The Hell With The Holidays

19 11 2015

I’ve never been a fan of the holiday season.  (Find me an empathic introvert who is and I will send them a Starbucks card, complete with a drawing of the cup of their choice on the front.)  And by this point in my adult life I have done enough of those crappy gift exchanges that I would rather not go to an event then have to spend one more evening watching or hearing people diss crap I’ve made or baked or bought because it wasn’t their cup of tea.

I remember the day my mom, my sister (who rarely swears) and I (I swear a lot) were having a “discussion” about the holidays. I finally said, “Mom, the holiday fucking suck.” And when my mom cut her eyes to my sister, she echoed the sentiment.  F-bomb and all.

Is it because I’m empathic? Is it because there is such hypocrisy to me in the “spirit of the season” when most of us (and lemme be the first to point out, I’ve been guilty of it myself) go back to treating other humans like less-than-humans the day after the post-coital-holiday-nirvana-glow wears off? I guess it’s an amalgamation of all of this as to why I’ve always thought that the holidays are just a couple of days of the year where the rest of the world takes off work to buy each other lots of crap that no one needs and generally spend time with people they don’t necessarily like.  I want to work to change that mentality.   Even if it’s just me screaming into the uncaring ether on a cyberspace soapbox to my 17 regular blog readers.

 

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Here’s my freaking wish for this Holiday and every other.  Daesh brought it to the fore this week with the Paris bombings. Right now, I’m angry with my fellow human beings, and I’m disappointed in many people I call friends. But I think it’s been there, simmering in the hearts and hearths of the good old USA for awhile.  I really don’t care whether you think Syrian refugees belong here or not, whether homeless vets are more important than Syrian refugees, or not.  (No, really, hear me out.) My question is, “What have you done to change it?” (“It” being defined as what moves you emotionally, whether that be Syrian refugees, homeless Vets, abused dogs, pick-a-marginalized-and-underrepresented-group-it-doesn’t-matter-for-the-purpose-of-this-exercise.)

 

MrRogers

 

Pick something.

Do something about it.  Especially in this so-called “season of giving“, for the love of [insert the name of the god least likely to offend you here] quit drinking the fucking kool-aid laced with fear, and DO SOMETHING actionable.   Not reactionable.

Be a helper.

So mote it be. Amen. Inshallah. Im yirtzeh hashem.





Boobies in Politics

30 09 2015

I started this particular blog post about 3 years ago.  Amazing and frustrating how we continue to tread water over this issue. Boobies in politics, indeed.  And I refuse to answer on the grounds that I might incriminate myself if I’m referring to the so-called helmsman of the recent shouting match in politics or the actual subject matter at hand.  It’s a spiffy double entendre, if you’ll allow my ego to fly proudly for a moment, whatever my stated objective might ultimately be.

So – I have three general rules about blogging. One, don’t swear. Much. Two, don’t talk about politics. Much. And three, violate the first two tenets only when I think I have a reasonable and logical objective for doing so.

Today is that day. Dammit.

I totally don’t remember where I got the image from. If it’s yours, might I please borrow it for this post? IT’S AWESOME.

About 3 years ago I discovered a lump in my breast. No, I can’t really believe I’m taking the plunge and mentioning this in public, and yes,it’s been thoroughly checked out, but when I discovered it, I was in Florida, and, well, one of the downsides of having no health insurance is that it’s a lot harder to get seen by someone while one is traveling around the country making a living.

See, at the time (prior to Obamacare) I made too much to qualify for the local free clinic. And cash pay folks generally pay a LOT MORE (or did at the time) than what insurance companies payout for procedures.  If that’s not a sick twist of a still-not-great system, well… Anyway. Gods bless Planned Parenthood. They (at the time) had a sliding scale and they are medically recognized enough to have been able to give me that magical piece of paper one needs to penetrate the sanctum of specialists – a medical referral.

I don’t know what your politics are, and, in a pique of narcissism (hey, it’s my blog) I’m going to say I don’t really fecking care, because it’s tangential to this conversation. But assuming you disagree with my politics, I would ask you to think about the GOP’s recent stance on Planned Parenthood, and think about what that means directly to people like me. I am a human being, and it frustrates the everloving shite out of me that here in the United States, which is considered a first world nation, I was (and depending on how much I make in any given year), still am treated like a second class citizen based on my ability to pay for basic medical care, the costs of which are more per capita in the US than in any other first world nation.

Maybe someday I’ll be one boobie shy of a full roster (take that however you’d like) although I’ve had no more scares since then. But please know that 3 years ago, before “Obamacare” existed, I got in to see a doctor when I needed one and was able to pay the full fee they required at the time (which was a pretty big amount for me, but would have been unimaginably unaffordable if I had had to pay the full cash-pay fee). And I got in and got looked at because funding for healthcare organizations like theirs exists. Notice the use of the word “healthcare”.

End rant.





The Faire-y Files: A Rock Named Courage

27 09 2015

I read a quote this week (which I am totally going to paraphrase because it’s late and I don’t feel like possibly crashing my elderly iPhone again trying to Google a random quote): “Be the person your younger self needed.”  

Seemed like good advice, & bearing that in mind, I had an opportunity to (hopefully) be that person.

A couple (with a teenage daughter in tow) was looking at three different pieces in my booth, and had trouble deciding which one or ones they wanted. While they were wandering around I noticed that the teenage girl reminded me of my younger self. She was a bit awkward in her own skin, which most teenagers are, but there was a depth to the awkwardness that suggested that – like I was at her age – she is too ______ to fit in perfectly as she is. That blank space represents whatever word it needs to, as we have all been too short, too fat, too weird, too tall, too artsy, too sporty… Too something to fit in as we are, but somehow I think the idea that we are the only awkward being on the planet is mostly a hallmark of the teenage years. Sometime in adulthood – at least with most of the adults I am now privileged to call my friends – we have realized that our greatest strengths lie in the parts that our teenage selves got ridiculed for. However, the journey in finding that out seems to be fraught with land mines and circumstances that, while they make you stronger and forge you into the indomitable amaze-a-balls person you are now, they leave scars and reminders of hard battles won. 

The parents of said girl finally chose a piece and while I was boxing it up I got near to (but not within) the girl’s personal space bubble. Now, to explain – I have a super good sense of my body and I’m exceptionally aware of the space I take up in a 14 foot wide booth- it’s part of the psychology of selling. In order to move around people without disturbing their browsing in a space of that size requires a good sense of both space and self. So, while I was not in danger of bumping into her, every highly introverted person I know requires a larger than what is generally considered “normal” personal space.

She apologized when I stepped into that space, and backed up. I straightened up and enquired, “Did I just hear you apologize for the space that your beautiful person is taking up? Unacceptable. You take up the space you take up, & you, my dear, should never apologize for that. I was the one who bumped into your space. T’wasnt the other way ’round.”  

Her dad interjected at this point, and while pointing at me said to his daughter, “Listen to her. Isn’t that what I’ve been saying to you too?” 

I kept eye contact with the girl, and asked, “So Miss introvert- d’ya have any idea why I’m saying what I did? Why you should quit apologizing for being whom and what and where you are?” Her head shook “no.” “Because,” I replied. “Fifteen years ago, I was you. I apologized for my work and for my existence both, and once I knew I wasn’t going to fit into the corporate market the way that so many other people seem to fit into it seamlessly, I had to find a way out and learn how to make a living, and a job, and happiness out of this art thing which requires me to be myself. And be true to myself, which means not apologizing for the wonderful quirky creature that I am when it’s completely unwarranted. I see that same fire and potential in you.”

Tears in her eyes, the girl nodded. I asked if I could give her a hug. She accepted said hug, they picked up their box to go and were headed up the path to the exit when I hailed her again. I dug into my pouch, apologized for being a complete magpie, (which I assured them is part of the quirky artist bit) because the thing I was looking for didn’t  put itself into my hand immediately. But when I found the glass stone I knew was there, covered with an obligatory dusting of glitter, (I do work at a Ren Faire) I handed it to her and held her hand open while I spoke. 

“Do you know what this is?” I asked. 

