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.