have thumbs.  Crap.  This is why non-sober-doodling is not the BEST of ideas.
Tomorrow is Cooking Baking Day.  That's right, three capitals on that.  Three.  Ponder that, why don't you?


Revisiting Saga Best

Treachery's mother, dressed for walking in the desert:

Her "skirt" is actually a pair of very full pants (better air circulation).  As for the gun, all Faithful are raised to handle weapons of all sorts- one of the better points of their religion, in my opinion.  There are other, less admirable points... but then, aren't there always, in all things?


Knowing Jack

Just a quick doodle, seeing as how it's most assuredly past my bedtime:
Cooler than cool.



Soooo.... I finally got around to watching The Amazing Spider Man, and enjoyed it quite a bit, thank you very much (could Andrew Garfield be any cutedoofier?).  Therefore, have a doodle of Gwen Stacy being exasperated:
It hurts her head, it really does.


Lil' Scoobies' Joyful Days

I was feeling full of holiday spirit and nostalgia today.  Thus this:
Yes, I made the joke you think I did up there in the upper right corner.
(For those not as steeped in all things Buffy, I apologize.) (Not really.)


Bella Swan is so a Feminist

Okay, I know there are some people out there who do not give a rat's ass what I might have to say on the subject- they are going to hate Bella Swan, and they are going to hate the whole Twilight franchise, and I'd have a better chance of convincing them that the sun rises in the west than I would of changing their minds.  This entry is not for them.  This entry is for the people who look at me askance and say, "Jenny O, you are an intelligent woman and a reasonably vocal feminist- how could you possibly enjoy the Twilight books and their milquetoast heroine, Bella Swan?"
Well Gentle Readers, I shall tell you.

When I first read Twilight, I enjoyed the hell out of it.  And I enjoyed the hell out of it because it took me back to when I was seventeen, and love was life-or-death dramatic.  I remember when relationships were all-consuming like that, and while I am relieved I'm no longer subject to such (you could not pay me enough to be a teenager again), that doesn't mean I can't enjoy an occasional trip down memory lane.  So in terms of good ol' fashioned entertainment, Twilight did its job.  Good on you, Stephenie Meyer.

Because I'd enjoyed the first book I went ahead and got the second, and the third, and eventually the fourth, when it came out.  Now I had some issues of my own with those books (a different entry entirely), but Bella Swan being anti-feminist was not one of them.  In fact, the first time I encountered that charge, I was baffled- had the person read the books? (answer: probably not)  Because here is the thing about Bella- all she wants is to be equal to her chosen mate.

That's right, Bella just wants equality.  In a world full of monsters and supermen, she does not want to settle for being the fragile little human who must be protected- she wants to be a monstrous superman, too, thereby be able to protect those she loves.  How, exactly, is that anti-feminist?

And then there are the people who rant that Twilight is all anti-choice, because Bella chooses to carry a fetus to term that is killing her.  Wait, let me say that last part again, with some added emphasis: Bella chooses to carry a fetus to term that is killing her.  Please explain to me how that is anti-choice?  A woman making her own decision about her body?  A woman saying to the people around her, "I don't care what you think is best for me, I am making the choice that I think is right."  Too often, I think, people get caught up in this idea that "pro-choice" means, "Making the choice I would make".  Same thing applies to feminism- some people act like, "Feminism is making the choices I would make," and they look down on those women who don't.  Hence we have women who are ashamed to admit that they don't want to "have it all"- they want to be stay-at-home moms and housewives and not go in to an office every day- or at all.

And I cry BS on that.  You shouldn't have to feel like you're not a feminist because what you want doesn't match what certain members of society are telling you should want.

I recently read an article talking about how when they interviewed girls who'd read Twilight and asked them what they admired about Bella Swan, they rattled off a list of positive traits that aren't actually mentioned in the books.  Which says to me that Stephenie Meyer achieved her goal of making a heroine you could put yourself into, up to and including strengths and weaknesses.  So I have to ask, if I read those books and came away believing that Bella Swan is a decided feminist, and other people come away thinking she's not... well, is there any sort of commentary there on what sort of baggage we're bringing to our respective readings?



Here is what it does not look like out my window right now: