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Project 365: Days 102-108

It’s Tuesday night as I put this post together, and I’ll be honest with you: I’m feeling cranky as hell. I just got my new tattoo done on Monday, and it’s in a very inconvenient spot for, well, functioning. I almost didn’t do this post on time because I was dreading trying to maneuver my arm just right, but here it is in all its–well, not quite glory. But you get what I mean.

Too Faced Peanut Butter and Honey Eyeshadow Palette102/365: I finally picked up the Too Faced Peanut Butter & Honey eyeshadow palette, and while I wasn’t terribly impressed at first, it has grown on me. I think the colors have had better pigmentation now that I’ve softened up the shadows a bit. Plus, it smells delicious, and the packaging is frickin’ adorable as heck.

Crayola crayons103/365: I spent a lot of time organizing random things last week, and my crayons were one of them. I got it into my head that they should be organized by color, so I made a bit of a rainbow in the boxes. I also have a smaller box of 24 that holds the grays, browns, and blacks.

sleeping Charles104/365: Sorry not sorry for all the cat photos throughout the weeks. He’s just so damn cute!

robin's egg blue BMW motorcycle105/365: Over the weekend, Dan bought himself a second bike–not this one–to use for parts on his everyday  bike. This is one of my favorites at the shop he goes to, though, and since I’d brought my camera with me, I had to get a photo because the color is just beautiful.

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner and Free Stallion by Amber Tamblyn106/365: New books! I decided this was the perfect month to finish up my Amber Tamblyn poetry collection, and I finally treated myself to Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner as well. I loved The Scorpion King last year, so I’m excited to read this one asap.

Bikini Kill tattoo107/365: Admittedly a cheat photo. The entire middle of my Monday was spent sitting in a tattoo chair getting this done, so by the time I was finished I had hardly the energy to take a photo with my dSLR. Instead, you’ve got the cell phone pic of my newest tattoo after I took the wrapping off. I could say a million things about this piece, and in fact I plan to do a blog post on it in the next few weeks to tell you just how much it means to me.

Disney tsum tsums and X-Files Funko POP! figures108/365: And lastly, my growing collection of tsum tsums. Guys, I’ve gone deep into this hole. I’m more than a little obsessed. I even have a few non-plush tsum tsum goodies, like the Lip Smackers Cheshire Cat in the pile there, and also a Cheshire Cat keyring (from a blind bag), plus some stationery bobbles from the Target One Spot. I’m in love. Dan and I are even planning a trip to the Disney store at some point, which I can’t wait for!

April 19, 2017
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Project 365: Days 95-101

You guys, I made it! Even if I haven’t been in love with every single photo I’ve shared so far, I have been able to share over one hundred photos in a row! That’s almost a third of this entire project, and I honestly don’t know the last time I did something that consistently for so long. And as it turns out, I’m really happy with this week’s photos. I have a cool collection of angles and cropping, and I just enjoy all of the subjects I have to share with you this week. This feels like the first 365 post in a while where I wasn’t totally bummed by my progress, and it feels amazing.

95/365: I finally ran out of room on my one comics shelf on the big wall, so I decided to move them all to a small black Target bookcase in my office, which meant moving my little Wonder Woman collection over with it, plus Harley and my special edition of Ghost World that’s too tall to fit on the actual shelves.

96/365: It’s kind of weird to realize that last week I was making a cup a day of hot cocoa (topped with generous amounts of whipped cream of course), and now I’m hoping Dan will put my hammock up soon so I can start reading out in the yard again. Weather is weird you guys. (*whispers* the earth is dying…)

97/365: Just a peek at another piece of my office–I lucked out on a trip to Funspot (the spot for fun!) back in October and ended up with the 1500 tickets necessary to win this little lady. If you don’t know, Funspot is known as the world’s largest collection of classic (late 1970s to mid 1980s) arcade games. And every time I go, about half of them are out of order. In fact, last time they didn’t even have my beloved Addams Family pinball machine out.

Pioneer Valley Zine Fest 2017 table setup98/365: Saturday was zine fest day, the Pioneer Valley Zine Fest to be specific. It was my fourth year as a tabler, and to be honest I wish I had been more social, but it’s hard when you’re tabling by yourself sometimes. I actually didn’t even buy any zines; everything I left with was a trade. But it was a good time like always, and I finally sold out of a couple of things that have been sitting around my box for a while.

