Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Dead

It was a Friday afternoon. I hadn't expected to be on set to help with the movie until the following day, but when I got a request to show up early I figured why not? It's not like I had any other plans, and I was eager to see what helping out with a movie is like.

I don't think I had been on the set for long, and I was mostly staring in fascination at the equipment and coffin. It isn't often that I see a coffin, and I've never gotten to look inside one before. (Thinking back, I might describe it as comfortable and claustrophobic... which seems slightly contradictory.) I was waiting to find out how I could help when the director popped in to report on the progress of finding actors. There were a couple roles that still needed to be filled, and for one of them he needed an athletic woman of marrying age.

For some reason I was surprised when someone pointed at me. It's true that I fit the description he gave, but I hadn't thought of that myself.

Director guy showed me the script, I liked the part, and then I spent virtually the rest of the day with that script in my hand. That was my job for the day, learning my part.

But I guess I should back up, and explain how I got there in the first place.

There's someone I met at CthulhuCon last year and only recently got close to. I haven't talked to her about introducing her on this blog though, so you can get a name for her another time. She's involved with making movies, and a few months ago I offered to help out as crew when I have time. I'd given a bit of thought to auditioning for a part, but didn't want to try that. I guess it seemed too intimidating, and it's not like I have any recent experience acting.

When the day came though, I was both crew and cast. Because, why not make life as interesting as possible? (Dear Universe: please don't take that as a challenge or request.) The film is The Dead, and tells the story of a man's life at his wake. It left me wondering if maybe the best way to learn about all the parts of a person's life is to meet others who miss them when they're gone. people who might not miss them all that much.

Long story short of the day itself, which was last weekend: I didn't get any sleep the night before, everything was shot in one day, and it was both exhausting and fun. And it was crazy.

If anyone happens to be curious, the link to the website is here and the Facebook page is here. Doubtless I'll write more when it comes out, and I can't wait to actually see the finished thing.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Different ≠ Other

I'm weird. An oddball. Different. I've known this for ages, ever since I was little and every time I opened my mouth someone in my hometown thought I was from a different continent. That was due to my speech disorder, which seems to have morphed into something of a southern accent and doesn't get comments these days. But I'm still different. Pagan. Bisexual. ADHD. It's not like there's no one else like me out there, but I'm definitely in the minority.

And that's ok. There's nothing inherently wrong with or othering about being different. The problem arises when someone is pushed to the outside, to where they no longer belong.

One of the best examples of this comes from when I was selling Girl Scout cookies outside a store. Someone else was handling the transaction, but I noticed that the customer wasn't sure what to get. Trying to be helpful, I told him "The Tagalongs are my favorite!" The guy looked at me, back at the other Girl Scout helping him, and said in a tone that was almost scornful, "Where's she from? New Zealand?" He then paid no more attention to me, she said nothing about it, and they finished the transaction. It was pretty clear to me though that because of how I spoke, he considered me beneath his notice, except as an object of derision. And then we all pretended like it hadn't happened.

That brief interaction hurt badly. It's only in the past few years that the memory stopped being painful. I want to say that it's because I've learned to not care, but I have to admit that maybe it's because I apparently finally sound like I'm from the continent I've spent my whole life on.

I want to emphasize though, the problem wasn't that someone drew attention to my speech disorder. That was a regular occurrence that I was comfortable with. The problem was being treated as other, as though I didn't belong. Let me show you another way it could have played out that would have been fine.

"The Tagalongs are my favorite!" "Hey, weird accent. Are you from New Zealand?" "No, it's a speech disorder. And I was born down south, but raised up here." "Oh, ok. Hey, are the Thin Mints any good?"

This one would have also stuck in my memory, but only because no sympathy or reassurance that I sounded fine was offered. (Why reassurance ticked me off would be for another post, though.) What makes this scenario so good, to me, is that ultimately my accent doesn't change how I'm treated. Fortunately, my speech disorder hasn't made a difference to most of the people I've met.

As to what prompted this post...I don't know. I can't even say that being different has particularly been on my mind lately, because it always is. It's kind of difficult to go a whole day without being reminded of how I'm different in some way. But something, somehow, got me thinking about how being queer, Pagan, or whatever, doesn't necessarily mean that one has to be an outsider. And I think that's an important thing to remember.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Writing Fiction

One stumbling block I've always had when it comes to writing fiction is a lack of ideas. What in the world should I write about? What's the conflict? And characters? Agh, so hard.

