Saturday, December 31, 2016
Sunday, December 25, 2016
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Monday, December 19, 2016
I made it 267 days mostly following my goal, but more on that later.
For now, I want to talk about a specific issue of *why* I often did things out of guilt in the past, and I want to focus on correcting that this year.
In 2017, I am going to focus on having limitless limits. By that I mean, I am not going to place any limits on the number of limits or boundaries that I'm "allowed" to have, the number of things I can say that I don't like, or the number of things that I can say no to. The number of personal limits I can have in terms of what I am willing and unwilling to do is unlimited.
A big part of the reason I went along with things I didn't want to do prior to 2016 (mainly prior to 2015) was that I was acting as if there was some arbitrary limit on the number of times I was "allowed" to say no to things that I didn't want to do. For example, I remember one time that I agreed to get pizza and see a movie with my ex boyfriend and his parents when I really did not want to do that at all. My reasoning for going (and I was well-aware of this at the time, but did it anyway) was that I felt obligated to spend a certain amount of time with his family, even though I did not enjoy spending time with them. I felt like I had to say yes to at least some of the invitations, and pizza and a movie was acceptable. As much as I didn't want to go, I figured the next invitation could be to go camping or kayaking or to some fair that lasts all day long where I'd be stuck with them or to a huge reunion with lots of people - things that would really, really suck, and that if they invited me to something I could tolerate, like pizza and a movie - even though I don't eat any of the same kinds of pizza that they eat and I had no interest in the movie they picked and would be sleeping through it - it just wasn't as bad as the other possibilities. I felt like going to this pizza and a movie event would make it more acceptable to say no to things that were really not okay, when the reality is that I should have been able to say no as often as I wanted to.
I was acting as if I had a limited number of "No" tickets in my pockets and that using one meant I couldn't get it back, now I had fewer tickets and fewer chances to say no. If you have a limited number of times that you can say no, you end up saying yes to a lot of things that you really don't want to do because you figure something worse could always come along.
When I was a first-year student, part of our required curriculum was that we had to attend four "wellness seminars" during the school year, which were talks on campus about various topics. These talks were open to the whole school and we could go to as many as we wanted, but we were required to attend at least four. I think there were like ten or twelve events that counted as wellness seminars.
I went to the first four wellness seminars that I was able to go to. All of my classmates didn't take this approach. A lot of them looked at the list and thought about which topics interested them, and they would decide what to do based on what they liked. But since four seminars were required, it seemed to risky for me to wait and go to the ones later in the year. What if I was sick one of the days? What if I wasn't free during the time of the seminar because I had a different schedule in the second semester? What if there was something fun going on that I would have to miss out on to go to the seminar? What if I was just too busy at the time and it would be really hard on me to squeeze the seminar in? There were just too many variables to plan on attending a seminar much later in the year. So whenever a seminar came up that it wasn't a huge burden for me to attend, I attended it, until the requirement was met.
Being required to go to those seminars was sort of like having a limited number of No's. Like, if there are ten seminars and you have to go to four, then you only have six times that you can say, "No, I don't feel like going." And that's how I was behaving about a lot of things prior to 2016:
-Doing things I was never willing to do but felt obligated to do, like OT at work
-Spending time with people that I did not enjoy spending time with, like my ex boyfriend's family and some of his friends.
-Doing activities that I don't want to do in order to spend time with people I like, like when I went on that camping trip and went to drinking-based parties and events where I didn't know anyone and a number of other things.
-Acting less upset than I was about a lot of things because I felt like I had a limited number of times I could be really upset.
Going forward, I am not playing this game of imaginary "No" tickets. Going forward, there will be no limits on the number of things that I say no to.
Going forward, my limits are limitless.
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Imagine that you have a recipe blog where you post all sorts of recipes that you love. It's just a generic recipe blog, you've never stated that it was for any one type of food. So you post your favorite dessert recipe, and someone comments that your recipe is not vegan because it contains butter and you should substitute olive oil instead. Now, you are not vegan. You never claimed to be vegan, and you never said that your recipe blog was for vegan food. And yet this person is informing you that your recipe is not vegan as if vegan was your goal. You explain to them that this is not a vegan recipe blog, it's just a generic recipe blog, yet they keep making the same comments, telling you all the non vegan ingredients and how to substitute them with vegan products.
This is how everyone sounds to me when they expect me to post happy things or to focus on positivity or to be any level of functional or a nice person when something is wrong. Like, when did I EVER express any desire to be any of those things? If I were a surgeon, your spleen would end up where your brain belongs. If I were a motivational speaker, I would tell everyone to fuck off and spend the rest of their lives staring at the wall doing nothing. If I were a boss, I'd fire everyone so I could be alone and have quiet. I've never expressed any desire to be a better person than that when things go wrong. I don't get why anyone would have such high expectations of me.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Saturday, December 3, 2016
Friday, December 2, 2016
Thursday, December 1, 2016
I did not put nearly as much effort into June as I did into May. I typically spend each month working on the picture for the next month, so the quality of the picture depends entirely on how much time I devoted to it. May was one of my hardcore edit months where I spent the majority of my time working on my book, so I didn't put as much work into the calendar. Since I was legitimately feeling good at the time, I decided to make this a bright, fun summer picture.
I drew in the stick figures to liven up the picture - I didn't have a particular intention, but now I think it looks like people dancing, adding to the fun theme. While I didn't do the kind of shading and blending that I did back in May, I did put similar shades of colors together to create a look of blending. For example, the orange petals on the center flower are actually two different colors - I rotated a darker orange with a lighter orange. Although each individual petal is just one color, alternating different but similar shades gives it a blended look. I did the same thing with the red and pink shapes, and the dark blue and light blue shapes that form a circle around the flower and the dancing people. I got this technique from what I did in May - prior to that, I would have used all one color, or rotated contrasting colors such as pink and green, but it would not have occurred to me to alternate similar colors. The first time I left any part of the picture white was with the eyes in May. This time I left the background of the circle of pink and blue squares white so that the colors would pop more.
