Tag Archives: heart



I’m gonna have to advise a complete teardown and rebuild.

What a spectacular note on which to end this spectacular year. I tried to resist the miasma of 2016 hating, but there’s no escape from the vortex of suck. My heart has been broken for a long time and acknowledging the facts doesn’t change them.

In case you’re wondering, I received a suspended fine for my yard, and a year’s probation, if you can believe it. The judge was actually more or less reasonable and understanding (I mean, he could have not issued the fine at all, but I guess not making me pay it was a big deal) but the inspector who cited me after I spend 3 days fixing up the property was clearly a terrible human being with no friends. I almost did get in a fight with her before the hearing when I realized that she didn’t care how many weeds had been removed, that she was going to harp on the few that remained. I told her that if my efforts at cleanup didn’t have any impact on her report, that I wasn’t going to be highly motivated to be compliant in the future. Then she threatened me with a $2500 fine. Then I said, “You can’t get blood from a stone. Are we done here?” And then we had the hearing.

In case you’re wondering what probation for tall weeds looks like, it looks like this [expletive redacted] snooping around my property for the next 12 months with a freaking ruler, waiting to measure any unauthorized plants that might pop up. Lady, if I had $2500 dollars I would build a goddamn wall so you and the snooty neighbors and also all the morons who throw their trash wherever they feel like it would keep their everything off my property.

Really, I’m trying very hard to be calm about this, but I need an extended stay in an empty room.

Ms. Kitty’s Heart


You know what would have helped? If I had any idea how to paint. 

Well over a year ago Ms. Kitty was extolling the virtues of her heart collection–a series of paintings by various artists, which she’d acquired over the years, and which all featured prominently the image of a heart–and asked if I would contribute. But I don’t paint all that much (the last really big painting project I did was like 18 years ago) and I didn’t have any real canvas and it just kept getting bumped. But she had asked me again a little before Thanksgiving, and during Thanksgiving my sister was cleaning out her room at my parents’ house (my parents are retiring and threatened to throw all her stuff away, which is something they would totally do and had already started doing) and she was going to toss a painting she did in high school, so I just painted over it.

I know that’s not how you’re supposed to do it, but, as I said, I don’t know how to paint. Unlike me, my sister has taken painting classes, and she told me to cover the canvas in gesso, but I skipped that step and just laid the paint on thick enough to mostly obscure the original image, although you can still see a prominent line on the left side (through the wrist) and there are a couple places where her textures or colors peek through.

For all that, I think it came out decently, even though when I look at it all I see are its myriad flaws and I’d like to paint over it again and do it right this time. But Ms. Kitty seemed to like it. At this resolution, you can’t see the 6 ghost cats hidden on the bottom right.

The canvas itself is about 18″ x 24″ and the paints are acrylic, just the common stuff you can get at Michael’s or any art shop. I think the brand might even be called Basic. Most of the paints were fairly old but still seemed fine. I had to acquire 2 new brushes and 1 new paint. Even in acrylic, painting is a really expensive hobby.

This took me about a week, working between 2 and 5 hours every day. I imagine, if I knew how to paint, it could have gone faster.

Painting made me want to paint more, but I don’t have more canvas. I was actually thinking about trying that thing where you buy terrible landscapes at Goodwill and then paint monsters into them. I bet I could make a killing if I painted Pokemon into them. But actually, getting paintings at Goodwill is not as easy as you’d think.

In other news, The Man decided to give me an early Christmas present by teaching himself bookbinding and creating a hardcover version of The Hermit! I am astonished. It’s really remarkable work. If you’d like to see the step-by-step tutorial of his process, you can follow this Reddit link (and upvote if you’re a Redditor and you like me and you think his work is worthy, which, of course, it is). Now that the paperback version is available, the ebook will be offered, for a limited time, as a free download.


For my followup, I guess I'll have to vent a spleen.

For my followup, I guess I’ll have to vent a spleen.

