I worked on a comic series a year ago, and it’s been sitting on my computer ever since, waiting for me to publish it. Starting today, I will be releasing one every Monday for the next 20 weeks. Here’s the first one. If you like it, feel free to share it around.
As Mr. G was backing out of the driveway, on his way to work this morning, I could hear the Girl yelling at the front window, “DADDY! I’M WAVING TA YOU! YOU NEED TO WAVE BACK!! DADDY!!!”
Me: Honey, he can’t hear you.
The Girl (as Mr.G drives out of sight) : Aw CRAP! He RUINED it!
Me: Honey, you haven’t had him wave to you for a long, long time. If you want him to wave to you from the car, you have to tell him before he leaves, while he’s still in the house. He doesn’t know you want him to wave at you, and he can’t hear you when he’s in the car.
The Girl: aaaaAAAAAWWWWWW, MY LIFE is RUINED!
My jeans are old.
My name is Gold.
There are two kids I have to scold.
The kids are up.
My tea is cold.
The kids are up.
My tea is cold.
There are two kids I have to scold.
My jeans are old.
My name is Gold.
And now my story is all told.
The Girl is obsessed with genitalia. Specifically, penises. Almost since the Boy was born, every time I change his diaper she is right there behind my shoulder, pointing and saying, “Ha! Penis!” Oh, she is her mother’s daughter. Have I not mentioned that my sense of humour is at times akin to that of a fifteen year old boy?
The other day, she was at my elbow while I was on the computer, pointing to random pictures and the following conversation emerged:
The Girl (pointing):-“Is he a boy?”
The Girl:- “Does he have a PEN-nis?”
The Girl:-“The Boy is a boy, and HE has a penis.”
The Girl:- “Daddy’s a boy, and he also has a penis.”
The Girl:- “Do *all* boys have penises?”
*dramatic pause* Now, I want to bring my kids up in an atmosphere of acceptance for all people, so I felt that my answer should be honest, and should also leave room for grey areas for future conversations about the more complex issue of gender identity.
Me:-“Yes, most boys have penises.” (and I wanted to leave it at that)
The Girl, of course, wanted no such thing, picked up on my change of wording and said:-“*Most* boys have penises? *Some* boys *don’t* have penises?”
Me (wrapping my head around the fact that I’m having this conversation with her already, but persevering):-“Yes. There are some boys, very few, who don’t have a penis.”
The Girl: “Are there some *girls* who have a penis?”
Me (will this conversation never end?): “Yes, there are some girls, very few, who have a penis.”
The Girl: “When I get very much bigger, I will have a penis.”
Me (oh boy…): “You think so?”
The Girl: “Oh yes. I will go to the store, and I will buy a penis. Then I will take my vulva and throw it into the GARBAGE! And then I will take my penis and just twist it on,” she demonstrated with a twisting hand motion,” and then I will have a PENIS!”
Me: *Blink, blink* BWAHAHAHAHA!
Oh, the conversations she will have at Preschool!
For as long as I can remember, I have considered myself an artist. Which is strange, considering that the word “artist” usually points to someone who actually makes art. Which, I do not. Well, not any more.
I used to be quite prolific. I have folders and pages and pages of my pencil drawings, and a few of my paintings hang on my walls. I even have digital files of my short-lived web-comic. Over time, though, I slowly stopped producing anything. Part of it was my time being taken up by raising smalls. It’s hard to work up the drive to get even a pad of paper and a pencil out, when you know they are going to be grabbed at, leaned over, and even critiqued by your mini-mes. Waiting until the littles were in bed also proved to be difficult, as one of my weird anxiety driven quirks is that I cannot stand explaining myself when I do something that’s outside my normal routine. And when I say “explaining myself,” I mean any acknowledgement at all of the activity I’m involved in. This includes, but is not limited to, being asked what I’m up to, being talked to at all while I’m doing said activity, being glanced at (most likely involuntarily) while I’m *struggling* with said activity. Looking over my shoulder at any time, ever, is RIGHT OUT. Coupled with my paralyzing perfectionism, it makes for a very unfriendly mental state for creative expression.
