#GivingTuesday

I’ve been remiss and have not blogged for 2 months. Hello new and old followers! Since the last time we were here together, a LOT has happened – the major things being the Presidential Election and I lost my phone. That was actually the beginning and end of my vacation in New York City. Talk about crappy bookends to an otherwise fun trip!

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Personally, the Election hit me hard because I tend to be an optimist, albeit a wary one. I like to believe that ultimately people are kinder and smarter than I think. Many of us, I’m sure, grew up on stories where good triumphs over evil, where people find their courage and their hearts and do the right thing. The Election results and some of the atrocious behavior that have come before and after suggest otherwise. It suggests that many of the people in this country – from fear and selfishness, if not outright bigotry – are okay (or at least silently complicit) with blatant intolerance, fear/hate-mongering and a host of -isms that are frankly alarming to list. It was a rude awakening and deeply disillusioning to say the least.

This probably wasn’t the kind of post you were expecting, but the state of my homeland right now is one that makes my very existence (and that of so many other people – friends, strangers, all) even more political than it already was. And thanks to this 10 of Swords turn of events, if I want to be true to the ideals of this nation and the responsibilities of my citizenship, I have to be a more active participant in this democracy. I’ve resolved to do better, to resist. After all, you don’t just abandon the things you care about.

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So, this #GivingTuesday, in the spirit of giving thanks and of fighting for good in these trying times, I wanted to use what small platform I have to highlight some organizations and people making the world a better place. Please donate what you can, if you can. Any little bit helps, and today, especially, there’s a lot of matching donations happening. So you have double the impact.

 

A few, more personal picks

We Need Diverse Books – a grassroots organization working to change the publishing industry so that it produces more and better diverse books, “literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.”

  • Because representation matters. Diversity is not a trend. It’s real life.

Graham Windham – helping disadvantaged children, families, communities. This is the modern form of the orphanage Eliza Schuyler Hamilton helped establish.

  • You all know how much I love Hamilton, but his wife led a remarkable, albeit quieter, life as well. She pushed past her grief and got to work, establishing the first private orphanage in New York City. Her legacy continues today.

The Erythromelalgia Association – promoting research and awareness of Erythromelalgia, a rare disorder that essentially causes burning pain in the extremities. There is currently no cure and no one way to treat it.

  • One of the smartest, kindest, funniest people I met through the online book and writing community suffers from EM, and it was through her that I first learned about it. I donate in support of her.  For all those who have EM, I hope they find a cure or at least a more effective treatment sooner rather than later.

Force 4 Change x UNICEF x Target – ahead of the upcoming Star Wars movie Rogue One, Disney and Star Wars Force 4 Change have partnered with Target to fund-raise for UNICEF through fashion. From now until the end of the year, if you buy a T-Shirt from their Target-exclusive Force4Fashion line, $5 of each shirt sale will go directly to UNICEF for the UNICEF Kid Power initiative.

 

Causes of more Immediacy

Stand with Standing Rock – help Native Americans protect their land and water by supporting their protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. You can find out more about the issue by checking out #NoDAPL.

Flint Water Crisis – It’s been over a year since this story broke, and the residents of Flint, MI still need help getting clean water & dealing with the effects of having contaminated water. Two places where your donations can help:

Foster Campbell for U.S. Senate – Foster Campbell is a Louisiana Democrat running for a Senate seat. Their election is on 12/10, so there’s still time to try to flip this in his favor. His election would help defend against a filibuster-proof Senate.

 

Non-Monetary ways to help:

  • volunteering your time and/or skills
  • donating gently-used items you don’t use/need
  • calling your government representatives to voice your concerns (accounts like @flippable_org and @roadto18 can help with action items)
  • educate your friends/followers/neighbors/community on important issues
    • no one likes hard conversations but sometimes they need to be had for growth
  • signal-boosting organizations so they get as much exposure as possible

 

One of the best ways to combat despair, helplessness, and the bad, is to put more good in the world. Let’s all strive to be both more compassionate and more courageous. We’re stronger together. And thank you. Rise up.

