July 28th, 2014
Alright, since the to-do list from last week worked so well...
Set up SnapzPro and Quicktime 7 on work laptop
- BOXnet handout and video
- Dad website
- Tisquantum postproduction
- Stucky text and maybe color swatches
- Install Photoshop on work computer
Later this week:
- Video editing
- Kindergarten image filtering
- Prepare for Sunday's brainstorm meeting
- Lesson Plan for next week's workshop
July 26th, 2014
Got home from taiko and hangouts with Chris at 5:15pm, all ready to do more Tisquantum stuff. Then proceeded to be on tumblr for over an hour. (150+ posts to read/scroll through .... buh). Then spent the last hour or so responding to the latest email from the person writing the fic that I'm illustrating for, and then checking out the new mailing list made for the steve/bucky zine and finding that everyone is waay too awesome and intimidating, and then nervously writing my own awkward self intro .... basically I'm now over-socialized on the internet and am a nervous wreck.
(Doesn't help that Jono said he'd be needing pickup around 7 and I haven't heard from him yet.)
I'm not very good at being a nervous wreck.
(I've walked around the house, ate some salami, and put away my laundry. Can't decide whether I should go for a walk or just put on some Young Justice and dive into the next Tisquantum page ... don't know which one will cure me of the jitters faster. :/)
ETA: apparently the solution was to spend another half an hour on tumblr. ::shrug:: I don't even know.
July 25th, 2014
Because apparently I've trained myself to only get shit done if I post to-do lists on here, and not anywhere else....
call insurance lady
write some Tisquantum script for the next scenes
- do some video editing for Chinese School
layout dad's website
- update etaiko website
- fix "buy" link on chinacomics site
- keep working on Tisquantum
- fanart draws: some samsteve for the bigbang, the 3-pager for the fanzine, maybe some daemons?
finish this Tisquantum scene (finally, I feel like I've been working on this FOREVER, but it's finally coming together. And just in time, too.)
- Do a bunch of 1990 stuff: tidy up box, create more robust tagging system, make handout, make video, transfer Pat's links over,
July 23rd, 2014
|09:26 am - Just keep on truckin'|
Okay, so I think I need to figure out a system where on certain days I do a lot of work-related errands (ugh), which can then free up other days to do work-related curriculum design (yay) and work-related coding (kind of yay).
Mondays I usually don't feel like doing errands ... it's the start of the week and errands feel so ... trivial.
Maybe Wed or Thurs should be errand day. Let's say Wed is "interact with folks" errand time and "super groady" errand time.
Tuesday the morning is taken up with generally intense meeting, and after that I need some time to recover, but I don't want to people then, either. So maybe Tues afternoon is "calm futzing with computer" errand time.
Let's make Monday afternoons coding, and Thursdays curriculum. Then Friday can be miscellaneous, whatever still needs to be done.
Tues- meeting + internet futzing errands
Wed- harder errands
::nod:: Let's try this.
Errands for today:
Deal with T-mobile
- Various website fixes: etaiko,
mom's personal, hcc shipping info, scs calendar
SCS Insurance policy stuff
remember to queue the next Tisquantum page
- More checks/accounting?
In other news:
I just had to re-layout 2 of my tisquantum pages (after inking half of it), so .... victory there? We shall see. Internal struggle is hard when there's no internal monologue. (Good thing there's internal mental images). Also, too much struggle at once feels weird. (Basically I had to condense/trim 2 pages down to 1).
I did draw 2.5 pages of Tisquantum in the last 2.5 days, though, so I'm making progress there again. Finding a new trash series to watch while I draw has really helped. (Young Justice -- just hit the Season 2 time skip, and I'm like, "who the fuck is everyone? What's with all these b-rated characters?")
Also I've been drawing color palette challenges on tumblr and it's been a great way for me to work on my illustration skills. (I see illo skills as about rendering and focusing on showing an effective story/relationship in a single image. In contrast, comicking is about drawing efficiently and telling the story as you move through a series of panels and pages.)
July 17th, 2014
|10:31 pm - What's Your Number|
So recently I got together with an old friend from high school and we psyched each other up to actually watch What's Your Number, otherwise known as the Chris Evans Beefcake B-rated RomCom. As promised, Chris Evans was mostly naked for the majority of the movie. Nice. And, as promised, the story was horrible and made no sense. But it made no sense in a Very Special Way, so I want to talk about it briefly.
First, you need to know the plot (spoilers, but who cares). Girl who is obsessed with reading girl magazines (Cosmo-style stuff) reads an article that says an average woman has sex with 10 different men, and if they hit 20, they are unlikely to get married because sex lowers self-esteem. She's at 20, so she makes a vow not to sleep with another guy. Instead, she enlists the help of her neighbor to look up exes and see if they're now marriage material. Her neighbor is Chris Evans, who is a guy who has one night stands because he refuses to become emotionally attached. Of course through this process they fall in love, and after a "false choice" (nice rich guy who seems perfect), they get together and she accepts that he's #21 and maybe numbers don't matter actually. Then the final scene is one of her exes calling her and leaving a message saying that they didn't actually have sex, so she's technically still at the magic number of 20.
