Okay, I promised…

By LJ demand…The Time I Inherited A Weirdo.

‘Long about five or six years ago, I got an e-mail that said “Hey, love your work, I think I knew your mom back when she was an art student.”

This is actually not that unusual. My mom and stepfather are very talented artists, they are reasonably active artists, they taught for quite awhile and still teach occasionally, so once a year or so, I’ll get a “Oh, hey, I took a class from your folks!” or whatever.  (Also, they brag about me in class, I am told. I feel the love. And the faint embarrassment.)

To such missives, I generally say “Heh, small world, huh?” and that’s usually about that, unless there’s something else they wanted to talk about, like what color I used for the pangolin’s wig in that one painting* and so forth.

So to this e-mail, I said “Heh, small world, huh?” and thought no more about it.

Then I got a reply, that said “Let’s see, if I remember correctly your father was a naval officer, you had platinum blonde hair as a child and liked unicorns. Here’s some of my art!”

My spine attempted to go through the back of the chair at this point, and I said “Eeeep!”

It is not inconceivable that someone who knew my mother as an art student might have met me as a small child and know these things, but there are ways one can bring that up gracefully, and this was Not It.**  (It may also have been the tone of the e-mail, which was rather more unsettling than rendered here, but the e-mail is buried in an archive somewhere, and I’m not inclined to dig it up.)

Anyway, see comments in prior post about displays of knowledge that other people do not expect you to have and said results. (It’s fine if you know these things. I realize some of you have minds like sponges. Just be aware that if you drop that kind of information out of the blue, you weird people out.)  Regardless, somewhere between the facts and the delivery, I was seriously weirded out.

The art was…I don’t even remember. Tied in with his “theories” about chakras, time travel, auras, history…think crappy New Age Timecube with aura photography and you’re probably close.  Serious moonbat stuff anyway.

I did what I do with all the e-mail I have no idea how to answer…I ignored it.

A day or two later, my mother called, and I happened to remember the freaky e-mail and said “Hey, mom, did you know a guy named Robert (whatever his last name was) in art school?”

“Oh god,” she said.

Well, turns out that way back in the day, when Mom was in art school and engaging in the wide world of post-divorce dating, she very briefly dated this guy, who promptly buried the needle on the creep-o-meter. No fool, Mom dumped him and then called the cops when he started doing exciting things like punching her windshield repeated as she drove away.  (Let us now all give mad props to Mom for recognizing the crazy and getting the hell out immediately.)

In those blissful pre-internet days, that and I think a couple of I’m-going-to-kill-myself-now letters (I honestly don’t recall) was as far as it went, and fortunately nothing bad came out of it, but here we were, twenty years later, and…yeah.

Armed with this new information, I still had no idea whatsoever what to do about this e-mail. Fortunately, it didn’t matter, because the next day, there was a long tirade in my in-box about how he thought I was different, but clearly all I wanted to do was steal his ideas and give nothing back, and not to ever contact him again or tell anyone that this conversation had taken place.

I was happy to oblige with the former, but the latter I felt was rather out of his jurisdiction, so here we are.

It’s not as exciting as the story of the weirdo obsessed with my cubicle art back in my days languishing in corporate America, but it was certainly an odd little slice of life.  Creeped me out for a few days, but fortunately nothing came of it.

*There is no such painting.

**I would have been fine with “I actually think we met briefly, although you were about seven and probably don’t remember me at all” or any variation thereof.

Hot, Creepy, and Movie Physics

Lotta chat in the blogospheres that I follow about a new bill going through that (hopefully) tightens up some of the laws on cyberstalking. I feel it’s a good thing. There’s no amount of law-writing that can give overworked cops more time and money to investigate with these things, nor that will convince a certain kind of person to take stalking seriously before the victim ends up in the hospital, but nevertheless, every little bit helps.

The downside–or upside–or maybe just a side about this is the sheer number of people coming forward with their stories about being stalked, and dear god in heaven, that’ll break your faith in humanity quick.

Much quicker, however, is the faith-breaking offered by the not one but two people I’ve seen say “Well, she only found that creepy because he was unattractive–if he was hot, it would have been a sweet romantic gesture!” a statement that makes me want to nip out to Wal-mart and see if you really can buy a shotgun in North Carolina without a waiting period.

Heavens to Murgatroyd, and in this day and age, too.

Most of you know this. All of you know this, probably. You’re cool people. None of the males among you would describe yourselves as Nice Guys ™ and then whine about how your niceness has somehow not caused vaginas to clang open like drawbridges around you, none of the females are doing the female equivalent, whatever that is.  Surely not. You’re much cooler than that.

