Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Inkhat Has Been Delinquent!

Yes. Yes. I know. But I have been doing important things! Working on a masters and applying for PHDs. There has been little news to report.

News to report: Inkhat 1 still on sale at Donkey Coffee in Athens.

Dirk Turbine comic in the works. Should be done in March (?) by the wonderful artist Beth Sparks of Yeti Comics.

The Adventures Of Little Cthulhu being prepared for a trip to be published. Maybe on fancy black glossy paper! Ooo!

In the meantime, work continues on various other projects. Please stayed tuned. As penance for my absence, have this piece of my high school memories. We watched this a lot. Should explain some things...or not.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Inkhat Agrees!

‎"I may realize I might never be on the level of a Michelangelo, but we are of the same family. We are in the same tradition. There is no separation between the arts. No separation between literature and comics.... Everybody has access to genius." -Jean "Moebius" Giraud

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Inkhat Hopes!

Maybe the internet is getting smarter!

Maybe not....

Monday, September 20, 2010

Inkhat Does Strange Things When She Is Bored!

My crew at Ohio University. Our office number is 8 in Ellis Hall. Used the Scott Pilgrim avatar generator to make the initial characters, but I had to do some photoshop reconstruction where the generator nicked a hip or a side. I also changed some outfits, took straps off shoes, changed some colors, etc. Overall, looks pretty sharp I think!

Inkhat Is A Local Hero Now Or Something!

I was super excited that the local coffee house, (Donkey Coffee), which appears in much of the first Inkhat, agreed to sell the comics at their register. I also put some free mini comics out, but they seem to be gone already. Hooray! A special welcome to anyone coming here from Donkey!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Inkhat Is Not Done With Her Revenge!

Nope. Not done whining. He was really quite evil. Also this actually happened:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Inkhat Has a Confession and a Doodle!

Look guys, it's just not working out. The posting every Tuesday thing. Turns out when I ignore it I want to post more. So my plan is: more posts, no schedule! Expect more word-based posts as well. For being so patient I give you this: the nerdiest thing I have ever drawn.
That's right, folks. It's Hellboy fighting Cthuhlu on the Deathstar

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Inkhat Discusses the Words 'Gay' and 'Waitress!'

I need to write more on this. Yeah. Anyway, what I want to talk about today is words. Specifically the words ‘gay’ and ‘waitress.’ This is, of course, part of a larger story. ‘Waitress’ is the title of a popular argument between my mother and me. It usually begins like this:

Inkhat: I wonder where the waitress is.

Motherhat: Don’t say waitress. It’s sexist. Say ‘waitstaff.’

Inkhat: But she’s a waitress. She is a female wait-human. You don’t call a lioness a lion-animal. It’s a female lion. It has a word.

Motherhat: That’s not what I mean. It has sexist implications that cannot be separated from the word. Traditionally female roles are separated as unique. Stewardess, actress, waitress.”

Inkhat: So the solution is to delete words from the English language?

Motherhat: It’s a start!

This usually spirals around until the waitress-staff comes back with coffee and we sip it grumpily under furrowy brows. Eventually, after a dozen plays of this super fun game, I realized that my problem is not that I fundamentally disagree about the existence of gendered language, (I don’t. It’s lame), but that I dislike the Newspeak-a-tizing of my language. That’s my art, after all. I do not agree that the solution is to streamline the language.

I was considering this recently as I was considering the problem of same sex marriage. Which is really a problem for the same reason. There is one word and everyone wants it. In this case my mother’s argument works both ways. Marriage is a word with connotations already built into it, and perhaps, instead of fighting those connotations or changing the word, we simply should avoid insult.

Or maybe we should delete it from the vocab all together, as it is causing problems. Maybe we should split it in half, Solomon-wise, and offer each group half. On the other hand, in this case, the connotations are positive. In that case, anyone should have access to it, as they would ‘wait-staff.’

Our problem is categories. This is why ‘gay’ and ‘transexual’ is such a problem. They required new words and new categories and made everyone itchy. They are only a problem because we have already created categories they sit outside of. We are rather mired in the anglo-Christian expectations of culture. Much like Asimov’s “Nightfall,” if we have never considered the stars, we would be terrified by our first sight of them.

