Showing blog posts tagged with: stuff I doodle

happy little wonderland

by Hilla Duka - View comments

ink drawn manga cat

In my teens I opted for art school and had great big dreams of becoming an artist, perhaps illustrating stories or something. I spent three years trying to learn, and left feeling quite certain it wasn’t for me. I drew little childrens drawings, happy manga chibis cuddling, I drew little worlds where everything was lovely and happiness ruled. I still to this day remember my art teacher, this sturdy britton who took himself most seriously looking at my work and telling me “Happy people can’t make art”. I took that to heart, decided I’d rather be happy than an artist, and went on with my life.


Then when I had kids I started doodling for them, little animals in some ipad vector app, and then as I found out about the cancer, I started drawing again. The things I’ve always drawn; manga girls kissing, happy foxes and gnarly trees. Ink on paper, nothing more. The kids love colouring them, and sometimes they get inspired and draw themselves.

ink drawn little manga fox

Maybe my art teacher was right, maybe happy people can’t make art, surely no one would consider the things I doodle art, but as life becomes something large and threatening, a looming shapeless monster of fear resembling only your worst nightmares, it feels good to balance that out with creating peaceful happiness, girls in love and magic forests where nothing bad can ever happen.

two girls kissing drawn in ink

And unlike the eighteen year old me, I’ll not apologise for not drawing huge agonising art. That’s just not me. The drawings I make reflect something inside of me, and frankly, I think the world could do with a bit more magic and a bit less agony and pain.


The reason I write (or don't)

by Hilla Duka - View comments


It feels like I’ve been quiet for ages, but I guess it’s not much more than a week since I posted anything. I’ve had my hands full, in a manner of speaking. I’ve been battling windmills for a while now, in the unwelcome form of my insurance company. Through work I had a health insurance with Skandia, and after my diagnosis with advanced breast cancer, they decided to dig deep into my old medical journals, to come up with some way of denying my claim. So first they went with an idea that I had asthma, and that because of this they wouldn’t have to pay. Then as I could prove I didn’t have asthma, they went further back, and found a post partum depression, and claimed they wouldn’t have to pay because of this. I was basically just set on fight mode - not for financial reasons, as my lovely work, recognising vultures when they show their faces and not wanting to be any part of that, are financially levelling what Skandia are refusing to pay, but because the more I tried to sort it, thinking it was all just an unfortunate mix up, the more I realised that this is something Skandia have systematically been doing for ages - dragging very sick people's medical records through any alchemical mix they can whip up, to try to make anything, a prescription for cough medicine, seem like a good reason not to pay. So finally I had enough, after hearing the same story from women in my breast cancer group, from my doctors office, I decided to go public with it. Not because I like to take my dirty laundry public, or because I enjoy feeling like a victim, but because it’s not right. It’s not right what Skandia does, but as much as it hurts me that they get away with it, I now need to draw the line and admit that I can’t fight any more - I must focus my energy on positive things, and try my hardest to stay well for longer.


Then as the story went public, I had my round no 7 of chemo. I have to be really grateful for two things: It was not as bad as chemo no 6, and the worst is over now. I should probably be grateful for more than that, but as I’ve felt as if I’m pregnant with a Coca Cola baby now for a week, that’s about all I can muster. The hyper sensitivity thing is really freaking me out: I can smell someone’s perfume miles away, I hardly allow Ilir to put any on. I can smell the citrus scent of peeling clementines from across the room, and the smell is so strong my eyes tear up. The little new hairs on my head hurt my scalp as they move. The list is endless, and it’s surprisingly hard mentally to never be comfortable.


I guess that’s the other reason it’s been a while since I wrote any kind of update - this whole cancer thing is really starting to wear me down, mentally. Some days, it’s as if I have to go through the realisation all over again, because my mind has just stopped remembering to understand that I have cancer. All of a sudden, the notion that I would be ill seems so ridiculous, I want to laugh at it. And then I remember, I touch my portacat and the cord that goes into my main blood vessel, I feel the tiny hairs on my head, and look down to see my blackened fingernails. I think back on all the countless of procedures and checkups I’ve done, the lymph node biopsies, the bone marrow drilling, the lying in tiny machines that force me to take such coctails of anti anxiety pills that afterwards I can’t even remember I did them. Ok, so cancer kind of makes sense then. But only kind of. Part of me is still waiting to get up and get back to work, to be apart of something more, to laugh with friends over silly things and just not be dying.


