Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The longest post ever...

I have half a mind to keep my mini tree up for the entire month of January. Just for a bright bit of cheer.
This is the first time this has happened as long as I've been keeping this blog running. I had started this update some month back and abandoned it, not choosing to update this for quite a long time. As things moved onwards, I wanted to make one last post before 2021 came in.

I left the first draft part, because it is exactly what was on my mind then, and I can finally finish my thoughts, in this forward time traveling sort of moment. 

July 5th, 2020

The other evening, as I sat awake around 2am, had finished up some late night work, and went into the living room to sit and think. I started to play some Fire Emblem Heroes on my phone, but really was just going through the motions, so I switched over to checking the socials,... Twitter, then Instagram, meandering over to Facebook... but after a few bland minutes of just staring at the blue glow, I just turned the screen off.

Sitting there in partial darkness, with just the porch light filtering in through the edges of the blinds nearby, my mind started to wander and think. 

I thought about the previous post about where we would go, moving forward. Emotionally. Physically. 

Over the last few weeks, we've all seen the ups and downs of what is happening these days. Covid19 isn't going away. Now, I know that there are a fair amount of people that will read this post, and decry "fake news", or feel that I am being overly cautious, or maybe even playing the part of a doomsday enthusiast.

The numbers, the data, all of the information you could need is out there via the CDC. The fact that people have died from this, period, is all the reason that matters. Even unto the ones that have "recovered", I feel that's in part, a not completely truthful assertion. The long term effects of this disease, are only in the last few weeks showing just how damaging and unpredictable this is becoming.

But none of the above is directly about what I am here to write about today.

Most people reading my blog, are people that either are or know artists/vendors that create things that they may sell online, but more frequently, rely on the access and sales they get from doing various shows.

It occurred to me that, as more and more shows begin to fall by the wayside this year, there are still a few stalwarts that look to be standing, or hoping, that things will "go back to normal". Thankfully, if that is the word that can be used, others have either relented and focused on shows moving to 2021, or they have taken the stance of a longer waiting game.

The fact is, everything is uncertain. Nothing is normal. I don't believe it will go back to whatever we deemed normal before...
The clouds over the highway as I made my way to Columbia, Missouri.
December 30th, 2020

It's about 12:30 AM as I start back in on this. To say this has been a strange year, would be an understatement. I halfway expected an alien invasion from outer space, or for Sasquatch to be discovered. It would not have been out of place. It would have been so on brand for 2020.

I can go on about so much that has happened this year, but it's almost too much to cover.

So for now, to keep this post simple, here is a short list of some of what I went through:

  1. Was hired as an overnight security guard the first day the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art closed it's doors to the public, quit the day before they readmitted the staff and started small opening times to the public.
  2. In working at the Nelson, I saw more art history than most people may ever see, a lot that has never been shown to the public, and some that will debut in years to come.
  3. I worked there the weekend of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in downtown KC. I went through some things that not only changed how I felt about KCMOPD and the Nelson, but also myself.
  4. I won my first design industry award ever. For a freelance design project for Infinity Foils. It is still a bit weird, but I am happy. The last time I won an award was seriously at a high school art show.
  5. I started up doing therapy with a renewed vigor and hope to face up to so many things that I have as walls and challenges in front of me. 
  6. I started a Hero's Journal, which was one of my two favorite gifts this holiday, and I'll be reviewing it soon. I truly believe it's been a help to me that I never in a million years would have done on my own.
  7. Hallmark, let more people go, in the wake of Covid coming through. I as a contractor, recently had to go and empty out my desk, to work permanently from home. It was a surreal bit of time to be in there packing up again, and seeing all of the empty cubicles. I hope for my friends that are left there, that it holds as it is, if not grows once again in the near future.
  8. I started an online weekly show with a friend of mine, that we've now done for 20 weeks. It has been cathartic, fun, and helped me get over live feed performance.
  9. After years of holding out, I started up an Etsy store, which will hopefully help me out in this coming year, as art shows and conventions still seem dodgy at best for happening. 
  10. Many scary and personal close calls happened as well, almost losing my two cats, losing other pets that lived at my parents' house, and losing some friends and acquaintances to Covid this year, really hit home.
  11. Supporting more independent artists and small businesses this year than I have in the past.
  12. A lot of highs and lows when it came to daily life. Thankfully, depression has become far more manageable, but other shadows of the mind still wander around.
But along with that, because of the rise of more time spent texting, working online, and seeing more social media posts, following more people on instagram, I saw so much more come across. 
The very quiet halls.
It's been so hard to put into words so much of this, and especially when as introverted as I am, to not be always able to reach out to people I cared about and be there for them when the time mattered.
Four of the reasons I am grateful to be home.
I don't know what to expect of this next year. I don't do resolutions. I don't really adhere to the idea that things suddenly change just because a man made calendar flips over or ends.
The second set of illustrations I put up on Etsy.
That's not how life works. But the symbolism and anecdotal aspects of that, are firmly implanted in who we are.