99/365: Sunday I spring cleaned the living room a little big, which meant opening the windows to air out the house. That made somebody a happy kitty all afternoon, and it was nice to get fresh air finally circulating through the house.

Yellow Kitchen with Pegboard Wall100/365: We (meaning Dan mostly) have made a lot of progress on the kitchen lately. You can probably imagine how much of a big deal that is to me since it’s one of my favorite and most used rooms in the house. As much as I adore yellow kitchens, I kept worrying it was going to be too much in ours after it was painted, but once that pegboard was put up and everything hung on it, the room really, truly looks like a kitchen for the first time since we moved in. It’s one of my favorite views as I walk through the house now.

Disney movies101/365: I’ve decided one of my goals for my twenty-sixth year is to grow my collection of Disney movies. Not all of the ones here are Disney, but certainly the majority of them are. I’ve already picked up a few used copies, and I’m keeping a running list in my bullet journal of some favorites I’d like to add. Really, I’ve gotten deep into Disney in general lately; if you’ve seen my tsum tsum updates in my Instagram story or any of my tweets about it, you know what I mean.

April 12, 2017
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The Betty & Barney Hill Incident, Rte. 3, New Hampshire

Posted in Horror, Personal, Pop Culture by

On a cold, sunny day the weekend before the March 2017 Snowpocalypse, I trekked my way north with Dan and some friends to achieve a life goal that took me far longer than it should have to reach. Taking Interstate 93 north through Ashland, Plymouth, Woodstock, up to exit 33 to Lincoln. We pulled off onto Route 3 and drove for maybe five minutes, keeping our eyes peeled against the bright white of the snow–a stark contrast to all the brown we’d had at home up until the following Tuesday–for the Indian Head Resort.

Twice Dan almost stopped too early because there were two large signs for the resort (one mile ahead, half a mile ahead…), but we finally came to it and spotted the opening to the parking lot at the last minute. We pulled in, and my head whipped left and right as I looked for the green sign with white lettering marking the event my home state for over twenty years deemed historical: The Betty & Barney Hill Incident.

The short story is that Betty and Barney Hill, a New Hampshire couple, were driving home from a vacation to Canada when they spotted a bright light in the sky. Maybe it was a plane. Maybe it was a star. Jupiter was out that night, too. They continued driving for a while before finally pulling off the road and watching the bright light, which moved erratically, in ways a plane or any other known aircraft should move, before realizing it was coming down to meet them.

The first part of story was that they watched it for a while before growing scared, jumping back into their car, and driving away, continuing their journey home. But as they drove, they realized they suddenly couldn’t account for  about thirty-five miles of travel distance. They’d experienced missing time. The second part of the story only came later, after connecting with several members of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) and were put under hypnosis by a doctor to whom they were referred.

The second part of the story says they were abducted, tested, and returned to their car after, having their memories scrubbed to avoid the news getting out.

(That worked out well.)

Along with the official marker on Route 3, there’s a little gas station and convenience store that serves as something of a makeshift memorial. it features a plastic-covered painting on the outer wall at the front of the store. Inside, among the candy, chips, and beer, are newspaper clippings, summaries of incidents in other states and countries, photos, and a bulletin board devoted purely to the Hills’ experience.

Despite everything being so small and looking underwhelming, the entire experience was thrilling for me. When I was a little girl, I got a book from Borders that had a blurb about the Hills in it and I was floored to find out that they were from New Hampshire–that’s where I lived! It was unbelievable to me at the time that something so exciting could have occurred so close by little ol’ me.

I would often spend evenings outside, sometimes alone and sometimes with my dad, watching the skies for a hint of something strange. Usually it was just an airplane or a blimp or even a hot air balloon once, but my faith in what’s out there has never once wavered. On long drives home late at night, it’s not uncommon for my head to snap up and my body to move with the sky to keep the best view on something I’ve seen. I almost always end up seeing the blinking lights of a plane or checking the sky map on my phone to determine it’s a planet, but once or twice I lost sight of a bright light in the sky before I could be quite sure.

