So It Begins

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I started back up at work on Monday.  This year, I don’t know, felt different – in a good way.  I don’t know if I was just feeling especially good after having finally gotten the house under control, or that I was feeling particularly rejuvenated after actually getting up with my alarm, having a nice shower, and having time to apply makeup and eat a decent breakfast (while listening to one of my favorite podcasts), for once.

But whatever it was, I just felt, I don’t know… on.  Like, on form; sociable, confident, relaxed (or at least as relaxed as I ever get, which, granted, is several notches above baseline for most people).  I felt productive, I felt connected to the students and staff, and conversation was fun and fluid, all of which are often challenges for me.  I don’t know if it was my resolve to start changing these things about myself, or the scaffolding I put in place to make the mornings (and subsequently, rest of the day) run more smoothly, but whatever it was, it apparently worked.  It was a great first few days back.

And I am so, so glad I have a four day weekend, because damned if that shizz didn’t drain all my energy.

But I feel good.  I feel like things on the job front have gotten off to a good, fresh start, and I’m happy to return Tuesday to my new assignment, and to resume my vocational duties (one of my favorite parts of my job) later in September.  And it leaves me free to divert the energy expended on school prep the last few weeks back to things like creating and maintaining a managable schedule for my hobby time, and for my weight management (both of which fell by the wayside – again – in the last few weeks).

To those of you fellow educators recently returned to work, I hope you likewise had a smooth transition back to the daily grind.  To those parents sending their kids back to school after the summer, we are ready for them.

2 down, 178 to go.

Sense Memories

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Let’s be real:  with a pre-schooler, some of the only guaranteed “me” moments I get, I get in the bathroom.  If I sometimes take a little longer than necessary to indulge and get some damn reading time in, sue me.

Generally, it’s on my phone; it’s 2018, and I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Insta, and I’ve got this blog, obvs, plus e-mail, Buzzfeed, and about a dozen other time-wasting sites in my phone’s bookmarks.  But every once in a while, I go old school.

My folks, who are in their mid-60s, are old-school when it comes to bathroom reading. They still have magazine subscriptions, and still keep back issues in the bathroom.  I was flipping through one a couple of days ago – an old (like, 2016) issue of Reader’s Digest, which has been a staple in my folks’ house since I was a child.  One of the features in this issue was a Reader’s Question: what sound best encapsulates your childhood?

There were a variety of answers – the sound of playing cards in the spokes of a bike, the sound of chocolate milk being slurped with a straw, the sound of shuffling cards and rolling dice.

I started thinking; I don’t think I have a particular sound that fully encapsulates my childhood, but there are so many other lingering, powerful sense memories that harken back to the weirdest, most obscure moments or times in my life, but a lot of the recollections are likewise sensory snapshots, not narratives:

Mandarin Orange Body Spray, Unknown Brand
Late summers, early college; eighteen or nineteen years old.  My cousin Nikki practically lived with us; there were few weekends where she couldn’t be found camping out at our house.  During one stay, she forgot a bottle of mandarin orange body spray that I loved because it was warm and floral and spicy, all at once.  My sister and I sprayed it on our pillows before Nikki finally reclaimed it, and sometimes I can still smell it – 1 am, watching shounen-ai anime on VHS, camped out in the living room.  Matresses and sleeping bags lined up on the floor.  We had notebooks with hand-written RPG-style stories that we passed around, and hidden word documents with thousands of words of yaoi and slash fic that we wrote.  Listening to the Queer As Folk and Velvet Goldmine soundtracks, and watching Dragonball Z at midnight.  I sometimes wonder if there’s any chance Nikki’d remember what brand it was, or if it’s still made, but we’re talking almost twenty years ago, so I’m not especially hopeful.

Land O’ Lakes Flavored Hot Chocolate
Christmas.  Always, always Christmas, and Christmas break.  Christmas Eve, standing in the doorway to the bathroom in my bathrobe and tights while my mom curled her hair.  The Animaniacs “Little Drummer Boy” segment. Playing Five Minute Mysteries while we waited for my parents to be ready to go out.  The faerie-light illuminated drive to my Aunt’s house, the holiday themed riddles and brainteasers that we always played.  Novelty Christmas songs.  Snowflakes that melted on the windshield before the wipers could wipe them away.  Late nights, watching the snow fall.  Waking up on Christmas morning at 3am, the house quiet.  Sneaking into the living room to explore untold treasures.  An old, creaky pull-out couch (with a bar that absolutely killed your back if you didn’t lay on it just the right way), watching old episodes of Beavis and Butthead, and the music video for Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”   For some reason – and I haven’t actually had any of it in years and years – I occasionally crave the Chocolate Raspberry one, even though I feel like at the time, it was not one of my favorites.