So what I found amazing/horrific about this movie is how it perfectly does the thing that women's magazines like Cosmo does: on the one hand, girl power, and on the other hand, complete subversion of that. The movie does some things really well -- the girl gets policed by her female friends and family -- slut-shaming, "you should want this," "he's not marriage material," "I'm so happy, (false choice) is so perfect for you," etc etc, and it's portrayed as negative and an impediment to her accepting of herself. Also, props to the 2 scenes where Chris Evans comes on to her, and she's like "no thanks," and he just backs off. In fact, the second time they'd already admitted to liking each other, and so they actually spend the night cuddling but not sexing. Similarly, despite all the Chris Evans eye candy, it's very much "hey, people are naked sometimes, no biggie. Want some Chines food?" The main theme is that this is a girl who tries too hard to live up to societal expectations (sneaking out of bed to put on makeup and then pretending to "wake up" perfectly coiffed, eating only dainty things when in fact she likes greasy food) and tries to be the perfect girlfriend. And she only finds happiness when she finds someone who she can be herself with. In the end, she rejects the "false choice" because he expects her to be pure and virginal ("I'm the only guy you slept with, right?" "Um, more like 20." "Ew gross, haha you're so funny.") Awesome messages about defying social expectations, right?
But then comes all the subversion. Throughout the whole movie, Chris Evans' one-night-stands are played as a joke (they have to get all these miscellaneous women to leave his apartment), but since a central part of the movie is about the societal disapproval around multiple sexual partners and the expectations of what a "good relationship" is, this character backstory woefully undeveloped. At the end she's like "You're my 21", and he's like "You're my three hundred forty..." and she stops him. It's like, (a) if the whole movie is about overcoming these societal expectations, why did she stop him? And (b) why is his 300+ totally okay but her 20 so damning? And of course, the movie also had to throw in the whole "he's #20 after all, phew" at the end. Also, the two people were able to get to know each other *because* she didn't sleep with him -- she didn't consider him boyfriend material and so didn't try to put on a persona, and because he didn't sleep with her, he felt okay not running away. So basically reaffirming the whole "sex corrupts a relationship" message. Also, even though it was supposed to be a friendship, they reveal that Chris Evans was still trying to date her (by keeping her away from False Choice guy from the very beginning.) So a thing that started out criticizing the number system and how ridiculous it is that she's bending over backwards trying to conform to all these expectations ends with her meeting all the expectations. :(
The movie's also bad for other reasons -- The main character isn't very sympathetic, Chris Evans' character is underdeveloped, the sister's wedding subplot was clunky -- but in the end, it was this whole "rawr women should be able to have sex with multiple guys and be herself and eat as much pizza as she wants" while at the same time "find a guy, get married, of course all guys want is sex, but don't give it to them until you've built a relationship first" messaging that really made this such a disappointing movie.
July 11th, 2014
|06:13 pm - My last 3 months on tumblr|
------ Month 1 -------
Stage 1: What is this tumblr shit? Okay I guess I'll reblog something.
Stage 2: Why do I have no followers? D: I am unworthy as a human being.
------ Month 2 -------
**OMG I love Captain America so much. I don't want to spam my friends with it though. I know, I'll revive my old fanart tumblr.**
Stage 3: Holy shit I passed 50 followers. WTF I can't believe it.
Stage 4: Holy shit I passed 300 followers. Can people actually like me?
------ Month 3 -------
Stage 5: Holy shit I passed 500 followers. I think that means I'm a baby dragon now? What should I do with all this power? What if I do something dumb? I'd be doing dumb shit in front of 500 internet people!
Stage 6: Oh. huh. I have 1200 followers now. Okay.
Stage 7: But they're probably only following for the Captain America stuff. Maybe I should make more?
Stage 8: Fffffffffff. I don't give a fuck. All these followers are meaningless. I want real friends and a real life. (Maybe I'll spam my tumblr and see who likes me for me....)
... yeah, it's been a roller coaster ride.
July 10th, 2014
|12:37 am - More Snowpiercer!!|
Okay, I'm back. SO MANY FEEEEELS.
Firstly, OMG I totally saw Franco the Elder and Franco the Younger being in a relationship (funny that they basically don't say anything, but the way the Younger puts his head on the Elder....), and there's also definitely something going on between Grey and Gilliam. <3
So, I have a lot of feelings and opinions! Putting them behind cuts because SPOILERS
( On being a good father(-figure): Gilliam-Curtis, Curtis-Edgar, Namgoong-YonaCollapse )
( Gilliam the Compassionate Optimist vs. Wilford the Dispassionate Pessimist vs. Namgoon the neutral wildcardCollapse )
( The Front, the Middle, the Tail: Systemic Ritual and System AwarenessCollapse )
( Curtis vs. Yona as the source of salvationCollapse )
July 5th, 2014
|10:09 pm - Snowpiercer|
OMG just watched Snowpiercer today. IT IS AN EXCELLENT MOVIE. PLEASE GO WATCH IT.
- I *really* like how all the main characters are developed in this film -- you get to see bits and pieces through these slooooow reveals. There's no clobbering you on the head with Significant Moments. There are times when you know Something Important Is Going Down, but the camera cuts away at that moment, and it's only revealed half an hour later. The pacing is just so perfect, the way it builds to the climax. For once, I actually *don't* want to spoil the movie, because watching everything unfold at the right time was just so great. And now that I've watched it, I want to watch it again to catch all of the nuances of the dialogue and the setting in the early part of the movie.
