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[sticky post] The Friends Only Post

I don't like to lock my journal, but apparently need to, and I don't like exclusive Friends-Only journals with no public posts to sample what I might possibly be adding, so to give you an idea of the stuff I write about, I've left some entries unlocked. Comment to be *possibly* added back (there's a reason I had to lock this journal).

Booth

Finally did my full rounds of updates (shop, site, and facebook, et - cetera), and am ready to post my first booth experience as an artist.

I'm happy to report it was a success! I didn't do as well as I thought I would, but better than I expected, if that makes sense. I was honestly worried they'd forgotten about saying I could booth with them and would be turned away. Stupid shit goes through my head in the moments before a big event. Every time. But I did okay. I made my booth fee back, and doubled it (almost exactly). And I met a couple of cool artists who bought my stuff (and I bought from them, too).

The attendees were teenage nerds with no volume control when they speak with any amount of excitement. That's to be expected with any pop culture convention (though I still forget how annoying that is, jeezus). Loads of smaller kids, too. A nearby booth had a video game setup playing the arcade version of Duck Hunt. Television was pointed right at the side of my booth, causing not only a crowd of kiddies blocking a walkway, but also caused these annoying kids backing right into and behind my booth! Thankfully, I, along with others, convinced the guy to set up in a different direction (and figured out a place completely out of the way, later on). I had one kid point at a picture and ask if it's a devil, cuz it was an angry picture and it creeped him out. Kid? You're beggin' for a backhand. Get outta my booth.

The older kids were great. Aside from some really kickass cosplay (my favourite of which was dressed as 'Dead' Lars from Steven Universe, and I eventually gave them a free Steven Universe print of mine because I loved their costume so much), there were a couple of folks who really appreciated some of my very understated drawings - one, a noted special-guest cosplayer commented on my Gene Wilder marker piece, and another who absolutely gushed upon seeing my A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night print. She eventually came back and bought it, too, along with the 'devil' one. So I'm really glad I can be praised for more than just super pop culture fan art, but more obscure stuff, too (I know Gene Wilder isn't obscure for adults, but for kids, he sure is).

What really surprised me was getting sketch commissions! I've heard tales of artists being asked to draw a sketch on the spot (and have often asked Jeph Jacques to do sketches). The difference is I usually take all day to do a drawing I'm totally satisfied with, so upon these surprise requests, I made sure they knew these would be sketches. They were happy with them, and when they asked the price, I said $2, and got a $3 tip from the second :)

I'm pretty satisfied with my stock, and do not think I overdid it on the variety (I had zines, cards, mini comics, stickers, pins, and prints. And a free bookmark to whoever bought a zine).

It was really nice, overall. Utica is a hole of a city, but there were some cool little gems here and there. After the convention, Charles found an experimental sound and video show. I paid his way in and he went and made new friends and connections, while I slept like a rock in the car. There is a statue of a woman with her arm out and she just looks in disbelief of the state of the city (and I drew her).

I needed that sleep (as depicted in the picture from the last post).

Busy Work

I'm cracking down on my free time, trying to get as much merch prepared for Fandemicon as I can. As of this week, I've got five new prints, four new zines, and a huge list of things I still need to make and prepare.

On top of that, I decided to keep myself on track by starting a Twitch stream!! I think it'll help keep me going throughout the week (preparing and making sure I have SOMETHING to work on, rather than slug around the house). I even bought a new webcam. I've learned so much about streaming live online. The program I use to stream is called OBS (open broadcast system) and I've figured out how to personalize and design the screen(s), get a chat stream going on it, and video, and have figured out how to stream my iPad onto it (very useful, as I didn't have a well-functioning camera to work on desktop art yet).
I settled on a schedule: Mondays and Thursdays at 5pm. Generally for an hour, but really for however long I decide to go.
Last Monday, I had to keep it down to an hour and get ready to go see Japanese Breakfast at the Bug Jar (I made it a grand total of 40 minutes before their zero-circulation band-room got too hot for me to handle, and I spent the rest of the night on my ipad in the bar area, eating free pizza).
Thursday, I decided that watching me draw details of comic panels while listening to chill tunes was really really boring, so I opted to also stream a brilliant and underrated movie (Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter). I have to prepare for stream tomorrow (got the new camera in the mail on Friday).

I've also had large chunks of many days taken by phone calls to both PayPal (who fucked me hard with my former bank) and my bank. I mean, hours each call. It was exhausting. But one month later (this all started after returning from NYC) and things look like they should be settled at long last by next weekend.

Other busy work includes fitting time to hang out with Sam & Troy, Ron, and figuring out the perfect balance of work and play (to keep from going insane). This week has been particularly hard, because my period has decided it doesn't want to play nice with my narcolepsy and I've been either knocked out or struggling against being knocked out during this extra long period. Fuck you, uterus. Play nice. Meeting up with people is extremely hard for me because most of my friends are active at night when my meds are wearing off for the night, and thus, making me too tired to go out and do much.

