The Fable of Someday

I’m packing for a trip today, and tomorrow I leave for New Orleans. Yes, Mardi Gras.  

I almost hate to tell people where I’m going when I travel (especially the annual Mardi Gras trip) because without fail, they will say something like: “I’m SO jealous. I’m going to go there someday.” or “It must be nice.” or “I’m totally going.” Someday.

No you aren’t.

I don’t mean to be cruel, but you aren’t.  You say things like that all the time to people who are actually doing things they have decided they are going to do, almost like it’s a reflex you can’t help.  When it comes right down to it and someone puts you on the spot by offering to room with you or give you a guidebook or help you plan this trip so you can make it happen you have 100 excuses why you can’t do it.  You are so totally never going. Ever. So either stop lying to yourself and admit you’ve decided to scuttle your dreams of travel in favor of all your responsibilities or motivate your ass to put a plan in motion.  It doesn’t have to be a fast plan – maybe you give up one fancy latte a week and put that money aside for your trip. It doesn’t have to be a luxurious plan – budget travel can be amazing. But it needs to be a plan that you MOVE FORWARD ON. Stop telling yourself that work can’t survive without you or no one can watch the dog. The kids can stay with relatives or (gasp) travel with you.  For real, people do it.  They aren’t rich people, they aren’t unemployed slackers, they have just decided that their needs and dreams are as important as the other parts of their lives.

The last time I heard “I’ll get there someday” (accompanied by the sigh -always) was this afternoon and I was so surprised at the immediate anger I felt I had to stop what I was doing and think about where that was coming from (which resulted in this post). This person didn’t mean harm of course, but really they are harming themselves by casually throwing that desire out there with no intention to do anything about it. You are doing a disservice to yourself to dream empty dreams. Take steps to make them real.  You’re not going to live forever so stop making excuses about why now is not a good time.

Now is the perfect time. Now is the only time.

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Making Handmade Leather Journals

Lately I’ve been obsessed with de-cluttering AND blank journals.  Especially leather ones, which can be amazingly expensive.  I horde blank journals because I can never figure out what’s important enough to write in them but then I realized I could get rid of a bag of random leather scraps by making journals.  Win-win, if I actually use some and get rid of some in the etsy shop or as gifts.  Most of what I am making is teeny and oddly shaped but of course this tutorial will help get you started no matter what size and shape you want to make.  If you want weird ones, get your 40% off Michael’s coupon and buy a $6.99 bag of leather scraps!

Some of my journals are two leather pieces stitched together with pages in the middle like a sandwich. Others are one piece of folded leather and  inserts of folded pages.  The basic stuff I used is above and I happened to have most of it because I’m crafty.  Besides leather I have some cording/ribbon if I want to tie the journals closed, several types of string for binding, embroidery needles $1.29 at Wal-Mart), exacto and scissors, pliers (in case you need help pulling the needle through the pages), and two awls.  You really only need one awl but I just happened to have two around.  And paper of course!  You can use anything and some of my books are using 100lb drawing paper from pads I haven’t touched in years.  The heavier the paper, the more of a challenge it will be to get the awl through.  

For the teeny gray guy below, I cut some scrap copy paper into pages slightly smaller than the leather covers.  

This is a small enough book that I worked the sharper awl through everything at once but you can also work in stages.  Just use one page with holes on all sections as a template.  The number of holes and stitching patterns are up to you and I’ve seen some pretty fancy patterns that confuse the hell out of me.  Just do what you like and what works.  For this type of book without folded pages, the knot will be on the outside.  

For the slightly larger green journal I am using a single piece of leather that I will fold over.  I’m using 100lb paper and will fold those as well.

I poked the smaller awl through everything but using the larger one would have made stitching much easier. I used waxed cotton cord which is thicker than my other options so using pliers to pull the needle straight though was a huge help.  For stitching folded pages the knot can be on the inside.  With this folded type of book, I like to add a tie to it to help hold it shut.

Just cut two small slits in the back and weave a tie of some sort – in this case faux suede cord. Ta-da, you can even remove and add new pages when it gets used up. Now force yourself to write in them! 


