seeksadventure: (Sons of Anarchy great wide open)
But no concerts in caves, alas. That would be fun.

Life has kind of blown up this summer, writing and work and social activities. I keep meaning to write up longer posts about everything, but that is not going to happen, at first because I've had no time, and this evening because I had a pretty dangerous mood drop over the weekend and am sliding into depression. The mania lasted quite a few weeks this time. I hope I can keep making writing progress through this shift.

Alice in Chains and Guns N' Roses

Reconnected with one of my high school BFFs this year, and we road tripped up to the Guns N' Roses concert in Kansas City. I swore I would go if they ever got Slash back, and they did, and I did, and it was amazing. Alice in Chains opened, and put on a fantastic show, and Guns N' Roses absolutely killed it. I can't believe they are still putting on such energetic shows, and playing so damn hard. I continue to love Slash beyond the telling of it, and everything was absolutely wonderful.

(Well, no, early on a visual element triggered my vertigo, so I had to deal with that all night, but it was still worth it.)

horror movies

High School BFF: Do you like scary movies?

High school BFF and I both love horror movies, so we've been going to the movies together lately. It's nice to go with someone else who loves them, since J merely puts up with my movie choices most of the time.

So far, we've watched The Conjuring 2 and Light's Out. Both were fun enough, though neither stuck the ending, and I thought both relied too hard on similar jump scares throughout (not similar to each other, necessarily, but repetitive ones within the movie itself).

St Louis Science Center

One of my law school BFFs came down for the Fourth of July, and joined me on an adventure that was part work and part fun, visiting a new exhibit at the St Louis Science Center that was focused on local growing and farm to table. It was raining the day we went up, so I had to rush through most of the outdoor exhibits, but it was pretty fun. Mostly targeted toward little children, which I did not expect. J and his mom went with us, and I grabbed Niece H (still youngest niece, though I do have a great-niece who is younger) to come with us. She's maybe a year or two too young for most of the Science Center, but we had a good couple of hours running from one display to the next before she lost interest, and then we all went out for delicious bbq. (Her birthday just happened, and while there we went through Build a Bear for her gift. I'd never done it before, but it was really fun, if pretty cheesy. She adored it, though, and had a great time whispering her secret creative dream as a part of the one she picked out.) Niece H is just delightful, and I'm so glad we got to spend time together.

After we dropped her off, we took J's mom home, and on the way stopped to play with little chicks and a young pig who were on display at her local farm store. TOO CUTE.

Meramec Caverns

This past weekend, we spent the day at Meramec Caverns with J's family; Meramec Caverns is a large cave system here in Missouri on the Meramec River that does guided tours. I've been through it only once before, one summer of law school. It is still beautiful, and the tour slightly different this time than the last time. There are plenty of places that are open and closed at different times, so it changes a little depending on when you go. Every June, they do a lantern tour, and I think next year we'll give that a try. After, we took a quiet, slow boat tour of part of the river, which was very short but super relaxing.


I am not quite back to pottery classes regularly just yet, but the other night, J and I went to a pottery show my teacher was in, and there were some gorgeous, inspiring pieces. There were also things that were completely over-priced, but such is art.

I've trimmed one piece and thrown a second, but am not back to regular lessons until September. Probably. Failures still really mess with my mental health, so we'll see.


Mostly, I have been writing. I finished a novel-length project (more or less twice; the first draft had no ending, so I had to start over to figure out where I went wrong, and then finally got an ending on draft two, though it's still not right), and I'll start editing it soon to prep it for early readers. I'm already well into my next novel length project.

I've written 340k so far this year. My goal is 500k. When I set it, I didn't actually expect to make it, because when I used to set 350k, I would get close, but never actually get there. This year is apparently a good writing year, and it's been a great lesson that I really do write more and better when (a) I write every day or almost every day and (b) I track my daily word count.
seeksadventure: (Default)
Carla on Instagram  “On the one hand  I made a tornado. On the other hand  it is still a failed piece. 2 of  100ballsofclay  pottery”

A couple weeks ago, I posted this picture as a part of my 2016 pottery project, #100ballsofclay. (I handled ball four yesterday. This is going to be a long project.) During class that week, I put two balls of clay on the wheel, and took zero balls of clay off. (Ok, technically, I took them both off to take pictures, but then I smashed the projects and put them in the scrap bucket so the clay could be reused later.) This was the better of the two, because it was more interesting. It looks like a tornado. (The other fell in on itself, and just looked like clay that was too wet and overworked.) I liked my tornado, but not enough to keep it, because it wasn't right, it wasn't perfect. It wasn't a piece with balance and clean form and good structure. It, and I, was a failure.

