G A N Z E E R . T O D A Y

We have successfully kept small new human alive for two weeks now! Not at all possible without the generosity of awesome friends who have kept us fueled with restaurant deliveries and assorted groceries.

It's a joy (and a bit of a mindfuck) to see Moony change and grow by day. Range of facial expressions have now expanded to include surprise, inquisition, superstition, and deep contemplation.

He almost slept through an entire night a couple nights ago, but then last night he wasn't really having it, despite the airtight swaddle and white noise machine and pacifier. A bit of a nocturnal this fella, no problem sleeping through the day (all this is besides the 2-3 hour feeding call). Me, I can't really get a proper daytime snooze no matter how hard I try.

We've taken to early evening walks around the neighborhood. Not more than half an hour, but it's better than nothing. I wear the child in one of those frontpack things, and he's generally content with being bundled and rocked, despite the sweltering heat (it is Houston).

Here's one of the many stray cats we encounter, who—it is agreed by all—totally owns the street:

#Journal

A few years ago I created a multimedia installation (acrylic on wood + animation on screens) titled HANDS UP (VOL. 2), which toured a number of European cities as part of an exhibition titled MAGIC CITY: THE ART OF THE STREET. Since the last leg of the tour though, the installation's been sitting in a Berlin warehouse accruing costs. Time has finally come to clear out said warehouse. Happy to offer it for a reduced price to any institutions willing to receive it. Otherwise... I may just have to have it destroyed (alas, it is how things go sometimes ツ).

#Work #Installation

I managed to do two things today: pack outgoing mail orders and brush my teeth.

One day, I shall shave.

The wife and I have started to reincorporate a little television into our lives. We finished OMNISCIENT (on Netflix) which was fantastic up until the somewhat unconvincing reveal in the final episode. Still absolutely worth a watch for its speculative ideas surrounding surveillance capitalism. Started BRAVE NEW WORLD (on Peacock), and after only two episodes I AM SO THERE FOR IT!!

Bedside reading is strictly comix these days, oscillating between BLACK HAMMER, PUERTO RICO WAR, BORDERLINE, DYLAN DOG, and AGE OF DARKNESS. It's been too long since I've read any prose (which is not at all good for the articulating muscles in my head) but given the extremely limited availability of waking hours, only possible reading to do is the fast, breezy kind (will happily accept recommendations).

Conversations are mostly with the wife in reference to baby, or directly with the baby in the form of coo's and their derivatives. Otherwise, there's Restricted.Academy, the online forum (yes, I am an old) which has been quite the godsend what with life in quarantine and all.

Seven more pages of colors on TSG #5 to go, some more minor than others. Afterwards, I letter 💪

#Journal

It's been a blur of a week, but today marks my first attempt to resume work on THE SOLAR GRID since birth of child.

I've been asked on more than one occasion whether or not TSG is suitable for kids to which I always respond “definitely not!“, much to their disappointment. I never understood why, but now I get it. When I'm finally finally finished with the book, I'd like to come up with something that centers around my main characters, Mehret and Kameen, that might work for kids. Or at the very least my kid. Not today obviously (he can hardly make out my face yet), but... I dunno, maybe 5-10 years from now?

Should be enough time.

#Journal

Yesterday I had the pleasure of partaking in a live Space-themed webinar organized by Space EU with cosmonaut Muhammed Fares and space scientist Ghina Halabi, a conversation I learned quite a lot from. Aside from the very practical and technical knowledge Muhammed and Ghina brought to the table, there's also a significant philosophical side to their thinking, something I think is vital when considering and talking about Space, but also science and technology in general.

One of the things Muhammed mentioned that will likely stay with me is how terribly frighting the pitch black darkness of space can really be. As someone who suffers from a degree of Thalassophobia, my perception of the oceans more or less = big deep death trap. And we're talking about an environment that still sustains some form of life, just not ours. Outter Space on the other hand sustains no life whatsoever, and it is vast. I'm not sure there's anything in existence even remotely scarier than being stranded in Space O_O

Muhammed recalled how being in space for 8 days only cemented his appreciation for Earth and its incredibly rich life-sustaining properties. He likened his return to Earth as a return to his mother's embrace.

How terrible we abuse our collective mother.

The webinar was conducted in Arabic (a tongue I've seem to have gotten embarrassingly rusty at), but it should be made available on Youtube with English and Dutch subtitles in the near future. Will post when available.

#Journal #Work #Space #Scifi #Talk #Webinar

Cramping started Wednesday night strong enough to have Kelsey believe they were contractions. They were definitely strong enough to keep her from getting any sleep. By morning she was certain it would only be a matter of hours before giving birth.

Not the case. Cramping calmed down by mid morning, and we went about our day as usual. I reminded Kelsey of that time my sister-in-law thought she was going into labor that one time, but then an hour later decided she wasn't, and it wasn't until four days later that she actually gave birth.

This demoralized poor Kelsey a little because we were already a couple days past our due date and it started to feel to her that she would stay pregnant for life.

By 10:00pm Thursday night, she was having contractions. This time, she was sure of it. They were far more severe than what she'd experienced the night prior, and their rhythm far more regular. They were contractions and they were hella painful. By around 3:00am they were 5 minutes apart. I gave the hospital a call and they told us we should probably give it a couple hours before coming in. Mind you, Kelsey hadn't gotten any sleep yet, not even from the night prior, and there's no way she'd manage to get any sleep now. Our awesome doula was with us on and off on the phone all night though, helping with tips, tricks, and encouragement.

