Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Health Update

I'm just going to post it all here since people will ask and I don't want to repeat myself a gazillion times :P

All right, so those in the know know that I've been having some crazy back pain over the past month. Those not in the know... well, now you know. I don't exactly know what caused it, seeing as it just kind of popped up, and its occurrence just grew over time. I suspect it's the unfamiliar exercises in dance class, because that's the only thing I can pinpoint being any different from everything else I do.

Anyway, I got a referral for physical therapy from my physician.
My appointment was this morning.

I went in and it's unlike most medical offices I've been in: the door opened up not to a small waiting room with a door leading to more rooms, but a big room filled with exercise equipment. For a while I just stood there, thumbing the straps of my backpack as I looked around and smiled at everyone. The desk was on the right—oh. I went over, checked in, filled out some forms, waited for the therapist. Doot dee doo.

The therapist's name is Corey—young, fit, blonde. Her presence was calming, somehow, like oh, she looks like she takes care of herself, which means she must be able to take care of me. Or maybe I was just happy to finally be there. We went into a small room by the back with a sort of massage-table-bed-thing while I told her all about my pain, how it is, how it's gotten worse, etc. She guided me through a series of positions and movements, trying to pinpoint where the pain's coming from. I normally feel better in the morning, so I don't think we were terribly accurate... like it gets worse as the day goes on. I know that right now, about 7 hours after the appointment, I'm feeling a lot of pain, and can pinpoint exactly what movements and positions hurt it.

Nonetheless, we were able to progress, and she told me about the things she observed about my body that could be contributing to the pain:
  1. Scoliosis. Can't say I didn't see it coming, but it's weird that it never hurt before. You'd think the muscles would get used to the fact that my spine has an S-curve, but whatever.

  2. The top half of my spine is "like a flat board." If you view the spine from the side (see image below), you'll notice that the top is supposed to arch out a little bit. This is normal. Mine is completely straight: that is not normal.
    • I'm assuming both of these things mean that the muscles are whacking out over the fact that the spine isn't normal.

  3. She observed that I breathe mostly from my diaphragm (like, my stomach moves, not my chest). She said for most people it's 50/50 between chest-breathing and diaphragm-breathing, and while diaphragm breathing is a good thing, my doing it more means that my chest hasn't been expanding. So in the event that it does expand, it irritates the ribs, which rub all weirdly against the spine and all the nerves and muscles knotted up beside it (thanks, weirdo-spine), causing pain.
    • This would make sense, seeing as the main and biggest pain feels like something's pushing out from inside, and that it occurs when I cough/sneeze/laugh/breathe.

In response to point #2 above, she actually told me not to sit up so straight.
She said since my spine is straighter than normal in that way, I naturally sit up straighter. But that actually forces my muscles to work harder, so she recommended "adding a bit of slouch" to my posture. My mom totally didn't believe me the first time I told her :P I also have to lean against the backs of chairs whenever I can.

During my next appointments she's going to be introducing me to some strengthening exercises to stabilize my back (especially around the shoulder blades), and some stretches to relax the muscles. Today she left me with 15 minutes on the bed doing electrical stimulation therapy and a heat pack. I was afraid of the electrical stim, but it actually wasn't that bad: just a few pads down my back that pulsed and tingled and gave me funny feelings. It tickled, I kept giggling.

Well, that's about it. My back hurts like hell right now, but it's not bothering me as much mentally, now that I finally know I'm gonna get stuff done about it.

I'll keep ya'll posted... not with big updates like this, but probably as little side-note accompaniments to future blogs.

Which will include some Watchmen fanart.

Oh, did I just say that?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Recurring Dreams

I cannot attack people in my dreams.

Sometimes I wish I could, to feel the crunch, thud, or slap of impact from my fist, elbow, knee, leg, foot, to their body. In waking life I rarely wish to feel this—I said rarely, not never. I figured I'd be able to satisfy such a perverse... desire?... in the ultimate privacy of my dreams, but even then, I am denied. Even in my dreams, I am denied.

Sometimes I'm being mugged, and when I move to kick, my leg goes weak, like I cannot contract my muscles and make them move to defend myself.
Sometimes the one person who I really, really want to hit is standing right in front of me, unmoving, and just inches before my fist makes contact with his face, some force, some unseen pressure slows my hand and renders it completely useless, my enemy unharmed.
Sometimes I'm being taken away, and the longer I flail and scream the more tired I become, the more unable I am to call out for help, as though several pairs of invisible hands are pressing down upon my mouth, arms, hands, throat.

