Sometimes it’s not about failure or success

Try new things, even if you fail. How many times have you heard that? Then, people like to follow it up with a motivational story. One of my favorites is how the Toll House cookie lady discovered chocolate chip cookies because she wanted to add candy bars to her cookies, and they ended up melting. Someone very famous whose name I can’t remember said that Edward Hopper wouldn’t be half so great an artist if he were better at painting.

An example of someone not-failing. Edward Hopper, New York Interior

An example of someone not-failing. Edward Hopper, New York Interior

But–ladies and gents, this isn’t one of those stories. This is about failing, and continuing to fail, and enjoying the hell out of it.

In a previous life (like, two weeks ago), I only pursued hobbies that I actually had some talent in, or that don’t actually require talent. Want to go toe-to-toe in Mass Effect 3 or compare Fable II achievements? You may win, but you’ll be forced to acknowledge that I’m fairly decent, too. We could also compare eyeliner techniques. Comics are easy–you don’t actually need skills other than literacy to enjoy them.

But, I had always shied away from things that require skills I just don’t have. My fingers were  too clumsy to take up knitting long-term, art was only for the artists, and my cello eventually ended up sitting next to the closet, since it doesn’t actually fit in the closet. I detest failing, so I didn’t try. I know, I know. It’s a greeting card gone wrong.

Sadly, all of the hobbies I loved most (hello, video game controller!) also made my hands hurt after awhile. I needed new hobbies, and chances were good that I wouldn’t have natural talent in them.

One day, I walked around the discount books section at Barnes and Noble and looked at the hobby section. I’ve tried calligraphy before, so I passed those up. Belly dancing was out. Learning how to give a hot stone massage was out, because I’m not nice enough to do that for other people.

Painting was on the table. I had messed around with watercolors when I was in high school (secretly, of course), and they were fun, but took a lot to set up. I really wanted something to fill an hour or two when I got home at night and was feeling lazy.

So–my choices were basically sketching, and giving knitting another go. I had a little experience in both. I took art classes in elementary school, but my teacher was constantly frustrated by my refusal to draw anything other than birds. It’s just another example of me doing the safe thing. Once I learned to sketch a cardinal, I didn’t want to try to draw a horse in case I sucked at it.

I had also dabbled in photography. Here's the obligatory flower close-up.

I had also dabbled in photography. Here’s the obligatory flower close-up.

But, let’s face it. Knitting requires patience. Ha. I don’t have that. Sketching is relatively quick. I bought the cheapest of the cheap sets, and here we are.

After a couple weeks sketching, I can officially report that I still suck at it. I’m not even sure that I’m getting better at it with practice. I think I’m pretty much stagnant. But, on the bright side, it’s hella fun!

I’ve been taking my pencil, eraser and sharpener to work to draw during lunch. Since I have a shiny new cubicle, no one has to see my terrible drawings. It’s beyond relaxing. I fancied up and bought a set of colored pencils for when I really wanted to go nuts.

Something I’ve always admired about the Victorians was their ability to have a semi-large amount of hobbies. Let’s face it–they couldn’t have all been great artists and pianists and singers, right? They had to have just gotten over it and done their best anyway. One day I might take up embroidery just to stitch that on a pillow.

Seriously–try something you’re awful at. It’ll be more fun than you think!

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E3: Now with more rape jokes!

In an absolutely brilliant move, someone on stage at the E3 conference made a joke about rape. A female player was onstage demonstrating a fighting game, and the terribly scripted dialogue was more than cringe-worthy.

“Just let it happen; it’ll be over soon.”

[EDIT: The video I embedded is broken, so check out the one on Kotaku]

I haven’t really posted about rape jokes before, but in a post-Dane-Cook-being-an-asshole world, they’ve become their own thing.

You can find years’ worth of reading on them all over the Web. These are some of the best, if you’re interested.

If you’re not, here’s a little wrap-up:

They’re often labelled as edgy and hilarious. But they’re really just tired, outdated and sad, much like the people who insist on making them.

Rape jokes aren’t okay. They’re not the equivalent of an edgy “your mom” joke. Rape, believe it or not, has victims.

Putting this drivel on stage at a huge tech conference is just another way to say that it’s for straight men only, kthxbye. It’s another way to say that we play by frat boy rules, or we don’t play at all.

I’m sick of it. I’m waiting for the day when humor is funny again, and not just the same old misogynistic refrain.

Update: Apparently the rape joke wasn’t scripted. I’m not sure that this makes it less offensive.

Running at scissors

I’ve been on a hair hiatus for too long. As soon as I got engaged (almost three years ago!) I put a cease on all planned haircuts. I was going to grow it out for the wedding, and pay an exorbitant amount for a really fancy hairstyle.

