What Day is it Anyhow?

When you work overnight shifts, sometimes your days blur and merge. When I woke up this evening, I had no concept of time let alone what day it was. I had to go back and look up previous posts to figure out that this is post 21.

I’ll be honest – I didn’t want to write this today. I didn’t sleep much yesterday and spent all of last night (my night off from Job 1) sorting through and packing boxes of books for Job 2. I was so tired I actually fell asleep sitting in my chair with a barcode scanner in my hand for about an hour. For anyone who is a facebook friend, you’re already aware of this as I had been posting about it at various stages. But, this has pretty much been my day. Nothing glamorous, don’t have time for a think piece, just a factual report of the day.

And some photos from Job 2:

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I start off with boxes like these. I sort through to see what I will sell and what will go on to the community book sale.

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This is where I determine which books will be sold on Amazon, which will be sold to other vendors, and which go on to the community sales.

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These lower shelves are filled with books already listed on Amazon. This is also where I keep my bubble mailers.

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More books listed on Amazon waiting to be ordered. I currently have over 1,300 active listings in my store.

But, it’s not all work and no play. A few months ago, my friend Mike came over and helped me construct this book tower in response to a challenge Hank Green put forward on Youtube. I didn’t win, but I had a lot of fun 🙂

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Please consider picking up something for yourself or a friend over at my Amazon store, AikiFox Books. 50% of the proceeds go to support the Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners program which gives free books to prisoners throughout the state of Illinois.

March 1, 2002

Thought I would share this entry from my diary from 14 years ago. I was 17 when I wrote this. I find this ever so amusing now… “I don’t want to be a boring teacher anymore” – there was a brief period of my adolescence where I thought I wanted to be a speech teacher (Mostly because that was my favorite class and Mrs. Malinak was amazing. Still is). Now I’m nearly 31, in a committed relationship with a teacher, and just re-applied for grad school in the hopes of becoming a school social worker. 🙂

There was also a period where I really wanted to go into the military. My father, his brothers, and my grandfathers had all been in the military. At the time, I was really close to my father and I wanted to make him proud of me. Had I gone in, I would have been the first female in my family to join. This period of my life was also filled with a lot of self-loathing and internalized misogyny that had been handed down to me from my father. I felt like I needed to shun anything about me that was “too girly” to be worthwhile or to gain my father’s approval.

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Later that year I did follow through with these goals. That summer I made the phone calls to different instructors and started studying Tae Kwon Do and Aikido. I started trying to eat healthier – this was more of a phase 1 in that I stopped sitting on the couch eating bags of doritos. started exercising by way of martial arts, and stopped eating so many doritos. Because I wanted to impress/ not embarrass myself in front of a boy (the TKD instructor’s son), I added some new foods to the list of things I would eat. I still have no idea what is in an eggroll and I’m perfectly happy NOT knowing.

These are still basic goals that I have for myself, trying to improve myself. I’ve been doing pretty good in trying to eat healthier and lose weight – I’m at 139.8 lbs today. I’m not taking lessons anymore, but I’m still exploring new interests and learning new skills.

Someone Broke into my Car

Last night, as I got in my car to head to work, I turned on my stereo to discover that, instead of the David Bowie playlist I created on my iPod, the radio was playing instead. I looked down to discover that my iPod (and the cord, and my headphones) was missing. This is the 3rd time in a matter of months that my iPod has been stolen out of my car.

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The 89 Daytona I used to drive. Before it went to crap. There was no opening these doors.

I suppose that it’s my fault for leaving it in the car in the first place. It also doesn’t help that I occasionally forget to lock my car. The beater I drive for 8 years was impossibly hard to open so I never needed to before upgrading. I’ve been trying to be better about that since break in #2. Also, I was parked in a different spot this time, so, I suspect it may even be the same person.

On the one hand, I am kind of irritated because I didn’t exactly have another iPod in my budget. On the other hand, I know that there are much bigger issues and that, whomever took it, probably had their reasons. Maybe they wanted one and couldn’t afford one. Maybe they needed the money that could be made from selling it. Accepting that rationale, I make peace with it. Because I realize that, at this point in my life, I have the fortune to not have very many unmet needs and could just buy another if I choose to (don’t get me wrong – I’m not rich. There isn’t a lot left over for wants, but needs are certainly met). I was similarly un-phased when someone stole my bike some years ago when I still worked at a thrift store and used that bike as a primary mode of transportation. I just figured someone else must have needed it worse than I did.

We live in this society that places so much value on material objects. These objects, like clothing, carry meaning and send messages to others around us – our interests, our values, our status within society. We are repeatedly told that having these things will bring us happiness, and, for a very short, fleeting time, they do. We are told that we need these things – being able to at least look the part we want to play can go a way toward making us feel it and to making others around us to treat us that way. Have you never heard the phrase, “The clothes make the man”? Well, so do accessories and gadgets. I don’t blame anyone for using objects to try to belong to something, even superficially. Belonging is a human need. It also just so happens that our society does not give everyone the same opportunities to seek these things out in the legal or socially accepted ways.

So, in conclusion, at the end of the day, it’s all just stuff. But after I buy the next iPod I’m going to start bringing it inside with me.

Let’s Chat!

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Welcome to Day 18 of my self-imposed Blog-Every-Day-for-30-Days Challenge!

Are you a long time reader? Maybe you have no idea who I am but you managed to stumble on this blog after doing a search for rag rugs. Or making rope out of rags. Or things you can do with old video tape. (After my doll blogs, these are my most viewed posts that people keep finding.) However long you have been reading, I want to say Thank You.

Thank You for taking time out of your day to absorb my ramblings and my photos. Thank You for letting me know when you like my content and for all the times you’ve left a comment. As a token of my appreciation, I’d like to invite you to join me in a Google Hangout on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. Central Standard Time.

This will be the link to use

You can ask me questions and tell me your thoughts. We can share ideas. We can sing songs together. Or you can watch me try to balance random objects on my head while I try not to laugh. 🙂

Now… as soon as I can figure out how, I plan to add a countdown timer on the sidebar…

You Remind Me of the Babe…

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Dolly Stardust – My own quirky ode to a legend.

Not 5 minutes after I published yesterday’s post, I went to put it on my Facebook and learned, via social media posts from friends, of David Bowie’s passing.  I’m still wrapping my head around this.

My parents never listened to Bowie and, strangely, I somehow managed to be born in 1985 and NOT see Labyrinth as a young child. I wasn’t introduced to this man’s work, or that film, until I was 13. It was a former friend who finally clued me in. I used to go over to her house and we’d hang out in her computer room and play around with this Encyclopedia CD-ROM she had (I think it was Encarta?). She would pull up the article on David Bowie and listen to the snippet of the song “Changes” that accompanied it. It was this same friend that showed me Labyrinth. It was one of her favorite movies and it is how I am most familiar with David Bowie.

There is a post on Buzzfeed (forgive me!) talking about Jareth (Bowie’s character in Labyrinth) being a catalyst for the sexual awakening of many a 90’s woman. Given my age at the time of my first viewing, I suppose I would have to agree with that. And I can’t help but admit, as creepy and as wrong (so, so wrong) as that pairing is when you really think about it, that, yes…. YES! Not long after, and with that same friend, I began to explore that undiscovered realm that was boys. Backstreet Boys and N*Sync blew up within the following months and our bedrooms were plastered with pin-ups and posters. We would have sleepovers where we talked about guys we thought were cute and make out with the pictorial representation of various members of boy bands. We started to read trashy romance novels. We’d write stories and fan fiction in which we safely explored romance and sexuality.

Perhaps it is no surprise that reflecting on Bowie in this sudden call to mourning, it is largely the memory of that friend and of those parts of my childhood that come flooding into my mind. And I am saddened… saddened at the loss of such an important contributor to our cultural consciousness and saddened for people and pieces of myself that I have lost since the age of 13.

I Need…

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Get off work. Come home. Return my mother’s phone call. Call my grandmother. Go grocery shopping. Change light bulbs. Break down recycling and bag up trash. Write a blog for today.

I need to run out to the library and pick up the DVD I have on hold that I don’t have time to watch. I need to take a shower. I need to take out the trash and fold the laundry. I need to finish tweaking this personal statement and send it my application. I need to SLEEP so I can be well rested to go back to work tonight. I need to get around to making this doll furniture and these doll clothes. I need to edit this video of Ava’s birthday. I need to create a data chart on my diet. I need to still wake up early enough this evening to spend time with the boyfriend that I’ve barely spent time with since last week.

I need a TARDIS. I need Wheezy Waiter to make me some clones. I need more hours in the day and the ability to operate on 2 hours of sleep like a teenager.

Pinnacle, Dolls, and the Consumerist Undertow

Earlier this week, I purchased Pinnacle Studio 18 Ultimate. One of my goals for this year is to start making Youtube videos. Whether this happens remains to be seen, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile.

As I am delving into this, it is hard not to feel a little overwhelmed. There is so much that this software is capable of doing that there are hours of training tutorials. As I mentioned yesterday, I took video of my little cousin’s birthday that I had hoped to do a basic edit on and post highlights from. This is easier said then done as I am still trying to learn how to use this program.

It is hard work-buy-consume-dienot to wonder if I should buy a desktop for large file projects like video editing. My only computer is this laptop which is a few years old and already has roughly 70-75% of it’s storage space full. Running this program seems to go very slowly and I do not yet know if this is normal or if it is because of my computer. This can be a potentially very expensive  hobby (somewhat disheartening to now be seeing the software being sold online for half the price I paid for it at Best Buy – on sale)to get into and I want to refrain from going out and spending money without doing proper research first. I can safely say that between video equipment and dolls, I’m going to need very strong will-power to continue trying to save money instead of spend it. Ebay

Resisting the urge not to get sucked in feels like an uphill battle. My self from 3 years ago would be shaking her head and scolding the way me from today spends money (which me from 3 years ago also had less of). It started innocently enough – Once I started working at my current job and could afford it, I invested in a new car for myself (after having driven a 20+ year old rust bucket with hit and miss reliability for 8 years). This seemed a reasonable purchase and still feels like a good decision 2.5 years later. Then I moved into a house where I started cooking less and eating takeout more (small, shared kitchen space, spending less time at home, etc). Then after I got my Lammily doll and came down with doll fever, I’ve been spending increasingly more money on doll related stuff – ebay will be the death of me, I have a “watching” list a mile long. At some point, early last year, I started allowing myself to spend this money “because I deserved it”. The fact that 2015 was a particularly stressful year for me personally did not help, as these purchases also acted as a sort of retail therapy – a momentary burst of happy feeling to counter an ocean of despair. Despite knowing better, I did this anyway. Because it was easy and because I could.

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A screenshot from my Mint.com account comparing spending in 2014 and 2015 for “shopping”. The amounts aren’t as important as the striking difference in spending habit. 

At Least It’s Something

Earlier this afternoon I drove the nearly 2 hours out to Springfield, braving the warnings of impending snow and ice that could have trapped me there, so that I could attend a 2 year old’s birthday party.

Ava-Face Baby-Head turns 2 on Monday and so the celebration was held today. So, because of this, I don’t have much in the way of a post for you today (but I’m still posting! Go Day 14!). However, I did manage to bring my video camera AND I thew down for Pinnacle 18 this week so that I can start editing videos. SO, if all goes well and I can get this figured out, I might be posting highlights tomorrow.

The People’s Dolly

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It’s been just over a year now since MorrĂ­gan (my Lammily doll) arrived at my door, moved into my heart, and gave me doll fever. I’ve sung her praises many times on this blog, but today I want to sing the praises of her creator, Nickolay Lamm, and the Lammily company.

When Lammily first came out, there weren’t many options for clothes for her. Her selling point was that she has realistic proportions that, scaled up, would result in a woman with a healthy body. This, and the fact that the company was brand new and figuring things out, meant that there just weren’t many options for her. She couldn’t swap clothes with many other dolls, certainly not with the usual suspects. This gave birth to a DIY market and community – Etsy sellers like Phyllis Sherman, Helena Hannukainen, Oph Bruneau, and Em Carroll began making Lammily clothes. I decided to create Handmade Lammily Fashions on Facebook, which was followed by an offshoot group, Lammily Enthusiasts (both groups have mutual respect for and collaborate with each other). We were small but we were mighty. A representative from the company joined Lammily Enthisiasts, where she would interact with and answer questions for eager Lammsters. Soon after, Lammily Enthusiasts became the Official Lammily Fan Group.

As Lammily’s success grew, the company aired their first commercial which let’s us see our girl interacting in the already established Doll World.

In the most recent commercial, Lammily takes time to give homage to the iconic toys and dolls that have come before her, pointing out that without them, she would not exist.  The driving image is showing this doll as an equally valid and inclusive player – not elite, not better-than-the-competition, but just as good. She can play with and fit in right alongside your other dolls. I think that’s big.

Something I have been extremely impressed with in recent months has been  how Mr. Lamm not only acknowledges Lammily’s DIY crowd and fan-base, but is actually *very* supportive of it. On their website, an option right along their “World of Fashion” clothing, are the “Handcrafted Limited Editions“. Further, what you will see when you sign up for their mailing list and start getting their emails, is that he introduces you to the DIY lady responsible for the handmade clothes.

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Screen shot of a Lammily Email

So far, I am really impressed with Mr. Lamm and his company. Between all I’ve stated and the fact that she was the product of a Kickstarter campaign, I don’t think I’d be out of bounds to go so far as to consider Lammily “The People’s Dolly”. (As much as a representative of capitalist consumer culture can be, anyway. The irony isn’t lost here, only amusing.)

Now I just need to learn more about how the dolls themselves are made. From what I understand, though, the company ensures that every step of the doll-making process is done at factories that don’t take advantage of their employees.

Some of My Faves

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Photo was googled, Not mine.

As I’m still trying to concentrate on my personal statement for my grad school application, but also don’t want to back down from my 30 day challenge (welcome to day 12!), I thought I would share with you just a few of the bloggers and youtubers that I find inspirational and really enjoy.

  1. Hank and John Green – These guys have so much going on (Vlogbrothers, Crash Course, SciShow, Dear Hank and John) that they’re hard to ignore. I’ve blogged about them before (here and here) and eagerly watch and listen to almost all of it.
  2. Karim Metwaly and Daniela M Biah – Karim has two different channels on Youtube (AreWeFamousNow and AreWeKukuNow) where he showcases a mix of pranks, thoughts about life, and his perspective as a Muslim American. Daniela is a good friend of his and while she often appears in his videos, she has her own beauty channel where she also talks about her perspectives as a Muslim woman of Arab and Latina background.
  3. NerdyAndQuirky – Smart and witty Canadian teen that I anticipate will end up doing great things with her life. That she is able to juggle life and high school while still making quality videos gives me encouragement.
  4. Access Bollywood – Breaking down and reviewing Indian cinema for Western audiences. Beyond recommendations from friends, I often look to this blog when considering which films to seek out.
  5. A Day in the Life of My Dolls – Not only is Phyllis’ blog awesome on it’s own, but Phyllis is also a cherished member of my Facebook group, Handmade Lammily Fashions. When I first started getting hooked on dolls, this blog is one of the sources that introduced me to the Dollverse and where I discovered Mixis dolls.
  6. Culture Monk – Very deep writing about a wide array of topics across the human condition. Kennith Justice is one of the bloggers that I read whenever I get the chance and he blogs frequently enough that I often have trouble keeping up, haha!
  7. Is the Coffee Ready Yet? – I’ve mentioned Claudia Bette before in another post. For awhile there, I was absolutely sucked in reading about her life from one post to the next – her relationship with her mother, her inspirational diet and exercise saga, her romantic pursuits, her kid… but she hasn’t posted since July. If you’re out there Claudia, we miss you and hope you are well!
  8. Context and Variation – SCIENCE! LADY BUSINESS! w00t! I actually had the privilege of taking one of Prof. Kate Clancy’s classes my final semester at University of Illinois. Of course I’m giving her work a shout out!