Visiting this little monument to the strange and unusual has fanned the tiny flame that was already in me to do some investigating this year, even if it just means camping up in the mountains or visiting other strange places in New England. Maybe I’ll never have the chance to see something obvious in the sky, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop looking.

the simpsons keep watching the skies

April 10, 2017
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Project 365: Days 88-94

I’m kind of having a rough week in general right now, but at least I’m content with my photos, even the ones that I kind of hated when I first took them. To be honest, though, it’s been nearly one hundred days of this project, and I don’t necessarily feel any better at photography. I don’t feel like I know anything more than when I started or have any better eye for what I’m doing. Maybe I need to find an online class or something to push me in a different direction? I don’t know. But it’s frustrating, and I guess it’s a week of evaluating where I’m at with this.

88/365: The three things I’ve been trying to focus on lately: my bullet journal, my new poetry project, and my daily to dos. I still don’t necessarily have a routine (although my new workouts tend to occur at the same time each day–the time when I start to get bored and restless), but it’s good to at least have a focus each day.

Bacon-Cheddar Scones89/365: I don’t often makes scones, but when I do, they’re almost always bacon and cheddar. This recipe was from The Joy of Cooking, as most of mine have been lately, but I think I’ll add a little more cream next time. I think my dough is always even crumblier than it’s supposed to be, which is a feat, so maybe another tablespoon or two will help.

Poetry and Typewriter90/365: So you might already have the idea that I love poetry, and it’s true! But I am also forgetful, so the only photo I got for this day was the one for Monday’s blog post. These things happen, and I am happy with how it came out, so it’s not like I’m considering it a loss.

Black Cat91/365: My favorite model, of course. Is there anything better than a cat sleeping in your spot in bed? I think not.

Floral Doc Marten Boots92/365: Another forgetful day, I rushed to take this one before the sun was totally gone for the night. At first, I really didn’t like this photo and was frustrated, but the more I look at it, the cooler I think it is. It has a very vintage look to it, which I guess goes well with the ’90s-style boots.

Poetry Books93/365: Another of my poetry collection, just to emphasize the fact that it’s National Poetry Month! I’ve been rereading through my two Amber Tamblyn collections lately and recommending them to everyone. They’re just some of the best on my shelf honestly.

Tsum Tsums Collection94/365: Over the weekend I expanded my little tsum tsum family with R2-D2 and Leia. As it turned out, they were on sale, so I could have grabbed a couple of more. Kicking myself. The funny thing is that I have an unintentional blue/white/gray theme going on with my collection. I’ll almost be a little sad when I get someone who doesn’t match.

April 5, 2017
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It’s Friday; I’m in Love #86

March was such a good month! I actually slowed down a lot on making zines, putting out only one (Small Parts #004), but I got to see my favorite band a week before my birthday and visited one of my bucket list sites, so I don’t know if it was possible for the month to be bad.

I am hoping to get more visible writing outside the blog done in April, finishing up one or two more mini zines (the Daria fanzine and the Betty & Barney Hill Incident) and putting some more time into the next issue of Whatsername, though I don’t expect to finish that until at least late May. It can be hard not to get down on myself when I’m writing but not doing anything with it right away. Still, it’s the writing that counts the most; it’s the first step to everything else!

What did you find yourself up to in March?

A Witches Resistance & Action List ♥ “Wake the Dead” by The Used ♥ knocking out a zine a week for a month straight (if you count the distro newsletter, which I do) ♥ dancing + lip syncing along to Cyndi Lauper on Instagram stories ♥ What Time Are We Upon & Where Do I Belong? ♥ rewatching Daria all the way through ♥ having a work space I love + letting it evolve as necessary ♥ packing + mailing ALL THE ZINE ORDERS ♥ my birthday! ♥ Marilyn Manson ♥ UFO research ♥ GREEN DAY! GREEN DAY! GREEN DAY! (as if you didn’t know that) ♥ baking like a mad woman and seeing my skills improve ♥ watching Charlie sleep in his new cat bed ♥ the first trailer for the new IT adaptation

Three ways to make next month great:

  • Get dressed every day. / I tend to make a lot of excuses for not putting on pants every morning–the main one being I know I’m not leaving the house today–but considering how much more productive I tend to be when I am wearing jeans and a tee that’s different from the one I slept in, this is probably a good piece of advice.
  • Visit a weird place. / Checking out the Betty & Barney Hill Incident marker was one of my favorite parts of March (and there were a lot of things to love about the month), so I’d really love to go to another weird place in the next few weeks, especially to start getting more outdoors photos.
  • Make more time to read. / I didn’t do too badly reading this month, but I do wish I’d read more than I did. I actually spent a lot of the month watching The Great British Baking Show and Daria, baking, and listening to podcasts (none of which I regret), but I think April needs to be a month for books.

“It’s Friday; I’m in Love” is a monthly gratitude post. It aims to remind myself and others of the good things from the past month, big and small; to share ways to make the next month a positive one; and to serve as a record to look back on for the not-so-great days to come. The title comes from the song by The Cure.

March 31, 2017
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Project 365: Days 81-87

A good week, both in general and in photos! It helped that my birthday was over the weekend, so I did some fun things and acquired some goodies for photographing.

I was writing my photo check boxes into my planner on Sunday night, and I realized I’m slowly but surely coming up on being one third of the way through this project. I’m pretty sure that’s the farthest I’ve ever made it on a project 365 attempt, and I think it’s safe to assume it has to do with having a regular schedule for sharing the results. Any other time I’ve tried, I didn’t have an outlet for sharing the photos (because I didn’t bother, to be honest) and that created just the right lack of accountability to allow me to quit a few weeks in. But I’m almost finished with three months, and even if I’ve had some rough weeks, you know what? I’m proud of my success so far.

small parts zine issue 00481/365: Last week I released a new issue of Small Parts, which was exciting as I hadn’t done one in a few years or so. It includes a Patreon reward piece from February (funereal crows) plus my March flash fiction here on the blog.

Wizard of Oz 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle82/365: Last week I finally dove into this thousand-piece puzzle I’ve had stored in a cabinet for a year or two. I ended up spending about three days on it and finishing it up Saturday night when we got back from a bar in town that Dan’s been wanting to try out. Wild child that I am, I had a ginger ale and played video games on my PSP while there.

carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and walnuts83/365: Friday I baked my birthday cake: carrot with cream cheese frosting and walnuts on top. The flavor was absolutely wonderful and the frosting especially was delicious, but the texture was so rubbery that Dan and I didn’t even finish our slices. I’m thinking it was the Greek yogurt I subbed in for oil. But I sent the leftovers home with our friend Chris on Sunday, so no waste!

SK Pierce Mansion, Gardner, MA84/365: Saturday morning before Chris came over for the night, Dan and I drove out towards Gardner and took a drive around the town to see some cemeteries and oddities. We saw the SK Pierce mansion–reportedly haunted–for the second time, and I was surprised to see it had gotten a paint job.

Sailor Moon Volume 9 and Volume 1085/365: When we went to dinner in Northampton Friday night, we made a quick stop at a few shops while waiting for a seat to be available, and I picked up two more volumes of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon from the comics shop. I also bought myself used copies of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and season three of The Simpsons, both collections I’m looking to expand.

blog bullet journaling86/365: I spent the majority of Monday this week working on my bullet journal, which I haven’t even opened in almost six months, and setting it up for tracking blog and Etsy stats and to-dos. I’m a little worried that doing this will make me feel bogged down by numbers and such, but I’m giving it a shot for now. If it depresses me or stresses me out, I’ll rethink the process.

Elvira Funko POP! and tarot cards87/365: The newest lady in my Funko family: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. I have been dying to add her to my shelves for months since she came out, and my lovely mother picked her out as one of my birthday gifts this year! She’s on my witchy shelf, of course. (Don’t tell the others, but I think she might be my favorite!)

March 29, 2017
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Surprise! I Got Married! …Six Months Ago

Posted in Personal by

Come sit down, deary, and hear a love story full of mishaps and matrimony.

