I Got Distracted

I do that a lot. It’s a big, fascinating world with lots to get distracted by. And I, myself, am a big, less-fascinating microcosm with an internal ecology to get distracted by, too.

I’ll bet you might be the same.

So, I’ve been stretching my problem solving skills and debating about how certain I should be before blogging about a questionable fix I’m employing for a no-good, frustrating, disturbing health problem for which I do not want to undergo the prescribed diagnostic procedures, never mind one particular potential treatment.

I’ve written and scrapped the post explaining the whole mess too many times. It’s amazing how something fairly simple and direct can take far too much back story to clarify, and how much anxiety doing so can provoke.

I’ve yet to reach a conclusion on how much I’m willing to share.

So, what does this have to do with illustration?

Well, that’s one of the things I’ve been distracted from. I still haven’t finished designing the iMessage sticker pack I started working on back in March1. I have a couple of potential illustrations done for the second triad (there’s something to be said for working in threes; it’s the number of signs in an element2, after all, and an easy grouping for getting to 12), but can’t quite get my head around how I want to complete that mini-set.

In the meantime, I’ve discovered Concepts by TopHatch3.

Orange squid drawn in Concepts. Work in progress, likely to never be finished. I was playing with Concepts’ shape guides and stroke smoothing at this point, and obviously using layers, but otherwise drawing like I would on actual paper.

Concepts is described as “An advanced, natural design tool for the mobile professional.”4 I’m not a professional, and no more mobile than most other homebodies I know. I actually found Concepts during a quest for a simple-to-use architecture app while I was distracted by the notion of re-designing Angel Stadium5 with a more neck-friendly layout. Alas, that ambitious bit of inspiration never came to fruition, but Concepts was love at first draw, and so, I’ve been busy learning to use, and slowly creating with, my new fave drawing app.

Concepts comes with an infinite canvas; optional, adjustable grids (including dotted and isometric grids); snapping options; shape guides; ways to measure your work; and a decent set of brushes. (My favorite of these is the fill brush. It’s totally changing the way that I work, and doing so in a good, time-saving, error-reducing way. Maybe that’s not unique to this app. Maybe it’s just the first time I’ve actually used that sort of tool with an Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro. Don’t know. Don’t care. If this app is the first to get me to effectively use a fill brush, then kudos to TopHatch for getting through my thick skull.)

In-progess dragon drawing in Concepts. I’m now uitilizing the fill brush, selection tools, duplicating and mirroring, in addition to infinite layers, stroke smoothing, snap, and shape guides.

If you like to draw, and like doing so on an iPad, I encourage you to give Concepts a trial run.

In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying drawing with it.

And, hopefully, I’ll come to a decision regarding how transparent I want to be about what I’m now referring to as “Sam’s DIY Hormone Fix” (or, “You Too Can Regulate Your Own Estrogen—But You Might Not Like How”)6.


#vagueblogging


Notes

  1. Light That Monsoon Up! Samusumi. Accessed 3 May 2018. https://samusumi.com/2018/03/21/light-that-monsoon-up/
  2. A Brief Introduction to Astrology: The four Elements. Astrodienst. Accessed 3 May 2018. http://www.astro.com/astrology/in_elements_e.htm
  3. Concepts: Smarter Sketching (iOS). TopHatch. Accessed 3 May 2018. http://concepts.tophatch.com/
  4. Concepts: Smarter Sketching (iOS). TopHatch. Accessed 3 May 2018. http://concepts.tophatch.com/
  5. Angel Stadium. Samusumi. Accessed 3 May 2018. https://samusumi.com/tag/angel-stadium/
  6. Psst. It has nothing to do with astrology. Evidence-based medicine FTW.

Objects in Mirror Are Bluer Than They Appear, Too

18 April 2018. Waiting in the Tribute for Linda at Anaheim Plaza. The shorter building in the background is Marie Callender’s. (Yum!) The taller building is a six-story commercial office building. It was a beautiful SoCal day, and I’m a bit annoyed that U.S. politics has made me feel weird about wearing red hats.

Miles for Marge

Hands. Me and Mom, 2012. Photo and editing by Linda A. Mah. Used with permission.

Last night, Linda and I signed up for Alzheimer’s Orange County1’s next walk at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. The 2018 Walk4ALZ Orange County event2 takes place on November 10th, and we’ve decided to get a head start on this year’s fundraising.

