Thursday, October 21, 2010

Truths

Been feeling very introspective lately, which is kind of like saying I have been breathing lately. But, still. Just feeling more quiet and navel-gazing of late. It happens. 

Came across some e.e. cummings poems today, which reminded me of how much I love his work. It had a huge impact on me as a teenager, the seeming randomness (that often isn't), the raw emotions, the deliberately odd structure to force a certain kind of pacing. I know a lot of people consider poetry to be kind of wanky, but, I think it can really get to the heart of things sometimes. Things you can't express in an entirely linear, coherent way. Emotions aren't always (in fact, they usually aren't) easy to define or communicate. Poetry is one way to explore that. And it can be deeply satisfying.

So I think I'll write some and then get back to all the work I'm still doing and the paintings I've had sitting around for a month. Oh time, where do you go?

1

Don't talk to me about the bite
it sinks down into my skin 
feeds on my
too solid flesh
and eats me whole

2

the way my brain hates
goes beyond the bone
and leaks into 
my bitter body skin
why love when you can
loathe the shape
the round the un-contained
why love when you can hate
the all of what you are
from bone to meat to skin


touch is where
my truth lives
as long as it is dark
i can feel
and be 
ugly
yet soft
yet smooth
and sweet
the shadows hide
the secret
awful skin
that lies and
pretends it could be
pretty
but only in the dark
when touch becomes a truth












 


Monday, September 20, 2010

Mermaids!








Long time no blog. Busy, busy, busy. The tentacles of work are long and daunting.

But! A few weeks back I went to a Dr. Sketchy's sessions that was all about mermaids. And these are the sketches I did, from relatively true "life" drawing, to some cartoony takes, and some where I added squidly octopi for no real reason. Other than I wanted to. I even won a prize for a drawing on a napkin, which I have to find. 

Anyway, enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Politics of Dyeing

At around nineteen, I started noticing my first gray hairs. Well, not gray, white. Hair doesn't actually turn gray. You get white hairs, technically clear because they lack melanin, and it's how they're distributed that make your hair look anywhere from iron to silver to frosty white.

Mine went in streaks in the front first, very Rogue. But now at 31 it's all silver and white. Well, whatever I don't dye pink or blue or whatever.

It's a little strange for me sometimes, suddenly having much lighter colored hair. I was a brunette once upon a time. When I turned fifteen or so I started coloring my hair red. My mom actually helped me. I used henna first. I kind of miss those days, green goop on my head for hours, smelling like tea and mud. Eventually I wanted to go brighter so I starting using chemical dyes with Manic Panic reds layered over it. Vampire Red was my favorite. At the time it never seemed red enough, though. I see pictures now and it's like my head was on fire.

Dyeing my hair was always strangely peaceful. It made me feel better about myself during High School, which was a pretty low time for me. Even if everything else was pretty much shit, hair dyeing was this kind of therapeutic act. Something just for myself that I didn't have to feel guilty about. An act of vanity that was still a little...subversive.

It never really occurred to me that going gray early and choosing not to dye it all the time could be viewed that way, too. Since my hair was always a strange kind of canvas for me, I never saw it as being a part of body politics. Until I got older and realized how much people associate gray hair with age, and aging is not something women are necessarily encouraged to do. "Age gracefully" is often code for "Make sure we never see you trying not to look old...but we still dn't want you to really look old". Like a lot of things related to women's "beauty", you're never supposed to look like you care about it, because that's vain. It's all about looking "perfect" without looking like it took any effort. Meanwhile there are an unbelievable amount of products out there that seem to exist for the sole purpose of convincing you that once 25 hits you are officially decrepit and turning into a dried out, withered old hag.

I'm pretty lucky. Most people are surprised my hair is naturally this color. They always ask how I get this color, assuming that I must bleach it or otherwise make it white. And I've gotten compliments on it, which is always nice, I won't lie. I think everyone likes being told something about them is unusual in an appealing way. But I've had some pretty passive aggressive things said, too. Like that it must be nice that my husband doesn't "mind". Or that they'd be too afraid of "looking old".

First of all, I love my husband a lot, but he has fuck all to say about my hair. My body is not his to dictate. And since he's not a jerk, he has no interest in doing that. He likes me as I am, however I choose to define that. And vice versa. I really don't believe in telling partners how to dress or wear their hair or any of that. As it happens, he likes odd hair colors. And since he met me when it was changing practically from week to week, well, no complaints.

Second, I'm going to look old at some point no matter what. If I live long enough. And honestly? One of my goals is to actually make it to Being Really Damn Old...if I get to wild white hair and all wrinkly like a raisin I will have, you know, won.

Mind you, I get it. There's an enormous amount of pressure on women to maintain their youth. And I'm not immune. I have lots of days where I'm staring at all the changes in the mirror, considering every flaw obsessively, wishing I looked like anyone but me. But then I have better days and find things to be grateful for and if I can see beauty in other women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and ages...then maybe I can extend a little of that kindness to myself sometimes, too. You know, a really little bit. Like a smidge.

So yeah, sure, the white hair is weird sometimes. Just like the laugh lines I didn't have before, and my forehead wrinkle named Agnes. But I feel like...these are signs that I am alive and I am living. And I might as well enjoy it since, much like I've changed since I was 17, and 25, and even 29...I'm going to look back at this from 35, and 40, and 45...and think the same thing.

And anyway, I can always dye streaks pink. >:}

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Body Politic

I keep rewriting this post. I can't seem to find the right words. The right focus.

It feels narcissistic to write about myself in a way that's not self-deprecating, but actually revealing. Which is pretty ironic when you consider blogs seem to thrive on the internet equivalent of verbal diarrhea. And I've talked about this before, but, I've never linked to those posts or made much of an effort to make them available to more than a handful of people who already knew.

This sounds really cryptic. It's not, really.

So, here goes (and here I will declare an official TRIGGER WARNING): For the past year I've been in treatment for an eating disorder, mild depression, and body dysmorphic disorder.

The eating disorder in question used to be Anorexia before it became restrictive, disordered eating. Mild depression is part of it, and pretty self explanatory. Body dysmorphia is often a close friend to ED (short for eating disorder). It basically means you obsessively, and often exclusively, notice a flaw/flaws. The flaw takes on an exaggerated amount of importance that usually doesn't match reality. A person with BDD will not view a zit as a zit. It's a giant tumor that has taken over your face and you can't be seen by other people or they'll be disgusted. That's not hyperbole in the sense that a person with BDD really and truly believes that.

Mine isn't limited to one body part, but it does mostly manifest around my weight. I often feel "too big". As in, taking up too much space. In reality, I'm quite short. But when my BDD is acting up, kind of like a trick knee, I feel nine feet tall, as though I have just expanded to overflow whatever space I'm in. My skin will crawl. My clothes will become unbearable. I will want to scream, yell, claw my way out of myself. A lot of things can trigger it and what I've mostly worked on the past year is finding ways to manage it better.

It's not fun. And it can be really serious, depending on how severe the BDD is and how far the person with it takes it. Some people have unnecessary surgeries because of it. Others can become too anxious to leave the house. Others commit suicide. I'm lucky in that it's never been quite that bad.

Unfortunately, my BDD is connected to my ED. It started around age seventeen. I stopped eating more than a really limited amount of calories most of the time, carefully measured any food I did eat, frequently "forgot" to eat altogether. Obsessively exercised. Weighed myself ten, fifteen times a day. I dropped over twenty pounds in about a month. And then did whatever I had to to maintain it. I somehow managed to never lose so much weight that anyone thought I was sick. Which just shows you how much people value thinness. They don't really care how you achieve it so long as you never lose control enough to actually fall over the edge and look ill. I'm still a little bitter about that. Just like I'm bitter that people who had never thought I was worth talking to suddenly wanted to be my friend after I dropped weight. Clearly who I was as a person was less important than what I weighed. I've noticed this is often true outside of High School, unfortunately.