Confused, she answered shyly, “A glass rock?”

“Well, yes. ‘Tis that.” I answer. “But d’ya know what it’s called, this rock?”

She shook her head in the negative. 

“It’s name is ‘courage’ and it will help you on your path figuring out who you were meant to be.”

And as silent tears streamed down her cheeks,  I closed her fingers around it and walked back to my booth.  





The Faire-y Files: Mum’s Proposal

22 09 2015

For those of you who’ve never met me at my day job, there are two facts you need to know so that this reads correctly (as this tale is really the first written chapter in what I hope is a collection of weird but true tales from Faire.) First, I have a rather thick Scottish accent, so bear with me, but I’m going to try and write my part in the farce (for farcical it seemed) as I sound in real life (even though that’s a big “no-no” in professional writing).  I think it’s funnier if you can “hear” me that way.

The second fact is that after selling my glass art at Renaissance Faires in a multi-state area over several months of the year for the past 7 or 8 years, it’s a rare day when something happens that hasn’t happened before.  I’ve seen Storm Troopers in kilts, I’ve seen King Arthur and his knights clapping coconuts and riding stick horses, and I see a guy swallow fire every day I’m at work.  (In fact, I try not to land in front of him in the parade we have to walk in because it makes the back of my neck super hot and prickly feeling when he pops off a fireball.)

Me at Work (photo by Gary Coates)

At Work (photo by Gary Coates)

This weekend had a “first” in it though.  I got proposed to.  By an older Italian lady …for her son. I was chatting with a trio of people -the lady in question, her husband, and her son- in front of my booth. I don’t remember what they were eyeballing (it’s irrelevant) but the conversation went something like this:

Lady: You have an accent.  Where are you from?

Me: You have an accent.  Where’r you from?

Lady: Italy

Me: Mai accent is from Scotland.

Lady: You married?

Me: If you’re asking fer you, while I ‘ppreciate the enquiry, I, eh… I like boys.  I don’t date girls.

Lady: NO! I’m asking for my son. (Points to son, who now looks like he wishes the universe would swallow him into a hinterland of darkness so that this conversation may be over with and he may die with dignity.)

Me: Eh… If your lad doesnae have the bones to enquire for himself? Then that’s a definite “no” straight-out-the-gate.  But I thank you for your interest.

Lady: (Addressing her husband, while pointing at me.) I like her!

Me: Besides, both the boys and the wee kids that folks offer up as payment or in trade are nivver the ones you want to be takin’ home in the first place.  It doesnae work out.

Lady: Gimme your card.

Me: Only if you’re gonna buy something.  I’ve no wish to be wooed over the internet.  I run a small art business, which is verra similar to having a cranky, non-verbal toddler that eats all mae money. I’ve no time for a husband.

At this point she grabs my hands, and looks at them.

“Heh!” She chortles. “No ring! You’re available.”

“No,” I reply “Lack of a ring means naught.  Have you ever worked with glass?” I turn to the husband and the son, asking, “Can ye picture getting wee bits of glass down under a ring? No thank you! Besides, lack of jewelry doesn’t logic’ly imply an unmarrit state anymore.  This is the 16th century.  For all you know, there might be a simple marriage contract pinned to the wall of mae house.  And I refuse to allow you to infer on my pairsonal life based on complete supposition and a five minute acquaintance to boot.”

Lady: (Again, to her husband as an aside) I really like her. I love her accent.

Me: Pah, I hear that every day.  If only I could collect a coin for every time I hear that. My wee house would be paid off. Maybe I should start a “proposal jar” like a tip jar, but you put a dollar in and I can say something funny. Or tell a joke that involves sheep.

At this point the son starts literally dragging his mum to the other side of the booth, away from the scene, because some of the other customers have stopped their perusing to watch us, heads popping up around the booth like a herd of small mongooses sensing either humor or impending fisticuffs. I’m not sure which, so I chalk it up to another Weird Thing At Work, and drift toward the folks that actually look like they might be interested in buying a glass thing.