This one might be a bit abstract. I guess it either works or it doesn’t.

It’s true that I know I don’t completely suck due to the fact that I sometimes get personalized rejection letters, and sometimes agents or publishers write me back once or twice before ignoring me, and every once in a while someone actually enjoys my fiction enough to pay for it. It’s sort of like being in the top 1% in a field where only the top .01% really succeed.

I really wanted to do a funny 1-panel comic tonight, but my ideas were either not funny or not 1-panel. My brain was in the mundane sphere due to the fact that I remembered, just as I was about to start working on my project, that my car registration needed to be renewed, and that if I didn’t go down to the DMV and get my emissions tested right that very minute, there was an extremely strong chance that I would soon be driving around with expired tags. That ate up about an hour of my life, after which I needed to do other mundane things like acquire food.

Passing emissions also reminded me that Honda had recently sent a notice that all my airbags were being recalled because they had been suddenly proven to be deadly projectile weapons that would just as soon shoot bits of metal into your chest as to save your life. But at that point I really didn’t have time to deal with the situation. So it’s entirely possible that my car is going to kill me, but at least I can prove to the government that it’s not spewing too much poison into the air.

Reaching: A Bulletin Board

If you haven’t read Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, I highly recommend it. In brief, Hadfield is a well-known astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency who has completed 3 tours of duty on the International Space Station and mulitple spacewalks, much to his delight. He may be best known for recording the first music video in space. Hadfield is a highly motivationed thinker; on the surface, the book is a memoir about his life, why and how he became an astronaut. However, as the title suggests, it’s really a guidebook for life.

Paper vines emerge

Paper vines emerge

In short, Hadfield’s story is this: in 1969, like millions of kids, he watched Neil Armstrong take a stroll across the surface of the moon, and instantly, like millions of kids, his heart’s compass swung toward space. Unlike millions of kids, Hadfield kept his life pointed to his true north, and this is where his story diverges from everyone else’s. From the age of 9, he decided to live his life as if he would become an astronaut. At no point did he expect he would ever actually go to space–Canada didn’t even have a space agency until 1990–but that didn’t change his resolve to be prepare for the possibility, just in case. He writes that, from that day on, whenever presented with a choice as small as salad or potato chips, he asked himself, “What would an astronaut choose?”

Ascend, every day.

Ascend, every day.

Most of us lack the discipline to become astronauts. Perhaps our grades aren’t good enough, or we’re not physically fit, or our individuality precludes any sort of military training. The important part of Hadfield’s story isn’t: make these choices and you’ll get what you want. He repeats the message that he never honestly thought he would ever go to space; he just decided to be prepared if the question ever came up, and even if he hadn’t gone to space, all the things he did to move his life in that direction would have paid off in other ways. He tells another story, which involves a partnership between NASA and a music festival. Hadfield, thinking ahead as was his wont, determined that it was possible that he might meet Elton John, and if he did meet Elton John, Elton John might be aware that he, Hadfield, was a musician as well as an astronaut, and if Elton John knew that, he might ask Hadfield to jam with him, and if Elton John did ask Hadfield to jam with him, the song he would be most likely to suggest they play would be “Rocket Man.” So Hadfield prepared for possibly meeting Elton John by learning to play “Rocket Man” on the guitar. In the end, he did meet Elton John, but was not asked to jam, but that doesn’t change the fact that he learned to play a new song.

it’s a good message for elementary kids, which is why I chose it for my New Year’s bulletin board, but that doesn’t mean that adults of any age can’t or shouldn’t move their lives in the direction of their hearts.

‘Tis the Season

Although Christmas decorations that come out before Thanksgiving enrage me, when it comes to holiday bulletin boards, I do have to start early. I always do Halloween/All Souls, which leaves me with 6 weeks before winter break, so I can either scramble to do something sort of late autumny followed immediately by something early wintery (why is “wintery” a word, but “autumny” is not?) or I can stay on the one-every-6-weeks or so schedule and encapsulate the entire holiday season into one comprehensive thought.

