Grateful 365 # 35- Impromptu Metal Hair Band

rockstarsOne of the greatest joys I’ve had since losing hair has been taking off my skull mop around friends and playing with it. No but seriously, you should try it– it’s super fun.

Not only do I always have a tribble puppet a neck length away, but if you tend to like the longer versions (like I do) you can make moments like this happen. What kind of moments? Oh just transforming a group of friends with rockband props into heavy metal rock gods!

It was enormous amounts of fun and I spent more time laughing than I have in awhile.

A picture is worth a thousand words…and I took lots!

rockcollin rockryan singergabby drummer andrew fangirlsofia

~all the love~

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Grateful 365 #34 – Report Cards, Likes, & Stage Finish Screens

report-cardIsn’t it strange how things we once dreaded in our youth transform into things we yearn for in adulthood? Naps for one. (Anyone else remember defiantly staying awake during naptime? I do!) Bathtime for another. (I wasn’t necessarily a smelly kid, but I avoided it like it might be a euphemism for Chinese water torture for awhile…)

The same, I’ve found, goes for report cards. Yeah, I didn’t much care for them back when the subjects were math and science- whether I was doing well or not. They just felt tedious. However, we now have ’employee reviews’ at work, and I hate to admit it, but I really enjoy it.

actual_1344360107To tangent briefly, there are a lot of theories on why people play video games. One of the primary reasons I’ve seen cited is the feeling we get from accomplishing things. Unlike most of life, video games give us instant, quantifiable feedback for doing well at a task- whether the grades are based on headshots, or coins, or rings, or time. As humans, this sets off a nice little chain reaction of neurons in our brains. It’s why some of us get off on leaderboards or feel compelled to “catch ’em all.” It feels good to see that screen that says “Hey! You did it! Good for you!” It makes us feel better than when we started and gives us motivation to keep going as we chase our next “success high.”

The same thing can be said for blog views and likes on facebook. Everytime you see that number go up, you feel like you won something. Pleasurable “I win” signals flood the brain for a bit, and when the neuron storm fades out, you’re left wanting to do it again. (And often! hurhur)

Facebook_like_thumbSo yeah, getting an “employee review,” especially when it went well, felt phenomenal. It was nostalgic yearning colliding headfirst with my need for positive feedback. If I had the ability, I might have run home and posted it on my refrigerator, truth be told.

So I’m grateful not just for the review, but for the underappreciated report cards that came before it and all the positive feedback analogues I’ve used since.
Thanks for keeping my brain meats happy~!
~all the love~

Grateful 365 #33 -Those Times When the Internet Makes You Proud

jewwarionLoss is never easy, but one of the beautiful things that comes out of it is the way in which people come together to show love and support. As many fans of Channel Awesome and Youtube already know, a fantastic contributor, Justin Carmical –also known as Jew Wario–took his own life on the 23rd of January. The effects are still being felt today across all sorts of outlets on the internet.
It’s so easy to assume that on a forum as large and anonymous as the internet loss goes unnoticed, but watching responses from Youtubers, video game sites, and the That Guy With the Glasses affiliates definitely proves otherwise. Although I’ve never met Justin, I enjoyed his videos and those he’s left behind have really done an amazing job highlighting and celebrating all the qualities that made him great.

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I’m not grateful for the tragedy of his passing or for the emotional burden his friends and family are dealing with now. I am grateful for his memory being held up, for people remembering the best things, and for the internet as a whole pulling together in an effort to show Justin love. In doing so, I can’t help but think they might be helping others know how important a single life can be.
Whether you’re a doctor or a teacher or a construction worker or someone on youtube talking about import games, none of us make it out of this life without touching others. Every life is important.
The internet can be a den of terrible, horrible things…but every now and again it shines brightly with all the best qualities of our species. Every now and again, it makes you proud.

I’m glad that this was one of those times.
My heart goes out to Justin Carmical’s friends and family and to everyone affected by his loss. I hope we can all learn something and continue using the internet to celebrate the best in all of us.
I’d like to encourage everyone to watch the video below from one of Jewwario’s streams even if you’ve never seen anything else of his work. It’s a beautiful legacy to leave behind and something everyone needs to hear now and again. Thanks Justin Carmical- you will be missed.

JewWario’s channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/JewWario

Angry Joe’s Tribute

The Game Chasers Tribute

Doug Walker’s Tribute
http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses/nostalgia-critic/42100-in-loving-memory-of-justin-carmical

Grateful 365 #32- Sleepovers

Sleepovers are a funny thing to write about when you’re nearly 30, but dammit, I’m grateful for them! (So there!)