Or, so I thought.

In reality, I have random daydreams running through my head all the time. Have I just seen a new movie? Picked up a new book? Well, yeah, this is me we're talking about. So I'm inventing little plots based on the characters, an alternate way things could happen, making up characters who have to find their way around in that story's universe, or even throwing characters from another movie/book into the mix and enjoying in my head how everyone bounces off each other. Heck, I'll even think about how some of my most beloved characters would respond to regular day to day stuff in our world...not necessarily leading to a small story in my head, but it could.

Bouncing around ideas like this is just something I do without thinking, and never mention to anyone. Usually if someone asks me what I'm thinking and I say "Nothing," it's because I've got some plot going through my head involving whatever I'm doing and some of my beloved characters (probably from a Tamora Pierce novel). Saying that nothing is on my mind is easier and less time consuming than trying to explain what's really running around in my weird head.

Why didn't I think to use any of these ideas in writing fiction before? I guess it comes down to a few reasons. One is that I'm used to keeping these little stories close to me, so much so that writing them down never occurred to me. Also, they can be extremely personal, to the point that I feel like I'm showing a little bit of what's inside of me when I write them, and I'm afraid of someone wanting an explanation when I show that part of me. But maybe it's time to stop worrying about that, and just write.

I think the last reason that I don't write these stories down is because often enough they involve worlds and characters belonging to other writers. But that doesn't mean that I can't use the ideas I come up with for my own stories, with my own characters in my own world.

This is me finally acknowledging that I have more ideas than I know what to do with, and saying that it's finally time for me to start writing.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Perfect Moments

Every so often I find a moment of absolute contentment. Moments when, even though I'm aware that I've still got problems, everything seems right about that precise moment. One of those moments came this morning, and oddly enough started with a slug.

Tiny slug

I found a tiny slug hanging, as though from a spider web strand. I've no clue what was up with that, but I have provided photographic evidence in case of any skepticism. Naturally, me being me, I decided to catch and release the slug. (Yeah, I know they're nuisances and it's just going to eat the lemon balm and mint I love so much...I'm not smart when it comes to slugs.) When I stepped outside, slug in hand, I was surprised at what I found.

It was predawn, so early that I couldn't tell it from looking at the sky. But the birds were singing, strangely loud. It seems like they're louder before the sun rises, I don't know why. There was a gentle rain that was wonderful to listen to.

I sat for a while, my feet getting chilled despite my house shoes, and my butt hurting due to the concrete porch, just happy to listen. I also tried meditating, but that takes a person inside themselves, whereas I wanted to be present in the moment that was surrounding me.

And I thought of the Romantic poets I've studied, whose works so beautifully described nature. Yet, despite the grace of their words, they lamented that they could not adequately portray what they wanted to. Their complaints came to mind because, no matter how I try, I know I'll never be able to properly describe those perfect moments that I occasionally stumble into.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Sleep and Anxieties

I've been pleased with the progress I was making regarding anxiety and depression. I've been so pleased with it in fact, I didn't want to admit that I'm now backtracking.

Things had started to really look good on the first day of spring term. And no, that had nothing to do with going to school. I think it actually had to do with removing one stressor from my life temporarily, by way of taking a term off from attending classes. I didn't like making that decision, but it seemed necessary because depression really messed up school for me during winter term.

One of the first things I noticed when spring term started was that my sleep schedule got back to normal. I could easily sleep through the night and get myself out of bed in the morning, even when left to my own devices. But now, it's gotten to where I can't seem to sleep at night, and I just naturally wake up in the late afternoon.

And I find myself asking, why is this? I want to sleep at night. When I hear the birds starting to sing before I can even see predawn in the sky, I find myself reflecting that I've missed the luxury of being able to sleep at night. Yes, the luxury of sleeping at night. I want it. So why can't I manage it? I suppose I don't know for certain, but I've got a guess at what a large part of it is.