This was going to be a fun month. It was already a happy month for me because I had just finished the second draft of my book. I drew in the Matilda logo for the day that I was seeing Matilda, and the Sadness and Joy fusion on the anniversary of Inside Out. I also wrote on the calendar what I see on my bathroom mirror every morning: "Every bestseller was once a rough draft."
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Think about your normal sleep schedule - what time you normally go to bed at night and wake up in the morning. Now, imagine what it would feel like if I told you that starting tonight, you have to shift your schedule back by five hours. This means that you have go to sleep five hours earlier than you normally would, and wake up and start your day five hours earlier than you normally do. Think about how disruptive this would be to your life. Could you physically fall asleep that early? Could you drag yourself out of bed that early? Could you just change your schedule that drastically, that fast, without warning, because you just found out that you start a new job tomorrow or that someone else expects you to wake up that early, and they think it's unreasonable when you try to compromise for a time in the middle? What about all the things you had planned to do during those hours that you thought you'd be awake? How many things are you going to miss out on because of this sudden change? Just think for a moment about how disruptive this five hour shift would be to your life.
THAT is what it was like when I had to shift my sleep schedule, My first job came without warning - I was told that they wanted me to start the next day. And all the other times, my ex and his family just acted like it should be no big deal for me to shift for them. What you just imagined your day would be like if you suddenly had to shift five hours backwards is exactly what it was like for me, it's just that no one thinks of it that way because everyone thinks of waking up for a 9-5 job as normal. My sleep schedule was normal for me. And asking me to shift five hours back was NO DIFFERENT than asking people with more conventional schedules to shift five hours back, and it was never okay for everyone to act like it was.
Friday, November 25, 2016
Friday, November 18, 2016
Thursday, November 17, 2016
If the house were on fire, I'd roll my eyes like OMG WTF do I seriously have to go outside now, and I'd drag my heals on the way outside and then call a friend to complain about the fact that I was stuck standing outside before I'd even call the fire department.
See what I mean? There is NOTHING that I'm gonna suddenly jump up and function for. And believe me, I have a very, very long list of things that I actually *want* to be doing that I don't feel well enough to do, so even if I did suddenly start feeling functional, anything that anyone else expects me to do is going waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy at the end of the list. I mean that. I function for no one.
So, one person says, "I hate women."
A second person says, "I hate rapists."
And a third person says, "You're both bad, we should love and not hate."
Yeah, this is where the whole "Don't fight hate with hate" thing goes and it is fucking sick.
Have some respect for those of us who never intend to hold hands and sing campfire songs with people who have done horrible things to us, directly or indirectly. Have some respect for those of us who want to fight back.
Monday, November 14, 2016
And I never got to really act like that C C C D student that I said I would be like. Never. It's not fair and it's not okay. It's never going to be okay until I get that chance.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
This is a much, much smaller issue, but when I was in college, I hung around with this group of girls who used to complain a lot about how other people dressed. They specifically had an issue with girls wearing spandex as pants, without anything over them. Whenever they complained about this, I told them that there was nothing wrong with wearing spandex as pants and that people could wear whatever they wanted, but they ignored me. They just kept talking right over me and it didn't matter what I said. So I switched tactics. Instead of telling people that they were wrong, I acted clueless. Our conversations went like this:
Person: "There was a girl in my class wearing super tight spandex today."
Person: "They were skin-tight, you could see right through them!"
Basically, I said "Uh-huh?" in the tone that says, "yeah, and?" as if I waiting for them to tell me that a dragon flew in through the window and ate the girl wearing the spandex. My tone indicated that there had to be more to the story than that, because someone wearing spandex to class is not any kind of a story on its own. And the thing is, it actually worked. When I used this method, people did just drop the subject because they did not know what to say.
Now, this is a dangerous thing to do when someone is talking to you about an actual problem that is effecting them directly - I actually talk in the validation book about how not to do this to anyone. But I've found that it was effective for shutting people down about the spandex issue. Saying "Uh-huh?" will not always be the best response, but you can pretend to be confused and not understand what the problem is. You can ask the person questions. For example:
If someone tells you that they were nervous when an African American person came into their store, that they were worried that the person might steal something, ask them, "What do you mean by that? Did he actually do anything threatening? It sounds like he was just looking around the store like everyone else." If the store owner claims that the person was loitering too long, say, "I do that all the time! I go into stores and spend forever looking through stuff and don't end up buying anything. I think pretty much everyone does that." Just keep defending the person with a tone of, "I'm totally clueless as to why you would think this person was stealing," thereby invalidating the idea that there is any reason to assume an African American person was going to steal anything.
If someone tells you that they were uncomfortable on an airplane because someone got on the plane wearing a hijab or a turban, ask the person, "What did the passenger do that concerned you? Did they say something threatening to you?" Again, sound totally clueless, like you have no idea why they might find this person threatening because you don't think of people wearing a hijab or a turban as threatening.
If someone tells you that a boy came into their class wearing a dress, you can try saying "Uh-huh," like I did with the spandex issue, until you force the person to actually say that they don't think boys should wear dresses, and wait until that point to tell them that anyone can wear whatever they want. Or you could ask what kind of dress the person was wearing and say, "Cute! I've been wanting to get a dress like that! Do you know where they bought it?" Speak with a tone that this is totally normal and acceptable, nothing out of the ordinary. Speak the way you would if someone were acting like it was front-page news that a girl wore a dress to class. Invalidate the idea that there is anything wrong or weird about a boy wearing a dress.
I'm normally against invalidation, but in cases like these, it can be a powerful tool. Use it wisely.
