Monday, December 03, 2012

Your Gifts to Me

You've given me an awareness of my death and with it has come a strange and sometimes irritating inability to focus on my present. I can't help but think about the future now, about the future we might or might not have together. That's what I wanted to tell you with that song, that because of you, I know I will die one day. But because of you, I've also begun to imagine this death of old age, by your side, after a long fulfilling life together. I've imagined children and grandchildren. But I cannot imagine anyone but you as their father and grandfather.

Today I was watching Inception, when you left, and I saw Dom and Mal and the way they grew to be old souls together, building a world together, dreams within dreams within dreams. All my life I have longed for a love that is stronger than time, that outlives the moment, an idea of fate and predestination. I have longed for a story, a thing safely contained, where I know I am loved and that this love will endure because I've read the ending.

I haven't read our ending.

There are times now, when I'm not sure of anything anymore, but you've given me the gift of not caring, of knowing that caring will not make the ending any less heart-wrenching or any less unexpectedly terrifying.

I wish only to live in the present with you, because hopes and dreams and plans are just that, and sometimes they do not happen at all, or they do in a completely different and unforeseen way. I wish to plan and dream and hope with you but only as much as the present allows us to.

I wish to tell our story now, even if the ending isn't written yet.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hell is...

During the last week, I've been circling over things I would rather put away. I've been considering people I don’t want to consider, engaging in thought processes I thought I had left behind. Busy, in other words, in the endless task of assigning blame.

Parallel to this I have been feeling more and more depressed. There's an sense of impending failure in the air for me. As if, along with my cloud of bad thoughts over people, a cloud of bad behaviors has returned.

I've been going over the relationships of these last couple of years, smashing my way out of this horrible funk. It was easy, full of energy. It was righteous and profoundly satisfying. I got to let go of everyone before they let go of me. I could chose to understand what was happening to me in terms of my own self-preservation instead of in terms of the inevitable. I got away with it for weeks, letting myself believe in my own rightness and health, propping myself up, filling up with the hot air of being so much better than those others.  I got to be as selfish and arrogant as I have ever wanted to be because I was doing it in the name of my own good.

And it has been utter and completely pointless. I've yet to feel any better, and in fact, have only managed to feel worse, more and more afraid each day.

Today, I had a tiny reminder of why I am truly so mad at some people and with it, I made certain connections I had so far ignored. It's helped me understand why in these last days I've been so invested in my idea of I AM DOING GOOD and the idea of YOU PEOPLE ARE GROSS. I'm not happy where I am in my life. I want to get paid more, I want to finish school and I want to write. All these things are not actually outside my possibilities and are attainable with a certain amount of patience. But at some point my patience was going to run out. And it has.

On my way to school today, I had this running commentary of how I was going to write this blog entry an make it meaningful and flowing, so that you could see how I had arrived to my brilliant conclusion.

It's actually pretty simple. I'm not happy. Let's look at these other people who are even LESS happy than I am and see them suffer. Buahahaha, watch me judge you people who have no idea I am judging you! What? Why are you not crippled by my disdain for your crappy choices? Well, you are kind of, not by my disdain, but certainly by the crappy choices themselves. But, the thing is that these people don't live in my head. They do not judge themselves by the standards I use to judge myself, and obviously, sometimes others.

And the thing is, these are not actually good standards. In fact, I've spent the last couple of years trying desperately to shed them because they, too, are cripplingly crappy. They made me as unhappy as any of these people have ever been. And what's most important, they're not real.

Perhaps, it's not so much that I am doing everything late, late,  LATE and things must happen NOW, but that I get the feeling that they should. I should get paid more. I should finish school. I should write more. Any time at which I've tried to do what I should do has always ended up as a gigantic waste of time. With the kind of pressure I can put on myself through sheer imagination, I always end up snapping.

I forget how much I need to forget about shoulds and refocus on what my reality actually is. It's actually not a bad reality, and more important than being better than those other people's reality, it is a reality I can be content with. I need to stop looking at other people and begin to gaze inwards; ask myself the questions I need to ask and forget about those other lives out there, led by people who do not want what I want.

Let others figure out what their courses are. Mine has been set already.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Of Magical Girls and Many Faces

I've been feeling sort of down lately. I won't say depressed but I will say I've had my wits scattered and my energy has been ebbing. I can't seem to concentrate on the stuff I want to concentrate on. And I've had a lot of disordered sleeping too.

This scares me very much and it's made me go into a never-ending chain of excusing myself because if I don't excuse myself then I might actually be depressed and that would ruin my life forever. I can't afford to be depressed. I've been thinking that non-stop since about last Wednesday. It's really getting to my nerves.

Today I woke up at ten but was too tired to move my butt to swimming class, so I decided that fuck this shit,  what is one missed class? I fell asleep again almost immediately and had the strangest effing dream I've had in a long time. I woke up and I kept thinking, what a strange dream that was. Yet I could not recall all those details that had made my dream so fascinating. I have a special relationship with dreams. I get the typical confusing, dream-logic stuff everyone is always talking about (Oh no! I'm at school and I forgot to dress after taking a bath! Maybe everyone in the subway was just too nice to point that out) but now and then I get these amazing stories springing all fully-formed in my head. I always try to write down the bare essentials of them in case I ever want to put them in my books or something.

All day today, I just kept thinking how magnificently well this particular dream fulfilled this particular purpose. I kept trying to sort out the dream content in my brain, thinking how I was going to write it down as soon as I was done cooking myself some lunch. Then I forgot all about it and proceeded with the normal trappings of Mundania.

I was just about to go to sleep now (in an unproductive effort to control my sleeping patterns) when I remembered my intentions and decided just to give them a go. The problem is that now that the whole day stands between me and my dream, I don't actually remember what it was about.