My Booth (photo by Terry Belles)

My Booth (photo by Terry Belles)

The trio continues to browse, and about 3 minutes later, the son actually expresses an interest in a piece.  We discuss it briefly.  I mention how one-of-a-kind most things are, and he insists he “must think about it.” I start to hand him my card (it’s usually how the “I hafta think about it” dance goes) and then smiling, pull it back out of his reach for a moment.

“Here’s my card,” I explain. “But so as I’m verra clear, I’m handing it to you because we’re discussing my glass.  There’s no subtext, hokay?” He blushes and takes it, looking at his toes.  I then whisper conspiratorially, “Good luck with yer mum. She’s a corker.” He grins, making sure his mum can’t see, and he starts to walk away.

However, his mum isn’t done.  She’s spotted the card exchange (although she’s too far away to have overheard the sotto voce part. I am, after all, a pro.) She turns around, quicker than I would have believed, snatches a card from my top shelf, winks at me, and darts out of the booth to join her men.

I just shake my head and go back to the job of selling my work.





The Battery Life of an Introvert

26 08 2015

Yep. All this. To quote a friend of mine, “I thought I was fairly introverted… And then I met Molly.”

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I know that a lot of my extroverted friends struggle to understand my introverted nature. Despite an attempt to explain this in my ‘Dear Extroverts‘ post last year, still they are confused. And so, after a recent conversation with one very extroverted friend, we came up with an analogy. Being an introvert is like being a mobile phone.

Let me explain.

Think of an introvert’s energy supply like an iPhone battery. Different levels of social interaction drain the battery different amounts. 4G results in an excessive drain on battery, 3G leads to quick loss of battery life , general use will drain the battery slowly, airplane mode won’t take much battery life at all, and charging gives back energy previously lost. Pretty much every situation and every person fits into one of these five categories…

4G – large crowds of people we don’t know. Think house parties, networking events, basically anything which…

View original post 785 more words





“Not Going” is the Story of My Life.

17 08 2015

This is a rant. Kind of. It’s also an explanation. Kind of. So if swearing offends you, sod off and go look at a nice kitten video or something, because my blog is probably not your cuppa tea.

Because I am out of fucks today.

Because I get really tired of people asking me if I will be at their “thing“. Anniversary, party, wedding, SCA event, THING.

Because I’m tired of people trying to guilt me into attending something.

Because I get tired of missing every damn weekend thing that happens for six months of the calendar year.

All that being said? No, I can’t be at your thing if it happens between April 25th and October 10th.  Notice I didn’t put a year in there… and that’s because my schedule is cast in stone, oftentimes up to a year in advance and NO I cannot miss a weekend of Ren Faire to be at your thing.

I am lucky enough to make my living being a full time glass artist, and often, when people buy something from my booth (whichever booth that may be at whichever Faire or medieval event I may be attending) they are combining a material purchase with an experiential one.  Anytime my physical body is not in my booth, my sales take anywhere from a 15-40% hit.  Sometimes at my good shows in one really good weekend I can sell more than 10% of my annual income. (Take a minute and apply that math to your own annual income and visualize some thing you just got invited to…)

Attending your thing could cost me a comma in a paycheck, because my physical body is not in my booth. I’m in no way a gambler by nature, and I’m certainly not going to gamble my paycheck to attend a thing in a sea of things, many of which I already wish I could be at.  Some of which I cry over missing.  Some of which have hurt friends and family when I’ve told them, “No. I can’t be there.”

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In case my argument needed more fuel to the fire, consider that (because of my awesome customers) I am now lucky enough to own a couple of permanent booths in a couple of Faires.  Ren Faire property ain’t cheap – I’ve owned vehicles that have cost less than one booth – but at the end of the day, my “property” sits on land owned by a Faire… Which is not a comfortable place to be discussing why I won’t be at Faire to attend a “thing“.  God forbid, and I hope it never happens, but if I have to miss a weekend at Faire, I want it to be for a dire emergency, and not cash in my accumulated karma points to go to a thing.   If that weren’t enough, I have (in some cases) an actual clause in my contract that states, “The artist must be present X weekends of the 2015 (or whatever year it is) season.” Failure to do so can result in my booth being seized and while I have excellent legal staff, I’m not brazen enough to get in a dick-wagging contest just so I can be at your thing.