Over the years I've had times that were more restrictive than others. College was restrictive. And I'd do things like walk over 100 blocks in NYC in a week, walk 4 miles when I got home, and do over a thousand jumping jacks at night in my room. It was easy to hide how much I wasn't eating because I spent all day at school, and since I was a poor college student, it was easier to drink coke and pretend I wasn't hungry to save money. I'd tell myself I was saving money when I'd walk in below zero weather instead of the subway. Or in the driving rain and wind. Or sweltering NYC summer heat. But really, I couldn't bear the thought of not walking the magic number of 40 blocks per day. If I didn't do that, the world would collapse and I'd be "fat".

After college it got a bit better for awhile, and then I started working. One of the first ways I deal with stress is to stop eating, and as you can imagine, publishing is not exactly a calm and stress free environment. I excused it for mostly the same reasons. We had no money, I could live on an apple a day, I was being "good". What eventually snapped me out of it, at least to the degree that I become more disordered than just restrictive, was when I blacked out in my office one night while working late. Spots appeared and I just...don't remember a whole lot. For about 20 minutes. When I came to or whatever you want to call, I felt profoundly ill. And realized that something was deeply wrong.

It was. I had managed to starve myself into a vitamin deficiency. I was bruising all over, constantly, just from touching things. The inside of my mouth was frequently lined with sores, ones that took far too long to heal. I was tired all the time, prone to crying for no reason, and I started getting migraines for the first time in my life. I would sleep but never feel rested and I had nightmares most nights of the week.

So I "treated" it, on my own, up until about a year ago. And I was lucky. I'm lucky it didn't get worse and I was able to manage on my own for so long. But then we moved and I realized it just wasn't enough anymore. I was slipping into old habits and I was tired of the cycle of self-loathing.

Eating disorders are deeply personal. No two people will have the same triggers, the same "reasons", the same emotional cocktail they're trying to cope with. The one thing you will have in common is control. And the rituals. We all have those. Eat this, not that. Eat exactly this amount and never more than that. Only these foods are "safe". Exercise for this long, every day. The amount of my life that revolved around counting calories and fat grams and miles was epic. And it all boiled down to: if you don't do these things you will be fat and disgusting and no one will love you. Not that I thought I deserved love. But I could keep that thought down somewhere dark if I just stuck to my rituals and my emptiness.

I suppose that's the thing I miss most. That euphoric feeling of being empty. Fasting will do that. And you equate it with being "good", so full becomes "bad". That emptiness takes over and fills all the awful places in your head. It replaces feelings with just one feeling. It simplifies everything down to this one little act: Do. Not. Eat. Everything will be okay if you don't eat.

But it never actually made anything okay, and while it did make me thinner, it also made me sick and it never made me happy. I didn't feel any more worthwhile. I did manage to accomplish things in spite of it, but even that stopped being true after awhile. I was always struggling with it, always fighting it. It was always there, limiting my life and strangling anything I desperately wanted to do or be.

What's really scary sometimes is how much I identified (and still identify sometimes) with my ED. Who am I without that? How do I cope without it? Who was I before it? Who am I now?

It's still a struggle. I have some really rough days when all I want to do is shut myself in a dark room and never eat again. A huge driving force in my restricting was to shrink. To take up less space. To be smaller. Less. To disappear. What right do I have to be here? Who am I to claim any space in this world? The answer was usually: no one and nothing.

These days I feel like that less and less. I'm not sure why but sometimes that's even scarier. I'm here and I can't keep avoiding that. I can't keep denying myself the same things I'd freely give to anyone else. I'm here and I take up the space I take.

At some point, I may even become okay with that.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fix Me

an alien in human skin
i could pass for
nothing so much as
not like you
never like you

i sit in my skin and
struggle with old years
long dead and distant
but the ghosts
they feel more solid
than i do
a whisper of who
i might have been

looking at you
at your perfect skin and
perfect lips and
smooth flat belly
the perfect, only kind

i know that i'm an alien
masquerading in
too much human skin

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Spike Conundrum or What the Hell is He Doing?


There were a bunch of different ways I* considered writing about this, but the one that I think makes the most sense is to just start with a deceptively simple question:

Why do we love Spike?

