Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Intimidation Crab & Other Survival Strategies

Content Warning: panic attacks

****

I know a lot of you left Facebook to ditch the drama - which I get, believe me - but posts like this from Daya over in FoE are often my little lifelines of sanity:

:D

The comments, of course, did not disappoint:


... and some days you just need this kind of silliness to combat, you know... ::gestures weakly at everything::

I don't have any news yet from my mammogram the other week, and as with most scary things, the waiting is the hardest part. Or at least, I hope the waiting is the hardest.

 I did the unhealthy thing, though: I tried to bottle up my anxiety, pretend everything was fine. Then the more I pretended, the more scared I got. Within a few days I was stuck in a panic loop, unable to think about anything but my own looming death, pain, and regrets. It was irrational, but also as real as my constantly sweating palms.

Anything mentionable is manageable. I love that lesson from Mr. Rogers and try to live by it, but I forgot it this time, beloved. Instead of mentioning it, instead of dragging my nasty little fear gremlin into the light, I hid it from John and my friends. I built walls around it. I guarded it. And so it grew.

It was only a few days before I fell apart. Blind panic, full body shakes, and finally, mercifully, a loud and messy confessional sobbed into John's shoulder. It was the scariest 24 hours I've had in years; I still feel the dread rippling forward from it now.

And yet, within an hour of pouring out my secret, I felt so much better. Talking about how scared I was made the fear gremlin shrink. Suddenly I remembered how treatable all these things we're testing for are, how it's good to check things early, and how unlikely it is that we'll find something doomsday-level in the first place. After so much certain despair, I felt a shaky ray of hope.

The next day, all heck broke loose again online.

As the internet exploded in a fresh wave of conflict, I had to go into survival mode. I know some of you are up for the fight, and others are like me: already panicked and broken even before this latest tipping point. So I thought I'd share 5 things I've been doing this week for my mental health. Maybe something here will help some of you who are barely hanging on, too.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Mammo-Mia! I Got My First Mammogram!

NOTE: There be bewbs ahead! Maybe save this one for after work.


*****

I don't know about you, fellow anxiety warriors, but for me any new body pain sends my brain sprinting towards Worse Case Scenario Valley. So of course when my left armpit and arm gave the slightest of aches the other week, it was RED ALERT ALL HANDS ON PANIC.

You might recall I have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: a pinched nerve in the clavicle area that causes arm and hand numbness and pain. You might also remember my left arm is worse than my right. After months of treatment the numbness is mostly gone, but I still get occasional aches. So, logically, that is the likely culprit.

Does my panicky lizard brain appreciate logic, though?

Ooooof course not.

Adding to the freshly whipped panic smoothie was that we recently adjusted some of my hormone meds, so for the first time in ages, my tracts of land kinda hurt. I am not used to this. I do not like it.

I'd had a breast ultrasound last year, but never an actual mammogram. Like a lot of you with upper acreage, the idea of a mammogram scared the crap out of me. I'd heard the horror stories, and even watched my mom get the squeeze when I was a teenager. Mom has an insanely high pain tolerance, so she barely flinched, but seeing her boobs smashed that flat was traumatizing, ok?


Noooo, second-hand flashbacks...

That said, pain and panic are powerful motivators, and lucky for me a routine mammogram is one of the few medical things here in Orlando that doesn't have a months-long wait. Our imaging clinic had a spot for me in two days, and not only that, they had me in, scanned, and out in under 20 minutes.

Better still, I am relieved and delighted to report IT DIDN'T HURT, y'all. It really didn't! I was still waiting for the "real" pressure to start when the tech said we were done with the first scan. We did three compressions on each side (I assume because it was my first mammo) and each felt like a firm hug between plastic plates, no more, even on my already-tender poofs. I have a low pain tolerance, but I only felt a single uncomfortable pinch during one pass, which I think was more the top plate snagging too much chest skin than the actual squeeze.

Since then I've discovered the reason for my less painful experience may have been the machine. My clinic uses a 3D mammography machine, something not every lab has yet. Our moms had the older 2D machines, and if you remember a super smashy mammogram, it's possible that's what you had, too.

Both 2D and 3D machines look similar, but the 3D ones move in a half circle over you during the scan:


According to everything I'm seeing online these are superior to the 2D scans, with more angles and better imaging, less compressions, and fewer false-positives. They're also better for dense tissue, a plus since that runs in my family.

The older 2D machines are static, and do NOT move during the scan. So if you don't remember the machine moving on its own, then you had a 2D mammogram.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Why Disney's "The Owl House" Is A Hoot, And You Should Totally Watch It



Sure we have new seasons of Stranger Things and Obi-Wan to watch, but what if you're not in the mood for bone-crunching or a gritty Space Western?

