Being a writer is nice for a few reasons. One reason, though, one of my favorites and the most useful, is the way you are forced to sit down and scientifically analyze your emotions and feelings. Every reaction you’ve ever had to a traumatizing moment or an abstract concept, finding the words and dissecting yourself to cannibalize the parts to use in your work... I find it resourceful, efficient, in a conservation of matter kind of thinking. But it’s also illuminating. When was the last time you sat down and thought, “That breakup, that one time. With the person I thought I was going to spend eternity with. How did that feel, again?” We’re so good at bottling things up that we misplace our corkscrew. Writing becomes that missing tool.

“Well, it felt like the world was ending.”

Good, keep going.

“It felt like I had no control over anything anymore, and I would never have it again.”

Keep going.

“It felt raw. Like the casing of a skinned animal.”

And through taking it apart, we learn that it’s fine. Feeling that way is fine, and honestly, expected. Humans tend to be weak, in that way, but hiding that weakness I think is the most cowardly thing we can do. Is strength the only thing we value anymore? Achievement, being an ‘underdog’, winning. Sometimes it’s the losers that I want to see. I want to see someone at their lowest level, when they feel like an amoeba: floating, shapeless, aimless. But more importantly I want to see that amoeba split its cells and grow into something new. I love to watch them climb the rungs one after another, one realization after the next, getting somewhere. Which, I guess, is a lot of the point of a book or story: to see what happens next. To see how these people, who are a patchwork of every emotion and reaction the human being that wrote them ever had, learn to move forward.

Talk about a useful skill, dissecting feelings. We all know we’re all human, but sometimes it’s harder to find proof of that. Writers work to get good at it. 

 
 
YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO
I know you guys probably don't get it, but if you're interested in understanding the reference, ask me for a free eBook copy of my book. 
 
 
Picture
I’m in a bizarrely excellent mood today.

I want to invite all my friends over, give them almost-too-long almost-awkward hugs. I want to go running. I feel confidence like never before— like all the things I want to do in my life are open to me and actually accessible instead of, “Maybe one day.” I feel like a well-acted character in a quirky indie film: I’m that cool person on the bus that handles their latte like a professional sports player keeps a handle on the ball. Every flick of my wrist as I swing my backpack on is like a step in a highly-produced music video, acing the top 40 charts with ease. 

I think this mood came from two places: 

1. An upbeat indie pop/rock playlist, 

2. and thinking about what happens to my characters in the book I’m writing after the book ends. 

If you’re wondering, Ashton decides to travel. He sits on the edge of the Grand Canyon, he watches the geysers at Yellowstone, he climbs mountains and walks riverbanks until he’s had his fill of the world that he was never intended to see. 

So, I think that helped me feel this way. Extraordinary as only a fictional character can be. 


 
 
Some new pieces up in the gallery today. Gonna try to update here more often! Consistency and whatnot. Enjoy the moody pooches! 
Moody Pooches should be the title of my memoir. 
 
 
HELLO FRIENDS! 

I am trying to raise money because I have Adult Responsibilities that require it! Lame

See those drawings? I am offering drawings in that style for $5 each! (Up to $10 for more complicated designs.) They will be done with black pen, white gel pen, (if you want) one color of your choice, drawn on 5.5”x9” brown paper. Physical copy can be mailed upon request, we’ll discuss shipping in that event.   

[And don’t worry, your high-res digital file of the final product will be scanned, not taken with my cellphone, like these sketch samples are.] 

* There are FIVE SLOTS available! First come, first serve. Place your order by email at marandart@gmail.com. * 

♥ BLOG BONUS: because you actually read my blog, if you take advantage of this deal, I’ll also give you a coupon code for my Etsy for 25% off any of the listings. :) ♥

—♥ Maranda

 
 
Picture
Hello, fellow mortals! 
To celebrate 200 followers on tumblr and my piece 'Mountainous' being accepted into the roving art show in Wyoming, I've decided to
clean out my art folder and give away some original art pieces! Here they are! There are THREE winners! Triple your chances! I tried to include as many options as I could. 
Here are the prizes: 

First Place

Second Place

Third Place

Hop to it, friends! I'll see you on July 31st when the giveaway ends! 
 