It starts a little over nine years ago, when Dan and I started talking on AIM, became MySpace friends, and eventually more than that. We had at least two classes together junior year that I can remember–English and College Chemistry, the latter of which still makes friends giggle because chemistry. For our first date, Dan took me to see Stephen King’s The Mist, an adaptation that neither of us enjoyed, which was a shame because I adore the short story and had been reading it in my spare time not long before. We were actually supposed to go out the night before, but it was late, it was dark, and it was December in the middle of nowhere, so Dan wasn’t able to find my house. The next day was much luckier, it turned out.

We went to college together, moved into our first apartment (along with Dan’s future best man) our junior year of college, and now here we are. He was my first serious boyfriend, and in all that time I didn’t need to bother with another.

A little over two years ago, we went to Boston Comic Con for the first time, and the whole time leading up to it Dan kept telling me about these really good tacos that he’d had in Boston and how we should go. Silly me, I agreed to it before we even got to BCC, so by the end of the afternoon at the con, I was feeling gross in the early August heat–but I let him drag me around because a. I love tacos and b. he swore they would be worth it. He got us a water taxi, which was also very cool and a good bit of relief from the heat, and I felt a little better, until we got off the dock and back into the summer heat. Then the sneaky bugger begged me to make a pit stop in some park “over there” because it “looked cool.” Please imagine me, dragging my feet around oceanside Boston because Dan wants to go sit in a park for the view, and he couldn’t even figure out where the park entrance was. I just wanted tacos! And home!

Now imagine Dan as we’re finally in the park, walking toward a bench, when a wedding party walks by us and the first thing out of my mouth is, “Ew, a wedding.” Not because I meant it, mind you, but because I’m an asshole.

Well, we got to the bench, I finally got to sit down, and it began: Dan started saying sweet things (sweeter than usual, I mean) with his hand in his pocket (which I promise wasn’t inappropriate), and in what felt like two seconds he was kneeling, and asking me to marry him. My response?

“Duh.”

Because I am a woman of many kind words.

From there, it was about two years of surprisingly simple planning. We always hear horror stories about wedding planning disasters and day-of dilemmas. Well, I only dealt with one of the two. The planning itself went smoothly, from finding my dress two months after our engagement to finding a venue we could easily afford to rent for two days (a prep day and an event day). I even found two bridesmaids dresses at the mall during prom season that were less than $100 combined and were damn near the same fabric despite being from different stores. My attitude through most of the planning was very, “Whatever,” because nothing seemed worth stressing out over, and most things came easily as a result.

And then the wedding day came. Strike that–the day before the wedding came. I had taken the day off from work to help prep our venue, a little pond-side cabin rented from our college alma mater, and on my way there I received a text from Dan: “There’s someone here with Connecticut license plates and I don’t recognize them but they seem to know me.” I didn’t even respond since I couldn’t be of much help while I was in the car on my way there. (My mom was driving, don’t worry. Don’t text and drive!)

As we pulled into the parking lot, Dan came over to meet us, and I have this memory of him starting with, “Don’t freak out,” though I don’t guarantee he did, before telling me that we’d been double booked. My wedding venue had been double booked. I looked around, put up my hands, and said, “I’m just gonna sit in the car for a minute.” And that’s exactly what I did. Even then I managed not to yell or anything, as tempting as it was, because while it would have made me feel better, that’s about all it would have accomplished.

When I finally got out of the car, Dan told me it was just that day that had been double booked. That was fine; we could find a work around for the prep day. The other group was only having a rehearsal dinner anyway. Dan went to the booking office to figure out what the hell had happened, and I went to Walmart to escape for a while and look for a cheap garter. (Fun fact: I found none and ended up just going without.) Walking around Walmart, I was texting a friend, telling her it was just the one day, it was fine, but what the hell? Because someone had made a pretty serious mistake.

As I was walking around Dan called from the campus office and while he started with, “Everything’s fine,” he went on to tell me that our actual wedding date had also been double booked. Honestly, how was I still not screaming at this point? He told me that the office had found the other group (a birthday party) a different venue for the next day, and that our wedding was fine. It was all going to be fine.

I self medicated with Taco Bell.

The next morning, I woke up at my parents’ house with my maid of honor, only bridesmaid, and my parents, though my dad left early to start setting up to cook with Dan. We did a little getting ready, my mom got gussied up, and the four of us ladies piled into my tiny car. There were no real disasters on the drive, until about fifteen minutes from the venue. Something in the universe made my mom look into the rearview mirror at the girls and ask, “You grabbed your dresses, right?” We got one affirmative and one, “Shit.”

