Wriiiiiting.

Yesterday I was five thousand words behind on NaNoWriMo; I was around 18k when I should be around 23k. I’ve not written at all for about a third of the days out of this month; I’m in this pattern of binging on a large chunk of words, then the next day fasting and not writing anything or not even coming close to the NaNo suggested word count. But I got a second wind a few days ago and have been chasing hitting that grey line to catch up with where I should be.

This morning I woke up, cut out a bit of fabric, and then sat down at my computer to write. Instead I got caught up in Internet spiralling for about forty five minutes. Shameful. And typical.

Instead of beating myself up, I opened up Evernote (which is FANTASTIC for organizing novels) and told myself I need a thousand words before breakfast. A thousand words, before NaNo, seemed like a lot. Now it seems like almost nothing; in fact, it’s so little that I push myself to keep writing by doing it in increments of 1k. I’ll check my count and find I’m at, say, 17,850; and I push myself to go to 18k. What normally happens is that by the time I think to check my count again, I’m somewhere around 18,500. Which is only 500 away from that 19k mark, I tell myself, and 1k words isn’t that far to go to get there, so 500 is nothing…and that’s how I’ve been going.

This morning while writing, what seemed about 15 minutes after I’d opened up Evernote, I noticed my wrists and arms were aching horribly. “That’s weird,” I thought, “Did I strain them sewing yesterday?” I ignored it for a bit longer and then my hunger got the best of me. As I stopped typing I noticed how much my fingers and wrists hurt; in fact it was like my fingers were permanently curled over the keys. Weird, I thought again.

I checked my word count and nearly fell off the sofa. 23k!!!! I’d hit 23k!!! I’d written FIVE THOUSAND words. I checked the clock. I’d been writing for an hour and forty five minutes, non-stop. Time had *flown* by, absolutely flown.

I am so excited. I feel like the characters are writing themselves at this point, and the story is just coming to me and it’s fun to be writing it, to be hanging out with these people who feel at this point like they are real – they just needed some help getting into the world. I feel like a character midwife of sorts. Just bringing these people out into the world.

I feel like a writer.

Five thousand words! In an hour and forty five minutes! And I was having fun the entire time, wanting to be in the scenes, to be really immersed in the world. It was like a movie was playing in my head and I was just dictating what was happening onto my computer.

I could feel horribly doubtful tomorrow, or maybe not. But today I’ve already done 5k words and anything on top of that is just icing the cake.

In the words of Tobias Funke: Huzzah!

So close to catching that line!!!

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Posted in NaNoWriMo, writing | 3 Comments

A Little Here, a Little There: Endometriosis and Creativity.

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As most of you know, I have endometriosis. This is a disease that only affects women. Generally speaking, it is caused by the lining of the uterus detaching itself and implanting in places it doesn’t belong: on and in fallopian tubes, outside of the uterus, on the spine, peritoneum, lungs, etc. It can cause pain and a multitude of other unpleasant symptoms; yet some women have endo and have no pain. It’s a weird, complex disease. It’s basically a cancer that doesn’t kill you.

After five years of pain, I was diagnosed with endo in 2008 through laparoscopic surgery. Since that surgery six years ago, my disease has grown progressively worse. Where before it used to be only pain on my  period, now I have pain in one form or another throughout the month (the back pain is a particular kind of terrible). I also have limited energy to do all the things I need to do and want to do.

I have big plans for this month. Yesterday was not a great day for me. I carried a sewing machine about forty feet and was in pain for the rest of day. I shouldn’t lift heavy things but sometimes I forget this and my independent, stubborn side just screams “You don’t need no stinkin’ help!” and I do silly things like mop, and vacuum, and scrub the bathtub, even as my husband is saying “STOP STOP STOP” and then I hurt for a few days. Silly. Silliness. I’m twenty-five years old (soon to be 26) and I can’t mop a floor. Silliness. I’m twenty-five years old and don’t always ask for help. Silliness.

There is a bit of hope on the horizon for me: another surgery. But this time, the correct kind. The kind that will make me feel somewhat better. My specialist doctor says that he doesn’t think I’ll ever be pain free, but that he can drastically reduce the pain I do have. This is WONDERFUL news. He also says that I may need months of recovery and specialized medical care to get me back to functioning almost normally. The surgery is not a silver bullet. But it’s hope. And I haven’t had hope for a long time.

