Gender education — Druid Life

Kids are not led astray by knowing more about the breadth of human possibility. You don’t turn people gay by telling them that gay exists. What you do is save them from having to live either as outsiders, or trying to fake being something they are not.

Gender education — Druid Life

This is why visibility is so, so important. That pervasive feeling of being a square peg in a round hole until you go to college and realize there are all kinds of…

Okay, I was going to say all kind of holes for all kinds of pegs, but that seems raunchier than it did in my head, so let’s just abandon that metaphor here and now.

Anyway, that feeling of not quite fitting in and not really knowing why sucks. And I say that as a cis, white, mostly-lesbian. I can’t imagine what that disconnect feels like for trans kids and other marginalized groups. The building block of consciousness is the self-reflective “I am,” and if you don’t have the vocabulary or even the vague concepts to complete that statement then… that sucks.

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IWSG February 2019

I missed posting this on time, but whatever. Here’s my answer for the Insecure Writer’s Suport Group prompt.

Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

Writing has been my main creative outlet for a long, long time — second only to daydreaming, probably, which is absolutely where my drive to write started. Some of my other creative hobbies have, similarly, come out of writing, and others have come in on their own.

Drawing

I guess I’ve always been a doodler, always been very fussy about my crayons and color pencils and markers. For a long stretch I didn’t do anything with those because I was too much of a perfectionist, and the colors weren’t going down consistent enough. Have you ever looked at something you colored in with a Crayola marker and didn’t like it because the pen strokes were at slightly different angles or overlapped to much and made a dark/light/dark stripe effect? That sort of thing. Anyway, in college I ended up taking a life drawing class and I loved the control of graphite, the messy straightforwardness of charcoal, and, omg, my fave, coloring in a sketch with watercolor.

But oddly enough, what really made me feel like an “artist” was making fanart comics. And because I’m a fan of the economy of simple lines (and I can’t draw backgrounds for the life of me, lol), I got into the habit of drawing stick figure comics. While it wasn’t exactly High Art, it was a really entertaining way to convey a story. And I did do other, mostly watercolor based fanart as well.

Baking

For some reason, my grandma and I are the only people in my family who seem to really enjoy making pies. I probably started because of the apple tree in my parents’ backyard, and because I knew my dad’s friend Jane also baked and was willing to share her pie dough recipe with me. (A few years after doing so she made me cry over not refrigerating the dough in the right shape… and that, more or less, is why she’s not invited to my wedding this summer. Life’s to short to make a nineteen year old cry over spheres vs disks, come on.)

I do follow recipes. I think partly because I started in baking, where ratios and things tend to be Very Important, but also because I’d rather produce something tried and edible than an experimental disaster. The more I learn about spices and different flours and lower carb options, the more I’ve become willing to experiment. Started with tweaking the spiced sugar mix on the apples, and so far I’m up to subbing a mix of almond and coconut flours for regular flour because my grandpa has celiacs. (Coconut flour burns, like, at the drop of a hat though, so maybe I’ll do a 3:1 blend or something next time.) And, branching out from this, there’s also…

Cooking

Again, I follow recipes. But I spend a lot of time googling substitutions. My spice rack grows in fits and starts, but if I don’t have something I’ll try something else instead.

There’s a thrill in trying a new recipe and discovering a new favorite. I’ve made keto tortillas several times, made cauliflower fried rice a lot, made a keto French onion soup not often enough because it’s amazing. There’s a pride in creating edible things. And I’ve even started collecting the recipes I tend to reuse into my own recipe binder for future, plastic-sheet-protected reference. Someday it might even rival the massive Holiday Recipes cookbook my grandma gave me one Christmas (each of the grandkids got one) with every cookie, candy, chocolate, and brittle recipe she has (and possibly also my great granny had) ever made.

Plus, getting more into cooking has allowed me to get more into healthy foods, and it feels really good to have kept off the thirty pounds I lost last year. Hashtag confidence boost.


Overall, I think a creative outlet is something that should boost you up. Having a finished product afterwards is nice, but not always necessary because it’s more about how you feel. Like, clearing out the cobwebs and putting good, accomplished feelings in their place.

A Bunch of Months In Review: Fall & Winter 2018

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’m dusting the cobwebs off this blog as best I can, in the form of a review.

