Saturday, December 31, 2016

Melanie's Marvelous Mashed Potatoes

Melanie loved to cook. She was mixing her own concoctions ever since she was two years old. As she grew, she experimented with all kinds of cuisines, combining foods that no one would imagine would taste good together but they did. She made special dinners for her family all the time, baked birthday cakes for her friends, made cookies for her grandpa when he was in the hospital, and brought her homemade ice cream to family barbecues. By the time she was 13, Melanie had a 50-page book full of her own recipes.

Then, something terrible happened. Melanie was taken away from her home and forced to go to a strict boarding school where she was abused. I won't go into the details of the abuse, but *horrible* things happened at this boarding school, and Melanie had no way to get out.

In addition to the abuse at this boarding school, the main food supply they had was potatoes. They had some odd spices and herbs and oils, and once in while they'd get a shipment of something like bread, or maybe one other vegetable, but the basis of every meal was potatoes. The students were allowed to cook their own food, and most of them made the basics - mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, French fries, and maybe oven roasted potatoes if they were feeling ambitious. But Melanie, being a chef, came up with all kinds of creative dishes with potatoes. She cooked them all different ways, with all different spice combinations that her classmates had never tried before. She even managed to make a whipped potato dish that tasted just like chocolate ice cream, which she had been missing since was taken away from her home.

When Melanie finally graduated from this boarding school, she didn't just return to her normal life. She was severely depressed and had PTSD from the abuse that she suffered at the school. She also no longer remembered how to cook with foods other than potatoes - that 50-page recipe book that she left at home all those years seemed like a foreign language to her now. 

When Melanie continued to cook the potato dishes that she made at school, a lot of people loved them. Her chocolate ice cream mashed potatoes in particular were very popular. She managed to open a potato restaurant and sell these recipes, and her business was very successful, but she never felt happy, fulfilled, and whole again like she did before was sent to the abusive school.

When Melanie tried to talk to people about the abuse that she suffered, about the fact that it was never okay for her to be non-consensually taken away from her family, everyone told her, "But look at all the good that came from it! Your business is so successful! I bet you never would have never come up with all these potato recipes if you hadn't been sent to that school!"

Well, it is true that Melanie probably would not have come up with so many potato-based dishes if she hadn't been in that abusive situation. But that does not justify the abuse. That does not mean that Melanie herself would say that anything that happened to her was worth it just because she can cook potatoes now. No matter how successful her restaurant is, it will always be Melanie's choice - and Melanie's choice only - whether she wants to focus on the positive thing that came from the abuse, or whether she even considers the potato restaurant to be a positive silver lining at all. Melanie may rightly feel that she would have rather not suffered the abuse even if it meant that she would never become a successful chef, and that's totally okay.

But in addition to that, let's talk about Melanie's life as a chef before she was sent away. Because when an artist creates something that was inspired by a horrible situation, we sometimes give credit to the situation more than to the artist - we act as if the situation was somehow acceptable because they were able to create art that they could not have otherwise created if the bad thing hadn't happened. Now, if a person says that something that happened to them was not acceptable, it was not acceptable. Full stop. But we're also forgetting that Melanie was already a brilliant chef before anything bad happened. She didn't create all those potato dishes because that's what happens when you get thrown into a situation like that - she created them because she's a chef. If it were only the result of her being forced to eat only potatoes, then all of her classmates would also have successful potato restaurants. But they don't. Melanie created those recipes because she loved to cook. When an artist creates something wonderful out of something bad, we often act as if they would have created nothing at all if the bad thing had never happened. But really, it's not a choice between Melanie's marvelous mashed potatoes and nothing - it's a choice between potatoes or all the other foods in the world! It's a choice between potatoes and the 100 more recipes that she may have added to her cookbook if she had stayed home and been able to cook with all the foods that she wanted. What makes you think that Melanie is only successful because of her potato recipe, when she may very well have opened a different kind of restaurant with a better variety of foods, had she not been taken away?

When something horrible happens, it can be all-consuming. It can fill your brain to capacity to the point that you can't think about anything else, you can't create art about anything else even if you wanted to. It's like your entire house is filled with potatoes to the point that you can't physically leave to go get any other food, so you have to eat a lot of potatoes just to be able to get out. 

When an artist makes something brilliant as a result of something bad, don't think for a second that that makes the bad thing okay, or that we feel like the bad thing was worth going through, or that we otherwise would not have anything to make art about. Don't think that it was fully our choice to make art about the bad thing, because trauma can be all-consuming and doesn't always leave room in your brain for anything else. If the bad thing hadn't happened, we'd be making art about the gazillions of other things that we wanted to make art about, and that art may have been even better. And even if the art wasn't better, we would be.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

New Year's Resolutions 2017

1. Have more sex.

2. Eat whatever I want.

3. Take more sick days.

4. Spend all the time I want NOT interacting with people, even when people are right there trying to interact with me.

5. Never accomplish anything or do anything that a responsible adult would do - just have fun!

6. Complain more. A lot more. Use caps lock and punctuation more often. Scream louder.

7. Say no to every single thing that doesn't interest me, even if it's just a tiny thing like eating a cookie that I don't want.

8. NEVER FUNCTION WHEN I DON'T WANT TO FUNCTION.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Hmm.

"But you'll be living next to an active volcano!"

"Okay."

"Really?"

"Yes."

"You're sure?"

"Yes."

"Positive?"

"Yes."

...

...

...

"Help! A volcano!"

Monday, December 19, 2016

Limitless Limits

At the start of this year, my goal was to not take any actions or inactions based on guilt:

http://yourownkindofmusic.blogspot.com/2015/12/my-new-years-resolution-for-2016.html

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

Weird. Just Weird.

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

I Mean It.

When I die someday, REACT HOWEVER YOU REACT, cry for months on end, break all your dishes, quit your job and stop functioning, do whatever comes naturally to you and do not ever let anyone tell you that I would have wanted you to be happy and move on because I DON'T, I want you to do whatever you do.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas

Just finished the family puzzle, now experimenting with my homemade gifts. This is going to be the bestest most Christmasy Christmas since high school!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

On Telling Everyone to Vote

So around election time, everyone is pressuring people to vote, including saying things like, "If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain," (Which is not true by the way - you ALWAYS have the right to complain no matter what). But the thing is, voter suppression is real. The fact that everyone in the country doesn't vote is not just because people don't feel like it - people from marginalized groups are actually being prevented from voting. Here are two articles that explain voter suppression, and how voting is not accessible to everyone:



Every year at election time, my Facebook feed is filled with statuses telling everyone go and vote, do your civic duty, no excuses, if you don't vote you can't complain, and on and on like that, but nothing whatsoever about suppression or inaccessibility of voting for marginalized people. If you care about voting, if you think it's everyone's responsibility and civic duty and that it's so important that everyone do it, then you should start by caring about all the people who want to vote and are being prevented from doing so. 

More Hypocrisy

Everyone pushes you to "choose" happiness and take responsibility for your own happiness, but the second that you prioritize doing what will make you happy over doing what will make you either educated or productive but not happy, everyone criticizes you for that too. Hypocrites. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Shock

I'm so sick of people being so fucking shocked about everything. Especially after I just said how much I hate people who are shocked about stuff I tell them, you go and do the exact same thing. Next time I hope your eyes actually pop out of your head and go rolling down the street. It would serve you right for having any expectations of me.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

June 2016 Calendar


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."