Posted in cats, depression, dragon, grief, Personal

6/21: Dragon’s Cat

Portia is pushing 12 years now. I’m using her “gotcha day” as her birthday, since I adopted her at roughly 5 years of age (they said 4-5, but I have no clue so I’m going with 5) on October 30th, 2010. Which means she’ll be 12 this year. I chose her partly for wanting a dilute tortie, but also her personality was more social than JoJo ever would be (she was very much a one-human cat and was scared of other humans).

2017-06-20 16.35.12
I mention further down that she likely has Maine Coon in her. I say this because of her mane and then the short fur, and then the varied fur on the rest of her.

She’s always been a bit goofy… not the brightest feline on the planet, but gorgeous, floofy, silly, and friendly. Not the “in your face” friendly, but enough of an attention-hog that she will take it from damn near anyone.

2016-05-08 18.21.12
Hey YOU! You there!

Then she gets her “zoomies” or Elevenses, or whatever you might call them. Usually after a meal. Well, today, she’s full up and knocking things over. Almost broke her food dish in a failed attempt to make a u-turn from the bathroom to the hot tub cover where her food and water are (and the turboscratcher, which is getting a lot of use today). Failed only because the piece of carpet she dug her claws into to gain traction and jump wasn’t exactly attached to the flood (it’s a scrap and the floor is tile). Same piece of carpet nearly got flipped earlier this morning during another round.

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Her Turboscratcher. She LOVES this thing. 

She also has her lovey moments. Especially ever since JoJo died in February, she’s been my sleeping buddy. She was before, but not as clingy. Now a night (or the next morning) doesn’t go by without her taking a nap on top of me. Usually my chest, but if I’m on my side, she’s discovered she can perch from my shoulder to my hip (yes, she’s a sizable cat).

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On my chest. To be fair, this was in the apartment and I was sitting, but still. She has to be touching me or near me (with me in her sight line). 

She has a face that can melt hearts, eyes that change colors, a squeak that informs me of her mischief, an innocence that belies her years, and a heart of gold that has eased the blow of losing her older (adopted) sister. She likely has some Maine Coon in her, from the way her fur is. She’s roughly 14 pounds… which makes things interesting when she wants to sprawl all over me and my bladder is a bit full. She hates being groomed and will give me many -MANY- warning bites.

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Her mat trimming haircut from April 2016. In order to get to the mats, I had to trim rather haphazardly. It looks like a 3 year old found the scissors, but ultimately, I think she liked having less fur during the summer as it grew back. This took me over a month to get all the mats. Yes, go ahead and laugh. I’m still giggling over it over a year later.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. She will need a companion in the form of another cat once I get work again. We’ll see who chooses me when that time comes. A black cat? A Siamese? A Tuxie? Who will be that new friend for Portia? We’ll have to wait to get into our own place again before that happens.

~Dragon

Posted in anxiety, community, depression, dragon, grad school, job hunting, Personal

6/20: Dragon Job Hunt Frustration

It isn’t easy finding work as a dragon. They expect you to breathe fire to a certain number of feet, and you must fly with absolute precision…

But all joking aside… it’s frustrating. I’ve revamped the resume, tried everything, and I still get rejected without even so much as an interview. As much as I know social media work and web design, I am wondering if this really isn’t where I should be focusing. I am going to a networking thing Thursday, and will finally meet my “mentor” person at VR (Voc Rehab, for us working types who are disabled and unemployed) next week. If that doesn’t get cancelled again. *sigh*

I’m not sure, but I think that mentor person is actually not for SM, but for research. My counselor said she could probably find a person in that field than in Social Media. Which I find interesting as I can find jobs galore for SM, but barely anything for research. Most of what I do find is medical.

And then there’s my grad school field. Do you realize that PDX has Librarians and Archives Specialists popping out of the woodwork and not enough jobs for all of them? Yeah. And don’t get me started on Multnomah County. I’ve said it in the past: Fort Knox was likely easier to break into than getting a library job in MC.

Right now, I want something that pays decently, where I can afford a studio apartment of my own and save up for stuff, pay off debts, etc. On top of student loans, I owe $4500 (I thought it was higher) to my school for withdrawing from Spring term. Then about $3000 to the former landlord… I can’t enroll to finish school until the debt to my school is paid. So, I’m basically screwed on that end.

