Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fiction Fridays

It's Friday, which means everyone is probably ready for a break. 
Here is one of my favorite diversions - Story - served up two ways. 
Pick your pleasure (or your poison).

Lovely Monster
And thank you to my dad for finding this little gem.

The Writer and The Witch, by Robin Sloan 
(author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Why Pinterest Is Better Than Facebook (and how I don't care if you "like" Wal-Mart)

Facebook and I used to have a hot and heavy relationship. Sure, I tweeted. I blogged. But Facebook was my community, a place I went several times a day to reconnect and watch way too many cute cat videos. It was great. It was puppy (or kitty) love.

But times, they are a-changin'. The day I started getting notifications about which of my friends "like" Wal-mart or Avon or about a hundred other corporations, I started to wonder where this relationship was going. And not in a " let's get more serious" kind of way. It was more of a "maybe we should see other people" type of situation. I felt badly. I tried to soldier on. But the day I stopped getting notifications of my sister's hilarious blog updates, even after I specifically checked the "yes, pretty please subscribe me or take a vial of my blood for your record-keeping purposes or recommend my "like" to everyone on the freakin' planet, I still only get her updates every once and a while. That's lame. I don't like it anymore.

But my family and friends and stuff I care about are all still there, mingled with the detritus, so Facebook and I are still friends, just not so very much in love as we once were. It's fine because people change. And sometimes people meet Pinterest.

Here, in no specific order, are the reasons why Pinterest is better than Facebook:

1.) No ads. It's like the difference between watching TV in the 80's vs. TiVo. Sure, you could run to the bathroom or fix yourself a sandwich while models tried to sell you New Coke during commercial breaks, but it would have been way better if I could have just watched episodes of the best shows all the way through (Facts of Life and Three's Company, in case you are wondering). I really don't need any more advertising in my life. Seriously.

2.) You follow people based on their tastes and interests, not whether or not you had the same 2nd grade teacher (no offense to my fellow 1981 Ms. Hammelef peeps - we rocked the Polar Pride). You can also just follow specific boards. For example, if a person has really great taste in steampunk couture but also enjoys the fine art of body piercing and torture devices (not an unlikely combo, by the way), you can just follow the steampunk page without getting your eyeballs raped on a daily basis. It's a win/win.

3.) Pinterest is like shopping - but not the kind of shopping I hate which is going to the mall with lots of money I don't have to choose from the same clothes at the same stores as everyone else. Pinterest is like Goodwill, where you might have to sift through some things to get to the good stuff, but when you find it you get to show it off to everyone else and they swoon just a bit (or random strangers pin the crap out of it - it's the same feeling).

4.) Pinterest feels more global. I know Facebook has exploded all over the world, but even if a few of your childhood or college friends live abroad, they're still Americans abroad and the same people who copied off you in Algebra class. On Pinterest you actually start to notice cultural sensibilities, different art, different clothing styles. You're introduced (if you choose) to a broader taste palette that can be eye-opening and refreshing.

5.) It's pretty. This really should have been number one but I guess I was trying to be thoughtful and exercise some critical thinking. But when you get right down to it, Pinterest is gorgeous (if you put some thought into who you follow). It's like a mini-vacation in the middle (and beginning and end) of my day. If that doesn't make it better than another Wal-Mart ad, I don't know what does.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Jumping Off Cliffs and How "Grown-ups" Are All Big Fakers

I've been known to talk about my "core" a lot - that part of the self that isn't penetrated by outside experience, strong in a non-attached sort of way. I'm usually talking about yoga and making some joke about my physical core being all flabby, which makes me worry about the state of my aforementioned metaphysical core  I'm sure it's pretty annoying to anyone who has to listen, and for that, I offer my condolences.

If you've been fortunate enough to be spared that mini-Amanda-lecture-series a.) consider yourself lucky and b.) don't tell those other people, but I may have been wrong.

I know you're shocked.

We speak about a core Self as if there is some true person buried beneath the layers of self, as if enough digging will unearth a Truth long hidden, some deeper part of our personality that will once-and-for-all explain ourselves to ourselves.  I suppose it's the urge behind the whole "finding yourself" business everyone was supposed to figure out in their 20's.

Well, I'm 38 (I almost typed 37 - that goes to show a certain slippage of self right there, don't you think?) Any sort of core identity seems to be slipping further and further away as I get older, when I thought the reverse would happen.