But perhaps it’s the other way around - perhaps I’ve been feeling worn out because I haven’t been writing. There are so few things left to me now, and around the first week of chemo, I basically only see my own home. The one thing where I am completely free is in what I write, there I can still explore my own mind, and when I feel like it I can be (a bit) witty, and I can focus on whatever I choose. I chose, as I found out about the cancer, to keep writing so that i could preserve something honest from this, something more than social media updates that even at the best of times will not paint a true portrait of your life. Imagine how fake it is during the worst of times… So from the beginning I used this blog to be uncompromisingly honest, to write about what moves in my head as I’m trying to learn how to do something each and every one of us will have to do at one point. I kept writing because it became something I have built by myself, from the technical framework to the texts. I kept writing hoping that it might some day help the kids to read. But I think one of the key reasons I write, that I missed but that matters, more than all the others, is because it helps me. Maybe writing obscure bits of texts on life and parenting and death and chemo has become my second therapist (much cheaper than the first I must admit), and I can no more chose not to write when I feel too sad than I can chose not to eat when I’m starving? What a very twisted thought. Weird, but oddly comforting...

This little guy on top, the least magical creature in all of Fairy Land, was originally doodled at the plane back from our holiday. Today, he can  represent me in my utter failings as Don Quixote. 


by Hilla Duka - View comments


Rather than showing you what's really preoccupying me right now, I'll show you these little ones. They're little friendly robots, that I made for Jacob's upcoming birthday, but then decided they should have a life of their own as well. Should I be showing you what's really on my mind right now, it would be a scary image of a swollen knee, dislocated kneecap and torn ligament... Yes, I slipped on some ice in Berlin. I walk as if I'm about a hundred years old, am in constant pain, and not best used to not relying on myself for everything. You can see why I take every opportunity to doodle and distract myself.

The event itself - a Rails meetup for Berliners, went fairly well, if you don't count getting up at 4 am and then hosting an evening doo. On my way back I slipped on an icy patch on the path, and the rest of the trip is some sort of blacked-out pain haze. 

Oh, and before we left, we had our very first all employee meeting, in which the annual awards were handed out - and I snagged one! One of the employee vote based ones, Mynewsdesker of the year, was for me, and with it came a nice little iPad mini with retina display. Why, thank you! Far be it from me to question the sanity of anyone who voted for me - I'll just think on it quietly in my head instead. You can read the motivation for the award here, and if you think it may just possibly be poor taste to refer to a short, sturdy person as a rock, well we'll just keep that quiet as well, ok? Ok. I'm of course very flattered, as well as happy for my new toy!

Quite forgotten

by Hilla Duka - View comments


Among my doodlings that I was planning to show you was this little guy. Don't know why I forgot to post him. I kind of got a Sinatra vibe from him, so I tried changing the background to look sort of like the cover to New York, New York, but that just looked bad, and the litlle guy sort of disappeared, so I just stuck with this one. 

In a few days I'm packing up for a short trip to Germany, to visit our office there and host one of our Dev Corner's, this time for German rails developers, and of course hoping to find some great ones looking for new employment. While there the dev team will be taking their lab days (you get two a month as a developer - unfortunately, as Product Owner you get none) so I will try to get some time to speak to the German sales reps and marketing people. 

I'm a bit stressed out at the moment, my first larger project is coming close to release, and I feel like I'm dropping the balls left, right and center. It's just so much to do, so many things, people to take in consideration... It's so much fun, but also really stressful... I'm looking forward to being able to sleep like a normal person again once we release!

