Six Lighthouses in One Day!

Fun fact: Maine is one of the top states in the U.S. when it comes to the number of lighthouses located there! I have a personal history with lighthouses as well, or at least one particular one down in Cape May, New Jersey that I’ve climbed on a series of vacations throughout my life. (A scan of my post history tells me I have somehow never blogged about Cape May — note to self: fix this oversight!)

Early into my trip to Portland with my friend Kristen in September 2018 we found a particular guide on a Portland tourism website that detailed a driving plan for visiting six lighthouses located close to the city all in one day. Being a pair of overachievers, on the last full day of our trip we decided to make the journey. Since we weren’t local, we weren’t really sure what the most efficient route would be for visiting all the lighthouses and decided to just follow the guide from top to bottom.

So we started at Two Lights State Park, a place where it is impossible to take photos of both lighthouses at the same time and also a place where you can climb neither lighthouse because they are both on private property. If I’m being honest, in reviewing my vacation photos for this post I wasn’t even sure if I photographed both lighthouses, because one of them was further off and harder to photograph.

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But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that this location was freaking BEAUTIFUL. The small peninsula that made up the park is made of rocks worn away in surprisingly geometric formations. It looks craggly and intimidating, but is easier to get around on than it looks. I loved it so much! If I was local, I could totally see myself stopping over here on a regular basis to decompress. (Also, the shape of the rocks totally gives off Dragon Age: Inquisition Storm Coast vibes if you’re a nerd about the same things that I am.)IMG_2465.JPG

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I always take way too many pictures when I am confronted with crashing waves, and this place was no exception. I honestly could fill a whole blog post with just pictures from this location and feel satisfied with the results.

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I found it! The second lighthouse! …Waaaay off behind that big house in the center.

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After a good chunk of time spent here while we both took way too many pictures, we set off for the next location, Portland Head Light. This lighthouse is located in a big state park area that had a lot of people walking around on trails, picnicking, etc. Used to money grubbing New Jersey, I was pleasantly surprised when they didn’t ask for money for parking.

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Portland Head Light is not only the oldest lighthouse in Maine, it is also still operational. Please note that speck on the horizon near the middle of this picture — that is Ram Island Light out in the middle of the water. It’s a very picturesque area. The travel guide we were using described it as one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country. I can see why!

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However, I was very disappointed that we could not climb this lighthouse either. There was a little museum on the ground floor, but they wanted money to enter, which is totally fair, but we decided it didn’t seem worth it as from the outside it looked like it was just one smallish room.

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We spent some time trekking around the grounds even as the sun came out. This was a bit of a pleasant surprise, because sun is nice! But it was also an unpleasant one, as we had not brought sunscreen in the car (and might not have brought water either, but my memory is not 100% sure of that). Somehow we avoided getting seriously sunburnt, thank goodness!

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Here’s a slightly closer view of Ram Island Light, the best we were able to get since it was way out there in the water alone.

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Once we’d had our fill, we got back in my car and drove off to what was probably the weirdest location on the list, Spring Point Ledge Light. This location is only weird because you literally have to drive through a community college to get to it. There were only a couple of parking spots set aside for the lighthouse, which were all occupied when we arrived. So we briefly illegally parked in a nearby college lot where we could still see the lighthouse and snapped a photo, just so we could say we saw it and check it off the list. I was kind of disappointed that we couldn’t get closer to this one because the guide we were following specifically noted that some days people are allowed inside, and our “lighthouses entered” count was still zero.

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The final lighthouse we visited was Bug Light and it was a very short drive from Spring Point Ledge Light. It wasn’t very tall but made up for that by being very scenic!

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Once you got up near the lighthouse there was an excellent view of the Old Port area of Downtown Portland. (If you read my previous Portland post, you will already realize that this is “you cannot escape the Old Port” in action, lol.)

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Kristen is about 5’6″ish, I think? Bug Light is not nearly as many Kristens high as you think a lighthouse would usually be!

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It me!

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Near the parking area of Bug Light is this neato giant ship sculpture that we checked out on the way back to the car. It houses an exhibit about shipbuilding in the Portland area that was pretty interesting!

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And that was it! By visiting Bug Light we checked the sixth lighthouse off of our list!

There was one thing I was slightly disappointed about as we drove away from the last lighthouse– we had not been allowed to climb up to the top of any of the lighthouses we viewed! We do have to take Spring Point Ledge Light out of the picture because we couldn’t actually walk up to it and see if it was open, but it didn’t seem like this situation was matter of not being at the lighthouses on the right day. They were all either inaccessible due to being on private land or didn’t allow visitors inside.

