Adventure is out there! (a Monday dose of April the hedgehog, plus a drawing and an announcement)

Our first week of being “exotic” pet owners was a hilarious mix of cuddly naps, spilled wood shavings, and hedgehog poop. (And we’re currently thanking God that hedgehogs have the easiest messes ever to clean up.) It’s also slightly less nerve-wracking to hold her now, since even just after one week with us she’s noticeably bigger and stronger, and as she grows less vulnerable it’s easier to see how she’s going to be just fine and have a nice long hedgehog life. (Can you tell we’re first-time pet parents together?)

Adventure is out there!

Adventure is out there!

Having baby April has been so. much. fun. Hedgies are always quickly startled and easily frightened, especially when they’re adjusting to a new home, and to a certain extent that’s true about April too. But we’ve been proud of her, because even after a kind of traumatic almost-car-crash with a dangerous felled tree on the road (thanks a lot to the El Niño this year with all that rain and flooding), she’s very brave and unusually adventurous for a hedgehog. With her curious personality and her funny little nose always wriggling and sniffing, I swear it’s like we stole her out of a Beatrix Potter story. And her little woodsy self is a welcome relief from the swampy jungle that has been the outdoors lately.

And the best part is she’s as cuddly as ever…although she’s (already!) growing out of fitting in the palm of my hand.

Our curious April

Our curious April

Ok, so that’s the hedgehoggy part of this post. Now onto the drawing and announcement. Here’s the drawing (which I did about a week and a half ago in honor of the torrential rain we’ve been getting)…

Girl in Rain Boots

….which brings me to the announcement. Which is, to wit, that more art posts are coming. I can’t reveal fully yet, but there may or may not be weekly posts coming on, say, Thursdays and Saturdays. And there may or may not be featured both current art I’m working on, and Disney art I’ve already done. Plus behind the scenes stuff and failed art attempts. So check back if ya like. : )

That’s about all for now. There’s a new pot of coffee in my kitchen, and I can smell it from the desk where I’m writing this. So I’ve obviously got to get a cup of it stat. So farewell, and thanks for stopping by!

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on becoming a hedgehog owner and breaking the cardinal rule of blogging, etc.

It was basically the best drug deal ever, and it happened in a Petsmart parking lot. First there were years of dreaming, and then there were weeks of searching, and then there were months of waiting, and then at last there were hours of driving, and then there were moments of eating lunch at Five Guys and wandering around Target and Michaels because we were in the right shopping center but too early for the rendezvous.

And then it was time, and the white Dodge Caliber we were waiting for arrived. The guy we’d been texting with but had never met got out, said hello, and opened up the trunk of his car.

And there she was, in a Tupperware lined with wood shavings—our tiny six-week-old hedgehog April. Dodge Caliber Guy (we still don’t know his name) took her up and put her without ceremony into my hands. I’d tried to imagine what it would feel like to hold her, but I was totally unprepared for her soft little velvet tummy, her tiny little feet, her baby nose sniffing tiny baby sniffs.

Then we paid, and the guy drove away, and the deal was done, and April was ours to keep.

Pause for anyone who’s confused, because I’ve talked to many who are: hedgehogs are nothing like porcupines. Hedgehogs have harmless spines that feel a bit like toothbrush bristles. They’re shy and sweet and more adorable than I can express here. Several years ago I stumbled over some pictures of them on the Internet, learned they were pets, and promptly became obsessed. Cozy, quiet, and easily startled—they’re basically the hobbits of the animal world. I’ve wanted one ever since.

We were expecting April to be, you know, cute and stuff, but the actual level of her cuteness is astounding. She loves to cuddle with whoever is holding her for a nap when she is sleepy. Sometimes she sticks her tiny tongue out and then opens her mouth in a big, big yawn. Her tiny crunches when she’s eating her food are too adorable for words. And if she accidentally puts her nose too far into her water while she’s drinking, she (wait for it) sneezes. I thought I already knew what  cuteness was in the world. I found out I was wrong about that as soon as I witnessed tiny baby hedgehog sneezes.

In four months, she’ll have filled out with fur on her face and stomach, and she’ll be full size—about the size of a softball. But for now, her soft baby-skin is almost bare, and she fits happily in the palm of my hand.

It’s been a crazy life-season (did I mention I’ve got a fiancé now?), but regular posts are on their way again. More art, more writing, more coffee, more story-loving. And now there’ll be hedgehog posts, too, especially since several people have asked for updates as she grows from the tiny baby she is now.

I’m told the cardinal rule of blogging is to keep your blog to one general subject matter. I’d already failed at that, but now by adding hedgehogginess I think I’ve nailed my coffin shut. I don’t really mind. I hope you don’t, either.

Oh yeah, and in case anyone’s interested, April is a snowflake hedgehog, which means when her fur comes in it will be mostly white, and her spines will get lighter and lighter. And we got her through Tanglefoot Hedgehogs, a breeder I can’t recommend highly enough. (Check them out!) Dodge Caliber Guy, if you ever see this, thanks for being so awesome.

It’s good to be back on WordPress. I’ve missed it. Thanks for stopping by—hope you have a lovely weekend!

A Note on Transformers: Why Lip Color Matters and What It Has to Do with Fighting Aliens

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4:12 a.m. Once again I’m up writing in the ungodly hours of the morning, and I swore I’d stop staying up so late once I finally finished college. Oh well. The problem is, I just got home from a late showing of the new Transformers. Dang what a long movie.

And while I could talk about the action overload that left you feeling like you’d just been thrown through a washing machine, or the attitudes of the individual Transformers and how they didn’t help the story, or the outstanding performances of Stanley Tucci or Mark Wahlberg, I’ll leave those kinds of topics to more dedicated Transformers fans.