“Stars,” from Les Miserables
Summer, age fifteen.  Calisto and Caslon Antique fonts.  Writing late at night and feeling completely creatively unfettered for one of the first and last times ever.  Self-insert fanfics where I am completely inappropriately cast as the romantic interest.  My sister and I drawing fanart for our own stories, multiple illustrations over multiple chapters.  Kate M’s “Uncharted Stars,” and La Javert’s Flying Homepage.  Sitting outside after midnight and sharing headphones.  Drinking tea and watching soft-core pulp films on Showtime.  Trolling the AOL Playbill theatre forums and making fast friends with anyone under eighteen.  Handwritten letters and elaborately decorated envelopes.  Cassette tapes mailed halfway across the country where we talked and sang and played If-Cubed.  The echo function on Nikki’s karaoke machine, and the theme song to VeggieTales.  Videos filmed on an on-loan camcorder that weighed nearly as much as we did.  Nikki as Little Cosette, eyeshadow smudged like dirt on her cheeks.

What are some things – a taste, a sound, a flavor – that bring back memories, whether they are full narratives with a distinct plot arc, or likewise hazy snippets of visceral sensory recollections.  What conjures up something you thought you’d long since forgot?

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.

 

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?

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!

Organizing the Chaotic Mind

organizing my lifeI’ve spent the last two and a half hours trying to clean the house.  I can’t say it hasn’t been successful – my living room and kitchen are looking pretty spiffy right now – but it’s taken longer than it would likely have taken most other people, because in the midst of completing one task, I have these intense compulsions to stop whatever I’m doing and start something – anything – else.

While I’m tidying up the kitchen:

I should organize Bear’s busy bins for summer.
Did I ever download that preschool curriculum?
I need to touch up the paint along the baseboards.
I should go out and buy organizers for the cabinets.
I still have to make those worksheets for Bear’s binder.
I have to look up home remedies for carpet stains.
I’ve got to scrub down these walls, I haven’t done that in ages.
When was the last time I washed windows?

While I’m vacuuming the living room:

I should steam clean the upstairs shower.
I need to look up those picture frames I found at WalMart.  Ooh, I should see if RetailMeNot has coupons for them.
Maybe I should order the materials to make those sconces for the wall.
I still need to find floral foam and fake succulents.  I wonder if I can order in bulk from Dollar Tree?
I should get new bins for Bear’s clothes.

And those are at least semi-on task.  A ton of them aren’t even cleaning related:

I should do a shopping haul video.  I think most of my stuff from this week is still in shopping bags.
I’ve gotta start doing mail exchanges again.
I should totally start a bullet journal.
I have a great idea for an art piece I could vlog.
I need to go make more headers for my blog.
I’ve gotta update my social media links.

…and on.  And on.  And the amazing (and frustrating) thing is, after thirty-six years, I still don’t know how to just not listen to those compulsions.  I can, for the most part, resist – but it comes at the cost of temporarily stalling out.  Like the act of pulling myself away from the temptation of distraction is, itself, an act that unbalances me,  knocks me just a little bit off-track, and requires a few moments to re-rail.  Usually this looks like me, sitting on whatever surface my butt settles on, and just staring around the room, trying to remember what I was doing, or what I could do next.  Sometimes it’s grabbing a snack.  Today, it was jumping on here.

The problem is, I don’t have a system for dealing with these intrusive thoughts, and it’s not like they don’t all have some merit.  But I have no system worked out that allows me to address them all – if I think of something and don’t do it immediately, I will put off (or forget) doing it indefinitely.  If I have the motivation and the energy for something one day and don’t jump on it, I will lose momentum and that unfinished task will gnaw at me and drain my mental energy for days or weeks, until I manage to pull myself up again.  I’m not proud of my limitations, but I know them.  I know them very well.  This is living with executive dysfunction.

But, I thought, maybe turning to this blog while I’m trying to recoup isn’t the worst thing to do.  After all, this blog is all about navigating parenthood with a chaotic mind, and the first step to navigating chaos is to impose some sort of order.

And no, it won’t be perfect.  But it’ll give me a structure to work within.

So, while I try to reorder my thoughts and get back to the task at hand, I just want to welcome you to what will be an ongoing series of posts about imposing structure and organization on my life – checklists, schedules, journals, organizational tools – what works, and what doesn’t. 

I might as well utilize what would otherwise be a distraction as a tool, right?  Make it public, hold myself accountable.

It’s a work in progress.  It always is, isn’t it?

Back to the tasks at hand.  One at a time.