Monday, January 4, 2016

Creative Catalyst 365 for 2016!

I always enjoy creativity challenges because, even in some small way, they help keep the juices flowing in my brain. Plus time and patterns prove I turn in to an amazing bitch if I don't make something at least every other day, even if it's only knitting a few stitches.
Each week comes with a series of prompts, and so far I've decided I should probably write about them, at least at the first of the week. I've wanted to get back to blogging and doing so with a positive bent.
Let's take a look at the prompts for Week 1!
Everyday tools is our first focus, and for me that is probably my cell phone and a gel pen. Nothing fancy, nothing exotic, though a few years ago both were considered pretty state of the art. I research things daily on my phone, buy items online, double check appointments and addresses as well as the time and the weather... As much as I tried to avoid it, my phone has become my extended brain. But it also allows me to do cool things like look up pictures of mushrooms to draw for the additional personal challenge I've made for myself, #creative365. That is to say, to do something creative every day and for some reason I am inexplicably drawn to, well, DRAW different types of mushrooms.
Believe it or not, that's where the gel pen comes in. Because not only am I making lists constantly to remind myself of what needs to be done, what groceries need purchasing, who needs things mailed to them, but I tend to draw with them as well. Thus far my first 3 mushroom drawings were done entirely in ink. Maybe I should change that, but I think it allows a certain freedom to try and bring out texture on the paper instead of rendering a photograph-real image.
It's also an interesting dichotomy that I rely on something so high tech and something so low tech (though the pencil be lower) for my every day life process.
I suppose my second tier tools would be knitting needles and crochet hook, because I try to work with those every evening after the Girlchild goes to sleep and the Boychild passes out for a bit after eating dinner. The act of knitting allows me to calm down, focus, create and if I'm making something for another person, feel good about the act of giving of myself.
To expand outward I also use my tea kettle, my coffee mugs, plates... but none of those feel like they're on the same level as my cell phone and my pens. They sit there and wait to hold stuff for me, I don't necessarily learn from them or create with them. Perhaps that's the difference.
I'm curious to know what other people use as tools every day, it will lead to some really fascinating insights!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Of No Consequence To Anyone But Myself, But Probably FYI