Back to yesterday. I was really upset with myself over how poorly I was feeling, upset that I lifted that damn machine when my whole body was telling me not to, upset that I hadn’t already had the surgery and was already through the long recovery phase so I could be at my best for Blue Genie. I was feeling incredibly down looking at all the work people are getting done for the show on Instagram; feeling upset that I couldn’t be powering through product after product and getting my display components completely ready in the way that other people are. It was a sad place to be and I broke the cardinal rule of the Internet: never go on a lifestyle-comparison spree on Instagram when you’re feeling badly.

But instead of completely wallowing in that self-pity, I only partially wallowed. I got up when I felt like I could and did one thing. Even if that one thing was: get the pincushion and put it on the table – I did that one thing. By the end of the day I had several pieces of fabric cut out for my new Jack Friday product, and a plan for today. In addition to that, I wrote just over 3 thousand words for NaNoWriMo. I just sat and typed when I felt like it: a little in the morning, a little before dinner, a little after dinner. And by the end of the day I had 3k to show for it.

I woke up this morning feeling a little bit better physically, and realized it is November 14. Just by doing a little here and a little there over the last two weeks, I’ve written over 17,000 words for my novel, which is more than I’ve ever written for one project, ever. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m going to have a book written by the end of the month and that is a goal I’ve had nearly my entire life; I’d just never had a plan before. I’ve designed and ordered parts for a whole new product, I’ve woven the fabric for that product, and I’ve cut out the parts for that product. In 14 days, by just doing a little here and a little there, I’ve achieved so much. It’s not what I used to be able to do, and it’s not all that I want to be able to do. But two years ago I was living by the thought that if I can’t do everything, I shouldn’t do anything.

This year I’m in Blue Genie and am writing a book. And those are beautiful things.

Posted in endometriosis, sustainable creativity | 6 Comments

NaNo and NaWeATTMo Update #1

I just broke 10,000 words on my novel! (And yes, I am behind by about 8k words).

I started a new novel instead of finishing one of the other two, and I am incredibly happy I did. It’s a mystery, and it’s pretty dark. I described the intricacies (ha) of the plot to Casey, who claims to hate creepy stuff and yet watches “Hannibal” regularly AT NIGHT WITH THE LIGHTS OUT; and it completely pinged on his “That is way fucking creepy and dark” meter which is great. If it freaks out my husband enough that he doesn’t want to read the book even in broad daylight, I’m getting somewhere.

It’s kind of amazing that the more I sit down to just. fucking. write each day, the more I have ideas. I think part of my reluctance to write is that I’m afraid I won’t come up with anything. But that doesn’t happen. The more I write the more ideas I have for the story, and the more it comes together. I started out with a creepy idea (based on a true story; not the outcome, but the outset) and had no idea where it would go. Now I have the main bones of it. It’s just a matter of sitting down and writing the scenes. It’s a little tedious, actually, but I’m forcing myself to do it. Man, it’s amazing how I can talk myself out of writing. And it’s so silly: I can easily clear 1k words in half an hour, and it’s really not that hard. It’s just a matter of putting myself in front of the computer and beginning. If it weren’t for Jessica doing NaNo too and my competitive side kicking in, well. I would have quit by now. But I have not! Even if I write twenty words in one day that’s okay. I just have to keep writing. I did 2k today, and want to clear another thousand before the day is out. It’s really not that many.

Weaving! I have my first bit of fabric done for the top secret project (ha again).

IMG_2057 I can’t believe Blue Genie Art Bazaar load-in is in TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY so yesterday I made a list of the things I absolutely need that would make me feel much better to have ASAP. Mostly this involves buying the stuff I need for my booth setup and getting all that ready. I do have tons of old product all ready to go, thankfully, and I’m really happy this show lasts for four weeks so I can continue weaving and adding things as time goes by. Hopefully I will NEED to restock. My expectations are to sell absolutely nothing. Needing a restock would be a dream come true.

I have two looms to dress, some sewing of the first new product to do, and 5k more words between today and tomorrow to write as a personal goal. I can do this.

