‘Tis the Season

It’s getting to that time of year again. The official holiday season.

Yes, I know, I’m offending some readers by saying “holiday” instead of “Christmas”…but y’know what? Why can’t we be all-inclusive here? There are several holidays at this time of year: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice–I’m sure there are some more that I can’t think of at the moment….so I’m going to say holiday season. The season for holidays. There. Y’all all are included.

Though not a Christian, I actually quite enjoy the Christmas season. I love decorating (even though I’m not a fan of red and green–do you know how difficult it is to find Christmas-type decorations that are blue or silver? Most of them are Hanukkah decorations), I love seeing family and friends, and I love getting gifts for people I care about.

Receiving gifts is fun and all, too, but I actually enjoy the practice of giving gifts more…especially when I can see the look on the recipient’s face when they get something they really wanted, or something that makes them happy.

Yeah, this is sappy and cheesy…but it’s how I feel. My husband and I make a list of people we’re buying for every year and take a lot of time to make sure we’re getting things that people will want. It takes more thought than you might think. You can’t just go, “Oh, this person has such-and-such on their list.” You have to plan, you have to know the person, and you have to ask questions if you can’t think of anything right off the bat. That’s the key to enjoying your holiday season.

Don’t have anyone to buy for? That’s okay. Not everyone has a big family or a lot of friends. I myself hardly have any friends in town, and the few I do have I hardly ever see. Do something nice for someone, anyway. Donate to a charity, buy some toys for some tots…do something. Wallowing in self-pity doesn’t just ruin the holiday season for you, it ruins it for everyone who cares about you (and anyone around you).

“No one cares for me,” you say? Wrong. I don’t care you who are, there’s someone who cares about you. You may not know it, but they’re there. So pick your chin up, grab some eggnog, and give out some gifts. You’ll feel better. Unless you’re allergic to eggnog…then skip that part.

Mockingjay: Pure Entertainment, or Cautionary Tale?

So by now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Mockingjay movies, as well as the first movie, The Hunger Games, and the sequel, Catching Fire. These movies have definitely caught fire in entertainment, marketing, and product lines, but is the message being lost?

I’ve both read the books and seen the movies. I know the differences between the two, and some of the more glaring differences are bothersome to me. The movies don’t have Katniss getting her iconic Mockingjay pin from a friend she didn’t even know she had in District 12. They don’t go into her fear of having children because she doesn’t want them to have to face competition in the Hunger Games.

These are two minor changes, but they are powerful messages that need to be conveyed. The symbol of the Mockingjay wasn’t something Katniss picked up in a marketplace; it was given to her by a friend, a precious commodity to Katniss in the harsh conditions of District 12. Her fear of having children was a powerful message, a sign of the desperation of the times. Being afraid to have a child because that child might have to compete in a battle to the death with other children? That is an enormous weight to carry, and to gloss over that is to do the books a great disservice.

Another thing that disturbs me is that the message of the story is lost in the commercialization of the films. We–I’m speaking primarily of Americans–have become complacent in our current political system. We protest, we gripe on Facebook, we post political memes and quotes…but what do we really do about it?

Now, I’m not suggesting full-on rebellion like in the books. I’m saying that we need to consider the situation we’re in. Sure, our political system has worked for a couple hundred years. Yeah, we had that Civil War in there, but y’know, we’ve been pretty much status quo for a while. Are we really operating in the right system right now, though?

You have basically two parties that are diametrically opposed. “Debates” become arguing sessions where nothing is accomplished. And don’t even get me started on TV coverage of politics. Ugh.

Our political system is a hot mess. Do I know how to fix it? Hell, no. I don’t get involved in politics because not only do I admittedly have only a basic understanding of the system, but also because I don’t fully agree with either side. I’m neither right nor left, black nor white, light nor dark. I’m in that grey area, that middle ground where I don’t feel strongly enough about any of the hot button topics to raise up my voice and speak out. And if I did, who would listen? My Twitter followers? My few Facebook friends?

Politics and social media don’t mix well, I’ve found–and yet I’m writing this blog post today. Why? Because I think we should do something. I don’t know what; I’m not smart enough for that. But maybe, just maybe, someone who is smart enough will read this and say, “Hey, she’s got a point. We don’t have to keep the system we have just because it’s what we’ve done for a couple hundred years.”

“Well, AJ,” you might say, “what exactly do you want us to do?” I honestly don’t know. I want us to not bitch about stupid things. I want us to be open to different ideas and different beliefs. I want something more.

Is there an “ideal” political system? Is it worth it to upend the current one only to wind up in a worse situation? Who knows. I don’t think the ideal political system has yet been found, because if it had someone somewhere certainly would have the common sense to say, “These people have got it right. This is what we need to do.” And then others with common sense would say, “Yeah, good point. Let’s do the thing.” And we would all do the thing, and world harmony and all that jazz.

Yeah, I know that’s not going to happen. Maybe some day in the far, far future, but certainly not my lifetime. And that sucks.

The blackest of Fridays

It’s here. Once again, it’s Black Friday.

Of course, Black Friday is starting to lose some of its meaning, given that it starts on Thursday for many stores in the U.S. It’s not just Friday anymore.

I feel for the salespeople who are stuck working today. I’ve been there. I have vague memories of it (thank the Gods for the ability to suppress stressful memories).

That being said, I must quote the Doctor today: “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”

That’s right. I’m going out into the fray today. We don’t need much, but there are a few things we need to pick up today: sales that can’t be beat, sales that will give us Christmas presents for our friends and family.

I know, I know. I’m a hypocrite. I hate Black Friday with a passion, yet I’m going shopping today. I’m a terrible person.

But damn if my father-in-law & my mom aren’t going to get some great presents this year.

‘Tis almost the season

I’ve posted my art on here before, but I’ve never posted my gift certificates! That’s right, I do sell gift certificates for my artwork! They can be used for a commission or for a completed piece, and they can be in pretty much any denomination 🙂


I’ll try to produce more art and post it here as the time to Christmas gets closer, so keep an eye out for something you or a friend/family member might like!


I see those around me

So successful, so confident

With interesting stories and interesting lives

I see their triumphs and their accolades

They rise up

And I stay stagnant

Nothing new, nothing remarkable

Just me

Safe, boring me

Where is my life going?

What am I doing that is special?

Even my accomplishments are trivial

The few things I can name as my own

So small, so insignificant

A tiny speck of space dust

In a universe of stars

Looking up

Things have changed a bit since yesterday. I came across an opportunity to have some promotional material for my book made up, which is fantastic. I don’t know how much help it will be, but it is looking to be a great way to garner more interest in the novel.

The planning is still kind of iffy, but I’ll do my best to wrangle it together. I really am excited for this. Serendipity, as it were. It just kind of fell into my lap, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

I will post updates as things solidify, but for now I’m going to keep mum until I’m ready for the “big reveal.” 😉

Slow Going

Sold a couple more books this weekend–to friends, of course.

I wish I could figure out the marketing better. I need to start researching that. I mean, tweets and Facebook posts can only do so much. Facebook is only going to reach the people I know, and though Twitter can reach more it’s not enough.

I have to keep telling myself that no one starts out on their own like I did and sells hundreds or even dozens of copies overnight. Well, very few people do. It’s a learning process.

Word of mouth would help, but I have no control over that. If people want to tell their friends who like the genre I wrote in, they will. If they don’t, they won’t. And I can’t rely on random searches bringing in readers.

I’ll figure it out. Somehow. Eventually.

To the Bone

Finally got the boning in for my corset yesterday. I got all the bones in the channels with no problems, and got the top binding sewn on. My biggest problem? The damn grommets.

Now, according to the directions (and according to several corset making groups I’ve followed on Facebook), the best way to gradually make openings for the grommets is to use an awl–a special leatherworking tool–to open up the space between threads.

I, however, do not own one and did not bother to buy one. I went the long way about it and thus am going to have the cracked and blistered hands to prove it come daylight.

Still, I’m determined to finish this corset. If I’ve gotten far enough to get the boning in, I have to. I wouldn’t be able to rest knowing it wasn’t done (which is probably why I’ve had insomnia all night and have not slept in 23 hours).

I got roughly half of the grommet holes made and the grommets in place, but I can’t set the grommets until it’s later in the morning when people are awake and won’t complain about hammering. I also made one tiny boo-boo where the fabric ripped about half an inch, but I think that once the grommet is set in place it won’t be as bad, and then I can sew it back together. Just need to find thread that matches well.

I hope to be able to post pictures of me wearing the corset soon. I think once I can see how it looks with the hood I made I’ll have a better visualization of how the overall ensemble will look, and it will also give me a better idea of what to do with the skirt. I have the basic design down, but I need to hem it (which I have a plan for) and finish the waist (somehow).

This is the time when I should be going to sleep.

I’m not though. I’ll probably mess around on the computer for a while longer. I’m wired as all get-out & not much will settle me.

Flash Fiction Friday: Snowmen

Kathy rolled her eyes as Eric pulled on her arm, dragging her towards the snow-covered cemetery. Convinced that he could scare her, he had begged for weeks until she finally gave in.

She didn’t know what the big deal was, though. It’s not like there are any real ghosts or ghouls or things like that. It was just a place where you buried dead people. People who stayed dead. Eric was an idiot if he thought an old cemetery would scare her just because she was a girl.

They entered the gate and Kathy resisted the urge to giggle. Eric had made quite the effort. On top of every grave was an elaborate snowman–or rather, a snow zombie, “crawling” out of the dirt. Points for creativity, she thought, but not scary.

“Eric, just give it up. Yes, you made some pretty snow zombies. Very creepy. Oooh. Can we go back to the house now? It’s freezing out here.”

Eric didn’t respond, though. Rather, he had stopped in his tracks and was backing up slowly. “I didn’t make these,” he said, his eyes wide.

“Sure you didn’t,” Kathy said. “Let’s just go home. It’s not scary.”

Eric’s hand shook on her arm. He was putting on quite the show. “I didn’t make these,” he repeated quietly.

Kathy sighed, irritated, and wrenched her arm from Eric’s hand. “They’re just stupid snowmen. Watch.” She pulled back her foot and kicked at the nearest zombie, ready to undo Eric’s dirty work just to prove that she wasn’t frightened.

When the zombie grabbed her leg, she screamed.

Eric started to run, but he was so blinded by fear that he didn’t see the snow zombie around the corner of a large tombstone. Eric and Kathy’s screams echoed through the dark cemetery for ten minutes…then all was quiet once again.

What is this strange beast called “Sleep”?

Sleep. I haven’t been used to getting much of it the past, well, 10 months or more.

I had insomnia when we got our cat, Rory, and he decided that I needed to be up at ridiculous hours every day (because that’s when I was getting up when we adopted him). So I woke every day between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. with a cat kneading my throat, or licking my face, or just plain sitting on me. It became a part of my daily routine.

I got a lot of writing done in that time. And sewing, drawing, etc. The wee hours became the me hours.

Lately, however, Rory has been waking me up later and later. This morning, I got to sleep in until after 5 a.m.! It was amazing. I had forgotten what I was missing in the past year.

The downside to this development is I will have less time for creative endeavors. I’ll have to find a better time to write/draw/paint/sew/etc. now that Rory has deemed it okay for me to sleep.

Oddly enough, I find myself wondering what to do with myself in the mornings now that I don’t have hours upon hours of free time. I can’t very well start an extensive project when there’s only an hour before I have to get ready for work.

I guess decent sleep is a double-edged sword. Without it, I have time to get things done that otherwise might not get done. With it, I’m left wondering what to do with myself.