I really should be doing laundry and packing but no! I wrote out 10 cards, some including freshly made prints and finished up a small carving for a friend’s super secret project. Did I mention I get on a plane tomorrow? Yes, I am a glutton for punishment but that punishment is rewarding when I know the things I do will give someone a couple minutes of joy. Maybe more. I can live with that.

I have been plugging away on so many artistic levels and directions. It feels nice for a change. Usually I am all over the place with my projects and now that I have knocked out some commitments, I can focus on making my empire a little larger. I mean that metaphorically of course. Contrary to popular belief I have never been one in the confidence department and it has taken a few blows to the ego for me to realize that I need to wake up and really start believing what everyone else sees in me. It takes a while but hey, like Rupaul says, “If you can’t love yourself how the hell are you gonna love anybody else?! Can I get an amen?!”

Amen. Loud and clear. Better late than never, right?

Recently I was going through my sketchbooks and notepads and I found that I have a bunch of pieces I could totally put in my etsy shop. I won’t have the time to get them there until I return in August but there will be all kinds of odds and ends listed, mostly originals. Once they’re there I will certainly share here. Here are a couple of the things I have had in the pipe…

Within all this productivity I have found how much time was being wasted on Facebook. Fuck man. It’s like going on a diet and then going right back to cake. You feel guilty about it yet THERE YOU ARE. One thing I have been doing is using it to network, meet new people, cultivate relationships with the good ones. The rest? I have never used the “I don’t want to see this”, “hide all from…” and “unfollow…” functions as much as I have. Considering what an absolute SHIT SHOW the world was this week, it brings out all kinds of special (read: stupid) in people.

I actually went back and made a large amount of posts private or deleted them all together. Not because I have things to hide, I have never been that way. I just needed to simplify it and I find that as of late, I am more inclined to write a post on my blog. If you want to read it here, awesome! I am more than a bunch of one liners in the abyss of bullshit that is Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, I read, comment to other people’s posts but when it comes to my stuff, I am trying to keep it positive, blog posts, art, music and that’s that. You want some dirt, this is where it is going to be… and the occasional character limited rant on twitter… cause yes, I do that.

So yeah… I am going to SoCal tomorrow for two weeks. This time it’s just going to be Reza and I. I haven’t seen my family since my brother died in February 2013 and that just wasn’t under the best of circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be knee deep in the fun that is Comic Con but this trip isn’t about that. I will see a very small amount of friends, get my hair chopped off and take off to Baja for a few days to get some grounding that only The Motherland can provide. Shift and focus, shift and focus.

All of the aforementioned, paired with a much better space with Josh are key. I am proud of the way he has been handling himself considering what we went through this month and it is that manner that is reassuring me that he is committed to making things better on all counts. I am going to miss him but I am glad that he gets to stay home, visit with Tom, have some much needed solo time to do what he wants and do some soul searching… the kind of soul searching that is hard to do when your kid is going through yet another motor mouth phase.

Reza, my god. I love this child but she cannot. stop. talking. It’s a phase just like any other and she will grow out of it. I just hope we don’t kill each other while on this trip cause on some days we are like salt and vinegar, then it turns into piss and wheaties. Don’t let the cute face deceive you.

So yeah, I am checking out for vacation. It is going to be nice… I shall go forth and conquer SoCal like only I know how: surrounded by awesome people, cool photos, good food and don’t worry, I will tell you ALL ABOUT IT.

 

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was sitting in a house full of boxes, ready to take on another great adventure. It’s a surreal feeling. You find yourself standing on yet another cliff you have no choice but to dive off of, only this time you know there is a net at the bottom to catch you.

They say home is where the heart is. My heart was never on the East Coast, not in the two years I was there, not ever. So that morning, when the truck came to take our lives back home, I finally felt like I could breathe a little, like the anvil had been taken off my shoulders.

