My art background

This is a question from formspring.me. Go ask me something!

Have you ever had art classes or did you learn on your own? ‘Cause you’re pretty good!

Thank you! And the answer is both! My mother was a middle school art teacher (just retired), so I was surrounded by art my whole life. My bathroom back home is decorated by watercolor paintings I did when I was 2 years old – basically just blobs, but my mom thinks it’s as good as some modern art. I was an introverted kid, so I would always sit around and draw for fun. People who knew about my artistic ability always thought my mom sat me down and trained me, but she really didn’t. I was way too stubborn to listen to her then, and I mostly figured it out on my own. But if I did want advice on how to make something look better or more realistic, she was there for the tips.

Priorities – This is hanging up in my high school because it won a major award.

Even though I didn’t like to listen to her personally, she really enriched my life with art. We went to the Art Institute of Chicago nearly every year, to the point where I could have given you a tour of the exhibits by age 10. I was well versed in the history and style of most famous artists. In addition to art classes I took at school, I also took some summer classes.
Lift-off painting of Jude Law I did during my sophomore year of high school. Had no idea who he was at the time, just found a pretty magazine photograph of him.

School classes were my favorite though. I always looked forward to art, and teachers gave me a lot leeway. I was an honors student and good in most subjects, but in art I was years ahead of everyone else. Every year since first grade I had at least one piece in the Northwest Indiana art show, and I usually won at least something. Whenever there was a class project that needed an illustration, I was the go-to girl.
Oil painting and colored pencils are my favorite medium. And if you can’t figure it out, I love drawing people. And yep, this one is a self portrait.

My mom was actually my art teacher from 6th through 8th grade, which was a little awkward in the beginning (especially since it took everyone forever to figure out that she was my mom!). At the time I was annoyed that she graded me tougher than the other students, but in the end it made me a better artist. My high school art teacher was wonderful too – she was so spunky and creative, and had a good mix of teaching skills and encouraging creativity. I took AP Studio Art my senior year, with a class size of one – I just sat in the corner and painted while another class was going on (by the way, I got a 5 on my exam – woot). And on top of all that, I was the Art Club President for two years. Yep, I was more of an art geek than a science nerd!
My favorite piece from AP Studio Art – Pygmalion

So how did I end up a scientist? Well, I liked genetics and art equally. My logic at the time was that art can be a hobby, but genetics kind of can’t. Not to mention I like doing art my way, and I couldn’t imagine doing it as a job. So here I am, a geneticist. I’m very happy with my decision, even though I don’t do as much art as I would like. Regardless, that artistic ability still helps me in science. I have labmates come to me to help with figures and posters (No, do not use neon green and orange for that figure…). But more importantly, art has trained me to think creatively. You can do science without it, but to ask the innovative, cool questions you need to be able to think outside of the box. So to all those people who don’t see art as a worthwhile class to have – think again!
Proof that I’m actually doing these!

I haven’t updated my art much since high school, but if you want to check out my other stuff, I have an old deviantART page.

Raised without sexual guilt?

Hey everyone. I’m joining the formspring.me bandwagon, as it’s a good source for blog fodder. Basically you can go here to ask me anonymous (or not anonymous) questions on anything you’d like. I won’t promise to answer everything, but I’ll try. Ones that I really like will become an official blog post, like the one below.

I grew up fundamentalist. I’m also naturally pervy. I lived with a lot of guilt and shame, especially regarding masturbation. What’s it like not to have to live with that? Did you have any guilt at all about your normal sexual leanings?

While I grew up in a fairly secular environment, I wouldn’t say my upbringing was completely guilt-free. My parents actually never had “The Talk” with me, and sexuality was just a very awkward subject. Most “sexual morals” that I learned from them came in the form of rants about other people. My dad was a special education teacher at a city school, and stories about students who ruined their life by getting pregnant were all too common. I remember sitting at the dinner table while he told us how one of his freshman girls was pregnant with her second child, and how she could never come to school because she was so busy taking care of the first. It was never explicitly said, but the message was “Don’t fuck up your life by getting pregnant.”

And to be honest, that’s still a mantra I hold today. I never really felt guilty about sexual things I did, even when I was fooling around back in high school. I never went all the way – but not because I wanted to wait until marriage, or so that I could claim to be a “technical virgin” – I just logically knew I wasn’t ready to deal with the consequences. The way I saw it, once I was 18 and away at college, I’d be able to buy birth control. And if that failed, I’d be able to get an abortion without requiring parental permission or something. Really, I just put off sex until I knew it could be my little secret.

I used to think you should only have sex with people you really love, but now I realized that’s just what society was telling me I should think. I’m personally not into random hookups with strangers, but I have no problem with casual sex or friends with benefits. As long as everyone involved is on the same page and no one gets hurt, I see no problem with it.