Writing

I have a confession to make… I didn’t do NaNoWriMo this year, breaking my three year streak. It was a hard choice, but I’m still underemployed — my weekend job is juuuuust shy of paying my half of the rent — and I needed to focus on applying to jobs and doing freelance writing. The latter is going well. I’ve made $30 so far, and it’s just a matter of gathering my remaining brain cells between holidays to do more. The former is going… Yeah. It’s just going. I had a few interviews last week and I’m still waiting to hear back on both. One is full time with benefits and would be so much fun, according to my inner foodstuffs marketing nerd, plus the company is international which bodes well for maybe moving abroad someday. So, fingers crossed.

As far as writing goes, I’ve been creating fanfiction works somewhat regularly. It’s fun, it helps me keep my edge, and the community aspect of fandom is always a source of entertainment. Side bonus: in doing so, I’ve also got a front row seat in watching tumblr sink itself with the staff’s new ban on “female presenting nipples.”

Planning

In wedding news, we have sent out our save the dates! Most of them, anyway. With a few stragglers still letting us know their current mailing address, there will be another small round going out this week, and then that’s all done. We’ve also signed a catering contract and it’s a huge relief. Yesterday the wedding planner came over for a Facetime with a potential DJ who, considering she knew exactly what I meant by “White Horses by The Rolling Stones except the specific cover that was on the prom episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” definitely has the job. Now it’s on design, wedding website final touches, figuring out a couples shower date that works for some key people, etc etc. (If my mom has a bell concert schedule conflict with this one like she did with the engagement party, I am going to lose my shit. But that’s another story.)

Making

Courtesy of my work’s Thanksgiving potluck, I got to take a turkey carcass home and make stock from it. It’s funny, considering I went off to college unaware you could actually just buy stock (thanks Dad), but this is the first time I’ve done it. The other night I used some to make keto onion soup, and it was excellent — though certainly different, considering I usually use plain chicken stock from the store instead of turkey stock that was made with rosemary and thyme simmering in there.

The thing about being my father’s daughter, though, is that he obsessively freezes and vacuum seals this sort of thing in very specific portions. I just sort of used whatever tupperware I could find, and didn’t thaw anything in advance because pfft, that would require being organized. So I actually used two cups more than the onion soup recipe actually called for… Whatever. It turned out fine. It’s just that next time I’m going to have to pick between the giant brick of stock or the teeny tiny cylinders of stock, and I don’t know how much volume any of the containers hold. Fun!

Anticipating

Six parts Christmas, half a dozen parts the wedding.

My family has a… complicatedly haphazard system of demanding Christmas lists from everyone and then claiming different gifts via email sound-off. This year my list was basically gift cards, no socks, and no aprons. (I have so many aprons. Do I ever actually wear aprons? Nope.) However, since we sent our save the dates, including a link to our wedding website, people already have access to our registry and someone, somewhere, has purchased a flame colored Le Creuset casserole dish that I am Very Excited About.

I have one Le Creuset pot already and I have never known love of a piece of cookware like this.

Reading

Currently I’m relistening to Clariel by Garth Nix in the car, and when I’m done with that I’ll listen to Goldenhand again. I’d explain why, but technically that would be spoilers.

But I just added a new audiobook to my collection this week, for the first time in a while — Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.

Watching

We always have something on, once we clicked into holiday season mode my fiancé started playing all the Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and now Christmas episodes of Friends, That 70’s Show, and occasionally Fraiser.

Did you know that Friends, in all ten seasons, only ever did one explicitly Halloween episode??

Also, if you haven’t seen The Haunting of Hill House, I recommend watching it twice. Once for the story/context/family drama, and again so you can catch all the hidden hints and the ghosts staring at you from the background of almost every scene.

Feeling

Happy, but slightly restless. I need a job. I need… a project?

I’ve focused a lot on self-improvement this year, with going keto and making more of my own food and losing weight and attending Mindful Eating classes at the local health center. I’ve been using my Fitbit to keep track of how much I sleep, how much water I drink, and how often I get up and move around, to make sure it’s enough. (Protip: The feature that’s kept me the most tuned in is Hourly Activity. You set the range of hours you want to be active get a dot for every hour you take at least 250 steps.)

I think part of why I’m restless is because I haven’t been creating as much as I’d like. I need to get back to working on my original novels — though there’s nothing that says I can’t still noodle around with fanfiction on the side. 😛

Needing

To hear back from the places I interviewed with last week…! I sent a follow-up email yesterday to the place I’m really hopeful about and got an “out of office until Dec 10” reply, so maybe that’s all the delay is about.

I just. I owe my parents a lot of money while they’re also paying for half of the wedding, my credit card bill is ridiculous… That’s all the debt I have, at least, but I’m anxious to be able to chip away at it more effectively.