A year went by, and I couldn’t find a really fancy hairstyle that my hair would actually do. Fed up, I called my favorite hairstylists, my Aunt Sherry, and she performed an emergency chin-length chop the week before the wedding. Aunt Sherry’s great. She asked the same kinds of questions that I imagine tattoo artists ask drunk people who stumble into their shops (Are you sure you’ll be happy with a koi fish on your elbow? Is a chin-length cut really what you want on your wedding day?).  Mercifully, she chopped it for me.

haircut

Super excited to be rocking the short wedding haircut. And you know, to marry Zach.

After rocking the short hair at my own wedding, i kind of wanted to grow it out a bit. Mostly, I’m too lazy to go get it cut. So, it grew.

And then, I really wanted to cut it. But, I had a slew of weddings coming up, and I didn’t want brides to be limited by what I could do with my hair. Logically–they weren’t the type to care at all. But it still felt like I *should* grow it out.

And, then it got long.

And, then it got long.

A couple (?) weddings later, I was with a close friend and a few of her attendants at a salon, waiting for her to have her hair and makeup trial done. In the salon, I realized that I just missed having my hair cut. Watching a woman walk out the door, smiling and cupping her newly-shorn tresses, sealed the deal. I wanted that happy, and it could only come from a pair of scissors.

A year and a half after my last cut, I bravely stepped into Great Clips. Then, I stepped out. People apparently are willing to invest some time in waiting for a $7 haircut. I am not.

Fifteen minutes later, I bravely stepped into the JC Penny salon. I checked to make sure the cut was under $40 (we all have standards), and I signed up to see Paula.

I showed her the inspiration pic I had snapped with my tiny phone camera earlier that morning, and told her I didn’t really care, I just wanted it shorter, and I wanted some pieces to frame my face. Done.

Not the best picture, but roll with it, mmkay?

Not the best picture, but roll with it, mmkay?

I love my new cut, it’s awesome. But ever since then (and since I dyed it), I’ve been wanting to do more. Maybe I’ll color it purple and get it chopped to chin length? Or get an asymmetrical bob with pink streaks? I could be a redhead again! Or I could do spiky hair! I have a gap between weddings, so I can’t promise that I won’t sport some sort of crazy color post-May and pre-October. I’m looking forward to it!

I read an article about how to cut your own hair, and it’s not helping. I’ve been reminding myself daily (hourly, let’s be real), that I have a finite amount of hair to mess with, so I should probably leave it alone. In the meantime, I’ll be hiding the scissors around my house.

Things I Fangirl Over: Dollar store edition

Guys, seriously. Every time I go to the dollar store, I imagine writing blog posts about it.

  • “How I learned to stop paying more than $1 for dish soap”
  • “I’m never paying more than $1 for this shit again”
  • “Unicorn poop and glitter! $1!”
  • “I laugh in your general direction for paying $3 for cleaning supplies”

See? The possibilities are endless! Much like the dollar store’s awesomeness! Let’s talk about everything you can buy,  for just $1.

*Wine glasses. Perfect for those who didn’t put wine glasses on their registry. They’re also great for decorating for bachelorette parties and anything else you choose to do with glass paint and near-disposable wine glasses!

*Crackers. Yeah, I know, it’s weird. But seriously, have you ever had expensive crackers? They taste like crap. Go simple, go cheap. You won’t regret it! Plus, they come in these cute containers with swivel tops.

*Carpet deodorizer. Okay, so it’s basically scented baking soda, but it’s scented baking soda for ONE DOLLAR. Epic.

*All cleaning supplies. You think that chemical filled shit expires? Nope. No reason not to pick it up for the lovely dollar store price!

*Grooming products like hairbrushes, bobby pins and hair ties. If you have difficult hair, this might not be the best solution for you. The bobby pins aren’t quite as durable as their $3 counterparts. However, if your hair just needs to be held back (and doesn’t fight with you), they’re great!

Alas, some of us must buy our self-esteem $1 at a time.

Alas, some of us must buy our self-esteem $1 at a time.

*Salt. Fun fact: the dollar store has sea salt and regular salt in the same sized containers as your local grocery. Sometimes, it even goes on sale as a 2-for-1. The awesomeness…is overwhelming.

*Seasonal décor. I’ve come to terms with the fact that in my apartment, sometimes it’s easier to get disposable things than keep them. My inner tree-hugger cries a little, but my fear of becoming a hoarder rejoices. Whether it’s decorations or disposable seasonal plates, the dollar store has your jam.

*And speaking of jam…condiments! I only buy Simply Heinz, so not ketchup, but backup condiments like mustard, barbecue sauce, syrup, hot sauce, syrup, you name it, are all at the dollar store. Some are generic brands, others aren’t. I like to get a good mix (meaning I grab whatever they have).