Art by FerioWind

Art by FerioWind

I’m grateful for the sleepovers past where deep dark secrets were shared and groups of girls and boys worked out who they were and who they wanted to be. I’m grateful for every conversation that started with “Hey, are you still awake..?” I’m grateful for the sleep-deprived laughter, the ridiculous injokes, the hours devoted to nothing other than learning more about and being with the people you cared about. I’m even grateful for nights of whispered terrors- ghosts in the spare room, something behind the shower curtain, ceiling fans that kept getting lower and lower…

O.O Horrifying....

O.O Horrifying….

I’m equally grateful for the recent ones though. The road trips, the impromptu ‘can I just stay here tonights’…the hospitality of a friend allowing you to invade their home and share their floor or sofa for an evening.

Even if there’s now the looming threat of ‘work in the morning,’ even if some of the night is devoted to things some might consider work, there’s this amazing sense of freedom when you know you have the whole night. shellycloset
I used to harbor some anxiety when sleeping in places that weren’t ‘home’. It lead to a lot of people staying over at my place back in the day and a lot of restless, sleepless nights later on. Even now, I don’t like to sleep in strange places when I can avoid it… However having just one person that I trust explicitly, one true and genuine friend…I could be in the middle of an alien encampment on Mars and feel comfortable.

It’s kind of super awesome.

So thanks to Krissia for having me over last night and reminding me exactly why I’m so grateful for sleepovers~!

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #31 – Sushi

sushi2Sushi is delicious.

End post.

Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad entry, would it? Sushi is damn good and as far as things I like to put in my mouth, destroy with my teeth, and send down to my digestive tract to further besiege it with acid and bile, it’s ranked among my favorites.

It also has a strong nostalgia to it. I remember piling wasabi on top of Kroger supermarket tuna rolls in progressively larger and larger globs for no reason other than the amusement of a friend and myself pre-highschool. I remember $1 sushi nights and cheap bento lunches during highschool. We’d order and loiter for hours on end as we talked and laugh.sushi4

Sushi is delicious to me the same way that “mom’s meatloaf” or any other comfort food might be. It’s good by its own right. It’s better with memories. It’s best with memories and great company.

So thanks for taking me out for sushi tonight, guys~! It was a delicious, nostalgic, memorable blast!

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #30 – Feathered Friends

It was a strange day today…bird-wise I mean. Actually, using the term “bird-wise” is strange in the first place. I very rarely have days where “bird-wise” is a word usable within my narrative. You see, even with the domesticated style of avian, I find their beady black eyes and dinosauric mannerisms unnerving. It’s led to many an awkward evening spent in the company of cockatiels– what with me huddled in the corner protecting my liver.

bird

But I digress. Today I woke up and looked out my window. Checking on the snow, you know? Seeing if it might be safe to go outside? Well, the good news is that there was significantly less frozen precipitation. The …weird news… that there was a heron in my backyard.

I live in Georgia. It’s not unheard of to see herons here, but generally not right after a snow storm, and generally not in my backyard. Super strange, but it did more to encourage my hope that spring is coming than any gopher/groundhog/underearth rodent ever will.

The avian antics don’t stop there though.

As mentioned, the snow is melting, the air has lost it’s “stab-you-in-the-eyes” chill, and I finally felt safe to go walking. So I did. Out the door, to the left, and left up the hill…you know the drill. While I reveled in the fresh air, blue skies, and “not-my-room”ishness of everything around me, I happened to look down in time to see a little red-breasted chirpy chirp hop across my path and vanish into the brush.

Or that’s what would have happened if I hadn’t mysteriously transformed into the bird whisperer over night. Not only did this bird hop along a few feet in front of me until the side walk ended…but it emerged a second time on my way back as though I owed it money. It was…surprisingly nice. Maybe because it wasn’t big enough to threaten my eyes or kidneys. Maybe because it wasn’t joined by it’s fellows one at a time until they became legion and mobbed me a la Hitchcock.bird 2

Maybe it was because as I followed behind it like a bipedal behemoth it surprised me with it’s indifference…even going so far as to stare over its wing cheekily when I finally pulled out my camera. I like to append moments like these– moments when I come face to face with nature on a personal level– with the tagline of “magical”. Even if they aren’t as rare as a unicorn or a fairy sighting, they still feel that way to me. Every time.

Sure there’s almost certainly an explanation for both- migration and climate and nests and what have you… In the midst of either moment though, that’s not what I saw. It was just me and a bird and a moment.

