[AUDIO BLOG] Down to Business
Progress, progress, progress! After chipping away at the work all summer, my arts and crafts website is back up and available. I am still gradually adding in images, titles, and information. I upgraded the content management system behind the site, and at the same time, updated my photos website because it uses the same scripts. The newest version of the scripts required a rebuild of my whole custom theme from the ground up, something I learned when I accidentally broke my photos website earlier this year, rendering it unusable. I also had to finish some incomplete graphics. Currently I am working on my comics websites, setting up the pages for my new projects, and tweaking the old ones so they have a consistent look and layout. My To Do list for back-end maintenance is miles long, so I am segmenting it into manageable chunks.
About one year ago, I recorded the first two episodes of my podcast project, JIN ABOUT TOWN. I envisioned it as a fun way to unite many of my passions, such as autobiography, real-life stories, exploration, education, photography, food, and travel. It was also intended as a way to collaborate with my friends that is accessible to anyone, regardless of experience or professional status, so that I can share my little corner of the Internet spotlight with them.
I struggled with the audio editing, and eventually I moved on to other things. After setting this aside for so many months, something finally “clicked” and I was able to edit both of these pieces with ease. I am especially proud of the second episode, because I condensed roughly three hours of conversations into 45-minutes mostly on-topic. So I must pat myself on the back, just a little bit, for finishing what I started for once, and doing a pretty okay job.
Since these two outings I have purchased appropriate equipment, so quality should improve on future recordings. Getting back to this and knocking it out is a big personal acheivement for me! I feel much more confident in the ability to continue coming back to unfinished work, and tie up the loose ends.
My other podcast, COMIC BROS, has suffered from the difficulties coordinating three overworked, busy schedules. Now that I am more comfortable working with audio, I am looking forward to some “extended family” episodes with my MSP compatriots. (With the blessing of my original co-hosts, of course!)
The first of my two latest videos, QUEEN OF ASSHOLES, was created to tie in with my newest project of the same name — a chronological, tell-all graphic novel biography of the colourful, often dramatic, and sometimes questionable life that I have lived. The video is about my journey to the city of Saint Paul, where I have finally accepted and “found” myself, and a place to call home. It is about the freedom of embracing imperfection, and the joys of being true to yourself. It is also a love letter to some of my favourite places in Saint Paul.
The second video showcases highlights from MSP Fall ComiCon last weekend, with video footage generously and skillfully recorded by my friend Jon Heller. It was created to promote my convention appearances, especially the FREE 60-second sketch cards I debuted at this show. They were a smash hit with those who came to my booth! Feel free to share this video when requesting me at your local comic convention or event! I am dedicated to engaging and entertaining attendees at all of my exhibitions. Hey, umbrella twirling!
I feel very strongly, in the depths of whatever passes for my soul, that I am beginning the work that I was born to do. What, exactly, is art? What defines a comic, and what is the difference? Who is the arbiter, the judge, the jury drawing delineation between the realm of prestigious museums, and more ephemeral pop-culture? Are not all expressions of art the same end product of the basic human need to speak out, be heard, and be understood? Labels are completely artificial, limiting constructs and completely subjective. Is the crude street graffiti and pottery of ancient civilization not of equally profound value as the works of Picasso and Van Gogh? We might sit in awe at the skill of a hyper-realist, but it is the mad scribblings of a schizophrenic that offer us unique insight into the human psyche. I believe that all human expressions have intrinsic value and lessons to teach through shared perspective. David Bowie — a pop-culture figure — artist, actor, musician, and revolutionary that caused many to re-examine ourselves. We are saddled with a President that has broken down the walls between fictional “reality” television and blurred the boundaries of objective fact itself. Comedians and cartoonists carry the torch once wielded by journalists. With advancements in artificial intelligence, consciousness and the nature of life itself will soon come into question.
What am I? I could not exactly answer that, but I can tell you that it does not matter, not moreso than the process of actually being. All my adult life I have worn men’s clothing almost exclusively, and in many ways I am acutely aware of my femininity as a performative act. Yet I have never identified as anything but a straight woman. We are all the sum of expectations that our societies place upon us, and experiences that carve out the shape of our lives like a river through rock. The uniqueness of each path and voice is fascinating, and to be celebrated. I would only have you consider — are you going to discover and grow your headwaters, or simply drift? I choose to master myself.
I have been in a good head-space lately. Life is never perfect, of course, but I have received many excellent reviews at my day job, and I am getting much, much better at handling stress. The day after Fall ComiCon I came down with the nastiest cold I have had since moving to Minnesota — aches, chills, runny nose, cough, sore throat. My computer, after weeks of developing odd quirks and deteriorating performance, chose that day to finally stop working at all. I spent two days troubleshooting with a new video card, replaced the power-supply which was beginning to fail, and finally, I resolved critical overheating by successfully removing and replacing the CPU’s heatsink. I have assembled my own computers for years, but this is the first time I have had to solve a hardware problem without physical help. And I have always been intimidated by working with the processor chip. So to remove the heatsink, clean off the dried thermal paste, and reinstall the chip and heatsink without any damage was a big deal. I danced a happy jig in my office, and I am fairly certain the aftermarket heatsink runs cooler than the original build. Someone is donating a used computer for backup, as well, so I will not have my work interrupted in the future. I managed to eke out almost a full work week while sick.
This is my life — five days per week, I spend about nine and a half hours on my day job including my commute. Most days I have dinner and some quality time with Stephen. And then I devote the other two to four hours that I am awake to my projects. Artwork, comics, photos, writing, websites. Whatever strikes my fancy at that moment in time. I read a little bit, but I do not really watch television or movies. I spend money on almost nothing but necessities, project supplies, and business expenses. I do my best to visit a friend about once per week. There is almost no fat left to trim, my days are very full, but I do not feel anxiety about it. I feel a sense of calm, and intensity of focus, and resolve. I do it because I need to. I do it because I have to. I do it because it is who I am. I do it because I love it. I have turned my work into a meditative experience. Now I have to execute the transition to full-time artist again.
My inner fire will outlast all those who have tried to smother it.