To Arrive

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I have arrived. It is an odd feeling, honestly, to have reached such an achievement at such a late point in my life, but I blame my somewhat nomadic lifestyle up to this point.

Today I successfully and completely confused someone with the word “pen”. I think he even unwittingly recited his actual pin number to me in response. I have lived in the south for almost ten years and it finally happened, people. Who knows what I might accomplish in another ten!?

I have also managed to acquire my first personally procured permanent residence. I have a cat. The dog is still alive and well, still helplessly adorable and still jealous as … a ridiculously jealous little dog can be. I am about halfway to two thirds of the way finished unpacking and am also about to pick up the venerable harp, hopefully to never set it down again. Please, dear Universe, don’t make me out to be a lyre.

I’m funny. Admit it.

I have obviously managed to set up my computer again as well. So while I’m swinging into the holiday season like George of the Jungle I’m also sitting at home practically giggling to myself because I’ve finally managed to achieve so much that was incredibly important to me. And because of those achievements I’m able to begin pursuing other achievements that were put on hold for so long, like pursuing music again, composing songs and writing this blog and getting back to my novel and making quilts and …

It’s a very exciting time, everyone. I’m so glad we’re all still around to see it.

So Many, So Much

So many talents
So many dreams
So many problems
So many ideas
So many desires
So many fears

So much obfuscation
So much waiting
So much effort
So much winning
So much anticipation
So much discernment

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Life took completely unexpected turns.
Sometimes doing everything they told you not to is the only way to find your own happiness…
Because, honestly, the way to your happiness is yours, not theirs.
Theirs is the way to their happiness.
And in a lot of cases I think that the path they took didn’t make them happy either…
Misery loves company, I suppose.
I don’t want that kind of company.

Off I go. I’ve finally gotten close to getting my feet back under me and I’m looking forward to spending much more time here with you all.
I’ve missed you.

Don’t Know Why

Waited ’til I saw the sun.20s Cameo on black
Don’t know why the tears won’t come.
This lonliness, it ain’t no fun.
Don’t know why the tears won’t come.

When I saw the break of day
Wished that I could hide away
Instead of workin’ like I’d planned,
Hiding teardrops with my hand.

My heart they say will be fine;
That grief won’t be on my mind
forever.

Out across the endless sea
Poland waits inside of me.
But I’m here, a bag of bones
Drivin’ down this road alone.

My heart they say will be fine;
That grief won’t be on my mind
forever.

Something had to make you run.
Don’t know why the tears won’t come.
I feel as empty as a drum.
Don’t know why the tears won’t come.

*Inspired by the Jesse Harris lyrics and my own recent experiences.

Phys Rep Wings

Wings are ridiculously fun to wear and a huge asset to any cosplayer’s closet, but they’re so expensive! The wings I was wearing during my recent encounter with a marauding car cost me almost 30 bucks. I’m so glad it only knocked one feather loose!

Winter harping with Gizmo, the celestial dog.

Winter harping with Gizmo, the celestial dog.

With the economy the way it is we’re all looking for ways to save a buck and a lot of us are turning to those handy DIY tutorials all over Pinterest and Youtube. We get so excited because we think we can finally save ourselves money (which we don’t have) by investing a little time (which we have plenty of). Unfortunately, sometimes things go sour. Sometimes that awesome looking tutorial lets us down. Here’s a review of one of those moments.

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This is the first set of wings constructed for my Tavern Bard, Winter. Winter plays the harp during tavern on weekend events for Heroic North Texas and I thought it’d be really cool to construct wings that have a harpish look to them. Then, when I played, there’d be my harp in front of me with a harp echo behind me. It’d be visually stunning! It’d be so amazing. I was sold on the idea and scoured the internet for about 3 hours looking for just the right tutorial.

Of course, I found the pantyhose over wire hangar tutorials and a couple cloth tutorials (this one is admittedly quite awesome for a basic idea that I might tweak later), but they weren’t going to help with my harp idea. Then I was pleasantly surprised by http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-Cellophane-Wings/. While the idea itself is sound, the application phase was quite lacking. This girl’s rep test had to have been at some tame party where everyone just stands around and admires each other.

