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.

 

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?

 

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.

A Little Boy’s Haircut

I’ve been procrastinating writing this post for a month because I wasn’t quite sure what direction I wanted it to take.  If it’s a mess, I apologize in advance (and also: welcome to my life, where most things are a mess).

When my husband came home from his last haircut a little less than a month ago, my son suddenly announced that he wanted a “daddy-sized” haircut.

My husband and I looked at each other.  My son’s crowning glory was his hair, the first things people always remarked on – dirty blonde, wild, curly, and beautiful.  Aside from trimming his bangs for safety reasons, he had never had his hair cut – we decided early on that, so long as health and safety wasn’t a concern, he would let him take the lead and make his own choices about his body, including his hair.  Until that moment, he’d never expressed interest in getting it cut.

But he was insistent.  We want to respect our son, but his also three, and his whims and wishes can change on a near-constant basis.  We compromised and told him that if he still felt that way in three days (which would be a Saturday), we would take him that morning to get his haircut.  He seemed cool with that.

So we waited.  And each day, we asked him if he still wanted to get his haircut, and the answer continued to be a resounding and increasingly enthusiastic “yes.”  So, that Saturday morning we gave his curls one last shampoo, loaded him into the car, and headed to the barber shop.

Now, I was already experiencing a sort of, let’s say, melange of emotions – excitement for Bear growing up and asserting his bodily autonomy, anticipation of what my little guy would look like with his newly shorn locks, and a little sadness and trepidation at this very concrete sign of my baby growing up.  I wouldn’t say I “got emotional” – I didn’t cry – but I felt things, you know?  Good things, proud things, bittersweet things.

Unfortunately, some less-than-positive feelings crept in once we got to the barber shop.

I probably should have expected it; maybe on some level I did.  I had a history with this place; I’d started going there a few years prior myself, because they gave a good haircut for significantly cheaper than the stylist who I went to for years, primarily out of a misplaced sense of obligation.  My stylist was a wonderful woman, and very talented, but she couldn’t seem to wrap her head around the severity of the cuts I would ask for.  I eventually figured that going someplace accustomed to giving primarily masculine cuts would be better suited to my needs.  I was right; they gave me exactly the cut I wanted.

But they asked my husband’s permission, first.  Like, checked in to see that it was okay.  And then, insisted that I had to be wrong when I told them I wanted a number 1 razor cut (1/8 of an inch, which is what I sport to this day), because “that’s really short.”  But, regardless – I got it.  They did it, to my liking, and it was cheap to boot.

And then they reassured me that it still looked “feminine.”  Which, first off, no it didn’t, and that was part of the point, but secondly – I sought out a severe razor cut at a barbershop.  Why do you think I need or want reassurance about looking “feminine?”  Say it looks good, say it suits me, but please, don’t feel the need to reassure my “femininity.”

The barber – who was new since our last visit, and whom we didn’t know – did a double-take when he saw my son – I’m pretty sure he thought Bear was a girl, and was having trouble wrapping his head around the cut we requested for him, which was an unpleasant case of deja vu from my own experiences.  The other barbers, who remember me and my son, expressed amused surprise that they were confused because “they thought I had a boy.”

They cajoled my husband – “I bet you’re happy to finally get this done!”  “Bet you’ve been waiting for this!” “You’ll have a son again!” – while we were left to just smile and continuously repeat, “It’s his body, so we left the choice up to him.” “His daddy had long hair for years.”  “We weren’t going to push him if he liked his hair long.”

I want to be fair – I want to be fair to them as people and as professionals without letting them off the hook.  There was not – in any way, or by any means – any trace of intended malice behind their words.  They were not sneering, they were not judging, they were not admonishing.  They were gentle and patient with my son.  They were understanding of my feelings as a mom, seeing her baby taking a significant step into older childhood.

That does not erase my discomfort.  That doesn’t change the fact that I spent the whole time hoping upon hope that my son wasn’t listening and internalizing the message that little boys can’t have long hair, or that little boys (or girls, or anyone above, beyond, or in-between) can’t present themselves in any damn way they please.  That it had to be mom, holding tenaciously to his long hair.  That dad must be rejoicing in finally “having his son back.”

My son, thankfully, seemed too entranced with is own changing reflection (and asking the barber literally a dozen questions a minute) to really take in the conversation going on around him.  That was a relief.  My son left the barber shop smiling, pleased as all get-out with his new haircut, and we went home.

Again, I’m not trying to paint these people as villains, or the experience as life-changingly traumatic – they are people or a certain age and a certain disposition, and I was at best annoyed and at worst uncomfortable – and my son didn’t notice at all.  But I also don’t want to let them off the hook.  People need to be aware of what they say around children.  People offering a service need to have some sort of awareness of their customers circumstance and be sensitive to it.  Gender is a complicated subject for me, I readily admit that, and I don’t necessarily expect people to realize that on an individual level.

