Full moons and Tumblr!

I’ve been getting distracted by Tumblr lately. I have two. One for art, and one for general awesomeness:

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ART TUMBLR
MY AWESOME SPACE TUMBLR

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Perth had a wonderful view of the full moon lunar eclipse the other day. I got some photos with my camera and its kit zoom lens (and no tripod). There are better photos around, but I was still pretty proud of this one:

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Full Moon lunar eclipse by Ravenari

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How are you all going? I should have some more totem files, AND illustrations coming soon!

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Enthusiasm

A friend of mine was saying yesterday that he sometimes wished he could be as enthusiastic as me about things. It took me aback, because for the most part I am very nonplussed about life. Part of it is dysphoria, which I personally think is a byproduct of living with nightly nightmares and flashbacks and a touch phobia among other things. But part of it is that I’ve always been a fairly insular person, and so I don’t associated myself with enthusiasm. Or at least – not enthusiasm related to social events!

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But in this instance, the term came up because I was cooing and fawning all over probably the most glorious sunset I’ve seen all year. We were in the car, and I was alternatively gasping and bringing a whole band of sound effects along with me: ‘oooo’, ‘ahhh,’ ‘eeee’. I was pointing and talking about colour gradations and ‘oh god it’s so glorious’ and essentially I turned into a non-crying equivalent of the Double Rainbow guy.

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Nature does this to me. I’m the girl who – when the moon is full – will often sing ‘moooon, moooooon,’ regardless of who else is around, and then stare avidly and adoringly until I have to go do ‘real life things.’ I will stop and watch wild animals on my walk. I’ll go and examine the buds of Nuytsia floribunda (the Australian Christmas Tree, and largest species of mistletoe) just because it makes me feel good to do so.

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So I do have enthusiasm for nature. Actually, I have enthusiasm for a few things; good music, good art, good TV, good food. People? No, not so much. I have lovely friends, but too many damaging experiences with people have taught me a deep, ingrained wariness that always stops my good will from becoming much more than a hesitant love. I am still always surprised when my friends accept this as something valuable because I know in my heart that I have so much more to give, if I could just let myself.

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I’m that person who cries at every song during the Sound of Music simply because I feel intense emotion that isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just so intense that I cry. Every time. Every time even though I’ve seen it a hundred times. Sunsets and sunrises and storms and general ‘nature things’ are the same way. I’m invested. I get enthusiastic.

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I used to be very afraid of some of the things that I did naturally and spontaneously. I was afraid of doing silly dances to celebrate things like ‘Glen has brought chocolate home for me,’ and I was afraid of singing songs that I’d made up about people’s nicknames, I was afraid about crying at things that most people didn’t associate with crying (until I saw Melanie on So You Think You Can Dance, this season, who cries like I do – all the time at random things), I was afraid of being the one to laugh loudest in the cinema (I always am, I once had a friend tell me that I’m the one who breaks the barrier and makes it okay for everyone else to laugh as loud as they want; but secretly I think I’m the one that everyone else thinks ‘honestly, woman, it’s not that funny.’), I was afraid of closing my eyes over that perfect bite of key lime pie or saying ‘this is sex‘ in my driven, happy way when I see a bombastic piece of artwork.

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I still can be afraid of these things, you know. I am afraid to show my happiness and enthusiasm around others. I knew a couple of people who – when I was growing up – took this as their cue to make my life as miserable as possible. And so I learned that happiness and enthusiasm could be tools used to subjugate and subordinate other people. So my enthusiasm became a private reality, something I cherished on my own. No wonder I grew to love being on my own so much. It was the only time I could feel something good in a way that wasn’t always tainted with shame or self-hatred.

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This year I made a decision to be more natural with these things about other people, to be more vulnerable. It was a hard decision. It first started because I was tired of feeling so ashamed at myself for tearing up during the Winnie the Pooh theme song, or during the lyrebird singing during the David Attenborough Life of Birds documentary. I love sharing media with other people, but I hated my emotional reactions to things because they are intense. I am the person who – upon feeling myself starting to cry during an inspirational moment in a musical – will start counting times tables in her head to stop the upswell of intense feeling. Social embarrassment avoided, but it also bleaches my enjoyment out of a movie or TV show.

