03 May, 2019

update; a month of zines, art and questioning identity

May is Zine Season! I will be at the MCA Zine Fair on the 5th (that's this Sunday, the one after me posting this) and Otherworlds Zine Fair on the 26th.




April practically flew out of my head. It's intense how fast time feels when you have something to do all the time. In preparation for the month of zines coming up, I had a schedule that I left behind pretty fast. Not because it was unrealistic, but rather because I wrote up the schedule and then the side projects unrelated to what I had written changed and became more complicated and I had to shift the whole schedule back.
But I'm back on track.

I have 3 new zines to show everyone this Sunday! 2 of them are part twos in 2 different series and the other is a new mini. I haven't made minis in a while and it almost felt weird to leave something at 8 pages.




I've also been playing and prepping for a bunch of dnd, which I can now validly say I adore. I don't exactly play by the official rules and... it's essentially turning dramatically into a homebrew at this point. I should start on making maps and whatnot but it's almost more fun to just play it out in theoretical space.
I feel quite lucky that I can just cold call a bunch of acquaintances off the internet and we can gather and play a tabletop game all willy nilly like that. I also feel lucky that they'll pretty much let me run the game however I like (maybe they're all too polite to tell me not to do that) because there's always been a lot of traditional high fantasy things that I've disliked.

As the campaigns run I might throw some of my write ups here as we go. Unsure. I'll think about it.




A few weeks ago I had a big week of doubting myself and my identity. It's been a long time since I was so unsure of who I was.
Over the last few years I've joined (but rarely participated in) queer groups with shared interests. It was a comfort for me to be aware of and have enough of a connection with people who were like and unlike me, with at least shared opinions and a sense of kindness. I've been aware of the discussion around gender and identity being different in these groups than "outside" in the world. I understand that in a space where new terminology comes through, things are talked about differently.
It's strange to think that I've pretty much been surrounded by these kinds of conversations, but never had the conversation myself. I've been talking about it now with people and I honestly think it was just because I didn't have the time - I was busy sorting out what was going on with my mental health.

Working out why I was putting out fires took up a large part of my last few years as an adult. My teen years were all just focused on putting the fires out for long enough to get to my adult years. And now, the focus has shifted again since I've got the time and brain space to actually look at myself as a person, apart from the trauma, and ask who I actually am.

But all this is just a long winded way to say that I did several days of googling gender terminology and came across the word agender. And then after a lot more days of panicking and reading and google deep diving, I realised that I am agender.
I have spent several years marking myself as gender unspecified all over the internet, not really thinking about why I started. I gained secret pleasure from being referred to as male and neutral pronouns, but female pronouns don't bother me either. Having my femininity defended by partners of the past when I describe myself as appearing masculine on any given day has been annoying and resulted in the topic being changed very quickly. I have always looked at my body as something I live in sort of without permission - this is just the vessel for my brain and my thoughts and my depression and anxiety. This vessel... doesn't feel like a gender. It just feels like a body and happens to belong to me.
Mainstream conversations have tricked me into thinking that gender dysmorphia is almost always paired with a feeling of "wrong body", body dysmorphia, or a need to transition. And that simply isn't the case. The fact of the matter is that I was assigned female at birth, and I disagree with the assignment.

It's strange to think that I have felt this way my whole life and for at least a significant part of it, this term has existed for me to use to describe it but it took an existential crisis for me to actually find it.
It felt like a really big revelation when it happened, but I think, ultimately, it doesn't change much for me, and really just gives me another word to more easily describe my experiences more authentically.




I have felt more like myself now than ever before. I hope it's not extended mania. We'll see.




Write soon,
Annie.

23 March, 2019

draw; a brief zine summary

Last year I made a whole bunch of zines. I had made a handful in previous years, but I truly went ham on the zine making front in 2018, Year of the Zine. Here's a little something about some that are my faves of the lot.





Macy the Grey(hound)
When I first looked into getting a dog, greyhounds were so far away from my radar. But I did a bunch of googling, joined a bunch of Facebook groups, and ended up deciding to get a greyhound and haven't looked back since. Macy has been amazing! We get asked a lot of the same questions everywhere we go. I hadn't made a zine for probably about a year or so when I made this one. We love a good FAQ!

All the mini Macy zines are sold, but I've got a handful of A5 ones left that come with Macy stickers.



Sad Cooking: Vol 1
Sad Cooking is supposed to be a series of zines that's sold out at the moment (I'm thinking of reprinting for this year's set of zine fairs). The first one (currently the only one I've put together - no. 2 is in the making) is a bunch of recipes I gravitate towards when I'm depressed and living alone. There's also a page on how to make rice on the stove, and my other favourite basic the Humble Vermicelli.