I’m not sure where to set myself down in society. I’m not one for blending in (I want to turn my mohawk back to purple SOOOOO badly right now, it hurts). I can’t answer phones thanks to my voice/vocal cords being a bit wonky… I just want to research stuff, work on the computer doing things… could be web things, social media things, research things… have my little corner of a workspace where I can do something I enjoy in peace. For a decent paycheck.

So I’m a bit grumpy… and unsure.

~Dragon

Posted in baking, cosplay, creativity, dragon, family, Personal, storage

6/19: Results of Dragon Baking Shortbread

(random featured image…)

Ummm…. needs more flour. It’s been so long since I made shortbread before that I’ve forgotten how the dough should be… and now I’m realizing it should be on the MUCH drier side. This round liquefied and eventually baked out to a 1/4″ thick mess. It’s…. edible, but not for sharing.

I’m going to have to craft my own damn recipe. I was going back and forth between about 4 different recipes. One uses powdered sugar (don’t have any), another uses less flour (the main one I went with… bad choice).

I have the capability of crafting my own recipe. Despite the bad blood between my mother and I growing up, she taught me a few things. One was baking from scratch. Baking is typically an exact science, but shortbread is one area where wiggle room is easy to manage. Most recipes call for three things: sugar, flour, butter. I went off a recipe that adds vanilla. A comment on that one said almond extract would be better. I might have that here with me. I brought the “spices and stuff” bag back from storage a couple weeks ago… I think the almond bottle is in there. If not, that’s okay.

Shortbread is about as simple as it gets when it comes to baking. Three base ingredients, a little time, and then you have tasty little shortbread cookies. This round didn’t work. That’s okay. I love experimenting in the kitchen. I grew up with a fully stocked kitchen. This is how I do my best to live as an adult. Sometimes I’m lacking in some ingredients, and that’s okay. I make a note to pick them up next trip.

My mother also taught me other things, such as visualizing a finished project and what I might need to make it happen, even if there is no template or pattern. This is how I can design and draft my own patterns for some things. Same for altering patterns and making a “franken-pattern” using two or more patterns. This is where the 3rd jacket project comes from… the one I mentioned in the projects post yesterday or so. There is no template for it, but I know what I want to do and how to do it. I can see the finished coat. I just need to get there from where I am.

I noticed a couple people visited the post about my Kai Opaka ¬†cosplay. During the eviction, I did find the missing pieces and put them in the bin with the rest of it. I can’t really work on it here… but maybe… just maybe… I can get it done for RCCC this September. There are many parts of that costume that I have designed myself. There is no pattern for Opaka’s outfit.

My mother created the costume ideas I brought to her. Sometimes with just a sketch. Many times, with no pattern. My ST:TNG dress uniform top is that way. Everyone else I’ve seen has a zipper at the back of the neck. We were super intense, watching clips of every episode that had those and we determined that it closed in front. We figured out the what, and then the how. I still have that uniform. I need to do some repairs on it, but the craftsmanship on it impressed the crap out of people in higher ranks at the regional Starfleet conference (Yes, I started out doing Trek cosplay in the early 1990’s and was a member of Starfleet). This lowly Ensign had a better dress uniform than her own captain.

Despite the two of us locking horns a LOT (the two most stubborn people in the family also happened to be the two most creative), we did a lot of incredible things. I still have a hard time forgiving her for the emotional abuse she heaped on me. I lost the chance for reconciliation years ago as her Alzheimer’s got worse. She passed away in 2013. The only thing I can do now is to handle it on my own.

She taught me how to bake and cook from scratch. She taught me visual and tactile skills that have served me well as I get older (God knows I’m not maturing. I need to put it into my living will that I go into the incinerator with both middle fingers flipping off the world).

More baking experiments to come… next month. I don’t have any more butter.

I also need to stick to more liquids for a bit. A sizable piece of one of my bottom front teeth is loose/broken off (it’s wedged between the rest of that tooth and the one next to it).

Until the next round…

~Dragon

Posted in activism, anxiety, bigotry, community, empath life, faith, life, peace, society

6/19: Can’t Shut It Out (aka Dragon Gets Angry and Philosophical)

Hate begets hate.

The cycle just keeps going. Every morning, I wake up to news of anger and hate. People using guns, knives, vehicles, etc to maim and kill. People on the fringes of society who loathe and hate those who are different. People who want revenge for something the people they harm didn’t do.