Winter debuted in March of 2013 with her beautifully constructed wings. Time spent on them: close to 15 hours.

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 I followed the tutorial except that I did an all around design for my wire, fully outlining the wing shape.
I then added tiny wires to represent the harp strings, using florist tape and liquid super glue to secure them firmly to their positions on the wire frame until I could do the covering and taping required by the game to keep my wires from poking out an eye. Wiring was extremely time consuming.

The next step is to add the cellophane. You know that spray glue she recommends? It doesn’t dry clear. I ended up with a frothy/filmy pattern all over the wings. It doesn’t matter so much on hers because they’re colored. Mine were supposed to be perfectly clear! The froth also obscured the wire harp string design I’d already worked so hard to do! I was disappointed, but I thought my design was still pretty stellar and I was running close to my deadline so I continued.

Cellophane is on. Now you can seal off the edges (I used my liquid super glue instead of hot glue because it’s faster and less dangerous at 3am) and shrink wrap the cellophane onto your frame.

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 Cool! I managed to do the shrink wrapping without burning myself (which is impressive that late at night with a tool you’ve  never used before that’s applying serious heat to a meltable substance), and I only got distracted enough to burn a couple holes straight through. Winter is a battlemage anyway, so the holes just add authenticity, right?

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Then you’re supposed to refine your shape. Here’s where I got ingenious. I build boffer weapons with my husband so I’ve got a pretty good grasp on artistic taping. My black frame outline, inspired by actual butterfly wing patterns, is done completely in duck tape.

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If you’ve never tried to tape a curve with duck tape before, you can’t really understand why, but it took 4 hours to tape the wings. After I was on site and wearing them, I realized I’d actually missed a couple of spots after all that, but they were too small to be noticed. I finished them the morning I had to leave for my weekend event. And boy was I tired.

The wing harness was my own design because the way people usually wear wings is either a great way to cut off your circulation to your arms or it’s never going to stay put in a stiff breeze, let alone a battle. Thankfully, that weekend I was non-combatant so no one was allowed to swing a sword at me, or the whole thing could have been a total disaster. I got the wings secured into my harness, which is specially designed to keep the wings at a nice 45 degree angle from my back and STAY THERE, and proudly stepped out of my cabin to meet the first wind test. The wings immediately buckled. A friend assisted me in getting them straightened out again and I proceeded to the tavern. On the way they buckled again and slid out of the harness on the bottom. *sigh* I spent the rest of the weekend asking people to assist me in getting the wings straightened out and stuffed back into the harness. I have decided these were the phys reps from HELL.

Here’s where I think it all went wrong.

1. She says she usually uses 12 gauge wire for her wings. I think she’s crazy. After the breeze, which wasn’t very strong, and getting bumped into at tavern the 12 gauge wire was all kinds of kinked and messed up. I got it home and reinforced it with coat hanger wire. Even then, the 12 gauge wasn’t doing it’s job and they’re a kinked up mess again. All that work and they’re really not salvageable.

2. Spray adhesive doesn’t dry clear. That’s really good to know. I think next time I’ll drop in some iridescent glitter or maybe just use colored cellophane to offset this problem. maybe I won’t try to stick them together at all, just bond them to the wires with the glue and shrink.

3. Practice with a heat gun is invaluable. It only takes a blink of distraction, literally, to add a hole to your design. And my mother used to shrink wrap professionally, so it’s not like I’m clueless here on how it’s done. I used to stand and watch her, so I know how to tell the plastic is heated enough and it’s about to shrink and when it’s about to tear.

4. The black taping was beautiful, but time consuming and it’s already peeling after 3 wears. Maybe sticking closer to her design in this matter would be better, but I’m concerned still about the safety of having those wires just hanging out there in a battle.

Conclusion: I’ve decided to redesign my wings completely. My next weekend event in May will require me to have a set of wings for Winter and a set of wings for my Pegasus debut. I’m considering doing an armored set of wings instead because the materials used would be far sturdier than the stuff I originally used and it will require far less feathers if most of the top of the Pegasus wings is armored.

Have a DIY wing story or idea you want to share? Leave me a comment below!