Posted in jack friday, weaving | 2 Comments

November: NaNoWriMo + NaWeATTMo*

*National Novel Writing Month + National Weave All The Things Month

November!

Is the day after tomorrow!

All! The! Exclamation! Points!

Wow. November is going to be an exciting month. Blue Genie Art Bazaar begins, which means I have several personal deadlines for creating things. I currently have 31 Hound scarves, and 9 Lux scarves. I’d like to bulk that up a bit to 40-ish Hounds. And now I’m adding a new product that I am incredibly excited about. More later when I actually have something to show! You can follow along on my shop Instagram. Oh and now is a good time to mention that I will be, as usual, telling you all exactly how much money I make at Blue Genie. I feel like this sort of info and honesty is sorely missing from the crafting/art communities, so I like to do my part to change all of that.

How do I suddenly have all the energy for all the things? I don’t. Not really. I’ve just decided to push myself a little bit more. The last few months I’ve accidentally been doing too little, which has made me lose stamina, which has made me even more tired. So I’m trying to push back very gently. In addition to that, I might have found a solution for improving my endometriosis. It’s early days yet but I will write about it in time. I’m getting all the proverbial ducks in a row on that, so that’s a bit of a side project.

It’s nice, after being so sick for so long, to have a little hope. I’ve been carefully re-filling my days with things that need doing, trying to bridge that line between not exhausting myself and still finding fulfillment. This has come about through copious list-making, and just doing a little bit at a time on a lot of different things. I even knit an entire sweater in under two weeks! Yes, me. The queen of putting things off until they are perfect. This project has been a purposeful exercise in just fucking doing it and not stopping until it’s done. It’s been very good for me. I improvised the whole pattern. I didn’t frog anything. Not even once! I just went with it.

Now please enjoy a photo of that project in which I appear as a Dr. Seuss character (Casey: “You look very…long in this photo.” Ha! I do.). I haven’t blocked it yet, so the stitches are a little wonky. EMBRACING IMPERFECTION-ISM and just posting it anyway.

Knitted Rainbow Sweater

IN ADDITION to Blue Genie, dealing with my endometriosis, my part-time job, the tiny house, and just general life-stuff, I am excited to say I am doing NaNoWriMo for the first time! I blame my online soul sister Jessica (in a good way). Truth is, I’ve already begun two novels this year (my first ever), and I have a good plan for both of them. I was diligently working on them in July, but I let perfectionism get in my way, so I stopped working on them. Being a part of the NaNoWriMo community as well as having a friend for accountability (the aforementioned Jessica) seems like just the ticket to getting me back on track. I don’t know if it’s technically “allowed” to just keep working on a novel you’ve already started, but I gave up on rules a long time ago, so I don’t care. I’ll be picking one of them and working through the month of November to finish it. I think I only have 10k words so far on it anyway. That’s not nothing, but it’s also little enough that it will be quite enough to be getting on with for the month of November.

So, to recap: weave everything including a brand new product, get a booth setup together for Blue Genie, setup Blue Genie, closely monitor my health, support Casey with tiny house stuff, write a novel, and don’t forget the laundry.

This should be fun.

Posted in endometriosis, i made this, jack friday, knitting, weaving | 5 Comments

Tiny House Update: 24 October 2014.

Okay okay!

So much has happened over the last two months. We sat down, made a huge list of everything that needed doing, and then set to do it. Well, mostly Casey, but I’m support staff.

We hired someone to clear the land, put down a driveway and level the pad where the tiny house will sit. THIS WAS THE GREATEST DECISION WE HAVE EVER MADE. Ever. Ever. Four days of someone else working hard? Yes. Thank you. Four days of someone else with a Bobcat? Yes. Thanks. Go ahead. This would have taken us literal months on our own. Four days!

Things that have been done since my last update:

1) Land cleared: trees trimmed, ditch dug. (Hired out; Casey)

2) Power line from pole to cabin installed: proper gauge wire, conduit, etc. All courtesy of Casey.