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So my friend was seeing an enthusiasm that I’ve only really been happy to explore around other people in the past year / year and a half. It’s hard to be that person around other people. It’s hard to be myself. A lot of life has taught me that being yourself is the fastest way to be damaged. And as an adult, I’m learning that being myself now is maybe a faster way to healing, if I approach it carefully.

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I’m a crier at movies and TV shows and songs even when they’re not sad. Especially when they’re not sad. I’m a person who has silly dances (the ‘we’re going out’ dance and the ‘I’m washing my hair’ dance and the ‘we’ve run out of the toothpaste where’s the new tube’ dance) and who sings at the moon and sings songs for her friends and bops her head to bass-lines that no one else can hear. I’m someone who is sensitive and vulnerable and enthralled by plants and animals and rumbling thunder. I’m someone who laughs the loudest in the cinema and can laugh at the same joke, in the 50th viewing of the same show with the same intensity as when I saw it the first time. I may have alexithymia, I may not know what I’m feeling; but I feel things intensely. It’s not just depression and dysphoria all the time, and I am teaching myself to show this reality to other people.

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Which is probably a good thing, because tonight we’re watching Sound of Music with said friend, and I will cry at every single awesome song just like I did the last time I watched it; simply because it makes me feel that good. It will be so much nicer to do that rather than counting times tables to make me seem as emotionally ‘appropriate’ as everyone else watching!

So I have this thing called a touch phobia…

Touch phobia is also rather unhelpfully known by the following names: haphephobia, aphephobia, haphophobia, hapnophobia, haptephobia, haptophobia, thixophobia and just ‘fear of being touched.’ I call it a ‘touch phobia,’ and that works for me.

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Well, the name works for me, not the phobia. The phobia is a son of a bitch. And anyone who has it probably knows just how awful it can be.

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I’m lucky, I don’t have a truly severe version. My phobia has never made me throw up. I can sit in the passenger seat in the front of a car when someone else is driving (though it makes me feel trapped, and sometimes I’ve had to get out of cars or ask that they stop). I can shop in shopping centres, and I can even handle hugging some people hello and goodbye.

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The list of things I can’t do, right now, because of the phobia, is long and winding. From not being able to stand next to people on a crowded bus, to not being able to handle people walking behind me when I’m sitting down.

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For many of us, and certainly me, touch burns like fire, is intensely aggravating, or – as I like to describe it – ‘feels like sandpaper vigorously rubbing against the *inside* of my skin.’ You would think, because of that, I hate touch and don’t want it in my life, but you’d be wrong. I like the idea of touch (though I can’t imagine it too explicitly, or I trigger the phobia even when no one’s around). I crave touch. Pre-touch phobia, I used to be a physically affectionate person.

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I’ve tried different ways of dealing with this. I’ve talked to several therapists, I’ve even seen a sex therapist in the hopes that she’d come across a case like mine before (she hadn’t; the downside to finding experienced therapists in a small town). I’ve done research online and come across a whole bunch of bogus, generic, ‘I can fix your X phobia with this video/tape/cassette/aluminium hat, for X amount of dollars!’

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I’ve been drawn to media representations of people with touch phobia for some time now, from Ciel Phantomhive in Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler), to little Cindy in the two-part Press Gang episode written by the wonderful Steven Moffat.

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Ciel from Kuroshitsuji

Ciel from Kuroshitsuji

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Of course, it’s not a coincidence that I was also drawn to both of these characters; they have experienced childhood sexual abuse. That said, not everyone with a touch phobia has been sexually abused. But a lot of us have.

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Cindy from Press Gang

Cindy from Press Gang

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I’d list a lot more media examples, but we’re not really well-represented in the media. Which is a shame, because there’s not one way to have a touch phobia, and it manifests so differently that it would be you know – nice for me as someone who studies mass media – to see more representations of touch phobia out there.

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Some people are specifically scared of being touched by the opposite sex, some people are specifically scared of being touched by people, but not animals. Some people are specifically scared of sexual touch, but not any other kind of touch. Some people are specifically scared of intimate touch, but other forms of touch are fine. It affects people of all genders and sexes and walks of life. But not many people have heard of it, or know that such a thing exists. A lot of people don’t talk about it, even if they have it.

