No Exceptions

8 11 2016

That statement can be taken two very different ways and I think it’s necessary to point out both, on today of all days.

DEFINITION 1: the complete exclusion of something. “No shirt, no shoes, no exceptions.” Meaning that you MUST follow OUR rules or be kicked out. Historically this version has also been implied and/or used to separate drinking fountains by race, ban Jews from entering certain shops, etc.

DEFINITION 2: The complete inclusion of something. As in, Gods bless everyone. No exceptions.

As someone who really does have friends that span nearly every rendition of human descriptors, I choose the 2nd definition.  And I think that’s really important.

Especially on Election Day here in the US.  And while I’m a cynical observer of human behavior (as in, it doesn’t surprise me at all the the actual scary things in the zombie show “The Walking Dead” are not the zombies but the living, breathing human beings who are left), I always hope in my heart of hearts that most people live by definition #2.

So for me, my personal ethos dictates that I think over my wide group of friends, and think how they would like to be treated before I cast a vote.  Love. We. Tribe. Gods Bless Everyone.  NO EXCEPTIONS.

And I feel that there while there isn’t a definitive choice FOR that, there is definitely a candidate who is AGAINST particular groups of people.

My gut says that when you’ve alienated or insulted or tried to shame group after group, and minority after minority, there comes a tipping point when there are enough minorities to make a majority.

Wall of Voters

That’s my election prediction.  And tomorrow? I’ll either have egg on my face from a miscalculation that I was either brave enough or stupid enough to throw out into the internet ether, or my hunch will be proven correct. Neither matters, because my vote is already cast, and whether your vote is cast yet or not, I am unlikely to change anyone’s actual vote at this point.  However, how someone treats another person in the aftermath may still be… undecided.  And if my words factor helpfully into whatever weird aftermath we as a nation are headed towards regardless of who wins (because make no mistake, I think there will be an aftermath), then my time was well spent.

Love matters.  So please, no matter what the outcome, PLEASE use love, acceptance, and kindness in your treatment of ALL of the human beings.

NO Exceptions.

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On Real Estate & the Paperwork (Non)Reduction Act

26 12 2013

I’m anticipating a move in my near future. Moving is more stressful to me than having a suspicious lump in one’s breast (and considering I’ve had both the former and the latter occur in my life, please believe me when I tell you there is no hyperbole involved in my statement.) I’ve been trying to buy a stinking house (well, not a stinking house, but you get my meaning) for over a year now. I am crossing my fingers that I am on the home stretch, because this has been dragging on well past the point where I wish to cry about it, and go hide in my room.

It has also been a learning experience – not in a good way, mind you – but the kind of learning experience where I wish to a) cry about it, and go hide in my room, b) swear a lot or c) blog about it and hopefully feel better in the morning. With both a & b already accomplished and doing nothing in terms of hustling the process along, I decided to embark on some cathartic blogging, and in the spirit of David Letterman and his infamous lists, I have composed a list of my own:

The Ten Absolute OMG Things I Learned Trying To Buy A House While Self-Employed

(Starred items indicate that the item has cropped up simply because I am self-employed.)

10*) You are required to have a profit/loss sheet in a format used by Australians rather than Excel because that is the format that is required.

9*) You have to prove you didn’t make your money robbing a bank. In other words, any cash you intend to use to purchase said house has to be deposited in an “account of record” for 30-90 days prior to purchasing a house, although how this eliminates a well-executed robbery as a possible avenue of income I am unclear.

8*) You have a dent in your forehead from getting daily emails that are titled, “Just one more piece of paperwork”…

7*) If you intend to use any assets that are not in a conventional bank account (example: a mutual fund, CD, etc.) you have to provide proof of those funds, proof that you’re cashing in any of those funds, and proof of depositing said funds into said conventional account.

6) Your realtor has your phone number memorized from the number of times you’ve had to contact him/her because of some monkey wrench in the works.

5) You have your realtor’s email memorized (despite moderate dyscalculia and the fact that said realtor’s email contains numbers.)

4) You play the lottery for the first time ever in the sole hope of winning enough to just pay for the damn house in cash.

3*) You play the lottery for the first time ever in the secondary hopes that you will win, and thereby be able to buy your loan officer and your realtor a tanker truck of alcohol or pay off their houses for the amount of extra hoops they have had to help you jump through because you’re self-employed…

2*) You have to provide proof of a previous trustworthy rental lease agreement and your current landlord’s contact information. (I marked this one as a self-employed thing because no one I have ever talked to with a “normal” paycheck has had to submit this.)

1) You cannot get “typical” homeowners insurance, but instead have to pay through the nose for the first year of coverage because a) the house you wish to buy is a foreclosure, which means that on the basis of the landscaping being dead, the insurance company assumes that there are other inherent problems with the house as well. (Of course the bloody landscaping looks like crap. It’s DECEMBER. In OHIO.) b) You’re self-employed and must run the insurance gauntlet of proving yourself as trustworthy with your newly titled position as “homeowner” because God knows, running a successful art business that is your full time job must mean you’re a fly-by-night sort of person who doesn’t understand the meaning of spreadsheets. Or landscaping.





Going Back to My Roots

23 04 2012

I started my first business around the age of ten I think. It might have been later than that, but I remember walking to the local Ben Franklin Arts store for years to buy supplies because I was too young to drive.

I didn’t do very well with it, because, well, at the time, $8 on a piece of jewelry sounded like quite a lot of money to me, it wasn’t proportional to how my products looked. In other words, my perceived value didn’t match my price tag. I was making some cool stuff even back then, and the other reason that I think it didn’t sell well is that very few people expect to see a 14 year old manning (or womanning in my case) a booth at an art show, and then taking credit for the creation of all of the pretty items in said booth.

Collaborative piece - my glass with polymer clay work by Tiffanie of Karma's Gift.

Looking back now (cause I still have a big box of crap that didn’t sell and gods only know why I move it from place to place…) I can see the beginnings of good ideas, and here and there, there are some fabulously cool pieces. But my style wasn’t organized in any way. I leapt in this direction, then that direction, running hither and thither and making anything that I had a creative thought in my little (and sometimes ADHD) head about. So my portfolio (if I can really even call it that) of work from my first jewelry business is a mish mosh of random-ness that puts the chaos theory to shame.

Collaborative piece featuring my glass and polymer clay work by Tiffanie of Karma's Gift.

One of the main components in my work from that period though, is polymer clay. I made barrettes covered in roses, and shaded work that fooled the eye. I made wonky looking face canes, and some kind of nice flower canes, and so on and so forth. I guess I was putting my time in so that when I cycled back around to it, I had already worked out a lot of the kinks. Kind of like this quote:

I have a polymer clay artist I collaborate with, and trust me, if she had a web presence, there would be a link here… (All of the photos of pieces thus far have been our collaborative stuff, fyi.) Since her work isn’t online, I’ll just have to gas about her on my blog. Anyway, her stuff rocks, which makes our stuff rock, and I’ve been in complete and total awe of her work since I met her. But she is a full time Rennie, and her studio isn’t always with her… in fact, she won’t be getting back to her studio for another two months.

I think the noise I heard at the end of my phone call with her was opportunity knocking. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to get some of her/our stuff in stock again. It sells like crazy, and for good reason!

But I need stock now. And while I love her work, my own style differs slightly, which is good because I don’t want to be too similar to someone else’s work stylistically.

So I rummaged around for my collection of polymer clay stuff (tools, clay and the various detritus one collects anytime one picks up a new skill or hobby, and, well, if there’s one area of stuff that I’m hardcore about keeping and not tossing, it’s “art stuff”.

And then I got playing. Here’s one of the preliminary pieces from this week… (Yes, I know the photos is crappy. I took it with my phone.) Feedback?





Truth is Stranger than Fiction

12 03 2012

And really, they don’t make folks much stranger than us Rennies.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Faire. (Isn’t that a play??) Okay, all joking aside, every job has funny stories. I think maybe we Ren folk seem to get more than our “Faire” share because we a) are weirdos who live on the fringe of society ourselves for the most part b) interact with many folks who are also a bit on the fringe, and therefore, have unusual and varied interests, and c) we run into a LOT more people in an average year than most folks. (I recently did some SWAG math – scientific wild assed guessing – whereupon I added the lowest average gate counts for each faire that I do in a year, and took 25% or that number, based on the assumption that only 25% of the folks at the faire will make it my shop to look around, and then multiplied that number by 90%, assuming that 10% of the folks I meet are return customers, and therefore, not really new acquaintances. If my math is even mostly right, I meet over 25,000 people at faires annually.

So I’ve heard lots of stories from interacting with lots of folks, and living lots of places, albeit temporarily.

Here’s two of my favorite “Tales from the Ren Road.” (Both are written in the first person for readability.)

One of the goals of being on the Ren Faire circuit is to have a snarky or funny reply to anything a patron can throw at you. It’s part of the charm of the Faire – we’re allowed to (within reason) poke fun at patrons and give a little of what-for. A prime example is the pickle seller, who is typically a guy, and who typically delivers lines like, ”Hey Mister… want to slip your girl a pickle in public?” or my personal favorite, “Bigger than your man and really cheap!” Yes, it’s naughty, but seriously, have you EVER read Chaucer? Pretty earthy stuff, really.

The Tale of Two Pickles
There were a couple of very loud homophobic frat boy types who were generally acting like asses, and working their way down through my section of the show. The pickle guy (see the references above) heard them coming, heard them calling each other “faggot” and played it straight for a few minutes while they approached. One of the guys who was both the biggest and loudest of the bunch decided to buy a pickle, and, after taking the guy’s money, and handing him his pickle, the pickle seller let loose. He looks at the guy, and says in his biggest, most booming voice, “Dude, I picked out the biggest, saltiest pickle I could for you, and I think it’s admirable that you’re eating such a huge pickle in public.” And when they start to look confusedly at each other, he asks another of the group if they’d like to slip any of their homies a pickle in public. By this time enough interest from passers-by had been stirred that the frat boys just kind of shoved their hands into their pockets and walked away. It was clear that one or two of them wanted to say or do something, but it was also clear that they recognized that any response on their part would be verbally parried by the pickle seller.

A Witch’s Credentials
So one day at Faire, this guy comes up to me while I’m eating an apple. He’s a real boorish type with probably half a beer too much in him (cause his volume control is gone), and he yells at me, “Didja buy that apple from a witch?” I follow Wicca (and would be considered a witch by a lot of people)… I mean, had the guy bothered to look in my booth, it’s pretty clear that many of my items are Pagan friendly. Luck was on my side, as I don’t always think quickly on my feet, and I bellowed back to him, “Sir, I was shopping for produce, not asking for credentials.”





Naked Blogs

15 02 2012

Today I head to Florida for 7 weeks and 2 days. I am braving it with only my Iphone in tow (my computer is staying at home because it’s not a travel-friendly variety). I can’t tell you how much I’m considering a laptop for the next office computer, lemme tell ya.

Although my friend has offered me the use of her laptop (We’ll get to see each other at the Faire every weekend), in truth, I don’t know how plentiful the wifi spots will be close to the Ren Faire, and so, my blog might be kind of naked while I’m gone. It’s not just the problem of a borrowed computer and an unmapped wifi environs; It goes back to the basic premise of the “Lesson of the Five Balls“, talked about in Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, a cute but overly sappy story by James Patterson.

In your life, you juggle (metaphorically of course) 5 balls, and they represent family, health, integrity, friends, and work. Four of the balls – family, health, integrity and friends – are made of glass, and may get nicked or marred if dropped. Work is a rubber ball. It will bounce back. Now, I happen to think that that’s hyperbolizing a teensy bit for one that is self-employed, as work doesn’t seem to bounce back quite as easily, especially when a goodly part of one’s friends and one’s integrity are directly involved with one’s work. (Ie: I only get to see certain friends while at certain Faires, and I try to perform to the dates, times and work details on my window contracts, which will harm my integrity if dropped), but my blog is a rubber ball. I think.

I don’t know that I can effectively juggle it while in Florida, and although I’m going to try, I’m not going to bend my life around into uncomrfortable angles to make it work while I’m gone. Here’s to hoping that I’m right in my hunch, and that my blog will bounce back with renewed cheek and wit when I come back north in April.





For the Zombies Are A-Comin’

14 01 2012

I’ve been reading Jesse Petersen’s rather fluffy series lately about zombies. (It’s silly enough even I’m enjoying it, and I don’t think I could watch a horror movie all the way through if my life truly depended on it.)