However, on the off chance that one of you has suffered a severe blow to the head, rendering you a complete amnesiac and you are going through your bookmarks in an effort to reorient yourself in space and time, let me re-iterate–creepy is not a function of how hot you are.

Also attempts to emulate many of the whimsical romantic acts portrayed in chick flicks will get you pepper sprayed, since there are many things that we accept in movies that would be unbelievably freakin’ creepy in real life. Note the way that many decent people kill other people and none of them spend the rest of their lives haunted by guilt and regret, the lack of PTSD in most action hero survivors, etc, etc. Note that many romantic gestures that cause a heroine to melt in a movie, in real life would make the heroine expect to find a dead cat nailed to her door with a love poem attached to it.

Also many guns have recoil, and not all cars explode immediately upon going off a cliff.

Where was I?

Right, right, creepiness. And the inadvisability of using movies as a guide to human behavior. Or physics.

I do not know what makes people creepy. If I did, I would offer classes. However, I do spend a lot of time behind convention tables and I get great fans and normal fans and socially awkward fans…and occasional creeps.

The socially awkward fans are creeps much, much less often than you’d think. Creepy is not a function of being socially awkward, any more than it’s a function of being ugly. (I get ugly fans. I get hot fans. I get attractive fans, which is a category that really has very little to do with the first two. Again, if I knew what made that work, I would offer classes…) Socially awkward is just that–socially awkward, and I have been doing furry and comic cons long enough to know it a mile off, and, seriously…it’s fine. I have seen a lot of variations. There’s I-am-so-excited-I-am-talking-very-fast and that’s fine. There’s I-rehearsed-what-I-was-going-to-say-because-I-am-so-nervous and that’s fine, and when we go off script, which always happens immediately, they usually relax and deal. There’s I-am-just-really-bad-at-social-interactions, too. Yeah, sure, it gets a little painful when I have to deal with somebody with Asperger’s so bad that they can’t make eye-contact and apologize for everything immediately, but that’s only because I feel bad for the person who is so obviously distressed. (There was also the guy who would say something, and then run away. And then return a few minutes later. And say something. And run away. I felt terrible for him, I wanted to say “Stick around, it’s okay!” Otter suggested that he probably had a social anxiety issue and kept getting overloaded and having to go talk himself down, and she was very likely right.)

But these are minor concerns. I have had fans who have taken four years of commissioning me every year to be able to make eye contact with me when they do it, and y’know, it works out. We manage.

Creepy is something else.

If I could quantify it, I would. About all I can say is that there are levels of intimacy we achieve with each other as people over time, and when you try to jump the queue, that’s definitely creepy. (I think this is part of the problem with the big romantic gestures off the bat. You earn the right to those. Those are not a given.)  If you have ever attempted to ingratiate yourself with someone by displaying knowledge of them gleaned from outside research–perhaps in some misguided belief that your friends know this, and I know this, ergo we must be friends!–oh sweet god creepy. (Remind me to tell you about the internet weirdo I inherited some time…)

It should probably go without saying that if you say you’re not trying to be creepy, you have just failed spectacularly.

There’s also something about eye contact and body language in there too, but bugger if I can nail it down for you, except that I know it when I see it. (Too much eye contact is as bad as too little, but probably all I’ve done now is make people who aren’t creepy in the first place worry about their eye contact patterns, so don’t sweat it.)

Please note that at no point in there did I say anything about being hot. Yes, pretty people do sometimes get away with more in this world, that’s the reality we live in and I will tell you no lies–but that’s not the case here. I have known many, many people that I did not find hot, and they were most of them good and decent people, and I have known people who were devastatingly attractive while also having been beaten with the ugly stick–I am dead serious in this, I swear by Ganesh and his rodent handmaidens–and I have known people who had reasonably symmetrical features and who probably took a good photo who were oh-my-god-do-not-want-run-away.

That’ s life. If people find you creepy rather than charming, do not assume it is because they are shallow and want someone who looks like a movie star. Trust me.

Creepy makes you unattractive. Not the other way around.

Ah. Yes. That.

There is probably many annoyances on earth like discovering that last night you covered your rather large painting in Ultra Matte Gel, which is semi-opaque, rather than Matte Super-Heavy Gel, which is transparent, and that you now have a whole bunch of white boards where previously you had a vaguely abstract salmon.

I cannot think of them at the moment, but undoubtedly they exist.

Grrrr.

Azul Shrine

Aaaand one last one…the scan on this is atrocious, and I do apologize–I think the thing you see best is the fingerprints on my scanner bed! It’s a weird shape, though, and hard to scan, and photography was getting grumpy at me.

