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:


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.


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.


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:


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::


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: