Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Diary of a Trailblazer: Three more days

I'll admit, over the last week or so I've been cycling in and out of panic.  You know, the whole "Oh holy crap I can't believe I actually quit my job" thing.  But for the past day or two the panic has mostly subsided and I'm just really, really excited about having my freedom. 

I love that I'll be able to figure out when my best time is to paint, blog, etc.  The pattern of my days has always revolved around having a job, but now I can stop, listen, and find my body's natural rhythms.  The Boy has suggested I make a strict schedule for myself so I don't start going weird and slacking off, but I dunno...I think if I pay close attention to how I'm feeling and functioning, a schedule will develop organically.

For the next month, the only "schedule" I'm setting for myself is: PAINT A LOT.  It remains to be seen whether I'll do most of this painting in the morning, at night, or just all the damn time.

I can't wait!

Monday, March 28, 2011

More ephemera from my youth

Do you remember the old Hulk tv show from the 70s?  Each epsiode's closing credits played a sad instrumental song while David "The Hulk" Banner - forced to flee yet another place because of his rage issues - trudged sadly along the highway trying to hitch a ride.

This is the song:

The other day I was playfully mocking The Boy and he put on a big exaggerated pout.  Then he had to pee so he kept on pouting and trudged disconsolately off to the bathroom...WHILE HUMMING THAT SONG. It took me a moment to identify the tune but once I did, I couldn't stop laughing.

And, as usual, I was like "How do you even know that song?!?" and then immediately realized it's because The Hulk is loosely based on a comic book and is therefore a nerd thing.  Any time The Boy knows any tv show or movie from before 1995 (or any actor over 30), it's because there's a nerd connection.

Anyway, now the closing theme from The Hulk cracks me up 'cause any time I hear it, all I can think of is The Boy's skinny perky and delicious* white ass slinking away.  True story.

*Look, Boy, I changed the wording like you wanted!  Now STOP READING OVER MY SHOULDER. (Wuv you!)

I made you something!

I was on the subway the other day and noticing the little sign that says "Do not walk between the cars". The little stick figure on the sign is in such an awkward "walking" pose that it got me to thinking and when I got home, I made this:

Ladies and Gentlemen, the only appropriate use of the Papyrus font.  Ever.
Feel free to save this, post it places, send it to people, etc.  I've always wanted to invent a new internet meme.

And speaking of Walk Like an Egyptian, here's an extremely awesome cover version:

...I love when someone covers a song in a different genre from the original - when it works.  Sometimes, it kinda doesn't.  This, though?  Amazing. :D

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Shoutout Sunday: Sleepytime Tea

I generally try to use my shoutouts to support small, independent companies and entrepreneurs, but today I just can't help but rave about Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea.

This stuff is made of magic*.  I've been having a hard time sleeping lately due to my brain repeatedly screaming "YOU'RE ABOUT TO BE OUT OF A JOB!" but a cup or two of Sleepytime puts me out like a light and I wake up feeling more refreshed than I'd believed possible.

Also, the package has a drawing of a bear dozing off in an armchair, and this makes me happy. :)

It's hard to describe the taste of Sleepytime; subtle and slightly bitter with a tiny hint of mint, maybe?  Suffice it to say that I find the flavour pleasant, even though I'm not normally a person who likes tea.  And frankly it works so well for me (and I've tried everything from melatonin to prescription sleeping pills!) that I'd drink it even if I didn't like it.

I do notice that my Sleepytime nights tend to be packed end-to-end with dreams...but these are very obviously just meaningless brain-doodles and not anything symbolic or upsetting.  And I did mention that I wake up in the morning feeling better than I've ever felt in my life, right?

Please remember that Sleepytime - like any sleep aid - works best when you're taking time to quietly de-stress before bed.  Very, very few people can go skydiving and then immediately go home and doze off, tea or no tea.  You have to hold up your end of the bargain by allowing yourself some peaceful relaxation time for an hour or so before you plan to go to bed; then have some tea to give you that extra little push into sleep.

Sleepytime Tea is gluten free, caffeine free, calorie free, and kosher certified.  It can be found in most grocery stores.

*And by "magic" I mean: Chamomile, spearmint, West Indian lemongrass, tilia flowers, blackberry leaves, orange blossoms, hawthorn and rosebuds.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Caturday: Too Much Togetherness?

One reason I'm looking forward to not having a day job anymore (besides the obvious) is having the apartment to myself all day.  I love living with The Boy, don't get me wrong, but the apartment is really small (and I lived here alone for five years before he came along) and we both tend to be hermits, so I tend not to get as much solitude as I might like.

Except...I won't really be alone alone; I'll be hangin' with Birchy all day.  And I'm used to spending my days in an office where (on a typical day) nobody sits in my chair the second I get up, tries to drink out of my water glass, or sticks their ass in my face while I'm trying to type, so this will be an adjustment.

Then the other day it occurred to me: I'm being really self-centred in assuming all the changes will be on my end.  Quite possibly, the constant togetherness will cramp Birch's style, too.  The Boy and I started speculating about what Birch does when we're not around (that he won't be able to do once I'm home all the time).  We came up with:

-Taking a leisurely stroll around the apartment...via all the tables, shelves, and counters he's not supposed to jump up on
-Backing up into my toothbrush to scratch his asshole
-Humping our pillows
-Moving small items from room to room to make me think I have Alzheimer's
-Working on his screenplay
-Surfing the 'net

This is all just guesswork, of course.  Birch may actually be working on a sitcom pilot.
"MOM!  Uh...you're home early..."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Man, now I wanna make a movie specifically so I can do this.

If I ever made a movie, I'd put two different commentary tracks on the DVD.  One would be filled with actor gossip, behind-the-scenes information, and technical specs put into layman's terms, because I (and probably lots of other people) find that stuff fascinating. 

The other commentary would be someone going "WHO'S THAT GUY?  WHAT'S HE DOING?  IS THAT A KNIFE?  OH MY GOD IS HE GONNA STAB THAT GIRL?!?" etc., etc., for two hours.  That way, when you're feeling a bit lonely, you can put the movie on with commentary #2 and feel like you're watching it with that one friend who never understands what's going on.

Diary of a Trailblazer: Giving My Demons a Wedgie

Here is what we know so far:

1) Fear of failure paralyzes me (which is why I find it hard to start a new painting or project) and this will probably be my biggest obstacle as a professional artist.

And soon there will be two kinds of failure for me to fear: the old familiar "what if I can't get this painting to look the way it looks in my head" kind, and the brand new, large-scale, "what if all my entrepreneurial attempts fail and I starve and die" kind.  Awesome.


2) Success motivates me (which is why once I finish one painting or project, I usually do a few more immediately afterwards).

Clearly, then, the key will be to maintain momentum.  I should wake up every morning, head right over to my art supplies without opening my laptop* and do one or two little paintings or doodles...little random things with no financial or emotional significance riding on them.  After that I should be able to start on a "real" project...and hopefully I'll be able to keep on going after that.

Also, I need to set regular short-term goals so I don't get freaked out by the enormity of the entrepreneur thing and end up rocking back and forth in the foetal position because I don't know what I should do first: make new art, upload what I already have, research art shows and craft fairs to enter, or think up new ways to promote myself and my work.

Ergo, for the first month that I'm jobless I plan to paint all day, every day.  Maybe once every week or two I'll take a break to scan what I've done so far and upload it to my store, but only if I feel like it - I won't let myself feel guilty if I don't.  My only official goal for the entire month will be to create new work (because statistically, the most successful online stores are the ones that offer at least 100 items) and as long as I accomplish this, I'll consider myself a success. 

If all these strategies still fail to break through my paralysis...

3) I am super-good at meeting other people's deadlines.

I may sometimes squirm out from under my own goals, but if someone else is expecting something of me, I take it seriously.  Which is why I (as I think I mentioned before) I should totally offer custom paintings in my store.  Custom art would probably attract more customers anyway (who can resist having something made just for them?) and a custom order would get me off my ass and force me to build that artistic momentum I need and love.

Yeah...blogging this out has made me feel better.  I think I'm prepared to tackle my issues and kick their asses.

(Do issues even have asses?  I'll let you know in about seven days)
*I have a bad habit of "just wanting to check my email real quick" and then suddenly it's fourteen hours later and I'm looking up obscure sex acts on Urban Dictionary so I can know the difference between a "rusty trombone" and a "dirty Sanchez".You know, in case someone ever quizzes me at gunpoint.  'Cause obviously that happens all the time.

Diary of a Trailblazer: Me and My Shadow

As artists go, I am not super prolific.  My excuse for this - the excuse I've been using for years and years - is that I don't have enough free time.  You know, because of being at work for eight hours a day (plus having to make lunches to take to work...and having to wash clothes to wear to work...and the time I spend on the subway going to and from work...).

It's a decent excuse, as far as these things go.  Even on weeknights when I don't have errands or plans of any kind, I generally don't want to work on any art projects: creativity takes me to my happy place - maybe even a bit of a trance state - and I really, really hate to enter that headspace on a time limit.  I know from experience that one of the following things always happens:

1) I force myself to stop and go to bed, but end up awake all night anyway, wired on adrenaline and endorphins, or

2) I fall deep down into an ArtTrance, oblivious to everything but the canvas in front of me, until a ray of sunlight creeps in the window, taps me on the shoulder, and goes, "duuuude, you're still up?  Seriously?!"

The thing is - and I've been kind of covering my ears and going la la la about this, but it's not going away - I haven't exactly been painting up a storm on weekends, either.  Even when those two days were completely and utterly free. 


One of the scariest parts of this whole quitting thing is that every viable excuse to be a slacker is about to vanish.  I will have time; I will have money (for a while, anyway); I will have concrete goals.  If I still don't get much done, I'll have to confront the fact that the barrier keeping me from artistic success all these years has been...me. And then I'll have to pretty much recontextualize my entire life up to this point.

