Violet and Epiphany

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This is just a drawing of the violet normally so I would have a base of comparison for the 4 remaining challenges. I realized while drawing this violet again that each time I look at it I notice something different. I am not very attentive apparently because some of the things I was missing were pretty fucking crucial to the flowers anatomy! I think this will improve my sense of direction because my lack of attention means that I constantly omit things from the environment including massive landmarks! While I am limited by my artistic ability in that even if I see it I can’t necessarily draw it I am learning a tremendous amount from this exercise.  I am still not good at seeing visually how things connect which is probably part of the reason my artwork looks so wrong but if I keep practicing who knows? I am drawing this image based on a drawing not a natural flower because the natural flower is still too complex for me and I am just not able to see it clearly enough to make sense of it (in time I hope to base these sketches on real flowers). This time I tried draw in what I thought were freakish exaggerations and turns out they weren’t really that freakish.

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Violet (non dominate hand)

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First let me apologize for the blurry image I am taking photos with my webcam and I simply can’t hold things still lol I figured I needed a baseline for drawing with my left hand. Both my eyes are open. I use my left hand to open jars but that’s really all I ever do with it specifically. I have never broken my hand or anything that would require me to rely on it so I have not learned to use it. You can see the lines are shaky.

Violet with Eyes Closed (dominate hand)

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I chose a  violet because it is a relatively uncomplicated flower and it wouldn’t do much good to have an elaborate mess.  I tried to add a few details though they didn’t end up in the right place but I did not bother with shading so as not to obscure the image, I am using a mechanical pencil and it has very thick lead, if you are wondering why my lines are so hefty (damn thing is basically a crayon lol). I didn’t alter the image after I’d open my eyes except to darken the lines a little because otherwise it would be invisible in photo but I followed the lines just as they were and didn’t try to correct them in anyway. I didn’t erase as I would if my eyes were open. I really like how that one petal turned out haha The stem ended up quite bizarre and the flower center isn’t located in the center at all! I have to figure out how I am going to cover just one eye for tomorrow. I think it is going to be harder to draw with my left hand then with my eyes closed.

Tested

Just a little update from me. I took my Swedish test today to determine what class I will be placed in. The classes are A B C D. A is the beginner level, D is the advanced placement and it has employment opportunities (not sure if you get paid or not). I will be in C just as I was before but it isn’t quite that strait-forward. I mentioned to them I have a social phobia (they could tell I was nervous obviously) and they noticed that my written Swedish is significantly better than my spoken Swedish. This is rather unusual as most people learn to speak before they can write. They don’t want to put me in a normal class with 20 to 30 students because I am so shy I will get swallowed up. So they want to start a class with 4 to 5 students. They have small classes for people who cannot write but this will be the first time they have a class for people terrified of speaking. I think I will start in October but they have to first organize this, if this is possible it could be a very good thing. Of course I am scared shitless because I can’t disappear in a small class as I would do in a larger one but I do need to learn how to speak. It is either that or pretend I am mute and tote around a notepad for the rest of my life.

Drawing without Depth Perception Part 2

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This is a poppy because that might not be obvious.  I found the poppy exceedingly difficult (to me poppies appear particularly flat and dimensionless) and this is all kinds of wrong.  I asked Sam to take a look at my drawings because as a woodworker he draws perspective sketches regularly and he told me the angle on the flower core is off which is causing the wonky perspective in both my images. If possible I will attempt to rectify the angle issue in future attempts. He thought I did a good job with the petal in the front though.

 

I am thinking of doing a series of  challenges

 

I will draw with both eyes closed using my dominate hand

I will draw with my dominate eye closed using my right hand (dominate) and then another picture using my left hand

I will draw with my lazy, poorly functioning eye closed using my right and then left hand

I will draw with both eyes closed using my non dominate hand

Then I will probably revert to normal again. Should I draw the same flower for this over and over again? This might seem a strange thing but I want to see the impact my lazy eye is having on my perception.

A Flower A Day? Not sure.