I really like cooking but it's hard to find that balance of cooking for the right amount of time and also the right amount of energy when you're depressed. I don't want to read through fourteen paragraphs about someone's glorious day out at the park which inspired the mac and cheese I'm about to attempt. I just want the recipe and then variations on what I can do with it. I just want to know how long it'll take to make. I'm depressed. I don't have time for this.
So I went through a bunch of recipes I had saved and had written for myself for when I couldn't get around to making proper meals. I've structured it according to how long each recipe takes (sometimes when things are too much, I just want to make food for 2 hours and not think about anything. Sometimes I'm sad and mad and hangry and want food in under 20 min), followed by what equipment you need (washing dishes could be very low on my priority list at times), the instructions, and variations on the recipe (eg. what you could add to the dish, how I normally eat it etc).

Volume 2 will be vegetarian/vegan meals.



What's the Point aka. Selfie Zine
One time some people told me I should sell that drawing on the left but I wasn't confident enough to sell a drawing of my own selfie as a print. So I made a compromise with myself and also a zine instead. This is probably one of the first zines I made, and still some of the highest quality selfies I've ever drawn, for class and otherwise.



Articulation
This is probably my favourite thing I've made in the past few years. I've talked about it a lot on various media, so I'll keep this one nice and short. Articulation was written in the middle of an intense self reflective time, and after I had been to therapy continuously for about 4 months. I had started to share my thoughts on mental health and my own journey online a year prior and was overwhelmed by how positive everyone's responses were to what I had considered to be things that I had worked out about myself that weren't either positive or negative.

It carries a content warning for various intense emotions, and it is important to me that people don't read it until they're ready to confront themselves on thoughts about mental health (either good or bad). I've often described it as entirely representative of myself as an artist, but truthfully, it's like looking at a report card about myself and my journey. All the things in this zine are about the past, and about how I could and would like to move forward, but they aren't representative of myself in the future and there is a sense of letting go because of that.

I'll be making a sequel to this, soon.




Talk soon,
Annie

25 February, 2019

update; a whole year

Can you believe I posted just one time all of last year? What a ride. It's almost been a year. Let's talk about it.




Turns out being productive while working full time doesn't include my blog somehow. I feel like that needs to change. All the other things I was doing took over in priority since I was making a varying amount of money from almost everything else - the site fell off my radar for a while. It's strange to think that I barely even wrote in my journal, or planned that many things outside my job, my mum, my dog and my relationship.
2019 is supposed to be a whole new start, and what a start it's been! Half of the things that took up 80% of my time I don't have anymore. Needing change after getting into a routine is ridiculously hard to do, especially if the routine works. Recognising my own needs to keep changing and keep moving forward has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make as a real life adult. Recognising that I get to make these decisions for myself has also been another wild step.

Strange to think that I am, mentally speaking, in very much the same place as I was a year ago and better, even. I'm still in therapy, I'm still living in the same apartment, I have my site and my portfolio (which is now more interesting than ever), I'm sewing and trying to organise D&D and working and looking for work. Stranger still to think that even though things are moving forward and I stagnated for a few months in the middle, I'm still getting better and keeping on keeping on. I forgot what it was like to keep walking forward for a while.




I'm going to be making more zines in the coming months. I might post some comparison pages between planning and final images for Articulation in a bit. Out of everything I've made, this has had the biggest impact on myself and on the people around me. I have met people in the past year through this zine who have looked at themselves and their place in the world in a whole new way that I didn't expect other people around me ever to do. It's been grand. There's a second one in the making but we'll see how that goes.
Talking about mental health and my own journey in not dying has been really, unbelievably satisfying. I didn't think I could do this at any point in the past. Therapy has taught me a lot, and I've learned a lot about how I have dealt with my brain in the past. I don't really need those habits and thoughts anymore and would like to grow into better habits, which is on my list of goals to do this year.

Here are some other things I'm aiming to do this year:
  • Learn how to drive
  • Get back to going to the gym, writing my blog, film photography
  • Get Etsy properly going
  • Some zine fairs (Otherworlds? MCA?)
  • Turn @somethinganniething into something content driven
  • Set up clothes Instagram
In 2018 I finished my yearly goals list in September, which was surprising since I didn't expect the simple action of writing something down to make such a big effect on whether or not I could do something. It does. Write things down if you want to do the things. 




I'll be blogging more this year, as outlined in my goals haha. I'll be getting back into a lot of things that I lost in the midst of chasing a routine. I will no doubt be blogging a lot more written content this year. There's a lot to talk about. Things are different, and will no doubt get better.




I'll be here,
Annie.