For the last 18 months or so, I have been working with a veterinarian and learning to be a technician. This job choice was a huge change for me, as I have spent the last 20 years of my adult life chasing a career in art. I have had the very fortunate privilege of being able to do something I love, almost exclusively, for a very long time. Of course, during the past two decades, I’ve tried my hand at many different jobs to see what was interesting or to make steady cash when sales were down – everything from being a house painter to a barista to a body piercer to an office worker to a boutique owner (the boutique thing was awesome). But the constant thread was always my artistic interests. I always painted and showed my work in galleries or sold it online or did costume design or graphic design work. I write and illustrate children’s books. Some projects made me money, or sometimes I’d work myself to the bone for someone for months only to never be compensated. I kept at it because I love it.
Yet, within the last two to three years, I started wondering what else is out there. What could I love to do, but possibly make a career out of? The only thing I love more than painting pictures of murderous ducks is snuggling actual animals. So I took a chance and found a job working with cats and dogs. It was scary. It is still scary. I have so much to learn, but I am excited about something that never would have crossed my mind ten years ago. Never did I dream I’d switch from daydreaming about what kind of werewolf/human foot hybrid to paint to learning medicine and being a serious person sometimes. I am transitioning to a new job in the veterinary technician field next week. Funny enough, many people have started asking me “why don’t you make a career out of your art?” People who are new in my life don’t know that art is how I made a living (basically) for a long, long time. People who did know, but were skeptical, now think I should keep going. Even the people who said things like “it must be nice that every day is a weekend for you.” Or “I didn’t know you worked. I thought you just painted.” Or “don’t you think you should get a real job?” Some feel that I just haven’t found the “niche” that will make me rich. But the truth is, I just don’t want it right now. I have done a million artistic projects in a million combinations. I have participated in events with people I look up to and admire thanks to some of my hard work. Yet what I really love is the freedom of art and the unpredictability of inspiration. I don’t want to make a living as strictly a costume designer or a pet portrait artist or a painter of gross dead things. Because today, I might want to make a skirt, tomorrow I might want to paint a cat, and next weekend, I’ll probably want to paint an expired carton of milk that is also a vampire. And I want to do something that counts. Helping animals and their people counts. It makes lives better, and it forges new relationships. I love it. Plus, I get to wear scrubs and refer to myself as “Dr. Von Creepenhosen” if I feel like it. I still want to paint and write and I still will, but now I am moving into a new career. It’s something I didn’t see coming, and it’s something I hope I can be successful in. I will paint pictures to illustrate my journey. Or maybe I won’t because I’ll be painting zombie cucumbers instead. But I’ll be doing it when the mood strikes (and of course I’ll do the occasional commission, let’s be honest). I’ll do it when it makes me happy, and when I don’t feel the pressure to pull 20 projects together to make ends meet. I can’t wait to continue on this new journey in the veterinary world. Learning important skills, meeting new people, setting new goals, and hopefully succeeding. And meeting a bazillion new cats and dogs! Ah, life, you are strange and wonderful indeed.
Have you ever had a massive change in career or basic attitude? Tell me all about it. Let’s gossip.
Recently, we had to say goodbye to another beloved cat, our dear Ophelia. She died of cancer.
Ten years ago, my husband found her in a parking lot. She was hiding under a truck, and when he scooped her up, she immediately made herself at home on his shoulder and decided to go home with him. In her first few months of life, our poor girl had every parasite known to man, was riddled with fleas, and had severe food sensitivity issues. We kept her in a room by herself until she was well enough to mingle with Kitty and Inky, our two adult cats. When she was still sick, but not contagious to the other cats, I would swaddle her like a baby and carry her around our apartment in a shoulder bag so she wouldn’t be lonely. We cooked for her every day until her digestive system caught up with the rest of her body and started working properly. Ophelia was shy and loving and she is cuddled with another cat in almost every picture I have of her. In the picture above, she is with Inky, her ginormous hero. Inky was a no-nonsense kind of twenty pound cat and we were initially worried that he might hurt Ophelia. However, on their first play date, he took off after her, and as we held our breath, we heard the the thunderous pounding of giant cat feet running back toward us and Inky came racing by with little tiny Ophelia in full pursuit. They were inseparable until Inky’s untimely death.