That's been my dilemma; lately I've been craving something light and fluffy. I like to laugh, and John and I already binged the latest season of The Floor is Lava - which I HIGHLY recommend - during our lunch hour. (It's a hilarious game show, you can see my season one review here.)

We just started Ms. Marvel, which I'm really enjoying, but even that I want to space out with something lighter. Something easy to watch when my brain is fried and my heart is heavy.

Then I remembered this amazing cosplayer from last HolMat:


She told me she was Edalyn from the series "Owl House," and IMO any show with a staff that gorgeous deserves a watch. So this past month I finally started the series on Disney Plus, and ahhhh. This is what I've been looking for!


The premise may sound a little generic: a human stumbles into a magical world, makes friends, discovers her own magic, defeats monsters, etc. BUT. Give it three episodes, and I think you'll fall in love like I did.

Still not convinced? Would a Top Ten list help? Because I happen to have one RIGHT HERE.

:D

My Top Ten Reasons You Should Watch The Owl House:

1) It's funny, and has a huge heart

Again, give it a few episodes, because this wacky cast of characters will quickly fly, crawl, and bird-worm their ways into your heart.

2) It's not TOO cutesy

There's a bizarreness to the animation style and monsters, some gross moments, and plenty of raw chaotic energy that keep Owl House from being all sweetness and fluff like, say, Hilda. (Which I adore, so zero shade there.) 


The school bell gives a full-throated scream instead of ringing, and it makes me laugh every. dang. time.

3) Luz is the hero we all want to be


Luz is spunky, kind, and brave - almost to a fault. This may be my own anxiety talking, but I love her self-confidence, how she runs toward every dangerous challenge. In this show she does all the rescuing, and that fills me up in a way I can't quite explain. Just... happy. 

4) Eda the Owl Lady


Voiced by the incredible Wendie Malick, Eda is the eccentric rebel granny we all wish we had. She doesn't give a hoot what anyone thinks, and despite being the most powerful witch of the Boiling Isles, she digs through trash for a living, and loves it.

Also Eda's back story is SO GOOD, y'all. Gah. Completely sucked me in. I like how the mystery builds, weaves in more characters, and raises the stakes through season one.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Zip-Tie Tiaras & A Fancy Photoshoot


John and I've been hosting Craft Night since February of 2021, back when we had to limit it to our tiny "bubble" and we were all still wearing masks.



We made sock gnomes that first time. Remember John's Worf & Ursula gnomes?

By June the masks were off and John was making dinner for up to 10 of us at a time. On our non-craft weeks we hosted Movie Night, so every single Friday John and I've had our home open for folks to come and eat, socialize, or just sit in the same space as other humans for a while.






The weeks go by so fast, though, that I have a growing pile of Craft Night projects you haven't seen.

::grin::

More on that in a sec.

It's been a fun challenge finding budget-friendly group crafts each time, but more than that, hosting each week has been amazing for my mental health. Most of the time we only have 5-6 people, so it's not too overwhelming, and our regulars have become like family. You know that comfort level where you raid a friend's fridge, or show up straight from work with a change of jammies in your bag? That's us. And it's wonderful.



Even the weeks I don't feel like hosting - which is often, if I'm honest - I never regret Craft Night after the fact. It never fails to lift me up and reset a blah mood.

What I'm saying is, you should totally try this.

Seriously, find something simple - even coloring pages! - and invite a few friends over. That's it. Boom. You're hosting craft night.

If you don't know many people to invite, then let your friends bring friends! That's how I've met some super cool people. We now have a rotating group of 20+ folks who show up when they can, which keeps the group fresh and fun.

I'm not just here to sing the praises of craft night, though. Today I finally got around to photographing on one of our DIYs from, let's see... ::looks at date::... egadz, last September?!

Quick, let me distract you from my procrastination with pretty pictures:



Not only did we make zip-tie tiaras one week, we also spent the next week doing an over-the-top photo shoot with them. This is Arielle in her jaw-dropping red-and-gold creation. Love that dangly chain on the forehead!

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Dragon Bubbles, Swamp Fey, & the Crock Ness Monster

Happy Tuesday, witches and litches! Anyone's week going like this?

That face, bahaha.

This is an older piece from artist Kosal, but still one of my favorites. Hopefully your week has less flaming disasters in it.

Mine's been relatively disaster free, but with all this blasting Florida heat and humidity, all I want right now are cool Halloween vibes.


Plus I'm always here for stubby unicorns and pumpkin kids in hoodies.

Not Halloween, exactly, but this reminds me of the girl from The Ring - which makes the rubber duckies that much better:


Ooh, there's a great theme: horror movie characters at home. I know someone's done that somewhere.

Check out Kosal's Instagram for more.