For that, I’m grateful.

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #29 – Simple Strumming

guitar3When Rockband first hit the scene, I couldn’t have been more excited. I’d always enjoyed rhythm games and the idea of pantomime playing to my favorite rock anthems was too awesome an idea to not powerslide right into it. It wasn’t long before I had a plastic neck in my hand and my fingers poised over multicolored buttons. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t long before I put the controller down and solemnly walked away.

The game was fun, sure. But that…noise. That terrible, horrible missed chord noise that punished you for missing a beat… I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t stand it messing up songs that I loved. It scared me away from taking anything other than drums or microphone for years!

Maybe it’s that same aversion to dischord that makes getting a few chords on an actual instrument so damn rewarding.

guitar2

Recently a friend of mine gave me a guitar– one with history and character. That in and of itself is something to be extremely grateful for and adds an extra layer of pleasant feeling every time I open the case. Since then I’ve been practicing.

Not a lot– in fact, I probably don’t have more than a couple of hours under my belt. My novice fingers still suffer dents and soreness afterwards, but, wonder-of-wonders, I’ve gotten to the point where I can clumsily strum my way through a song or two.

It’s a great feeling– strumming and humming a little “Mad World Here” or a little “Zombie” there.

The best reward though?

It’s not hearing that awful noise from Rockband. Or at least not hearing them as often.

I’m grateful for the ability to make music in a new way, with a new instrument…and for all the joy and pleasure a little simple strumming can bring.guitar

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #28 – Hot Tea & Cold Weather

snowBorn in and raised in the southeast, it’ should come as no surprise that this…thing where the sky opens up and sprinkles ice dust on the earth isn’t necessarily my favorite.

However, the chill, like salt, is good at accentuating pleasant undertones we might otherwise miss. Things like warmth. Shelter. Blankets. Time with friends. Time with friends in shelter with lots of blankets. …And the heat cranked. …and sixteen pairs of socks and pants over your pants and shirts layered until you can’t put your arms down.

cold arms

coldteas

The point is that even if the colder forces of nature aren’t my cup of tea…they make the warmer, fuzzier comforts that much more enjoyable. For example (and despite an earlier turn of phrase) my cup of tea.
I think hot tea is the best made better in times like these. It smells great, tastes great, feels warm in your hands, your mouth and your belly. Just letting your face get a hit of that steam as it cools off fills the body and senses with expectation and really drives the feeling of winter (and a very grateful shelter from it!) home.

teacold

So I’m grateful for cold weather and all the good things– like hot tea!– it makes even better!

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #27 – Hanging-in-There Hairs

Hair before

Since my diagnosis, my hair and I have been through a lot. I’ve been annoyed by it, missed it, hated it… Today however, I realized just how lucky I am to have what I have and am seriously impressed by the tenacity of my remaining strands!

Since the traumatic shower where I first experienced hair loss in a very big way, to the decision to be done with all my paranoia and grief and shave, I’ve kept a small patch bangs just for fun. (It would have been a mohawk if my initial alopecia hadn’t taken out clumps down the middle of my head! XD)

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I’ve since been informed that it’s actually a punk style called the “Chelsea,” and I’ve come to really enjoy the lengthy patch of bangs at the front of my chromedome.

Sure, I’ve lost a few of those initial long hairs and the patch has shrunk a bit, but I can’t help but be amazed that over halfway through my chemo, these tough little strands that remain have hung tight and stayed with me! Don’t get me wrong about the chromedome either– I really enjoy being able to switch color and style on a whim with wigs and not having a fully follicled head is pretty much the pinnacle of simplicity and ease when it comes to daily upkeep! Still, it really is comforting to have something to sweep back and brush.hairpanel

I have no idea if I’ll be able to keep this patch through the course of my treatment, and if it goes, I’ll likely miss it, but I’ve already prepared for it.

In the meantime though, I like imagining that I’ll end treatment and be able to keep rocking my rebel punk ‘do as the rest of my scalp catches up!

So thank you, my little scalp soldiers! Hang in there and carry on!

 

~all the love~

Grateful 365 #26 – My Family

Family.

famcropNo one would be who they are without them. Some families are big. Some are small. Some are complicated or troubled. I could reflect for hours on how amazing families are as a social institution or how even the worst of families can still have astoundingly positive ramifications…

Today isn’t about all families though. Today is a moment for me to try to put into words what makes my heart swell with pride and warmth when I think about my family.

