Ugly & Beautiful

Doodle Days, 2020

Share all you want, steal the “logo”–no worries, no copyright.

I have never been good enough for Inktober.

I’m not a trained artist. I won’t spend money on professional ink. Visual arts are a hobby for me, not a vocation, and I don’t maintain any illusions about my talent or prospects.

So this year, I wasn’t planning to do it. I really don’t have time, what with homeschooling–or, I do, but it’s time I should devote to writing, exercising, playing with my pets and children. But then I learned that the Inktober guy had muddied the whole event a bit with lawsuits over the term “Inktober” and its logo and that people weren’t super pumped about it this year, anyway. Lots of alternatives have popped up, many of them highly themed.

Well, I thought, who needs it? I’ll draw what I want.

But it was fun to keep up with a challenge. Even more fun when people would “like” my posts on Instagram… pity likes or not, I will take them. It’s fun to share your work with others, even if it sucks. Sometimes it’s fun to say, “Look how badly this turned out!” and revel in your own mistakes–for me, anyway. (I mean, sometimes things are so bad they’re hilarious. I think there’s a whole TV show dedicated to bakers who can’t make it work–right? And my sense of humor is nothing if not self-deprecating.)

I know this isn’t necessarily true for the pros. I know that when I read a terrible piece of writing, I have a harder time appreciating the amazing feat that the writer accomplished just in doing it than I used to. The kid in creative writing class who wants a Pulitzer for his haiku–that’s probably me in the art world.

I don’t want to be annoying. I do want to draw. Not because I’ll ever be a great artist, but because I enjoy it. When I commit a certain portion of my day to visual art, I light up parts of my brain that make me feel better about myself, about my family–about everything. And I could use some of that right now.

So here’s my own drawing challenge. Join me if you will. No talent required, no specific materials must be used. My kids helped me come up with the prompt list and a few times I called to my husband, “What’s a silly word?” Post them on Instagram with #DoodleDays2020 or keep them to yourself–your choice. But join me in doodling if you like.

Thoughts & Doodles

Four Things I Learned This Week and a Quote

There’s a nonprofit called Popcorn for the People that was created to employ adults with Autism. On their website, I learned a fun fact: popcorn kernels found in a cave in New Mexico were carbon dated and shown to be approximately 5,600 years old.

One of my favorite authors, Lydia Millet, has a book on the longlist for the National Book Award for Fiction.

Regarding my adventures in homeschooling: my best way for me–an English major and avid reader whose only poor grades were ever in science class–to teach science is most definitely reading (and rereading and applying the lessons from) The Magic School Bus.

Washington State not only has a state bird, a state flower, and a state tree. It also has a state fossil: the Columbian Mammoth. It was established as the state fossil thanks to the efforts of a group of elementary school students.

And the quote of the week:

The wound is the place where the light enters you.

–Rumi

Friends & Family

Back to School, 2020 Style

Posing with our Fancy Octopus craft and their Pointillism Paintings

This year, most kids I know are going back to school without actually going back to school. Here in western Washington, school districts are starting the year with 100% distance learning, with plans to adjust to part-time in-person learning as the situation with COVID evolves. My news feed is full of back-to-school pictures of a new style, with students sitting at kitchen tables or even tucked in bed.

But my kids won’t be distance learning. They’ll be in the classroom–which is what we now call our dining room. They’ll have an excellent student-to-teacher ratio–because their teacher will be me.

Continue reading “Back to School, 2020 Style”
Friends & Family, House & Home

Stay-at-Home

At first I said my life hadn’t changed.

I’m always home, I said.

OK:

There had been hours in the car and trips to the gas station, the grocery store, minutes and hours wandering aisles looking at nothing I needed. These had been wasted. I would not miss them.

There had been mornings alone in coffee shops, staring at blank pages and blinking cursors. Journal entries written in the front seat of my car in the parking lot, sketches made with my seat belt still buckled, the radio mumbling away the extra minutes I built into my schedule.

There had been waiting: for appointments, in lines, at traffic lights. An hour each Thursday, reading while my daughter danced ballet. An hour each Friday, a crossword completed while she sang.

These had been wasted. I would not miss them.

These had been lonely. Pointless.

Time spent with no budget:
staring at the mortar between bricks,
my pencil running over rough paper,
trying to capture the shadows
that would become darkness–a smear
of graphite next to a jotted phone number.

BUT:

These were the throw-away times. I would never miss them.

Ugly & Beautiful

The Art of Trying (or, Why Yoda Was Wrong)

I hear it far too often:

Do, or do not. There is no try.

Yoda

Only it’s never coming from Master Yoda. It’s coming from some influential internet mom or from a fitness instructor or from somebody’s boss. It’s usually tinged with exasperation, from people who are tired of other people’s nonsense. People who say things like, “If I can do it, anyone can,” and truly believe that in their hearts. People who have a hard time looking directly at failure.

Continue reading “The Art of Trying (or, Why Yoda Was Wrong)”
Ugly & Beautiful

Four Things I Learned This Week

The US got its first female detective back in 1856, when Kate Warne walked into the Pinkerton Detective Agency and talked her way into a job.

The “Adam’s Apple” is cartilage that sits right on top of the thyroid. It grows bigger in men as their voices change and their voices grow bigger. Men and women both have this cartilage, and though it’s rarely as prominent as a man’s, some women do have Adam’s apples. (I finally looked this up because I’ve always said I had an Adam’s apple and I’ve always been laughed off. It might not be prominent, especially at my current weight, but yeah–I’ve got an Adam’s apple.)

There are hundreds of versions of the Cinderella story, one of the earliest of which comes from Greece. “Rhodopis” (Rosy Cheeks) tells the story of a Greek slave girl who marries the king of Greece after an eagle steals her sandal and drops it in his lap.

The Trade Federation’s Viceroy in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is an alien species known as a Neimoidian. (My son is REALLY into Star Wars…)