Is it any wonder

Being sad makes me tired.
Being angry makes me tired.
Being in social situations makes me tired.
Being hungry makes me tired.
Being stressed makes me tired.
Being in pain makes me tired.
So yeah, I'm just tired pretty much all the time.

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"The true secret in being a hero lies in knowing the order of things."

The swineherd cannot already be wed to the princess when he embarks on his adventures, nor can the boy knock on the witch’s door when she is already away on vacation. The wicked uncle cannot be found out and foiled before he does something wicked. Things must happen when it is time for them to happen. Quests may not simply be abandoned; prophecies may not be left to rot like unpicked fruit; unicorns may go unrescued for a very long time, but not forever. The happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story.
The Last Unicorm - Peter S. Beagle

I've been trying to remind myself of this lately. 

The Walda Dress pt. 2


So d'you remember when I listed what still needed to be done on my Walda dress and under "sew bodice and skirt together" wrote "easy-peasey"? I cursed myself. I literally sewed that thing at least a dozen times before I got it to look good, including crooked, inside out, upside down, and a million different versions of just plain fugly, by which time everything was super behind. The sleeves went fairly well, and wouldn't have been that difficult, except for the fact that I was fitting and pinning them on myself without help, literally turning my head as far as I could and sticking pins into myself while I craned my gaze toward a mirror. In the end, by doing nothing in my free time but sewing for three weeks, pulling an almost all-nighter (1 1/2 hours of sleep) two days before con, and the staying up til 3 am the day before the con, I managed to get the dress done in time. And I must say I'm pretty pleased with the results, and proud of  myself for what I accomplished despite all the issues and challenges that came up.


I got a lot of love, too! There's just something about Fat Walda that not even the staunchest Frey-hater can resist. No one had the slightest idea it was my first such project, and I got so many comments about how pleased people were that I was wearing PINK. (As if she'd be seen dead in anything else.) And it was so fun to wear! Super comfy, and so princess-y that I couldn't help twirling in it sometimes. My five-year-old self would be proud. 

2013: Lara Croft, Before and After

So the last couple days I've been in a Tomb Raider mood, and that got me thinking about the 2013 reboot. I enjoyed the game a lot, but something about it had always felt a little off, in particular something about Lara's characterization. It'd been bothering me since the game came out, but I only fully realized what bothered me about it a few days ago.

In her original backstory, (as described in the booklet for the very first game) Lara is the wealthy, pampered daughter of an aristocratic family. After surviving a plane crash that leaves her stranded in the Himalayas, she finds herself profoundly changed, and discovers that the danger and excitement of cheating death makes her feel more alive than anything she's ever felt. She enjoys it; enjoys it so much that in the first game's opening, after a collector tries to buy her treasure-finding services, she replies that she "only plays for sport."

In the years since, her origins have been altered and ret-conned a number of times, but all of them have contained that original core, portraying a Lara who despite whatever difficulty or pain she's put through on her adventures, still sees them as adventures; a character for whom the thrill of "tomb raiding" is such that she's going to keep coming back to it, regardless of how uncomfortable it might be at times.

This is a sentiment entirely lacking in the 2013 game. This Lara survives a series of brutal, traumatic, and increasingly horrible events, and finds herself capable of things (good and bad) she never expected. But even in her occasional moments of triumph, we never really get the feeling that she actually likes anything she's doing.

For old-school Lara jumping pits, outrunning boulders, escaping falling platforms-- basically anything that pits her against death-- that all excited her, was something she got a kick out of. But for this new Lara, that's stuff that frightens, hurts, and exhausts her; sure, it drives her, but only in the survival-sense.

Both the original and the reboot origin-stories begin with her surviving a traumatic event that leaves her too changed to go back to her former life; but in the end old Lara keeps going because she honestly loves at least part of what she's doing; reboot-Lara keeps going because it seems the only thing she can do.

So as interesting and well-acted as this new Lara is, she's missing that one aspect that-- even over several decades and multiple incarnations-- has always made Lara, Lara.


The trouble with elitists

So, in the weird social arrangement of my life, there aren't a lot of people I really consider my friends, and none of the ones I do consider friends are people I actually met. They are all people brought in by my brothers, and though some I have befriended since and become close to, a lot of them are just people I end up socializing with because Anthony does, but wouldn't really choose to spend time with on my own. One of these "friends" is leaving for college in Oregon in a couple months, and we hadn't hung out together in long time, so he came to visit yesterday.

We've known him since he was fourteen or fifteen, and he's eighteen now. He's very smart, very left-brained, (and very wrapped-up in being smart and left-brained) and is one of those people who worships over-much at the altar of science. His family is well-off and he's had a very good education and (from what I know) a fairly cushy life, yet at fifteen he already had the jaded, cynical, elitist outlook of a twenty-something hipster. In fact, he kind of just is a hipster, but without the wardrobe. (Which of course, is a comparison he would loathe.)

He's very judgemental and exclusive, and the kind of person who hates a lot of things, to the point where I can only assume most of what he hates he has decided to hate, and that he enjoys hating on things. Anything too simple, or too fun, or too innocent, or too mainstream seems to offend his sensibilities, and he's likely to turn up his nose at something just because a lot other of people like it.

He likes horror, and tends to gravitate toward weird, complex, dark and usually somewhat twisted stuff, especially when it presents itself as somehow "deep" just because it's weird. (And by extension, if it's weirdness doesn't do anything for you, then you must be dum and/or shallow.) He's big into Warhammer, but supports Chaos; loves Fallout, but not only sides with Caesar's Legion, but prefers the bizarre and goofy old games to the new ones. He likes a lot of horror manga (like Spiral) likes Lovecraft (who I can't stand) is a big Homestuck fan and is super into Welcome to the Night Vale.

Hilariously, Lovecraft, Homestuck, and Night Vale are all rabidly popular, at least in the nerd crowd. (Even outside traditional nerdom, Lovecraft is still the overly-indulged mainstay of pseudo-intellectual hipsters the world over, as well as the favored child of those critic-types who want everything "gritty" and "dark"-- and thus "realistic"-- to the point where they can't enjoy anything else.) That doesn't really work well with his anti-popular thing. However, the first two at least kind of have fandom heirarchies, and judge you to see if you're a "real fan" or a "poser", and whether your interest is legitimate enough for them. He's always held himself above the majority of the Homestuck fandom (with sort-of good reason) and yesterday he claimed he's the "only one" who is actually a real fan of Night Vale. So series with heirarchy-based fandoms seem to avoid his anti-mainstream thing, which makes sense in a way, since being somehow the top tier of the cultural/intellectual heirarchy is kind of the reason he has a problem with mainstream stuff in the first place.

I don't want to be rude, or hurt his feelings, so I keep it to myself, but it's difficult to have a pleasant time hanging out with him. Not horrible or anything, just kind of awkward and more energy draining even than usual. It's just hard to feel comfortable and free to be oneself around someone who hates most of what you love, and who makes you feel as though he has already judged you and your likes as somehow less intelligent, or less legitimate, or being somehow inferior to him/his. I mean, he's never put me down to my face, or said anything demeaning to me, but the commentary he makes about things he doesn't know I love, (and even some things he does know), and other people who like those things, or who's tastes don't mesh with his make it clear that he at least thinks some of that about me, even if he doesn't express it. So in order for us to "have a good time" together, I have to keep quiet about what I like and what I feel, in order to avoid the negative judgement(and possible tension) that would result if I actually admitted my tastes or spoke my mind.

Once another "friend" claimed somewhat dimissively that I tended to like "mainstream" stuff because I watched Ouran Host Club (which is ironic since she is super into Sengoku Basura, Devil May Cry, Resident Evil, Capcom games in general, and whatever new, somewhat dark, supernatural-themed Japanese series is producing yaoi this week.) I don't mind liking mainstream stuff per say, and I'm not going to watch or not watch something because it does or doesn't up my "street cred." But the hilarious thing is how NOT mainstream my taste usually is. I've wailed before about how whatever I tend to like-- even stuff that is supposedly popular-- has no fan presence, and no merchandise, and that I never find anyone else who likes or is even aware of it. Like The Guild, Felicia Day's webshow. Super popular, right? No one I know watches it other than people I made watch it. No one! I've realized it's mostly because I like fantasy, and while nerd culture has gone fairly mainstream, it's mostly sci-fi and super heroes that are in the main, while fantasy loiters awkwardly in the background, wedged somewhere between the kiddie table and the grown-ups. (And if it should make its way to the front, it must first prove itself "adult" by grittying up, getting "dark" and producing a lot of gore, violence, and nudity.) So, supposed "nerds" flex their Star Trek muscles and call people "fake geeks" when they don't know Green Lantern's backstory, but when I try to talk about Michael Moorcock, no one has even heard of him, let alone gives a crap.

