Tag Archives: gratitude

Gratitude: Adventurous Eating

 

IMG_20170405_181252

Bitter melon is very bitter, but I suspect cocoyam doesn’t taste like cocoa.

It’s time to recommit myself to a lot of things, including this blog. Even though nobody seems to care or notice that I haven’t drawn a comic in over 3 weeks, I remind myself that this blog is for you. It’s for me. You just happen to be lucky enough to read it. There are going to be some Dragon Comics soon.

For this gratitude, which was supposed to go up last week, I was thinking about all the foods in the world I haven’t tried. Like a lot of kids, I was a boring and picky eater with a very limited repertoire. A lot of people would still consider me picky—I largely avoid grains, particularly wheat, and white sugar, and won’t eat anything made with ground or preserved meat, or most fast or junk foods—but I’m fairly open to trying new things, especially if they come from older and healthier cuisines. Lately, we’re obsessed with West African cuisine, particularly fufu and peanut sauce. It’s delicious, and if you haven’t tried it, especially with goat, you’re missing out on some of the good things in life.

For a little pick-me-up it’s fun to go to new grocery stores, especially ones run and patronized by immigrants. There are 100s or 1000s of fruits and vegetables you’ve never tried, with which other people are familiar, and now that we have the internet there’s no excuse not to try them. In all honesty, I tried the bitter melon a few different ways and it was too bitter for me, but I’m glad I tried it. You never know what you might enjoy. The cocoyam I’ll try to work up into something tonight.

My gratitude is for the existence of and will to experience countless new foods.

 

Monday Gratitude: I Get by with a Little Help

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 11.19.48 PM

This is not a picture of the greatest friends in the world. It’s just a tribute to a picture of the greatest friends in the world.

Although I’m super grateful that the anti life equation party did not find the opportunity to decimate my healthcare options this week, and will most likely not have a chance to complete their evil scheme before the midterm elections, even before that failed vote it seemed imperative to vocalize my gratitude for the legions of cool people in my life.

Obviously, as I’ve written before, I was a wildly unpopular preadolescent, of the “nobody in this school likes you” variety. While had enough self-esteem to feel like that was probably a mark in my favor (like, why would I want those conformists to like me?) being universally hated is not fun. But I was totally right in my assessment as to the value of the people who vocally, stringently, aggressively did not like me, because as soon as I got out of their bubble of privilege and entitled wealth, suddenly the stigma of being me evaporated, and it turned out that lots of people liked me a lot.

So I used the screen grab of my Facebook f-list as a symbol. I don’t have 584 actual friends. A few dozen of them are people who added me for my comics and/or my connections to the literary world, a couple are people I only know online, some are family, and a lot of them are probably just acquaintances or people I met once or twice at a party. But I’d say between 2/3 and 3/4 of them are real friends to some objective degree—people I’ve known in real life and hung with and whose company I enjoy and who apparently like me back. Some of them I’ve known for 3 decades or more. Some of them it only feels like I’ve known them for 30 years. And I also have friends, like the Fox, who aren’t even on Facebook. (I know; weird, right?) And while there are times when I have fond memories of that period of “nobody in this school likes you” during which 100% of my free time could be devoted to reading and writing, there’s also something to be said for getting invited to lots of interesting parties. Not that that’s why I’m grateful for my friends either.

Community, as it turns out, is probably one of the most important things in life. I know there are people who thrive in total isolation, who can live off the land in Alaska and spend more time avoiding polar bears than talking to humans, but most of us do best with a wide support net, multiple people to call on to celebrate our success or empathize with our distress. Social networking, not in the electronic sense, or the business sense, but in the sense of being integrated into a community with whom you can communicate, ask questions, seek assistance, and share your joy, is valuable on a psychological level, and a socio-economic one, and is linked with living longer and can contribute to professional success and things like that.

So, that’s my gratitude for the week: real friends. Love you guys.

 

Monday Gratitude: This Here Ukulele

IMG_20170320_005554

She ain’t pretty. But she is cheap. And easy.