You might say, “Hey, but should you really be going up inside lighthouses that are still operational and serving their purpose?” To which I reply, Cape May Lighthouse is still operational and you can go up to the top. And also

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Jokes and slight disappointment aside, I had fun visiting all of the lighthouses. They were all located in beautiful places and it was a fun little adventure! It also doesn’t take too long, depending on how long you spend at each location, of course. We started off probably around 10 am and were finished by a reasonable lunchtime. It was a lovely day to cap off a lovely trip!

But of the lighthouses in this post, I really would only suggest visiting Two Lights State Park and Portland Head Light as they have the most to walk around and look at on the grounds as well as the loveliest scenery. But as I said at the top of this post, Maine has SO MANY lighthouses and if you research a little more than we did I’m sure you can find some other cool ones worth visiting!

This post is companion to my Portland, Maine trip overview post which you can check out HERE!

I hope you’re all having a good week! I’ll try to post again soon.

Portland, Maine 2018

Hello! It’s me! I’m back again with a blog post! I’ve quite missed writing, but over the past months I’ve found myself to have quite a lack of focus for pretty much anything, which has been troubling in more ways than one. I thought I would ease myself back into blogging by chatting about the trip to Portland, Maine I went on nearly a year ago with my buddy Kristen (aka @kristen_m_young over on ye olde Twitter). I’ve been feeling antsy and wanting to travel with no real opportunities to do so for a little while, and I’m hoping that writing this trip up will ease my restlessness at least a little.

This trip came about when my boss let me schedule a week off of work in September. I considered just doing a staycation, but decided instead to try actually going somewhere. So I hit up my college buddy Kristen and asked if I could come visit her in Massachusetts during that time. I thought I’d maybe explore the area where she lives during times she was at work and then we could hang while she was free — I never want to be a burden and didn’t want her to feel obligated to entertain me. I was pleasantly surprised when she responded by basically saying, “I can take time off that week too! Do you want to travel somewhere? Maybe Portland?” She had been there very briefly a couple of years before and while I had been to Maine on a family trip when I was in high school we skipped over Portland to visit relatives further north. It was set to be a fresh fun adventure for both of us!  

When September rolled around I first spent the better part of a day driving up to Kristen’s town and then the next day we set off for Maine. We stayed at the Portland Ramada. Not #spon, obviously, but I’m mentioning it by name because it turned out to actually be a nice place to stay. It’s a small drive from the actual downtown area and is surrounded by strip malls (some of which contain some…questionable…businesses, see picture below), but it was in our price range, it was clean, the staff we interacted with were nice, the attached restaurants were surprisingly decent, and it has a large pool and a gym. (Kristen used the gym every day, so the quality of it must have been fine.)

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Yes, that is a strip club sign that says “midget wrestling.” And yes, it -was- the first thing I noticed after parking the car at the hotel, lol.

Neither of us had done very much research about the area before we set out, so after checking in we rested for a little bit and looked up local hotspots on our phones before heading into the Old Port section of downtown Portland. Several websites had recommended this area as one with a ton of little shops to poke through and restaurants to choose from. This is an area that we would accidentally keep returning to on our little walking adventures in the city throughout the weekend, but we liked it there so that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

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I fell in love outside of a tourist trap store full of nautical stuff (aka, my jam).

 

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There’s some cobblestone roads and a lot of old exposed brick all over the Old Port area.

But something that excited me a lot was the actual port itself because, as I like to put it, this bitch loves a water feature. 

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We almost had dinner at the restaurant on this big boat, but decided it was too expensive.

We had dinner at a restaurant called J’s Oyster that was very small and tucked away near the end of the pier area, but it was absolutely packed so we knew it had to be good. It had a local dive kind of feel, but not in a shady way. I had lobster because, well, not having lobster in Maine would be like not getting a bagel from a mom and pop shop if you visited New Jersey! The food was pretty good — we were overall pleased with our dinner choice.

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Having looked up more tourism stuff when we got back to the hotel, we decided that our big goal on our second day would be to go on a tour of a famous old house called Victoria Mansion. We couldn’t take pictures inside, but it was fascinating to get a look inside such an old home. Much of the house still needs restoring, but a lot of the trompe l’oeil painting on the walls was still very impressive and I loved the library.

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Kind of bland on the outside, but fascinating inside, I promise!