I’m am Empath. I cannot block out what is going on. The emotions that whirl around in our society today. Anger, hate, anxiety, fear… it keeps going. It keeps hitting another level. Genocide, bigotry, prejudice. It keeps ramping up. Another attack. Another shooting. Another vehicle plowing into a crowd.

No matter the race or religion of the person with the anger, it is terrorism. Terrorism is not something “they” do. It’s something “anyone” can do. Terrorism is striking terror and fear into other people. Usually a group or subculture. I look at the various attacks of the last several months and I see hate and anger being forced onto a group of people… making them afraid.

Some terrorists want you to retaliate. Daesh and other fringe groups. They do NOT represent all Muslims. Not by a long shot. As someone said (whom I can’t remember the name of), “If all Muslims were terrorists, the rest of us would be dead by now.” When you have millions of followers of Islam, just as with -any- other religion, you will have the angry, deluded fringe. It isn’t even just religion. It’s political groups, it’s subcultures of our society.

One example of a non-religious incident: A couple of years ago, a Furry convention up in Seattle was under fire because a few people, possibly not even con-goers, decided to trash hotel property. In a considerable way. I’m not talking dinging the corner of a desk. I’m talking willful destruction of property. The hotel contract was cancelled and they couldn’t find another hotel in Washington State to host them. That convention is now on hold until everything settles down. All because of a few jackasses who fucked things up.

See the similarities? A small percentage of a group gives the rest of said group a bad reputation. A fraction -a very small fraction- of Muslims are connected to Daesh/ISIL.

And yet, others lash out at anyone they think is Muslim. The attack last night in England. This time a white person running a vehicle into a crowd of peaceful Muslims as they left their mosque.

If you can’t understand why some Muslims stray and start becoming violent, look at the person who injured several peaceful Muslims last night.

Then if a Muslim who has turned to violence attacks a crowd of non-Muslims, the cycle of hate and fear and anger and violence continues.

To end this, we must focus on those who do good in the community. I see mosques opening their doors in times of natural disasters and other situations to those who are not of their faith, but who are in need. I see them going out and feeding people who need food. Shelter when it is needed. I see more Muslims behave more Christ-like than a lot of people who consider themselves Christians.

My core faith is Christianity. I lean toward Omnism overall. I do my best to understand all faiths. I have a lot to learn. But I think we all do.

Focus on those who have strong positive ties and help others. Ask them as a child would ask a parent. What is your faith about? What do you believe? Try to listen to what they say. Talk to people, listen to people, learn from people.

The organist at a church I used to attend was being honored one morning for 40 years of service. He took the mic and told a little tale. When he and his wife converted to Christianity, they knew a few other Christians and many, many friends of theirs were not. He said he noticed that over the years, the scale has tipped so that they know very few who are not Christians and many who are. This stuck with me.

This is partly why I maintain friendships with believers of all paths, as well as many atheists. I try to show what Jesus taught: love, acceptance, compassion. I don’t preach to people… despite being ordained. I sit back and observe and show compassion when I am capable. I’ll readily admit that I’ve been under a lot more stress the last few years, so my supply of compassion is a bit low. But I still try.

One thing I think a lot of people don’t fully understand about Islam is that it’s the third of the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. Allah is Arabic for God. The same God Christians worship.

If we listen and learn from each other, I believe the fear will dissipate.

What we don’t know, we fear.

So, let’s start learning. Start asking. Go to the sources. Talk to an Imam. Talk to… anyone!

This list of TED Talks is a good place to start. Here’s another page chock full of talks. And then the Interfaith Amigos…

We need to work on building community with those who are not just like us. We can win over hate.

~Dragon

Posted in baking, cats, dragon, food cravings, life, Personal

6/19: Dragon Bakes

Technically, I’m supposed to eat gluten free. I get sick if I go off the proverbial wagon. Ginger tea and similar stuff helps ease the pain. Well, this month I went off the wagon a couple of times: Poptarts (Cherry frosted ones) and a package of Fireworks Oreos. Yes, I’ve been reaping the side effects as well.

While my housemates (hosts) are off chilling out at the RV, I’m at the house, tending to the felines of the household (one theirs, one mine) and hanging out. This means I have the kitchen entirely to myself.

Heh heh heh….

Getting myself back on track. I don’t have much left of my EBT/food money. Eating gluten free on food stamps is hell. You think it’s hard with regular food? That box of granola bars is at least $2 higher for gluten free. I do limit my carbs. I try to eat alternate foods that are still reasonable. But I still run out of funds.