It's been a long time since I entered anything here, mostly because it's been a long time since I've had time or thought I had anything particularly interesting for anybody.
But then comes a time when someone who processes things better by writing them out needs the therapy of the written word. Therefore, here is the brain dump that needs to happen.
~We decided to sell our house in December after we discovered there was simply no way to make house payments after August of next year. Hospital bills, unexpected things breaking, etc, had eaten our savings and we were in the red every month. Ridiculous to continue doing in a house where we didn't even use the basement, front room or dining room most days. So ever since then we had been packing, moving things to storage, and getting ready to put the house up for sale.
At the same time, we were trying to get pregnant with our second (and last) child. I miscarried in January, to much heartbreak. Unwilling to run the risk of dealing with that again, we began fertility treatments and all of the accompanying hormones, medications, probing and inescapable abdominal pain.
I became pregnant with only a month's treatment, much to everyone's surprise (it took us 2.5 years combined with trying naturally and fertility treatments to produce my daughter.) but was promptly put on restrictions for lifting things due to the miscarriage risk. Which is hard when you're trying to pack a house and get it ready for selling.
On top of that, my cat of 17 years, Chaucer, finally gave up the ghost. If we'd had the money I would've taken care of him comfortably until he was a gentleman elder and quietly passed away. As it was, when we put him to sleep my husband was, as always, worried about inconveniencing everybody else and the vet just wanted to get it done with and take the body... it went badly. I still feel guilt at how scared he was with the final injection, how I didn't get to hold him until I was sure he was gone. It's hard when something or someone has been in your life longer than they haven't been there. That was hard to take, probably harder because of the hormone support they had me on at the time.
After that I was feeling incredible stress because I didn't feel like I was getting enough help, with a spouse that wasn't really helping pack but felt okay to disappear two times a week for 4 hours to play computer games while I looked after our child, and the rest of the time happily sat in front of the computer playing other video games by himself. He apparently didn't feel the pressure to get things done that I did, even though he was the one that had discovered we were going under fast financially. I spent a lot of time raging to everybody else BUT him because I was so angry I knew it would just result in both of us shutting down and not talking after throwing insults back and forth. I couldn't take being shut off from my only support and I couldn't take the insults, so I grit my teeth until sparks flew and kept going.
(This has since been resolved. I collapsed and told him. He didn't realize what had been going on because, like an idiot, I hadn't been talking to him. We are more open now and work very hard to make time for one another to relax.)
I tried to find places to find fellowship or to share meditation space, looking for sanghas or Unitarian churches in the area. Anything whatsoever as an outlet so I might be able to lean somewhere else besides my husband's shoulders. They only offered interaction during hours my daughter needed me for dinner or bathing or breakfast. I gave up.
I dealt with doctor's appointments, I dealt with replacing a room of carpet, I dealt with people painting our deck saying they would show up and then not, and then killing half the plants in my garden by carelessly spraying paint over them. I dealt with people saying they would show up to clean out the gutters, then saying they fell off a ladder and couldn't make it (CANCELLED). I had people come clean the house from top to bottom. I emptied 18 bags of stone in our front landscaping despite weight warnings so the place would look beautiful. I accidentally inhaled paint fumes time and again while trying to make walls presentable. And I hid (I thought) every vestige of what made the place personal to us so that anybody walking in could picture themselves in this big, beautiful house we had to vacate.
It wasn't enough. The agent swept in and threw everything under counters, had to be argued with that the fish tank couldn't be unplugged and moved or the fish would die; and we lived for 3 weeks like we were weekend renters, not daring to cook or let our daughter play enough to get really messy. Strangers wandered through our sacred safe space staring at things while my baby cried in the back seat of the car out of boredom at the endless errands I was creating, anything to keep us out of the house, our house. Sometimes I had the dog with me to keep him from being alone at the house so much. Sometimes I pulled in to a parking lot and just cried from the stress of not being able to relax. All of the tools and supplies I used to create things, my stress relief, had been packed away. I was afloat in the gray of depression and anger and uncertainty, housing a tiny life growing and trying to protect the one already here who was confused by everything going on.
We finally got a bite, and a bidding war, and then put up with the buyers doing illegal things during the inspection like breaking faucets and putting holes in walls to try to bid us down on the price.
I will not be fixing a single fucking one of those things before we leave, by the way.
They don't have the money for this place but they desperately want the prestige of it - ironically, the thing I hate, and what I want to get away from. I don't want to be in "the fancy neighborhood" where you can't have any outbuildings and fences must be approved and everything is scrutinized by the 8 different neighbors who can see in to your back yard or your kitchen windows whenever you do anything. But they kept fighting. And when we would give them an inch, they would try to jerk us around again. Even the agent said their asshole-dom was unprecedented in her history of selling houses. I felt vindicated in wanting to tell these people to fuck off and diaf.
At the same time, though, we had jumped the gun and put in a deposit for an apartment back in our old stomping grounds of Thorndale. We couldn't do a monthly rental and a house payment. We'd made the mistake of thinking they would be logical and understanding that we needed money for a down payment on our next place. Not pull this Arab Trader bullshit.
Then Bob went in to the hospital with the return of his pancreatitis. Only two days this time. It was a very strange moment of calm, as I knew exactly what to do and exactly what the dog and the cat and the baby would need and when they would need it.
After a particularly douche-baggy demand we finally told them to go fuck themselves. We would lose the deposit if we had to, if it meant we could get someone who would actually afford the place and stop jerking us around. It scared them enough to shut up and take the offer.
I think I cried in relief when my husband was home and I could cook dinner in our own kitchen again.
I thought everything was in the rear view mirror... in fact, I literally FELT weight that wasn't there slide off my shoulders after the last of the paperwork was signed and the last of the inspections was passed.
I've been sick with... something... for two weeks, and it robs me of my energy and sometimes my ability to stand without getting dizzy or week. I can't play with my daughter. This is the latest in a string of impressive illnesses I've been struck with during the course of this pregnancy. It has made me feel weak, and worthless, and unable to take care of my family. I'm causing added expense because we have to order food since I can't cook it. I'm adding to stress because I can't lift boxes or stand to pack the remainder of our belongings, and our move date is looming fast. I am failing everyone and everything and I can't pull up out of this spiral.
My dog kept throwing up last week. My betta fish bloated. And I started having stabbing pains in my cervix every day.
I've now discovered the dog has kidney disease. The betta fish can't be cured, so I'm watching him die slowly while I perform hospice as best as possible. (Yes, I give a flying fuck about a fish. I care about ANYTHING that relies on me for their existence. I am their Keeper.)
Yesterday morning I passed a large, bloody clot of tissue followed by cramping. We rushed to the ER only to be chastised for not calling the OBGYN first, then given only the barest of attention so they could discharge us as fast as possible. I had the tissue with me. The nurse said "I have no idea what this is," And pushed it aside. No asking around for a second opinion, no seeking a doctor who might know. Then a painful manual pelvic exam where they told me "your cervix feels softer than it should. But maybe that's just your cervix."
I nearly fainted on the sidewalk waiting for my husband to bring the car around, still cramping. But hey, nobody thinks it's a big deal.
This morning I got yelled at by the nurse on the phone at the OBGYN, the people I was TOLD to call because they were actually in charge of giving me medical care apparently. Then, shortly after I watched a dog die in the arms of his owner, and was not prepared. It's all too raw. Too many months of being by myself here, taking care of things, trying to keep my shit together.
I'm breaking. I'm not going to be polite about it. The only person who will be spared as much as I can spare them from this is my daughter, but the rest of the world gets the horns because I realized I don't HAVE to hold all of this shit up. I don't owe a god damn person a brave face anymore. I've had 6 months of stress upon stress upon stress, and the fear of what it's doing to my little boy inside me, and trying to be "nice", not trouble people with my "bullshit".
I'm done. And now you know why. Warning given.
Now stand clear while I explode.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Favorite Things Friday - 1/9/15 - Blank Paper

A friend of mine recently started the tradition of talking about things she really loved on Fridays, and while I DO remember occasionally to do a crafty roundup, it seems to me that this is a bit more of a task master to stay on top of.
That, and the fact that this blog is just so eclectic, at least there will be one running theme on it. Plus? I love sharing stuff.
So what I wanted to share was my love of PAPER.
You know people that buy notecards but have no reason to use them? The ones that send hand-written thank yous when an email would suffice? Probably have blank journals spilling off a shelf somewhere?
Yeah. That's me. Me and my Ephemerophilia - which, if it wasn't a thing, is now. Pretty sure that's a Google search I don't want to make, though.
I lied. I googled it. And Ephemeraphilia is actually a pretty cool blog. Check it out!
I love paper. Ever since I was a kid, I took my money from my allowance, my paper route, my lawn mowing business, my crappy part time job at the pet store... and put it in to blank paper. Originally it was just beautiful, crisp white theme notebooks with blue lines and a red column to warn you No! Don't write over here! This part is for doodling when you are bored in class!
But then somewhere in middle school I realized that beyond boring, crappy girl journals with glitter and locks and pink paper that was hard to see your writing on, they had BLANK BOOKS FOR ADULTS. Even better? THEY WOULD LET A KID BUY BLANK BOOKS FOR ADULTS.
So... you know... I did that. And I bought a new one each time I had a new idea. A lot of times they were story ideas.

