who the heck knows anything, anyway

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

beware: this will contain profanity

These are things that make me tear my hair out today:

1. the events described in this poem I wrote while sleep deprived this morning:

You could say it's my own fault that I didn't go to bed last night until 3am, thus, got zero sleep. However, I was up til 3 writing a goddamn paper for grad school applications, which is a GOOD REASON. AHHH. Needless to say, dude is lucky that my course of action was to call the cops, because I was hulking out hardcore.

2. The vet has not called us back, presumably because the radiologist has not called HIM back, so we still have no idea what is wrong with our kitty (she's sick, and it's the saddest thing ever).

3. I pre-ordered my Craig Finn CD on JANUARY 11th. They charged me $10 for shipping on a frigging CD. But I was cool with it, because it was supposed to come with a bandana (for reals) and I ASSUMED the hefty fee was to assure its delivery on release day. It came out yesterday, but did not come to me. Today, still no dice. Checked online. Apparently, it HASN'T EVEN SHIPPED. I am so upset. WTF $10 SHIPPING CHARGE?? And I don't even know who to email to e-scream about this. 

Seriously, anger is swelling in my stomach like bile. I think that this would be a feeling of annoyance were I not sleep deprived, but currently, it's a miracle that I'm not crying. Today is a giant butt. A giant, ugly butt that sits on my dreams with its ugly buttitude. 

OK. Sigh. rant over.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Back in middle and high school, I was on swim teams. I was never Year Round Good*, but I was a top performer in my dinky high school and on my summer swim team. I started as a long distance swimmer when I was little, and then some of my coaches groomed me for sprinting. I loved the shit out of sprinting, and I was pretty great at it. Then, the summer before my senior year of high school, my coach (who is probably undeserving of most of the flaming hatred I sustained against him for years) decided to make me do both long distance and sprinting. This was a terrible idea. Sprinting and long distance swimming demand very different things from muscles, and I gained three seconds** in my sprint times because my body didn't know how to do both. Furious, my seventeen-year-old self got into an exceptionally loud fight with my coach (made worse because he found my anger amusing) and quit swimming. It was not my proudest moment, but the fight is not particularly relevant.

Don't you love an extended anecdotal metaphor?

Writing is similar to swimming. Literary fiction is split into two camps***: the Short Story and the Novel. They require the use of very different muscles. The first demands brevity, quick action, and particular revelations of character that throw you into a life (or set of lives) that is quickly familiar without simply being a mass of lists. The latter allows for the slow-reveal, lets you fall in love (or hate) with characters, does not require a climactic BANG to occur within a few short pages.

I'm the kind of girl who likes to write (and read) looooong stuff. My grad school applications all distinctly said that my goal in pursuing a degree is to be a novelist--not a short story writer, not a teacher, not a playwright or poet, not even a "writer" in general: a novelist. I like to take some time describing the world, put meat on my characters' bones, embark, myself, on an adventure that'll last a while and make me sad to say goodbye. It was only about a year and a half ago that I learned to appreciate the short story. Before then, I found them to be dull, rushed, and emotionally alienating.

The first few I read that year and a half ago were terrifying, bleak (seriously, so much murder and cancer), aloof, yet written with poise and undeniable rhythm, and I was finally able to appreciate how they worked. I wrote my first true short story, and it was not terrible. I read more short stories, and then I wrote a second, which was jarringly better--I sat staring at my computer, amazed by what I was suddenly capable of completing.**** (Hilariously, I couldn't even keep it under twenty pages--I had been aiming, at the outset, for three).

Now here we are, most grad school applications turned in over a month ago, and I haven't started a new story yet. I had a few ideas, ones that sounded pretty promising, but I couldn't find the spark they needed for life. Then, today, I got my first graduate school rejection (from the Michener Center), and I felt like writing. Not sure what I feel like writing, but it's there; my brain is buzzing with it.