Everyone has their place and New Jersey wasn’t mine. It has become the embodiment and reminder of one of the more depressing moments of my life: a period of mourning, a period where I was removed from most of what I cared about. Sure, there were slivers of sunshine through the cracks in the ceiling but eventually the grey overcame and that is all it was: gloomy, dreary and full of mosquitoes sucking at your limbs. Literally.

And then the light at the end of the tunnel showed herself.

Being back in California has brought a sense of renewal, outlook and perspective. It’s not even about “California”, it’s about feeling grounded in a place where you know you belong. Where you don’t feel like a stranger, where the surrounding bodies of water and scenery cradle you with the arms of familiarity. A place you can rest your head and hear the heart beats with your eyes closed. That is home.

Stepping away from her really changed me. It brought out a maturity I never expected to see in myself. As cliche as it sounds, you never truly appreciate the things you have in your life until you come close to, or lose them all together. I lost a lot in those two years: friends, familiarity, safety, Nena, my brother, a piece of my self. It was a lot more than my fragile heart could handle despite the brave face I was putting on.

Even when times get tough, I feel sad, or find a sense of longing, I stop myself and think, “I could still be in New Jersey” and I instantly feel better. That entire experience taught me a lot about gratitude and appreciation, like you have no idea. Or maybe you do.

A year has gone by and what a good year it has been.

Cheers.

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As a little experiment I purchased some wood slices to paint on and yeah, I like this, a lot. I have never painted on wood so there was a little learning curve about the surface prepping but I am pretty happy with my first shot at it. I expect to be doing a lot more of this on top of all the other stuff I do.

This little guy was intended for sale but I accidentally nicked the back of the coaster when I went to make a hole for wall hanging with the drill. It’s not too bad. Now I know better, mounting solution first, then paint.

But hey, if you’re interested in purchasing this little guy here are the details: SOLD
Basswood, 3″x 3.75″ – watercolor/micron pen
Has small hole on the back for hanging on the wall
Sealed with matte water and UV resistant sealant
(larger photo here)

 

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In 9 days Reza and I take off to Southern CA to regroup with my family which I haven’t seen since my brother died. I haven’t seen Bee in since forever. Such are the woes of her living in Japan. They haven’t seen Reza in two years so there will be lots of amazement about the limbs she has and how it’s possible a stump like me gave birth to a tree. No joke dude, look at how long she has gotten. It’s not even cool.

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- Headspace has been all over the place. I go through pockets where I am good, then I go from zero to cranky pretty fast. I won’t lie, I’m still edgy and shaken up from the recent going ons at home. Just as I am optimistic that we will get over the speed bump, I am just as anxious and nervous. I don’t take things lightly and while Josh has been awesome by leaps and bounds, this is the kind of thing that takes time.

+/- On the plus side, when things get rough, you learn a lot about the people around you and who your friends are. In the past month I have been bombarded with thoughtful messages full of love and support. Dare I say, some of the best exchanges came from those I expected it from the least. On the downside, I know that our putting things out there opened the floodgates for the judgement patrol. I get why people would… but everyone is different and our experiences are not yours and vice versa. But to those of you who took the time to reach out, or are still reaching out..

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+ I shipped off my pieces for a group show I am in at Alexi Era Gallery in St. Louis. I am still pretty stoked that I would be invited to participate in a show with so many talented artists. All piece sale proceeds are going to Honey Love to help raise bee awareness. I contributed two, multi layered paper cut pieces and as time consuming as they were to produce, they got where I wanted them to be. It’s interesting for me since I just started diving into doing shows and the whole idea of letting go your originals is so foreign to me, it’s tough but as an appreciator/collector, I know how rad it is to own the actual piece vs. prints. In any event, they’re gone and I hope they go to a good home. Here is a teaser of one. You can’t really tell but there is vellum layered under the wings. I will post better, full size photos after the show which is on the 19th.