It's hard enough to stay contained in waking life, hard enough to control the boiling of blood as it courses relentlessly in fits of rage. I figured I'd be able to do my worst, be my worst, in the ultimate privacy of my sleeping life, in my dreams.

But even then I am denied.
Even in my dreams, I am denied.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Something I've always known, revisited

*If you're reading this on a Facebook note, I want to warn you that this entry's one big reflective thing of mind-vomit. If you don't really care for that stuff, I'm saving you the effort of one more click: just go. I don't want to waste your time XD*

And if you made it to here, congratulations! Let's begin.

In a Facebook note entitled "Something I've Always Known," I detailed my belief about going through life alone, because nobody can truly make you happy for long unless you're happy with yourself. Despite all the great things I said about having poeple in your life, that note was actually written out of sadness, loneliness, and even a little bit of contempt.

When I'm struck with deep-seated feelings of negativity, be it anger, jealousy, rage, contempt, etc. I often resort to the thought, "Screw everyone, I have to do this alone," and this thought stems from many things:
  1. That I have to do it alone because the situation is too sensitive/complicated to talk out with others
  2. No matter how much others insist it's "okay to talk about it," I'm always afraid that revealing so much of myself will leave me vulnerable, and consequently leave me
    • a) hurt by their judgement
    • b) dependent on their sympathy, which won't always be there (honestly)
    • ---i. and this would probably make them sick of me
  3. I don't want to "burden" people with my troubles (see item 2bi)
  4. I want to be able to come up with solutions by myself
  5. I feel badass when I say it

I hope ya'll remember how to read those kinds of outlines, because I feel like that's how I best express myself XD Some artist, right?

I'd been thinking about this for some time. Wouldn't one person go insane trying to do everything alone? I had the privilege of being left alone for a few days by the friends I talk to most, and yea, it does suck (especially when the back pain's bordering on severe). I thought back at all the times having friends and opening up to them actually got me through tough times, and it's true: you do need people, because your mind is only one perspective, and opening yourself to others is like opening several windows of possibility. People will think of things you've never thought of before, and if they actually echo your thoughts, then you know you're on some track because someone else shares your opinion.

But swinging back, what about all the wise old men who came to enlightenment on their own? Buddhist monks who sit alone in caves for DAYS, only to come out completely refreshed? Jesus, who retreated to mountaintops and solitude to be alone (redundant!) for uninterrupted blocks of time? Finding enlightenment alone is certainly a theme that's been visited and revisited throughout human history, but can you find yourself by yourself as well as finding yourself with others?

I think I realized the difference this morning, and I did it all alone.

So here's my take:
You can "find yourself" in the time you spend with others... finding out what you're like, finding out others' perspectives on you and the things you believe in. It sort of puts you to the test and, as I said before, opens you up to other possibilities that you can choose to take, leave, or make something of. The time you have alone is a time to reflect and absorb these experiences, and put them through your own little info-processing-brain-machine. It follows the saying, "In class you're given a lesson and then tested on it; in life you're given a test and taught a lesson from it."

Pertaining to me specifically, I learned that tackling problems by myself, as well as tackling them with help, is a method that should be treated with care, just like tackling problems with others. With others you run the risk of becoming too dependent (a condition to which I've fallen prey more times than I care to mention), and by yourself you risk your own well-being and sociability.

We need others to show us things.
But without applying ourselves to them—if we merely subject to what others say and do—we are products of everyone else. We are no one.

Figuring things out is a cycle, a pattern that alternates between your time spent reflecting on stuff and your time spent exploring. It's all about balance.

I never really know how to end these kinds of blogs, so I'm just gonna hope that you followed that massive train of thought well... and if you didn't, go ahead and leave a question. Comments are fine too :d

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I am amassing my followers

It'll only be a matter of time before I "drop the bomb" on ya'll... hehehe...

Anyway, yea, this is now le blog occasionnels. Knowing my luck I'll probably be like, uber-discovered within the next x days and have to have a nifty art-only blog. Greeeeat. I love doing that to myself. Anyway.