I kind of feel bad for people who were raised in anti-sex environments. Trained guilt is insanely hard to get rid of. I really can’t fathom how people feel guilty about masturbation, or sex before marriage, or multiple partners, or same sex fantasies, even when they can rationally tell themselves it’s okay. It really just sort of sucks. Sometimes I’ll feel a momentary twinge of guilt knowing the majority of society thinks I’m some naughty slut – but you know what? I enjoy getting some, and they can all fuck off.

And that’s really how I deal with any guilt. If I’m not hurting myself or anyone else, then my sexual acts and fantasies are none of your goddamned business. Well, I’ll talk about it if you’re actually pro-sex – but if your goal is to judge me and make me feel bad about myself, then you’re wasting your time.

March Madness!

I have a confession to make: I care a tiny amount about March Madness. Me interested in sports – shocking, right? I think going to a Big Ten school helped, because now I have a team that I can arbitrarily pledge my allegiance to and root for. Of course, Robbie Hummel got hurt and now Purdue is effectively screwed, but I’ll be cheering them on anyway.

But that’s not the real reason I like March Madness. For the fourth year in a row we’re having a family pool: It’s me, my dad, mom, brother, his wife, her brother and parents, my other brother, and his girlfriend/spouse/omg get officially married already so I know what to call you. I love it because how competitive all the guys get. My dad and brothers played college basketball, my dad coached high school basketball for 25 years, and the other guys watch it religiously, so they all actually care about the outcomes. They strategically fill out their brackets and argue over who’s the best choice.

The fun part? The ladies, who always randomly fill out their brackets, usually do just as well.

I’m not trying be stereotypical with the “Men like sports and women don’t” trope – that’s just how my immediate family actually is. But it’s always good to get to the end of the tournament and go “Huh, I’m winning? Can’t believe my random guessing is as good as your calculated choices…” Ah McCreights, we love rubbing it in.

Anyone else watching the tournament? Do you actually think you’re good at figuring out the winner? Is there anything else in your life that you think you have control over, but it’s probably more due to chance?

America’s sex prudishness now extended to dogs

What the hell.

“Is your pet feeling left in the dirt because of his/her unsightly rear? I’ve got them covered… Rear Gear is handmade in Portland, OR and offers a cheerful solution to be-rid your favorite pet’s un-manicured back side.”

Yes folks, now we can’t even see our pet’s buttholes. Heaven forbid we acknowledge that an animal poops, especially when we have to clean up after it. No, instead hang a gaudy attention-attracting sign on it’s butt, so your virgin eyes don’t have to be sullied. Seriously, what the hell? What happens when these things want to sit down? Or poop?!

Though I have to admit, this one made me chuckle a bit:
Danger! Toxic waste exit! Do not approach without pooper scooper!

America's sex prudishness now extended to dogs

What the hell.

“Is your pet feeling left in the dirt because of his/her unsightly rear? I’ve got them covered… Rear Gear is handmade in Portland, OR and offers a cheerful solution to be-rid your favorite pet’s un-manicured back side.”

Yes folks, now we can’t even see our pet’s buttholes. Heaven forbid we acknowledge that an animal poops, especially when we have to clean up after it. No, instead hang a gaudy attention-attracting sign on it’s butt, so your virgin eyes don’t have to be sullied. Seriously, what the hell? What happens when these things want to sit down? Or poop?!

Though I have to admit, this one made me chuckle a bit:
Danger! Toxic waste exit! Do not approach without pooper scooper!

Goodbye internet, hello Final Fantasy XIII

Hey guys! I’m on spring break! While usually that would mean I have a lot of free time to blog, unfortunately I went out and bought Final Fantasy XIII. If you don’t understand what that means, you need to read this (multiple friends said they immediately thought of me):To illustrate how much of an FF addict I am, my first thought was “That’s so stupid of him! You rarely use phoenix down, especially if you’re a good player. He should have picked potions or something.”

…Yeah, I’m a FF geek.

Anyway, some preliminary thoughts about the game for those of you who got it or are thinking about getting it (don’t worry, I’m not far enough to really know spoilers yet):

1. The dialog is cheesy as hell. And I mean, cheesy compared to other FF games, even. It’s like watching Final Fantasy Days of Our Lives. I almost vomited during the lovey dovey fireworks scene.

2. Making up for that is the graphics. Oh my god. I’d all HD, and the gameplay looks just as high def as the cut scenes. I’m constantly having an eyegasm.

3. Speaking of cut scenes, wow. I know FF is notorious for them, but so far I feel like there’s a cut scene ever five seconds. Of course, it’s so pretty that I don’t really care.

4. I kind of like the new battle system. I was a little worried since I’m one of those n00bs who like turn based and active time scares me, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. It makes the battles feel a lot more real and important since you have to keep making quick decisions. The in-battle graphics are also great, it actually looks like a real fight instead of someone swinging a sword and a monster that’s a mile away going “ouch.”

5. The black guy is comic relief. Again. Oh, FF. Though his baby chocobo is kind of the cutest thing ever.

6. And finally, Vanille is the girliest girly girl ever. When she’s running she literally skips and prances with her arms up in the air. While in a scary dungeon. Wtf. I mockingly yelled “Yaaaay!” when she was running, and then a half second later she went “Yaaaay!” She’s predictably cute.

