All posts by Meg Frank

Unplugged: October 16-22nd, 2017

Right now, I am sitting on a giant cruise ship in Port Canaveral. The ship is the Oasis of the Seas, and in about two hours it will depart on a seven day cruise of the Caribbean with stops in Haiti, Jamaica, and Mexico.

I am very excited about this trip. One of my oldest friends Sydnie will be getting married on this cruise and I am thrilled to celebrate with her. Also, one of my moms, Linda, has come along and we are going to craft the heck out of this cruise.

Why am I telling you this? Because I’m going to be trying my hardest to stay unplugged this week. I wouldn’t bet against me giving in and doing a small check in (hello, there are fresh kittens in my apartment and I’m going to miss Will a LOT), but you also SHOULD NOT count on being able to reach me this week. If there is an emergency, drop Will a line at scifantasty @ gmail.com. He’ll be the first person I check in with if I do check in.

Have a great week, everyone. Check with Will for kitten pictures if you need them. I’ll see you on the flip side with more freckles and a heck-ton of photos. ❤

KittenCare: Now Requesting Help

Who wants to help look after kittens? If you do, it’s your lucky day!

I am out of town next week (October 16-20th are the relevant days) and we’re looking for folks to drop by our apartment to feed Arwen (so she can feed the kittens) during the day.

If you’re interested and local drop your email in this form and we’ll contact you with timing and feeding info!

Pain

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Most of the time there’s a warning. Cramping, nausea, dizziness, general exhausting. Occasionally if things are going to get really bad, a migraine. Usually there is a sign. Usually.

But sometimes, there isn’t. Sometimes you are a block and a half away from home, turning the corner when the pain blossoms inside of you like a drop of ink in water. And down you go. And up comes the sidewalk. And even though just a moment ago you were walking home from the gym, languid and pleased, you are now find yourself slumped against the wall of the bodega, embarrassed and in pain.

There are many different kinds of pain. Tonight it was spasms and stabbing. Stabbing isn’t great, but you can work around it. Stabbing is rhythmic, so you can keep moving if you don’t mind swiftly stopping for breaks. Holding the side firmly can help and palm pressure paints or pinky finger chewing will distract if it doesn’t. Spasms are worse, though. Spasms aren’t timed, and can’t be controlled, and I’m lucky if I can stand when they hit. My bellybutton is suddenly attempting dance moves my feet would never consider and it is agony. Nothing helps. Well, pain killers help. They help a lot more when they aren’t a block and a half away.

I call my husband and tell him quietly, urgently, that I need my pills and that he should start the bath. I hang up, and gasp my way home – leaning on fences, thanking the light for the break, cursing the light for keeping me from home. There are several moments when I wonder to myself *if* I will make it home. Will Will have to carry me? Can Will carry me? Will meets me a few driveways from home, takes all of my things and lets me slump against him.

I drag my way up the stairs, to the bath, and pour myself in. I take my drugs, and slump in the hot water, waiting for another angry ripple of pain. They come. And they go. And I am tired and annoyed and bitter and more than just a little grateful. I take sips of water. Will tells gentle jokes. I sigh. Will asks me what I’m thinking and I tell him that I’m thinking about my pain. He tells me that he’s sorry. I tell him that I’m tired of people being sorry about my pain. Not that I don’t appreciate their care. It’s just…my pain is so much bigger than sadness. My pain has put me through the five stages of grief and then some. I have had hours and days and months and years to reflect on my pain and I’ve moved well past anger.

And then I sigh. Because the pain is gone. The feelings stay.

 

Figure Painting 11-02-17

I think I’m finally getting the hang of figure painting. I am by no means an expert, but for the first time, this week, I was pleased with every sing pose I painted from 1 minutes to 20 minutes.

I started figures in January at The Art Students League. My teacher, Naomi Campbell, was hosting a watercolor workshop on models in surreal environments. I had never painted figures before, but I was curious. It was odd. It was exhausting. And I was hooked. Every Monday since I’ve taken the Q to Manhattan to learn and paint with Naomi. I take two back to back sessions of this class so I am painting from 4:50-6:50pm and 7-10:15pm. Each session moves does a series of 1 min, 2 min, 5 min, 10 min, and 20 min poses. Even with model breaks, five hours of painting is exhausting. Not every class goes as smoothly as this week did. Naomi is a kind teacher, but I wouldn’t call her gentle and my face frequently leaks with frustration.