On the upside, this weekend was lovely. Friday, I got to see the Hi-Risers (with Trevor Lake on drums), and a new surfer-rock band from Toronto, the Surfrajettes! And the one night of their tour that they'll be in Toronto will be the same night I'll be there! So I am going to see them again! Their drummer is from Rochester. So cool! I invited Ron, who will also coincidentally be in Toronto that night, but he'll be busy with TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). We do wanna meet up to get some Indian food at this place he likes, though :) Pretty stoked.
This isn't going to be my standard form updates with things I'm reading, hearing, watching, etc... Just because there's a lot that I had going on this month, and at the same time, nothing, and it's not going to fit all neat and tidy.


The Quick and Not-So Shitty
Due to the Depression Management Experiments, I fucked up a lot of things this month, but also came out the other end okay (I hope). I had my doctor's appointment yesterday, and we discussed the horrors of the Effexor, and landed on the decision to go with Adderall. *CONFETTI TOSS* !!!

I missed the deadline for a big project I've been working on, but hopefully, my old art teacher will let it slide (it's for a school comic anthology). I'm almost done with it and will scoot it off to him with an apology email by tonight. It's the first comic I've done entirely digitally, and I'm really glad I went that way with it, because I've been wanting to do more comic work, and more digital work, and they seem to fit really well together. I want to start a regular comic, and I did set up a tumblr for a place to put anything I make, but I'm still working on naming it (currently, it's called "I forgot why I thought this would be fun").
(edit: comic accepted! View on my FB Like page!)

I gotta remember to set up a mammogram and dermatology appointment. Because the Effexor ramped up my narcolepsy, I slept through a very hard-to-get dermatology appointment. Pretty pissed at myself for that, but I gotta turn it around. Real terrified of the mamm....



Boxing
I finally have a boxing station set up in my attic! I spent a whole week preparing it for this. Thankfully, I organized and minimized what's up there a couple years ago and didn't have to shuffle around too much stuff. I did however, have to shop-vac the shit out of the place, and in every crevice. That brand new baby shop vac was shot on day one. Twice. Still waiting for it to be nice enough outside to clean the filter. Last summer, we got a new roof, and the fallout was pretty severe up there. I also mopped as much as I could before I had to leave for a dinner date, and I used a method I learned from painting (two buckets of water, one to rinse the filth off, and one to rinse the filth water off, and it really worked well). I also made a big bulletin board with a couple routines mapped out. I finished the station just in time for the weather to turn to such shit that I had my first bout of seasonal depression in a few years. The crap meds didn't help matters. The Happy-Lite helped, but not enough to actually start the routine. Hopefully the new meds will help.

(edit: finally got my first workout this morning!! Started an hour late, but I made it! Woo!)

Gotta remember to take a picture of the setup. I'm pretty proud of it now :)



Diet crap
Because of all the dinner dates and the worst PMS cravings I've had in years, I've decided to fuck off my keto diet and indulge for the rest of the month (edit: I started this post last week at work - continuing this morning at work). Every single food I've ever missed in my entire life from whatever diet I was ever on, I listed to Ch. when he was at the grocery. Oh my god, I want a donut. OH MY GOD, I FORGOT ABOUT ENGLISH MUFFINS. HOLY SHIT PASTA!! I bought a box of popcorn for the first time in 3 years. I'm going to have a grilled cheese sandwich and a peanut butter and fluff sandwich before I go back to my standard way of eating. I gotta find someone who has fluff, because if I buy it for myself with just a couple days left on my fuck-it diet, I'm gonna wanna eat the whole thing before I go back just so I don't waste food... Easter party is gonna be delicious. I can't wait. I'm gonna eat all the peeps. That's right. I'm that far gone off the deep end. Thanks, uterus. (edit: also ate 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies in 2 days).

Then had the worst period I've had in years. Caving into those cravings came to a head on the first day, when I had such debilitating cramps, that I was up at 9 on Saturday morning, had about an hour to come to terms with getting my period the day before a big event, then fell into so much pain that I passed out til 4pm. I blame the binge because a lot of junk food here contains soy, and I'm very sensitive to soy and it does negatively affect my period.

Easter dinner date marked the last day of my binge. I am now going back to hardcore keto with intermittent fasting.



Performances!

Real quick, I want to recap seeing Nightwish with Ch. They were amazing, and I even saw one of my college friends there. Her fiance is a die-hard fan of theirs, and I said, I'll have to get you up front! The front section was guarded, but not heavily - not at the beginning of the night. At one point, I noticed the guard was gone completely, and I remarked about it, and walked right through the entrance into the front of the audience! I looked back and saw that my friends chickened out and got a message from K. that said "I can't believe you did that! Don't turn back! I'll be disappointed in you if you come back from the front! You're pretty much my hero right now!" I spent the whole of the buildup texting Ch. a plan to get everyone up front, because the guards did double up at the entrance at that point, but alas, no one had the guts. I got some great pictures, though! Also got a pick from the guitarist! I felt bad that the K's die-hard bf didn't get up front, so I mailed it to them as a wedding gift.





