Childhood Christmas

I've mentioned in the past being kind of bitter about family holidays. It's a more recent thing that I'll move past when I have a reason to be excited about them again, but I'm not down or anything like that right now, I'm kind of just reminiscing about what Christmas was like when I was a kid, and the things I learned about the 'behind the scenes' as I got older. 

I spent almost every childhood Christmas I can remember with my mom's family in New York. It was her parents, her sisters, our cousins then extended family sometimes, and family friends stopping by. But most often my grandparents, aunts and cousins. We'd leave out of Reston as soon as we could after the I got out of school on the last day before the holidays. Being younger than my brothers, we would have to wait for the end of elementary school or middle school depending. We'd stop by CVS to grab snacks and drinks before the drive. Trips to New York were always nice because we got to have snacks or candy we were't normally allowed to have. 

So, piled back into the car with presents around or on us, we'd say a prayer for safety as we'd get out on the sometimes snowy roads as our mom made the drive to New York. If it were still light enough, I'd read and try to listen to my own music instead of the Ten Sleepless Knights, Luther Vandross, or whatever MoTown tape my mom was playing. My brothers most often slept in the car, i'd sometimes sleep, but car sleep isn't that satisfying to me. 

As a kid the distance between Reston and Baltimore seemed to be forever. As an adult i can verify that it is friggin' forever to get to Baltimore. I knew we were in New Jersey because it smelled bad, and I often slept through Delaware. I loved being away on the GW, and but I can't remember which level I preferred to ride on, it was the opposite to the one my mom wanted to drive on into New York. We'd skirt the city and drive past the Bronx Zoo as we left whatever highway we were on to get to my grandparent's. It's now whatever o'clock, it's dark and we have to unload the car and not look into any of the numerous bags we were carrying because some of it was out own unwrapped Christmas gifts. 

We sit down to a dinner of White Castle or whatever food our grandmother had prepared. Shrimps and rice was a perennial favorite that I need to learn how to make... Mmm, shrimps and rice. It was always 'shrimps' and not 'shrimp'. it's how we spoke, but that's neither here nor there. Our mother would lay out on the floor or go upstairs and sleep, because she was an adult and did regular parent-adult things before having to drive 4+ hours through traffic and often weather with maybe coffee and a short nap break on the Jersey Turnpike. 

Let's say it's the 23rd when we got in. We'd watch cartoons or some weird movie with our grandfather after greeting whoever else was in the house and eventually we'd shuffle off to bed because sleeping in the car makes you tired. 

The next day there'd be a family breakfast, sausage and eggs, English muffins, or cereal, nothing too special, but easy enough to feed 8 people. It'd be more watching movies and stuff and looking at the tree. We'd judge the already wrapped gifts looking for ours and wondering who the other people were - most often work friends and like. My mom and my Aunt Cheryl would be cooped up in the master bedroom wrapping gifts. They'd call us up to take wrapped presents back downstairs throughout the day and help us wrap our gifts for each other. We'd also be used to wrap gifts for out grandparents and sometimes carried down gifts 'from Santa' in the middle of the evening on Christmas Eve. That's a thing we all did and laughed about it. 

We'd be forced to go to bed and my mom and aunt would stay up half the night wrapping gifts. Seriously, they'd be up until 4 wrapping gifts for about 20 different family members, godparents, aunts, uncles, family friends, neighbors. It went on. The thing about them wrapping gifts in a one day marathon like this, and i guess it started in the early evening not during the day - is that they'd forget who gifts were for, and they'd end up unwrapping gifts to see what it was and who it was for, before wrapping it again. They did this many, many times, which I now find hilarious.  They worked so hard though.

We kids would wake up around 7 and go downstairs and look at the presents. Then we'd turn on the TV because we knew certain death would happen if we tried to wake the old folks up to open gifts at 7am. And we'd wait. Our grandmother was one of the first adults to wake up after my brothers and I were up. Eventually my mom and aunt would stagger downstairs, beat and tired but pleasant and cheerful. We'd be waiting on our grandfather who seemed to never get downstairs until 11 to open gifts and we'd start opening toys, clothes, books, candy, trinkets, jewelry and whatever else was given to us. We'd clean up and start opening things while breakfast was made. It was often pancakes, or Mickey Mouse pancakes which were always more special. 

In the afternoon my other aunt would show up with her daughter and granddaughter and we'd do Christmas again with them, before dinner. Dinner was always like Thanksgiving dinner, or maybe Thanksgiving Lite. But homemade honey-baked ham is delicious, so is turkey and everything else so there were no complaints. 

For the rest of the trip we'd see other cousins and great aunts and people twice removed and whatever. Once we saw the Rockette's Christmas show, i don't remember it too well, I was young. I do remember it ending with them snowing in the theater. One of my first experiences with dry ice, so that's cool. 