Friday, November 11, 2016
So for example, think of a story you know for kids that is about anti-bullying - it can be a book, movie, TV show episode, just any story that you think sends a strong anti-bullying message to kids. Do you have one in mind? Okay, now look at the character in the story who is being bullied - are they white? straight? cisgendered? able-bodied? thin? middle class? Think about how many of our anti-bullying stories are like that, how much of our anti-bullying rhetoric treats everyone like we all have equal privilege, and doesn't address the fact some people are targets of bullying much more than others. We need to write anti-bullying stories about kids who are called racial slurs for being African American or Asian or Latina or Middle-Eastern, for being Muslim and wearing a hijab, for not speaking fluent English or for having an accent, for feeling like a girl inside even though other people think of them as a boy, for having a crush on another kid of the same sex. I am not suggesting that white straight cis kids cannot be bullied as well - I was bullied, and I am not trying to erase anyone's experience who has been bullied. I am saying that in addition to the bullying narratives that we've already seen in mainstream culture, we need new ones. We need to hear the voices of people whose experiences are already being erased. Stories like Chrissa Stands Strong do not cut it, they don't address the issues that kids are dealing with today and they don't give kids the tools to stand up to bullies who are yelling "Build the Wall!" at their classmates. We can do better. We need to start doing better.
And even if you are writing an anti-bullying story about a white, straight, cis, able-bodied person, I urge you to dig deeper into the systematic reasons why they are being bullied. For example, if someone is being bullied because of the way they dress, maybe that character comes from a low-income family and cannot afford the "cool" clothes that the other kids wear, or all of the latest gadgets. If a boy is being bullied, the reason is often because he doesn't act tough or because he acts "girly," which is an example of sexism in that we view female-associated traits as undesirable. If a girl is being bullied, is it because she doesn't conform to beauty standards? Because she is a "prude" for not wanting to do sexual things, or a "slut" for wanting to do sexual things? If someone is being bullied because they just don't act like the other kids, examine issues of neurodiversity and how our brains do not all work the same way. No matter who is being bullied, look into the expectations that our society places on them to look a certain way and act a certain way, and basically be someone who is white, straight, cisgendered, middle-class, Christian, able-bodied, thin, neurotypical. Almost all bullying has its roots in systematic oppression. And when we write stories about bullying, it is our job to bring that to the surface.
In addition to the anti-bullying stories, we need more diverse characters where the whole story isn't about their specific difference. About a year ago, I was rereading some of my favorite picture books from when I was a kid, including the Little Critter series. Most of the books were really funny and had lots of cute moments, like when Little Critter is mad that he can't keep frogs in the bathtub, or when he tries to wash his bedroom floor with a garden hose, or when his little sister pulls the paper towel roll from the bottom and they all fall down in the store. I was laughing my head off rereading these books. But when I got to the book called A Very Special Critter, which is about Little Critter meeting a new classmate who used a wheelchair, it suddenly felt bland. It felt like I was just reading any old generic story that teaches kids that some people use wheelchairs and they are just like those of us who don't, it totally lost that cute, funny, charming quality that all of the other books had. I felt like it didn't do justice to the character who used the wheelchair - yes, he was portrayed in a positive way - winning first prize in an art contest and winning ice cream for the whole class - but the book did not have the same humor as the others. There is no reason why this new boy could not also want to keep frogs in the tub or wash the bedroom floor with a garden hose. The story emphasized that this new boy was "just like us," but the book itself did not feel that way. And this is what I mean - when we write stories about all different characters, we need to be sure we are creating unique, dynamic characters that have rich experiences and are just as good as any other characters.
Here's a good example of what we should do. In the Baby Sitter's Club Little Sister series, there is a book called Karen's New Friend, where Karen gets a new classmate, Addie, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. At first, Karen takes the wrong approach, trying to help Addie with every little thing even when Addie doesn't like it. But then, Karen experiences first-hand what that is like - two girls who are sisters come to stay at her house, and things are weird between them. Like, the girls clearly don't want to be there, but they are being overly nice to Karen like hanging up her clothes for her - and it feels weird. At one point, one of the sisters reminds that other that they have to be extra nice to Karen because her parents are divorced. They've basically been tiptoeing around doing every little thing they can for Karen, treating her like she's been through a tragedy or something. Karen is very upset by this, but it makes her realize just how upset Addie felt, and she apologizes to Addie and learns how to be a good friend to her. But's here's most important part: the story doesn't end there. Addie does not just exist to be a lesson to kids and then disappear. Addie stays in Karen's class and is a regular character who has thoughts and ideas and a life story, and in the book Karen's School Mystery, Addie and Karen are hall monitors together and they solve a mystery together of who has been stealing things out of kids' desks, and they come up with a plan to catch the students in the act. So, the series has the initial books where Karen learns how to be a good friend to Addie, but they also have a follow up story in which Addie is a star and solves a mystery and it's not focused on her cerebral palsy. These are the kinds of stories that we need more of.
I'm thinking again of the Babysitters Club and how all the stories start out introducing all the members of the club - explaining that Kristy loves sports and isn't into makeup and fashion she gets great ideas and has a huge step-family, Mary Anne is serious and cries a lot and lives with just her dad because her mom died of cancer and she has a boyfriend, Claudia is Japanese-American and is an amazing artist with great fashion sense and not into school at all and has an older sister who is perfect, Stacey is from New York and dresses really sophisticated and she has diabetes, Dawn is from California and her parents are divorced and her brother moved back to CA with her dad so she just lives with her mom and only eats health food, Jessi is African American and is an amazing ballerina and is aspiring to be a professional dancer and loves to read, Mallory has red hair and freckles and is the oldest of eight kids and aspires to be a writer. We always get that summary of the group at the beginning. There are even stories in the series that address the racism, like when Jessi first moves to the neighborhood, and in the book Keep Out Claudia where a racist family does not want Claudia or Jessi babysitting for them. So, there's no reason why we can't have a group of kids where the narrator explains that their friend is a transgender girl. Another character can be a Muslim who wears the Hijab and is celebrating Ramadan, and you plan to get together have dinner after sundown during the time that they are fasting. Another character can be an immigrant from Mexico who is undocumented and sometimes worries about getting deported and does not get to do things that other people can do easily like get a drivers license or financial aid for college. When the kids talk about who they have crushes on, some could have crushes on people of the same sex, and some could have no crushes because they do not have romantic interests. All of these characters can exist and have stories, and it is up to us to push them into the mainstream media so that they become normalized, so that it doesn't occur to kids to bully someone for these reasons, and have that bullying turn into violence later on.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
If you're a person of color, you NEVER deserve to have anyone calling you racist slurs, and no one should EVER tell you to "go back where you came from." You belong here, this is your home, you have just as much right to be here as anyone else. All of the white people in this country were immigrants at one time and do not have any more right to be here than you.
