• Personal

    Dentists, aka I am not the enemy

    I’m going to have to vent for a minute, since I still feel shaky and as though I’m going to be sick after just getting back from the dentist. For most people those visits probably aren’t pleasant, but they’re a necessary evil…unless you have a crippling phobia of Evil Bastards, I mean dentists.

    Backtracking for history:

    When I was a kid we lived in a small town in Northern California, where there was one dentist. On hindsight I think he was either a genuine sadist, completely incompetent, or (more likely) an alcoholic. If he remembered to give you Novocaine he shoved the needle halfway through your jawbone. If he had to drill a cavity, he wandered…into gums, tongues, once his own finger. I shit you not, my friends – this was one sorry excuse for a dental care professional and my sisters and I are all terrified of going to the dentist. I also have a terrible fear of needles which I attribute directly to him.

    I learned to deal with it as an adult, mainly because I was then living in Los Angeles and had access to practices where they gave you valium and used sedation. Not fun, but I could do it.

    And then I moved to the UK and it all fell apart. Here you’re treated like some whiny baby, a wussie who can’t handle a filling or two without painkillers. Always double-booking appointments, they rush you through everything and barely sterilise the hammers they use to bash you with. I admit to slightly exaggerating there. So, I’ve been going without since we moved here, which seemed like an entirely sensible plan until I was eating toffee and cracked a lower tooth loose from the bone. I’ve been living with said aching, wobbly tooth for what, four years? Not fun, and I need it taken care of now.

    So, I explain everything to the dentists’ office near us which supposedly sees private patients as well as no-frills NHS ones. We don’t have much money but I would pay anything to just have a bit of nitrous. I’ve been sick since yesterday when I made the appointment. And I see…not the smiling, gentle dentist that I’d hoped for, but a very brusque lady who has no patience for people who are babies. She didn’t like me.

    I asked about the private services that I’d been promised, I said I could do it but I needed something to help. She looked at me as though I had just admitted to voting Tory and being an avid foxhunter. In a flash I’m no longer a semi-redneck from California, but some elitist toff with my pointy nose in the air, sneering at NHS dentistry. Now she really hates me, and she’s starting to look a bit like Laurence Olivier in the movie Marathon Man. I don’t know if it’s safe or not, but I’ll say anything she wants at this point.


    This is me

     

    And so I left. And that was my day. And dentists suck. :(

  • Art,  Personal

    Onward Into 2017

    …like a herd of geriatric turtles, as it happens. :) We were sidelined over the holidays by that horrible flu/chest infection thing that seemed to be sweeping the country, which put a damper on the holidays until well after New Years. Horrible stuff!

    I’ve very slowly been getting back into the swing of things with work, much more slowly than I’d anticipated which has meant the schedule backing up a bit. No writing done at all, and very little personal artwork. The image below is one of the more recent ones that I’ve done.

    I did chose two authors rather than one for the cover contest, as they were both interesting and diverse. I want to read each of them! Both authors have been contacted, and I hope to be able to start on covers as soon as possible.

    Hardly any gaming has been done (between being sick and trying to catch up on work). Some Overwatch, which I love madly and am also frustrated by. I keep thinking about going back to FFXIV, as it’s the only MMO that I can see myself doing instances and raids in, but I’ve been lazy.

    The cosplay projects sit half-completed, and my front room workroom is a disaster of scraps of fabric and leather, hot glue guns, rivets and lost pins (knock on wood, we haven’t stepped on any yet…but it’s going to happen).

    So, I suppose that’s it for the first two weeks of the new year…just trying to kick myself into gear.

     

  • Personal

    Please Somebody Do This, I Beg Of You

    Today on Facebook I saw a friend indicate interest in the Night Market in Nottingham. Immediately my mind was filled with extremely cool images and possibilities about a market similar to the Floating Market in Neverwhere, or the Goblin Market in Hellboy 2. How incredibly cool would that be?

    The Nottingham Night Market, while sounding perfectly fine in terms of shopping and food booths and undoubtedly lots of fun in its own right, is nothing like my wild flights of fancy. I know because I looked it up.