This hiatus is going to be a freaking cage match between me and my demons.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In Which My Subconscious is a Crackhead

Sometimes while I'm sleeping I'll get an idea for an invention, art project, etc.  The idea always seems brilliant and groundbreaking at the time, but when I wake up I quickly realize that it's...not.

This morning, between The Boy leaving for work and my alarm going off, I dozed off and my brain invented a piece of performance art called "Dorothy Parker's Origami".  It's done on the subway for some reason, and involves one performer loudly reciting a cynical poem about love while bending a second performer's body into various symbolically expressive poses. 

Based on what I know of Dorothy Parker's poetry, the "origami" person would always end up in the foetal position.

This is actually not too bad of an idea, in that I could picture someone actually doing it.  Most of the ideas from my slumbering brain are the kind where, in the cold light of day, I laugh and laugh and wonder what the hell is wrong with me.  I can't remember any of those right now (probably because they made no logical sense at all) but if I ever do, I'll post them.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Yeah, that's right, I combined the words "masturbation" and "bacon" for the title of this post.  I've been locked in a solitary obsession with (fake) bacon lately and this seems like as good a word for it as any.

My point being: remember the waffles and fake bacon I made a while back?  For the past week or so I've been busy perfecting my bacon design* even further...and also figuring out how to make eggs.

When I look at this picture I crave breakfast, so I'm calling this a success.
Let's take a nice close look at the New and Improved bacon, shall we?

Basically I tweaked the colours a little, making the meaty part less maroon than before and the fatty part a bit more yellow.  Also, I made the ends of each strip a bit irregular instead of leaving them totally square.  I think it works really well!

I'll put some fake breakfasts for sale in my store as soon as figure out a few details about packaging, shipping costs, etc. Also, as good as these items look on a plate, the real genius of them is that they're wall-mountable - imagine the double-take your guests would make if they walked into your kitchen to see bacon and eggs in gravity-defying suspension over your breakfast table! - so I definitely need to take some pictures of them hung up.

*Full disclosure: I haven't eaten red meat in years (although I love and miss bacon very much, hence the attempts at homage) and The Boy is a vegetarian.  My prototype bacon was slightly "off" because I was working purely from memory.  This round, however, is the result of actual research.  What did artists ever do before Google Image Search?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Shoutout Sunday: Barbie's Basement Jewellery

I was introduced to Barbie's Basement Jewellery a couple of years ago by my friend Jen (Moon's human mommy and the hippest chick I know!).  BBJ was holding a sale out of their Toronto studio and we headed on down to hobnob with the owners and scoop up some deals.  I bought a pendant with Bettie Page on it (and hung it from a kickass necklace I made myself) and Jen bought glitter canvases of (I think) Laverne & Shirley and Grease, respectively.

If Barbie's Basement Jewellery could be expressed as a mathematical formula, it would probably be something like useful and/or fashionable item + pop culture reference x glitter = explosive awesomeness (okay, not every BBJ item possesses all of these elements simultaneously...but my favourite ones do!).

BBJ's studio is open to visitors all the time (not just during sales) and can be found here.  If you don't live in Toronto (or you're just lazy, like me) you can buy their stuff online from the comfort of your own couch.  Here's how it works: 1) Browse the site and decide whether you want to purchase a glittery serving tray, a pet tag for your favourite furry friend, a brooch with a fabulous sunburst of rhinestones around it, or what.  2) Choose an image from their huge and diverse online gallery (or you can provide your own!)  3) Pay.  4) Wait for your pretty shiny goodness to arrive in the mail!

You know I'm gonna get one of my paintings made into a belt buckle*, right?  Like...not anytime too soon, because I just quit my job and I should probably hoard my savings.  But someday.

You go ahead and buy some stuff, thoughI'll just live vicariously through you. :)

*Perhaps this one with the words "It won't lick itself, y'know" Photoshopped in...

Caturday: Commissioned Cattitude

I recently commissioned a digital portrait of Birch from my wonderfully talented artist friend Brett Donnelly.  Wanna see?

Every time I look at this, I squeal with joy.   I love how perfectly Brett captured both the fatness of Birchy's face and the wedge-shaped skull that lurks beneath.  And look how his ears actually seem as though they're lit up from behind!

This makes me want more pictures of Birch, rendered in all different styles, sizes, and media.  Perhaps I can trade commissions with other artists so as to save money and get practice doing custom work.  And I'll hang all my different Birch pictures in a big group on one wall, and visitors will think I'm either adorably devoted to my cat or kind of a sicko, depending on whether or not they're cat people themselves, and it will be awesome.

Friday, March 18, 2011


By the way, yesterday - the day I gave my two weeks' notice - I left for work a little on the late side and walked out my door to see not one but three buses approaching.  When I got to the subway station, there was a subway train sitting there with the doors open...and they stayed open until I got on instead of closing in my face. The train made excellent time and I ended up getting to work early.

Contrast this with my usual weekday morning, where I can clearly see that the street is bus-free from my toes to the horizon and yet as soon as I give up and start walking, one or two of them whiz by.  Once I get to the station, I invariably miss a train by fractions of a second; then the train that I eventually board ends up standing for ten minutes at every freaking station for no discernible reason.  Most days, I'm lucky if I manage to hurl myself breathlessly into my office chair exactly as my shift begins.

Now, I don't wanna sound superstitious or nothin', but I think my bit of Quitting Day transit synchronicity is a mystical sign that I made the right decision.  The universe has obviously aligned itself in my favour and everything in my life will start coming together.  I'll never have a bad hair day ever again and my favourite brand of chocolate bar will always be on sale wherever I happen to be shopping that day.  I'll find $100 bills on the ground four times a week.  My cat's urine will start smelling like hazelnut lattes.  The Boy will develop a sudden fetish for washing dishes and rubbing my feet.  I mean, it's all so obvious.

Okay, I'm exaggerating.  But it does feel like something's up.  I actually woke up that day with an overwhelming "everything's going to be okay" feeling reverberating through me - a calmness that started somewhere in the centre of my chest and spread outward.  I've never felt that before.  Optimism, sure; but this was different.  This was certainty.

Or maybe I'd eaten too much salmon the night before.  I read somewhere that "too much salmon" and "a cosmic sense of providence radiating through one's very soul" can feel really similar.

Diary of a Trailblazer: Fourteen Days to Go

Fourteen days before I'm left to my own devices.

It's weird...I've been planning my exodus forever (my actual decision to give notice was kind of spur-of-the-moment, but I've known since January that I'd do it around springtime...and I've been saving up money for this moment for at least five years).  I've been looking forward to quitting and eagerly imagining what it would be like to have all my time to myself...and when I actually did give notice, I felt totally calm and focused, like an ancient prophecy was finally coming to fruition (man, I've watched way too much Buffy and Heroes).

But today, I feel...a bit vague.  Directionless.  Suddenly I can't get my head around the magnitude of what I've done.  I'm like, "So I wake up on April 1st and...just do whatever I want?  ...Seriously?"  I keep expecting there to be a ceiling on this me-time - an immediate ceiling, I mean, like when I take a vacation day from work and pressure myself to have as much fun as humanly possible because I'll be going back to work soon.

I've heard that sometimes ex-cons are so accustomed to the structure and discipline of prison that the real world freaks them out and they commit another crime expressly so they'll get sent back to nice, predictable jail.  I totally understand this.  Freedom is...big.

Part of me thinks that once I'm off work I'll be super-productive - after all, haven't I always told myself I'd be a lot more prolific with the art if only I had more time?  Plus, I won't have a regular paycheque, and knowing that art is now my primary cash stream should be a pretty damn good motivator.

On the other hand, since there is no immediate "ceiling" on my free time, I won't have that sense of "make every moment count because this won't last long".  It might be all too easy to laze around watching cartoons all day because, hey, I can always start that painting tomorrow (or the next day or the day after that or...).  I do work well when I'm under a deadline (yay structure!), so I'll probably start offering custom work in my shop in order to give myself a little kickstart.  I know that once each commission is done I'll end up riding that momentum and doing a bunch more work of my own: it can be hard for me to start a project sometimes, but once I do, I always feel productive and energized and every synapse in my brain lights up like a birthday sparkler.  Then ideas start pouring out of me faster than I can put them onto canvas.  You might notice from my gallery pages (here and on Facebook) that I tend to do paintings in clumps.

I wonder...if I gave myself a daily "painting goal" and forced myself to stick to it, could I get to a point where I feel energized and inspired all the time?  And could my nervous system withstand it if I did?

Time will tell!

Note: I'm giving all the "here's what my life is like without a job" blog posts the tag diary of a trailblazer.  You'll easily be able to read the whole saga so far by clicking that tag in the list on the right side of your screen.  If you're not that interested in the whole "new life path" thing I'm going through, don't worry, I'll still be making random/funny/arty posts, too. :)

HUGE news!!!

As you may have discerned from my previous post, I gave my two weeks' notice at my full time office job today.  I'd been with the company for (yikes!) nine years.

Here's the thing: there is simply not enough damn time in the day for me to 1) work full time 2) sleep enough to stay sane 3) build an online business 4) nurture a strong relationship with my boy and my cat and 5) get a healthy amount of solitude/relaxation.  One of those things had to be sacrificed to make room for the others, and my choice was clear.

I think I've always known that I'd eventually be compelled to quit my job and do the art thing hardcore - no matter how crazy it seemed.  I'd never forgive myself if I didn't at least try.  To that end, I've been putting away money for a long, long time - which is how I can afford to quit when I'm not yet making a steady income from my paintings.  I'm hoping (of course) that quitting my day job will mark the start of an amazing new life for me...but worst case scenario, I end up with a new job and fond memories of Those Few Months When I Stayed Home and Painted.

