ItsI amazing that I managed to log in to this account on my phone in the first try. It took 2 days to remember my Reddit password and I still haven’t gotten into Twitter. Guess I’ll buy a new laptop tomorrow, but I’m not happy about it. Also not happy about blogging on my phone. After 3 days of sliding around a 1.5″ x 2.5″ keyboard, it’s time to concede defeat. I gotta have a real machine.
The ASDM webpage on which I found the reference photo of the larval beetle offers this statement of caution for desert motorcycle enthusiasts who don’t wear helmets: “Being hit in the face by a beetle this size can be quite painful.” That’s probably an understatement; one flew into my head earlier this month and I wasn’t even coming toward it at 60 miles an hour and it still felt like being hit by a rock.
Anyway, I think these creatures are fascinating, and, for whatever reason, they don’t feel like cockroaches to me. My response to cockroaches is visceral and immediate; if one crosses my path, I feel compelled to smash it as if it’s a vicious, carnivorous alien (even though cockroaches are harmless, vegetarian, and have been around longer than humans). My response to giant palo verde beetles is, “Cool! It’s a giant bug!” And then I take a picture and send it to my nephew or something. He’s at a prime age to appreciate giant bugs.
My first script had the final panel as some snarky remark about how maybe these insects had it all figured out and maybe we’d be better off if we spent our childhood and adolescence underground and then had thirty days to mate before dying, leaving the next generation to figure things out on its own. Then I thought I’d go for a straight biology story, with only a little snark. Then I finished the artwork and thought the panels looked kind of blank, so I put the snark back in, in word balloon form. That’s why the text doesn’t quite fit the space.
Oh, god, I’m so pleased with this comic, especially the first and last panels, but also the sense of motion in the second panel. The guy in the third panel could look more oppressed by the heat, but anyway I drew this without any help from Photoshop or the digital tablet. Just pencil, paper, and a ruler (OK and some reference photos) (OK I fixed a few lines in Photoshop after I scanned it because I’d already lost my eraser). Somehow, just sitting down and committing to doing it is the hardest part, yet, it didn’t take me any longer than it would have had I used the computer, and I’m still happier than I’ve been with the more polished stuff you get with more advanced tools. The drawing part start to finish took about an hour. I never know how long it takes me to write things. My lettering probably needs work.
It’s monsoon in Tucson, and it rained intermittently all day, which is lovely and refreshing and also kind of heavy and bittersweet. The Girl, who is now a full-fledged teenager, said she had been wishing for a full day of rain. Can you even wholly appreciate the beauty of a rainy day until you’ve been a teenage girl?
Thinking about this lately. There are people who make a deep dent in your heart while they occupy it, and you can’t buff it out when they go. I guess I’m fortunate to only have a few people like that; with one or two exceptions, I’m still friends with everyone I’ve ever dated or hooked up with, although sometimes it takes a while to get past the hurt and rekindle a friendship. I don’t burn bridges. I don’t hold grudges (too much).
I still have those size 4 jeans. Damn, my ass looked good in them, for the 15 minutes of my adult life I wore a size 4. Unless American really does descend into anarchy and there’s no food and I end up in a camp for dissidents, I do not anticipate ever stuffing myself into them again, but some small part of me still holds out hope. The pot did get tossed, although not without a lot of anxiety. Like, I took a photograph of it, and I had to squelch the urge to go rescue it for the next couple hours. Fortunately, we left town so I didn’t have an opportunity to grab a broken pot (which was old when I acquired it second-hand in 1992). A lot of memories in that pot.
So, if that’s how I feel about a busted, perma-scorched, avocado-green pot with 2 broken handles and all the teflon scratched off, you can imagine my difficulty releasing people from my life. I love hard and deep. I’m like the puzzle box from the Hellraiser movies. It takes a while for me to let people in, but I never voluntarily let them out again.
It’s about 4 years since I started drawing webcomics, and if you scroll through 4 years of posts, you can really see the progression of my ability to force the Wacom tablet and Photoshop Elements to do my bidding, but it feels like there’s kind of a limit to all that, because all week I’ve been staring at the blank panels for a comic book that’s been causing contractions in my brain for the last year without finding the confidence to start over again with a totally different style. At this point, it pretty much looks like the crutch of a digital drawing tablet has caused my drawing skills to actually degenerate.
On the other hand, I think the therapist in this comic looks like the same character in both panels, which was the thing that really stymied my comic creation prior to the tablet.
Anyway, I’ve had a lot of ideas along these lines. The blog isn’t going to look as great as it could, but like my friend the Coyote always says, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” I need to unplug more regardless. I need to hold a pencil in my hand. I need to let go of the anguish I feel when I want to delete something or move something or just copy something. I’ve got to practice the basics if I want to feel worthy of comments like the one I received today from a woman who told me her dad drew for Mad Magazine and that I was the “real deal” just like him.
I’m not saying this is good, but it exists, which is more than I can say for last week’s comics.
Oh, hey! I drew a therapy comic that wasn’t about couples’ counseling. You’d think I’d had way more therapy than I’ve actually had based on the number of therapy comics I’ve drawn. I wasn’t even the person receiving therapy in the above comic.
Political cartoons were killing me so I stopped but here we are again. Stupid stuff. Blaming the minority party for your unpopular decisions and then very slightly amending those terrible choices and patting yourself on the back for telling yourself not to do the thing you decided to do before you finally found one action so reprehensible that it offended the people who were totally cool with the misogyny and racism.
