Cyborg & Wonder Woman Are On A Cereal Box: Why It Matters

Honey Nut Cheerios with DC Comics

Breakfast of diverse superheroes?

At the grocery store with my 9-year old this weekend, we scanned the aisle for cereal and she exclaimed, “this comes with a free comic!” Part of me was as delighted at the thought of a free comic as my child, but the other part, the responsible-Mom one, was saying I shouldn’t make a food choice based on product placement. (There is always an exception though, like when I had to buy cereal for the free Star Wars pen!) My ultra-picky kid actually likes Honey Nut Cheerios, and it’s one of healthier choices in the cereal aisle, so we bought them. Yay free comics!

I really didn’t need another reason to appreciate the Cheerios brand, but I now have a couple more. This morning, we opened the box of cereal, my daughter inspecting the box and finding her free comic inside. She gleefully pointed out Wonder Woman on the front and then Cyborg on the back, adding: “See? This is what he looks like for real.” She recently has become obsessed with Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans Go! show and Cyborg in particular. She read her Walking on Fire comic, featuring Cyborg as the main character, while eating her breakfast. Not a bad way to start a school day; she was quite happy.
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We Three

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It’s nearly Tuesday, but I’m going to treat this like a Microblog (it’s technically still Monday so…). My mother turned 70 recently and the girls and I painted this series for her. We chose the same colors for the background and picked the sea creatures we wanted to paint. I think we did an amazing job. I’m constantly impressed at the creativity and talents my two daughters possess. To be a witness as they blossom and grow continues to be the highest honor.

They are away visiting family and return in a couple of days. Time and space away is good for any relationship. There are outside stresses that have made this distance quite difficult at times. I know we’ll all be glad to be back together again. This triad of canvasses reminds me so much of us. We are all unique and different, we are our own, independent beings, yet when placed together, we flow beautifully.

I have so much to write about. Some time to myself helped nourish my creativity, as well as provide me with free time for some fun and to do some much-needed organizing. I do plan to be back here more regularly. I’ve been writing about cool things over at Nerdy But Flirty, check it out!

Homeschooling on the LAM: And here we go…

Our version of homeschooling, basically.

Our version of homeschooling, basically.

We dove into homeschooling this week. We being my 14-year old and I. It was a week of creating lesson plans on the fly when a book didn’t arrive in time or a program we thought would be great wasn’t. We discovered many resources. It makes me applaud those brave parents who homeschooled before the internet was overflowing with lesson plans and curriculum ideas! There literally are more ideas and help out there than I ever imagined.

We tried Time4Learning a bit today, but most of the week was work I created. I was impressed with my daughter’s response; she was focused (something she’s been challenged by as of late) and dedicated. She’s always been an eager learner and curious about the world. Life circumstances brought us here, but she was already a prime candidate for homeschooling. We are both happy about it.

I thought I’d be more nervous. At times, I felt a little, “wait, what have I signed up for?” Truly though, as we worked through the week, it all seemed so natural. She was happier and healthier, I discovered an abundance of support, and we just hit a smooth flow within a few minutes of saying on Tuesday morning, “okay, time to learn.”

I’m still contemplating a separate home for these posts. If it ends up I have extra time (ha, good one!) and am able to dedicate that to sharing my resources, tips, and lesson plans, I will do that elsewhere. Otherwise, and for now, I’ll be sharing our journey here from time to time. Taking on this challenge has reminded me of how capable I am, and that following my instincts as a mother has never failed us.

I have thoughts on my decision, the reactions of others, homeschooling as a single mom, on the public school system, and so much more. If these first couple of days are any indicator, the political and personal reflections will be plenty. For now, I’m tired and can think only of my pillow! I head to bed with a huge sense of relief. We not only survived the first week, we rocked it. I know we’ll face challenges and bumps along the way (hell, we had a few this week!), but I really feel this is what we should be doing now and there is a great peace in that.

I’m A Writer, A Real Freaking Writer!

I did it. I jumped. Well, dove head first without checking to see if there was 20 feet of water or a puddle below. I first learned about NaNoWriMo years ago and thought what a massive project that was. Why would anyone want to torture themselves like that? And yet, here I am.

In the past several years, nearly all my writing has been non-fiction. The thought of writing fiction felt too difficult and too time-consuming. It’s just so free and full of possibility–how frightening. Then I did fictional writing for video game narratives a couple of years ago. That was fun. Maybe I could attempt some fiction. But a novel? An actual book, like that may one day be read by an agent and an editor and then published and I could call myself an author and have fancy book signings and my book would sit on shelves in libraries and be bought by people at The Strand and… As exciting as that sounded, I was quite sure it was something I was not capable of. I mean, books are magical, authors are legends. As I found myself spending more time with writers, it helped me realize that they are actually human beings. They have faults like me. Some have faults that are way worse than mine even. Those names on my bookshelves are not the gods I’ve made them out to be in my head. So maybe, just maybe, I could write a novel.