With that in mind, I’ve purchased a new domain—MilesForMarge.com—which I’ve redirected toward our walk team’s page. I’ve done this to give the page a URL that is easy to both spell and remember, primarily for people whom I talk to in real space, but who prefer to donate via internet.

When the walk is over, and/or the team page is taken down, MilesForMarge.com will then be redirected to the “Miles for Marge” category at Samusumi.com—at least until we participate in another Alzheimer’s walk, at which point the domain will resume its original purpose.

I hope to blog periodically about the lead-up to the Angel Stadium walk, ALZOC, and my own experience as a daughter of a person who struggled with dementia, right up until the walk actually happens. And I hope to cap that series of posts off with a report on this year’s successful fundraising and wildly awesome turnout!

If you’re in or around Orange County, California, and would like to come walk with Linda, me, and our adorable, 15-year-old Maltese (who will likely ignore you), click here. If you’d like to donate to our fundraising effort, click the same link.

Easy-peasy, no?


Notes

 

  1. Alzheimer’s Orange County. Accessed 16 April 2018. https://www.alzoc.org
  2. Walk4ALZ 2018. Accessed 16 April 2018. https://alzoc.akaraisin.com/ui/16157

Shohei Shopping at Angel Stadium

Albert Pujols, Mickey Mouse, and Linda at Angel Stadium. (I’m in there, too, if you look at the reflections in Linda’s shades.)

The Angels were in Kansas City, but we were at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. Linda and I haven’t been to a game yet this baseball season, and we thought our game gear could use an Ohtani refresh.

(Yes, the wife took off work so that we could go shopping.)

Albert, Mickey, me and Linda at the stadium, trying out our new Shohei Ohtani caps. Photo by Linda A. Mah, modified and used with permission.

It was a nice day out for the two of us. Much nicer than the game that followed in Kansas City. I slid a little further into Angels fandom just before the team’s defense suffered a series of hiccups in my home state. (As an aside, Kauffman Stadium is one of two stadiums that I’ve seen from the inside of a Greyhound bus, and it was one of the highlights of my decade-ago trip from Missouri to New Mexico.)

Our haul from the Angels Team Store: Ohtani hats (the one on the left is a New Era 9TWENTY; on the right is a 9FORTY), two Ohtani pins, and the Angels Topps Baseball 2018 Team Set.

I was beginning to think that my Shohei Ohtani hat—Linda wasn’t wearing hers. What the hell, Linda?—carried some bad Friday the 13th luck, but the Angels managed to tie it up, then take the lead, in the top of the 8th inning.

The cards in the Angels Topps Team Set. I used to collect baseball cards as a kid. But I wasn’t a kid by the time Albert Pujols broke into the majors. This is my first Pujols card, and I’m some odd mixture of excited and wistful about that.

We have tickets for the game vs. the Giants on the 22nd, when—if I’m counting correctly—Ohtani should be pitching. It’ll be our first time with front row seats. Hopefully, that game will go smoother than today’s game did.

But if it doesn’t, blame me.

I bought the damned hat.

The Arch and the Halo

Mom’s rally monkey and me. Photo ©2013 Linda A. Mah. Modified with permission, and used with permission, too.

I came to Orange County in late November of 2011. Albert Pujols followed suit not long after.

I had been raised as a St. Louis Cardinals fan. My mom was a St. Louis Cardinals fan, and my Grandpa Bill—Mom’s dad— had once shaken the hand of Cardinals great Bob Gibson. I had seen Lou Brock play in-person when I was nine years old, on the only trip to Busch Stadium (technically, Busch Memorial Stadium, which was—sadly—demolished in 20051) that I remember taking. It was a double-header against the Chicago Cubs, and Bruce Sutter pitched two innings in the second game2. We sat up high, and I took pictures with my Polaroid. The outfielders in those snapshots looked like action figures dressed in red and white.

The people sitting behind us spilled wine on my mom. It was September, 1979, and in those days, apparently, you could bring your own cooler into the game.

32 years and some months later, Mom and I were in her Buick in Orange, California, when we heard over the radio that Pujols had signed with the Angels. It felt like fate, to me. Coming to California had been a big, painful risk for my mom, my dog, and me, and Albert’s move to Anaheim made me feel like a piece of home had decided to tag along; that our change of scene didn’t have to change everything.