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P.S. While most of the featured organizations overlap, there are a few more book/writing related ones I included on the #GivingTuesday post at A Nudge in the Right Direction. Take a look if donating to those type of organizations interests you!

Of sand and stardust

In February of this year, I road-tripped with my family to the red rock landscape of Sedona, AZ – a haven of artists, spiritual wanderers, nature-lovers, relaxation-seekers, and unspoiled wonder. It’s also apparently the location of a number of portals.

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We also drove up to Flagstaff where we joined a tour out to Antelope Canyon. You may remember the unreal beauty of its colored walls and terrestrial waves; I wrote about them in my visual poem: Color Memory.

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[Source: catherine]

So, it shouldn’t surprise you too much that I was a little inspired by my trip there and back. Driving through the desert always gets my mind going, and it was on the road home that I started stringing words together and focusing in on certain images.

But the poem didn’t come together until a while later, after I’d written something else about night clubs and dancing. I thought about revelry in another setting under the blushing light of an expansive sunset, next to a flickering bonfire, under a river of stars.

That poem became “Susurrus,” and I’m pleased to say that I sold it to Through The Gate, “an online weekly of fantastical poetry.”

This is my 3rd poetry sale (you’ll hear about the 2nd later), and I’m so glad this little poem found such a perfect home. You can read it by clicking the title above or the image below.

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Here are some poem aesthetics.

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Thanks for your encouragement and support on my poetry journey. I hope you enjoyed “Susurrus”! You can always leave me your thoughts about any of this in the comments.

 

P.S. I posted about the writing and waiting that eventually led to the 2 poems I recently sold at my other blog A Nudge in the Right Direction. It’s for anyone who might be feeling a bit disheartened by their writing experience & for impatient people.😉

*Images in the collage are from various places on Pinterest.
**Other images are mine unless otherwise noted.
***Thanks to Alz and Sarah M for your help with this one.

Supplement:
(Music) Pierre | Ryn Weaver

 


Just a note on the buttons you might’ve noticed on the blog and on some of these posts. I love sharing my writing (hence the whole wander verse category!), but it’d be nice to also be paid for my work even a little bit every once in a while. A few bucks may seem negligible, but that little bit helps with both the general Adulting fund & future creative endeavors. (And in case you were wondering, no, poetry doesn’t pay much.)

So if you enjoy any of my content (poetry or not) and have the means, consider supporting! You will have my deepest appreciation (and Aragorn’s sword, Legolas’ bow, and Gimli’s axe. Just don’t tell them I promised you that).

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

The 30 List

As I wrote last week, I wanted to post an updated “30 Before 30” list now that I’m 30. A few of the items I didn’t complete have migrated to this new list while others haven’t after my re-evaluation.

If you remember my original 30 Before 30 post, I first read about the idea from Katy Upperman. When she passed her deadline, she changed her list into a “Life List,” which I also loved. I’m terrible at setting down goals or even writing New Year’s Resolutions. So having a Life List is a great way of keeping things I want to do in mind and on track.

But I’m not quite ready to have an open deadline yet. I’m updating my 30 Before 30 list into a 30 Before 35 one. There are definitely a few things I’d like to try or work on in the next 5 years. I figure this will give me some focus and motivation.

And again, I understand some of these items are out of my control or highly dependent on other factors, but I think it’s good to have it out there. Like making a wish.