In the past year, I’ve been working on a collection of personal essays. Most are still in progress. Many are stories I’m afraid to tell. I get to them when I have time, and when I’m feeling particularly brave. There is one I’ve been wanting to tell for years. I’m not sure the moment I decided I needed to tell this story, but it’s been at least 10 years. I began writing a personal essay about it, and I had so much to tell I realized an essay could never contain all of my story.

After BinderCon, I was full of vigor, inspired to write and write and write. I felt capable and brave. I was ready to rip off the chains that have held me back and fearlessly put myself out there. I’ve been submitting to publications and reaching out to editors. I’ve been doing it. I saw NaNoWriMo come across my Twitter timeline about two weeks before November 1st. I decided to at least check out the website, for future reference. A few minutes later, I found myself signing up for it. I kept it to myself for a few days. I felt embarrassed. Who was I to write a novel? What a fraud. I am not a real writer.

I’d had these same feelings a few weeks earlier at BinderCon. I nearly convinced myself to skip the speed pitches with the editors. I told myself I had no talent, I was not a real writer, and I was wasting their time. I had no business being there and my pitches were awful. I worked for a while the night before, tweaking my pitches, choosing some writing samples, and freaking the fuck out. I finished up and was still considering my options. I could cancel now and let the BinderCon organizers know so they could open up my appointments to others. That would be a nice thing to do. I imagined myself telling everyone I felt a little ill. I can’t admit I’m scared shitless or that I think I’m worthless. I’d have a bit of a headache, and pass on an opportunity to someone more worthy than me. That would be for the best. Thankfully though, instead, I took some slow breaths. I read some inspiration. I went to sleep.

I woke up the next morning, and somehow felt ready to take on the world. I had a couple of hours to get ready, washed away all my doubts and self-depreciation in the shower. In line before my speed-pitch, I met others who were just as nervous. They had never pitched before. They were sure their book was nowhere near ready to be seen by an editor. They had thought of skipping too. I felt enormous relief.

I walked into the room and found the first editor I was to meet with. I admitted I was nervous, stating I’d never done a face to face pitch before. She smiled and said, “I know, it’s really odd. I don’t even know exactly how this works.” And then I felt okay. We went over my pitch and she liked my ideas. The next publication I met with had recently shifted their format and my pitch would no longer work. However we spoke about my experience and other writing, and came up with several other pitches I can research and get back to her with. I will hopefully have relationships with both publications going forward. I walked out of that room feeling like a rock star. I am a writer, dammit.

With all that negativity and self-doubt once again creeping up on me after signing up for NaNoWriMo, I reminded myself that I am a freaking writer. I also told myself anyone can write a book. I’ve spent enough time in bookstores to know that is true. I revealed the fact I’d signed up on my 5 Things post a few days before NaNoWriMo kicked off. I was afraid to say it aloud. I didn’t want to tell anyone, I was afraid I’d be made fun of. I thought people wouldn’t understand. I’d hear it was a waste of time, that this would get me nowhere. I can hear a certain someone asking me, “aren’t there better things to do with your free time?” Silently putting the news out there in a Tumblr post and then connecting with fellow Binders and others who had also signed up made me feel more confident. I wasn’t foolish. This is a thrilling endeavour I was embarking on. In a month’s time, I will have a rough draft of my first novel. That is a massive accomplishment. The next day I spoke to TK and the girls about it, they were all stoked. I then told my close friend who has been nothing short of supportive. I’ve yet to tell my family. There are some things that require a lot more time and energy, things I’m short on these days. I will tell them eventually.

My friend and I were just discussing serendipity. I can’t help but think the timing of BinderCon, some small writing successes I’ve had, and an essay by Sara Benincasa all came together to give me a much-needed kick in the ass. I have decided to do it anyway. To pitch to as many places as I can. To reach out and ask for a gig. To write a freaking book. To call myself a writer, a real freaking writer!

Good luck to everyone else who has stocked up on caffeine and candy for the month. Extra good luck to our loved ones who will have to put up with us during this time. Feel free to find me here so we can be buddies and help each other through the inevitable hurdles to come. I have made a Pinterest board for NaNoWriMo & writing, full of inspiration and tips that I’m frequently adding to.

I leave you now with a bit of wisdom. I believe it was Ernest Hemingway who said:

“It’s like I got this music in my mind, saying it’s gonna be alright
Cause the writers gonna write, write, write.”

Happy #NaNoWriMo to all!

5 Things – October 2014

oRANGEbLACKpURPLEIf you haven’t seen it yet, I do a weekly 5 Things post on my Nerd Grrrl Island tumblr. Here is the collection for October.

10/5: Finding inspiration, dusting myself off & dancing to Joy Division

10/12: #BinderCon edition, need I say more?

10/19: Peculiar pig sculptures, aging myself, & reading

10/26: Being good to myself, changing my last name, & signing up for #NaNoWriMo

There is a Tina Turner song embedded in one of them. Go ahead, click & seek!