So let's take a look at what I can unravel from the dream-logic:

There were three girls in my dream and they kind of reminded me of Magic Knight Rayearth or the Powerpuff Girls, with the different color schemes and such. I guess you could assume they were fighting for love and justice or something because my brain certainly assumed that immediately. (This is of course a very clear sign that I should STOP talking about Sailor Moon already. I haven't stopped all week dammit!)

I only remember the particulars of two of them: one was tall and thin and extremely nerdy and seemed to remind me of that girl geek in Disney's Recess cartoon. The other was kind of tough, dark-haired and green-eyed, very like Buttercup from the aforementioned Powerpuff Girls cartoon.

But what was most interesting to me was that whatever Big Bad they were fighting had existed in their past lives. Of course they had past lives, what kind of magical girl dream do you think this is? And apparently they had served it too, not fought it like they were doing now. I knew this but my protagonists were discovering it little by little.

And now that we're talking about past lives, our Buttercup stand-in seemed to have had multiple faces in hers. One minute she would be older and more beautiful than ever, with her dark, wavy hair and her green, green eyes, and the next her face would look like a mask, long-nosed and grinning and with the sort of exaggerated features only artifice has (kind of like the masks my friend Derre draws). And sometimes she would be an older woman, with wrinkles and wisdom in her look. Not a very comforting sort of wisdom, mind you.

Our tall, nerdy friend had a different sort of problem. She seemed to remember more of the past than the others, and she recognized more things than they did. She seemed to be having problems at home too. I distinctly recall a disastrous dinner party with some twit or other who she was supposed to be chatting up according to her parents. Nothing so cliched as an arranged marriage but there was certainly some family pressure to already!

But what really got to me, what made me look back at this and think, someday, I must write about it, was that our tall and nerdy friend was in love. There was a garden and flowers, and a window overlooking the garden. I think there was a storm outside and she set on her window sill waiting for him. I remember a dragon, not a European one, all reptilian and stinking, but one of those long, marvelous creatures that ride the storms and seem to have no end, and are wiser and kinder and wilder than any mortal can ever hope to be.

I remember he was their enemy too. I don't think she knew. In fact, I'm not sure she knew who he was at all. But she knew she was in love.

Friday, September 21, 2012

In Danger Of

"How can he remember well his ignorance - which his growth requires - who has so often to use his knowledge?"

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I am in danger of this, always, all the time, every day. I should fear more.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Shadows and Dust

I'm different. Since elementary school, in the play yard. It was the other kids then. Later it was adults and family. But it's not just one thing that doesn't fit, it's the whole puzzle. I'm different.

I used to think it was something special. I used to wonder worriedly if everyone had worlds and visions of life that they needed to share desperately, like me. If they did I would no longer be special... I'd just be more needy than all the others who could keep their shit together. I still wonder that sometimes, in my arrogance, in my conceit. I look at other people and wonder, do you think like I do? Can you understand what I say? And if the answer is no, then still, like a fool, I stand straighter and feel prouder. I'm different, I can think, with a self-satisfied sigh. I'm special.

Today I had a conversation I've been needing for a long time and I had a sudden moment of clarity. I'm different but I don't want to be different. All my life being different has made me go looking, desperately, for people I'm not different from. Each step of it has been one more attempt at not feeling alone. In Nabokov's Lolita, Humbert Humbert says: "long after her death I felt her thoughts floating into mine". I've spent so many years looking for just that,looking for a way out of loneliness. When I was a kid I wrote about one of my oldest characters, "I don't mean anything to anybody". I've wanted to mean something, always.

Maybe I miss this supreme communication because I know what it is. I've had it, not always but at times in my life I've had a person who knew my thoughts even before I did, who understood exactly what I was telling her.

I've wanted to have that with a man. I wanted it so desperately. I dreamed of it so deeply, listening to love songs and all the lies they tell, making up love stories where the characters now exactly what the other is thinking and understand each and every one of their actions. How could you my love? I know exactly what this costs you. How could you?

But nothing really works that way, and the quest for such an illusion left me bitter and wretched for so long. Now I look back and I wonder and wonder and wrack my brains for the possible answer. I look back and I ask myself, have I left behind the supreme understanding I always longed for or only an illusion of it. Smoke and mirrors. So much in life lately has revealed itself to be shadows on the wall.

I don't know today, fearful as I am, if you will feel my thoughts floating into yours after I am gone. Does anybody ever have this certainty? I know she would and I know I would if she left. I think, I suspect, I guess with strange hope that you feel her thoughts floating into yours now that she is gone, because then you might, some day, do the same for me and then I might recover once more the illusion of meaning.

We are brief and senseless. None of what we do really matters and we can never reach out to others the way we wish we could. I don't think I'm different. I think we all are and I'm just not as good as others are at ignoring the huge chasm between us.

But I've learned so much from you in these last few days and I've forgotten so much of what I learned in the past, about my smallness and my cowardice and my impotence. Trying to be more, trying to reach for more, trying to grow tall if I can. I'm scared of solitude. I am weary of exile, of this wretched way, of months of peace and years of war. I'm afraid of my limitations and my weakness. But you just smile sadly at me and are as sure as you are afraid.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


A couple of days ago I was a bit disturbed by the following dream. A lot of it is very simple and seems to be easily analyzed but somehow I keep thinking I'm missing something.

I remember something was chasing me. I was running. I remember being somewhat calm. I knew how to outrun this thing. So I went to where I knew I must and it looked very much like my grandparent's basement and backstairs. That old, huge house. Somehow I had never gotten over the childhood awe. Even after having explored its secrets and knowing that the reason why they were forbidden was as pedestrian as rats... Even then I continue to dream of it, adding rooms that never were and mysterious furniture that could do things.