*****

Loish brought us straight FIRE this week:

Daaang.

This may be my favorite in a long list of Loish favorites. The smokey flames, the billowing hair, the thoughtful expression... it's like she's considering what to burn down next.

Anyone else identifying with that?

Orrrr maybe that's too deep for an art roundup. Heh. Aheh.

;)

Also loving the spooky fey vibes in this one:


Loish always has the dreamiest saturated colors, check out this underlighting:

Beauty with a tinge of danger. Yasss. Be sure to follow Loish on IG for more.

***


Michael Weidenfelder of Saint Mondays won me over with his ghostly 3D portraits:

Friday, June 10, 2022

Let's Go Shopping At Disney World's Clearance Outlet!

::Screeches up in convertible::

::honks::

Awww yeeeeah.

John and I finally returned to our favorite Disney bargain spot, and you're coming with us!



You've heard me rave about this place before; the Character Warehouse is WDW's clearance outlet, and has two locations within easy driving distance of the parks. Most of what you find here is at least 50% off, with off-season or discontinued items edging up to even steeper discounts.

So let's dive in!

We started on a high note, because right inside the doors were the Jerrod Maruyama succulent planters I've been wanting for AGES, marked down from $30 to just $10.

EEEEEE! I couldn't grab one fast enough. (In fact I grabbed two, so one of you can win one later.)

There were also stacks of the Dumbo planters, same price:


Full disclosure, I took these photos two weeks ago, but I've seen more recent updates that show these are still in stock.


Me: "Hang on, why is Disney selling plushies of Worf?"

Also me, 2 seconds later: "Oh."

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

MegaCon Orlando 2022: Final Cosplay Batch & Videos

Hi, friend!

I've been stretching out my MegaCon posts here since they've been filling me with much-needed nerdy joy the past few weeks - I hope they've done the same for you.

So let's jump back in with my final batch of favorite cosplays in our big Saturday video:


That Yzma Mando, y'all. I was howling. And the two-sided Wanda? And the rancor puppet? Sooo goooood.

Remembering all this joy and silliness has been a life-line when I had shut off the news and even social media for a couple days, just to heal up my soul a bit, get my mental health in order.


I find people in the abstract - or in the news -  can make me lose faith in humanity, but people in reality give me hope. That's what cons are, at their best: a reminder that there's still love and celebration and community out there.

 Every time I get to laugh and play and lock eyeballs with people being themselves out loud, I know we're - eventually - going to be ok.


Just look at the characters that inspire us!



And the way the next generation looks to us:

Friday, June 3, 2022

AdoraDroids, Sonny Eclipse, & The Sweetest Snakey Hair Tie

Happy Friday, droids and Noids!
(That's a deep cut for you 90s kids.)


I want to show you the prettiest vendor booth in all of MegaCon:

The appropriately named AdoraDroids.

Renee Miller customizes real droids from Disney's Galaxy's Edge, giving them sweet new paint jobs, accessories, and the most swoon-worthy "dock stations" that surround them with lush florals.



Best of all the, the droids are still completely functional and removable from their docks! Renee turns a novelty item you might only use a few times into a stunning art display, something you'll want to have out and enjoy forever. Needless to say, I am a HUGE fan.

Be sure to follow AdoraDroids over on Instagram and TikTok, where Renee posts cute droid videos like this:

My heart. How are you supposed to pick just one favorite?


Next I have a shop for my fellow theme park history fans:

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

My Top Ten Moments From Star Wars Celebration 2022

For those of you who haven't been obsessively stalking the Celebration coverage all weekend, here come my top ten moments I've found from fans and cosplayers:

1) This Bantha distributing swag:

(Cosplay by @LisaMeiLingFong)

Aaaand now I need to cosplay something with a giant tongue.


2) Literally everyone doing the Spider-Man meme:






They're all pointing different directions and I'm not laugh-crying you're laugh-crying.


3) Tusken Raiders of the Lost Ark



The C3PO statue! The staff! And could that be a Sallah-cious Crumb?


4) The famous "Running of the Hoods":

Friday, May 27, 2022

Boba Vet's Debut At MegaCon!


I've been told Epbot is a welcome break from the world and the news on weeks like this: a spot to soak up some nerdy joy, even for just a few minutes. I want this to be that place for you, and I also want you to know I am just as shattered and angry as you are.  Epbot is my One Thing: how I keep moving, how I defiantly offer hope and community when the world seems most divided. I'm not hiding my eyes or turning away, but I will be here with my silly posts, my affirmations that you are loved, and my reminders that we are family, anytime you need them.

::hugs::

*****

With Star Wars Celebration happening this weekend in California, I thought it'd be a good time to officially unveil John's long-delayed Star Wars cosplay, which we carted out last Friday at MegaCon.