Which was great, except that I started to realize when the thought was done, there were still 93 more pages or so left. Utilize them? But what about the original idea?? Was it a disservice to follow up with a different idea after I had bought a special book just to encapsulate the first idea? How would I keep track of which ideas were where? After all, I knew if I picked up my red cloth covered book that it had all my ideas in it about Thoreau and Emerson and existentialism... if I put anything different after that, I had this sinking feeling I wouldn't remember it was back there. (It turns out I was right. I have always known myself very well, alas.) And why didn't that thought warrant its own book? Should I just leave a few pages between ideas? What about flags for each idea? Would the flags get messy? Would they fall out?
And why on earth was I not capable of having more that 7-8 pages worth of thought on a subject, anyway??!
As you can tell, I had very odd things that stressed me out as a child.
From this bubbling morass of angst and pseudo-organization arose a thorough love of the blank page and what it could contain. To this day I keep around notebooks to write lists and thoughts down on, and remind myself to go back through them from time to time to remind myself what was in there.
For a long time, too, I knew that there were these things called "sketchbooks", but somewhere it was impressed upon me that art was a hobby and not a living. So initially I didn't allow myself to get them, since what on earth would I have to draw about outside of art class?
Thankfully that one disappeared and then? You got it. I started to buy ALL THE SKETCHBOOKS.
You needed newsprint sketchbooks, sketchbooks for pencil, sketchbooks that could also take watercolor or even, just maybe, ink?! Wow! And you needed one for practice with your regular #2 pencils that you took to school and you needed a much more serious one that you broke out your H, 2B, and 4B graphite pencils to work on. Charcoals and pastels, too! There were SO MANY THINGS with paper especially for them to be set down on!
Because, you see, blank paper to me was a strange and beautifully magical thing. Spellbooks and Grimoires were composed of it. Forbidden Herbal and Alchemy Tomes, and books talking of far lands complete with treasure maps used it. Sketches of Things That Should Not Be, Both Positive and Negative needed them. So to me, a single white sheet of paper was the most powerful thing in the world. I could write a book that might change the world. I could draw art that might bring people together. Paper was the most sacred thing ever.
Now I know that it's not truly possible to craft a working Book of Shadows that will conjure dragons up under a full moon, and I never did find Shangri-La or the Mountains of Madness to make sketches of their impossible climes and denizens. But I still appreciate a good blank piece of paper.
For those of you who think I'm about to wax poetic about Moleskine, got a suprrise for you... it's okay and all, but I hate how easily you can see writing on the other side, how thin the paper is.  It's good for carrying around and jotting down notes because that included band that holds the cover shut keeps things in my bag from sliding in and tearing up and marking pages. But really I could do that with a headband on a normal book. The nostalgia and cool factor are about the only thing going with them, unless, you know, you want to just completely drink the Kool-Aid and get the special editions.
I did. I have the Pac-Man and the Lego ones, and I would be lying if I didn't tell you that I eyeballed the Hobbit ones for a very long time before deciding not to. Even now I have a small hardcover Moleskine with a cassette tape on the front that lives in the pocket of my diaper bag to catch my brain dumps. Not, you know, that I have time for brain dumps with a baby and a diaper bag, but hey! I AM PREPARED.
I have no pictures of all of these because we are moving and I packed them before it occurred to me I might make this blog post. Sorry.
Oh, and for the record? When I do my Moleskines, I do it UNLINED. That's right, baby. There ain't no strings on me! Or columns! Or proper line spacing, really, and things tend to spill to the lower right but I seriously digress...
I got the red one... go figure.

Another set that I seriously love? Maruman Mnemosyne sketchbooks. Seriously. They're just the frikkin' bomb. Very sturdy paper, they come with the ability to date and title your sketches, and they come in a couple different sizes. They have perforations that make removing your work easy, and they take ink pretty damn well. The only downside is that graphite smudges like a bitch, so if I use heavy graphite I usually fold a piece of regular printer paper and slide it in to cover the image and keep it from smudging.
They're incredibly popular, to the point that when they come back in stock from my dealer, er, on the website, I buy the bulk 3-packs to make sure I have enough. And for this I have the large ones (A4) that stay in my art area (currently being deconstructed, but it does still exist) and I have smaller ones (A5) that previously would travel around in my work bag and purse.

Aren't they pretty? The bigger one is the same except, you know, bigger.
I would love to go on another huge tangent about my favorite paper to scribe on with pens, but honestly anything that will take the ink and not smear gets my vote. I have acquired many, many blank books from Barnes and Nobles on the Wall Of Being Self Indulgent aka Journaling, and they have all been fairly good. If anybody wants, I can go find what's left of my outstanding journals and get a photo of it before they go in to boxes, too. Otherwise... you know, it doesn't have to be fancy to hold an idea. It just has to be blank and waiting for you to fill it.
Which isn't as deep as it sounds, now that I look at that.
But seriously... blank paper is awesome.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


I haven't done one of these in a while, and I've got MAJOR bragging rights this time!

First off, I knitted a Freddy Krueger sweater! SERIOUSLY! Using a pattern for the glorious mohair sweaters of punk-birthing London, I switched the colors a touch and created something gloriously fuzzy and warm. It's TOO warm, actually, if I'm inside for too long. And I keep getting pet when I wear it, which is damned unnerving. But anyway... here it is!!
On top of that, I actually SEWED the skirt I wore with my "not as punk as I wanted it to be" Velma Dinkley costume. Check this out! It was originally ankle length and I cropped it, loosened the waistband, and created a new waist and hook and eye area out of the excess fabric!