I added stairs now. I ran into the basement, fleeing my pursuer and talked to people that weren't there. They told me I must find an orange door and I would be safe. I circled and circled down those stairs and on every floor there were doors everywhere, doors on all four walls and the rooms were getting smaller. It was getting darker. I kept running. Then I tried one door and it opened into the mind of an old love, one that wasn't real even, just a fictional portrait of what my ideal lover would have been. It was the wrong door, so I kept going.

I did not try anymore doors. I was afraid. But not of my pursuer, I felt confident, not yet safe but at least sure I was going in the right direction. The people who weren't there just said, keep going, keep going, it's the last floor. I jumped through the last couple of flights of stairs. I just trusted and let myself fall.

There was sunlight on that last floor and an orange door. The doors above I had opened with a coat hanger but this one was too small. It needed something thinner, something finer. At times it didn't seem too like a door but more like a screen, like a permeable thing I could go through in the right state of mind. I was safe all the way down here but not forever. The time would come. But I knew that once I was through that orange door everything would be alright. And I knew this because there were people waiting for me on the other side: my love and his love, the one that died. With them, I was sure, I could finally stop running.

I wonder sometimes if this is like a riddle. What are the doors? What am I missing?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Silent All These Years

Last night I was talking to Andrea and we were remembering this song. We were remembering our love for this woman, a love so old and well-known.

I've been remembering a lot of things lately and some of them seem so strange under the new light of health that they don't feel quite like memories. They feel new. I've been writing so much. It's been years since I wrote last, but I never wrote like this, never with such a deliberation, never with such a clear goals in mind. I've written as a compulsion, I've written to survive, I've written to communicate... but somehow I've never written like this. So calmly and purposefully. I've been reading all my old stuff and somehow it doesn't seem quite as awful as I remember it. I wonder if this new way of writing will change this?

I keep wondering things about myself. I keep being afraid of seeing myself as anything more than a little girl who wants to one day do things. Writing as I wish to write, living the life I wish to live, dreaming of a future, of growth, of building things. I'm afraid to want anything too badly. Sometimes this is because I feel like everything I've wanted has always failed to be... but it hasn't, not really, not when you look at it carefully. And so many times the things that have failed me have done so out of this very fear.

It's been so great lately. And most of it has come from stopping the fear, from saying yes, more than I say no.

Often I forget how much I am capable of.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I keep wondering when I'm going to stop feeling as if every misfortune that happens to me is punishment. Or justly deserved consequences. I keep wondering when I'm going to stop believing that I will never build a home because I don't deserve to have one.

It feels like a piece of me was stolen today. I feel so hopeless when I think of my foolish dreams, of this idea that I was building a future, a home, one piece of furniture at the time. A bookshelf now, then a bureau, then a desk, plants, a little more mortar each time.I could tell myself that my life had worth because I was building and adding and accumulating and what I now feel is that the only thing that can possibly give me worth is whatever I have managed to accumulate within myself because all other things are transitory.

That is so completely true that it frightens me. There is no further security, that is what you find when you move past illusions: the only thing of true worth in your life is you, the person you are. And it's the only thing you can never be sure about. You can buy good furniture. You can get a little house of your own. You can graduate and have a degree. But all these things mean nothing if you cannot make something of yourself. Why would I have thought of that when it's so much easier to gauge the quality of a bookshelf's wood than it is to gauge the quality of a person's character?

When I thought that this one piece of furniture was taken from me, this is what I thought. This is how I felt. I felt that a part of me, of who I am, of the home within me was gone. It had been taken away. Alongside the despair, there's been a lot of anger too, a lot of wanting to blame someone, especially myself. There was a lot of loneliness, most of it fixed on Saturday night, a lot of wondering what I was going to do now that I'm all alone in my own head.

But I think a lot of it has also been realizing how much things have NOT changed, and that this loneliness is the simple nature of the human condition; a fact often disguised in the illusion that love gives, the illusion of traveling through the journey of your life with somebody. I'm letting go of that illusion. I'm learning what home means and how much of it is made, solely, of my own self.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Words, Words, Words

Or I could also say Work, Work, Work. Every time I stop to think life seems insurmountable. Every time I try to look at the bigger picture, things seem impossible. Distant thunder turned out to be nearer than I could have possibly predicted.

I'm getting used to living in my own skin. I'm getting used to being alone in my head. I'm getting used to the cold in my bed. Sometimes I forget how lonely and scary that can be. Sometimes I am forcibly reminded of this very fact.

So I try not to pause. I try to keep working and toiling and working because the silence has questions which I cannot answer (What is your worth, really, as an individual? Where is your significance now?). I'm afraid that if I don't learn how to be alone now, then I never will and my entire life will be made of fear and uncertainty.

In so many ways I am still a little girl. I thought true love would give me meaning. I thought true love would give me transcendence. When the simple truth is that nothing does, nothing can guarantee you this. Life is so quick and meaningless. I'd forgotten that. Meaning comes from each day, from whatever enjoyment you can wrestle out of the circumstances you are given. I'd protected myself so well from reality with the fiction of love that overcomes all. How can I not feel the temptation to do it again? How will I search within myself now for what truly matters?

I feel like I'm too tired for tears. I feel sick to my stomach at the thought of sorrow. I'm so tired of crying and crying and feeling like my entire life has been crying. I just want to be okay. I just want to enjoy the health and happiness I have found lately. I want to sleep and wake up refreshed and stop wondering impossible things. I want my routine again and for life to feel normal again. I want to gaze towards the horizon without fear and I want to be free. I want to stop expecting so much from myself and to start enjoying the journey.

Today I want to lay on the grass and smell the sun-baked earth. But I don't want to do it alone. I want to turn around and talk, about the things I wish to do and the things that are being done. I want to talk about nothing and fill the silence with the joyful, meaningless, chatter of deep understanding. To say nothing and everything.

