The Fairie Files: Being a Village Member

18 06 2018

I read an article that went viral several months back, about a young man who had decided to basically stock his school locker with a few different types of feminine hygiene products for his female friends.  This kid was awesome, don’t get me wrong.  Every person should do this. Let’s normalize the heck out out of the fact that 50% of the planet has uncontrollable bleeding from an area we’d rather not discuss culturally for 15-20% (or more if they have menorrhagia or PCOS) of their lives until they’re 50.

The fact that that kid’s actions went viral made me think about our culture and ways to insert normalcy about periods into conversations. It made me think about what kind of village I wish to help create. And really, my day job as a glass artist involves a village, even if it’s a make-believe one…

Recently at Faire, there was an awesome mom shopping with her two kids, one of whom looked on the brink of needing the talk about periods, and the second who was a boy in his mid-teens.  They had interacted enough that I knew she was a pretty chill mom who was trying to raise good kids. The son wanted a glass rock (the type that I sell for 25 cents) and mom told him that he had basically spent his money already.  They were polite enough and mom was engaged enough with other products that I suspected she was going to buy something anyway. Courtesy doesn’t cost much, and it felt like a perfect teaching moment… worth the cost of giving away a small rock from my viewpoint.

So I said to the young man (who had verbally indicated he wanted it to give to his girlfriend) that he could have the rock, and with my blessing on two conditions and the second one might make him a bit mortified.  He agreed to my terms.  “First,” I said, “You’ve got to agree to good behavior all day.” He nodded. “And secondly,” I said, “You have to acquaint yourself with what sort of feminine hygiene products your girlfriend uses every month, buy a package, and always keep one in your backpack for her if she needs it.”

To his immense credit, he didn’t blush or squirm. Just avoided eye contact and mumbled, “okay.” Mom jumped in – did I mention I liked this woman? – and added, “And doing that will help you become the kind of man that people want to marry.”

I don’t know if that teenage kid will remember this conversation 20 years from now or not when he’s talking to his son about girls, but I hope he does. Can you imagine a world where every man is supportive enough that carrying such items out of courtesy became the norm? Yeah. Here’s hoping.


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.

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?