 Pardon my tiny helper in the middle picture... Why not just go buy a skirt and top, you ask? I needed it because I was trying to do a totally homemade costume/cosplay. We kinda broke right now.
That orange shirt in the picture on the left is about to be trimmed down to a tank top, (as it is I've trimmed off the severe excess length on the body and the arms and taken off the turtle neck part) and those shoes are going to be replaced with some serious army boots. But for now? It didn't look too bad, and that skirt is fully functional!
Also? I baked a cake for Bob's birthday from scratch. A carrot cake!

 It was delicious and lasted about a week. No walnuts in this one, thankfully, and I'm shocked at how delicious it consistently was. I hated carrot cake thanks to those crappy coffee hour messes they always presented at church, so to be able to produce something moist and tasty seemed to redeem the childhood as well.
There might have been some minor shenanigans regarding a statue outside a public building somewhere. Maybe. And it might've been adorable, and there might have been a lot of people stopping to take pictures of it a full 4 days later when I was in the area again.
 I'm almost done with the baby bubbles sweater for Evie, complete with my own interpretation of the stripes.

And we did a lot of great decorating for Halloween!

Finally put the last of my garden to bed and ended up with a serious tomato crop... still not sure what to do with all of them...
Went to Tennessee with my family to see my Gramma and let her see her Great Granddaughter for the first time. My Gramma is always so well dressed and put together when I see her. The woman is NINETY EIGHT.

I also took some pretty bitchin' photographs while we were there, from the art museum, the aquarium, and the house where my Dad grew up.

And cooked some pretty amazing food over the last few days. This time of year makes me think of chilis, soups... and Japanese hot pots.

Oh, and I tried NaNoWriMo then realized I didn't care about the writing. It represented for me time spent pursuing goals and being given that time to be creative by my family without interruption. I have that space now, so writing isn't important. Creating in general, though? That is everything. 
There will be more forthcoming as I hammer out projects in the next few weeks, getting ready for Xmas and Thanksgiving. Maybe even just a food roundup at some point for all of the stuff I'm cooking and take artsy-as-hell photos of. Hmm.... will ponder that. Maybe I'll call it "Check Out This Stuff I Made, Then Ate". OR... ooo... "FOOD ROUNDUP".
Honestly I probably take pictures of my kid and food more than anything else, so the fact that I had photos of anything else... I was really on the ball.
Anyway... I'd forgotten how cathartic these can be when I have to go back and think about everything I've done and completed. It's good for my poor brain, since I just chug along and pound things out and sometimes forget to look back... then I sit there and wonder "have I done anything with my life lately?"
Yup. I done crazy amounts.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, November 8, 2014


It has been a great amount of time since I last posted, and that probably because I felt like I didn't have much to say. Most likely it would've been along the lines "Look, internet, I am still in the midst of keeping my offspring alive."
Nothing fancy, basically. Unless you wanted to see all the pictures of half-accomplished projects I had going on, too.
I was feeling aimless, floating, really. It was getting frustrating because I would think "Wow, I would like if X would happen" but then noted that it kept not occurring.
Add to that the incessant and repetitive (but not identically scheduled, because oh nooo no two days are alike or allow for a definite schedule) care of my now one year old, and I felt like nothing was happening in my life. I was destined to shovel food in to something that sometimes hugged me and sometimes smacked me in the face with hard plastic toys, and that was the end of my days as anything else.
Then I noted that when I had something that required a few weeks of planning, like decorating and getting ready for Halloween, my brain LEAPT at it. I focused on it. I got small details done. I did things in the midst of doing other things that made sure it got finished. In short... I got my goals completed. I was shocked, in fact, to finish everything the morning of Halloween. Usually I'm lamenting missed chances to go do things, decorations that didn't get to be outside. Nope. This year? Everything was done.
I was taking everything down this morning and wondering to myself... what was the difference? Why was this so successful when everything else in my life felt like it was unanchored? It is true that I adore Halloween like no other holiday, and when my dear Evie is older we will bake themed foods every week, and make costumes together, and put up spider webs both inside and out. WE CAN DO HAUNTED HOUSES AGAIN. I look forward to that immensely. But I still dove forward despite the fact that the full celebration wasn't able to take place.
And that's when I realized that I had shut my life down, at least mentally, when I'd had the baby.
That had been my goal and culmination of everything. I was to work, then to get pregnant, then to leave work and have the baby. And raise the baby. And those were all met, which meant my brain didn't just feel like it had stalled out... it had literally stalled out. There was nothing for it to work on in the background, no data to parse. No plans to make. No small reminds to look out for when I was out and about, that oh yeah, this thing reminds me I wanted to learn more about how to do X.... it's hard to describe. The subconscious was twiddling its thumbs, bored as hell, and no wonder I felt stupider.
It's true, since I've had the kid, it feels like I'm trying to think through a muck or a thick fog some days. Part of it has been identified as hormone-induced migraines with atypical symptoms, but the rest of the time I struggle to remember where I set down my coffee cup. Considering I fixed computers in emergency rooms under serious time and materials constraints prior to all of this, atrophy could quite possibly be occuring.
But I digress.
At the same time, a package arrived from Okinawa courtesy of my friend Deya who trades care packages with me about once a month. I had requested her finding me a Daruma, as the last time I had one I'd used it to "wish" for a house, and it was now sitting on the mantlepiece with both eyes happily filled out. It showed up, almost a mirror of the one I picked up in our own trip, and I began to put a great deal of thought in to what I wanted this time around, since I knew it had the ability to do some fairly large psychological tweaking in my favor.

