Liquid Diet

It’s been one month exactly since my last blog. A handful of things have happened since then.

I had my wisdom teeth removed, developed dry socket in the worst one, and am slowly recovering– still on a 95% liquid diet*.

I decided to go ahead and take the plunge into a business plan for my website so I can sell things. If you want to preview the site before it goes public, I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Just shoot me a message somehow and I’ll give you the password.

Finally mustered the courage to visit Public Space One, enjoyed a little show and their art gallery.

I learned a lot about water-based screen-printing, via some tearful trial-and-error sessions. Ultimately have decided to only do one-color textile prints with current set-up. Am totally fine with that.

Saw Fred Wiseman’s documentary Ex Libris with the Hubble at FilmScene. Very cool experience– it was put on by the library and the theater, so a magical smooshing together of his favorite things. :)

I won a scholarship to take a Mokuhanga workshop at the Iowa City Press Coop, and I am just beyond excited about that.

I got myself a presentation date with 1 Million Cups in Cedar Rapids– Wednesday, April 18th. I’ll be showing the good folks my ideas, goals, and challenges, and hopefully getting some constructive feedback for the biz.

And I’m making some friends! I feel like I’m slowly (so slowly) settling into the slow and somber social scene* of Iowa. It’s been a rough transition, to say the fucking least. It’s been difficult for both of us, but in different ways. Adam has the opportunity (whether he takes it or not) to make connections/form friendships with his classmates, frolicsome fellow cinephiles at FilmScene– be they coworkers or patrons– and also work buddies from the library. I, on the other hand, have tried super hard to stay away from the crowd that I’m automatically attracted to (service industry alcoholic chain-smokers*, my brethren), and instead lean out of my comfort zone and try to make friends with people who are.. well, intentionally maturing. AND IT’S FUCKING DIFFICULT AF. But the more therapy I’m going to and the less anxious I’m feeling, the easier it’s getting to make those connections, and I’m happy to say that I’ve made a few. They’re little baby connections* that are obviously going to require care and time, but– come to find out– that’s actually the way it’s supposed to work.

Funny how I’ve never made friends that way. As a child, I didn’t meet people I didn’t already know– except for at the annual homeschool achievement tests– which I looked forward to more than Christmas. Then in high school, I only met new people at homeschool coop, work (grocery store, Panera Bread, and screen-printing shop) or Summer camp, all very weird insular environments for a sheltered teenager to socialize in.

My favorite experience socializing in high school was at Panera Bread though. It gave me my first feeling of acceptance into a club that I actually wanted to be a part of. It was a group of hilarious and adventurous, rag-tag, drug-addled, kind-hearted alcoholics that protected and defended me, trusted me with secrets and wisdom, pulled me out of my shell, and all the while, they never, not once, pushed me to do anything I wasn’t willing to do. It was a true family. Unconditional love and acceptance, no matter what our politics or religion or orientation.

I think that social connection was so great, so fast because of the nature of the service industry. It’s soul-crushing work, but everyone is in it together. Every restaurant I’ve worked at has had the same familial feeling, and even my experience in YWAM felt the same. If my high school chemistry is serving me, I believe that high pressure chemical reactions create gemstones, right? I mean, they can. Of course, they can also create explosions– I guess it depends on the elements in the equation.. anyway. The point is–

I now no longer need those immediate, familial friends. I’m in this new, exhilarating landscape where I get to choose my friends, and even the terms of those friendships. It’s amazing! And also, I’m realizing now that I’m a horrible friend! But I’m PMSing so I don’t want to go there right now.

That was a fun little bunny trail.. what else is new..

I finished Parks & Rec while I was recovering from my wisdom teeth extraction. What a great show. Not as good as The Office, but really great. I am a Parks & Rec stew, made up of all the different characters. Ron Swanson is obviously the rare steak chunks*, and Leslie Knope is the crisp and sweet raw corn added in at the end. Man, I’m hungry now.

Ummmm I’m working on an incredibly detailed linocut that I’m pretty sure is too detailed to print well. If it does, it’ll be awesome.

I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but sis & bro-in-law introduced us to a graphic novel series called Saga, and I just want to strongly encourage anyone who enjoys graphic novels to check it out, if they haven’t already. I’m so far behind-the-times though, probably everyone already knows about it. It’s so good.

Oh, I almost forgot– one day last week, inspired by the ever-inspiring Suzy T, I goofed off for a day and posted my opinions about everything. And made some people laugh, some act super silly, some feel a deep connection to me, and then of course I made some people legit mad at me, and lost two Facebook friends over it all. The new FB algorithm made it so that my posts showed up in a lot of peoples’ feeds– some I had completely forgotten about. Anyway, shaking it up and losing those “friends” ended up being one of the greatest things to have ever happened to me. It really forced me to acknowledge what my sweet friend Jessie K reminded me of later– that I was playing the social media point-game (Black Mirror) if I allowed myself to be hurt by people getting offended at my silly posts. It’s all a bunch of silliness, really. But we didn’t use to have social media or the internet, and I feel like we probably were a lot more polite/timid/careful about what we said back then. There are real-life consequences to acting out online.. I’m just glad I know only a few people read my blog..