Worship of St. Azul was banned in some parts of the Gearworld, as the introduction of green and growing things was the primary detriment to operation of the gears. Clandestine shrines, however, abound.

8 x 11. I had the shrine shape for ages, I couldn’t think of what to put in it, and finally I did a tiny print of St. Azul, mounted him on thick paper, and put a coat of red oxide on him to match the colors of the rest of the shrine.

He is for sale, of course–drop a line or send an e-mail for pricing/availability!

Assemblage bits

Here’s a pair of the assemblage pieces I worked on a thousand years ago or so…

I tell you, it was THIS big!
The little silver hands are Tibetan charms that I picked up somewhere or other...

Both are for sale–fishy is about 4 x 5, the mannequin is 5.5 x 6.  Both have hangers and can hang as is, or could probably be mounted into a shadowbox-style frame.

Where did it go?!

So I’m finally knuckling down and doing my taxes.

On paper at least, I made half again as much money gross last year as I have ever made in my life. It was amazing. It was unprecedented. Granted that like six or seven years ago, my net income for the year was $9K, we’re still not talking outrageous sums, but to me, it is A Lot Of Money. I could buy a not-inconsequential-chunk of a house kind of money.

Except I didn’t buy a chunk of a house. And despite this restraint, I do not have the money!

I mean, I made the money! I have paperwork showing I made the money! My bank account has records that the money did exist! But where is it? *I* do not have the money! The money has gone away…somewhere…

I do not live an extravagant lifestyle! I can count on the fingers of one foot the number of times I have snorted coke off a hooker’s belly, my car is very used, and despite occasional sushi indulgences and ownership of several corsets, my friends have occasionally said, quite pityingly “You really don’t like to spend money, do you?” I deduct everything that can possibly be deducted, I pre-pay my taxes (and in retrospect, that was a solid tithe of my gross income right there…) and it’s not that I don’t understand how I spend money and all that, but I am still flabbergasted that there was all this money, money that in total is…lots and lots of money…and yet…I do not have the money!

The sheer expensiveness of life is just…insane.

Having pre-paid quite a lot, while I’ll probably be hit with another chunk, it’s nothing I can’t afford, but still…where is all the money?

Two Texting Tarsiers

I get the impression that the one on the bottom just got set a link to something vile...

A follow-up–only a year late!–to One Odd Ocelot. The sketch has been around nearly that long, but I was only seized by the urge to paint big-eyed primates recently.

In addition to the tarsiers, there are tomatoes, tomatillos, textbooks (or tomes!) test tubes and toe rings.

For three, it’d have to be Three Thylacine…somethings. Thespians. Thaumaturges. Thieves. Thingies.  (Three Thinking Thylacines? Three Theatrical Thylacines? Eh, it’ll be another year before I get around to it anyway…)

Prints available!

The Truth is Ugly

Kids, if you want me to fill out a survey for your class project, I am generally willing to accomodate…even the career surveys that clearly have nothing to do with art whatsoever…but don’t leave it until the last minute! If you send it to me and you need it by tomorrow, you will not get the good answers.

You will get the true answers.

These do not look good on your project. Trust me.

1. In the position you now hold, what do you do on a typical day?

I get up, I fool around in the garden for an hour, I spend a half hour on the internet answering e-mail and reading up on things, I paint for a few hours or write for an hour or so and then paint. Then I take a nap.

2. What are the most interesting aspects of your job?

I am very fond of the nap.

5. How long does it usually take to move from one step to the next in this career path?

Well, there’s not really a step, per se. It’s not like you get promoted from artist to mega-uber-artist. You just keep working and hopefully your work makes more money and gets broader recognition. It’s a lifetime process. You’re a starving artist, then a successful artist, then a dead artist.

6. What is the step above the one you now have?

Death.

7. What is the top job you can have in this career?

Successful artist (followed by dead artist.)

9. What are the basic prerequisites for jobs in this field?

Being able to draw. Being able to work very hard without somebody driving you. Having no god before the deadline.

11. What entry level jobs qualify one for this field?

Starving artist.

13. What are the salary ranges for various levels in this field? (Some fields, for example, have high starting salaries but level off early in the career path; others may start lower but have much higher top-level salaries).

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

(ahem.)

This is a non-salaried position.

14. What aspects of a career in this field do you consider particularly good? Particularly bad?

Naps good. Lack of health insurance bad.

15. What special advice would you give to a young person entering this field?

If there is anything else you can do and be happy, do it. If the art has to be made, though, and you have to do it, it’s a hindbrain function, go into art now while you’re young and can live on ramen.