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It’s not an ego thing – In my deepest and most secret place in the back of my head lives the little girl who loved to color rainbows everywhere as a child, and she cannot figure out why people flock to her glass booth.  Because I’m the person I am (with what I believe to be a slightly underdeveloped sense of ego if I’m accurately understanding what my friends and colleagues tell me) I’m too shy to ask what brings people in. And while I love meeting new customers, and seeing repeat customers, my favorite thing to do is just make glass art with my headphones in. And occasionally talk to my dog.  That’s my thing.  The nuts and bolts of how I facilitate a paycheck from my favorite thing is why I will not be attending your thing.





New Things For… Some Point

4 10 2014

I wish I could say, “ya, hey lookit all the new shinies I’m gonna rock your winter with…”

But art glass R&D is slower than that.

It takes me several days (if not weeks, and sometimes months) to muck around with a new idea until I have the hang of it enough to make it in a timely and cohesive fashion.

So poke me if any of these is on your holiday list, as I always, always, always try to get stuff that people want to buy immediately done faster than say, some random idea I’m farting around with. The photos are uncropped/unaltered btw because I’m a lazy sod, dinner is almost done bubbling away, my office is chilly, and I wanted to just throw this out inta cyberspace while it was fresh on my brain.

1) Bacon Suncatchers.

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The funny part is that I haven’t eaten pork in roughly 20 years, and I really don’t see what the heck the fuss is about bacon.  That being said, I had a commission for a slice of bacon this past year, and boy did my views fly up.  So now that I’ve got the “recipe” nailed, I should just make more.

2) Spike magnets for the Atlantian Contigent

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I made one of these bad boys for a friend.  She’s AwesomeSauce personified when it comes to web stuff, so of course, all of the Kingdom of Atlantia knows about them now.  (Coming sooner than some other stuff fyi cause I have the quirks of this particular glass cutie worked out already!)

3) Agate Slices in Wind Spinners

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My wind spinners are kind of an homage to keeping a greener footprint as a small business.  The big glass chunk in ’em is made from scrap glass (which is why you kinda get more bang than you’re really entitled to for your buck.) They get kind of similar looking though if I make too many at a clip, or when my supplies are unchanging. So the other week, I was talking to a rockhound buddy (I was querying after agate slice prices, which ended up being straight out of my budget unless I wanted to raise my prices significantly on my spinners.) But he mentioned this little nugget of info: agate slices (like glass) sometimes arrive broken at their destination.  “And then what happens to them?” I wondered.  So I contacted one of the huge agate importing folks in the US and asked if I could buy (cheaply) broken agate slices of a particular size.  I got a green light and a good price, and (long story short) I think broken pieces of agate fit the overall theme and feel of my spinners, and you’ll be seeing the agate additions to them by next Renaissance Faire season, if not sooner. I am also not likely to run out anytime soon.  The gent I talked to who deals in agates was thrilled to do business with me, as he has a 44 pound (yes you read that right) box of busted bits, most of which I can probably use.

4) Naughty Magnets, Part Two.

I have a lot of naughty friends, and I’m no paragon of puritude myself… so on the lousier (read raining) days at Faire this fall (of which there were several, let’s just be honest and throw that out there) we came up with new things to put on naughty magnets.  Here are the winners so far (although feel free to suggest others!)

Shyte!

Feckoff.

Awa’ An Bile Yer Heid (It’s Scottish.)

Naughty/Nice (With Naughty and Nice inverted from each other so whichever you put at the top is readable, whilst the one on the bottom is not… To be potentially sold with a back so that one can wear it as a brooch. ::grin::

5) Some Sort Of Challenging Thing Which Has Not Been Thought Of Yet

Something new.  Something challenging.  Suggestions taken.  Please don’t suggest glass windchimes though.  I let other people make those.  Glass windchimes have a real kinda icky tinkly sound (rather like glass breaking) and I can’t see not freaking having the sound of breaking clanking glass happening in my booth… not even for the spirit of retail.  Anything else is fair game.