Starry Night Revisited

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In honor of the overwhelming artistic desires I’ve experienced the last couple days, I’ll share one of my favorite recent works. A night sky that I painted for one of my friends, this was actually a second attempt for the desired effect. The first took on a very different quality as a result of my experimental techniques with darker colors in the sky, and went instead to my stand partner. Now I am working on a panel etch for another close friend, based on her favorite bike trail. It, as well, will be my first attempt at a new style as my past etches have consisted solely of simple patterns and names. After this, I will continue the pursuit of new inspiration. If anyone has ideas or requests, feel free to share!

~Snots

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Clingy Kitty

This morning, as I conducted my morning routine of dressing and eating, my cat, Sundae, tracked me down multiple times, yowling like a wrongly-convicted felon. I had to carry her down to her food (I don’t know how she became such a Diva) and stroke her back while she ate. As soon as I’d leave, she’d follow me and begin pestering me again until I repeated the process.

I later ran into an article that compared a writer’s inspiration to a cat. Inspiration is unlike a dog, who, regardless the circumstance, is always ready to play if given a toy and an active audience. A cat, however, controls any situation or relationship, and will choose to invade a lap, keyboard, or book when (and only when) it chooses. Taming the feline species if it desires freedom, on the other hand, never ends well, and may well result in numerous injuries. Similarly, when inspiration strikes, it is undeniable and takes willpower to postpone, but when it hides, very few attempts to lure it out will come to fruition.

Despite the inconsistency surrounding inspiration, I find that the most difficult part of writing comes not in finding inspiration, which exists in even the most commonplace item, but in deciding among the vast buffet of inspiring occasions. This comes through not only in writing, but in all forms of art, or any decision making process in life. Imagine a single pet nuzzling up to your side, seeking affection. Now add a second to your other side: you have one for each hand and can keep everyone happy, though it probably redirects your attention from any other activities you may have been involved in. What do you do when another creature comes up to sit in your lap, while three more jump at your back, and the cute dog at your right hand is trampled by a larger one fighting for a chance at your loving touch?

To give the yipping chihuahua at my feet some attention, I did manage to get my college essays out last week, and they certainly fit the model of the crazy cat lady. I had a prompt to respond to by “petting my cat” and sharing a tradition I challenged, but there were many cats pushing against my skin as the applications of my central action affected each classroom I sat in last year. I wrote a paragraph for each stage and every setting, and finally settled on one kitten to let into my lap as I perfected the story of the physics classroom. Often, choosing to jot notes or write short blurbs about everything satisfies inspiration without letting it go to waste or absorb the presence of all else in the world.

To please the calm calico in my arms, I’ve added one of my older (crafted when I was younger?) works that I submitted to a middle school program about 5 years ago. I’ve neglected the art concentration that I had promised early on. It hasn’t acted out to seek my attention, but its presence has tugged at my consciousness for a while.

Finally, to care for the horse nuzzling the back of my neck: the saddle sores will not last. The abuse from the other jockeys cannot take down a strong, free mustang. I apologize for the tacky mascot use, but it truly does fit. For every story I hear and read of another high school student and classmate hurting, I see strength and resilience coming out in great individuals that have set their minds to doing something with their lives, whether that be finding their own direction or taking the time out to care for a friend. The sense of community that can be found is profound as individuals find the strength to share their pain and reach out for help, then others find the confidence to add words of encouragement, wisdom, and understanding. My prayer is that through deep connections we may all come closer together as the season of transition and celebration (and I suppose finals) takes control of our lives for a short time, before relinquishing it back to our struggle to retain the best normal possible.

Keep keeping those kittens, puppies, parrots, stallions, and all else satisfied!
~Snots

Almost There!

I finished my book cover today, using a design begun by John! As I uploaded it, I discovered that I have a repeated word in the last sentence of the text in my book. I failed to save the file before uploading it, so now I have to go back and re-format my entire story and upload the new file just to fix the double word (that happened to survive more rounds of revision than I’d care to count). I hope everyone enjoys the cover and the last few days of anticipation as much as I do!
~Snots

The Beauty and the Beast of Patterns

For those following for the art, you lucked out this weekend with the back-to-back pieces. This middle-school work matches the post for obvious reasons.

I don’t know what makes me this way, but it is the way I am. It might be my randomly stiff memory, it might be my tendency to connect everything I see, or it might be my hypersensitivity to color and smell. Or there may be something entirely different at work in my brain. The bottom line is that I pick up on patterns that sometimes weird out even myself. 3-2-1-5-7-9 and 4-2-0-3-7-11 follow the same rule to me; it’s just doubled. 2 and 7 are central numbers in decreasing, then increasing sequences. I was given the first list to memorize, then generated the second for others to memorize. But I don’t stick to just numerical values (even if they can be some of my favorites).

