Monday, September 19, 2011

Left Handed Comics

When I was a kid I would sometimes practice being blind just in case I someday lost my sight. I tried riding my bike down a hill with my eyes closed once and it didn't go well (I lucked out and landed on the grass so I was ok).

I'm recovering from what I think is tendinitis in my right index finger, but for a long time I thought it was something more serious like terminal degenerative cartilage damage. So I decided I ought to learn to be ambidextrous just in case I lose the use of my right hand, plus I wanted to give my tendinitis a chance to recover fully. In order to learn to write (and draw) with my left hand I've started drawing a comic strip I creatively entitled "Left-handed Comics". Here's the first installment:

This comic was inspired by the Papa John's delivery guy in our neighborhood who shot one of the people who tried to rob him at pepper-spray-point. Don't mess with the pizza guy.
I added the sub/supertitles since my writing is mostly illegible. Anne suggested a better opening line would be "Give me the money and nobody gets hurt", I tend to agree. I'll get her input first on future comics.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Big Basement Beautification

 After careful consideration, which consisted mostly of me complaining about how dark it was down there, we decided to repaint the basement.
this was our theme--MUCH sunnier!
and to match the theme poster, the new color!

summer day by Sherwin Williams

the old basement. it had an americana theme. i like america, but not americana. if it seems weird that we're doing cuba to replace americana, just remember it could be worse--we could be doing talibana!

the second half of this big project will be some reorganization (much overdue)

here's our practice section on the wall!
There are many steps to painting--it is a nightmare!
1. sample check at the store
2. prime and paint sample on the wall
3. love the result!
4. buy all the supplies
5. wash the walls:
     5a. warm water and a little dishsoap
     5b. warm water (realize the dishsoap isn't coming off!!!! AAAAAAAHHH!!!)
     5c. sand off all the little chunkies painted into the old paint by the former homeowners who failed to adequately prep. before painting.
     5d. warm water (again)
6. tape the moulding
7. lay down plastic
8. mix the primer
9. paint the walls with primer.
10. rinse. wait. repeat.
We're on coat 1.5 of 4 planned coats. I started the first one a couple days ago and got halfway done before it got too obnoxious for me to continue. 

so maybe I was frustrated...
one and a half coats!
Brandon says it's bedtime so we're not going to finish the other half today. Maybe soon it will be perfect down there!

Friday, September 16, 2011

What a Melon!: a photo essay

I am not really a huge fan of choosing watermelons. It is very scary!! Even today's watermelon was a little freaked out by the prospect.

 I drew that face on with permanent marker but I was thinking I might cut it up with the rind on and I didn't want someone to deal with having a scared-looking eye on their food so I put it on tape!

I'm not sure if it turned out or not. Some parts seem really good, while some resemble a rotting sponge.

I had one piece that tasted super disgusting and one that tasted okay (yeah, I went back for more after the disgusting part!

Also, chickens love watermelons!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Funny Parts of My Day a clarification and maybe explanation for the previous post: I'm feeling a lot better and am indeed seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Joy and hope are back in my life. I hope that when people read the post below (if they do at all), they'll understand a little more about what it's like to have depression and anxiety, and that there are a lot of people suffering from illnesses that the eye can't see. I also think it's important to talk about anxiety and depression, especially with a message of hope because otherwise we're stuck with a lot of anonymous posts on yahoo answers that suggest alcoholism as a healthy coping mechanism. (for the record, yahoo answers is helpful exactly 0% of the time--if you want to see what I mean, just search for what to do about bedbugs. examples: "gross! whatever it takes!" and "unfortunately, you'll have to burn your stuff and sell your house and change your name and put your kids up for adoption"). Anyway, the point is, even if you have moments where anxiety and depression seem like your ENTIRE life, you need to know that there is hope and many people successfully handle the cards they've been dealt and still have the enthusiasm and pervasive awesomeness to select a SWEET, sunny yellow paint for their dark blue cave-pit of a basement (more on that later).
And now, to the point:
1. for the past two nights, we come home and see this black cat in the backyard. I've seen a black cat in the day too, so I'm always like, "Brandon! look--it's that little cat!" (yes, I am that excited and no, I don't know why). But it is NOT a cat. It is an evil, evil skunk rooting around our grass and killing it and making us really scared. With aim so amazing it cannot be overstated, Brandon threw an old, empty McDonald's cup at the black skunk in the black night and hit it! (sorry PETA!)
2. There is a huge spider web outside our house that stretches from the ground to the awning of the side door. I'd take a picture but it's basically invisible unless about 4 independent shadows converge on it at exactly the right moment and a ray of light shines down from heaven directly onto it.
3. I was on the phone with my mom, thinking about the spider web and the horrible huge brown recluse spider (I think) in the garage when suddenly something big and furry brushed against my hand. I screamed my I'M-BEING-ATTACKED-BY-A-SERIAL-KILLER scream that just pops out with spiders, house centipedes, and when I accidentally scare a baby chicken to death (this is a bad day for PETA). There were no spiders. Only a very frightened Greta who definitely learned her lesson about spontaneous signs of affection for her mommy.
4. Today I stood by the back door and hucked two empty cantelope halves all the way to the chicken's house. It turns out they LOVE cantelope. It turns out that I do too because I ate an entire one today (except for the empty shells, of course).
5. Even more than chickens love cantelope, squirrels love nectarines! I know because there was creepily a half-eaten one on our lawn yesterday when we came home from church and while Brandon and I were arguing over which one of us had to take care of it, a swarm of squirrels descended on it (like bad guys in a movie swarming over a good guy) and when they dissipated, there was no more nectarine (not even the pit!). So now I love squirrels! (I had to end on a positive note for PETA).