But there's no time. There's so much to do. I want to keep resting and resting and reading and reading and not thinking about the future and at the same time I want to WORK, WORK, WORK. I haven't wanted to work in such a long time. I want to write and to talk about writing. I want to draw and to talk about drawing. I want to graduate and to write and to move on. I want it all, now, everything.

One step at the time I suppose. One story with each step, one drawing, one sentence, one word.

I've been working on this lately. It's been more play that work but it has been fun and productive in its own small way:

It's been restful and enjoyable but it's not my own stuff. It's not my talent and my work, just my joy. For the moment, all my joy.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


There is distant thunder. I don't understand how I can hear the sound of distant thunder through the din of my own happiness today.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

But is it really bad news?

I keep thinking of how to begin this entry, circling and circling around on the same idea which basically begins with "I am so wrong in every way..."

It's not something I want to give too much thought too. It sounds childish and juvenile and more than a little self-centered. What I'd like to say has less to do with the definite reality implied in that echo of "wrong, wrong, wrong" and more with the perception of said reality. The truth is that I'm doing good. Pretty good. Workwise, schoolwise, personal workwise. Along with all the difficulties that have presented themselves in these last months there has been a torrent of goodness; originating I think from the simple desire to live the life I have.

Last night I had a plan. I had decided that I've been writing too much about interior things and that it was time to remember how to describe things. I was going to talk about how much more inspiring grey skies are and I was going to make some trite comments about the concept of the sublime and nature and things I wish I understood better. I wanted to talk about the sun and the trees and that window of mine which I wasn't really seeing because I was back at my mother's.

Someone just said one of my translations wasn't good enough. It is ludicrous to think that such a small thing, among all the others which are going right in my life, should make me feel like everything is crashing down around me. There went my beautifully prepared plan.

There's no point to it and sometimes you have to ignore the neurosis creeping up on you and inundate yourself with messages of how things are working out for you. Even if you don't quite believe them.

Trying to write while avoiding the big negative chunks of your mind is difficult. It makes me want to stop as soon as I can and it makes it hard to access that place where you look at what you're really feeling. I keep coming up on different barriers, things I don't want too touch, sadness that has become familiarly dull. It's like I've tread this path over and over again and I just want to get to something new. Because... so much of what is happening in my life right now is new. Unexpected and lovely and new.

There's something defiant about it, like something inside of me, disdainfully repeating "ah, but I know I'm doing the right thing and nothing you can do will change that..."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Missing Time

Lately I've kept trying to shake off this feeling of not doing much in life. After the last month of end of the semester craziness and utter stress, the days just seem to roll by emptily. Emptily and ominously.

I've lost so much time already. I fell behind so badly in those years of unwilling sleep. It's as if now that I'm awake and quite certainly alive I can't possibly allow myself the luxury of rest. I haven't really earned that luxury, have I?

Today, I read some more pages for my thesis research. I translated a couple of more paragraphs and wrote a couple of more sentences for my short story. I took hours to fall asleep yesterday. It was probably 5 am when I did lay down and I spent all those hours just shooting the shit on my computer. What a complete waste of time. I've spent the day reading up on fat acceptance blogs vainly attempting to make myself feel better, to stop this voice in my head saying: don't have that extra taco, put down those M&Ms, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT PLATE OF PASTA!?

I just keep feeling like everything is all wrong, wrong, wrong. Like I'm still steadily heading for disaster, no matter what I do...

Which is of course pure fabrication on part of my overtly neurotic brain. I sleep-walked through the day and I still managed to do some work, if not everything I had hope to do. I was so tired after exams and final essays, so exhausted, and yet I am not only actively working on my thesis which I hadn't done in ages but I am writing again.

I've grown so accustomed to telling myself how everything I do must necessarily be wrong somehow that I forget to listen to this little feeling in my gut telling me that I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing.

I suppose that part of it is being back at my mom's. How can such a beautiful place feel so suffocatingly prison-like? I didn't walk today, or do much exercise. I didn't water my plants and probably no one else did for me. I didn't wash my dishes or emptied my cats' litter box. It somehow seems impossible to just go out and move around on my own. Once I'm here it seems so impossible to take independent action. Like being wheeled around in the metaphorical equivalent of a perambulator.

I'm not even sure how to end this now. There's just this discontent, this nagging feeling and yet this continual assurance, from the deepest parts of me, that it's all right. I'm all right. There's nothing the matter with you. Just keep your course. How strange that this song should come up right now. This song which makes me think of my desire to write about bravery, about independence, about daring, about facing loneliness and loss.  How strange that it should seem so easy to do these things that it's scary. All this time convincing myself of how I'm just no good for this, I'm just not as smart as I think, and then...

And then...

That Sour Taste in my Mouth

Someone recently told me to stop saying certain stuff about certain people because it hurts those that love them. Some years ago I was present on the day my best friend's mother told her not to talk shit about my own mother because, whatever else happened, she was always going to be my mother and talk like that could hurt me.

I can't escape the feeling that my friend's mother was covering her ass very well.

When trying to come up with a reason why the stuff I was saying about those "certain people" had to be said,  I forgot the basic argument of it: they are dangerous. At least, that's been my own personal experience with them. My friend says it best, "she's been so kind lately, I forget". I forget too.

I've had this nagging sense of impending angst and depression all day, like something was about to snap and I wondered. There are things brewing in my life, certainly. But funnily enough, every time I went to check the metaphorical pot, it was merely simmering. What is it?, people kept asking me. You look tired, they said. What's wrong?

My mother came back from an extended trip last week and I'd been completely unaware of the load that I had dropped off my shoulders those 20 days she was gone. I'd been able to deal with exams and friends and essays and all sorts of tensions with only my own interests to worry about. I'd been able to fall down some stairs and nurse my poor, mangled ankle in relative peace, with my own resources, at my own pace. I'd been able to breathe in deeply and make some decisions and work and rest and then accept the fact that I'm not nearly done with school and pick up the slack once more.

Sure, it was stressful and tiring, even with the end of the semester marking a significant reduction in my workload. But I managed. Years ago my therapist told me that I had to learn to do things in my own time. That's what these last months have felt like, stepping into the rhythm made for me. And I'd made the mistake of forgetting how badly this one person can screw up my rhythm. It's a particular thing for everyone, we all have this person in our lives. They can be parents or siblings or no family connection at all. But this person, this one I'm talking about, who everyone should recognize, this person can, with a few choice words, upset the order of our entire world.

That's what makes them so dangerous.

There'd been a distant rumble of thunder during the week. I'd finally talked to my mother over the phone after days and days of her being away. I wasn't shaking after that conversation, somehow I've managed to protect myself at least to that extent. But I felt helpless and discontent and, oh, wonder of wonders, not enough. This has been the entire tune of my life: feeling like I'm not enough. After talking to her that day I felt an outstanding number of not-enoughs: I do not earn enough money, I'm not graduating fast enough, I'm not studying enough, I haven't fixed my life enough yet, I'm not trying hard enough. The entire herculean effort that this last month has been for me became a thing of the past. How could I forget? No matter how much you work, how smart you are, how much weight you've lost, how much better you're feeling... it's just not enough. It never will be.

Well, that's not entirely true. Whenever I care to remember that this will, literally, NEVER be enough, I can then begin to visualize freedom. If whatever I do or don't do will NEVER satisfy, then, why keep trying? At least with that realization you can stop struggling.

But it's never as easy as that with my mother. It hasn't been that bad for many years, ever since I realized that wonderful "never", but it can still be upsetting. She gives you this illusion that you can do whatever she's asking of you. Just try a little harder, just be a little earlier, just stand a little firmer. It just takes this tiny amount of extra effort on your part, that you're just refusing to make for no earthly reason whatsoever. With this surreal litany going through your head, it becomes really difficult to remember that, right now, at this very moment, you are doing the best you can. There's no further effort. There are no other "ers". This is the end of your strength and it will have to be enough, because you can't really do much about it.

All through today's ride on the subway I felt this strange, horrible, sour taste in my mouth, like I was going to be sick. This is one of the main reasons why all my life I've had to carry a book wherever I go. Even if it's the shortest journey. Music just doesn't cut it, I have to have something I'm able to think about that is not this sour taste in my mouth.

When I got home to my mother everything seemed fine. She wasn't upset anymore and we talked and I tried on my new gifts and we ate dinner and everything was basically decent. No problem. I can handle this. It's a breeze.

The problem with forgetting is that these people are insidious. You don't know how they're going to screw you over next time. Well, the main strategy is recognizable and the message is always the same but... only in retrospective. So there's only one axiomatic rule which must be honored above all, in these situations: always protect yourself.

Unfortunately, I forgot the one rule.

We discussed weight issues and my weight in particular and weight loss in general. My personal way of protecting myself is what my therapist used to refer as "closing the door". If you don't allow the noxious people in your life access to your tender bits then they are less likely to hurt you with unbearable pain. I am sorry to say that I opened the door this time.

I went to bed with the sour taste of defeat in my mouth and I phoned my boyfriend home, feeling dejected and hopeless with no true way of explaining it to him, other than "it's my mother, she just messes me up".I'd had this exact same taste when I hung up after talking with her on the phone this week.

It's a crescendo. Yes, you've lost some weight but now you're not losing as much. Ah, I counter, but weight loss treatments are useless, even doctors agree, diets have no long-term results. True, she insists with relentless pseudo-logic, but health risks still increase with your extra weight. I'm not sure, I continue pathetically, and even if they do, what can I do about it other than what I'm doing already? Bariatric surgery works, she suggests surreptitiously. Yes, I concede at last, it works. But, so her immediate cover-up follows, it's a radical option. Yes, say I as I desperately attempt to latch onto this last hope, it's not an easy choice. Of course not, she offers in that faux conciliatory tone, I don't claim to have all the answers.

Neither do I, neither do I.

We seem to part amicably. She has conceded to the difficulties and is as unconvinced as I am. So it seems.

But what follows are a few hours of self-loathing and over-analyzing and self-blaming that seem to undo and rent all the hard work I've been putting lately into accepting my body and myself and trying to work with that. How can I untangle this web of passive aggression? So we have decided diets do not work and are not healthy. But we cannot concede that my body is okay in it's current state. Therefore, if I truly cared, if I was willing to put that little extra effort, I would get surgery.

And so all the images and illusions I had banished, as unhealthy and dangerous, return. I remember what I used to tell myself when I was a purging, laxative-addicted teenager. Imagine what it would feel like to buy whatever clothing you wanted. Imagine what your belly would look like flat. Imagine how much more they would love you. Imagine how pretty you could be. Imagine what it would be like to break out of this horrible body, of this hateful thing, of this ugly layer of blubber and be, at long last, "one of those girls". One of those girls who wears halter tops. One of those girls who can buy clothing wherever they want. One of those girls who are not ashamed of themselves.

A few words and here I am, contemplating a surgery I can't possibly afford.

She's made me forget all I've learned these last months. That no one can buy wherever because the fashion industry has a problem. That there are no girls who are not ashamed of themselves because we live in a culture that is hateful to the female body. That even my mother, skinny as she was, knew this.