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+ Been working on new art, commission work, trying new mediums. Overall it has been fun and I hope to have a lot of new things in the shop soon. The downside is I am leaving for two weeks so realistically it will have to wait to August. I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew, I have a habit of doing that. I relocated my desk and freed up some space… enough to where some certain felines have been duking it out for coveted donut space. It has been nice to have a feline partner sleeping on the desk or watching me as I work. Judas usually wins.

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+/- After much consideration I am biting the bullet and cutting a good chunk of my hair off. I’ve missed shorter hair for a while and I really need a change… color too. The blonde is going out! It feels like a broom anyway and well, I am going to be 40 in November and I am not doing it in a fucking ponytail. This will happen while I am in San Diego. The – is cause it’s a little scary but hey, it’s hair, it grows back. I am pretty sure I will get the “but you have such nice hair mija” backlash from the parental units. Sorry, I am not sorry.

- Stress drove me back to bad eating habits and boy do I feel it. With Reza on vacation my routine has been all out of whack and I feel like a sack of potatoes. I need to get back on the train cause I hate feeling this way.

+ Still volunteering for the kitty rescue. It’s kitten season right now and my Fridays have been full of spunky little fur balls. So many of them :( thankfully they are cute so they’re getting swooped up on fast. It’s hard to not want to bring them all home! Oh and remember the moody calico Leandra? Well, she finally found someone who just “got” her and off she went to her forever home. I will admit, I was sad to see her go but stoked she has a home.

+ I finally upgraded my ancient, slower than hell iPhone4 and got a 5s. OMG. It’s like going from a Yaris to a Ferrari. I think I am going to order this Tom Riddle phone case for it. Thankfully I had some trade in value so it wasn’t a huge hit to the wallet either. /firstworldproblems

+ Again, San Diego. I am looking forward to it like you have no idea. Only downside I arrive smack in the middle of Comic Con and I won’t have the time to really partake in the Con festivities. There’s always next year for that noise. I am just stoked to see my sisters and parents… and cutting off this broom on my head. You have no idea how nuts it is making me.

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A convo Reza and I had today.

We were leaving Target and there were two transexual/drag queens outside. As we walked by, one of them says, “I LOVE YOUR DAUGHTER’S HAIRCUT!!”
I smiled and thanked her as we walked to the car.
Reza says, “what did they say?”
“She said she liked your hair”.
“But that was a boy”
“But she is dressed like as a she, we address her as ‘she’ because thats who she wants to be”.
“Ok!”.

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I would be lying to you if I said that things have been great, because they haven’t been. The past month has been pretty tough and I figured it was time for me to say so.

I don’t like hoarding secrets, I am not that kind of person. I believe in living openly and honestly is the best way to feel free. I don’t have to worry about who knows what or keeping up fronts, it’s easy. It keeps toxicity out not having to hold on to so many packed bags of secrets. That’s just how I roll. But this is different and while it affects me in every possible way, it still wasn’t my story to tell.

There have been a series of events over the course of our relationship that have led up to this moment, events I do not plan on sharing in detail because it is unnecessary. But now that he has come clean, so can I.

The reason I am putting this out there is because I, just as much as he, need to be honest with you and ourselves. I am not going to treat this like a dirty secret because it isn’t. I, like countless others, am in a relationship with a person battling demons. We all have them, they just take different forms for everyone. I am not immune to demon battling, I have them too but mine aren’t affecting others, not like this.

In the past month things kind of turned a corner, a hard left that pushed me to the point where I have had to deal with and say some really hurtful but truthful things to my husband. The reality is that he has a problem with excess and in this case, it’s drinking. He doesn’t know how to measure his limits and in turn has found himself in positions that were less than desirable.

People are so accustomed to living and being in relationships where they fight and argue with their partners like it is commonplace. Josh and I are not those people. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times we have had disagreements in the 13 years we have been together. I can also tell you how many of those pertained to alcohol or the decisions made while he was under the influence. So you can imagine how hard it is that for the first time in my relationship with Josh, we are being met with a very real battle.