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Light

For the past month or so I've been living with emotional pain so intense that I haven't known if I could survive. I have anxiety and depression and lately the crushing anguish I've felt has been more than I can bear. Since middle school, I've been taking medication that helped light the abyss, allowing me to live a normal and happy life. In early spring, working toward having a baby, I decided to wean off of this drug because my anxiety was very typically well in hand. Things went well--no baby, but I felt free in a way that I never had before. I had battled anxiety and depression and walked away victorious.
Then came the bar. Studying for the exam was an extremely stressful time but the crushing black clouds of anxiety and depression that I feared failed to materialize. But two weeks before I was to take the bar--by this time I was studying 10-12 hours a day and the pressure was on--I got a urinary tract infection. The stress, frustration and anger I felt at this can hardly be described. I was in pain, with constant need to use the bathroom, and even though medicine quickly cleared up the physical symptoms, I was left with a consuming fear that it would happen again and totally destroy my chances of passing the bar.
Since then the clouds have been building and my life has become short spurts of pleasantness surrounded by emptiness and gnawing fear. It helps to stay busy but as I'm alone and unemployed in this house all day that's a challenge. Even when I can stay busy the merest moment of quiet, calm or contemplation sends a bolt of panic into the pit of my stomach. I didn't want to go back on medication. I wanted my impression this spring and summer to be true. I wanted to dispel the gloom that had once defined my life. As time went by, I realized that things were not sorting themselves out. I needed more help than talking, crying, staying busy, or even counseling could offer. I needed medication. So two days ago, I found myself back in the psychiatrist's office, where three months earlier I had happily chirped that Operation Overcome Anxiety had been successful.
As I spoke with my doctor, I realized my attitude had changed. Anxiety and depression are not hurdles to overcome. They may be shadows that flicker through my life, but they are part of the landscape. I had thought the brave thing was to push through the pain, but I was losing more and more of my life as I tried. My anxiety comes from a place that eschews reason and rationality and stems from a chemical imbalance that I can't control by myself. For the person born with diabetes, it is not a personal failure to have to take insulin to survive. I've had to learn that it is not my fault that I cannot cope with anxiety and depression on my own.
The decision to go back on medication is not without its costs. Recent articles have demonstrated a possible link in the use of SSRIs like the one I'm taking in pregnancy, and autism. The pill that provides me more immediate relief is not recommended for pregnancy. I felt like I was so close to starting a family, and I can't stop sobbing over the delay this may entail for those plans.
I feel assailed with questions I can't answer, with anger I can barely control. I want to scream that it's not fair. It's not fair to have come so far and endured so many difficult things just to have the rug yanked out from under me the first moment I have a chance to think about who I am and what I want my life to be. I'm angry that the second my husband and I finally get to live together after three years of marriage he has to live with first, a raging lunatic freaking out about the bar exam and second, a raging lunatic sobbing all the time about her irrational anxieties and deep, mind-numbing depression.
I find myself at a crossroads--a puzzling tumult of anger and calm and grief and peace and sadness and fear and happiness. I have all the pieces of my life--but my ability to reassemble them depends on my ability to fixate on the light peeking out through the clouds. Telling an anxious person not to worry is like slapping them in the face--it's like feeding an unmedicated diabetic 3 pounds of sugar and telling them to just process it like the rest of us do. But giving an anxious person hope is an even riskier proposition. When your mind tells you the very worst is a very realistic possibility, and that stories have as many sad as happy endings, it's hard to believe that once you're stuck in the pit that you'll ever be able to climb out again. Even when it's not your first time. It is hard to imagine that what you want most in the world--your old life, with moderate highs and lows, with many things to do and many things you want to do--even exists anymore.
At moments, I feel like it's so close. I have a spark of true happiness and then a shot of fear wondering if I'm really climbing out of the darkness or if it's just another false handhold. Other times I sob face-down on the carpet in my front room and vaguely wonder if someone coming over for a visit might look in the window and think I'm dead.
But the light is there. I can feel it's warmth when I sing or laugh with someone I haven't seen in a while, or have to disentangle myself from one of the chickens when I'm trying to clean the coop and it just has to stand at precisely the spot where my arm is right now. These moments give me hope that even if tomorrow isn't much better, it will be a little bit, and that the next day will be a little bit better than that.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mystery of the week

Why did the chicken lay the egg outside the fence? (and how?)