(TL;DR version - I'm back! I missed you all. I've been up to lots - what have you been doing?)
How did that happen?
But you know what? I'm just going to front it out and carry on. I have really missed my blog but have been pondering for a long time whether to start afresh with a new one (I know, I know - I ask this a lot!) or just carry on here. I think I've finally decided to just carry on. This is my comfy corner of the net, the shabby sofa where I can talk to you all in my vest and pants with my sticky up hair and chipped mug of tea and you don't care. (Though you might do now!) I've made the best friends, truly - my very best friends through here.Those of you that have met me know how awkward I am in social situations and how I've had to psych myself up before meeting you or even to do my courses. But here I don't have that invisible gag over my mouth, I can be myself. What's in my head is on these pages, warts and all. No stuttering, no tripping over my words, no talking so fast in my chav-tastic accent that people can't understand me, no awkward silence while I try and process if whats in my head is acceptable to come out of my mouth... just me. And you guys.
I actually stopped blogging RMWF because I was worried about some people from my past reading. But you know what? How daft? Let them. I am so over that crap - Virginia doesn't know this but she pretty much saved my life when she started this project all those years ago. That's not an exaggeration. I've still carried it on even if I haven't blogged. I recently started a scrapbook where I stick in things that make me smile - not an all singing, all dancing piece of art scrapbook like a lot of you guys do. Just a sketchbook, pictures stuck in, postcards, little daft pictures I've done that are just practice but I love them, stickers - there's an unexpected letter I got from a penpal at Christmas, a super positive email from a tutor that peps me up when I read it - that kind of stuff. Not anything pretty, not for show on here or instagram. Just a book of smiles.
So... I'm back. If you'll have me. If not - I'll still turn up and talk to myself anyway. Never stopped me before. I should mention that this post will be a little picture light. After two years I finally managed to kill my phone and so by default, my camera - that's good going though, right? Considering the amount I have drowned, pickled, lost and smashed in the past? Two years is unheard of. The Bear has somehow managed to break my 'proper' camera too. So I may filch some images from my instagram account and Google just to break up what I can already feel is going to be an epic ramble. (That's your warning to go make a beverage or click away now.) The good news is Samsung think they can fix it. We'll see. I don't miss the phone side of things at all... Except for when I forgot to check the coolant in all that hot weather and I was driving along with smoke filling the car... then I kind of missed it! It's all good. We're all fine. Positive thought to come out of that is that I now know the importance of making sure my car isn't a thirsty beast before I set off. However I absolutely need the camera in my pocket for when I start uni in September. More on that later. Let us begin. (No - - what you've just read was the warm up.)
Where to start. OK, my last RYWF post was last Summer. (Jeez!) Since then I started an English GCSE Language course. Primarily to keep my brain active while I deferred starting uni until Bear starts school full time. My Access tutor had commented that I wasn't analytical enough in my journal and essay writings. Apparently I have a tendency to waffle rather than analyse. (Excuse me? Moi? Waffle? OK, maybe justified.) I thought this might help me with the essay side of things when I eventually get to uni. What I got was a whole lot more. It's unlocked a whole tidal wave of memories. I used to write! Secretly, as a teen, I used to write. Oh my God, such angsty teenage doom filled crap but I loved it. Write and shred, write and shred. I used to write comic strips too. I never told anyone that - I don't think anyone knows... apart from maybe my Mum. I think she might have found one of the more risque ones once and that kind of put an end to that. (I nearly died!) I'm reading loads. I kind of dwindled off with my reading - my memory is so shocking that it takes me a while to absorb things. As a teen I could read a book a day but the more kids I have, the less brain seems to have been left. I had been getting into graphic novels over the last few years thanks to my friend, Sarah. This satisfied my hunger for stonking good stories and as you know, I've always loved a good art book. Plus - I'm never one to pass up a beautiful childrens book - for me. Kids can keep their mitts off! But my cravings for history or trivia has usually been down to documentaries. Seems I'm a visual learner. But my reading is getting better and better, I'm getting faster, absorbing it more and actually noticing the techniques used too. Probably still can't name the techniques if you pushed me but I know they are there.
I love my Wednesday night class, literally my night out each week. I started to realise the classroom was unlocked early so would get there and just sit and enjoy a half hour of quiet before everyone else arrived. This place is mental - that little bit of quiet is just amazing - I even planned out an argument for my job centre appointment while sat there this week (Explain that later.) Just bliss. The poor tutor probably arranged it so he could work. I just took advantage. I like him too - the kind of person you would want as your phone a friend. It's kind of intriguing when someone has an answer for everything and not in the bull crap kind of way... or maybe I'm just gullible. Wait - ...
We had our first exam this week and our last lesson. *insert sad face* I'm really going to miss it all, surprisingly so. Last exam is Monday - trying to think of a positive to end this bit on but am kind of sad now.
How about a picture - here's what I'm reading right now. Not solidly - I have a big old pile by my bed. Dreams & Shadows is in the car and Florence & Giles is on my Kindle app... caught up on that in one of my quiet half hours too. I bet when Samsung wipe my phone they lose my place. Ah poop.