 
Picture
Wyoming, I am in you!
I think one of my favorite emotions is, "Wow, I forgot I did that a long time ago, look at it paying off right now! What a surprise!" Felt that today. Because a few months ago, I entered the above piece, 'Mountainous', into the Wyoming Wilderness Association's 30th Anniversary traveling art show. At the time, I thought, hey, I've done a piece inspired by Wyoming. Why not ship it in? So I did and promptly forgot about it. 
Few days ago, I get a congratulatory email. I got in! 
It's always going to fill me with glee when I see my art on another side in the manner of, "Hey look at this cool thing!" Giddy. Just... giddy. 
Check it out! And if for some reason you're around Sheridan, Moose, or Laramie... go see it! Say hi for me! Tell it, "Mommy misses you, but you're on to greener pastures. Do mommy proud." 
You might want to whisper it when no one else is looking, though. Just as a precaution. 
 
 
Hello, friends! (I can say that with certainty because only my friends read my blog. Love you guys! Smooches!) It's That Time Again, in which I produce more horrible creations that are also shirts and stickers. On that note, I have a Redbubble account now! Now, if you're an illegitimate clone of me (or just me), you can have all the stickers and throw pillows of fishdogs you've ever wanted. Click the little red dot on your right. I will now utilize a Very High Tech arrow emoticon to indicate the location of the aforementioned red dot.  ==> 

Also, I have a mailing list now! I read recently that RSS and blogs and social media are dead (we can dream) and that email marketing is kind of in right now. So, being the hip cat I am, I went ahead and got a mailing list. You should be on it! It's like being in a club! Clubs are cool, right? People like clubs? I'm going with that. 

So there you have it-- do as you must. I'll be waiting. Clawing at my keyboard, slamming F5 over and over, awaiting your arrival. No pressure. 
 
 
Sometimes, I sit down to paint, overwhelmed by the urge to paint, but nothing comes to mind. I end up listlessly browsing the 'watercolor' and 'gouache' tags on Tumblr and Google image search... most of what turns up is idyllic flower portraits or gardens or puppies or something else cute and wholesome. 
I have a natural aversion to that kind of kitschy cuteness. The more I browsed for "inspiration", the more I furrowed my brows and frowned. 
"Man, this stuff is boring." 
And then it hits me that I still have some skinned coyote feet in the freezer and bam, inspiration hits me like a truck. 
(You'll get the story of why I have coyote feet in my freezer... later.) 
It was to be my first really serious gouache piece in a while. The last full-on painting I did was in my oil painting class a year ago, and because oils are made of condensed demon's blood and are hellbent on making your life miserable, the idea of doing another painting (until now) kind of rubbed me the wrong way. And by 'rubbed me the wrong way' I mean 'plagued me with fever dreams of the Reflective Objects and Elaborate Geometric Patterns Still Life.' 
But, today, gouache was calling my name. And my blank pieces of aquabord were feeling lonely. One thing led to another. 
Colors start to  happen.
Adding color to the underpainting was thrilling and frightening. As an artist, paint thrills you, and no one else gets why washes of ochre and burnt sienna get your heart racing.
Picture
The final product: Wholesome, endearing, warm-fuzzy feelings. Wook at the widdle paaawws!
 
 
Being an animal-person before I am a person-person, I always notice animal bus patrons when I board. Sometimes it’s a homeless-looking person pushing an altered baby carriage full of scruffy Yorkshire terrier/Chihuahua/miniature pinscher mixes. Sometimes it’s just an apathetic-looking lab or medium-sized mutt sitting at their owner’s feet. The people who bring dogs on the bus are secretly my friends, because they probably can’t afford a car, but they make time for their dog/s. I always think the dog people are pretty cool, not only for having socialized dogs, but for having the guts to not feel reserved or hesitant for bringing a dog on a bus. “Why shouldn’t I bring my friend on the bus?” They strike me as reasonable people.

Except for this one guy.