Every Spike fan will likely have a different set of specific reasons. But what I think they’ll all have in common is what a complex and amazing character arc he’s had. To go from where he started to where he is now has been a true hero’s journey. 

I’d like to state for the record that I wholeheartedly love Spike. I root for him. I think any story with him in it is better for it. No one the Angel team has an agenda when it comes to his relationships. Well, that’s not entirely true. I think he and Angel should probably settle down in a little house somewhere and just admit that they need one another. The way he and Angel play off each other, complement each other, and force each other to be better, is probably my favorite partnership in both series.  But really, the only thing I want to see from Spike is continuing his character evolution. Because as far as he’s come, I don’t think his character is done exploring and growing.

I’ve loved every mistake Spike’s made, even the ones I really hated seeing him make. Sometimes the best characters make the worst decisions.

And he’s making some now.

I know that some of them are really hard to reconcile with who Spike has become. I know they’re unpleasant and uncomfortable. I can’t tell you why just yet, but I can tell you this: It does have a reason, and it will make sense. Issue #35 starts dealing with it more directly and it’s building to something really important for the character that I think you’ll all want to see. Seriously.

To me, what sets Spike apart from Angel, more than anything else, is that he fought for and earned his soul. The journey that led him there is every bit as important as the good he’s done since. Because without that, it just wouldn’t mean as much. It wouldn’t be as significant or important, or downright epic. And that’s true for the next stage of Spike’s development, too.

As an editor, my first responsibility is to the story. As much as I may love a character I have to be willing to let them mess up. Sometimes that means they do things I don’t like personally for the sake of their arc. No one is supposed to like some of the things Spike is doing right now. But he went through a lot in After the Fall and we’re just now seeing some of the fallout. As heroic as Spike is, he’s still flawed. That’s a basic concept in the Whedonverse, all heroes are flawed, and I think we owe it to the character not to forget that. Because I think he is as heroic and important as Angel or Buffy. I think he’s earned the right to make mistakes and come out the other side. With all he’s been through, I think he can handle it. Besides, there’s always more at work here than initially meets the eye. I don’t think anyone wants to see Spike stagnate as a character.

Just as I completely respect canon and know when we’ve done things that may seem to contradict it, nothing is being done accidentally, we’re just expanding on and enriching the world. Everyone on the Angel team has watched the show, I can personally attest to that. Things like the limb-dusting are not arbitrary and it’s explained, at least partially, in issue #33. Along with who James really is and a bunch of other story elements that set up the arc. It’s all part of what we’re exploring. And it’s very much based on what’s been previously established. The same is true for Spike. We know how he’s acting, we know it’s rough, and we’re moving towards something big and incredibly important for him.

To my mind, the worst thing we could do to these characters is not respect them enough to allow them to be flawed and mess up.  Right now we’re exploring the consequences of AtF and the time shift that occurred to reset everything. In a world like this, time shenanigans open up a lot of possibilities and the potential for some really strange things to happen. Some of that is certain characters questioning their purpose, redefining their roles, deciding what they’re going to do now, and what they really want. Other characters are growing and changing based on what they’ve been through, like Connor, and we’re allowing them the chance to prove themselves. Each character deserves the same care and attention, and they all deserve a real arc that takes them from one point to another.

Where Spike is headed as a character is going to be one of the most important leaps he’s ever made. On par, I think, with him earning his soul.  It's going to be brave and compelling and something that should make every Spike fan proud to call him a hero. I hope you’ll stick around to see it.

* You may be wondering who I am. I edit the current storyline of Angel for IDW. And now you know!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Another Year Older

Today was my 31st birthday. It's one of those strange, not really significant ages, that still feels really weird and almost impossible to be. I mean, just yesterday I was 16. Or 25. Or 29.

For whatever reason, in the last few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about the inverse of this age. Of me at 13. Of all the ages I've been it's one that still stands out. Just not really in any good way. 13 was the year I lost my grandfather. The year my mom struggled with grief and alcoholism. The year my dad lost perspective and my family started its real descent into broken.

It was also the year I learned what it felt like to be hated. A defining thing, that.

