Always a Little Wonky

This week’s got me like:

krabs meme

When I started trying to narrow down exactly what it was, my head kept correcting me.  I said “WOW, what a week!” and my head went “You mean, what a month, what a year, what a past few years.”

This is exactly why I have self-esteem issues. 

Let’s ignore for a bit that I talk to myself.  Everyone does that, right?  It’s just sometimes, well a lot of times, life in general is freaking overwhelming.  Between school, being a caregiver, being a mom, trying to be an independent person, doing what I have to and trying to find time for something fun, there just isn’t enough time in the day.

There’s not enough time in the day, y’all.

School is chugging along.  I am having to contend with trying to pass and instructors that will not allow even a comma out of place.  When I am say they won’t allow it, I am saying you fail if you have more than four errors.  BIG FAT F.  That stings, I don’t care how old you are.  I know that I don’t/can’t/won’t edit myself but this is a HUGE stumbling block to trying to get out of this Master’s program.  I have three more months.  Say a prayer to the old gods and the new for me…I just need to be done with some bit of dignity left.

I have been writing about Little Monkey a long time.  Every time I go backwards and look at pictures here, I am reduced to a puddle in the floor.  I have said before, the idea that she will be 16 this summer is mind-blowing.  We are making college dream sheets and planning visits and trying to work out the what/how/where.  It is daunting.  The first two were real clear about what they wanted to do and had real decisions made pretty quickly about where that would be but this one, man, this one wants the sun and the moon.

emma louI’m not kidding.

Little Monkey wants to go to an Ivy League school, become a doctor, apply to NASA and become an astronaut.  I blame Interstellar for this.  She watches this movie all the damn time and can’t stop.  She has been obsessed with the stars for as long as I can remember and taking her to Huntsville last year did nothing to help quell that fire.  It’s my job to encourage her, right?  Despite it being a hard road, despite it being complicated, despite it being such a narrow field…I am the MOM, I HAVE to encourage.  She is pretty much a bad ass, so who am I to say that she can’t do something?  The world takes enough from you.  I am looking forward to her punching the world right in the face and saying NOT TODAY WORLD. (If someone can, it will be her.)

My long list of projects continues to grow.  We got all the carpet pulled up but now can’t decide between all hard wood or partial carpet.  It makes my head hurts.  My table is a little too wobbly for the amount that we use it so we are going to build this pedestal, twice, and remedy that.  That means I need new equipment from Kreg but I will figure that out eventually.  Then there is the painting.  The living room, the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the kitchen, outside stuff…

Did I mention I have a headache?

miss kiwiMy sweet old lady dog hasn’t been doing well.  I knew this would happen, it’s just never something you are prepared for, I don’t care how old you are.  In and out of the hospital for weeks, the ladies at Paws and Claws have been fantastic but I am afraid it’s the beginning of a long struggle.  Today she is happy and I am happy for that.

Summer is coming, that’s something to be happy about, right?

My packed calendar tells me I am wrong.  Truthfully, I am always a little wonky.  Being less busy or less worried about things might make it worse.

How do you keep from loosing your mind these days?  Maybe you can lead me by example. Lord knows, I need it!

 

 

 

Cosplay Corner – Knightmage

When I first had the opportunity to interview Knightmage last year, it was for Almost Nerdy.  I was, and still am, completely in awe of his Spawn project.  I got a chance to catch up with him recently about some super cool stuff he is doing so I took the opportunity to ask about his Predator project.

Predator 1

Mixing cosplay and charity is pretty cool and you have been doing that in different forms for a while.  What made you start this new project?  

In an effort to continue to make the costumes I create more meaningful than just a creative outlet for myself, I’ve decided to start a new charity print campaign. I’m partnering with various photographers, charities and websites and doing location-based photo shoots that coincides with the character as well as choosing a charity that directly or indirectly correlates to the character in some way. The character that is on deck is Predator.

Prints can be purchased from my Storenvy. All photos in the set for one flat price.

The charity that proceeds will benefit is “Noah’s Lost Ark“. Noah’s Lost Ark is a non-profit, charitable 501(c)(3) Exotic Animal Sanctuary, located in Berlin Center, Ohio. A facility that is dedicated to providing a permanent safe haven for unwanted and abused exotic animals. They are a NO-KILL facility that allows these magnificent animals the opportunity to live out the rest of their lives in a safe and caring environment.

Photographer Credits: Black Apple Studios – MJP Photos

Gwendolyn Graham (No Link)

I have made it no secret that Predator is one of my two all time favorite movie monsters.  It hasn’t really mattered which movie it was; I still love it. Predator 3

These pictures are stunning!  Tell me how this came about?  Did you just wake up one day and say, “I’m going to make the Predator?”