Settling on a gratitude came with difficultly tonight; I seem to exist in a state of muted rage lately. That makes it hard to count your blessings. I’m either working or avoiding work at all times, and the number 1 way I’ve been avoiding work lately is this ukulele. Why is that slowly picking out “Stairway to Heaven” 40 times in a row feels easier than accomplishing the tasks I need to do, I want to do, other people are depending up me to do?  Tasks I’m actually capable of successfully completely, unlike ever being able to play “Stairway” at tempo.

That’s just this week. Usually I don’t use it as a distraction, but more as a calmative. I had developed a bad habit of staring at the screen late at night, and the ukulele gives me something I can focus on in the dark (much like with touch typing, I realized the only way to learn to do it without looking was to make it impossible to look), allowing me to pull back from electricity and possibly sooth my psychotic circadian rhythms.

I’m grateful for the uke, and the ability to play music. I always, always wanted to play, but I hated the music I was supposed to learn for the piano, so I hated practicing, so I never got better. And my hands are too little and intractable for the guitar. And certain things I can only learn on my own, with my own hands. I pity the people who tried to teach young dragon about music.

Monday Gratitude: If you haven’t got your health…

IMG_20170312_232348

No, I’m not shilling for Whole Foods.

I’m choosing to be thankful for my current health. And hopeful regarding my continued health. At various points throughout my timeline I’ve been pretty proactive about my health, and, as a result, enjoyed decent health. At other points, I’ve ignored my problems until they overwhelmed me. It happened last year, a confluence of allergies, asthma, and the common cold that culminated in me being force-fed a nebulizer during a routine physical because the doctor claimed she couldn’t hear any air moving through the bottom part of my lungs.

Last fall, I felt something coming on–achier than normal, tonsils way bigger than normal and scratchy like the desert, so I was sure it was going to hit me hard–and my massage therapist told me to take these zinc tablets. And I didn’t get sick. And I started taking them semi-regularly, definitely any time I’ve been vaguely under the weather, and I haven’t gotten sick yet.

Today the Girl turned up with a disgusting cold: coughing, sneezing, congestion, &c. So here’s the real test of this product, because I definitely don’t want to have what she has, even though she assures us that aside from all her symptoms, she feels fine.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on zinc. When I bought my first bottle, the cashier who rang me up said, “Good for you!” and the lady behind me in line offered me her thoughts because she had researched it thoroughly when her father was dying of cancer and it “really works because it’s an RNA inhibitor.” Most people seem to agree that it works but don’t take it because it’s usually served in an unpleasant preparation. But this Whole Foods 365-branded version doesn’t seem to. It taste good, like a lemon drop. Just don’t take it on an empty stomach.

Anyway, I haven’t had any type of cold or flu or any viral/bacterial health issues in almost a year, so even though chronic conditions slow me down sometimes, in general I’m a very healthy person, and I’m really grateful for that. Now, I hope I haven’t jinxed myself.

Monday Gratitude: Class Consciousness

img_5762

This macro image obviously has nothing to do with this blog post. I’m sure I could concoct some convoluted metaphor that would tie together tiny bugs and class stratification in America, but I won’t lay all that weight on this poor little bug’s exoskeleton.

[Artists] are acquainted with all classes of society, and for that very reason dangerous.

Had to do a little digging on this quote, which has been attributed, in a slightly altered form, to Joe McCarthy and Queen Victoria, but apparently it was actually written to Victoria by her uncle, Leopold, the King of Belgium. He concludes that artists are “hardly ever satisfied” and spending too much time around them gives one ennui.

Ennui is probably not a side effect of art, but of having too much money and not enough to do with oneself. This reminds me of a passage from an Louisa May Alcott book, An Old Fashioned Girl, in which wealthy Fanny, who has lived the life of a debutant for several years, feels prematurely aged as a result of her glamorous but pointless existence. Because she is rich and sheltered, she is also clueless, and she confides her problems to Polly, her one working-class friend, who never judges her (out loud).

