Bricks At The Ready…

Okay. I’ve been really good about this. I have behaved with great restraint, given how I feel and all. I have tried very hard not to tax my friends, as patient as they are, because I know that after awhile, even the most indulgent of friends stops merely glazing over and starts actively longing to take that stupid smile off your face with a brick.

Still. Gotta say it.

I am so goddamn stupidly totally completely utterly disgustingly absurdly run-out-of-adverbly in love.

Not that you hadn’t noticed or anything.

I could go into a lengthy digression about how and why and let me count the ways and god, the general adorableness, and did I mention that he’s awesome, to say nothing of the sex, and man, I could pet that shaved head for hours, and dude, he can cook, too, and he does more volunteer work than a one man Peace Corps, and he does this one thing with his tongue…but…well…see above bit about the brick. I understand. I sicken myself occasionally. I’m thirty-one. I am all urbane and cosmopolitan and cool.* I honestly did not expect to get this goofy again in my life. I mean…you kinda expect a whole bunch of years of marriage and a divorce to beat it out of you, ya know?

I’m dragging the poor bastard to Anthrocon, so he’s obviously in so deep that there’s no hope for him. (That, or he has no clue what two thousand furries in one place will be like. Possibly both.) Meeting my family is really no barrier–practically everybody agrees that my family is awesome, I’m more than half-convinced my ex stuck around for the last year because my family is so awesome–but the furry cons, now… if the man can live through that…

Hell, even if he can’t, I’m keepin’ him.

Thank you. That is all.

*QUIT SNICKERING AND LEAVE ME MY ILLUSIONS, GODDAMNIT.

Managed to get three little con pieces done yesterday, so that was nicely productive.

I find that my art for the AC art show tends to be…mmm…not repetitive, per se (I hope!) but at least that I tend to go back to some of the same fishing grounds, as James Christiansen might say. A lot of time it feels like doing fan art of my own work, if that makes any sense.

Now, there’s good business reasons for that, mind you–unlike the internet, where literally ANYBODY can look at the art, and there’s probably somebody who’ll like what they see, you get a much smaller set of eyes at the art show, and it tends to be people with more specific tastes. And my fanbase is often fond of specific–err–sets of work–I have people who love the soap labels, for example, or the Donkey & Goldfish pieces, or the stuff with the pink lizards, or the mice, or whatever. So the stuff I do for the art show often feels like I’m doing a quick retrospective of my own stuff–gotta do a pink lizard, gotta do something with the mice, gotta have a happy cthulhu, etc, etc. You’ve got three days to make your case to the buyer, and given the price range, a lot of times you do it with a kind of artistic shorthand–people buy the 5 x 7 pink lizard, both because they like it and because it reminds them of all the other pieces they’ve enjoyed in the same vein.

This sounds sorta bad, I realize, I think because there’s such a thing in art that you have to constantly be doing something NEW and DIFFERENT or else you are stagnating and should be taken out behind the painted barn* and shot. But the fact is that I kinda like doing it occasionally–I love my various creations with a sort of paternal affection** and it’s nice to revisit them and have an excuse to do so. I wouldn’t want to spend my life painting the hooded jesters in the checkerboard-edged robes, (and one day I’ll figure out what’s up with those guys–they’re pure cute half the time, and the other half they show up in Gearworld. I have a nasty feeling that, like the oracular acolyte in “Digger,” there may be something unsettling under those robes…) but I like having the excuse to paint one for a con. It frees me from the fear of Total Aesthetic Stagnation, and I can just have fun painting the little guys without the evil voice in the back of my brain going “Yooooou are being laaaaaazy, yooooou are not inventing anything newwwwww…” that kicks in frequently.

Because somehow money-grubbing capitalism is more acceptable. Or, err, something like that.

Case in Point

*Likely painted by Bob Ross. It’s a happy little barn. You just don’t want to see what goes on behind it.

**Definitely more paternal than maternal, I suspect. I do not fret about them. I tell them I love them, and then kick them out of the studio to go get a job, damnit.

Canine Alarm Clock

So my beloved

(aka Kevin) has a beagle named Gir, as I may have mentioned before.

Depending on how charitable one is feeling, Gir is either the pinnacle of breed specialization, a creature whose every thought, instinct, and fiber is dedicated to one purpose only, namely tracking game, the apotheosis of a species who can follow a scent for miles across hill and dale and back again…or he’s a furry four-legged idiot.

I incline to the latter, I must admit, but he’s a sweetheart nonetheless. He loves me, but this is no great endorsement, as Gir appears to love everything onearth, including rocks. “Excitable” does not quite begin to cover him.

On any given night, Kevin and I will be lounging around, watching TV or reading, and Brandon, the border collie, will begin bouncing around the bed like a maniac. “Does Brandon need to go out?” Kevin will say, in that goofy tone that otherwise rational beings reserve for their dogs, and Brandon will redouble the bouncing, ears flagged up, delirious with joy at the prospect of OUT.