I’ve learned many things in this class – proportions, body over clothing, lighting, brush positioning – but the thing I struggle with the most is the desire to make my sketches pretty.  It’s common, but painting prettily gets in the way of painting things accurately.

Longer poses are excellent for practicing accuracy. If your model isn’t going to move for 20 minutes you have time to think and argue with yourself about where to place your brush. Less so when you only have 60 seconds to get paint on your brush, your brush on the page and somehow end up with an understandable figure on your page. 60 seconds to paint an entire person. No pressure. And after 60 seconds your model moves and you start all over again.

With practice comes progress and in the last few weeks I’ve managed to finally fit all the pieces together for the 1 minute poses. The second set of sketches are much smoother, but when I look at all of the sketches I can clearly see the model and how she was holding her body. Maybe you can, maybe you can’t, that’s fine, I can. It helps of course, that I was there. Whatever, I am pleased. Pleased and motivated to continue painting and learning. There has been much research done about the various art schools in the city and I am planning. But mostly painting.

Most of my sketches from class are below. I can’t find the notebook with the second session 1 min sketches which is SUUUUUUUPER annoying. I’ll keep digging.

August Itinerary: Europe

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Wednesday evening I’ll be getting on a plane and heading to Europe! More specifically to London (Aug 3rd- 8th) , then to Helsinki (Aug 8th – 18th), and back to London ( Aug 18th – 29th). After almost four weeks on the road, I will return to Brooklyn.

My plans for this trip are still pretty loose but revolve around attending the Worldcon in Helsinki, painting London, and seeing friends. If we’ll be in the same-ish place at the same time and you’d like to hang out drop me a line at peripateticmeg@gmail.com.

I won’t be traveling across the Atlantic much next year so if you’re based in Europe and want to collaborate on shenanigans, now’s the time.

 

Capricon 37

I just got the notification from Delta saying that it’s time to check in for my flight tomorrow, which means it’s time for Capricon and I am insanely excited.

There are a number of reasons to be excited – Cap is one of my favorite conventions in the Midwest, I’m always game to visit Chicago, and this year I’m the Fan Guest of Honor at the convention itselfIf you’re a nerd in the area, you should join us. Capricon is always a blast and a great place to meet some of the coolest/nerdiest people in the Chicagoland area.

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At the convention I am scheduled for 14 panels/events/etc so I will be doing my usual schtick of running around like a glittery chicken with it’s head cut off. Please do say hello! I may not have much time to chat, but I’d love to see you.

My weekend schedule is below, for those of you who cannot make it to the convention, I’ll be in town until the 25th so please do ping me about hanging out!

 

Thu 3:30 PM 1hr 30min Birch A-Conventions in the Social Media Age

Thu 8:00 PM 1hr 30min Botanic Garden Ballroom A-Opening Ceremonies

Fri 11:30 AM 1hr 30min Ravina Ballroom C – Art Show Docent Tour

Fri 2:30 PM 1hr 30min Birch B-SF Art Classic vs New Mediums

Fri 4:00 PM 1hr 30min Elm-Kids Paint Space!

Fri 8:30 PM 1hr 30min Ravinia Ballroom A-Random Panel Topic – After Dark Edition

Sat 10:00 AM 1hr 30min Ravina Ballroom C – Art Demo 

Sat 11:30 AM 1hr 30min Birch B-Growing Up in Fandom

Sat 2:30 PM 1hr 30min Willow-To Grey or Not to Grey

Sat 4:00 PM 1hr 30min Birch B-Run a Con and Build Your Resume!

Sat 6:30 PM 1hr 30min Ravinia Ballroom A-Artist Showdown

Sun 12:00 PM 1hr 30min Birch B-Geek Parenting

Sun 1:30 PM 1hr 30min Birch B-And the Children Shall Lead…

Sun 3:00 PM 1hr 30min Botanic Garden Ballroom A-Closing Ceremonies 

 

Figure Painting

Last week I took a workshop at the Artist Student League: The Surreal Environment and the Model. It was amazing. It was physically exhausting. It was brilliantly challenging and I really can’t wait to go back.

