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.

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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 Morrígan (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 ShermanHelena HannukainenOph 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!

Applying for Grad School and Personal Evolution

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     So, I am trying to get into Grad School. Since my application needs to be in by January 15th (less than 10 days! Ah!), this has moved into top priority status. (Sorry everyone still waiting for the next segment in my current dolly story, I have to put that on the back burner for now. At least I’m telling you this time rather than spending months with no communication.) This is something I’ve really only mentioned briefly before because 1) I’ve never really known how to tie it into the original topics and 2) life often has a way of mucking up plans – what if I don’t get in? What if I can’t get the job doing the thing afterward? What if some other unforeseen change occurs and my life moves in yet another direction?  As you read the following, please note that this is a plan and a desire that may have to change shape as time squeezes me through the toothpaste tube of life.

When I attended undergrad, I majored in Anthropology and minored in Linguistics. I say this much in my “About Me” section, as well as the fact that part of the initial basis of this blog came from that background. And indeed, my earliest posts do a better job of trying to use that lens to reflect on fashion, art, communication, etc. However, it has been almost 7 years since I received my B.A. and my occupational goals have shifted slightly.

In 2013 I started working at a Runaway and Homeless Youth shelter. I really enjoy my job and I enjoy this field. I decided a couple of years ago, really before I even started this job, that I would like to become a school social worker. I like working with teens and I really value education. One of my favorite parts of the job I do have has been introducing these kids to ideas and places that maybe they’re not as familiar with – I take them to the museums, I take them to the library and try to open them up to documentaries, I try to use the reality shows they watch to talk about healthy relationships (not just in the romantic sense) and conflict resolution (and why are almost all the relationships depicted always so dramatic and toxic? Does this affect viewers on any level? Does it affect these kids? How many examples of healthy relationships do these kids get to witness?)
The reality is that it can be harder to focus on school when there are aspects of life outside of school causing stress and pulling your attention. The reality is not every kid has access to the same resources or even knows how to fully utilize those resources. Bullying, which is a classic issue, has shifted into a bigger and uglier monster in this digital age. There are SO many issues that students have to deal with that aren’t always considered or discussed. What needs aren’t being met that I might be able to help with so that they might have a better chance at doing well in school, at breaking out of vicious cycles, at elevating their own socio-economic status?
I think I’ve been interested in this stuff for awhile. I’ve certainly had to get through a lot myself to get to a place where I can say I’ve done better than my parents. I am a first generation college graduate, and that’s a pretty big deal. However, between dating a teacher (going on 5 years) and working in an RHY program for nearly 3 years, I’ve just gotten more sure that this is something I’d like to be doing.
But, it means I need to go back to school and get my Master’s in Social Work and get some other licensing to work as a school social worker in the state o Illinois. I applied last year and was rejected. So, I spent the summer and fall taking classes at the local community college (alongside my 2 jobs, which accounted for a lot of my blog hiatus) in an effort to make myself a better candidate. So, I guess cross your fingers for me that I get in this time and won’t have to re-evaluate my entire life again (lol).