30 Years

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

As it turns out, I am, in fact, alive!

Reasons for my absence boil down to a severe bout of depression following some unsavory life events, and getting back into the swing of art. And I'm sure if you ask almost any artist, stopping when motivated is scary because you never know when it will come back. In short, sorry for my absence, but I'm still not in the clear for a regular schedule just yet.

Today is my 30th birthday. Looking back at my 30 before 30 post, I definitely bit off more than I could chew with that list. I never really factored in my bouts of severe depression, which was silly of me seeing as how they happen multiple times a year, and this year was no different.

To bare all (or to bare what I am at least comfortable with making public knowledge), I went through a break-up with my boyfriend of two years, which somewhat set off the depression. Shortly after, my living situation worsened due to almost total and constant lack of privacy or any time alone. As someone who is very introverted, I require a great deal of time alone to function around other people. I wasn't (and still am not) getting that much needed refuge, so life is a constant game of "how much anxiety will I go through today?" I'm still saving to move, but my moving date keeps getting pushed back as new expenses arise and I honestly lose hope at least once a week.

That particular spell of depression lasted longer than most, and it was the most severe to hit me in a while. However, I've mostly pulled out of it and can focus on trying to better things for myself as best I can while in my current situation.

If you follow my art tumblr, you've no doubt noticed the barrage of fanart that has taken it over. To be honest I can't really make any excuses for the fanart. I used games as an escape from my problems and what it led to was more inspiration than I knew was possible. I'm still so relieved over feeling any desire to pick up my artwork again, whatever the content. The fact of the matter is, I've drawn more in the past 3 months than I had in the past 3 years! Unforgivable! What's also sad is how quickly I'm improving. If I had put this much work into the past three years, imagine how much more developed my art would be by now! It's a shame. I can only hope this inspiration leaks into my original work soon and I can start putting together my comics without getting discouraged!

To focus on more of the positive in my life, I began taking care of my body again. I wanted to turn 30 without more regrets than necessary, and getting back into shape was one of the things close to the top of my to-do list. My body was feeling more and more foreign to me as this year passed, and finally I had enough. As my depression cloud faded, I knew I had to do something to help with my physical well-being. I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin again. I'm well on my way. I joined Pop Physique in late July and have been going at least 3 times a week ever since. There hasn't been much change to my physical appearance (if any) but I can definitely feel a difference inside myself. I FEEL and strong and capable and it is affecting my entire outlook. I feel more confident than I have in months and months and even when I'm not having the best of days, I can still feel some satisfaction that my body feels more familiar to me. I've still a long way to go before I'm at my best again, but little by little I'm getting there.

Turning 30 has always seemed like such a huge milestone and a big deal. It was like the next major level up of life! I've been worried for the last few years that I hadn't done enough, that I had nothing to show for myself despite being an official OFFICIAL really real adult now. How did I get here without earning all the required XP? Being here now is a lot less scary than it looked two years ago. Hell it even is a lot less scary than it looked 2 months ago. I still have goals and dreams, some may be possible and some may still be dreams forever. (Does the ultimate margarita truly exist, and where can I find it?) Maybe I won't accomplish anything until I'm 40, or maybe when I'm 50 everything will fall into place in my life. I think it's best to stop relying on magical numbers now. Whatever I do or do not accomplish have nothing to do with my age! I can only focus on doing what makes me happy and living my life the best I can.

I still plan on going through my 30 before 30 list and talking about what I pulled off and how and why. I also still have tons of Portland photos never shared. Photo-editing is such a task! I think if I share those, I might just jam my favorites into a big post (or two) and be done with it. I still have a few ideas floating around for this blog, though not exactly the ones I originally intended. My outfit posts are on indefinite hold for now. While part of the reason I stopped doing them was from depression and not feeling good about myself, the other reason was weight gain. I don't fit into a majority of my favorite clothes right now. I'm also not anywhere near well-off enough to just completely overhaul and refill my wardrobe with my current size. Without cute outfits that fit, there aren't any cute outfit posts. I haven't even been taking outfit photos for instagram anymore either. I'll get back into that whenever I'm able and hopefully have enough of my other content to keep things going around here. Regardless, apologies for my unannounced absence, and apologies still for what will continue to be a rocky path to getting this blog to where I would like it to be!

For now I plan to continue my week long celebration that began on Sunday. I'm 30 damnit! It takes at least a week to process and move on to the next level of age. Will this be the year I finally learn the much coveted skill of playing through a D&D game? How much more grinding at my day job will I have to do to earn enough coin to support my true passions? Will I finally complete quest "move out of parent's house"? Until then, that quest for the ultimate margarita continues.

Until next time,

Jessie xxoo

Obsessive Escapism

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Have you ever just completely lost yourself in something? A good book, a movie, a relationship maybe?