He had a mop of blondish reddish hair stuffed under a black beanie hat and a two-sizes-too-large black raincoat. His dog was about a twelve-pound poodle mix, black and quiet. The man sat quietly, though somewhat coldly, in his seat. I passed him and took a seat towards the middle on the parallel window seats, as opposed to the perpendicular seats the dog man was sitting in. He was only about a row of seats away from the other set of parallel seating, reserved for elderly and wheelchair folks. This is important—bear with me.

Everything’s going well on this bus ride. I ate breakfast that day, so I was content, listening to my iPod and people watching. I like to see who comes on the bus, because let’s be honest, they’re the most interesting people at any given moment. The same was even more true that day, because a man heavy with coats came in, hobbling, hunched over and scruffy. But he had a nice face, the face of someone sound in mind and expressive in opinion. That’s just the feeling I got from him. His hunch, I realized as he turned around to plunk into one of the parallel seats in front, was smooth and black and panther-like. It was a black cat, yellow eyes, clinging to his shoulders and backpack. Looking like that was a perfectly reasonable place for a cat to be.

I smiled, and smiled, and smiled. I secretly hoped he’d see me smiling so he’d know I approve of his shoulder-cat ways. But I was kind of far down the bus, so he didn’t see me. He hesitated before sitting, and the cat caught on to his signal. It leapt down expertly onto the bus window ledge. I noticed then that the cat was attached to the guy’s jacket with a thin red leash. A woman in the row in front of dog man gave a small surprised, “Oh!” when the cat hit the windowsill. The man acted as if nothing had happened, sat down, and retrieved his cat from the windowsill and set it onto his lap.

A few bus stops passed. The dog man was leaned forward and had the cat man’s attention. I couldn’t see the dog man’s face, but the cat man’s face was becoming more and more furrowed. The conversation wasn’t pleasant—it was clearly not about the cat’s name, how long they had been a shoulder-cat, or anything of the ilk.

And honestly, there are gaps in my memory. But to my credit, it all happened so fast.

A black man with bad teeth stood up and moved between the cat man and dog man, he was intervening. At some point, their conversation had turned foul. The intervener had wide, challenging eyes and a commanding posture.

I paused my music.

“No, man, shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up! I don’t care what you have to say!” The intervener’s words powered over the rumble of the bus.

The thinner voice of the dog man replied in similar speech. Thoughtless cursing, empty threats. At least I hoped they were empty. I and many other bus patrons watched with quaking eyes. So far, the cat man and the dog man were still seated, the intervener was the only one standing.

My guess so far was that the dog man said some rude things to the cat man, who had every right to have his pet on the bus as the dog man, and the cat man hadn’t taken it well. Words exchanged, intervener didn’t like where it was going, and got involved.

But it didn’t simmer down. The intervener’s fire fueled them.

The cat man was sending his comebacks like ammunition, the dog man now escalating to gestures and threats. Threats like, “Mess you up so bad,” were tossed around. At this point, still empty. I prayed that they stayed empty. My heart felt like it was in my throat beating overtime. The dog man called the intervener something that I didn’t catch, but it sure caught him.

“I’m a what? I’m a what?!” He repeated, staring at the dog man, daring him. It had become personal. The dog man stuck a nerve. The N-word, maybe? Something else? It wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case…

The dog man stood up and jerked in what looked like a punch, but it was false—no impact. I thought about the little dog snug under his other arm. At this point, the cat man had the police on the phone. His even voice lit up the bus, “Yeah I’d like to make a complaint please. About a guy on—on the 150 bus route, yeah. He’s disturbing everyone and getting violent—yes. Reddish hair. Black poodle dog. He’s—yes. Yes. He’s getting off now. He’s at the stop by… [Street name.] Yeah.”

The cat man stood up, collected his cat, and bustled around as if his anger urged him to fight. He held the phone away from his face and held his other arm close to him, as close as he could get to crossed arms, looking victimized. The cat just hung on as usual.

A little bit before the dog man left, a crisp-looking businessman had sat across from me and glanced at the situation and said with an eye-roll, “Drama.”

Throughout the whole event, the cat and dog remained composed and quiet. Even when their owners stood up, threw fake punches, or had a stranger yelling over them. They were more socialized than their owners, and they weren’t even the same species.

And people ask me why I’m more of an animal-person than person-person.