Here’s my thought for the holiday season 2014:

Don't worry; be happy

Don’t worry; be happy

Originally, and for many weeks, I had intended this bulletin board to somehow feature hands. First I was thinking of a photo of people with different skin tones making a sort of hand mandala, but I don’t have access to that kind of paper anyway, so I considered another idea. Before I did any of the above paper cutting, I first cut a piece of brown paper into the shape of two hands forming a heart, like so:

Like this, except, you know, more cordate.

Like this, except, you know, more cordate.

Then I cut the big red heart to fit inside the finger heart and made some rough cuts for the flames, at which point I laid everything out on the tab and realized that the hands were going to obscure the fire. By then I had already settled on the quote (I just Googled “joy quotes,” because that’s what I always end up with for the holidays anyway) and I figured the flames were going to look cooler than the hands, but I thought I could reposition the flames to make it work. At that point, I rolled everything up into a couple tubes and took them home, intending to cut all the letters at night. Instead, I drew Dragon Comics, so that when I went back to school Wednesday I was no further along than I had been on Monday.

For about 30 minutes, I fine-tuned the flames so they were not all identical, and pasted the colors together. I lightly affixed the heart to the bulletin board and arranged the flames underneath it, stapling and gluing in various ways I have learned best keep paper stuck to cork in a windy courtyard. I went to add the hands, saw there was no way to make them work, and that they didn’t look that great anyway, and discarded them. Instead, I hastily cut and paste the lettering, which is all very freehand with only the scarcest guidelines or regard for size.

I think the font offers a sense of joyful abandon.

Total time: about 6 hours (although I do spend a lot of time kibitzing with the librarian while I work).

Joseph Campbell was a great thinker, and I would hope the entire world could become familiar with some aspects of his work. He certainly did a great deal of research into the human condition, and with it, what makes people happy, and what makes them miserable. Understanding culture, and using it to maintain our humanity, is a more favorable choice than not understanding culture, and being crushed or dehumanized by it. He’s probably a pretty good example of a self-actualized human being, and a man who was able to find his life’s work in doing something he loved, and apply his life’s work to making the world a better place. I think that makes him a hero, even if his hero’s journey might not have been quite what he would have described as classically heroic.

When We Were Very Young Part 1

This is the oldest drawing of mine I can lay hands on; my mother probably has something older. It's dated 1986, so I was 11 and in 6th grade.

This is the oldest drawing of mine I can lay hands on; my mother probably has something older. It’s dated 1986, so I was 11 and in 6th grade.

I spent a lot of time drawing as a kid and, at age seven, declared my intention to be an artist when I grew up. My parents bought me some acrylic paints for my birthday, but warned me that they were expensive and that I shouldn’t waste them, because I wasn’t getting any more. As a result, I painted one picture, was unhappy with the results, and never used those paints again, sticking to crayons and water colors (which my parents also would not replace when I asked; when the blue, green, and purple was gone from my paint box, my mother’s response was, “Paint something red.” In fact, my blue period lasted about thirty years, and my mother never understood why I couldn’t just use the other colors) and later, when I was a teenager and rolling in babysitting money, I began investing in more expensive colored pencils.

Flowers, 1987

Flowers, 1987

Even as a very little kid, verisimilitude in my drawings seemed very important. It was frustrating when what appeared on the page didn’t match the image in mind, but in middle school my sketches finally began to feel a little closer to life.

The Human Heart, 1988, Based on this image, my parents began to encouraging me to seek a career in medical illustration. I was only in 8th grade, but it was already becoming clear that getting me excited about their idea of a professional future was going to be an uphill trek.

The Human Heart, 1988, Based on this image, my parents began to encouraging me to seek a career in medical illustration. I was only in 8th grade, but it was already becoming clear that getting me excited about their idea of a professional future was going to be an uphill trek.