This morning I found out that someone I didn’t know had died. I didn’t know him but I’d followed him online for years, ever since he randomly started reading and commenting on my livejournal because he liked my list of interests. I watched him fall in love, get married, welcome two daughters into the world, get divorced. He stopped following me when I left livejournal, but I still kept tabs on him. LJ, flickr, instagram…
I don’t know how he died, and it bothers me.
Amar, what happened? The world is less colorful without you in it.
Shortly after I found out he was gone, I drove my husband to the hospital for one of those routine tests they love to give people over 50. I told him that if I died suddenly, I wanted him to post here and on Facebook to let people know what happened.
Larissa was eaten by a grue. Larissa was in a horrible car accident. Larissa fell down the stairs and broke her skull. Larissa succumbed to the Poltroonian Oyster Flu.
I waited around the hospital all morning, and I drew. I started a little side project to work on when I feel stuck, or when I am waiting. It’s based on something I wrote first thing on a Monday morning in August 2017. This first page is a little busier than I like, but it made the time fly. And I like the way it sinks through layers of fiction into the there-and-then of my actual life: a house, a meadow, insomnia, the moon.
In some ways, this page feels like a long time ago. I’ve moved on to another chapter – different characters, different textures, different self.
In other ways, it feels like exactly where I am right now – suspended between the past and the future, between the known and the unknown. Not much to do but breathe, float, dream, and panic. And keep drawing. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Let’s see if I can post directly from the iPad where I’m making these images! Usually I transfer the images to my laptop because I like to do my writing on a device with a real keyboard. But I’m in the studio today, and it’s raining. The laptop is at home. I’d have to get wet before I could use it.
(I love that it’s raining. We’ve been having a drought here, and it was a very hard summer for my garden.)
Sometimes I feel a pressure to get the whole story out. But it’s impossible. Stop. Rest. Kiss the ground. This book is not a sprint, or even a marathon. It’s a pilgrimage.
Drawing is seeing. Seeing what moves through the body, the mind, the soul. After I finished this page, I cried for the better part of an hour.
Writing is seeing too. I might cry again when I finish this post. Left Otter and Right Otter (yes, it’s true, I’m terrible at naming things): off they go, into separation.
There’s so much about the world that feels bad and uncomfortable right now. It feels a little wrong to be holed up in my studio making art. Sometimes it feels terribly wrong to be having fun. But it makes me feel less like clobbering my fellow humans when I have to go food shopping, so I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s worth doing.
I decided to do the graphic novel on an iPad, and there’s a big learning curve. It’s going very slowly. But I love being able to erase things cleanly without tearing the paper. I love having a permanent marker that never runs out of ink or makes a mess of my fingers. I love not doing the lettering by hand.
(Full disclosure: nobody paid me to say any of that. Nobody pays me for anything. I am quite possibly the least essential worker ever, at least by any of the usual metrics.)
Page 1 of all the newspapers today is about a certain public figure testing positive for coronavirus. Page 1 of this book is about something else entirely. Here is the news from my studio:
The weird fish is a reference to a little comic I made several years ago. It makes me ridiculously happy.
More from the pandemic diary canvas:This time the words came to me while I walked the labyrinth this morning:
“in the eye of the storm, in the mouth of the predator, with or without you, i dance”
I wish I had a very pale pink Sharpie to give her feet some color. But I don’t, and I am committed for the moment to using only what I’ve got in the studio, so she has little ghosty feet.
Fun fact: I found a mouse like this in my desk once. I scooped her out and put her in a bucket while I went out and bought a cage for her. She was my office-mate for three years. I called her The Poopsmith because of what she’d done in my desk.