Dante or Realite

Spring has sprung

Welcome to one of the 2 religious holidays even people who aren’t religious tend to get guilted into setting foot into a church for. I’ve been “outside the fold” for nearly a decade now and I’ve got some things to say to those still inside buzzing about “deconstruction”.

1. If you were told by a Christian what deconstruction is, they were probably wrong.

2. If you “know” why ppl are leaving the church today, but haven’t asked ppl that left the church why they left, you’re probably wrong.

3. If you were thinking about someone you haven’t seen in church in a while and you ask their friends or family where they are, but you don’t ever reach out to them personally, you’re probably doing this wrong.

4. If your first instinct, when hearing why someone left the church is to counter that reason, you’re probably doing this whole Christianity thing wrong.

5. If you do not curb that first instinct to counter someone’s reason for leaving the church, you are definitely doing this whole Christianity thing wrong.

Those who have “deconstructed” actually do have a community, one I happen to live in via the internet since my closest deconstructed friends are too far away to visit. And it is wildly consistent the handful of reasons ppl leave, and the incorrect reasons the church tells ppl they left. It is disturbingly consistent how common it is that the only reason ppl from their former churches reach out is to try to “win them back to Jesus”. There’s no actual concern for the human that left. They are a means to the end of adding a “Star” in the Christian’s “eternal crown”. There’s no, “wow, I hate that happened to you and you’re completely right- it’s messed up”. There’s no, “can I help you by providing food, transportation, or a quiet place of safety where you can think as you grieve and rebuild” but there’s a whole lot of “I’ll pray for you”. Which from the outside looking in is careless at best and a self righteous passive aggressive response that allows Christians to claim they “offered help but were rejected” when in reality they offered no help at all at middling. At worst it’s a thinly veiled threat to “sick God on ’em” and deliver them into any number of uncomfortable and destructive judgments the Christian believes are called for, regardless of what their Jesus actually believes on the subject. And the “lost sheep” notice. And their hearts are broken. They thought they were loved. They thought they had friends, family, people who genuinely cared about more than their intangible eternal destiny. It’s devastating to realize you were nothing but a resource to be used for your money, your talent, your time. You were nothing but a number in a spreadsheet.

At the end of the day, I haven’t met anyone who left the church so that they could “live in sin” or “escape accountability”. I’ve not met anyone who deconstructed whose very life was not torn apart by the betrayal of the church, the loss of the only guiding foundation they were ever presented with, and the sheer devastation of the realization that they were going to have to question everything and then completely rebuild themselves. The process of deconstruction is regularly painted by the church as a human succumbing to temptation and rebelling in some glorious self exaltation and debauched revelry, but this illustration is more Dante than Realite. I’ve read several accounts of ppl that realized early in life that they didn’t truly believe, then waited until much later to actually walk away, but they’re not nearly as common as the stories I’ve read of more phoenix-like fiery crashes resulting in the death and rebirth of a personhood. And it isn’t fast. Some individuals are 30 or 40 years into their deconstruction and still asking questions or for suggestions on how to relieve themselves of some toxic core memory or belief imparted to them by “the faith”.

So listen up, ye Christian heathens: look good and deep into what you’ve done to the world and to your fellow man. Look good and deep into where your text came from, how many times it’s been translated, how many differences in the translations there are, how canonization occurred and how insidiously related Christianity has become to imperialism and nationalism. Ask yourself, “did God put me in this world to be an asshole?” And then practice active listening. Practice active support and active love. Practice knowing where you end and someone else begins. Practice the application of common sense that tells us that offering to pray for a situation means nothing to someone who believes there is no god. Practice having conversations where you never once mention Jesus, church or your religion.

And, most of all, practice the art of inexperience. Realize that there are situations out there that you cannot comprehend due to your personal lack of experience in them, and stop pretending that you know all the answers.

Perhaps, this Easter, as you attempt to shock and awe each other with gory depictions of a literally fatal torture, you take an extended moment to contemplate the religion Christianity overwrote in order to celebrate the “Easter Holiday”, the very real humans that practiced that religion and were literally murdered for daring to believe in a different spirituality. Then look at the way the church is teaching you to behave and contemplate if you’re also destroying people’s lives “in the name of God”.