    So I have to beg you, someone infinitely cooler and more creative than I am (by which I mean more social than I am), pleasepleaseplease set this in motion. Something wild and a bit shifty, a bit underground and artsy. Something like the people at the Labyrinth of Jareth masquerade would run in the off season. Costumes, booths selling arcane goods and art, wildfolk in costume. Dancing, music, drink. Food booths selling everything from candied quail to tiny, perfect marzipan banquets. I want a goblin market and a tiny slice of Bordertown.

    I want to be Fae for one night. Sigh…

  • Personal

    Going Forward From Here

    Just a short post to say that I’m still here, sort of. Depressed, sure…but who isn’t?

    I’ve been binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix when I can and it’s helped a bit with the blues. Yes, I realise that I am firmly sticking my head in the sand but it’s so lovely, this false world of hope and good people and cute mother-daughter shenanigans in an impossibly quaint and quirky town. Hey, we all need our coping mechanism and massive quantities of alcohol just wasn’t working for me. :)

    I’ll figure out a way to save the world tomorrow.

  • Personal

    Going On From Here

    I am feeling human again today, barely, after surviving an absolutely cataclysmic hangover. I say this as someone who once drank most of a bottle of Gran Marnier and had a four day hangover while LIVING ON A BOAT. You think you’ve had a hangover? Try having on while being on a rocking, lapping, creaking boat and see if you don’t want to die.

    Like a lot of Americans living abroad I went to bed the other night worried because the election was so very close, but still hopeful that sanity would prevail. It seemed impossible that this huge sociopathic orange festering monster could sway enough people to actually get in. I mean, I know people are horrible, but surely they’re not that suicidally stupid, right?

    As it turned out the next morning, they were.

    I’d woken at 4:00 am and gone downstairs as I had a feeling and couldn’t go back to sleep. Turned on the TV, and while it wasn’t all over it was obvious which way it was going to go. I felt as though the whole world had been knocked offkilter during the night, that impossible things had happened – I actually don’t know how to say it except that it felt inconceivable. But you know what they say about that word. Figuring that the whole world was ending in flames, I started drinking scotch and continued to do so throughout the entire ugly day.

    Anyway, I’m back, the headache has ebbed and I might be able to eat something today. Yaay me. The world has gone on, it didn’t actually end, and we must all somehow find a way to live in it. People are starting to fight back (a bit late after the fucking fact, I might add), all of the racists and misogynists are celebrating and we’ll all go on somehow. Some of us less well than others, but hey…what’s a back alley abortion or a hanging or two?

    While I was sloshed to the very brim with scotch I made the decision to cut a lot of people out of my life that I’d cut a lot of slack previously. I grew up in a small town and left two weeks after graduation. My sisters all stayed, got married, became stay-at-home moms. Their politics are very, very different than mine. Their world is very different than mine, which is something that I can’t blame them for – when you live in a small town with a destroyed economy, when you basically don’t know a single black person personally, when the only Muslims you see are on the TV, carrying black flags and beheading people, you have a certain world view. When you’ve never gone out into the world and worked, you don’t know how hard it is for women. When getting pregnant is just a prelude to getting married and settling down, you don’t understand about girls bleeding to death in the back of back-alley abortioner’s filthy vans. This is a very slight exaggeration, I know that most of them have seen a black person on the street now and then. The point is, they are a product of the place they’ve grown up in, one very small sliver of the world.

    The next day I reconsidered (or as much as I could with a brain that had turned to grey mush). I have very little family left and what I have is precious to me. And in the end I thought no, I did the right thing. We all overlook the racist memes that certain members of our families post on Facebook, we chide them when we see them reposting shitposts about Obama and Hillary and Muslims wanting to do away with Christmas. Hey, most of us grew up with that uncle or grandfather that said racist things at Thanksgiving, you roll your eyes behind their back and love them anyway. It’s just what we do.

    For a long time conservatives have been making snarky comments about how Muslims should be policing their own communities, it is their responsibility to stamp out extremism first. And while I generally despise the people saying those things, there is a certain amount of truth in that these beliefs are overlooked by the people who love them. We forgive our brothers and sons because we love them, and then they plant a bomb or go join Daesh. It is the same thing here. People feel justified in their misogyny and racism, they feel that since no one says anything against them it is okay. They feel that the majority of the US are with them. I don’t want to let things slide anymore, because it’s really NOT okay, it is wrong and I will stand up and fight against this no matter who you are. Even if you are someone whom I will always love very, very much. And that is an extremely hard thing.

