"At times I think my coffee and tea addictions truly drive my artistic energy. It’s a small sacrifice for the greater good."

Prompt: Bicycle

Posted: 12/23/12 | Written by Jeannie | Labels: , , , , , Comments

He stood in the doorway, eyes pleading for me to remember and I could not. Tom looked at us both, half smiling and half quizzical of the conversation. I had just gotten off my bicycle when this young man approached looking for something I could not give him, a memory of a moment I could not remember.
    “You have to remember,” he said.
    “I honestly don’t. I’m sorry.”
    “But…I’ve, for so long.”
Tom leaned back watching the scene unfold. His hand rested on his chin. The young man’s eyes darted to him and he shook his head as if to say, ‘its all yours.’ My eyes narrowed, Tom—my longest friend had somehow contrived this meeting for his own jest.
    “I wanted to be your roommate.”
    “Us? That’s wouldn’t look right. After all, we weren’t dating. And in all honestly, I barely know you.” I didn’t mean for the words to come out so harshly. That poor man’s body slumped as if I cut him at the knees.
    “Let us take a little walk,” Tom jumped in. “Do you mind terribly if I steal her away for a while Josh?”
    Josh shook his head ‘no’ and turned for the door. His hand rubbed the back of his neck and it made me feel horrible.
    “Jenna,” Tom smiled and held out his hand. I pulled my bicycle between us as we walked through the alleyway towards town. “You know he’s been in love with you for a while.”
    “He has not,” I replied. The sound of the chain on the bicycle clanked with each step. It filled the void of an awkward conversation.
    “He adores you. And you know it.”
    “Josh is adorable, I give you that. But I’ve never thought of him as more than just a friend.”
    “You have a funny way of treating your friends.”
    “Do I? At least I treat them all the same.”
    “Do you?” Tom tilted his head. “I don’t think you do.”
    “Tom, what can I say to him? I—there—why do you men always do this?”
    “Don’t blame me!”
    “Why? I’ve never been one of those women who pressure men into relationships. And now, now that I’m on my way out of here—all of them are trying to get me to stay. If they wanted more, why wait until now? Until I’m about to move?”
    “You’ll be in my old stomping grounds you know.”
    “Yes. Excellent way of changing the subject Tom.”
    Tom laughed, “Honestly not my intent. Please continue on your man bashing. You know how much I love it.”
    “Not what I meant,” I laughed. “Its just. The one I want doesn’t want me. And while the others are sufficient substitutes—”
    “Its not the same,” Tom cut in.
    “So, go. Have fun. He’ll come around, and if not, at least you’ll have a story to tell at the end of the day. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. You know that better than most.”
    “But if he doesn’t figure it out. Do I just move on?”
Tom slowed to a stop. I turned and looked up to him. He smiled softly and bit his lip. His fingers brushed away the bangs that were in my eyes.
    “He has. Circumstances though, they are the universe’s answer to happiness, and unfortunately they conspire against his.”
    I can feel my cheeks fill with a rosy hue and my eyes gloss with tears wanting to spill forth, but I just blink feverishly trying to keep them at bay.
    “So, I move on?”
    “That is a conversation, I think, for another day.” He puts his hand on the bicycle seat, fingers resting slightly on mine and we continued walking.

California - I love you

Posted: 11/24/12 | Written by Jeannie | Labels: , , , Comments

Everyone has that moment when they fall in love with California. For some it is the moment when they step foot on virgin land. Others it is that in between space where the blue sky meets golden yellow hills in mid-July—a perfect contrast. 

For me, I fall in love every time drive through the rise and fall of mountains to hills and finally—when you see a horizon of nothing but blue—a pale blue of sky meeting the expanse of ocean.

Not all of California is a city or green forests. There are vast swaths of in between land. The land you drive through or fly over—checkerboards of color that host a vast in between beauty.

Crazy Artist-Not so crazy

Posted: 10/10/12 | Written by Jeannie | Labels: Comments

Illustration by Jeannie Hart

I got an interesting email that made me think about several things. The email was about work, nothing too fantastic in that statement. They discovered me via About.me and inquired about my credentials. As I crafted the reply, while typing out whom I've worked with or for over the years it hit me—I've had some pretty awesome clients, the problem being, I'm not allowed to say very often who they are.

You see I work (as in 'pay the bills' job) with a lot of sensitive information. Not like national security stuff or anything, just your run of the mill behind the scenes before companies become brands or books about to be released sort of way. Unfortunately, this means that for the most part on things like LinkedIn and About.me I have to be vague. Once done, I update but there are projects that I've been working on for years and I just can't say anything. In other cases, I've worked with wonderful companies that don't mind—when finished with the overall project—if I use their name, however, once more those projects usually take years to finish.