I saw Pujols play in person for the first time in 2012. Mom was in a nursing home by then. She couldn’t have gone to the game, even if she’d still been living with me. The dementia was too advanced for her to enjoy baseball, for her to tolerate crowds of people, and it had been so for a while. That had probably been true by the time we’d made the trip from Missouri, even if I hadn’t wanted to admit it to myself.

But Linda and I went. Linda was an Angels fan. I was a Pujols fan. It was a nice chunk of common ground for us.

Mom didn’t want to hear about it afterward.

I readily adopted the Angels as my second team, and I remained a Pujols fan. But my loyalties stayed Cardinals red.

Linda and I kept going to Angels games, though. And at some point, I realized I’d seen more games at Angel Stadium than I had seen, or likely ever would see, at any iteration of Busch Stadium. Living in Anaheim made the Angels accessible to me in a way that the Cardinals never were when I lived in Southeast Missouri, one hundred or so miles from St. Louis.

Even Mom, pretty far gone from caring about baseball, at all, loved the rally monkeys Linda and I had bought for her at the stadium. They were her babies. They were my dog who had made the trip with us before passing away in 2012. They were her cigarettes when she wanted to go through the motions of smoking, and her chew toys when she was frustrated.

But I was still a Cardinals fan. The Angels were still second. It wasn’t the Angels, after all, that I spent summers watching with Mom from our living room in the trailer park. It wasn’t the Angels who gave us a common interest, a shared cultural history, and a same side to be on which soared above political and economic realities.

That was St. Louis baseball, and goddamnit, I was a Cardinals fan for life.

Mom passed away four years ago. I’ve only been back to Missouri once, and that was to take her ashes home.

The Cardinals aren’t the organization that they were when I still lived in Missouri, and could still pony up to watch them play on Fox Sports Midwest. Yadier Molina is still around, as is José Oquendo, but most of the players are people I don’t know, and don’t have the opportunity to become familiar with. And Mom’s not here to share that opportunity with me, even if it came about.

But Albert Pujols?

He’s still here, and still knocking homeruns in Anaheim. I’ve gotten to know (from a distance) Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun over the past several years. Ditto Andrelton Simmons over a shorter period. Add on Luis Valbuena and Jefry Marté. And this year, I’m getting to know Zack Cozart, Justin Upton, Martín Maldonado and Shohei Ohtani.

Did I mention Shohei Ohtani?

Ohtani is the player who has most made me question my loyalties. Ohtani is the player I most want to watch. It may sound like bandwagoning, but I don’t care. Ohtani is a phenomenon.

And the icing on top of that Ohtani cake?

The Angels are playing well so far this year. They’re playing like an actual team, with contributions coming from everywhere in the lineup. They’re hitting for power, but playing small ball, too. If they can keep their starting pitchers healthy (and, yeah, all my fingers are crossed), the Angels could have a glorious 2018 baseball season.

As a loyal fan of a St. Louis Cardinals era that included Pujols, Oquendo and Yadi, along with Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Tony LaRussa, I appreciate quality baseball; and it’s great to see it being played in the city that I now call home.

I’m spending my spring—and, hopefully, the summer—bonding with my wife over Angels baseball, in our living room in downtown Anaheim. I’ll presumably be spending part of the season bonding with her at Angel Stadium, too.

All of my baseball hopes for this season, are pinned to the Angels and to Anaheim.

I still sometimes wear my St. Louis Cardinals cap around Orange County, and I will do so until either it wears out or I do.

But when I don that cap, these days, it’s not out of loyalty to St. Louis baseball. It’s out of loyalty to my memories of good times and great baseball I once shared with my mom.


Notes

  1. “Busch Memorial Stadium”. Wikipedia. Accessed 11 April 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busch_Memorial_Stadium
  2. “Box Score of Game played on Wednesday, September 19, 1979 at Busch Stadium II”. Baseball Almanac. Accessed 11 April 2018. http://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/boxscore.php?boxid=197909192SLN

NaPoWriMo Shakespearean Sonnet

When NaPoWriMo’s gone, what will be made
Of April’s work? And all our odes assessed?
We’ve dashed down rhymes and surged the lines we’ve laid.
We’ve streamed brainstorms, and through our words, we’ve pressed.
We scramble through each day to churn out verse.
Why rush your feet through iamb and dactyl?
Why blitz the flow until you’re just a curse
Away from lying down unhurried skill?
My NaPoWriMo lessons are but one:
A poem’s only done when it is done.