*Canned foods. Seriously, it’s got to be the same as the stuff in the regular grocery store. Good enough for me!

What’s your greatest dollar store find? Have you gone recently? Do dollar store burritos make you feel icky inside?

What every bride should know

If you didn’t know this, I have quite a bit of experience with weddings. I’ve been a bridesmaid five times (seven, if you count upcoming weddings!), and I’ve even gotten married myself. However, since I’ve acquired a ton of knowledge about tying the knot that I don’t ever plan on using again, I thought I would pass it along.

So–here we go!

Photo by Lucky Heart Photography :).

Photo by Lucky Heart Photography 

The Feels:

  • Every bride reacts differently. Don’t be worried if your best friend was all smiles and your morning ends up looking a lot like your bachelorette party night. It doesn’t say anything about the guy you’re marrying–just about your comfortability with large crowds.
  • On that note, be prepared to have lots of feels. I smiled most of the day, but when I met up with my dad to walk down the aisle, I lost it a bit. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be nervous and it’s okay to feel a little overwhelmed. Obviously, it’s also totally okay to be lost in the joy of the moment!

Venues:

  • Obviously, have your wedding in a barn if that’s what you want  to do. But going with more experienced vendors can save you a ton of stress. It might even save you money. Sure, the initial cost of an untraditional venue is sometimes cheaper, but everything else will be more expensive. Chairs, tables, catering fees and more can all add up. Price it out before you make a decision. 

Destination Weddings

  • The No. 1 rule here is “be cool.” I have a lovely cousin who had her wedding out of state during my finals week. She was awesome about the fact I couldn’t attend, which I really appreciate. Sometimes it’s not a matter of how much people want to be there, but if they can swing it at all. I’m sure that every destination wedding has a few people who genuinely want to be there for the couple, but just can’t swing it.

Breaking the Rules

  • Look, you’re a super cool person with super cool ideas. It’s awesome that you’re exploring them. Break any rule you want as long as it doesn’t make the people attending your wedding uncomfortable. For an extreme example, going to a remote mountaintop to exchange vows seems great in theory, but dragging Grandma up a steep climb away from any bathrooms just isn’t a great idea. 
  • There are some rules you should definitely break. One of them is the ceremony. Choose your own. It’s cool if you choose the traditional words, but recognize that you have a choice. There are tons of lovely example ceremonies you can use available online. Start from there and build one that represents you.
  • Make it personal. The weddings that stand out most in my mind are the ones that had the most personality. Whether the theme fit the couple perfectly, the music was just right or the vows were handwritten, these are the weddings that everyone remembers. You don’t have to go crazy untraditional, you just need to be a little open.

Bridesmaids

  • Be prepared to have them either be way more enthusiastic than you thought or way less. That’s because typically people’s reactions to wedding stuff (even your wedding stuff) has a lot to do with how much they like weddings. If they wouldn’t get excited over their own tussy mussy (it’s a thing!), then don’t be offended when they don’t cry over the beauty of your own!
  • Feed them! The worst thing ever as a bridesmaid is to be called in to do makeup at 8, photos from 9-10, then the ceremony and then more photos and then more duties, and then you get fed. Hours, and hours and hours later. It’s not fun.
  • Appreciate that while it’s an honor to be a bridesmaid, it’s also a really big cost burden.

The Groom

  • This one’s hard. It’s his wedding too, but he never seems to have opinions about the things you want him to have opinions on. A lot of times, a guy will make one very difficult request that he feels entitled to, since he hasn’t made any other decisions (despite you asking him to). Don’t let him get away with it if it’s too unreasonable! Zach, for example, only wanted Roscoe’s Tacos to deliver. Lovely thought, but it would’ve changed where we could have had the reception and it would’ve automatically made the wedding less formal, meaning I would have to have gotten a less formal dress. Thus–no go. Accomodate them where possible, but challenge them on things that will dictate the entire wedding. 
  • On the other hand, sometimes they make smaller requests that only feel crazy at the time. Zach wanted eight groomsmen. I only wanted four bridesmaids, and could only even think of about seven people total who I could possibly include on my side. Compromise? Uneven bridal party. It took a bit to get used to the idea, but it turned out fine!

The In-Laws

  • I have really, really lovely in-laws, you guys. Seriously. Just be jealous right now. However, from other people’s weddings, I think the best advice would be to include them! Their child is getting married, too, and it’s just as big a deal to them! Keep them up-to-date on wedding planning and let them know you appreciate them and their family. 