So it's kind of galling (but mostly just hilarious) to then have people look down their noses at me because I like things that they claim are too "popular", especially when they feel like it somehow makes them smarter or better than me. If I'm going to be judged for being too generic or mainstream, I'd like for once to be able to at least enjoy the benefits of liking something actually generic/mainstream. But sitting in the corner with no one knowing or caring about most of what I like, and then being given the old superiority side-eye anyway is just freaking obnoxious.

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Can't think of any clever titles right now

I've been thinking about my writing the last few days. Writing is a huge part of my life, be it my fiction, poetry, or my journal entries. When I'm not actually physically writing, I'm doing it in my head. I'm "writing" during my commute; while exercising; at the grocery store; in the shower; doing chores; on break at work. It's something I'm very passionate about, something I invest a lot of time and energy in, and something that helps me learn and get through a lot of aspects of my life.

And it's funny, I had just been talking in an earlier entry about how so much of my life is lived "internally", inside my own head or in self-contained outlets. Well, I don't think there's a better example of that "internal living" than my writing. Not only do I put hours and hours of time into it, but it serves a variety of uses to me that makes it almost indispensable.

It's entertainment. Whether it comes from my own curiosity, my interest in trying a certain angle or playing with a particular story-line or archetype, or whether they're written simply to satisfy my hankering for a book or story that doesn't exist yet, making up stories is entertainment for me. Skewing expectations is fun; people and there actions and motivations are interesting; world building is legitimately something I could do all the time. Even when I was kid, playing with dolls, playing with my brothers, I was making up stories. Almost every night of my childhood was spent playing out some kind of fantasy or saga in my head as I fell asleep. I even dream stories.

It is exercise. Like any skill my writing abilities needs constant working out, and whether fiction or nonfiction, the more I write the better I get; the greater my ability to shape with words what I see and feel with my internal senses; the keener my intuition and my understanding of how things really are. My stories threaten and challenge me the same way a jigsaw puzzle, or a sports activity, or a video game boss might, and my journal entries and soul-plumbing help me understand more and more who I am and how I fit (or don't fit) into the world.

It is an internal dialogue, and sounding board. Through writing I can vent tirades, complaints, and frightened babbling, and get to see the actual problem, the actual message underneath it. It gives me a chance to express feelings and thoughts I either don't have the time, the opportunity, or the verbal talent to really explain or actually finish through just speaking. Through my writing I can stare my fears and longings in the face without danger and learn to stand them, or at least face them long enough to learn what armor and antidotes can defend from their sting.

It is escape and fantasy. I can move beyond a world or place I find boring or crushing to someplace better, or at least more interesting. I can replace the mundane and the ugly with things marvelous and wonderful and pleasing to the senses. I can work in the kind of vein, and with the kinds of tools, that I long for in the real world and have not been able to find. In my stories I can be the defender, the comforter, the healer, the sword-hand of God. I can rescue those beyond my reach in the real world, and bring justice and punishment to those the cruel as well. I can satisfy that terrible need to heal and fix, and to seek out and set right wrong-doing.

It's also the easiest way I have of clearly communicating about subjects that are complex, important, or that I'm very passionate about, partly because I'm not the best "talker", and partly because a lot of times my "audience" isn't very good at actually listening. Real, written words are a bit harder to just tune out, and when I can control every aspect of what I want to say, how I want to say it, and can control the length, and the speed, everything makes a lot more sense than when I try to communicate it out loud. (As an example, that "give me Ragnarok" entry stemmed from a two-hour long conversation I had on the phone with my mother. I managed to convey something along the lines of what I wanted in that call, but not with nearly as much depth or breadth. Then after I got off the phone, I popped up a document on my computer, and that entire entry just pretty much fell out fully formed in less than ten minutes.)