I was talking with my aunt about how little sleep she gets and she brought up what Christmas used to be like. Having to buy so much stuff for so many kids and the wrapping marathon and mistakes. They're good memories, and i'm glad I was able to spend Christmas so many years like that. I'm enjoying the stripped down Christmas that I've spent these past few years with my brothers, but in a way, I also look forward to being involved in a big family Christmas where new and weird traditions start. I look forward to really being engaged in the holidays. Today feels much like any other day in my life, I woke up, read some comics, looked at tumblr and made breakfast. it'd be different if I were on a vacation from work, or if I worked in general. It'd also be different if it were cold and snowed. I guess 38 is cold, but it's still not the same, and I'm someone who hates snow. 

i dunno. Hug somebody, enjoy the people around you. Something something compassion and words. i don't know how I want to end this, you think of something heartfelt. I'm going to go back to reading comics.

Movie Talk :: The Fall: An Anti-Suicide Story

So, you know how Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is my favorite movie and I'll talk about it forever? The Fall is another movie I can and will talk about forever. Here's the last time I wrote about it.  (I made a video 2 years ago talking about my love of these movies. It will never die.)

This is all spoilers.

Recently I've been thinking about The Fall and people on Tumblr have been posting screencaps and gifs of Lee Pace from it. It got me thinking about how much this movie is an anti-suicide movie. 

It starts with Alexandria's injury, when she fell out of the orange tree on the orchard where her family worked, and broke her arm. From there in the hospital we meet Roy, a stunt actor who has ended up with severe leg/spinal/ injuries from jumping off of a railroad to a river in a gully. Well, he jumped off of something. The character is supposed to be the dashing hero and Roy is his stand in.  

After this injury Roy learns that the girl he loves never loved him and wants to kill himself, because being melodramatic is vogue. 

But! 

But Roy cannot retrieve the painkillers he wants to use to overdose, he starts twisting words and manipulating a earnest child. Young Alexandria, starts an unlikely friendship with Roy when he decides from the beginning to use her to help his own selfish needs. This shows just how twisted and pervasive depression and suicide are. They put on a happy, friendly mask when inside the core of the person is rotten, dank and terrible. 

Roy gets Alexandria onto his side, he gets her to trust him by telling an interesting story of revenge and action. 5 people wronged by an evil empire and their journey to end it, they all come from a broken start. This story, the fictional story within the movie is vibrant and gorgeous. It shows how a different demeanor, a mentally healthier person, can take the dark from one person and read it differently. It's a bit the naivety of youth but also the brightness that is more possible in a child than an adult. 

I think, had we seen this entire story through Roy's eyes it would have been painted darker, more twisted and corrupt, the fun distractions would have been terrifying demons between the brief moments of retaliation. 

Near the middle of the movie Roy makes his first suicide attempt. It fails which breaks Roy that much more. And now his demons are out and they affect Alexandria, she wants to help him. Roy and his story have given her something entertaining past her child heartbreak when he learns that the people you idolize may not be as shiny and golden in reality as they are in your eyes. Alexandria faces her fears because she feels the need to cling onto the horribly broken Roy and help him. His story  and companionship click for her because she she feels like no one else is on her side, and everything Roy says she thinks is for her. 

Alexandria gets injured, this time a concussion, after trying to get more morphine pills for Roy. He tells her he needs to sleep, and she just wants to help. Her attempt to help him and the following admonishments from nurses and doctors in the hospital show Roy that his life has value. He is valuable to someone, even though he was just using her he feels awful. The only person he wants to hurt is himself, but seeing this vibrant and eager life almost destroyed because of his shit Roy fails. He fails at breaking her spirit like his is broken. Alexandria takes over telling the story and helps Roy by showing him that other people are important, not just the one woman who broke his heart.  

If failing to commit suicide, Roy is given a small opportunity to see how his actions affect other people. He's entirely broken by the time Alexandria is injured. He tries to kill everyone in the story but she stops him because she still has hope, and she can see that he's not all rotten. Roy is forced to face his actions, take responsibility for what almost happened, but to also understand how he needs to move on from his perceived slight. There are other people who value him and he understand that that's enough. 

We see at the end of the movie he was going to kill himself over a perceived slight and now little it would have affected the movie he was in, but that there were people in his life who would notice and care. 

All of this made me just realize that this movie, in a way, is very anti-suicide.  People will care, and some people will help you by mistake, because the words you spin will be that sweet. But remember, if they'll help kill you at the wrong time, they'll also help you survive and continue on, it's not fair to use your confusion and your problems against them.  

If you're feeling down, take care of yourself. Links for help here and here.  