    I’ll close by saying that I do understand. I’ve lived in cow towns, I was in 4H as a kid, my dad was with the Sherrif’s Department, my mom with the church, the County Fair was the high point of the entire year, and Walmart coming to our town was the best/worst thing that happened to it. But still…but still.

    These two posts say it so much better than I could, they’re worth reading to understand (if not forgive): Rural America and How Half of America Lost Its F**king Mind

  • Personal

    This and That

    It’s been a while since I last wrote anything, as I’ve been feeling…not good? Off-kilter and rudderless, not quite enough to be thinking breakdown, but definitely not normal.

    Yeah, yeah, I know…as if I was ever normal. :D

    What I always was, though, was full of plans and ideas and projects that I wanted to do, a thousand and one things that I was in the middle of, or planning, or had dropped to make way for new ideas. What I am at the moment is stagnant, kind of like someone in a fairy tale who sat down to sleep in a wood and never woke up, grown over with brambles and blanketed with fallen leaves. It’s not pleasant, but I don’t know how to get out of it.

    It’s November, time for NaNoWriMo, and I have several projects that I’d worked hard to clear some space for, and I’ve done nothing but panic every time I sit down to write. No exaggeration, actual panic as though someone had reached a hand into my chest and squeezed. Horrible.

    It’s the same with everything else, it’s all coming out broken or I get breathless at the thought of starting. I hate it, but I’m really not sure what I should do. Bah.

    I haven’t been doing a lot of gaming recently due to the need to give my hands a chance to recover. The doctor thinks it has something to do with lupus, but I’ve lived with that for a long time and I think she’s mistaken. There’s a definite connection to repetitive stress from gaming, also making it difficult to lift anything. I’m still subbed to FFXIV, and really want to get back into the swing of instances and so on, but can’t face it right now.

    One surprising thing that I’ve really been enjoying is Overwatch. Granted I’m no longer a kid with fast-twitch reflexes, but the strategy of it all is fascinating. I’ve actually been watching some of the World Cup matches and enjoying it, and watching e-sports was always something that I would rather have pried the eyes out of my head rather than watch. Go figure.

    So that’s it, I suppose, that’s where I am this month. Stuck like a character in a fairytale who got lost in the woods and slept for a few years, or a century.

  • Art,  Personal

    Baby Steps

    This story starts with a hangover. More accurately, it starts with the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 and the documentary on it that Phil chose for us to watch, which made me sad and angry and sad all over again which led to a few strong drinks and finished with initiating a re-watch of Firefly (which I’ve seen so many times that I reserve it for those times when I am very, very sad). I woke with the mother of all hangovers which lasted for more than two days.

    We were talking about the various 9/11 memorials, all of the various things to fill the space at Ground Zero and to me all of them are small, low to the ground. It’s as though we no longer want to hold our heads up. None of them replace what was lost, and I think that is incredibly sad. We should have decided to build the biggest, tallest building in the world, set a new record, put one finger up against hatred and ignorance that went all the way up to the sky. Sheath that fucker in red, white and blue glass, make it the shiniest goddamned building in the world.

    It may surprise those who know me that I am very patriotic in a way…I love the country that I was born to. I love what we stood for, what I was told America was all about when I was a child. I believed in our goodness and our bravery. And you know what? I hate feeling guilty for that now.

    The swing to the far right over the last decade or so has changed us so profoundly that I’m not sure if we can ever get back again. The decent, salt of the earth people that I grew up believing in have been replaced by the Tea Party, the deep corruption in our government, and the rabid bigotry and hatred of Donald Trump and his supporters. I can’t say that I believe in America without somehow feeling as though I’m aligning myself with the dregs of humanity, flying their freak flag of hate loud and proud. I am instead silent, and sad.

    Anyway…back to the mother of all hangovers, the very Kali of alcohol-induced regret.