“C’mon, Gir,” the man says, pulling on a bathrobe, “let’s go out.”

So addressed, Gir stands on the bed, watching this process, the very model of alert propriety, until Kevin and Brandon have left the room. Then he immediately flings himself into the spot left vacant, stretches out, and begins snorting and wallowing around on the blankets and if possible me, SNORTSNORTSNORT, seeking petting and occasionally flapping his ears wildly in a manner that resembles a small brown-and-white plane preparing for takeoff.

After a minute or two, realizing that he’s down a dog, Kevin may or may not return, grab Gir bodily, and haul him off to the dreaded OUT. I could probably assist in this process, but I’m generally too busy trying to recover from a sudden ATTACK SMOOCH, wherein Gir launches himself like a guided missile and drives his damp beagle nose into my face, or if I’m unlucky, my throat. He has a regrettable tendency to use his snout as a bludgeon.

Still, he’s a good dog. Just very very enthusiastic, and dumber ‘n a sack of hammers.

T’other morning I was awakened from a sound sleep by Gir, who had decided that it was wallowing time, which meant that there was suddenly a beagle on my chest, snorting madly and rolling around, as if I were a pile of herbivore poop he had suddenly discovered in the bed. I grunted and flung him off, as well as one can fling something beagle sized with one arm. He returned instantly, SNORTSNORTSNORT. The herbivore poo was fighting back! How wonderful!

I rolled over. Kevin was face-down in the pillows, sleeping the sleep of the just (or at least the carnally exhausted) which meant that I was making eye contact with a fairly large tattoo of a Korean dragon, who was not particularly helpful. I looked at the clock. Six-thirty AM. God help us all.

“Hey,” I said. The dragon looked inscrutable. Gir braced a paw on the side of my head and wiggled ecstatically.

I poked the dragon in the eyeball. “The beagle’s going off.”

The dragon stirred. Kevin levered himself upright, gave me a heavy-lidded look, whereupon Gir rolled off me and into him, and began an upside-down dance of joy, as his FAVORITE PERSON IN THE WHOLE WORLD was awake! Yay!

“Oooof. So he is. C’mon, Brandon, let’s go…”

They went OUT. I went back to sleep.

This morning, at around seven-thirty, I got up to go to the bathroom and staggered back to bed. Kevin, who is a snuggler by nature, wrapped himself around me while still in a semi-conscious state, put his lips against my shoulder, and murmured a phrase that will probably not go down in the annals of romance– “Did the beagle go off yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Oh, good…”

I suspect that one may stick.

Fire Pig, Earth Rat, Snake!

So, I’m 31!

As a buddy of mine pointed out, that’s a prime number. I do feel pretty prime, and not easily divisible. So that’s good!

Since birthdays are the prime time for a retrospective, I will look back and say that last year sucked in exciting new ways, but it’s better now. (Actually, the breakdown most strongly falls in line with the Chinese year, so rather than saying 30 sucked (the last few months of it rocked) or that 2007 sucked (It did, hard, and the suck continued on into January/early February, but then cleared up) I’m gonna go with “The Year of the Fire Pig sucked, but the Earth Rat* is kickin’ ass.”

Digging around actually looking up the elements for 2007, I came across the note that it was supposed to be a year of “marked difficulties” for Snakes. Despite being a good skeptic and having no particular belief (and occasional notable contempt) for astrology, I was weak enough to go “Man, you ain’t kiddin’….” The difficulties weren’t just marked, they were tagged and equipped with radio collars. What a time.

So, here I am, 31, and the dire stretch is apparently over, at least for now. Whew.

Looking back, I gotta say…getting a divorce was Really Really Good for me. Possibly one of the best things to ever happen to me. I certainly didn’t think it at the time, and y’know, there was that whole nervous breakdown in there too, that was, um, exciting, but at the end of the day… yeah. Not just because I’m madly in love with a totally awesome guy, I hasten to add, although that does keep me wandering around with an idiot grin on my face much of the time, but for a whole lot of personal reasons. I’m tougher, I’m self-sufficient and proud of it, and I’m a lot braver and wilder and more outgoing than I was. I like who I am rather better than I did. (Mind you, I also am rather more aware of my limits, which is…good to know, I suppose, although it might have been nice to find them by some method other than running-headlong-into-brick-wall.) Still, if personal growth was fun, everybody’d be doin’ it. The divorce was good for me. It sucked rocks, but the other side is a much better place.

(This is not the fault of my ex, who I maintain is not a bad guy. We were very good for each other for many years, and then…well…not so much any more. I bear him no particular ill-will, and I do hope he finds whatever he’s looking for eventually. Still, we’re a lot better apart. Well, I’m a lot better. He’s…y’know, he’s not my problem anymore, so let’s leave it at that.)