After that we strolled through downtown for awhile. Kristen is a book lover, so she made sure we popped into a few different independent bookstores along the way. I don’t know any of their names, but we went to several. It’s definitely a good town for supporting local business! We also stopped for some excellent potato doughnuts along the way when we accidentally wound up at the Old Port. They were more dense than regular doughnuts, but still very nice. There was quite a line in the store too — I’m not sure if they’re locally popular or popular with tourists or both, but this place is apparently a popular choice.

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Kristen in front of the doughnut shop!

We eventually found a comic shop that Kristen knew about called Coast City Comics. I don’t really feel comfortable in comic shops because I don’t know shit about comics and I feel self-conscious that the (usually all male) employees can somehow tell and are judging me. (Why should I care? I don’t know, but I do, oops.) When I found a bunch of pinball machines in the back, I was instantly at ease while Kristen browsed the comics.

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I love pinball even though I’m usually terrible at it. I loved this machine based on one of my favorite bad movies (and actually had some good luck with it)!

 

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“I love me a good theater marquee,” said the blogger who chose her college largely because of a very old neon theater marquee in the downtown area.

For dinner that night we tried the restaurant inside our hotel, partly because we had been given coupons at check in, partly because we were curious about it. It wasn’t bad, despite this weird ominous sign on the way there!

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On day three we pursued a crazy ambitious plan from a guide we found on a Portland tourism website. Maine has tons of lighthouses and apparently Portland has six(!) within easy driving distance of the city/each other. This is a separate post, because six lighthouses would be a lot to cover in this already super long write up! But here is a preview picture of Kristen looking at one of those lighthouses from afar to whet your whistle for nautical adventure. 

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After this big adventure we popped into downtown to grab lunch (in, you guessed it, the Old Port area) and then went back to the hotel to try out the pool and hot tub. I’d never been in a hot tub before and it was so hot it felt like my skin/blood were tingling! Between swimming in the pool and relaxing in the hot tub I found nearly a dozen lost hotel room keycards, lol. Dinner was lowkey — we went to the Chipotle near the hotel and picked out ice cream at the nearby grocery store.

On the way back down to Kristen’s house the next day, we stopped off in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, another waterfront New England town full of old looking brick and cute little shops. I’m probably wrong about this, but I have this general impression of New Jersey as a place that really doesn’t give a crap about most of its cool old buildings and just wants to tear them down to build luxury apartment complexes for people who work in NYC (or maybe that’s just my area?) so I’m super jealous of New England’s respect for its old stuff.

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It’s also home to a kitschy looking little diner Kristen loves called The Friendly Toast. I don’t remember what I ate and I’m a terrible millenial for not memorializing it with a photo, but I remember the food was good! 

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Photo taken by Kristen because all this cool stuff was hanging out behind me.

Once we arrived in Massachusetts I spent one final night on Kristen’s sofa. This last night of my trip is actually one of the overall highlights for me because Kristen and I went to dinner with Kristen’s sibling and another local friend that Kristen and I went to college with. I rarely get to see or talk to either of them, so hanging out with them was a real treat! We drove out to this tiny beach area nearby and had a pretty good dinner in a bar before walking across the street to get ice cream. There was fog coming in off the sea and the area was basically deserted apart from the people at the bar. We spent a good chunk of time just chatting outside, catching up and having a laugh, and I dunno, it was just really nice! It really made me wish I could see them more and hang out like that all the time. But, alas, geography. (Why do we not yet have the power of teleportation? Or at least an equivalent of the Japanese Shinkansen for the United States so I can see all the people I love more often?)

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A car that I guess just lives outside the ice cream place forever.

And that was sadly the end of my trip. The next day I had to get up and make the long drive home. As if to rub in the fact how much of a bummer it was to return to my daily life, and in contrast to my smooth ride north, I got caught in a major traffic snafu near NYC just an hour or so from home and added a whole extra hour to my trip because of it. 

Someday I will get to have fun travels again, but until then I will always have my memories of this trip to Maine with Kristen.

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When I parked in the driveway at home, I took a picture of my odometer, which I hadn’t reset for the whole trip — in all, my travel to, from, and in New England on this trip put just over 800 miles on my car!

If you want to read about our visit to six lighthouses in one day on the last full day of our trip, you can click here!

I hope you’re all doing well.