Loving

The holiday season. My fiancé is an excellent decorator. Today he has promised that he will do the tree, which basically means he plans to spend several hours lovingly wrapping every single branch of our seven foot tall live tree in string lights. This is not a requirement I have set for him, it’s all his doing. He and his mom are obsessed. However, the results will be beautiful and cozy, so I’m just going to sit back and revel in the joy of not being required to help.

Hating

How many different, ahem, political and/or public figures that I could mention in this section of the review. But I won’t.

No, what I chose to side-eye with seething dislike is the way my family treats my uncle. Now, admittedly, he is a few cards short of a full deck sometimes, but I hate the way certain people openly act so done with him. It’s like an attempt to publicly shame him into better behavior or something? I don’t know. I’ve had some rocky relationship stuff with my fiancé, similar enough on the mental health front that I can understand the deeply embedded frustration and sadness and anger and helplessness of it all, but I would never wear that so openly on my sleeve and vent all the crap until the crap is all anyone else knows about.

If anyone is going to take anything from the cryptic paragraph above, please… please let it be that kindness is a virtue, especially towards someone who is struggling with some deep shit. Even if they’re a pain in the ass.

Hoping

For better things. Better political leaders, in the US and elsewhere. Fewer wildfires. More compassion. More creativity. More sustainability. Lower carbs, lol.

And that my wedding dress will fit! I have lost thirty pounds since February — I just got my official 30 lbs badge from Fitbit this past week — and I want to shave off a little bit more.


As always, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do with this blog. Perhaps I’ll start sharing some of the random things I find as I go through my drafts on tumblr — prompts, interesting images, worldbuilding ideas, that sort of thing. I’ve got to back that stuff up, just in case that ship finally sinks.

Wishing you all a happy and as drama free as possible holiday season!

What’s up with all these Weddings?

In the past two months, I’ve been to one bachelorette and three weddings, while in the midst of taking the first major steps into planning my own.

In some ways it feels like I’m on an episode of Four Weddings — a reality show where four brides attend each other’s weddings, rate them, and the one with the highest score gets a free honeymoon. I don’t watch this very often because, you know, it’s a reality show. The contestants can be very bitchy and backstabby sometimes because, duh, they really want to win. But sometimes you get a good episode that feels a little more wholesome and almost like the ladies could actually be friends after filming is over, which is nice.

Anyway, after attending all these weddings, I’ve come away with a few observations — a compare and contrast, if you will, of what other people wanted for their celebrations that I do not. Out of all of these, I really only have one “what’s up with that” bone to pick and I’ll get that out of the way first.

MY WEDDING WANTS

  • I absolutely want to go around to every table during the wedding dinner, thanking people for coming. At two of the three weddings I attended, the couples didn’t do this and it seemed odd. To be fair, one of them had several days of events leading up to it where the couple did have the opportunity to talk with everyone at least for a few minutes. But, um, if you’ve put some family friends at table 9, they’re going to feel like an afterthought if you don’t at least come say hello on the day. (We’re not doing that kind of seating arrangement, but still.)
  • I don’t want a sweetheart table, head table, or anything like that. My fiancé and I have known for a while that we want long farm tables, ideally just one long one but two if we have to, and a family style dinner rather than plated service. We can do this because we have a sixty to seventy person guest list; the three weddings we’ve been to this year have all been closer to a hundred or one hundred fifty.
  • I want realistic vows. I don’t want flowery, poetic “I’ll be yours forever and a day” fluff. I want, “we’ve been through a lot and I’ve got your back.” I want the occasional chuckle from the assembled guests. I want real world statements that actually mean something. I want to feel the love, not feel like I’m watching a poorly done chick flick.
  • I don’t want a ton of flowers. Bouquets for the ceremony are a separate thing, but other than that I don’t want to blow too much on florals. For one thing, they don’t last and it seems wasteful. For another, we have a pretty tight budget and it will be better spent on amazing venue and spectacular food. For yet another, big arrangements at the dinner table doesn’t work well with family style, because of all the dishes being passed hither and yon. Have you ever been to a party where the centerpiece gets in the way of even seeing the person sitting across from you, much less talk to them? What we want instead is greenery with occasional pops of color — all colors, because as a queer couple we’re dead set on a rainbow theme.
  • I don’t want both rings held by someone on the groom’s side. My “person of honor” will be my brother, and I want him to be the one to hand me the ring I put on my fiancé’s finger. At all the weddings we’ve attended this year, the Best Man had both rings and passed the groom’s ring over through the officiant. Nah. I want my bro to feel like, “I’ve got this.”
  • I wish we could do fireworks! But we’re in a wildfire danger zone (thanks Northern California), and cant even have sparklers. But, the wedding we attended in the French countryside (it wasn’t exactly a destination wedding, both the bride and groom are French and have family in the area) had the most AMAZING firework show in between the main course and dessert. We will have to be content with a bubbles and glow sticks sendoff, or something to that effect.
  • I don’t need an official videographer, but I absolutely want to designate a family member or two as the iPhone videographer for vows and speeches. It doesn’t need to be professional, but I do want to remember those moments in their full-motion glory.