Here is Ophelia with her other great love, Wednesday:
And here she is, being a super model:
Ophelia would walk back and forth between my husband and me all night because she didn’t want to play favorites. She somehow managed to sleep soundly through her own incredibly loud purring, snuggled in our arms in front of a movie each night. We loved her and she was one of the sweetest cats ever. We’ve lost four cats in under two years. To cancer, to heart disease, to old age. It never gets any easier. Until we meet again, my little Ophers…
Today is my day off from my full-time job, vet-teching/hugging animals and whispering “I love you so much” to them even when it makes me look weird in front of my boss/clients. I am supposed to be finishing the three paintings that are due in 2 weeks, and I will, but first, I saw that Pinups for Pitbulls is having their model call for their 2018 calendar! I love this organization and I love Pitbulls, so I also love to enter this contest if only to talk about my dogs and to donate to the cause. A lovely early afternoon distraction. Here are the pics we submitted (nothing fancy). I am submitting Starla to model too, because LOOK HOW CUTE SHE IS. Also LOOK HOW CUTE TOKI IS.
My beautiful mother is turning 70 next month. I can’t believe it. I was hoping to have the book that I’m working on completed for her birthday. It’s about her devilish childhood antics; unfortunately, I am nowhere near done with the book SINCE I’M ALSO WORKING ON TWO OTHERS AT THE SAME TIME AND THREE COMMISSIONED PAINTINGS because I have no time management skills. Here is one of the failed character sketches of my mom as a lil’ stinker. It’s not devious enough. The one I’m actually using will not be unveiled until my mom sees it. Hopefully, I’ll have a painting of it ready for her birthday!
Hi! It’s been far too long since I’ve posted to this ol’ blog. A lot has happened.
I am still working for a veterinarian, and I love it. I have lots of adorable and also some gross stories that I will publish at some point. Also, I am still finishing up my next round of children’s books. I have them written, but I’m completing the illustrations and being extremely picky about them. I am also working on a book for adults that may or may not be picked up by a publisher I’ve been talking to. That’s all I will say about that, because I don’t know if it will really happen or if I’m talented enough.
Other things that you should know include:
My bra tried to murder me yesterday. The underwire popped out and stabbed my boob and armpit all day long, but we were traveling to house calls, so all I could do was wrap the wire in bandage tape and hope for the best. Last I heard, I survived the attack.
We’re having a blizzard here in Bethlehem today, and my dogs can’t figure out if they love it or hate it, so I’ve been getting up to let them out, then right back in, since 8 this morning.
I have one commissioned art project in the works right now. It’s for three individual pieces for one client. I’m happy for the snow day so I can make some progress.
That’s it for now. Enjoy this mysterious shot of one of my book’s illustrations.
I have a bunny problem that is causing my little magical home sanctuary area to feel less like a relaxing hideout and more like a Stupid Bunny Stunts Playground and Hospital. Last year, I accidentally disturbed some bunnies in the front yard. That was not such a big deal. My dogs are never unleashed in the front yard, and my cats do not go outside. I tucked the bunnies back in, sang them a lullaby, and wished them well.
HOWEVER. Now the adult bunnies are getting bolder…and dumber. While mowing the lawn in the fenced-in-doggie-play-area the other day, I disturbed a nest of baby bunnies. THANKFULLY, I did not harm any of them. I said out loud “Dammit Mommy Bunny! My dogs mark this yard like 700 times a day! You MADE YOUR NEST IN DOG PEE, PROBABLY! You should know better! Now your babies are not safe, ya turd!”
So, I set out to collect the bunnies and put them back in their bed and re-disguise it. No luck. The dogs went right to it and I had to practically carry the pups inside to make them leave the baby rabbits alone. Then, my husband and I tried collecting the bunnies and moving them to a new nest (with their original fur/bedding) on the other side of the fence. Not the best strategy, but the only one we had if we wanted the bunnies to have a fighting chance. They were pretty big at this point and almost ready to be on their own; I’m not sure how they survived that long in my yard to begin with. The bunnies proceeded to jump around like popcorn again, like in my first experience with them.