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A Cluttered Post About De-Cluttering

Organizing. Minimizing. Simplifying. That’s been my obsession lately. For some time now, I’ve been trying to re-train my brain to understand that more is not necessarily better and just because something is on sale doesn’t mean I need to have it. Spending money on a bunch of junk because it’s cheap is a waste of money, which is what I’m trying to avoid by sale shopping, right? It totally undermines what I’m trying to achieve! This feeling goes way back to growing up with little money, trying to make it stretch as far as possible and accumulate as much as possible, as if possessions could increase my worth. Many of us are trying to do that with or without realizing it. I knew I was never going to be one of the popular preppy girls in their Limited sweaters, spiral perms, and popped collars (late 80’s dude, don’t judge) and I became obsessed with estate sales, flea markets and thrift stores. I still love the treasure hunt of second-hand shopping (and I still don’t have much money) so the challenge is learning to shop with control. Buying only what I need and nothing more and realistically, I don’t need a lot. Also by this age, I’ve figured out some things about myself like I do not wear loafers or scarves so I need to stop buying them from thrift stores, even if they are Italian leather and silk. I don’t have much space to put anything so that’s the other impetus here besides being smarter with my money: we are overcluttered and I can’t stand it. I say “we” because I don’t live alone but the added complication here is that only one of us is on the declutter bandwagon.
I call my husband a hoarder but really, he’s not. He worked hard for everything he has and doesn’t want to get rid of any of it – even if he hasn’t used something in years and probably never will again. He’s still attached to the idea that getting rid of things is throwing away money. I’m over that but I would never be the spouse who throws out things that don’t belong to me because a: I’m not an asshole and b: without a person changing their mindset regarding acquisitions, it does no good to get rid of things because more things will come in and take that space back. So when it comes to things like tools and fishing equipment, I have no power. Le sigh.

I fight my battles where I can, getting cutthroat with things in drawers and closets that can be donated but skirting around his items and trying to gently suggest which things could maybe do just as well in the upstairs storage room that we are lucky enough to have. (Don’t think I haven’t been trying to clear that out as well.) When all else fails, I’ve been throwing things in shelf-sized totes so at least if I have to deal with all the junk existing here I don’t have to dust it. By the way, when did plastic storage containers get so damn expensive??? This latest round of decluttering really took off in August, after yet another flood from a broken valve on our building’s chilled water line which gave us an hour of pouring water out of the fan coil unit from our kitchen ceiling. This has happened several times over the years and each time I try to move more and more things off the floors and into plastic containers. In fact, one of my two dressers is actually a stack of plastic Sterlite drawers and the other dresser is up on wheels. Storage container lids on the closet floor and under the bed keep our shoes and boots dry in the event of wet carpet. The legs of my cedar chest nest in little clear plastic dollar store storage cups. My husband tries to act like I’m the crazy one but I just disaster prep for the type of disaster we have most often. Then I don’t have a heart attack about property damage when a valve blows out in the middle of the night (it’s always the middle of the night for some reason), I just call maintenance and start setting trash cans under the water.
When the house is clearer I can think better. I don’t get frustrated going into that cupboard where everything used to fall out on me. I can find important paperwork. On the rare occasions I’m in the mood to clean it’s so much easier. I can BREATHE. I don’t know if I was ever the kind of person who was comforted being surrounded by mass quantities of “stuff”, but I know now that less is more. If I could just get others around me to believe it, like my parents who also love bargain shopping (especially auctions) and love to bring us tons of things we don’t need when they visit. I’ve told mom only edible presents are welcome from now on but she seems to not hear that…

Helpful guidelines (as I thought them up) if you are trying to declutter:

* Can’t get rid of it but use it once every 6 months? Put it in storage (garage, attic, basement). Get it out of your daily living situation and don’t let it creep back in.

* About that storage space.  It’s the last place something lingers before it goes out the door.  Really assess what you have there and why.  If you forgot you had it, get rid of it.

* Keeping something because it belonged to a loved one is great if you use that thing on a regular basis (grandma’s kitchen towels), but the bag of costume jewelry that’s not your style? Grandma’s okay with you not keeping it. Giving it away does not diminish your love or your memories.

* How many of your childhood and high school trinkets do you REALLY need?

* If you aren’t planning on having kids, maybe give up most of your stuffed animals and children’s books.

* Don’t keep something just because it is old.

* Don’t keep something just because of nostalgia.

* Don’t keep something just because it is valuable (and don’t keep a pile of things you think will sell on ebay – you won’t get much money for them if you ever really do get around to listing them).

* It’s easy to overlook things you see every day but get in your way. It is really adding value to your life or just clutter?

* If you keep instructions/warranty paperwork in one place, go through it and throw out expired warranties and manuals for things you no longer own.

* You have things in your closet that you say you loooove – but there’s always something else you want to wear more? Those things should go. Ditto with shoes and purses. I know it hurts to admit because I too love shoes and bags.

* Start writing in all those blank notebooks or stop buying them! Sorry, that might just pertain to me.

* If you’ve kept something for 15 years “just in case” and never used/worn it…

* You own a pie dish but know damn well you will alway buy a pre-made crust…

* It’s more important to have a few things you are in love with than 100 choices that you feel “eh” about.

* There are plenty of people who could use what you don’t need. I have a free box outside my office where I put a lot of things that disappear. I know they are being used by others. I try to donate to small local charities instead of Goodwill and Salvation Army because big organizations often have more than they can use.

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A Blessing for New Student Move In Day

On this, the most Holy of Residence Life Holy days, we ask you

Oh Creator, Creators, Flying Spaghetti Monster or Mysterious Scientific Processes that brought us life,

Bless us in our trials with new students, parents, rain, broken elevators, heat stroke, lost keys, panic attacks, e-cigarettes, comfort animals, fan coil leaks, and nasty roommates.

Deliver us from bed bugs and may no personal emergencies befall us upon this day.

For nothing is more important than the student experience today, the day we hope they remember fondly for the rest of their life – especially when they become old and wealthy and want to donate to their alma mater.


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In My Defense, it Probably Wasn’t Even a Swingline

I killed the stapler.  It literally saved my ass and I killed it.  We had JUST had the conversation yesterday about how these folks order all sorts of expensive office supplies like staplers every year like they are running away from the desks or somehing – now I have to get a new one for the hall office because I dropped it on the bathroom floor.

I should back up.

It turned out to be one of those days (happens a lot in student affairs) where you dress nice because you are, you know, a professional, and then it turns out you are running around sweating, climbing, dragging, and otherwise being very messy and unladylike.  Sometimes I know when those days are going to happen but mostly I don’t.  Usually happens when I’m not wearing sensible shoes.  Long story short – I crouched down to pick up some things and forgot I was wearing a shift dress with not a lot of give. RRRRIIIIIIIIIPPPP!  All the way up to There.

I’m not in a building with my office or my apartment.  That would be too convenient.  My co-worker who does live there has ONE safety pin.  How does one live in a place with only one safety pin? This is at least a three pin job.  The office staff finds no safety pins in the office but she rattles off the supplies and I hear stapler.  With a MacGyver glint in my eye, I grab the doomed stapler and run in the bathroom.

Oh, I’m so clever.  This is going so well.  Four staples and a safety pin, I am GOLDEN.  I can even run some errands around campus and no one will ever know!  Then I stand up, readjust my dress, and promptly drop the stapler on the tile where it smashes into more pieces than a healthy office supply should be.  You ever look down at something that has broken and somehow feel if you pick it up really fast it will be less broken?  Exactly that.  Which popped ALL my fucking staples out.

But I still had that solo safety pin.

It didn’t really cover enough to pretend that something hadn’t gone horribly wrong back there, but at least I could make it home with leas shame.  Not that I really feel shame anymore.  I work in housing – weird, embarrassing, ridiculous stuff is what we do.

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

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How is This My First Comic Book Convention?  Easy Costume Time!