My favourite theatre company, WallByrd Theater Co is currently running The Taming of the Shrew with a circus theme, and I saw it with R. and Ch. I love that they do this and the past two shows I've attended, I've dressed in "cast-play," as the cast members have called it. I dress for the theme of the show. The director always shows me appreciation for it, and this time, I even got to be involved in the show!

The pre-show had a juggler from the RIT Juggler's Association and he called up a volunteer. I shot my hand up the second I sensed any hesitation from the audience and went up on stage. We juggled (note: I have no juggling skills - I just did what he told me to do, and it just worked out) and he called up another volunteer and we all juggled (I was better ;) ). I had a lot of fun!

At the beginning of Act II, the supporting cast came out in masks and brooms and danced as they swept up the confetti + popcorn mess from the last scene. At one point, one of the actors held a hand out to me and beckoned me to dance and we did, then he handed me the broom and I laughed about it, but danced and swept (really glad I got to do this, because they didn't touch the stage stairs and it bugged me, so I swept the stuff off them). Then another member beckoned Ch. to stand from his seat, step back, sit in the seat behind us, and he sat down next to me in his place for a whole scene! Loved that guy, too.

This is the most clever theatre company I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. They even integrated a replacement performer into the show in a unique way. The original Tranio was supposed to be played by Jess [surname forgotten], but they got into a car accident and was in recovery for a week. Sean [shit, I forgot his last name, but I knew it...], who I knew as the director from a couple of movie projects I performed in, came up on stage with his buddy as another volunteer in the opening pre-show, right after I left the stage. The juggler said he'd be right back, he's gotta grab the chainsaw. The two guys were left on stage alone, just checking out the props and taking selfies with them - one prop was a bottle, and they selfie'd pretending to drink from it, and then they broke the bottle, shattered across the stage by accident. People came up on stage to sweep it up, and the guys high-tailed it out of there, but were stopped by cast members. When the play opened with those two, they were in makeshift last-second costumes, shoddy makeup, and signs hanging around their necks with their character names on them, poorly reading lines from the script, while other cast members held up signs that summarized what they were reading, including a sign that said this is what happens as punishment for those who break the props! They talk with each other between lines ("come on, man, let's just get the hell out of here!") and add commentary to the lines ("pfft, dude, this is ridiculous, I'm not calling you my master!") and when the Minola family comes out with the rest of the cast, they hide off to the side and watch - Bianca and Kate get introduced, and Sean's buddy falls in love and immediately into character, while Sean is trying to get him to snap out of it, saying he can talk to her after the show like a normal person instead of "forsoothing" his love for her in front of everyone in the audience. When the plot calls for them to switch clothes, Sean starts slowly getting into character, to his own surprise, but as the understudy, still carries around the script.
They even found a way to integrate cell phones subtly into the show with these two characters.

And look at me gushing about this show. It's seriously my favourite theatre company. Last time I gushed about the show, my quote went up on their website (not complaining! It's a pretty big honor for me). I've wanted to get involved with them for some time now, but this time around, they worked from a different location (than the one down the street from me) and I couldn't make it to their studio. I did at least drop a friend's name to the director who said she was interested in doing a musical with screaming punk, but she didn't think there were such voices in Rochester - I dropped my friend Will's name and association, saying he's pretty much the face of the Rochester punk scene and has a lot of connections. I hope something comes of it.

Meanwhile, I'll be seeing the performance again on Saturday with R. and will hopefully have another costume :)







Future
Now that I finally finished that damn graphic novel Something New (by Lucy Knisley), I am going to finally break into my list of French books before going back to English books.

I feel really good about this morning's workout, and I really want to keep it up in the mornings - preferably an hour earlier! That's gonna take some getting used to. And of course, diet will go back to normal. I'm really glad I'm over that binge. I felt guilty a couple of times during it, but I feel good looking back. I just feel good right now in general, and I feel good about the future of the fatty.

Putting aside some time to get that comic into motion. I've already started a 2-page about an incident of micro sexual harassment that happened to me last week. I'm really excited to get into digital comics.

It's April, and that means the Wall of Concerts is fast-approaching! I count Nightwish as the official kickoff. This month, it's My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, They Might Be Giants, The Mountain Goats, and Ministry! Then in June or July, Japanese Breakfast is returning to Rochester. Super stoked about that! They were my favourite discovery of last year.

Also listing my Lightning print, because the editor of that book never finished paying me for it, even though I know her company is raking it in right now. So I'm calling it mine for the taking. The book says the copyright covers everything in the book, but since I was never fully paid for the work, I'm keeping that one. Fuck it. Come at me.

Oh, and for the immediate future, getting my website back up! There was a mishap regarding the hosting payment (on Ch's end of things) and our websites got deleted and purged!!! Good thing I [am pretty sure I] backed that shit up! Holy shit.



Phew. That's it, I think!

February Update

It's a little early for another monthly update (and I've been trying to get time to update for about a week now, so it was bound to be either early or earlier). February is crawling. It might be because so much crap is going down at work all the time (absences, short-staffed, broken systems, and needing to work late because of it all), or because Ch's father has been at death's door this whole month, or as I stated in an earlier post, a lot of calls and texts are just weighing me down for some reason.

