Tag Archives: blood-splatter-tastic

How to View Your Own Work (tips for creators)

 

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How to Get a Cat: An Illustrated Guide

For the last couple of years, I have sat at home all day alone.

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Chronic illness can do that to you. It hasn’t been too bad, really. I don’t live alone, so I have company for non-working hours, and some wonderful friends and family members visit and take me out on my good days. A lot of people with my illness have it much worse.

But still.

Being alone wears you down.

(Even a super introvert with social anxiety disorder and occasional agoraphobic leanings, like me.)

So, easy solution, I got a cat.

We were renting and weren’t allowed pets, so it only required us to spend all our current and future money to find a house, sign over our souls and move, just before Christmas, the worst time of the year to do anything other than eat gingerbread. It was no trouble at all.

I like cats. I had a cat when I was growing up whom I loved to bits.

Although, actually, it was me who ended up in bits. That cat was a psychopath. When I was eight she invented a game where she would lurk outside the bathroom when she heard the shower. She would pick a natural bottleneck—a doorway, the hall—and wait for me to emerge, vulnerable, wrapped only in my towel.

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Sometimes that’s all she would do. Just watch me as I edged past her, staring with pouncing eyes, knowing I was nervous. Other times…

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Remembering this, I thought a great deal about the type of cat that would be best for us. And it turned out my partner and I had met a lot of other types of cat over the years that we didn’t think would suit.

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We didn’t want the kind of cat that hates people so much it lives on top of bookshelves whenever anyone is around.

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We didn’t want the type of cat that pretends to like you, but acts as though it will catch fire if you actually touch it.

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We didn’t want the type of cat that murders animals larger than itself in the dead of night, then eats their entrails. I know people who live with this type of cat, and since the Possum Incident, they haven’t been the same.

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Armed with a clear picture of what we didn’t want (literally, see cat types 1-3 above), we walked out of the shelter with the complete opposite. The most clingy, affectionate cat to ever exist.

He needs to be close to people, either sitting tucked under your chin or participating in whatever you are doing, at all times. For the few days after we took him home, he only stopped cuddling and kneading on my throat for eating or pooping (his eating or pooping, not mine).

He’s getting better at separation, but he can’t handle being left out of things. He follows me from room to room. He watches as I brush my teeth. He pounces on books and my computer so he can play with them too. When we do the dishes, he claims the rinse water as his personal paddling pool. Tiny, prickling claws are involved in every activity, and if you try to stop him, he climbs you with them.

It’s kind of like living with an affectionate cactus. Or wearing a scarf made of hedgehogs.

It’s very different to my previous experiences with cats. Showering with my old cat in the house was like starring in a B-grade slasher movie. My new cat turns showering into one of those romances that are supposed to be swoonworthy but are just super, super creepy. He won’t let me shut him out of the bathroom. He sits in front of the shower glass, sometimes with his face pressed up close, sometimes playing with the water droplets he sees running down my side of the glass that he can never catch. Sometimes, if he can paw the door open a crack, he jumps in.

(I let him in the first time because I thought it would teach him a Valuable Lesson about consequences and personal space. It didn’t. Now he thinks darting in and out under the sprinkling water is part of the game.)

As a human, that kind of thing gets you restraining orders. As a cat, it gets him whatever he wants.

He’s a whole new type of irritating cat.

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But I love him.

And I’m not alone.

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You can find four of the illustrations from this story in my store! The Floor is Made of Lava Cat, the No Touchies Cat, the Murder Cat, and the Extra Strength Co-dependent Cat.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (I recommend Instagram if you would like to see pictures of my cat playing the sink).

BIG NEWS

justmarried1Probably, anyway, because I made this in advance and scheduled it to appear at just the right time. But I’m sure I would have had a free minute with an internet connection to delete it if anything untoward occurred and messed everything up, so if you can see this, it’s safe to assume that I am now married, half-way through my third drink and up to my elbows in cake.

I will busy taking the hobbits to Isengard-gard-gar-gar-gar exploring New Zealand for a few weeks, but have scheduled some things so that you won’t miss me too much and …

… hang on.

justmarried2Wait. Not you guys. I’m sorry, but the big heart-frames weren’t for you.

justmarried3Stop it. You’re supposed to be the evil monsters.justmarried4Guys no.justmarried5GUYS NO.end broadcastNsfw difliculties

A Quest to Emergency: Follow Up

My partner loved what I wrote about his injury. He was delighted to find himself in a starring role in a blog-story and to have his ant-war cartoonised. But he quickly began to regret turning down my offer or re-writing the injury part with dragons. He didn’t make a big deal about it, but I could tell he felt he had missed his opportunity to be immortalised in a daring action-filled escapade.