 

My Convention Essentials

Another Anime Boston has come and gone, and seeing as how this is about the point where I really started to fall off of blogging last year, I thought it might be a good time to make an attempt at starting things up here again! I do want to do a general overview post about my experiences at the convention, but first I wanted do a bit of a “What’s in my Bag?” kind of thing. I did this as a video a long time ago on my now-defunct YouTube channel, but this year was my sixth Anime Boston (I attended 2011-12, 2015, and 2017-19), and as such I’ve really distilled down what I like to have on me during a day of running around at the convention.

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This is the bag that I bring. I bought it in the Dealers’ Room on the first day of Anime Boston 2017 when the massive cross-body purse I’d brought was causing me a lot of pain and this was the most functional thing available that didn’t have Naruto or Goku’s face on it, lol. This has been a go to day trip bag for me ever since because it’s a pretty good size and is pretty sturdy, although the back is maybe not as stiff as I would like.

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This looks like a mess, but it’s organized I swear. Firstly, there’s two small pockets at the top of the back that are the perfect size for my travel wallet and my phone or iPod to slip into for quick access. I don’t like to use the outer zipper pocket for valuables because I am paranoid about getting robbed and not being able to feel it happen. Everything else in here is either big enough to sort through easily or organized into a series of pouches.

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If the weather forecast is calling for rain, I always make sure to bring an umbrella, with a plastic bag to put it into when I go inside so I can put it back in my backpack without making everything wet. The scarf in the middle is large, blanket-like, and absolutely necessary — many of the panel rooms in the Hynes Convention Center are very cold for some reason. When I start to freeze, I can whip it out, but it’s easily put away when I start walking around in the main halls again. On the right is my refillable Brita filter bottle and the plastic bag that I keep it in if I carry it in a bag because it leaks if the water tilts up to the level of the cap.

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On the left here we have my Kindle, with stickers of some of my favorite ghost Pokemon on the front that were drawn by Miski (but aren’t available anymore, sorry!). My Kindle is indispensable to me in my life, whether or not I’m traveling. I can’t read on the long bus ride to Boston because I’ll get sick, but it’s great to have around for reading while waiting for the bus, during downtime between panels, or when you’re the grandma of the group who goes back to the room early to rest and waits up for all of your friends to come back so you can spend time with them. The notebook on the right was designed by Maya Kern and has stickers on it from inki-Drop’s Starwhal Kickstarter. Honestly, I only bring it to stiffen up the inside of the backpack, but it’s also proven useful for keeping my bus tickets tidy and for holding small prints, like this one that I got from Milkbun this year. (Oh how I wish I could get away with hanging this in my cubicle at work!)

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And now finally pouches! This pouch has a bunch of miscellaneous yet important things, like aspirin, hair ties and pins (in a reused orange pill bottle!), tissues, pens, a little mirror, etc.!

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This is my technology pouch. I’ve got two portable batteries in here, the wires to connect them to my phone and iPod, and three pairs of headphones. In hindsight this is an excessive amount of headphones, especially considering I had a fourth pair hooked up to my iPod all weekend. All I can say is, one time on the bus on my way to the con I realized one of my earbuds wasn’t working. I had a spare pair with me, but they were in my suitcase in the bottom of the bus. I can only imagine that in my packing frenzy this year I went “what if that happens again, but more times?” I also don’t tend to use these batteries at all because I’m not a super phone crazy person when I have things to occupy me. So maybe next year I’ll keep one battery in this pouch and only two extra pairs of earbuds, lol.

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This pouch fits both my phone and iPod, but my phone mainly lived in the upper inner pocket of my backpack or the pocket of my skirt because I don’t use my iPod when I walk around the con. It mainly stays with me just so I don’t run the risk of losing it in the hotel room somehow. I always know where it is, and I absolutely need it for the bus because, as mentioned above, I can’t read on the bus so I need music to help me drown out the noises and sleep to pass the time, lol.

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I don’t typically play my 3DS during AB, but I do collect Streetpasses. I don’t tend to try Streetpassing in my daily life because I never go anywhere, but thanks to AB over the years I’ve got a nearly complete puzzle collection and have nearly completely beaten the free Streetpass games. This year I noticed I was getting repeat Streetpasses, which was kind of exciting and interesting to me because it means those people were also at past ABs. It’s a nice little connection to other people!

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And now for the front zipper pocket of the backpack! Which actually -is- as much of a mess as it looks, lol.