It might have been art, too. I can see that now.

I had another class yesterday, and I put two balls of clay on the wheel. I took two projects off. They are good pieces, mostly clean and well structured. I can see their flaws, but I can also see the good lines and the okay technique that went into them. But once I was done and had wrapped them so they could start drying before I trim them next week, I noticed another of the students had made something that looked like a tornado. She kept hers, though. It is drying so it can be trimmed, or maybe, with a piece like that, it will go straight to the kiln for the bisque firing. (K, my teacher, generally uses a double firing technique. The bisque firing happens first, then we glaze and put the pieces back through the kiln for a second glaze firing. I do not yet know enough to understand why, but I have some reading to do.) Whatever the other student plans to do with it, she took it off the wheel. She let it be flawed, and let it be beautiful, and she will have a piece when I do not.

She has many pieces when I do not.

I kill more pieces than I take off the wheel, by far. It ranges anywhere between 1 in 2 and 1 in 4 for me, usually, but I have gone weeks at a time without being satisfied enough to take anything off the wheel. And while logically I know that each piece I throw teaches me something, it doesn't always feel like I'm making any progress, because I don't have anything to show for it. Because I keep making the same mistakes over and over again. (I raise my walls too fast. I don't have steady hands. I can't see when it is centered on the wheel, which is the most basic first step in throwing. I don't understand what I'm trying to do when I try a new movement.) I get frustrated, and then angry. I've cancelled class some days, because I knew I was not in a good enough mental state to deal with a failure. (K argues that it is not a failure. That doesn't change how it feels.)

I started taking pottery classes because I thought it looked fun and because K is amazing and does gorgeous work. Those things are still true. I also started pottery because I wanted to learn how to be bad at something. I am terrible at failure, and terrible at doing something I don't already know how to do. E.g., before I was willing to start piano lessons as a kid, I'd already taught myself how to play, including some very complicated pieces for a beginner. This was very bad for me, in the long run. Because I could play above where I actually was, class-wise, I got bumped up a bunch of levels, but I missed a ton of basics. Mostly music theory. I still don't really understand the theory behind chords or scales, and I can't translate from one to another. (I don't even have the right language to talk about what I can't do, obviously.) I felt that loss a lot during high school, especially, when I was a competitive musician who didn't understand the theory, the math, the logic, behind my art. So when I had the opportunity to take pottery classes, I pushed myself to do it, so I could be bad at something, and be bad at something in front of someone else.

I'm not bad, though. And that's a problem.

Because I picked up on a couple things very quickly, and had some good pieces come out of my first couple classes, I now expect way too much of myself. Even if I'd had a bad first few lessons, I'd probably be too hard on myself, because perfectionism runs down to my bones, but especially when I have a good moment early on, I then tend to expect that I will be able to do everything immediately. This is the opposite of what I wanted from this class. It is the opposite of what I want from myself.

#100ballsofclay at least forces me to take a picture of my pieces before I destroy them. I'm trying to convince myself to take more things off the wheel, though that's not going well at all. And maybe, someday, I'll find balance in my expectations for myself.

Not gonna hold my breath.
seeksadventure: (Default)
One of the things I'm working on in 2016 is clearing digital clutter. It surprises me just how difficult it can be to unsubscribe or delete a bookmark or remove a blog from my reading list. My life has changed in gigantic (sometimes terrible, sometimes wonderful) ways over the past few years, and some things just aren't pertinent to my interests or how I'm living, but it can still be difficult to let go. (I am struggling with some of the changes, and what they say about me, and what they don't say, and from where I draw my confidence and self worth. 2015 was a difficult year. 2016 doesn't look to be much better, but I am trying to be more positive day by day, even when I cycle lowest.)