Are you voting in favor of legislation that will result in the death of the poor, the disabled, the disenfranchised, the “other”? Are you advising your friend to enact cruelty to their family member in an effort to force said family member to relinquish their sense of self to be overwritten by the self your friend would have them be? Are you offering prayer instead of assistance? Are you hushing the voice of a victim because it’s easier to call the truth slander than it is to pursue justice? Do you recognize the difference between pardon and forgiveness?

I look around at the state the Christian church is in today and I’m horrified. I’m grief stricken. And honestly? I’m probably not going to return.

It’s safer out here in the wilderness with the jackals.

Selah

It’s Not About You

I come to this weird place mentally from a society that’s constantly asserting opinions as facts and inundating us with a never-ending barrage of commentary that seems to boil down to one thing: one size should always fit all. But it’s simply not true. It’s not practical. It’s not usually helpful. But somehow that idea that we’re all supposed to fit into the same customs, the same values and the same processes is everywhere, hammering away at us as we try to navigate things as simple as going about our jobs or choosing our outfit for the day. It pervades how we eat, who we are “allowed” by society to love and encourage, who we can support financially, what shows we can and cannot watch… the whole thing is exhausting. And it’s really puzzling here in the US, where individuality and independence is supposed to be upheld as the pinnacle of being (according to stereotypes and financial/political aspirations) to see such a strident and teeth grinding rage manifest whenever someone chooses to exit someone’s idea of uniformity. So we’re apparently supposed to be “unique” and “self-sufficient,” but “not like that.”

Somehow, this clash of ideals manifested in my mind today as I was driving home and passively reviewing things I’d read and seen and felt this week. We have announcements in my gardening class on Monday nights and one of the things that has been announced several times over the last few weeks is how many people have completed enough volunteer hours and education credits to immediately receive their advancement to Master Gardeners at the end of our final class. Those people are celebrated and lauded. A moderate round of applause and a brief crowing of such an accomplishment. And, as I drive home today, I remember this announcement and I feel… something…. inside. I feel like I’ve been slacking. There’s an enormous event being held next weekend that they’ve requested we all volunteer for as interns. They’ve also admitted there’s not very many slots left for volunteers to sign up for as nearly all the required jobs have been filled at this juncture. And I’m feeling this negative feeling, perhaps a reproach, towards myself for not having signed up yet. For not being ahead of schedule in the reading. For not having completed and turned in all my education and volunteer hours yet. But here’s the thing: I was legitimately busy. And I have until the end of the year to complete these hours. And the Expo is nearly full up on volunteers so they’re not desperate or lacking. And there’s a slew of birthdays happening over the next couple of weeks that will be celebrated both this weekend and the weekend of the Expo in my circle of friends. I’ve also just returned from a trip out of state and am still doing the laundry and cleaning the house and putting away the suitcases. On top of that, I still haven’t completely moved into my studio or finished purging and putting away the decor from my major event in January. So why, in the name of dog, am I comparing myself to a retired married couple that managed to leave their home a few times and watch a few videos? They have nothing like the schedule that I do. They have nothing like the commitments that I do. They are apples to my coconuts.

You are so LAZY!”

Dad

And there it is. There is the reason that I compare my life to the life of an elderly retired couple with nothing else to do most days than weed the flower beds and look at the birds. I must be lazy. My dad said so. But here’s the thing…

I’m not actually lazy.

It’s relatively complicated and convoluted how we, the residents of the United States, arrived at the idea that any moments spent in lack of productivity were evil, so I’m going to skip all that and sum it up with “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop” is an idea that my dad apparently ascribed to. And because my ADD, salutatorian of my class, involved in multiple extracurricular school activities, taking voice lessons while doing a distance learning course in music theory, choir touring, solo performing in church, songwriting backside liked to sleep until 10 or 11am on Saturdays or during the summer, I must be lazy. And I’m going to tell you right now, Ben Franklin can keep his sunrises to himself because I tend to start productivity around 2pm and don’t stop until somewhere between 2 and 4am. That’s a 12-14hr span of productivity every damned day when left to my own devices so early risers do not, in fact, have a monopoly on “getting it done.” And that’s where The Princess and the Frog comes in.