Also, if there was ever a doubt in my mind that I have truly astonishing friends and fans and readers and everything else…well, no more. And the number of you who have commented on how much better I’m doing these days…you’re absolutely right, and while I didn’t quite doubt that things would get better–Grandma’s “This, too, shall pass,” rang in my head quite a lot–it’s damn good to be here now that they have gotten better.

So thank you all for bearing with me, lo these many moons–you guys rock on toast, and I’m very grateful to have spent another year in your company!

Also, I woke up this morning because a very sexy man was kissing me on the cheek and saying “Happy birthday,” before he headed off to work. And then I slept in for a couple more hours, with a snoring beagle wedged against my shins. There may be a better way to wake up on your birthday, but I don’t know it offhand.

*Digger might approve, although she’d roll her eyes over anything smacking of astrology.

Awww…my thanks to the fans and friends who have sent me cookies (yay!) and art and books (thaaaank you Marian and Carl!) and whatnot for my birthday. You guys rock on toast! I face tomorrow’s arrival of 31 with fortitude (and cookies!)

Also, does anybody know where to find a photo or drawing of an albatross either top down or belly up? Got a buddy looking for a tattoo, but has so far been unable to locate one…

Memorial Day was goooood.

I had a GOOD day yesterday. Virtually no work got done–and it may not get done again today! Went to two memorial day parties, the first of which was a very pleasant cookout/pool party with the members of Kevin’s church* who are all very nice and seem to like me, although in the manner of Lutheran women of a certain age who have exactly one young bachelor/tech guy in their congregation that they feel just a trifle protective of, I suspect that my life won’t be worth squat should I do something untoward.**

So that was a lot of fun.

Then it was off to yet another party, this time with a crowd slightly more my usual style–in fact, I discovered that two of the people there had actually bought Taxman prints, and since they were in my car, I got to hand deliver them!–with Kevin and his cousin Amy. (Amy is awesome, and I need to drag her to more parties.) Since it was my turn to be the designated driver, and one of the taxman buyers (a delightful woman named Betsy, and a birdwatcher to boot!) apparently used to be a bartender, Kevin got to hit a stage of inebriated I haven’t actually seen since….well, that’s another story. (This is funny as hell. Kevin gets chatty when he’s drunk, and since he’s already as gregarious as a black-headed gull with an extra sardine ANYWAY…)

Another high point was “Hey! You came into my restaurant last week!”

“I did?”

“Yeah! I recognize the boots! And the ink!”

(I tell you, it’s better than business cards.)

So had a delightful evening where several long-time friends of Kevin’s (who were also very sloshed) draped themselves over my shoulders and insisted on dishing all the dirt they thought I needed to know about their buddy. (None of which was particularly alarming, although I was highly entertained…I don’t know if his cousin will recover, mind you, although she seemed to take it with aplomb.)

“I like you!” said the charming (and very drunk) Ann. “You’re sane. And pretty!”

“Thank you!” (Well, really, what else do you say?)

“The two don’t usually go together!” She considered for a moment. “On the other hand, you’re dating Kevin…” and gave me a wary look, as if at any moment I might, say, flash my membership card for the First Church of Serial Cattle Mutilation. (This seemed to be a common response…) An hour later or so, I had apparently proved myself not immediately dangerously insane, and she was expounding on her theory about the five ways to a man’s heart,*** and a good time was had by all.

By the time we headed off into the night, Kevin had made the acquaintance of the Goldschlager, which is highly dangerous stuff. (and the fact that he’s sitting upright on my couch as I write this and not notably hungover is pretty impressive.)  Amy and I poured him into the car. He spent most of the ride home attempting to make a rambling point about tattoos, and once I actually got him home, began telling me in charming and inebriated detail just how much he loved me.

Being more used to men who get home and throw up, I gotta say, I’ll take one who expounds at great length on how wonderful you are over mopping up the bathroom any day of the week.

A most excellent Memorial Day. I am pleased.

And now I really want an omelet.

*Organized religion and I get along like oil and fire, as y’all know, but they’re all VERY nice, and one must make a certain amount of allowance for any church where the pastor is responsible for bringing the tequila. Besides, I’m so noxiously in love at this point that he could belong to the First Church of Serial Cattle Mutilation, and I’d be down with it.

The question of how I wound up dating a Lutheran–with kids, no less–and arguably how he wound up dating ME–is a long story for another day, and if you get either of us tanked, we will probably tell it to you.

**I mean they’d be VERY NICE about it, but I have this vision of a Godfather-like scene where I wake up and there’s a dead casserole in bed with me, crumbled potato-chip bits staring up at me accusingly…

***I score three out of five, apparently, and I’ve got no money and can’t cook. Heh heh heh.

Every now and then I get in these moods where I go “Damnit! I haven’t done a big complicated detailed piece in too long! Can I even do them any more? Am I just a lazy sod? Have I lost my knack?”

Then I spend three days of sixteen hours days doing something like this just to prove that I still can, goddamnit.

Mice & Menace

Original is…oh… $2500, prints are available.

I go die now.