I understood. Ants are just not as cool as dragons.

So I drew it for him as a surprise gift.

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This is what true love looks like.

A Quest to Emergency (Alternative Title: If this ever happens to me, I’m going to lie and say it was dragons)

Last week I got a call from my partner while he was at work.

“I’m okay, but I’ve had an accident!” he said.

My mind went straight to:

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The reality, I established after a few minutes of agitated conversation, was more like:

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He had dislocated his knee. He was waiting for the ambulance to arrive, and he stayed on the phone with me until the pain got so bad that he was having trouble not screaming. I told him not to worry, the paramedics would be there soon and I would find him at the hospital, and then he hung up.

I had no idea how I would get to the hospital.

It’s a good forty minute drive, and I am not well. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) not only keeps me physically and cognitively exhausted, but also smacks me down ten times as hard if I try to push past my (very pitiful) limits. It lets me build up a crippling energy debt, and then it comes to collect. As you can imagine, it makes it (at best) difficult or even (at worst) dangerous for me to drive. I had sold my car a few months earlier. Now I was stranded.

I was used to CFS making me feel helpless, but this time I only felt rage.

My partner was injured, and I wanted to be there. After the surgery I had a couple of years ago, he had been with me every moment he was allowed. For a week he paid exorbitant hospital parking fees, ate cheap food from nearby take-away places, napped in a chair in my room and only went home when I had gone to sleep. Now I couldn’t even pick him up from hospital.

I was vaguely aware that there must be a rational way to sort this all out without making myself sick. Perhaps one of his work colleagues who had stayed with him would take him home. I didn’t have to personally go in. But I did have to, because that’s what you do when the person you love is hurt.

I decided that CFS wasn’t having this one.

I pulled out my Zombie Apocalypse List of friends. You know the friends I’m talking about. These are the friends who, when you really need something, just say ‘okay’ and help you. Everyone needs at least one of these people to call when the zombie apocalypse starts.

So I called one of my Zombie Apocalypse List friends and explained that I needed him to drop everything and drive me to the other side of the city and back because my partner had a non-life-threatening injury. I said that I really needed this.

He said, ‘Okay.’

Twenty minutes later we were on our way. I spent the whole trip monologing about the insanity of the cheap romance novel I am in the process of disemboweling to make paper roses for my upcoming wedding.

Just to clarify, I do not intend that as a generalisation of the entire romance genre. But this specific book was arrest-level crazy. Someone needed to sit those characters (and probably the author) down and have a serious talk with them about a) making life decisions, b) contraceptives and c) consent. There wasn’t actual rape, but there was rapey kissing, where one character forcibly kissed another who was saying ‘NO’ loudly and fighting to get away. The author seemed to think this was romantic, but it made me throw up a little bit in my mouth. Needless to say this scene is not making it to my wedding, even reincarnated as a paper rose.

My Zombie Apocalypse List friend listened calmly, understanding both the ick-factor involved in rapey kissing and that being tangential is just how I dispel nervous energy. I was very impressed and upgraded him to my Help, I Need to Bury a Body List. When I later told him this, he said that he could not in good conscience help me bury a body when a bathtub full of lye would do a much better job of removing physical evidence.

Duly noted.

We got to the hospital and promptly got lost. This was unfortunate because at this point I was definitely down to borrowed energy. We wandered around while I, using my health as collateral, built up a bigger and bigger energy debt. This meant that at the time I could push through, but the next afternoon I couldn’t move from the couch. I was so exhausted that standing up made me want to cry. Usually my loving, caring partner would do what he could to help me, but this time he was stuck on the same couch recovering from a dislocated knee. It’s a miracle we didn’t starve to death.

Maybe my CFS had a bit of a chuckle about all this. Maybe it even thinks it won this round. But you know what, CFS?

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In the end we found the emergency department (it was the big, red part of the building with lots of ambulances parked in front of it that we had already walked past several times) just as my partner, mellow from pain-killers, was given the all-clear and turfed out of his wheelie-bed.

We finally heard his story in full.

Apparently he was lying on the ground to examine some cables.

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He rolled over to get up, but his foot got caught on something.

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The rolling action popped his knee out.