I can point to a couple of occasions over the past year, when I tried to put pencil to paper (while no one was looking). To my horror, the pencil felt clumsy in my hand. Everything I drew was ugly, and did not live up to the beautifully pristine blank sheet of promises. I hid them away, and lamented to myself that I had “lost it.” I wanted to get it back, to bring myself back to putting pencil to paper again, so it would feel as naturally as breathing. Every day I would wake up thinking, “today I will draw something, after I’ve done all my chores,” but after procrastinating on the internet all day, only to be faced with a growing pile of mess at the end of it, I never had enough time. “Tomorrow,” I would think, but the next day would look exactly the same as the day before.
Then March happened. I decided to try the Flylady method of getting it together. While I did not follow every step to the end, I did manage to get a daily routine that I am happy with. My house is still clean, and I spend surprisingly little time actually cleaning it every day. I’m not even sure what changed exactly. I’ve tried making cleaning schedules and routines before, and they never took, but this time was different. The habit of regular cleaning times is engrained into my day now, and I do it without thinking.
That brings us to a week ago. Now that I didn’t have to feel guilty about and avoid cleaning my dirty house, it freed up a lot of my time. At first, I still spent the day on the internet, or playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, in between feeding the kids (which takes up a lot of time all on its own) but I knew that wasn’t right. I decided to use the extra time to get to all the things I said I wanted to do, like draw and write. I kept getting hung up on the “what to draw” part of the equation, and also scared of producing more imperfect things that I would have to hide. The thought came to me that when a musician wants to improve their basic skills, they play scales. What’s the artist equivalent? I wanted to get right back to basics and start from the ground up, so I looked to the internet for advice. I found pages upon pages of Youtube videos featuring artists doing drawing tutorials. It’s a freaking gold mine. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to look before.
The really strange part is that many of the drawing exercises they teach are things that I used to spend my whole days doing, but I never knew they were actual techniques for improving your skills. I have, admittedly undiagnosed, ADD. I developed the habit of doodling in the margins of my notes as a way to focus on what the teacher was saying. I found that if I could keep my hands and eyes busy, I could stay present and keep my ears open. I never realized that this was actually helping me to draw better. This habit has followed me any time I need to pay attention to words being spoken at me, but it’s been so long since I’ve needed to do that, it’s been years since I’ve doodled. It’s also been years since I’ve been able to draw anything. Coincidence?
This revelation makes me want to kick myself. All this time I could have been happily doodling away, without the pressure of feeling like every blank piece of paper has to be turned into a masterpiece, without knowing what to draw when I sit down to it. It’s frustrating because my drawing muscles are weak, and I physically am unable to draw like I am accustomed to. But at least I’m putting pencil to paper now.
Just thought I’d check in and let you know how I’m doing. The answer is, I’m doing great! Here are my missions for the past 4 days:
- Going to Big Tent and reading messages
- Looking at our posted reminders in the kitchen and bathroom
- Recognizing the negative voices and changing them so you can FLY!
- Put out your Hot Spot for two minutes. Just pick one!
A couple of things. I don’t do the post-it note thing. And I didn’t really work on my “negative voices” that are apparently telling me that I don’t deserve a clean house, because my negative voices don’t tell me that. I’m more of a “I don’t Feeeeeel like it. You know what I do feel like doing? STAR WARS, forevah!” I do read the messages on Big Tent, and I have been picking away at my Hot Spots, known to me as “Scary Piles.” This week’s “zone” is the kitchen, so I’ve been mainly concentrating on that, and trusting that I will get to the rest of the house in time.
The two biggest mental adjustments are the idea that you quickly get things done, without worrying if it is perfect, and also doing thing regularly *before* they need doing. These two things are huge for me, and they go hand in hand.
Before this, my house would be messy and clean in cycles. I would take a day each week, and clean the house from one end to the other. I would be exhausted by the end, but the house would be clean! For about 10 minutes. Then it would slowly degrade, and go back to being messy. And then I would clean again.
With this system, I don’t wait to clean until it’s messy. I do a quick going over of an already clean thing, but I do it every day, so it never gets the chance to get messy. I take an hour a day, instead of taking one day a week.
Let’s take shining the sink for an example. Previously, I would only clean the sink when it was dirty. Like, so filthy, I would feel weird about washing dishes in it. Since it was so filthy, it would take some amount of effort, scrubbing away, trying to get it perfectly clean. So the next time it got dirty, I would put off cleaning it until it really needed it because it was such an effort to clean. Now that I’m getting into the habit of shining the sink every single night, whether it needs it or not, it takes seconds. I can quickly give it a good shine, and not be too fussy over it, because it’s pretty much still shiny from the night before. Because it IS so simple and easy, I am less likely to avoid it, or put it off.