Can we please just take a moment to appreciate the fact that I still didn’t murder anyone?

My mom called in reinforcements (her best friend) to try and pick up the dress on her way, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Our officiant had another ceremony to cover after ours, so the dress just didn’t make it in time. My bridesmaid walked down the aisle in a black shirt and black shorts, plus the gray sweater that I had gotten her and my maid of honor as gifts. Thankfully, she didn’t look too out of place, and the dress did arrive in time for photos.

The rest of the ceremony was relatively smooth. Apparently there was a mass of birds above our heads, but I was a little too busy staring into Dan’s beautiful face to realize it. We did a handfasting ceremony, which was nice because it not only took the pressure off of us both to write our own vows, but it also provided us with a beautiful, if messy, set of knotted cords to hang in our house.

Everything after the ceremony is a blur of photos, a quick bite to eat, a bouquet toss, and then everyone leaving. To be honest, I hated most of the experience. I’m ecstatic to be married to Dan now, but I don’t much recommend a wedding to people. It felt like more money and more hassle than was necessary, and thankfully I don’t plan to do it again any time in the future.

March 24, 2017
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Project 365: Days 74-80

I have to admit that there are a couple of days (mostly over the weekend) when I was absolutely exhausted and struggling to get photos because my mom was visiting and she stays up very late and we kept busy each day. Overall, though, I’m really happy with what I came up with, especially the food photos. Now that the kitchen is coming together and cleaned regularly, it’s not the worst thing to get photos of finished baking projects.

cinnamon raisin bread74/365: Last Wednesday as part of my bread project I decided to whip up this cinnamon raisin bread from The Joy of Baking. I’m really trying to utilize that cookbook the most lately because I’ve had it for a long time but always seem to use the same three recipes. (Fun fact: The day after I made this, Lexi ate all but the first two slices Dan and I got. She’s just awful sometimes, but I guess I still love her.)

guinness stout chocolate cupcakes with bailey's irish cream frosting75/365: To get festive, I also ended up making these Guinness chocolate cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish cream Swiss meringue buttercream on Thursday. I’d never made a Swiss meringue buttercream before, but it was a first-time success and my new favorite type of buttercream. I’m also in love with my new, proper piping bag and coupler, and I love the tip (1M) that I picked out. It’s such a beautiful swirl!

honeycomb shelves corner76/365: My favorite view into our living room. I love this corner so much, especially now that the little black bookcase is better organized than it used to be. Fun fact: Dan built those honeycomb shelves, and he’s had a couple of requests from people to make them some, but he always says he’s not good enough yet. I think he’s wrong. I think they’re fantastic.

wooden address sign77/365: Dan’s sister got us this sign a couple of years ago, shortly after we moved into our house. We’re planning on moving in a couple of years, so we’ll have to get a new one because it’s pretty darn cute, and it definitely fits my homey country house aesthetic (if not my personal weirdo goth-punk one).

cactus plant78/365: My one and only cactus in the house. I’m not sure if I want anymore, but I do like this one a lot–even if Home Depot thought it was a good idea to hot glue a fake flower to the top. In fact, my plants collection hasn’t grown at all over the past week or two, which is a little sad, but maybe I’ll indulge again after Dan starts his new job next week.

green day shirt79/365: I got this shirt at the Green Day concert in Worcester last Friday, and I’m absolutely in love with it. I saw it back in October when I saw them at the House of Blues but didn’t get a chance to grab one, so I made sure to pick it up as soon as we got into the venue.

small parts 004 zine80/365: Small Parts. I’ve been struggling to work on some of the zines I have in mind right now (which is a lot of them), so I spent yesterday picking out some finished pieces to throw together a new issue of Small Parts. I haven’t published one of these in a few years, so I’m excited to have a new one to put out. I’ll be spending today cutting, assembling, and stapling the finished issue.

March 22, 2017
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I Am More Than My Brand

Posted in Personal by
i am more than my brand header

I shared a tweet recently that asked, “Do you think our obsession with personal branding accounts for our inability to understand that people can be many things at once?”