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He waited half an hour for an ambulance (dislocated knees are not a high priority). He quickly realised that all this had occurred on top of an ant nest.

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But he couldn’t relocate because it hurt too much to move, so he engaged in a vicious war with the ants in which his only weapon was his bum.

…which he used to crush the ants. Not gas them or mesmerise them with a sexy dance or whatever else popped into your mind.

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See? Crushing them.

If you judge a war by its casualties, then he won. Hundreds of dead ants were later shaken from his pants. But if you judge it by any other means—such as who ends up with the land or dignity (or both) that was in dispute—then he lost.

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It’s a truly terrible injury story. I offered to improve it with a car chase and some dragons, but he seems happy with his ants.

My First Near Death Experience

I’ve been so bored. Thanks to chronic fatigue I live on my couch reading books, knitting and feeling terrible that I cannot participate in life the way I used to. So I’ve decided I should write something, something that I might have fun with that has nothing to do with my couch or my illness.

I get blood noses a lot.

This is an excellent topic, because whenever I draw a picture with blood-splatters I become ridiculously giggly and gleeful. I’m hoping that when they read this my friends and family won’t find this information disturbing and will instead shake their heads and think of it fondly as just another of my little quirks.

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Please?

The blood nose issue was most pronounced when I was in school, although I had a stressful time in my first year of uni and ended up with a significant blood nose every day for about a month. One of those days my nose bleed lightly all day, and by ten o’clock at night I was light-headed and woozy and probably should have sought medical attention but didn’t (eighteen-year-olds are, of course, known for making sensible decisions regarding personal safety). During this month, every time I tried to practice clarinet for my performance exam my nose turned into the elevator scene from The Shining movie.

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Perhaps it was an omen. That exam did not go well.

It could be very handy in school, though, and I managed to escape a number of lessons with tissues clamped to my face. My exits were most spectacular from classrooms that had run out of tissues. One time, I cupped my hands under my nose and they filled up and ran over before the teacher managed to usher me out the door. And then all I would have to do was exaggerate the time it took to stop, and voila! I could miss whole Maths lessons. Thank you, nose.

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But it wasn’t all fun and games. My first blood nose was a horrifying experience. I was seven and, up until that day, I wasn’t aware that blood noses happened. The teacher sent me to the first aid room where I was instructed to clamp tissues to my nose, and then I was left by myself to wait for it to finish.

It had nearly stopped when all hell broke loose. I felt something weird, warm and large in my nose. It came out into the tissue, a lumpy bloody mess.

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I panicked.

I knew what it must be. It was one of my internal organs. What else could it be? It was a slimy red lump and it came out from the inside of my body. Of course it was an organ. I was pretty sure it wasn’t my heart, but maybe it was my liver or a lung.

(Okay, so I clearly wasn’t the sharpest child. Most of my childhood felt dreamlike and drifting, because I didn’t understand most of what was happening around me and had worryingly little inclination to figure it out. At the time of my first blood nose, I only had a vague understanding that people were made up of tubes and wobbly-bits, and probably no awareness at all before that day that I might be made up of tubes and wobbly-bits. All things considered, I did a pretty good job of deducing that it wasn’t my heart. Seven-year-old me should get some credit for that.)

I sat for a minute, staring at it, and waited to drop dead.

But I didn’t die. I was pleased, but mostly confused. Although unaware of the actual probabilities of expelling my liver out of my nostrils, I was fairly confident that a person couldn’t expect to stay alive for long if it happened.

I began to worry about what adults would say when they returned to find me holding my liver in a bloody tissue in my hands. What if they said that having your liver drop out of your nose was always one hundred per cent fatal? I didn’t want to have to die to fit with the facts.

Surely if no one ever found out that I should be dead then I would be fine.

So I threw the damning tissue in the bin in the corner of the first aid room. But I was still worried that when someone emptied the bin they would find it and know. I was convinced that the minute my liver- or lung-less state was discovered I would drop dead. I half-emptied a tissue box into the bin on top of it, making sure it was covered.

And then I went back to class and never told anyone about any of it.

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For years (yes, years) I was plagued by the uneasy memory of the internal organ that fell out. I often wondered which one it was and in what ways its loss was affecting my health.

And then one day I found out that blood noses sometimes make big, wobbly blood clots in your nostrils. I was almost disappointed.