And guys, my kitchen looks fabulous. A far cry from what it looked like a week ago. So far, so good.
I am working my way through FlyLady’s 31 Beginner BabySteps for the month of March, to improve my standard of living and state of mind. Care to join me?
My first mission was to shine my sink. This proved more difficult than it seemed. My sink was full of dishes, recycling that needed washing, and food caught in the drain. So in order to shine my sink, I also had to unload and load the dishwasher, clean the food out of the drain, and wash the piles and piles of recycling that had been piling up for the past week. Fine. However, yesterday happened to also be my grocery shopping day. In order to fit all of the new food, I had to remove the old, rotting food and their containers from the fridge. My washing load suddenly doubled, and now my counters were also covered in rotting food. Oh, and then I found that my dishwasher was already filled with dirty dishes, so that had to be run before I could unload and load it with the dirty dishes that were piled up on my counter. This is why I need help. My sink wasn’t available for shining until around 7:30pm, and to do it according to FlyLady’s instructions, it involved soaking it in a mixture of water and bleach (bleach that I had to pick up at the grocery store, because I’ve never owned a bottle of bleach before) for an hour. I have a double sink, so I had to do each separately. Long story short, my sink wasn’t shiny until 10:30pm. But it was totally worth it.
See the clean dish cloth and towel placed neatly on the sink, as per FlyLady’s instructions? I had to buy those too.
My charge for today was, upon waking up, to wash myself, and “get dressed to shoes.” Now, I’m going to have to take issue with the shoes thing. I understand that in some regions, wearing shoes in your house is considered normal, and to not wear shoes is considered uncouth. Well, in my neck of the woods, it is the opposite. I have never worn shoes in the house. To the point where just thinking about wearing shoes in the house, even if they were specifically designated indoor shoes, makes me ultra uncomfortable. Plus they make unwelcome “CLOMP-CLOMP” noises when the Boy is trying to nap. So I’m afraid I’m just going to have to say “No” on the shoes thing. However, I did have a shower this morning, but only after the children had been fed, and I had a cup of tea. And I got dressed, with a clean shirt, and a bra and everything.
And before you say it, yes I am patting myself on the back for showering and dressing myself. I think, sometimes, I…was not built to exist in society.
Especially when her entire family goes through a seemingly endless string of varying degrees of illness. The low point was a couple of week-ends ago we all (except the Boy, thankfully) had a horrible, coming out of both ends, kind of stomach flu. I remember one night, the Boy had been put down for a nap at 2pm, and just kept sleeping right through the night. Mr. G and the Girl passing out in the living room, and I crawled off to sleep on the Girl’s bare mattress (her sheets still in the washer from when she barfed all over them). As the toilet flushed next to my head for the tenth time in two hours I thought, “I don’t have to wonder what is Hell, for truly this is it.”
I have little more than a sinus infection now (which is pretty bad on its own), but I’m finding the emotions from caring for my children while they are ill for months on end are catching up to me. Contributing is the Boy weaning himself. We’re still nursing once or twice a day, only when he wants. Mostly he’s just too busy and doesn’t have the patience for nursing.
I look around at my messy kitchen, my cluttered house, my unclean self, and I feel ill-equipped to deal with it. Mostly I just want to say FUCK IT I just don’t FEEL like it. I still clean most days, but with my two entropic children, I’m cleaning the same messes over and over again, and it gets very discouraging. I’m at least keeping the children fed, but even that I’m finding difficult to keep up with. “What, you need to eat AGAIN? Didn’t I *just* feed you 2 hours ago? GAWD!”
My two joys are cuddling the Boy (he’s so cuddly) which is good, and playing SW:TOR which is bad. To clarify, the game is good, that I’m using it to escape is bad. Although, if it wasn’t SW:TOR, it would be something else. Like the internet. Hi internet! *waves*
SO, since the clutter and constant mess is something that is tangible, that is what I will try to deal with. I’ve discovered FlyLady, and she promises “to teach you how to take BabySteps and establish little routines for getting rid of your clutter and maintaining your home.” I then noticed that there just so happens to be 31 steps in the kickstart to her program. THEN I noticed that tomorrow is the first day of March, which has 31 days in it. AND THEN I remembered how much I love month-long challenges. I think you know where this is going.