“A little poverty would do you good, Fan; just enough necessity to keep you busy till you find how good work is; and when you once learn that, you won’t complain of ennui any more,” returned Polly, who had taken kindly the hard lesson which twenty years of cheerful poverty had taught her.

“Mercy, no, I should hate that; but I wish some one would invent a new amusement for rich people. I’m dead sick of parties, and flirtations, trying to out-dress my neighbors, and going the same round year after year, like a squirrel in a cage.”

In case you’re wondering, Fan loses her fortune a few chapters later and spends a while learning how to live in genteel poverty, before marrying the richest guy in the book.

Artists aren’t satisfied because they have the vision to see how much better things could be. I don’t know if all artists associate with all classes of society. If you have not, it’s hard to understand how vast the chasm between the wealthy and the underprivileged actually is.

I accidentally went to what I heard referred to as a “socialite” party last night. I didn’t realize that’s what it was until after I found myself watching a bouncer check my name off a list and usher me into a 10,000 square foot house full of exquisitely dressed models where nobody, and I mean nobody was talking about politics. They were talking about the 3 swimming pools and how many selfies they needed to take, but they weren’t talking about the plight of the immigrant in America, or the destruction of the environment, or Russian interference in the election, which in itself set it apart from every gathering I’ve attended this year. And I was thinking about how many refugees could have been comfortably housed in that building, and how I escaped the culture of material worship and ostentatious wealth. Which I guess makes me dangerous.

I’ve talked to plenty of people who lived in giant houses, and I’ve talked to plenty of people who lived on the street. And, although the knowledge of inequality’s depth is heavy, it’s never a source of ennui. And I’m grateful that I can see the big picture, no matter how frightening the big picture is when you get the whole thing into frame and focused. I’m grateful for the privilege that gives me this perspective.

If you’re satisfied with the way the world is, you probably haven’t seen that much of it. You’ve just been dazzled by the sparkly parts that were bright enough to blind you to the details.

Blurry Lemon/Finding Gratitude

lemon

You know what this means, right?

Winter broke the day before yesterday in Tucson. We had 2 80°+ days, and now we have rolling thunderstorms. I saw a rainbow this afternoon. Both the citrus trees are budding and Miss Kitty and I ate Sno-Cones in the park. Even though the rain brings the temperature down, spring returns to the desert; it always does in time for Valentine’s Day. Meanwhile, in national news, the judiciary and the intelligence communities seem to support the resistance.

Sorry for the low quality lemon photo. I should have taken pictures of the tiny purple lemon blossom buds but I never got the lighting right. But I’ve had this lemon tree for 6 years. Last year it made 4 lemons. This year, 1 lemon. Next year, who knows! At least I have a lemon tree. I have several trees. That’s something else to be grateful for.

As always I’m extra grateful to anyone buying my book, wearing my merch, or supporting my Patreon.

The Last Rainbow Mandala

img055

As good a place as any to pause and reflect.

About 6 or 7 years ago, long before QWERTYvsDvorak, I started this 100 mandala project and when I got to 100, I wasn’t ready to stop. Why not 1000 mandalas, I wondered? Because, as it turns out, 1000 is a LOT of mandalas. Ultimately, I drew about 130 of them, not counting a few drawn after the blog started, and this is the very last last one of the original set. It felt like I had come full circle from the first (also rainbow) mandala and perhaps going on would mean just repeating myself.

I’m not saying I’ll never draw another mandala again, but they won’t be my regular Monday feature/safety net when I forget the weekend is ending.

Ms. Kitty suggested that I replace it with some sort of Monday gratitude, which seems like a really good idea right about now. Must think of how best to execute within the framework of QvD re: art.

But speaking of gratitude and art: that Lady Gaga concert sure was something, wasn’t it? So many people were watching it that the roads were completely empty, as were all the best hiking trails. But I caught it later on the NFL Twitter page. Those NFL people really put on a good show. I seem to recall they hosted one last year for Beyoncé that just slayed.