Monday, June 28, 2010

The Way Forward Is With a Broken Heart

I find myself adrift in the warm waters of life (someone, I suspect, has peed in my pool).

After much deliberation and meditation I find that I cannot see a path forward into the next part of my life without first examining the things that brought me squarely to this part of my life.

The book I finally finished did not receive the grant I had hoped it would get.

Yes, it's true that plenty of people self-publish books without ever receiving grants or awards and they do just fine professionally (Robert Kirkman self published Battle Pope alongside artist Tony Moore which essentially launched both of their careers. Kirkman went on to become the youngest partner at Image comics and is currently writing 4 or 5 monthly titles among them Invincble (which I love) and The Walking Dead (which I think has lost it's dramatic center but which I am certain will find it's way)).

And in no other literary medium does the mantle of self-published author carry with it a sort of dignity and Do it Yourself street cred as it does in comics. Many of the mainstream comics writers we geeks love today cut their teeth in the self-published genre.

So, with a finished book in hand I could just go out there and print up a bunch of these Ducks and sell them at conventions and on-line and see how the cards fall after that. I could do that. Many people before me have done that, and done it well.

Only, now I'm not sure that I want to.

Call it cold feet.

Call it whatever you like, the fact is this book isn't what I had hoped it would be. And maybe all authors think that (they do!) and of course all artists' strive to be better (let's hope!) but the bottom line for me is that now that Duck is done and I can put this baby to bed, that is exactly what I am going to do for now.

And the thing about having a finished project is that you can always pull it out of the drawer it sits in, blow off the dust and send it into the wide world whenever you want. The nice thing about the grant was that in addition to the emotional boost it would have given me ( the Wow, other people think what I have made is really worthwhile, too!) is that it came with grant money. I wouldn't have to foot the cost of publishing it myself in this down economy and with a family of my own to raise.

So, that is that.

For now.

I have amended some informational things on this here blog to reflect the shifting purpose of these weekly updates. I will still continue to blog, of course (narcissist that I am) beacuse my weekly projects continue. The typewriter keyboard has a sticky space bar a problem I simply must correct before I use it as my primary writing device. Can you imagine unintentional space space space space spaces in your writing? Talk about annoying. But I think I've got the solution all mapped out.

Until then, enjoy your very sticky Monday. We here at Matt's Auto Service are on vacation for a week starting this Friday!

WoOt! WoOt!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010


In process

This morning I began glueing down the keys using wood glue. I have no idea if it will bond strong enough to take the daily tickety-type torture I'll be putting this keyboard through but there is only one way to find out.

I coated each individual key with clear nail polish. Also, after the above picture was taken I went back in with a tiny paintbrush and hand painted the symbols (!@#$%^&*) onto the numbers 1-9 and clear polished over that. I also put together 5 4-letter words on the side in the numbers area on the side of the keyboard that no one ever uses.

The words I chose were:

Moxi is a mutated spelling of moxie but I only had so many letters left when all was said and done. And who doesn't love a Milf?

Here she is almost ready to go!

I test typed a bit and the clickety-clack of a real typewriter comes through.

It sounds and feels like a legit old school job.


Friday, June 18, 2010


This is my 'I don't know how to use my new phone' face

Well, at least the Red Sox won.

And it was a gorgeous night for baseball. Just look at that field! The cheap seats were a lot more fun than I gave them credit for.

The end of the Celtics' game 7 was hard to watch. And Katie's "couch" (made of sawdust and bird spittle) mocked me and pinched my ass for the entire 4th quarter of the game. Oh, well. Win some, lose some. We'll score a hoop again next year guys.

I am keeping myself busy by cleaning house.

I've had this keyboard modification project on the back burner for oh, probably over a year now. Katie pointed me in the direction of this neat-o project and I got far enough into it to get frustrated and put it all down.

Now is the time for finishing things!

I spent the morning testing the massive clunky keyboard to make sure it will actually type when I'm done. No sense making something that won't even work, you know?

The big idea is to take an old IBM "clicky" keyboard (that I 'repurposed' from the dump) and modify it (Steampunk'd!) to look like an old fashioned typewriter. I will use this to type the amazing stories I have yet to create! Oh, look. A new creative outlet. Way to not let the Big Bad World get you down, Tan.

After spending the night in Katie C's guest room alongside her gorgeous old Royal typewriter my mind was made up.

First I plucked out the key posts and made sure they all typed properly.

Then I took Matt's Dremel tool and cut the remaining few pieces (which was scary and I splattered myself with hot bits of molten plastic while telling myself how tough doing this myself makes me). I stripped the white plastic keyboard shell off and thought about how to best make the base look like a typewriter. Then I remembered I still have some of that paint-on truck bed liner and wouldn't that give the surface of the keyboard a nice rubberized texture?