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There’s no guaranteed way to recover from a touch phobia. And everyone responds differently to different methods. Some people have a natural remission over time. Others need to put in a ridiculous amount of effort for a tiny amount of progress. Others find that they don’t want to recover from their touch phobia, because they don’t miss intimate touch of any kind, and don’t find they need it. There’s no one psychological technique that will work for everyone, and it’s important not to let other people try and convince you this is true. Because if you do, and then the technique fails you, you’ll end up blaming yourself, instead of the circumstances, environment, technique, or just ‘it not being the right time yet.’

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I’m writing about this again because it is actually the most common search topic on my WordPress journal. And I’m writing about this again, because I still have it. It’s still there. It’s still a son of a bitch. And because I’m not alone in trying to figure it out; but I feel that way, because not many people write about it. And because if you’re one of those people who feels alone in trying to figure it out, I want you to know you’re not. There are a lot of us out there, trying to wrap our heads around it, some of us wondering and hoping it could be different one day. And most of us are putting phenomenal amounts of energy into stopping it from getting worse, and even trying to heal from it.

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We’re out there. Cringing away from people who walk too close to us. Swallowing down nausea when a family member kisses us in neutral greeting on the cheek. Loving our partners endlessly and then struggling to understand why we can’t lie in the same bed with them, or cuddle. Letting the buses pass until there’s one empty enough for us to enter. Shopping online to avoid the crowds, and trying to count to 10 so we can survive waiting in a line at the bank. In whatever ways it manifests, we’re out there. And there’s probably more of us than we think.

I’ve been framed!

Two frames arrived today from Frameshop.com.au. I’ve had hit and miss success with them; I’ve had two frames arrive broken in the past, but their prices are also very competitive, and so with trepidation, I decided to invest in another two frames for two Wandsuna illustrations. And they are beautiful; arrived safely and everything.

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Wandsuna – Foxes Don’t Cry was the first non-pastel Wandsuna work that I illustrated, and I was kind of hooked on the ink -> watercolour pencil -> pencil -> acrylic -> etc. format and knew I’d have to revisit it. I love this illustration. So many foxes! So much red! Foxes! Red! And basically all my sophisticated thoughts drift off from there.

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Wandsuna - Foxes Don't Cry by Ravenari

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Wandsuna – Remember? is probably one of the most personal illustrations I’ve ever done, though the symbology for Wandsuna is quite complex, I still found it impacted people in personal ways as they watched the progress on Dreamwidth. The interpretation of the image by others was perhaps – is still, perhaps – my favourite part of putting a piece of artwork out into the world. It’s because of this that I still maintain a great reluctance to explicate the themes and symbols of the Wandsuna illustrations.

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I feel the artwork should be able to speak for itself; and I feel the dream-like nature of the Wandsuna series reminds us all that all artwork speaks first to unconscious processes, and then to consciousness.

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I’m happier than I thought I would be with this colour combination. The cream mattboard really brings out the cream/white costume, and that’s awesome.

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Wandsuna - Remember? by Ravenari

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I’ve been very much enjoying the wild, blustery Perth weather of the past 24 hours, and I hope it continues. FOREVER. Okay, but in all seriousness, I would not be upset if the rain continued FOREVER. Particularly if it remained blustery and there were overhead booms of thunder and flickers of lightning. I know storms can’t last, but one can live in hope! I imagine all the angry powerless flooded people will be knocking on my door soon with angry letters and glares.

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I’ve been living wild in the wondrous music of:

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Woodpigeon
Joe Hisaishi’s – Ni No Kuni soundtrack (NI NO KUNI! Is anyone else as excited about the English release of this video game for the PS3? Has anyone heard of it? You don’t know? OH MY GOD, MIYAZAKI AND STUDIO GHIBLI TEAMED UP TO MAKE A DS and PS3 FINAL FANTASY STYLE GAME BUT WITH THEIR STORYBOARDS AND MUSIC AND OH MY FREAKING GOD IT LOOKS AMAZING. The DS version has been getting great reviews so far.
Ludovico Einaudi
Robyn
And a bunch of other things.

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I’ve started a Master of Communications, to complement my Bachelor of Communications, and mostly because I’m a total suckah for punishment. It’s hard work, but it’s also a lot like revisiting my old friends. Oh media theorists, I’ve missed you. *pets Fiske and Hartley.*

Lechenaultia biloba, in our garden.

