Holy Imbalance, Batman

April 13, 2014

Batman seems to be featured in my blog entirely too much, considering I’ve never met the man…bat. I don’t think I’m channeling Robin, but who knows. I always thought he was kind of an immature twit. I’m on a teeter-totter of imbalance at the moment. Run from one side and it flips up to try to bounce you off the other side; run back to stabilize it, and it rushes up to the other side. Can’t seem to straddle the middle and keep it all at bay, keep the sides even. It’s one or the other and all about unseating…well…me.

The doctor was happy with my numbers. She has pulled me permanently off one of my diabetes meds, after many years of being on it. This is good. This is success. She was definitely more excited than I was, because she also said I might see more of the low blood sugars, precisely because I am more in control. Hmn. This is not control. It seems like luck. She also talked about hormone imbalances, which honestly may have been the majority of my mood issue over the last two or more years…but it’s not so much the estrogen, that wacky hormone of womanhood, but my psycho thyroid. We adjusted meds for that not 4 months ago, and they are low again. Sigh. So we’re upping those. Low thyroid can cause problems with sleep, irritation, periods, depression, blood sugar…sounding familiar anyone? Yeah. So maybe everything can be blamed on my thyroid. Well, except for the idiocy that happened apparently because of my thyroid, but that wasn’t me. I know. Long story.

I guess my hardships are all mine own. No one else wants to own them. Or be a part of them.

At one point, I typed hormone as hotmone…makes total sense.

Ironic that I feel so out of balance emotionally…it goes with the physical imbalance. Probably the most logical part of my life. LOOK! This one number explains everything.

I’m a week into Spring Break, and my brain is still all over the map. Thursday was nice…life drawing in the morning, first time at this class. I’ll go back. I may even do this all summer. I could. Then I had lunch with Linda and Dean Moran of Marble-T Design. I first got in touch with them a million years ago for flesh-toned and gray marbled fabrics. I wanted a run of grays from dark to light, and then I wanted a selection of flesh colors. I am still using bits and pieces from what they did for me…I think they show up in almost every quilt I make. It’s not their fault I don’t use much fabric at a time. Anyway, we had never met in person, so this was the first time…and they brought me fabric!

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Beautiful gorgeous dirt fabric, or even brown flesh…could go either way with this. I’m very happy, AND they are nice, smart, amusing people. It was good. Plus they were nice and bought me lunch.

Then I went to Susan’s for a stitching meeting and started cutting out the Wonder Under for the next big quilt, which I’m going to just call Menopause for now, because it’s easier, but it does have a real name…and I’ve written it down (typed it) somewhere; I just can’t remember where. And it may not matter.

Oh wait. It does matter. It’s from this…

The title. Anyway. At least for now. I keep hearing some songs over and over and can’t get them out of my head (not the Kylie Minogue song). Oh yeah, the title is from the lyrics…it’s not called Afraid. I’d like to say I’m beyond Afraid, but I know that’s not true.

So I started cutting it out Thursday and I didn’t get much done…

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I was way too tired. I went to the gym too and I meditated and probably fell asleep doing that. Really, truly, at the moment, there’s two things that happen when I meditate: I either fall asleep or I cry. Neither is particularly satisfying, but each seems to fulfill a need…a niche even. OK, sleep is probably supposed to be a necessity and not a niche.

Friday…Friday was the doctor and a bunch of crazy running around. I guess I can finally admit, now that I’ve sent it off with its new owner, that this is sold…

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May they enjoy it and all its political issues. I still love the brick fabric. OH! And the gray in the sidewalk? Yup. That’s Marble-T Designs again…so THAT’S cool. Anyway, so I didn’t get much done Friday night because I was still tired, and I knew I had a long hike this morning, so I went to bed at a semi-reasonable hour (unlike tonight, when I seem to be making up for gained sleep by frittering it away on god-knows-what purpose).

I hiked this morning; more on that later. Suffice it to say that there is Julian Pie Company pie in my fridge and I was very good and did not eat any of it, because it is for tomorrow night’s dinner.

Then I decided to put on my pajamas and sit down and cut out Wonder Under for a million hours.