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This pocket is for things I want close at hand that aren’t particularly valuable. The only thing I would really be upset about losing is that pen because it’s a really good pen! The little white pot is full of hand cream because I’ve been having a really awful dry hands problem all winter. The fan was actually a $5 impulse purchase I made on Saturday this year when I was starting to get really sweaty walking around the Dealers’ Hall, and I’d say it was well worth it — I’ll probably bring it back again next year. This pocket is where I keep my convention badge at night so I don’t misplace it, otherwise that badge is around my neck. The badge lanyards at AB are usually an advertisement for some anime company or other, but for the past few years I’ve been swapping it out for this YuGiOh one that my friend Kristen surprised me with from New York Comic Con in 2016 right before the anniversary movie came out in English because I will forever be YuGiOh trash and I want the world to know it, lol.

The only thing not in any of these pictures that I have with me every day is related to those granola bars and it is lunch. To save money on food I buy supplies for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and make them every morning before I head out. I also get a couple of other small snacks that don’t need refrigeration, like those granola bars or little individual applesauces. When it’s time for lunch, I find a spot to sit that has good people watching (so I can admire people’s cosplays) and chow down.

So that’s all! I’ll follow this post up soon with one about things I actually did at Anime Boston, but I thought my convention survival supplies might be interesting to share in the meantime.

Until next time!
–Krys

 

Another Year Older

One day shortly before Christmas I got in the elevator at my job and in that weirdly lit mirrored space, I noticed something unusual sprouting out of the front of my hairline. I looked at myself closely in one of the mirrored walls. ‘Is that…a grey hair…?’ It was kind of hard to tell. After years of dying my hair different shades of copper, I’d dyed it brown in the fall with the aim letting my light brown/dark blonde hair grow in and not dying it anymore (or at the very least, not for a very long time). But my natural shade is cool toned and I had mistaken strands of my roots for grey in the past, so I wasn’t sure if this was an early morning hallucination or the real deal. I didn’t dwell on it too much.

But one morning a few weeks later when I stood back up after leaning over the sink to wash my face the bathroom light hit my hair a certain way and there was no mistaking it — I had a grey hair. I often hear my coworkers complaining about their grey hairs, but I felt an odd little spark of excitement. It felt like a weird validation and proof of the struggles I’ve experienced.

Plus, I was kind of hoping to develop a cool grey streak like Claire Saffitz from Bon Appetit! (If her streak is somehow not real, please do not burst my bubble, lol.)

My single grey hair showed up at quite a timely point as well, just before my 28th birthday at the end of January. Some people might feel quite bad about getting close to 30 and in some senses I do, but mainly just because I don’t feel like I’m as far along in my so-called adult life as I think I should be. (For instance, if this is your first time here, I still live with my mom.) As far as the actual process of my body aging, who gives a damn?

This year my birthday lasted for basically a whole week! The party was kicked off the Sunday before with a little gathering with my friends. We had pizza and cake and watched the bluray I bought a while ago of the Takarazuka Revue’s most recent production of the musical Elisabeth, which is based on the life of an Austrian empress popularly known as Sisi. It’s in Japanese with no English subtitles, but I know Sisi’s real life history and found translations of the songs so I was able to explain what was happening as we went along. It honestly felt like the most selfish, self indulgent thing I had ever asked from my friends (“for my birthday I want you to listen to me talk about history and this weird musical for 2.5 hours”). But my friends said they enjoyed it so that made me feel better! I wish I could post a clip, but Takarazuka have mysteriously taken all the promo clips for it down from their YouTube channel unfortunately. 

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Friendly’s grocery store ice cream cake is required birthday food, even in the dead of winter, true story!

My family’s tradition is to stick three candles in birthday cakes, so I was surprised when my friend put in eight (because I’m 28). The HAP on the cake is partly a “the cake was too small to write much” joke and also an inside joke based on our school district’s name for its Gifted and Talented program, which most of us were in back in the day. (Aka: most of us have some kind of self-esteem issue because of it, lol.)

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My cubicle is right next to this little snack area. Please do not ask how many doughnuts I ate on this day.

My birthday continued into my work week. My office has six people born in January so the other secretaries decided to combine mine with someone born the previous week — they set it on Monday to kind of split the difference between me and the other birthday person. Whenever it’s someone’s birthday people bring in snacks to share, and we had a pretty nice spread! It’s Valentine’s season, so the the doughnuts were heart shaped, which I thought was really cute!

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My office is a fan of Bavarian creme doughnuts if you can’t tell from the fact that four are in this box (and I think there were even more before I snapped this).

