If I Had A Million Dollars

Someone hid ten thousand hundred-dollar bills in my room while I slept. It took forever to find them all, but it was totally worth it.

Actually, Hannah Heath tagged me in the million dollar writer’s tag, and now I’m responding.  Check her blog out; it’s cool.

Ten things I would do if I suddenly had a million dollars.  

One.  First, I would probably get yelled at.  People who have money seem to get yelled at a lot.  The IRS would send ominous paperwork.  Some non-yellers would probably be extra nice to me, the way we all were in high school to the one person in class who had food when lunch hour was ages away.

Of course, that doesn’t technically count as something I would do.

The first thing I would do is work out exactly how much money I’ll need over the next several years for food, tuition, rent, medical bills, gasoline, et cetera, and set that aside.  Having fun with the money is great, but let’s be practical.

Two.  I’d get a really excellent computer.

One that’s light and thin for easy transport, but has a good sized screen and a keyboard that’s comfortable to use.  I’d get some top-notch digital art programs on it and a Wacom tablet too, because drawing with a mouse hurts after a few minutes.

Three.  Travel.

A million dollars would make it far easier to chase my dream of drawing all the interesting places in the world.  I probably would get worn out before I got to go to all the interesting places (since I think most places are interesting), but I would definitely spend a few months in Ireland.

I’d go myth hunting in Ireland, too.  Have I mentioned how great Irish myths are?

Four.  Art supplies.

That stuff’s expensive.  I’d add to my collection of Copic markers, get lots of canvas boards, various types of paints, more colored pencils, chalk pastels, and many, many sketchbooks.

There’s nothing sadder than filling up a sketchbook you’ve gotten emotionally attached to and not having a replacement on hand.  Well, there are sadder things, but in the moment it’s hard to remember that.

Five.  Novels and comics.

I would get every published work of Brandon Sanderson’s, lots of Winter Soldier comics, see if the Charmed comics are any good, and buy every Hatter Madigan graphic novel.

Have I talked about Hatter Madigan?  It’s a spin-off from The Looking Glass Wars, both novel and comics by Frank Beddor, which turns Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on its head.  It’s great.  Imagine the Mad Hatter as a royal bodyguard.  No, scarier.  But he isn’t terrifying because he’s so clearly on the side of the light.

Anyways.

Six.  A decent guitar tuner.

The one I have is pathetic.

Seven.  An engagement ring.

In case I find someone I feel inclined to give such a thing to and have the guts to initiate such an exchange of jewelry.

Probably something silver with abalone inlay.

Eight.  Past that, what does a Dragon (or girl) need?

I’d get flowers for my mom’s garden.  Pay to get the kitchen floor back home redone.  Nice things for the people I love.

Nine.  Donate to the art program at my old high school.

I mean, it was a good program.  But there’s always room for improvement.

Ten.  Tithing and other donations.

In my church, we give ten percent of all our income to go to building chapels, helping missionaries, various humanitarian works, that sort of thing.  It’s a way of giving back some of what we’ve been blessed with.

But even after all that, I’d still want to donate to specific causes.  Like the group at my university that wants to cure asthma.  Other groups researching treatments and cures for cancer, mental illness, fibromyalgia, and other diseases and disorders that are making life difficult for far too many people.  And probably a group working to get clean water and electricity to areas that don’t have it.

Donating may not be the most original of uses of having lots of money, but I don’t actually want that many things for myself, past a healthy life and chances to make art and stories and learn about the world.  Why not help people when I have that?

Okay, I know I’m supposed to tag someone and keep this going, but I’m a rebel.

Happy Good Friday and Easter weekend, and if you don’t celebrate those, happy weekend!

Photoshop, “Luck” of the Irish, and Other Adulting Misadventures

Today’s blog comes in many parts.

Part one:  Photoshop

I’m finally developing some semblance of an idea of how Photoshop works, thanks largely to a digital color project in my composition class.  I am supposed to create a poster in the tradition of Andy Warhol.  It’s taking a while, but I am slowly but surely figuring it out.  You can see what it looks like so far above.

That’s giving me ideas and plans for a Photoshop piece to put into my portfolio for my application to my school’s Illustration program.  We’ll see how it goes–hopefully well, since I have to finish the portfolio soon.

Part two:  Luck

Yesterday, as you’re probably aware, was Saint Patrick’s Day.  As a mixed-race-but-mostly-Irish-American, I love this holiday as an opportunity to embrace a part of my heritage.

I’m confused about why folks always say “luck of the Irish,” though.  To me it seems to be more along the lines of “bad luck hard work, and stubbornness issues of the Irish,” but I suppose that takes too long to say.

Anyways, if you aren’t that familiar with Irish culture, here’s a performance by Sinead O’Connor of one of my favorite songs in Gaelic.  I still don’t speak Gaelic, but I want to learn.

Or you can research some of the Irish myths.  My favorite is Balor of the Evil Eye.  He’s like a basilisk but scarier.

Part three:  Adulting

I’m still not very good at it, but it’s coming along.  Getting to set my own schedule feels rather liberating.  So does getting to add my favorite jelly beans into my budget without having to share them with anyone.

Part four:  If I Had A Million Dollars

Hannah Heath tagged me this morning to participate in this writer’s tag (Thanks, Hannah!)  Unfortunately, I have a Photoshop project to finish by Monday, so my response is going to take a few days, but I’m working on it.

Best wishes to you all, see you next week.

Welcome to Life in a Science Fiction Novel

All right, I know what the title says, and I’m going to get to that, but first I have to talk about the new Civil War trailer.