By the way, I haven't been unemployed in about a decade, and I've never been unemployed on purpose and with an actual goal in mind, so I have no idea what this adventure will be like.  What will happen to my life without the structure of a regular job?  How long will it take for me to fall into some sort of routine?  Will I be productive - making use of every single moment of my freedom - or will I ultimately become listless and unmotivated without someplace to go every day?  Will a quick run to the store become a ceremonial event worthy of makeup and fancy clothes, or will I perhaps turn into a crazed hermit who wears the same filthy pajamas 24/7 and hisses with terror when The Boy opens the blinds and lets some sunlight in?  I can hardly wait to find out - and I'll be posting regular, detailed reports of my feelings and experiences for all of you to enjoy.

If you've ever dreamed about quitting your job to pursue your passion (and who hasn't, even if your only "passion" is sitting on the couch eating potato chips) then you should come along on my wild ride by bookmarking or "following" my blog.  It'll be fun!

And by the way...in about two weeks, I think you'll start seeing a lot of new stuff for sale in my store. :D

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My half of a fictitious conversation with my day job

Hey, Day Job.

Could we talk a minute?  No, in private...yeah, here is good.

So...um.  I don't know how to say this so I guess I'll just say it...I think we need to break up.

No, no, you're great.  Seriously, you are!  I've learned so much from you during the years we've been together.  And you're so steady - during times of upheaval in my life, you've often been the only constant.  I'm so very fond of you.  I just...I feel like the passion is gone.  Like I'm taking you for granted.  It's not you, it's me.

And I should probably tell you...there's kind of someone else.  Art.

I fell for Art ages ago...before you and I met, actually.  The connection was really intense, really immediate.  But people warned me not to commit in any big way...they said Art would never be able to support me the way someone like you could.  They said Art was a flighty type who would inevitably break my heart, and stupidly, I believed them.  And so I ran away; I looked for something more stable, and ultimately I found you.  And it's been so great.  Really.

But recently, Art has come back into my life and we've been kinda hooking up behind your back, and I'm having all these...feelings.  And I've decided I need to give my relationship with Art the chance it deserved in the first place.  I'm going to pursue this unreservedly, with my entire heart.

I'm so sorry if I've hurt you, Day Job.  I didn't mean to.  I think I was just too young when you and I got together...I didn't know what I wanted.

But now I do.

Please know that I'll always be grateful for everything you've done for me.  And, on the off chance that Art doesn't work out, maybe you and I could even try again someday.


<3 Meredith

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Conversational Snippet #12: Mermaid Farts

[I am working on a painting of a farting mermaid]

Me: Boy, can you look at this and tell me if the bubbles look right?  They'd be small by her butt and then get bigger as they rose through the water, right?

Boy: Yeah, I think so.  But they'd be denser near her butt, too.  You should add more at the bottom of the stream and then kind of let them dissipate on the way up.

Me: You're totally right!  I'll do that now.  [pause]  ...I can't believe we're discussing the physics of mermaid farts.

Boy: Our lives are different from other people's.

When you live underwater, you can't pin your farts on ANYONE else.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Shoutout Sunday: Glarkware

Glarkware sells t-shirts.  Awesome t-shirts.

Some of them - like the "Expendable" one, are inspired by tv shows; others, like "My Boyfriend Can Totally Beat Up Your Boyfriend", are just plain hilarious.

Me, I own a Glarkware shirt with a sexy cowgirl flipping the bird with both hands (which doesn't seem to be available anymore) and I'm currently coveting their shirt with the image of the tv/game switch.  Let me explain the concept of the tv/game switch for the benefit of the young'uns: in the '80s, instead of XBox or Playstation, there was the Atari game system - just a box with controls on it that you hooked up to the tv.  Some people's Atari systems took cartridges (so you had to buy the actual games separately) but my family's had a handful of games built right in...all of which were basically a variation on Pong.  And when you wanted to play one of these spiffy games with their moving white dots and lines, you had to reach awkwardly behind the tv and flip that switch to "game" first.

Annnnnnnnyhoo, my point is that if you like t-shirts with puns, geeky stuff, or amusing slogans ("I [heart] irony", anyone?), and you like to be able to customize your purchase by choosing the exact colour and cut of the t-shirt you want, Glarkware will make you happy.  And if you sign up for their mailing list, you'll get discounts!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Caturday: Orifice Job

I'm not sure if this anecdote is funny, per se.  It's just a story about something that started out kind of gross but turned into a cat/human bonding moment. Don't worry, it has a happy ending!

So, a week or two ago I was sitting on the couch, minding my own business, when Birch came into the room...squat-waddling so that his butt scraped along the floor.  He dragged his ass through the entire living room and into the kitchen...and then a few minutes later he dragged his ass back through the living room and into the bedroom.

It was kind of creepy, actually, like something out of The Exorcist.  But it was also worrying: I knew that sometimes dogs do the squat-waddle when they have worms.  With great trepidation, I followed Birch into the bedroom to have a look-see.  He ran away when he saw me coming, but I managed to get him cornered on the bed and take a look at his bum.