But that is not to be used as an excuse. One of the greatest thing my father every gave me was the fact that some cultures had words and roles and expectations for more than two genders - many genders! Why, this allowed a young girl to consider that the problem was not the individuals that would not fit in categories, but the categories themselves. Why not add a dozen words for genders! Why not mix n match! Books of new words every year!

But that ignores the real problem. The real problem is that there are too few words, one actually, and it only belongs to some. The real problem is that some people are trying to keep other people away from a happiness. As with gendered language, women could only act as actresses. They could only serve as waitress. Gay’s can only marry as _____. But, Inkhat, you may say, all this is just arguing in a giant circle that language categories are bad.

Yeah. Exactly. While I hate word-removal and appreciate adding new words by the hundred-full, but my mother is right and I am also right. Words are powerful and their use should be respected. Also, people should just stop being dicks.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Inkhat Has Her Revenge!

This professor and I butted heads quite a bit last quarter, which is putting it nicely. He probably wasn't actually a soulless vampire. (You can't prove he wasn't).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Inkhat Is Late and Is Sorry!

Moving is hard guys. Internet is not up yet. The good news is, work has just begun on Inkhat 2! Maybe I can have it done in time to arrange a Mid Ohio Comic Con spot.... Maybe.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Inkhat Has A Surprise For You!

It's a bonus comic! I recently did a 24 hour comic at East Lansing's 21st Century Games and Comics. A 24 hour comic is a creative lock in where artists attempt to create 24 sketched, inked, and lettered pages in 24 hours. No scripting is allowed ahead of time so the result is pretty crazy sometimes. It was a blast!

HERE is the result. That's right! You get the whole thing. You can use the button in the top right to see the next page.

Here's a preview:

Inkhat Has A Confession to Make!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Inkhat Forgot to Update and is Sorry!

I am attempting to pack and grade and finish essays and somehow this was lost in the shuffle. Never fear, though, Ryan has me on track! Thanks again, Ryan! Next week I'll be better. I promise...once I unpack my scanner.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Inkhat Gets An Obvious Question!

Thanks again to Ryan! Still no word on Laptop. Should be in one piece soon. Stay tuned, Inkhatgonauts!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Inkhat Has Had A Bad Week!

Hey guys. So this week has been pretty terrible. There will probably be a full post about it when I get my head on right. Most notably my computer was stolen with all of Inkhat inside it. In the mean time Ryan over at DoubleClicked has been kind enough to scan a bunch of pages for me so updates will continue as scheduled.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Inkhat Gets Icecream!

The following is the cliff-notes version of the conversation that just occurred in the office:

Me: I would like to go to the bar, but my car is here and that makes maneuvering difficult. Instead, I will go and get icecream! It is basically the same thing!

Grad Students: We concur! This is superior maneuver!


Grad Student 1: My goodness! This is like drinking except I am not drunk!

Me: And you can drive!

Grad Student 2: And make better decisions!

(Actually those last three were direct quotes)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Inkhat Has a Surprise For You!

Here's the deal, Inkhatians. Because there is no way for me to get the first episode of Curious Adventures out to all of you I will be posting it here, one page a week. It will start this coming Tuesday and then every Tuesday after. Why Tuesday? Well, none of my favorite webcomics update on Tuesday. Now this one does! I will also post little extras and bonus comics that don't necessarily fit into the next book. That's right, I've already started on CAoI 2, tentatively titled The Worst Week Ever. Stay Tuned! Keep your hat on your head!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Inkhat Rants About Conventions!

Let me try to explain this. I have been to two conventions in three weeks and have been left with a strange assortment of emotions about them. They include, but are not limited to: frustration, joy, excitement, anger, contempt, cynicism, and inspiration. For AWP, I was expecting this.

But it didn’t happen. On the contrary, I had a wonderful time at AWP. I even had a friend pull me aside and explain exactly why I should be immovably depressed, but all I could feel was a general sort of enthusiastic curiosity and the gentle feeling of adrenaline that comes from riding the very edge of a wave, or watching a natural disaster from a safe distance.

At SPACE I felt increasingly frustrated with the state of things around the room. I saw the things my friend had warned me about at AWP. For every intelligent conversation I had 10 banal ones. Those who were producing the old slop, (short skirts, tight shirts, super heroes, zombies, cliché dialogue, and shallow themes), were doing great, while people with genuinely brilliant ideas testing the edge of the genre were ignored.