 

 

Human Sexuality is Fluid

I'd like to start with a statement: I have been drinking, so some thoughts may be more incomplete than usual. Thank you. 

I've spent time over the years questioning my sexuality. Many people have, it's what you do from when you're sometime age in your teens until you die or whatever. I have a lot of friends who don't fit into the singular of Heterosexual. I happen to have a lot of friends who also don't prescribe to Heterosexual. I've been cool with the number values, hues and shades of gray (it's really just shades, I'm trying to sound smart. Somedays, I'm just smrt and not really smart).  

Many of my friends from high school happen to be not straight. A fair number of my friends in college are not straight (some of them even fall into being not exactly make or female but that's not what I'm discussing, I'm pretty sure I'm cisgendered), but I know enough people who confidently label themselves as bisexual or something other than gay or straight that is sometimes has me wondering what I am.  

I mean, I'm fairly certain I'm straight. I have kissed girls, it doesn't do anything for me. Nor does the female body. The male body interacting with the female body, yes. The male body in many situations, yes. The female body, not as much, but I also know I'm not 100 % straight, I doubt anyone is 100% one or the other. In my mind it would extend past sexuality to friendships but that's super extreme, especially for me. I'm generally passive and i like to drive in a fluid middle of non committal answers and ideation.  

I went to SPX with a friend who's wandering through the great great area of human sexuality and we went to a panel on Queering the Mainstream of Comics and I picked up Northwest Press's book Anything That Loves. I'm reading the comics and it's making me wonder again, am I straight, but I think it's not that sometimes, I  think I need to ask 'how female am I?' but also sometimes "am I straight". 

I said I wasn't going to question my gender. Well fuck I lied, I was already going to hell (unless I'm listening to the baller-ass new Pope whose like the Oprah of "you're going to Heaven" if you're a good person). But I don't think I'm not female. I'm comfortable with being female, but I think my presentation of my gender has been in conflict with my sexuality so I haven't really had too many romantic interactions with people and I do what that to change. I want people to like my for my mind, but I don't want to have to wear a dress or parade wearing a sign stating "I'm female and I like men pretty exclusively" to get people to express an interest in me. I feel I actively defy people who do like me and I challenge why they consider me a friend.  

I have issues, who doesn't? Shut up, they're lying.  

Wait, what?? 

Is there a point, I'm not sure anymore. I'm not sure if there ever was one. I guess I wanted to say that I've been considering my sexuality, but I think it stays where it is. I'm somewhere between 90-95% straight. Ladies don't do anything for me, but I'm not going to be a dick about it. Human sexuality is fluid and it's a cock that people feel the need to put others into boxes and labels that don't fit them. No one knows what I am other and me, and I may not always be right but i'm more right than you. It's the same for any gender presentation/feeling or sexuality presentation/feeling. how someone feels or is is fluid, and that's a good thing. It leaves your options closer to open.  

I like saying that people are " not straight" because straight is a fairly understood and defined concept. Gay, queer, bi-, pan-, a-  and everything else are so vague that diving people between a definitive and  fluid feels less damaging, unless people have given me a definition.

 

Maybe I'm just saying the title, human sexuality is fluid. It's not my  place to try to define what someone else is sexually because I don't know what or how they feel. I'm sure I've failed and have been wrong many times in the past and I'm sorry, I try - most of the time. IF I get it wrong, I'll be understanding as you correct me. I'm just someone adrift in an ocean of solitude with an idea of where I think I ought to end up but the passing boats of others are a pleasant change to my reality.  

I'm going to keep reading this book, it gives me the chances to listen to other people's stories and to work at being a more empathetic and compassionate person. 

Life or something like it

Hey, hello, it's been a long time. I remember when I updated this blog weekly, then nothing happened so I had nothing to share, or I was depressed and blah blah blah. Then I was just posting essays, or reposting older essays that I hadn't even bothered to edit. 

A lot has changed. 

Since the last post I have been hired at two places. One is a full time, contract gig at a call center for online school enrollment.  The other is part time at a grocery store. Between these two I'm working around 60 hours a week, so I have next to no energy or time for anything else. So of course I spent some time recently editing some stories, updating my resume and writing about me for an internship with a magazine. If I get that job I'll be working around 80 hours a week, maybe 90, so I'm living something like a life. 

Thankfully the 90 hours wouldn't be for long. If I get hired to stay at the call center I'll leave the grocery store, but chicken and eggs.  

I'm honestly just tired all the time. My right wrist (the drawing one) aches just about all the time from the repetitive motions at the grocery store, so drawing will be fun when I get to do that more often. I'm hoping sometime soon I can get a more guaranteed 40hr/wk job so I can leave the store and spend my evenings working on comics and enjoying anything. I just have very little time for anything but working someplace or another right now. 