I painted the ugly beige cord and the space bar with some black spray paint I had laying around.

Then I covered the edges of the keyboard base with waterproof automotive tape, the same stuff I use to mask off the helmets when I paint them and I coated that whole mess with the bed-liner goop.
Bed liner goop

Off I went to Michael's Crafts in search of typewriter letters and numbers. What would I find?

It's not ACTUALLY as goopy as it appears. Trust me.

Turns out the scrapbook section has these little brass plated engraved letter sets that appear to be exactly what I need. I filled the letter part with white paint to make the letters pop! off the black and copper background.

On Monday I will find a way to make keys for ENTER and CTL and ALT and PAGE DOWN and all those other new-fangled keyboard keys that (surprisingly!) didn't come in my letter sets.

I got a square AND a round letter set. Just in case. So I will make something work.
And then I will be the only kid in town with a computerized typewriter! Take that!

But now, I am off for a weekend of fun in the sun!

Enjoy whatever it is you do with your weekends, blogosphere.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Red Sox Tonight!

Going to be among de peeples up in the bleachers at Fenway tonight alongside Katie. What better way to spend a Thursday afternoon?

In other news I got a new fancy phone (a Droid you say?), which after my rebate only cost me $20. (Holla!) so life is still, sometimes at least, coming up roses.

We've got Cape weekend coming up with the SMO's. That ought to be fun. Quite a few of the girls are going to be at tonight's game so I look forward to seeing them in the beer line. I am also finishing up Dexter season 2 and it is NOT looking good for the Bay Harbor butcher. How will that zany serial killer get out the jam-up this time?

I'm thinking of turning the side bay into a paint booth (studio seems too official a word for it) and I am going to start slapping paint on large canvases (wood, probably), 4 foot by 8 foot at least. I have to unblock this creative downer that has got it's claws in me and I think that by giving myself permission to just let go and make a mess feels like the right answer.

Unblock that creative center, Tana.

You can do this.

It's a step in the right direction, at least.

But, for tonight at least and this weekend I got myself surrounded by the people who love me, the promise of gorgeous weather and good conversations. Not to mention BBQ's and beer drinking!

Let the good times roll!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So That Happened

Mujare, 2009.

I found out yesterday that the grant I applied for was denied. Meh. What can you do?

I'm not really sure what the next step will be.

Is this is an opportunity to re-examine the Big Picture Purpose of my life? Or is it one little hiccup on an otherwise logical and well-planned path to my future? Is this a chance to explore more fully the other aspects of my creative nature (airbrushing, mural painting, wood working what-have-yous)? Should I see this as a chance to fix the kinks in an otherwise solid story or should I take the better elements of this story, shelve them for some years and revisit them later when I am a better writer and a better artist?
What happens next?

Add an exclamation point and it can be an exciting question:

What happens next?!

Do you like that painting up there?

It's from a show coming to Boston by an artist named Orestes Gaulhiac. He scratches and digs into his canvases and paints pretty shapes. I think I like his work.

How about this statue? Can you name the artist? He painted elongated portraits very similar to this:

No guesses?

It's Modigliani, of course!

Amadeo Modigliani.

And this little gem sold for $52.8 million in Paris according to the Boston Globe this weekend.

Just a reminder that there's all kinds of art in the world.

Now, on to my Tuesday.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Something Old, Something New

Something borrowed, something blue.

Bring on the nuptials!

Katie C. and Beth got married this weekend and everything was just lovely.

From the salty margarita's to the weepy parents. The flash bulb photography to the extensive (and, in Beth's case very Portuguese) families that doted, and fawned, and hugged each other constantly to the old college friends I got the chance to reconnect with, everything was just spectacular.

We chatted, we ate.

The restaurant was not air conditioned and things got a little stuffy but everyone was too busy sipping and schmoozing and laughing at one another's stories to really pay attention to the temperature.

Matt and I sat with Blair, one of Beth's former roommates who, as it turns out, is way taller than I remembered. Also, funnier. He told us stories about moving, about Lancome (I think he works for Lancome, or Loreal. Some company like that.) and most hilariously about a roommate they had once-upon-a-time who smelled like wet garbage all the time and was absolutely atrocious.

"I remember him!" I say. "Katie and I were came stumbling home one night from a Red Sox game and we walked around the house in the dark like ninja's whispering 'Sweaty balls! Smells like sweaty balls!' cracking ourselves up."