The older I get the more I'm struck by a terrifying idea - I'm just making this crap up. And when I look around at everyone else it unsettles me even more - everyone else is obviously making it up too. Duh. Y'all aren't even good fakers.

So now I'm having to rethink this whole idea of a core - it's elusive. I'm going to go all spiritual here for a second, but this whole core-business seems to be the exact opposite of identifying with an idea of who you are and all about tapping into something that is much bigger than any of us - something that asks nothing, demands nothing, but encompasses us all. It's like looking out at the night sky and realizing how tiny you actually are.

It's not what I thought being a grown-up was all about. But it is liberating, in a jumping-off-a-cliff sort of way, so at least there's that.

Now let me go anchor this rope to a tree before I creep over the edge.

I can't wait to see what I find down there.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Why Marie Antoinette Would Make A Really Great Toy

This year I've vowed to be ready for the Spring Fest craft tent at ODS.

So I've been doing this.

And a little bit of this.

Then I made lots and lots and painted some sticks.

They have to be spray sealed so I got resourceful.
(sorry for the gross bucket shot)

It was at this point that I got the great idea for a Marie Antoinette abacus doll. 
Katie and I had quite the divergent conversation. I shelved it for another day 
(but think it would be a great idea to teach about the French Revolution or Vlad 
or lots of other really interesting things that would actually make children 
want to use an abacus, but I digress...)

I got back on task after everything dried and added hair.

Meet the Rapunzel Dolls.
(available April 20th at the Spring Festival and etsy after that).

(And let me know if you need an abacus.
I might be able to hook you up.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Scared is Scared of What You Like

Seven minutes and 52 seconds of brilliance.

the Scared is scared from Bianca Giaever on Vimeo.

What I liked today:

1. Dairy Queen with Katie
2. Blue skies all day
3. Finding Spring with three-year olds
4. The Handmaid's Tale on Audible read by Claire Danes
5. Learning through thievery from one of my favorite artists, Jen Corace

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why Falling On Your Face Is Good For You

(This is a re-post from my now-defunct Wordpress blog. It was originally posted October 2, 2012)

This evening I fell on my face. That isn’t a metaphor: I literally came crashing to earth.

On. My. Face.

I consider myself lucky to still have front teeth, but it’s all good. Trust me.

How, you may ask, is falling on your face a good thing? And what was I doing to fall in the first place? Easy answer first: I was doing a handstand – sort of – not very well. That’s where the falling part came in. In my future-version-of-Amanda-awesomeness I look like this:

And as much as I’d like “future Amanda” and “current Amanda” to be the same entity, they’re really quite different. Current Amanda has been practicing headstands for a year and tentatively creeping more weight into her arms in forward bends, stepping onto tippy-toes, leaning forward and hovering with her face above the ground for milliseconds at a time. It’s terrifying. It’s exhilarating.

It’s not even close.

But there’s the rub. Maybe it is close. Maybe I’m closer than I know. The only way to find out was to lift my feet up and see what I could do.

I found out I can fall.

Even more importantly, I can fall and get back up. I can land on my face, a humility I haven’t experienced since childhood, and then turn around and laugh. Because you know what? It’s only scary until you do it. Once you fall or nail it or stumble or whatever…you’ve faced the fear and moved into new territory. Unfortunately, I’m not in the new territory of looking badass while doing a handstand. I’m still working on doing a handstand. But I’m working with a little more know-how than I had before. I’m a little braver than I was before I tried and that counts for a lot.

You see, I don’t think it really matters what you can do. Truly great things don’t happen by staying in your comfort zone. It’s scary to go for the things you want, but your mother and teachers and even Nike were right: Just Do It. Try. Practice. There’s no other way to the awesome. There’s no other way to find out exactly how powerful, creative, inspired or beautiful you can be without risk. If there was another, easier way, everyone would do it.

Look around. How many people are truly fulfilled, striving, following a dream? Enough, but not most. What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of life do you want to live?
Everyone has pain in their future. Everyone has bumps and bruises and scary things waiting to happen. Want to know a secret? You can’t avoid it. But you can choose the path you’ll be on when the inevitable growing pains and falls of life happen. You can set your compass.

That way, you’ll be your own definition of awesome when you reach the other side.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Inspiration Java Jolt

Oliver Jeffers. Love him. Learned how to draw a penguin from him.

And I read this. First the poster (pictured below), then the book.

 Totally worth the $8.32.

You are welcome.