Manic Energy

I’m having one of those days where I want to take on everything, but wind up doing nothing.  That stagnation that results from having too many things to do rather than nothing at all.

Today hasn’t been a total bust; I’ve wrapped up a few small projects and got brainstorming on a few others.  But I’m ping-ponging around from one to the other like crazy – I get no sustained momentum on any of them, just fits and spurts and sudden bursts of activity for each one in succession.

Every once in a while I have to get up and pace, because I’ve lost focus, but not drive.  It’s maddening.

Sometimes I think these moments would be less frustrating if I had an infinite (well, infinite-within-our-finiteness) well of time from which to draw.  If I had no other obligations – no job to get to, no chores to do – then I could just ricochet endlessly from project to project and maybe, eventually, see some of them through to fruition.

I guess I’ll never know.

 

Reclaiming Creativity: Bucket Lists and Mail Art

Reclaiming.png

I know that I mentioned in my last bookhaul post that post-vacation, the nascent habits – which, honestly, had very, very little time to really take root – had essentially shriveled and died.  That wasn’t totally unexpected – it was too early in their development for them to survive such a massive upheaval as what wound up being an incredibly whirlwind week 1,300 miles away from home.

That being said, though, all the scaffolding is still here and still in place – I have my checklists, and a household that is still in decent (not perfect, but decent) shape, and there remains no excuse not to just jump back on the bandwagon.  Tonight I go back to my Good Night routine, and tomorrow I’ll wake up to my Good Morning checklist.  I also have a Breakfast, Lunch, and Snack planner (that I haven’t yet posted, but will once I pretty it up  bit) that I plan to start using to get me back on track eating right, and I spent a good chunk of the weekend at the gym.

So – Food and Exercise, back on track.  Habits, on their way back on track.  Cleaning, well, we’re close; we’re getting there.

So now it’s time to try to tackle some Creative stuff.

Ages and ages ago, on a now defunct site known as SuperViva, I was introduced to the idea of Bucket Lists – the things you want to do before you, well, kick the bucket.  Since then, across various services, on various websites, and in various pen-and-paper planner, I’ve been jotting lists of “someday” goals.

And then just, not doing them.  Like, at all.

You know the one time I kept a bucket list and actually made significant progress on several of my goals?  When I kept it on LiveJournal, and had actual people actually reading the entries, seeing the progress (or lack thereof), and holding me accountable.

So I decided to make and post one, here and now.  The link to the bucket list is here (it will also be linked in the nav menu!)  It’s not full of crazy or extraordinary items – just real things, big and small, that I’d like to accomplish or make progress on.

One of the things on that (sure to be ever-growing) list is to send and receive mail from all 50 states – it’s a goal that combines my love for hoarding small trinkets, and for making handmade cards and care packages.  It’s something that’s creatively fulfilling, because I get to mix, match, and make little pieces of art, and emotionally fulfilling because I know the person receiving that mail is going to love receiving a piece of real mail amidst the bills and advertisements.

So I went and resurrected my old profile on my favorite snail mail trading site, and found the first profile that seemed appealing – a woman in Texas who loves stickers, uplifting quotes, elephants, and bullet journalling.

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Relevant recipient info:  favorite animals are elephants and penguins; they love their happy planner and bullet journal, and they like receiving inspirational quotes.  Pictured: personalized card (with penguin/elephant doodle), bujo/planner stickers, color-it-yourself inspirational postcard, double-side typographic art, two sew-on strawberry patches.

It is perhaps not the most artistic or creative piece of mail I’ve ever sent out, but after several years on hiatus, hey, I’m pleased with it.  It got me pawing through my craft stuff (which is the first step towards getting actual ~⋆crafty⋆~ ideas), and I know it will put a smile on the recipient’s face – and honestly, that’s the whole point.

I’ve set up a gallery to collect/document the mail I send and receive – it’s linked through the main navigation menu, and you can also find it here.

Feels good to be doing something creative again.  Hopefully this, like everything else, can be developed into an actual part of my lifestyle, and not just something I keep swearing I’ll do “someday.”

Friday, Friyay: August 17th, 2018

& (1)Yooo, guys, this has been a pretty laid-back, do-nothing week (not that there is anything wrong with that), but I got some pretty big “yay’s” out of it, nonetheless.

First of all, I’ve gotten three snail mail letters/packages from my mail trade site of choice, in the last few weeks.  I’d hit a long dry spell, because I hadn’t updated for a long time, and because I stopped doing tag backs, and- honestly – I more or less forgot about the site for a while.  But recently I went and updated my info with the intent of getting back into it, and – I don’t know how, maybe honestly by sheer luck? – my profile seems to be gaining traction again.  I’m psyched.

Second, I finally replaced all the Dollar Tree picture frames on my living room wall with really cute/chic collage picture frames that I got at Wal-Mart, and filled them with all our Florida vacay pics.  They look great – I loved my DT picture frames, they looked good and all, but the sheer number of them – 16 – plus a pre-schooler who likes to climb meant they were always getting knocked off-center, getting crooked, etc, and it was driving me bonkers.  So, this wound up being a cute, appropriate solution.  It also means I can use some of those discarded frames for other things – i.e., my planner last year had some gorgeous typographical art/inspirational quotes as on the divider pages, and I’ve been hanging on to them forever looking for a purpose for them.  Viola!  I found places of four of them in my house, and the remainder are set aside for goodies to send through aforementioned mail trades.  So, I got great new frames for my photos and four new pieces of free art.  Score.

Third – AND THIS IS A BIG, BIG YAY – the first con I ever attended, the Harry Potter-centric LeakyCon is coming back to Boston to celebrate its 10th anniversary.  I am so, so psyched, because I think – I think  I can afford it, and I might even get to go with my siblings, who have expressed (albeit tentative) genuine interest.  This would be the first con my sister has ever attended, and the first one my brother would attend outside of Arisia (and only his second ever as a “layman,” i.e., not working the whole con, which he usually does at Arisia, anyway).  I’m so psyched about the possibility, and even if the cost of the hotel is prohibitive , I can always commute.  I’d really rather not, but I can, which is reassuring.

Fourth – I’m not going to register for it yet because this summer has been crazy – but registration is already open for GISH next year, and the dates are already set – July 27th through August 3rd – and I can actually plan for it almost a full year in advance (and I can recruit in real life, too).  I’m excited – I feel like, given I only had three real days when I could GISH this year, I got a decent amount of stuff done, and my team was aaaaa-maz-ing.  Next year, without the stress of vacay coming right in the middle of it, I bet we can rock it.

Anyway, this is coming to you super late on Friday – it’s edging in on 10:30,which actually isn’t super late even for my Exhausted Parent brain, but is later than I’m usually up and blogging.  Had a busy day with my niece and nephew today over at my mom’s house, and got very little done that was on my to-do list, but it was worth it.  My sister works weekends so I don’t see her or the kids as much as I’d like, so I’ll take a zero-productivity day for some time with the bubbies.

I’m down to the last 10 days of summer vacation, and looking forward to it (I really do love my job, and I like having structure), but also, aaaaargh, where the hell did my summer go???

What has kept you going this week?  Is your summer long over, or still going strong?

 

Bear’s Weekly Book Haul: August 16th, 2018

Bear's book haulUgh, I feel like it’s been forever.  Vacation messed up a lot of things – it completed destroyed my not-yet-routine routine, and I honestly feel like I’m starting from scratch all over again this week (chores seem to actually be more on track than they were before vacay, but the personal morning/evening routine, plus my eating/exercise has been shot straight back to hell).

Anyway, it had been almost a month since wed hit the library, and we finally went yesterday,  It was my turn to pick Bear’s books (Bear is invited to help, but is often already too engrossed in the libraries toys and puzzles), and I’m really happy/excited with this week’s haul.

The Miss Nelson Collection, by Harry Allard
From GoodreadsMore than forty years ago Viola Swamp slinked into Room 207 at Horace B. Smedley School and whipped Miss Nelson’s terrible, rude, worst-class-in-the-whole-school students into shape. In the intervening generations since the publication of Miss Nelson Is Missing!, millions of children have been fascinated by the legend of Miss Swamp. A diabolical creation from the minds of Harry G. Allard and James Marshall, Miss Nelson’s alter ego illuminates the folly of misbehavior through amazing feats of disguise. And she’s never been more hilarious than now!