3) Driveway pad! With pavers! For our car. (Hired out)

4) Tiny house pad! With crushed cement. (Hired out)

5) Garden space cleared!!! This is unexpected and entirely exciting. I can start to bring in organic material and build up the beds. (Hired out)

And drumroll please…

6) OUR HOUSE IS MOVED!! On our land! It has been moved to the land. By Casey, like a boss. I cried. I laughed! I freaked out. I have seriously been dreading this day since July 2012 when the flatbed trailer arrived. Casey took care of it all: renting the proper truck, calling out support staff for maneuvering directions, etc.

What’s weird is how different the house looks from far away. It’s been parked next to a shed on one side and a fence on the other this whole time, so pulling it out of that tight space…I literally thought “Whose house is that? That looks AMAZING!” I didn’t recognize it. I’ve never seen the roof before! The roof, the gorgeous roof.

I had to work so I couldn’t see the house being parked. But when Casey showed me the photo of it sitting on our land, looking like a Photoshop rendering instead of something real, I broke down crying. Big, heavy tears.

This is big. This is momentous. We are so, so close to living in this thing. What’s next? Getting power turned back on at our property. Installing the AC. Plugging in the house. Mudding the drywall. Painting walls and ceiling. Install flooring. Build cabinets. Install appliances. Move in.

I’m lame and having computer issues so go to my instagram and Casey’s to check out photos.

Posted in our tiny house | 7 Comments

Holga Film Pictures from 2010.

(I’m continuing to post the results of my very first batch of film rolls. All the film was taking between 2010-2013, and I just now overcame my fear and had them developed. Now I’m sharing).

I bought my 35mm Holga (affiliate link) while I was working at Anthropologie. The store was trashed from Labor Day customers, it was late afternoon, and two girls walked in holding a brightly colored Holga. I asked them about it. They told me they had just purchased it at Urban Outfitters on sale. I spent 20 minutes of my precious dinner break that night running over to the other side of the mall. I found my Holga upstairs under a pile of Magic 8 balls. It was $30 on sale, minus my 40% Urban Outfitters employee discount (Urban owns Anthro).

It’s mostly been sitting in my closet collecting dust since. But I did use it in the weeks afterward, and promptly forgot all about it.

I have only one memory of taking these: I do recall pulling out my hot pink, plastic, 35mm Holga for a brief few moments during my very first Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM. A few days after I took these pictures Casey proposed to me in an Earthship. Great days.

The only information I had about the Holga was that the camera performed its best in bright, Sunny 16 exposure situations. That is definitely right.

All photos below on a 35 mm Holga with expired, off-brand, 35mm color film.

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Balloon Fiesta Holga 35mm

Posted in film, photography | 4 Comments

Bass Pro Shop

Here’s more from my first batch of film. These photos were a joy to discover. They made me laugh. They’re sort of like a really dark, creepy movie. Hannibal-esque.

Everything below was shot on a Mamiya Sekor DTL 1000 with a 55mm f 1.4 lens on off-brand, expired 35mm film.

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Posted in film, photography | 2 Comments

Blue Genie Art Bazaar 2014.

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Remember my weaving shop?

It’s sat a little dormant this year as I’ve focused on my health and getting back to simpler forms of earning money (in the form of an incredibly wonderful, flexible, part-time job). In late August, I received an email from Blue Genie Art Bazaar that applications were closing soon. After my Chicago Renegade experience last year, I knew that I wasn’t interested in doing any more shows where I had to schlep materials across the country and sit for two, ten-hour days praying that I might make some money and come out ahead.

But Blue Genie is different. It’s an Austin tradition, a show where each artist sets up what is essentially a little pop-up shop. Blue Genie provides the staffing and the registers; they take care of point of sale stuff. It runs for a month (November 28-December 24 this year), and each day is open for twelve full hours (10AM-10PM). All the artists have to do is set up their shop at the beginning of the show and check back in periodically to re-stock and tidy up their display.

I first heard about the show in December 2012 (far past the application date). I vowed to apply in 2013, which I did, despite knowing from other artists that it took them several years to get into the show. I applied, and didn’t make it. This year, I thought, “I have a ton of back-stock from last year’s extravaganza-weave-athon, and the worst I have to lose is $35 for the jury fee.” Spoiler alert: I probably wouldn’t be writing this post if I didn’t get in. And I did get in!