You have the right to practice your religion without being bullied or harassed or labeled as a terrorist. Muslim people are not terrorists. Ever notice that when a white male shoots up a school, we never target all white men as a group? That we never target people of their specific religion or white European ethnic group? Ask yourself why.
If you are an undocumented immigrant, you do NOT deserve to live in fear of being deported, and you deserve the same rights that I have as a citizen.
If you have been sexually harassed or assaulted, it is NOT okay, it is not your fault, it is 100% the perpetrator's fault and you deserve to be believed, no matter who the person is who assaulted you or how famous or popular they are.
If you are LGBTQ, you deserve to be yourself and love whoever you love and not have to worry about being bullied or losing your job or being kicked out of your home. If you are trans, you have the right to dress how you want and be called by the correct pronouns and use the bathroom that is most comfortable for you.
And above all, if you are a parent or a teacher or anyone who works with children, it is imperative that you teach your kids about racism, sexism, Islamophia, and everything else. I'm all for anti-bullying, but generic anti-bullying is not enough anymore. We need to talk specifically about our prejudices that cause us to bully.
Make sure your kids are aware of things at a young age. Make sure they get to meet a wide range of other kids, and they learn how to treat kids who are different from them with respect. Model the behavior by treating people who look different from you with respect as well.
Read your children stories with characters of all different races and backgrounds. Show black characters and Latina characters being dynamic and relatable. Show your kids picture books with Muslim characters who wear the hijab.
Do not assume that every child is heterosexual. Don't talk to them about marrying a person of the opposite sex. Let them know that you can be attracted to male people, female people, both, or neither. Let them know that everyone does not identify as male or female, that some people are in the middle, some people are neither, and some people are born into the wrong body and may choose to transition. Talk about these things casually, normally, while the kids are young.
When you teach your children about history, teach them about the accomplishments that women and people of color have made to our society. If their school history lessons try to act like everything got resolved, let them know that racism, sexism, and everything else is still going on today, and how we need to fight it.
If you find out that your child is calling their classmates racial slurs or telling them to go back where they came from, do not punish your child - talk to them about why they did it. Punishing your child may prevent the behavior in the short term, but it will not change your child's biases. Ask your child why they did what they did to get to the root of the problem. Teach them to think about how the other person feels by putting themself in the same position - for instance, imagining what it would feel like to be bullied as the only white student in an all-black school, or for their Christian beliefs and traditions, or for being an American immigrant in another country.
And finally, teach your kids that adults aren't always right, authority figures aren't always right, Donald Trump is not right. Don't let your kids think that just because someone has some sort of authority like being the president, it means that you have to listen to them. Make sure they know how to challenge adults and authority and don't just go along with what authority figures tell them.
Not sure what else to say right now. It's still pretty surreal. I took a personal day tomorrow to rest and process things, and I still need to write that goodbye letter to my grandma by Wednesday. The grief just keeps piling up. I love you all. We can fight this together.
Saturday, November 5, 2016
It has this freaky bitter cathartic fuck society quality to it, like Sadness would be her glory and Joy would be totally frantic trying to mop up the place while everyone else parties on like nothing's wrong and everything's wrong all at the same time because it's okay to not be okay.
So yeah that's my freaky fantasy at the moment.
3. Talking about what's actually wrong.
4. Meaningful writing/art projects and friends who care about them.
Things I *Don't* Need at a Time Like This:
3. Meeting new people.
4. Going on trips.
7. Staying busy.
8. Anything else that's listed on any How to Be Happy list that you find on the internet.
I actually have the things I need at this moment. I have true friends who get it.
If everyone else in the world could back off about the things I don't need right now, that'd be great.
April is probably my least favorite picture. I had a cool idea, but didn't quite execute it properly. The flower in this picture is supposed to be an orchid. There is a psychology theory that some kids are dandelion children who are okay in any environment, and some are orchid children, who need to be in a specific kind of environment in order to thrive. I had meant for this to be a picture of an orchid. I drew the raindrops in myself and faded the colors, to show that the flower was delicate and would become washed out easily with just a drop of rain.
Now, I absolute love the concept behind this picture, but I realize what I did wrong: See, with the month of March, I felt like the split between the warm and cool colors was the main focus of the picture - the thing that made it interesting. I was imagining that the raindrops could be the thing that made this picture interesting. I kept the rest of the picture kind of plain and flat and boring, thinking that the raindrops would do the job of making it interesting. But after much more coloring and experimentation, I realize now that in order for this concept of the raindrops to be effective, the initial picture has to be much, much more engaging. Basically, with the background picture being simple, it just looks like an ordinary picture of a flower in a rainstorm. The raindrops don't look like they are supposed to represent anything bad. What I think would have been much more effective is if the flower picture had been really interesting and engaging - lots of shading and swirled colors and all kinds of cool tricks that you'll see in my later pictures - and that picture was so eye-catching and enjoyable to the viewer that the raindrops feel annoying. That when you look at the picture, you would love the flower and want to look at it and you'd be wanting the raindrops to get out of your way so you could just see the flower. The raindrops would make you feel unsatisfied, which would achieve their purpose. This picture didn't turn out as I had hoped, but I love the concept and I'm sure I will use this idea again in a future picture, now that I have a better idea of how to execute it.
At some point towards the end of the month, I added the caption "Proud to Be an Orchid Child," to make the picture feel more wild and more about something. My picture that has the caption is blurry, but I may go back and take another pic at some point.