- I went into it rather skeptical about the whole dystopian future setup, because there's so many ways it could go wrong, but the whole structured-dystopian-system vs. human challenge thing worked out really well.
- Some pretty awesome action scenes. Only got a little wince-inducing for me at 2 parts.
- Awesome acting on all parts. I loved all of Chris Evans' microexpressions. <3
- Wish the side characters were a bit more developed, especially the poc characters.
Okay, I don't think I can say more without giving away the experience of watching the film, so spoilery thoughts follow.
( SPOILERSCollapse )
Between all the Captain America stuff and also my wedding anniversary comic, I've drawn 52 pages of non-Tisquantum stuff in the last 10 weeks. Sure, they're mostly silly comics with only a few panels on each page, rarely getting the "full render" that Tisquantum gets. (I also drew 12 pages of Tisquantum, which is at half-pace, but non-negligible.)
Anyways, I sat down to layout the next scene for Tisquantum yesterday, and .... it was easier than expected! There were places where I was like "hmm... I can slow this down to add more mood" and "there needs to be an extra beat/reaction here" and "I think I can just skip a bit here." I... I might be getting better at doing comic layout??? :D!!
It was recently me and Jono's 5th anniversary! :) I drew a comic for it, which I posted on tumblr and fb, so I think most people have seen it. Here's a link: http://summercomfort.tumblr.com/post/90011785469/5-years
Usually I don't really make a big deal about anniversaries -- usually it's Jono who remembers, whereas I'm like "huh? really?" But 5 years is a pretty long time to be permanently attached to someone, and they've been some pretty awesome years. I particularly value what we have, especially since we're just coming out of a particularly difficult time -- between Jono's struggles with depression and attempts to find meaningful work, and my attempts at pregnancy and various other life changes. We trust each other, and we communicate with each other. After 5 years, some of the rougher edges have also been sanded down -- we're better at getting our schedules and evening plans to mesh, we're better at communicating our needs, we're better at reading each others' moods. Here's to more marriage!
June 23rd, 2014
|11:09 pm - Maleficent Review (Spoilers)|
Went to watch Maleficent with philena today!
- Loved the setting -- everything was the right balance of realism and fairytale. (Lots of natural materials for the fairy land area, lots of woven and man-made textures for the palace, very seamless CG)
- Loved Maleficent as a character -- clearly not pure good or pure evil, and such sass
- The overall story was cute.
- The raven was awesome -- I really appreciated the nuanced handling of "yes I serve you and you can technically turn me into whatever" and "hey, you have some issues and I am my own bird."
- Lots of smart parallels and callbacks -- the iron thorns at the castle, the dragon, the 16-year-old true-love's kiss, etc.
- Magic inconsistencies. For some reason metal hurts Maleficent's skin but ... not her wings? She was mowing down all these armored folk and not getting burned in the process. Is green magic grimdark? How come Maleficent with wings fights with physical attacks and Maleficent without wings is clearly so much more magical?
- Political questions. Given that the magic kingdom is introduced as egalitarian and kind, how did Maleficent become dark!Queen over it? (And why did she need to be?) And at the very end, is Aurora queen of the magic kingdom or the human kingdom?
- I feel like the transition from normal Maleficent to dark!Maleficent was VERY poorly handled. First Maleficent cries and does nothing. Then she goes to a random abandoned castle to mope. Then she recruits the Raven. After she found out Stephen used her wings to get the kingship, she goes grimdark and suddenly decides to go home and rule the magic kingdom??? I felt like some simple voiceover one-liners would have been helpful. "She felt incomplete without her wings. Feeling ashamed, home lost all joy to her." "She finally understood the human feelings of envy and hatred, and her magic fed off of that anger and hatred." "If Stephen could wear a crown, so, too, would she."
- Also: Aurora wakes up and is immediately okay with Maleficent?? They didn't end on the best of terms.
- I feel like there were some potentially powerful themes that were insufficiently explored. For example, I think it's really about the corrupting power of obsession and the healing power of love/acceptance. Stephen's obsession with power, Maleficent's obsession with hatred, Stephen's obsession with revenge -- all of those things corrupted their life, their relationships, and their kingdoms. In contrast, Aurora's unconditional love and acceptance of basically everyone, Maleficent's acceptance of her bitterness and her mistake at the end -- those selfless things are what breaks the curse. You can see some of that in the movie, but inconsistently.
- Also, I kinda wished that Maleficent didn't get her wings back at the end. It weakened the whole "acceptance of her current self" thing. Returning to the previous status quo is much less interesting than accepting and reveling in the changes.
June 9th, 2014
|10:38 pm - Well, that's done|
So today I officially turned in my keys at the school I've worked at for 6 years. I thought I'd have more to say and reflect on, but I guess I've done most of that already. So just a few things:
1) I'm going to miss teaching soooooooo much. This is reassuring because it means I'm definitely going to go back to it.
2) This will be the first time since age 6 that I'm not following a school calendar of summers and breaks. This is... somewhat disconcerting. But at the same time... freeing?
3) Having worn so many hats for so long, it feels nice to actually take one off. Chinese School has been the "side project/obligation" for the last 20 years of my life. I'm interested to see what happens when I treat it as a full-time job.