Since he brought this to the table there are a few things I want to address because people have been asking me: In no way has there ever been any violence, anger or mean natured exchanges. We are safe and Reza has been kept in the dark about this to the best of our ability. I want to keep it that way. But on the same token, I am not going to be the blind eyed wife who turns the other way and pretends there isn’t an issue when it’s very apparent there is. I am not holding back my feelings in any way.

When people think of alcoholism, they think of the horrible extremes. We are NOWHERE near that point. The incidents have been very infrequent. All I know is that I started seeing signs of something that was headed toward the Highway to Horribleville and I had to help pull the emergency break before we even got to the onramp. He’s driving here, he has to be the one to take this journey toward healing himself but as his partner, I’m riding shotgun and have to help give directions when necessary.

There has been an insane amount of talking here. One thing he and I have always been good at is communication and for that I am thankful because it is making this process a lot easier. Paired with professional assistance, there is a real shot here. I want to believe there is. It’s a process and will take some time.

I sincerely appreciate those who have reached out and have been supportive to the both of us since the light was shed. I know it’s hard to say something, I get it. We have an amazing network of wonderful people who I really wish were closer. We need you more than ever. All I can ask is that you help me, help him by being a positive influence in our lives. Be honest, be concerned, feel free to come at us with it. Full transparency. We need to hear it. We have no time for bullshittery.

Thanks for listening.

 

I won’t lie, there has been a lot of bullshit going on in the world and since it is plastered all over social media, it has made me all kinds of rage face. I have literally sat in front of my computer looking like this…

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I try to avoid the news. It’s not because I like to pretend that things aren’t happening, but because it really bums me out. It’s self preservation. But then I find myself on fb and I get sucked into the vitriol, the comments, the sheer stupidity and ass backward thinking that people have. It boggles my mind dude. How is it that we live in a society of forward thinking, where we are supposed to be smarter, more evolved and have information of all kinds readily accessible to our fingertips and yet people seem to be getting DUMBER?

See Beaker photo up there ^.

I literally have to step away, light some nag champa, and chant my newest mantra: “I will not engage in arguing with stupid people, I will not engage in arguing with stupid people, I will not engage in arguing with stupid people”.

I can’t even get into how sad and revolting it is that people took the time to protest a bus full of illegals KIDS. Criminal, really. I’m the daughter of an immigrant who came to this country to do better for himself. Don’t give me this “speak English or GTFO” crap, ok? I speak it and probably better than most yahoos who probably couldn’t even pass the civics portion of the immigration naturalization test or still don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re”. I’m sure those 8 year olds are dying to take away your jobs. Assholes.

I won’t get into a full on diatribe but it makes me sick to my stomach that women and what they do with THEIR BODIES is such a fucking problem in this society. We can’t win dude. We say nothing and we’re viewed as complacent, submissive and weak. We say something and we’re labeled as bitches, cunts and whores. Which one is it, yo?

Anyway, I wrote all kinds of mean shit in my Facebook status box and removed it cause all it was doing was pissing me off. So I deleted them and hoarded my feelings to myself, or chatted with Josh because with him I can have a calm, intelligent discussion.

“Tomorrow is another day”, I said to myself. It came and here I am, going off about shit. Ha. I never learn.

And then I got this e-mail from one of my credit card companies. They want me to take the time to complete a survey to enhance their user experience. “It should only take about 20 minutes to complete”. Are you high Clairee? Only 20 minutes.

You know what I can do in 20 minutes or less?

- Take a shower and get dressed to look like a respectable human being
- Call a handful of people and leave “I miss and love you” messages on their voicemail because lets face it, no one answers their shit anymore.
- Play with my kid
- Play with myself if said kid wasn’t on Summer vacation.
- Do shit I am supposed to be doing instead of writing this pointless, disjointed post.

You get the picture. Only 20 minutes. I just really should write them back and tell them that unless I get an offer for a lower APR and a reach around, then they can shove their survey up their brown starfish, or pink if they partake in anal bleach.

So yeah.

See Beaker photo up there ^.