My coworkers jokingly wished me happy birthday until my actual birthday rolled around on Thursday. And our newest secretary gave me a little gift!  No one’s ever given me a gift for my birthday at work before. She only started at the beginning of January and we really don’t know each other well yet, so this little angel coin was a sweet surprise. I’m not really religious, but I can appreciate the vibe of something like this.

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Thursday was my actual birthday. Often in the past my family winds up having pizza or something at home on the person’s actual birthday and then all the same people go out to dinner on Friday evening. But this year I told my mom I didn’t want that. I said that we only needed to celebrate my birthday once, because it would be back to back and also because it just makes me feel a little weird to be the center of prolonged attention. Maybe it’s a middle child thing? So anyway, I didn’t expect much of anything on my actual birthday, but my mom made macaroni and cheese and a cherry crumble and it was very nice.

Also on my birthday my goods from inki-drop’s Starwhal Kickstarter unexpectedly arrived! It was kind of like a gift from the universe. Everything is very cute, and the soft things (Mama Starwhal and the pouch) are exceptionally soft! I’ve already incorporated the pins into my pin frames!

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This is a pouch that a whole PS Vita can fit inside!

So then on Friday, to wrap up my birthday week, we went out to our favorite local Italian restaurant. My aunt stopped by our house beforehand and lemme tell ya, she is the queen of birthday cards. She always finds the loudest, most hilarious ones. 

She also gives scratchcards to everyone on their birthdays and on my birthday last year I became the family record holder, winning $40. This year all I got was a new ticket.

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I have a funny story from dinner that I already shared on my Twitter, but I want to immortalize it here as well. The restaurant was having two parties that night, so they put us in this upstairs room that allows them to do regular dinner service for people when they’re also having multiple parties. We had just ordered and were chatting when suddenly from downstairs came the sound of bagpipes! It only lasted about a minute and stopped as abruptly as it had started. My family naturally burst into laughter and started joking about how they should have the piper come up and play me happy birthday! We asked our waitress what was happening and it turned out it was a police officer’s retirement party. Regardless, it’s a birthday memory that I’m unlikely to forget, lol!

I was lucky to receive some neat gifts from my friends and family (tabletop games! a Dragon Age lore book! a cute reusable shopping bag, Pusheen magnets, and a book about pins! and more!). I’d like to close this post off by sharing a just one gift photo — I present to you, a ceramic Harry Potter goblet!

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One might jokingly refer to this as a pimp cup, lol. This was a find of my aunt’s. I could probably use it for drinking, but I’m too afraid to break it. The dragon makes displaying anything inside of it kind of awkward. I tried to put a small Ron plush I have inside and it just didn’t work. But in the alternate universe where I make enough money to move out on my own, I think this could be good for placing next to the door so I can put my keys in it! For now, I’m displaying it on top of my dresser.

And that’s all I have to say about my birthday week!

I hope you’re all doing well. I’ll be back with another post soon!

Pin Display Project

I like decorative pins — artists all over the internet are making really great designs! But I always worry that if I attach them to a jacket or bag they’ll fall off and I’ll lose them forever. If you saw my Desk Tour post, then you’ll know I found a solution for that! It was very simple — nothing more than an embroidery hoop and a piece of cloth.

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I don’t know the artists for all of these, but I’ll have links to all the pins I do know at the end of this post!

However, this first attempt was far from perfect. I cut the fabric quite short around the back so it wouldn’t show at the front, but I don’t own a hot glue gun, so it wasn’t terribly secure. Adding or removing pins would cause the fabric to shift or lose tension. I do have a friend with a hot glue gun and I always meant to fix this up, and also make more hoops, but I kept forgetting. Until recently!

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Awhile ago I got two new hoops at a craft chain called Michaels (the little one and the biggest one). The fabric I picked up at Walmart. The label on each bit of fabric (the colors were sold separately) said they were “fat quarters” which makes me giggle for some reason. Apart from a hot glue gun, to make these you’ll also need some nice sharp scissors and maybe some string depending on how you plan on hanging them. And also some kind of flat piece to press the fabric into the hot glue — I used a disposable chopstick for this.