Let's start with a ridiculously dramatic video:



Awwww yeeeeeeeeeah.



Who remembers this?


Yep, MORE puns. It's who we are.


We did a quick test run of Boba Vet last year, but had to shelve him the rest of the season due to Covid. These critters have been waiting a long time to come out and play, and one in particular was easily distracted:

I shall dub her Dotty. Dotty the Dianoga.

I forgot to take any pictures from the back, so here's a reminder of what the tank looks like:




If you've been here a while you might remember we began building all this last July, and then how I beat-up Salacious Crumb, with no regrets:

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

WE'RE HOME: MegaCon Orlando 2022


WHEW.

Y'all.

What a weekend.

For our first convention of 2022 John and I dove in head-first with Florida's largest, the appropriately named MegaCon. To give you an idea, Mega is bigger than even Dragon Con, hitting 100K attendees several years ago and growing steadily up 'til Covid. This year they came back strong and broke all records with 140,000 attendees - and more than 70,000 of those on Saturday alone. It's big. It's overwhelming. And once you navigate the hours of traffic gridlock and parking nightmares to get inside, it. is. GLORIOUS.






The calm before the storm.

John and I attended all 4 days as Press, and we set a goal of filming, editing, and uploading a new cosplay video to YouTube every night. It's a massive amount of work for four days in a row - we both get very little sleep - but also SO DANG FUN. The cosplay, merch, and crowds were all off the charts, and I never wanted it to end.



In between filming for YouTube I also captured lots of photos and video for my Stories on Instagram/FB, which some of you have been following. Plus on Friday we delayed filming for a few hours so John could officially bring out Boba Vet to play:

Friday, May 20, 2022

Our Jungle Cruise Scavenger Hunt: Video Tour & How To Make Your Own!

Happy Friday, my boop-able bumbersnoots!

Now I know, I know, it seems like this party will NEVER END.

This is it, though, the last big reveal from our Jungle Cruise pun party! And I hope you'll steal some of these ideas, because they're a hoot.

 So, owl you ready to go on the hunt?

John and I spent the last several days making this video, so hopefully you can feel like you're here with the rest of our friends:



(Can you tell I picked the music? :D)

This is a fairly simple scavenger hunt, and most of it you can recreate yourself with only a few props and purchases. So c'mon, lemme walk you through it clue-by-clue, and show you how!


1) My favorite punny prop is definitely the butterfly display. This one is the most subtle, so it's easy to walk by without noticing what's tucked in the flowers:


Just a pretty little floral arrangement on this side, AND THEN:



I made this with a charger plate we already had, some old florals stuck in pink foam, and a plastic cloche cover from Dollar Tree. You can use an existing flower arrangement, though, and just add the butter.

The stick of butter is pink insulation foam that John stacked, painted, and wrapped in a (cleaned) butter wrapper.


 
It's surprisingly satisfying holding a fake stick of butter in your hand, y'all. As my friend Kristi wisely said, "You know someone is friend material if they're impressed with your fake stick of butter."

(I told John we need to make a bunch of these and sneak them into friends' fridges when we visit, for maximum harmless chaos.)

For the final touch I added paper butterfly wings to the stick of butter. Seriously, these magnetic butterflies have neverending uses.



2) The Jungle "paradise" cost $10 from Amazon, come in lots of colors, and have plastic dots that are easy to write on with pencil:

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Eurovision 2022: Our Costumes, Food, & Favorites!


We interrupt this overload of Jungle Cruise party posts to bring you... another party post.

But this party is for Eurovision, so it's less punny.



You might remember I watched my first Eurovision ever last year, and how I was instantly hooked. "Song contest" doesn't come close to describing this experience. It's more like a candy-coated rave that bounces from soulful ballads in spinning laser-light sets to psychedelic polka rap and dancers in foil astronaut suits.

That was a fun sentence to write.

Happily our same friends streamed the finale again this year, and made it more of an event by inviting more people and asking us all to dress up, plus bring fun European foods to try.

John and I hit up our local thrift store for something appropriately fabulous, and this jacket immediately threw itself into my cart:



YESSSS.

A few aisles over I found a hot pink tulle skirt to complete the look:



Unfortunately we couldn't find anything nearly as interesting for John, so he spent the night before making his own outfit. Here's a peak at his prop:



Full reveal of John's costume right after these car selfies of my big hair:


I also tried some stuff with my eyeliner.
 
I really struggled with these photos 'til I realized trying to keep my eyes open when I smile makes me look distant or annoyed. Finally I said, "screw it," smiled like I meant it, and got a picture I actually like:


Yep, here for the happy squinty eyes! And also dino necklaces, because dino necklaces are cool.

Now. Who's ready to see John's Eurovision ensemble?