After my last post, you might wonder (if you notice. If your layout lets you notice) why this entry is left unlocked. It's just because I hate having to lock my journal, and I feel like these generalized monthly updates where I tell you what I'm doing in basic list-y terms are something I can keep unlocked. For the occasional Friending Frenzy - I like to be able to see a sampling of what I'll be reading when I add people, and like to give the same courtesy (by the way, if there are any friending frenzies going on, please let me know!).

On with the list.



What I'm Reading
  • Something New, by Lucy Knisley - it's a little difficult to read more than a couple chapters at a time, not because it isn't good, but because it's hard to relate to (and it's a thick book, so it's a little difficult to hold properly while in bed without causing stress to my wrists).

  • Shiver, by Junji Ito - I've long admired Junji Ito's artwork, and finally purchased two of his books. This one is a book of short stories.

  • INFODUMP - I discovered Julian Simpson's blog through Warren Ellis's weekly newsletter where he linked this article: Five ways to instantly improve blah blah your productivity blah - a topic I generally fall for, and just enough sass to keep me hooked. I have since signed up for his newsletter.

  • Asian Efficiency - a blog site I learned about from INFODUMP that gives great advice on getting and keeping organized and using one's time efficiently. Already proven useful as hell over this past week and weekend.

    What I'm Reading Next
  • Uzumaki, by Junji Ito (the other book of his I bought). Added to the list from last month's blog, which sadly hasn't changed.

    What I'm Listening To
  • Ryan Flynn, who I saw while on a date at Boulder a few weeks ago. His music is very Moog-y (being that he used a Moog in his performance) and sort of like, spacey, electric dreams, with a touch of funk. I fell instantly in love with the sound and bought his CD - a home-pressed scratchy thing, but ripped to my iTunes flawlessly. The album I bought is Wild Life, which you can hear on his Bandcamp.

  • It Makes a Sound - I put off listening to this podcast after two episodes, but while catching up on chores on Saturday, decided to binge the rest of the season. It got surprisingly good, and had fun, beautiful music.

  • The Walk - which used to be an exercise app made by the folks who brought you Zombies, Run!, now runs as a podcast, and honestly, it's a lot better. There are no stops in the action and dialog, and you don't have to actively keep an eye on the app's map to play it (that really put a shitter on the exercise part, not to mention it didn't play music between clips).

    What I'm Watching
  • The Magicians - finally caught up!
  • Archer - not caught up
  • Black Mirror - tried last night, kinda over it.

    What I'm Playing
  • Submerged - holy shit, it's beautiful. A simple premise with a lovely and sad story.

    What I'm Doing
  • Trying to get organized. Spent the better part of last week remotely accessing my home computer from work so I could organize all my files, and finally finished Saturday afternoon.

  • Being there for Ch in his grief, as his father finally left us on Monday afternoon.

  • Getting minorly involved in a play - saw R perform in The Royal Family, and donated two items of jewelry to the show - a pair of earrings and a pendant, worn by the lead actress in the 3rd act. I do hope I get those back (might have done well to remind him last night, as I think it was the last performance). I saw it opening night, gave him the jewelry the next day, and then I saw it a second time a week later and she wasn't wearing the pendant (the chain broke just before the scene)! Just my luck.

  • Making music mixes! Just made a mix CD for R, and then made a Valentine's Day mix (love and lament songs) on Spotify, which you can hear here: [link]

  • Making a dent in my lists. This is part of me getting organized. I finally did things I'd been putting off for months. I registered to mychart (doctor-related), I scanned my prison friend's art, I finished (rushed) a copic marker piece, I cleaned the living room (holy crap, did I ever, and it's so nice), caught up on podcasts, and did my taxes (found out my second job didn't withhold federal, so I had to pay a bit - thanks, savings). Trying to set up an IDR with my student loans, but they keep pulling from my 2016 taxes instead of 2017 - might have to wait for them to be fully accepted.

  • Trying MyFitnessPal again - R has been tracking his meals with it, and it's really improved since I last attempted. R has been a good person I can chat with about my diet, and is really supportive of me :)


    What I'm Thinking
  • I don't think the Wellbutrin is good for me. It's been a month and I haven't felt anything. I've refilled my 'script because I've heard from multiple sources that a month isn't long enough to work it into my system. It sucks, because I've just noticed that I'm clumsier, more exhausted, and less focused. Not to mention, not feeling a ramped up metabolism, as listed in the side effects, and thus not losing any weight, except what I'm doing with my standard diet (still keto). I have an appointment with the doctor this week, and I'll discuss it with her then.

    General Update - January

    I need to make dumb updates like this around once a month. I haven't been up for blogging properly in a while. But I'm due for one. For now, here's some basics.




    What I'm Reading
  • A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle - first time reading it since I was in 3rd grade, and it really holds up so far. I should have read it within a week, but I've been extremely distracted.

