Posted in Inside & Out


IMG_20170623_135811Do you doodle? I remember my mom making these elaborate doodles of shapes and flowers and leaves on the margins of whatever paper she found lying around–usually when she was on the phone, I think–and thinking they were incredible, but whenever I would try to doodle I felt kind of silly, like it was a waste of time or effort to draw without really drawing. Well, the other day I was in a fairly stressful situation–I had to wait about an hour to go into a meeting that I’d been anticipating for weeks, maybe months–and so I got out my notebook and started to draw. At first I drew one of my usual comics–myself in a funny version of the current situation–but while I made myself chuckle, it really only served to amplify my nerves. So instead of drawing another comic, I drew a heart. And then a another heart around it. And then I thought, I’ll make this a paisley. And before I knew it, my mind emptied of my current situation and focused entirely on the few square inches of paper upon which I was doodling. Soon enough, I was called into my meeting, and I didn’t feel stressed out at all.

I think this is why adult coloring books are so popular. It gives you something to focus on, something completely meaningless but difficult enough that you have to devote your attention to it. I’ve tried coloring those detailed drawings while watching TV and I always end up outside the lines, even with the sharpest pencil. And mostly, I’ve used adult coloring books or doodles as a way simply to pass the time–my life is not filled with the kind of anticipatory stress I felt the other day–but when I really had something to take my mind off of, boy did doodling work. Next time I can’t sleep because I’m obsessing about something, you can bet I’ll doodle my brains out.

Posted in Inside & Out

Long Time, No See

Life is funny, isn’t it? The way it twists and turns. For a while, you’re drawing comics every day, and writing like a maniac, and the next… screech! Stop.


But then, out of nothing, can come a spark. A big bang, if you will, of creativity. Of motivation, maybe. An inexplicable energy source.

Wherever it’s coming from, I’ll take it.

Posted in Inside & Out

Handy Housekeeping Hints for the Hopeless Housewife

newscan189I am a horrible housekeeper. My biggest problem: I do not care. I mean, I don’t want to live in squalor or anything, but when the kids dump toys or cereal, it doesn’t bother me. I’ll clean it up eventually and/or the dog will take care of it for me. A sink full of dirty dishes doesn’t bother me; it won’t sit there forever. Worst of all (at least for my housekeeping skills), clutter actually comforts me.

Mostly, this isn’t so problematic. My husband is a bit of a neat freak but I’ve worn him down over the years and if the kids make the kind of mess that will make his head hurt (a floor covered in Lincoln Logs or blocks–large masses of small things seem to be the hardest on him) I generally clean it up before he gets home.

But–my kids are growing up. I want to teach them good habits. So I’ve been scouring the internet for tips on how to become a better housekeeper, or at least to keep a cleaner house. These sites can be a little repetitive, but I think I’ve found some that might just help: Continue reading “Handy Housekeeping Hints for the Hopeless Housewife”

Posted in Inside & Out

From the Ashes


Today is Ash Wednesday. Though I’ve always known about it–it’s the first day of Lent–none of the churches I’ve attended really observed it, so I had to look up its meaning. I still don’t feel like I fully get it, though I understand the symbolism of Lent and its small-scale mirroring Jesus’s forty days in the desert. Observers of Lent give something up, usually a bad habit. I’ve known people who give up chocolate, soda, and meat. I’ve known non-religious people who give up something for Lent just for the heck of it–like a reboot of their New Year’s Resolutions. Mostly, these things are not relinquished to emulate Jesus’s suffering, as seems to be intended, but to make their lives in some way better, thus contradicting the whole “you are dust and to dust you shall return” ash sprinkling ritual that kicks the whole thing off. Yes, you might suffer without chocolate, soda, or meat, but you will also gain some nice benefits. I have never known anyone who has (successfully) given up something really inconvenient for Lent, meant to make their lives harder and thus force them to reflect on the suffering of their savior. I can think of a few good ideas. Give up your car. Give up the Internet. Still, I guess those things could make your life better by saving you money, making you walk more, forcing you into social media detox. So stop using your dishwasher or you washing machine. Give up date nights or time with your friends.

Actually–no. Don’t do that. Give up chocolate. I mean, if you want to do the whole self-flagellation thing that’s your prerogative. And as I said, having grown up in evangelical/”non-denominational” churches–the ones with the neon crosses and rock ‘n’ roll worship that tend to take over strip malls–and since I’m currently not a church-goer at all, this is not my holiday. I totally agree that we are dust and to dust we shall return, but maybe on a different level–we are from the earth, we are of the earth; we are carbon-based. We will die and decay. But it might be more accurate to say we are akin to dust, or that we rise from it. Which, on Ash Wednesday, naturally makes me think of the myth of the phoenix.

Okay, maybe it’s a leap. But it coincides with my life rather nicely. You see, I have been having a hard time lately. I’ve been eating horribly, sleeping horribly (baby was never a great sleeper and now she’s going through a regression), and because of these two things I have not felt well enough to exercise. I’ve been dealing with weaning hormones. It’s winter. It would not be too big a metaphorical stretch to say that the woman I was just six months ago caught fire and burned to the ground.

But: today I rise. I’m not giving anything up for Lent; I’m taking things on. Healthy food, exercise, work ethic, housekeeping. I’m doing everything I can to build myself back up again. To that effect, you can look forward to quite a few posts on the subject, including self-challenges with notes on what worked and what didn’t. And if you catch me going off course, getting too negative in my focus, please remind me: the initial effect might be suffering, but the ultimate goal is joy.

Posted in Inside & Out

I Apply My Personality in a Paste.


–I apply my personality in a paste.

–Oh, I doubt that very much.

–Well, you don’t know me. Do you.

(Clementine and Joel, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

If you know me personally, you might have noticed a pattern: when I’m in a low spot, I do something dramatic to my hair. Often, I chop it. Sometimes it’s dye. This time, with a baby biting my arm and a preschooler trying to run away from me in the store, I grabbed a box of blackish purple. None of the photos I’ve taken so far have really done it justice, but believe me, the purple comes through. Continue reading “I Apply My Personality in a Paste.”