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That’s me being creepy and unstealthy in the background. My new soap seems to have improved things at least I don’t look like Freddy Kruger. Anyways I rarely draw maybe once every 5 years or so? I am not good at it so I am just going to tell you that this is supposed to be Lotus. I had thought about drawing a different flower everyday as like a meditational practice in patience, who knows maybe I will eventually even improve. I was also hoping it might strengthen my eyes somehow.  I am not sure if I will go through with it yet though. In the comments leave the flowers you want to see and feel free to try this.

Seeing Red

This is not another angry rant.

When I was a baby I was allergic to just about everything. Soy was my only source of nourishment. I couldn’t use scented products without developing a painful rash. I grew out of most of these allergies (thank God because while I do love tofu I wouldn’t want to subsist on it) but my skin is still sensitive. When I lived in the states I found some soaps and shampoos that worked pretty well for me. I had great skin. Since I moved to Sweden I have had a very hard time finding toiletries and my skin is a nightmare. My favorite brands aren’t available and the cost is fairly high so it’s not like I can just go out and buy everything at once and test it. For the first few years I had bright red armpits thankfully I have sorted out the deodorant situation. I have one deodorant I can safely use even though it is scented.

When I get out of the shower lately I look a bit like Freddy Kruger. My face isn’t just flushed it is a very dark shade of red, it looks like I have been on the wrong side of a flame-thrower. My skin hurts (it is super tight), my scalp hurts. I hate taking photos because I have to find filters to cover up the unnatural color. The soap I have now I got on discount. Isadora uses it with no problems so I figured it would be okay for me but it has only made the situation worse. On top of that I think the reason I am losing my hair is because I am allergic to the products I am using. My scalp hurts all the time, it’s itchy as hell even though I don’t have dandruff or lice or anything else that would explain it (trust me I have Sam checking my head constantly).

I went out today and bought a soap with no perfumes or paraffins. I was so happy to have found one that doesn’t smell. Most of the unscented products smell like a hospital and because I have such a mild natural scent I end up smelling like a hospital.

I still haven’t figured out what to do for my hair because I have coarse hair so I need something both heavy and pure! If anyone knows any brands shout them out they might not exist here but it is worth a shot.

I Don’t Know How To Therapy

I had a session with my therapist the other day. So far I feel the sessions are lacking. I am already skilled in the art of monologue (I am not unlike Spiderman in that way). But seriously I need something more intensive than psychoanalysis. I hate sitting there talking at someone and receiving no feedback whatsoever. Where are the thought-provoking questions? Where are the hands on activities? Where is the objective perspective? There is just me in a room doing what I always do except I am doing it with a bystander who is practically catatonic. Well to be fair I did make her laugh out loud which is probably not right either. I really don’t know how to therapy.

I received an appointment in the mail for November 6th. I thought, finally, she’s arranged for a psychological evaluation so we can see what’s going on but no it seems that’s not the case at all. I have been scheduled to see the doctor to discuss medication yet again. I have already told her that I will not take medication until we have a better understanding of my condition, it’s like going to the doctor and receiving radiation therapy before the appointment in hopes that it’ll fix whatever ails you. The prescribing of bogus drugs at random discredits the psychiatrist in my opinion.

I am moving, as many of you know, and my therapist said I would be in a new district and thought I might want to change therapists. I responded that I will be coming into town for Swedish lessons and so there is no need. She said we’d talk about it later. Later in the same session she revealed that the township I will be moving to doesn’t have any therapists (none of the surrounding areas either) and therefore if I wanted to continue therapy I would have to commute into the city. If that’s the case why would I switch therapists? I questioned her but she said we’d talk about it later. I believe she has already decided to make the switch because a substantial portion of the conversation would have been irrelevant otherwise. Unless she is saying that people living in the country are not eligible for therapy but that hardly seems legal/logical. Maybe she is considering retirement? If that’s the case why not say so? I wouldn’t have taken that personally unless of course she told me I was the cause. I believe she is in her 70s so retirement would not seem unreasonable and I would understand that completely and with no hard feelings. What I do not understand is a round about way of talking. I also considered the possibility that she thought I might wish to discontinue because of the distance (Swedes don’t like long car rides I really can’t exaggerate that point enough) but then asking me if I wanted to switch doesn’t make sense because apparently I don’t have any local options. I am probably over-thinking this but I couldn’t really make any sense of it.