I had one experience where I was holding a book about three big-busted girls who fought crime from a convertible in LA. They were apparently cheerleaders. They held pistols. The writer was making a valiant attempt to sell me the idea and, I assume, my unbridled rage must have begun to show on my face because his artist chimed in, “But there’s also a love story for you!”

Oh Snap. Them's fightin words.

The two experiences were different for a very simple reason. At SPACE, I was involved. I am an amateur poet at best. I am wallowing in obscurity. No one cares about me or what I have done and I am certainly no where near ready to join their ranks. I could play the happy observer. I could make popcorn and sit back and take notes. Someday soon I will be desperately filtering through the crowds for publications and jobs, but not yet.

On the other hand, at SPACE, I had a stack of things to sell. People were walking away from my table with my work in their hands. I wanted it to be good. I wanted everyone to be good. I didn’t feel so powerless to change the ebb and flow of the genre. There! There was my input on that flow. It was bound with three staples and was 25 pages long. I was really gorram proud of it.

Let me try to explain this, mostly to my fellow comic artists. When you spread your tablecloths over the folding tables, when you set up your printed books, when people stop by and buy them, (Even ten people. Even five), when people stop by and say offhandedly that they rather liked your last work, when someone stops by and says they hate it, when you are compared to the person sitting next to you, when you joke about it, when you are recognized if even by the one person who bought your book last time you have reached what will be the zenith of my career as a poet.

No. Really. My friend was right. There is no job in this. You have to love it. You have to want to do something good with it. Not just good, but –if you can manage it at all- beautiful. That is the only thing to strive for.

It pisses me off when a lot of artist/writers screw around instead.

In the end I find myself with a sort of battered determination and four hours of sleep. I bought a lot of books. I met some truly fantastic people. There was a hot tub and muffins and truly talented artists and writers sharing their time with me. I came home excited to get started again, which is pretty much the best place to be.

(PS: I didn't punch the guy. It was close, though)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Inkhat Gives A Small Update!

Hello Inkhatians!

I just printed out an enormous pile of comics! Yai! Tonight I will be making covers and tomorrow I am bribing my office mates with a bottle of wine to help fold. It's looking like I might actually make the deadline for space. Now it's time to go turn in my essay and go to class. Very little sleeping this week, methinks. Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Inkhat is Sans a Cat!

Cat has been found (thanks to a Craige's list ad of call things)!

I had a whole report typed up about AWP and how fascinating and mentally devastating it was, but I came home to discover my cat ran away in my absence. So, I am using the power of the internet. Please send this around. I've been through three states, four houses and two universities with this little girl, and I miss her already.

Those in Athens, Ohio: She is a gray short hair, declawed. Friendly. There is a $50 reward for her return. Contact me through the site.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Inkhat Explains How To Eat the Food You Have!

Sometimes we are stuck with the food we have, instead of the food we deserve. Especially as a student and a space cadet, I often find myself limited by income, time, and tiny tiny attention span. Often I find myself with a loaf of bread, spinach, and a paper that cannot be ignored any longer. Personally I think I deserve sushi more often, or at all really. I also deserve to be taken out and treated like a lady once in awhile!

But that is beside the point. The point is I have bagels and bacon bits left and half an hour to get to class.

Step 1) Lie in bed and forget that you didn’t go shopping yet.

This necessitates the sort of post REM sleep that creates a state of –if not complete confusion – at least happy disorientation. At this point your mind, perhaps in a desperate attempt to protect your fragile psyche from realizing the situation you, yourself, have placed your body in, will produce a wide range of things that might be eaten. It will include amazing things, pulled from every day of your life: the eggs your mom made, the fruit you bought at the market on your summer vacation, the toast you picked at on that first date that sadly (perhaps devastatingly) went nowhere.

You will, in your mind, walk around the kitchen and gather these things. You will imagine how warming and refreshing this breakfast will be; how it will prepare you for the hard day ahead. Indeed, nothing else could.

Step 2) Realize you have nothing in your fridge

But, of course, once you get out of bed you begin to wonder what you have been thinking. You haven’t been to the store. You have kidney beans and ramen noodles left. At this point it is traditional to stomp around your domicile cursing your life and situation. Profanity is acceptable here, as is knocking over difficult to break objects and glaring out windows into the street.