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The workshop was at the ASL at 57th and 7th which is one of my favorite parts of Manhattan. It’s a mix of old brick and stone and a hint of not-entirely-boxy glass. It’s been a while since I’ve needed to be in Manhattan this early in the morning, and I wasn’t thrilled about my adjusted wake up time at first, but the view from the train on the way in was entirely worth it.

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This workshop was intimidating for a number of reasons. I’m used to painting in a public setting. This workshop was a closed door class, dude to a nude model being used, but painting in front of other people is just…weird. This class also called for materials much larger than I usually use – the minimum size paper (11″x14″) was the largest size I’d ever used up until last week. The smallest notebook I used was 11″18″ and I’ve included a picture with a legal pad for size reference with the other books I used. The biggest challenge, though, was that I’d never done any sort of figure painting before. I’d taken a figure drawing class at the ASL in March of 2016, but it didn’t occur to me that there would be much a difference . I knew this would be a directional change for me – most of my stuff is space or castles, but until 10 minutes before the class I didn’t think “hey, maybe you should take an intro class first…”

The class was vaguely structured as 10 1-minute poses with a short water change break. 5  2-minute poses with a water change break. 2 5-minute poses with a medium break. 1 10-minute post with a water change break. 1 20-minute pose followed by a long break. 1 hour long pose with water and stretch breaks every 20 minutes. We had two models during the workshop – M. on Tuesday and Wednesday and T. on Thursday and Friday. Both models were EXCELLENT. M focused more on fluidity in her poses, while T was more powerful. They were both stunning and I hope to work with them again in the future.

The first day was mostly spent working on seeing things less literally and loosening up my painting style. I was reminded that the goal was not a pretty picture, but an understandable rendering of the movement of figure and the relationship between the figure and the setting. I also was nudged into using more paint, which lead to a blocky way of painting that I *really* enjoy. I just about fell over when I got home. I’d grabbed a water and a juice during the long break after an urging to keep hydrated and it helped, but I was still exhausted and sore after two hours in the bath.

The second day I felt that I actually got the hang of the human body as a figure. I was pushed to use bigger brushes and fewer brush strokes which helped me loosen up even more.  The next challenge for me was to widen my perspective of the scene and not see a body first, inside of a scene. This may have involved a few tears of frustration on my end. Worth it, tears, though. My second attempt at the long pose ended up being one of my favorite pieces of the week. I also discovered how to get paint in ones ear.

The third day I started by buying bigger brushes. The three of them were $90. I may have also cried a little bit then. They took a little while to get used to, getting the correct paint to water ratio was painful and took both days, but were very worth it. I was pleased by the fluidity of my short poses, and the boldness of the long pose. By Thursday Eowyn had started to get used to the idea of me soaking *every* day for this amount of time, but she still had concerns.

The fourth day included both painting, reviews of our bodies of work, and a small celebration for our instructor’s birthday. I brought Will cookies, because Will cookies are the best. We did fewer poses, and I found myself frustrated with the longer pose, I focused too much on the power of T’s pose. It was frustrating to end on that note, but it was followed by an excellent review session – not just from the instructor but from the entire class. Getting home and photographing/organizing the work made me realize just how much painting I had done. That, and going through three different notebooks. On Friday, Eowyn also realized that if she wiggled into the opening of my robe a certain way, I’d carry her around with me. Bonus picture of the cat enjoying our heating pad cuddle time.

 

My favorites:

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This class was way beyond my comfort zone, but I’m looking forward to more of this painting style and to how this will change my usual style.

 

 

Previously Unexplored: Ireland


The beauty of Ireland has been seared onto my heart.

That sounds ridiculous and dramatic but I can think of no better words to describe the beauty and joy the last seven days have been.

Octocon was a flat-out amazing convention that I dearly hope to be able to return to. It was filled with beautiful new people, amazing conversations and sappy poetry that I may or may not get around to posting later with some of the sketches I did at the convention.


The last four days were spent on a roughly 400mile road trip with my dear friend, Gareth. We went from Dublin to Bray, Bray to Kilkenny via Sally’s Gap, Kilkenny to Galway, Galway to the Cliffs of Moher, and finally the Cliffs right back to Dublin. Gareth drove the entire way because he is a champion and also because I’m rightfully not allowed to drive in Ireland. Road trips can make or break friendships and I’m glad to report that he and I have not had to escalate our relationships to mortal enemies. Instead there was much laughter, car karaoke, and me telling him how rude his country is for being so beautiful. I mean, seriously, at a certain point it’s just excessive. 