With your permission, I’d like to talk for just a moment about something else.

It starts with Tessa’s lips.

Tessa’s lips caught my attention first because they’re a magenta that sets off her perfectly smooth, tan skin and classy dark eye makeup just right. In the beginning I can kinda buy it, because Tessa’s a pretty girl and, well, maybe she’s really good at doing makeup so that her day-to-day look just sort of magically looks as great as if she had a team of artists before, during, and after a film shoot to help her look her best. Ok, I guess.

But then Tessa’s lips start cracking me up, because no matter what horrifying debacle she runs into throughout the movie, the camera makes sure to get at least one close up to let you know yep, don’t worry, her lips are still perfectly magenta. It’s hilarious.

CIA agents holding her down in the grass with a gun to her head while she cries for her life? Still nice smooth magenta. Being chased by freaky murderous alien robot wolf things? Still magenta. Screaming in terror while stuck in a car being dragged up with Optimus Prime by the bad guys? Yeah, that scream is coming out of perfectly pouty magenta lips.

That’s not how it works. I have a very nice magenta lip color too, and I happen to know it stops looking good a matter of hours after I apply it, let alone days after sleeping in makeshift shelters with no showers and no makeup to refresh. Fighting with aliens, no less.

Same thing goes for Tessa’s exquisite dirty blond hair, which sort of kind of gets a little messy but really just ends up looking bohemian. And I think we all know thanks to Pinterest that that’s not a symptom of a days-long chase by aliens and the CIA—that’s a desirable quality girls slave for. Convenient. And somehow through all this, Tessa’s hair, in all its wild bohemian-esque glory, stays completely un-greasy. What, does Tessa keep a can of dry shampoo in the back pocket of those tiny shorts for emergencies? Or does her hair magically wash itself? Wish my hair did that.

This post is getting redundant, so I won’t go into her perfect clothes (on the run for days in those clunky heels?), her perfect little gold jewelry that stays on no problem through bombs and aliens and guns, her perfect periwinkle nail polish (days of Transformers action and it doesn’t even get chipped? SERIOUSLY?), or her perfect anything else.

The way Tessa looks at the end of the movie, with her perfectly messy hair and her nearly perfect mascara and eye shadow (oh yeah, for one frame it was almost a little smeared kinda, which makes it totally realistic) and her perfect magenta lips and her perfectly tan skin smudged with just a touch of perfectly attractively gritty dirt and her perfect nail polish, is not how a woman looks after a couple of normal days, let alone after a couple days of what Tessa went through.

I know, because I am one (a woman, that is), and I’m writing this in the middle of the night and by now I kind of resemble one of the zombies from World War Z, which I just watched the other day (yay for new movies popping up on Netflix, am I right?).

It would be one thing if Tessa’s perfection were just a slightly cheesy aspect of an action movie that really isn’t concerned with realism. Which, I get it, in some ways is the case.

But in another sense, it’s a symptom of a very serious disease our society has been stricken with basically forever. There are enough posts out there about the impossible standard of physical perfection set up by TV, movies, magazines, and the Internet, so I’m not going to go into the problem in detail. But Victoria’s Secret Angels, Vogue magazine covers—we hunger after achieving this impossible beauty that physically does not exist even though by now we all know it’s fake.

It’s 2014. Aren’t we past this yet? Haven’t enough passionate articles been written, enough Dove Evolution videos posted, enough picture collages compiled showing step-by-step the transformation from normal-looking girl to wildly different-looking glamorous model under layers and layers of Photoshop and makeup?

Haven’t we seen past the smoke and lights to the man behind the curtain yet?

We’re trying to keep our lips magenta in the face of aliens, and that’s just not possible. And it’s hard for me to just shrug off the issue and say it’s no big deal when according to Google 20 million women are currently sustaining eating disorders in pursuit of impossible beauty.

And also I just realized it’s 5:09 in the morning. Good night, world.

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Green drink-stoppers and blood. Also other things.

It was licking the foam off the green drink-stopper from a new soy chai from Starbucks.

It was the pleasant agony of butterflies twisting my stomach when the handsome boy looked my way.

It was the taste of too many cups of coffee on my tongue, bitter and sweet and my only chance at finishing another paper at four in the morning.

It was long walks along the train tracks or through the graveyard at night, moonlight spiking friendly banter with chills.

It was letting my head sink into my pillow those few precious nights I didn’t have to set an alarm.

It was spying familiar faces in the crowd before the football game started, and the scratchy after-shout gravel in my throat afterward that pushed my second-soprano down to baritone.

It was waking up in terror after oversleeping, and realizing a project I’d forgotten about was due in an hour.

It was the suspense so thick I could drink it when I saw the cast list had finally made it into my inbox, and I couldn’t click it open fast enough to see if I’d made it.

It was the sticky warm red of my heart bleeding through my fingers when I realized I had rested my trust on the wrong shoulders, and the shoulders had bowed and my trust had fallen, and I had been betrayed.

It was learning whose shoulders I could rest my trust on and not be burned, and learning to trust those shoulders to escape from being crushed myself.

It was washing my own blood off my fingers and feeling a heartbeat awaken in my chest again.

It was discerning which voices in the rush around me were friendly, and finding to my shock after hurt that there were many of those.

It was a nervous hello in the caf, and an anguished goodbye in an airport.

It was going to bed a girl, and waking up a woman; and it was watching friend after friend walk out a door a boy and come back in a man.

And that was college, and college was me.

And now college is over, and I think I’m rather sad

about that.

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Death by Homework, a drawing I did in the margin of some class notes during one of the harder nights.