Although the goal of these steps is to help you come to terms with your food related grief, this is a perfectly acceptable response. The hope is that, by becoming aware of this step and learning to control the destructive tendencies it inspires, you will achieve a grace and serenity in your foodlessness and move on with your life.

Step 3) Collect what you do have

This step should be easy. There shouldn’t be much, and the combination will likely be odd. Get it all together. Try to make some logical combination.

Step 4) imagine eating it

This one is best done in another room, or while completing another chore. Maybe while showering or reviewing your work for the day. Imagine the things you like about those elements. Repeat commercials in your head. Remember that Cheerios are good for your heart! There isn’t anything wrong with your heart, but it certainly couldn’t hurt.

Remember that you always wanted to have cookies for breakfast as a kid. Isn’t it, really, sort of decadent to eat these things now, alone in your apartment? Isn’t it sort of wonderfully self indulgent? And romantic as well, in that starving artist, bohemian sense. Realize you have become a beautiful character from a movie or book, the kind with the amazing mind who dwells so much in and of themselves that they cannot be bothered with mortal concerns like food.

Step 5) Eat it

Just…just eat it already. You have shit to do today.

Step 6) Find this hilarious

I can’t believe you ate that.

Step 7) Tell someone about it

This is the fun part. Likely if you are living in this situation you know someone else who is as well. Swap breakfasts like trading cards. Mountain Dew and a chocolate bunny! That completely trumps Triscuits and rice! At this moment you can enjoy grossing out the upstanding members of your circle, those who have not scrounged. (It is highly likely that this group has, in fact, completed this same exercise, but will never, ever admit it). You may also encounter the older person who has ‘totally been there.’ This person can only enhance the shared experience game, though they will win every time.

Step 8) Reach totally and complete understanding

and go to the store.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Inkhat Makes A Guest Appearance!

I gave a little help over at Double Clicked Comics.

For a given value of "help."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Inkhat Has a New Scanner!

To celebrate - a self portrait in white:
Click for larger view, which looks nicer) Detail is frustratingly hard with this style, so a portrait was tricky, but I'm building up more confidence with it.

But I had a bunch of white left, so I painted a cowgirl on a dragon.
Because, I dunno...awesome.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Inkhat Missed You All So Much!

My dear readers,
Have you missed me too? I am sorry I abandoned you to the cold and hard world. It turns out, as I have mentioned on multiple occasions, grad school is hard. However, I will try to update every week from here on out, even if it is just to cry quietly into the negative space.

Anyway, it turns out that Eliot was right. April is the cruelest month. Here is the plan for the coming weeks:

Monday I begin teaching again.
April 8th to the 11th I will be in Denver for AWP.
April 24th and 25th I will be in Columbus for SPACE.

Meanwhile I will attempt to print all my comics, continue to send poetry submissions for publication, teach, and not fail my own classes.

Who's excited? These people.

But that's redundant.

Links are fun.

Until next time, keep your hat on your head!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Inkhat Meets Her Evil Twin!

Today I was walking to class. That is to say, the one I teach. I was wearing black boots, jeans, a gray wool coat, black scarf and black hat. Going up the escalator of the Baker Center I looked to my left at the descending set and what should I see but a girl with my hair cut, except that her hair was not blonde but black. She wore a cream coat, white boots, white hat, and white scarves. We were our evil twins. At that moment she looked at me and we watched each other all the way down/up the stairs. Then I walked to class, knowing I had orbited a powerful karmic moment.

This was the most important part of my day.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Inkhat Gives a Eulogy.

Before I begin, know that this is not about Tristin, but begins with him.

The night before I called my mother to inform her that I had decided to send Tristin back to her. I felt very good about the decision. It felt logical and adult.

I have been feeling logical and adult lately, which is always a mistake. Be careful of the world when you start feeling logical and adult.

It started when someone offered me a puppy. Well, actually, someone offered Katherine a puppy. She tried desperately to find a way to keep it, holding the soft yellow baby to her shoulder, calling her roommate, but to no avail. She handed the puppy back. I didn’t, don’t, want a puppy. But, I realized, I want a dog. I have a cat, true, but I have always had a cat. The dogs have always been my mother’s.

I wanted a dog, which I would have to care for, look after, speak to. After all the difficult decisions, standing in front of a room of students, having my work reviewed by peers and professionals, speaking unabashed to writers whose work I had read and respected, this realization was the first to make me feel, well, old.