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Because there was a million hours’ worth of Wonder Under that needed cutting. I started with 7 pieces, I had cut out the smallest one. I think I did a little last night, but mostly it was this evening, almost 4 hours straight. I’m up to 7 hours and I only have 2 1/2 of the larger pieces to cut out. So that’s good. It won’t take 20 hours. It will probably take at least 11, though. There’s some minor chance I can get done before we leave for New York. Maybe. Or Nah. (sigh. I now know where that’s from. Hopefully my students will have forgotten about it over Spring Break so I never have to hear it again…because yes, it is TOO HARD TO SAY THE T SOUND.)

So spending 4 hours Saturday evening watching TV and thinking depressing thoughts and cutting out Wonder Under does indeed include me in the Old Lady Loser Rock N Roll Saturday Night Hall of Fame. Feel free to join me.

Some fun stuff going on with the Wonder Under…some pieces are releasing the paper from the fusible web. This was a problem with the old old web, but then they went overboard and it got Way TOO Sticky, and now we’re back to EDGES…edges releasing. So the pile below needs to be redrawn on Wonder Under that is not falling apart, because I don’t want to match all those pieces up while I’m ironing.

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Does that make me lazy? Hells no. I am retracing pieces that I’ve already traced once. I don’t know what it makes me, except more or less insane.

More insane…in the middle, those 4 pieces? They are traced into the middle of some really long complicated piece, so they also had to be retraced onto their own piece.

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Did that. More work. Then I thought I was missing a cat…hadn’t seen her in a while. Went and looked, texted the girlchild for possible hiding places, came back, sat down, and felt the little pyscho jump up behind me to her regular nightly seating spot.

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Nice to see you, Midnight.

I feel like I just camped out here for hours…

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Because I freakin’ did. Top box is trash, in case I accidentally throw away something useful. Below are the real pieces…I took a few breaks. Made lots of tea, ate dinner, read a little. Not a lot. Wanted to have the focus on. For some reason. Not sure why.

Kitten’s been venturing into the living room regularly lately. She settled down into a corner and hid…

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I guess she’s lonely too.

There’s where I was at when I decided it was getting awfully late and I might want to sleep tonight.

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Getting there. Closer than I was 4 hours ago. Trying to tell my head to get on straight. Oh yeah, I meditated in the middle of it too. It was crying instead of sleeping tonight. Interesting. Now Babygirl is trying to harass me into sharing the chair. Or maybe all she wants is to be petted. She’s lonely too.

So here’s a series (that is just starting) by Peter Drew…and his hair, which disturbs me, about art-related things and reality, which I find amusing because art has so little to do with reality. That said, it’s an interesting take on why (and how) art galleries exist.

This is apparently the same Peter Drew as is in this Hyperallergic article…where he was threatened with expulsion for creating the art he had been accepted to the school in order to create. Really convoluted sentence. Don’t care enough to fix it. Don’t judge.

Naked yarnbombing. Enough said.

Here is my post on the California Fibers exhibit at Soka University (there is no way I’m posting that whole thing here as well, so you’ll just have to go look. It’s OK. I’ll still be here when you’re done. Take your time.).

Every ebook I had on hold at the library has come in during the last two days. Luckily, it is Spring Break and I’m spending a million hours flying in the next few days, so at least I know what I’ll be doing on those flights…competitive speed-reading. Or something. I won’t have to talk to anyone.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. I’m taking my moody cranky imbalanced self to bed. I love that something I have no control over has so completely messed up my life. Sigh. Moving on.


The Word Exchange

April 11, 2014

I recently finished, after some long stressful days, The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon.

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The stressful days weren’t caused by the book, I should add. So. This book. I alternately loved, hated, was exhilarated by, and was irritated by this book. I’ve noticed a lot of the reviews of this book have ranged from 1-5 stars, so it’s not just me. What I can say is that I think this book is challenging to read, but I also believe that is part of what makes it awesome. Because the story is about losing language, when characters start to sound like Jabberwocky (which YES is hard to read, on purpose, people), then it adds to the experience of the story. It is just like it would be if you were living in a world where electronics and a weird word flu had taken over.