  • Something New, by Lucy Knisley - Her biggest graphic novel yet. Interesting read, despite how I've felt a little disconnected from her work lately.

  • Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami - because I always am. Always. I've been reading this for about 5 years now.

    What I'm Reading Next (in no particular order)

  • The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin - because I've never read any of her novels, only a small number of short stories. I have been meaning to pick up a book of hers, and I never know where to start (nor remember which titles have been suggested to me.

  • Easy Eats: A Bee and PuppyCat Cookbook, by Natasha Allegri - beautiful recipes

  • Adventure Time: The Official Cookbook, by Jordan Grosser - simple recipes

  • I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, by Harlan Ellison - short stories.

  • Catharsis, by Luz - suggested on Goodreads by pax_athena, so I must read it. Also the first of this year's French books I'm expecting to work through.

  • Ashrel: T1, by Valp - I made a friend on InstaGram last year who is a French comic book artist. I don't know if I can afford to catch up on all her work this year, but at least I've got this to start.


    What I'm Listening To

  • Steven Universe (Soundtrack Vol 1) - along with the single from the latest season.
  • Heart-Shaped Wound, by Aurelio Voltaire - which I forgot I didn't have, and had to order it
  • Year of the Ghost, by Bella Morte - Because they're always flawless friends.
  • Ministry (various albums) - to pep myself up for seeing them in April!

    What I'm Watching
  • Lucifer
  • Another Period (new season!)
  • Steven Universe (frequently binging while it's on hiatus again)
  • Fresh Off the Boat (just today started binging)
  • Ash vs the Evil Dead (just introduced to it this week)
  • Happy (more meh than I thought it'd be - best to binge)

    What I'm Playing
  • Typoman - stuck.
  • Little Nightmares - taking a break
  • Don't Starve Together - waaay too ridiculously hard.
  • Assemblance - casually going through it slowly.

    What I'm Doing

  • Studying eyes in various styles and poses in my sketchbook. Part of a challenge, but a whole month of drawing eyes? Ugh. I'm not loving it. No longer doing it every day.

  • Crocheting a Temperature Blanket!! - one row a day, colour-coded weather colours (ten degree increments). That's about ten or eleven different colours. I've used 6 colours this month alone. It's wild.

  • Drawing in marker and watercolour. First piece of the year is a drawing of my friend Tempest.

    What I'm Thinking

  • Thinking I need to make a will. I had a brief fear for my life when I found myself in the middle of an unnerving situation that could have turned violent, and had spent hours during it writing out my will and letters to friends, all in my head. I haven't done it yet. I haven't even talked about the incident with anyone outside the immediate vicinity of the situation. The situation has been diminished, but there's still the possibility things could go south. I don't even know where to start.

  • Enjoying a new lease on life (aside from the above situation). I shaved the sides of my head. I dyed my hair bright red (except the shaved bits, which I kept black). I have done things that I felt doubtful about, and without regret so far.

  • I've been doing adult things and taking care of some things. Got my first physician in over 15 years (at my first doctor appointment in over 10). Started on some medication that's supposed to help balance my moods, keep me focused, and up my metabolism (not feeling the metabolism, as I gained 5 lbs in a weekend, but maybe it takes more time). Have three referrals for different doctors (ObGyn, Opthalmologist, and Dermatologist). And took care of wrangling my student loans (for now).

    And I think that's it for this month.

    Hobbies

    Next week (except it was actually last week, because I started this entry over 2 weeks ago and forgot to continue it), I plan to pare down my expansive and room-hogging hobbies. My craft room is currently a massive and disastrous catch-all and it's stressing me out. My living room and bed room stressed me out all week and I finally got the opportunity to clean them, and ugh, so much better. I want this for everywhere.

    So... my hobbies. I don't really have a passion, but I have things I default to, and things that make me generally happy to do. Then there's a million other things I tried, liked, but never got back to.

    I'm mentally going through my craft room and thinking of which hobbies I love vs which hobbies I have time to get into. These requirements rarely have a crossover. I need to start making time for the hobbies I really like. And for the hobbies I want to like, the ones I want to have time for, I'm making time to get done what I wanted to get out of them. Sewing, for instance - everything I bought once had a specific purpose, but now they are just a pile of fabric. I want to go through these things, write down what they are and what project I bought them for, and if I still have interest in doing it, set it aside and make a plan to actually do it.

    Off the top of my head, there's drawing and painting, which is the most important hobby I have right now, and the one that I chiefly wish to hone. My fine art supplies are going to be hard to go through, because sometimes it just strikes my fancy to pick up an old medium, like pastels, and get to it, and I love it, but that fancy doesn't strike me more than once a year, max. I guess that's another thing I need to make time for.