Of course, I'm not going to start officially until next week, since I'm leaving for Chicago on Wednesday for my brother's graduation. And even after getting back it might be weird, since the in-laws will be here for a week, and then I might be teaching a week-long comics class.
Tomorrow I think I'll do some miscellaneous errands:
- oil change
- hair cut
- process checks?
and maaaaybe get Tisquantum all queued up for the next few weird weeks?
June 8th, 2014
It's been a long week, but I think I'm almost at the end of it. One more day of meetings and transition and then I'm going to just lay about on Tuesday, I think.
I'm tired and I want to consume something fluffy, but unfortunately the tabs I have open are intense Captain America meta, or super-serious/angsty Captain America fics. In the other window I have the next batch of Tisquantum to edit.
Basically all serious business, and my brain DOES NOT want to start anything new.
I think I'm going to doodle a bit before going to sleep, but know that some major Life Reflections are en route ... probably what I'm going to do on Tuesday, actually. Just reflect.
NB: I've been spending a lot of time on tumblr lately. DW/LJ is still my forever girl in terms of life stuff and thinky stuff, but my personal tumblr has the more surface flotsam and jetsam that catches my attention on the internet (reblogs of social justice stuff, miscellaneous doodles and journal comics). Also fanart/fan comic stuff is quarantined on my fandom tumblr. So, for example, whatever I doodle in the next 10 minutes before falling asleep is probably going on my personal tumblr. In case you want to see.
June 7th, 2014
Okay, I've been a workhard this week. :D It feels good! (But also tiring. And also I still can't give up tumblr. :/)
But, new to do lists!
- Make payroll envelopes and write checks.
- Figure out the checks that need refunding.
- Finish drawing Tisquantum 60. Maybe start the long dialoguing process??
- 10am-7pm: Chinese School stuff -- Get the cake, be the graduation ceremony, have the teacher meeting, go the banquet
- Pre-10am/post-7pm: Tisquantum stuff? CATWS stuff? Gross errands (hah)
Some time soon:
- Call SW to cancel one plane ticket!! Cancel hotel room???
- Chicago logistics
- Kaiser stuff
- School credential stuff
- Student meeting
- Move last bits of office
- Meet with teacher
- Afternoon: start Chinese School stuff!
June 1st, 2014
Urg. I really need to pull myself out of the tumblr vortex at this moment. But it's so easy to get sucked in, especially on a day when a fan comic of mine is getting lots of likes and reblogs. I've gotten 3000 notes in the last 12 hours. I've gone from, 50 followers to 80. That is.... disconcerting, embarrassing, heady, mesmerizing. I especially like scrolling through my activity page and reading all the tags that people add. When they're cute I then go check out their blog. (Also, whenever someone reblogs my artifact of history ficlet I automatically check out their blog.)
But no, I need to remind myself -- this is tumblr fame. It is primarily a bunch of bi teenage girls with short attention spans. That's not the same as real life.
I think I need to stay off tumblr for a bit. Drink from the cooling pool of LJ/DW.
Or at least ignore my fandom tumblr.
(Thank god that dumb trend line has started tapering off. Please drop back down to the sub-10s? ::pets personal tumblr trendline which stays in the 1-2 range::)
In other news, I spent much of the week working on the next Tisquantum pages, but my wrist/thumb started hurting again, so I've given myself a break yesterday and today. (Apparently drawing Captain America comics doesn't count, b/c my posture when drawing on the mini-tablet puts stress on different parts of my hand -- the pinky and ring finger, specifically. :/)
In other other news, next week is my last week at school! o.O!!! That is very scary. I don't think I'm ready.
So, a to do list!
Pack up office stuff: 60%
Store in mom's garage
GRADE: essay revisions, final projects, misc stuff
have lots of meetings. Pretend to be a competent adult. Commencement ceremony on Thursday, final year-end Lunch on Friday (they'll be doing a "farewell" speech for me. ::hides::)
Chinese School related stuff:
- Update Chunleiji file with all the misc emails I've gotten, send out final round of content collection emails.
Finalize next school year's calendar and figure out rental contract
- Lots and lots of check processing -- especially finding checks that need to be refunded.
Processing year end payroll. :/
- Write checks for payroll stuff
- Next Sunday = last day of school. That means being there for graduation ceremony and also the teacher dinner (::hides::)
Personal projects stuff:
Mail the darn poster tube!
- Talk to Kaiser about switching to personal health insurance. :/
- Check teaching credential stuff
- Figure out the Tisquantum queue. (Ugh I have so much housekeeping to do re: Tisquantum it's so embarrassing and gross. I think I might skip an update again because the page after the next page needs some major tweaking, and I haven't done that yet.)
- Tweak pg 53,
finish drawing pg 58, draw pg 59 and 60. (OMG after this scene there's like, 2 more scenes left and then I'll be done with this chapter, which is the end of Book 1. Which mean, if I'm going at my current pace, I'll be done by end of June. ::knock on wood::)
- Do some more comic analysis for the learningtocomic tumblr
Figure out a way to make comic friends
May 26th, 2014
Woke up at 2:30am and haven't been able to fall back asleep. :/
And now the morning birds are making noise. Whelp.