We closed up the old nest, blocked off the area where we believed the mama bunny had originally entered the yard, and held our breath. A day went by without incident. But then, when one of my dogs went out to pee, two of the baby bunnies reappeared and ran full speed right toward my dog’s mouth.
Bunnies, hear this: There is a reason you are at the bottom of the food chain, and that reason is that you are super stupid. You are very cute, and I love you, and I am trying my best to protect you, but you’re making it very hard, and you’re also making me stress out and cry over you. That makes me mad because I hate crying because crying makes me look insane in front of other humans. I understand how nature works, and would never fault my dogs or neighborhood cats, but, like read a book on strategy or something.
I am geeking out over here. First of all, the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, PA is carrying my books. They have been wonderful, supportive, and fantastic from my first book signing event and beyond. Second, they are now selling my Little L dolls/pillows. Third, OMG my books are on the same display table as a Neil Gaiman book!!!!! I mean, I know Neil Gaiman didn’t select my book to go there or anything, but the fact that a book I wrote is anywhere near one of his books physically in an actual store has made my day/week/year/life. I am so excited. It may be silly, but too bad, because here I am, drinking too much coffee, typing about this display table, and texting this same photo to all my friends. WOWEE! WOOHOO! XOXOXOXOXOXOXXOXOXOXO
I went to my boss’s house last night to “help” with some kitchen renovations and mostly to eat some tasty food and play with her cats and dogs. The food was delicious, my contribution to the kitchen’s renovation was spectacularly professional, and the pets were awesome. My boss is super nice and I like her. Five stars on Yelp.
Here are Nutty (dog) and Yuki (cat):
Yuki is very affectionate and mischievous and I extra like her. Nutty is sweet, shy and flirty, and I have a crush on her. I do not have a photo of Loopies, but she is a cool cat who lets me pet her and seems to not hate me. She is stripy and looks a tiny bit like my KITTY whom I lost a few months ago, so she warms my heart.
Here is Keechi:
This photo pretty much sums up Keechi. She’s cool and she wants you to know that you are here for her amusement. She’s like “PLAY WITH THIS TOY OR I’LL KEEP PUSHING IT INTO YOUR BUTT!” You’re like “oh hey sweetie, you’re so cute, can you sit?” and she’s all “SHUT UP AND THROW MY TOY! THROW IT! THROWITTHROWITTHROWITTHROWIT!” And then you do throw the toy and this goes on for half an hour and she is so happy and dance-y around-y and fuzzy and dirty because she loves to roll in dirt and I want to have a slumber party with her.
Overall, I rate this visit as a success, and if my boss’s house were on Yelp, I would give it a very good review. I am going to send a link for this post to my boss now so she knows I said nice things about her.
Artist, author, vet tech -in – training…person who got diarrhea in her hair last week. I do it all.
I want to share this story of love, intrigue, and poop with you.
It all started last Thursday when I got to work. It was a surgery day, and we were transporting a sweet, tiny little dog to the hospital with us so that she could have some dental work done. We bonded on the car trip and I was happy to have made a new friend. Fast-forward a couple hours. This adorable pup was waking up from anesthesia, and I was gently cradling her and preparing to tuck her in with loads of blankets and kisses in her kennel. I held her close. I heard her soft breathing. Then I heard my boss say “Diarrhea!” And then the diarrhea was all down the front of my shirt and nestled soundly in my hair.
I’m still friends with that pup, because diarrhea is never on purpose 🙂
Besides the recent discovery that one of my dogs is Batman, not much new is going on here. I am low on paints and paper, and must make a big purchase soon, or I will have no way to continue with the illustrations for my next book. I have had a pretty good couple of weeks, art problems aside. I met a big dog on the job and I got to dress him in a pink t-shirt, so that sort of made my week. I met a cat who wanted to be a vet tech, and assisted my boss and me by handing us pens, paper, and Square readers at one of our appointments. And last, but not least, I have had some great times with friends and family recently.
Now to just get to the store to buy supplies! This next book intimidates me, so truth be told, I am procrastinating.