So. The book is about the future when we are even more addicted to our electronic devices than we are now (shocking), and a virus seems to be attacking people’s abilities to speak and corporate moneygrubbers are out to control language and there are good people and bad people and people who don’t know what they are. At times, the story was difficult, especially when some of the characters who were troubled by both their wavering ethics AND the word flu were trying to tell their part of the story, but it was such a relief when Doug or Anana would report that it made up for most of that. I’ve said before, this is NOT an easy book to read. Then again, neither are many of the classics, and I don’t think we should only be giving good reviews to books that are easy on the eyes and don’t challenge us. This was definitely worth the read, although it took me a bit longer than normal…I did enjoy it in the end (there were, yes, moments when I did NOT enjoy it). So. Read it.


That Never Happens in My Real Life…

April 10, 2014

Yesterday, I went on a road trip to Aliso Viejo in Orange County (California) to finally see the California Fibers exhibit at Soka University, where I have had two pieces since January.

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It’s a beautiful campus, at least what little I saw of it.

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It was obviously Spring Break, because otherwise, I’m fairly sure these pools must be filled with students, right?

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There’s no way they’d stay out of there.

Julie was my companion (and driver, which was awfully nice of her)…

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It was a gorgeous Spring day in California, although a little on the warm side…

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I’ll be posting about the exhibit (again) on the California Fibers blog, as soon as I find some free time to do that…today is kinda overbooked. Again. I know.

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Julie and I spent quite a bit of time discussing this global map, especially how it wasn’t the way we were used to seeing maps laid out, with Japan at its center (Soka’s founder is Japanese and the sister school is also in Japan).

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Relative sizes of countries and locations of islands and the equator were part of the discussion.

Then we headed outside again to check out the fountain…

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Especially because it appeared to have dead bugs all over it…

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That may be a commentary on university costs right there (a definite discussion point in my household at the moment). I hadn’t been able to come see this exhibit for so long because it’s only open Monday-Friday, which is kind of annoying. I mean, I guess I understand in that it’s on a university campus, and their staff isn’t around on the weekends, but…hell, I would have had to take a day off work to see it otherwise. I’m not sure how many non-retired people who aren’t students at the university have been able to see the exhibit, which is too bad, because the space is really beautiful. It’s up through May 8…if you’re in town, you should check it out.

It was a nice trip, and I got home early enough to get some stuff done…although some of that was following the kids around. Girlchild is cat-sitting (or checking-in-on-cats really), and Maus decided he didn’t so much LIKE being in the garage, but definitely liked being TALL.

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There was some worry and some kitty squawking and a ladder was involved, but we found out later that he does this all the time. No worries.

I sat outside while girlchild did all her feeding and cleaning and trash stuff and kitty-petting, because I had an ebook that was due back today and had holds on it (not sure how the renewal policy works on that) and I wanted to finish the book…it was Parasite by Mira Grant…

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It’s a story set in the future, 2027, where we have developed intestinal parasites that help keep humans healthy, but as always, in the future, our meddling with science will cause issues. This is the first of a 3-part series called Parasitology, and I’m looking forward to the next one. I really liked this book…it was scientifically intriguing (although the reason I gave it a 4 out of 5 on GoodReads is because some of the science wasn’t explained well enough, and that bugged me). There’s some obvious stuff going on and some political/corporate intrigue and a bunch of crazy people acting in the name of science or money or both. And dogs. Dogs are good in this story. All good stories should have dogs in them.

Interestingly, Mira Grant is the pseudonym for Seanan McGuire, whose Rosemary and Rue I read last year. I thought this was much better of a story, more solid and grab-at-you than the October Daye series (although I would probably read more of those as well). McGuire as Grant has also written the Newsflesh trilogy, which is now on my to-read list.

Then I finally made it home and managed to get to work on the last few hundred pieces on the newest quilt…I finished tracing around 11 PM (I fixed dinner and did other stuff in there, really)…and here it all is, laid out…

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It’s probably 7 yards…I try to cut about 1-yard pieces, although I don’t actually measure them, because that would be way more anal than I am (I know, I seem that anal, but I’m not). It took a total of 21 hours and 36 minutes to trace all of them, which is interesting because like I’ve said before, usually I can do 100 in an hour, so this one must have been more complicated. There are 1776 pieces officially (although I know there are probably 10-15 more due to mistakes in numbering). The quilt itself, well, the image anyway, is 34″ wide x 73″ high (so add about 10 inches to each of those measurements for a finished size).