Okay, so the last thing I want to blog about today is this new thing I’m going to be doing, and why. I’ve made a drawing-board purse out of a children’s puzzle box and a dog leash (I’m a genius, I know), and I’m going to be walking around with it once it gets warmer, and asking people if I can draw them. Initially, I’ll be telling them it’s for my ICE CREAM zine, but the ultimate purpose of doing this activity is much bigger and scarier. And it might be difficult to explain, so feel free to just stop reading here. I’ll never know, so my feelings won’t be hurt.

Disclaimer: I’m working through shit in therapy that I should’ve but couldn’t’ve worked out a long-ass time ago. Anything I share here about my parents is in reference to my childhood, and who/how they were way back then. I don’t really know my dad, and my mom is a really sweet woman.

Anyway– it all started, I think, with Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (Mary Anne). We had it growing up, and I just loved it. It put “showing off,” or asserting your talent into a positive light. Whether intentional or not, I was raised to believe that if I felt proud of myself for any reason at all, I was in sin, and it was my responsibility to repent and sacrifice the offending appendage*. “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.” And that’s a direct quote from the–uh, Bible.

When I was eight years old, I started drawing cartoons and comic strips, and I recall vividly being over at my pastor’s house one day, and drawing something for him as a gift. I don’t remember his exact response, but whatever it was, it made me feel ashamed and humiliated. Later on, probably in Middle School or a little later, I decided that I wanted to be a graphic novelist when I grew up, and the same pastor took me aside at church one day and– holding my bicep firmly (I thought aggressively) in one hand, he told me that I shouldn’t pursue art as a career. I remember my whole body turning red and feeling so much shame, I didn’t know what to say or think.

In High School, I loved Sailor Moon and The Rose of Versailles, and made up my own fantasy universe full of ruggedly-handsome men and super-skinny, long-legged superheroines*. As they did occasionally, my parents were searching my room while I was gone one day, and they confiscated some drawings of said heriones. I noticed that they were gone, and knew what was coming, but it was at least a week before my dad took me outside and we sat on the deck and talked about my terrible sin, for what felt like days. He had one of the drawings with him, and when he held it up to show me the crime I had committed, he averted his eyes in disapproval and disgust. He told me I was contributed to the porn epidemic, and was causing men to sin, then put the drawing on the table, face-down. If he mentioned that he was, in any way, impressed with my talent, or hopeful of my future as an artist, it was entirely eclipsed by his damning shame. Of course, I was required at that point to throw away all of my “lewd” drawings. ps: they were infinitely more tame than Sailor Moon. pps: I didn’t throw all of them away.

My mom, in the meantime, wasn’t in a great place herself at the time, so didn’t have anything much to say about my art, except for the occasional, “I don’t know why you always draw ugly people– you can draw so well, why don’t you draw people that look nice?” I know her intention in saying things like this has always been something akin to encouragement, but its tone-deaf and repetitive nature produces the opposite effect.

Somehow, I maintained my resolution to be an artist. I think this was, in large part, due to a few people, who I will now name with PMS-tears pouring out of my eyes: Olivia P, Mattie M, Ryan B, and Alex M. More recently, Jess P, Adam B, Katie J, Lola C, Brendan M, Anne J, Will I, Brian M, Rhonda R, Heather N, Amanda T, Lauren H, and of course Anna Laura R. These individuals were and are the townspeople to my steam shovel (read the book here), and I honestly don’t know if I could’ve had the courage, fortitude, or stamina to keep drawing and pursue art as a career if it wasn’t for their onlooking, encouragement, and help. It’s my second highest aim in life to be constantly repaying that debt of love*.

Anyway, I went to therapy last week and we talked about the block between me and really going whole-hog with my art. I’ve worked for so many creative small businesses– my experience almost seems providentially specific to my own creative goals. I know how to run a creative small business; I’ve had good and bad first-hand experience with many different kinds already. The only part I don’t know how to do very well is accounting.. but that’s learnable! (right?) And of course, I have the talent already. The block seems to be in bringing the two together– putting my artwork out there and saying, “It is good.” (Buy it.) Essentially forcing my traumatized child-mind to reject the notion that asserting my talent is sinful. “Easier said than done,” said the 30-year-old child.

Which is where Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel come back in. My therapist asked me if I’d ever drawn in public, and my heart smiled, because yes, of course I’ve drawn in public. I love drawing in public. From drawing contests with “the cousins,” to drawing pictures for my new friends/pen-pals from camp or achievement tests, to drawing pictures of the little kiddos running around in the Dominican Republic, to doodle-drawing/note-taking in Northern Ireland, to napkin-drawing at bars– public drawing is always interesting because its fuel comes from other people. And 9 times out of 10, the onlookers enjoy their part. I mean, if they don’t, there’s nothing keeping them from leaving.

So I told her all that, and she suggested that I exercise the muscle of asserting my talent by doing some intentional public drawing. So I’m planning on it. Everything’s ready, except for my heart. I feel paralyzed. Never in a million years thought I’d say this, but I’m glad warm weather is still a few weeks away. Although I guess I could go to the mall.. ahh.

*Great band name

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