Hallelujah!  Birch just had a piece of poo stuck to his fur.  I would not have to take him to the vet, incur a huge bill, and then chase him around the house every day trying to give him medication*.  I could completely solve this problem in two seconds using nothing more than my hand and a fresh Kleenex.  Hold still, Birchy, Mommy's about to make you all better...

But then a surprising thing happened.  Instead of coming off easily, the clump of poo detached reluctantly, with a startling ripping sound...

...leaving behind a lovely little bouquet of The Boy's hair.

The Boy and I figure we probably eat about a pound of Birch fur a year, just from him accidentally shedding on our food and stuff.  Apparently, this phenomenon goes both ways.  And now I knew why that turd didn't come off even with Birch using our entire apartment as toilet paper.

I should mention here that you're not supposed to pull stringy things out of an animal's butt; the other end might be wound up in their insides and cause major damage when you start pulling.  If I'd realized Birch's poop was fastened to him by a bunch of long hairs, I'd've used scissors to cut it off instead.

Luckily, though, Birch was unscathed by the incident.  He didn't seem physically hurt or even pissed off at the indignity I'd put him through: he actually seemed to understand that I'd rescued him.  He purred and headbutted me and I swear he was even smiling.

So, all's well that ends well.

*I'm assuming a worm problem would require daily medication to clear it up...but which end of the cat would it go in?


My internet was down for a couple of days, but it's back now.  Yay!

Just so you know, even without home internet I'm still fully capable of taking and filling Etsy orders via The Boy's iPhone.  It's just awkward to type on it, so I tend to postpone blogging.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Another cat story

I remembered another anecdote from when my cat-friend, Moon, was staying with me.

I was on the couch doing some artsy thing and had a bunch of supplies spread out all around me - including a Scotch tape dispenser with a long tail of tape hanging off it.  Moon jumped up to say hi to me and the end of the tape accidentally got stuck to his butt, causing him to panic and bolt, dragging the tape and dispenser behind him.

At this point, cat logic* dictated that Moon flee to the bathroom, jump into the empty bathtub, and run around in frantic circles with the tape dispenser clattering along behind him (the bathtub was his answer for everything back then...I don't know why).

It probably looked something like this, but with 100% more Scotch tape and 80% more motion blur. 

Finally, Moon remembered that there was someone in the apartment with opposeable thumbs.  He ran back to where I was sitting and gave me a hilariously obvious "DUDE I NEED A HAND HERE" look.  I gently unstuck the Evil Clattering Tape Monster from his ass-fur and he collapsed gratefully into my arms.

*Cat logic revolves mostly around burying things and acting like a spaz.  It does not resemble our Earth logic.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Do these earlobes make me look old?

I currently have my ears gauged to a size 6 (note to non-freaks: ear gauging is when you gradually push bigger and bigger posts through your pierced ears to stretch the holes.  A size 6 looks about like this).

A while back I decided I wanted to go a little bigger - I'm thinking a size 2 - so I ordered the necessarily stuff from my beloved Body Art Forms.  I haven't gotten around to "stretching up" yet, though.

Yesterday I was on the subway and saw an old lady and got to thinking about what my gauges will look like when I'm her age.  Just to be clear, this is not an "Oh my god, I can't be an old lady with gauged ears, I'll look so stupid!" thing.  I've never understood that sentiment; it seems to come from the idea that old people never have tattoos or facial piercings or gauges, so clearly an old person who does will look out of place.  The huge oversight here is that by the time my generation gets old, most of us will have those things (and the younger generation will invent something even more extreme like installing Plexiglas windows in their skulls).

No, my line of thought on the subway yesterday was this: if my earlobes sag with age like that lady's have, will the holes lose their elasticity and my eyelets will fall right out?  And if so, will I have to put bigger jewelry in to take up the slack?  I like the look of really big ear gauges on some people, but for me, personally, I want to stay relatively small.

So now I'm wondering whether I should delay my next stretch just in case my skin abruptly gives up all hope and collapses in a pile around my knees in the next year or two, forcing me to upgrade to jewelry the size of hubcaps.  Sure, everything's holding up okay so far - I'm almost 40 and I still get carded at bars and liquor stores - but a teeny, superstitious voice in my head is whispering "how long do you think your luck is gonna hold out, lady?"

I bet the other grownups don't have these kinds of dilemmas - they probably got their ears pierced two decades ago and haven't thought about it since.  Having a mental age of 14 and a physical age of 38* makes for some really weird life issues.

*Actually 37 and 11 months.  I rounded up.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Shoutout Sunday: Diesel Sweeties

Every nerd in the whole world (and lots of non-nerds, too!) should read the Diesel Sweeties webcomic. In the beginning, it mostly revolves around the relationship between retired porn star Maura Glee and her boyfriend, Clango Cyclotron...who is a robot.  The ensuing misunderstandings and culture clashes - usually viewed viewed through the lens of Clango's naivety - are poignant and funny and adorable. 