In comparison, the quilt I did for Celebrating Silver is about 40×70″ and has 1227 pieces. So. Yeah. And it took only 95 hours to complete. I’m sure I can cut that time! (Are you kidding me? Tracing Celebrating only took a little over 11 hours. I am fucking nuts.)

Anyway. I’m going to start cutting those out today, knock on wood. I have a busy art day planned, with a new life-drawing class I’m trying out as a plan for the summer, lunch with friends I’ve never met in person (ah, the wonders of the internet), and then a stitching meeting afterwards (that’s where I’ll be cutting stuff…it’s not appropriate to cut out Wonder Under at the other two places, you know?).

I wasn’t quite ready to go to sleep when I finished, but I also wasn’t ready to cut the WU out, so I debated cleaning (I debate that a lot…mostly I do it for about 10-20 minutes and then I figure there must be something better to do). Then I remembered that I only had a little cutting left on the Mammogram fabrics, so I pulled that out…

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and managed to finish. It took a total of about 7 hours to cut this one out…interesting, because it only has about 360 pieces in it. But many of them are big and complicated pieces, difficult to cut out. So now it’s ready to iron down as well. I will probably save that for after Spring Break, because it’s not a difficult task…it doesn’t require a huge amount of brain power. I really want to get to the fabric-choosing phase of the big quilt over break, which is looking more and more impossible as the days disappear behind me. Oh well. It will all get done. And I need to draw! I have two I need to draw in the next few weeks. I’m not worried. They’re smaller than this one, but inevitably, I will make sure they have 12 trillion pieces in them.

Yup. I’m a little crazy that way. But you knew that already. But I finished two tasks! In one day! It must be Spring Break. That never happens in my real life.

 

 


Where My Brain Goes…

April 9, 2014

Almost 5 hours of tracing Wonder Under today and I still have 200 pieces to go. Out of 1776, that’s not bad. There’s actually more than that, because I have some pieces that are a’s and b’s of the original number. I forgot to number a nose, for instance. I’m getting close, though. That’s good. I’m 19 hours in. It gets to be kind of a slog…I have to force myself to not distract myself with blogs or books or whatever else I’d rather be doing (even cleaning house raised its ugly head, until I beat it into submission).

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I could use the same light-table photo every day and it wouldn’t matter. There is a much bigger pile of Wonder Under sitting on the couch now…6 or 7 yards of the stuff filled up with tiny traced pieces…which then need to be cut out. I made it through all of my saved SVU episodes…it’s easy to trace to SVU because it’s not a difficult plot and they’re all kind of similar after a while, so I don’t really have to watch too hard.

I wanted to be done today, but I have to get up tomorrow because Julie and I are going on a road trip. Julie is good at those. Another two hours though…I’d be done. If I had just started earlier (OK, so it’s not like I did nothing all day…I had errands and the gym and a kid to take to school and I don’t even know what else…I just know I deleted a bunch of stuff off the Spring Break to-do list, and then added twice as many more tasks, because I’m a freakin’ idiot like that).

I had cats helping me all day. Babygirl came in and was lying on the floor for a while. She never does that…and then Midnight, this is her territory in the house, so she was around…

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Couch World is HER world. But Kitten has also been coming in, and she rarely ventures out of my room, so that’s new…

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It’s nice to see her out and about, venturing throughout the house. Babygirl, when she goes to sleep in the early evening, pretty much stays there all night. She doesn’t do a whole lot of rampaging at night any more…it’s mostly in the morning. So Kitten feels safe enough to come out, apparently. That’s cool.

Anyway, I’m feeling kind of brain dead because I haven’t talked to any human beings since 5 PM and I’ve been mostly tracing that entire time, with breaks for dinner and some other stuff, like airline mileage programs and emails and hell, there’s a bunch of computer stuff I haven’t even touched and I really should, and then there’s grading, and I’ve totally blown that off for the last two days. Dammit. Oh well. This is what happens. I get art on my brain and everything else flees before it. This is why I will be a hoarder. This is why my house is not clean. This is why the yard is a disaster. Did Picasso have to do yardwork? Did Matisse need to sweep up the damn leaves? And if they NEEDED to do those things, did they just blow them off, or did someone else do them, or did they use those tasks as breaks from the artmaking? I just don’t know. I want to know if Dali did the laundry. I want to know if Mary Cassatt did the grocery shopping or if Frida Kahlo needed to go buy batteries for the damn smoke alarm. Did Hockney have cats? Who bought the cat food? Did da Vinci go through the pile of mail and recycle the stuff he didn’t need? Who handled Mapplethorpe’s receipts for taxes? Who emptied Georgia O’Keeffe’s fucking litter trays?