As a part of that digital clutter clearing, I'm going to post links here instead of letting them linger in my bookmarks until -- well, since I use Chrome and the bookmarks go with the account, they no longer disappear with a computer dying, so I guess it now means until Google dies a fiery death with the end of the world as we know it.

Racism, classism, networking: Josette Souza's Dear Middle-Class People: It’s Time to Cut the Entitled ‘Networking’ Crap at Everyday Feminism is an excellent read. This part in particular struck home with me, hard:

When you’re a working-class, first-generation student of color who’s grown up in poverty, nobody gives you a map to navigate that confusing cluster of educational years we call college.

When you’re a working-class, first-generation student of color attending an Ivy League university 1,300 miles from where you grew up, nobody prepares you for the shocking amount of confusion, self-doubt, and anxiety you’ll experience as you try to keep from drowning under all the money, power, and privilege most of your classmates throw around like it was confetti.

fat shaming: "Drive-By Fat Shaming" at Dances with Fat hits on some great points about the easy, casual way fat shaming jokes turn up everywhere, even in things touted to be feminist and wonderful (yes, I'm looking at you, Jessica Jones).

This is drive-by fat shaming. Just a quick reminder to everyone watching/listening that it’s hilarious and cool to make fun of fat people – even on a show that is supposed to be feminist. I’m told that it never happens again in the show, and that many people have enjoyed the show, and I get that. Maybe I’ll keep watching, but enjoyment is going to be marred by the fact that I know that the character I’m supposed to be rooting for isn’t rooting for me, and doesn’t see us as equals.

fat shaming: Kiva Bay's "Fatphobia and Jessica Jones: Or How I Realized This Show Wasn't for Me at Medium delves a little deeper into that terrible early scene on Jessica Jones, and how something that is talked about everywhere as this great thing (and in some ways, it is great) can also be so easily, casually, horrible. So many of the great women I know who love this show and talk about it all the time don't address that at all.

Why did the show’s writer’s choose to include this? This scene makes no narrative contribution. The only possible narrative contribution of this line is to show Jessica’s mean snarky snarkiness, however, this is something virtually every other scene already does. There’s no reason for existing other than to do one thing: Let fat women know that they are lazy, that they are not Jessica Jones, that they are not welcome in the circle of safety the show creates for abuse survivors.

They are to be verbally abused.

Writing to the exclusion of fat women is one thing and it’s something that MCU has done pretty consistently but it’s nothing new or unique to Marvel. However, when a dozen women I greatly respect tell me I have to watch this show and I’m going to get so much out of it, then the show goes out of its way to insult and exclude me, I’m not really sure how I feel about any of it other than upset.

I've watched all of Jessica Jones, and I did love it. It really struck home with me in a lot of ways, particularly how it allowed women to express anger. However, this part, that came so early, was a gut punch of terrible, and I don't blame anyone for stopping there because it was so bad.

WWE, Jem & the Holograms: Scarlett Harris's guest post "Why Jem & the Holograms Flopped & What WWE Can Learn From It" at The Spectacle of Excess makes some really interesting points about the problems with the product WWE is putting out and particular owner Vince McMahon's views of the younger wrestlers and audience members alike.

This is followed by the obligatory makeover scene, a far less sophisticated and genuine version of what can sometimes be seen on Breaking Ground in the promo and character workshops. When Jem and her band emerge in wigs with their faces painted, it’s not unlike the Demon Kane or Sting, antiquities from a bygone era.

Similarly, Jem’s whole facade is a throwback to the ’80s and I understand that’s the origin of the character, but perhaps the reason the modern remake flopped is a wider allegory for for WWE’s low ratings. WWE’s characterisations also echo a time when patriots defended the honor of their country against foreigners and super villains bested larger than life heroes. That’s not gonna fly when audiences have such diversity to choose from when it comes to telling these stories: Jessica Jones, Breaking Bad, House of Cards and, indeed, shows like NXT and Lucha Underground. The ’80s may have been a simpler time, whatever that means, but there’s a lot to be said for telling simple, good vs. evil stories with integrity and flair, an asset which WWE—and Jem—has lost.

