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!

Starting a conversation

During high school and college, I believed that the only purpose in life was to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. I believed I could heal the world by converting others to Christianity. 

I stopped being (that) religious gradually over time, so it's hard to say when I stopped believing that I had a divine mission to preach the gospel. The past few years, I've learned a lot about the pain and suffering in the world, and what the many marginalized people groups face particularly in the United States. 

You'd think that would've started when I came out as bisexual, but not really. It really started when I posted a stupid, racist opinion on the Internet and received more grace than I deserved from black people trying to educate me. I had felt so much white guilt up until that point, I was trying to justify it, and I learned that there are more important things than me trying to explain away my own racism. 

As I learned more about the oppression that black people face, I also learned that I was facing micro-aggressions and oppression myself as a member of the LGBT community. I really started to think that wait a second, this isn't fair. It's not fair for a lot of people. But when I tried talking about it, I was angry. Combative. I never made any progress with anyone. Weirdly enough, it wasn't nearly as easy as trying to talk to people about Jesus.  

I'm still angry, I still pick too many battles that I usually lose. But I've now reached a point where I feel like I did when I had a "divine mission." I feel like there is something I'm meant to be doing, but it's hard to pinpoint exactly what. Fifty years from now, I don't want the next generation to ask me, "Where were you, what were you doing when Nazis took over?" (I of course hope it doesn't actually come to that, but the fear I've felt for others over the past few days is crippling.) 

Yesterday, I was sitting in the third pew at church crocheting when my pastor walked in wearing his Black Lives Matter t-shirt, and I called him over and asked him to sit down. I asked him what it is I can be doing, what I should be doing. The first, simplest answer he gave me was to do what he thinks I'm best at: write. 

So I'm going to write. I don't know if I'll create an entirely different website, but for now I'll be posting here. I will try not to be combative, to demonstrate a gentleness that I am still learning and working on every damn day. 

If you would like to contribute to the conversation, or if you have something you'd like to share anonymously, questions, comments you'd like posted here, you can email me at maddmadeshop@gmail.com. 

Welcome to Texas Roadhouse

What up, I got a new job.

So I'm going back to school in a couple of weeks, which means I can't really work a normal Monday-Friday 40-hours-a-week job anymore BUT I still have to pay all of my bills. I didn't necessarily want to leave my job at Martial Arts University, but it became increasingly more obvious to me that I wouldn't be able to maintain my schedule and make enough money to, you know, live. 

My sister, who's worked in the restaurant industry for the majority of her life, has been encouraging me to get a job in a restaurant for, like, a year now. When I moved to Concord, she suggested I apply to Texas Roadhouse.

The weird thing is that when I got this job as a server and started telling people about it, the most common reaction I got was laughter. Which really, uh, doesn't feel very good. Working in a restaurant is one of the only jobs you can easily do to support yourself through school, but apparently people think it's "beneath" me or something? I'm the type of person that does whatever job needs to be done for whatever point I'm at in my life, so if working as a server gets me from point A to point B over the next couple of years, then I'm going to work as a server. 

I'm also the type of person that doesn't really know how to...half-ass things. I don't really care if someone thinks my job is trivial or that my college degree means I shouldn't have to wear an apron; I'm going to do the best I can no matter what it is I'm doing. 

I love working. I've gotten to a point in my life where I recognize that I love working no matter what the job actually is. When I got that compliment on the receipt pictured above, it was my last day of training at TRH. Those customers made my day. I'm excited for this next phase of life, and I hope if you're reading this and you live in Charlotte then you'll come visit me at the Texas Roadhouse at Concord Mills!!!

Game of Thrones this week holy shit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was really, REALLY good. But right now I want to talk about a part of it that was maybe not so good. 

Episode 7x03 - As the Unsullied are heading to Casterly Rock to take it over, we get a voiceover from Tyrion explaining that his father would only let him be in charge of the sewers of Casterly Rock, so he built them with secret passageways to sneak in lady friends. As Tyrion is telling us this very convenient information, we see the Unsullied making their way in through the secret passageways. 

Now, granted, Tyrion did mention being in charge of the sewer system of Casterly Rock way back in season 2, so this VO wasn't entirely out of place. However, the convenience of it makes me, as an audience member, feel a bit cheated. Nobody's ever mentioned or canonically used the secret passageways at Casterly Rock until it became necessary, and I'm supposed to believe this was a plan from the start. I'm supposed to believe that the writers knew well in advance that the sewer system would be important, even though they're only mentioning it to me when it's needed. 

This whole mess about Castery Rock's sewer system is immediately upstaged by the fact that nobody's even at Casterly Rock. Jaime Lannister taking over High Garden and murdering Lady Olenna made me completely forget about Casterly Rock, which is definitely what they intended. They could gloss over Casterly Rock, purposely make it easy for the Unsullied to get inside, only to surprise us with nobody being there. But just because the diversion was only a ruse to get us to go somewhere else (High Garden) doesn't mean it can't also be interesting. Just because this is the second time Game of Thrones has done the whole "the army's not where it was meant to be!!" trope doesn't mean they should've glossed right over it this time with a convenient plot device. 

In the musical Book of Mormon, there's a song called "Turn It Off" where Mormon missionaries are singing about repressing their feelings and "sins." They break into a tap routine halfway through the song, and during the routine they clap twice and the lights go off. They clap again and the lights come back on and they keep dancing. Thirty seconds later, they clap again and the lights go off. When they clap to turn them back on, they're all wearing sparkly pink vests. Now, obviously the lights went off the second time because they needed to do a quick costume change without showing the audience. (I say "obviously" but actually my friend Michael pointed this out to me and I would've never noticed it myself.) But because they did the clap twice trick once without a costume change, I as an audience member (and a person who's worked in theater and should notice these things) wasn't sitting there thinking, "Oh they just cut to black so they could do a quick change, that's silly." They established that it was a thing before they needed it - so that I wouldn't be thinking about the fact that they needed it. 

Conclusion: If you need something for convenience sake in your writing, you must establish it before you need it. If you bring it up only at the moment when it is required, your audience is sitting there thinking, "They just came up with this conveniently for this one part and for no other reason." And you never want your audience to feel smarter than you. 

Project: Plants in a Jar

So I have this blue shelf that I got at an antique store several years ago, and every time I move I have to figure out how to decorate it. When I lived with my sister it was easy because we just put a bunch of pictures of our niece on it. But now I live with a Craigslist roommate, so we don't have any shared pictures to put on the shelf. 

I had a tiny crochet cactus and a vase with fake flowers in it, so I went ahead and put those on there. I also had a tiny jar that wasn't getting any use, and I've been trying to think of something to do with it for a while. I've always had this idea to own a lot of tiny jars and fill them with random things that make me look like a witch ready to put together some potions and spells at a moment's notice. But I don't think I'm quite ready for that stage of my life yet, so I decided to do fake plants instead.

This is literally the easiest project ever. I bought some "soil" and jars and some greenery and messed around with them until they looked cute. If I were to do this again, I'd buy a funnel to get the little rocks inside each jar. I'd also be more intentional about the greenery I bought - a couple of the things were too big to fit in the opening of some of the jars. Mostly, though, I just cut pieces of the greenery and stuck them in the soil and moved them around to look more realistic. I didn't have to use glue or anything; they stay in place pretty well since the space they're in is so small. 

Also pictured is a piece of wall art in my room that has two mason jars attached to it. I used to have real flowers in those jars, but I'm particularly bad at drying out flowers, so when I opened the jars it was absolutely rancid. Don't ever put live flowers in jars unless you want to smell the grossest thing you've ever smelled in your life. 

Anyway, once I thoroughly cleaned out those jars I filled them with a little soil and figured out which greenery I wanted in each. I realized with this project that less is more - putting just a few pieces of tall grass into the soil looks better than shoving several different types of greenery in there. It's good to have different colors, too, but I tried to only have a couple different shades of green, yellow and a little bit of white. Anything more than a few colors just ends up looking ridiculous. You want each jar to have a different look to it, but not too different that they don't look good next to each other.

Seriously, this is the easiest project ever. All of this stuff is always on sale at Michaels and you only need to buy about three small pieces of greenery to fill the jars. I filled four small jars and two large jars and still have a ton of greenery left. In total, I spent about $15. 

This project seems really self-explanatory, I know, but I figured I'd share since it took me a while to actually think of it. If you're like me and have random jars that you need something to do with, I hope this helps. 

Buy greenery
Jars
Soil option - the one I have is Tiny Treasures, but for some reason that's impossible to find on the Michaels website.