I've been offline a lot. The last week or so has been total chaos. I found out last Wednesday I didn't get financial aid for the local tech college. It was a blessing in disguise, possibly the biggest of my life. I had intended on getting my Associate's of Science in a programming degree, and then build other things on it at a 4 year university. It would have caused a mess with transcripts and transfer credits, but I wanted to get some general classes done if nothing else (only a few of the courses offered were ones that would be useful to me in the long run).
Furious, I knew UWM would both take me back and offer a full financial aid package, so I went back to them. They were my first college, and they were were I'd been delayed with reentry the last two years because of my neurological bills. I looked around on their site, followed a few links (to keep the story short), and ended up finding a major that had been designed since I last left there several years ago that suited exactly what I had been attempting to build on my own independently. The only reason I applied to the tech was it was closer and cheaper. Screw that, I can't work fulltime and pay my tuition as well out of pocket. I'm going home.
So, after a whirlwind week, I already have my financial aid package set up and received, I'm setting up appointments to discuss my reentry, meeting with advisors and faculty, about to contact my disability advisor to explain the changes, and working to complete a proper portfolio as quickly as possible. I can get transfer credit and advanced placement for it, opening me up to take other courses I normally wouldn't have time to. The need four or five more life drawings from observation, and I haven't worked much with life drawing or realism in YEARS, so it's been a fun rush to ask all my friends to drop off the strangest things they own so that i can have some neat pieces and also grab volunteers for portraits and figure work. The coolest thing i've been loaned is a 1969 Underwood typewriter. (I am going to be cursing that thing by Friday no doubt!)
I pulled charcoals back out, since I have none for my representation of drawings, only graphite. They used to be my hardest medium (I hated the easy smudging, and when I was a kid I used to get my proportions way off by covering the finished parts with paper to keep it from rubbing before I was finished and could apply fixative). It came back surprisingly fast and my self-portrait only took two tries. I'm pretty happy with it, for not having done one in an embarrassingly long time--or work from observation at all.