I really really want all that stuff to go away. OR. I want someone to help me slog through it all. The to-do list is taking over my brain. I feel guilty when I ignore it and I feel horrible when I let it take time away from making art. There is no happy medium for that. It all just fucking sucks. Girlchild bawled me out yesterday for a pile of papers that I need to deal with that was way too close to the stove and was dangerous. I KNOW. I know. I just have to prioritize, and that stuff…it’s not a fucking priority. I need a secretary. An assistant. Kids that put their dishes in the damn dishwasher.

I barely feel human. I am just the body at the end of the mechanical pencil. I just trace and then I trace some more. My brain literally goes mostly blank when I’m tracing. Part of my brain is paying attention to the TV and the rest is just watching the lines and counting the pieces and deciding what piece goes on top and what piece needs additional space drawn on for the overlap. It’s kind of cool that it’s that all-encompassing, the tracing task. Or not. Maybe it’s disturbing.

I don’t know how I feel about it. The brain is blank. I should be done tomorrow…will start cutting it out then. Probably will take another 20 or so hours…maybe a little less. I usually take less time to cut than to trace. Then ironing…probably not going to get to that before the boy and I leave for New York. Oh well. Life goes on.

All the SVU episodes are gone though. What shall I watch next? Something that doesn’t set off emotional land mines. Ha! There is no such thing.

How do I explain where my brain goes? I don’t. I explain nothing.


My Brain Is Offline

April 8, 2014

Note all the book reviews? What do I do when I can’t think straight? When my brain has wandered off? I read. I hunker down on the couch or in bed with a nice cup of tea and a blankie and a cat or two and sometimes a dog if it’s my day to have her, and I read. I read and read and read, like an addict. Sometimes I think what’s wrong with the world and with people is that they don’t read enough. I have a quote about that somewhere. I’ll find it later…wait, here it is…

By accident, the bound codex taught us sustained focus, abstract thinking, logic. Our natural tendency is to be distracted–to scan the horizon constantly for predators and prospects. Books made us turn that attention inward, to build higher and higher castles within the quiet kingdoms of our minds. Through that process of reflection and deep thinking, we evolved. There was no going back–only ever forward.     –Alena Graedon, The Word Exchange

It’s from one of the books I just finished (but haven’t reviewed yet). I like the idea of reflection happening while I read other people’s stories. I think it’s problematic right now to focus too much on my own story. Too much of it is up in the air. I’ve got nothing to hold onto…except Wonder Under, apparently.

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Yards and yards of Wonder Under. I traced a bit today…and yesterday…and the day before too. I’m about 1100 pieces in, 14 hours so far. Only 650 pieces to go? There were a bunch of other things that went on as well, like a local SAQA meeting, which was interesting. And cleaning my classroom. And a dance performance, which I’ll write about eventually. And the girlchild’s back checkup, which went really well.

But the tracing, I seem to only be able to do it at night. Not sure why. Really do have way too many errands and stupid crap to deal with at the moment. This is not a well-focused holiday, like some have been. It’s sorta chaotic. Oh well. It is what it is.

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It’s like my brain is offline. Maybe it just NEEDS to be offline for a while. Reading, sleeping, exercising. Forgetting half of the dinner ingredients yesterday at the store, going out today for the rest and STILL forgetting one of them. I just can’t keep track of stuff. Too much. My brain is having a mini-revolution. I wish it the best of luck. May it fly a new flag, conquer new lands, maybe even put someone else in charge. Surely I suck at it. Someone else SHOULD take over. Even meditation…shit, it’s just difficult at the moment. I can’t get to the spreading happy bubble of light that’s supposed to start at my center and radiate out. I just get lost in trying to force that. I broke another glass. I dropped it. It just broke. I don’t even know how I dropped it. I almost threw a mug the other day. Got angry at it. What it represented. Just wanted it shattered, like me. Then put it back in the cupboard. Enough with the violence. It doesn’t solve anything.