Three Decades of Gaming and I’m Not Going Anywhere

It’s been over 30 years since I played my first video game. I’ve played them practically my entire life. I’m pretty sure that makes me a gamer, and gives me as much cred as anyone else who calls themselves one. I started playing handheld games and Atari around age 6.

oldgames

The first handheld games I played were Bandai Incredible Hulk Escapes, electronic football and bowling (I don’t recall but I think they were both by Tiger). If I were to give either of these to my kids today, they would laugh. Meanwhile, I could not get enough of the Hulk game. The sound and lights kept me busy for long periods of time (away from everyone in my family, due to the sound!)

Few things from my childhood make me smile as much as when I think of our Atari. I nearly got misty-eyed last year when I saw the Atari Flashback console at the store and had to resist every urge to not buy it. The Atari was just cool. It thrilled me to play games on it.
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#MicroBlogMondays: What I Learned at #BinderCon

#BinderCon

Believing in myself is the biggest barrier to my success.
Initiate it. Be assertive. Be persistent. (#OnlyGirl panel)
Need a mentor & a solid support system for my writing.
Develop your beat, know your stuff, take classes, study structure, be efficient. (Laura Shin)
Embrace my talents, respect myself and my expertise, remember I have a voice that needs to be heard.
Report, report, report. (Jill Abramson)
Claim the things you’re most ashamed of, put them out there, be fearless. (Lisa Selin Davis)
Own it! My work, my words, my worth.
Never work for free.

❥❥Thank you Leigh Stein and Lux Alptraum for putting together a phenomenal event!

❥Join in on #MicroBlogMondays!

5 Things – September Edition

2014-09-06 22.05.05I’ve been spending my Sunday evenings writing 5 Things over on Nerd Grrrl Island. I was feeling less than inspired for much of September, and tackling a lot of personal issues, but I promised myself to do 5 Things each week. It gives me a sense of achievement, and it’s wonderful to wake up on Monday morning knowing I’ve already gotten some thoughts down for that week.

My hope is that my 5 Things takes a more creative turn, as that was my initial intent with it. I’d like to have fun with it and write about elements of my life that I may not otherwise share. I’d like to tell stories.

At the end of each month, I’ll share my 5 Things posts over here for those who are not on Tumblr. Don’t forget you can also follow me on Twitter (@4lala) & find me on Facebook as well.

5 Things – 9/7/14

5 Things – 9/14/14

5 Things – 9/28/14

#MicroblogMondays: The Perfection Monster

Tea Bag Wisdom

Ah, the wisdom of tea bags. I need to write this quote on my wall so I see it throughout the day. The Perfection Monster sneaks up on me, prevents me from calling a new piece of work (whether visual art or writing) done. I’m constantly seeing something else that could be added or tweaked. If I let the Perfection Monster get to me, I’ll never get anywhere. (Yes, I just looked over at a painting that took two years for me to call “finished” and contemplate what lurks in my drafts folder…) Sometimes, we just have to say “DONE!” (or, alternatively, “fuck it!”) and sign that canvas, hit the “publish” button, without criticizing every last brush or key stroke.

I have found a couple things that help keep the Perfection Monster at bay:

1. I read major publications or other works I respect, and find typos. The grammar nerd in me is aggravated by any error I find, from dinner menus to magazine articles, I’m often appalled that something made it past editors paid to check for mistakes and hit the printer. However, if I pull back for a second, and simply acknowledge we all are just humans doing this work, none of us perfect, I realize my writing never needs to meet the infinite (and ever-climbing) bar I place upon myself.

2. When I head to a museum or gallery, I seek out pieces I’m attracted to or works by artists I have deep respect for. I stand in front of the picture and stare, looking for the mishaps, seeing where paint never hit the canvas, where a line was accidentally blurred, where a touch-up calls too much attention. I see that even the Masters, artists I look up to, aren’t perfect either. It’s an important acknowledgement: we aren’t machines. We breathe, we feel, we create. We make things, and a lot of times those things are flawed.

The fact we’ve opened ourselves up to create anything at all, that alone is beautiful, flaws and all.

What ways do you keep the Perfection Monster away? 

Thanks again to Stirrup Queens for #MicroblogMondays. I missed last week, but was really looking forward to coming back to it today. I went over the 8 sentence limit rule, but what can I say? Rebels gotta rebel.

#MicroBlogMondays: 4 Little Girls

The 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham

The 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham

51 years ago, four young black girls were killed in Birmingham when their church was bombed by the KKK. I had the opportunity to visit the church last summer on my civil rights trip. We have made progress, yes, but I look around and find it devastating about how very far we’ve yet to go.

Today I am thinking of Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Denise McNair. My heart goes out to the family and friends of the four girls lost that day. Too many black children have had their dreams and their potential ripped away from them. Violence and terror from racists, hate groups, the police, and the PIC must end.

It is my hope that in 51 years from now, I can speak of these crimes and heartaches in historical terms only. Maybe, just maybe, we will have learned our lessons and will no longer leave so many mothers to mourn their children.