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.

Trans people are not a burden

In light of recent events,

Trans Pride Hats are currently $1 in my shop, with free domestic shipping. A $20 value available for the first 5-10 people who order. Order here.

Regulating transgender people's lives is the most unnecessary thing this country is currently doing. You've been to the bathroom with a transgender person in it, you've met a veteran who was transgender, you've served next to a transgender person - and you didn't even know it. You didn't know it because trans people are people, not a political issue. Transgender people deserve to live their lives and have the same rights as their cisgender counterparts. Call me crazy, but gender is not a political issue. It's not a morality issue. Stop policing transgender people's lives. There's absolutely no reason for it besides blind hatred and an inability to accept that there are people who are different than you. 

It's 2017, and somehow we have a president who believes it's OK to call an entire people group a burden. Trans people are not a burden. 

  1. Keep at least three WIPs (works in progress) open at a time to fool yourself into thinking you're actually being productive.
  2. In the off chance that you actually do get around to writing something, be sure to stop writing not only in the middle of a sentence but in the middle of a word. When you go back to it later (four days later), stare at the half word "Bef" for five minutes wondering what sentence you were about to write that starts with "Before." 
  3. Delete the "Bef" and write a completely different sentence that doesn't start with "Before."
  4. Try not to think about the fact that your story is probably now going in a completely different direction than the you who wrote "Bef" was taking it. 
  5. Tell yourself this is the week you're finally going to learn the difference between "nevertheless" and "nonetheless." While you're at it, you should go ahead and figure out whether it's "all of a sudden" or "all the sudden."
  6. Don't actually Google either of those things.
  7. Don't respond to that "I didn't like this very much, I liked the other thing better" comment on your fanfic. Sure, you can type out a response about how the thing they didn't like is very clearly tagged at the top of the fic and the entire story revolves around that one thing they didn't like, so if they didn't like it then why did they even read it? That's like going to the ice cream shop and ordering vanilla, eating the whole thing, then going up to the person who made it and being like "I like chocolate better." What's the point? Why are you telling me this? I don't care that you willingly read something that very clearly had something in it that you knew you wouldn't like. That's not my problem, my friend. Sure, you can go ahead and type all of that out, but don't actually say it to the person. Hit the backspace button and then delete their stupid comment and write about it passive aggressively on your blog. 
  8. Sick of writing fiction? On a whim, start writing patterns for the things you crochet. OK, so you have no idea how to write a pattern and you're not sure if you're using the right terms and abbreviations or if anything you're saying makes any sense because you yourself didn't learn how to crochet from reading patterns but learned from watching videos so why would you ever use a written medium to convey how you crocheted a shirt while in the car for 12 hours on your way to and from Michigan. Can you say you "double up your yarn" just like you "double up your thread" while hand sewing? Who knows.
  9. Edit a post very quickly and then post it without thinking about it. The minute you post it, remember that you forgot a very crucial detail. When you go back to edit it, write as fast as possible so that people don't read the unedited post. Forget to check for grammar and typos until, like, 24 hours later. Catch a really stupid mistake and then time travel back to 24 hours before so you can punch yourself in the face. 
  10. And most importantly: remind yourself that you write for you and not for anybody else. You write because you want to, because you love it, because it's a fundamental part of who you are. And then punch yourself in the face for being so flowery and deep.