Long-term changes

"We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature." -Sonya Renee Taylor. Over Grow the System.

I was think about this same thing today when I ran across it on Facebook. While there are many changes that are happening right now that are not good in any sense of the word – just look at how COVID-19 is affecting different populations – there are changes that we as individuals, states, nations, and a world are making that can continue after this pandemic is over and we are not longer forced to stay inside.

Personally, I have been working on making my life more sustainable and shrinking my own footprint. I have been lucky enough to continue to have a job, as well as having some more expensive events cancelled. This has given me the opportunity to invest in some greener, more sustainable practices that I have been putting off because I could not afford it.

I was able to buy a good bike and buy equipment for it so I can make a shopping trip or go for a long ride. It will help me reduce the amount of time I spend in my car, as well as increase my exercise in general.

Because I am now forced to teach online, I don’t have to drive up to campus multiple times a week, which cuts back on my fuel consumption and emissions, which are both good for the environment as well as my wallet.

I now have the time to work with using GladRags’ pads and pantiliners and see what direction I want to go in regarding those products. Since I am home for a few months, at least, I have the time to figure out how to best use them and not worry about getting a little messy.

While this is a stressful time for all of us, there are things that we can control. There are changes that we can make that will be good for our lives after this time of quarantine is over. Even if it’s just going through boxes of things, throwing out what you no longer need, and organizing what you keep so you can find them later. Or making changes to the way you eat. Or whatever it is. We can start to make little changes for the better now, while we have the opportunity.

Upgrades day 3

I’m done! I’m done with all the upgrading and rearranging that I have been meaning to do!

Yesterday, I finally went out and put the phone holder on the handlebars and the bike lock on the bike! I also have an awesome bag that not only expands to hold even more stuff, but I can take it off and take it in with me because it has a shoulder strap! I can put stuff right in it and then put it on the bike and go home. My bike is ready for a trip to the store or a nice long ride without getting lost!

I also swapped two sets of storage for better use. I took the storage pieces I had been using to store my clothes and swapped it with a wire shelving unit in my room. My clothes don’t need smaller spaces, and actually work better on the open shelving unit. The storage pieces are helping to contain my clutter and smaller things than the wire shelves, and really helped declutter some of my room!

Today was the last piece of the puzzle. There is a former record storage unit that we’ve been using as extra kitchen storage since we moved. Before that it was our bar. Now it is back to storing records on its bottom shelf and my binders from my masters and core binders from my PhD. That freed up two wooden crates on my desk for display and storage. Now I have a bunch of wall-space in the right-side and above corner of my desk!

Things are really shaping up in here! It’s feeling better than it ever has!

Now I can hopefully get focused more on getting work done on my dissertation, keeping up with my students, and work on my Oracle chapter!

Upgrades day 2

So, I haven’t put the stuff on my bike yet, so I thought I’d share the new look of my walls!

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been rearranging the furniture in my room so it functions better for me. First, I moved my futon over to create an area where I can relax and watch TV, use my laptop in front of the TV, and enjoy tea thanks to my new tea station. I bought a strand of white lights to hang from the ceiling because that corner doesn’t get lit up too well. Also, this way I can light just it up, creating a nice, calm, cozy place to relax.

Then I invested in some 3M Command picture hanging materials. I wanted to create some collages on my walls. In my cozy area I wanted to have posters with related things by them.

So I put up my Spider-Man poster with the cover collage and page I bought from the artist at DragonCon to the left of it. Below it I have some of my autographed photos: Jim Butcher from a Kickstarter, my photo with the Boondock Saints which I also got autographed by both, and my signed LeVar Burton photo.

To it’s right, and slightly lower, I put up my Doctor Who anniversary poster with my Gallifrey Road above it. Wrapping the top-right corner are the pieces my hubby has bought me at DragonCon over the years.

I left the Red State and Polesitting Miho posters, as well as my autographed Yaya Han photos where they were. Yaya’s photos will probably get moved soon, but they’re good for now. And, of course, my shelves of POPs, which I talked about the other day.

Above my desk, I wanted to build up around the calendar with my smaller stuff.

I feel like this area should be more eclectic for some reason. I love that I was able to line up my three Megatokyo prints down the right side. I’ve since added an older photo of the hubby and me below the TOS comm panel. It’s fun finding things and trying to figure out where to best put them. I’m thinking of putting the other corkboards I created with my pins above the door. I left space because I have some stuff at the office and I don’t know if they’ll be coming home anytime soon, and I still have smaller framed things around here.

It’s a work in progress, but it’s a fun work in progress!

Hopefully, I’ll get the stuff on the bike today or tomorrow so I can make full use of it! When it’s bothering to not rain, that is.

Upgrades day 1

Thanks to everything getting cancelled and tax refunds, I have had some money to take care of a few things that have needed attention. Today, a lot of the things I invested in arrived!

My POP collection – well most of it – is now on display securely!
Top shelf (l to r): Super Grover, Mister Rodgers, Daffy Duck, Locutus of Borg, Carmen Sandiego, and Darkwing Duck.
Bottom shelf (l to r): Colombia, glow-in-the-dark GIR, The Boondock Saints, Daredevil in black

After seeing a friend use the 3M shelves to display their POPs and other figures, I knew I needed some. I was going to put them up over my desk, but in my excitement to get artwork up, I didn’t leave enough space. Also, I forgot to measure to see if they’d fit. But they’re in a more visible spot, which makes me really happy!

More importantly, I got a tech upgrade today! I got a new computer! It’s nothing fancy, but it’s more than the very basic model I had been working with. I can actually have a video or music on while doing something else, like write here, and it can handle all of it! I also bought some bluetooth headphones, which are so nice!

I spent most of my day getting the files moved and programs installed. It’s nice to have a fresh start with the programs, too. I had a feeling I had some extra programs installed, and a new computer is a great way to start over with a clean slate!

Tomorrow, I’ll be installing the stuff I got for my bike so I can go on a trip without getting lost or just down to the store and secure it while I’m inside!

Three Weeks at Home

As of this writing, I will be home for the next three weeks. Next week is spring break, but we are holding classes online for the two weeks after that. Thankfully, those two weeks are easy for me to put online for my class. And it’ll be good practice for this summer when I’ll be teaching the same class online.

But, I have a tendency to loose my sense of time and get nothing done. And there are a lot of things that I need to get done, and want to get done, over break. I have a dissertation to keep working on and writing more for. I have a book chapter whose first draft needs to be done by June that I have barely started. I have grading to catch up on and stay caught up with. I need to move my desk to a point where I will either get better wireless reception or my hubby can wire me into the router. As of right now, I also have an academic presentation that I need to get ready for presentation in about a month.

I do really bad with schedules. If I don’t follow it, I end up feeling guilty and that stresses me out. In fact, just hearing the suggestion to create a schedule causes mild anxiety. Instead, I create to-do lists. I have an 8×10 frame that I use as a reusable to-do list. I print out the list in whatever form I need, put it in the frame, and use Expo markers to check or cross things off. It really helps, but I haven’t used it for months. I’m going to start using it again to keep myself on track for these next few weeks.

I’m simply going to list Dissertation, Chapter, Presentation, and Teaching across the top, with dates down the side and check boxes for each intersection. Just having that list reminding me to spend time on all three things every day will be what I need. Hopefully I can keep my sleep schedule on track as well, or else everything will go off the rails!

Best DragonCon ever!

Last year was probably my worst DragonCon ever. I was a little burned out by taking two classes over the summer. I was stressed over money, and had none to spend at the con. And our friends couldn’t make it again. I didn’t go to much. I barely cosplayed. It was not much fun.

This year was the complete opposite and more! I was refreshed from my summer of relaxing. I also had two new costumes to debut at the con. And I could afford to really enjoy myself! But, best of all, our friends were able to come again. Honestly, that made the biggest difference. If I missed a panel, it was more often because we’d be talking in the room. The best reason to miss a panel!

I not only go in the room for David Tennant’s first panel at DragonCon, ever, but I got to ask a question! I started by saying that he is my favorite Doctor. I was the first person to say that! Around five or six people in and no one else had said it. He said I was his favorite questioner! (It’s at 30:23 in the video below!) You can hear me shout “Yes!!” after he points out that I’m the first person to say it. As you can imagine, I’m still giddy over that! I do wish I had been less nervous and focused my question more on the physicality of the scene, but he still gave a great answer.

I’m at 30:23!!!

I then went to three more panels, with a stop for some food, before my panel and presentation of “Super-Tropes: Finding the Difference Between Narrative Prosthesis and Introduction to Disability in Marvel Comics.” It went so well! I got a lot of questions and feedback from the audience. It really makes me feel good about this line of research. I almost wish I had made it my dissertation, but this way I can write it exactly how I want to the first time. Also, I can take my time and really get it right.

I stopped by David Mack’s table after my presentation and got to thank him for creating Echo! I bought an Echo print, which he signed along with my two Daredevil trades that he wrote! He is wonderful.

Wrapping up Friday night was watching the Costuming Contest in the room with our friends. We missed that so much. It is so much better with them there. Especially since one is a costumer herself. She could catch details that I would have missed. So much fun!

Saturday was a bunch of shopping, including getting a new corset, followed by a couple of panels. After the second panel, I decided to stop by the Walk of Fame to find out when George Takei would be there. He was at his table! It was right after his panel had finished. I swear he transported over! His husband Brad was there, frequently coming out to check on us in line. I was a bit star-struck at him. They are both such wonderful people and it was amazing to meet them both. I still can’t believe I met George Takei and was able to thank him for sharing his story as he signed my copy of They Called Us Enemy that my hubby got me for my birthday.

Inscription reads:
To Courtney
Peace and happiness
George Takei
The title page of They Called Us Enemy signed by George Takei.

Sunday, we decided to watch the big Farscape panel on DCTV in our hotel room. The way all of them talked about the fans and how much they love and appreciate us got me back to wanting to get their autographs on my Crichton vest. By the time I got to the Walk of Fame, all five of them had returned from their photo session. They all very happily signed the vest and they were all such wonderful people to talk with. I think I impressed Anthony Simcoe (D’Argo) and Lani Tupu (Capt. Crais and Pilot) with my dissertation topic. My hubby went later and they all remembered me! But it was so nice to be able to meet them all and tell them how much I love the show and I hope to see all of them back when the show comes back!

At the top is Rebecca Riggs (Grayza). Below her are Ben Browder (Crichton) on the left and Gigi Edgley (Chiana) in the middle. Below her is Anthony Simcoe (D’Argo) and Lani Tupu (Crais and Pilot) is to the right.

We all ended our day in the room, watching the Masquerade and enjoying some of the alcohol we had brought with us. It was just so much fun!

Monday was more subdued. A Tom Smith concert with my hubby. A wonderful panel on Comics in the Classroom. And a final swing through the Dealers Rooms.

It is the best time I have ever had at DragonCon. I went to panels big and small. Fan and academic. I went shopping. I got a bunch of autographs and got to thank them for what they do. I got to hang out with all of the friends I only see at DragonCon. I hope next year will be even better.

Looking Forward to DragonCon!

This time last year, I was a mess. I was finishing up the second of two classes I took over the summer. I was struggling to make ends meet financially, and, because I took summer classes, my financial aid was distributed differently than previously and I owed the university money for fall. And, our friends were not going to be able to make it to DragonCon. While I was looking forward to DragonCon, it was with about the least amount of enthusiasm I’d ever had. I didn’t pack any costumes. I had no money to go get anyone’s autograph. I did end up putting together an Arthur Dent from what I had packed at one point, but that was as close as I got to cosplaying. I was burned out, and DragonCon did not help with that much.

This year, it’s completely different! I have done nothing over the summer. Well, that’s not completely true. I’ve been studying, working on my CPAC presentation, making a costume, finishing another, and picking away at dissertation things. But, I’ve been taking time to do nothing, to relax. So I’m nowhere near burned out. I also have no financial problems this year, thanks to some scholarship money and employment for the school year. Which means I can add at least David Tennant and Catherine Tate to my 500 Year Diary, as well as get Farscape autographs, among other things. But, the best thing right now? Our friends are able to make it!

A little context. These friends are why we first went to DragonCon in 2010 (yes, this is our 10th DragonCon!!). For those ten DragonCons, they have been at 8 of them. They have become a part of DragonCon for us. Even if the only time we see them is in the room, they are an important part of the experience for us. So it is going to be so awesome to have them there again!

Thanks to my relaxation and recuperation this summer (and our friends coming!), I have 4 costumes that I am really looking forward to wearing. I have my Wafuku Tenth Doctor for Friday (when I’m planning to camp out in line for David Tennant if necessary), Death as Didi for Monday, and my Star Trek Fangirl and Pirogoeth, my first D&D character, for Saturday and Sunday. Since I don’t know the schedule yet, I don’t know which day I’ll be wearing which costume. I’d like to be my Fangirl when I meet George Takei, but when I meet him depends on when I’m presenting at the conference. I need to be able to get out of whatever costume and into non-costume for my presentation.

In two weeks, I’ll be at DragonCon, enjoying my yearly 5-day geek vacation. I can’t wait!

Relaxing, decompressing, self-care

This summer (all just over 1 month of it) I have been trying to get work done for my dissertation and upcoming preliminary exams. But I keep getting distracted by TV and costumes. Some of the TV stuff and all of the costume stuff has been stuff that I’ve been putting off to take care of things for school.

Up until today, I’ve been feeling guilty over this. Today, I realized that I shouldn’t. Yes, I go onto Facebook and see how much work my friends are putting in over the summer. But I need to have these outlets now. I need to take the time to truly relax for my own sanity. It’s not that I don’t watch TV during the school year, but there’s always something else I really should be doing for class.

Right now, I have a little bit of time to take for myself. So I’m not going to feel guilty over using supplies I already have to finish up some costumes I’ve been planning for years. I’m not going to feel guilty over watching TV. But, I do need to keep working on getting things read.

Seeing as this fall I start the less structured part of the Ph.D. process, I am going to start working on being able to balance taking time for myself and doing work for school. I’ve tried many times before to create a schedule for myself. All it does it make me feel guilty when I don’t follow it. I’m just going to set goals for myself for school and make sure I meet them before I go to bed. I’m really hoping it will give me the guidance I need with the flexibility to go “off schedule” when I feel the need. Like right now, writing this!

It’s all about finding what works for you. Everyone functions differently. Never be ashamed of that.

What I learned from DragonCon: 2018 edition

This is so late! I didn’t realize I hadn’t published it!

Another year, another CPAC, another DragonCon.

Every year is different. Every year I make a different experience for myself. It’s not simply a case of different programming each year or different guests. Part of the joy of DragonCon is there is so much happening at any given moment during the con (yes, all 5 days) that you can craft your own unique con experience. Here’s what I learned this year…

Pack a few costumes. I love making costumes. I love dressing up as characters from shows I love and wandering around cons in them. This year I decided not to pack any. I just wore my geeky t-shirts. One night I went out to meet up with my hubby to get some food. I was already in my Deadpool lounge pants instead of shorts. So I decided to throw on sandals, my TARDIS bathrobe, and grabbed a towel from the hotel bathroom. I was quickly recognized as Arthur and even struck up a conversation. It felt good. It reminded me that wearing costumes can indeed be fun. And just because no one says anything about it doesn’t mean they didn’t notice it and think about it. I did that constantly. So I’m going to make sure to pack some costumes as well as enough street clothes to have both options next year. Just because I pack the options, doesn’t mean I have to wear all of them.

Staying in the room is just fine. This has been a rough two weeks. Last week was the start of the semester as well as DragonCon and CPAC. I had planned to get up early on Sunday and get in line for the Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie panel to start my day. I decided sleep was better and took my time getting ready to head over for the Anne of Green Gables panel. After spending an hour wiping tears from my eyes (tears that are returning at the memory) being in the same room as my Anne, I decided to head back to the room. I ended up just hanging out in the room for most of the day. It felt good. I needed some self-care time. Just because you are at the con doesn’t mean you have to be out at it all the time. If you need to, take time for yourself. The point is to enjoy yourself.

Save money before you go. Through as series of annoyances that ate what little money I had left, I was broke for DragonCon. I mean that if I didn’t have a wonderful, caring husband, I wouldn’t have been able to go. I’m going to start setting aside a specific amount of money each month so when DragonCon 2019 rolls around I’ll have enough to at least eat if not have some spending money too.

Searching for Work-Life-School Balance

Life has been crazy lately. Last week the second year of my PhD began. So did my new job as a Graduate Assistant at the Writing Center. And it was also DragonCon and CPAC. Now that things have settled down, I’m realizing how much of a mess these past two weeks have been with everything going on.

There is a reason why I do not work on Fridays. Twice a week I have work for 6 hours, tutoring for 2 hours, and a total of at least 2.5 hours in the car. The other two days I have work, tutoring, and class until 9pm. And the 2.5 hours in the car. I am on campus for between 8 and 11 hours four days a week, not including any extra time I can find to do work for myself. This is the first day I’ve had off in the past two weeks. I was going to go into work today to make up for not being there Tuesday because we didn’t get home until 30 min before I should have been at work.

But when I woke up today, I couldn’t do it.

I just needed the time to recover and to start working on what I need to have done for class on Monday. I need time to drink tea. I need time to eat a huge bowl of salad. I need time to get my office/room cleaned up and organized. I need time to get caught up on the dishes. I need time to unpack from DragonCon. I need time to work on getting the apartment in order. I need time to write this. I need time to work on finding a work/life/school balance.

I’m hoping that by getting things sorted this weekend I’ll be able to move forward in a balanced manner. But taking the time to recognize that I can’t push myself and that I need that time is the first step. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.