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Draw New Lines

I broke lots of cartoon rules today. I was up against a deadline and my editor has a life outside of her deadline and, well, sometimes you just have to finish the Gee Dee Cartoon.

So I let up on a few rules.  And they were all insane and unnecessary rules, of course. And I thought of you. I thought you might be interested to hear a few of the absurd, unrealistic, completely illogical constrictions I have placed on myself over the years to ensure that cartooning is as painful as possible. Otherwise known as OCD.

But today I was working smarter in addition to harder. And I’m really trying hard to eliminate the rules. I really am. TMS just opened up my brain to be okay with “not having to do things a certain way.”  And so, little by little, day by day, I am “not having to do things a certain way” in another and another and then another respect  But seriously, the rules were crazy. Like for starters, widths of black lines in word balloons for certain character’s frames had to be determined in accordance with some rule I drummed up some night at 3 am when I was obsessing about some injustice in the world. Otherwise known as OCD.

Yes. I am getting rid of rules. And replacing them with beautiful empty space for good memories and new memories and re-memories. I am re-remembering things. You know how that goes? You remember something a few times? And you keep reminding yourself to keep remembering it?

Write it down. Or type it up.

In the meantime, one of the ways I’m triggering good memories is by remembering music.  I am listening to music to drum up recollections.

Listening to randomly selected music doesn’t work well for this purpose. It makes the memory collection and concurrent note too complicated to organize.  So I am going year-by-year from my DOB to start.  That’s linear, right? And to keep from getting too mechanical and robotic about something as poetic as music, I’m just scribbling (typing) whatever comes to mind – like who sang it, or a word from the title or who I danced around the living room singing it with, blah blah blah.

I am NOT – I REPEAT NOT – making an Excel spreadsheet with over 60 formulas and definitions and a legend and colors and highlights and borders and shading. I mean, really. Who does that?

Not me, obviously.

Okay, who’s with me? Let’s start with our birth and early years!  Mine was 1962 and I know all the words to all the songs from the Top 100 Billboard Year End list. I would know all of those from television and radio and records over that decade and the 70’s too. There was always music in our house from Top 40 radio until I got to college.  And in the car too.

BTW, I started a list the other day of the family cars.  Boy. I think we had a lot of cars.  I feel like The Brady Bunch only had one car. We had like ten cars or something.  THAT was a fun list to start. I keep it in OneNote and fill it in as information comes to me.  Doing the music helped me when I listened to the music from the years I got my drivers license and then just drove miles and miles around our little town trying not to go home and face questions I couldn’t answer like “how was your day?” I was a Sylvia Plath-style teenager. Fill in the rest.

Maybe we can talk about cars later. Because making a list of family cars is a great distractor list – when you need to shift your mood. Let’s say you feel yucky. You can make a list of favorites or just a list of what you had or what your family had. Favorite Movies and Favorite Ice Cream are often my go to’s, but Family Cars or Favorite Cars with categories  is great for car lovers!  Categories of favorite things are great for distracting your brain when your brain is stuck in a bad place. Whether it’s an obsession, compulsion or mood, it’s easy to try distraction. Making lists are my “go to” distraction. Most of the time it’s just a list of what’s clogging up my brain right now. Make a list of three things clogging your brain.

Work – but not in the bad way, just want more information on the matter I’m working
Book – but not in the bad way, just want more time to write
People – hope folks are okay with the stress of wars and war in media

Oops! One more! Bella’s dental work. Need more information.

So I have work, book, people and pets.

I make lists because they are easy and because I instantly feel organized and productive when I make them. And because I repurpose the list information so the information becomes useful in other ways.  Some lists become more detailed or filled out. Some lists turn into action items. Some lists turn into thank you note. Some lists turn into apologies. Some turn into realizations or breakthroughs or just things I had trouble figuring out until I saw some of the key words together in the same area on the page.

Maybe the music or the cars reminded me of summer evenings when we drove to my father’s office in another town, not ours.

My Eyes Adored You
Front seat of the car because it’s just us
My father driving back to work
First he went. Then he came home. Now he goes back.
Summer clothes fresh out of the dryer after a swim at the pool
Hopefully ice cream after the office. Maybe we’ll take some home.
We check the mail
Checking the mail is how we work
This is how I learn about work
I sit at the big desk and write, write, write on the big yellow lined pads. So many pencils, all sharpened to a point.
Frankie Valli played in the car on clear blue sky evenings in the hot summers before I spent evenings with friends and boys my parents said “Say hi for us. We’re going to bed.”
Before I began my life, I was going to the office
And that became my life

Lists evolve into details I remember little by little. The car, the clothes, the music, the people, the weather, the holidays. All from a list of the Top 100 Hits or the list of Cars.

It looks like 1963 brought The Beach Boys! And I LOVED The Beach Boys! But I only got turned on to The Beach Boys when I was older, not a kid.  I think we dressed up for 60’s dances at school where they must have played The Beach Boys, but I only remember other music. The same goes for The Beatles in 1964 when they had their first hits on U.S. radio. I LOVED The Beatles later on in life – when I got to college – but knew little about the group before then.  In my house and car we had the Supremes and Temptations and Four Seasons. There was a lot of after school and after dinner music in our house.

And then, of course, there were all the music specials on tv. We always watched those. And everyone watched the same thing back them. Three stations. Maybe another one or two if you have good reception.

So now I am trying to make a little timeline like diagram of the music and cars and people and jobs and boys and dogs and cats. I’ll figure it out. I just wanted to leave you with a suggestion about building your memory skills. It’s really important. Your memory is a muscle. You need to walk it all day long. It needs so much exercise. Every day.

In the meantime, a favorite end of day list! Top Five Takeaways from Your Day?

Here are mine:

(5) Remember that you are your best subject matter expert, coach, chemist, advocate, cheerleader, hugger, lover, mother…so show other people what you need to be the best you.

(4) Remember that if you had all the power,  you would still have to wear a string around your wrist to remind you of the power you had. It’s not about having power. It’s about remembering you have it and remembering how to use it.

(3) Remember not to obsess about TodayGate… or whatever story your brain is stuck on today. There will be AnotherGate soon. TomorrowGate is soon upon us. Or you can make your life GateFree – more on that later

(2) Remember this one…it’s a BIG ONE…You (meaning me) (and you maybe too) need to remember that other people more-often-than-not do not even notice – even after you tell them – the things that mortified you. They didn’t even notice. Remember that your glasses are warped. Your genetically warped glasses are then tinted with some societal influences too. And stress. Bottom line. Nobody cares. Seriously. Nobody noticed. Just you. So don’t worry. It’s okay. They were busy worrying about whatever they are mortified about.

(1) Turn it into good energy and put it back into the world. Whatever it was. It doesn’t matter. Flip it for good and put it back out there.

I hope your Friday is peaceful, which of course is not technically possible since our brothers and sisters in the world are at awful sickening odds. But I hope your little piece of the world is as peaceful as it can be for you and your loved ones for now and that it keeps you strong so that you may help to advocate for others after yourself. When you can.

Bless everyone. In every way.

xoxo, d and bella


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Wow. Many great insights. My work story growing up is my Dad coming home after working on Saturday after delivering mail to doctors and the local hospital surrounded by apartments loaded with magazines of all kinds that could not be delivered (move outs). At that time the post office let carriers keep them. What an event!

  2. Oh wow, Tom. I got to read all the magazines and catalogs and newspapers first. Now we know why we have so much in common. I have to write the story of how a friendship grew over an awful report. HA HA HA HA

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