Somehow, reading these books reminded me of a game we used to play in college called “Who’s in your bunker?” (The local version in Ohio seems to be “When the zombies come, who do you want with you?”) The premise is pretty simple – we used to go through all the pros and cons of our group of friends and acquaintances, and figure out who we’d want with us in a crisis situation, if we had a cap of say, 6 people. It brought up a lot of interesting questions and personal feelings (and biases) that usually got talked through without a lot of drama. (I think discussing hypothetical situations always leaves people thinking a little more rationally). One of the more interesting discussions I remember from playing this was “is your post-surgical transgender friend who is an EMT on the list? Or does the fact that they can’t have kids – assuming a repopulation effort is somehow required in the post-apocalypse – weigh as equally as their medical skill set?” Yes, we had too much time on our hands, but my overarching point – what skills make you bunker-worthy? – stands.

This game (which is simply a pared-down gallows version of a bucket list) goes hand-in-hand in my opinion with my belief that a day that passes without learning something new is a wasted day. (My parents were both teachers, so I come by the education soapbox honestly.) So… have you self-inventoried lately? It’s early January – not too late to make a New Year’s resolution about what you want to learn or get better at this year.

What skills or talents do you possess that make you a candidate for the bunker?





A Lesson in Perspective

5 01 2012

Ever have one of those days where although it’s clear that you’re not being used as the universe’s whipping boy, (otherwise your day would be much, much worse) the day feels like you’re being used as the punchline for somebody’s cosmic joke?

Today was kind of like that.

I started off the day by a) getting my period and b) filing end of year sales tax forms for 4 different states (one of the hazards of my chosen profession.) I’m not great with numbers, for, as I’ve said in my blog before, there are days when 6’s and 9’s seem to be the same damn thing. And this was one of those days. I took so long to do the math on one of the states’ web pages that the ever helpful security protocol logged me off the site when I was half way through the process because the page had sat idle too long. So I sighed, started it over, and ended up leaving the house a lot later than I wanted to as a result.

In my haste to get out the door, I left my lunch on the kitchen table, which I didn’t realize until I got wickedly hungry a few hours later. Now, I’m really trying to be good. I’m watching my diet, and let me tell you, with it being day 1 of my period, with no appreciable weight loss yet, and being on day 5 of “eating more healthy”, all the shiny feelings about how great I’m going to look and feel are a distant second to the overwhelming feeling of “I want a goddamn ice cream sundae now, thank you very farkin’ much!”

Sigh.

My first stop after leaving the house was the trailer place. I’ve been saving up for a cargo trailer for several months now, because I’ll need one to haul all my glass stuff to Florida in February. Once there I realized in short order that I had screwed up the door measurement. 5’5″ is not the same thing as 55″. Most days I know this. The day I took the initial measurements would be one of the days where my math skills took a temporary vacation to Siberia without my permission. The consequence is that the only trailer that will work for me is about $600 more than I had budgeted for. I can make it work, but it’s going to leave me exceedingly tight financially until the Tampa show takes off. Given my line of work, I get paid about 5 months of the year, usually in high volume over a short period of time, so budgeting properly is a necessity, not a nicety. Ergo, nothing moves me from zero to pissed in six seconds like a stupid math error on my part.

I then headed to the studio to get some work done… and realized that I had left my phone next to my forgotten lunch on the kitchen table at home. (My phone contains all my audiobooks and tunes.) And on days like this, my phone is a necessity.

By the time I dashed by the library to grab an audiobook (’cause it’s closer than going back to the house) Guinness and I were due to be at the local nursing home. They have a TBI (traumatic brain injury) unit there, and today, he and I got introduced to the patients in that wing. People with TBI’s don’t always move or react like uninjured humans… sometimes their motions are jerky, and for many of them, fine motor control is non-existent, which means “petting” a puppy can sometimes be on par with how a young child “pets” an animal. But Guinness handled it all like a champ.

The highlight of the day for me, though, was meeting Robin. Robin is about my age, and he’s in a hospital bed for life. I followed our usual routine, and asked Robin if he wanted to meet Guinness. The answer was an enthusiastic and heartfelt, “YES!”, so I maneuvered us to his better side, and Robin greeted Guinness as if they were buddies from way back. Robin’s fine motor control is pretty non-existent, and his pets were more like good natured whomps on top of Guinness’ head, but Guinness didn’t care. He served up his usual charm, and handled the matter with good grace. When we left the nursing home today, his tail was flying higher than I’ve seen it on previous visits, like perhaps he knows “he done good.”

I’m not going to lie and say that stuff stopped going wrong after we left Robin’s bedside, but I think I understand a little better now what a wonderful gift today was…even despite its lack of ice cream.