When I get into something, I can lose myself very easily. I can easily become obsessed when my emotions are really invested in something. Escapism is a coping mechanism for me with anxiety and depression, and while in some cases it can also become a crutch, it's definitely my go-to when life is handing me stressor after stressor.

Over the past month I've played through the entire Mass Effect trilogy. It seemed like the right thing to do because life was just kind of becoming overwhelming with all the what-ifs and unanswerable questions. I've played the first game before with mild enjoyment, and had played part of the second too with greater enjoyment. However, my memory being what it is, I couldn't really remember the details of the main plot and decided to replay the series from the start. And I guess my sense of escapism kicked in because I got 100% emotionally invested in the games this time around. I gave more meat to my Shepard (which is who you see in that drawing, my Aram Shepard) and obsessively read about the Mass Effect universe in down time, and I drew fanart.

If you're into games, RPGs, or shooters (ME is third-person) but also enjoy being part of a story, I'd definitely recommend these games, though I would say to give yourself time in between. These games are actually very emotionally intense and playing them back to back really affected my emotional health. The writing can lull at times but for the most part it is very on point.

My reason for enjoying games so much is to be actively involved in a story where your choices affect the outcomes. For me, it's kind of like being an actor in a movie, except you're choosing the script and the direction that movie takes. Plus you get to meet some great characters along the way and make a few fictional friends. I'm not sure if that's something to promote. But as an introvert who has commitment issues, and relationship issues, finding comfort in fictional characters is something I've been doing for a large part of my life. I'm not sure it's something that will ever change either. But that's a story for another day.

I'm not saying what I've been doing over the past month is very healthy. I haven't gone out much (I'm trying to save money anyway, but I'm reaching near hermit levels of reclusion) and have avoided spending time with people because I wanted to play the games. I've obviously ignored this blog. Not to mention I've been neglecting my health. My eating is erratic at best and my sleep is even more so. This level of obsession and escapism isn't something I do often though, and I usually recover pretty quickly (i.e. after the game is completed, which it was as of last night).

But on the plus side of things, it's gotten me drawing again. And painting digitally again, which I really missed. I already have tons of ideas written down for paintings and comics. Having the urge to WANT to draw and paint is amazing. I hope I can hold on to it and just enjoy making things, even if not everyone cares about them. Just making things I like would be great.

Do you guys have similar coping mechanisms or inclinations toward escapism? What are your favorite ways to escape once in a while?

Because the music for the Mass Effect series is also wonderful, I'll leave you with this:
Such wonderful soundtracks with amazing scores. Clint Mansell of "Requiem for a Dream" fame actually pitched in and composed the tracks in this video.

Until next time!

Jessie xxoo

Required Reading 01: Comics!

Monday, May 19, 2014

My reading goal for the year is falling incredibly short. I've only read 2 novels, and am on the third now. I have, however, read a bunch of comics this year, and while I don't know if I'd count them all towards my reading goal, I definitely think they're worth sharing!

Beast by Marian Churchland
I've been following Marian Churchland for some time now, and her art never fails to impress. So when I saw this book in the shop, I had to pick it up! I was thrilled to find out that her writing style and story-telling is just as good as her art! The story is a modern take on Beauty and the Beast (without the hostage and stockholm syndrome aspect for those who don't care for that) that was supposedly inspired by the passing of Churchland's dog. Either way, the story is very subtle in the way it progresses, but I picked it up to check out a few pages, and couldn't put it down till I finished the whole thing! The story follows Colette, a struggling artist who picks up an odd commission from an even stranger client. The story is beautifully told and the art holds up as equally beautiful!