A Western Australian native. In our garden. I’m a massive fan of local planting in gardens (and very much loathe the ‘plant water-hungry exotics in Perth gardens’ general philosophy), and xeriscaping (or water-wise planting, which in Perth often becomes a necessity for drought tolerance). People tell me that local plants are ugly. To this, may I present to you a thriving, water-wise Lechenaultia biloba. This is actually what it looks like faded; it’s much brighter after its initial flower:

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Lechenaultia biloba in flower, by Ravenari

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This particular specimen was purchased from Lullfitz Nursery – Specialists in Australian Plants.

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Also, my hand is injured, making art impossible right now (and touch-typing laborious!) Hope it heals soon!

Uh.

So. I write a post asking what you guys want to see me write more of; and my response? To write nothing. That was unexpected. At least for me!

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But I have been working on stuff. And doing stuff. I’d include pictures, but… not this time!

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1. I got accepted into a Masters of Communication via Open University Australia; at Griffith University. This now means I have access to JSTOR, which makes me a happy marshmallow panda.

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2. We went down south to Pemberton and Margaret River and it was all at once; rugged, inspirational, like living in a Ghibli movie (especially Spirited Away), very difficult, challenging, anxiety-inducing, filled with cockroaches, filled with immense beauty, colonised with karri trees, made of awesome Chicken Treat chicken rolls, intoxicated with Duckstein beer (especially altbier), and created with great music. Thanks Hisaishi, for the soundtrack!

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3. I have a list of projects which looks something like this:

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– finish two short stories
– finish long-form fanfiction
– finish Katt’s forest (largest illustration I’ve ever inked)
– outline three science fiction novels
– outline Little Wolverine, a fiction-non-fiction narrative book about shamanism
– first drafts of all of these outlines
– etc.

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4. Things I’m not doing for the next Australian financial year include; working on getting any tarot or oracle decks published. Sorry! I will be building my own personal deck though; and may start offering professional readings. I’ll need to trial a bunch first to make sure the system is effective.

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So this is what’s been happening. Plus a ton of other stuff. Realisations about life. Increased PTSD symptoms. Drafts and sketches and finished illustrations. An upcoming interview in a holistic magazine (will link once it’s published) and finding out that the book on animism in which I have both an article (on Shinto and animism in the works of Hayao Miyazaki) and illustrated the cover art may be getting published soon.

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I’ve been enjoying the Winter. Wishing it would rain more, storm more tempestuously, and offer more gloom. Wishing that this didn’t cause my friends with arthritis more pain. It’s hard to love weather systems that hurt people. I am dealing with some of this (and living in ‘usually very dry Perth’) by writing a science fiction series set on a planet with a ridiculous amount of rain and storm.

Help me, my pretties.

Hello everyone.
I’ve been wanting to use this blog more, but I’m simply not sure how to go about it. I have so many things I’d like to write about publically, or for the public eye, but how? And who’s interested? So, I’m here to ask for your opinion. What sort of things would you like to read?:

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* Art showcases of other artists (sometimes including interviews)
* My own art (well, I think that’s a given)
* More about my methods as an artist.
* Experiences of being a writer/artist with PTSD / touch phobia
* More about the touch phobia (do you know that my ‘outing myself as someone with a touch phobia’ blog post is the most read and searched for blog post on this whole journal? I am constantly shocked by a) how many others must have it and b) how sad it is that my account is so far one of the most comprehensive online.)
* Information about animal totems as I write new essays.
* Writing information, including some of my processes like plotting, my habit of using script-writing methods to plot novels, and so on.
* Issues with being a mentally ill, female artist on Disability.
* TV and media reviews.
* More about my positions as someone very concerned with media analysis, and about to commence a Masters in Media Studies.
* Some other miscellaneous thing that I’ve forgotten, that you’d like to see more of.

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I worry that this blog is too unfocused. Much in the same way that people are encouraged to ‘specialise’ in their career (sometimes), I feel as though there is pressure on me to post only about one topic all the time. It’s not who I am. I’m an artist AND a writer, it stands to reason that I’d bring different things to the table here. But I’d still like some input as to what you’d most like to see, so I can start thinking about the kind of trajectory I’d like to set this blog on. After all, I’d like to use it more, it’s just sometimes I think all the things I want to write about are too ‘out of no where!’

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Help me, my pretties. My regular and irregular readers. What brought you here? What do you enjoy reading most? What do you think I could write about that I don’t write about now?

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See you in the comments!