Part of the reason I am in therapy is because I don’t understand social cues. How on earth am I supposed to understand someone who employs both a social and professional veneer? It would be so much easier if she just spoke plainly. Do you plan to discontinue therapy when you move or are you willing to commute? If you are willing to commute how often would you like to meet up? Something along those lines. If I then asked about therapy options in my area she might have informed me that unfortunately there are no therapists in my immediate vicinity. This may well be what she meant to say but there was a lot of fillers and extraneous bits attached. This is why I need days between all my conversations so I can decipher what the person was trying to say lol If only I could pause and process as needed! I know there is a technique called summarizing where by I repeat what I believe the person has said to make sure that I have understood them but unfortunately I kind of suck at it. I am also defensive not around everyone but with authority figures I have trust issues and so in the moment my emotions sometimes distort meanings/intentions.

If you told your life story everyday for a year to a complete stranger and then those strangers got together to discuss you, they’d all have a different version to present. When I am in therapy I always feel like a liar even if I am presenting the truth to the best of my current awareness. I am unfortunately influenced by my moods.  I think it comes in part from the disparity between stories growing up my mom insisted my dad was a good man and that my childhood was good. I kept on giving my dad chances looking for that good side. I kept on thinking I was at fault because I seemed to be drawing out the bad side in my parents. Sometimes I even thought I was imaging or exaggerating the abuse since neither of my parents were willing to acknowledge or accept responsibility. I keep trying to be more and more honest but I still feel like a liar, like a hysteric. Doctors/therapists are a particularly suspicious lot (I mean their job is to look for inconsistencies) so around them I act especially guilty.

The other thing that disturbs me is that I can’t find a therapist equipped to deal with trauma. When I started therapy I figured that my story was one they would have heard before and then some. Yet every time I open up about my childhood I am met with a very traumatized therapist (which makes me hold back). I think I need someone who specializes specifically in trauma. Sam has a coworker and his wife works with traumatized children he’s going to ask if she knows anyone who works with adults.

How Sweet the Vinegar!

In the classic painting The Vinegar Tasters the Buddha finds the vinegar bitter. His perception of bitterness is supposedly an allegory for how he views life. Many people find Buddhism to be a strange combination of pessimism and pacifism. Life is suffering is kind of a depressing tagline.

The idea that the objective of life might not be happiness is positively terrifying to people. In a relentless pursuit of comfort, a good night’s sleep is often more appealing than a day of drudgery. Buddhism is actually about living life fully. So how come no alcohol? That’s easy it clouds the mind and thus dilutes the experience. Coping mechanisms are dangerous because we rely on them to take away the pain and rarely address the issues that necessitate them. For example someone who eats for emotional comfort will gain weight and eventually incapacitate themselves. The amount of food necessary for the high increases with time. Even exercise can be taken to extremes when its being used as a tool for repression.

Here is a quote for you to ponder by Jeff Martin leader of The Tea Party “Getting your freedom’s easy surviving it’s harder still”

No one wants to lose weight. What they want is to be thin. Taken another way people say they want to learn but what they really mean is that they want to know, they want to be right. You might think I am splitting hairs but there is a huge difference. I am one of those people who simply wants to know but when it comes to applying myself to a pursuit I am very likely to give in at the first sign of resistance.

When Isadora plays video games she wants to win. She craves the positive and immediate reinforcement the games provide. She doesn’t really care about technique, a win based on luck is completely legitimate and currently she is unable to distinguish the difference. She isn’t good at Super Mario Brothers so she doesn’t play it. She is more than happy to watch someone else play but she doesn’t want to lose.

When Isadora was around 4 years old she became very interested in writing. She would practice her letters for hours at a stretch. She even forfeited recess to practice! She got frustrated but she was highly motivated. She genuinely wants to learn to write. She does not genuinely want to learn how to play Super Mario Brothers she simply wants to be good at it.