Poor Louie, by Tonny Fucile
From Goodreads Louie’s life is great! A walk on the leash every morning, ice cream on Sundays, snuggling in bed at night with Mom and Dad. Even the playdates with Mom’s friends despite their little crawling creatures who pull Louie’s ears aren’t all that bad. But then things get weird: cold food on the floor, no room in the bed, and lots of new stuff coming into the house in pairs: two small beds, two little sweaters, two seats in the stroller. Does that bode double trouble ahead, or could there be a happier surprise in store for Louie?

A House That Once Was, by Julie Fogliano
From Goodreads:  “Deep in the woods / is a house / just a house / that once was
/ but now isn’t / a home.”  Who lived in that house? Who walked down its hallways? Why did they leave it, and where did they go?  Two children set off to find the answers, piecing together clues found, books left behind, forgotten photos, discarded toys, and creating their own vision of those who came before.

The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires
From Goodreads:  Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!?

Sea Turtle, by Camilla De la Bédoyère
(I cannot find a Goodreads page!  Maybe I’m overlooking something).  This is a non-fiction book all about – you guessed it – sea turtles.  Post-Florida, Bear told us his favorite animals that he saw were the turtles.  So, I thought it might be nice for him to read a book about them.

That’s it for this week’s haul.  As always, if you have any book recs for ages 3 – 5, please drop a line in the comments!

FanExpo Boston

Zach Callison is meme trash – pass it on.

I’ve been attending conventions since 2009.  My first con was the inaugural LeakyCon in Boston, followed by recurring attendance at a now defunct convention focused on queer transformative fan media, a single stint at Anime Boston, and my sort of “forever” con – the one I try never to miss – Arisia.  Throw in a couple of one-or-two day mini-cons, like MICE and LadiesCon (which are wonderful and tons of fun, just not the full convention experience as I have come to know it), and con-going isn’t exactly a lifestyle for me, but it’s something I’m well familiar with.

Prior to FanExpo, the most “commercial” con I’d ever been to was Anime Boston, and my understanding is that even AB is still run by local groups.  FanExpo, on the other hand, is the rebranding of Boston Comic-Con, and is a worldwide exhibition organization – they run tons of the other cons under the FanExpo and MegaCon name.  So this was an experience that was very, very new to me – the majority of my con-going experience has been very, very much “by fans, for fans.”

I was supposed to meet-up with a couple of people who ultimately did not show (one who was legitimately sick, and one (my brother) who is just a mega-flake-and-a-half), and I can tell you unequivocally that, especially as someone with social anxiety, having a companion would have elevated the con-going experience exponentially.  There were a lot of free photo ops – there were fully clad Jedis with replica lightsabers, life-sized functional R2D2s, a set piece from the Mos Eisley cantina (complete with Greedo corpse), a replica of the control hub for the TARDIS, life-sized Simpsons couch (with life-sized Simpsons family), and Olmec from Legends of the Hidden Temple (dude, that show was my jam!  Did anyone else turn their backyards/rooms into temple-esque obstacle courses when they were kids?).*  Any of those would have made amazing photos – and made my Insta feed vastly more interesting – but I don’t feel super comfortable approaching strangers on my best days, less so when I’m handing them a valuable possession and just trusting they won’t run off, and I was feeling especially overloaded because of the sheer size and scope of the con already, so approximately zero photos were taken that day.  And that’s a shame; I really would have loved to capture some of that stuff for posterity.

But none of that is the fault of FanExpo.  What FanExpo did do that no other con has done for me before is put me within arms reach of people I deeply admire and fangirl over.  I got to see, for instance, Jeff Goldblum charm the pants off a gaggle of cosplayers, as well as what felt like the entirety of the audience in the Main Stage theatre that day.  I honestly think he must be adept at hypnosis or… I don’t know, something, because while I’ve always liked and enjoyed Jeff Goldblum, I’ve never been a Goldblum “fangirl.”  But man, seeing him up on stage (from an actually pretty close vantage point) just made me absolutely giddy.  He has, ahem, uh… aged well.

