“It Will Get Better.”

The last few months have been a difficult journey for my family and I, my father especially. For privacy’s sake, I won’t go into details–and honestly!–for my well-being, I don’t want to go into details.

I found myself repeating the phrase, “It will get better,” not just to myself, but to my family and friends, counselor, partner, strangers, anyone who would listen. The meaning of the words changed and evolved over time, while somehow clinging to the original definition.

Writing helped me tap into some of the more overwhelming emotions.

Despite know the facts, knowing the stats, I keep saying, “It will get better.”
I know people have had it worse and succeeded, so I keep saying, “It will get better.”
Every update means progress, they say. But every update is a negative–or, at the very least, a positive–with a catch.
But progress is progress, so I keep saying, “It will get better.”
You’re in pain and have no way to let it out.
It’s okay, we understand; “It will get better.”
You push us away. We know it’s the pain talking. We know you don’t want this to be happening either.
You do what you need to do; “It will get better.”
You have always been there for us, through our own pains, through our mistakes, through our confusion.
Now you need us; we aren’t sure how to help, but we try. So we say in unison, “It will get better.”
The words are starting to become hollow from overuse, but still hold a glimmer of hope.
“It will get better.” Just keep saying it.
We hope it will inspire. We hope it will aid. We hope it will heal.
“It will get better.” Again and again.
Each time is getting harder.
“It will get better…” I’m straining. Maybe it will be true.
We know it’s getting old.
I hope that we don’t have to keep saying the words forever.
Just once more:
“It. Will. Get. Better,” I say, through gritted teeth.
I will say those words forever.
Because, I know, despite feeling scared, feeling helpless, I have not become hopeless…
I just know:
It will get better.

After writing this out, I indeed did feel better. While the words are rather passive and depressive, they still hold onto the same feeling we get when we say “hold on” or “wait it out a little longer”. Since the original writing, news has gotten better and I’ve reached out to support. Stress can be a killer, y’all. Take care of yourself and ask for help if you are struggling.

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I Didn’t Know I Would Become a Cat Owner

Seriously. I never thought I would become a cat owner when I was younger. And when I say younger, I mean literally three years ago.

Let me take you through my, what should I call it… “journey?” “progression?” “change of heart?”

Whatever you want to call it, I didn’t always have a pet cat, didn’t prefer cats, and at one point, didn’t like cats.

I’ve always been an animal lover, anything non-human was beautiful to me. My first dream job was travelling veterinarian, then astronaut, then, IDK Pokemon trainer or doctor or something, the third option changed all the time until it solidified in high school to artist. Not ONE of those things happened, but I prefer where I ended up anyway.

Speaking of anyway, my love of animals did stretch to cats.

I maaaaay or may not… have… uh…. stolen the next-door neighbor’s fluffy gray cat… and hid it in my plastic play kitchen set, back when I was 4.

I didn’t keep it long; for the amount of time I had it, I fed it Bologna slices and milk. The cat touched neither of those things. Thank goodness my mother discovered the cat in my room within the hour of me cat-napping it from the neighbor’s garden.

According to my mom, she heard it yowling, and opened the… uh… yeah I’m ashamed of this part–microwave. The cat shot out and ran down the stairs, Mom immediately recognized it was the neighbor’s and let it out the front door where it scurried back home safely. For years, I never told her how I managed to sneak it in the house.

I feel rather proud of how I did that, but of nothing else. I had this large 18-wheeler truck toy that had an attached cargo crate with working doors.

I… shoved the cat… inside that compartment…. Yep. And carried it into my house.

The poor creature avoided me for the rest of its days until the neighbors moved away. I don’t blame it one bit.

My father grounded me, of course, and told me we had no use for a cat as we were perfectly fine with our dog. I’ve had a dog for most of my life, mostly miniature Schnauzers, now I have a Corgi.

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Winnie!

Before my second Schnauzer and first Corgi, there was a stray kitten. She was sweet and tiny, and I worked with the other neighborhood kids to get her cat food. This was a couple years after the spiriting away of my neighbor’s cat; I had grown to respect animals, and thought better than to steal them since then. Well, for weeks, the other kids and I all made sure she was taken care of. One day, I found her laying in the shade of my mother’s minivan. I bent down to pet her, per the usual. She hissed and pounced at my face, scratching at my eyes, thankfully missing. She clung to my neck as I screamed and struggled. Eventually, she jumped off me and disappeared. I ran inside my home crying about the ordeal. I couldn’t understand why the kitten turned on me when I had given her so much. My mother determined that neighborhood boys had probably bullied her so she doesn’t trust humans anymore. I wasn’t the same towards cats for a few years.

At the age of 8, I met my second oldest friend, who owned many cats. My sisters and I spent many afternoons at her family’s house. At the time, I was afraid of the cats, but my friend showed me how I don’t have to fear them, but I can give them a wide berth. Our friendship stretched into middle school and junior high, where I befriended another proud cat owner. We bonded over art and joined an expensive after-school art academy. I would carpool with her and then spend some weekends with her at her house. She had three funny cats.

In the summer before 8th grade, my sisters, mother, and I, were about to take a trip to Oklahoma to visit family. The night before we left, we discovered a young orange male tabby cat. Not quite an adult, but not a kitten, and very sweet and curious. He had made his way into the garage, an easy feat for that time back when it was safe to keep your garage doors open! My sisters and I begged our mother to keep him. She said we couldn’t take him with us, but she left water and food for him outside. We left for a week on our trip.