I love doing collaborations with other cosplayers. Duo and group cosplays are the best. My friend “Mewpuff Cosplay” wanted to do a Predator duo for Katsucon this year. I was really happy that she chose character that but admittedly I was slightly intimidated on how to put it together. Predator is one those characters that many people who cosplay as it takes very seriously, spending sometimes hundreds if not thousands of dollars creating. Me being a budget builder I wasn’t really sure how I would tackle it. After sitting down and really thinking of how I wanted my version to look, I got work. Predator 4

The helmet looks amazing.  How long did it take?

First, I make it know that have absolutely no qualms about modifying store-bought costumes and items. I found the face mask and helmet online for pretty cheap. Once I got it both the mask and helmet was repainted. I also added more dreadlocks to the mask using a combination of backer rod and mesh tubing. A few people told me that it wouldn’t work but that was precisely why I did it. I wanted it to have a unique look. All in all the mask and helmet was done in a few hours with the entire costume being finished in about 4 days.

Predator 2

What ended up being the most difficult thing about this build?  Was it something different in the end than you anticipated having problems with when you started?

The most difficult part was probably finding the fish nets. I never thought that I would have to shop around for those. It was definitely a first. The second most difficult part was figuring out how to put the fish nets on. All in all this build wasn’t difficult but I’m really happy and proud of how it turned out. Especially because the end cost was only $125. Again, there are some serious Predator cosplayers out there and a few have nitpicked my build to a fault. However it doesn’t get to me at all. It really has become one of my most popular costumes. Even catching the eye of the YouTube channel “AWE” and their show “MAN AT ARMS: Reforged”. They brought me in as their Predator for their Predator wrist blade episode which was an incredible experience. Predator 7

What new stuff do you have coming up? 

I’m always working on new costumes and projects. From creating to con appearances to charity events and now with this charity print set campaign I’m staying busy and trying hard to connect with as many charities as I can.  I always feel like I can be doing more. Unrelated to my cosplay ventures I also just started production of a movie that I’m doing titled “Zone 8”. This is going to be a really cool new take on the found footage concept. You can learn more about it here.

How cool is that?  So go get you some Predator prints and give to Noah’s Lost Ark at the same time!

Work In Progress

I envy writers that stick to the same genre for their entire career.  I don’t know how they do it but it must get annoying after a while trying to only be that one thing.  I am not good at that. Some days I am a super nerd, others I am a political activist.  Once in a while my family really pisses me off or my kid makes me super proud.

If you follow me on Twitter, this is no surprise to you.

I get nasty messages and drop followers pretty regularly as a result.  I wish I had a way of imparting instantly on any one that comes across me on the web (or IRL for that matter) how cool I am but it’s just not possible.  Some days, depending on how I wake up, it makes me feel terrible.  Most days, I just don’t care.  I have had a crazy life and if there is one thing that I know for sure is that I can’t try to be everything to everyone.  There will always be someone who doesn’t like me.

Really, it’s their loss.

This week I started my next novel.  Although I have several things in the works, none of them are the same genre and this current project is a memoir.  ::collective gasp::  While it seems a little weird, it’s not really if you hang around me long enough.

It started with one NaNoWriMo.

My first NaNo I didn’t finish.  My second one I did and that is the one that really sent my mind into overdrive.  I have written since the fourth grade, poetry mostly, and often felt I could never tell a LONG story, much less write a novel.  I mean WHO DOES THAT?  But once I finished my first novel (it is chick lit) suddenly there where a million stories I wanted to tell swimming around in my head.

Next it was short erotic tales that found a publisher and a loyal fan base. I don’t even remember how they found me or I found them but one became seven or eight.   And I made MONEY!  Later came short stories for kids because I wanted to do something for my littlest monkey that I posted to Amazon. And I made MORE MONEY!  The next NaNo effort resulted in a Young Adult Sci-Fi book that I didn’t finish but still intend to get back to after a while.  After that, one of the characters from my erotica stories became another finished NaNo project because she just wouldn’t stop talking to me. Then this past year, my newest novel is a dramatic military-veteran-returns-for-one-last-mission ball of awesome. It is with my long time editor now and I already have a couple of competitions where it will be headed after that.

Now a memoir.  Is that weird?  Probably.

I am doing it not really because I am important to other people.  I mean, I KNOW I am important to some people but for the most part, I don’t seem special.  It’s mostly because I happen to be blessed with one of those really messed up lives.  I have never read a book that shows what my kind of messed up can be or how it can shape a person.  Sometimes there is a chapter or two that I can identify with but not a whole book that says, “all the bad things are bad but you can be better.”

That’s mostly what it’s about.  You can be better no matter what.

Everything I have written was the story that came to me at the time.  Its unconventional but 100% me.  (We covered that already, remember?)  I am totally okay with it too.

So tell me…

What about you?  Do you pursue multiple creative adventures or do you stay in one lane?

Fear Not or Fear All

Life is funny.

You go through things and scream and cry and lament them all but some things, some very important things build on top of each other and ultimately shape the kind of person you become.  Its not always good, but it is a fact of how things work.

I am a liberal.  Flaming if you must.  In a political science class in college we took a test “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?” and on a scale of 1-10, Jane Fonda is a 1.  My score?  A ZERO.  Not even kidding, I came up further to the left than Jane Fonda.  Sit with that a moment.

I also am a long time military brat.  From birth to about the age of 35, I lived much of that time on a military base, either as a dependent daughter or dependent spouse.  I lived in West Germany prior to the wall coming down and went to school with armed guards riding on my bus.  There were bomb threats.  There were deaths because of bombs.  I learned before the age of 14 that you had to look under your vehicle for “suspicious packages.”  Fast forward to my adult life and I know the panic the sound of a doorbell can incite.  I have seen the multiple cars pull into my street to ring those bells and deliver the news of the death of a loved one.  On 9/11 I was promptly locked in on post where I lived in Hawaii and my dad in Texas was sent to New York to help rebuild communication systems there for the government.  It took weeks and it was both sad and stressful.  Many moons ago, I became acutely aware of the majesty and shear terror that NSA embodies.  As spouse to someone who was in intelligence at the time, the credit union we used was on that campus.  When you see photos of the green/black glass box of NSA, you will see the wing off to the left.  Each time I would park and walk through the maze of concrete barriers, massive fences and concertina wire, I was VERY aware of the fact that I was being watched as soon as I drove up.  For each step through each layer, even after the approximately ten steps it took me to get in the front lobby and turn left into the credit union and after.  I know they do things I don’t like but I also know that people are doing that all around the globe.  That changes who you are.

I am always shocked when I see stories about the TSA and the furor over the body scanners and anything else the government does.  Yesterday there was a massive information dump about NSA…from phone monitoring to social media data mining.  Everyone is freaking out and it has just made me laugh with the humor in that.  HOW DOES ANYONE THINK THIS ISNT ALWAYS HAPPENING?  Seriously, there are viruses and hackers, how do you think ANYTHING you do online is secret or protected?  Granted there are ways to go incognito, hide and in general shield yourself but many people don’t know how, or don’t think to do that most times.  You guys know photos contain info when you post them, right?  You know I can Google you, not just your name but your most used email addresses and usernames, and instantly see anything you are talking about or have been recently?  Do you know how frequently you are filmed on any given day?  Why would you think that the government would not be doing the same?

In times such as these, I am reminded there is a lot people don’t think about from our history.  Most of you know about the Tuskegee experiments (I hope) and maybe Guatemala?  Do you know about our long-standing and still occurring involvement in Latin AmericaJ. Edgar Hoover?  Maybe because those things didn’t effect you or your family personally you didn’t notice the over reach?  Maybe some were so long ago you don’t consider them relevant?  Have you ever seen the map that shows where we have troops currently?  If not, your best guess is what, four countries?  HAHAHA.  Try 162 countries. What exactly do you think our “mission” is in that many countries?  We live in a global society even when we don’t view it that way, it continues.  Post-9/11, it is even more so.  You can shake your fists at the idea, you can march, protest, etc. but the reality is, you will not stop the collection of information at this scale unless you shut down the Internet and cell services.  All in for that, raise your hands?

In the 80’s on AFN, a series of Op Sec commercials would run daily to indoctrinate civilians and military members and keep you from giving out information.  Every time I see something reported on the news, I cringe when details are broadcast because it affects a lot more than you can imagine.  I felt the same cringe when the details of the current NSA programs were released. As much as you have people leaking information you will continue to have a government bureaucracy that will collect it.  It happened before Bush and will continue after Obama.  It has zero to do with what party is in power because there is support from all sides.  Despite my liberal leanings, after attending a weeklong training in security policy one year, I understand why it’s done the way it’s done.  It is irrelevant if I agree.  If you don’t use diplomatic and super secret squirrel methods more frequently, that means boots on the ground in other countries, which increases the instance of something going bad really fast.  I think that “boots on the ground” don’t matter to a lot of people.  There is a lot of flag waving and yellow ribbons but not a true understanding of what happens to the men and women in those situations.

We will not end terrorism.  It is just as naïve to think that, as it is that you will prevent the government from monitoring whoever they please.  There are people that live with bombs going off every day in their countries and then there is each of the citizens in the US, who are always so surprised when it happens here.  I am never surprised when it happens, only surprised that it’s not more frequently.  I guess that’s why I don’t get twisted about this stuff.  If someone needs to monitor, in whatever form, some guy in my neighborhood because they think he is plotting a terrorist crime, I am okay with that.  I have kids, I want to protect them.  Most people would say the same thing to you.

A very wise professor once told a group of activists that you are often already on a “watch list” when you belong to any special interest group because you are actively working to change some particular policy.  The government believes that these groups are where extreme beliefs can spark.  I don’t disagree with that because over the years historically, you can point to that in a number of countries.  He went on to list some such as NOW, NARAL, LULAC, and NAACP and told stories of how he found out he was on a watch list.  Having belonged to some of these organizations and many others, I was hearing what I already knew.  It didn’t matter if I opposed this treatment.  It didn’t change the fact that I would still work groups and push for the causes that I felt most important.

All up in arms about government monitoring?  Support candidates that vow to get rid of it.  Oh and please, let me know when you find one that will actually do it.  I would love to work for them too.

The Kevin Project

Many of you know that I married a disabled Vet, Kevin, and/or that my daughter, Emma, is trying to go through the steps to make the Junior Dream Team and later, the US Olympic Archery team.  This week, there have been a ton of discussions in our house after the tragic events in Texas and later in California…both committed by Veterans.  I felt like I should post something and decided it would be a movie I had to do for school.  I chose to do the short film about the relationship between Kevin and Emma.

I think that there is too much negativity in the media about Vets and not enough positive stories.  I know I can’t change that all by myself but I am setting the intention with the hopes that some people decide to follow my lead.  Too many Veterans and their families are suffering not knowing they can get help at the VA and how to get it.  Too many people are denying jobs to Veterans because they are afraid of the stereotype.  Too many caregivers are not getting the assistance they need mainly because there is not a great deal of publicity around programs that can help them right now.

This has to stop.

Its hard.  Each and every day along with taking care of myself, my kiddo and my animals, I have to now have the daily responsibility for a Veteran that would rather be able to do things for himself.  It’s frustrating for him and its frustrating for me.  But I remind him.  I remind him to get his hearing aids and to drink water.  I remind him he needs to shower before he puts his leg brace on.  I remind him of all the tasks he has while I am struggling to remember my own.  When he gets cranky because I have told him twice to do something, I endure.  If I don’t tell him, regardless of his reactions, he will suffer far worse than I.

In between, something amazing has happened.

Even when he has to take a pill to make the headaches subside just a little each morning, he still gets out of bed.  Even though his shoulders and elbows ache, he still packs up his bow in the car with Emma’s.  Even though he could sleep 20 hours a day, he endures so Emma can excel.

And boy, do we laugh!

I hope you watch this and it changes your impression of Veterans just a bit.  I hope it reminds you the next time you hear someone, read an article, watch a news report and you see an over generalized negative impression of Veterans, I hope it causes you to take action.

We need you.  

Ring in the New Year

rings

For those of you that know me, I am not big on resolutions.  I just don’t believe they work.  What I do at the beginning of every year is set intentions.  These are things I intend to do in the year and more often than not, I get through the list quite nicely.  This year, my hubs and I both wanted to set the intention of honoring ourselves.  We are so busy and our schedule is VERY much dictated by a child that wants to be an Olympic athlete.  We never found the rings we really wanted when we got married but when we saw these, we knew those were the ones!  The bands are from monkeysalwayslook on Etsy.  The outside shows the longitude and latitude of where we got married.  On the inside we took pieces of a Viking quote for both.  The full quote says “Love conquers all, let us yield to love” so mine is inscribed Love Conquers All and his is Yield To Love.  They were just perfect for us.  My engagement ring is also from an Etsy vendor, silvercoinrings and is a Dime-On-Ring.  It is a dime melted onto a ring and stamped with initials.  We had K & M stamped in.  I would highly recommend both vendors as they were easy to work with and all about making sure everything was perfect!

So what intentions do you have for the year?  I STILL need to get busy on learning to sew!

This. Just ’cause.

  <==  I saw this and instantly was irritated.  Why?  Because its true.  We all should have a problem with this, parents or not, because the “future leaders” are your future bosses, Congressmen, doctors, etc.  Think it doesn’t affect you?  Unless you are independently wealthy and can pay for the best of anything and everything, it pretty much does apply to you.

Sad.