That’s all I can think of at the moment. Not very many things, but the impact they’ll have on our big day ranges from kinda big to very significant. Some I already knew — but the rest, I am so grateful to have thought of. Attending weddings while planning your own is a fantastic source of inspiration!

Overcoming our own thoughts

Overcoming our own thoughts

https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2018/05/26/overcoming-our-own-thoughts/
— Read on druidlife.wordpress.com/2018/05/26/overcoming-our-own-thoughts/

This raises a very good point about internal vs external sources of stress and anxiety.

When I’m going through a rough patch, I sometimes have a hard time sorting out how much is in my head/body responses and how much is in my environment. Often, I’ve found, it’s both, and they feed on each other and get all tangled up. The first step is sorting out which is which.

Where do I start?

So many things have happened recently.

First, I finished the A to Z Challenge! I didn’t always post on time, but the nature of my theme kind of made that inevitable.

Second, it’s May. I was born in May. Sometimes my birthday falls on Mother’s Day, which is always annoying, but this year it’s the day after.

Third, MY PARTNER PROPOSED.

It was always the plan, and I definitely had a voice in picking the ring design, but I didn’t know when, where, or how. Afterwards there was an engagement party that doubled as my thirtieth birthday party, and it was absolutely lovely.

Fourth, I woke up at 7am today because I had to go to the DMV and renew my driver’s license before it expires on Monday. I got to the DMV at 8am and was able to leave again at about 1pm. BUT…

Fifth, while I was at the DMV I got a very important email from a winery I’ve been interviewing with. I am now in the wine industry part time! Probably just weekends. I’m also applying to full time things because, uh… I’ve got some time to make up for and I’m not currently opposed to the idea of pulling a lot of hours so I can pay my parents back for the money they’ve lent me in these past several months.

That is my update. I am still recovering from the DMV, so… ta.

#AtoZChallenge — Zusak and Zazz

 

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.” ― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Monday Morning Wisdom #152: Z is for Zusak, ARHtistic License


As Melissa Barker-Simpson puts it, “Our minds wander, it’s just the way it is. Sometimes we zone out by choice, by necessity, or because we don’t even realise we’re doing it.” As writers, our words occasionally do the same thing.

tumblr_lu7sfdzagc1qdhxyeo1_500
(gif source)

What I’ve learned from participating in NaNoWriMo is that when the word(s) I want wander off while I’m otherwise on a roll, it helps to just put in some temporary filler and keep on going. If the filler lacks zazz I can highlight it and make Future Me deal with that problem later, but for the sake of momentum I can save making the words absolutely right for the editing process. … I have a problem with finishing long stories sometimes.

 

On that note, I haven’t finished my Camp NaNoWriMo project but I did hit my 50k goal. I started the month with about 36k, so it’s not as impressive as it could be, but I’m quite pleased because I kept getting stuck on stuff in chapter six. Eventually I will finish it and go back to do a lot of editing. Gotta make sure it brings the zazz.

And now I’ve also finished the A to Z Challenge, woohoo!

 

#AtoZChallenge — Your happy place

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Find your happy place. This could be anything that gives you happiness. For me, my happy place is Harry Potter fanfictions. I have been a Potterhead ever since I read my first book. I took this craze to another level when I started reading fanfictions. (A fanfiction is a fiction written by a fan presenting his own PoV and his plot within the main storyline). I have never failed to read a few pages of a fanfic in the last 20 months.

You are in charge of your life, Musings of a Mother


My fall-back happy place is fandom participation. Mostly I write fanfics, and occasionally I do doodles — either way, I create. I do a lot of reading too, and commenting, and replying to comments, and feeling like part of a community. It’s constructive validation, because there’s always a special niche of people who will read what you want to write.

I am definitely in charge of my life. I’m broke and in debt to my parents, but I still have my freedom and make my own decisions. Sometimes those decisions gravitate towards being at home with my cats… because I’m an introvert anyway and why not spend my recharge time with furry little goofbutts.