Everyday, I will do one step in the 31 baby beginner steps. I will share my progress with all y’all (although I may not do that every day.) And hopefully I will come out the other side feeling more capable and less sad. And if I’m not, I will seek professional help, ’cause how I’m feeling right now CANNOT CONTINUE.
It’s perfectly natural to want to start anew on New Year’s Day. It’s on that day, more than any other, when the year changes that we feel the passage of time most keenly. It’s not hard to imagine the new year as a blank slate. Whatever happened in the old year is done. We are free to shape the year ahead of us, unhindered by mistakes or traumas of the year gone by. It’s totally psychological, of course. Technically, every day could be like this. But there’s something about the changing of the year that lights a fire under our butts, and makes us want to shake the dust off and be the best that we can be. Or at least, have the intention.
I find that Mondays are like mini-new year’s days. It’s the natural day to start afresh. To that end, I spent two hours last night, tidying my house, so I would have a fresh start to the week today. I showered this morning while the Girl did crafts and the Boy had his morning nap. And now I’m writing a blog post for the first time in over a month.
Lots of things have happened, keeping me from blogging. Both of my kids have been sick almost continuously. Christmas, and all the shenanigans associated with that. Mr. G bought Star Wars: The Old Republic for himself for Christmas. (OH. MY. GOD. I love that game. More on that at another time). The Boy has been banished to the crib because of an unfortunate eye-gouging incident, making for some difficult nights, and difficult days after. Not to mention the fact that I totally burnt myself out on blogging, jumping into Reverb right after NaBloPoMo. Not that I regret any of my decisions. I think it’s best to jump feet first into challenges as they arise. How else would one discover what one is capable of?
So let’s just forget this past month of radio silence, forget Reverb11 and start fresh on this beautiful newly born week.
Aside: I might do Reverb for myself in my own personal journal, on paper, with a pen, even, but I won’t post them here unless I feel that people other than myself can benefit from reading them).
Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Karen Walrond)
I’ve noticed that it’s kind of frowned on to like yourself, especially if you’re a woman. I mean, sure, in general, we want everyone to have healthy self-esteems, but the feeling I get one on one is that we need to have good self-esteems, but quietly. And we tend to proclaim what we dislike about ourselves much more readily than we do what we like. With that in mind, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
I’m fucking in love with myself.
I laugh (loudly) at my own jokes, because I am hilarious. I look at my own reflection in the mirror an inordinate amount, because I am also gorgeous. When I like something, I can’t just like it, I must know EVERYTHING ABOUT IT, because I’m passionate. I never turn down an opportunity to
show off share my wide-spread and varied knowledge, because I am a know-it-all smarty-pants. If there is music playing, you’d better believe that I’ll be singing along, because I have the voice of an angel. I dance, all the time. I pick up conversations in the middle (I start them in my head) to the bewilderment of all around me. I will do anything for a laugh, because I am a clown (not a real one, those fuckers are scary). I have large eyes and a big mouth, kind of like a Muppet who became a real girl, and they are both very expressive. Let’s just say, you never have to guess what I think of something.
I have Opinions (note the capital “O”), but I try to stay open-minded. I judge, but I try to be fair. I am what some might call a “hesitant speaker.” English does not come easily to my tongue, there’s a lot of “um”s and “ah”s and “not being able to think of the word”s. I have a speed bump between my brain and my mouth, so I rarely end up with my foot in my mouth (although, it probably could actually fit in there).
I have the ability to draw simple cartoony people that convey many subtleties of emotion, and I’m not even sure how I do it.
I believe in things, but I don’t need YOU to believe in them to make them valid.
I have a warm smile, and people tend to open up to me.
When I’m nervous, I tend to scream-laugh. (Trust me, it’s endearing).
I CAN create my way out of a paper bag.
I don’t dress appropriately for my age. I just dress in what I like.
I am a cat whisperer.
I’m really good at making food that is both healthy and delicious.
One last thought on the subject of my strange beauty, the Girl came up to me one day and asked, “Mummy, do you wish you were beautiful?”
“I don’t have to wish. I am beautiful,” I responded, without hesitation.
She smiled and said, “yeah, you are beautiful.”
Nice, huh? Well, let me further expand this lovely little picture. I was in the bathroom. One of my shirts and pair of my jeans were soaking in the tub, covered in my own vomit. And I was on the toilet. Thank-you, and good-night. *bows*