We hear both Tony and Cap talk more about why they’re doing what they’re doing.  We see what I hope is a flashback to Bucky’s Winter Soldier days.  If it isn’t, Hydra caught him again, and that’s no good.  Rhodes falls out of the sky when someone, possibly Bucky, shoots out his arc reactor.  Ant-Man rides on Hawkeye’s arrow to attack Tony.  Black Panther tries to kill Bucky, Wanda uses her hex powers on the Vision, Natasha seems conflicted, there seems to be some sort of super-human prison in the works, and Crossbones is involved, so it looks like the Nazis in the basement are pulling lots of strings in the background.  And Spider-Man steals Cap’s shield.

That’s just what I noticed when the fangirl part of my brain wasn’t stuck on !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! like it was the first time I watched it.

Cap, of course, goes and says his favorite thing, “I can do this all day,” when he and Tony are beating each other up.  He’s supposed to say that to enemies when facing impossible odds, not friends.  I don’t think their already rocky relationship is going to recover after this.  Especially not if Tony finds out that the Winter Soldier killed his parents, when Steve’s still supporting Bucky.

Besides that, there aren’t many more predictions on this film that I can make than I did in my previous posts on the subject, but the trailer just reignited all my worries for my favorite characters and in a few days I might have some new thoughts.  Luckily the film comes out after finals.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled blog:

We live in a science fiction novel.

If you disagree, it’s probably because you’ve gotten used to it.

There is a device in my pocket that I can use to access the entirety of human knowledge on virtually every subject.  Many of you likely also have one.

I use this device to interact with people on the other side of the planet, and look at pictures of the surface of Pluto.  And watch movie trailers.

Five years ago, I heard people talking about 3D printers and thought it was a hoax.  Now we can replace damaged vertebrae with 3D printed ones.  And we do.

We have empirical evidence of the existence of gravitational waves.

Flowers have been grown on the International Space Station.  Space zinnias.

Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more advanced by the year.

We are using twin studies to determine the effects of long-term space travel on the human body so we can send people to Mars.

Physics might not know where most of the matter in the universe actually is, but it does know that it’s missing.

How cool is that?

Those are just the more recent and exciting developments.  So many advances we’ve already accepted as ordinary, like machines that can look inside a person’s body and show us what’s wrong with them, and goggles that can help people see using light from the non-visible spectrum.

It’s easy to forget what a magnificent time we live in when we get caught up in the rush of everyday life and hear about seventeen different varieties of disasters on the news every time we tune in.

Maybe I’m just an art student doing something only slightly more advanced than cave painting every day in preparation to make a living out of it, but this stuff is exciting.  No, it isn’t like the science fiction novels or superhero comics that people have been writing for decades, and we don’t have hoverboards yet, but those stories were just the predictions.  This is the real thing.  We have made so much progress in the past two decades alone that it’s dizzying to imagine what might happen in the upcoming years.

Which is what we science fiction geeks and storytellers are here for.  The imagining bit.

Is there a lot of things we still need to do?  Absolutely.  Are people still terrible at being decent to one another?  A lot of them, yes.  But looking at how far we’ve come, all the cultural and scientific changes we’ve had over the years, most of them for the better, I have hope for the future.

 

Home

They say home is where the heart is.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but my heart is inside my chest, next to the lungs and the ribs.

It isn’t necessarily the place you were born, since a lot of us are being born in a hospital these days, or the place you grew up in.  I moved around a lot as a kid, grew up in lots of places.  Home isn’t always the place you live now, either.

It’s a lot harder to define.  Apparently Dory will be looking for it in the upcoming Finding Dory movie.

In the last Fablehaven book, Brandon Mull wrote, “Some imagine the difference between heaven and hell to be a matter of geography.  Not so.  The difference is much more evident in the individuals who dwell there.”  I think that applies to homes as well as heavens–don’t parents aspire to make their homes a heaven for their families, or at least a haven?  So home can mean being with the people you love, who love you, so that wherever you actually are you feel comfortable.

What about those of us who can only take a certain amount of social interaction, even with our favorite people?  What about the people who can’t be with their loved ones?

Harry Potter thought of Hogwarts as his home, not because of the castle or the lake, but because it was a place where he was allowed to be himself without being called a freak.  Until it came out that he could talk to snakes, anyway.  The Doctor takes his TARDIS with him wherever he goes, so even if his home planet isn’t around anymore he still has a home of sorts.

I think a big part of a home is being able to feel safe.  Which makes even my own bed not at all homelike if there’s a spider in the room.

Have you ever felt homesick, even when you were at home?

I was a weird kid, and an even weirder teenager, and so even though my family was (and still is) pretty great, I thought about what a home was and what I considered home to be a lot.  I decided that I had many homes, though they were homes at varying levels.

There was the house where I lived with my family.

There was my grandparents’ house.

There were church buildings, which I love even if I don’t love big congregations.

There were the art classrooms at school.

There was my best friend’s house.

There was this bit of wild high mountain desert outside my neighborhood.

And even when I couldn’t get to those places or be with the people who helped make them homelike, I still carried home in my backpack, locked in the pages of a sketchbook.  I found home in making art, in hearing my favorite music, in stories, in peach ring candies and Starburst jelly beans and Star Wars.  I figured that any place could be homelike, with time.

I’m hoping that’s true of university campuses.  I’m definitely more at home than I was my first few weeks.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss home.

Maybe that’s part of being human, missing things.  Even if you can go back to the home you remember, it isn’t the same.  Either home’s changed or you’ve changed, or both in the case of Frodo Baggins and the Shire, and you have to adjust.  It would take some serious warping of spacetime to get you back to exactly the way things were before you left, and you’d lose all the things you’d gained in the leaving.