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Without further ado, here’s the list:

  1. Road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway.
  2. Finally read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
  3. Go on a writers’ retreat.
  4. Finish book trilogies: Graceling Realm, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Lynburn Legacy.
  5. Tour the White House.
  6. See a ballet.
  7. Rehaul my closet.
  8. Finish a manuscript.
  9. Learn calligraphy.
  10. Read Jellicoe Road.
  11. Take Loki to the beach.
  12. Make Magic Coffee.
  13. Wander Iceland.
  14. Have Dole Whip in Hawaii.
  15. Get my own place.
  16. Paint a portrait of my dog.
  17. Write a short story & sub it.
  18. Visit The Ripped Bodice.
  19. Sell more poems.
  20. Read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.
  21. Develop a consistent workout habit.
  22. See the Winchester Mystery House.
  23. Explore more National Parks.
  24. Prune my bookshelves.
  25. Create a gallery wall.
  26. Attend a geeky convention that isn’t SDCC.
  27. Tour Mount Vernon and Monticello.
  28. Learn to read tarot.
  29. Put together a poetry chapbook.
  30. Go to Disneyworld.

I will be updating the list at the 30 Before 35 tab, and you’ll be able to find my new list-relevant posts under the 30 Before 35 tag.

 

Here’s to many more adventures!

 

What’s on your 30 list for the next 5 years?

Reflecting on 30 Before 30

Today is my 30th birthday, which is weird only in that I still don’t feel like an “adult.” I guess no one really does even when they are. It’s also weird to think I’ve been on this good earth for 3 decades!

Since it’s a Tuesday, I celebrated with friends this past weekend with food and especially desserts, as well as a good dose of book discussion – which is to say, a few of us had some strong words to say about Harry Potter & the Cursed Child.

That said, my 30th birthday also marks the “conclusion” of my 30 Before 30 project.

I say conclusion with quotation marks because I’m obviously not going to stop working towards these goals just because I’m 30 now. But I do want to reflect a little about what I managed to do and how I want to proceed from here.

Here is my list as it stands.

  1. Road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway.
  2. Order a subscription box. (Owlcrate!)
  3. Finally read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
  4. Attend San Diego Comic Con.
  5. Attend a music festival. (Coachella x2)
  6. See a Broadway musical on Broadway. (the brilliant Hamilton- off & on Broadway)
  7. Go on a spontaneous vacation. (New Orleans with the ConSquad)
  8. Visit Harry Potter Wizarding World /Harry Potter Studio Tour. (The Los Angeles park)
  9. See something Shakespeare performed in London. (Coriolanus w/ Tom Hiddleston)
  10. Go on a writers’ retreat.
  11. Sell a poem. (Actaeon!)
  12. Vacation with my friends. (East Coast trip! NOLA!)
  13. Attend a book convention. (Does YALLWest count?)
  14. Visit Hamilton Grange (finally!!)
  15. Finish book trilogies: Graceling Realm, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Lynburn Legacy.
  16. Visit the White House.
  17. Rehaul my closet.
  18. Go to Italy.
  19. Finish a manuscript.
  20. Watch a big game at a sports bar. (The 2014 World Cup)
  21. Learn calligraphy.
  22. Read Jellicoe Road (finally!). (Reading it now.)
  23. Ride a mule down into the Grand Canyon.
  24. Bonfire on the beach. (My 29th Birthday!)
  25. Participate in a podcast. Done (1)done (2), and done (3)! Done (4)!
  26. Have a summer movie marathon. (Star Wars movie marathon)
  27. Visit The Last Bookstore.
  28. Take Loki to the beach.
  29. Visit the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
  30. Make magic coffee.

There are a few items I’m currently working on (I’m reading Jellicoe Road now), and there are a few things I’m looking forward to repeating (Hamilton, again – all day every day). I think overall, I didn’t do too shabby in the past year, though I really could’ve planned my reading schedule better to get the reading goals in.

I’m most pleased by No. 11; I was able to sell a poem. That goal was one that wasn’t in my control, and I still can’t believe it happened – and that it happened with my first poem out. Way to set a high bar! Beyond that, working towards that has pushed me to submit more and to write more – and I’m pleased to be doing that.

Next week, I will be posting a new/updated list as a 30 before 35. I hope this might inspire you to make your own list or to set a few goals of your own. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

How Nerds Travel (Pt 2): Express Yourself

I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since my last post, and I apologize for the long hiatus. While Marlon (Nerdcoolture) & I have taken a break from writing “nerd travel” blog posts to do actual nerd traveling, you can always find us posting about how we stay geeky on our adventures. I mean, in my case, it’s sort of the point of this blog!