Fighting Multi-Headed Anxiety Monsters with the Power of Song

But first a confession. I had a really hard time writing this, but an easy time drawing the pictures. In fact, I had more fun drawing these pictures than I did drawing myself being ripped apart by a bear (here), and I giggled continuously while doing that one. But the words were difficult. So this is how it turned out.

There’s this awful thing that follows me around wherever I go. Other people can’t see it, but I can. It’s always there in some guise. Maybe it’s not bothering me right now, but I can see it lurking and I know that it can attack me whenever it wants.

It’s called anxiety. Maybe you have your own version of this monster. A lot of people do.

When it comes for me I’m usually the only one who notices, but you could tell if you were paying attention. When it happens, I experience:

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And a few other things which aren’t as easy to draw. Plus, lists of three are neat and the racing heart one is definitely the punchline. So we’ll just skip over hot flushes, hyperventilation and feelings of impending doom. Lists of six suck.

Actually … let’s quickly do a superficial interpretation of feelings of impending of doom, because that phrasing makes me giggle.

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Lists of panic attack symptoms tend to refer to it this way. I’ve always found the terminology hilarious, but the experience is horrifying and (for me, anyway) it’s the worst part of a panic attack. But more detail later.

Even with these symptoms, I can fight it. But it isn’t easy.

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If you cut off one head, another one grows back.

I used to be very shy and afraid of talking to people. Over the last few years I have fought this and it has become much easier. I am still shy, but I can talk to strangers and I am able to make new friends. I cut off that head, and my multi-headed anxiety monster grew another.

This one makes me afraid of being in crowds.

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This is a problem. Basically, it makes it difficult to be anywhere other people also want to be, which covers most places worth going. So I rarely go to concerts, clubs or popular restaurants (especially the ones that won’t let you book but they’re always so busy that you have to queue to get a seat). And going Christmas shopping or travelling on public transport in peak hour are like personalised versions of burning in hell.

… saying ‘personalised versions of burning in hell’ makes me want to go on a picture tangent. And I will. Because it’s my blog and I can if I want to.

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And now back to anxiety.

The place I have to fight the anxiety monster the most is the supermarket. Because you have to go all the time or you run out of food and toilet paper. And you need those.

When I can, I try to go to the supermarket with my partner so that I don’t have to face it alone. It’s important that I do face it, because this is the best way to teach myself that there isn’t really anything to be afraid of. But of course I am afraid. I shuffle around, looking at my feet, trying to remain calm. It only takes one extra little thing for the monster to attack. A decision.

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That’s all it takes for my brain to break.

I remember when I was a kid riding my bike and the bike chain popped off. I spun the pedals, but they felt strange and loose and I couldn’t get any traction. The bike slowed down and wobbled. I tried pedalling faster and faster, but the bike didn’t respond.

It’s like that. You put some information into your brain. It spins, but nothing comes out the other side. You’ve lost a brain-cog. So you spin it faster. And faster. People are looking at you. They expect you to say something. Your silence is getting weirder and weirder. The bike is wobbling.

I always think the crash is going to go something like:

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But that’s never actually happened.

And that’s feelings of impending doom. You feel like something’s broken, either in your mind or your body, and you’re about to die or go mad or experience other doom-like fates. And, sure, it may not be everyone’s vision of doom, but screaming in public and having my head explode feels pretty doom-y to me.

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Mostly, I’m proud to say, I cope. I may not see many concerts, but I catch public transport and buy my friends and family gifts for Christmas. I buy food. I keep myself alive and my home in stock of toilet paper.

Mostly.

There are days when it’s too much and it feels like there’s no way I can avoid the doom (the one where I scream in public and my head explodes). On those days I don’t go to the supermarket. I can live off my emergency stash of two-minute noodles and resort to using tissues for a while, but usually my partner is kind enough to go shopping for me. I stay home alone.

The monster has a head for this too. I start to worry about failing, about not coping, about being worthless. All the predatory pieces of my mind come out to feed. It’s the hardest thing to fight off.

And then one day I was home alone, unable to face the supermarket and my impending doom. I started the old cycle of worry … and then I stopped. Instead, I started drawing tenuous parallels between myself and Disney characters who find it hard to function in society due to a crippling fear of people. And before I knew it …

Change 2

 

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Change

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So maybe the moral of this story is that when life gives you lemons, sing to those lemons about how awesome and magical you are. And if it still bothers you afterwards that they’re lemons and not lemonade then at least you have an ice castle to be bothered in.

Or maybe that’s nonsense and the moral is just that anxiety is hard and it’s hard every single day, but you can still do life.