By 4:00am, my wife was in tears, sobbing “I can't take it anymore.” I had a WhatsApp group set up with a tight group of friends to help with transportation when the time arose (I don't drive, long story). I sent out the signal, but understandably everyone was asleep except for our lovely friend Zeinab who was ready to hit the road. By 5:00am we were being admitted into the hospital, a process that took maybe two hours. When they checked her, her dilation was at 3cm and baby was stationed at -2. This discouraged Kelsey a bit, because she knew she'd have to get her dilation up to 10 and she was already in too much pain as it was. Adamant about avoiding epidurals or narcotics at all costs though, she powered through.

Hooked up to a tocodynamometer, I could see the numerical representation of contraction frequency and length as they occurred. When the counter went from 11 to 30, my wife screamed and roared and spoke in alien tongues. A little while later, the counter went all the way up to 100.

By 10:30am, the doctor told us she had a surgery to attend to from 12:00 to 2:00pm, after which she would check in on us. In Kelsey's mind, that meant she would be delivering at 2:00pm. Having an easily foreseeable endpoint was the only thing that helped her endure the pain. By 10:50am, her water broke. It should just be a couple hours now, or so she thought.

Corona cases are off the charts in Houston right now, and most hospitals are overwhelmed, with beds being very limited and ventilators far below the necessary capacity. The hospital we went to though is a birthing-only hospital, still with limited visitors permitted, but luckily with doulas still allowed. Our wonderful doula showed up at 11:30am, and together we breathed with Kelsey, held Kelsey, massaged her, and encouraged her as much as we possibly could. Seeing her in so much pain was too much to bear at times. “No no no” she screamed, “oh my baaaaaack”, and more than once she connected to her inner beast and roared like an amazon warrior.

By 4:00pm she had reached her limit. Dilation was at 8cm and baby was positioned at 0 and contractions were every 2 minutes or less. She described the pain as a “million stabbing knives”, and her “back breakinnngg” with tears running down her face. All this on top of not getting any sleep since Wednesday night. It was Friday afternoon, and there was still more to go. She was ready for her epidural.

Much to Kelsey's dismay though, that would be a 1-2 hour process. 🤯

Pushing started around 5:10pm. Our first sight of him was a single curl of hair encased in humanly gel.

At 5:33pm, baby Mounir(“the Lit One 🌞😎”) emerged, held up for his mother to see, umbilical cord still attached. “Oh my god, he's real”, she cried.

“Do you wanna hold him?” asked the doctor.

Kelsey had no words, she just nodded and cried and took him to her chest, all while the nurses cleaned up the last bits of goop that made up his previous home.

Mounir's eyes opened, and up he looked at his amazing mother's face.

#Journal

Midweek spell of insomnia has struck and had me wide awake in bed since 2:00am. It is 5:22am now, and it seems like there is no use, so coffee it is and on with the day.

Creative stuff put aside for a few hours while I deal with admin stuff; namely contract deets (where they insist on having the word “exclusive” where it shouldn't be), accounting fun, and zoom scheduling. Fingers crossed I still have enough creative juice in me when I'm done with all that.

Good morning and remember to stretch.

#Journal

I think it was after Chapter 2 when I was contacted by someone (who is awesome) offering to act as editor on THE SOLAR GRID, an offer I had to decline only because I knew my process would bring nothing but terrible agony to this poor person. I have nothing in the way of a script (loose plot at best), my thumbs are practically unreadable by anyone other than myself, I work on my pages until literally minutes before upload... Agony, I tell you, agony!

And that was around Chapter 2, which still resembled what you'd expect out of most comix (well, to a degree). But now (Chapter 5) I'm coming up with things that look like this:

None of the text featured in the above preview includes any of the actual captions or dialogue that will finally make it into the page by the way. It's just a bunch of text I came up with in the process of creating the art. The inevitable dialogue and captions? They come later, and I have none of it scripted anywhere. It's all in my head. It only comes out during the lettering phase. I have no idea how an editor might even begin to navigate a project like this. I sure as hell know nothing like this can ever come out of the corporate assembly-line system of making comix.

Also in regards to the above pictured panel, I'm looking forward to what kind of space western vibes N Slash A will come up with for the Soundscape. Every now and again, I'll give tracks 1 and 2 a listen for just the right push to carry on with this project. I can't get over how deliciously textured those tracks have turned out.

In other news, today I bid farewell to this piece from February:

It shall be missed.

Inbox at 31. Neck could use a replacement. Awaiting newborn's arrival any day now. Local newspaper's obituary section was 43 pages yesterday.

#Journal #Work #Comix #TheSolarGrid

Of course I was bound to include an art gallery scene sooner or later.

Inbox at 23. Current background listening: The Disruptors Podcast with Andrew Maynard.

#TheSolarGrid #Comix #Work #Journal

Still coloring away, days are looking largely identical. It's just a matter of chipping away at the thing until it's finished. Coffee and ill-advised snacks provide my daily fuel. Back in March, I was pretty good about sticking to a Keto diet and exercising everyday, but I fell off the wagon halfway through quarantine. Will try to get back into it.

It's hard to remember to step away from your desk and stretch when you're feeling exceptionally anxious about being so behind schedule with still so many pages to get done.

In other news, a short interview went up on Rice University's Youtube channel about my Moody installation.

And on July 22, SpaceEU is bringing me in conversation with cosmonaut Muhammed Ahmed Fares and astrophysicist Ghina Halabi, all virtual of course. Deets forthcoming.

#journal

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