I was 99% certain I wouldn’t. But I did. I’m really glad I made the leap and I know it was the right decision to participate in this show. Who knows if I’ll make any money but it’s worth a shot. And this time around I’m going in with experience, low-expectations, and excitement instead of desperation. I’m already having fun designing my booth. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. I will keep you posted!

The plan now is to go double-check my inventory. Unlike last year, where I wove my fingers off at the last minute, I plan on adding a few more scarves over the next few weeks but not killing myself trying to build up an enormous inventory. I may also add a few smaller products like notecards with pictures of my own woven cloth on them, just to have something small and easily reproducible to offer. The great news is that unlike previous years, I already have tags, branding, a website, hundreds of business cards, etc. I won’t be scrambling like I have in the past.

I’m also following my gut. Instead of blindly trying to add new products, trying to guess what people are interested in and frantically trying to make “sellable” things that anyone might want to buy, I’m sticking with what feels good to me. I know now that people either want my stuff or they don’t. Price doesn’t matter: if someone wants it, they’ll pay for it.

It’s nice to have some relaxed confidence.

Posted in craft fair advice, jack friday, small business, weaving | 2 Comments

My First Film Rolls.

Okay so for everyone who has been waiting for my first film rolls to be posted on here (all none of you)…apologies. I finally, finally FINALLY got up the nerve to get these rolls developed. It sounds so silly, but I wasn’t sure what was on half the rolls, and I was really embarrassed to have them developed.

Growing up many things came easily to me. Because of that, instilled within my brain was this idea that life was about just naturally being good at things, not working hard to be good at things. I’ve been working on overcoming that idea for the last few years. Film photography? I didn’t know what I was doing when I shot these. I’ve shot mostly on manual off and on for a couple of years on DSLRs, but with no confidence. I was always doing what Jonathan Canlas calls “chimping:” taking a shot, then checking the screen. I never saw what I liked when I shot people, so that’s why 99.99999% of my photographs are of not people.

Anyway, I finally shipped five rolls of 35mm film (one roll of 35mm Portra 400, the other four rolls off-brand expired 35mm) to Indie Film Lab. And the scans came in yesterday. There were rolls in there that I shot on my 35mm Holga (who knew?) as well as a really terrible roll from my Diana+ camera that I sold years ago (gee, even before getting the film developed for it apparently?) The other three were all taken with my grandfather’s Mamiya Sekor DTL 1000, a steel and glass masterpiece of a camera he purchased in 1968 or thereabouts. That camera has been all over the world.

Anyway shut up shut up and get to the pretty stuff. Because some of it was pretty! Most of it was mediocre. And some of it was stunning. Most of the good ones deserve their own sort of grouping in a photo essay, so I’ll do that later (I’m in bed with a head cold today and not up to doing much beyond this).

For now, though, I want to share these, because I was terrified of shooting people, even my husband. But then these came in (all of these are the cheap, basic scans with no post-processing from IFL).

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(Both of these shot on the Mamiya Sekor DTL 1000 + 55 mm 1.8 lens with expired 35mm film).

I’m not afraid any more. Film: you have my heart.

Posted in film, photography | 2 Comments

Tiny House Update!

(This draft was written August 25th, but I’m publishing it now anyway. Enjoy the late update!).

Two weeks ago I realized a big part of why I was discouraged at doing any work on the tiny house was this: even if we finished 100% of the house tomorrow, there is still a butt-load of work to be done on the land before we could move the tiny house TO the land.

Like:

-Dig up the power cord to the cabin and encase it in PVC, then re-bury it.

-Put an RV plug on the light pole.

-Weed whack the 2-foot-high grass.

-Move the rock fence to make room for the tiny house to come through.

-Level the ground where the tiny house will go.

-Move a tree (I’m like 99% sure it’s a mountain laurel, which is heartbreaking because mountain laurel are my absolute favorite, but we’ll plant another one if we can’t transplant it).

Then it hit me: we need to prep the land first. Then we can move the house. Somehow this makes me want to work on the tiny house again, knowing that the land is fully ready for us.