Now for the payoff of all this rambling:

Though the roles in my swimming and writing life are inverted--swim short, write long--they possess oh-so-obvious parallels: practice of one form disturbs the advance of the other. Perhaps once I'm a wizened old pro I can kick out short stories between novels, but I'm beginning to worry that my long-writing muscles have been neglected in favor of the style most preferred (and taught) by MFA programs. I read a great piece in Poets & Writers ("A Novel Approach" by John Stazinski, P&W Jan/Feb 2012) on this very issue, and it helped convince me I made the right choice in telling grad schools up front in my personal statement that I intend to pursue novels. What I need to do is practice my long-distance writing, and if I get into grad school, I can't let any amount of rotating-member workshops discourage me. Short stories are great, but they aren't what I want to do; my working on them is akin to a doctor who wants to specialize in otolaryngology spending years trying to hone her mastery of anteater obstetrics. Anteater obstetrics is probably super fascinating, and anteaters definitely have ears, noses, and throats, but they are not humans and have an entirely different anatomy and also you don't have babies through the nose, so that is just entirely irrelevant.

My stupidly long point is this: It's intimidating to just sit down, think to yourself "I feel like writing today," and then realize that you probably should just frickin' start on a novel already. The ideas have been there for years, sitting in drawers and old computer hard drives, waiting. But can you do that? In this awful, competitive economy that demands constant submission*****, is it a smart decision to turn away from short stories (and therefore, ahem, any prospect of money-making) and run in the opposite direction?

And once I figure that out, I can decide if I even have an idea worth novel amounts of time. HA. ISN'T IT GREAT? Also, the whole Michener thing was kind of a bummer, but it's a bit like having a story rejected by the New Yorker at this point in my career--it would have been amazing, perhaps downright astonishing, but I can't say I'm all that surprised. Plus, I'm bummed enough about potentially having to leave the Pacific NW--the whole not-having-to-move-to-Austin thing is [not-so] secretly a bit of a relief.

Ooh! Ooh! And I got some new books. I'm currently reading West of Here by Jonathan Evison. It was a bit of an impulse buy based on the plot description, and I'm only a few chapters into it, but it's great so far! Granted, I've been burned before, but I'm gonna go ahead and get my hopes up that it might continue to be good.

Glass half full, guys. Bam.

*I probably could have been, but joining year round swim team was widely known amongst the Summer Swim Team crowd as total betrayal. They were "the enemy," and whenever one of their ranks doubled up and did summer swim team, too, everyone judged them really unfairly. 
**an INFINITE number when you're sprinting 50 yards of freestyle.
***Novellas are not included. This is not to say that the stories considered to be novellas are inconsequential, rather I think those stories could be either short stories or novels and are missing something that would push them in either direction. Call it a long short story or a very short novel. Pedro Paramo is hella short for a novel, but I don't think anyone in their right mind would refer to it as a novella. Ugh, writing politics!
**** I'm shopping that story around, now. It's still only my sophomore effort, so I still have quite a ways to improve, but I'm still allowing myself to feel proud of it. 
*****You like what I did there? You get it? It's, like, submitting stories and submitting to the man at the same time. I know, I know: I'm a genius.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


You can't help feeling some negative feelings sometimes*, but there are good ways to combat them if they get overwhelming. This is my self-help list for when I feel a case of the blues coming on.**
This is obviously just a small sample, but I think it's a representative one. Family and friends (I'm lucky enough to have much of my family qualify for both categories) keep me sane, and Daniel keeps me the most sane. Writing has been very difficult for me lately, so anything and anyone who helps me un-funk does not go unnoticed!

Flannery and I spent today rockin' out to the Pogues (well, I rocked, and she mostly slept) while Daniel and Rob worked on sciencey papers. Which is not to say I wasn't busy, too! It was, as you can see (I don't write/draw big comics every day, people), a productive day all around. And tonight, we're going to watch Muppet Treasure Island with Kait and Adam! Tim Curry makes any day a little better.

The weather is supposed to stop being a wintery wonderland tomorrow and instead become a slushy mushworld. However, tomorrow is also Friday, and that means the weekend approacheth! Weekends are great. Maybe I'll be feeling good enough to actually write, too. That would be EXTRA NEAT.

In the meantime, you should read some comics with me! My pal Catherine was just inquiring about this, so I thought I'd share some of what I recommended to her, along with some books and the like! Let's start with web comics today, and then I'll do another two or three lists in the coming weeks.