When I quit my job back in August, it was because I was miserable. I’d seen my dad go through that for years, at a similar kind of job too, and I didn’t want to go down that dusty road. It was a hard decision, but it was one I had to make for my own sake and ultimately I still don’t regret it. Without my partner supporting me, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to leave without something else already lined up, and the problem with that is I was always to exhausted at the end of the day to job hunt for something better.

Support systems are pretty damn important. Without support, it would have taken me a lot longer to limp back to my happy place!

#AtoZChallenge — Xeriscape

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


X is the dreaded letter of this challenge, and frankly I was shocked when I started scrolling through the A to Z tag and found one I’d never seen before almost immediately.

Xeriscaping refers to the conservation of water through creative landscaping.

It was developed for drought-afflicted areas, but in today’s world it is gaining more momentum. It’s in wide use all over the world.

Derived from the Greek xeros meaning “dry,” the term means literally “dry landscape.”

X for xeriscape, Pragun’s Panchtattwa

This is the ideal for our little patch of the backyard. Currently it’s full of weeds that, I swear, are taller than me, but sometime soon we are going to get out there and whip it into shape. (In the meantime, it’s a relief that we have a fence to have our shame.)

2018-02-01 15.28.02-1California has been in a drought for years. Many suburban front yards have jumped on the xeriscaping bandwagon with rock gardens, and those that haven’t, we judge as we drive past. It’s what you do. And though the state is now in a weird drought-then-flooding-then-drought-then-flooding pattern, it’s becoming more and more clear that climate change is only going to make more intense.

Because of the warming atmosphere, the type of storms that produced the record flooding 156 years ago will probably be three to four times more frequent by the end of this century. That means San Francisco and Los Angeles are more likely than not to see an 1862-style deluge by 2060, according to the research published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change.

Such a series of storms, involving about 40 days of punishing rain, would become more of a 50-year event — a 1-in-50 chance of happening in any given year, the authors figure. …

The rapid shift last year from a five-year drought to an extraordinarily wet winter is a taste of the whiplash that the authors expect more of. Northern California is projected to see 25 percent more of these dramatic transitions, and Southern California will see 100 percent more.

SF Chronicle

So the drought is likely to continue, in an it’s-complicated-on-Facebook sort of way. Which means I need to find out…

What kinds of cacti and other succulents are cool with both drought and flooding?

#AtoZChallenge — We have labels

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Our world is impossibly complex and often quite dangerous, it helps to have a system that can quickly process what kind of thing you are looking at and react appropriately. Categorization helps us make sense of a world where quick decisions have to be made, and a large amount of information has to be processed. It’s also a pretty reliable system for helping us get through situations that we may have not faced by providing a reference and a good guess. If you’ve seen a brown bear, you’ll have some idea of how to respond to a polar bear. If you’ve seen a mountain lion, you know that a tiger is dangerous. …

We have labels for what a man is supposed to be, what a woman is supposed to look like, how black people behave, what jobs a 60-year-old is capable of learning, what opportunities a poor person deserves, whether or not Muslims can be Americans. Our labels and categories help us understand our world, but they also put limits on it too. We aren’t good at seeing the shades, the subtlety, or continuity. We aren’t good at seeing the variation between two individual examples of a thing.

Kinds, Zen & Pi


I was reading Lisa’s post, quoted above, and it makes sense. Evolution has prepped us to categorize things on the fly, and in modern society that doesn’t always work well.

One thing people aren’t always good at recognizing is sexual orientation. Bisexuals and pansexuals get the brunt of this because, regardless of who they’re with, at first glance there are parts of their orientation that are always going to be invisible. Couples with one or more trans person might, on the surface pass as heterosexual, erasing their queerness, or if the trans person(s) doesn’t “pass” to the viewer’s standards then there’s several kinds of erasure there too. If someone says “partner” and the listener assumes that automatically means a same sex relationship — which could be true, and/or it could mean that the couple prefers the word as an acknowledgement that they are both equals in the relationship.

Everyone wants to be seen as more than just a first impression, as more than just a bookcover to be judged by. We may not be wired that way but we can, by virtue of self-awareness, train our brains to do more than just what evolution wired us for. We’re a social species, and we can adapt.

We can ask what pronouns people use.

Parents can ask their kids what synonym for “partner” they’d prefer used in the family holiday letter.

Before you hug someone, you can ask if they’re cool with hugs because, for example, someone with OCD might spend the rest of the day quietly but frantically going over and over and over it in their head for the rest of the day.

You can’t just see these kinds of things. Sometimes, you really just have to ask.