Clothing

I planned on writing this blog tonight since earlier today, then my Youth Minister at Youth Group mentioned peoples’ inability to remember what everyone wears in conjunction with our tendency to collect too much “stuff.” I laughed out loud as I thought of patterns in clothing over the last few years. Sophomore year, the orchestra classes got matching black shirts to wear on special occasions. Second semester, everyone started wearing the shirts on the same day, week after week. Tuesdays always resulted in Jill wearing her shirt, Wednesday brought Joe and Mr. Nacy with their shirts, and on Thursday, Michelle, Suhaas, and Maggie were guaranteed to be wearing their shirts. I decided to jump on the bandwagon and ended up wearing mine every Tuesday as well. Moving on from the orch shirts: everyone has favorite articles or outfits, and one of my favorite examples was my lab partner last year, Tucker, who loved to wear camo shorts with cargo pockets with a neon yellow shirt. I walked into class on his birthday and knew exactly what would be on his back and around his waist. I was right.

Friend groups

As far as friend groups go, I’ve always been fond of three. I can’t say it has always worked out, but it has always been the way things have settled. At least for a year or two. Someone always moves by the end of the second year. In preschool, the trio consisted of myself, Patrick J, and Sean G. Patrick moved after kindergarten and I lost contact with Sean. By third grade, I was in with Eric A and a different Sean G. This time it was Sean that moved. I slowly drifted from Eric, and didn’t talk to him after fifth grade. Sixth grade, the trio in question involved girls. Maddy S and Grayson K were both in a vast quantity of classes with me, including the bio class we sat together in and loved! Now is a good time to mention, too, that a redhead has always been involved (Sean, Sean, and Maddy). Needless to say, the group split at the end of the year. Grayson moved to Maryland and Maddy transferred to a private school. I later found out that Jill M had come from Maryland just a few months prior to Grayson’s departure. I met Jill and Amanda T (another redhead) in french class, followed by orchestra, on the first day of high school. There was talk throughout the year of Amanda moving to Louisiana, but she thankfully didn’t. Instead, Jill moved to Washington after sophomore year. She has come back to visit on a few different occasions, including for Junior Prom, but, I’m sad to say, the trend has still held true. I reconnected with Maddy, and, other than for a few months, haven’t really lost some sort of contact with Jill, but I still can’t help but laugh when I analyze my life and interpersonal trends. Maybe people need to befriend me if they want their family to move out?

Conflict

The final topic of the night is certainly the most juicy. I overwork myself. I expect a lot and convince others to expect even more at times. As a result, my life delivers me quite a few opportunities to build an interesting plot. I will admit to breaking. I work as long and hard as I can until my body gives out. I’m trying to get better about it, but the jury’s still out as to the result. As I’m sure I’ve established, my brain makes connections everywhere I go. I’m used to them and can usually make sense of them if given enough time. The problem comes when I have to get others to accept the conclusions I have drawn. Sometimes I can’t express myself well in spoken word (usually written word works better, but I’ll let you be the judge of that). Sometimes I leave out details that ruin my arguments. Sometimes the other person is too stubborn. What this means is that there are occasions that a conflict builds and I can’t express a conclusion that will leave both sides happy. Often this is because the basis of my arguments involve more work for both sides in hopes of far greater achievements as a whole team. The sad result: I explode. I remove myself from a situation and entertain one or two trusted friends with a detailed rant and an extreme action plan. I then take the first few steps in the plan by ensuring that I do not re-immerse myself in the troubling situation for at least the immediate future. After I’ve been given a chance to be on my own, I begin to make arguments for the other side along with my own counter arguments. They start off strongly in my favor, though highly unlikely, and resolve (anywhere from 30 minutes to several months later) into a solid action plan in which communication is integral and I am established as a sort of ambassador between levels of a hierarchy within a system. This always means more work for me, but it helps the system so I happily go along as long as voices are being heard equally. For those searching for an explanation of this portion’s depth: I’m currently in the processing stage of a fair sized conflict as those around me know.

Who knows, I might start a feed on patterns and possible reasons for their existence. I’ve barely even scratched the tip of the iceberg as of yet and I find more each day. If anyone else has patterns to share, please do so; I love to hear them!

~Snots

Weird, Wrong, and Wonderful

I’m sure we all just LOVE technology, don’t we? I’m attempting to post this from my iPad because the family computers are both shot at the moment. I haven’t been able to use them for the past two weeks or so between busy schedules and their inability to cooperate. for those who may have come to read this before the content was added, I apologize: somehow uploading a picture (one that will be added when I get acces to the computer again) can be interpreted as a command to corrupt the file and post the blog early. I suppose it only helps support the title of my post though. After all, it is with unexpected frequency that things are surprising–whether that be because they are much worse than expected, or far better, or both, or just plain weird.

My Wrist

As I write this, I’m just overcoming an oddity I face from time to time in my right wrist. Across a surface of perhaps three inches square, water is pouring from my body like from a spring in the ground. Not only is it very profuse, but the sweat is insanely cold. One of the most extreme examples would have happened about a year ago now. I didn’t realize my wrist was starting to freeze until I had three drops of frigid water splatter my leg in quick succession, followed by a torrent of the same stuff that didn’t stop for a half an hour at least.

