Last night was the second week of my fall 2017 Comics Studio workshop. It’s the third time I’ve taught this class, and it’s different every time.
One of the exercises from last night was:
“Draw a comic that answers the following questions,
1. What is fear?
2. Where is it located?
3. How do you conquer it?”
I often participate in these exercises along with the students. Here is what I made for this one:
Even though I plan the exercises, I am often surprised at what comes out of them. My students are thoughtful and creative and brave. They come up with things I never would have expected. They inspire me, and I try to be as in the moment as they are, only drawing what comes to me in that moment.
Try this exercise, if you like.
What is fear?
Where is is located?
How do you conquer it?
Why would Giles think his name is Archie? I have been a fan of Archie Comics since I was seven-years-old and happen to have an Archie bobblehead doll that Giles loves to play with. He runs around the house carrying it, shouting, “Ah-chee, Ah-chee!”
One of my nicknames for Giles is “chonchy.” This is something our mom called my sister and I, one of her little pet names for us. I probably call Giles “chonchy” more often than I call him “Giles.” It’s possible that “Ah-chee” is his attempt at “chonchy.”
I wonder what his friends will call him. What all the nicknames of his life will be.
Today, September 6, 2017 would be my mom’s 59th birthday if she were still alive.
When I think about being a mom, my own role as Giles’ mom, I think a thousand times a day what my own mama would think about how I am doing. How would she do this or that…and especially the light on her face as she would hold Giles, play with him, talk with him.
Grief doesn’t go away. You don’t move on. Sometimes I know how to hold it and sometimes I don’t.
I put Nina Simone on for Giles’ nap today. Her voice, cool and deep and full– music seems to be Giles favorite thing, the thing that fills his heart. Well, that and food. And books. And balls. And laughing. He loves it all.
Mama was the most alive person I knew. Until Giles. He is so very alive.
She is in his eyes. She is somewhere in him.
Viola Rose Moriarty would be 59 today. She was an artist. Her life was her best art. She was my mom.
From her blog, April 4, 2010:
Today I called my family in Denver to wish them a Happy Easter. We had coffee with the NYTimes and sportsreporters and Ina…the Sunday morning slow start. Ahhhh…….
And then we finally pulled on some work clothes and got started.
We worked on our list of home chores, taking care of the live things first. Toilet scrubbing and floor washing and paying bills and writing thank yous and making donations, both in things to pass on and in the checks we could write now. We prepped for the week and cleaned the fish tank and the litter box and filled bird feeders and cleaned out the gardens, watered and fed the plants, finally making lists for things that can’t be done today and how much we’ll need to fix or do them later—all the little and big maintenance things that keep a home running.
Today we “counted” the chickadees starting their nest in the little house just outside our backdoor as they do every spring, and the forsythia’s first yellow blooms. We counted the garlics and crocuses and bits of herbs and bulbs that all made it through another winter. They survived and so did we. We tested the fish tank water and put out the bird baths.
And then we had a good salad for an early dinner and went to a movie at our arthouse theatre where we are members.
I love this feeling of participating in my life, of doing it together with Jon. Of making a home.
Foundation in lovingkindness. We do the best we can for all who reside here with us and around us.
This “making a home” stuff– this is where I feel most like my mom. More even than making art. I am making a home, participating in my own life. Foundation in lovingkindness.
Happy birthday, Mama. I love you.
Thanks to mom friends Lizzie (panel #5) and Frances (end image) for their words which I used in this comic along with my own.
People mean well when they say “enjoy every moment” and “it goes so fast” (even I do it sometimes). Maybe the next time you feel like you are going to say one of these things, just say something else instead.
“You look great!”
“Your baby is awesome.”
“You’re doing a great job.”
“Can I buy you a coffee?”
This is a sketchy diary comic of my experience getting my first breast MRI.
There was a small rectangular window where my face was pressed against the head rest; I could see my hair cascading down over the underside of the cot-thing I was laying on. That’s what is depicted in the first and last panels of this comic. Mostly I kept my eyes closed, listening to the loud clanking, and in between when there was silence Greg or the MRI tech talked to me. There were plugs in my ears, so their voices sounded muffled and far away.
The whole thing lasted about 45 minutes. It was fine. I will get one of these once a year for the rest of my life unless I am pregnant.
Sometimes all these medical appointments feel stressful and I wonder why I am doing them. But really, mostly, I feel good to be doing them. It’s the only thing I CAN do in the face of my odds of getting cancer (85% chance over my lifetime). Early screenings are REALLY important because if I do get cancer, it will be diagnosed as early as possible, while it is small and treatable.
“Treatable” is the operative word here, because there is no “cure.”
Even though there is no cure, catching cancer early means it hasn’t spread yet and they can take it out surgically, possibly not needing chemotherapy at all. It means living longer and better. It means being around for my kids as they grow up. A better chance of growing old with my husband. It means maybe not dying the way my mom did.
It is REALLY important that I have health insurance coverage for these early screenings. They are impossibly expensive without that coverage. What I have is technically a “pre-existing condition,” a genetic disorder that I was born with that has been in my family probably forever. It isn’t my fault, or anyone’s fault, that we have this.
I am very nervous about the new “healthcare” bill. I am scared of losing my coverage for these screenings. I’m scared of losing coverage for pregnancy and birth and women’s bodies in general.
I am scared of having to choose not to get medical care because it costs too much money.
I am scared for anyone having to make that choice.