And one final thing about this picture: the biggest reason that it didn't come out as good as I had hoped was because I was feeling horrible during the month of March, while I was working on this picture, because it was my breakup anniversary. (My actual breakup anniversary is in April, but I remember that it was the Tuesday before Easter, and Easter fell in March this year, so it felt more like anniversary around Easter and I had lots of flashbacks). I while back I wrote a blog post on the myth of suffering for your art, and this calendar picture is a direct manifestation of what I explained - feeling bad does not create great art. Not for me anyway. While being in a bad place makes me want to create art that is wild and will have a huge effect on people, I have to be feeling well enough to create the art in the first place. So this picture reflects that perfectly, and in a kind of meta sense since the point of the picture was about becoming lifeless when something goes wrong.
Friday, November 4, 2016
I knew I wanted to do something different with March. February had that wild elaborate pattern that just lent itself to being a cool picture. I didn't have to do much other than choosing the colors. March was different. March looked more like January in terms of the detail of the drawing itself, and I didn't want another simple one like January. Once I did February, I couldn't let my calendar to return to the land of ordinary again. Plus at the time, the drawing for March was actually my least favorite in the entire calendar, although I've changed my mind about that now. I had to do something special with March to make it come out more interesting, to make it just as cool as February, in spite of the drawing being less appealing to me.
I thought of doing a split between warm colors and cool colors because March is a seasonal transition month. I was originally going to put a wavy line in the middle, but it just didn't look right, so I went with a straight diagonal line.
I had my doubts about this idea as I was working on the picture. The first two pictures were all about putting colors together that looked nice, and that usually didn't involve colors that were next to each other on the color wheel. February in particular was all about lots bold contrasts between colors, and using as many different colors as possible. When I found myself faced with only warm colors and only cool colors, I felt limited. Very limited. I kept thinking that each side would come out too flat, too boring, because I didn't have enough colors to work with. I kept wondering whether I should ditch the idea and go back to using all of the colors for the whole picture, but I really wanted to make this idea work.
I think that by limiting the colors choices, I actually learned new techniques. I played around more with the saturations of the colors. On the cool-colored side, I lightened the area around the stars to make them pop more. I was really pleased with the way it came out. I like that both sides of the picture draw me in for different reasons. One of my coworkers said the same thing - that she couldn't decide which side she liked better because she was attracted to the brighter side, but the darker side looked so cool. March is still my friend Eli's favorite picture.
What's special about March is that it marks the beginning of the calendar pictures having a meaning. January was generic, February I wanted to look like fun party time, but March is the first one that tells a story. You can think of it as the seasons changing, but you can also think of it as the same experience being different under different circumstances, like how you might feel differently about something when you're older vs. younger, you may see the same things in a whole different way.
Thursday, November 3, 2016
February had one of the most elaborate patterns in the calendar (The most elaborate was October, with February as the second most). This one was a vast improvement over January. With the more elaborate pattern, I developed some better coloring techniques. The January picture was kind of flat - I used the same saturation for all of the colors. In February, I purposely colored part of the picture lighter so that the center circle and the patterns on the edges would pop more. The style is much wilder than January. On the outer frame of the picture, I used several different patterns, each one matching the one across from it. While it is symmetrical, it is much more interesting than January, which had the exact same pattern repeating all the way around in a circle. Additionally, this picture is not completely symmetrical - the pattern that is just inside of the circle of red hearts, but before the 8-pedal flower pattern, I chose the colors at random.
February still had that "wow" factor with everyone at work being so impressed by it, and they all saw the improvement as well. I think January was like, "Wow, that's so cool that you have a coloring calendar!" and February was more like, "Wow, I can't believe you're so good at it!" And it wasn't just other people's reactions - that was how I felt as well. In January, I felt like I was doing something wild simply by bringing a calendar that I colored to work. In February, I felt like I was doing something wild with the calendar. January felt more generic, like I was doing what a person is "supposed" to do. From February on, I knew that this calendar was my art project, that I was going to do amazing things with it. I would later look back on February and think of it as tame compared to my later works, but at that moment, it felt wild.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
But I felt something missing. Like...something that just didn't quite click.
Here's the thing: if Grandma hadn't just died, if I had just gone to the counselor for general support, not related to one particular issue, and I was planning to establish a long-term relationship with her, I could understand talking about lots of different things. But this was supposed to be grief counseling. I was going to here specifically to talk about my grandma. Now, I understand that some other stuff is relevant to that - like asking about what support systems I have with my family and friends, but a lot of it wasn't relevant, and I had to work to keep the conversation where I wanted it. She wasn't good at reading me and listening and paying attention to what I needed and where I wanted the conversation to go. It was like she had a list of things to talk about, whether I needed to talk about those things or not.
It was *not* a disaster by any means. On my -10 to +10 scale, I would give it a +3 or a +4. Which is good. Anything above zero is good.
The thing is though, that I could sort of understand her getting all that baseline info if I were going to be seeing her for a long time. But I only have three sessions. Through a benefit at my workplace, I am entitled to three free counseling sessions, and I was only planning to use those three, unless I formed a major connection with the counselor and thought that I would seriously benefit from seeing them more. She knew I only had three sessions because she got the referral information. I just want to talk about my grandma and about grieving and about all the stuff surrounding it like my fear of people ditching me and my recurring desire to run away and go live in the woods away from society where no one can have any expectations of me. We didn't need to waste any of this session talking about stupid stuff that I don't need to talk to a counselor about.
Sometimes it's hard for me to express to another person just how not-okay I really am. I used to think I had a good relationship with my counselor in college because she knew how not-okay I was, but I realize now that that was never the case. Imagine that you and your friend are on a swim team together, and your whole team gets changed together in the locker rooms so often that it becomes no big deal to you. Now, imagine that you're having a sleepover party with a bunch of friends, including your friend from the swim team. When it's time to get changed, most of your friends are waiting in line for the bathroom so that they can change in privacy, but you and your swim team friend don't mind getting changed in front of each other. It doesn't mean that this person is a closer friend or that you trust them more than the others - you're just comfortable getting changed in front of each other because you've already done it so many times. That's what my relationship with my college counselor felt like. It wasn't that we had a truly deep connection. I don't feel like she fully validated or respected my feelings, there were at least two times that she turned the conversation to something completely irrelevant and wouldn't listen when I told her that those things were non-issues for me, and, oh yeah, she told me that her job would be at risk if I hurt myself and that was clearly her main concern. So not the best counselor around to say the least. But I felt a deep connection to her because since she responded to the call that night that I posted the message and got in trouble, she saw me at my absolute worst already. I felt comfortable being my complete not-okay self around her because she had already seen everything there was to see, the same way that you'd feel comfortable changing clothes in front of someone if you've already done it a million times and there is nothing new for the person to see.