I've had a lot of time to spend looking back on things, not only because of therapy sessions, or because freelance and contract work is dead at the moment for me. In part, I end up looking for things that are comfort zones for me. Regrettably, one of the things has been a new rediscovery of my desire for late night college level food...
No seriously, am I the only one craving a seven layer burrito right now?
Not a great way to crash into 2021. 

Until next time, remember to support artists and local businesses. Be kind to your fellow beings and always take the path less traveled. We all may live in times uncertain, but kindness, understanding, and believing in the good that is in most each and every one of us is what can bring about better days!

Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Voice Actor, Writer, Animal Rights Activist

Monday, June 1, 2020

Where do we go from here?

The sixth month of 2020.

The first few days of the month.

I swear, I can still remember how on this past New Years Eve, everyone was like usual, on social media being so excited for the future.

But this time, there was a fervor, a bliss I had not experienced being sung out in typed words.

Was it because the futuristic phrasing of, the numerology associated with, or the iconic calendar appearance of 2020, that led to a more than usual amount of symbolism to this particular year?

I ask this because, it's something without answers. It's more rhetorical than something I ever expect anyone to be able to provide answers for right now. That can't happen until hindsight becomes a 20/20 vision in the rear view mirror on the highway of life.

Weird metaphor, but the only year I'll be able to use it.

So it leaves me with how things are today. How we as a society are experiencing the now, as a collective social entity, that for a while mostly stayed isolated because of Covid, and then in part unified and rallied together to stir turbulent change in the face of stagnant order.

Where do we go from here?

If you're just tuning into the year 2020, you've either been living in a bubble, or you've discovered some incredible marijuana strain that you need to market for those that need it, like yesterday.

If what I've been going through has been any indication of what others may be feeling, then I feel it's safe to say, that depression, anxiety, anger, fear, and melancholy fever of the mind, have all walked hand in hand with a pandemic that half the people I know refuse to believe in. 

Expand beyond that, and you witness moments of solace, mixed with chaotic moments of upheaval that are both occurring simultaneously in your area.

A meme that's been making the rounds has absolutely nailed it, in saying that it's like multiple timelines of change, merged suddenly, and have decided to be a massive downer on the magnificently and incorrigibly corrupt, clueless, and fearful leaders of this nation, and all the plans they had laid out to keep the world as they see fit.

In a set of words, it has been a shit show. And we are not yet done fighting for toilet paper.

Now, I can go on and on about what is happening now. But you only have to hit up any other social media to find facts, both accurate and alternative. Interviews both enlightening, and staged. People struggling to fight for the betterment of society, and those who want to burn it all down.

Divided in mindset. Unified in division.

Where do we go from here?

We have to carry onward. Forward, not only into the months before us, but beyond. 

Not all of us will make it. 