    My jewelry stuff brings me no joy anymore, but brings me fame and fortune, figuratively speaking. It's the only thing that gives me a secondary source of income, on the occasion I make a sale through etsy or land a booth somewhere. I don't like it anymore, though. Steampunk has been a dying fad for a while now, and it's showing in my sales. I still make bank when I booth, and I like selling it, but I don't like setting up a table and I don't like making them (even though I do end up liking most of the designs I come up with - a task that gets harder and harder as the years go on and my interest wanes). But friends and family praise my creations, and I don't want to disappoint some of them.
    (edit: this weekend, I went through all my jewelry supplies and pared it down to only things that inspire me, and have it all in one carry-case. Even now, I feel I was too generous with my collection, and like everything else I'm cutting down, I'll have to give it a round-two soon)

    I took up knitting a long time ago, but I mostly did it to get my mind off my dad dying. I like to do it, still, but it's not too useful anymore. I would like to give this a second try, though, so hopefully, I can make time for it in the future. It feels weird, though, like I should be doing something else with my hands or something. It feels almost too indulgent, maybe. But there are some things in the yarn hobby that I think I can get rid of. Felting was cool to learn, but I think I'm over that. I bought a sock loom, and that just annoyed me, especially since the directions get a little confusing around building the heel, and took weeks just for one sock (I'm sure it wouldn't take so long if I had way more time to dedicate, but). Crocheting could be fun, but there was a project last year that really wrecked my ambition for it. I mean, I've got yarn for knitting, I may as well keep some crochet hooks. Embroidery and needlepoint is something I've always wanted to get into, but never got the chance, so I'm hoping next year will yield some time for that.

    Sculpting and woodwork are my anger management devices. I shan't be getting rid of too much there. In fact, I'd like to expand on that a little bit (though not so soon in the year - I'd like to hone my drawing and designing first). I'm afraid to go through or get rid of any of my SFX makeup, because I spent so much money on it, but I haven't had any time for it. I'm hoping this will be the year I can carve out some time to dedicate to it.

    This month, I'm going to get back into practicing the violin. As I stated in my Resolutions post, I felt the devastating blow of being ghosted by my former tutor, and also had an overbearing friend that combined, completely closed me off from my violin. This month, I'm going to start practicing again. Next month, I'm going to start the search for a new tutor.
    I want to stay on top of it, and I also want to keep some time to noodle around with my ukulele (another 4-string. Can't go back to a guitar after these instruments).

    The non-tangible hobbies I had in the past tend to cost money and/or require me to leave the house. I feel better home, or in a coffee shop, so I can probably give writing a casual go every year, since it costs nothing to keep up (however, I do reference old diaries and notes like crazy, which take up space in an annoying way - probably best I transfer such things to digital). Urban exploration is free-ish, super fun, but risky and no fun to do alone, and my usual explorer crew have abandoned the hobby for the most part. I wish I could love ice skating more, and I have a season pass, but when I took on more things last year, it hindered my ambition. Maybe I'll get back to it before my pass is up and see if I'm rekindled enough to go another year. Aerial arts, while awesome, is really costly, and the classes fill me with dread before each session, because it's rough, but really ended up yielding such little results. Sure, I could do class-specific things I couldn't do at the beginning of the term, but what use are these new muscles if I don't keep shelling out $75 per term? And what use are these outside class? I can get good use out of stretching and barre, but they are still expensive for things I can do home or at the gym.

    So this year will be the year of shirring my hobby storage, and not starting any new projects til I've finished old ones.

    Podcast List

    Ongoing list of podcasts I love, have loved, just like, or tried but couldn't get into.

    Feel free to drop some more suggestions in the comments. I'm up for anything, but may not like everything suggested.

    I like dramatization, story, and storytelling podcasts best.



    Current Love List

    Welcome to Night Vale
    Alice Isn't Dead
    Within the Wires
    The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air)
    The Truth
    Homecoming
    Learn Japanese Pod
    Spektrmodule
    Mortified



    Current Like List

    Nocturne
    Sawbones
    I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats
    It Makes a Sound
    The Adventures of Danny & Mike
    Here Be Monsters
    LightningBolt Theater of the Mind
    Everything Is Stories
    Arrivals




    Unsure if These Loves are Current or Dead
    (and technically dead, but still occasionally post something)

    The Thrilling Adventure Hour
    Getting on With James Urbaniak
    LifeAfter
    Thinking So You Don't Have To

    Dead Loves

    Dead Authors Podcast
    Riverdale Podcast
    The Chris Leavins Story Hour
    God Hates Fangs
    There's Something Out There




    Liked, But No Longer Subscribed
    (or just wasn't my cuppa tea)
    (or they posted too much, their casts were too long, or just needed to pare down my list)

    Conversations with People who Hate Me
    The Heart
    Lore
    The Allusionist
    The Black Tapes
    Tanis
    The Girl with the Makeup Tattoo
    The Moth
    Nickelodeon Animation Podcast
    Oh No Ross & Carrie
    Why Oh Why
    Risk
    Invisibilia
    Reply All
    Blackwell Podcast
    Strangeness in Space
    The Horror! Old Time Radio
    Pseudopod
    Nightmare Magazine
    Radio Diaries
    My Dad Wrote a Porno
    The Art of Manliness
    Still Buffering
    The NoSleep Podcast
    Radio Free Burrito
    Voice Acting Mastry
    The JV Club
    Spontanianation
    HP Podcraft
    Last Podcast on the Left
    This American Life
    That American Life



    Suggested but Not Tried Yet
    (or haven't given a proper chance yet)

    The Box
    King Falls AM
    MarsCorp
    The Bunker
    (or MarsCorp and The Bunker?)
    Star-Trek Radio
    Hidden Brain
    Sleep with Me
    Cognitive Dissonance
    Myths + Legends
    Theory of Everything
    Dead Pilots Society
    Waking Up with Sam Harris

    The Shing-ing.

