Why Is Your Music So Loud?

Today was the first day in a while that I was able to sleep in. Of course–OF COURSE–today also had to be the day that our neighbor has their music up so loud that it can be heard in our bedroom. Thankfully, they did not start playing it until around an hour ago (11:00AM EST), so I managed to get enough sleep to count. Still. It’s super annoying and management will do nothing about it. I am seriously considering asking Coventry if we can find another place to live. I’m just so unhappy with our neighbors right now.

It would be one thing if it happened to be good music. Instead, it’s all auto-tuned people that couldn’t hold a note otherwise. Beautiful people with terrible voices. Not to mention I think it’s the radio, so there are really annoying ads every so often as well. I suppose it could be worse. It could be Christmas music. Ugh.

Speaking of the dreaded holiday…Last night, my wife and I decorated our tree. We don’t really celebrate Christmas outside of our family–meaning that we, ourselves, celebrate the Winter Solstice instead, but do go to our families’ homes for Christmas–so it’s a little odd. Of course, having a tree is tradition that dates back to Pagan beliefs. Anyway, we decorated Bethany (our tree) with little rubber snakes, spiders, rats, bats, and skeletons, along with a few bits and bobbles that make it look good. Then, to top the tree, we have Janet–our skeletal (plastic) bird with a little Santa hat. Bethany is a tiny tree, only about three feet, but it tries its best and I love it.

Currently, I am reading the book “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard. I feel bad about it, mostly because it’s an okay book–not great, but not bad–and I am just having a time getting through it. I want to read it. This is something I should like! It’s just…I don’t know! It feels like reading through taffy. There is just this disconnect for me. It’s so strange. It’s a well written book, the characters are interesting. The setting is a little odd and not what I expected, but that’s good! The plot, so far, is intriguing. I honestly don’t know why I am having such a hard time with it. Honestly.

Eventually, I will manage to finish it. I’m sure of that. I just don’t know when.

Make The Snow Go Far, Far Away

The last two weeks–or has it only been one week?–have been hell. Literal, horrible hell. Even before my cousin, Cassie, passed, my family has been going through some stuff. My grandparents are not doing well at all. For starters, my grandfather is in incredible pain right now. His back is in bad shape. He was also attacked by his dog, Wishbone (which I may have mentioned in a previous post, but I honestly don’t remember), and now, he is having issues with going to the bathroom properly. The doctor he sees wants to run some sort of test on his prostate.

Added to this, both of my grandparents have fallen multiple times over the course of the last few days. It started with my gram, who fell in her driveway. She landed on her bad knee, which, of course, caused her a ton of pain. Then, my grandpa has fallen twice since he returned home from the hospital. One of those times, he came dangerously close to smashing his head on their hug, wooden bench. That probably would have killed him.

Aside from that, my wife and I haven’t really had a chance to just be us. It’s a hard time of the year–my cousin passed, my grandparents aren’t doing well, there was Thanksgiving, and Christmas is coming up soon. I am just feeling really spent and spread thin. I want time to relax without having to worry about this, or that, or the other thing.

The other night, I made it a point to do something for myself. My favorite purse (one that I hand-made!) got dirty, so I threw it into the wash. Bad idea. The poor thing was torn apart. It was destroyed! There was no way I could fix it. Most of the fabric just shredded into strips. Thankfully, the webbing (what I used for the strap) was just fine, so I harvested what I could from the ruined purse.

Long story short, I found a quick and simple pattern online for a new purse. I edited the crap out of the original design so that I could make a bag that suits my needs. After that, I found two fabrics that I liked (one for the outer shell, and one for the lining), and some Velcro for the closure. Though I had originally intended for the purse to be floral pink on the outside and a nice, muted grey on the interior, I later decided to swap the fabrics. This allows the outside to be simple (and allows me to add pins and patches without it looking too cluttered), and it gives a nice surprise pop of color on the inside.

Last night and today, we spent time with my mom. It was alright–my mom and I were feeling like shit, so we really weren’t up to doing anything other than sleeping and watching movies. She made a super yummy quiche for dinner. Her dogs (Sasha and Amstell) are very large and they sort of smell funny, but that might be because I’m so used to our cat, Jasper, and to my grandparents’ small dogs (Wishbone and Rex).

