thanksgiving for one

Because his birthday always fell on the week of Thanksgiving, it has been my Dad’s holiday for as long as I can remember. We basically had no choice and he liked it that way. When he died almost four years ago, my family struggled to create a new tradition.

The first year we went to his sister’s house. He had died in June. We were still getting used to the idea that he was gone forever. But we were together. The Ravens beat the 49ers. I made my first scratch apple pie and it was a miserable failure. my apples got all wilted. I still don’t understand what went wrong. But we got a laugh out of it.

The next year my aunt went to celebrate with her daughter’s family. We– my step-mom, my brother, his wife, and their 3 sons– decided a new, non-traditional tradition should be established. They decided on a Thanksgiving day crab cake feast. I loved the idea.

I have been a vegetarian for what seems like forever. Off and on through my teens, and permanently as soon as I left home at 21. Up until I went vegan a year ago, I would make exceptions for seafood now and then. (I view crabs as sea bugs, and I’m not convinced that they can feel pain or fear based on our current understanding of them.) I was very happy to sit with my family while they enjoyed a crab feast rather than the usual turkey, but I was happy to sit with them while they enjoyed turkey and ham before that. With the crab, I felt more included. it was nice.

We happily carried on this new Thanksgiving day tradition for two years, and last year we were joined by my step-brother and half-brother from my Dad’s second marriage. It’s too rare that all of us kids are under one roof. It was a special day for everyone, I think.

But all good things must end. This year my brother’s family were invited to a special gourmet Thanksgiving at their closest friend’s house. We moved our family Thanksgiving to the Sunday prior. I’ll admit, I had very mixed feelings about this. In part because I think of this day as Dad’s Day. Secondly, more selfishly, because that leaves me alone on Dad’s Day.

I did receive invitations to other friend’s Thanksgiving dinners. This is where my personal food choices enter into the situation. Because I am vegan, these things are typically awkward. The dishes I bring and the food on my plate will always raise innocent, yet uncomfortable questions at best, or outright ridicule at worst. When I get the questions, I usually explain that I can’t answer without ruining dinner for everyone. So awkward. The ridicule is harder to navigate. People can sometimes see my personal food choices as a judgement on theirs and become defensive about it. But I ate dairy products until only 15 short months ago, aware all along that the dairy industry is pretty much the cruelest of them all. I was able to do exactly what these turkey-and-ham-revelers are doing. I could compartmentalize what I knew about the industry so that it wouldn’t interfere with what I wanted. Namely cheese. I feel guilt and shame to think about it now. How willfully ignorant I was. But how could I judge anyone for doing the same thing I had been doing until only recently?

Perhaps more than that, the problem is that my food choices can dominate the conversation. My own family are used to it. But Thanksgiving is about family. The last thing I want to do is to draw focus away from that at a friend’s family table.

So today I choose to enjoy Thanksgiving by myself. I will go see friends once dinner is done, but for now, I’m so happy to sit here with my dog, watch football, work on some projects, think about my Dad, and stuff myself with possibly the best Thanksgiving feast I’ve ever had. If this is my new tradition, I’m fine with that!

http://gardein.com/products/holiday-roast/

By the way, this is the Gardein Holiday Roast, and it’s by far the best vegan roast on the market. I’m pretty sure I’ve tried them all.

result

I wanted to follow up on my last post with a look at the finished product and some final thoughts on this little project.

skull rough copyOverall, I like it. I can still say that, and for me, that’s something. Actual progress.

Here’s the thing. It’s not what I had in my mind. I have excuses. They are as follows: my block was the size of a postcard. Too small for the detail I wanted. Too small to have the flowers popping out of the head all wild and crazy, as was my original concept. When I look at it, my eye can’t help wanting to see it as I originally planned. It looks wrong. Also, the print transfer was never quite right. This was the best of probably 50 attempts. I just don’t have the tools. I will need to invest a little if I want to continue doing woodcuts. And I realize as I write that I really do.