    Brian and I had a lovely date for my birthday at The Red Fern, where I had tofu for the first time since cutting it out due to my estrogen dominance. We sat outside to enjoy the last nice day of the season. When I put my arm on the table, I felt pain. I lifted my sleeve and asked him if there's anything on my upper arm on the back of my elbow. He saw nothing. The burning sensation didn't falter, but grew, and after the date ended, I came home, took off the hoodie I hadn't work in a while (I figured I'd switch out the leather, as we dined at a vegan restaurant), and looked up the symptoms of burning skin. Among the myriad of terrifying causes, one was shingles, but I didn't think anything of it, as I had no rash.

    And then I saw it. On my lower shoulder, right above where a cartoon character would get a "mom" tattoo, several bumps that looked just like bedbug bites... except the pattern, though similar, seemed a bit off. I had 9 bumps in clusters of 3, closely set, in a row across my arm. Now, I know bedbugs like to snack in 3's. But they don't tend to be this close, nor do the clusters tend to be so close to each other. Since it was Brian's fault the last time I dealt with bedbugs (outside work), I made my assumptions, but since they didn't itch, and the hoodie hadn't been worn or washed in a very long time (mom suspected dust mites), I also allowed denial to keep that doubt in there. I sprayed my new couch anyway.

    Over the next few days, the skin around the bumps started to itch. The arm burned still, and the burning sensation spread over a lot more area. Then the bumps multiplied and turned to little blisters, and smaller clusters appeared on my armpit, my chest, and my spine (fuck you, spine dot - right where I can't reach, and you would be the only one that itches like a motherfucker). I knew for sure it was shingles. What. The. Fuck.

    The first to appear was the first to scab over with minimal itching. In retrospect, the back one could have been the first in general. It itched insanely for a week prior to this, and I kept asking Ch. if he could see anything there, but there was nothing. The armpit itched early on, too. I thought was an impending cyst formed because of a shitty underwire, which I usually have dealings with on the other arm, but have had cysts on the left, too. It was embarrassing to constantly be itching my armpit, but I couldn't see any signs of a cyst.

    The pain isn't as severe as the internet says it is ("worst pain I've ever felt," it says). It's a mild case, though, at least so far. I described it originally like getting a tattoo of a sunburn on a sunburn. The armpit felt like getting bee stings on a fresh tattoo of a sunburn. That hurt worse than the others, because it's in the armpit. Creases everywhere, and on a joint that gets a lot of use. The back hurts like a standard sunburn, and the chest just itches.

    Internet and humans alike all demanded I see a doctor, so it seemed like as good a time as any to finally find one. I haven't seen a doctor in a good 15 years outside emergencies. I was nervous, but knew it's the responsible thing to do. I called around, got a doctor, and made a first appointment for January 18th. Then asked if I could be seen any earlier for a situation I'm in. They suggested calling at 8am Monday morning, which worked for me, since I was about to be on my way to Toronto (where it hurt forever, and I didn't get to see my friends because of it). But hey, I got a doctor.

    On Monday (yesterday), I got a squeeze-in appointment with another doctor who made me wait a half hour. He came in while the nurse was taking my vitals, but she was just finishing up, and he disappeared for a long time. When I'd nearly given up hope, the door opened. Another nurse walked in with a needle (A NEEDLE!!!), asked me to verify my birthday, then asked if I'd ever had a bad reaction to the flu vaccine. I said I've never had it, and don't intend to have it (I'm not an anti-vaxxer, but I won't get a flu shot). She seemed baffled and asked if the doctor offered it to me first. I said I haven't even seen a doctor. She went to fetch him right away. Obviously, she had the wrong room, which made me nervous.

    The doctor finally came in, and his demeanor made me feel very uncomfortable (for experience-with-old-male-doctors reasons, not for totally valid reasons). He took one look at the shingles on my arm and said "we'll get back to that," and asked me if there's anything else I'm concerned about or want to talk/ask about. Ummmm.... what. This isn't a physical. You're not my full-time doctor. This appointment isn't some scheduled visit. It's one step removed from urgent care. I'm clearly here for only one reason. He asked twice more throughout the session. Each time, I pointed at my arm and said "just this." I don't know what he was fishing for, but it didn't help my nerves and discomfort.

    I left with a few suggestions. I chose the over-the-counter option of capsaicin cream, which turned into quite an experience. If you don't know, capsaicin is what makes hot peppers hot. The cream was cool upon application, which surprised me. I thought, oh, it must just not be good stuff. I felt it get intensely hot about 15 minutes later. It actually felt nice, like I was standing in front of a heater. It really helped stop the pain, and stop the itch, and I was so happy something was working. I reapplied the stuff a couple times throughout the night.

