A Pile of Sketches. Click to enlarge.

A Pile of Sketches. Click to enlarge.

As I’ve alluded to in previous posts, I’ve been swamped since August. Since October, especially, things have been particularly rough.

I’m teaching a full load of classes (technically) this semester, which I’ve done before but it’s all sections of the same class, so everything is due on the same day, usually. This week is the pinnacle of such problems as I have six days to grade about 100 papers. Because of that, I’ve been creatively and mentally wiped.

I have sat down a few times to draw and, in addition to the exhaustion, I’m having a spate of “everything I draw looks like garbage.” Trust me, it does.I even tried doing a specific drawing for Sketch Fridays, but it was a disaster and I even committed the cardinal sin of trying to fix it in Photoshop. No doubt, there are aspects of the drawing that looks fine, but as a composition it stinks and isn’t something I want to share with everybody. But whatever:

Sometimes drawing with a pen results in "drifting eye" disease. Ugh. Click to enlarge, I guess.

Sometimes drawing with a pen results in “drifting eye” disease. Ugh. Click to enlarge, I guess.

Sometimes when I am just sitting on the couch with Nicole watching tv or something, I try to just doodle in a sketchbook and see if anything happens. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a doodler, or a sketcher; when I draw, it tends to be for a specific purpose. However, I want to get better and I know that a major part of that is drawing as often as possible, even if it doesn’t feel like I’m doing anything productive. Hence these evening doodles. I call these collections of assorted miscellanea “sketch piles” because that’s what it looks like. However, even when I tried to sit down and do that it was pretty lackluster, but I figured I’d share it with you anyway.

Sketch piles don’t start out with any rhyme or reason, which drives me crazy. So, I just draw lines and shapes and see where it takes me.

This particular pile was all drawn with a fine-tipped Sharpie, so I had to move fast and really make each line count or else it would be plagued by bleed-through and a complete obscuring of whatever it was I was trying to draw. With that in mind, most of the stuff on this page is just random (I even start playing with the bleed-through a bit). At some point, I got interested in redesigning Batman’s costume which lead nowhere. There are also some characters on there: Long John, obviously; Janester, a character from Eben07; there’s a wolf holding a mug of coffee which is one of my dad’s cartoons he leaves on napkins and receipts at restaurants with groan-worthy one-liners.

But back to the work thing, because I think it’s best to come clean if only for the fact that is impacted Long John so severely.

I’m a teacher, as stated above, and this semester I have been given new responsibilities as well as an ostensible full load of classes. I say ostensible because teaching five classes is considered full time and I’m only teaching four; however, I have the role of being a coordinator of a small program within the English department that I’m very proud to lead, and it counts the same as teaching a class.

Not only has grading been tough––I knew what I was getting into––but I’ve been hit with a major “first time” event that, with hope, most teachers don’t have to experience.

Without relaying the story in detail (and risk a tl;dr situation; though I’ll probably write it up at another time), in October I was informed by a student that another student––her close friend––had died in a car accident over the weekend. He sat in the back and was quiet. But he laughed at my dumb jokes (and my good ones) and, otherwise, didn’t stand out too much. He worked when he was supposed to and he asked questions when he had them. Like a student does. He was a student.

It was a tough thing to bring up with the rest of the class, and we talked about it and have moved through it.

At the beginning of November, Human Resources informed me that another student had died in a car accident. I didn’t know this one as well; I had never met him (he was a student in the program I coordinate which is a small class tutorial, divvying students between a number of tutors I employ), but I had the responsibility to tell the tutor what had happened.

But the semester doesn’t stop and I have to keep going. I have papers to grade and remaining students to get through the class. I had surgery a few weeks ago, with another one in March (nothing serious, but a long process nonetheless) and the healing, and medication, knocked me out for a solid week or so.

Like I said, it’s been rough. I’m not telling you this as an excuse, because it’s not. I’m sure more dedicated people than me would work right through this, using it as a cathartic exercise, but I can’t. Instead, I am eagerly looking forward to the winter break where I can just draw and let the stress go (until I have to go in for jury duty, ugh…). For the first time in a long time, drawing is all I want to do. I can’t wait for you to see it.