Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm the Shizz, Yo

Cross-Hatching - Two ModelsPeriodically I find myself pondering the elusive notion of "coolness." It perplexes and awes me that some people seem to attain the heights of cool—or, at least, a reasonable amount thereof—seemingly without any effort. And then there's the idea of the relevance of coolness. At some point, one would think, perceived cool would be a sort of high-school notion, something to be left behind, more or less, in favor of judging people by more easily definable attributes like kindness or achievement or intelligence or generosity.

Proportion Studies - Female ModelBUT NOOOO, to quote a rather crusty old episode of SNL. The adult world is riddled with a lot of the same posturing and social stratification as adolescence. Now, I've never really been one to worry about gaining approval from the "cool kids," then OR now, but then, I've also never had to worry about being mistaken for cool. Nerdy? Yes. Artistic? Sure. Weird? Very probably. Incomprehensible? On occasion. But cool? That's debatable. And I can't help but wondering what cool is, and how people get there, and why there is a sudden increase in exclusionary behavior—deliberate or not—when they do. Of course, I'm also guilty of creating coolness distinctions where there may be none, so I think it's a two-way street.

Lower Body Studies - Female ModelI should point out that this sort of cool/uncool distinction isn't always paranoia on my part—I don't usually go around grumping to myself about how such-and-such a cool person won't give me the time of day, so they must think I'm a total loser. Oh, I might joke about it. And I might be paranoid in other ways. But I do find myself just a bit pouty at times about others' coolness, even about the social standing granted by particular forms of success but not by other forms of achievement. (Success has to be measurable by appropriate and easily understood standards, after all.)

And you'd never mistake ME for cool. I don't dress well enough, for a start. In fact, I'm kind of unkempt in general, especially if you expand your view to include items like my house and car. My career is neither exciting nor lucrative at the moment, so I don't have any good small talk for parties, not that I'm very good at small talk anyway.

I've decided the best thing I have going for me is mysteriousness. If I don't say much about what I'm doing, then for all you know, I could be working on something super secret and totally awesome. I could be the world's coolest person, so cool that I'm saving everyone from being blinded by my awesomeness by pretending to be a dork. Uh, yeah, that must be it.


Thanks, everyone, for all the positive vibes. I've been a little better since my last post, though I'm still feeling a bit crisis-y as far as my career is concerned. And I can't help thinking I'm a little old to be wondering what I want to do when I grow up. It's not normal, is it? Then again, I'm not sure normality suits me...

Monday, March 16, 2009

In Touch with My Inner Cameron

Reductive charcoal figure study

I have this odd quirk that makes me reluctant to write a blog post that will be a huge bummer to everyone’s day. For one thing, I don’t think of my blog as a confessional space, generally speaking. Also, I have a very strong desire not to be that one downer friend, though I suspect I very much resemble Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

On the other hand, if I’m Cameron, that means the rest of you are Ferris, and that’s a good thing, right? So today I decided to yield to my inner Cameron and let the bummer-osity flow. Sorry. Consider yourself forewarned.

I realize I haven’t posted in a while, and I’ve been hesitant to admit even to myself that the reason is probably depression. It’s something I’ve struggled with off and on for at least 15 years, sometimes with medication, sometimes without. I don’t like to stay on medication for the long term, nor do I think my depression is serious enough to warrant that; so the longest I’ve stayed on antidepressants was a couple of years. Also, when I taper on and off the pills--Effexor is the one that seems to work best for me--I suffer from feelings of vertigo until I get used to the medication (or to not taking it). So I’d rather avoid that.

Anxiety has been a bit of a separate-but-related problem, and I wish I could get the good meds for that—but my doctor is stubbornly avoiding giving me Ativan, which works great. He’d rather prescribe the antidepressants. So I’ve been trying to persevere in a non-prescription-medication vein for the past few years. I see Dr. Yoda (not his real name) once a week or so, and I try to get regular exercise and take fish oil capsules.