I've gotten more comfortable using this, I guess. I do have a livejournal, but it feels... weird? The initial purpose for that was basically to contribute to a Heroes fanfiction community (yea yea, laugh it up), and later on to keep tabs on my LJ-savvy friends. I could always blog on myspace, but I think that got old. As for Facebook notes, or Ship's Log as my Pirated-out Facebook now deems it, I guess I get a little picky over what I post there. Generally I'll only post an FB Note if I genuinely want and expect people to respond to it. Facebook is extremely interactive, so I treat it as a medium for such interactions. Here on blogger, a few people can read it... and I'm left to assume that these people care enough to read it, meaning they care about me.

I do keep book-journals... I have SO many of them. So many old sketchbooks, so many old journals and diaries I just love to look back on. I don't know what possesses me to keep stackin' em up and reading them over and over again. It's fun :P

Anyway, I said I'd give you a taste of my life drawing sketchbook, so... here it is! We do assignments in our sketchbooks, so there's always something new. If you see me in real life and are interested in my drawings, ask to see my sketchbook. It's always with me.
Or you can just, y'know, keep viewing this blog... you probably won't get to see my flaws, though. Selective self-representation and all, y'know.

This is ... a skeleton! XD We had to draw it from the front, back and side. The front and back ones were disproportional; I thought this turned out all right.

Then we had to do muscles, same views and whatnot.
I rather like muscles, at least, until you get to the limbs :d
Then they get kind of difficult, at least for me.

Oooph, bear with me for a bit, okay guys? Formatting this is kind of weird.

Heee, then I go do something like this—just because I love to apply things that I've learned. Bonus points if you actually are staring at her serratus anterior, and know where it is.

Yea screw this, I'm just going to center everything, hahaha.

Then we had an assignment in which we had to draw and render hands holding things. This one's my favorite, and yes, that is my hand. Ironically, it's the only one in the series that isn't actually holding anything, unless you can say it's holding a pose, or holding a chord. Heeeeee.

Here's from the latest assignment. We had to draw those wooden artists mannequins in various poses... I really liked this one as a concept to start, but I think inking it kind of ruined it. The lighting situation could've been rendered a lot more dramatically. I think I'm afraid of high contrast :P I shouldn't be, it's awesome!

I really like working with ink and ink washes... I have more of those, like gestures and actual stuff from life models, but they're on huge pieces of paper I can't scan, and I currently can't get good photos of them. Eventually, though. EVENTUALLY!

Also, if you are one of the few that keep up with this blog, I'd appreciate a comment or two. Y'know, just so I know you're out there. :D

Friday, October 10, 2008

Feeling Good

I'm liking my life right now. I thought it'd suck, honestly. There are a few snags, but overall, I'm feeling good.

Life Drawing is probably my most favorite class ever... I guess maybe Foundation Drawing lowered my expectations, or this class is just better. Probably the latter. I totally met and chatted with one of the models... BEFORE he even modelled for our class. How crazy is that? I just came upon him, and then bam! He's our model for class the next day. His name is Hunter... I'm kind of sad he didn't come back, he was cool.

See how much more "bloggy" this has gotten? Normally I'd use another side for these kinds of entries, but what's the point? I was sort of 'saving' this blog for exclusively art, hoping to make it my little domain from which I gain internet fame—the website I put on my business cards and résumés and oh Jordan, your website is so impressive! I love it!

I think I can actually create separate blogs on one account though, so maybe if that time ever comes I'll just split the ramblings from the art. Or maybe the ramblings enhance the art, bah, whatever.

I think I'm really enjoying life drawing more than the other classes because I love drawing people. Last semester it was mostly just still life, and while I learned a lot of techniques there, there was little room for me to be creative (in my opinion). Then again, like I said, I may just like drawing people more. They're so much more dynamic, so much better to work with and easier to imagine. For me.

I know I keep promising pages from my sketchbook... hee, oops. They'll come. My computer's gotten really slow over the past few days (I think it's from the overload of m-flo songs I just put in...), and with each restart my desire for a Macbook grows stronger. I can practically taste all that extra harddrive space now, and it tastes like freedom.

Other classes are great. Chinese 102 has great chemistry because the teacher's great and a lot of the students already know each other; Latin Jazz is fun but tiring... I think it triggered some back problems in me, I've been having to see the doctor for a while. Last time they gave me muscle relaxants and told me that if I'm still feeling bad, to call again. Still feeling bad. Next appointment: two weeks. It's getting harder and harder to schedule these things nowadays. Poli sci is easy, also known as nap class XD

Anyway, that's pretty much the update right now. Stay tuned...