We always assume that people are born with a particular talent. Whenever we try something for the first time we are either good or bad at it and that determines largely if we will continue. Very rarely do we think of all the effort that goes into proficiency. As a child I was interested in language but I had to learn to read and write same as an other kid. If you read some of my earlier poems and stories  you wouldn’t find even an inkling of my current ability. I started with an interest but I still had to start from scratch.

One of the reasons heaven is so appealing is because it promises everlasting happiness but what would the world be like if all we ever thought about was our personal and immediate comfort? Take a look around. Depleted resources. Wars (everyone wants more and needs more to get the same effect, everyone wants to be right, everyone wants to have just a little more than their neighbor has, everyone wants to win). I am not disputing the existence of heaven here (though it’s not my personal belief) but the search for unlimited pleasure/joy might not be working out too well for us here on earth.

I am sure I am not the only one whose had this experience. Everything seems to be going fine. I think to myself I am making progress, I am getting my shit together, I am on course. I am right, I am living correctly. Then the pain kicks in. I notice that my body is full of crippling muscular tension. I start to have trouble sleeping. Then, I get sick. So what happened? How did I go from successful to invalid in a matter of hours, days, weeks? It’s called Mara. When you think you’re right you’re usually on the wrong path (seeking miracles, diversions, comfort, and quick fixes). But how could that be? When you think you’re wrong you are going against your nature. But how could that be?

What does the right path feel like? It doesn’t that’s the thing, it just doesn’t. You don’t have a sense of right or wrong, good or bad when you are doing what you are meant to be doing, it just is, you are just there, you are in the moment. If you think you can stay on the path strait to the end you are wrong about that too because we do get off course and there is a lot to learn from the detours. If you think being good at something means you stop making mistakes, getting slack from others then you will never progress.

 

What I like about Buddhism is that it entreats us to embrace life as it is, it doesn’t seek perfection but urges us instead to be inquisitive. What I like about Taoism is that it embraces the duality. The necessity of contrasts. What I like about Shintoism is that it recognizes that each person has their own truth. They all embrace human nature in a very honest and compassionate way.

Stolen (short story)

Every memory bares embellishment no matter the method of extraction. Being a man of few exceptions my method of inebriation is fraught with discrepancies and absences for which I can offer no amends. Time rarely observes chronology when reversed and I write to you only in the order of recollection.

My 8th birthday was more presentation than event. A bit of posturing for my mother’s sake as she had so little else besides. The children from my class were all invited but it was not for my company that they came. My father was well-respected, a privilege he enjoyed not for his temperament but for the extrinsic nature of his success. He was an unpleasant man behind closed doors but faced with an audience I found him intolerable. I knew the jest of his portrayal, the contempt buried underneath his ribs. I even understood to some degree his false participation, I was accustomed to it but I did not care for either version and feared them both in equal measure.

My social ineptitude would be considered a betrayal. I would not be punished publicly but at the conclusion of any such event I could expect a meticulous verbal thrashing. The children did not play with me and acknowledged me only as a repository for gifts they did not assemble. I did not long for their company audibly but there must have existed within my being some comparison that recognized within my solitude an indisputable yearning. I was content to speculate at their games and the conversations of those adults which had not yet garnered my confidence but all the while I was alone.

I do not know when I retreated to the library but it was not conscious insubordination as so little of what I did at that age was premeditated. To be the guest of honor in a room full strangers was a loneliness more imposing to me than my own volitional exile. I took a leather-bound volume at random. I had my own books but I had read them all and worn them bare in repetition. The library was locked, save for when we had company, and this had been my only occasion to enter for several months. During parties I often came in secret but to come here for my own party, where my attendance was mandatory, went beyond risk. Taking a seat I opened the book in the middle expecting to find only words as my father did not care for fanciful things but instead a nook within which nested a heavy brass key. I placed the key in my trouser pocket and closed the book returning it hastily to the shelf lest I be discovered. I did not even give pause to examine it as the sound of footsteps set me blindly into motion.

*

Theoretically this should continue