When we arrived back home, the tabby was still hanging around the house. Mom went out and bought all the supplies for a cat, and he lived with us from then on. His name was Neko, from the Japanese word “cat”–I was obsessed, like my friends, with anime and Japanese culture. However, my extent of the language was very limited, and very flawed, so Neko was pronounced as “Nee-ko”. It suited him.

He was a wonderful addition to the family. He was very loyal to our home, kept squirrels and bugs at bay in our backyard, appeared at a call of his name, never swiped or clawed any of us or anything in our home, and loved belly rubs. I loved that cat, my friends loved that cat. He was strong and brave too. So brave, that he ventured out into the neighborhood alone without fear, and always returned. One day, my mother crossed the street to speak to one of our many neighbors, and Neko followed. A truck ran him over. My mother sobbed when telling us. He was buried in the side garden, my friends sobbed when I told them at school the next day, my art friend especially.

My mother went on to adopt two cats to fill the void. She brought home a tiny female calico kitten, and a large orange male tabby, named Sammy and Bruce, respectively. Bruce was not at all like Neko, and hated people. We gave him space. Sammy grew up to be a beautiful dainty cat. But then my mother moved away to Oklahoma suddenly, and took the cats with her. My sisters and I went to live with our father.

I grew up with my beloved miniature phantom-coat Schnauzer, Azmo. Cats were long forgotten for years except when we went to visit Mother. Sammy ended up having two kittens. This was… 10 years ago…! I had to think about it, I feel so old and yet I can remember like yesterday holding the two tiny babies in my hands and Sammy jumping on the screen door in a tizzy because she thought her kittens were in danger. The summer that we took care of the kittens was beautiful. The following year, we played with the now full grown cats, two females, one named Cali, a dark calico pattern, and Muffy, an orange tabby with white underbelly. The next year, Muffy passed away due to accidental poisoning. Cali still lives, she is an elderly lady, and still so graceful and courageous. Her mother, Sammy, jumped out the car between my mother’s many moves. The summer I spent playing with the year old cats was the the last summer I went to Oklahoma, and the last time I saw those cats.

I told myself for years since then, I prefer dogs. I didn’t have a problem with cats, I just liked the energy of dogs over other pets.

I wanted a partner who felt the same.

Along came Bo.

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This man sent me this when he was comforting Bowser, my heart just melts!

His online dating profile listed that he loved dogs, and owned a cat. There were many reasons I was drawn to this man, and the dog detail was one of them. He told me on one of our dates that he used to have a Husky but couldn’t keep it when he broke up with his last relationship. The dog deserved a yard, where his ex lived, and he had moved into a studio apartment. He immediately went to the Austin Pets Alive animal shelter and adopted Sakura.

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Sakura, who’s none too happy with meeting our Piplup that was rescued from a crane machine.

This cat… did not like me. At all. The first night I slept over at Bo’s place (how scandalous! Lol not), I stuck out my foot from under the covers for cooling. In the dead of night, she crept up on my unsuspecting foot, and chowed down on my big toe. Needless to say, I woke up shouting, not really out of pain, yeah it hurt, but more of I have a thing about things not touching my feet without my permission or awareness. So shouting ensued and Bo chased her around the apartment for a while.

I made an effort to try to win Sakura over. It took a few months, and a lot asking cat owners for advice. Their advice worked! Sakura loves me, and I love her. She’s the best lap buddy late at night on my days off when I need to stick to my overnight schedule.

In 2017, Bo and I decided Sakura needed a friend. She was restless and my cat owner friends said felines have better stimulation and activity with a companion animal. We adopted our kitten from my coworker who was fostering a huge litter of 7 kittens from the Austin Animal Shelter.

Bo and I were originally drawn to the runt of the litter, who was a female black cat like Sakura, who happened to also be the runt of her litter. But when we met Soot Sprite, she was extremely adventurous and exploratory, too high energy for laid-back and alpha-female stubborn Sakura. My coworker convinced us to adopt the only long-haired kitten, our baby boy, Bowser. He had a passive personality, but still played when encouraged.

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Bowser’s first day in his new home!

He was only as big as my hand when we got him, now he’s bigger than Sakura, even without fluff, and getting bigger! I told Bo that I always wanted a fluffy fat cat for sitting on my lap. Even as I type this post, both my cats are sleeping on my feet. They were fighting today, Bowser is getting more bold, but most days they enjoy each others’ company, and prefer to share their bed and couch together. Don’t worry, both are fixed, I’m not about to take up breeding responsibilities.

So, I guess, I’ve had a life with cats, and without cats. It wasn’t until I sat down and looked at my life that I was surprised with yet again an outcome I didn’t expect, much like my dream job not coinciding with my childhood dreams, but I feel things are better than I could’ve ever planned for.

I hope to one day, make a cool cat tree, a floating shelf, and a garden for them. Until then, I’ll keep cuddling and spoiling them to no end!

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Get. In. My. LIFE! The Return

IT’S THE RETURN OF THINGS THINGS THINGS!

I desperately want these things so I’m using writing about them as a way to weigh and justify in my mind and my wallet to get them or not. Phew, that was a rough blurb, thanks for bearing with me.