But anyway, back to this current counselor. Okay, I don't mean to brag about having written a self-help book. But that is part of my story, the fact that I was celebrating finishing the book one day and had my whole world come crashing down the next day is part of my story. The fact that I never really got to share my book with Grandma because it would have been too complicated for her to understand, and she never got to see her acknowledgement in this book or her dedication page in my next book, that's part of my story. I can't just not mention the book at all. And yes, I would expect any counselor to be impressed by it. But we talked about it for way too long, and I know I should have stopped, I got really caught up because I love to talk about my book, but before long I realized that I didn't want the praise anymore. I didn't want her to keep looking at me like wow you're so amazing you've written a book. I know I say never tell people to get over it, but there was a part of me that just wanted to tell her to get over the fact that I've written a book. Yes, I write books. All books you read were written by humans. I am a human. This is not a difficult concept.
Yes, yes I love getting praised for my book and I appreciate it. I always feel better about myself after getting praised for it. But the kind of praise she was giving me - that shocked, OMG I can't believe you actually wrote a book kind of praise - I get that every day. I can get that praise anywhere, from anyone. I'm not in need of more of it. I didn't go to a counselor to get that kind of praise. I don't want you to be impressed. I want you to understand how not-okay I am. I want you to see me as not-okay, not as this super-awesome person that you think I am. Sometimes it just feels like the hardest thing in the world to communicate how not-okay I am. Yes, I felt better about myself after leaving, I appreciate you telling me that I'm already perfect the way I am, but that is not what I need to hear right now. I need you to understand how not okay I am and not just read me as this functional adult who has normal desires like a boyfriend and career focus (both of which I had to actively deflect the conversation about) and does impressive things like writing books. Seriously, I'm not okay, those things don't make me okay, please understand that I am not okay. You know how other people still do stuff like go to school and go to work and buy groceries and take care of their children even when bad things are happening? Well, I'm not functional like that, I'm not the kind of person who would continue doing those things, but if it helps you, think of my writing as my job, and understand that the fact that I am doing that the same way that anyone does anything (and as I told you, I'm not even working on the book right now, I finished it about a week before I got the news about Grandma's condition, and I have not been up for looking for publishers or anything since then).
The next session I'll have that long letter to read, so that will take a lot of time and hopefully we can focus on the things in the letter and not everything else under the sun.
January is the simplest of all of the months. It was the first calendar design that I ever colored, and I did not use any fancy techniques or add my own flare to it - I just colored it. I didn't even press as hard with the colored pencils as I would in later months, so it doesn't pop as much as the others. But even though it's the simplest, January has a lot of sentimental value to me.
For a long time, I hated my job. I had a working-with-people job that sucked because it involved working with people, and it drained me. As a result, I didn't like my workplace and didn't bond with anyone there simply because I didn't like being there. I had no pictures, nothing personal at all at my desk because I didn't care. I didn't think of it as home.
Then in September 2015, I got moved to a more numbers-based position, and suddenly, I had my energy back. Within the first week that I did the new job, I had so much more energy when I got out of work every day. As a result of having a job that was a much better fit for me, I realized that most of the people I worked with were very nice and I made more of an effort to bond and form friendships. Beginning shortly after I started the new job, I felt a connection with everyone and looked forward to seeing them every day. Now I can talk to the people in my department about a lot of things, and I don't feel lonely at work like I did in the beginning.
This calendar marks the beginning of that. Why? Because this was one of the first personal things that I added to my work area. Since I colored it myself, it felt really warm and cozy and intimate to have it at my desk. It made me feel more like myself at work. And everyone loved it. I probably got more praise and attention on this month than any other simply because it was the first and no one had seen anything like it. In the picture above, it is actually hanging in a part of my cube where more people can see it - it was mid-January when I realized that I wanted to move the calendar to my desk so I could look at the picture myself. To this day, I think I have the best calendar in the whole building. Everyone still compliments it and is so impressed with the creativity. My boss loved my coloring so much that she actually gave me a picture of an elephant to color for her and she keeps it at her desk next to the pictures of her grandchildren, which I think is really sweet. It means a lot to me when people at work compliment me on the calendar. It makes me feel more like me.
I first saw the calendar in the store back in November 2015, and I kept debating if I should get it. I finally decided to go for it. It felt like a bold move, because I knew I was planning to have it at work, and that no one else had anything like it. And I also felt like it was the right time. I was with a nice department, I had been there long enough that I wasn't walking on eggshells to prove myself anymore. I was ready. I was ready to be me.
January may be the least exciting of all the pictures. It's simple. It's symmetrical. It's the least vibrant. It has no interesting shading, no special techniques, no symbolism behind the colors, nothing added to the picture to make it my own. But at that moment, on January 4, 2016, it was the wildest, most vibrant, exciting thing that anyone in our department had seen. It was my own. It felt like the start of a new beginning.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
For any blog readers who don't follow me on Facebook, I have a coloring calendar, meaning a wall calendar where each picture is is a coloring picture, and you color it in yourself. I have posted all of the pictures so far on Facebook, but I have a lot to say about each of them. I was considering having a special December post with all 12 calendar pictures, but I don't want to wait until December is finished, so I'm going to give each calendar pic its own blog post, where I post a picture of the calendar page and explain what it means to me. If I do a bunch of them at once, I may set the posts to update at midnight each night so that you'll get a new one each day.