I don't talk about that year much with people I don't know very well. Even though that year, above any other, has deeply shaped the person that I am and have become. And I'm not sure why I'm choosing to talk about it here, or now. I know why it's significant. I've come a long way since then. I've grown. I've changed. I'm in a different and much better place in pretty much every possible way. And as far as I've come and as grateful as I am for all the things in my life that have moved on from such a painful place...I'm still not sure I've really forgiven myself for that year.

So why is this coming up on what was an otherwise good day? As I get older I find myself getting more reflective about birthdays. I notice the changes. The way my hair has gone inescapably white. The lines that don't go away on my face. The way my body has changed shape. And as strange and difficult as I find these changes sometimes, there will be more of them. And I want to accept them gracefully, even joyfully, though I know that they'll also make me sad. Mostly for the ways I won't see myself until it's gone.

At 31 I look back at my awkward adolescent self and I want to tell her how much better things will be. I want to tell her that while time doesn't heal everything, it can give you perspective. And I want to tell her that it wasn't her fault and that she did and still does deserve kindness and love. And I would give her the most amazing hug you can imagine. And I'd wish her a happy birthday, because I remember that no one else really did.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Peel

There are certain hours of the evening, or very early morning, when things just become...peculiar. A little less real. Whenever that happens I tend to get a little bit maudlin' and a little bit prone to writing poetry. I'm not sorry about either, but, you know. Forewarned.

sit awhile with me and say
you love the different ways
i find to peel back my skin
and wallow in the frustrated ugly

i seek redemption through this
my endless flaw list
we could compare notes
(mine will always be worse)

and while i will meticulously discover
new ways to find you beautiful
for me there is only this damaged skin
to peel back and hate again

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Like to Art





























So, long before I started editing comics, I wrote and drew and painted. A lot. Constantly, really. Of all the things I tried doing, from sports like soccer to singing in children's opera's, or playing way too many instruments poorly...drawing and writing and painting were the only constants. And they still are. They are the things that I have to do or I'll go quietly insane. 

Over the years my artwork has shifted and changed, though often not as much as I think it has, and sometimes more than I ever thought it would. I have a BFA in Illustration from The School of Visual Arts in NYC. Back then I drew pretty girls. Guess what I draw now? Pretty girls. 





For a long time I didn't really show my work a whole lot. Mostly because I never felt it was good enough. And I'm not sure I think it is now. But it's reached a point where I have to show it as much as I have to do it. 

I sketch a lot and I draw a lot and I paint as often as I can. I challenge myself and I try new things. But I can't seem to shake this need to draw pretty girls who, aside from being beautiful, are also just a little bit strange. Sometimes dramatically, with horns or tentacles. Sometimes a little more subtly with a just a touch of something weird about the eyes. 

I guess I'm just drawn to monstrous beauty, however you might think to define that.





Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Of Tentacles and Random Thingyness

Whoo, first blog. Well, first blog here. And the first time I'm not using my usual screen-name. Which feels uber strange but it was about time. I'm feeling more squidy these days than fey.

It's midnight and I should really be asleep. But my brain is kind of on tired overdrive which means I feel like writing and sharing. I don't know why that combination always happens post 10pm but it does.

I'll likely use this for a lot of random stuff, including sketches and new artwork. I'll try not to get too personal as I've become increasingly more "visible" online. Which is mostly a good thing but requires more careful consideration of what I say.

However, I will always be honest and myself here. I don't see much point in a blog otherwise. I mean, they're kind of narcissistic by definition. Might as well not pretend that won't happen sometimes.

This blog won't be affiliated with my job in the sense that I will only be speaking for myself here. I will talk about comics, but only as me. Not for the company I work for.

Okay! This was terribly uninteresting. I promise my other posts will, at the very least, involve more squidly things.

And just so the title isn't completely irrelevant: I don't now why I've suddenly become so enamored of all things tentacled, but I've always loved the idea of monstrously pretty girls. Let's face it, beauty is kind of a terrible thing sometimes. And tentacles have a wonderful, fluid, strangeness that speaks to me both artistically as an element of design and as something almost inherently inhuman. And I don't know about you, but I often feel inherently inhuman myself.