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Harry Potter Mirror of Erised Jewelry Wall Cabinet

From PBTeen, priced at $399. THREE FREAKING NINETY NINE! Oh Pottery Barn, so expensive, but so pretty. I spent an entire shift at my work muttering to myself between calls, “I need it. I just do. I neeeeeed it.” My coworkers are enablers and have thusly convinced me to buy it after my tax return. Unfortunately, I am not in favor of the tax refund gods this year and cannot afford the mirror still. Weep for me.

 

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Faux Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

Standing at 5 feet tall from World Market and priced at $129.99. The reviews all glowingly state the tree looks real. I like the basket choice in the promo pics but I’ll probably go with something different. If only I had space in my room or Bo’s apartment, and didn’t have the fear that the cats (more specifically, Bowser the kitten) would destroy the beautiful tree.

 

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Star Wars Princess Leia “Rebel” Criss-Cross Graphic T-Shirt

This is my new favorite shirt. I was wandering Target, as you do, and spotted this chilling on a mannequin. Made it my life’s work to find that shirt. Find it, I did!! Super soft, tiny bit see-through but wear a black bra and you’re good. I’m scared the criss-cross bits will stretch but that’s nothing a bit of sewing won’t fix. Love my princess shirt. I miss you, Carrie Fischer. ❤

 

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Deep Red Leather Corset Obi Belt

I love cincher belts on me, and I want one that makes a statement. What’s better than red leather?! Nothing I tell you! Nothing! This one comes from Etsy and is handmade! There are quite a few different belts featured on their shop if this on isn’t quite the one for you.

 

The Art of “Spirited Away” & The Art of “Howl’s Moving Castle”

I love, love, love both movies, and love, love, love art books, and love, love, love behind-the-scenes / the-making-of features, so of course I’d be drawn to these. Oh, I made an art joke.  You can get either book on Amazon, prices vary; currently featuring the price online around 25 bucks for a hardcover–I may have bought them while writing this because, damn, that price is good!

 

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Body-Kun Models for Artists

Every now and then, they will go on sale for less than 45 bucks from Sugar & Cotton, so snag them then!! If you struggle with finding a model to draw from life, a pose-able figure is the next best thing! And you don’t have to get embarrassed with nude models, but if you’re an artist, the nude figure is a normal thing to you anyway, so whatever. UPDATE: I did end up getting both male and female figures and they are so tiny, great for travel, but they are very very fragile and a little finicky to work with. I’d say they are worth the trouble for their usefulness in art.

 

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Ban.do Palm Leaf Beach Towel

I’ll be honest, $78 is a lot for a blanket, but then I saw the details in close-up photos and was convinced I cannot make this blanket. It’s very beautiful and if I had a dream house with a porch or sun-room, this would be draped on the couch.

 

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Bangle Flask

Made from stainless steel, this bangle had the most reviews I could find on Amazon. The more reviews, the more I trust that item! I love the rose gold color, it’s been a major staple for jewelry and accessories in my closet. I don’t drink very often, but my love for all things multi-functional lets me look past that fact.

 

The Parrot Tulip Obsession

If a tulip were to look like it had exploded, that would be the Parrot Tulip. Even when the flower head opens before it dies, the Parrot Tulip transforms into a wild display of ruffled edges and multi-toned petals!

So I took to Pinterest and scoured the vast image collections for some reference photos:

 

So pretty.

As part of my wellness and self-care regimen for work and life, I have turned back to creative projects. There’s science behind this decision, and personal experience, but I have Life Labs PSYCHOLOGIES to back me up:

Freedom: There is no right or wrong way to be creative. When we create, it gives us the opportunity to engage with the world without judging ourselves. To return to the feeling of freedom we may have experienced during childhood. Where we did not have to know or be an expert. It gives us permission to take risks, try new things, and strip away inhibitions in a healthy way.

Self-awareness and Expression: Creativity is the route to authenticity. As we create we begin to access our thoughts, feelings and beliefs. When we take the time and energy to develop our own ideas, we learn to understand, trust and respect our inner self, in turn enabling us to better express ourselves. You may be surprised at the resources, thoughts and impulses that you discover there.

Faith and confidence in our instincts: When we create, we may start to value our work, even if it is not published, displayed or presented to the public. We can learn to trust our instincts and gain confidence from expressing them. This confidence carries over into decisions we make in other areas of life.

Stress Relief: Being creative is meditative. Taking the time to use our hands, minds, and energy doing something we enjoy and that makes us happy is of highest importance in life. Creativity is fun, and doing anything that brings joy reduces our stress levels and improves our quality of life.

Problem solving: There isn’t a manual to being an artist, and there isn’t a manual for being alive. Obstacles and challenges throughout life are inevitable. However, when we make creativity a habit, we continue to learn new, resourceful ways of solving problems in our artwork, and in life.

Go be creative yourself! You are more than welcome to use my techniques for drawing a striking and colorful work of art.

Materials used:

Prismacolor soft colored pencils (my set is a 120 count)

Black cardstock

0.7 mm graphite mechanical pencil

White eraser stick/white eraser — these usually come with a mechanical pencil

First I design the composition layout on the dark page by sketching a general form of where I want the flower heads to be, the focus, and where the stems and leaves flow to, leading the view.

Typical rules of thumb are to not draw a line into a corner–it cuts off awkwardly; do not directly center the focus unless you are going for extreme symmetry–I don’t, it’s really difficult to pull off; and it is best to cross over halfway planes both horizontally and vertically.

