August 30, 2013

The Tipping Point.

It has finally come to this.

Things have shifted in my world, to the point where I'm looking at alternate ways of taking the edge off the grocery bill. I mean besides cutting out treats.

I don't blog for money. But that doesn't mean that money can't come from it. Like countless bloggers before me, I've often considered installing ads in my sidebar. Neil Kramer at Citizen of The Month bravely took the ads leap this week.

We all have different philosophies where ads-on-blogs are concerned. After eight years, it was a deeply personal decision for Neil.

The thought of compromising the look of my blog freaks me out; we're talking about Art Direction here, and my blog is my style. My brand, if you will. Most ads are ugly to me. Also, they're tailored for each viewer. Give up control of my visuals? My mouth just went dry. I can't even spit. I feel dizzy...and faint...I can't make a fist.

Here's an example, handily screen-capped from Dooce's sidebar (I rarely go there - why read Dooce when you can read Neil, right?):

No offense to Dooce, or Neil, but I don't want something like this on my blog. It matters not that you don't care, because I DO.

So unless I draw it myself, there will be no ads here. What about sponsored posts?

To me, art = love. Having spent decades in advertising as both an artist and a producer, I have a well-formed opinion on commercial art. It's sex for money, verses sex for love. At the end of the day, sex for money can be enjoyable AND lucrative. Theoretically then, I have no problem with it. But the theory falls apart when I think about the kind of products I'd get into bed with, so to speak.

I'm afflicted with responsible consumerism, so that narrows the field somewhat. Products I use already, and love, okay, but just try getting their attention.

Before you diss me for approaching a brand directly on Twitter, remember that it did work for me before, here and here. Of course it helps if the brand are not brain-dead on social media. And one can't spend all one's time chasing after brands.

I have done reviews before but I don't really want to "review" a product for money. Reviews need real passion to drive them into a place that's interesting for a reader; I doubt I have the kind of writing talent required to pull that off if the product doesn't move me to love it or hate it.

And so we arrive at The Tipping Point.

Think of me, if you will, as a Street Performer; I dress up in a funny costume, bounce around the screen, make you laugh, make you cry, do a few backflips, and at the end, I pass the hat.

The amazing followers of Amanda Palmer ponder the difference between asking and begging. I think there is. So I'm asking; if you love my work as The Animated Woman, please feel free to approach The Tipping Point....and tip.

I won't perish without it, but it will be really fucking awesome if you do.

August 28, 2013

Back to school.

My youngest child is thirteen years old and going into Grade 8. He wasn't too stressed about today being the first day back to school. The boy asked me to walk him "halfway" there.

I decided to take the dog with us.

And he was off...

I watched him until he disappeared, half hoping he would turn to wave. He didn't.

Motherhood? It's all about letting go. You gotta keep cutting that umbilical cord, over and over and over. I'm so glad I brought the dog with me.

August 26, 2013

Ball...(part 7).

...continued from here.

This is the story of my ball. (It's a series. If you're new you can start at the start.)

I was in a dark place, but I was not alone.

(Me, drawing this story.)

Continued here...

August 22, 2013

7 Stolen moments.

None of these people knew I was drawing them, as I was drawing them.

A man sitting across from me in the waiting room of the doctor's office.

A young woman passing the time on her laptop in the airport departure lounge.

Betsy's hat flirted with me during a BlogHer session.

A girl answers her celphone on the streets of Chicago, probably on her lunch hour.

Megan's hair is thick and rich and I can't do it justice.

All our flights were delayed coming home from Chicago. This guy stared at his Blackberry for two hours, the sun streaming in behind him as it dropped lower in the sky.

This child caught my eye. When you are two, holding still is impossible (unless you are asleep). I had to be quick.

Who do these moments belong to?

August 17, 2013

Leaning in with a CLEAR Wish.

I was waiting for my VOTY Award video to be officially posted on the BlogHer site. It was my hope that my live reading of "How To Check For Pinworms" would be so freaking funny that I could use it to propel myself into another realm. And, you know, build on that. I couldn't wait to see it!

But when the videos went live I was crushed to find that most of my performance was replaced by my illustrations. Okay, they're a big part of the story, but who wants to sit and watch a still image with voice-over for four minutes? Big editing faux-pas! You need to cut back to the speaker or it's boring.

Major disappointment!

The questions assaulted me. Why had the editor done this? Did the camera break? Did the footage accidentally get deleted? Was my performance so awful? Perhaps I'd imagined the laughter and applause...?

I couldn't send this link out. Besides my own needs, it failed on entertainment value for my tribe.

I knew I should just reach out to BlogHer and ask them if anything could be done. But I was scared. What if they think I'm ungrateful? What if they think I'm making trouble? What if they think I'm a bitch?

They're probably too busy. They won't remember me. I'm nothing. I hate myself.

I admit that I cried real tears. Man, I felt so sorry for myself. I went through a box of was pathetic!

Suddenly Sheryl Sandberg popped into my head.

She gave me the ninja smackdown (in my imagination).

My husband had a friend in London named Basil Saunders (now departed, may he rest in peace) who used to say, "Give me a clear wish." Meaning that one should always state clearly what they want without waffling or hiding. I decided to write to BlogHer and tell them my clear wish. I wrote directly to BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort Page. Because if I'm going to lean in like Sheryl Sandberg says I should, I'm going to the top.

And do you know what? They did fix the video - but the voice and image was now noticeably out of synch. Crap! I struggled with my self loathing all over again.

Then it struck me that my whole BlogHer takeaway was one of 'empowerment'. It would be the jugular of irony if I couldn't empower myself to push for this synch error to be fixed. They might roll their eyes, but at the very worst the folks at BlogHer would know that I was a highly professional and totally awesome audio-visual director. Right?