I don’t have any progress pictures because I needed both hands to work on these and I didn’t want to ask my friend to stop playing Dragon Age, because it is a very important game that we both love, lol. But here are the steps of my process:

  • Load the fabric in between the two parts of the hoop and tighten the screw at the top so the fabric is taut.
  • Cut the fabric short until it is close to the hoop, but still long enough to tuck around inside. (You could also measure the fabric around the hoop and cut it before putting the fabric in, but I couldn’t be bothered.)
  • Apply hot glue to the hoop, going little by little, and press the fabric into it somehow (fingers are not recommended for obvious reasons).
  • Optional: loop a string around the screw at the top to help you hang it. I discovered when I was taking photos for this post that my hoops will fit over my hook of choice without string, which I didn’t realize with my first hoop. (For the record, I’m obsessed with all things Command Strips/Hooks for hanging things in my room.)
  • Ta-da! You’re done!

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To be honest, my hoops are kind of a mess inside. I didn’t cut the fabric very carefully — I probably could have cut it closer so it would lay flatter.

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This excess fabric/my sloppy mess is super visible in the yellow hoop (which formerly held the gray fabric, hence the string). On the darker colors this doesn’t show much or at all. So maybe I wouldn’t recommend light colors for this if you’re not prepared to be super precise, but the fabric I bought is also cheap/thin so if you had thicker cloth you might also be able to get away with a light color. My friend suggested getting some nice beads and gluing them around the edge so you can’t see the ugliness.

My only other regret with this project is that I didn’t take better care lining up the creases in the fabric. (Because, let’s be honest, who is going to iron the fabric for a little project like this?) If I make more of these, I’ll do a better job at lining the creases up horizontally or vertically, because looking at the crooked creases kind of irritates me. But again, this is something that shows less on darker fabric.

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I haven’t entirely decided which pins of mine are going on which hoop, but I know I want to bring the little one to my cubicle at work. The big polka dot one will hang in my room, and I can expand to the yellow one once I fix it up/need more pin space.

I’m very excited to collect more pins now! Are there any artists you recommend? And if you have any questions about this project, please let me know.

Pins Featured In This Post (That I Know The Source Of):

 

Once upon a time…

Once upon a time there was a female who felt herself to be (in the words of the immortal Ms. Spears) not a girl, not yet a woman. After all, on the cusp of 28 years old she was well past her girlhood and probably didn’t even qualify as a young woman anymore. But for a number of reasons she could not escape her family home and live a life with full adult responsibilities and therefore often felt like a child. (Although, for the record, she was very thankful that her family home was a pleasant place to live. Just wanna put that out there.)

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Additionally, there were aspects of her personality that occasionally made her feel childish. For instance, she would much rather stay in and play a video game than go out into the world and make connections that could perhaps advance her adult life. She had no long term goals besides “be happy and be able to support myself” which really was getting in the way of finding a job that would help her achieve those goals, as she had no firm direction to point herself in. When she reached her point of ultimate frustration, her body’s reaction was to cry (and then to cry more out of embarrassment for having cried).

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However, her greatest problem was that she had very little discipline. This can be traced back to her years in college. After spending high school driving herself crazy to get good grades in her full course load of high level classes, she very quickly noticed that she had enrolled in a college that was perhaps slightly too easy for her. She realized that she could do the bare minimum and still get good grades, and so that is what she did (while somehow still managing to graduate a semester early). By the time she left the mountains to return home to the land of Jersey, her discipline had fluttered away on a breeze.

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She turned her attention to various endeavors as she started her adult life, but she had lost her ability to follow through when it was not required by an employer. She took up the ukulele and wrote a handful of songs that were well received by people she knew, but when her inspiration fled, so to did her relationship with her ukulele. She bought a beautiful blue guitar and attended lessons, but when her teacher left the community center she let the guitar sit in the corner because there was no outside force compelling her to practice. There was a watercolor kit that she’d purchased after watching a few videos that had been barely touched. She couldn’t get herself to stick to an exercise regimen even though her overweight body begged her to by developing hypertension. There was a box of video games in her room that had been started, but never finished.

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Then there was the whole slew of internet videos, over 100 of them, made over the course of many years. YouTube was her most successful attempt at keeping up with a hobby long term. She occasionally took breaks for months at a time, but always returned. Until one day it hit her that she did not want to go back. There wasn’t any particular reason, she just somehow lost interest in creating online videos (although she did still spend an inordinate amount of time watching online videos instead of doing any of the things mentioned in the last two paragraphs).

If she was being really honest with herself, in most of the things she tried she grew to feel she was hopelessly mediocre and would never be good or worth notice no matter how much effort she put in, so why should she even bother?