So I’m baking. Well, I will later. I have gluten-free flour, using the last of my butter, a little vanilla, and some sugar. So, what am I making?

Gluten Free Shortbread.

Something I’ve wanted to attempt for a few years now, but never bothered because I didn’t have the space and didn’t feel the need for cookies. I’m just going by a regular recipe. The flour I have is a 1-to-1 blend from Bob’s Red Mill. I’m letting the butter soften. I took the two sticks out of the freezer last night and put them in the fridge. Now they’re sitting in the microwave (long ago deemed the safest place for food to thaw… and no, I’m not melting it… microwave is not on… and by safe, I mean away from curious paws. Someday I’ll tell you about what Jack the Cat did years ago when I forgot to put the plate of brownies back into the microwave).

I’ll report later on the results.

~Dragon

Posted in artsy stuff, creativity, Personal

6/17: Projects

So, I have three jacket/coat projects rumbling around in my brain. Only one involves sewing… I’ll get to that one later.

  1. The Blazer: It’s actually a mens black tuxedo jacket. Nice condition. I bought it at Goodwill a couple years ago for a cosplay I never used it for. It was the “backup” plan. So, I got this idea in my head: Cut a hole in the stitching between the lining and outer fabric and draft out a design to hand-embroider along the back. I was thinking a Mandala, but there are so many ideas. A dragon would be awesome as well. I’m looking at designs from Urban Threads.
  2. The Denim Jacket: I have a basic denim jacket I don’t typically wear much. I have several patches and make patches on my embroidery machine (when I have access). A friend of mine suggested I turn it into my “Patch Jacket.”
  3. This one will be more vague in my description. I have a hoodie that’s wearing out and I want to do a little “nip and tuck” to it and add more to it. It won’t be recognizable as a hoodie once I’m done. I just need pieces of sweatshirt fleece and old sweatshirts of varying colors to do what I want to it.

Right now, to work on #1, I have the jacket and the needles. But my embroidery thread is buried behind a ton of other things. I need to dig out a hoop and my thread… or get new thread. If I go with the mandala, I want to go with blues and purples. I’m having a hard time deciding on a design. I’ve linked to UT above. If anyone has any ideas, leave a comment with a link to the design you like the best. Nothing too complicated. Look at the hand embroidery options.

Dragons, mandalas, wolves, etc…

~Amanda

Posted in anxiety, bugaboos, depression, dreams, eviction, grad school, homeless, job hunting, life, Personal, storage, student life

6/17: Falling Apart

I’m not totally sure what to do anymore. I have no back up, no resources. Remember: I’m homeless, jobless, and disabled. Trying to finish grad school has become an impossible feat. I owe nearly 5K to my school because I had to withdraw from my classes last term. I got a letter recently (I check my PO Box about once a week) saying if I don’t send something (and where is this money coming from?) before the 26th, it’ll go to collections.

So I’m at a loss. I’ve worked at this degree for nearly three years and the last two terms, due to depression and the eviction stress, I’ve tanked. Hard. I talked with my advisor and decided on just doing the one credit wrap-up capstone… but it’s one credit and financial aid only covers 5+ credits. I don’t have the funds to pay for one credit. I’m about ready to say, “sign me up for 5-6 credits for the fall term… fuck this, I’m going for the certificate.” Summer term has already started.

Maybe I’d get enough funds to pay off the school and a new term. Not sure.

So, here’s why I’m pissed off… they know I’m trying to finish the degree. There’s a damn good reason I’ve needed financial aid. I’ll try calling them next week and try to deal with this. Explain that with the debt, I can’t finish my degree… but I’m unemployed and fucking homeless so how the fuck am I going to come up with 5K??

I’ll call them next week and see what I can do. I don’t have the money. I’m trying to sell stuff out of storage so I can pay next month’s storage rent of a mere $280 (mere compared to 5K).

The letter from them states that enrollment will be frozen while I still have outstanding debts… I need a miracle of some sort. At the very least a small one to keep me from losing it while on the phone with them next week.

I’m frustrated. Partly with school, but mostly with myself and my life. I can’t fully put my finger on the WHY of the mess my life has become. I can’t blame it fully on either myself or “society.” Believe me, I wish I could figure it out. I wish I had that answer.

But it eludes me.

~Amanda