This leaves me with a standard statement when people ask me what I do for a living. I tell people, "I draw." In the last couple of years, this has been my mantra and most people don't delve deeper into it. But I find myself wanting a level of respect that I honestly deserve and struggling with the idea of bragging. I know the definition of bragging is to talk with excessive pride about an achievement or possession. And that's not what the goal is, I mean, I am very proud of the work I do and I work hard. However, being 29 (yes, a woman just told you her age) I'm still being called, 'that crazy artist.' And maybe that's part of the problem, that people see artists as being 'crazy.'

I'm very open with my fine art side life and for most this is the only interaction people have with me when it comes to what I do. People know me as the person who is fun, artsy, and yes, I can carry a conversation about many things. But what they don't see is the many days I work between 10-15 hours to hone my craft. Nor do they understand the amount of knowledge coupled with experience it takes to do what I do. Whether it is branding, illustration, or running a company all they see is the fine art I've produced and the joy that I have. That though, is such a small part of what I do.
Perhaps that is part of the reason why I'm moving. Why now, after several job offers, I'm not afraid of moving. I get to show those who've only known me as the crazy artist that being an artist is not that crazy.

Prompt: Fantasy

Posted: 9/2/12 | Written by Jeannie | Labels: , , , Comments

An Honest Conversation

“What’s your fantasy?” he asked from across the table. Music blared in her ear and she pretended not to hear him.

She knew the answer. She’d thought about it many nights when she looked around her home. Sometimes, when lying in bed she would look at the walls filled with books or at the paintings that she came to enjoy over the years and it would evolve in her consciousness. Her fantasy did not include exotic trips—she could and did that on her own. There were no occasional fancy of sexual partners or positions she wanted to try—she never had complaints about being boring in bed. Everything she wanted, she did. One thing however, always eluded her. It was something so simple and yet as much as she enjoyed seeing it happen to her friends she never thought it would happen to her. She kept it hidden, a seed of desire that made her sad sometimes. It was an increasingly humbling experience at holidays.

You may think the obvious answer, after that premise, is love. You’d be wrong. Love was something she did every day. How could that be a fantasy? She loved every one of her partners. The men in her life—not all of them bedfellows—she adored. Her family, from parents to nephews, and all the friends between, her heart rejoiced and ached because of the love she had for each. However, each passing year around the holidays, she noticed her fantasy growing dimmer and brighter at the same time. You see her fantasy was not simply to love someone, which seemed like such an easy thing to do; it was to share.

There was an ebb and flow she felt with time. Friends would partner off and leave the circle. And as time continued she wanted to share life with someone. A companion and friend. She wanted to share her library with that person. And eventually, share their knowledge with their child.

“What’s your fantasy?” he repeated.

She ran her finger around the top of the glass and pretended to think, as if the answer was not on the tip of her tongue.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” she said, “I guess—if pressed—it would involve intimacy.” That was all she said, if she would have expressed her true fantasy there’d be no second drink and no chance to share.

A Love Letter

Posted: 8/9/12 | Written by Jeannie | Labels: , , , , Comments

I found this today while looking for something completely different. And while this is old non-fiction, I have a hard time posting it, as it still makes me cry. And whether that is because of the writing or the moment I'm not sure. So here, I post something extremely personal to the world in hopes of releasing the moment from within me.

A Love Letter
Today is the first time I’ve ever cried. That is, it’s the first time my heart has been broken. Sure I’ve had relationships which I’ve cared for the other quite deeply. However, my heart shattered—rock through a window—with an email.

I’m not going to give you all the back story. Just know that we are locked in a perpetual state of almost. I thought that we moved into finally but his work intervened and took us back to almost. There was a week of communication darkness. I had to fill in the blanks with justifications. He’s busy, working hard. New York time is different than California time. Not just in time zones but New York has its own center of gravity which makes the universe move quicker when inside. All you can do to survive is to hold on.

I watched as my heart it started the spaghettification process. Pieces pulled painfully as one week turned to two. An email confirming my justifications, yet promises in the not so far future. He’ll be in town for the weekend. I offer up myself. I don’t mind forgoing my trip to San Francisco if I can spend it with him. You have no idea how long I’ve waited for the stars to align letting us develop from mentor and friend into committed relationship.

He wants me to go to San Francisco. “A well needed rest for you,” he says. A hairline fracture splintered in my heart. I do as he suggests, I always do.