The Girl With the Wings

Photo by A# Image Marketing and Photography: Dave Goodwin

Photo by A# Image Marketing and Photography: Dave Goodwin

It was drizzling that night much the way I always assumed it would in London. This is Texas, though, and here water is usually a welcome thing. The air smelled great and I was full of creativity as I donned my masque, my tail and my wings. I was ready for the party. Mardi Gras might be on a Tuesday, but here in Mansfield we were celebrating early with Jim Suhler and Monkey Beat followed by Jason Elmore and Hoodoo Witch. So it was Saturday night and I was dressed as the perfect pegasus. I headed with confidence to the Farr Best Theater only to discover that the party was starting across the road. Down to the crosswalk I went, arriving just in time to miss my chance to cross.

The intersection there is two lanes headed in both directions so I had to cross four lanes of traffic to reach the safety of the sidewalk on the other side. I pressed the walk button and impatiently waited for the pedestrian walk light to inform me it was safe to cross. I had a moment there where I seriously considered crossing against the advice of that pedestrian sign, but decided I should just play it safe and wait for that little blueish white man to beckon. When he did, I confidently strutted my runway walk down the crosswalk, aware that there were probably people staring at me in my little flirty skirt and knee high boots (not to mention the beautiful feathery wings) as they waited for the light change. It’s not every day you get to see a person in full masquerade costume proudly cross a street.

I remember realizing that I was no longer upright and deciding that I’d fallen off my heels. (Hey, it happens to the best of us.) While trying to catch myself from falling my brain ran a diagnostic and reported that my ankles hadn’t turned, so it would have been impossible for me to have fallen off my heels. That was when I realized that I was on the hood of a car. In the split second that followed I remembered playing Saints Row III which reminded me that it would be far safer to slide off the side of this hood than off the front. My attempts to scramble to the side were no match for inertia and I slid to the pavement in front of the car that had just hit me. Terrified that the driver would be unable to see me in my prone position, I sat up as tall as I could. I then realized that another car could be coming through the intersection at any time and began to pull myself toward the sidewalk out of self-preservation. If the car that just hit me was rear-ended, I would be hit again and unable to save myself.

I remember a woman’s voice yelling for me to not move anymore. She wanted me to just sit still because that’s what you’re supposed to do after an accident. She knelt in the wet street beside me and continued talking to me, encouraging me to calm down and take deep breaths. Good thing, too. I was about one step away from a panic attack. When a local shop owner arrived on the scene and this helpful voice realized that I knew said shop owner, she returned to her car for a blanket to try to warm me until the EMTs arrived, apparently comfortable with doing so only because I was now with someone familiar. The blanket was soft and protected me from the cold night air and the nonchalant drizzle. Her voice and the voice of the local shop owner attempted to calm me and comfort me until the EMTs arrived and began their flurry of, “Where do you hurt,” “Does this hurt,” “How about here,” “How about over there,” “How about on the moon, would it hurt there?”

I lived.

Such a simple statement. So rife with meaning.

I had no broken bones.

So significant. So often taken for granted.

I hurt like hell.

The whole thing rearranged my life. Here I am, not  a full week later. My injuries are invisible given the right clothing, but I can’t even lift the water pitcher to pour myself a drink. Today I was able to brush my hair by myself for the first time. I’m a professional musician, but I’m unable to lift my lap harp to play. Everyone is beautiful. Every child I see is perfect. I tell every family member I see that I love them. I get that country song about skydiving stuck in my head at weird times. I finally tackled my fear of wordpress and wrote this blog. I can barely sit up more than an hour and a half. I break down and sob at 30 second intervals with no warning.

I survived what killed my teacher.

He was world renowned. He was a genius in his field. He was wise and he was kind and he was special and about 14 months ago someone hit him with their car outside the train station causing his death not long after. But I survived.

It feels so wrong.

What do you do when the cosmos seems to be indicating there is more left to do with your life? You face your fears. You chase your dreams. You love people. You learn from your mistakes and you try to pass it on. You reach down deep inside of you and discover you’ve always known how to fly.

I’m the girl with the wings and I won’t be invisible anymore.

Stick around. Let’s see what happens.