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As you can see, there were some changes

Once I have a layout, I use reference photos to draw the plants, referring back to inspiration as often as needed for accuracy. I previously printed the reference photos, but now I see using digital media is just as easy, and ultimately environment friendly; lord knows I already waste tons of paper

When drawing, I do not press down hard into the paper, but rather float the pencil tip over the surface. If I were to press hard, the cardstock will become indented and create crevices that cannot accept color. White erasers do not leave residue usually, but I combat the chances of smudging by cleaning off the eraser after several uses. I do so by rubbing the eraser on either another sheet of paper, but more likely, my jeans. Also works for charcoal. My jeans have been through a lot.

 

I only sketch out the finalized forms and major details of the drawing, and leave minuscule details for when I put in the color.

Once completed, I choose pencil colors. I start off with selecting as many colors as possible that match the reference photos, then narrow down the selections to 20 colors or less. The colors can, and should, be blended. That’s why I love Prismacolor pencils; there are few brands that can actually blend seamlessly without a granulated texture. The pencils use a wax-based formula, allowing for smooth application and creamy blending. For even better blending, I absolutely recommend investing in the blending pencil for Prismacolors, it will get the job done.

I test my colors on a spare piece of paper, because I want to know what it looks like before I take it to the drawing. Colors can look different on varying backgrounds. I also tested to see if the pencils looked brighter if I laid down white beforehand; some places it worked.

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The last part is just filling in color where necessary. Take time and analyze where shades and tints need to go.

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Use black sparingly, and instead use a shade of a color or better yet, a complementary color (that’s a color that is opposite of one another on the color wheel, such as yellow being opposite of purple, green is to red, orange to blue, et cetera).

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I sealed the final product with workable fixative. I always go with “workable” because I’m a perfectionist. Honestly I should save myself the anxiety and just use final fixative so I don’t have an excuse to go back on a project! Don’t be me, let your projects be finished!

Voilà!

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I intend to frame this piece in a white frame like it’s counterpart, the blue orchids. However, I have no idea where it will go on my gallery wall!

I should really finish that….

Next time?

Probably not….

To Fanfic, or Not To Fanfic?

 

I’m not asking if you should read fanfiction, because you totally should; I’m asking myself if I should write some fanfiction.

The dilemma… or rather more honestly, dilemmas, are:

1) Insecurity

 I am actually a little bit shy when it comes to my fiction writing.

I’ll brag all day about knocking out a research paper in two hours, or ramble on this here blog, or even type up a nice review on Goodreads. I don’t even care about my bad grammar because I went for that particular phrase because I’m Texan, dammit, and my writing style is very… particular… as well. Which comes to the second point.

2) Writing Style

I write like I think and talk. I prefer it because it flows more naturally. I even use a talk-to-text program to help me capture a lot of my writing. Yes, I’ll go back and edit, because rambling doesn’t always flow, of course. But the main point is that not everyone out there is going to like my particular style, and honestly, I just don’t want to hear that.

3) Feedback

I’m not really looking for feedback on improving my writing.

Unless the feedback can help me with character development, plot points, and world creation. I love reading, and when I was younger, I desired to write a book. I’m not expecting to get published, I just REALLY REALLY need to get these stories out of my head. I’ve literally been obsessing over one for OVER A DECADE, GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!

I don’t want to change my writing style because I like it. I’m weird, and I will never want to change that.

4) Writer’s Block

I get carried away, and then frustrated.

Inspiration is very inconsistent in my life. Please see one of my first blog posts about the Inspiration Fairy and Mr. Motivation. I’ll go weeks with a drive of obsession, then months with the focus on other projects. Unless there is a deadline set by myself and I truly hold myself to it, (which I usually don’t if it’s difficult), or from another entity (like school or work), I don’t do the work.

Furthermore, when I get carried away, I get very jumbled up, and loose track of where I was going with the story. Which is why I started writing very detailed outlines.

I was able to write the outline of my first book, a complicated post-apocalyptic, at war dystopian Sci-fi.

Have I gotten around to actually writing the book?

Noooooooo! Not. At. All!

I have so much research to do. Hence…:

5) Research

I obsess over accuracy. I need to make sure things are as accurate as possible. That means that I’m going to find maps, plot out paths, research theoretical physics, plan out weather patterns, the works. For my Sci-fi book, I’ve researched what the world would look like after the ice caps melt so I could have my character run from the Appalachians to the Rockies and know if she has to cross an over-flooded river. She does, just so you know.

6) Ships

Shipping, as in “relationships” is a major thing in Fanfiction. And my ships are often… different, or rare? I know, rule 54, someone else out there has thought of it, so I’m not really alone; but dang if it ain’t terrifying having a world judge you on your pairing!

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Lol. ^ Thank you Tumblr.

Welp. I just wrote this to work through some things. I think I’ll write it, at my own pace, but have my partner be the one to set a deadline for me. I’m going to do this for this story and my books.

I can’t believe I just admitted I’m going to write a fanfiction. Oh jeez. You peoples (all two of you lol) know my face, aaahhh! Well, I won’t put my real name on it, obviously.

Keto Diet

I somehow agreed to a Keto diet with my boyfriend. I think it was something like:

“It’s only 30 days!”

“I’m doing it with you!”

“We can reset our digestive systems/Maybe we can find out what is making you sick!”

“We can have a good habit after!”

Those all sound find-and-dandy, but darnit I want ice cream and pasta right now.

And, it’s only been day three.