It’s Monday and back to New York he goes. Transmissions garbled. Communication lost. All systems dark and another week slipped by. I know he reads my emails but I’ve never wanted to be ‘that’ girl. That girl, which emails every day, sometimes twice a day to show affection. It reads desperate, even if that’s how I feel, I don’t. He doesn’t need my ego stroking. However, I do email conveying my support of what he’s doing. In the long run it will be good for me too. I show that I’m functioning well without him, as I know it would make him proud. Another week of darkness passes. I’m dangling precariously on a mental chasm trying to figure out what to do. His name pops into my phone, a new email. He’s in London.

He explains away his absence, which is perfectly understandable. However, the third sentence confirms my fear. “I think I need to focus on this now, if I spend the next few months…I have really set everything in motion for what I have always wanted.” Tears well up, “I am sorry this was not what I had planned for us, I had great plans.” So did I. “Things shifted a bit, I cannot ask you to wait.”

The letter goes on; it is a magnificent ‘I love you but…’ letter. Tears, which I do not show to anyone, flow freely. I didn’t think words could hurt that much.

I tell him I’ve been seeing someone. A half truth, I don’t think there is a man in the world that can make me feel as good as he did. But I wanted my words to hurt too. Words, at this point, are all I have. But he sees through the thinly veiled attempt. He knows it’s not true. And I confess that no matter who I am with, I will always want him.

Sunday Musing - Darkness

Posted: 7/22/12 | Written by Jeannie | Labels: , , , Comments

     I sat there looking out the window, rain cleared and sun drizzled over the horizons like beams of hope touching sorrow laden grass. I hadn’t noticed he'd walked in until the smell of spiced apricots tickled my nose. 

     “William,” I said softly. My eyes slid from the horizon to the floor. As much as I wanted to hide it—he always made me nervous. 

      “I want you to come away with me,” he said with such conviction. There was no quiver in his tone. When I looked to him, his face was soft; with crow’s feet, I loved so dear crinkled around his eyes. Hazel and green glimmered back at me and I remembered why I would give up almost anything. It was neither the way he stood with such sure footedness and confidence nor how his lips proclaimed sweet nothings into my ear. It was that one night—when darkness fell quicker than we thought it would and the stars shown down on us like fireflies caught in the jar of night. 

     His head in my lap, I stroked his hair and in the cover of night we spoke of things we feared. And as the darkness lengthened, the moon began to rise; the truth came out as you gazed upward with those eyes. Fears turned to secrets and then to whispers for only lovers to hear. It was the night I fell in love. The night inhibitions were lost. Our facades ripped away by the pale moon’s glow.

                “Of course,” I said and he stole a kiss.

The Transitional Wife

Posted: 7/9/12 | Written by Jeannie | Labels: Comments

I’ve come to realize I’m a transitional wife, though I’ve not been married. Some have work husbands—a man who you work with more often than being at home with your own, and you like them quite possibly better than your own husband. One of my best friends told me that she is a transitional friend, someone that helps grow another individual to the next phase of their life. I’m the in between, the wife many people wish they had, only due to a variety of reasons they move on.

This conclusion comes from several friends over the years that I’ve helped transition into new relationships. Women who date them now, you’re welcome.

There is this idea, a trope you see in movies quite frequently ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ and while I’m not manic, nor pixie, or even dreamy I somehow fill this role for the men I meet. I don’t mean to do it and maybe that is one of the reasons it works so effectively. I enjoy men. All kinds. Usually though, by the time they meet me they are beaten down by women who are just selfish. Somehow, I reestablish their faith in the female demographic and they eventually move on. That is the part of the trope you don’t often see. Thus, I feel like a transitional wife. One man told me recently that I gave him the gift of a foot in front of the other; he just needed someone to care. I think that is the most honest thing about my interactions with people, I just care. I want people to be as good as they possibly can without changing who they are. Because of that, I’m fine being a transitional wife, for now.

Fear turns into adventure - the road to the UK

Posted: 6/28/12 | Written by Jeannie | Labels: , Comments

Fear--an idea, thought, or other entity that causes feelings of anxiety or apprehension by the presence or anticipation of danger. Two years ago, I was offered a job in the UK. To tell you the truth, in the last three years I've been offered jobs in the UK, Malta, and several states. I made excuses for why I didn't take them. I blamed social climate, lack of security-net, and like many women my age a man with potential written all over him. In reality though, it was fear.