None will be the same. 

Time is the ultimate thief. Unstoppable. And greedy.

But even with things taken from us, we need to find it within us to fight. 

To stand up. To believe in one another.

To be braver than we ever have before. To look at who WE are, inside, and then decide, for all that you hold dear.

Where do we go from here?

You see, it's not that we are lost. It's that we have never decided to move forward together. 

It's not that we are powerless, it's that we underestimate our power.

We will stumble. We may fall. Some may never rise again.

But we will carry onward.

Because everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives.

Until next time, remember to support artists and local businesses. Be kind to your fellow beings and always take the path less traveled. We all may live in times uncertain, but kindness, understanding, and believing in the good that is in most each and every one of us is what can bring about better days!

Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Voice Actor, Writer, Animal Rights Activist

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Living, feeling immature, and learning not to worry.

Sleepytown USA, this is how a lot of the midwest feels these days.
Does anyone else wake up, and have one of your first thoughts be, what day it is? I mean, I'm working 3 jobs, and am pretty darn confused as to what day it is, even with that going on.

Feelings of all kinds.

Honestly though, having worked contract for so long, not a lot has changed in that regard for me. I think it's more that OTHER people not doing their routines has begun to mess up my mentality on all of this. For instance, traffic has been either somewhat busy, or like a set shot of the highways on the Walking Dead. "Social distancing" has either been done pretty well, or completely ignored. It makes for an odd set of circumstances for so many people. 

For some, you can see anxiety of all sorts play out across social media, or in new videos. Anger, frustration, calls for a "return to normal", whatever the hell that means. No doubt, on more serious inclinations, staying at home can be the worst thing to have to endure for reasons I won't go into here.

For others, it's either not a huge change, or a lot of relief, because societal pressures from gatherings, interactions, and face to face contact are the lowest they've been, really ever.

The one unifying factor in all of this seems to be division, sadly. Actually, one other factor is that nasty, fearful word of "change". If there has been a word that instills more varied reaction than that one, I don't know what it is.

What's my age again?

Something that is ever more prevalent in my day to day interactions, whether they be in person, or online, is that opinion, feelings, and emotion have consistently started to overwhelmingly be the foundation of conversation, passive interaction and reaction, and is replacing genuine conversation with waiting to simply respond.

It's made me more aware of my own arrested development, especially when it comes to dealing with people. I rarely am that serious about anything, and find humor in most things. Sure, everyone has their triggers, and taboo subjects. I get that. Personally, I will joke about anything except anything dealing with animals. For a long time, that made me think I was really messed up. 

If we can't find humor in our darkest moments, or in daily life, then are we living life right? I am saying that as someone that spent most of my youth picked on, made fun of, and at many times, isolated and lonely. Humor was the savior I had. I used self deprecating wit and offbeat observations to make it through life.

All that big slice of seriousness aside, I find myself wondering if I even have my shit together on a daily basis. 

We are living in a time, when we have the most gloriously insane idiot running our country. People are either super close minded, or quote, unquote, Woke As Fuck. It's an era of extremes. Corporate definitions of lifestyle, illusions of freedom, and self styled meme heavy revolutions authored by armchair rebels and keyboard warriors with canteens of mixed drinks. That includes me.

It's an epoch that will resonate for years, and later be known as the "Stupid Fuckers" period.

I feel immature, and question daily if anything I do, matters. Does it even register? Will it ever be remembered? Is it even WORTH anything?

Now before anyone starts to reach out and make sure I'm not about to start giving my stuff away and sign off from this aspect of reality called life, I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth, and I have my therapist's permission to say so.

Jump into the deep end

In no way can I figure out how to make things work out for myself without some overwhelming inundation of diversions and attention eating endeavors. It's like drinking myself into a better mood without the alcohol. It's like making an analogy that makes no sense.