 Stop Paying Attention
 Johnny Wander
 Hark! A Vagrant
 Dinosaur Comics (today's is particularly relevant!)
 Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell
 Double Fine Action Comics
 Rice Boy
 Let's Be Friends Again

Warning: these are all a wide variety of comics! Some may suit your fancy, and some may not. I suggest reading "about" pages to see if the subject is something you might dig. Some are fiction, some are auto-bio, some are satire, and some are comics about comics (HOW META). Most of them are humorous, but everyone's sense of humor is a little different, so you might laugh at a few and think I'm insane for enjoying the others. And these aren't all the webcomics I read--but they are probably the best. and they are probably the most influencial when it comes to me learning how to make my own comics***. If there's a web comic you love that isn't on this list, please share! I love finding new things to read. Woo!

*In case you were curious, yes: I do obsess about plagiarism and intellectual-property theft. I don't really care about piracy^, though. Thought I'd clarify, since "stealing" means a million things these days. I basically just hate plagiarism. The thought of that crap makes me lose my mind. ...I may be a little paranoid. WHATEVER. My secrecy will pay off in the end.

^I may have said this before, but I mean it! If someone wants to take the time to scan or re-type my future books, and someone else wants to download it and read it for free, that's totally cool with me. Unless they talk shit about me afterwards, of course--then you could at least have the decency to throw me a few bucks. I plan on having zero dollars to my name for pretty much my entire life, so it's cool. 

**Text at the bottom of the comic reads:
1. swimming by myself in quiet water
2. jamming and hangining out w/ my cousins
3. Watson (my parents' corgi) and Flannery (Daniel's and my cat)
4. listening/singing poorly to the Hold Steady
5. TEA! Hot.
6. art projects and comics--this includes reading and admiring the work of others who do amazing things!
7. snow days! And spending all of the time w/ Daniel
8. family, friends, and our get-togethers! (often involves drinking)
9. reading and writing and learning cool new things

***mine are obviously incredibly amateur, though. I'm not trying to make a living on it like these people--who you should buy things from, by the way. Most have comics you can buy (books or prints) and many also have t-shirts, mugs, etc, that are SO GOOD. If you want to buy me Kate Beaton's David Bowie mug, I will give you thirty high-fives and a truly excellent hug.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Last week, I was in a terrible, terrible mood. Numbness rendered me unproductive; I was feeling generally jaded, and there is nothing like full-blown, selfish ennui to kill my desire to do anything. Then, at 10pm on Thursday night, it hit me: I positively, absolutely, desperately needed to paint Gonzo. So I rolled with it, and by 1:30 or 2am, I had the first half of my project done. It went something like this:

Gonzo has since been cut out of the cardboard you see there. I painted a canvas a nice, dark grey and patterned it with a (superb) chicken stamp*. The goal is for Gonzo to be glued to said-canvas and then varnished and hung upon my wall. However, the weekend was busy, and then it snowed and I was too lazy to walk all the way to the art store in the snow, and then I didn't leave the house today either for some reason, and here we are: I still haven't purchased the adhesive and varnish needed to totally finish it. But once it's done, I'll make another awesome .gif of the entire process (the in-process images of stamping the canvas are pretty cool) and put it up here.

Daniel and I watched the Great Muppet Caper last night, and there is no question that Gonzo is the best. He's my spirit animal, actually. My journey of self-discovery revealed to me that the Whatever and I are two like souls, bound by ridiculous faces and a lighthearted preoccupation with death; existential optimists who aren't sure we fit in. (Gonzo was probably Kierkegaard's spirit animal, too.)

I'm still trekkin' away on deities, though I'm certainly not doing one a day (oops). I think I'll juts put up the ones I really like, too. For example, I did a Baba Yaga last week, but it's a pen sketch and I'm not particularly married to it. So I promise to post more of them--they'll just have to be deemed "acceptable" (if not "good") by my brain critics.

Also, my cat is cute.