I have done some small sketches, they can be seen on instagram when I post them and I recently spent some time posting some summer sketches to my sketch blog. I'm currently thinking about working on an art book, comic book sized (8x10.5?) to print for Small Press Expo 2014, here's to being able to work on that soon. I've recently fallen back in love with ink and inkwashes, so I want to work on a book of figures and pin ups for next year, I don't know how many pages, I guess I'll see how many pieces I can do then I'll figure out how I want to print it. 

I'm looking forward to SPX this year. It'll be another great weekend, I'm sure, and it's also the one year anniversary of this site, so that's fun. Maybe I'll be able to make something special for that. I ought to design new business cards some time soon, maybe add my twitter, I'm not sure if I'm ready for that to get out yet. 

We'll see.  

What else is going on in my life? Nothing, just work and it sucks. I have no energy or time for paramours, or to even consider looking. I don't know if I've said this here before, but I first came to terms with becoming an old maid when I was 16, so....I think I first need to leave Reston, then find some one to spend my life with. Ehh, I have friends who put up with my shit, I'm good. 

All right you freaks and weirdos, thanks for hanging out for a few and reading about how my dumb life is dumb. I'll keep talking about it and letting you know where things are headed from here and maybe I'll be able to share some freaking art soon. I mean, I just bought a tablet, I just think what I'm doing is shit so I don't want to share it here until I feel it looks like I'm competent at drawing.  

Back in Reston and Creating

I've got my apartment about...90% in order before leaving but I'm going to be back in Norfolk to settle some things there soon. I've wanted to get something more positive and welcoming up because i think my linking to this site every day in my youtube videos has affect the traffic here. Fantastic except I'm all mopey and self loathing in my last blog.

On youtube:

Since some time before I attempted to make videos people tried this daily challenge called VEDA: Vlog Every Day in April or Video EDA. i'm going more the 'video' route but I think they're mostly vlogs. My playlist of videos is here and I've made videos about moving, going to the recycling center, finding the electronics recycling center, driving, Norfolk, drawing a snowboarding surfer punk yeti and talking about a book. I think I have the opposite problem of some people doing this in they have un out of ideas, all I have are ideas and wanting to talk and share things. I want to do a video on why I'm a feminist, I want to do one on being pro-choice, I want to do an anti-PETA video, I want to try a Mike Falzone walk and talk, I want to talk art history I want to share Reston and I think i want to go to DC. I've had ideas for days for videos and i think I'm going to do another art video before the month was over. I can't do them like my sidebar videos where you can see me work because this genius left her tripod in Norfolk because I was tired and blah blah blah. I think i might combine some of these ideas, I just need to figure out how and which ones...

Making videos has been fun and I think kickstarted my drawing again, or venting some frustrations and some of my self esteem issues to my friend did. i don't know, but I've been feeling a bit better these past few days so that's a thing.

What else... i picked up The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks and just like when I read Friends With Boys, I'm inspired to draw and I want to try new things. It's a superhero book that loves the genre and pokes fun at it, it's like my love of art history. I love it so much that I have to laugh at it sometimes and make it humorous. Yes, it's a painting of a chick chopping off a dude's head but look at her, she ain't gone time to play around. Artemisia Gentileschi shows women just handling their business. Opp, he needs a nail in his temple? I guess we're doin' this.  choppin' heads and forgetting names and absconding with the proof. It's beautiful. I mean, yes, I can analyze the biblical natures and imports of the stories depicted or I can talk about them in a bombastic fashion and just display my flights of fancy, and trust me, I do fancy my flights.

Oh, yeah, I just want to create more and I think recently videos have been that for me. The other night ObviouslyBenHughes questioned the status of current youtube and I recorded a video response but was too tired to edit it to post, I feel he was missing a camaraderie and community and I don't think it's lost in it's entirety but it is more difficult to find people. I've found new people to follow and people who've been kind enough to follow me since I started doing VEDA. Maybe it's because of VEDA that I'm cool with this, or maybe it's because I'm not expecting anything from youtube. It's my creating on the side from drawing. I think i'm just appreciating exploring other venues of creating. Writing is one thing but seeing me talk and make faces and the physicality of talking over writing conveys different emotions. A lack of body language is the biggest flaw is most social media because it's primarily text based and video gives me the opportunity to share an idea with more than just words. I love words, but there is something for speaking them. 

On loving words, I'm going to send you out with a wordsmith of one of the highest comedic orders talking about profanity and why morality around our four lettered friends is bullshit. 7 Dirty Words and I do like the Class Clown recording a bit more than the live one, but the physicality of it does something beautiful to it.