And it allows me to take this entirely personal, deep, internal aspect of me and my life, and to externalize it in a way. Whether it be my stories or my actual thoughts, through writing I am able to transmute something untouchable and unshareable into thoughts, ideas, feelings, and designs that can be expressed, that can be shared, and that can been seen and felt by others; aspects which otherwise remain entirely pent up within myself. That of course is part of the reason I am so careful when and with whom I share my writing, either fiction or more personal stuff, as both contain huge nuggets of my feelings and thoughts, and often when I hand out parts of myself like that, they're not very thoughtfully handled. But even this entry, how would I have the time or the ability to get all this out verbally, and better yet, to who? Who's going to honestly sit around listening to me blather about myself and my writing if I'm saying it out loud? And yet if I write it, not only do I have a much larger chance of my (non-existent) audience paying attention, but I don't actually really need an audience. I have a piece of paper or a computer screen to take it all in, and best of all, to reflect it all back to me.

PS. I also discovered Terri Windling's blog today. Ah, what a treasure it is! It makes me proud to be a writer, and reading my mind can't help but wandering through all the wonderful hours I've spent invested in the struggles and triumphs of imaginary people, and in creating strange and fantastic worlds. I can't wait to get a better look at it in the next few days. Having things as lovely as this to look forward to are a balm to my soul.
stained glass

The Walda Dress pt. 1

I have a weird relationship with all my crafts, but mostly sewing. The majority of my skills are self taught, and most don't even come from reading a book or watching a video, but are literally me just looking at something and figuring out a way on my own to replicate it. Which is great in some ways, but usually leads to me reaching a point in said craft-skill where I can't just "figure something out" anymore and so find myself stuck and unable to progress any further.

Sewing is the worst of all at this. Finding patterns that actually fit me is pretty much impossible, and I've tried once to alter a pattern to fit me and it ended dismally. The result is that I've never sewn anything for myself before. I've also never actually sewn real clothes before. In fact, I've never even really used a pattern before, and I've certainly never drafted one myself.

So, when I decided to cosplay Fat Walda Frey/Bolton for Ice and Fire con in May, I tried pretty much everything I could to avoid having to sew a full length dress by myself. But everything from color choice to dress designs made that impossible. I looked all over etsy and ebay, but found nothing ready made. I contacted dress-makers and they were all either indisposed, or out-right refused to make anything resembling my design. I wasn't even able to find a dress that I could alter. So it became apparent I would have to do this myself after all, despite my complete lack of experience. And to top it off I had such a hard time finding fabric (even when I looked in bedsheets, curtains, and houseware fabric!) that the only thing I found that was workable was some thick pink knit.

The skirt was pretty simple, and I got that finished within a few days of washing the fabric. Every time I've machine-hemmed knit the results have been horrible, and nothing about this attempt was any different. So after hemming the whole thing on machine, I then folded the hem down, pinned everything into place again, and re-hemmed the entire skirt by hand. There is just something about me that guarantees every project, no matter how easy, will always involve copious amounts of hand-sewing for no apparent reason.

Every step I've taken with the bodice has been hesitant, mostly because I was terrified it would go wrong. I started by tracing a very rudimentary pattern from a pre-existing top I own, and made a mock-up with it out of muslin. From there I made adjustments to size and style, cutting off where it was too large or adding in sections of fabric where it was too small. I also worked at making it more balanced (such as the sleeve holes being the same size) and made changes to taste (such as seeing it on and suddenly deciding I wanted a plunging neckline). Eventually I had a sort of Frankenstein's Monster-style top cobbled together. The fit was fine, and I'd figured out the neckline, but I found that in order to fit my boobs comfortably, I wound up with inches of extra fabric at my armpits that I didn't really know what to do with. I thought through all the solutions I'd seen to that problem and finally settled on those curving side panels a lot of bodices have. My lack of familiarity with patterns and clothes sewing fixed things nicely again, since I don't even know what those are called, and so finding instructions on how to install them wasn't really an option. However, after some trial and error and a lot of thinking I was able to figure something out, and finally decided to start on it Saturday. But Saturday my period-ills became so bad that I literally spent almost the whole day in bed, so I had to delay my start til Sunday morning instead.

Anyway, I started by butchereing my Franken-top some more, then added new sides and in the end was pleased enough that I felt ready to move to the next level. So I cut out an entirely new front and sides from muslin, joined them to my old mock-up back and verified that, yes, indeed, I was certain enough that I could actually make a pattern now. So I undid all my sewing, laid the muslin pieces out, and traced them onto tissue paper. Then I took my new pattern pieces and cut out my pink fabric.
With much fear and trepidation, I assembled the final pieces, but not having a ripper, and worried that I would have to go back and change something, I sewed everything by hand. That took me quite awhile, but I finally finished late Sunday night, and was pleased as punch to see that I had succeeded in constructing something that looked dangerously like a legitimate bodice. I was so pleased in fact that I bounded out of the bathroom to show Anthony, despite the fact that I was basically wearing a crop top, and a rather skimpy one at that.