May 25th, 2014
I believe the php update on our school server broke the entire (already super janky) email system. ::sigh:: Guess I'll have to see what I can cobble together today. :/
I think fixing the website stuff will be my priority for June, because there are So Many Problems. I don't wanna pay 10k for someone else to fix it, tho. (5-7k maybe, but not 10k. :/ Especially if that someone else insists on using some Microsoft CMS that I'd have to learn.)
But I really wanted to work on comic today.... :/
I'll at least try to get the layout for the next few pages done this morning.
ETA: well, at least reset the php thingie so it's back to its original dysfunction. :/ Apparently emails sent from the admin side are received by gmail but not hotmail, and vice versa for the teacher side? ::shakes fist:: Pakistanis!!!
May 23rd, 2014
|06:47 pm - To Do List|
Write/Layout for next chunk of Tisquantum
- Fix bottom of pg 53 and
top of pg 55
- Queue up pages 51-55
Write 5 more Advo letters
- Process Chinese School checks
- Payroll processing
- ChunLeiJi stuff
May 15th, 2014
|01:30 pm - I can't believe I'm leaving|
So last month at around this time I told my principal that I needed to leave the school for the next few years. Basically Chinese School is at a juncture where I think I can really do some good by applying myself to it full time for a few years, mom definitely needs me more now that dad has taken a back seat, and the school I work at has been undergoing some administrative transitions that have been ... unsettling. (See my previous ruminations here.)
That last post was from 4/16, which was my mom's birthday and also in the middle of the Spring Break Where I Discovered All My Captain America Feels. The month since has been really a blur. At school people keep coming up to me to say "I heard this terrible rumor that you're leaving us," but I've still been doing all the things I would regularly do -- going to all the optional meetings discussing things for the next year. At the same time, the wheels have been cranking towards finding my replacement, and I think they finally settled on someone today. Then I'd go home and spend HOURS on tumblr with my Captain America feels, blatantly ignoring pretty much everything else that wasn't mandatory. Basically this last month I felt like I was walking through a haze.
But yesterday I think things started crystallizing. (Typical that it happens 3 days into being left alone in the apartment.) I finally got over the Captain America feels (in a "I'm done" sort of way, and not just a "I must stop" sort of way), and I think I'm ready to think about what's coming next.
In this post I'll put some of the "what's next," and I'll follow it with a friends-locked post about my current school (because obvious reasons.)
Related to current Chinese School:
- Managing the transition of our current material to an online platform
- Streamlining school administration (to make sure we're using people the best way, and to make sure teachers feel appreciated and also energized, but are also appropriately teaching the content)
- Fixing up all the problems with current school website and database (either by hiring someone or doing it myself)
- Helping condense grades 8/9, improve grades 6/7, and add the possibility of a post-AP grade
- Get WASC accreditation
- Writing a high school Mandarin textbook and testing it out in MJ's classroom, and maybe promoting it at conferences.
- I'll still show up to school on Thursdays lunch for anime club, and maybe also for the Day 5 advos
- Possibly working with the school in other capacities (guest speaker, professional development, tech assistance, etc)
- Finishing Tisquantum (!!!)
... Yeah, that sounds like plenty of things to do. I won't be teaching every day, but maybe it's time to exercise my other muscles (managerial, coding, creative).
May 14th, 2014
|12:14 pm - Recentering|
I've been thinking a lot about my life recently, due to both an impending job change (I'll post about that later), and the recent tumblr-taking-over-my-life thing.
There's a tumblr img set going around showing the wordcount of 2 documents: a fanfic having 10k words and an essay having 17. Last night I was working on a Tisquantum page and I felt this way -- that I'd rather shit out some crappy Captain America fan comic than work on page 53 with these hard poses and this weird perspective (and am I leaving enough space for dialogue?) This is not a healthy place to be, but here I am. Even though I know I should be cutting down on fandom stuff, I keep going back. Why? A month ago I was perfectly content to spend 3-4 hours drawing every night, watching some crappy crime procedural. And yet when I did that last night, it felt hollow and frustrating.
Fandom is too easy. It taps into my desire to feel connected to other people, and is perfectly tuned to a level that work for socially awkward introvert geeks -- it's not like Facebook, where there is a set of normative social rules and you know your posts are being read by both your distant relatives and by that one person you sort of knew from high school. It's also not like real life, where there is awkward socializing that has to happen before you jump into a shared activity or shared interest. In fandom, there is only that shared interest. It's like drinking concentrated syrup. Tumblr has rather successfully captured that sense, by allowing easy reblogs and likes, but making genuine conversations between people who know each other difficult. Feels are easily shared, but thoughts and self-examination less so.
This is not to say that fandom and feels are a bad thing. Connecting to other people feels nice. Getting one's opinions and thoughts validated feels nice. Meeting others who might actually become friends feels nice. Especially in contrast to the lonely work of Tisquantum. But it's too easy to lose your self. This past month I've spent a lot of time thinking about other people's characters, analyzing the emotional relationships of other people's fictional characters, and sharing in other people's feels. Because it's so much easier than generating my own stories. This is why you can write 10k words on a fanfic and only 17 words on an essay -- because the essay is harder to write. The essay requires critical analysis, clean presentation, and most importantly, your own argumentation. The essay demands your assertion of your self.
I need to step back and think about what *I* want, what *I* have to say. Not what my feelings are about Steve and Bucky and Natasha and Sam, but just my feelings, my life, my passions.