Added to this, this morning's moment of "oh!": I have at least twice now sat down and written out a 5 Year Plan detailing what I wanted to accomplish with my life. It dawned on my as I brought in the last of the spooky lights that I had not gone back and rewritten them since meeting almost all of my major goals. Grabbing my Moleskine (special Pacman edition, y'all) I cracked it open and looking through to be sure; yes, indeed, all of the most major things that I had wanted were now complete. The other things were all goals I had written before having a child and understanding materials and time constraints. Ergo, my brain had just discarded the whole damn thing and none of it was percolating in my subconscious.
That lightbulb.... it was huge when it went on. I sat down and turned to a fresh page, re-dated it, and began to write down my NOW goals. And as I did, my brain felt as though it was awakening and pulling itself up out of the Freudian marsh I'd let it slip in to.
I separated my goals out as I usually did, in to 3 month goals, 6 month goals, 1 year, 3 years and 5 years. I give myself a front and back of a page for all of them, but usually by the 5 year goals I've only got one or two huge things listed. In this case, I already know I'm going to put "2nd trip to Japan" under there, with the stipulation that it will have OCCURRED by then, since the people I would want to visit while there will be gone if I wait that long.
This whole thing works for the same reason that people think praying or casting spells work... you are telling your brain you want something to occur. Your brain grabs hold of your behavior and your thoughts and begins to subtly direct you to complete those things.
Now instead of thinking "It would be great for X to occur", I will always be WORKING for X to occur, and by a specific time frame. Which is great. I love it. I need it. My brain needs it. And it'll get me out of this giant rut that made me feel useless and lonely ever since everybody left from visiting my newborn.
Saying I am excited isn't quite right, but I am energized. Focus will do that to somebody who's used to knitting while watching TV and surfing the internet to keep herself entertained.
Anyway... just wanted to share. 5 Year Plan. I got one. And I already started working on it shortly after I refilled my Lamy fountain pen to write in my pretentious as hell Moleskine.
As for the Daruma, I wanted to wish for something that reached deep, that would cover several areas of my life instead of just one small happening. I wished for "Growth". That should cover everything I want to accomplish over the next few years and keep me active in learning and continuing to expand life for myself, for spouse, for Evie, and for any other littles who might come along.
I wish this were more eloquent. I wish it were funnier. But you know how you can't really process something when you wake up from sleeping a long time? Like sleeping longer than you should have so your brain just won't get itself together and you're stumbling and you can't remember where the coffee grounds are to make that coffee you desperately need? That's what it's like to be me right now. Dormant. Awakening. Not really coherent quite yet.
Perhaps there'll be more posts as things get worked out. Perhaps things will get sorted. For the first time in quite a while I power-cleaned and organized everything, took a mental catalog of what else needed done in the house, and took power tools to cabinets for the purpose of child-protection. The affects of goal-setting are already becoming apparent. I'm grateful. It sucks feeling like 2/3rds of who you are is turned off.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Last night I was incredibly excited to "suit up" and start up my old exercise regimen, where I alternated fast walking and jogging around the neighborhood to the throbbing base of beloved music in my ears. It was something I had started 4 years ago and had helped me to lose 25 pounds, all of which I had since regained. I needed it. I needed to move, too, since being around a baby a lot doesn't lend itself to too much exercise. 30 minutes on the treadmill becomes 7 and then you leap off because she starts crying after accidentally smacking herself in the face with a toy.
As I was walking, though, I noticed this particular tension creeping up on me. It was surprising, because it was familiar but I felt like it was out of place. After all, it had been a while since I last exercised but nothing about walking should scare me, right?
Then I realized what it was, and literally stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. In the middle of Heart Shaped Box, and the irony of that fact was not lost on me.
I was waiting to be attacked. My body was tensed for another one based on my history.
I have always walked, outside my home in the mountains of West Virginia as a young girl, and around my neighborhood in Hershey, Pennsylvania. As a teenager in a suburb of Harrisburg, I took to walking a mile and a half around my neighborhood every night in the summers to clear my thoughts. I had always thought of the darkness as a sheltering friend. Me, a severely awkward introvert, could go out in to the world and experience it without the stress of having to deal with other human beings. It always felt like the night wind and the fireflies were mine alone, as the rest of the world was camped in their houses having dinner and watching TV.
It was on these evening walks that the first attack occurred.
I was perhaps 14 years old, and enjoying my walk immensely. I had walked down across the wide creek near my house to a beautiful spring house and watched it splash over the 200 year old stones it was constructed out of. This was the usual turning-point to my walk as the rest led up a steep hill with sharp curves and no sidewalk. It also meant I would walk almost exactly one and a half miles round trip from that point.
I was within 3 blocks of my own house when I sensed something moving in one of the yards and looked up. A tall boy had pushed out of the thick bushes and trees up the incline. At first I thought he was simply on his way home and cutting through the yard.
Then I realized he was adjusting his angle as I passed. And I also noticed that his eyes were on me. And his eyes, for lack of a better word, were hungry. I later came to call that look "wolf's eyes".