So the doc pulled one of my diabetes meds. I emailed her a few days ago with all of last week’s crap and she decided one of the meds might be the issue. They took about 10 gallons of blood this morning…the appointment is Friday. I’ve seen some of the results already. Nothing really shocking, although some stuff has changed. The diabetes, it’s like the happy. People tell you that if you do x, y, and z, then the diabetes will go away (then you will be happy). Liars. That’s not how it always works. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do, the diabetes is still there, maybe worse. Same with the happy. Just because you follow all the rules, do all the steps, there’s no guarantee that happy will stop by and knock on your door. It’s harder during vacation, because I don’t have all the noise and bustle and distraction of the kids at school. There are too many quiet lonely hours. And I have a ton of stuff to do, so going out and doing stuff isn’t really the solution. Hanging out with more people doesn’t solve my problems. The work I do, the stuff in my head, the stuff that becomes art, it’s such a huge part of me and so few people are around for that…on purpose, mind you. I don’t create well with people around. I’m an independent worker. I don’t want help or company or critiques. I just want to make my art, but at the end of the day, the art isn’t enough to make me happy. There’s some happy mix that works, and I lost that. I had it. I thought I had it. I didn’t have it. Obviously. Because it’s not here.

Vacations are a slap-in-the-face reminder of all that. So I just get through. Hoping to finish the tracing tomorrow and start cutting this stuff out. Not exactly on track, but since my mind left me, I’m not really sure where the track is any more.


Saga Review

April 7, 2014

I recently read Saga Volumes 1 and 2 (Volume 3 just came out), loaned to me by the boychild, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples. He had it lying around and I grabbed it because it isn’t often that you see a breastfeeding momma on the front cover of ANY book, let alone a graphic novel…

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And one with wings, no less (the mom, not the novel). Anyway, Saga is described as a combo of Star Wars (with which the author is slightly obsessed) and Game of Thrones. I didn’t compare it to either while reading it, but love the crazy alien world and fighting for family interspersed with some seriously funny goofiness…

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Marko really wants to uphold a nonviolent lifestyle, even when it comes to cutting the umbilical cord of his first child, especially now that he’s a daddio. This becomes increasingly difficult when you live in a universe that is being torn apart by war. Vaughan says he first envisioned the series in math class as a kid, and becoming a parent just solidified the story arcs.

After finishing Volume 1, I chased the boychild down for Volume 2…

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And then demanded all future volumes. DAMMIT. There is only one and it just came out. Ah, a mother-son obsession I can get behind. This is a great story…it drives me crazy to have to wait for the collected volumes to come out, of course, but I will survive. We did have a discussion about how it was incredibly inappropriate (sexual innuendo, naked parts, etc.), and how it was good that he was a legal adult (ha!), so I didn’t have to worry about his poor addled brain dealing with all that. There is one monster-like creature with enormous testicles that is disturbing no matter what your age.

That said, Volume 3 will be here shortly (I hope). If he’s lucky, I’ll let him read it after I’m done.


Reviewing The People Inside

April 7, 2014

I recently read Ray Fawkes’ The People Inside, a graphic novel telling the stories of 24 different relationships at the same time…

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Each relationship gets one box on a 2-page spread, and all 24 stories take place at the same time. They range from the perfect, happy couple who lives into old age to one dying in an accident, through straight and gay relationships, and normal versus kinda out there. I really liked this, enough that it was difficult to put it down when I had to leave. It was compelling…you wanted to know what would happen in each story, and the emotional range on each page was sometimes painful…from extreme happiness and joy to devastating loss or depression, from just one box to the next. When characters die, their box is black. There’s a definite sense of time passing, of relationships developing and falling apart. Fawkes style is simple and graphic, which supports the complexity of the stories he tells, piling up on each other, page by page.

I had not read his previous One Soul, which is a similar style of graphic novel. The page below is from One Soul.

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Just to give you an idea of what his style looks like. I was unable to find any pages from this book online.

I definitely recommend this book, and it’s one that I will read again…which is a rare thing for me…but this one is definitely worth a second read-through.

 


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