I read this:

"Fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not finishing. The fear of failure and of success. The fear of beginning at all." – The Artist Way

It was an interesting synchronicity because it was an idea that came to me couple of months ago. I was preoccupied with blaming other things when in reality it was fear. I remember very distinctly thinking, I am the only one that is limiting myself. Why can't I start a new adventure? What is actually holding me back? Once adjusting my thought process I realized that 'fear of new' was crippling my progress as a human. I decided I needed to act on something new. I booked a flight to the UK. Told my boss I needed time off in October to go. His reply, "Let me know a few weeks ahead and I'll let you know if you can have it off."  Then I realized my job was actually crippling my evolution.

Synchronicity- the coincidence of events that seem related, but are not obviously caused one by the other. I love that word. The comic book I illustrated launched in the UK. I needed to be there in October for the London Comic Con. In making plans for my trip, an old friend offered for me to stay with him and his wife for the two weeks. At the same time, I told him about my boss's response and said, "If he doesn't let me go, I'll quit and go anyways."

His response, "Good for you. In fact, you should work for me. I need a new assistant."

And that my friends is how I am moving to the UK. Fear is just an idea. Ideas can be reshaped into moments of courage, acts of valor, and in my case a leap into a new adventure. I might fail. I might fall. In the very least though, I will grow.

5 Min Fiction: Memory - Heat

Posted: 1/21/12 | Written by Jeannie | Labels: , , Comments

Five minute fiction is a prompt where I give myself five minutes to write an intro. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's crap. Either way I'm writing, and that is better than not writing at all.

Memory: Heat

It was Bakersfield hot. Hot like you wish you could take off your skin and lie around in your bones. When sitting inside your house was hotter than being out under a tree. Where a swamp cooler would blow air that felt like, it was fresh, from a lava tube. Days like that, all you could do was hope someone would let you play under their trees.

I remember Jess’s front yard. It was more than a yard. From my apartment dwelling viewpoint it was a park. There were two trees, one that stunk of magnolias and the other that ripped at our fingers when we would climb it. On those hot Bakersfield days we prayed, thanking God for her dad’s ability to flood the street with a single sprinkler. This day, her dad left the sprinkler underneath the tree that enjoyed our bloody, raw fingertips. Jess and I found a new enjoyment. Tied to the tree was a tire swing. It was there for as long as I could remember, but on sweltering 105 degree days it would make our thighs smell of liquid rubber. “Thank god for that sprinkler,” we would say. Our feet would hit the water first, toes pointed to the sky. Drops of joy kissed our feet then dribbled back towards our hips.

We moved the sprinkler closer to the tree in hopes that more than our feet would be refreshed. Delicately, Jess or I would maneuver the sprinkler head closer. It took several attempts to act natural while moving the spewing, silver plated nozzle. Her dad would come out and yell, “Don’t move my sprinkler,” in a long southern draw that sounded of biscuits, gravy and chitins. But it was accomplished; the water drenched the tire swing. Beads would build up in the grooves of the tread and trickled down into the inner well of the tire. Before long we realized, we could fill the inside with water. We would push each other. The rope would rip our fingers raw as the dirty water sloshed around our sides.

The heat must have made us delirious because on that day we decided to claim that tree as ours. We were prepared to fight anyone who tried to take our water, tree, or swing. It wasn’t long before the boys came out of the house. And like all brothers, they wanted to have more fun than we were having. But they were not prepared for us, the two best friends who could read each other’s mind.

Tales from an almost relationship P1

Posted: 12/20/11 | Written by Jeannie | Labels: , , Comments

“Why hello Samantha Hanley,” he said with a smile in his voice. He was over the top and animated when he answered the phone this time, not his normal mild mannered self.

“Well, hello Mr. Bell,” I replied back in an equally animated quality while suppressing a giggle. I couldn’t help but to smile when I talked to him on the phone, no matter how small the matter may be. Our conversation was quick. I wanted to catch a ride with his car group. The night’s festivities seemed more elaborate than I had originally expected. It seemed multiple destinations were on the table and an opportunity to couple up in cars—to couple with Mr. Bell was in order. Of course it didn’t surprise me one bit when he stated the only other person in his car was the woman I’ve deemed as ‘The Cockblock.’

“Do you want to meet me at my house? Or at [Cockblocker’s]?” he asked.

I thought for a moment or two with the stammer of, “I don’t know” and “I don’t really care,” when in fact, I did. I didn’t want to be at someone’s house who I didn’t like, waiting for him to pick us up. Eventually I spouted, “I’ll just meet you at your house. It’s closer.” And he gave me a time to be there.

This conversation went on while I was shopping. I filled my cart with this and that, nothing I needed. They say shopping is good for the economy, but in fact I think shopping while under the influence of love is better.