Dig a Little Deeper | Disney video | lyrics | The Princess and the Frog

For approximately 3 minutes of our lives, Mama Odie proclaims the need for folks to “dig a little deeper” to find what they truly need, sagely pointing out that what they want and what they need are usually two completely different things. What Prince Naveen wants is to be human again so he can go back to loafing about and womanizing while his parents support his lavish lifestyle. Mama Odie obviously wants him to learn he needs to learn to work for things in life. Mama Odie wants him to feel the pride, joy and value of earning his way. So who walks away hearing that message? Tiana. Tiana has already been shown as a complete workaholic that has so little time for her friends she’s a punchline. In the age of the internet those girls would have left her in the dust long ago, only barely remembering her as someone they grew up with. But since this is New Orleans in the 1920s, their world is smaller than the one we know, so they still see her regularly and still have hopes that one day she’ll finally accept their invitation to come out with them. You see the montage early in the movie showing she only sleeps for a couple of hours a night in an effort to “work hard enough” to raise the money for a down payment on a building that’s literally falling apart, all in hopes of making her dream of opening her own restaurant come true. As she jubilantly proclaims this is what she learned from the song to Mama Odie, Mama and her menagerie visibly wilt and you know Tiana’s on the wrong path still. Mama Odie did sing a verse specifically to Tiana in her upbeat serenade, but it was about looking up from your work and opening your eyes to see the love in your life before it’s too late to enjoy it. Tiana isn’t crazy. There was a “work harder” element to the song, but that message was for Naveen. Tiana is missing out on living her best life because she listened to the wrong verse.

Speaking of verses, let’s circle back to my Dad and the idea of uniformity and conformity, blah, blah, blah. I grew up in a very conservative Protestant Christian environment. We weren’t Quiverfull, but I knew those people. My dad admired those people wistfully. I wasn’t stuck in dresses with my hair in a bun, but my dad definitely thought about it when he saw families with an even stricter policy than the one he imposed. And a part of that policy that was rigorously enforced was that when the church doors were open we were there. I went to 2 services on Sunday and Sunday School. I went to AWANA. I went to youth group. I was in the choir. I assisted in set up and tear down for events. I started working weddings with him when I was like, 11. I started performing solos on the church platform when I was 6. We were questioned Sunday afternoon about the sermon (no children’s church for us) and about what we learned in Sunday School that day. We were supposed to memorize scripture and the lyrics to hymns. We went to a Christian school instead of the local public school. We had family devotions. We were supposed to do personal devotions. We were supposed to attend Bible studies. To say that I was presented with scripture and doctrine regularly doesn’t even remotely touch on how much of my life was permeated with “The Word.” Something I realized about midway through highschool was that there were just sermons that didn’t pertain to me. I was sternly informed that there was always something to get out of every sermon and I was supposed to look closely in order to find the way that sermon did, in fact, apply to me, but I’m a bright girl and there were just things that got preached about that had nothing to do with me. Unfortunately, like Tiana, I started paying attention to verses not meant for me in that moment and graduated with a whole slew of beliefs about myself that were completely incorrect. I’m not lazy. I’m not usually spiteful, although I do have my moments. I’m not usually greedy and the culture there actually had to teach me to be jealous. My confidence was mistaken for pride. My intelligence was confused with arrogance and my curiosity with challenging authority. My asexuality was mistaken for a strength against temptation to lust. My anorexia convinced people I never struggled with gluttony. I had no idea who I was until over 2 decades later. Because all these sermons and verses that I listened to I had been convinced had to have something to do with me.

Two Weeks Notice (2002) - IMDb
“Not now! EVERYTHING is not about YOU!”

I have a thing for sidekick characters. In case you’re unfamiliar, this is Heather Burns (may she live forever) playing the best friend character, Meryl Brooks, in Two Weeks Notice. And BLESS her delivery of this line. I hear it in my head now when it suddenly dawns on me: not everything is about you. See someone ranting online? Not everything is about you. Friend didn’t text back for a couple of days and starting to wonder if it was something you said? Not everything is about you. Someone’s shooting off the mouth online about “those millennials and their entitlement” again? EVERYTHING is not about YOU!

