Monday, May 14, 2018

What's in that Bible, Exactly?

I toyed with the idea, earlier this year, of joining Adam's 2018 Reading Bible as Literature event, but I just couldn't commit to anything involving structure. There was much humming and hawing on Twitter, as often happens to us readers when challenges and events are involved.

Fast forward to April, and amidst a lot of Not Reading, I had this urge to dive into the Bible. The reasons are several-fold:

  • I identify as a Christian, raised in the Baptist church (not so much now, Baptists, #sorrynotsorry).
  •  I have not read the whole Bible. If I start from the beginning, I usually crap right on out around Deuteronomy. I got the usual "Bible in chewable bits and pieces" treatment as a church attendee and in a college New Testament class (that made me question ALL THE THINGS). Then I lost my faith for a few years after my dad died at the age of 39 (I was 18), etc. etc. 
  • The majority of my life has been spent feeling really stupid when it comes to Bible things.
  • I'm consistently baffled by evangelical zeal for President 45 and the ways in which Scripture and That Particular Zeal do not line up in my head at all. 
  • I'm a Christian and wanna be a good one.
SO, this undertaking is filed in my brain under, "I Must Understand For Myself All the Things". 

Breaking from past attempts, I decided to start in the New Testament because Jesus and grace and whatnot. Picture it, I started this Bible journey with my 30-year-old children's Bible (it's pink), and while it got me going, it also became fairly clear from the beginning that I wanted something....grown.

Yes, that is an "I'm Reading so Fuck Off" mug next to my Bible. I'm still me. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably started to see this whole scenario in action. This was Saturday's first pic of the day: brunch, coffee, BIG STACK OF BOOKS. 

The giant chunk on the bottom is my new She Reads Truth Bible that I really like in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation which is supposedly accurate and readable. On top of that is my Scripture notebook (more on this below), my bullet journal, and my prayer notebook.

As I started reading through the New Testament, about five chapters into Matthew, I realized I have a LOT OF QUESTIONS. I have grown-up, analytical, historical questions like who the hell are these Pharisees and Sadducees on the scene? But more than "bad guys"...WHO ARE THEY REALLY? 

There has been much Googling, much researching, much downloading of apps, reading of commentaries from a variety of scholars and time periods, and...gird yourselves...I'm copying it. 

I'm copying the New Testament word-for-word. 

I know. I never would've pegged myself for this job, but copying:

1. Helps me remember all the stuff I inevitably forget otherwise
2. Sloooowwwwws me down
3. Gives me a space to copy the Scripture, write my understanding, work out my questions and connections, write notes from histories and commentaries, and then keep right on going. 

It's a lot of work, but this is scratching my-totally-ingrained-need-to-research itch along with my need to read. AND there's the added bonus of giving me these endorphin feelings much like I had when I started my English degree and was SO PROUD to understand things I thought I'd never understand. 

And it's meditative. And I look forward to it, and I'm sad when I don't have time. 

If you've been wondering where I am...this is where. I'm neck-deep in the Bible. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The End is Nigh

Image credit. 
The end of my Lenten social media fast, that is. I never really made a conscious decision to NOT post here for Lent. The objects of my fast were Facebook and Twitter for the most part. My personal Instagram was part of it, though I kept my business one active for obvious reasons, and after this experiment this is the platform I miss most. I also kept YouTube because I decompress by watching art videos these days.

With the end of Lent nine days away, I have mixed feelings. Some things to celebrate, some progress made, plenty of observations about my own habits and tendencies.

Being away from Facebook was nothing but positive, with the exception of missing some friends' updates. That said, I can log in and creep on you all without getting sucked down the rabbit hole of 24/7 access. I strongly believe the app should stay off my phone. I seem to be able to log in once per day for friend-checking and avoid the rest. For the most part, sharing things I care about on Facebook, like March for Our Lives this weekend, doesn't require me to log in for more than a second or two.

I don't need an all-hours news cycle because it just feeds my anxiety. I've been fine with reading a morning briefing and listening to Pod Save America for some perspective. I do think it would be helpful to subscribe to the Washington Post or New York Times websites for unlimited online reading. With limited access I can't always click through the morning briefing and get the full story which is annoying and half-assed.

Limited social media has helped calm my anxiety. I've used the minutes I would normally spend scrolling in the morning to do meditation via the Headspace app which has been immensly helpful. I use all the other minutes I would've normally spent scrolling to make art. This also helps sooth me.

Overall, I don't think there were any surprises. I knew all of this going into my social media fast, but I wanted to do it, finally, and I have enough perspective to make some tweaks. Facebook, while my biggest nemesis, is the most obvious tool for activism and organizing that I have at my disposal...especially for local/county political action. I'll still be there on FB, but in much smaller amounts.

Monday, January 29, 2018

I've Been Hiding Something

Five, ten, fifteen, sixteen, nineteen, twenty-one year old Andi made a lot of art. From the time I was about five years old, I've been fascinated with drawing. It started when my aunt drew a beautiful woman in a flowing ball gown for me to copy. For years after, I drew fashion on any piece of paper I could find. I drew other things, but those well-dressed women, those glamorous Jems and She-Ras, the poofy dresses, snazzy pant suits, and mini-skirts (this was the 80s) were my niche. 