So, I've gone from never having even used a pattern, to not only having used one, but having made one (primitive though it may be) AND I've done it without any help and without a dress form. I am rightly proud of myself for having accomplished this. I'm so excited and encouraged that I've even taken the necklace I'll be wearing up a notch! I had originally planned for just a red droplet bead on a length of ribbon, but with all the charms I've been sculpting lately (and inspired oddly enough by the sadly lackluster costume Walda's got in-show) that I'm going to sculpt a little charm of the flayed man on the Bolton's sigil, and have the little drop bead dangle off the botton of it.

As for the rest of the dress, I plan to get the top machine sewed (except for collar and sleeve holes) tonight, and then I'll only have these steps remaining:
  • Figure out, sew, and install sleeves (The most daunting task of the whole dress.)
  • Gather skirt top (easy peasy)
  • Sew skirt/bodice together (also a cinch)
  • Add trim to sleeves, and collar trim/false neckline (will involve a lot of pinning and fiddling, but shouldn't be too hard.)
The prospect of making the sleeves scares the crap out of me, but I'm crossing my fingers and hoping they turn out as good as the bodice has!
beauty and the beast, forest

Crafting Therapy

I feel like crap all the time lately; My period started and I can't even cross my arms without being in extreme pain. I've been nauseated almost every day for the last two weeks. I can barely summon the energy to pull myself out of bed each morning, and despite spending the day in a state of exhaustion, when I finally do get to bed I can't actually get to sleep til two, three, or even four in the morning. Even when I make up for it by sleeping late on the weekends, I still spend the whole day tired and lolling around with almost no energy to spare. I think it's a combination of hormones and stress, a killer blow if there ever was one. But it's left me with no motivation to do much of anything and is exacerbating the mental exhaustion I'm already deal with.

Since I can't do anything to solve my life problems right now and prayer isn't doing a whole lot, I've been sorely tempted lately to distract myself the best way I know how: retail therapy. But I'm too poor and too tired even for that, so I ended up finding a much more financially responsible activity to try and pull me out of the dumps instead.

I love amulets and talismans, and if I had the money or the space I'd probably own a million of them. Recently I've been thinking over what relatively simple, quick, and unique handmade items I could sell online or at conventions, and my while going through Etsy yesterday I got the idea to include talismans/amulets on the list of possible merch. Among the myriad things Brittany left or forgot when she moved was a big block of Sculpey that had been sitting in the fridge for months, so the most basic materials for talisman-making were already on hand. (Amulets are made from natural materials, so making any of those will depend on what natural items I can find or can scrounge up.)

After work last night I immediately got out the Sculpey and got started. However, after getting my work space (somewhat) clear and getting some clay softened, I was suddenly hesitant. I've been dealing with a lot of hopelessness and frustration and just general negative energy lately, and I've heard a lot about how handmade things can pick up and carry energy depending on how, and with what intent, they were made. Now, I'm not sure I believe that (and I certainly don't buy the idea that you can straight-up "charge" an item with powers or effects) but if there's any validity to it at all, I would hate to make something that would affect the future owner negatively in any way.

But I needn't have worried. I realized that it's the first time in a long time that I've sat down to make something without having to, without a strict guide to follow, or time limit to keep. Being able to just randomly potter about with some clay just because I felt like it was very calming, and I'm sure with such a peaceful creative process that if these do carry any sort of vibe with them, it will be one of pleasure and love.

I worked til fairly late last night since I knew I wouldn't be able to get to sleep anyway, and managed to get about half a dozen pieces scuplted, baked, and primed with a few coats of white paint. I'll work on painting them some more tonight, and maybe sculpt some more pendants as well.

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New Year's Resolutions

I've been referencing my resolutions for this year a lot, so I thought I might as well put them up here.

01. learn a new language
02. drop 4 dress sizes
03. cultivate an air of mystery
04. try new things
05. finish a novel
05. do what makes me happy, sensible or not
07. become what i pretend to be