Do you see which two things in this picture are perfect together?**

*thank you, art-classes-held-at-the-public-library-when-I-was-eleven! I still retain the knowledge and skill--not to mention the tools and supplies--needed to carve linoleum blocks for printing.
**answer: Flannery and Batman are both napping in adorably similar positions. ADORABLE. OMG.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Daily Deities #6-10

As promised! Some deities. And I didn't clean any of them up in paint/photoshop/anything, so there you go. You can admire how much I utilize the eraser or, conversely, the delightful quality of the background sketches (which I've been doing a better job of trying not to erase).

St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers

"Gregory" who is a sneaky peak of a character I made up.
He was basically Odin, without me even trying. So there you go. Gregory/Odin. And there's even some COLOR.

I had kitties on the brain! cartoon kitty in the corner,
and one of Freya's cats (who *MAY* be based on my new kitty. haha), front and center.
And no erasing on this one. I doodled it with my fine-tip Pentel R.S.V.P.
(which is my favorite type of ball-point pen)

Xolotl! He's pretty cool, and I'm very proud of this one. I looked at old paintings of him for style references,
but made up a lot of the design myself based on the description of his character and stories about him.
Look him up! Here's the image I used for reference.

Vulcan. More color! There was a thing where people would sacrifice a red bull calf and red boar to him.
I got the idea for how to draw the flames from this illustration.

So there you go! Not quite seven, and posted on a Monday instead of Sunday, but at least I'm working on it! And, as I may have mentioned yesterday, a few of the non-picture-producing days were spent with my nose buried in various books and literary magazines until well past midnight--which is great. I love productive days, and the more I read, the better. That probably goes for most people. Read! It's great!

I'm hoping Daniel will help me figure out some Photo Shop stuff so I can color the Xolotl drawing on the computer instead of potentially ruining it with my poor marker-or-pencil-coloring skills. Don't even get me started on watercolor. sigh.

In other news (<--my favorite segue):
I'm not in a bad mood today, per say, but I've definitely been experiencing some anger. Not worth getting into, but it means today is definitely a Snuggle the Kitty and Listen to the Muppets kind of day--and, as a result, I'm feeling a little better now! Plus, Daniel assigned me the deity of Baba Yaga to draw today, and that's exciting and challenging. He knows what's good for his lady.*

*stories about scary Russian witches

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Good Cat is Hard to Find

We got a kitty yesterday!

She has, after much deliberation and close consideration of 20+ names, been dubbed Flannery*. She already has about fifty nicknames, including: Honey, Stinky, F. Cat Fitzgerald, Flannaghan, Flan, Anush, and Snugglebutt. Obviously, she has chosen to inhabit a very classy household.

She does love (and I mean love) making biscuits on your legs with her extremely sharp claws (we're getting trimmers today), but that's her only quirk that might be misconstrued by some as "negative". It doesn't bother me one bit.

She's just a little over two years old, so she's hella mellow**. Yes, I'm just going to brag about my pet for a while. She's my first pet*** so, please, just allow me this. The foster parents (who were amazing. SPOT up in Burlington finds great people to take care of their animals) think she's part Russian Blue and part Ocicat or Bengal. She's definitely snuggly, beautiful, not afraid of people, quick to adjust to her new home, and she has stripes and spots (along with a sharp little chin--her face is very triangular) for the win. Meow. My pretty wildcat kitty.

this is her "leg hug". a typical move.
this is after being an amazing cat and sleeping in her own bed all night, no problem

daniel shows her the new scratching post

It's funny, I have a few pictures (like the last one) where she looks totally grey, and others where she's super stripey. CHAMELEON KITTY. The best kitty.

Later today Tomorrow, I'm going to scan those deities from the week! There are only five of them (busy week--and one night I opted for intense reading instead of drawing, which is a fair trade in my opinion), but I'm keeping up with it fairly well, considering! My most recent two have turned out pretty well, actually. But I'll save all this art-discussing for later! Thanks for indulging my pet-owner-gushing. Flannery is a badass. I can't promise that I will stop posting pictures of her after this.

update: as it turns out, this afternoon was busy, too, and tonight we're going bowling, so... I'll scan tomorrow. sorry! :/

*Hence the amazing title of this post.
**both of us lack the patience for a kitten. that's way too much like being a parent. up all night? nooooo thank you.
***I had plenty of pets growing up, and am a master pet sitter, but she's the first one that belongs to me, to us!--it's up to Daniel and I to figure out her diet, trim her nails, make sure she gets enough exercise, take her to the vet for check-ups, all that business. Cleaning up poop ain't no thang (seriously, there has been so much poop in my life. Crap doesn't even faze me), but making sure she stays a healthy little bug is occasionally intimidating. I'm sure I'll get used to it, though!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

gifts from India!