So the money story goes. I should earn more. I can't until I have my degree. Then get your degree already. I'm working as fast as I can. If you had worked a little faster in the past, when you had the opportunity, you wouldn't be in the situation you are.

If you had, then you might be able to afford your surgery now. Circular, relentless, labyrinthine.

It is that word "never" again. It is the fact that she acts like impossible things are possible if you just do that little more she's asking of you. There is no changing my body and there is no undoing the past. I must work with what I have or live a lifetime of longing. Of never being in the place I'm currently at.

"Never" is good, "never" brings you back to reality, "never" helps you see the place you are at, in this moment. But "never" has its limitations. "Never" can only tell you that those goals are unreachable, but it cannot tell you why they are undesirable in the first place.

"Never" can only tell you that, THAT is not your rhythm, that trying to follow it will only lead to ruin and heartache. But the possibilities are equally dismal: attempt to follow a rhythm not your own and end in ruin and heartache or follow your own rhythm which is all wrong and unacceptable, and end in ruin and heartache.

Lately I've been trying to make my rhythm work. I've been embracing it and deciding that it can, after all, give me exactly what I've always wanted. I can graduate in my own time. I can write whenever I am ready to write. I am beautiful, exactly as I am, no weight-loss needed. But she makes me forget. She makes the sour taste of all that is wrong and un-fixable in my life come back. Nothing is right in me, therefore all I can hope for is either a lifetime of fighting myself or a mediocre one, where I've let my limitations defeat me.

This is what "not so bad" looks like now. Years ago, when I was still under her power, when I still believed her, it was worse, much worse. Some of my friends are in that place, some of my friends are right here besides me, but either way, it's never a good idea to forget how dangerous they are, after all.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Long Gone

I used to say that every day was worth recording, worth writing about. I said it a million times in this very blog. I don't know if I  ever truly believed it but certainly I tried to practice it as often as I could. For the year 2003 I have 99 blog posts recorded. For the year 2004 there are at least 44. After that it declines to a mere handful. This means that for a couple of years, at least, I was writing, when at my lowest, once a week.

I keep forgetting how much this is a discipline, and not just raw talent. I used to fancy myself Virginia Woolf and remembered what she said about her diaries being the equivalent of her sister's sketchbooks. I do try to draw at least once a week, if not once a day. Yet how afraid am I of facing a blank page and not knowing what do. I keep forgetting how important it is to describe the smell of the rain.

I've been so full of festering lately, of ugly thoughts and feelings at people and situations beyond my control. I keep forgetting the way wet earth smells. I've written some things, but so much of what is happening inside me lately is utterly private, so much of it is what is most vulnerable in me. I've been trying to think of ways around it, of saying without saying and trying to at least get the pure emotion out, even if the details must remain sketchy. I keep forgetting how much I want flowers in my home, if grown only in glass jars at least. I keep forgetting to mention that I planted lavender.

The problem with studying literature is that so much of it makes you self-concious. When all you do is read and write and not think, you absorb it still (I used to think that too, which is exactly why I began studying literature), you get the essential bits. It doesn't matter if you've read King Lear. What matters is that the person you're reading read someone who read someone who did read King Lear. It trickles down. But when you do study literature it all becomes too near, too apparent, too inescapable. You think, good god Ire, writing about nature? How tritely romantic of you.

And you keep forgetting of how vast the grey sky looks when you emerge from the subway. You keep forgetting that just a few weeks ago you stood in the rain and heard the thunder and felt it rumble deep inside you. You keep forgetting that you should have written that down, at some point, no matter how busy you were.

Discipline and practice. Artistic sensibility is so much more than a blunt tool you can store in your mind's attic and forget about until you need it again. You keep telling this to people and you keep forgetting to take your own advice (as so often happens with really good advice). You can't even begin to describe the way this song makes you feel right now and you used to be able to do that at least.

How much more alive does writing make you feel? How ashamed am I that when reading about Frances Hodgson Burnett's life the sheer volume of her writing seems completely unreachable. I worry so much about having something to say. There's a blog post I meant to finish soon, about something that's become more important for me lately; it had a point and a purpose. But if I can't make myself write here at least once a day, give meaning to whatever happened during the day, how am I ever going to finish that or any of the other million things for which I keep saying "some day, some day, soon, I'll finish them as soon as I have time"?

I keep forgetting and you just reminded me. I keep forgetting how long it has been. Eight years. Eight years of thinking too much about it, of never taking that last step, of saying, I'll be ready soon, I just need to read this other thing, I just need to be a little smarter, a little more knowledgeable, just a bit more. And I just kept forgetting how much the actual writing made me happy and how much better the practice of it made me.

It doesn't matter, I suppose. I'm here and I think I may, at long last, be waking up.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Tempest

Dare not offer
What I desire to give; and much less take
What I shall die to want

I am trying to think of a translation for this but I don't think I'll ever get that last line right. It is reminding me terribly of my cleric Fynn, but I am completely unable to decide what this refers to in her life. Maybe both solutions will come at once.

No atreverme a ofrecer lo que deseo dar; y mucho menos tomar...

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Cold

I've been thinking about things and remembering some quotes that have always resonated. I've thought how hard it is to sacrifice for what is right but also how hard it is for me to sacrifice at all. For any reason. Especially for myself. And I keep thinking about this quote and about the self and about meaning:

“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose.This I choose to do.”

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Yesterday was my birthday! Happy birthday to me! Therefore we deserve some updates (so that I don't leave this blog saying I'm 25 until I'm actually 27).

Life has been crazy and lovely but mostly crazy. And I have tons of stuff to do, so there's really not much time to say anything else. I've got to work and to finish Middle Passage in record time.