For years I’ve struggled to wrap my head around the idea that I can be a multifaceted human being. Most often this applies to my sense of style, which I only began to understand last summer, but it applies to many things in my life: the number of hobbies I indulge in, the weird interests I take up. It so often feels like I can’t be these things or like these things all at the same time because baking for a week straight means I’m not writing enough or writing in too many genres doesn’t let people know what to expect or indulging in TSwift makes me a fake goth.

I don’t think branding is solely to blame because I’ve felt this way since before I understood the concept, but it does contribute to the issue. “You have to have a blog niche.” You have to play to your audience, rather than your strengths or personal interests. Who you are has to be distinct. It not only echoes the teenage need to label everyone around you–goth, nerd, punk, slut, jock–which already ignores the beauty and depth of individuals at times and pits us against each other, but also can come off as more acceptable because it’s in the adult world, it’s for business, it’s necessary.

A lot of us are feeling disenchanted with the blogging landscape, and I think this is a big reason why. People get so focused on niches and branding and being one thing to their audience but I believe that for the majority of us it’s unrealistic, it’s unfair, and it’s inauthentic. We’re all more than just what we can offer to others. We’re real people with real feelings and a vast range of interests, thoughts, and dreams. Why should we ignore any of those for the sake of popularity, SEO, or personal branding? At worst I think we should learn to allow these things to work together, and at best I think they shouldn’t be a concern at all. Don’t let the endless blog how-tos that ultimately all say the same thing get you down.

If focusing on brand works for you, go for it. I’m not at all saying you’re not allowed to worry about it, but don’t let it get so deep that you drag yourself down and find yourself drowning in the “rules” of being a successful blogger.

This is my declaration that I’m going to be who I am, and sometimes that might not have an obvious benefit to my readers (a product, a how-to, whatever), but I’m okay with that because we’re not just our brands.

We’re ourselves.
We shouldn’t forget that.

March 20, 2017
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A Quick Contemplation on Comparison

Posted in Personal, Writer Life by

Comparison is the thief of joy.
Theodore Roosevelt

Since I’ve started putting so much of my time and energy into writing, running my distro, and doing things that make me happy, I’ve felt so much better about…everything. I’m writing and mailing out more zines than ever, it seems, and I’m getting so much support and enthusiasm from everyone around me. I’m not boxed in by routine but still producing so much great stuff every day. Life feels great.

Why, then, is it still so easy for me to look at the life and work–the Instagram, the writer’s website, the published works list–of a woman I went to college with four years ago and have barely spoken to since and get so down on myself? When I look at her posts, it suddenly feels as if I’m not doing enough or not doing things “right.”

The list of questions that run through my head looks something like this:

Am I less legitimate in my work if I’m not submitting all the time? If I don’t have a list of links to web publications who have accepted me, then am I really doing anything worth bragging about? Should I be spending less time posting and even more time writing? Should I be writing different things? Why don’t I have as many followers as she does? What am I doing wrong? Am I not (cute, quirky, smart, stylish, etc.) enough?

All of this occurs in a matter of seconds, of course.

It gets my head all muddled, and I start to feel like what I want is wrong or isn’t what I really want. I wouldn’t call it jealousy because I like that she’s doing well–I want us both to be successful–but it’s also far from confident or secure. I just can’t help wondering if that’s what I should be doing; maybe there is a right way to go about this writer thing.

It’s confusion and self-doubt, and I’d like to think it will go away with time and more hard work, but I know there’s almost no chance of that happening for good. If it does, then I’ve probably gotten overly confident in myself and turned into an asshole. We don’t want that to happen.

In between all of the good days, the ones when I get compliments from friends and strangers who have just finished reading a new zine they got from me or the ones when I’m just happy, there will still be the ones when I’m asking myself if I’m doing this right or why things seem so different for me compared to others doing this. While it gets old and depressing, maybe it’s not the worst thing. Maybe it keeps me on my toes, self-evaluating and evolving over time as we all do (and should).

It’s a bummer to think that maybe someone is doing it better and to know it’s not worth fretting about but being unable to stop yourself.

What do you do when you get down like this? Let’s chat about it and lift each other’s spirits!

March 17, 2017
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