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But just because she had given up on talking to a camera did not mean that she never wanted to talk to anyone about her more long-winded thoughts on the internet ever again. The internet can give the impression that we are meant to share everything about our lives, and while she knew that many aspects of her life were probably too dull to share, she still wanted to share some things. So she started a blog. She could have kept a physical journal, but the notion that someone might read her words and interact with her because of them excited her. She had made some quality internet friends on YouTube and thought that once she got going she might make some blogging friends as well.

She plugged away at her blog, dedicating time to make sure there would be a new post each week. While she didn’t make any new friends, she did feel herself to be free to talk about topics that she never felt alright talking about on YouTube. She finally unburdened herself regarding a few heavy stories from her life and was more open and raw about her mental health than she’d ever been before. She had friends and family to talk about these things with, but she could be clearer and take her time composing her thoughts. Somehow it was easier to write everything down instead of having to use her actual voice. It was freeing.

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But then, the inevitable happened. After taking a week off to go on a trip, her posting became more irregular and ultimately ceased entirely. Her main excuse at the time that she stopped was “it’s too hot to sit at my laptop for hours during the summer to put these posts together” and she swore she’d return in the fall. But autumn came and went and winter began and still she had not really posted anything, besides a post saying that she would be posting again soon that had actually been posted quite some time ago.

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The blog tugged at the back of her mind, but she was nervous about returning. She realized that was scared that she had nothing new left to say after all of the YouTube videos and blog posts she had already made. Nothing interesting anyway. But she wanted to write. So just after the new year started she put Google Docs on her phone so she could work on the same documents both at her desk and away from it and she started typing away. She wasn’t sure if it was any good, or if she would even be consistent about it, but she very badly wanted to be. She wanted to prove to herself that she could follow through, even if she felt like a worthless mediocrity while doing it.

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It was a new year, a new start, a new chance to do and be better. Hopefully this time something would stick.

[All images are from my collection of photos/YouTube thumbnails that I’ve taken over the years.]

Blog-a-versary!

Hello, all! It’s been a loooong while, hasn’t it?

If you thought I had given up on this blog, you thought wrong. It’s just that this summer has been A Time. By the end of it, I was referring to it as a cursed summer, because it seemed like less than ideal things were happening not only to me, but to everyone around me.

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Pictures in this post are all from a walk in a wooded place in my area last fall that I never used for anything!

For instance, just as I was beginning to feel confident in my new position, I had to cover our calendar for a week because of a near death in someone’s family, which always puts me in a bad headspace. (Why are people so fucking rude??)

My doctor put me on a low dose of a diuretic at the end of July because my blood pressure finally went from borderline bad to actually bad. Needless to say this made me feel like shit mentally, but I didn’t have time to worry about that because the day after that appointment, one of my close friends experienced a major medical emergency.

Thankfully they survived it, and while they could’ve suffered major losses of mental or bodily function, they did not. They were home by the end of August, but that month was full of a lot of hospital visits and anxiety and trying to take my mind off of that anxiety by driving through the desert in GTA Online. (My friend is doing relatively well most days now, although they still have a lot of healing to do at home.)

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A relatively minor gripe, all things considered, is that we had kind of crummy weather on a lot of the weekends, so I couldn’t get down the shore at all.

However, the biggest thing that always keeps me away from computers after work in the summer is the heat. Even in my YouTube days, I was always less active in the summer. I’ve spent the past two summers getting by with just a big fan in my room, without putting an air conditioner into the window. The only thing I want to do when I get home on a hot summer day is sit myself right in front of the fan doing something that requires minimal energy (like reading or, again, video games) until it is time to flop my whole body down in front of the fan so I can go to sleep. The cord for the fan isn’t long enough to reach that close to my desk, and if I plug another thing into the ancient powerstrip at my feet, I’m sure it will catch on fire, lol. As a result of all of that, sitting at my desk is too sweaty to tolerate during the summer.

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But! Now that the weather is cooling down and life is becoming calm, I am ready to make my return. I’m not ready for a full return just yet — I want to prep at least two blog posts first, to give me a head start on a regular schedule. You can look forward to posts about Flame Con! The New York Renaissance Faire! Portland, Maine! And much more!

However, I noticed that my first blog-a-versary just passed, so I wanted to throw up a quick post to say hey, let y’all know why I dropped off the map, and to thank you if you’re still willing to read my stuff after I disappeared without warning.

Throughout my life I’ve tried to keep many different diaries, and then blogs once the internet came along. I always lost interest in them very shortly, but I’m somehow still interested in writing here after a whole year has passed, and I intend to keep on doing so for quite awhile.

See you soon (for real!),
Krys

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