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Me ^ and my frustration at the cravings already happening early in the diet. I love Martin Freeman’s reactions.

 

Essentially, the Keto diet is this: high fat (unsaturated, preferably), moderate protein, and low carb, according to this infogram from myketokitchen.com, seen here.

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So far, the thing that has been most helpful is the Carb Manager app. I’ve been able to add foods to track how many calories, carbs, protein and fats are in the foods I eat, and stay under a goal.

Now, I’m not exactly excited to be doing a diet. I’ve tried in the past (I didn’t really know what I was doing and I wasn’t nearly as dedicated). I don’t particularly trust diets nor to I trust myself, but I know that I have a lot of trust in my partner, Bo, and I appreciate that he’s doing it with me. I truly feel that he’s a wonderful place of inspiration and encouragement. And I have to give credit to him for being such a good sport in supporting  my complaining butt. He’s also been telling me every thing that he craves when he craves it (mostly Oreo’s), and it makes us both laugh every time.

At least Bo’s willing to put up with my dramatic complaining that I do for the sake of making myself laugh and cope with the cravings/hunger. My stomach still needs time to shrink and I’m still figuring out how to get nutrient-rich and higher calorie foods without carbs.

In addition to the diet, I decided to limit red meat and spices for the month long diet. I’ve been having really bad reactions to spicy foods for about 2 years now and haven’t been able to narrow down exactly what it is that’s causing the reactions. Sausage, pepper, jalapeno, curry, Tex-Mex, you name it, I feel sick a couple hours later. So I figured this is a good time to reset my system and maybe narrow down some foods by reintroducing the foods one week at a time after January is up.

Thankfully, we have a reward set up in February; it coincides with Valentine’s weekend. We’re attending the Cirque du Soleil show “Crystal” and then treating ourselves to a couple’s massage and dinner.

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Last Valentine’s, the day before, I was SUPER sick with food poisoning (under cooked pork-sausage), so dinner at Sullivan’s Steakhouse on the actual day was very disappointing, mostly because I was still recovering and didn’t have an appetite. We should’ve canceled and gone another day, but I am very stubborn and wanted to appreciate Bo’s romantic gestures. He was so sad I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should’ve, but that truly was not his fault. So, to make up for my stubborn-ness, I am treating him to a good time this year.

I absolutely love Cirque du Soleil. I’ve been to… uhh… *counts fingers* La Nouba, Alegría twice, , Le Rêve–which is not Cirque’s but very a similar kind of production and it’s excellent, Varekai, Dralion, I think I saw Koozå when I was young, or maybe that was Quidam or Alegría again?, I know I saw Alegría twice for sure. Somewhere around 7 or 8 shows.

I highly recommend, if the show comes to town, or a nearby town, go.

I’m counting down the days until this blasted diet ends and I get to see an amazing new show.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that this diet will be of needed and great help. I’m a realist, and understand completely the benefits of eating healthy. So, know that I am taking this time as a great opportunity for my future. I’ll just complain along the way, it’s my nature–to humor myself.

A Book a Week

In my youth, I was a voracious reader. All through elementary, middle school, and junior high, I read quickly and in great quantity. Then high school hit. I read the required readings, and Harry Potter of course, but beyond that I read maybe 7 or 8 books for fun, per year. College was worse. I can count how many books I read outside of classes on two hands, and that was over the course of 10 years. (Yes, I was in college for 10 years, it took me a very long time to figure out my trajectory, and it was well worth the wait.)

My final senior year, I read several books for fun. I graduated and continued trying to find a career; I read at least three more books in the new year. I missed books so much, I had a lot of catching up to do. The problem was, I was really unhappy at my current job, and I made it my priority to spend as much time as I could finding a place to start my career.

Finally, in March, I was offered a job. I love it and plan to be here for several years.

This job–answering crisis calls for a domestic violence hotline–is emotionally taxing but worth the fulfillment. And a perk has been time reading between calls.

I met my goal of 30 books in one year. Goodreads helped me achieve that.

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I did it!!

Now, 2018, I have a new goal.

Read a book a week.

You can too! Track your progress, organize your books, favorite and review the best ones, follow authors and friends!

Check it out and have fun. And feel free to friend me! Especially if you like memoirs, dystopian futures, or classics.

I aim to clear out my current library. So I made a list to help me. I don’t have to follow this list exclusively, but rather use it as a guide to pick-and-choose.

Here’s what it looks like for the New Year:

  • “The Historian” – Elizabeth Kostova
  • “Gravity’s Rainbow” – Thomas Pynchon
  • “Cyrano de Bergerac” – Edmond Rostand
  • “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” – Robert Louis Stevenson
  • “Atonement” – Ian McEwan
  • “The Joy Luck Club” – Amy Tan
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” – Harper Lee
  • “The Martian” – Andy Weir (my sister read this book right before the movie came out and loved it, and I happened to be at a book store and saw a couple signed copies were leftover, so I bought her one and me one; she was thrilled)
  • “A Clockwork Orange” – Anthony Burgess
  • “Ready Player One” – Ernest Cline
  • “Pinterest Power: Market Your Business, Sell Your Product, & Build Your Brand on the World’s Hottest Social Network” – Jason Miles, Karen Lacey (honestly, this was bought back in 2013 or something, we shall see if I keep this book after I read it)
  • “Running with Scissors” – Augusten Burroughs
  • “The Golden Compass” His Dark Materials #1 – Philip Pullman
  • “Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood” – Alida Nugent
  • “House of Leaves” – Mark Z. Danielewski
  • “Angels & Demons” Robert Langdon #1 – Dan Brown
  • “Contact” – Carl Sagan
  • “Zen & the Art of Writing” – Ray Bradbury
  • “Prey” – Michael Crichton
  • “We the Living” – Ayn Rand
  • “Under the Dome” – Stephan King
  • “Divergent” #1 – Veronica Roth
  • “Wonder” – R. J. Palacio
  • “Outlander” #1 – Diana Gabaldon
  • “Atlas Shrugged” – Ayn Rand
  • “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” – J. K. Rowling
  • “On Death & Dying” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
  • “Bossypants” – Tina Fey
  • “The Bone Clocks” – David Mitchell (signed!)
  • “The Dante Club” #1 – Matthew Pearl (I didn’t even know this was a series, whoops)
  • “Shōgun” Asian Saga #1 – Jame Clavell (I have started this one 3 times, throughout my life, and never finished; well that’s going to change!)
  • “Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World” – Bill Nye (signed!!)
  •  “The Republic” – Plato (I’ve read most of it, but not all the way through consecutively)
  • “Lolita” – Vladimir Nabokov
  • “Do Not Say We Have Nothing” – Madeleine Thien
  • “The Fountainhead” – Ayn Rand
  • “Odd Thomas” #1 – Dean Koontz
  • “Thus Spoke Zarathrustra” – Friedrich Nietzche, Walter Kaufmann translator
  • “The Little Prince” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Richard Howard translator
  • “Deep, Down, Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, & the Miracle That Set Them Free” – Héctor Tobar
  • “The Call of the Wild” – Jack London
  • “Into the Wild” – Jon Krakauer
  • “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” – Cheryl Strayed
  • “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” – David Sedaris (I really disliked one of his other books I read, but I’ll give this one a shot anyway because of the title and cover art)
  • “Choke” – Chuck Palahniuk
  • “The Kite Runner” – Khaled Hosseini
  • “15 Seconds” – Andrew Gross
  • “Dark Matter” – Blake Crouch
  • “Magical Thinking” – Augusten Burroughs
  • “Murder on the Orient Express” Hercule Poirot #10 – Agatha Christie
  • “The Merchant of Death” Pendragon #1 – D. J. MacHale
  • “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, & the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History” – Robert M. Edsel, Bret Witter (contributor)
  • “Fight Club” – Chuck Palahniuk
  • “The Boy on the Bridge” The Hungry Plague #2 – M. R. Carey
  • “Geisha, a Life” – Mineko Iwasaki, Rande Brown
  • “Orange Is the New Black” – Piper Kerman
  • “East of Eden” – John Steinbeck
  • “X/1999” – CLAMP
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Millennium #1 – Stieg Larsson, Reg Keeland (translator)
  • “A Million Little Pieces” – James Frey
  • “Catch-22” #1 – Joseph Heller
  • “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” – Stephan Chbosky
  • “A Wind in the Door” A Wrinkle in Time Quintet #2 – Madeleine L’Engle

As you may have guessed, there are more than 52 books in this list, giving me a plethora to choose from. All of these books I have never read, so they will be a brand new experience for me. Yes, I have many classics to catch up on. Some of these are very special copies, signed by the authors, or old versions I’ve dug up in thrift stores. I love real books, I can’t do digital (except for manga that I don’t want to buy).

There are some manga series listed. Many manga series are 10 or so volumes, depending, and I will include the first or last volume as a book read to represent reading the entire series; I don’t cut corners here! Take, for example, “Bleach”–I read that one in 2017; there are 74 volumes, so I split them up into 25, 25, and 24 books to one novel. Not far off from the actual story arcs. I could’ve lived without the last arc, I was very disappointed and should’ve stopped after the Aizen battle, that was good enough for me.

Anywhoo. Check out Goodreads. Go on. DO IT.

 

Gift Ideas 2017, AKA Get. In. My. LIFE!

It’s the holiday season, and that means gifts. I really sound like a commercial. Ugh. Now I sound like the Grinch…

Pardon me while I go watch the Jim Carrey Grinch movie for the third time this month, if I’m being honest here.

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LOL

Let’s cut to the chase, these are some cool gift ideas I’ve come across. Maybe they’re for me, maybe they’re for someone you know? Either way, you can expect that they are quirky and/or nerdy.

Target’s Modern Tree Toppers – I’m head-over-heels for these: an infinity light star that changes colors, and a neon sign star that also changes colors. Great for teens and college students.

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Little Lapel Plant Pins – I really, really, really want to copy this collection of little plant pins. I already collect souvenir lapel pins from places I visit and use them at push pins in my bulletin boards; now I want to make a garden “scene”.

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Here are a few places you can get adorable pins:

262da488647c9147c0d0ec11e7d1e8a7 Nier: Automata Enamel Pin

il_570xN.1314970404_9oka  Set of 3 Plant Pins

a_mano-louisa_podlich-enamel_pin-plant_pin-lapel_pin-3  Aloe Enamel Lapel Pin

047EP_Plant_03  Plant Pin + Post

Succulents_and_Plants_3_Pins_NO_TIMLEE_540x  Succulent Plant Pins with Drop

HTB1ZHOMRpXXXXbKaXXXq6xXFXXXj_original  Cacti Plant Pins

Processed with VSCO with lv01 preset  Succulent Plant Pin Set #4

 

 Star Wars Patches – Because the movie is coming out this Xmas and I am SOOO excited. I need some subtle nerdy fandom to carry with me.
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Yub Nub Ewok Morale patch – made from PVC and stitching. I feel like these would be perfect on a satchel or backpack.
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Rogue One Squad Rank Iron-on – you’re the rebellious of the rebels.
Cake Signs – I love these cheeky cake toppers. I saw them featured on one of my favorite blogs, and then I bought them myself, and I just have to say they are so much better in person.