To paraphrase someone who I really do not like in Game of Thrones: the night is dark and full of scary shit. (Sorry, I like my version better than hers.) It's a time of darkness, where scary things can hide, when it's safer to keep your eyes open if you don't know what's out there. And rationally I know it's perfectly safe in my bed...but tell that to my anxieties. There's a reason I've always slept with a flashlight on my nightstand, though my sleep schedule hasn't gotten this messed up until the last year. I think some part of my problem is that subconsciously I feel day is a safe time, and night is a time to be watchful.

So the next question, of course, is...what do I plan to do about this?

For starters, I'm going to let myself stay up tonight as I'm naturally inclined to do, but then not go to bed until tomorrow night. That will really not be pleasant, but I hope it'll help to get me back on track.

And of course, I also have to figure out this whole anxiety and depression thing.

This got old some time ago. Can it just friggin' go away? Please?

Lighthouse and Sunset

And now, a lighthouse. Because they're more fun than the contents of this post.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Rattie Revolution

Perhaps it was inevitable. One night I had my rats out for playtime, and was gazing at my hanging herb garden. Then I thought...maybe my rats would like them.

A bit of research about rat friendly herbs and trip to get some plants and planting stuff resulted in fun times for my girls. Or for Kora, in particular. Niki likes the plants, and the dirt, but it's Kora who really gets excited and starts digging around.

And then of course, I just had to find aphids and a caterpillar on the lemon balm today...the latter is easy enough to take outside, but I'm not sure how to handle the aphids when it's something I want to eventually give back to the rats again.

Hungry caterpillar

There is something that surprised me, though. Other than the unexpected guests mentioned above. One day when I let Kora at the plants particularly long (the plants aren't in the cage 24/7, I'm not sure they'd survive that much love) I noticed that she kept taking things to her food bowl. Upon investigation, I found it was small rocks she'd dug up in the dirt that she was moving to the bowl.

I'm not sure what was going on with that. Maybe she was moving play toys to the food bowl, like I've seen cats do. Or maybe she thought they'd be good ammunition for the Rat Revolution. A while ago Niki threw food at me, so maybe Kora thought that rocks might be better for throwing.

Well, if the Rat Revolution comes to pass, I think you'll know who to blame for letting them find tiny rocks.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Growing Mushrooms

I recently received a box containing the necessities to grow oyster mushrooms. I may have gotten a little overexcited...and, well, I took photos. Lots of photos. Enough that maybe I should have shared a few along the way throughout various posts...but I waited until after harvesting, so now you get a bunch of them all at once, though not nearly as many as I actually took.

Something that amazed me was how quickly they grew, so I'll be sharing date and time of each photo so you can see exactly how quickly things went.

4/27 at 8PM

Everything was contained in a plastic bag, which I had to cut a hole in using my nice wonderful amazing (yes I know one adjective should suffice) new Gerber multitool. Yes, I may be just a bit excitable about getting to use my new shiny multitool.

4/27 at 8PM

Next, turn it upside down and soak in water for about eight hours.

4/28 at 11:30PM

Then I placed it back in the box so that the hole I cut in the plastic lined up with the hole in the box...and waited. 

And, yes, I placed the mushroom box on my bookshelf. The instructions said that indirect light was needed, so this seemed ideal.

4/30 at 6PM

White stuff began to grow on April 29th. The tiny white things more than doubled in size to what you can see above.

5/1 at 3:30AM

Just two days later they had grown considerably more.

5/1 at 4PM

Roughly twelve hours later the tops were dark.

5/2 at 4:30PM

I was unexplainably delighted when the tops of the mushrooms grew little dents. So cute!

5/2 at 4:30PM

I started getting photos from the side...

5/2 at 9:30PM

...and yes, they grew that much in a mere five hours.

5/3 at 4PM

Isn't it amazing how quickly they grow?

5/3 at 4PM


5/4 at 1:30AM

I think it was about this point when I was getting surprised at how big they were.

5/4 at 5PM

And they kept on growing.

5/4 at 5PM


5/5 at 5:30PM

I think they were fully grown at this point. And yes, that's spawn next to the mushroom box, though I didn't have a clue what it was at first. I really hope mushrooms don't start growing on my bookshelf now...that would be inconvenient.

I'm delighted with my mushrooms, and intend to grow more. And yes I've already tried eating a couple of these...I used too much butter, but could still tell that the mushrooms tasted good. Those details, and how the rest are cooked, will belong to a different post.