"It was so bad." said Blair. "I saw him walking home from the T one night, so I offered him a ride. It's only about 300 yards to our front door but I swear to god, in the time it took me to drive home the stench got so bad in my car that I couldn't breathe, I had to crack the windows. It was January for chrissakes! Take a shower!"

"Oh no," moaned Matthew.

"Oh yes! It was like that episode of Seinfeld where they have to return the car because they can't get that smell out, remember? I was afraid I would have to do that."


Matt, looking rather butch waiting for a glass of water

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Cunningham's.

Joyce and Warren were as lively and involved as they have ever been. Matronly. Proud. Positively gushing. You couldn't have a conversation without hearing, just off in the background, the rolling laughter of Warren. A hand on your shoulder. Somebody's toddler at your knee.

Speaking of which, I was adopted by little Davis. Beth's 2 year old nephew who they tell me is skeptical of strangers (most kids are at that age) but who, upon setting eyes on me, came right over and clung on to me for probably a solid half hour.

I pet his head and he would, occasionally, look up at me with the softest brown eyes and this puppy-dog look that just melted my heart. It was love, love, love.

His mother wanted to know how much I charge for babysitting.

Matthew laughed, "Believe me, you can't afford her!"

Nick, Beth's brother and Davis' dad, countered with "After three screaming days I'll be the judge of what I can afford." He winked. "Call me."

I met Big Al, Beth's gruff dad. I was hoping to have a conversation with him but it just didn't work out that way. There were just so many people.

Beth's grandfather swore up and down that I had to be Katie's sister. Or a cousin. A very close cousin, he said. I took this as proof that we are in fact actually family. Katie then pointed out he is 88 and had I noticed he was drinking whiskey?


The brides both wore blue.

Katie had little white flowers in her hair.

Beth made me First Officer in Charge of Not Losing Her Clutch, a designation I earned when I happened to be the closest person to her in the arrival kerfuffle where everybody wanted to hug and kiss and chat immediately and she needed both hands free for all that hello-ing.

It was quite amusing to see me wandering around the restaurant clutch purse in one hand, margarita in the other. You don't even have to know me that well to be thinking, 'Tana? With a clutch purse?'

It was amazing.


And after we all headed to a bar called the Good Life downtown.

Matt and I gave the brides a lift to their hotel a few blocks from the bar in my un-air conditioned Jeep (Sorry, Ladies. I do what I can!).

The cellar-style bar room was cool and dark and intimate all things considered. I moved on to my Redbull and pear vodka's, Matt seemed to get friendly with Beth's mom (a possible love connection? Beth would really become family!) and I saw even more friendly faces from days past. Old college buddies, friends of Katie's I have been hearing stories about for years and years but had never actually met, significant others and even some of Beth's P.T. patients who turned out to be very cool.

I snapped pictures for other people, could not stop hugging Katie's dad (He kind of resembles a beardless Santa Claus) and talked an awful lot about my relay race this past May.

The night ended with in a haze with sober Matthew chauffeuring my pleasantly inebriated ass home.

To Katie and Beth!

May a lifetime of love and joy be yours to share, forever.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Corp. Scorp

Why do I do this to myself?

I have been watching the movie The Corporation this morning and now I am terrified. I never want to drink milk, breathe air, swim, watch television, let my babies watch television, run outside, stay inside, look anywhere for fear of constant advertising brain-rot and most recently and terrifyingly I try not to think about the horrific geyser of unstoppable oil destroying our oceans and all oceanic life in the south.

Did I mention I live on the beach?


I woke up this morning with both babies in the bed with me. Ethan invented an "underwater" game in which he slid all the way under the covers to the bottom of the bed and wiggled out of the sheets at the foot of the bed only to pop up and announce he was a shark. No a whale. I'm a baby shark Auntie Tea see? And he'd wiggle on his belly all the way back up the bed.

How much longer do you think we will have sharks? Whales?

This weekend we had a seal (a real live seal!) right off the beach at Race Point in Provincetown, which was amazing. We got to see his little head pop out of the water and plop back in presumably hunting the huge blue fish herd that was migrating across the water. Many a fisherman was looking to catch a few blue fish, too.

Here is a cute picture of Matthew from PTown

Also, if that film trailer has you interested at all check out the work of eco-feminist Dr. Vandana Shiva who makes me believe that someday, I, too can be an eco-feminist.

Until that glorious day when we help each other save the world, I will leave you with some pictures of my rapidly growing 3 and-a-half year olds who just couldn't wait to show me their new balloons when I got home from my weekend away. Spiderman and Little Mermaid, of course.

My god, they have gotten so BIG!

Bailey also has something important to tell me, it seems.

But for now it's back to fixing the cars for me.