Eh. Those sorts of things maybe are a bit more obvious. So let’s get philosophical. “Today’s culture is unwilling to get involved and do the work because they’ve just had everything handed to them all their lives…something, something, participation trophies.” This used to burn my buttons. I mean really just lit me straight on fire, Inside Out style.

Characters | Disney Australia Movies
GET OFF MY LAWN

Then I got ludicrously in my feelings frustrated about how so many people I worked with, now well into adulthood, were doing the bare minimum or less and I was over here burning out trying to keep everything going and to do everything to the highest degree of excellence. And it hit me… that there really are full fledged adults out here running around being bad at their jobs and sleeping completely peaceful about it through the night. I literally cannot fathom. I’m still embarrassed about missing a deadline because I got sick 5 years ago. But those people are getting their paychecks direct deposited on Thursday, same as me. And, get this: there are people out there that do not care at all about their jobs. Hand me a pumpkin spice latte, my yoga pants and some Uggs, because I white girl cannot even. I do not have a box for that in the filing closet of my brain. So when people are out there complaining about there being people that don’t want to work, it’s actually true, even though I cannot FATHOM even having the capability to do it. When there are people out there complaining about service being substandard and the provider behaving like they don’t care at all, that stuff actually does happen every single day. But I didn’t do it. It’s not about me. I don’t have to look at my schedule and see how I can work harder for the company because we had a team meeting and it came up that we’re missing the mark as a team. I’m already giving the place my all. It’s time for someone else to step up, not for me to buckle down harder and overcommit. I can let it go because it’s not about me.

What other things in life are we holding onto that have nothing to do with ourselves? Do we believe that we need to be productive every minute of every waking hour? Studies show that’s incredibly unhealthy for humans. Do we believe we need to be friends with everyone at work or church or in Bible study? Again, unhealthy. It’s entirely sufficient to be courteous, nice or professional without actually befriending anyone. Not everyone is a good fit for everyone as friends. Is that retired couple making you look bad because they had the time and availability to complete their outside class requirements early? Honestly, who else is even comparing the two of you but your own self? If “studies show that” people with a certain BMI have a higher chance of heart attack and stroke, but you are Lizzo and capable of singing, dancing and playing the flute simultaneously for 2+ hours straight on the regular, maybe you need to pay more attention to your own personal statistics regarding your heart health and cholesterol and discuss them with your doctor instead of with internet keyboard warriors armed with cherry-picked statistics. (And Lizzo does, which I find highly admirable.)

Where are you sabotaging yourself because you’re applying standards and verses and opinions and whatever…when EVERYTHING is not about YOU?

New New Beginnings

During my last post I said I had 186 followers on Facebook, which was my only active social media at the time. Today I have 218. So from October 2020 I have managed to grow my audience…*checks calculator* by 32. I’m a year and a half that averages…1.7 audience members a month. That’s abysmal, but it’s still growth. The studio I’d just moved into has taught exactly 2 students. Again, abysmal, but still growth. And I still haven’t set up a Patreon or made a new YouTube video or started my Etsy store.

So what have I done? I downloaded and started using Habitica, a free app that’s supposed to help you be more productive. And, weirdly, it’s making me more productive. I know now when it’s time to change the sheets, vacuum carpets, and a few other chores I tend to forget. I run the robotic vacuum regularly and the pet hair isn’t building up. I post regularly on my Facebook and have downloaded Twitter to my phone (but really, does anyone even tweet anymore?). I found out I can actually use the WordPress editor on this new phone of mine so look forward to more regular content from me going forward. I’ve been applying to new jobs and getting all rejections. I did a wedding and a honeymoon. I increased my daily step goal gradually from 4000 to 9500 and don’t feel like I need to sleep all the time. And I reached out to an artist for the logo package for my Etsy that I started to set up but have no content to post so I’m stuck for a minute there. Oh! And I started getting my certification as a Master Gardener for the state of TN.

Sunset over rollercoasters at Six Flags, CA

So it’s not like I’ve been doing nothing. But I look at my friends and I’m so happy and excited for them because they’re finally gaining decent traction with their stores, blogs, podcasts, social media personas… Whatever. And I admit it; I covet their success a bit. Today I feel brave. Today I look at the process of getting myself out there and I feel like I just need to start something and everything will fall into place. It’s raining today, though. So after pushing through the pain all work, will I still have the energy to pursue progress when I get home? I honestly don’t know. I’m still fighting jet lag from being in California last week on top of everything else.