Not old in that, oh god I’ve lived for forever and ever old. That, oh I understand the world a little more-old.

What’s more, the decision to purchase or procure one was mine alone. I would care for it, name it, feed it, be responsible for its life and its death. Who could tell me I couldn’t have a dog? I decided I didn’t need one just now, but I held onto that strange feeling. I thought I’d take it out of my pocket and look at it more closely when I had a spare moment. Maybe during office hours.

I woke up 45 minutes after my alarm this morning and rushed to leave. Claudette was playing with the strays outside. I could hear her paws against the window panes. Clack! Clack! She had recently been making friends with them, but would look up at me with wide eyes if I caught her at it. I felt like a parent walking in on their teenager with a girl. I didn’t mind. At least I knew they were keeping warm and well fed in this weather. I swallowed a Cliff bar and left.

On the sidewalk a black bag was stuck to the curb, but when I walked by it was actually a cat, a black and white tuxedo and it was dead. It was on its back. Its eyes were half open. Between its paws was a sticky note that started, “I’m sorry I hit your cat.” But I couldn’t read the rest. It was Xena.

I tried to explain this to my colleagues smoking outside. “I don’t know,” I said, “Why it won’t leave me alone. She wasn’t even my goddam cat.”

“Well, you named her.” Someone said.

That was probably it. When I walked home she was gone. Someone took her away with her useless letter. I hope it made the driver feel a little better. She was no one’s cat.

But I'll miss her.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Inkhat Revels Blogs Within Blogs!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I am not part of a new blog. It is not a photo-a-day project between me and two of my good friends from back home. Do not check it out.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Inkhat Considers the Rebel Without A Cause Effect!

Recently another grad student, raising his eyebrow accusingly, asked, “You’re not one of those girls that likes bad boys, are you?” No! I answered immediately. Of course not. I will always go for the nice guys. But then, as is often my problem, I started thinking about it. I thought of my romantic heroes: V, Bruce Wayne, Athos, Gambit, Spike, Han Solo, Thomas Raith…. all heroes, to be sure, but certainly not nice guys, and definitely not for the women in their lives.

But that’s fiction, not real life. Yet, I can see it. Not necessarily the men I dated, but all the way back to Chris in kindergarten, the only 6 year old bad enough to wear a leather jacket I have, in fact, liked the bad boys.


Okay, don’t panic. There has to be a reasonable explanation for this. I am a smart young woman. There must be a reason I am attracted to jerks. Evolutionarily speaking it makes sense. I would want someone who could take of himself, me, and our tiny offspring. But that seems reductive. I would like to think I am a little more than the random sparks of instinct from a long dead jungle. So it must be something else.

So why do I do it? What attracts me about my heroes? They’re all passionate men, each so focused on their goals that they are oblivious to the outside needs and wants of humanity, or, in some cases, so in tune with those needs that they are completely unable to focus on themselves. Passion is sexy, as talent is. This is a fact. I’m not talking here about hobbies or likes, but when your significant other has something that makes them really, truly big-stupid-grin happy, it has a similar effect on you. The fact that, in this case, those passions tend to be semi self-destructive is, while worrying, no less impressive.

But what about the women? Abandoned, tortured, longing, left again and again, they certainly aren’t treated like princesses. But, and I think this is the heart of the matter, they are treated like the only thing of notice in the world. They are, in fact, the only thing that could make these characters focus on something other than their own goals. They are what every girl secretly wants to be: the only woman in the world. It’s classic Rebel Without a Cause Effect.

It’s a stereotype of women that we want to change men, and maybe in some sense this is true, but maybe not because we want to ‘fix’ them. Perhaps it is only because we want to be the thing that improves them, that motivates them, that turns them from their path if even for a second. And I don’t think it’s just women. I’ve seen dozens of relationships flare up between a ‘nice ____’ and a known heartbreaker. We all want to be the One, and this is easier to measure when the other person doesn’t seem to care for anyone else.

So, do I want a bad boy? Heavens, no. So you can all relax your eyebrows. You too. You know who you are. But I do want to feel like that. I don’t think that’s so odd.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Inkhat Can't Sleep!