As time goes on, plots thicken, new characters are added, and comic book references abound - often intertwined with amusing commentary on the dating scene.

Also, there's a goth character called Pale Suzie and an indie music snob that everyone makes fun of.  Awesome.

Did I mention that Diesel Sweeties creator R. Stevens also sells merchandise?  The t-shirt section is a glorious orgy of robots, skulls, music snobbery, Apple geekery, Star Wars references, and more.  The shirts are actually silkscreened, btw, not digitally printed - and two of the designs even use glow-in-the-dark ink!  You can also buy socks with adorable pixelated designs knitted right in, plus ties and tote bags and Diesel Sweeties books.

I have a Diesel Sweeties t-shirt, by the way - it's bright green, with a pixelated boom box and the words "User is currently kicking it old school", and it makes me happy (The Boy looks great in it, too!).  Now, I don't want you to panic or anything, but that particular shirt doesn't seem to be for sale anymore...so if you see a Diesel Sweeties shirt that you like, you should probably get it right away 'cause it might not be there forever.  Just sayin'.

R. Stevens is a hero of mine because he's successfully carved out a life for himself doing creative stuff.  He's an inspiration to those of us who've always wanted to be artists but didn't start making a serious go of it until they were in their late 30s because everyone acted like it'd be crazy to even try, especially their Uncle Don, who would never say the word "artist" without the word "starving" in front of it.

*Ahem.*   Where was I?  Ah, yes.

Rock on, R. Stevens.  Rock on.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Caturday: Kitties I Have Known #1

As I've mentioned before, I never used to be a "cat person" - I was a little afraid of cats, actually.  But fate stepped in with a series of coincidences that left me taking care of various friends' kitties for about a year, with only small gaps in between.

Moon stayed with me the longest - around six months, I think.  He was an ideal "starter cat" for a cat-shy person like me because he was a huge cuddleslut with a gentle disposition.  He was also an indoor/outdoor sort of kitty (although while he was in my custody I kept him safely inside) and his human "mommy", Jen, tells me he would sometimes get in fights out there and swagger back inside full of Han Solo bravado with pieces of his face shredded off.  It's very difficult for me to reconcile this badass version of Moon with the version who let me hoist him way up over my head and "fly" him through the apartment like a model airplane - purring ecstatically all the while because someone was paying attention to him.

He would also let me drape him jauntily around my neck like a scarf.

Apparently Moon didn't spend all his outdoor-time picking fights, by the way.  Jen tells me that in every neighbourhood they ever lived (and there were a few), he would find and befriend another cat - and each of these "friends" was male and each of them was an exact replica of Moon only smaller.  This led Jen to conclude that Moon was gay; also kind of an egomaniac, since he always hooked up with dudes who looked just like him.

When he wasn't outside wreaking havoc and breaking hearts, Moon was probably the most tactile kitty in the entire world, ever.  While staying with me, he would bug me for snuggles pretty much every single minute of the day.  One of his favourite strategies was to stand in front of my face while I was lying on the couch watching tv.  I think he felt that blocking my view of the television would make me transfer the focus to him instead.  The thing is, with me lying on my side and him crowding me like that, he'd usually end up standing on my nipple. And he wouldn't get off it because, hey, standing there did indeed make him the centre of my attention.  God only knows what the neighbours were picturing when they heard me repeatedly screaming "GET OFF MY TITS!!!!"

Another fun fact about Moon: he had a rather delicate digestive system (I can't blame him - he was 15 years old, after all.  In cat years that's ancient).  I've always been really really squeamish about vomit, but Moon forced me to suck it up deal with it since there was  nobody else around to clean it up (this was all happening pre-Boy).  One time - tired of just messing up my floor, I guess - he actually projectile vomited.  One moment he was just casually sitting there, licking his foot or something; the next he made a barking sound and a horizontal geyser of watery puke powerwashed the paint off the wall next to my coat closet.  I huddled in the corner gibbering with fear and wondering whether I should call a vet or an exorcist...but two minutes later he was acting perfectly normal again.  Jen told me later that the projectile vomit thing is pretty standard for him.

As for garden-variety floor-pukes, Moon tended to have them every day or two - and always in pairs.  After  I noticed the Noah's Ark quality of Moon's stomach upsets, I started pouncing on him after Round One (before he had a chance to wander off) and firmly patting his back until Round Two came up.  It got the ordeal over with faster and left just one mess to clean up.  I felt really smart and resourceful for coming up with this idea.  Before Moon, I'd always thought I wouldn't be up to the responsibility of being a cat-parent...but I was starting to change my mind.

Also, I was inspired to paint things like this:

'Cause sometimes all you can do is laugh.
So, yeah...I had to deal with a lot of cat vomit for those six months.  Plus the constant begging for snuggles (while usually adorable and welcome) could sometimes be a bit much if I was trying to do other things - like, dude, please don't jump in my lap while I'm on the toilet.  That is what we call "me-time".  Also, GET OFF MY TITS.