Look what came today from Dan! Darjeeling tea! "The Cherished Beverage".

"Treasured Gift", for reals. You're the best, Dan! We sampled the SFTGFOP #1 with breakfast, and it was lovely. LOVELY!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

blame the weather, probably

New Year's Resolutions: do I need one? I've been trying to think one up--a really good one--and I got nothin'. I'm not a saint or anything, but I don't really see any normal, attainable ways to improve my life. Daniel and I eat delicious, healthy foods on the daily (I thank my parents constantly for instilling me with a love of cooking and food experimentation. being primarily vegetarian doesn't hurt, either); I don't purposefully go out and exercise all the time*, but I'm certainly not sedentary (since we don't own a car, we go everywhere on foot or autobus--which double counts for low carbon footprinting); I suppose I could resolve to "work more" but that's always in my head, and pretending like it's something new that I'm going to start doing feels like cheating. Just thinking about resolutions meant for only/all of one year makes me squirm. I mean, have you noticed my follow-through on long-term projects? Granted, I'm still doing that Daily Deity (I drew one yesterday, but you'll just have to wait until Sunday when I post all of the ones from this week), but I haven't been able to get back into Mystery Mode since it went on hiatus for grad school apps, and I can't write otter comics all that often, and my muse up and left me again after I finished my last short story in October.

I believe I expressed this particular brand of angst in the last paragraph of a recent post, actually.

So what does one resolve to do when one has issues with follow-through? Maybe following through? Haha. I don't know... My hang ups with my personal projects only really affect me. Seriously, this would not be an issue if I was being paid to do any of it. There are just no stakes, and though I can make up fake stakes and pretend to believe in them, in the end, I know they're just puppets dancing around, making empty threats. This is probably why I was so effective at getting grad school applications done--it was hellish, but I had deadlines that, in meeting them or not, would (ahem: will) dictate my future.

Ahhh, yes, and here come the Voices of My Conscience, ever ready with the guilt trip, whining and yelling about how I should just write some more damn stories and SUBMIT, SUBMIT, SUBMIT. Blah blah blah. Didn't you hear what I said about my muse? Gone. And go ahead and tell me that I should just write every day for five hours: William Styron will hold you down while I punch. That method doesn't work for everyone, and I'm tired of trying to make it work for me. When I have something worth writing, I work on it. When I don't, I don't. Sure, "writer's block" might not exist in the basic sense, but I will not write a piece of shit just for the sake of writing. I refuse! --Though, hey, that could be the explanation for this blog, so perhaps I protest too loudly. Either way, my conscience (and pushy people who think they know better) can shut the eff up. Yesterday, when I was in the shower, it occurred to me that I may, in the future, politely refuse questions about My Writing Habits, because the questions hidden within this inquiry are:
What Weird Thing Do You Do While Writing? Burn Incense and Stand on Your Head? Keep Rotten Apples on Your Desk? Go Into a Magic Trance? 
and: You Totally Write From 5am to 10pm Every Day Without Fail and You Love Every Minute of It, Right?

Why yes! I wear a viking hat and duct tape myself to my chair and play Tchaikovsky backwards while smoking cigarettes out of my ears, and I do this for eight to ten hours a day, and it's better than any job you have ever had EVER. I love it so much all the time.


...I did submit "October 1924" to a Lit Mag contest recently. Unfortunately, I don't hear back about it until March. Hey, just like grad school! Yessir. It's all one big waiting game right now. No wonder I'm losing it. This chick likes to plan stuff out. Waaaay out. To prevent further mental injury, I could resolve to do something mindless that doesn't make me over-analyze things, sudoku- or crosswords-style. Too bad I don't like sudoku or crosswords. Hmm. Alternatives?