So, without further ado, back to translating.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Get Up

I'm done crying. I'm done regretting. I love you like the sun, like you love breathing after thinking it's going to stop, I love you. I never thought about love except as heartache before. I had this foolish idea that love was accompanied always by tears, that suffering was intricately related to affection. You are joy, you are what makes my heart beat everyday.

I know that work and toil are worthwhile because they mean a little more mortar in the life we are building together. I know that I can face the day because I'll come back to you at night. I know that I am worth something because you never get tired of repeating it. You tell me that if we weren't together then there would be nothing in my way. I say to you, if you were not in my life I would have never had the courage to want, and then the temperance to accept. I wish I'd been born loving you, because then you would have made me undefeatable.

You asked me what was missing. You told me what you weren't giving me. But the truth is that you give me everything there is to give. Everything. You are so hurt now that I need to ask, aren't you wrong? Isn't it something that I am not giving you? If I could but love thee better. If I could make you feel, as you did to me, like Cordelia, like in a stormy and implacable world you can be rescued by the word "enough". I've told you, but... now I need you to do this for me. I need you to tell me what it is that makes you happy, so I can do it over, over, and over again.

Lhyarian Shadowsong Sketchwork

This has been ready since like early fucking February, but work and school and more work have made life crazy lately. I've really had no time to write anything down and do the Photoshop preparations. And I didn't want to just post everything in rough because I have a method dammit! And by golly! I'm sticking to it!

Other than that I always really like to blab about drawings, so here we go.

This. Character. Was. Hell. To. Draw. Elf lady, I hate you! Hate you with the fire of a thousand suns! You and your crazy ears! And yet... and yet... you do look so pretty in that hairdo and with your aristocratic cheekbones. This here is the mother of Saira Shadowsong, she is, of course, queen of the aforementioned pet country and ought, I think, to look quite regal, icy and aloof. But other than that, I had a lot of problems properly visualizing this character. I think a lot of it came from trying to work from the very clear idea of her that my DM has, instead of forming a personal vision from which to work. He chose the model and a lot of the clothing. This whole contribution was very important to the process because he has a very clear visual idea of his world and especially for this character.

But I have to admit that in this case it was kind of limiting and a bit frustrating. I think this is one of the reasons why this method of the 4 pages of sketches is very important. Starting out so unsure and encountering so many visualization problems and having to trudge through so many of the sketches became a lot easier to accomodate once I realized that I had plenty of room to fuck up. A lot of the sketches are pretty unweildy and I'm not too happy with ALL of the ones I chose for coloring (probably because my DM chose some of them and we have different aesthetic standards). But I do think that in the end, I got a decent enough sample and a couple of drawings were I really "caught" what was my personal vision of the character.

Lhyarian Shadowsong Face Sketches to be Colored

The model is an actress by the name of Amy Manson and most face sketches here were taken from her role as Lizzie Siddal in Desperate Romantics. As I mentioned before, the whole chosing an actor/actress for a model is very useful but also at times frustrating. You realize a lot about the quality of acting when you're doing an exercise like this one. Some actors always have the same expression. Some actors never risk powerful emotion. Amy Manson, I feared, would be one of these. There was a lot of soulful staring from her green, green eyes and a lot of pouty moping. BUT she ended up suprising me as there was also a lot of range there. Less so, I still think, than what I got from Ellen Page. Though it might be because of the difference in portrayed characters. Anyway, what that did was give a very clear difference between Saira and her mother and their respective features and expressions.

Lhyarian Shadowsong discarded Face Sketches

Even these are still good reference, though a lot of them I think I need to redo. A few were rushed and weirdly enough I wasn't nearly as happy with the profiles as I could have been. A lot of that, I think, is due to the fact that Amy Manson wore a gorgeous wig for Desperate Romantics. So gorgeous in fact that she scarce did anything with it and managed to make it cover her ears at all occasions O_O. I know those are elf ears there but dammit if I wouldn't have liked a little reference as to where I should place them. The ear reference came mostly from my hair reference which was Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love (oh those renaissence hairdos!)

I was extremely unhappy with the skirt here. I just don't seem to have the hang of long skirt fall and it shows. I was in too much of a rush to search for proper references and it shows. Once I ink them I'm going to have to work this problem out, truly.

Well that's all for now, thought I'm about halfway done with the next two sets, which I hope will be showier. I was afraid that Saira and Lhyarian looked too much alike to properly work out variety. But next in line are the manzorz! Yay! And also a remake of the marvelous, boobless cleric. Alas, I need to work on the bodytypes.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Getting over my fear of CG coloring, one Sashka at the time

(Even if I'm still not sure if she should be paler and her hair darker)

(I totes love you Sashka! And you're definitely going to get that dragon booty!)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Practice, Practice, Practice

I've been considering that maybe starting on my beautiful and beloved sketches mentioned below and expecting to uncover as of yet unknown mad tablet skillz is perhaps not the wisest course of action I could possibly take.

In consideration of this most uncomfortable thought I have come to the conclusion that I may, perhaps, in view of the circumstance and my prior terror of the tablet, be in need of some practice. And because I obsessively stalk Derre, I have decided, with her recommendation, to give the program she is currently using a try in order to get some much needed practice in the tablet department. (Before I proceed to thoroughly ruin my beautiful half-elven vampire princess sketches (Look! I made it sound tackier! (Parenthesis totally give me a false sense of security)))

SAI is actually a simpler and much friendlier program than the more sophisticated Photoshop. Like Derre said, it's all fun and games when you have a tablet and much sadness if you don't.

So, without further ado:

I shall now stop desperately procrastinating and continue trying (instead of working like I totally should :D) Hopefully, I'll be able to post results soon enough.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Long Awaited Character Designs

(At least by me)

I have been delaying posts for several weeks (despite a terrible temptation to post early efforts) because I've been working on a BIG character design project.

