We're doing a giveaway!

Remember just a couple days ago when I was talking about that 28-mile hike that my girlfriend and I are going on in October? Well, we're officially doing a giveaway to raise more money so we can reach our goal of $5,000 in support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This gift basket is worth nearly $300 in gift cards, goodies and homemade items, and all you have to do is donate $10 to be in the running to win. 

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What's included in the gift basket?

  • $30 Netflix gift card (pays for a subscription) 
  • $25 BP gas card
  • $25 Visa gift card (cash, basically)
  • $20 Starbucks gift card
  • Starbucks cup - clear with Starbucks logo, lid, reusable straw
  • YETI cup - 20 oz black rambler
  • Roku Express
  • Blackweb Bluetooth portable speaker
  • Mainstays plush blanket - gray, twin XL
  • Crocheted coffee cozy with strap to fit around mugs with handles (fits around the Starbucks and Yeti cups)
  • Crocheted toboggan 
  • Crocheted plant in a clay pot
  • 500-piece Color-A-Puzzle 
  • Two adult coloring books
  • Crayola 24 pack of colored pencils (for the coloring books lol)
  • Two brain teaser games with a combined 200 puzzles to solve
  • Movie theater style candy - Swedish Fish, M&Ms, Reese's Pieces, Sour Patch Kids
  • The basket itself! Flexible storage bin

Yeah but if I don't win all that stuff, then what?

The more people donate, the more we can contribute to other (smaller) gift baskets! If this turns out to be a success, we will do more than one drawing and therefore have multiple winners. One other big prize that I can for sure guarantee is that I will crochet anything you want no matter the cost. So if you donate $10 and win, then I could crochet you something like a blanket that's a $200 value. 

So how do I increase my chances of winning??

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We're doing it Hunger Games style.

Remember how the lottery worked in The Hunger Games? That's kind of how this drawing works, except it's a GOOD thing if you win. For EVERY $10 you donate, your name gets put in the jar. So if you donate $100, then you have 10 slips of paper with your name on them. I'm not the best at math, but having 10 chances of winning something is better than having 1. (And if you've already donated, then your name is already in this jar!)

 

Depending on the number of donations we receive, we will announce the winner of this gift basket either in a couple of weeks or later in September. The more you donate, the faster we can pick some winners (and the more winners there will be)! Please donate to our team today and spread the word!

Trailblaze Challenge
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Have you ever voluntarily signed up for a 28.3-mile hike? Somehow my girlfriend convinced me that this was a good idea, so she and I will be hiking through the Foothills Trail in Lavonia, Georgia, this October. I've never walked 28.3 miles (through a mountain) in one day before, so we are training hard for this hike. 

The hike is to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to North Carolina children who have life-threatening diagnoses. Charity and I have to raise a combined $5,000 by November to participate in this hike. We need your support! 

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For donations on my page, I can crochet anything you want (the more you donate, the more you can ask for)! For donations on Charity's page, she can bake anything you'd like OR you can tell her something you'd like her to carry during the hike (like a 50-pound medicine ball to really challenge her). You can also donate to our team page, Madd Mack - all links are below. ALSO, STAY TUNED - WE WILL BE ANNOUNCING A GIVEAWAY SOON, so even more motivation for you to donate! Thank you for your help!

I'm gay so I'm contractually obligated to talk about Love, Simon
 I like seeing movies by myself. I know some people probably see me at the theater and think I'm weird or sad, but I really do enjoy going to the movies alone. The other day, in the small, conservative town of Concord, NC, I was sitting by myself behind a row full of 12-year-old girls who gasped and whispered and giggled in delight every time anything gay happened in Love, Simon. I listened as a fairly full theater of people sighed when the boy kissed the other boy, and I felt silly.  I felt silly that every time I get out of my car, I put my wallet and phone away into pockets or my fanny pack because they have rainbow flags on them and I don't want anyone to see that. I felt silly that I refer to my girlfriend as "my significant other" when I'm talking to customers at work, I felt silly for all the times I just answered "no" when people ask me if I have a boyfriend, I felt silly for all the times I haven't kissed my girlfriend in public or held her hand. I like seeing movies by myself, but I wish my girlfriend had been next to me at Love, Simon so I could say, "Look! We're just like those people on screen!"  I wasn't expecting to like Love, Simon. The trailer made it seem like it was just going to be attractive white gay guys, and I've grown tired of media  only  focusing on the White Gay Guy portion of the LGBT community. But then I read the book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and it was a whole lot more diverse than I was expecting. The author obviously worked hard to make her characters diverse and to include their diversity as part of the story, which made me enjoy this book way more than I usually enjoy YA books. (Oh and just as an aside - the book is better than the movie by far. Simon's friends don't shun and abandon him after he comes out, which was the absolute least realistic part of the movie.)   When I left the movie theater on Friday, I felt like showing off. I wanted to tell complete strangers that I'm gay and show them pictures of me and my girlfriend. I wanted to tell those young girls that my life looks like Simon's, that I hope they would cheer for me the way they cheered for him. 

I like seeing movies by myself. I know some people probably see me at the theater and think I'm weird or sad, but I really do enjoy going to the movies alone. The other day, in the small, conservative town of Concord, NC, I was sitting by myself behind a row full of 12-year-old girls who gasped and whispered and giggled in delight every time anything gay happened in Love, Simon. I listened as a fairly full theater of people sighed when the boy kissed the other boy, and I felt silly.

I felt silly that every time I get out of my car, I put my wallet and phone away into pockets or my fanny pack because they have rainbow flags on them and I don't want anyone to see that. I felt silly that I refer to my girlfriend as "my significant other" when I'm talking to customers at work, I felt silly for all the times I just answered "no" when people ask me if I have a boyfriend, I felt silly for all the times I haven't kissed my girlfriend in public or held her hand. I like seeing movies by myself, but I wish my girlfriend had been next to me at Love, Simon so I could say, "Look! We're just like those people on screen!"

I wasn't expecting to like Love, Simon. The trailer made it seem like it was just going to be attractive white gay guys, and I've grown tired of media only focusing on the White Gay Guy portion of the LGBT community. But then I read the book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and it was a whole lot more diverse than I was expecting. The author obviously worked hard to make her characters diverse and to include their diversity as part of the story, which made me enjoy this book way more than I usually enjoy YA books. (Oh and just as an aside - the book is better than the movie by far. Simon's friends don't shun and abandon him after he comes out, which was the absolute least realistic part of the movie.) 

When I left the movie theater on Friday, I felt like showing off. I wanted to tell complete strangers that I'm gay and show them pictures of me and my girlfriend. I wanted to tell those young girls that my life looks like Simon's, that I hope they would cheer for me the way they cheered for him. 

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A classmate told me this week that it's annoying how often I talk about being gay and that it "just gets really old." Now, to get one thing straight - I'm an annoying person regardless of my being gay. But that being said, it hurt to be told that my comments about my sexuality annoy others. School is one of my "safe" places, where I know I can talk about being gay and I'm not going to, say, lose a tip over it. What my classmate sees as annoying, I see as my overcompensating. So often in my life I have to adjust what I say and how I act in order to accommodate others and make sure I don't make them uncomfortable. 

 

After this incident in class, I talked to the dean of the school because she's also a lesbian. She's 56 years old, and she told me that she recently introduced her wife to someone as "my friend" because she thought they might be uncomfortable. That was incredibly disheartening for me. I had hoped that at some point in my life I won't have to censor myself in certain situations, but it turns out we are all doing it. Even white, older gays who move in progressive circles are still struggling with being out and proud. We are all forced to adjust the way we talk and the way we act to avoid being told that we're annoying or inappropriate. And I've got it easy - there are gays that adjust the way they talk for fear of being kicked out of their homes, being fired, being harmed or even killed. 

It may sound silly, but hearing everybody cheer at the big gay kiss at the end of Love, Simon makes me want to hold my gay head up just a little bit higher.

Look at this cat
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I haven't posted anything

in a while, so here's a picture of my new kitten to make up for it. She really enjoys hanging out in my bathroom.

When I was looking for an apartment over the summer, I made sure to read a lot of reviews since I didn't do that for my previous apartment and therefore didn't know I'd be sharing my living space with about 200 cockroaches. The only negative reviews for my current place of residence said that there are a lot of stray cats in this neighborhood. Tons of stray cats. Not a day goes by without seeing at least a handful of stray cats. 

I love cats. When I was about 7 years old, I actually rescued a stray cat by sitting next to the storm drain where she lived for literal hours every day until she accepted me as her own. I named her Macy, since we already had two other cats named Lacy and Tracy. 

At the age of 16, however, I discovered the awful truth that I had become allergic to cats. It had been a few years since Lacy, Tracy and Macy passed away so I hadn't spent any time around cats in a while. But a couple of my friends had cats, so the allergic reactions I'd get when I went to their houses clued me in. I'm pretty sure God made me allergic to cats to prevent me from owning, like, 20 cats. 

That being said, I have a cat anyway. I was coming home late from work one night, and there she was meowing at me on the stairs up to my apartment. She was so small, and I knew she was a stray because almost all of the strays in this neighborhood are black cats. She let me pet her and pick her up, and I kept telling myself I was going to put her down once I got to my front door. I assumed she would run away, but when I set her down she didn't move. She waited for me to open the door to my apartment, and she walked right inside. So, finder's keepers I guess. 

Her name is Jake after Detective Jake Peralta from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He's described on the show as being "scrappy and lovable," so I thought the name fit perfectly. Also, gender doesn't matter when you're a cat. 

Charlotte Pride

This past weekend at Pride, I passed out business cards for my Etsy store by shouting, "If you like my shirt, take a card." Making my own shirt specifically for this event was the best idea I've had this year. I probably passed out about 100 cards, but I should've brought more with me. People love grabbing stuff at Pride.

I also brought my bisexual pride flag with me and gave it away. I bought it at Salt Lake City Pride two years ago, and it's been hanging in my room since that time. Recently, though, I've come to the realization that I don't actually think I'm bisexual. I think, though, that I'm going to write in a different post about that particular life revelation...

Pride is wonderful for a lot of different reasons, but I think my favorite thing about it is how unapologetically gay everyone is. There's no fear, no judgment, no need to hide or feel reserved.

This past week, my roommate was fired from her job for being transgender. I tweeted and facebooked the hell out of her employer's accounts, and she's in the process of putting together a lawsuit now.

My fieldwork placement for school was actually a rehab center that I've been to before in order to do my observation hours to apply to school. When I was there, I briefly mentioned that I was gay and the reaction was unfavorable. They were uncomfortable, I was uncomfortable, it wasn't great. Then one of the physical therapists tried to get in political debates with me and was using the Bible to support his claims. I had to have the most awkward conversation ever with my fieldwork teacher in order to get placed in a new location. I never planned on coming out to my teachers at all, and I definitely didn't plan on coming out to them during the first week of class.

Last week was tough. Last week, it wasn't fun to be gay. 

So if you're straight and you're jealous because there's no straight pride parade, I hope this gives you some perspective. On Sunday, I could celebrate my identity. On Sunday, I could forget all the problems I faced last week on account of being gay. On Sunday, it was fun to be gay.

Living my best life
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Sometimes at my new job there are nights where we aren't very busy, so I don't make very much money. Going home with cash in my pocket every night is cool, but it's not so cool when that cash is significantly less than the work put into it. 

So last Wednesday night I came home with $45 in my pocket and I was bummed about that, but then I walked into my apartment and had a really weird realization. There are plants in my apartment. I made my curtains, built my coffee table, end table, put together all the decorations in my living room. I eat vegetables every day. I really, thoroughly enjoy my job, and I've been on two amazing dates with a person I really like. It hit me last week that I'm one dog away from living the life I've dreamed of living for a long time now. 

I know some of this seems trivial, but even something like owning a bunch of plants requires responsibility, conducive environment, the space to place them. For years I've wanted to be a person that owns plants, but I've never been able until now. For years I've wanted to be a person that's built/made most of the furniture and decor in their house, and I'm moving toward that now. For years I've been eating rice and beans every day because I didn't think I had the time, cooking ability, or money to eat vegetables. (I also didn't even know I liked vegetables because I was a very picky eater as a kid, but it turns out I'm not so picky as an adult. I've hated lettuce all my life, and suddenly I find myself putting spinach on my sandwiches. When I told my family about this, their reaction was bigger and more dramatic than when I came out to them.) 

At work the other night, my middle school principal (hey, Deb!) came in with her son and I got to serve them. She told me that I seemed really happy, which I don't think anyone has ever told me at any job I've ever worked. I had assumed for a long time that I would despise waiting tables, but it turns out I love it so much that I'm worried I'll want to keep waiting tables even after I graduate from OTA school in two years. I have always loved working, I make everything into a job (hence why I have an Etsy store instead of just crocheting leisurely like normal grandmas), so having a job that I really like makes a huge impact on my own personal well being. 

For the first time in a long time, I feel really grounded and content. Because of that, I feel as if I've been selfish lately - not in a bad way, but just focusing on myself in order to get all my shit worked out. But now that I don't feel that need anymore to figure out what I'm doing with my life, I want to do more for other people. Especially with all that's going on in the world (specifically the U.S.) right now, I want to figure out what I can do to help others. I have some ideas in the works, talking to some good people about it, so hopefully very soon I'll have some news on that front. Stay tuned!