Another realization coincided with this thought: after the drywall is hung up and mudded, the flooring will go in. We were planning on doing this while the tiny house is still at our build site (my boss’ second driveway, bless their patience), but I realized that we can’t install hardwood floor in a non-AC house. The AC has to go in first. But we can’t put the AC in until we move the house to the land, because we need to plug the house into an RV plug, which is only located on our property (once we install it anyway).

A plan fell into place based off of these requirements, and while that may not sound like a big deal, I assure you, it is. It’s really hard to stay on task while building a tiny house, when all the decisions are totally up to you. Having parameters, even as simple as “Sorry folks, you can’t put the floor in until the AC is hooked up, and you can’t hook up the AC until it’s on the land.” And suddenly, we were back in business.

Weekend before last, we loaded up our car with garden tools stolen from my parents’ garage with big plans to simply weed whack the area above the line, “pull up” the old power line (rest assured, there is currently no power going to the property at all so we felt comfortable doing this), encase it in PVC, drop it back in the earth, and ta-da! All done.

On the drive up there, Casey decided he wanted to replace the power line entirely. Which is totally fine. And it went from “replacing would be a good thing to do” to, after digging it up, “holy crap, this old line is spliced and DUCT TAPED together underground, of COURSE we are replacing it.”

We weed whacked. Casey dug up the old janky line, and then decided to dig an 18″ deep and two foot wide, forty-foot long trench in rocky, South Texas “soil.” Loooong story short, we have now made three trips out to the property, one of which was with a friend who was the BIGGEST help ever, and now Casey is only two feet away from being finished with digging.

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Ah, all these tiny house projects. “Just dig a trench” seemed like a, oh, four to six hour project. Hahahaha!

HAHAHAHAHAHA.

I also mopped the nasty cabin floors. We’re probably going to gut the place anyway when it’s all said and done, especially since that’s the only way to know if the electrical wiring is duct taped in the walls, too. Eep.

Meanwhile, over at the tiny house…

My health is crap for at least 50% of the month, guaranteed, sometimes more than 50%, so I have to take advantage of my energy when I have it for use as I have had it this last week. So far I have used it to: weed whack a ton of the land, pick up garbage on the property, mop the nasty floors of the cabin, and trim a bunch of the trees there.

Then last Friday, I decided to wash the siding of the tiny house to prep it for painting.

Then I spent two hours in Lowe’s getting paint, painting supplies, stain for the wood siding on the porch, etc. Two hours! Two hours. For about a minute I was irritated at how long everything was taking and then I realized, “What else would I be doing today? This is the best use of my time, even if it takes awhile.” And it was. Because today, I was able to wake up and head out before it was oven-hot and I painted part of the house! I painted it!

This is literally the first time in the history of tiny tiny house where one of us managed to do eight hundred times more than we expected. I told myself when I woke up this morning that if all I could do today was just get putty in the nail holes on the lower half (non-ladder-half) of the house, then it would be a win. Well, I did that in about 30 minutes. And then I started painting. And painting. And painting. And then I really got the hang of it and four hours later, the house looked like this:

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There is no trim up yet on the corners but whatever. That’s easy to install and paint later. That’s Casey’s job.

This is where we stand with things that need doing in the next four weeks (deadline September 30th-ISH, gah, all this takes so much longer than we plan):

LAND

1) Finish digging the trench. Install new cable safely wrapped in PVC. Re-bury cable.

2) Install RV plug on property.

3) Have land-clearers come out and dig up tree, trim big branches, and level out a space for the tiny house.

TINY HOUSE

1) Finish painting exterior.

2) Run a few new tech-y wires in the walls. Finish hanging drywall and backer board.

3) Install porch ceiling. Stain it, ideally.

4) MOVE IT. Find a truck and tow it up to our property. Put it in place, level it out, and install the AC. Have power turned on at property. Hook up AC.

Then a million things after that but it will be MOVED and that will be awesome.

And like I said at the beginning of this post, this is progress as of August 25. So maybe in two weeks I will have the update as of today, September 13. It is nice to look at all this and realize we have made huge strides since then! In fact, for a sneak peak of what the drywall looked like a week ago, go here to my husband’s blog for pictures.

Posted in our tiny house, Uncategorized | 4 Comments