My gardening efforts are minimal, but still a source of happiness on a weekly basis for me. I may not have boxes of soil overflowing with the promise of farmer's market level produce, but gottdammit, I do have a lot of green onions! 

Notice the Instagram worthy scissor pose, and saturated Green Day video color levels of this Jpeg.

The good thing is, in forcing me to both slow down and take in details of life, and begin to appreciate it more than before, I feel like I am seeing and experiencing, if not more, then the same things, but on a much more intimate level.
You haven't lived until you help a Jack Russell pick out birthday cookies.
Case in point, a tree in my backyard has for years grown, and I've tended to it, and watched it bloom and leaf, and slumber in the winter. This year, while filling my bird feeders, I let myself just sink into that moment. And as I stood there up close looking at the little blossoms on the tree, I noticed bees with pollen laden legs flying around. I spent forty minutes wandering around the edges of the tree and beneath it's filling canopy and took some video and pics of the little buzzy beings.
The tree only blooms for about 2 weeks, so I think I'd always missed out on seeing the bees.
My days have been variant, some like today, I spend working bit by bit on my business, currently prepping two custom toy commissions, finishing up a new digital illustration, working on this blog as I am now, to filming and editing various videos on my days where I can devote all the time I can to it. 

It's as all over the place as it sounds. If my professional life were a dance, it could best be labeled "seizure like" in it's rhythmic tap. If it were a song, it was composed on a violin with no strings, that is actually a tuba. 

That's a lot of verbage to say, even with the best laid plans, I am chaotically all over the fucking place with ALL of this.
Rainy weather has made making these take longer than I had expected. But I hate sunny days so...
And being completely honest, without a pattern, or normal rhythm from others around me, even just people in the grocery, it affects my mood. By most instances, I have always kept my distance, and rarely talk to people when I'm out and about. In fact the last person I spoke to, that I didn't know, was at Wal-mart, this little old lady saw me getting canned cat food off of the top shelf, and she asked me if I could help her out.

I spent the next 15 minutes walking around the store with her, getting other items off of high up shelves that she wasn't able to reach moments earlier. She had been looking for staff to help her, but they were all very occupied cleaning the front self checkout areas, and attempting to keep stocked items on shelves.
This was the 5th shot, meant to make this image look effortless and have a depth of field to maximize artsiness.
Working for the Nelson Atkins nightly, from Wednesday afternoon, through into early Sunday morning. Sunday evening, and all day Monday and Tuesday, I spend jumping back into doing everything else I need and want to accomplish. From cleaning the house, to filming videos, working on the new stream of freelance work, figuring out direction on personal projects, reaching out and keeping in touch with people, etc.
Work in progress shot of Gollum for my buddy Ben (who is one of two people that through messenger, has helped keep me sane and a productive member of society)

It isn't easy to do, and there are many times when I didn't get a completely restful sleep, or my mind won't even let me shut down to relax and drift off to slumberland. I'm actually going through that now, as I am editing this, over a series of days, all around the 2am to 5 am hours. 


I had more I wanted to add to this, but as I sit here on a Tuesday morning at 4am, I figure I need to cut this off like a frat guy at last call, trying to call an Uber so he can get his cheeseburger vibe on, and annoy someone working a drive thru.

YouTube is my sanity

BUT, if you feel so inclined and I've managed to keep your attention, I have been posting more video content to my YouTube channel.

These playthroughs aren't anything hardcore, in fact, they are sunspots of brilliance on my inability to be "a true hardcore gamer", whatever that is.

All this aside, I genuinely hope you all are doing well, and keeping sane, safe, and afloat. 

Keeping your head above water, trying not to drown, is always harder when our own temerity keeps pulling us down.

Until next time, remember to support artists and local businesses. Be kind to your fellow beings and always take the path less traveled. We all may live in times uncertain, but kindness, understanding, and believing in the good that is in most each and every one of us is what can bring about better days!

Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Voice Actor, Writer, Animal Rights Activist