I was recently inspired by a comic strip that discussed how difficult it is for those of us who are middle aged to keep up with the changing medias and formats and subjects and content styles and I realized: I’m waiting for a really that will never be. I’m never going to be able to “git gud” with crafting videos with one media before another one replaces it in popularity and expectations. Like, what even is Instagram? And Tictoc? Why would you tic? Toc? Before it was Twitter, then Tumblr and this weird nebulous “why do ppl spend so much time on Reddit?” What is even the point of Snapchat? There is only 1 student in my studio to keep me educated on the current tech and that’s an awful lot to expect of an 11 year old. So I’m going to have to just dive in. I’m going to have to make mistakes and create content no one sees or likes even though I’m sticking it out there. I’m going to have to face the void and, this time, I’m going to have to win.

Lately I’ve been thinking to myself that perhaps the way to get over my fear of the inevitable silence would be to just…create for myself but post it where it can be seen or purchased. And, honestly, that seems to be how my friends got successful. They put themselves out there and eventually their fan base found them.

How do cats always seem to find my butt? I need fans with Jak’s level of awareness regarding my location.

So here I set out again with the grandest of intentions, a bit wiser and with better technology. Perhaps this time, something will stick.

Before I go… Just because I’m curious: did anyone actually put a cape on their toothbrush? I need to know.

PS: every one of you is still my hero.

2020 Just…Why?

This is a pretty accurate depiction of my status this year…

I cannot even begin to properly express how I feel about this year. My SO and I went through the heartbreaking and incredibly intense emotional experience that is house hunting. A tornado passed through right behind where I worked and near the location of a home we had under contract. COVID-19, enuf said there. Navigating unemployment. Coming back from unemployment to a retail world changed completely by COVID-19. Having just cleaned up that mess to be sent home from work and be out of work for approximately 2 months culminating in surgery. Coming back to work under post surgery restrictions. Trying to clean up that mess while finalizing our house shopping because we actually lost the one near the tornado path due to my SO’s house not selling in a timely fashion (terrible realtor). Finding out my place of employment was being sold to a multi-location and profit-minded company that had no idea what I did in my job position and refused any and all offers to provide them with a job description, statistics on volume and profitability or even to walk someone through it on the phone. Realizing that I’ve now had 4 medical professionals tell me to quit this job for health reasons in the last year. Quitting (I HATE quitting jobs and have rarely done it.) The closing day for our house moving back one day at a time for an entire week. The housewarming for our house being moved as a result. Having to return the U-haul truck as a result. Having to reschedule the professionals that were moving my piano as a result. Finally having our housewarming party and being surprised with a proposal from my SO (I said yes ūüėČ ). Rescheduling EVERYTHING to get the house set up. Spending the main focus of my life for the next 3 weeks moving…and I’m still not done yet.

Y’all… I am TIRED…

Meanwhile,

  • I’ve discovered Last Week Tonight.
  • I’ve been able to play my custom piano for the first time since 2014. (It sounds terrible because it doesn’t get tuned until next week, but I can play it.)
  • I’ve finally begun teaching private music lessons again (virtually)
  • I’ve had the chance to just sit and watch the pets enjoy the screened in back porch we worked so hard to acquire for them.
  • I’ve very nearly gotten my gut to recover from pre-surgery testing.
  • I’ve been able to look at so many things from my previous way of life and just…let them go… because I don’t need them anymore.
  • We have a jetted tub, y’all, and it’s been so helpful for this healing process.
  • I have a partner that is actively encouraging me to rebuild my business, create an online store and set up a Patreon.
  • I finally feel like I have the time to be a person, not just a productivity machine.

So 2020 has definitely been terrifying with the virus and the protesting and the Us vs Themism that’s rampant right now, but it hasn’t been the worst year of my life. And I’m really grateful for that.

I miss expressing myself. I really don’t know that anyone is even reading this stuff, but I miss just being able to gather my thoughts on a subject and leave them here in this virtual box.

So here’s to getting back into costuming, quilting, cross-stitching and music. Basically, here’s to being a person again.

Temperature Quilt 2019 thru July

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.