Other character: Where’s your mark?
Me: *girly voice* On my butt!
Her: Teehee, here! *lifts up skirt to show the mark on her butt*
Me: …Wow.

Alright, back to playing!

Indiana high school student sues over graduation prayer

Ah, always good to see freethinkers in Indiana! Or at the very least, young people who support the separation of church and state:

A Greenwood High School honor student who learned in class about court rulings striking down school prayer has found a real-world application — his own graduation ceremony.

Eric Workman’s lawsuit, filed Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, challenges the high school’s practice of allowing seniors to vote on whether to have a student-led prayer at graduation.

ACLU attorney Ken Falk said allowing the vote and even having the prayer run afoul of U.S. Supreme Court rulings that found prayers at public school-sponsored events to violate the First Amendment.

“This is particularly egregious when it’s coming from a student who’s going to be sitting on the stage,” Falk said. Workman, 18, is ranked first in his class, the lawsuit says.

Good for him! It can be difficult to deal with small religious towns in Indiana, and this kid is probably getting a lot shit for what he’s doing. So I send kudos his way for helping keep church and state separated!

Of course, not everyone is as understanding…

The Rev. Shan Rutherford, pastor of Greenwood Christian Church for more than three decades, said he disagrees with the proposition that such a prayer would violate a student’s rights.

“If I lived in a Muslim nation, a Hindu nation or anything else, I would expect to go along with the majority,” Rutherford said. “He’s trying to go with minority rule. To me, that’s wrong in a democracy, one that was founded on Christian principles.”

“If you don’t agree, I don’t think you should try to stop other people from exercising their rights.”

Rev. Rutherford, I think you need to sit in on that government class Workman learned so much from.

Anyone who still claims that America was founded on Christian principles shows how little they know about our government’s history, since that trope has been destroyed over and over. But worse than that is his failure to comprehend the idea of “majority rule, minority rights.” Just because Christians are in the majority doesn’t mean they get to have everything their way, especially when it infringes upon the rights of the minority. Removing a school prayer doesn’t make it an atheist ceremony, representing a majority of Americans – it makes it a secular ceremony, representing everyone. I would be just as a against someone getting up on stage an talking about how there is no God, religion is stupid, and anyone who believes in God is deluded. That would be totally inappropriate for a public school graduation, just as a prayer would.

Ah, Christian persecution complex. Lovely, isn’t it?

(Hat tip to Tom)

No prom? Blame the gays

This story really makes me sad.

A northern Mississippi school district will not be hosting a high school prom this spring after a lesbian student sought to attend with her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo.

The Itawamba County school district’s board decided Wednesday to drop the prom because of what it called recent distractions but without specifically mentioning the girl’s request, which was backed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The student, 18-year-old high school senior Constance McMillen, said the cancellation was retaliation for her efforts to bring her girlfriend, also a student, to the April 2 dance.

“A bunch of kids at school are really going to hate me for this, so in a way it’s really retaliation,” McMillen told The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson. Calls to McMillen by The Associated Press late Wednesday went unanswered.

School policy requires that senior prom dates be of the opposite sex. The ACLU of Mississippi had given the district until Wednesday to change that policy, arguing that banning same-sex prom dates violated McMillen’s constitutional rights.

The ACLU said McMillen approached school officials shortly before the memo went out because she knew same-sex dates had been banned in the past. The ACLU said district officials told McMillen she and her girlfriend wouldn’t be allowed to arrive together, that she would not be allowed to wear a tuxedo, and that she and her girlfriend might be asked to leave if their presence made any other students “uncomfortable.”

Alright, I know it’s Mississippi, and apparently it’s a small religious town, but how can a school be so fucking stupid? Don’t they know this is just going to open up a can of worms? No, instead they have to stand by their “traditional values” of discrimination instead of letting a girl wear a tux and dance with another girl. Jesus Christ, people. Have a little compassion, or at least a little legal common sense.

And the fact that they canceled prom is even worse than if they just banned this student from taking a same-sex date. I think McMillen is right when she says this is punishment – those gays are to blame for prom being canceled! If only they could just be good, quiet, heterosexual girls who wore dresses. If this high school is anything like mine (or most American high schools), prom is a big fucking deal. Even I went to prom. Twice.

This makes me wonder what could have happened at my high school back in the day. Two of my close friends were lesbians who were dating each other, and they were considering going to prom together. I know there were some worries over if Munster would allow it, if they’d have to fight for it, if they’d have to drag in their parents (who are super supportive wonderful people). They would have been the first same sex couple to try it – gays went to prom, but usually with a friend for a date because they were too afraid to come out (I was actually my gay friend’s beard for his senior prom). In the end, it didn’t matter though – they decided that prom was lame, and they went to a Star Wars convention instead (probably a much better choice).

I really hope this school comes around and stops acting like the asshats they are. No, prom isn’t some god given right to all high school students – but to revoke that privilege because of one gay couple is just wrong.

(Via BoingBoing)