I care about teaching history and Chinese. I want to improve my comic storytelling. I think Tisquantum is something worth telling, even if it will not have as much reach in its entire lifetime as that one dumb comic I did about Bucky feeling sad. (1100 notes? really?). The difficult part is that I also want to feel connected to fellow creators, but I'm not sure if tumblr is the right venue for that. (What *is* the right venue? How do 'people you follow' on tumblr become actual people you hang out with?)
To end with the appropriate Thomas Paine Winter Soldier quote: "These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." To devote my waking moments to fandom is to shrink from what I can personally create. I was going to go watch The Winter Soldier movie again today, but maybe it's time to recenter myself.
May 11th, 2014
|07:50 am - Aaargh|
Went to bed at like 2am last night (dumb, I know), but for some reason woke up at 7am. On a Sunday. =_= (Usually Sundays I wake up around 8:30 or 9am)
Anyways, I continue to have way to many feels about Captain America. Jono isn't around this week so I have plans to go see it a second time. That will either remind me that the movie itself wasn't that great, or plunge me into more feels. Every time I think I'm done, it turns out that I'm not. I think I've gotten to a point where my headcanon is pretty solidified and most of it has either been satisfied from reading some truly excellent fics, or from me drawing/writing stuff.
This trip through fandom has been interesting in that regard -- exploring the way I approach images/text. While I appreciate beautiful artwork, I just don't do artwork only -- it's either a comic, straight up, or, as is more often the case, some pictures/panels accompanied by a ficlet or some sort of explanation. I think that is confusing to most people on Tumblr. (Which is why my most reblogged thing is a pure comic.) But I guess that's how my brain operates on its default setting. Drawing comics takes effort, because layout and pacing. Pure fictional/literary writing is so fiddly and hard. Pure artwork is boring to do. I guess it does speak to the power of the comic as a mature medium that perfectly blends text and image, versus the random crap that I dash out. It's like comics is a perfect meat and veggie stirfry, whereas most of my fandom stuff is like "here's some half-cooked meat, and here's some raw veggies, and they're supposed to go together, but I was too lazy to use the wok.
What's kind of sad, though, is how much Captain America stuff I've done in the last 3 weeks:
- 9 doodles (counting discrete images)
- 15 comic pages
- 7 ficlets and 4 more paragraph-long ... things.
Yeah. In that time, I've managed to do... 5 Tisquantum pages.
Okay, to do list for today:
- read up about possible summer travel options
- Skype with Joanne 10-11am??
- take nap because I fucking need it
- teach Chinese School
- Draw next page of Tisquantum
May 9th, 2014
Today was pretty Chinese School heavy -- I had a couple of pretty intense meetings. It was good, but also tiring. But also pretty exciting that I'm taking more creative control of Chinese School's direction. It's still a bit startling when people listen to my suggestions, but hey, I'll take it. I hope this bodes well for next year, since I'll be working with Chinese School full time.
Today while driving I looked at my hand and was like "hey, this is an adult person's hand." It's weird being 30.
Then I spent 2 hours on tumblr, so there's that. Look at me, a grown, married woman hanging out with high schoolers and having feels. :/
I also had this weird nausea zone and took a big nap around dinner time, possibly due to the intense meetings? Body, what is wrong with you?
I haven't gotten any Tisquantum work done, mostly because I've been procrastinating. There's a part of this page that I'm really not looking forward to drawing. I also need to do tweaks to the previous pages that's also tedious. (Might have to re-draw a pose, which is no fun.)
No to-do list tonight because I'm still working on yesterday's.
May 8th, 2014
|12:40 am - To do list for tomorrow|
Chinese School stuff...
Write down exercise structure plans
Look at poems!
- Figure out why some comments won't save??
- Tidy up the last batch of Tisquantum pages and queue the posts
- Finish drawing the next Tisquantum page
put in essay grades
- grade discussion posts
- grade miscellaneous essays
revise final project stuff.
- take a break
May 5th, 2014
Tisquantum work continues, which is good, given how I continue to remain distracted by tumblr. It's rather strange -- I drew a steve/bucky fan comic yesterday that seems to have achieved tumblr escape velocity (800+ notes in the last 24 hours??). It's kind of like accidentally birthing a leech child and not knowing what happened. Now I kinda feel bad for not putting more effort into it -- there's definitely panels that I'd tweak, and I didn't put in any backgrounds, and I didn't look up any clothing reference images... But there it goes, into the tumblr ether, imperfect yet strangely attractive. And all I can do is gaze after it with some confusion.
And then I return to Sasaso, who needs so much help in dealing with his life.
April 27th, 2014
Oh DW/LJ you are so much better for my life and mental health than tumblr, whose format breeds obsession.
With most of the things I obsess over there's always this tug-of-war modulation process that roughly goes as such:
1) I spend a chunk of time doing nothing else, and I really sink into it for 2-3 days.
2) I intellectually recoil from that and make vows and plans to dial back. This usually works for 3-5 days
3) The id part of me retaliates by diving further into the obsession. This relapse usually lasts 2-4 days.
4) Eventually even that part of me is sufficiently sated that it allows itself to be moderated.
5) I completely abandon the obsession for about a week. (If I don't do that, the obsession continues out of habit.)
6) When I return to it, it is no longer an obsession.
