I was exiled from the living room the other day because Jack and Jackson were in the midst of a Game of Thrones marathon, so I sat at my little desk in the kitchen and copied the bear from a bookmark* I’d found at work.
Someone suggested that this is how California got its shape, a bear hugged it so hard that it bent. This is a plausible mythology, and I like it. I also like how the bear is licking its own fur because it seems like Bear Behavior to lick yourself for a few moments between the time you capture something and the time that you eat it. Like, a bear needs to settle itself down a little before digging in and consuming your heart and lungs. The bear loves you so much it eats your heart first. “California, I’ve got you!” growls the bear, and the bear has a whisper of love in its voice. The bear wants you inside where you can be a part of the bear and never get away.
*People leave bookmarks in library books all the time. We frequently find family photos, greeting cards (both blank and used), playing cards, Kleenex, fast-food napkins, Post-its, boarding passes, tarot cards, and actual bookmarks. We call the people who leave the photos, then we throw out the trash and put the actual bookmarks in a drawer so that when people say, “Do you have any bookmarks?” we can fan out a splendid array of miscellany.
So I had to re-do the first “bring your own weather to the picnic” drawing because it turned out that the person who asked for it wanted fancy lettering and not necessarily a smug cat and a confused owl. She would have been fine with the animals, but she didn’t ask for animals, so I took it as an opportunity to acknowledge the terrible flaws in my reading comprehension and I drew anew.
THEN I came face to face with a drawing that would include John Hodgman and Maria Bamford. WELL, that is surely a test of my fledgling person-drawing abilities and I had to do a lot of erasing. I was sitting in my car killing time before my optometrist appointment and now my floor mats are covered in little pink eraser shreds. I’m pretty sure this is going to get a do-over as well, but I might as well post my failures here as well as my successes, for they are both humbling and entertaining.
I have this idea that Maria Bamford might be a little phone phobic so she makes one of her pugs answer the phone, although I’m not sure why John Hodgman wouldn’t know the difference between the sound of a ringing phone and a bunch of wet snuffling noises. This whole concept needs some work.
My mom signed me up for local league basketball teams every winter between fourth and sixth grade. She was always signing me up for sports. Between soccer season and tennis season and diving and endless years of ballet I never got a break. Maybe it was just to get me out of the house because she was the one who needed a break, because it couldn’t have been that she enjoyed driving me around in varying degrees of post-game sweaty teen funk.
But I remember two things — okay, three things about — okay four things about the basketball league.
1. I needed shorts for a game in fourth grade and none of mine were clean so I cut the legs off a pair of jeans that had become too short. Unfortunately, I cut them so short that my butt cheeks showed. The next game I went to look for them again and they were gone. It turned out my mother had hid them from me. I freaked and demanded she give them back, and she did! And everyone got treated to my fourth-grade butt cheeks once again.
2. During sixth grade tryouts I was the only kid who could make a left-handed layup, and when the coach’s daughter came up to slap me on the ass and say, “Good job!” she actually goosed me — like seriously, she grabbed my vagina and gave me an evil, evil grin. (I was not wearing my butt-cheek shorts, don’t tell me I was asking for it!)
3. I remember being surprised one day after winning a tough game that I actually felt sort of depressed. I should have felt great, but I didn’t.
4. The next week we lost our game, and I was double extra surprised that I didn’t really feel bad about it. As a matter of fact, I felt pretty good.
And that’s what I was thinking when I made this drawing, that in sixth grade I learned that my external circumstances often had no bearing on my internal weather.
I know you were distracted from this very important life lesson by the image of young girls grabbing each other’s private parts but you need to SNAP OUT OF IT.
The picture frames I ordered finally came so I’m sending out more drawings tomorrow, but the hardest one to let go of has been this guy:
I really wanted to keep him. I asked Jack what I should do.
“Keep it and draw another one to send out,” he said. I don’t know if you know that Jack is a painter, and he understands that sometimes you don’t want to give away your loved ones so instead you charge a shitload of money for them. But that was not an option. However, before I put my sheep friends in an envelope I drew a copy of them!
Which didn’t look quite right. The sheep’s head was too big and the sheep dog was stumpy.
I made another one!
Which still didn’t look quite right. The sheep’s head is misshapen but now I am on a roll and may end up copying this particular scenario exclusively from here on out. This could cause a lot of confusion, I realize. You asked for dinosaurs, you get sheep. You asked for a tree? You get sheep. California landscape? California landscape with SHEEP.
Yes, I blew NaBloPoMo. I failed at my own thing! For the first time in what, five years? I haven’t posted every day in November, and you know what? Oh, well. C’est la guerre. This weekend at Camp Mighty was not a time for withdrawing to my room and ruminating on lessons learned, it was a time best spent fetching cocktail napkins for Alice to cry into and drinking margaritas while talking to Heather about the election. And also doing this:
I have never before in my life put on a wig and shiny green pants to go to a party, I don’t know what’s happening to me. If this is how a mid-life crisis escalates, brace yourselves; it could happen to you, too.
Also, I stopped posting because I stopped drawing every day, and now I’m horribly behind. This next drawing comes at the request of someone who wanted an elephant.
It is so much more than just an elephant, it is a baby elephant hiding in a bush while its mother looks in the other direction, with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background. How about them apples? I have no idea if they have bushes like that on the road to Kilimanjaro or if elephants even roam in the area, and frankly I was tempted to pull a Little Prince and draw an elephant inside a snake that looks like a hat, but that would be plagiarism and I’m not interested in being so unoriginal. Awkward, yes. Illogical, of course. But by God at least I’m making my own awkward, illogical drawings.
I appreciate the stamina-building aspect of posting every day for a month, but its 11:57 and I’m letting this one go.
No post today, but some insights from Camp Mighty tomorrow.
I can only post quickly, it’s been a long day and now it’s time for the sleeps, but I’d just like to say that when you take someone who doesn’t eat wheat to In-n-Out it’s important to remember that Animal Style means extra sauce, pickles, and grilled onions, and Protein Style means No Bun, because if you get them backwards she’ll be eating her burger with a fork and saying, “No, no, it’s fine!” because she’s a nice person, and you’ll be the idiot who can’t speak the local be-bop even though you’ve lived here for 21 years.
Sharpening my pencil with a cat’s butt.
This is the first unfinished drawing I’ve posted, I don’t want to blow it by just trying to finish it and get it out of the way. The person who requested it asked for a drawing based on this poem by e.e. cummings:
my love is building a building
around you,a frail slippery
house,a strong fragile house
(beginning at the singular beginning
of your smile)a skilful uncouth
prison, a precise clumsy
prison(building thatandthis into Thus,
Around the reckless magic of your mouth)
my love is building a magic, a discrete
tower of magic and(as i guess)
when Farmer Death(whom fairies hate)shall
crumble the mouth-flower fleet
He’ll not my tower,
where the surrounded smile
I feel like I took the whole thing too literally, with the buildings hugging (based on this) and the pseudo Mona Lisa smile, but that’s just where I am, not in a super sophisticated place as an illustrator, just trying to work where I’m at. Maybe it’s done just like this.
We’ll see where life takes us tomorrow.