I only started watching wrestling a few years ago, and practically from day one, my mantra was: Vince McMahon needs to fucking retire and take his racist, sexist bullshit with him. I stand by this statement.

(Love pro wrestling, cannot stand a lot of the choices they make. Also, haven't seen the new Jem yet, but it's on my To Watch list.)

LGBTQ, racism: Michael Arceneaux's "The state of the gay black man on TV" at Fusion takes a look at how gay black men are represented on tv and pushes back at a pretty shitty statement made by Tina Fey regarding the Titus Andromedon character on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Yes, if a person exists, theoretically “it’s fair game.” But the game would be much fairer if the person you know truly exists gets to be as multi-dimensional as the white woman who created him on paper. Fey and Burgess have done well, but I’m not at a point where I can trust scripted television to correctly portray an effeminate gay male character—and to a degree, any gay black character—particularly if the person penning the character is writing an experience they don’t know anything about.

Family, Christmas, Australia: Mikaella Clements' "A Guide to Missing Australian Christmas" at the Toast is funny, and delightful, and just a little heart-wrenching, in a really wonderful way.

10. Miss Christmas on a beach. Miss Christmas in some rented or borrowed beach house, and the troop down to the sea first thing in the morning, dragging along presents if you’re still attached, hoping the sand doesn’t get too engritted in the pages of a new book or the wheels of a new remote-control car. Miss waking up on Christmas Day and launching yourself into the sea, shrieking with your sisters and brother, the sun hot on your shoulders, the water a cool slap in your face. Miss taking your body board down with you and skimming along the foamy surface of the waves, delivered tumbling and laughing to where your parents sit on the sand, their legs outstretched and their faces grinning.

Pottery: Jasika Nicole talks about pottery and making holiday gifts over at her Try Curiousity blog. I have been the tiniest little bit besotted with her ever since the very first moment I saw her on Fringe, and this post did absolutely nothing to change that. (Spoiler: So much more besotted now.)

But what's really important to me about this piece is the way she talks about pottery. I started taking pottery classes at the end of 2015, and will continue working in the studio throughout 2016, and I have struggled. Not with the skill part, so much (I mean, yes, I am learning new skills and that can be difficult), but with my perception of failure. I rarely take any piece off the wheel, most attempted projects get squashed partway through, because they always seem broken and not what I want to make, and I often come away feeling like a failure. I actually started taking pottery classes specifically to be bad at something, because I was trying to teach myself how to be okay with (be happy at) being bad at something, but that was a failure in itself. I'm not bad at pottery, but I am too much of a perfectionist; I am terrible at not being perfect at something immediately.

I'll blog more about that throughout the year, but that is the brief background I brought to Nicole's blog post, and it struck my so hard right in the heart. I look at the pictures of her pieces, and I can see so many flaws but I can also see the absolute beauty of them. I need to be more willing to take a piece off the wheel; I need to be more willing to keep pushing through. Her words absolutely touched me, and inspired me, and I am all verklempt

With some artforms, like painting, I seem to have a very rigid idea of what constitutes as “good”, and I am very hard on myself when what I create doesn’t seem to match up to those ideals. But with pottery, I have had such a different experience. Maybe because I started out with low expectations of what I was capable of- I had never worked at a wheel before, and for all I knew I would be terrible at it. And if I was terrible at it, I wanted to be okay with that and still enjoy the process. So I just followed Torros’ simple instructions and figured a lot out on my own. When I made something that fell apart, I scraped it off my wheel and started over. And when I worked on a piece that didn’t seem to be turning out the way I had hoped it would, I wouldn’t give up on it. I would keep my hands on the clay until it morphed into something unexpected and cool or until it had been worked so much that it had no more life left in it. Working this way was SO much fun and it made the end results so exciting because I rarely started making any pieces with a prediction of how they would turn out.

That is an excellent place to end this list.

Originally posted at

September 2017

24252627 282930


RSS Atom

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags

Most Popular Tags

Page generated Oct. 19th, 2017 07:45 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios