A quiet week of scanning.

One of my goals in 2019 was to post several times a week, but already I got a little behind. For the last week or so I have been scanning our pictures packed away. I did this about two years ago shortly after my parents passed. it was done in a hurry, the scan qualities probably not the best, but I did it so I could get the degrading photos safely saved and handed out to my family members.

The photos from my childhood had traveled with us homeless for years, we moved more than 20 times in my childhood (eviction, poverty and homelessness) and this meant all we had left were some ratty photo albums that we kept no matter what. So when my parents died, I figured it was important to scan them, evidently not as important to my family in the end. Lesson learned on that front.

Now that we are settled and I am taking some photo restoration online classes I am learning a lot. I want to go back through not just my childhood, but the hubby and I’s photos and scan everything that I WANT. I make this distinction because there were a lot of photos I scanned that I had no idea who the person was, where it was at, etc. It was only done in case someone wanted it in the future. Now that I am doing it for myself, I can be picky. The other problem is my organization when I scanned it makes it hard to figure out what photos I want to keep and if I can get them in better quality, so here we are scanning.

That being said, being picky is pretty hard. I can for the most part not blink as I put aside photography dealing with people I don’t know who they are. I can also avoid photos of scenic (or not so scenic) views of places that don’t mean so much to me.

I have however found it difficult anyways to not scan some stupid imagery. Not that it means anything to me, but I think it is some sort of resonance, or worry that I don’t want to lose what my parents were looking at, at one point in time of their life. It makes me super anxious that I might be squishing out their point of view.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still not scanning all of the photos I will never look at anyways, but it does give me anxiety about doing it. I am about 1/3 of the way done after a week and I will be glad to have it done, and stop the scanning.

At least at that point I can use my computer to figure out duplicates, remove them. Then remove photos I can’t restore and are no good. I will then go back through my current photo library (after backing it up) and deleting or replacing photos I don’t want or need.

The other good experience is I am learning pretty fast how to restore photos, it is both easier and harder than you would think. Hey, maybe now that my job prospects are shakier with being out and trans I might be able to pick up a little side money restoring photos, or even photo manipulation.

Either way, next couple of weeks will be busy as I do this.

Wrapping up 2018

I have been remiss lately in my postings due to holidays, stress and other factors. However, I really want to start engaging more. I find that posting about my life lets me explore things and learn things about myself, or at the very least let’s me see where I was at a given point in time (even if sometimes embarrassing).

I am not someone who really has ever particularly liked the whole “magic day” that makes new things possible. Your new year starts when you want it to, it isn’t a date, but because I am more hypocrite then anything I thought I would start though with a bullet list of where I stand currently in my life, give me something in one year to look back and determine how things have changed at a glance.

Important Points in 2018:

  • I am married to the most fantastic, supportive man and love of my life for 26 years. Only decision (other than maybe transition) that I have not ever regretted.
  • I came out and began my transition in 2018, I have never been happier with how I looked or felt, lost 100lbs from March – December and am excited about the changes (20lbs more is my target, but I am ok where I am at if I don’t make it).
  • I am unemployed due to transitioning. I left my long term job because of the transition and working for the department of defense. I then left the county job to go to the state job in order to go to a place that would know who I am and support my transition. Only to be let go 25 minutes after I request off time for my upcoming gender confirming surgery (FFS/Orchie/Chest Reconstruction).
  • I have a great set of family I have chosen, it is small but meets what I need.
  • I have a great gaming group, first long term roleplaying game in over a decade.
  • We are financially stable even being unemployed thanks to my husband and being out of almost all debt (we got 100% out except student loans until I started medical transitioning and we had to buy a car).
  • I am in a secure apartment, with our goal to stay here for five years.
  • I am learning to walk away from toxic relationships, no matter who.
  • Our cat Ghost passed this year after spending three years with us.
  • I started photoshop, photography and digital art tutorials/classes online. Not much progress yet.
  • I finished 52 books this year.
  • Our book we are writing (accidentally gay) is at the editor and finally had first edit done, target date is around Valentine’s Day for publishing.

I will probably update this list as I think about it. It is after all only 3:55am and mornings are rough.

So, there you have in a nutshell (or bullet list) the big things this year that I remember happening). I will posts soon about what I want to do in the next year and see if it works out.

Taking it Easy, shadowrun group (artwork, sketch, 1991)

Wraith, Spook, and a bunch of characters I don’t remember, Pencil Sketch 1991 – Shadowrun

Shadowrun Group, pencil sketch 1991

At that time in 1991 this was actually one of my favorite pictures. In it is our shadowrun group. On the left is Wraith, my combat decker. Beside her is Spook, an asian cat burgler.. sort of (it’s hard to remember). The other two characters I think were Ben’s whose name I think was Mist… maybe. The other was Drew’s and I have no idea at all the name of the character.

The game was pretty cool, the group was a lot of fun but a lot of problematic things now that I am 28+ years older. Spook… that name would have had an objection from me now, but honestly we didn’t even consider other racist commentary possibilities.

As for other characters, Spook and Mace (Weylin’s characters) were really the only ones I liked in game, considered close and would protect. Ben and Drew’s characters were not liked by Wraith (or by me), they were just sort of filler/backdrop. 

The funny part is hearing other people’s stories, and its always intriguing to hear different points of view. I am sure Wraith was annoying to other characters/players just like they were to me. Just as humans we rarely look outside our own point of view to take it all in.

It was a good set of games, well at least until we started having bad things happen… then waking up from it like it was a dream. That pretty much killed the campaign for me.

Wraith, combat decker (artwork, sketch, 1991)

Wraith, Combat Decker (before they were a thing) Pencil Sketch 1991 – Shadowrun

Wraith was my first female pc. I had run as a GM several female NPCs and they had always been my favorite to fall back on. Once I ran Wraith as a player I never really went back for male characters. After that point I can only remember three male characters in thirty years. One was Grim, an ex-FBI sorcery adept in shadowrun, one was Shaan from my most recent Battletech game, and a very short lived character in a hubby game.

This was probably the first adult indication of who I was (not her personality), and that I preferred to be a female character in a game. I knew at this time what I felt I was, but in no way did I ever think I could jump the divide so I buried it.

I think the image is based on an in-game situation when we were imitating being a special forces team, or it could have been Bryon’s “Abyss” run, a shadowrun mission roughly based on the movie the Abyss. A lot of his games tended to fully imitate movies/tv shows for missions or characters this is not unusual, every GM does it, but I try to hide the details enough that at first glance you can’t tell.

Berek Halfhand, (artwork, sketch, 1986)

Pencil Sketch 1986 – AD&D Character

Berek Halfhand, a half elven ranger from a First Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. I drew it when I was 15, so that would make this 1986. Sadly the art pad got pretty damaged and I couldn’t do much to save it (well I guess there is always photoshop).

I started drawing just like everyone else in elementary school or earlier. I was always in awe of a childhood friend in school who could draw so realistically (it would still be a childlike drawing as an adult, but as a kid it was steps ahead of the rest of us).

I didn’t start really drawing until I hit my teenage years though (13+). Gaming images always stoked that fire. I know I have drawn dozens of fantasy cityscapes, castle views and characters. I also know they were not very good in comparison to others but that didn’t bother me at the time.

One problem though was we were so poor that we could only afford a single artpad I had for years. I was always terrified to use up pages, which I still did slowly up until I was 20 or so. Sadly the pad didn’t survive some of our moves and I only have a few pictures, mostly half done sketches (which still will go up). Here is the oldest one to date.

What I want

I have never been afraid of dying, and I would actually say I have been (and sometimes even now) am more afraid of living. There is a whole slew of reasons for it (toxic masculinity, fucked up upbringing, and a ton of others that probably includes the trans thing). However, the one thing I always hated about the idea of dying was that all the stories in my head wouldn’t be able to get out and that so many stories I hadn’t even spoken to others about would die.

When I was young I would draw, write, and run roleplaying games. As I hit late teen/early twenties the writing and drawing slowed down to a crawl and then mostly disappeared. The roleplaying games I run are the only way I have consistently been able to express my creativity (plus it is a great socializing thing). So roleplaying games (including larping) were my only outlet for everything I wanted to tell the world.

Instead I focused the rest of my life on school, work, etc and I thought I wanted to make more money, get myself out of poverty and take care of my family. I did do a lot of that. We took care of my parents, got the hubby’s health back online and transitioned, but I found I am not happy. I miss the creative side. I can buy stuff, but it isn’t what interests me.

So I decided I am going to forego pursing my CPA. I already hate 9-5 work. I make enough now with my degree that even though I am going to be paying forever on my loans, I can get by. Instead I want to get back into art.

I want to start drawing/creating images again, so I have a few digital art programs I am learning. I have an art pad with paper and an ipad if I want to use a pen like item, and I have started to write again. I even now track my roleplaying games in in-depth websites supporting all the content so I can go back later and tell the stories on paper/in images that we told around the tables.

That means I am going to be posting my old artwork. I am aware a lot of it is not good. I am also aware though that I have to be able to let it be public. That shyness about it is one of the reasons I stopped twenty+ years ago. I need to be ok with people to see my creative stuff. I won’t get better if I can’t accept what I did before (both good and bad). This means you will get a lot of my old stuff and I will add the new as I create it. After all, that is the goal of what is in my head isn’t it?

What I want to do is unload as many of the stories in my head into the world before I shuffle off this mortal coil. 

Memory: Camp Horizon (1988)

Camp Horizon is located in Birch Bay Washington (the site of an old Air Force Station) that provides recreational facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities. I was fortunate enough for two, one week sessions, to be an assistant counselor. It is something that has stayed with me for my life, or at least the last 30 years since I did it (1988). I ended up going up to Birch Bay in summer of 2017, and while I was there I decided to go back to the camp and take some photos. In addition I do have a couple of photos from that time.

The sign!

Funny enough, I had lived in Birch Bay in the fall/winter of 1987 at the age of 15/16 and I never knew this place existed. Then we moved to Bellingham that spring. There I attended Bellingham High School. When I was at the high school, I somehow got in contact with a nice young man named Russ Nelson. He was the stage/videographer for the high school. To this day I can’t remember how he got me interested, but he talked about Camp Horizon and I should volunteer as an assistant counselor.

This was a new thing for me. I had just gotten done being homeless for a year+ and then living in Birch Bay (once again I didn’t know this place existed). I thought this wouldn’t be bad to start with on my resume. I believe it paid $50 for the first week and if I went the second week it went up to $75 (although I could be off a bit). So I agreed to it. Russ was kind enough to drive me to the camp (which was about 30 miles from my home).

I got to the camp, met several other assistant counselors (and a couple of college aged counselors) and began my short lived career as a camp counselor. We were there for five days each session I believe and our days consisted of bunking in the dorms, getting up, running classes, movies, gym activities, and most importantly just being there for the campers.

It was the first time I worked with people more disadvantaged than me and I loved it completely. I will be honest though, it probably helped that I had regular meals, recreational activities and no drunk parents (they were in a bad place at this time). To this day I still remember Dayleen (I am sure I did not spell that right). A young girl who was deaf, with some developmental disabilities and I believe cerebral palsy. It is because of her that I learned my numbers and letters in American Sign Language, along with the way to say “Cookie Monster” and a couple of other phrases.

My three strongest memories were waking up and hearing “I wanna dance with someone” by Whitney Houston, going downstairs and meeting up with Dayleen. I don’t remember exactly what we were working on, I just remember her being so excited about us playing and her signing “Lucky” or some variation of it when she saw me. Sadly I had a picture of her but once we started moving a lot as an older teen, it disappeared in one of our many homeless moments.

My second strongest memory was wrapping up my first session and feeling incredibly sad that it was over. It was followed up with getting home and my parents were on a run. There was loud arguments, loud music and much drinking by several people. I just remember wishing I was still at camp.

My third memory was Melody (I think her name was Melody, not Meloney, but I could be wrong). She was one of my many unrequited loves. I was very quiet as a teenager at this time, and I never figured out how to ask her out, or do pretty much anything. However, my favorite memory with her was laying under a tree, next to her and talking for a long time (probably longer than I should have since I was after all a counselor).

The two sessions went by very quickly and before I knew it I went home and collected my check for the two weeks. I believe I bought my parents an anniversary present and my brother a birthday present with it, never spent a dime on myself (I think the remaining went to house bills). I never was able to go back the following year. This was because by that time I was working full time and supporting my family.

Damn I look young.

Fast forward to summer of 2017 and we went up to Birch bay and stopped by the camp. Surprisingly there were people readying the camp for this summer and we talked with them. They are up to 6 or 7 weeks a year of sessions and they have been constantly updating the place. They were kind enough to let me take some pictures. So below is our gallery and it includes photos from my adventure and last weekend. I know we had other photos, if I find them I will add them.

THE GALLERY

Greeting Cards

Here I am up at 1:30am thinking about Greeting Cards.

Lately I have been working on a project to scan all of our hardcopy photos and then getting storage containers to hold the photos themselves. The old photo albums are falling apart and are destroying the photos. This was spurred on by receiving my parents photos after their passing last year.

It was tough to scan old family photos, I won’t deny that at all. A lot of emotional baggage came up, especially since I haven’t dealt with their passing. Wolsey says it has set me off into a depression. While I want to say that isn’t true, I am not looking from the outside so maybe it is.

I had finished the scanning of hardcopy photos (I still have hundreds of negatives, but those I have in one storage book so they can be done as I go) so I switched to combining and setting up storage for greeting cards.

Greeting cards are always a weird thing for me. They have always held a weird place in my family, compared to other families I have known. No matter what was happening each event,  my parents would get us a card with a handwritten message inside them for each birthday, anniversary, promotion, holiday or end of quarter (and a dozen other special holidays). No matter how poor they were at the time. There would always be in quotation marks the last two digits of the year as well.

Wolsey and I would always smile, thank them and get home joking about the cards. No one else I know of received cards on this level (a lot of times with flowers) for even random small events in our life. I have some cards from other family members, but our receiving them varied on if they were mad at us, if we had drifted away in talking, whereas my parents would have one every event, no matter what.

Yesterday I got my greeting cards storage box and went through the cards. I was surprised it was the hardest thing I have done. It was harder then going through the photos, harder then going through the remnants of their personal belongings in storage, harder then anything except maybe the letters my dad would sometimes write.

It was a quick process, and all the more sadder because it was quick. I had over the years kept most of the stuff they gave us, but we have moved so often, downsized and in general would lose some of them. Now I can see the holes in the different holidays because the cards are missing and it makes me sad. There were important events to Wolsey and I, that I realized the only people that commented/congratulated/consoled us were my parents. I think that is probably the worst part of it, knowing those will be the last cards I will receive from them.

I am glad though that something as small and eccentric like that was a habit they had. It reminds me how much they did care about the little things that happened with us. In that light, I am very fortunate to have the cards, and to have parents that cared about me and my husband so much.

 

TBT: Camp Horizon

Throwback Thursday
This is me in 1987 (age 16) working as a volunteer at Camp Horizon

#TBT

Throwback Thursday – 1991

Throwback Thursday:
Yes this is me in 1991, and yes that is Jello’s underwear on my head.

#tbt