Cross Country

Earlier today, I had a cross country race. It was, in fact, our conference meet and we were hosting it at another school’s course. This course had been selected for its tendency to be a fast one because of how flat it is. The team went in expecting PRs from nearly everyone. that included myself, who has failed to PR since sophomore year due to long strings of illness or injury. I hoped to get below a 16:30 5k. I ran a 16:44 sophomore year, earning a spot as the fourth fastest sophomore in team history at the time. I couldn’t beat it. I came in at 16:52, quite a bit behind what I had hoped for. Yet I still managed to medal in a meet with recognition for only he top 15. Nick and Thomas were in front of me and Ryan was behind me in the line for medals. A new course record was set while I couldn’t PR, yet I still placed. Forgive me if my shock still comes across as very apparent.

(Another salute to technology as I re-type my last two paragraphs because my iPad rebooted and only retained the first half of the post)

Spiders

The penultimate point of the day comes from the meet as well, though it really has nothing to do with it. A spider found its way to my hand during the JV girls’ award presentation and I couldn’t convince it to leave until the Freshmen girls were nearly done. The thing is: I didn’t get rid of it. On the bus, halfway back to school, I found the spider, once more, climbing across my hand. I decided to watch it because my seat mate was asleep and everyone else was wrapped up in their music. A minute or so in, the spider walked through air from one knuckle to the other. a few seconds later, it decided to backtrack and hang upside down between two knuckles. It was spinning a web across my hand. For the rest of the ride, I watched the master weaver, no bigger than a pin head, work its magic between my fingers and palm and the bus seat. It finally left my hand when I got off the bus. No, I have not seen it since.

Art

Finally, I’ll get back to the picture (hopefully it’s up by the time you read this). The aqueducts featured here were a piece I created for my drawing class Sophomore year (I suppose I’m spending the night two years in the past). I found myself very far behind by the time I got to the project and had seven days to complete four works of art. I spent about 17 hours on the project, with absolutely no breaks. Maybe there were a couple for biological reasons though. As I neared the end, I still had no idea what I would do for a background. I planned on using water paints to create either an abstract design or a beautiful countryside. Three minutes after I asked a friend which I should do, my pen exploded. The corner of the paper, the mat I was working on, the floor, and my pants were all covered in ink. About thirty seconds later, my second pen exploded, drenching my fingers as well. I took it as a sign and splattered the rest of the project with ink from the pens, then used bottled ink to cast in the shadows. The major catastrophe became, in my opinion, a wonderful background and I was saved what might have become another twenty or so hours of work.

As I prepare for a night of catching up on sleep, I wish happy surprises on everyone and hope they don’t involve nasty twists in the end.

~Snots

(Reboot number two)

PS: “The Rainbow’s Treasures” has been fully revised at a final length of 2777 words, and is now being sent in for editorial review before its release!

Inspiration

Listen to everyone. Ideas come from everywhere.

The fortune given to me for Part 2 of my book is the same as that I’m using to introduce this post. It is very true. Even the most creative people can have problems settling down and working on one thing.

I ran into my sophomore year English teacher yesterday because she was back in the building acting as a substitute. One of the teachers around long enough to teach a number of my other teachers, Mrs. Eschenbrenner knew how to keep the class both fun and frightening. She’s the one that provided us with the original prompt that led to the first part of my book and one of the people to encourage me to publish it. When I told her I was finally preparing to publish it, the nearby Spanish classes thought someone was getting murdered she squealed so loudly. To this day, I believe my best works come when I’ve been directed by someone else but given permission to do exactly as I wish. Most of my art follows this rule, and literature is no exception. It is exactly this reason that leads me to enjoy classes based around creative writing or art. Sitting here typing, I have also come to a conclusion: I feel the need to recognize the four individuals that have impacted my involvement with the arts the most in the last couple of years. A big thanks to my teachers, Mrs. Eschenbrenner and Mr. Durham, and to my friends, Jill May and Amanda Tournillon.

To close, some info on the featured picture. True to my promise of a new medium, this work is a pen-based example of typography. The design is inspired by a wooden model I pieced together in elementary school and the poem is one I had to memorize for a presentation in fifth grade (yes, I was able to write it down and craft the entire project from memory, other than a quick check for accuracy, as far as the poem goes). The poem is one written by Shel Silverstein and, for clarification from my chicken-scrawl, goes as follows:

I am the Dragon of Grindly Grun
I breathe fire as hot as the Sun.
When a knight comes to fight,
I just toast him on sight,
Like a hot, crispy cinnamon bun.

When I see a fair damsel go by,
I just sigh a fiery sigh,
And she’s baked like a ‘tater,
I think of her later,
With a romantic tear in my eye.

I am the Dragon of Grindly Grun,
But my lunches aren’t very much fun,
For I like my damsels medium-rare,
And they always come out well done.

Keep looking for inspiration and don’t forget to record what you find, whether that be in words, paint, music, or another medium! Don’t be afraid to share either; you might surprise yourself!
~Snots