I also had the opportunity (though I didn’t take it, because I hadn’t thought ahead) to ask questions of the cast of Steven Universe – I got to hear Zach Callison and Dee Dee Magno Hall sing snippets of “The Room Where it Happened” and “The Schyluer Sisters” (Hamilton meets Steven Universe??  Yes, please!), and I got to participate in a singalong with the cast, which was beyond awesome. Sure, there was some waiting in line, but the wait was maybe 45 minutes for sixth/seventh row seat for Goldblum and fourth row seats for the Steven Universe cast (and only then because the first three rows were reserved for VIP Pass holders), and while in line I got to oogle some of the best cosplayers I’ve ever seen.  Not a shabby trade off.

Capping my evening off, I got to see Boston’s Unscripted Musical Project, an improv comedy troupe that improvises a new musical comedy every night based on audience suggestions.  They were so far above and beyond what I expected (I’ve seen an exceptional improv performance or two, but I’ve seen way, way more terrible improv performances), I actually wish they’d had longer than an hour to perform (though I imagine that’s probably “capacity” for them in terms of being able to sustain an improvised musical, and it’s damn impressive as is.  I just would have liked more of them, is all).  It was nice to see something geeky – and seriously, I mean this is a genuinely affectionate way, but improv is geeky as hell – but not fandom-centric.  It’s one of the things I love so much about Arisia – there’s plenty of fandom, but there’s a ton of stuff to cater to people’s love and interest of other non-fandom geekish interests.

Anyway, all in all, I think a day pass was more than enough for me, though I would happily go back for more of the same next year, assuming I wouldn’t be going alone.  I could have spent hours more wandering the dealer’s room and artist alley, but that likely would not have been the best case scenario for my mental health (serious sensory overloads) or my wallet.  As it was, I spent $40 on four beautiful prints, and am so, so happy that I downloaded the FanExpo app, because I can go through the dealer’s room listings and bookmark more vendors for future online perusal (minus the sensory overload).

And, as happens after every convention, I now feel very, very inspired to be creative, but am immediately dissatisfied with any creative output.  Damn my brain.

I don’t think I’m slated for another con until MICE in October, which will be another one day affair, and then Arisia again in January, which will be nice – Arisia at this point kind of feels like home.

Any fellow con-goers have favorite convention stories to tell?

On Niche Blogging and Authenticity

Oh, please, please don’t call me a “mommy blogger.”

No offense to mommy bloggers – I follow a lot of them.  I read them.  I enjoy them.

I just don’t feel like one of them.  Not really; not deep down.

I’ve never been good at keeping a niche blog.  There are a lot of people who do it and do it well, but to me it’s always felt like, in order to be “successful” as a niche blogger, I need to turn off (or at least tamp down) certain parts of my personality.  People who were following me for a particular brand of content wouldn’t, I figured, be interested in anything I posted that deviated from that “brand.”

When I was a creative writing blog, I attracted a lot of followers who were also creative writers.  And that was great; lots of them as interesting insight into the writing market, or wrote beautiful poetry, or intriguing short stories.

But all they wrote about – overall, for the most part – was writing.  And I felt like I, then, should only write about writing.

But I also wanted to write about cooking.  And art.  And parenting, and work, and family, and gender, and anxiety, and crafts, and fandom, and being a geek.  And I felt like I couldn’t, because no one was following me for that.  That’s not what my followers wanted.

Eventually, it became the question of, do I write about what I think my followers want, or about what I want?

Niche blogging is great.  I love being able to find blogs that go in depth about a topic I’m interested in, and reading and absorbing, and learning more about a particular thing.  But I’m not good at compartmentalizing my life – I love so many things.  I love children’s books, and cooking, and crafting, and organizing, and parenting.  I love writing, and fandom, and conventions, and my job.  I love bargain hunting, and thrift shopping, and home decor.  And yes, I love parenting.

So if you have to label me, “lifestyle blog” might be a little closer to the truth, since I write primarily about my life, and the things near and dear to me.  And honestly, while I welcome (and in fact, invite) others to follow me, I write for myself first and foremost.  I write to document my thoughts and catalog my ideas.  I write to keep track of my progress and remind myself of things that are good in my life.