Gareth was insanely patient with me and stopped every time I asked to take pictures and a few times when he could tell I wanted to ask but didn’t want to put us any more behind schedule. I am eager to get home so that I can post the pictures I took with the non-phone camera and so that I can get to painting what we saw in oil and in watercolors on larger paper.

In just a few hours I’ll get on a plane to London for a week of art classes, social shenanigans and adventure and while I’m greatly looking forward to that I’m already looking at my calendar to figure out when I can come back.

I have one more day in Dublin next week, but I know that when I leave here, I’ll be leaving a bit of my heart behind.

Triggered

I don’t know how to be on the internet right now.

All I did was click on that little fucking blue bird and now my skin is on fire.

It’s not even anybody’s fault.

I keep telling myself this.

It’s not helping.

This is news. These words are important. They should be everywhere. It should be known. This should be read.

But not by me.

Yes, I see the fucking irony.

I have taken my medication and my shoulders have begun their transformation from concrete to cracked egg shells. I have progressed from hyper-vigilant to hyper-annoyed.

How is this fair?

My abuser went to jail. They threw the fucking book at him. Three times the standard prison sentence.

He can’t touch me anymore.

Telling myself that doesn’t really help much, either.

I wonder how many more times this will happen. I wonder how many more women will come forward. I wonder how many more stories there will be.

How deep will I have to dive to avoid the accidental yet searing triggers?

How can I distance myself from this reality without distancing myself from reality?

My friends will understand.

Telling myself that again just feels shitty.

“Justice”

It’s been twenty years and I can still feel his hands on me. My skin burns – I am a patchwork quilt of scalding handprints. My arms. My neck. My legs. My face. Places you aren’t supposed to mention in polite company – but how could I ever be considered good or polite now? I am sure that at any moment, I will fly apart into a thousand tiny pieces of ash. I can still feel his hands on me.

Growing up, I thought that I should feel lucky. When I spoke up, someone listened. The police were called, charges were filed, and a sentence imposed. Twenty six years – a triple departure from the ‘standard’ ninety-six months due to the severity of the abuse. Justice was served. But I know the truth now – there is no justice for the victim.

The memories are overwhelming and thankfully broken – skipping around like an episode of TV on the DVR. When they surface so does a ringing in my ears. I cannot move. I cannot breathe. I am numb and raw simultaneously.

I am assured that given enough time and therapy that the panic attacks will subside. I will be able to remember without reliving – but how can that be enough? He is still there. In the back of my mind. Touching everything that I’ve fought so hard to make my own: my body, my mind, my sexuality, my consent. There will always be questions that I can’t ignore and can’t answer.

Do I love my husband’s curly hair because it is a part of the man I love, or because I was conditioned to? Do I enjoy that intimate act for the pleasure it brings my partner or because He taught me (at the age of four) how? Will I ever be able to pleasure myself without feeling guilty? I will never be free of this. I will never be free of him.

But today he will be released for a second time. When he came up for parole last year, I was unconcerned. Surely they wouldn’t see ‘good behavior’ in a man who while maintaining he had done nothing wrong blamed a child for being “too seductive”. Surely they wouldn’t ignore the fact that in his four appeals of his conviction and sentencing he argued that the type of abuse that he inflicted was “typical enough” to not warrant the triple departure. Or that the State of Minnesota lacked the subject jurisdiction. Or that he tried to sue the Attorney General for USING HIS NAME IN COURT DOCUMENTS. But they didn’t. They released him.

In February I got the phone call that I knew would eventually come. He had been arrested for violating his parole. He was found with two laptops full of child pornography and a further forensic sweep revealed conversations with underage girls he was trying to meet up with. Could I please write a victim impact statement to help with proper sentencing?

Two days of torturous reflection and stress eating later, I sent my letter. I had been conflicted about writing – with the parole violations and the newly acquired child pornography would they even need my letter? Was it worth the pain of facing these still smoldering wounds? His case worker promised to call me as soon as sentencing was over and when he did I wanted to crawl into the ground and die.

They gave him 90 days. They didn’t even make him finish his original sentence. There have been no new charges filed.

He will be free.

I will never be.

It’s been twenty years and I can still feel his hands on my skin. I wonder who he will burn next.