Since I am not feeling well, I am just going to use the photos that I already have on my computer. When I'm in a more ambitious mood, I may go back and take better pictures of the calendar specifically for the blog posts, but not right now.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
NO. I AM NOT GETTING BACK TO NORMAL ANYTIME SOON.
Did you know that after the breakup, people actually expected me to act like a civilized human being again when it hadn't even been a full year since we broke up? Yeah, FUCK THAT.
I am not accepting this rate of diminishing returns. I will be sad and non-functioning for as long as I want to and no one gets to treat me as if everything is normal because it's not.
Monday, October 24, 2016
The fact that I have more control over that this time, that I can eat pizza and ice cream as often as I want now, is a good thing. Because if I didn't have that control, I would not be eating anything at all.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
I made up so many new things
But there's one old thing that I could never forget
Years back, years back, years back
It's a song along here that some have never heard before
We play with I don't wanna tell
We have some nasty ones too
We have jotsy days
Backwards days too
But mostly Cinderella days!
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
You're saying it wrong because you don't understand it, you don't know what it is. But it's real.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
I DO NOT ACCEPT BEING DITCHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I only function when things are going well and YOU KNOW THAT FIRST HAND!!!!!! How much more first hand can you get? There are only 3, maybe 4 other humans on the entire planet that had more first hand experience than you. On the entire planet.
Well, I've certainly had way more people ditch me than people who've stayed with me, but I never in a million years imagined who it would be.
Saturday, October 1, 2016
September was a HORRIBLE month, I literally have not had a single good weekend since Labor Day. That's NOT gonna fly anymore. (The reason for this is that I wasn't feeling well enough to do anything during most of September. I think I feel well enough now to do some fun things, but nothing extremely high-stim). Here's what I want to do this October:
-Go to Witches Woods (or Spookyworld, or someplace similar)
-Have a scary-movie Halloween party at my house where we watch Don't Look Under the Bed, which is my new favorite scary movie.
-Go to Salem as Matilda on Halloween (I've already spoken to my boss about using a few hours of vacation time to leave early that day, but it will depend on when my friends get out of work).
-The coloring calendar. I have a super super awesome idea for November, so I'd like to spend a lot of this month working on that. If I finish early, I can start on December.
-Redecorating. I love my Inside Out motif, but I'm ready for a change so I'm going to redecorate my apartment to more of a mixture of different things, and also decorate the place for Halloween.
-More art projects for the apartment - I have a cool idea for a personality-quiz illustration type of art project.
-More art to give to family and friends.
There is nothing wrong with complaining a lot. Your feelings are valid. Totally valid. I would never ever ever want you to not complain and put yourself through what I put myself through when I was new, using so much of my limited energy trying to act okay when I wasn't. The reason that I get annoyed sometimes when I hear people - especially new people - complain so much at work, especially complaining about work at work, is because I would have had such a better experience if I had behaved the way you're behaving now, back when I was new. When I see how other people feel perfectly comfortable complaining all they want at work, it makes me angry that I put myself through hell for over a year to make a good impression, when maybe I didn't have to. It bothers me that I did not feel entitled to complain as much as I wanted to when other people do feel that entitled. It's not that I ever want you to stop feeling entitled - it's just that your entitlement makes me feel like I put myself through hell for nothing, that if I had been my real, entitled-to-complain-all-I-want self from the start, I would have been fine, I would not have put my job security at risk, and I would be in the same shape that I'm in right now in terms of my job security and what I'm getting paid. That's why I get annoyed. But it's never about you. Your complaints are always valid, and I don't actually want you to stop.
Sunday, September 25, 2016
I always go around telling everyone that I never do any work or cleaning or chores and that I never will. I have signs on my apartment walls about not doing any work, I've had Facebook profile and cover pics that are all about not doing any work, and I've posted endless statuses about the fact that I don't have work ethic, don't do any chores, I almost flooded my kitchen trying to do the dishes, and I never plan to change. You know this. You've heard it all before. But here's something I may not have shared, but it feels important to share now: I wasn't always as overt about these things as I am now. I mean, yes, I was always just a hedonist who only did fun things, not someone who was going to do any work, but I never imagined that not doing chores would become such a huge deal to me, to the point that I'd spend so much time talking about it and having signs about it in my apartment.
See, when my ex-boyfriend and I were in the early stages of our relationship, nowhere near getting an apartment together, I did tell him that I never clean up, and I also made it clear to him that I just didn't see myself wanting to live with another person. I told him everything that I thought he needed to know about what it would be like to live with me - that I don't want any noise so he would never be able to play music or watch TV if I wasn't doing that, that I don't want to interact with people all the time and would not be a nice person if he was there when I didn't want him to be, stuff like that that would make it pretty clear to most people that they shouldn't live with me. He didn't want to believe any of it, and he kept thinking that we could make living together work, when I had pretty much said that it wasn't something I was willing to work on.
But here is where *I* really messed up: When my boyfriend got his first apartment, and I started living there, and he started talking to me about how he wanted me to wash some of the dishes and help clean up and that he wished he could see his bedroom floor instead of having it covered with my clothes...I should have stood my ground and said that this is how I roll, I'm not gonna change, and I had told him that a long time ago. But I didn't. I said, "Okay," that I would work on those things. And the thing is, it wasn't a lie at the time. I didn't say that I would work on those things just to shut him up, when I had no intention of doing it. I honestly thought that I was willing to change. See, in our early stages, when we were nowhere near living together, it was easier to state that I would never do those things. But once we were living together, I realized how much I liked living together in terms of being all warm and cozy and cuddly together. I got really attached and I didn't want to lose that. And when I thought about it logically, doing a few chores and being a little neater just didn't seem like too high of a price to pay in order to keep living together and being warm and cozy. I honestly thought that I was willing to do it. But every time it actually came up, my response was, "No way in hell!" Especially once I was working - working for 8 hours a day and commuting 2 hours a day was waaaaayyyyy more work than I was ever willing to do and there was no way in hell that I was going to do even more work in addition to that. There is nothing wrong with that. But the problem is that I wasn't honest with myself about it. I kept insisting that I was willing to change when I think deep down I knew that I wasn't going to change. It was at the breaking point of our relationship that I finally told him that I was never going to do these things. And I acted as if it was all his fault, that he should have known that because it's what I told him a long time ago. But the truth is that once we started living together, once I saw that being all warm and cozy together was something that I wanted, I did convince him that I was going to change when I wasn't, and that part of it was my fault, and I should not have done that.
