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2018: An Innerspace Odyssey

It might not be as adventurous as getting there by TARDIS or Delorian, but tonight we enter a different place in time, a new year.

Gemmi Galactic Happy New Year Alien Girl

Only in the past few years have I started the ritual of assessing my year-gone-by and making actionable goals for the next. It’s helped me grow as a creative, as a business owner, and as a person, so I highly recommend adopting some similar practice if you haven’t already.

2018 was both an incredible and difficult year. Facing this year’s review with honesty is not easy. Let’s get the hard part over with first so we can move on to what I’m celebrating.

Aspects of my personal and social lives were shattered beyond measure. Some terrible, unresolved issues from 2017 carried over and reared their ugly heads. Some friends proved not to be friends, or even decent people at all. Some good people made some heartbreaking mistakes. I cried harder than I ever have before. I learned many lessons: the integrity of the people you surround yourself with matters; no friendship or relationship is perfect; all interpersonal relationships take work; beware of behavior patterns; depression hurts the people around you too.

But all was not lost. 2018 offered hope in my personal life as well. I became pregnant, which was great news considering the previous failure/loss of that contributed to the problems of 2017. I was forced to find healthier coping strategies to battle heartache and depression since alcohol was no longer in the picture. I felt an incomparable network of support, with so many friends stepping up to encourage and help me. My relationship grew stronger with more openness and renewed energy.

Wow, that was heavy. But it’s necessary to put the jokes aside for a moment and address these things. This is how we grow.

(Live performance photos not watermarked as NecroBlanca Photography or Sheridan Original Photography are shot by Fernie Renteria Photography/LFR Images. Spanksgiving Promo image shot by Wandering Photography.)

Now then… 2018 was great for my creative life! I became an instructor at the Austin Academy of Burlesque, hosted the pub trivia at the Greater Austin Comic Con, started writing much more (healthy coping!), found a great new home venue at Kick Butt Cafe for the Geekgasm Revue with Professor Argo, survived my 5th Other Worlds Austin film festival, grew my Frisky Business Burlesque family with a few new and awesome members, and made some costumes, cosplay, burlesque acts, and accessories I’m really proud of.  I also have quite a few works in progress that aren’t ready for their public announcement just yet. But they are foundations for my work in the next year.

2019 is going to be my craziest year yet! My priorities have shifted. Everything I want to do, work on, and accomplish now has to happen around motherhood. My greatest challenge will be to maintain and grow my creative work as I focus on nourishing a new life. Finding the balance of keeping my creativity and identity alive while also being the best geeky mom ever and a great partner is almost a laughable goal, but a noble pursuit none the less. Oh, and I want to read more, obviously. Always try to read more.

May the new year bring us all good health, endless creativity, strong relationships, good books, transformative introspection, and all the geeky friends, fun, and film we can handle.

 

 

 

New Adventures: Art Class Modeling

I used to be so much more adventurous than I am now. I have driven all over this country seeking new thrills, but recently I have found myself settled into a comfortable life lacking the same spontaneity of my previous self.

In an attempt to bring more adventure back into my life, I’m saying yes to more new opportunities. So last week I modeled for the local community college’s life drawing class. FULLY NUDE.

Obviously I was nervous. Would they harshly judge my expanding waistline and my blotchy skin?

I booked the gig over a month ahead and tried not to let my nerves build up in the time leading up to it. The day of the class I made sure I was all properly shaved and moisturized, wore loose-fitting clothes (no bra!), ate a very light breakfast, packed a water bottle, and headed to the Austin Community College Pinnacle Campus.

The classroom was on the 8th floor and two sides were sprawling windows that gave the most serene views of the southwest Austin greenbelt. The teacher, Janet Brooks, instantly put me at ease by explaining the process of the session while I filled out paperwork, like it was so completely normal. Then she set up my stage, in the center of the room, brightly lit, with a cushioned and draped box for my seated pose.

The stage offered the six students 360 degrees of viewing options, which they took advantage of for their work. Brooks set a timer and circled the room giving critique and guidance to each artist until the gentle alarm sounded and I was able to get up and stretch and see the progress of each piece. After a short break I would get back into the same pose as best I could and we’d repeat. We did this about five or six times until the class was over.

Can I just say that sitting completely still for seven to ten minutes is very difficult? Because it really is. Add to that the six strangers analyzing my entire form, and you have a recipe for odd and insecure thoughts. How splotchy is my skin today? Does this pose make my belly pudge out? Or make by boobs look lopsided? Oh God, that light is directly on my back fat! Deep breath. Keep looking at the same shadowy floor tile. Posture. Is my foot resting at the same angle as before? How much weight did I put on this arm last time? Why is that muscle clenched? Has it been tense this whole time? If I relax it now will that change my pose or the light? Shit. Try not to mess up their light. Breathe. Tile. Posture. My neck hurts. Maybe don’t turn my head so far if I get this gig again? Stomach, please don’t start growling. I should get lunch after this. I haven’t had sushi in a while. But do I have a sushi budget today? Tacos might be a better choice.

The students were using a method of toning their paper with charcoal and then lifting it with erasers to draw the form. I was so impressed with all the pieces that I asked if I could share them here. But I also want to keep my nudity off of this blog, so you can see all the images of the work from this class as a Patreon Freebie!

All in all, modeling for this class was such a great experience that I even booked a couple more dates. Many thanks go to Janet Brooks and her students!

 

My SciFi Romance

My first true love is Science Fiction. This is something I’ve known since middle school. Reading Ray Bradbury cracked open my mind to whole new worlds of possibilities. I was hooked. It’s almost impossible to pick my favorite stories of his, but The Veldt, The Earth Men, and The Pedestrian are candidates. At some point I started reading Vonnegut and Dick and my worlds got a little more twisted.

 

This was the start of a life-long love affair with anything SciFi. I watched Star Wars with my dad. I watch Star Trek with my mom. And I will forever be torn by the debate of Wars vs. Trek. Although, I do have some thoughts on this matter that can be an entire post on it’s own, so we’ll probably revisit this at a later date.

SciFi covers such a broad range of genres and I don’t have just one favorite. I enjoy the silly just as much as the serious. I love all the different imaginings of technology, life forms, space, and time. Some of the best works really focus on humanity and it’s response to these different imaginings. Black Mirror is probably the best show doing this right now. (In my opinion, obviously. I know there are more shows doing an amazing job with this right now.)

 

Two years ago I had the opportunity to attend a new SciFi film festival, Other Worlds Austin, as Press with my old YouTube show. I was completely blown away with the quality of the films curated for the event, and the friendliness of the staff and film guests involved. Directors and actors flew in from across the world to represent their films in Q&As and were kind enough to give us interviews in a quiet corner of the movie theater. A few of the feature films even went on to success on Netflix and Video On Demand, and many of them I have watched again.

 

I soon learned that OWA coordinated year-round events and screenings in Austin. I started attending and promoting them and soon they gave me a staff position in their Social Media/Marketing department. I worked with this dedicated staff of scifi fans and curators for over a year before my crazy project load forced me to make the very hard decision of leaving.

Next week (Dec. 1st-4th) is OWA’s 3rd annual festival! And as if I couldn’t be any more excited to go, they added HORROR to their program! Yes, Under Worlds Austin is OWA’s new expansion and I think it’s bloody brilliant. (Note: Horror post coming soon.) If you’re in the Austin area you should check it out. If you’re a filmmaker you should definitely check it out and submit to next year’s fest.

 

What do you like about Science Fiction? What are your favorite subgenres? Favorite writers/stories/films? Give me some recommendations to check out!