Drinking at the Movies by Julia Wertz
Drinking at the Movies is a painfully hysterical autobiographical look into a tumultuous period in Wertz's life. When I say painful, I mean it! Sometimes I didn't know whether to laugh because some events were so terrible that it was hard to see it as funny, and yet, the way Wertz describes situations, there's a definite levity to all of it where you can't help but laugh! This book is not for the faint of heart; there's a lot of graphic language, adult situations and lack of political correctness that some may find offensive. But if you don't think that would bother you, I definitely would recommend this book for those that love bio comics. Personally, they're a favorite of mine and Julia Wertz has an incredible knack for finding humorous ways to describe even the bleakest situations, and doesn't hold back with embarrassing or personal details to add more context to her story. It was a great read!
French Milk by Lucy Knisley
French Milk was Lucy Knisley's first published work (I think?) about her trip to Paris with her mother. The book is enjoyable enough, though not my favorite of her body of work. It lacks the same fluid and imaginative style her current work possesses. However, it's not a comic (which is what I'm used to) but a travelogue (basically it's a journal with pictures). It's less detailed and wordy because it is basically just Lucy keeping track of her time in Paris. And while it's entertaining, it wasn't one of those books you can't put down because you need to know what happens next. However it still has markers of her current style (both in aspects of art and storytelling). Lucy is actually one of my favorite cartoonists and she has had a really interesting, almost magical life. It's always a treat to read even a tiny bit about it.
Relish by Lucy Knisley
After reading French Milk I was definitely in the mood for more of Lucy's work. I bought this book during my Portland vacation and ended up reading all of it before we even left the book store! Not only does she tell fantastic stories of her childhood, she explores her relationship with food through her parents and how she came appreciate and love good food. Her life is almost magical (at least, very different from what I experienced, like she was born onto a movie set!) and I loved her anecdotes and their relevance to each chapter. A bonus is that she gives recipes after each chapter where you can make the food she talks about in the book! I can't wait to try some out! This book was amazing and I loved every bit of it!
Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
I have been a fan of Hicks' work since she was still updating her webcomic Demonology 101, so I was really excited to dig into Friends with Boys. Her artwork is distinctive and fun and diverse. I have always loved the way she draws faces and the detail she puts into backgrounds. She's an excellent artist. The story was good, but the climax was a bit underwhelming, and there were added tangent plot points that didn't go anywhere. The general plot was okay. It kind of jumped around a bit. I'm not sure if her webcomic had a more solid story, or if I remember it differently because I was younger and my exposure to comics was minimal. Honestly I'd have to reread D101 (which I may do some day) but over all I fell in love with that webcomic and this story wasn't nearly as endearing to me. It was a cute story though.
Koko Be Good by Jen Wang
I've been dying for AGES to get my hands on a Jen Wang comic. Ever since I heard about her ill-fated webcomic Strings of Fate, I've been enchanted with Jen's artwork. Finally I found an affordable copy of Koko Be Good on amazon and jumped at it. Koko Be Good was an amazing comic. The story centers around two young people who are in the midst of finding themselves, and figuring out what they want out of life. Koko is the kind of character I would normally hate, but she's actually pretty endearing. A brat who suddenly decides to be a good person and does everything she can think of to stick to it? And Jon reminds me of some friends I had ages ago who just needed to figure some things out. Plus Faron's subplot is pretty heart-breaking! Definitely pick this up if you're able!
Sleep of Reason: A Horror Anthology
I read this all in one go and sadly wasn't a huge fan. I've always had that problem with comic anthologies. I bought this anthology because some artists I follow/love were going to be in it, and while I DID enjoy their contributions, I didn't enjoy much else. There were stories that had great art, there were a few really creepy stories, but at least half the book was either okay or just plain "meh" to me. I won't name specifics because I can leave that up to you to decide, and I don't want to call anyone out on their contribution. I understand it's difficult to make a comic scary when you can see what's coming from panel to panel on one page, but I felt like some of the stories didn't even make sense as a horror. This would be a book I'd rather borrow from someone than own myself, but it's a little late for that. At least I got a really awesome print by Brittney Sabo with my purchase!

Well that's all my reading content for now. When I read a few more books, maybe I'll do a non-comic update. If I had the time I'd love to do a picture book report for books (drawing pictures for the books I read) though that's just adding more work onto a pile of things I'm already behind on!

Have a great week!

Jessie xxoo

Portland 03/02/14 | Belmont and Beyond

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Our first Sunday in Portland was spent in Belmont District for the most part. Both my brother and I fell in love with the atmosphere and character of the district. Everything had personality and it was a beautiful area on top of that. We walked around for hours in the drizzle just enjoying all the sights and street art. We unanimously agreed that Belmont District was definitely our favorite spot in Portland!

Everything was so colorful and green. We couldn't help ourselves from weaving through residential areas and I even dragged my brother through the historical cemetery in the area. I've never been able to walk through an historical cemetery before, the ones by me are all modern and plain, so it was nice to find one with character and interesting headstones.

After hours of walking around, we headed back to the area where our host's home was and walked around the little main street there. It was pretty sparce, but had its own personality that was pretty cute! Plus we found a great cafe called Posie's which had the best coffee I had during my entire trip, and a freshly made pineapple danish that beats every other danish I've had in my life!
Yes, it was absolutely worth all three photos! (Plus my brother can be a little cutie so I had to post his pic too!)

Anyway, I didn't realize how image heavy this post would be since I cut down the images to less than a third of what I actually shot that day! Crazy! Is that a pain? Is it better to hide a chunk of photos behind a "read more"? Or is it less likely that you'd read the post if it's behind one? Being relatively new to blogging in general, I'm not sure what is best for posting/viewing. Also, does anyone know how to get all shortcut images to be the same width on the page? I use the blogger general format for shortcutting the images, but I don't really like how the taller images are sized with a smaller width. If you have any idea on how to help out, I'd really appreciate it!

My back is pretty messed up right now so I've basically had to lay down for 2 days straight. I can't do anything that even requires me to sit up, so photo-editing seems like the perfect way to pass the time. Hopefully that means I can get more posts from my trip up sooner and organize them in a more view-friendly way.

Until next time!

Jessie xxoo