Still slouching toward the Third Reich, as it were. I’m scared. I’m scared all the time.
That’s a weird-looking bar. I’m tired.
Perhaps a bit obscure?
Aside from having read some news articles about how mass meditation could lower the crime rate (a claim that is still touted, despite many skeptics disputing the data), I didn’t know all that much about Transcendental Meditation. There were a lot of TMers in the town where I lived as a young adult, and I guess some of them were persuasive enough that one year I recall voting a straight Natural Law ticket in a local election without knowing anything about TM. I actually have some cousins who are involved in the group, and they, as far as I can tell, are just people who meditate every day. I didn’t have many preconceived notions about the practice.
So, when The Man told me he wanted to attend a free informational meeting about Transcendental Meditation a few years back, I didn’t have any problem tagging along. I was interested to hear what they had to say. Also, as you may know, my policy has always been to tag along when I suspect my husband might intend to join a cult. The last time it actually worked out pretty well. I did Crossfit for 3 1/2 years and I was fit.
This time, though, I got bad vibes right from the start. Perhaps a dozen of us gathered in a private home to hear a deliriously happy couple talk about how TM could save the world and everything in it. Like I said, I went in with a pretty open mind, but it was hard to keep listening after a while.
First of all, it turned out that my cousins were kind of a big deal in the movement and these people were way too impressed with their names when they asked if we knew any TMers. That made me uneasy.
Then they presented the same evidence I’d been reading for years, about crime going down when a lot of people meditated. Old evidence. Immediately, I question why crime still exists, if we can just meditate it away. Why do all the TMers stay in freaking Iowa if they could make New York, Chicago, and LA safe for the most vulnerable people, if they could inspire criminals to just stop committing crimes? Why don’t they go meditate in Jerusalem until the Israelis and the Palestinians come to accord? They don’t tell you that. They just tell you how great TM is, how beautiful the ceremony that inducts you into the group is, how special receiving your own personal mantra is.
Personally, I’ve read Kurt Vonnegut’s “Report on the Barnhouse Effect” and I know exactly what I’d do if I had the power to stop violence just by thinking about it.
Next, they get to the price. It’s a pretty hefty price tag. I forget how much they wanted precisely, but I recall it was about a grand, and it’s absolutely imperative that you pay. You can’t get one of their big, life-changing secret mantras until you pay. So that’s where you lose me every time. Simple, secret knowledge that’s only available for a hefty price, but guaranteed to improve everything for the rest of your life? I’m trying to get them to explain how and why TM’s results differ from those of other types of meditation, or chanting, or mantras, but all I get is that their mantras are magic, that mantras that hold translatable meaning are too distracting for the human brain, and that you have to have a custom mantra of nonsense syllables tailored to you.
Finally, they announce that we will each have a one-on-one talk with one of the leaders, guys with the husband and girls with the wife. Well, The Man immediately objects. “I want to stay with my wife,” he says, but this is impossible. They won’t allow it. He goes one way and I go another. After some forgettable small talk, I’m asked if I have any questions. Oh, I have questions. But, per usual, I don’t need to ask too many of them.
“If you honestly believe that TM is the secret to fixing the world, and that everything would be perfect if everyone practiced it, why would you hang this exorbitant price tag on something that would save humanity? Why don’t you just give it away and make the world perfect right now?”
“Oh, they tried that in the ’60s. The Maharishi found that people didn’t take it seriously unless they paid.”
They have to charge you because it doesn’t work if you don’t pay.
In other words, this is a practice that can change your world, but only if you’re the kind of person who has $1000 to set on fire right now. Let me tell you, as a person who’s been well-off and not so well-off, there are plenty of things that can make the world better for you if you’re the kind of person who has 1000 extra bucks lying around. Most problems are easier to fix with money, and people with money tend to have different problems than people without money.
She kept trying to sell me but I was bored and disgusted and told her that I would definitely not be giving her $1000, ever, and she gave up and hustled me out of there so she could get at the next mark. Customer. Seeker of illuminated truth. Whatever.
The Man hadn’t pushed as far in his one-on-one, but he was also disenchanted with their promises and their sales tactics. We left.
Later, I did a lot more research on TM. As it turned out, like everything else in the internet era, the top-secret personal mantras that lie at the core of this practice are not at all secret. Enough people have left TM and shared their secrets that it’s now possible to deduce that there is nothing special or personal about TM mantras: you are assigned one of a set number of meaningless syllables based on your age and your gender. That’s it. You can go right now and find what mantra will save your life by Googling it (of course they claim it doesn’t work if you don’t have the support of the community, which you only get with the $1000 buy-in).
That’s my story about TM. If it works for you, more power to you. But also, you might want to Google “meditation crime rate study skeptic” or possibly “placebo effect” before you try to sell it to me for $1000. Having a finely-tuned bullshit meter probably makes the world less magical for me, but it does save me a lot of money.
Anyway, this was a little throwaway gag I thought of on my last writing retreat. I wanted to get back to riffs off pop culture and little puns and slight changes in trending phrases, like “microclimate change deniers” and “super fun site” in addition to branching out into more personal stuff. I think it’s taken me longer to write this blog post than it took to draw the comic. No idea if the comic works or not, but I need to find my way back into this blog, and the more serious ideas I’ve jotted down recently are a lot longer.