I am happy to say that, at this point, I recommend them all. Bill Bailey has me snorting out loud but he always has done - ever since Black Books. I love him. That one is both educational and humorous, don't you know. I am thinking of cranking out a few reviews, been a while. Might just do it... but for now - yep, these are good 'uns.
I'm also still enjoying
abusing *cough* making use of the local library and it's purchase request facility that they have hidden away on their website. I think I'm up to 16 confirmed purchases now. I've only ever had one denied and that was because it was an American publisher and they just couldn't get it. People of Kent - you are welcome. Aren't you lucky I have such amazing taste in books?
The local job centre called me in for a chat at the beginning of the year. Bear will be turning 5 in September so they wanted to help me back to work. To say I was terrified was putting it mildly. I have been "just" a Mum for so long. I'm no longer qualified for anything. I was also scared crapless that this was the one thing that would stand in the way of my getting to uni. I had visions of going in and explaining my plans and being laughed right back out of the door. Do you know what? I couldn't have been more wrong. The first lady who helped me was just lovely - she supported my going self-employed whilst doing uni at the same time. She said I had a unique selling point (liking weird, creepy stuff? ) She seemed surprised that I had done the Access already and was now doing my GCSE. She referred me to a self-employment enterprise scheme. Unfortunately that fell through as they were over subscribed so I have been waiting to get onto another scheme. I had another appointment with my new adviser today - again, terrified that this one would laugh at me for being ridiculous. Again, couldn't have been more wrong. He wants to see some of my work next time, purely because he's interested and likes cartoons. He's already got me an appointment next week on a mentor scheme and thinks running a business and using the uni to learn but also use their equipment for work side of things is perfect - he's pushing me to look into writing and self publishing as an end goal and he was really supportive when I said that was already, secretly, my end goal.
I'm beginning to think it's actually me who has the problem? It's me who thinks I'm being ridiculous? I'm being met with nothing but support. From tutors, from family, from friends... Even the uni tutors, when I contacted them to say I will have to leave every day at lunch time to be home from Canterbury in time for the last school run... I offered to drop out if I was taking the mickey - they said they would support me all the way. They would get me into early workshops rather than afternoons and as long as I can catch up at home on the work - they can't see a problem. Is it me? Why would I think my dream is ridiculous? I've wanted this for over 20 years now. More than that. All my life. I don't know. As it is I am starting full time, kind of part time but full on at home in September. I am getting set a Summer Project and reading list in August. Ooer! The degrees official name is BA in Illustration and Animation.
I know one thing. I cannot wait to be able to say, when asked what I do... "I'm a self-employed illustrator, full time student and a Mum." I usually just skirt around ways of not saying I'm unemployed. I hate it.
Anyway. I have spent a lot of time clearing out the back of the garage to turn it into my new workshop/studio in preparation. People that follow me on Facebook or Instagram - sorry. I am unashamedly reposting the pictures from there. I am conscious of how long I am going on now - I'll wrap this up soon.
|Sweeping, painting, tarpauling...|
|Someone thinks the new table is for him! Workshop in use.|
|My brand new table piled high and they buggered off to paint! I was played!|
Since having Mr Bear it's been a lot worse - to the point that I had my worst ever attack at Christmas and seriously thought I was going to be in a wheelchair very soon. I literally couldn't move. I cannot remember a time in my life when I have ever been pain free - it's just much more manageable at some times than it is others. So this - this is like some kind of miracle happening right now. I can only put it down to the combination of exercises we are doing and all the work I'm doing round the house. Whatever it is - I know I have to keep it up and somehow, when uni starts, still make time to do that every night. To have little Mister hug me so tight and tell me that he loves my back being better because I can play with him. Well. Worth it's weight in gold isn't it?
I shall leave you now with Blue October. Pheeb introduced me to them last year and we have since seen them in concert in March. Best concert of my life. No lie. First one I have ever sobbed my eyes out. I wasn't alone. The lead singer, Justin, is a very autobiographical singer. The lyrics to the songs... although about his own experiences are very relate-able to many people even though you may not have experienced what he has. They fit. He has the ability to rip my heart out of my chest, wring it out and hand it back to me on a plate, after it's been kicked round the floor for a bit. I feel like I should have grown up with them and introduced her as some of the music is from around that time. But I've found them now - at just the right time when I've had some seriously weird emotional kaka going down. I may even have to admit to overdosing slightly on the music but I love them. This one in particular. Listen to the words. Then go to You Tube, type in Blue October and listen to the mix of songs that comes up. You can thank me later. Soundtrack to my life at the moment.
I lied, I'm not done - I remembered something else. The Twitter Art Exhibit came to the UK for the first time ever, to Stratford upon Avon, so I was able to see my contribution on display. It sold, someone forked over cold hard cash for it and the charity, Molly Olly's Wishes raised so much money - thousands of pounds, for such a worthy cause. The buyer sent me a lovely message. Plus I was able to meet up with Sarah, one of my bestest buds who I rarely get to see. I also bought some beautiful art myself. Loved it - I urge anyone, all of you to take part next year it's such an amazing event and so easy to just do a postcard. Such a small thing that makes such a huge difference.