Marble Dual Powerbank Charger – any portable charger will do. You can’t go wrong with this stocking-stuffer. This one just happens to be opal and I need it.

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Pegasus Unicorn Pool Float – you can find anything on Amazon, and I found the thing I need for hot summers in Texas. The model on Amazon freaks me out a little; why is she looking at me that way with a pool float, that’s weird, lady.

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Corgi On Fleek Shirt – I love this YouTube vblogger, Ryen, and his corgi, Gatsby. If you haven’t had the chance to watch his videos, do it. Not only are there plenty of footage of Gatsby being adorable, but there is lots of nerdy reviews, cooking, adventures in nature and Target, and saltwater aquarium upkeep, all to keep you interested.

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS! ❤

 

Gallery Walls, My Way… The Lazy Way

DISCLAIMER: You may be disappointed.

I’m just being honest.

~*~*~*~

I have an obsession with gallery walls. Just look at my Pinterest board devoted to it:

Ridiculous? NEVAAARRR

I’m currently in the process of creating a gallery wall for my bedroom.

It took some trial-and-error and a few holes in the wall to get everything up. It took some planning, I couldn’t just pull from my pile of… stuff.

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Stuff. On my rarely-made bed. Hey self, tell me why you decided to share this photo with the world?

I probably have too much “stuff” so it’s been a process just trying to sort through and pick the best pictures. I have such a hard time separating myself from sentimental pieces, or the plans that I will have my own home one day where I can hang up my other pictures. Is it weird that I have a couple of photos of myself from when I was a kid? I just really adore the candidness of those photos, and it brings me to a time when I was not so worried with adult problems. Surely, I’m not alone with this thought?

But I’m rambling.

Basically, my way of hanging a gallery wall is very, very lazy.

First, I had to figure out how and if I was going to hang this beast.

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Author’s foot for reference

It’s four pieces. I can’t frame that! It’s so awkwardly shaped and has a freaking mind of its own. It likes to fall, or slide around, do flips and spins, because it’s so into being beastly.

Beast really is an underused word.

Beast, beast, beast, beast, beast, beast….

So I decided the beast deserves its own wall.

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Stare into the hall of darkness! Let the void and mystery take you!!

As for the actual gallery wall, I started with my charcoal drawing called “Transparence”. It’s the largest artwork, second to Beast, and is a great conversation piece. Also, I spent a crap-ton framing it so it kinda needs to be a focal point.

I wanted at least three areas of focus, the other two being a print by my favorite watercolor artist Agnes Cecile (check out her speed paintings on YouTube) and a watercolor face I did in college.

Another part of creating a gallery wall is the color scheme of the room it’s in. My color scheme for the bedroom is black, gray, and red–as the main colors–with pops of bright, random colors, especially oranges, turquoise, and tropical greens. This same scheme is echoed in my artwork.

By the way… I did not choose the wall color, and I’m not allowed to change it.

UGH, TAUPE, I HATE YOU.

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HAAAAATE ALLLLLL OF YOUUUUUU.

I originally had a gallery wall the side of the room with the window, but took it down. I changed the layout of my room completely when I discarded some terrible Walmart bookcases.

Don’t buy Walmart guys; go to Target, or anywhere else.

The problem I had in my room with those bookcases, aside from being poor quality, was that every time I opened my door there would be the side of my shelves. That view was just no good; interrupted the floooowww~.

Getting rid of the bookcases really opened up the room. I had to fix the holes from the previous gallery wall, and paint over them, which took fooooooreeeeeeveeeerrrr. Here’s a little tip for smaller holes, though! Use a bar of soap to fill in the tiny holes, like so:

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Picture found on Pinterest

Totally works! Save you some hole-filler, or whatever that goop is called. Can you tell I’m sooooo DIY savvy? Ha!  (I am now informed it is called wall plaster….)

But if the holes are really large, definitely invest in wall goop. If it’s a huge hole, you’ll need to pack the hole with newspaper and then slather on the goop; most likely there will need to be multiple layers of goop. Be sure to utilize a scraper to get a flat even surface, then spray on some texturizer (found at hardware stores) and paint over everything.

To save some hole-making, I wanted to plan out the arrangement as well.  Momtastic does a fantastic tutorial using the butcher paper technique.

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She makes it look so easy. Probably is. I just… meh.

But this is the lazy way! Shortcuts all around!

I wanted this gallery wall to look nice on the wall, so I still had to plan things out. You can’t just start hanging things on the wall and hope that it turns out alright. The one time I did that, I got lucky…. There were a lot of holes to fill when I had to vacate that room, just wasn’t worth the trouble.

I still measured my wall so that I knew what my limits were. My wall is about 11 feet wide, and I can’t get an accurate measurement of the height (because I’m short and tape measures like to give up on me) but I’m pretty sure it’s around 9 feet. Once I figured out the area I could work in, I laid out my artworks on the ground to figure out how I wanted them to be grouped.