    I’ve taken some baby steps back to my art, trying to find the enjoyment in it that I used to have. And so each morning I’ve been doing a speedpaint type of thing (except, you know, not really painting). One project per morning, finish by lunch no matter what. These were the first two days (the sci fi one really needs more detail work, which I will do because I can’t bear to leave it like this).

    Soldier The Princess In The Tower

    Save

  • Personal,  Writing

    Lists and Terror

    I’m a great list maker and planner. As you can see from my previous New Years Eve resolutions, however, I’m not always a successful completer of lists. Nevertheless (refusing to learn from past failures) I now have a list of projects that I want to work on as time opens up prior to the end of the year:

    1: Art. New Styles. New Skillz.

    As a book cover artist I get a bit tired of doing the same type of covers, and I’m sure that readers must get tired of seeing the same types of covers over and over again. This has led to some of the stress over the past year and dissatisfaction with work. I know authors, with everything riding on the success or failure of a new book, want something that they know readers in the past have liked. I know that, and I do understand it…but each time I get a brief for an urban fantasy cover that needs a tough-but-beautiful heroine with great hair wearing leather and jeans, standing in an urban landscape with magic effects on her hands or on her weapon of choice I feel tired. That’s not to say that I don’t love the hell out of that type of book, I really do love me a kickass female hero. And yet…I think we can all do something a bit different.

    Part of the problem is stock. Most commercial stock images are outtakes from fashion or advertising shoots, modelling portfolio shots and so on. The models are pretty, but there are a lot of “model-y” poses (as one would expect). Action shots are really, really difficult to find and it’s even more difficult to find ones that haven’t already been used since everyone else is looking for those as well.

    Now, lacking the finances to set up a studio again and shoot my own models, I’ve been looking at CGI models for bodies and costume. I’ve used a lot of these in the past, and when paired with a real model’s face and hair it’s difficult to tell that they were digital, especially when overpainted. This is one option for more interesting model shots with more life and action to them. Acquiring the 3D modelling skills needed to create the figures, skin them, and light them properly is a bit more difficult, more of a high learning curve.

    So, that’s one thing.

    2: Writing = Panic Mode.

    For several years now I’ve been trying to clear the spare time to do some writing. The Clockwork Bluebird, my first project, needs re-working with a new ending and I have the sequel partially written. I have other projects (very different ones!) also pulling at me for attention. I am, I GODDAMN AM, going to devote some time to these so that I can get enough momentum going in order to not fall by the wayside in despair after I go back to work after the holidays. I’ll probably never be a great writer, maybe not even a good and professional one…but I think I could not embarrass myself. I want the chance to try, anyway. I want to tell these stories as best as I can.

    1. The Tatterdemalion Dancer. Clockpunk-fantasy sequel, underground carnival which is also a war between the Fae courts. A Goose Girl/Red Shoes mashup. :D
    2. A twisted Alice tale of madness: Suckerpunch meets Alice in Wonderland.
    3. My pooka story.

    That shit is hella scary.

    3. The Rest.

    Other projects include work on the various cosplay outfits that I have littering the front room, which I’ve turned into a workroom. I want to put more time into my photography (and as a side note be able to use more of my own shots rather than having to buy so much stock!).

    So…yeah. The list. Lists are terrifying.

     

    Postscript: A video which captures The Tatterdemalion Dancer perfectly. <3

    LE CIRQUE FEERIQUE Reel from Company XIV on Vimeo.

  • Personal

    Wedding

    The backyard rustic wedding was wonderful! It was actually a handfasting, performed by a pagan but softened to suit a very mixed group of family and friends. Perfectly lovely.

     

    Wedding

     

    Wedding 13707515_10154770830257289_2839788114743285843_n WeddingWedding Wedding 13939577_1744598362423409_987339615836185240_n

  • Personal

    Off Like a Herd of Stressed Turtles

    …or something like that, anyway. :) Leaving early tomorrow, having accomplished only a small amount of everything that I needed to before I left. I’ve been throwing things into my suitcase without my normal planning, so I will probably end up with fifteen black shirts and no pants or shoes. I just remembered to pack underwear this afternoon. Anything I miss, I guess I can hit Walmart for once I get there.

    Don’t have too much fun while I’m gone… :D