Whatever it is, I’m trying hard to hold onto that feeling I had when I wrote my last entry. This is what I made. Like it or not. I did my thing as best I could and I can’t control how others respond to it. I will keep in mind the things I would do differently and move on to the next thing. Most importantly, there will be a next thing. The act of creating art makes me happy. Now I need to learn how to be happy with the result.

Here’s the full flyer for the event. Again, if you’re near Baltimore and interested in meeting other creative types and learning about the creative process from some of this city’s best talent, be there.

the working artist 2-2Click the image to go to the facebook event page.

 

 

if i knew what i was doing…

…perhaps this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.

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I bled for this. It should have worked better.

A post shared by Megan Mishou (@old_megg) on

Lauren Anderson, creativity coach, soon to be therapist, and my best friend for life (no lie – 33 years and counting, assuming we got along well as newborns) commissioned a piece of art from me to support her wonderful, inspirational interview series, The Working Artist, a monthly event happening at the Windup Space in Baltimore, MD. (Local? Catch the next event during Artscape on Saturday, July 19th. Doors at 4p. Go for inspiration, motivation, networking, and generally getting in touch with some of the amazing happenings in this town that is overflowing with creative culture. Watch Lauren’s blog for further details.)

It is because I attended her first event that I found the nerve to accept this commission. I have some artistic skill, but I almost never use it. I’m afraid of criticism. I’m not trained. I think everyone is better than me. Why try? That’s how I felt about it before I went to the event. That has changed. I know now that I can’t let my fears stop me from doing something that I love. Even if it’s just for myself. I have to accept the fact that I won’t be the best. There’s no such thing. I can’t make something that will be universally loved.  Some people will get it and lots of people just won’t. They’ll hate it. They’ll art-snob all over my technique. Admittedly, I have none. But when I listened to Lauren interviewing people whose art form is their true passion, I had an epiphany. It boils down to “Fuck all that, I’ll do what I want”.

So, this is my 2nd woodcut ever and it didn’t quite work out on the first try. Also, I stabbed myself twice. The second one felt like it hit bone in my thumb. Really, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Gloves, you idiot! In spite of all that, I’m not ashamed to say I like it, I’m proud of it, I bled for it, and I’m not giving up on it.

Video

Rik Mayall

I named Funk 2 Funky referencing Bowie lyrics, but there’s another reference that pops into my head just as often as the song itself. I hope it will always be there, in my head, every time I think or say the name.

Gallery

good day for a dig

If you happen to live in the Northeastern US you’ll know exactly how I feel about winter right now. I used to love the snow. A part of me still does. But a larger part just wants it to stay out of my way for good. I’ve never felt happier to see and feel the signs of spring then I do after the winter we’ve just had, so it was particularly nice to go out prowling with a friend on this tepid and sunny day.

I started out solo, hitting one of my favorite spots, Value Village in Brooklyn Park, MD. To my shock and horror I walked in to see that they have recently rearranged the entire store. This is probably meant to be considered an improvement. I’m a creature of habit. I hate it. The prices seemed higher and the shelves seemed stocked with a lot of newer looking items, not crammed with tons of pre-90’s treasure as I’ve come to expect. It was just too organized. They even had the shoes arranged by size! When do you ever see that in a thrift store? My tiny mind couldn’t take it. I didn’t even feel that dirty when I left. I should have had a gray film on my hands. I mean, I could feel a film, but I couldn’t see it. I wasn’t even sneezing. I can only hope that it will quickly devolve into the disorganized and filthy pit it once was.

Luckily my next stop was Golden West Cafe in Hampden. Vegan French Toast. If the sugar couldn’t snap me out of my bizarre reverse OCD fit, nothing would. Then it was over to Second Chance, Inc., which had all the clutter I could ever want to see in a lifetime. I have admired this store and what they do for ages, but I’ve never actually had a chance to visit it in person. Their thing is to provide workforce training and assisted job placement to program graduates, all while providing a necessary service by reclaiming valuable and sometimes even historically important treasures from houses undergoing renovation or, probably more often, demolition. It’s a great feeling as a customer to know that not only are  you getting a good deal on unique items that were saved from the junk heap, but also helping this program to train people and create jobs. It’s a self sustaining circle of goodness and I’m thoroughly in awe of the whole deal.