During the night, it snowed. I am not talking about a little dusting–no! It was a ton of snow! It’s snowing now, too. Tomorrow’s commute into my appointments is going to be a bunch of slippery fun. Our city doesn’t really care about the state of the sidewalks, even this close to an elementary school. Usually, they are glare ice or completely snowed in, making it impossible to walk on them. I might have to walk in the road, which is frightening as well, as many drivers don’t watch where they are going.

At any rate, I am getting ready to go into the craft room to work on my new bullet journal. I need to finish making it–binding it and everything. So I will do that before I go to bed. I just need some ‘me’ time. Some ‘Devyn’ time.

Yeah. Devyn Time.

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Floating Around in the Non-Binary

It stormed today. It started with a wet, nasty slush that fell from the sky. Slowly, it evolved–or perhaps devolved–into thick flakes of snow. Soon enough, everything was coated in white. The roads were horrid, all slick and slippery. There were accidents of the vehicular variety; my grandparents, for example, were stuck in traffic for nearly five hours while a wreck was cleared from the road.

Now, all is silent. The sky is black and clear, though the snow lingers on the ground. Tonight, I am sure, it will freeze, turning the streets into rinks of ice once again.

This is the price we pay for living in New Hampshire, I suppose.

Aside from the weather, things have been okay at best. There is still a lot of family stuff going on, and a lot of personal turmoil. Some of it has to do with what’s happening with my cousin. Some of it has to do with the fact that I can’t hide who I am anymore. So I’m dealing with a lot.

To break those thoughts down–my cousin has stage four cancer that she is dying from. She is not even thirty years old yet. This is a really hard time for my family, as we are basically watching her die in front of us. She’s a trooper, though. She’s amazing, and beautiful, and I love her so much. We might not talk much, but I just…I think she deserves the world. It’s terrible, and I’m crying right now. Sobbing. When I think about her, laying in bed, bleeding internally and just carrying on, I can’t breathe. She’s so brave.

My heart hurts.

I am not going to lie. I had to step away from this post for a moment before I could continue on.

The other part of what I was writing about earlier is that I have come to terms with the fact that I am non-binary. This is why I want to change my name from Kimberly to Devyn. Kimberly is not really a gender-neutral name. Devyn is. Or, at least, I feel it to be. But what does non-binary mean? Simply put–I am neither male nor female, but something beautifully in between. That’s how I feel, and how I view myself. I don’t fit into the ‘female’ category, and I don’t really fit into the ‘male’ spectrum, either. It might sound confusing, but basically, some days I want to dress all pretty and girls, while other days it’s just the opposite. Some days I’m both, and want to wear combat boots, jeans, and a sweat shirt (all from the men’s section) while doing my hair and makeup.

Another thing that has to do with it–and this might be a little too much information, but what the hell, it’s my blog–sometimes I’m super glad that, physically, I am female. There are times, however, when I want to be male so badly that I can taste it. And, on occasion, I would love to look down at myself and be both. I’m working my way through these feelings. Thankfully, I have a loving wife who completely supports me, friends that understand, and a great support system in my therapist, psychiatrist, and others that work with my mental health.

Now I just have to get my family on board. Easier said than done, but eh. Who am I to complain? They love me, in their own way. Coming out once as loving women was hard. Coming out to them again to tell them that I am non-binary is going to be far more difficult, I think.

So, if I may ask this question to anyone who might read my blog: do you know of any non-binary characters in shows, books, movies, video games? I’m desperately looking for heroes to look up to. Already, I have been turned on to the Netflix show She-Ra. In the newest season, there is a non-binary character named Double Trouble who is actually voiced by a non-binary person! I think that sort of representation is wonderful, and it has made me want to watch the show!

double-trouble

I’ve also found a few fantasy novels (I’m a huge fantasy geek when it comes to novels, and you probably know if you’ve been following my blog) that feature characters that are either non-binary, intersex, or transgender. This makes me extremely happy, but there needs to be more, in my opinion. We need representation. We need to be loved, and understood.

My wife and I tend to write stories back and forth to each other. “Role-Playing,” we call it, though that’s sort of an odd sort of way to describe it. These “RPs” tend to focus on things that we would like to explore in a safe setting (i.e., with each other), but placed in different worlds to our own. For example, we like to write a lot of fantasy or science fiction stories featuring characters that we’ve made up specifically for that story, or, sometimes, characters that exist in other medias (like anime characters, video game characters, or characters from other things we’ve written separately).

In our current story, one of my characters is non-binary. I am not certain yet if they are intersex or not, but either way, they do not fit into either category of male or female. I. Freaking. Love. Them. I named them Nyx, and I just…I really want to keep them alive. By that, I mean I want to explore them more. I want to build upon their character. They will become a staple of future RPs, I am sure. I also really would like a bjd of them!