But that’s just it – gender is a complicated subject.  Gender presentation (and personal presentation in general) is a complicated subject.  Discovering who you are and how you want to express yourself in the world is a complicated subject.  Be aware of that when you speak.  Especially in front of a child, whose joys and passions and pride in self can be so easily squashed be a few careless words from grown-ups telling them it’s not something they can/should like or do because of what they were born as.

(Oh, but also – consent is not complicated.  When I said it was my son’s choice, I meant it.  Please do not gloss that over and assume I must have been either pressuring him or holding him back.  He made a choice.  Don’t dismiss it).

Friday, Fri-yay: July 27th, 2018

& (1).pngTrying a new graphic out.  I’ve used the phrase “Fri-yay” on social media before, and yet it wasn’t in my head when I made the original graphic for my Friday posts…?  Don’t know why.  Anyway, I think “Fri-yay” is a good in-a-nutshell take on what I post about in these entries, so we’ll see how I feel about it given some time.

Also, holy crap, have I honestly gone a week with nothing?  No posts?  I’d really hoped I’d have found my groove by now, but to no avail, I suppose.  Well, anyway.  Not going to let this get me down.  NOT ON FRI-YAY, DAMMIT.

Thursday marked the second-to-last day of summer session for me; I’m on-site on Tuesday, and then on our plane on Wednesday.  That’s been enough to buoy me up, but beyond that:

First, I’ve been looking around for on-the-plane distractions for me, since flying makes me nervous, and discovered that Dollar Tree carried Extreme Dot-to-Dot books.  I’m not going to purchase any for the flight itself, because when they say extreme, they mean it, and I’d want a steadier hand to complete the pictures, but wow.  Some of the picture number close to five hundred dots, and the books retail on Amazon for between $8.85 and $12.95, so if these books sound intriguing to you, keep your eyes peeled.

Second, SDCC happened, and we got the next new episode of Steven Universe, called “Legs from Here to Homeworld.”  It’s… it’s a lot.  And yet, so very little.  But worth watching, if you then don’t mind having to wait until who-knows-when to see the rest.  It was originally an app exclusive, but is now free to watch, no log-in required, on the Cartoon Network website here.  (We also got a movie announcement, which is squee-worthy on it’s own, but I’m still a little bitter that we get a CN movie and Teen Titans GO just got a theatrical release, grumble grumble).

Third, GISH starts tomorrow!  One positive thing about not having posted all week is that I now have a couple of half-finished entries that I can hopefully power through tonight and cue up for the next ten or so days, because I will be leaving mid-GISH (which I expect to take up most of my time pre-vacation) to head to Florida, and between those two things (and daily life duties) I will have time for basically nothing else.  Anyway, I am hype for GISH and really happy with my team this year.  I will be posting about the experience afterwards, but if you have questions, I once again recommend the official website.

That’s all for this week!  I will be in Florida next Friday, so I likely won’t be posting, but expect an extra long Fri-yay post the following week!

How is everyone out there?  What’s keeping you all going?

 

Feel Good Friday/Friday Faves: July 20th, 2018

onnie & CaroleFriday again!  This week has been punctuated by a renewed sense of being on top of things, thanks in no small part to my checklists system (though that system is still far from perfect).

Today, however, is a Bear and I day, and I have to admit that, for whatever reason, I’m feeling especially on edge today, and I don’t know if Bear’s obstinance today is the cause or result of my short temper.  Either way, I’m here, trying to take a breather (and hopefully regain my cool), and I thought I’d tap out what’s kept me going this week.

First, in a search to see if anyone had ever done a Christopher Pike podcast, I came upon Teen Creeps, a podcast covering young adult pulp/genre fiction, and oh my God, ahhhh, so many memories.  This is not a new podcast – they’ve been running since, I think, 2016 – but while I listen to a podcast or two, it’s usually because I stumble upon them in my search for something very specific.  I’m not a podcast connoisseur who’s up-to-date on all the last podcasting developments and releases.

Anyway, the show is wonderful, sometimes more tangent than book discussion, but both the book relevant content and the tangents are highly entertaining, and I really recommend it, especially if you loved these books as a kid.

Second, I found a link to BlueQ absolutely buried in my bookmarks and had to revisit them.  I love so much of there stuff (their bags especially; I’m think of buying a few as holidays gifts).  I don’t have much use for decorative dishtowels as dishtowels, but I can’t help thinking that the would be ideal to frame; if I wind up ordering from there for the holidays anyway I might pick one up and test that out.

Third, I actually got back to the gym on Wednesday for the first time in, uhh, like six months, and it felt awesome.  I’m woefully, shamefully out of shape, but it felt good to go back.  I’m back on Lose It! as well, and I think I mentioned in a previous entry, and welcome friends, if anyone who reads this is also using the service.  The link to my profile is here!

That’s it for this week; Bear is alternately pinching my face and trying to climb in my lap, and I think that means it’s time for us to go and do some chores.  What got you through this week?  Comment below and let me know!