Below are too many pictures of our little adventure. Click for a better look. Thanks to my bestest Lauren for coming along! Check out her blog – http://loveandlifeoutsidethebox.com/

(f)unemployment < fun employment

So many changes have come in just the past two weeks. First, I found something of a part-time dream job. Over the past 4 years I have worked on and off as a childcare provider. It started with my 3 amazing nephews. I loved caring for them. They taught me so much about life, and I taught them the Batman theme, so we’re even. That spread to working part time watching a close friend of mine’s amazing toddler.  And now, another close friend has come out of nowhere and trusted me with her little guy. They’re all family to me, and, not to put too fine a point on it, but as someone who made a decision while I was still a teenager that I would never have my own kids, at least not biological ones, it’s almost a necessity. It’s a kind of fulfillment I’ve never experienced in any other job. I can’t even really call it a job.

I’m in a good place. What a load off my mind. I neglected F2F while all of these things were settling in, but things are rolling again. I’ve pared down the designs available on Society6 and I’m finding a design voice for the shop, right now focusing on simple kid friendly patterns, geometric patterns, and some spacy collages. I have some fine art prints coming soon as well! I can’t wait. On top of that,  I’ve  got a new round of needful things going up for sale in the Etsy shop. I should have an update on that very soon!

For now, here’s a guy modeling my new, snow day inspired pattern. Sex  sells, no?

guy in shower

motivator of the 3rd kind

This is going to be a tough post to write. I’m an extremely private person, even with my friends. It’s not that I internalize things. I face things. All damn day and especially at night, when all I want to do is sleep. I’m not afraid to be judged, either. I’ve known most of my friends since high school when I was an out of control mess. They’ve seen the worst and still love me, twenty years on. No, I think I’m private because I know myself, and I’ve never found dragging my problems out to be very useful. That’s just my way.

SO I have to wonder what the hell I’m doing with this blog idea, putting my business out into the world for all to see like this. I think a part of it is that I’m just so bored, even kind of disgusted, by some of these lifestyle blogs I’ve seen that are made by clearly unqualified people giving out advice on how to live. It seems so irresponsible. They’re the equivalent of a Photoshopped model to me, living a fantasy life inside their online persona, throwing out unrealistic standards for their hordes of followers to compare their lives to. It’s not bad that we try to show our best selves in social media. That’s natural. But these people, with their designer pets and their hubbies favorite recipes and their chevrons on goddamn everything … it turns me right off.

Go. Away.

Go. Away.

I know that I felt bad about myself at first, reading what these super-humans have to say about themselves. Why can’t I do all the things!? Just as I have looked in the mirror and wondered why I’m cursed with pores and a nose and thought I could never be like one of those Photoshopped things in the magazines. It’s not right for people to think about themselves in terms of how they compare to another person, but that’s how it goes. But when that other person isn’t real, that’s a problem.

You might have seen these people. Maybe not. I don’t mean to suggest that this is the majority.  There’s plenty of real out there. I’m simply stating my intent to be one of the real people. It goes to motive, I guess. This is why I feel like sharing what is almost certain to be another massive face-plant along my crooked path. It’s all going to be in this here section of the blog. If a reader happens to learn something from my honest account of said face-plant, great. But I won’t have any advice, and I’ll remind my (hypothetical) readers as often as possible that I don’t know what I’m doing. This is an experiment, not a how-to.

When I began writing this I thought I might have some confessional things to say in this first post for the Files. I don’t think I’m there yet. Maybe this has provided some more insight into what’s behind all this and what’s motivating my approach. Maybe I’ve only managed to make myself look like a bitter and cynical asshole. There’s truth in that. It’s not pretty, but it’s honest. I think that’s the whole point.

I made my own. Inspiring, no?

I made my own. Inspiring, no?