It was wrong for me to say I would change when I was not going to. But it never felt like a flat-out lie. There's a difference between promising someone that you'll go hiking with them when you honestly have zero intentions of doing it, and promising someone that you'll go hiking with them, and realizing when it gets closer to the time that you are not actually in good enough shape for the hike after all, but you were sincerely hoping that you would be. And really - I don't like to admit this, but it's true - that's what happened with my boyfriend not being the validator that I needed him to be. I'm angry about that so I say a lot of bad things about him, but the truth is, I know he didn't have malicious intent. I know he wasn't actively leading me on when he knew that he could never be a validator or be with someone like me - he just never thought it through completely, he thought that he could be a validator because he didn't really know what it meant, and he thought he could be with someone who doesn't function when things go wrong until he saw what that was actually like. I'm still angry with him because I was overt about a lot of those things, but I know deep down that he didn't have malicious intent with those things, he just wasn't thinking it through and I don't think he had the self-knowledge to understand what he would be okay and not okay with. I think it was a situation of standing at the bottom of the high dive and thinking, "Of course I can jump" and not realizing how high up it really is until you get there.
That's what I experienced when I said that I would change. And I'm not saying that this made it okay, because I absolutely should not have promised to do things and then not done them. Here is what was going through my mind:
1. I was deeply in love with my boyfriend and I was so attached to living together and being all warm and cozy that I thought I was willing to do anything to keep it that way. I just couldn't bear the thought of not curling up in his arms every night, so I convinced myself that I was willing to make compromises for that lifestyle, which deep down, I wasn't really willing to make. The attachment emotions were basically driving at that point, and whatever negative feelings I had about chores and work ethic took a backseat.
2. Logically, doing chores seemed like such a small thing that it just didn't seem worth risking a relationship over. I didn't want to admit to myself that it wasn't something I would change, even if that cost us our relationship.
3. I convinced myself that chores were a small enough thing that over time, my boyfriend might change his expectations and not break up with me over the fact that I didn't do any work. I should not have done this, but I wanted to be together so badly that I convinced myself that it would be okay.
4. I convinced myself that I would change because a part of me felt like I didn't have a choice. See, when my boyfriend had a problem with the fact that I'm not open to going camping, I stood my ground and told him that I said on our first date that I would never ever go camping, I purposely told him straight-up because he seemed like an outdoorsy person, and that he had no business expecting me to be more open about it when I had essentially told him that not going camping was a contingency of us being together. Now, before we ever lived together, I had basically said the same thing about doing chores. But I didn't feel as comfortable standing my ground about that. A huge part of that was just because it was more of a serious issue that mattered to him - even though he said he was into camping, it wasn't something he actually did very often - but another part of it was that doing chores is sort of a societal expectation. In general, it's way less socially acceptable to say that you'll never do any cleaning than it is to say that you'll never go camping. And when the thing you're not willing to change is something that almost everyone in your culture expects of you, it can be very hard to admit to anyone - especially yourself - that it's not something you're going to change. I know this may sound strange coming from me because I'm always saying fuck society and fuck the system, but I realized just how much I felt that way as a result of the relationship.
All the blog posts, Facebook statuses, and signs in my apartment about not doing any chores and having zero work ethic are a direct result of what happened in our relationship. Yes, I was always that way, but it took all of that trial and error - all those times that I said I would do something only to realize that I wasn't going to - for me to realize just how serious I am when I say that these things won't change, and just how big of a deal that is. I have a level of self-knowledge now that I never had before the relationship. And I don't know if I could have gained it any other way.
I don't know what to do about all of this, but we all need to be honest with ourselves before we can be honest with others. That's what I learned from my relationship. And we should realize that sometimes, when people are not honest with us, it could be because they are not being honest with themselves. None of us have perfect self-knowledge. Sometimes we think we can do things that it turns out we can't. Sometimes we think we can tolerate other people's behaviors that it turns out we can't. And sometimes we just don't know what it looks like from the top of the diving board until we're up there.
And we should also remember that none of our friendships or relationships exist in a vacuum. We are products of a society that tells us what we're supposed to be, that we should feel ashamed if we aren't doing what our society expects us to be doing, and that just makes it harder for us to be fully honest about who we are. We are also products of a culture that has always taught us that love conquers all, where most of the media we consume shows relationships working out just fine in the end despite tons of incompatibilities between the people involved. We are taught that love is supposed to trump any incompatibility, but that is not the case. You can love someone and not want to live with them. You can love someone and not want to work with them. You can love someone and not be willing to do anything in the world in order to be with them. There's a quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower that says, "I'll die for you, but I won't live for you." If someone kidnapped you and said that they were going to kill you if I didn't do A, B, and C for them, I would absolutely do those things, no hesitation, no questions asked. But if you tell me that I have to do the same A, B, and C or else you won't be my friend anymore, then it really depends on what A, B, and C are, and whether I'm willing to do them. And even if I thought I could tolerate doing A, B, and C, I'd have to seriously consider whether I could keep it up forever, whether I was willing to invest in a relationship that was contingent upon me doing those things. And I think as a society, we get these things mixed up a lot of the time - we think that loving someone so deeply that you'll do anything for them means that you have to also do anything to keep your relationship going, even when it causes harm to you. Whether that means doing things that you aren't really willing to do, or accepting behavior from someone else that you aren't really willing to accept - loving someone doesn't mean that you have to be willing to do everything to stay in a relationship with them. Loving someone doesn't have to mean that you're willing to set yourself on fire to keep the other person warm. And if when you are honest with yourself, you realize that you can't have the type of relationship you would have liked to have had with someone, that's okay, and it doesn't make your love any less real.