So today I think I finally got through step 4. In the morning in the midst of prepping for the taiko performance, I spent about a hour writing a ficlet that I liked (because it has history). Then after getting back from taiko at 7pm, I spent about 3 hours this evening just scrolling through tumblr and looking at gifsets, even when there wasn't anything new. I believe that's the very definition of sated.
Now I'm processing and prepping for tomorrow!
To Do List:
- Grade 8 essays
- Finish India PPT and finish planning the new Violence unit
- Finish dialoguing the 3 Tisquantum pages so that I can send it to my beta reader
- Grade 8 essays
- Laptop/tech setup for AP test proctoring
- practice proctoring, lots of Chinese School work in the evening
April 23rd, 2014
I think what's hardest about Tisquantum is that it's something that the people closest to me (basically everyone in my family) don't really get.
That's fine -- it's not for everyone, and no one should read it out of a sense of obligation.
I just need to keep finding the audience for it, and keep believing in it myself.
I wrote down a list of people who do get it -- certain friends and a few random internet people. That is my audience.
|12:33 am - Every day, you walk with stonger step, you walk with longer step|
So.... first 2 days back at school.
I've told my principal that I need to either teach 0 or 1 class next year (I want to not inconvenience him too much -- it might be that he'll hire someone new, which would mean 0 classes, or it might be that he'll re-distribute the classes amongst other teachers, which might mean 1 class.)
So I guess I've taken the big leap, except in a small way? Already I'm going "shit, this would mean I won't be able to do x, y, and z next year," which just goes to show how hard it is to extricate oneself from such an all-consuming job.
I have most of my wrist function back, although I've been trying not to draw more than 2 hrs a day. Between that and the fandom distractions, I might have to go to once-a-week updates for a week or two to catch up again.
I'm still trying to slowly ease myself out of Captain America fandom. It's been a really heady experience, and it definitely provided a sense of camaraderie with random internet people that I didn't know I missed. I felt like I was back in high school again, in a good way. I really liked the energy of shared creative focus -- I unfortunately don't have that in other parts of my life right now (Tisquantum is a long loner project. I guess I do some collaboration at school, but it's creative in a different way.) Given that I'll be leaving school soon, I need to work to create or join some sort of community with a shared creative focus.
I'm also trying to reach a point where I'm open and comfortable with my creative work. I know it's going to take time -- it took me 2-3 years as a teacher to be able to say, "yeah, come into my classroom whenever you want" or to really *own* my grading philosophy. This is not to say I think I'm the perfect teacher -- I know there's a lot that I can work on, but in terms of teaching, I'm at a point where I no longer feel vulnerable like a baby gazelle. As a teacher, I'm no longer trying to curry recognition, nor does every snub feel like a judgment on my person. Feedback is feedback. Goals are goals. Nothing more, nothing less.
I'm not at that point re: comics, but I'm hoping to slowly work toward that. Recently you've seen a lot of emotional and mental flailing. Although these insecurities and pretensions are part of the process, they also distract from doing good creative work.
Tisquantum is a slow process.
Growth is a slow process.
But every day I can take a stronger step, a longer step.
April 18th, 2014
I'm at an interesting moment in Tisquantum, where the primary conflict is internal, and thus would be a lot easier if I had either thought bubbles or voiceover. But... I'm afraid to start the trend now, in Chapter 2. Would I be able to follow it through for the rest of the chapters? Would I be able to go back and add it in for the previous 40 pages?
I'm currently drawn up through page 9 of this chapter, and I got another 2 pages laid out last night. Interestingly, I think I'm at the same juncture I was around page 7 the first chapter and page 4 in the Prologue, where I've essentially set up the conflict, but my original idea of resolving it doesn't feel right. So I've spent the majority of today either typing random words into my "Tisquantum Big Picture Story Thoughts," or watching hilarious Captain America interviews on youtube.
I think I've finally got the larger arc of this chapter figured out, though. Now, to figure out if voiceovers or thought bubbles should be a thing.
April 17th, 2014
|11:53 pm - In which I accidentally end up re-writing the movie???|
Thinking about Winter Soldier movie and why it was so "meh," from the perspective of conflicts and stakes.
There's first the default "no duh" stakes: will the world be saved? yes. Will Captain America be the one on the last helicarrier facing off with Winter Soldier? yes. Is Nick Fury alive? yes. Can Steve trust Natasha? Everything on this level just isn't even a conflict, and showing any of that in the film is just eye candy.
Then there's the plot/external conflicts: Who are the bad guys? What are their motives? What obstructions are they going to put in the heroes' way? How does that tie into the theme of security from fear and surveillance state? This is like the grease that keeps the story moving, but it should be as straight-forward as possible, so that the audience can clearly follow it. (This is not to say red herrings shouldn't exist, but red herrings should be properly dealt with.) I'd like to think about this stuff equivalent to reading the word "said" in books -- it's there to facilitate the dialogue, but isn't obtrusive. Bad writers use a lot of "gulped", "barked", etc, in ways that actually distract from the dialogue.
Then there's the character/internal conflicts: Can Steve fight for something that he doesn't quite believe in? Can Steve trust anyone? Can Steve actually fight his best friend? Can Steve find a connection in this world? Should people follow SHIELD or follow Captain America? I think of this as the butter that adds flavor and depth to the story. The plot stuff is to put the main characters into these internal conflicts. However, this is also the hardest to show narratively -- a look here, a word there, all subtext.
