Werk(er)ing It

Journaling supplies

(This was pretty much ready to be posted last night but then I decided to try the WordPress app again because I forgot why I’d quit using it…right. It completely breaks the blog for an hour. Oops.)

This is going to meander a bit, but I promise, I have a destination in mind. A couple of summers ago, I had the opportunity to attend an amazing knitting convention/retreat/gathering in Kent, CT. I got to spend two days taking classes from a couple of my design heroes (that would be Amy Herzog and Norah Gaughan, both of whom I learned a tremendous from, but this is not a blog about that — you can read about that here). It was wonderful, but it was also exhausting, because I am an introvert extraordinaire. You know those personality tests with the sliding scales? I am consistently 0% extrovert. Everything else varies depending on my mood when I take the test, but that is a constant.

Make It Mighty Ugly coverSo instead of attending what I am sure was a lovely dinner in town with the instructors and other students, I holed up in my hotel room. And I pulled out this book, Make It Mighty Ugly, that I’d picked up kind of on a whim, based on this Twitter account that I follow and really like. I did the first chapter, or maybe two, that night, and really, really enjoyed it. It’s a little workbook-y, so there’s some interactive stuff to do, exercises to kind of get into your head and figure out what makes you you and how to use that to overcome your self-doubt about your own amazing creativity. I was so excited about it that I tweeted about it (I almost never tweet, you may have noticed) (of course, lately I almost never blog, either, so maybe you haven’t noticed so much).

Then after the retreat/conference/whatever I got home and put the book on top of my book pile, which is quite astounding in size and constantly being added to. It did not stay on top of the pile for long…more books were added, some were shuffled around, and it crept closer and closer to the bottom of the pile. It’s the kind of book I feel like I need to have some real good alone, sitting-with-myself kind of time for. I want to immerse myself  in it, to devour it with intensity and complete concentration. So I kept putting it off, waiting for The Perfect Moment to pick it back up again. TPM, of course, still has not come.

In the meantime, I have been continuing to follow the author, Kim Werker, and I still find her super inspirational (I’m pretty sure she’s the one who introduced me to bullet journaling, in fact). She has an art journal daily-ish mailing list thingie, and I’ve been wanting to do an art journal, so I subscribed. And in the intro email she said this:

“Actually, it doesn’t matter if you’re ready. The adventure is here! Time to embark upon it whether we’re ready or not.”

Now, she was talking about the art journaling thing, but holy crap did it hit me like a lightening bolt and make me determined to dig that book out and work all the way through it this time! The thing is, the way our various schedules are set up now, I really do have chunks of time that I can pretty easily carve out for spending some quality time with this. It had just been so long since it was on the top of my pile that it never occurred to me to grab it when those chunks of time are available. So. Back to the top of the pile it goes!

Journaling supplies
This is (most of) my kit. The notebook is one I found at IKEA months(years?) ago. The pouch holds a lot more stuff than it looks like it would (and look! There’s Make it Mighty Ugly so it doesn’t get lost in the pile again!)

But also, art journaling starts tonight. I am taking Kim’s words to heart and embarking on my adventure NOW! The idea is to do some art journaling every day. I know. I know, I always say I’m going to do these every-day-for-a-month/year/week things, and then I peter out. And I might this time as well. But I have also decided that I am okay with that. Because the point, for me, isn’t as much to make it to the end of the month. It’s to try it and see if I like it, if it’s a thing that is meaningful to me such that I want to do it pretty much daily. So I am committing to trying it, and that’s all.

I’m hoping to Insta-blog some or all of these art journal-y things. Those will be short little posts, probably, with pictures of my journal pages (or parts of them), because this thing is supposed to be a community thing — there’s a hashtag (#dailyartjournal) and everything! — so I’m going to try to dip my little introvert toes out into the pool of sharing. Interested in coming along on this journey? Head on over to Kim’s blog and sign yerself on up!