I love an excuse to put on a costume, I have no idea why I’ve never been to one of these shindigs before.  I attended HeroesCon 2015 Saturday and it was pretty overwhelming.  I can’t even imagine going to something on a huge scale like the one in San Diego.  

Am I a comic book fan?  Is “sort of” an answer?  I was kind of dragged into the scene in high school by my boyfriend, spending all his money each week when the new issues came out.  Hours spent in local stores pawing through boxes, and then hours spent at home studying the price guide and figuring out what to sell and what to hoard.  Bored to tears, I picked up my own appreciation for Lobo and anything drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz.  I tried to like Sandman but it was too emo for me.  Didn’t like Fantastic Four but loved when Thing would be peeking out from something on the cover saying hi.  

These days, I know nothing about con characters other than going to the lastest blockbuster movie (who doesn’t cheer when they spot a Stan Lee cameo?  NO ONE.) and what I grew up watching on TV as a kid (Justice League of America! Wonder Woman! The Incredible Hulk! Doctor Who! Star Trek!).  I started brainstorming costume ideas on Thursday for a Saturday event and it was quickly obvious that I wasn’t going to know most of what people were into.  So I did what I always do when I need random advice: I put it out on facebook.  Most ideas involved way too much work or some kind of face covering that I don’t have the patience to wear all day but then my crafty friend posted one of her aprons…

JACKPOT.  It was out of the question that I was going to get an exact correct costume of any character with no time and little money but THIS I could work with.  I would be Housewife Wonder Woman.  I crossed my fingers that WW fans wouldn’t be pissed about my version and proceeded to gather accessories. (BTW, my crafty friend makes and sells all sorts of delightful aprons including this model so if you are jealous and want your own, you can contact her on etsy at The Googerhopper Shop! 

So here’s what I needed:

  • Apron (got it!)
  • Red boots (got it!)
  • Blue short skirt (got it!)
  • Red tank top (Goodwill)
  • Red blue and yellow mini backpack (Goodwill)
  • Bag of red white and blue felt star stickers (Hobby Lobby)
  • Official DC Wonder woman patch (Hobby Lobby)
  • Yellow hankerchief (Hobby Lobby)
  • Yellow dish gloves (Dollar Tree)
  • Yellow jumprope “lasso of truth” (Dollar Tree)
  • Red spatula (Dollar Tree)
  • I wish I could have found a feather duster to carry

With a caribiner I hung the lasso (handles removed) and spatula on my waist on the apron tie.  I stuck white stars on the butt of my blue skirt and a red one on each dish glove.  I folded the yellow hankie in half, stuck a red star on top in the middle and tied my hair back with it.  Sewed the WW patch on the backpack over the Jaguar (?) tag. Ta-freakin-da. It was a hit, although I kind of forgot to get a picture of me and when I remembered, of course the picture looked terrible.  So I present to you my costume taken in a dark parking garage  by my friend’s phone which is nice and blurry.  Not suprisingly, I think I look best when blurry.

Right?  Blurry rocks.

The con was a lot of fun, but so much to look at I never got to go to any sessions that sounded interesting like Violent Images or Race in Comics.  Next time, I promise.  And maybe I’ll spring for the photo with Stan. 

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In Which I Play at Being an Internet Minister

I’m on a turbulance-filled plane ride back from California, where I just used my Universal Life Church credentials for the first time to marry two friends in a shady grove with giant pinecones and an active golf course behind us. California recognizes the ULC as a denomination and me as a minister. Ain’t that some shit?