It's funny, when you start writing something (like a blog post) that you think will lead you to a particular revelation (a cool New Year's Resolution) and you end up stomping off someplace else entirely (a rant that has apparently been bubbling away inside my subconscious). Isn't that just the nature of things? Go with the flow, guys. If your itinerary says you should be in Boise on Tuesday but you suddenly get the urge to stay on the train all the way to Minneapolis, just frickin' do it. This is why all of my blog posts are incoherent and my stories are great.***

Welp, Happy New Year, guys and gals. This year, I'm just going to keep on fighting the good fight. Maybe I'll get my shit together; maybe the beau and I will move somewhere new; and maybe maybe maybe I'll write some beautiful things. Screw you, entropy; here's to perpetually improving.

As I'm sure you've noticed (unless you read this on Google Reader, or a similar feeding device), I redesigned my blog today! Pretty, right?

More P.S.
If you don't know how someone can apparently hate writing**** and also claim to not want to do anything else, read this 1954 Paris Review interview with William Styron.

*I hate "exercising" **
**exceptions to this rule: swimming, tree-climbing, drunken dancing, spontaneous gymnastics
***pardon me, my ego is showing! I gotta let it out to breathe every once in a while, or I spend months at a time laying on my dining room floor, shedding the occasional tear but mostly staring at the ceiling, numb with existential angst.
****I don't hate writing. I just hate all of the nonsense that surrounds writing.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

first of 2012, wooooah

Prepare for a game of catch-up! Luckily, as readers, y'all do not have to read this in "real time"--i.e. as I type. If that were the case, it would be a painful experience, because I'm typing pretty much solely with my left index finger. I burned the right one on the stove today*, and it is currently undergoing rigorous icing. So, slow typing this evening.

However, I am starting the year out right by getting back on the Deity Train. I was fortunate enough to have completed the drawing before my tragic finger accident. I'm still a bit wary about clogging up my blog with them, though, so I posted today's on twitter. There should be a link over there to your right in the sidebar (you should see my five most recent tweets over there. Apologies if you're reading this three weeks from now.) Worry not, Twitter Averse: I'll try to post groups of them up here on the blog once a week so that you'll get to see seven at a time.

Other things:

We had a New Year's party last night, and it was super fun. We got all classed up. I wore the dress that Daniel got me for Christmas** and he wore the schnazzy Calvin Klein tie I picked out for him recently. Our peeps looked extra hot, too. Pictures!:

Christmas was lovely, despite my being sick the whole time I was in Portland. My family is wonderful, and my mom took good care of me. Plus, I got to see all of my best friends, so no complaints here. The festivities were punctuated by the rather sudden passing of my great grandma, and the funeral (and typical  family drama) that followed, but I know she's in a better place, be it simply in restful sleep beside my great grandpa or enjoying herself in some blissful afterlife. Many drinks were raised, since many humans (72 and counting--6 kids, 22 grandkids, and 44+ great grandkids, including meself) are currently alive because of her. May we all be so lucky as to reach 94 years of age and still be totally lucid and witty.

Let's see.. I also got addicted to Misfits over break, and am re-watching all of it with Daniel not two weeks later (it's that good. seriously). He, too, is rightly hooked.

BEST TV SHOW EVER. ...well, at least since The Wire and Pushing Daisies.
image from sharetv.org

Aside from that: the second cat we wanted to adopt had already, again, been chosen by someone else the day we called about them. Ugh.

Would you look at that? This only took me about an hour to type up. Heh.
Now we're going to watch more Misfits so I don't think about my stupid finger. Stupid, idiot finger. I apologize for typos--I have not the patience to proofread tonight.

Here's hoping 2012 is awesome. 2011 was amazing, so this year has some big shoes to fill.

*when I say "burned", I mean seared. Like a skinless chicken breast in a hot, buttered pan. It was pretty heinous. And, since burns are the worst, it is becoming progressively more painful instead of less.
**Catherine: the one I tried on at the Narnia Changing Rooms place!! He bought it, all sneaky-like, while we were checking out boots!