But I think, even more accurately, would be “personal blog.”  Like, a truly personal blog.  Or at least, that’s what I’d like to be.  It’s what I’d like to return to.

Anyone else grow up on LiveJournal? Or Xanga, or Diaryland?  Do you remember, on the best day, how wonderful it felt, to meet and connect with people on a personal level?  How many bands, and books, and shows, and hobbies and interests did you wind up falling into because someone on your Friend’s List blogged about it incessantly?  Personal blogging – on LiveJournal for me, specifically – got me into Supernatural and Doctor Who; it got me attending conventions and helped me find awesome roomies for them; introduced me to Ludo, and The Decemberists, and Muse.  I got to read about people’s lives, live vicariously through the cool things they did while they were on summer break, or laugh conspiratorially over the stupid, mundane crap that took up their Friday nights.

So, ok, back in the heyday of LiveJournal and Xanga and all the rest, most of my generation were angsty teenagers sans a filter, and maybe I don’t want to return to that.  You can never truly, fully go home again, right?  I’m past that, past meandering “what I did today” daily posts, past passively-aggressively posting song lyrics and ending the post with “you know who you are,” past posting five or six random, non-sequitur one-liners in the middle of the night.

But I still want the freedom to talk about – thoughtfully, and probably with fewer XD emoticons – whatever the hell pops into my head.

Work.  Marriage.  Parenting.  Fandom.  Food.  Weight and body issues.  What I’m learning.  Goals.  Music.  My writing.  Craft ideas.  Gushing over books, or movies, or TV.  Gender.  Mental health.  Just… life, you know?

And I want to be concerned with readability – is this well-written and coherent? – but not marketability.  I don’t want to be a product.  I want to be a person, and I want to meet other people.

I’m here, everyone.  Let’s connect.

Friday, Fri-yay: August 10th, 2018

& (1)So, while last week was technically our vacation – spent in Florida, with family and at a variety of parks – this is officially the wind-down (or as close to it as a parent ever gets).  Bear was well-behaved (for the most part) during the trip, but between wrangling him, losing my state ID, and the over-all stress of travel, I think we arrived back in Massachusetts more exhausted then when we left.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t all bad:

 

First, Florida.  Andy’s Aunt Becky was gracious enough to arrange to meet us at Magic Kingdom to sort of show us the ropes; she’s got an annual pass, and lives about ten minutes from the parks, and she gets her money’s worth.  We got a ton of professional photos done – many of which haven’t come in yet – and Bear got to meet a lot of his favorite characters:

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(I’m still waiting on Chip and Dale, Goofy, Merida, Aladdin and Jasmine, Daisy, and Donald.  But Bear really got around this week – the best ones will find their way to my Insta in fits and starts later this week).

Bear was thrilled to meet all the characters – he didn’t get super shy like I saw some of the other little kids getting, but he was definitely a little star-struck.  My favorite of his interactions was with Merida, in which he tried to convince her to shoot an arrow into her target, and then proceeded to show he a “new” way to shoot an arrow.  She spent a comparatively long time with him – we’ve got a total of 21 shots from that photo op, though I sadly don’t have access to them at the moment.  Definitely keep an eye on my Instagram over the next week or so if you want to see the best shots.

As Florida consumed most of the last week, the only other (non-Florida related thing I can think of to “yay” about is that, two years after hearing him debut the song on the Night Vale Live tour (and falling in love with it), Danny Schmidt finally released his song “Standard Deviation” as the Weather on the latest WTNV:

Oh, and I guess this counts, even though I definitely mentioned it in the Fri-yay post immediately after I bought the ticket, but FanExpo Boston is tomorrow, and my major goals are, 1.) get into the Jeff Goldblum Q & A, and 2.) get into the Steven Universe cast panel.  I’ll let you all know how that goes, but it should be a good time regardless.

How has your week been?  If you’ve got kiddos, are they still on summer vacay, or are they back at school?  I’m off until the 27th now, and my students will be back the 29th.

Until next time, guys.