Motion Study - Female modelI’ve not been doing as well as I could be with the latter two. With the capsules, it’s just remembering to do it. With the exercise…I sometimes don’t have time to exercise. Other times, I get in a terrible catch-22 where it would probably really help me to exercise, but I’m to depressed to motivate myself to do it. I lose large amounts of energy. Even just walking around feels like I’m walking through water.

I’m wondering, though, if I need to go back on the serious meds again. I can’t quite seem to keep it together. I haven’t felt much like writing at all, and can’t see the point of doing it. What really worries me, though, is that I don’t even really feel like reading. That is so intensely abnormal for me—ME, the person who almost never goes anywhere without at least one piece of reading material. I mean, my husband made fun of me when we were in grad school because I would put down my required reading and relax by…reading something else. But right now, reading just reminds me of all the writing I’m failing to get written and failing to get published.

Yup, I’m REALLY good and stuck.

But I do feel a little better talking about it. I feel like Rob is too stressed right now for me to inflict it on him, and I haven’t been able to get in to see Dr. Yoda for a couple of weeks, so blogging it is. Thank you for letting me unleash my inner Cameron for a few minutes, along with some unrelated but hopefully interesting accompanying visuals.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Strange Nature of Online Friendships

I've noticed that I follow strange unwritten protocols when I'm dealing with friends or acquaintances that I relate to almost exclusively online. I think it's because, without regular face-to-face contact, and without a business relationship or other situational clue to behavior, I'm uncertain as to the nature and depth of these relationships. I don't know what the appropriate level of contact is.

With my blogging and Twitter friends, there are four categories of people. There are those whom I am friends with outside of the online realm, and see on a regular or semi-regular basis. I don't feel the same type of uncertainty at all with this group of people--mostly writers I went to grad school with or other friends who happen to be blogging.

The second category consists of people I haven't met in person--or have only met a couple of times--but with whom I share something in common. Generally these are the people I work with from the Kidlitosphere, whose blogs I read and who take part in many of the same online activities as I do. I am fairly clear on the nature of my relationship with this group of people, too--we have a common interest, we relate on that level and possibly exchange the occasional personal pleasantry if it's someone I know a bit better.

Then there are the people I don't know very well at all--let's call them acquaintances, because that's what they are. I might occasionally post a blog comment or a Twitter reply, but generally, it's a non-real-time, sporadic sort of relationship. No questions there, either.

It's the fourth category that causes me to agonize over every Tweet-reply sent, over every blog comment and unsolicited e-mail: the people I would like to consider in the category of friends but whom I only actually know online and as such only really know a certain side of. If I Tweet in reply or comment on blogs, I always wonder if I'm overstepping some unwritten boundary--for instance, what if I'm in their Category Three and freaking them out because they're wondering why a mere acquaintance is suddenly glomming on? What if it's presumptuous of me to send more than, say, one direct Twitter reply per day? Is it uncouth to send such people an actual e-mail?

And the anxious self-questioning gets even more unrelenting if I send an e-mail or a Twitter reply and, for whatever reason, nothing gets sent to me in return. Not that every e-mail or Tweet requires a reply--far from it; I sure don't need comments every time I post what I'm eating for breakfast--but where does the endless-reply-loop politely stop? Eventually someone has to decide that an exchange consisting of original Tweet-->reply Tweet-->thank-you Tweet-->you're welcome Tweet-->Smiley face Tweet must come to an end. Nobody wants to be stuck in a loop of inane pleasantries.

WHERE DOES IT ALL END? These are the things that I think about when I'm supposed to be working.

Practice Makes...Better, If Not Perfect

Shadow Study - Male Model Thumb Drawings - Female Model

Here are a few more drawings I did during Rob's figure drawing class. The inky-looking one on the right is a thumb drawing, done entirely using my thumb dipped in ink. The two below are enveloping and gesture studies, respectively. Click on the images to see larger versions on Flickr. I'm sort of ridiculously pleased that I haven't entirely lost the ability to draw, despite being out of practice at drawing from the model.

Enveloping Figure Studies - Male ModelInk Gesture Drawings - Female Model