 

In the past month I have taught/shown my daughter:

- The magic that is putting avocado in your sandwich – she fought me tooth and nail on this one but she got schooled! Now it’s a must.
- New watercolor techniques
- How to do the bump (the dance) to Shake Your Groove Thing, no less.
- More exposure to Prince, Madonna (the Material Girl era) and music that doesn’t suck.
- The skill every woman must know: always check for toilet paper prior to sitting your ass on the pot.
- Exposure to cosplay and how fun it can be
- How to own being different and not caring what other people think of her.

Granted, some of these will be continuous work in progress but still. She may not be in Summer camps but a month of her vacation has gone by and it has been very fruitful. Life lessons and all.

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Yesterday I found myself at the art store replenishing what seems to be the never ending pile of broken x-acto blade replacements. There out of the corner of my eye I spied some wood carving knives and for $16, I couldn’t say no.

Coming home with new art supplies is like the gift card in your wallet. You just HAVE TO USE THEM. This morning I decided to bust them out for some play time and figured I would make something and share the process with you, hence the birth of the “Make Your Own Rubber Stamp Tutorial”. Celebration!

So here is what you will need to make this magic happen, as so…

TOOLS

- 1 piece of rubber carving goo (speedball speedy-carve or most art supply store sell it in loose pieces. The piece shown is approximately 2×3″)
- drawing tools of choice (pencil, micron, pen, etc.)
- linoleum cutters/wood carving knives

First you need to draw your design on the rubber. Keep in mind what you want to be negative/positive. I used pencil and freehanded my design on it but if you’re not as comfortable with drawing you can always print out your design of choice and use transfer paper to get your outline in place on the rubber.

DRAWN

Slowly carve away at everything you do not want to be part of your stamp. Tedious, messy and somewhat therapeutic. Tip: Always carve away from your body and hands cause if you happen to slip you could puncture a fingertip AKA “won’t stop bleeding in forever and a day”

CARVED

Now this is where the fun happens. Bust out your ink pad and do a test run. The impression will show you pieces that may need be chipped away at a little more. I had a few. Maybe you want to add details, like in this case I decided to add small veins on the leaves. Clean that B up!

TEST

And you’re done. It’s pretty simple when you get the hang of it. Just keep in mind the smaller the stamp, the harder it is to get small details. Start bigger and go from there. If you want to make it easier for use, glue it onto a similar sized piece of wood.

FINAL

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This past weekend we attended the Santa Rosa Toy Con, a small, local convention all things toys. Most of them were vintage collector type stuff. It was nice to have something in town for a change!

Reza has recently been watching Heroes Of Cosplay on tv and because of it, she was all hung ho about going in costume. First time for everything! So I suggested we resurrect the witch costume from Halloween. So here we go, another hour of makeup application and we were off.

From the minute we walked in she was bombarded with people wanting to take her photo which she ate the hell up. Considering it was her first time in a Con environment she did pretty well with the attention. Wasn’t too overwhelmed.

A photographer from the local paper snatched her up and I just found the photo online… hilarity!
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Feeling a little confident she decided to enter the cosplay contest. There were lots of cool costumes so I had my apprehension on letting her but decided to roll with it. We prepped her for the inevitability of not winning anything and she understood it was about the fun, not the win.

She got make a model space shuttle, took photos with a ton of other people in costume and even got to ask Ernie Hudson a question at his panel since she is a big Ghostbusters fan. He was a little distracted by her skin color.

Contest time came around. She got up there, cackled and gave her best “I will get you my pretty! And your little dog too!” impression.

Wouldn’t you know, she won the kids category. Granted, there were only 5 kids total but still. You should have seen the look on her face when she won, fanning her eyes, trying not to cry. She was STOKED. She scored a certificate and $50 cash which she promptly spent on a Lego set the following day.

That face. It wasn’t about the prize or the win…. it was the confidence it instilled. She believed she could and she did. Priceless.

winner!

She is already talking about what her next cosplay costume is going to be. *sigh* I created a monster.

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