That said, now seems an appropriate time to share this entry I started a while ago since it’s summer  – when many people go vacationing – and because San Diego Comic Con is coming up next week! What better time to travel in fantastic nerd style?

Last time, I talked about accessorizing to geek up your travel wardrobe in case you don’t have clothes appropriate for the destination or weather. I’d like to expand a little more on this topic because accessories are easily my favorite way to express my fandom loves and I don’t only mean outfit accessories.

RECOGNIZABLE LUGGAGE

Novelty suitcases are a simple and casual way to express yourself. You don’t even have to think about it because you’re going to need something to put your gear in anyway. Why not let it reflect what you love?

One of the best fandom things my sister has purchased is her R2-D2 carry-on luggage (from ThinkGeek). During our recent trips, the Sister has received so many compliments on it because it’s instantly recognizable as the scrappiest astromech in the galaxy! People get a kick out of seeing R2, and it brightens up some of the most stressful parts of traveling – rushing around the airport, station, etc. In that moment, we all get to share in a bit of joy thanks to a simple expression of nerdiness.

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[Photo/ @catherine]

But if novelty suitcases aren’t your thing, you can accessorize your luggage with clever tags, straps,  and stickers. There are so many cool designs and decals to choose from, you could transform a plain black case into your own fandom masterpiece.

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If artist Nilah Magruder gets her adorable Hamilton luggage straps in stock, I am so getting one.

Not to mention, if you check your bags, it’ll be a lot easier to identify your geeked out pieces at baggage claim among the sea of basic black and gray ones.

GEEKCHIC HANDBAGS

Aside from your luggage, you’re likely to have some kind of shoulder bag or even fanny pack on your travels. Here’s another accessory you can use to be nerdy. You can go with the obvious like Loungefly’s line of Disney and Star Wars purses or you can be more subtle by accessorizing regular handbags. Tie a geeky scarf or handkerchief to your purse strap. Clip on purse keychains featuring charms or badges from your favorite book or TV show. Braid ribbon in your Hogwarts House colors along the handles.

For something a bit more gender-neutral, messenger bags and handbags that aren’t obviously themed can be decorated in much the same way – with pins and patches and key chains.

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NERDY KNICKKNACKS

Speaking of keychains, your actual keychain is an unobtrusive place to be geeky and functional. I have a Lego Loki in my purse at all times because he holds my keys. Depending on what it is, it can doubly function as a photo prop.

There are also lots of choices when it comes to wallets, business card holders, and phone cases. I also like cute passport holders. One of my favorites is this one that looks like a Penguin Classics cover of the book On the Road, which I gifted to my sister for her birthday one year. Hers has been on quite a few adventures.

Of course, I’m rarely without pen and paper. There’s almost always a notebook in my bag, and while I’m a fan of the plain Moleskine, you can definitely find fancier journals for documenting your latest treks. Get a notebook that shows off your passion or decorate a plain one. The one I’m currently using features Tolkein’s illustration of Smaug!

The point of all this is that you can take your nerd love with you without having it be part of your wardrobe. Maybe you’re on a business trip and that Batman hoodie just isn’t going to cut it for the dress code, but you can still rep that love with a luggage tag or a business card holder elegantly etched with the Batman emblem. For me, having even a small reminder of the things I enjoy is comforting.

Travel can be stressful and there is always some element of the unknown to it. Having something familiar with you can be the confidence boost you need or a piece of solace in the whirlwind of being on the move. It’s like having a bit of the Light of Eärendil to light your way through the dark.

These are some non-outfit-based ways I keep my fandoms in my life when I’m on the roam. Next time, I’ll share what things I try to always fit on to my packing list.

 

Q4U: What different ways do you express your geekery when you travel? Got any traveling goods recommendations for me?