Haters

  • Having a wedding is kind of like having a baby, in that everyone wants to tell you what you should do. Carnations are tacky, the money dance is the root of all evil, you have to have a pastor officiate–everyone has an opinion. Learn to do the polite nod and plan escape strategies. Unless, of course, you really care what the cashier’s second-cousin’s niece did for her wedding.
  • Avoid comparing your engagement ring to anyone else’s. That is legit tacky. I’ve heard everything from fake embarrassment over how large people’s rings are to someone actually saying that my ring was sparklier, but hers was bigger and in a more classic shape. Seriously. Let’s all agree to be adults! I know you’re excited, but chill. It’s just a really pretty rock.

Organization

  • Google Drive! Savior! It’s great for collecting guest lists and addresses, song lists and budget breakdowns. You have complete control over who sees what and who’s able to edit what. You and your significant other can compile documents and then share them with your vendors. It’s glorious.
  • Get a wedding binder, but don’t spend a lot of money on it. Seriously. You’ll feel super cool when you walk into a cake tasting with a binder full of photos.

That’s all for now, folks! If I think of anything else, I’ll update!

I can’t donate blood, but you totally should

Picture it: Me, Zach and the blood bank. I finally convinced him to donate blood with me because they were giving out $10 Outback Steakhouse giftcards. I had only donated blood once before at work. The process wasn’t terrible, and I loved the thought that I was helping people will relatively little work (so sue me, I like efficiency). However, I’m a chicken, and I wanted him to be there.

We were separated into little tiny rooms with people who took down our information immediately. I checked to make sure that enough time had passed that it was safe to donate again. I checked all the little boxes to verify that I don’t have any blood borne  diseases. I didn’t know it, but in the other room, Zach found out that because he was born in Germany, he has a tiny, minuscule chance that he has some weird rare blood disease that would basically drop dead at 50, but can’t be detected before. It’s highly, highly unlikely that this will happen (we’re talking a decimal point, multiple, multiple zeroes and a one in this percentage), but it meant he couldn’t donate.

So, he sat down in the lobby, and I sat in the oddly dentist-like chair to have my O+ pumped into tiny vials and a medium-sized bag. All was well. The dude who did my interview asked me if I felt dizzy–nope. Not at all. Was feeling pretty perky, actually.

Let this be a lesson to the masses: Don’t underestimate the power of doing something good on your blood pressure. Temporarily, that is.

I sat down with a Diet Coke (gross, I know), and some of those peanut butter crackers (also gross). I took a couple of sips, and then I felt drowsy. Whatever, it had been a long day of work. I slumped my head onto my fist, and decided to make do. Then, that seemed to be too much work. I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

About 20 seconds later, I realized I was in the floor. Zach was standing over me (boy can hustle), looking at his watch. It’s nice having a trained EMT as a husband. He always knows to time any seizures that may happen during the course of your relationship. I tried to get up, but I was basically told to stay down until my blood pressure rose a bit. You know what’s not fun? Lying on the ground of the blood bank with your feet propped up in a chair in your very favorite new dress. While I was in the floor, a peppy older employee chirped that next time, I should drink juice before donating. Which would be fine, except…the floor. I was lying in the floor.

That’s when I decided that I wouldn’t be donating again. However, I can’t shake the feeling that Ms. Juice-Before was right, and that I had probably done something wrong. I’m not sure that’s accurate, since I tried to be incredibly conscious of the rules, but it’s possible.

Every time we have a blood donation at work, I feel super guilty about not going. I mean, you sit there, you lose some blood, and you leave. It’s like being a Spartan, only with less effort and  less blood. How can that be a bad thing? But still, I’ve said no every time because I’m pretty sure Zach wouldn’t be nearly as sympathetic the second time around.

HOWEVER, donating blood is awesome. You should do it. It saves lives! Just don’t expect to run into me at the blood bank, k?

Guys…I’m cleaning our bedroom.

Imagine this, only it's tinier and more adorable.

Imagine this, only it’s tinier and more adorable. 

It’s crazy. In so many ways. Fair warning: This post is pure narcissism. Here’s what I’m learning about Zach and I:

  • Zach should’ve married someone who could sew him a cool marching band t-shirt quilt. The best I’m doing is folding and storing them.
  • I apparently have a towel fetish. Seriously…what are all these towels doing in here?
  • My darling other half hasn’t gone on a good clothes shopping trip since high school.
  • He was a way cooler kid than I was. Space Camp? German Lederhosen? Color me green!
  • I’ve been clothes shopping a million times since high school, but have failed to throw anything out.
  • I get an immediate sentimental attachment to clothes once they get a hole.
  • Zach has a tiny alligator skull in a box. He’s cleaning out that box.
  • We’ve subconsciously been doomsday preppers, but only for clothing, towels and sheets. If pillowcases become the currency of the future, we were totally set for life. Sadly, Goodwill is about to get our bounty.