I’ve had trouble sleeping lately, which is a very new development. Of all the stress induced physical effects I’ve encountered, sleep loss has rarely been one of them. Headaches, soreness, back trouble, and disturbingly detailed dreams I’m familiar with. I’ve also lost sleep before, but simply lying awake staring at the walls for hours at a time has never been an issue before. I know that it is a result of the exponential increase in the complexity of my life, (both personal and academically - the material I am approaching). I try to explain this to friends. Grad school is not harder it is just more. It is not another language, but a tone and cadence and vocabulary that you have, you think, maybe encountered once before, but no one ever expected you to know it or write in it or speak it.

When I was younger I used to have the same trouble with sleep, I recall, but that was 10 years ago. I was 12 or 13, teetering on the verge of highschool, a transition that seemed, at the time, completely terrifying, insurmountable, impossible for my mind and body to adjust to. During that time I could sooth myself to sleep by engineering. I spent the school day sweeping my eyes across the classroom and taking note of objects or tools, the function of which I did not understand. I made lists of these on the last page of my notebook. (I have always kept the last page of my notebook blank for personal use, even today). At night I would try to reconstruct their innards in my mind. It worked best if I started with the question, “Okay I need an object that does _____. How would I go about doing that?”

For example, I had no idea how a spray bottle works. Think about it. You use them all the time, but could you really explain, to a child for example, the mechanisms that make the transfer of liquid possible? I doubt it. So I thought, how would I make such a thing. Well, I would need to create a vacuum, though not exactly. I would need suction, like trying to get too much shampoo back in the bottle. So if I had a tiny shampoo bottle inside the head of a squirt bottle I would need some way to squeeze and release it, thus moving the liquid into the shampoo bottle and out again. That would be the trigger. Of course there would need to be a sort of trap door over the bottom bit which was released when the shampoo bottle contracted. By this time I was asleep.

The next day, during lunch, I snuck into the coat closet and coaxed the spray bottle apart with a pair of scissors and a pencil and, sure enough, everything was where I planned it would go. Success! The next night I began on the mechanism that raised and lowered our desks.

I had to avoid complex mechanism, like projectors. Here difficulties arose. I would have to assume the entire piece of machinery that provided electricity, and I had no idea how the magnification or focus took place. What I discovered was that there were actually very few moderately complex items in our lives, like the squirt bottle. Most things were simple, a desk, a pen, a chair, a black board, hinges, stairs. The rest were highly complex. Very few things could be solved out in a single sleepless night.

Of course I realize now that I should have approached each larger machine through the subsets of its smaller ones. Electricity is not so terribly difficult. The problem of the me as a child was not that I lacked insight, but that I lacked the patience to focus it.

Or perhaps that is not the problem at all. Lately, as I mentioned before, I find myself staring at the wall, holding the dissected pieces of a poem in my mind, raging, “How!? How does it work!? Where does the light come from?”

Friday, January 15, 2010

Inkhat Takes Detailed Notes!

This is what I do in Eng 570:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Inkhat Is Really Awesome Busy, but Doesn't Want You To Forget She Loves You!

So I offer you this update on comic progress. Here is the official Curious Adventures Title:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Inkhat Meditates on Atheism (But Mostly Just Ends Up Telling A Story)!

Classes start Monday and I have spent the day drowning my nerves in drawing, writing, and reading random blog posts on the interwebs. I came across PZ Myers, who is, apparently, famous and who I have never heard of. I guess he’s an atheist or something.

Recently a friend came out atheist. It never occurred to me that this was something one would have to ‘come out’ about. It amused me for a moment to turn the meaning on its head and imagine him as a budding debutant, a new atheist grown into maturity. I imagined pomp and circumstance, the other adults of the atheist community asking the newly emerged young person meditative questions under a crystalline chandelier nibbling on finger sandwiches. There would be lace and comber buns and courtesies.

Focus, Leslie.

Anyway, my friend pointed out that atheism in America really is still held in a negative light. Like many things, my childhood assumptions that people’s faith, or disbelief was their own personal issue, turned out to be wrong. He pointed out that, while there were protections, both legal and social, for religious groups and beliefs, the equal did not exist for atheism. Separation between Church and State is the Pegasus of our legal system. Because it’s a myth. Get it? Not cause it’s a winged horse who sprang from Thomas Jefferson’s blood.