I've decided that enough is enough and slacking on drawing and doing no preparation for it is quite as bad as slacking on translation and doing no preparation on it (which I of course NEVER do :P). So as soon my DM and I agreed that I would be doing the illustrations for our D&D campaign, including NPCs and everything, I established a system for myself... one I intend to keep despite all evidence in my history showing otherwise!

The end result is that for each character I'm making four pages of face sketches and two full-body sketches, to establish character features and design AS WELL as character expressions and clothing designs. I'm trying to start with what I know before I go in over my head, even though I do want to eventually leave my comfort zone and go all the way to designing the landscapes, artifacts, creatures, armors, weapons and all the standard fantasy fare. I really am an awful, awful fantasy NERD, so I'm super excited at the idea of drawing dragons! Yay! Even though I suck at anything not people-related and drawing pointy-ears on people makes me feel extremely akward self-conscious.

So after weeks of distractions and jumping ahead and plodding along, I have the first concrete part of the first character design. And I have to admit that despite the seemingly slow going this new approach has had quite amazing results. It's not that every drawing coming out of my sketchbook is gold... rather, it's been an experience with the laws of probability. Tons of sketches mean that there's a bigger chance that some of them will, in fact, turn-out decently. So even if I'm not happy with all of them, I still have quite a few of them to work with.

Let's take a look.

Saira Shadowsong belongs to my DM and is the princess of his pet kingdom. She is in fact a half-elven vampire (my god, that sounds tacky! but it's really not, I promise). I'm concentrating on her royal family since the designs are similar and they are actually rather fun (and annoyingly unlike what I am used to drawing).

My model for her was Ellen Page in her role as Hayley in the movie Hard Candy. Finding models for the characters has been tricky but particularly fun because screencaps from movies let you catch people making expressions not usually found in photographs for which they are actively posing. I've actually begun to develop a new respect for certain actors simply because they have given me a far greater range of expression. Ellen Page is a magnificent example, since through the course of Hard Candy she managed to express emotion in ways I had never considered drawing. I think the design benefitted from this quite substantially.

I've organized these in three categories.

The first part consists of the sketches I am particularly pleased with and for which I've decided to eventually make colored versions. I think applying color to a bunch of these smaller sketches will help me get a hang on the color-scheme for the character before moving on to the full body drawings. And it'll be good practice for my graphic tablet which I have yet to stop fearing.

Saira Shadowsong Face Sketches to be colored

You will note how fond I am of profiles (which has nothing to do with how super easy they are) and in the course of these exercises I've discovered that I'm actually very fond of the back of the head since it allows me to always be aware what the characters' hair looks like from behind.

The second part is made up of the sketches I'm not terribly fond of. For some time, I considered to not even bother uploading them. Part of the problem is that due to angle or expression they don't seem that closely related to the above. Obviously, I had yet to get the hang of the character's basic features, which is always one of my main concerns when designing: making faces distinguishable. However, I think that even if they are rather flawed I actually learned a huge lot from them.

Saira Shadowsong discarded Face Sketches

In many ways they are the most adventurous of the drawings and it is no wonder that they didn't come out as neat as those I included above. They forced me to consider angles I almost never draw but which are obviously very necessary. I'm still keeping all of them as reference and I think it'll be interesting in retrospective, when I get more comfortable with these poses. Maybe this division will help me acknowledge all the things I still need to work on.

The third part is made up of the two full body drawings of the character in casual clothing. I think in the long run these are going to be the trickiest of them all. They have to balance a whole lot of different elements that I think SHOULD be considered in character design and are often not. In a way these designs are my way of trying to do right, what I've seen done wrong too often (and by people who have a whole lot more talent than I do). Characters ought to have different body-types, clothing in different countries ought to be different and in spite of stylisitic nods it should be FUNCTIONAL. This is in addition to everything that straightforward character design does (especially for a fantasy setting).

I've also had to deal with the fact that a lot of these designs are made not according to my taste but according to the DM's taste, since these are of course his characters and he knows them best. He has his own ideas of what they look like, and as we tend to do, they are borrowed from other sources. So it's been a collaborative work, to try to produce an original design that looks like what he had envisioned for them.

I've been trying something new that I've heard of a lot: doing the sketching in blue and then coloring over with the graphite. It was actually incredibly fun and very instructive. Most of my art teachers have always told me not to erase my work, since the lines you consider mistakes actually point you towards the lines you SHOULD be drawing. It's true.

I'm not terribly pleased with the first attempt (the one on the left). I hadn't really gotten the feel of the character and was more concerned with trying to figure out a difficult pose and the clothing design than I was with the overall result. It shows, badly. Once more I decided to include it because I learned a lot from it, particularly in the sense of keeping it simple.

Two sources are to be credited here I think: firstly, the eventual color-scheme and the lovely stockings which were pointed out to me by my DM. We have shamelessly stole from what I understand to be the character design of one Sierra Mikain from the Suikoden game. It really is a lovely design and it gave me the general feel of what my DM wanted in this design. But at the same time it set me on edge since I didn't want to actually COPY someone else's work (stocking theft notwithstanding).

The second source is more of a personal point of amusement for me: the skirt is actually from an ice-skating outfit. I wanted to point this out because I think I shall continue to steal from that sport in particular. A lot of the many problems I always seem to encounter in fantasy art are related to the impossibility of the clothing, the fact that it doesn't work. This is a constant source of disappointment because the clothing is more often than not devastatingly beautiful. In a way I think ice-skaters can have their cake and eat it too without this problem. Their outfits are built as much for show as they are for functionality.

I like to think that in many ways that's what I want to attempt with this project: to show that fanservice, beauty, coolness and all those other wonderful fantasy things do not have to be dependent on everyone straining to their breaking point in order to suspend their disbelief for the sake of the boobies.