    That would be my 3am downfall. I woke up in searing hot pain, unable to touch anything to the skin because the heat needed to touch air, nothing else. I tried finding a position that would sate the fire, but at 3:30, I gave up and got out of bed. I looked at my skin in the mirror and it was ALL RED. My chest, my arm, my back, just beat red. I felt scared, but I stayed calm. Being up with the cool night air made it feel better, so I thought I'd try going back to bed again. Nope. Got up, decided to get an ice packet. After using it to sufficiently cool the front and arm, I set it on the mattress and got on my back, snugging it right on my spine. On my back, I could lay out my arm in a way that airs out the armpit and leaves the rest in the open air, too. Felt better in the morning, and in fact, all the blisters were flat, instead of raised bumps (though, they were still blisters, alas).

    Apparently, no one knows why shingles occurs, but they suspect it has something to do with stress or a lowered immune system. I don't feel unhealthy, but I did take a 2-week bender off my diet and downed a LOT of candy and junk food and carbs. I'm thinking maybe my body got stressed out by the sudden change in diet (for the worse).

    I'm so over this. And it can last anywhere between 2-6 weeks or longer??? I'm worried because I'm feeling burning on my leg now. Hoping it's nothing (I've experienced burning sensations a lot over the course of my adult life, so I don't usually think anything of it, but now I'll be constantly stressed).

    I handled one shower. Can I handle more? We'll see....

    Annual TCAF Report: DAY THREE

    I somehow managed to get enough rest between tossing and turning through the night to remain easily awake the whole of Sunday. Probably helped that I had three cups of coffee throughout the day, which doesn't usually help me, but maybe Canadian coffee is just better all around.

    First cup came with breakfast at my usual place: the Golden Diner - a little hole-in-the-wall in the midst of Tourist Town, Greek-run with packed breakfast specials. They've changed a lot since I first started coming, though, so it may be time to start looking for another place.

    After breakfast, Ch. wanted to experience TCAF a bit more, so he headed there and I took the subway to Queen for a little shopping.

    I should point out, aside from throwing my usual diet to the wind for this trip, I also stopped taking the subway through Toronto as much as I used to, so hotel-to-Queen was my first go the whole weekend. Mike showed me during Nuit Blanche that Toronto is a lot smaller than I thought, and most of it is really pretty walkable.

    First stop on the Queen shopping tour: Black Market. They had a $1 - $10 sale going on throughout the whole store, so I bought a bunch of little things, plus a nice leather jacket! It's a size too small, but I think if I install a zipper (it has buttons), it'll close. I'm really happy with it, and two of the patches I picked up at TCAF will go perfectly on it! I switched from my hoodie to the jacket in the entry way on the way out.

    Next stop: NYX to pick up some of their amazing Butter lipstick. It started raining, so I switched back to the hoodie so I could have my hood up. Thankfully, the rain didn't last long, and I ducked into the Dr. Martens store to check out some prices on a nice pair of classics. Too expensive for this trip.

    My end goal for the day was Kensington Market, at the end of China Town just off Spadina. I stopped in at a couple random spots on Spadina til I got to Kensington. I hit up Butterfly for my traditional purchase of a grab-bag, ducked in and out of some of the surrounding shops I like, and then explored some of the coffee places Robin and Mike suggested.

    Robin said she really likes Moonbean's coffee. The Devil's Brew. Mike said he likes their coffee better, but likes the working environment at Casa Cafe better. So I bought some beans from Moonbean and bought a small cup of coffee at Casa and sat outside at the super cute, but super tiny sitting space on their front deck. I did enjoy the working environment there better - the space was the perfect size for me to draw, but they also serve ice cream, so I had to endure the Mother's Day family crowd screaming for ice cream every few seconds. Really good coffee, though.

    When Ch. met up with me at Casa, we decided to go back to Moonbean, after I regaled that they do have more sitting space, but it's all chiefly indoors. It was a good decision all around. Though they don't have regular iced coffee (only Cold Brew, which is different), their coffee is pretty good, and their sitting spaces are so much more spacious - for a while, we were the only ones in their back sitting space. People mostly crowded the front and the back patio. It was a nice way to end the day.

    But then we endured the traffic of going over to Danforth and finding parking for Messini's - a Greek restaurant that blew us away last year. They were hidden by construction, and the wait for a table was long. I was kind of cranky by the time we got seated, but tried to lose the attitude. The Greek fries were awesome as usual. And I ordered what I got last time - grilled octopus - which didn't blow me away as I thought it would. Next time, we'll probably stick with Sneaky Dee's or Black Bull for our last Toronto meal.

    The ride home was pleasant, because we had to go out of the city for Messini's, so we got to see what going into Toronto from the north looked like. Just as breathtaking. We passed through Riverdale, which is all lush and green in contrast to the grey cityscape.

    The entrance to the Black Market


    crossposted from dreamwidth