Even if there hasn't been a lot of activity here in terms of writing or posting pictures, I've been very active "behind the scenes" of the blog. I finally decided I had enough of Twitter Bootstrap, and thought I'd try to replace it with Foundation from Zurb, just to see how that would go. It actually went better than fine - with a minimum of effort I got much the same result as before, and many things that I had done the CSS by hand for, like the social icons at the bottom of the page, I found that I could just chuck out my CSS and replace it with a few new class names instead. Likewise the navbar on top I could ignore my old CSS for and instead just alter a couple of the variables included in Foundation. I especially like how Foundation includes responsiveness in every class name, and then how you can alter the layout for responsiveness by adding more classes to the HTML. In the end, my CSS file was shortened by 2/3, and I took the oportunity to rewrite it in a proper SCSS way. (Yes, before I had basically just chucked everything in there with no real sense of order. Sort of like you do with a rarely used closet. I'll admit it.)

Also, while I was at it, I changed the layout a bit. I thought it seemed more intuitive to have the blog start page as the start page of the site - it's where the content is. The about me page doesn't seem that important, and if for some reason someone finds the blog without knowing me, it's available in the navbar. I like it for now, and it was fun to get rid of Twitter Bootstrap and try something new!


by Hilla Duka - View comments


As you can see, clearly this is a Monday Panda, disguised as a raccoon. Clearly. 


Ok, to be honest I got tired of the panda, and since I got some feedback that really, pandas are not that lovely animals, I thought I'd draw something else instead. Raccoons seem like nice enough animals - they eat pretty much everything, they're clearly quite clever, and can basically adapt to any kind of life. So if you think about it, raccoons are actually much better than pandas. Glad we got that straight. 


And I know, I'm basically only posting pictures of cuddly animals I've drawn right now. That's because work is kind of mental, and tuning it out is kind of hard. But I've noticed that when I'm drawing I don't think too much about work (at least not consciously) so it became a nice relaxation. Plus the kids make up fantastic stories about the doodlings. This guy apparently is an escaped prisoner, hiding out in the woods just out of view from the prison. He's waiting for the search party to loose interest before he heads of to a boat waiting for him. The boat will apparently take him to Denmark. Not sure what's waiting for him in Denmark, but that's how far the story came before they lost interest and returned to discussing Minecraft... Also, it's getting the kids interested in drawing on the ipad. Below is a picture Jonathan made. It's a fisherman (the actual fisherman has gone to the loo, but he's basically there, just not right now)

Just... no

by Hilla Duka - View comments


Well, it's not Monday, and I don't have a panda. That's because I made this little guy instead. I was wondering if they might be mates, but I can't seem to put them together... Could be that koalas and pandas just don't mix, or it could be that I'm feeling a bit out of sorts today. 


This morning it took me two hours to get to work, as compared to my normal twenty mins. When I was heading home the tram was not operating. And probably wont be for another week. I'll be so late for work... And while I'm complaining, it's completely dark these days in the morning, impossible to wake up, and dark when I leave home with the kids. And dark when I come home. London's going to be a nice break from this madness! I'm super excited about this trip as I'm attending two really interesting events, and will hopefully return home with loads of ideas and input! Just two weeks away now! (Yes, I'll admit it, I probably need a break from my kids too, and that might be part of the reason I'm so excited to go this time. Maybe.)


Also, not that it has anything to do with anything, except for contributing to making my life difficult, both nursery and school are reporting lice. It freaks me out completely, the idea of the kids getting lice. Anyone who's seen my kids hair (and my own, I guess) will understand me. So for now everyone has to wear their hair up, no matter what they think of it. Whatever the two small ones do think of it, they're thinking it rather loudly, unfortunately. I'll just stop complaining now and come back when I'm feeling more Pollyanna-ish, shall I?

Pirate Panda

by Hilla Duka - View comments


Well, it's Monday, and I have a Pirate Panda for you. Complete with eye patch, pirate hat and wooden leg. And yes, I am aware that his scarf just makes him look french, but let's just roll with it - he's a french pirate panda, right? Right. 


Apart from making panda costumes, I've been fairly busy. I have a trip to the UK coming up last week of November, to attend to really interesting PR and Marketing shows, and I've spent a fair amount of time prepping for my annual appraisal, which actually went great and was lovely. When I say prepping for, of course I mean being nervous in no constructive way about. But all is well, and I still have my job. In fact, I have my job, plus some praise for a job well done. So now I'm sipping champagne (I'm lying, it's actually Cava, but champagne just sounds better) and congratulating myself on I'm not really sure what. Choosing the right place to work maybe? There are worse ways of starting the week!