I was fortunate enough to be born into a happy, well-to-do home with two parents who never made any secret of their love for me. I enjoy saying that I’m the direct result of a musical actress-teacher and a New York ex-hippie English major. I feel that describes a lot, actually.cher and meg in da woods

As it is with most people, the pair that created me have long, fascinating histories of their own and I’ll need to reign myself in here to avoid my usual verbosity. In a nutshell, they were both, at their core teachers. Teachers, in my eyes, are special breed of people. Teachers are people with passion and a generous nature that wants to share that passion with others. My dad loves Shakespeare, old science fiction, civil war history, and all manner of comedies. My mother loved music, performance, and art in general. They both showed me what it was to have firm beliefs, but open minds and hearts. They both showed me all the joy in life and all the wonder of imagination. They taught me strength in every single way the word can be interpreted.Dad2

And that’s in a nutshell.

579689_10150802767576881_1306537912_nI have an older sister and although we grew close at an older age than most, there’s no doubt that we’re blood. We have the same laugh and a scarily (awesome) sense of humor. Simone has a kind heart and more talent in a variety of areas then most would know what to do with! Like most little sisters, I look up to her and hold her as my inspiration. She never gives up, always seems upbeat, and always puts her loved ones first, even when it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Both my mother and father have sisters, and that means that I have aunts, uncles, and nephews.

Soderstroms

The Soderstroms on my mother’s side have always been extremely close. Their oldest son, Henrik, is like a brother to me. We grew up together and share a lot of similar tastes in art and comedy to this day. Aunt Bonnie has been a second mother to me even before mom was lost to us and my Uncle Chris was as wise and kind as his wit was dry. My younger cousins, Didrik and Ulrik, came later and as time has passed, I’ve grown closer to botrh as well. It’s incredible how much talent, optimism, and humor this family has. They suffered an enormous loss when Uncle Chris passed away, but demonstrated to everyone the strength of their faith and the power of their love.

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The Straubs on my father’s side have taught me so much as well. In addition to sharing the “Waddell” humor, they have lived through so many struggles without losing spirit, hope, or optimism. Aunt Anne solidily demonstrates what it means to turn a tough situation into something that’s not only positive, but that benefits others as well. I can’t remember a time when Uncle David or my cousins, Matthew and Andrew, didn’t light the room up with laughter.

When we lost my mother to cancer, the world imploded for a little while. My father led me through loss and showed me how to grieve with hope.

Daddy and MarjoryI will tangent a moment and say that while many friends become family over time, there is a specific feeling of total acceptance, love, warmth, and belonging that I have always associated with my immediate family. It’s the same principal as old friends sharing so much of their memories and history that letting go or walking away isn’t even an option. Family, to me, is binding and immortal.

So when I say that years later my father introduced me to a member of our family that I couldn’t possibly imagine not having in my life, I mean just that. I have often struggled with what to call her in the third person because, to me “stepmother” heralds in awful Cinderallic thoughts and just seems…cold. Instead I’ve resolved within myself to call her my “mother-in-law,” if the need for titles arises– even if I need to give a few extra lines of explaination. Words matter to me, and there is nothing ‘step’ about our relationship or the level of regard I hold her in.

My dad has great taste, what can I say? :)Marjory and Judy

In a nutshell, Marjory is the epitome of compassion, loyalty, and justice. If that sounds like some superhero tag line, it might as well be. In a world where many nod their heads solemnly at the mention of the underprivileged and beleaguered yet do nothing, a great portion of her life has been dedicated to setting such things right. I have learned, laughed, and loved with her in the years we’ve known each other and am always left in awe of her amazing balance of strength and warmth.

I have more family then that as well! Simone brought Sue into the fold; Marjory brought Judy, Mark, and their kids as well as her son’s family; Henrik is bringing Dottie;Didrik is bringing Ashley; and Matthew has gotten engaged~! It’s exciting to gain sisters, brothers, and nephews as the years go by…but going further will have to wait for another day.

HenrikDottieMeAfterall, this is the abridged version of my family and there’s still so much more that I want to say. What words can thank a group of people for a legacy of laughter and optimism and a lifetime of love and support? How do you phrase a gratitude when those you’re thanking are the same ones who gave you the disposition to appreciate everything good in the world?

I love my family. I wouldn’t be me without them. I wouldn’t be where I am without them. I wouldn’t be.
More than that, I’m proud of my family and feel blessed to know them. Individually, they are all amazing, inspiring people, and together there is no greater feeling of homecoming, welcome, and joy.

So today, and everyday, I’m grateful for my family.

~all the love~