Nuns. No sense of humor. #dailyartjournal

Family Tradition

I never met my grandfather, but I heard stories of him from the time I was little. He was a war hero who had died long before I was born, testing new planes for the US Air Force. The first time I watched The Right Stuff with my dad, he pointed at Chuck Yeager and said, “That’s what your granddad did after the war.” He’s one of the reasons I joined the USAF when it was my turn to serve my country.

During WWII, he gained some notoriety for shooting down the 1000th plane over Malta. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and later earned an additional bar for his DFC. He was apparently equal parts hotshot and hothead (think Maverick from Top Gun).

I knew that he had joined the war before the US entered the fray because he flew with the RAF’s Eagle Squadron, which was made up of American (and other non-British) pilots who were stepping up to the plate. What I didn’t know until I was an adult is that when he chose to do that, he was committing what was considered an act of treason.

At the time, you see, the US had some pretty stringent “neutrality laws.” These, among other things, prohibited American citizens from serving in the armed forces of other countries, no matter which side those other countries were on. The American pilots who joined the RAF did so at the very real risk of imprisonment and even losing their US citizenship. But my grandfather and the other men he served with joined because “the USA didn’t enter the war soon enough for [them].” He knew what was happening was wrong and horrible, and he signed up to fight Nazis at the risk of never being able to return home, or being thrown in jail if he did.

I don’t know what the future holds for this country. It looks pretty bleak right about now. If it is soon declared treasonous to act against Nazis and other white supremacist groups, I won’t be particularly surprised. But I tell you right now, I do not care. I will ALWAYS stand up to Nazis and their ilk, up to and including Donald J. Trump. Because I know what my grandfather knew: getting involved and standing up for the right thing is what you do, no matter what your government says. Fighting Nazis and those like them is always the right thing.

If you’d like to read more about my grandfather and the pilots he flew with, here are some links:

Super Great

Good grief! I finally fix my posting issues and then forget all about posting! I’m not gonna lie — I’m a little disappointed in myself. BUT, I am now re-committing to this 365 project. I’m not going to start over, I’m just going to move ahead from here. And I’m going to post my very favorite motivational poster here, just to remind myself that we all stumble sometimes. What matters is that we get back up and keep going.

And also that faces are high in protein.

 

 

Birfday Sloth!

Yep. That’s a sloth purse. It sure is. I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!! Happy birthday to ME!

I have had a very, very good birthday, thanks in no small part to my wonderful husband. This is what 44 looks like:

Mod Squad

I’ve been consuming a lot of Mad Men lately. You know, to remind myself of the good old days, when America was great. It is disturbingly accurate. But the clothes are to die for. So as angry and heartsick as I get watching the show and understanding that there is much of America who still wants women and POC to “know their place” and gays to hide in the shadows, I try to let myself enjoy the bits that are not about that. At last year’s JDB Xmas party, one of my clothing swap prizes was a fabulous mod dress. I’ve been dying to wear it, and with the heat wave we’re having (70 in February? Tell me again how climate change is a myth.) I decided to go all 60s housewife. I felt adorable (but still pretty uppity) all damn day.

This look brought to you by my bingewatching of Mad Men and also (I’m pretty sure) my friend Butters.

I Blue Myself

I love my birthday. I think having a birthday is awesome, and I will tell literally everyone I encounter that it’s my birthday on that momentous occasion. I don’t care about getting older, I just think it’s neat to have a day where people are nice to you for no reason other than you were born and have managed to stay alive this long.

Also, I like cake and presents. Because who doesn’t like cake and presents? This year, though, I thought I’d like to do it up a little differently than I have in the past. This year, I wanted my birthday present to be taking the family to see Blue Man Group.

Kit took me to see them while we were still in the long distance phase of our relationship, and I was less than thrilled with the idea. I was not at all a performance art kind of girl — still not, really. That was also when Stomp and Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk were really big, and I suspected it would be similar, which did not excite me. But Kit had seen the show and assured me it was different than that, and not too performance artsy-pretentious. I trusted him (and figured it was only a couple hours out of my life anyhow), so I agreed to go. I had only one condition: I did not, under any circumstances, want to participate.

We had front row seats, and the show was AMAZING. I even had to participate (because of our seats — the particular component is no longer in the show), and it was totally okay. I’ve wanted to go back for years, but we just never managed to make it happen. Then we had kids and it definitely wasn’t happening while we had two little ones at home.

But the kids are finally old enough, so I really wanted to take them and share the joy. Even though my birthday isn’t until the end of the month, we decided to go ahead and go sooner rather than later (ticket prices are going up in March and I am frugal cheap, so saving the  $$ makes it even more of a present for me). We had thought we’d maybe go in early and wander around the village for a bit, but the weather had other plans. We did try to stop by Dō, but the line even in the freezing rain was regoddamndiculous — I was going to snap a pic, but it didn’t seem prudent to take my phone out in the aforementioned freezing rain. I’d only wanted to go there because I thought it would be a fun treat, but I can make (and eat!) cookie dough any time I like — I don’t need to wait in a crazy line for it.

So we just made our way over to the theater and hung out at KMart of all places until the doors opened (hey, it was warm and dry, which we were not by then). I was worn out and snappy when we finally got to our seats, but sitting and warming up and Kit being awesome really helped a lot, and I was able to relax and thoroughly enjoy the show. We did not have front row seats this time, but the theater is so tiny that there really aren’t any bad seats. The show has changed somewhat in the past 19 years, but it has also retained a lot of the same components. It was just as amazing and fun as I remembered, and seeing and hearing the kids’ joyful reactions was truly the best birthday present ever.

We’re adorbs even when we’re blue.

 

Trivial Recruit

[This was supposed to go up yesterday but then there were technical difficulties using my phone to post and it was too late and I was too tired to get my computer out. I have fudged the publication date to avoid confusion since it was a tech failure and not a Lola failure.]

The amazing group of people that I am lucky enough to be a part of is recruiting new members! In just under a month, we’re going to be opening one of our practices to whoever wants to show up and learn more about derby. Whether you’re interested in playing, officiating (on skates or off), or volunteering in another capacity we want to meet you!

 

 

One of the fun things we’re doing to get the word out is participating in some trivia nights around the area, and I got to play tonight! I had forgotten how much I enjoy trivia, and we had so much fun! We didn’t win, but we made a very respectable showing. The official color of the Golden Gate bridge, if you were wondering, is International Orange.

365 Days of Lola

Well, hello there, my much neglected blog and that one reader I still have, maybe! This is going to be a little long and rambling (shocker, right?) but I promise, there is a point.

A few years ago, Craftsy launched. If you don’t know, they offer online video courses. You buy a course, you have access forever and can re-watch as much as you like. Plus, you can ask questions and communicate with the instructor and other students. The classes are professionally filmed in their studios. They were (and are!) magnificent at creating classes that are focused and well-taught. I like them a lot and have bought several classes.

However. Although I’ve bought several, I’ve only completed a couple of the ones I’ve bought. I’m still interested in the other ones — they look like really good classes. I just never seem to find make the time.

So when I came across Skillshare in January, I wasn’t immediately enthusiastic. Skillshare’s classes are not professionally  filmed — they’re more like the vlogs you can find on various sites (though I have found them to be of reasonably high video/sound quality). But they have a tremendous variety of programming, far more than Craftsy with their focus on, well, craft. Plus, they were running a special to try the service for 99 cents for 3 months, with no obligation to continue after that. 33 cents a month! How could I say no? (Full disclosure — the link above is a referral link and if you sign up you’ll get the same 3-for-99 deal, and I’ll get a free month.)

I paid my (not quite a) dollar and enrolled in my first class, Sketchbook Practice: Grow In Your Art Everyday, with Ohn Mar Win. It was great! Plus, I could watch at 1.5x speed, which I find makes me much less antsy when there’s exposition happening (you can go up to 2x, but that just makes me feel like I’ve had too much coffee). I’ve since enrolled in a couple of classes that were duds for me, but I’ve also watched a couple more that I really enjoyed and felt I learned from.

One of those was How To Start (And Finish!) Your Very Own 365 Day Project, with Cynthia Koo. As I was watching, I was reminded of the Make’n’Tell, and how every time I’ve tried to revisit that, I’ve failed (and then not blogged for, like, months after). I really, really do want to start blogging again, though. There’s a lot of stuff I want to talk about! So I decided that I’m going to try a 365 Day blogging project.

This is going to be much more relaxed than Make’n’Tell. Basically, the only thing I have to accomplish is a blog post with a picture every day. Sometimes, it’ll be crafty or a recipe. Sometimes it’ll be about activism and/or something that’s going on in the world that is really pissing me off (or, rarely, making me believe in humanity again). Sometimes it’s just going to be a cat picture. I’m allowing myself to pre-write these, too. So if I don’t actually write a blog post every day, that’s okay. As long as something is going up.

Look, I made a pretty graphic and everything:

365 Days of Lola - Day 1

I’m going to let that count as today’s picture, but going forward the post is going to have that PLUS another picture. Maybe I’ll even put that in a sidebar…hmmmmmm. We’ll see. I have 364 days more days to get everything set up exactly the way I want it, right?

When Doing the Right Thing Turns Out to Feel Really Shitty

This morning I had to drop my daughter off at a location other than her school, and the route to work from there took me right past my favorite Dunkin Donuts. Put together with the free coffee coupon I had burning a hole in my virtual pocket, I decided this was fate and stopped in for a coffee. Large iced caramel latte with skim milk and whipped cream, just like I always get.

What's left of the coffee that started all of this nonsense.
What’s left of the coffee that started all of this nonsense.

They overfilled the whipped cream, which they often do (and is one of the reasons it’s my favorite Dunkies), and as the man handed it to me he smiled and said, “Call 911.” My gut reaction wasn’t one of panic — I figured he was making a joke about all the extra whipped cream. But as I was walking to my car, I started to think, what if he wasn’t joking? What if, down at the other end, there was someone with a gun or taser or whatever who was quietly robbing them, and this was the employee(owner?)’s attempt to pass a message on and get help?

[If you’re not from my town, let me take a brief moment to explain the layout of this particular DD: There is both a front and a back entrance, with a long narrow counter between them. Ordering takes place at the end near the front, pick up takes place at the end near the back. There is a tall partition stretching between these two sections, so there is very limited visibility from pick-up, where I was, to ordering. I went out the back, so never passed back by the ordering section.]

I was 95% sure he was just making a joke. But that 5% niggled at me. What if I was wrong, and something awful happened because I didn’t call the police? I know very well the dangers of tying up police resources/911 for a non-emergency, and I certainly didn’t want to do that. But I also would rather find out for sure there was nothing wrong than find out later that I was someone’s hope and I failed to come through. So I compromised and called the non-emergency number and explained the situation, very carefully emphasizing that I was pretty sure he was just making a joke but didn’t want to take a chance.

Then every cop car in town showed up with lights blazing. I talked to one of the officers, who got a little aggressive with me when I said I hadn’t seen anything that looked threatening or like an emergency, just heard the guy say, “call 911” when he handed me my coffee, and he started down the road of “We have 7 cars here, don’t call 911 if there’s not an emergency” when I interrupted him to point out that I had not, in fact, called 911 for that very reason. That took the wind out of his sails somewhat, and he released me to go on about my business (interestingly, although the dispatcher asked for my name and the officer on the scene asked my address, no one ever asked me for any ID).

They were continuing to question the employee who gave me my coffee as I left, and I felt so bad. Dude was just making a little joke with me, and here I got him in trouble with the cops. Which was not at all, even a little bit, my intention. I really hope they just made sure everything was okay and then left him alone. I hope he doesn’t face any repercussions. I hope he and the other employees know that I was concerned for their safety.

I am very, very glad that it was, in fact, just a joke, that they were never in any danger. But now I am mortified that I put them through that, that they might think I was trying to harass them in some way, that I might have caused problems for them.

And that’s why I can’t go to the Dunkies in my town ever again.

Opening Doors

Lola rocks the Llamacorn
LLAMACORN!!!

A couple of weekends ago, I had the joy of hanging out with a whole crew of incredible, awesome people. Many of them are associated with Otherworld. I had some feels about that and was going to write a post, but then realized I already wrote basically the same post last year but never published it. I think I was waiting for a picture or something. But anyhow…

Mentally, I’ve had a rough couple of days. [Ed. note: Not sure what was going on last year, but this year I was inspired to write/edit this by a group event (looking at you, Rabbitcon) that has become even more comfortable for me than Otherworld ever was. There was a lot of talk about and references to Otherworld* this weekend,  which is unsurprising given the number of staff members and former participants in this group. So now let’s pick up where I left off…] I was reminded (again) that stepping forward about being sexually harassed cost me membership in an organization that I loved, believed in, and worked hard for. I’ve never been one to make friends easily — I’m shy AND introverted AND have a heaping helping of social anxiety on top of that. Otherworld was a rare, magical group where I was none of those those things. I knew that when I stepped forward it would destroy my relationship with the organization, and possibly with many of the people I’d come to know because of the organization. I have been extremely fortunate that while the former was certainly true, the latter has been much less so (and I absolutely treasure every single one of you). But still, I do occasionally hear about Otherworld and the goings on* and think, “I could still be a part of that thing I loved, if only I’d kept my mouth shut.” Which makes me sad partly because it’s true, but also partly because really, I’m going to victim-blame myself for this?

So that happened the other day (not for the first time) and then I thought to myself, “Self, what the hell are you doing? Think about the amazing things you’ve done and gotten involved in since you opened your mouth.” And that seemed like a good idea, so I made a list of things I’ve done and am doing that make me happy and proud of myself:

  • Participated in the Red My Lips campaign
  • Changed my name
  • Became a clinic escort (also, read this story to get a feel for what it’s like)
  • Got registered with the VA & allowed myself to be proud of being a veteran
  • Started donating money to causes I believe in — not just big charities like Worldbuilders/Heifer International, but less well-known causes like Lady Parts Justice and the Unslut Project
  • Started actively supporting artists whose work I enjoy, like Eddie Japan and Devil Doll
  • Roller derby!
  • Exercising daily
  • Eating healthy foods rather than just low-cal foods, because it’s not all about being skinny (and scurvy sucks A LOT!) (My new slogan is “Curvy > Scurvy”)
  • Speaking up when I have a grievance or see an injustice (oh, the scathing letters I wrote to the Board of Ed the other day!)
  • Telling people who inspire me that they do so, and telling people when I see they’ve done something awesome or even just something that makes me smile
  • Actively engaging in making friends (I think I’m still not very good at this, but I’m actually putting some effort in — if you get an email or text from me, or sometimes even just a comment on FB, please know that I am probably having a nice lie-down after because sometimes it just takes that much out of me. Anxiety SUCKS.)

These are all things I didn’t do while I was part of Otherworld, and things that I think make me a better, stronger me. Some of the things are, I think, directly related to the circumstances surrounding my departure from Otherworld — not just the harassment, but the way it was handled when I reported it. This exercise reminded me that I am proud of myself for opening my mouth, even though I knew what it would cost me. And I am proud of myself for continuing to explore and find news ways to be the person I want to be. Mostly, though, it reminded me that very often a door closes only to open several better ones.

*Don’t worry — this doesn’t mean you need to be on eggshells around me or that Otherworld is a verboten topic…just that sometimes I get wistful and nostalgic and start questioning my decision, and I just need to remind myself that I still feel I did what was best both for myself AND for the organization. Updated to add: also, this happens much less often now that I’ve gotten involved in other groups that I’m very comfortable in.