I can understand, however, his feelings of abandonment and betrayal by his religion. I found many parts of his story mirrored my own. (The main part where we diverged was his questioning creation vs science. I never had a problem with this. Looking back this seems odd, and I can attribute only to my weird ability to believe two seemingly contradictory things at the same time (I do this with due dates to finish papers early), or my early introduction to literature and art. I could see the Bible as True to the author’s intent as a poem or painting is Truth. This was a very long aside).

When I was young I lived a life of almost absolute seclusion in my catholic school. I found solace in reading, drawing, and religion. I was attracted to religion by the sense of inclusion, of course. It does not take a stretch of the imagination to see why the promise of an everlasting place of belonging where the meek would be not only included but lauded would appeal to a lonely child. But it wasn’t just that. The church protected literature and art. It was a fountainhead for artistic expression for hundreds of years. Being born with art appreciation literally ingrained in my genetic code, this was something I could love. Naturally, I wanted to stay there forever.

One afternoon one of the priests came across the street (our church was literally across from the school) to speak to us about the priesthood. This, of course, was a normal part of his job. The church always needs more priests. He described what made a good priest. Humility, love, creativity, sympathy for your fellow man, enjoying speaking, creating, writing, reading, interest in hard study over your whole life. Me! I wanted to yell. Me! Me! I can do all these things. I would love to do all these things. I still remember how excited I was that day, having finally found my profession. I felt, (I was so sure) that I had been called to do this thing. I held it as the torch of my life.

It never occurred to me that he wasn’t speaking to me. It never occurred to me that I was excluded. How could anyone exclude me? How could religion exclude anyone?

For those who do not know, Roman Catholicism does not allow women to join the priesthood. That is gentle wording, of course. In truth, we are actively barred. (The reason I was given for this, when I asked, was that only men followed Jesus and were told to go preach. I guess Mary Magdalene and the rest of the women didn't count. Kay).

Even after I learned that I was not called to do anything, (but isn’t that cute), I still huddled in Catholicism for warmth. Surely they would come around eventually. I even thought, for a short period, that I could change their minds. The slow death of my warm, fuzzy inclusion in Catholicism started on a school trip my sophomore year of high school.

It was on the beach. The sun was going down and I wandered into a conversation between two of the other students on the trip. One, who I knew, was a self proclaimed atheist and intellectual. I had always been jealous of his sureness in this position; of how grounded he seemed without a death grip on belief. He was talking to a girl I did not know, whose name I have forgotten. Let’s call her Sarah.

Sarah had, she told us, led a hard life. She had been saved by religion. She was arguing with my friend about heaven, or, more specifically, about judgment. It has become a familiar argument. I am sure everyone has encountered it, and I feel no need to reenact the entire thing, though I remember it almost word for word. It was the ending that got me. It was the last thing she said to me, smiling.

“It makes me sad sometimes, that my friends are going to hell.”

“Well what if they’re good people?” I countered, thinking of all my lovely, sweet, non-religious high school friends who adopted the rather damaged me and loved me instantly. Surely for that one act of kindness – like the single acts of kindness in parables – they would be saved?

“Oh yes. They can’t go to heaven unless they’re saved. I know it’s hard.” She added, sympathetically.

“I think God would forgive them.” I countered.

“Isn’t that a sort of selfish way to look at God?” She asked, still smiling.

That question bored its self into my brain, and I often reflect on it, even now. I am convinced, even more now, that she was wrong. It is, in fact, the other way around. It is a selfless thought. I am not special. God does not love me more. Everyone is going. This was my first interaction with the two differing definitions of 'saved.' One meant, safe, removed from danger. The other meant 'one of us.' Religion should be a roof, not a gate, and I certainly want nothing to do with a heaven that is not more forgiving than the humans it supposedly created. It took a few more years, but that night I began to realize I wanted nothing to do with the whole mess.

So what am I now? I’ve been asked this question as if I am a new species, asked to please classify myself so that I fit easily into the biology books. I have no answer for them. I cannot completely dismiss a higher power, nor do I disbelieve the clear logic of the scientific process. Usually I shrug the question off, a practice I plan to continue. I can say that I do not believe in _______ism, even the ‘Athe’ variety. It is, after all, another form of that angry exclusion of ‘we’re right and you’re wrong.’

Though it is difficult to believe, I find comfort in not knowing. It’s probably the same part of me that can believe that my essay is due Monday and also tomorrow. I enjoy the debate and I don’t know. Absolutely anything is possible. Isn’t that kind of fantastic?