Fast forward to middle school and the beginning of picking elective courses. My family was all, ART YOU MUST TAKE ART. An elderly woman, lovely as she was, smelling like booze, taught us to whittle soap figurines and erect structures with popsicle sticks. Not really my jam. I wasn't in art the next year. 

Brush pen landscape

So high school came around, and I promise this is going somewhere...

Mrs. Lightfoot, sweet-but-drunk, retired and was replaced by a long-haired, hippy art teacher (Mr. Fuqua, still awesome and my friend), and I was dead set on NOT taking accounting, so I was back in art. We drew with...everything. Graphite pencils, tempera paint, chalk. There were some popsicle sticks in the mix on occasion, but I survived. We did contour drawings and finished paintings. There was instruction! There was indie music playing! Mr. Fuqua even tried to get me to submit to a Chicago Institute of Art competition, which I didn't do, but kinda really wish I had. 

Around this time the Internet was becoming a Thing People Had at Home, and we got our first home PC and a dial-up connection. Suddenly I was discovering the world of online chatrooms and Paint Shop Pro, and I started designing avatars, and teaching myself HTML, and building websites. It was totally addictive. And I was good at it! 

With these new skills under my belt, I decided to go to university to be a graphic designer. At Baylor that meant pursuing a BFA degree in Studio Art which was cross-listed with Graphic Design. Baylor's program was really geared toward the fine art part with graphic design tagged on as an afterthought in the last year or two. Luckily, I really ate up the fine art stuff. I loved drawing and painting and using new-to-me mediums like gouache, ink, and even painting with coffee. I sculpted from plaster of paris, welded small statues. I was doing all kinds of new shit. I was ok at it. I was better when I got serious in my sophomore year and actually focused on my work more than staying on the phone all night. Who knew? 

Trouble the weenie dog in graphite
I ultimately transferred away from Baylor to my alma mater to pursue New Media because it was the only program of its kind around. At the time (2001) that meant web design, Java, and some other super-old-now stuff. I decided I didn't like it. I missed the hands-on that the computer took away from me. I was also bored as fuck and realized I'd be designing corporate logos for the rest of my life (because back then, it was true). I put my art supplies away or gave them away. They got buried under crap in the garage. I was proud of the pieces I'd created, but books and writing took over. Art and books have always been my my things....THE things for me.

Here we are, 17 years later, and I'm arting again. I don't even know what happened. Maybe I can say this is the positive thing that came of the fucking terrible election. When I couldn't read, I could design things on the computer. When I started designing things on the computer I started making stickers. When I still couldn't read, I could cross stitch. Then I figured out it wasn't impossible to design a cross stitch pattern (I keep it REAL simple, mind you). Oh hey, this bullet journal thing looks cool. HAND LETTERING, Y'ALL! And now...graphite pencils, pastels, ink, coffee wash, watercolor, ball point pens, you name it. I'm making stuff out of everything. 

Not an original design. Find the pattern here
I decided to write this post when my mom found a bin of office supplies in her garage yesterday and told me to come get what I wanted. I snagged plenty of ballpoints for a specific style I just discovered on Instagram, and I found some pastel pencils. I won an art contest with a pastel drawing once, so why the hell not try that again? When I pulled up in my driveway after pilfering the art supplies, I noticed two pieces of cardboard on the floor of my car (turns out they were trash from some packaging of my husband's). I sat down between grading assignments this morning with my trash paper and my mostly blue and green pastel pencils and figured an ocean scene was the way to go with the colors I have on hand. I Googled a bit and started roughing out some coral from a reference image because I watched a YouTube video of an artist painting underwater stuff last night before bed. 

Pastel pencil corals on cardboard (work in progress)
Do you see how this goes? 

Arting has always been a lot like reading for me. It's a mental release. It's tedious in its basic actions, but it also allows my mind to run around in a way that so few other things do. I've always been able to sink into a book for hours. In college I would sink into art for hours. I'd throw on some music (in my Discman, obviously), and seven hours later I'd surface from the studio...hungry, bleary-eyed, and feeling like those were the greatest hours.

Now there's more fuel for the fire. The paths for discovery are overwhelming: Instagram, Pinterest, Deviantart, Etsy. MY GOD THE THINGS I'M LEARNING AND MAKING AND WANTING TO MAKE AND MULLING OVER. 

Sensory overload but in the best way. And instead of my Discman, now I have an iPhone and an audiobook for when I'm arting. This is how I art in 2018. :) 


Tuesday, January 09, 2018

These Words: As Long as It's Healthy

"Waking up to the election results was like looking down to find thousands of cracks in a floor that, seconds ago, I'd thought solid and smooth. Every day since election day, I wake up an angrier, more radical activist, forced to see the floor for what it was this whole time. "

--Sarah Michael Hollenbeck from the essay "As Long as It's Healthy" in Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Tru*p's America edited by Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding

If you read any essay this year, let it be this one. While this is my favorite line, the issues of most importance here are her discussions of living with Moebius syndrome, ableism, and the deeply personal decisions associated with making a family.
Images by Freepik