Speaking of bjds…I am toying with the idea of selling all of my Monster High dolls and other fashion dolls so that I can afford another ball-jointed doll. So far, I have two–Belladonna and Lavender. Lavender is technically not a bjd, as she is made of ABS plastic and not resin. Still…I consider her one.

Belladonna needs a new face-up as well. I’m remaking her character! Instead of being a sugary sweet evil queen, I’m considering making her a dark Goddess. Not necessarily evil per say, but dark. She isn’t well understood in the world she is from, and many people see her as nothing more than death and night and all things frightening. Though that is her realm, she has a kind heart and loves all living things. This version of her is based on Noire, who is a character I am currently RPing with my wife (the same story Nyx is from).

Of course, this means that I’ll have to either purchase new clothing for Belladonna, or sew some new duds for her. That being said…I have nothing in the way of patterns that suit her new personality. Ugh! I might just make it up as I go, but I am heavily inspired by HellCorgi‘s things.

(Above images all credited to @hellcorgi on Instagram)

Ah, man. I love their work so much. It’s all so delicate and beautiful! I really want to learn how to make doll clothing like that. It’s so elegant. If I had the money, I would commission them in an instant to make at least three outfits for Belladonna!

…this blog post has been all over the place. That’s my mind recently, though.

Can You Not?

I have to look over my shoulder every five seconds to make sure that my cat, Jasper, is not currently attempting to knock everything over on my mini desk. I have a canister of pens, along with a few books, my iced coffee, and a small bowl of ginger candies I nibble on when my stomach is upset. Jasper would like all of these things on the floor. Now she is glaring at me, simply because I shook my cup of iced coffee at her. Apparently, she did not enjoy the sound of ice rattling around in her general direction.

This perfectly sums up my day. My wife and I went shopping with my grandfather. It should be noted that he is elderly (obviously), and has dietary restrictions. I.E., he isn’t suppose to ingest a bunch of sodium. Because he has a hard time with keeping track of money and the items he is purchasing, as well as because of his mobility disability, Coventry and I tend to go shopping with him, either following him around on his bad days, or, like today, checking in on him every so often while we shop for ourselves.

We went to three stores. It took about four and a half hours to do everything we needed to do (mostly because my grandfather likes to go up and down every single aisle to see if anything new has been added). That’s fine! I don’t mind at all! In the second store, however, because we didn’t need to get anything for ourselves and because of the layout of said store, my wife and I decided to help my grandpa with his shopping.

It became painfully clear after two aisles that he had no intention of purchasing low-sodium foods. Everything he bought contained more than his total recommended allotment of salt. When I pointed this out to him, he basically told me that he did not care! My wife was so upset that she had to step away.

What’s important to understand here is that my grandfather is in a lot of pain right now. His doctors have told him, repeatedly, that there are exercises he needs to do for his legs (where the pain is), as certain things in his diet that he needs to pay attention to in order to alleviate the pain. One of the things he has been told to do is to lay off of the salt!

I guess I’m just ranting here, mostly because I am able to do so. It’s very upsetting and frustrating that he doesn’t listen to anyone. If he got it through his head that listening to the doctors would help him, he wouldn’t be in so much pain.

Another thing that happened today (and yesterday, actually), is that YouTube put into motion the fact that you cannot have ‘family-friendly’ content. It has to be either ‘aimed at kids’ or ‘for adults.’ There is no in between. For example–all of the doll repainters’ channels have been flagged as ‘for kids.’ This means that those artists will not and cannot receive any money anymore for their videos, there are no ads to play on their channels, and no comments can be posted. This is huge! Many doll artists make money–their living!–off of the money they received from adverts on their episodes. They can also be fined upwards of $42k per upload if YouTube decides that their content is not kid-friendly–EVEN IF THE CONTENT CREATOR STATES THAT IT IS NOT FOR CHILDREN!

Because of this, I no longer have a YouTube channel. I took it down for fear that my doll videos would be flagged. I didn’t make money off of them, but there is no way I could pay that much if they decided my content was not child-friendly. Maybe, in the future, when YouTube figures out what they are doing, I will start up a channel focusing on books again. I had one there for a little while, but it didn’t last.