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Layout 1, before framing and editing. There are SO MANY pieces!!

Sorry for the blurriness, there’s only so much I can do with a phone camera and shaky hands. I still wish I had gotten a Nokia Lumia instead of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha….

Currently undergoing some reorganization as well… Unkempt bed, holes in the wall, blurry photos, reorganizing mayhem–I just come off as a hot mess, don’t I?

But don’t ignore the puzzle! Gaze upon it’s splendor! Admire it!

Can you tell I’m quite proud of my family’s puzzling hobby?

To hang the pictures, I tried to stay away from using too many nails (I learned my lesson). Use Command Strips instead!

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Cue the angel chorus~~~

Did you know you can actually cut the strips in half for smaller, lighter pictures? I just saved you moneys. 😀

After all that work laying it out, I couldn’t bring myself to hang it up. Something felt off, I was overwhelmed… there was just too much. 

I decided that I had waaaaay too many pictures for my wall and edited out several pieces. Some made their way to the boyfriend’s apartment, some went up in the room on other walls, some have been thrown into the dungeon (my closet), and the rest have been ditched.

What was left were arranged in this setup:

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Man, my camera does not do ANY artwork justice. UGH. Where did all the colors go??!

Aaaaand then I ordered an new Agnes Cecile print for Xmas… and also moved the artwork around… again.

THIS has been a year of planning, and it still hasn’t gone up. It’s now the holiday season and my pictures are still laying on the ground.

As for the wall that used to be a gallery wall that I mentioned previously, it now has shelves. That’s another “How-To, My Way… The Lazy Way.” If I get around to it. I probably won’t at least for the one that was done in my room, because: LIFE UPDATE, I may or may not be IN my room next year….

OOoooo, enigmatic phrasing…!

Just think on that a bit.

Until then!

List of Artwork

  1. Others’ Voices” print — Agnes Cecile
  2. Transparence” — me, professionally framed by Aaron Brothers
  3. Dark Side of the Firework” print — saltyshadow, no longer available
  4. ‘3D’ Blue Orchids drawing on black paper — me
  5. Rainbow Pixel Skull — DIY
  6. Femme 46” print — Aja ebsq on Etsy
  7. Mute Butterfly” print — Amy Judd
  8. The Golden Forest” print — Gustav Klimt
  9. “Blurred Sigh” — me

 

I Bought a Car… & a Cat! Some other things happened too.

Life update!

I bought a car!

Her name is Skelly.

She’s a 2018 Toyota Corolla SE, meaning Sports Edition. Never did I imagine purchasing anything remotely related to a sports car, but I did, I did. And I have no regrets!

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She looks exactly like this, minus the desert mountains. I’m in central Texas, the desert is out west, y’all. I’ve got tons of allergy-ridden cedar trees to look at/avoid out here.

Skelly is white, with “orange zest” interiors. Seriously, that was the description at the dealership! It’s black leatherette interiors with orange stitching. So zesty.

I named her Skelly because the colors remind me of Halloween, and being a white car associated with Halloween, I immediately thought of Jack Skellington.

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Love the Hamlet reference, Jack.

There’s more parts to this post, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. And it involves my second big purchase this month, considerably less money, but will probably be around longer than my car.

A new kitten!

We (the boyfriend and I) adopted him together from a local animal shelter in Austin. Originally my idea, not only did it take some convincing, but the adoption was a benefit of good timing. You see, my coworker was fostering a litter of kittens from a local shelter, and advertised around that if anyone needed kitten wellness (we have a stressful job), that we could come to her house and play with an adorable litter. She sealed the deal further by naming the kittens awesome names.

Thus, we were introduced to Bowser.

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Look at this majestic baby!!

He’s a gray, medium-haired, tabby, and is either chill and cuddly, or rambunctious and ornery; there is no in-between.

We absolutely fell in love with his little face, his fluffy mane, and his laid-back temperament. We had debated getting the runt of the litter, a black female named Sprite-to go with our current black cat named Sakura, but she was too active for the cat my boyfriend already owned. Sakura is nearly 3 years old. Bo’s had her for a year and several months before I met him. She didn’t take to me kindly, and would bite my toes while I slept. A year later, after much research, she now turns to me for comfort/warmth and will sit on my lap when I call.

We’re in the first month of adoption; Bowser and Sakura are finally playing. There is still some aggression from Sakura, but there is less growling and more chasing. We have to be careful though, because she may swipe and we don’t want her to get away with that; and Bowser keeps wanting to play with her so we have to separate them so Sakura doesn’t feel pestered all the time.

Lastly, the other thing that happened: I met my boyfriend’s families. I am so honored to be his first relationship he brought home (and hopefully the last relationship 😀 ). We traveled up to the New England area. We first started off in the Big Apple, where Bo’s workplace’s corporate office, and he met other members of his team. NYC was fun, OMG the MOMA was everything, but the most fun I had was in Massachusetts.

To name a few: we ate lobster, walked on a beach (yes, it was cold!), did a whale sight-seeing tour, and took a small plane ride over the state. It’s easy to fly over most of the state because it’s so small. I laughed and laughed when I found out it was a 45 minute drive to Maine–I’m from big ol’ Texas and takes 10 hours any direction to get out of here.

Seriously. HOURS.

My Instagram account has my favorite pics of the trip, but I dropped a bunch more here.

Enjoy!

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Chelsea & Bo’s Adventure in New England ^