Realizing I was in danger I ran. I ran like hell the remaining two blocks, turning around on the corner to see if he was behind me. He was a block back, standing there staring at me. We had a stare down for several seconds as I memorized what he looked like. Then he smirked and walked off casually.
At that point I ran in to the house and immediately told my parents what had happened. For their part, they did immediately go down and check, but of course the kid wasn't around at that point.
Then they went to bed. Despite my protests (and to this day I do not believe they blew me off like this) they went to sleep and called the police in the morning. The police berated them mildly for "what might have possibly happened." -I informed the officer in no uncertain terms that I knew the boy meant to rape me, but he brushed it off saying again "What MIGHT have happened"- and then filed a report.
To the unknown neighbor's credit, they promptly cut down the trees and bushes, telling us that teenagers were prone to hanging out back there and often left beer bottles.
I was incensed that this was it, that I had nearly been hurt and the law and my parents shrugged and thought it wasn't anything, but I figured it was over. I was wrong.
Three days later I was with  male friend in a comic book shop when I saw the boy there. He was with someone (a friend?) at the counter. And he saw me.
I panicked and told my male friend that that was the boy who had tried to grab me. His response "Well, go stand towards the back and get away from him."
I asked if he would tell the guy at the counter to call mall security. No, he said, he didn't want to make a big deal out of things.
So I did as he asked, and started to peruse the Sandman trades, trying to be very, very small.
Except the boy had already seen me, and had gone around my friend. He came up behind me, so close he brushed against my back. I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder to see his white, white teeth in a nasty smirk right at my eye line. And he just stood there, smirking, barely touching me. I was so scared I couldn't look at him. I looked at my male friend and he looked away, not sure what to do.
Then suddenly the friend called out "Leave her alone man, let's go!" and he then broke away, making sure to smirk at me as he once again slowly strolled out. My male friend rushed me out of the store in the opposite direction. By the time I got home and told my Mom, he was long gone and there was no way to track him.
Even though he had not touched me, I felt violated and dis-empowered. From that point on, afraid that I might run in to him again, I changed the route and didn't dare to walk that way again for another 2 years. I didn't venture far from my house, sometimes just circling the block to make sure I wasn't too far away.
That tension, and the hawk-like scouring of spots between houses, between bushes, under trees, was what sat on my shoulders with such saddening familiarity as soon as I crossed the street. 22 years later and I am still waiting to be attacked from the shadows by some boy who was allowed to walk away by everyone I had asked for and counted on for help.
I know if it happened again that I could defend myself now, as I've taken self defense classes since then. I could outrun him, I could report him and I could be persistent. But I could do all of these things because I realized what could happen and because I was forced to go through these things in the first place.
I do not regret learning how to become my own advocate and having the ridiculous notion destroyed that the world out there would help protect me. It has made me stronger. I am just sad that I thought I didn't have the right to be forceful with the police, or to make a scene even when I was asked not to.
In the years since then I have fought off 2 more rape attempts, this time by people I know. I even had to go so far as to file a restraining order because one individual began talking about how "a woman is a man's property once they're going out" and when I proceeded to try and extricate myself, choked me to show me how scared and weak I was. The rape attempt was the straw on the camel's back that convinced me I was going to die if I stayed.
I have been catcalled, called a slut, called a whore... I have been grabbed inappropriately. I have had managers belittle me for having two X chromosomes. I have been ignored for my thoughts and made fun of for being interested in things that were traditionally male-dominated. When I first began working as tech support at EarthLink (yes, that dates me a little) being a woman in the tech field was a rarity... enough so that I was virtually guaranteed a spot due to EOE laws. But I was constantly talked down to because I was a young female on the phone. "I want a man," the man on the end of the phone said more than once. Other times I was told by my boss to just finished teching the call when I put the caller on hold to report to him that I was being subjected to someone telling me what he wanted to do to me with his tongue.
Times have changed and we have more freedom to speak up about it, but this is my history. This is what I have had to deal with. I have always been advised I am less, I am supposed to be quiet, I am the property of another.
It's bullshit.
I am not sitting by and letting another generation grow up thinking any of this is acceptable. I have a daughter, and I swear now on any gods that will listen that she will not be subjected to any of this bullshit I had to go through. Until seeing the hash-tag I had just assumed I was an unlucky target. Perhaps, but it now shows me that it is endemic within our society. My daughter deserves better.
From this point forward at every opportunity I will fight for her right to walk freely, without fear. Not because it is an extraordinary thing to do, but because it is ridiculous and repugnant  that this isn't already possible.
Tonight when I walk I will turn the music up and ignore the fear. I will be alert, but it will not control me. I will take back my nighttime realm of solitude, that I might share it with my daughter when she is older.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Check Out This Thing I Found - YouTube Edition #2