But he more than made up for those minor inconveniences by curling up against me while I was working on paintings.  Sometimes it's hard for me to start a new painting (what if I can't get the colours to look like they do in my head?  What if my hand slips and gives the lady in the painting a Hitler mustache?  SO MANY THINGS COULD GO WRONG), and I end up chickening out and watching cartoons instead.  But there's something about the presence of this warm, rhythmically-breathing, totally zonked-out kitty that just totally put me in the zone.  It's like Moon's stillness transferred to me through osmosis, making me perfectly calm and focused.  

Cleaning up Moon's prolific kibble-vomits made me realize I'd be capable of owning a cat...but painting while he snored blissfully against my lower back made me realize I needed to own a cat.  Thank you, Moon, for helping bring me over to the Cat Side.  If it wasn't for you, I would never have met Birch, the feline love of my life.

In August of 2009, not long after he returned home, Moon passed away.  I made this tribute painting for Jen:

MOON November 1993 - August 2009 RIP
Miss you, buddy.  Hope Cat Heaven has millions of black twinky little cats for you to cruise. <3

Word of the Day #6

Today's word is Apoocalypse.  The Apoocalypse is what happens when you don't eat enough fibre.

It's not pretty...but sometimes it's brag-worthy.

"It's like I ate a human femur for breakfast!"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

DIY meets WTF.*

I live in fear that someone at the hardware store will see me digging purposefully through the racks and ask if I need help.

It's true that I have some social anxiety that makes it hard for me to talk to strangers sometimes...but that's not the reason for my fear.  The reason is that I'm usually seeking supplies for some weird-ass personal project that I can't or won't explain to a total stranger.

So, any time I'm at Home Hardware, Canadian Tire, Rona, etc. and I accidentally catch the eye of an employee, I go into panic mode inside my head: "What if s/he comes over here and asks if I need help?  What if for some reason s/he won't take no for an answer and I'll be obliged to actually say what I'm looking for?"  and I start mentally rehearsing my question so that I can sound breezily nonchalant when the time comes (my theory is that if I sound matter-of-fact enough, the person might not notice that I'm saying something totally fuckin' wackadoo).  These mental rehearsals look something like this...

...or this...

...or this.**

Luckily, I've never actually had to have these conversations with anyone: the employees always end up either going away when I say I'm just looking, or else not coming over to me at all.

But if it ever does happen, I'll let you guys know how it goes.

*title shamelessly borrowed from Regretsy.
**I'll admit that I just made up the iguana thing for comic effect.  The other two pics, though, are 100% true-to-life.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Anatomy of a misunderstanding

Last night, The Boy (who has a cold) was in the kitchen.  I heard him sneeze.  Then I heard him go "Urrrgh. Holy crap."  Then he called out to me asking if there was any more paper towel.

I was like, "I have tissues here..." and The Boy snapped that he'd asked for paper towel, not tissue, and I was like "Jeez, how many plies do you need?"  I figured he must be standing by the fridge cupping a double handful of nose-custard, afraid to move lest it begin to cascade through his fingers.
"Just BRING ME PAPER TOWEL dammit!!!!"
So, as far as I was concerned, The Boy went into the kitchen for something, had an epic sneeze, and was now being weirdly snippy with me when I helpfully offered to bring him tissue.

What had actually happened, though, was this:

The Boy went into the kitchen to wash his hands.  He paused to sneeze into his sleeve, and it was a forceful enough sneeze that it motivated him to exclaim out loud, but the snot factor was negligible.  He then finished washing his hands, realized there was nothing to dry them on, and couldn't figure out why I was acting all skeeved out and offering him Kleenexes that would only have coated his wet hands in lint.

The Boy is next to me right now, watching me type this.  He says the perfect ending to that anecdote would be if he'd come in and wiped his wet hands on my face.  I think the perfect ending would be for him to have come into the room and done a spontaneous striptease for me...but then again his stripteases are my answer to everything...
...Whether he feels like it or not.
 The actual end of the story, of course, is that we each got mildly pissy with the other person for acting weird, then realized our mistake and laughed a lot and watched some 30 Rock on DVD.

Star Whores!

I came up with an excellent porn star name for The Boy (should he want one): Girth Vader.

When I told The Boy this brilliant idea, he didn't fall over laughing or start eagerly planning his new career path (the two reactions I'd anticipated).  I'm not sure why not: as a porn star name, "Girth Vader" is an amusing bit of wordplay that implies both nerdiness and well-endowed-ness.  Surely some reaction other than "Uh-huh" would have been in order.  Sometimes I don't think The Boy is fully attuned to my sophistimacated sense of humour. 

But all is not lost: I think I might do a painting of this fictitious Girth Vader.  Picture a head-and-torso portrait of a buff naked guy in a Darth Vader mask with a really thick pink light-saber beam extending from the bottom of the frame where his crotch would be.  Maybe I'll do porn-star parodies of a bunch of different Star Wars characters!  Porn Troopers, Grabba the Butt, Princess Lay Ya...

...Or maybe not.