Will I still make doll repaints? Of course. I want to, however, focus more on my writing and reading for the time being. I miss being able to create a character and just…explore them. Dolls are nice, of course! From now on, though, I will only be creating dolls of my previously fleshed-out characters. This means characters from my writing, or maybe from anime, video games, or movies–but that’s a big ‘maybe.’ Mostly, I want to get back into being as creative as I was in college and high school.

With that being said…I will no longer be participating in doll swaps or collaborations. I have one or two more that I will finish this year, but other than that, I really don’t like the pressure put on me to finish by a certain time. It’s art! It’s not a paper in college, or something like that. Sometimes, art takes a little while to come to life, or to speak to the artist. I just find that I can’t work on something properly with a gun to my head–which is exactly how a due date feels at this point.

I think I might be rambling, but I had to get a lot of this off of my chest. I’ve been so trapped for so long. It feels nice to be able to write about what I am going through. Some things I can’t write about, however; it would break me. I don’t want to cry, so I’m not going to think about certain things that are going on within my family. Perhaps soon, but not tonight.

Earlier in the entry, I did mention YouTube and their issues. This isn’t to say that I’ve completely given up on the platform. I think it just needs to be looked over and fixed. So many people can’t just be swept under the rug! It’s…upsetting, to say the least. It would be like if YouTube decided that every single person who made his or her or their living on the site could no longer get paid. Just…they would be expected to work without pay. Not to mention the idea that, if they did not meet certain standards, they would be sued. It doesn’t make any lick of sense!

I mostly mention this now because I wanted to put in a few videos from YouTube that I have been watching lately, and that have been helping me with my writing/reading vibes. The first set of videos are from an author and YouTube self-help guru, Jenna Moreci. She is the author of a novel called “The Savior’s Champion,” which I have been attempting to hunt down and read for about six months now.

The next few videos are from BookTubers whom I absolutely love. “BookTube” is a book-based community on YouTube. The content creators primarily discuss books and reviews of novels and poetry, though sometimes they have videos that are vlogs or just day-to-day shenanigans.

Next year will be my year. I am going to lose weight, read more, and write more. Here’s to hoping I can stick to it…

Saying ‘No’ To NaNoWriMo

I was all set and ready to participate in this year’s National Novel Writing Month. I thought I would manage to write a novel, and that I would be all pleased with myself. That was not what life had planned for me, though. After falling ill–AGAIN–I decided to skip this year’s NaNoWriMo. Honestly, it might be for the best. I wasn’t really ready to write anything fantastic, or even subpar.

Rather, I am going to focus on getting better! This damned cold is getting the best of me. It’s horrible! I can’t stop coughing, I am dizzy and weak all of the time, and I can’t focus on anything!

As soon as I feel better, though, I will start making some things for the online shop my wife and I have started. I need to make some book sleeves! I should also make a new Bullet Journal, as the one I have right now is almost completely full.

Book Review (Updated): “Mermaid” by Carolyn Turgeon

MermaidMermaid by Carolyn Turgeon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

UPDATED REVIEW
Original Rating: 5/5 stars
New Rating: 2.5/5 stars

I honestly cannot, for the life of me, remember why I liked this book so much when I previously read it. I do remember gobbling it up, devouring it, and wanting more. The second read through was more like nails-on-a-chalkboard painful. I had to stop reading it multiple times, and getting through it was a chore. Reading should not be a chore!

“Mermaid” by Carolyn Turgeon is a ‘twist on the classic tale’ of ‘The Little Mermaid.’ It focuses on the two main characters, switching narratives between Princess Margrethe (a human princess who falls for the man that the mermaid saves), and the Princess Lenia (the mermaid). While Margrethe longs for adventure and the open sea, Lenia wants nothing more than to understand what it is to be human, and to have a soul of her own.

Everything changes for the two when Lenia saves a prince from the South, who is a sworn enemy to Margrethe’s people. Both women fall desperately in love with him, and they would do anything to be with him.

The basic idea of “Mermaid” is a wonderful one. I really like the idea of these two women who have so much in common, and yet yearn for different things while still, in the end, needing the same sort of love that the other is searching for. It’s a great premise, and I think that is why I enjoyed it so much on my first read through. This time around, however, I realized that the writing is sort of all over the place. While Turgeon has a way with words, the pacing is painfully slow. Some of the sentences are choppy, while others go on for what feels like forever.

Perhaps one day I’ll return to “Mermaid” with open arms. I would love to relive the feelings I first had for the novel. That day, however, is not right now. I need to move on to something more substantial, and that does not take forever to more forward in its plot.

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