We like science in my house. A LOT. And while I had a rare moment to troll Youtube the other day, I discovered lots of lovely sciency goodness on there along with one of my old faves (which I probably linked before but whatever, she's awesome and I do what I want).
But first, allow me to show you my offspring currently.
She is quite adorable. We spend a lot of time together, since I'm Mom and I stay at home now to take care of her.
I love Mom and Evie time.

She seems to be teething already, poor girl. :(

I am fairly sure I've told you of my love of Vi Hart before, but just in case not allow me to link a video of her to you.
If I had a teacher who could've explained the maths to me in this fashion, I probably never would've had a problem. I also particularly like her anti-Spongebob's-house rant she goes on.

A few others I found:
SmarterEveryDay with this gem -

Veritasium with some awesome bits -

And one of my fave finds, MinutePhysics, which teaches you concepts of physics with short little videos. Thusly -

So there you have it, internet. Go get yourself smarter for the New Year!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Then This Happened

One week ago yesterday, actually. Everyone say hello to Eve, whom I adore even though she caused me the most pain I have ever experienced in my life.

Born 8 lbs, 4 oz. and 21 inches long with a full head of white-blonde hair, she was the talk of the maternity ward. Nurses would sneak in just to take a look at her after hearing about her. In fact, during delivery, the doctor and nurses stopped what they were doing to stare the second her head started showing because of that shock of blondeness. Everywhere we go people stop and stare and comment on it, because it's so rare to see a newborn with hair like that.

I love to stroke her head and her cheeks while she nurses and I actually love burping her because she just collapses over my arm in a warm lump, sometimes falling asleep that way if it takes too long.

Right now we're working on getting her mild jaundice down and figuring out why she screams for 3 hours every night -although an experiment last night with a hall light on and some white noise looked really promising, she slept the whole night without the banshee shrieking of the previous 3 nights.

I love this small thing. I knew she was coming for 9 months on an intellectual level, but there was something about seeing her in person that just took my breath away. I have urges to hold her and I miss her if it's been too long since we hugged. It's all so new for me, and it's amazing how comforting she is even at a tiny 1 week in age.

Anyway, I wanted to share. This is my project round up. All else are on hold for now, for very good reason.

I love you, Eve.