From this perspective, I think the problems with Captain America: the Winter Soldier are that:
(a) The default "no duh" things undermine a lot of the other conflicts.
When you know Natasha and Sam are trustworthy and Fury has backup plans, the whole "Can Steve trust anyone?" going rogue part loses its tension. It's like "well, time to collect your posse and kick some butt.
When you know the heroes are going to win, all of the plot-related fight scenes lose their tension and become eye candy -- Winter Soldier stops being an actual threat. Imagine if "getting the team together" wasn't a no-duh thing -- what if Winter Soldier actually takes out Natasha during the street scene? What if Winter Soldier's crazy property damage puts HYDRA's or SHIELD's plans at risk? ("Oh hey there's a massive shootout on the streets of DC, how about let's shut down the entire city and SHIELD and call in the actual US military?" Or "Oh hey there's a massive shootout, I hear you guys have some helicarriers, want to launch early to help us?") But no, the heroes must never get into any REAL trouble.
Fine. Another way to add tension back in is by making those scenes about character instead of plot. The Winter Soldier fight scenes should actually be about "when will Steve find out?" and "What will the reaction be?" But those scenes aren't played that way. If you use that as the real conflict, Steve would have found out much sooner, or there would have been fewer fight scenes in the 2nd third of the movie. As it stands, this character angst doesn't get addressed in the last third of the movie, during the most plot-chaotic time.
(b)The plot-level conflicts are overly convoluted and is often orthogonal to character-level conflicts. Why 3 helicarriers and not 1? What's with the international SHIELD council? DNA targetting? Field trip to 1970s Zola-ville? Why isn't anyone who's not SHIELD giving a fuck about all this? How is Steve feeling about all this? Steve's 5 minutes of "I don't trust Nick Fury, this surveillance stuff is all wrong" was quickly forgotten after the Nick Fury chase scene. Then his "I don't know who to trust, but I trust Nick Fury for some reason" lasts about 2 seconds. Then it's confusing plot for about 30 minutes until "I don't know how I'll react to facing Bucky, if he still *is* Bucky," but that is also distracted by another 30 minutes of scampering and fighting.
In a movie where a lot of tension has already been subverted due to the fluffy superhero-ness of it all, there are plenty of opportunities to simplify and streamline all this, so that plot scenes can have more emotional weight. How about if the Winter Soldier assassinates the SHIELD higher-ups in addition to Nick Fury? That would trigger the fear/freedom theme within SHIELD itself, and better justify the Captain America manhunt in the "he's aiding and abetting!!" way, and also jumpstart the "let's get helicarriers in the air now!" thread, all in the 1st act. It might even explain why the remaining SHIELD higher ups are suddenly in DC.
How about if Winter Soldier attacks Cap/Natasha in the Zola bunker and they chase him and find the brainwash chair? That would give much more weight to the Winter Soldier character and add tension to future fight scenes and his inevitable reveal, and also skip all the weird public violence stuff that never gets followed-up on, as well as the random targetted missile.
Then they break into US military base to nab the Falcon wings and the military is like "WTF, knew we shouldn't have trusted the Capsicle, we shouldn't have doubted SHIELD/Pierce" and then Winter Soldier is there, AGAIN, because once he gets a mission he doesn't stop. He ignores Sam because Sam's not his mission, but Sam keeps getting in the way anyway, because he's Sam, and so you get a nice illustration of both Sam's deal ("I got outta the war and I lost my wingman but I'll follow you anywhere, Cap") as well as the broken-ness of the Winter Soldier. Then Winter Soldier reveal. This reveal would have more weight, given the comparison to Sam, and also Steve knowing about the chair, which would then make him hate HYDRA more. Maybe when he hears about HYDRA's plans with the helicarrier from the scientist dude, he asks, "can it be reprogrammed to target HYDRA?" -- thus bringing home the core issue of surveillance power/security. He'll have to choose to destroy the whole thing instead of becoming Galadriel with the One Ring, but at least there'd be character tension.
Anyways, I started thinking about all this because I was thinking about why all those fanfics have redeemed the movie for me, and the answer is that the fanfics brought back the character conflicts and ignored all the crappy plot stuff. I'm also hoping this can help me think more about Tisquantum's conflicts and narrative flow.
April 16th, 2014
Today is my mom's birthday. She's 63 now. In 3 years I'll be her age when she gave birth to me. In the 30 years of my lifetime she's immigrated to the US, got a PhD from Stanford and a Postdoctorate from Berkeley, published an influential book that's been translated into Spanish, Korean, and Chinese (and some other languages), and wrote 10 years worth of Chinese curriculum for weekend Chinese language schools. Of course she couldn't have done it without Dad, who did most of the childcare, the textbook editing, the running of the business, the taxes, and the cooking. But her life is quite accomplished.
It makes me wonder what I'd be able to accomplish in the next 30 years.
Tonight after the birthday cake we were talking about the future of the business, and it's clear that she's now in the "wrapping up" stage of her career -- doing the final things that she's been putting off before handing it off. This transition is going to take a few years, but ... it's strange and kinda crazy to realize that my parents are at that stage in their lives. My dad's already printed up the first half of his memoir and left for China.
Exit stage left and all that.
I guess the next 30 years are mine now.