I did hardly anything in the way of ceremony planning because the bride was very hands-on and did pretty much every task herself. She sent me the “script” for the whole thing a few weeks ago and now that I’ve done the deed and it’s fresh in my mind, I felt I should make some notes so I’m better prepared if I am ever asked to do this again. If you are also a magical Internet wizard – I mean minister – maybe me talking through this will help you as well or you might have some tips for me!
It would help if I actually cared about weddings and ceremony trends but honestly, I’ve never been a wedding person. I’m always bored at them and I didn’t really plan my own that well. I’m missing that gene almost every female seems to have which causes them to plan every last detail of their ideal wedding by the age of five. Then small changes are made in the plan every now and then as new trends emerge in magazines or on Pinterest. Not me. So when the future bride said she wanted some kind of humanist ceremony I had to look up what the hell that meant. We kept meaning to discuss what exactly they wanted but in the end, she researched what she wanted and doled it out to those of us involved in it. Cool with me, although now I will feel more comfortable having an idea of how things actually work on my side of it.
She knew there was no way I was going to remember all the parts of my script so I used a small, cute blank notebook to write in my portion, as well as stage notes about what I or the others should be doing at critical points. ALWAYS IN PENCIL – I brought a pencil and a nice clean Pink Pearl eraser so I could make changes as we decided on specifics while talking things out and during the rehearsal. Since there were some times when I had to put the book down to do other tasks, I think I need a bookmark so I don’t waste time nervously flipping through the pages. Probably best to use a book with a ribbon bookmark attached so I don’t have to worry about dropping it. A whole blank book for one ceremony might seem wasteful, but I could use it for multiple ceremonies as well as take further notes about the couple and the day. That gives me a reason to use all the blank books I own and never use because I feel I don’t have anything important enough to write in them.
I did mess up twice as a result of: not making a note where I needed it about if I should turn off music at one point or let it play out, and then totally ignoring a note I had about introducing the second reader. I must be diligent in my note taking at the time we are discussing things, even if it means scribbling it in fast and making it clearer later. As far as missing my note, maybe it needed to be its’ own page rather than in parentheses at the bottom of a section. Or are colored pencils erasable? Maybe changing colors would help get my attention but still be adjustable.
Backups, backups, backups for everything. Just because you aren’t the event coordinator doesn’t mean you can’t help with ensuring backups for things you will be responsible for in the ceremony. This ceremony had a Unity Cup section and I was given a bottle of mead to pour in the glasses. We also had a backup bottle for whatever reason we might need it. (Did we have a bottle opener? WE DID NOT, but the best man earned his title by opening it with the bottom of a lighter – don’t me how but I was in awe.) The music was four songs broken into three Spotify playlists on an iPad. When the recessional song wasn’t available because of an error, we had the songs also available on someone’s iPhone.
The wedding license is terrifying. The ceremony is nothing compared to filling this thing out properly. I don’t know if every state/county is as rigid, and I understand the reason for wanting perfection in a legal document but OMG I had chest pains when I looked at my officiant paperwork that came with the license form. Along with the example that listed all the ways I could make this paper unacceptable, I had a half sheet where the witnesses could write down their address for me so I could slowly and deliberately (holding my breath) fill their addresses in correctly where it mattered. Originally my plan was to write it all in pencil and go over it in pen after proofing the information one billion times. My fear of the forbidden ink smudges if I tried to erase any showing pencil kept me from doing that. I am no ink pen expert but I feel there has to be some kind of quick drying, smudge proof pen that I am willing to invest in. Do they still make erasable ink pens? I absolutely need a wedding pen besides my mechanical pencil and a Pink Pearl. (UPDATE: I am currently in love with Pentel’s Energel fast drying black ink pens with .05 tip.) Along with that, a wedding information binder.

Technically, my job isn’t over yet. I am responsible for making sure the paperwork is submitted to the county clerk with 10 days of the ceremony. Being a destination wedding complicated this a little bit. The wedding was Saturday, we are all leaving on Sunday and in order to mail the license on Monday it needs to travel in a backpack all day long getting shoved under airplane seats. The original plan was something else but plans change. In the future, I will look for protective storage so I don’t worry about the condition it’s going to be in when I get to the post office. What is happening in this case is the Maid of Honor will save the day. She leaves the resort Sunday, has time in Sacramento Monday before her flight to take the paperwork to a post office and mail it Priority Express with tracking ($19.99). I will track it obsessively until I see it has arrived. I don’t feel as good about this as doing it myself, but I do know this person is trustworthy and takes the task seriously. I will be prepared next time, if there is a next time.

UPDATE! The very important paperwork has been delivered to the county clerk office at 10:38a.m. today! :)

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