I decided to lean in a little further, and totally blame it on Sheryl Sandberg.


Thanks Basil. Thanks BlogHer, Elisa, Lori Luna, post production person, the editor ...and Sheryl Sandberg. Please don't beat me up for drawing you beating me up.

August 15, 2013


Tanya Svoboda is the woman behind Mom O Matic - probably the blog I visited most frequently and regularly when I first got going. There was something about the depth of sensitivity behind even her funniest posts that spoke to me. She's eerily perceptive. 

When she put her blog on the shelf in early 2011, Tanya reached out to me by email and we had long conversations. It was important to me to put time and energy into building on this connection. Tanya maneuvers in online conversation beautifully, expertly navigating through delicate terrain and reading the lay of the land as she does so. She can tell exactly what I mean and how I feel not only by what I say, but what I do not say. We opened our hearts to each other.

Friendship ensued.

We finally met in The Realzies in Chicago. Tanya came to pick me up at the Sheraton and we stared at each other like "I can't believe you're standing right in front of me."

Off we went over to Greek Isles restaurant in Greek Town. It was great to finally catch up on our lives in person. And of course, toonswag!

The plan was to have "saganaki". I've had many adventures in my life including living in a cave in Greece, but I've never had this flaming cheese Tanya was dribbling about (third baby on the way, heads up). On the approach to your table, the waitroid would apparently set the dish of cheese alight, and shout, "OPAAAA!!" super loudly.

We were deep in conversation when it happened.

Now I know that in reality it was this:

But because I'm an animator for whom life exists in frames per second, I saw this:

Tanya says they 'extinguish' the cheesy flames with the juice of a lemon.


Mom O Matic is on the shelf while Tanya's been exploring other creative outlets. She launched a sweet jewelry business called Gracie Mack using vintage glass beads.

I wonder if she'll ever go back to her blog... I guess for all your sakes I hope she eventually does, cuz you're missing out. But I do get my dose of Tanya either way.

When it comes to cheese, we are trailblazers.

August 12, 2013

#BlogHer - TOONswag 4.

After the VOTY Awards I did not drink. Much. I crashed early and walked around on a cloud the whole next day. So many people kept walking up to me and saying (mostly) nice things.

It was wonderful...almost like being famous for real! I tried to say thank-you to everyone. And I smiled all day long.

In fact, I found I was smiling so hard I thought my face would split.

Is it possible to smile too much...? I'LL TAKE MY CHANCES.

I went to a BlogHer session led by my friend Tracy Beckerman; she's a successful syndicated humor columnist and was sharing valuable guidance about that side of publishing. Tracy's just got a new book out, called Lost in Suburbia (so freaking funny) - I think she's still lost though, cuz she kept looking at her slides during the session and asking, "where are we?"

Did I mention that the second person to whisper the secret toonswag password was Arnebya Herndon of What Now and Why? ? Only I had The Drunkies at the time so I rain-checked her until Saturday afternoon.

And lo, I discovered her holding down the bed in the Serta display at the Expo because, as she tweeted to me, "...of reasons." I think those "reasons" turned out to be the long line of eager beavers queuing up to spin the Wheel of Ecstasy (or whatever it was called), in the hopes of winning a vibrator at the Trojan booth opposite us. And folks: the Serta bed also vibrates. Oh, yes it does. Because of reasons.

This "good vibes" moment was captured by Deborah Goldstein from Peaches and Coconuts.

Arnebya has elegance and wit to spare; anyone who saw her introducing the OpEd category at the VOTY's couldn't help but be struck by not only her incredible stage presence, but her ultra-dry sense of humor. Give this girl some loob, Trojan!

I actually have some friends from the innerwebs who are not BlogHers, they are UsGuys. Mark BernHardt came down to party with us at the Sheraton Chi Bar; there was Chardonnay, toonswag and a doohicky (← ask Mark about this highly technical term; he'll tellya). Dude's already making good use of his toon on his page.

I bounced up to the BlogHer Fashion Show, screamed my head off at all the sheer majesticness of real women looking awesome and then went to parties. Usually I'm shy at parties unless I know people, but for some reason I was UNshy on this day. Possibly cuz of all the smiling?

Every once in a while you meet someone in The Realzies who is perfectly reppin' their online persona. One such person is Virgina Sanders. Except for one small detail: no way was I ready for how gorgeous she is. Above and beyond superficial skin deep gorgeous, I'm talking rumbling deep down in your soul gorgeous.

Virgina is the Kiss Chronicles blogger famously unkissed until the age of 30, whereupon she auctioned off her first kiss and wrote a book about it. I need to know what happens in the end of the story, i.e. Who did she kiss? Was it a simple dry peck or a sloppy all-tongues-on-deck dribbler? And was there a second kiss??? Find out.

Okay now remember the second night when I got The Drunkies? That ball got rolling when "those who would be drawn" bought me a glass of Chardonnay and by "those" I mean Heather from Stepford Life. Apparently "batteries are not included" with Heather Ann Prast McDonnell, but neither are they needed cuz she's completely energized without them. Actually my iPad died and I recharged it just by waving it at her.

I had so much fun trying to keep up with this woman. Heather gets not one, but two toonswags because she's got an actual cupcake shop called Cupcrazed.
Yes. My love can be bought.

I'm sorry folks' but there you have it. I'm a slut for Chardonnay and cupcakes. But really, can you blame me?

I staggered up to my room, played in my pile of swag and passed out for one last glorious night all by myself in a big, big bed, grinning from ear to ear.

Abbie Gale! Oh Abbie Gale! Please add this to your List of Dumb Ways to Die at BlogHer.

Toonswag PEEPLES. Go draw somebody. Tell them I sent you.