I love conventions. There's this energy about them that's hard to find anywhere else. You're in a place with all these people that love what you love. Walking around the vendors, particularly the artist alley, there's so many people working to make their dreams come true, people on all ends of the spectrum. From the guy or gal who's setting up for the first time to the well-established artist who's "made it," they're all trying to live their dreams. The amazing creativity, the talent, the drive... it's a wonderful place to be. I can't leave a convention without feeling at least a little bit inspired. When I'm setting up in one (and sometimes when I'm not), I always bring a sketchbook because I just want to create. I've been going to conventions for six years now and they're still absolutely magical.
Artist Alley #1: Katsucon 2011
It's definitely not all magic, though. My first two artist alleys were hard, extremely hard. I've worked (and am currently working) retail and I know how important it is to be a good face for a company, to create a nice environment for the customers by being welcoming and friendly. I'm a shy person, but at work it's easy to slap a smile on and help customers because I care, but I don't care that much. It's just not my passion; it's a job. At a convention, I'm putting on a good face for my company, a company I desperately want to succeed, a company where I'm putting my abilities and my creativity on the line. It's just so different. I'm shy and I really feel it when I'm at my booth.
Artist Alley #2: Monster-Mania Con 2011
I was a mess at my first two shows. I was restless and stressed out and not sure how to act around customers. Friendly, yes, but does friendly mean just smiling at them, or trying to engage them in conversation? I tried the just smiling thing, but it didn't feel like it was working. Something felt off.
Artist Alley #3: Baltimore Comic-Con 2012
At my most recent show, Baltimore Comic-Con, I was still mostly smiling, but I did end up in a couple really fun conversations with customers. Then I realized that when I was walking around the con, I ended up in a lot of chats with different vendors. I was getting really excited looking at all the tables, so I was acting really bubbly, friendly, and happy. It hit me that the booths where the vendors were equally friendly were my favorites because I felt most welcomed, so I needed to start acting more like that at mine. I needed to get over the nerves and shyness and just be me. That is exactly what I'm planning to do next weekend at Monster-Mania Con, and I'm ridiculously excited to try to meet this goal!
I abandon this poor little blog for far too long. Honestly, there wasn't much to write about. Most of the summer just consisted of work, hanging out with Justin, and sleeping. Some things have changed, though!
For one, I've started setting up in artist alleys again. I did Baltimore Comic-Con in early September and I'm going to do Monster-Mania Con next weekend and Annapolis Comic-Con Halloween Edition in October! BCC was my third convention as an artist and it's getting easier every time. I'm really, really excited for MMC next weekend, since it will be the first time that I tackle setting up my booth on my own. Justin will be there after he gets off work, but the first 6 or 7 hours are all on me and I'm looking forward to the challenge!
I've also switched jobs! I'm now working at a major craft-ish chain store as a seasonal cashier. I'm really hoping I'm able to stay on after the holiday season ends (my manager said she's keeping most of the seasonal help, so I'm crossing my fingers!), but in the meantime I'll be able to get close to 40 hours a week, which is much better than the 20 I was getting at my old job.
A couple months back, I was jokingly flexing my biceps when I realized I could barely tell a difference. It was really pretty sad. Then, about a week ago, I did the same thing and my response was, "Whoa! Hello there, baby biceps, when did you get here?"
While my job isn't paying off as much as I would like it to financially, it does have some physical benefits. I spend my mornings bending into cages to re-paper them, moving dogs around, sweeping, and mopping. So. Much. Mopping. The first full week I worked, I was absolutely miserable, wondering when the physical toll would get better. For a few days, it didn't. By the end of the week, every muscle was so sore, they basically felt numb. Now it's not bad at all. I know I've improved my stamina and strength, as well as developed just the teensiest bit of muscle.
There's also the benefit of social interaction. There are three other girls/women that work at the owners' house with me and they're all very sweet and fun to chat with. Prior to this, I rarely saw anyone other than my boyfriend and family, and it was getting a little lonely.
I don't have to watch the clock, either. Our work day is determined by how quickly we complete a set amount of tasks. Some days there's a set time to leave, but there usually isn't. Rather than watching the minutes tick by, I focus on finishing my current job and moving on to the next. It makes it more tolerable.
While my job is demeaning and definitely a dead end, I'm trying to focus on the positives until I can find something closer to what I want to do with my life. It's not a good job, but I have definitely worked worse.
A few weeks ago, I decided that I hadn't read for fun in a long time and that I should fix that. To encourage myself to both read and blog more (in theory), I'll be writing reviews here!
First up are books 1-3 of the Alexia Tarabotti/Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger.
Throughout all three of these, my general opinion was that the characters and writing style were amazing, but the pacing was kind of slow. I could set the books down to do something and didn't feel that all-consuming need to keep reading. Despite that, I'm currently on book four. It's very unusual for me to read a whole series if that need isn't there, so I obviously still really enjoy them.
The characters in this series are truly amazing. Carriger created a whole cast of unique, largely eccentric personalities whose interactions and relationships make the series as good as it is. While the plot is okay, albeit a bit contrived at times, it's the characters that I really care about. I want to see what happens to them, who ends up with who, and how they work together to solve the problems thrown at them.
I also felt like the fantasy and sci-fi elements were handled well. The steampunk setting is touched on in the first book, then developed further in the second and third. Carriger also sticks (mostly) to four types of non-humans- werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and preternaturals (soulless)- which gives it enough variety without creating a "supernatural of the week" feel. I heard some criticism that the soulless were not different enough from normal humans, but I liked her take on it. It gave Alexia enough room to be an interesting character, while still remaining fundamentally different from those surrounding her.
Unfortunately, there were definitely parts in every book where I completely forgot what the plot was supposed to be. Most of the time the banter was good enough that I didn't mind, but there were some sections that just dragged on and on with no clear purpose.
Overall, I'd give the first three books 4/5 stars!
So I've been taking a bit of a hiatus from the blogosphere lately. Obviously. I didn't really have much to say and when I did, I was too tired and busy (or lazy) to post.
The biggest change around here is that I now have a "full time" job. Yay. Let me go cry in a corner now, 'kay?
The biggest problem with this new "full time" job is that it's actually not full time (You TOTALLY didn't see that coming, right?). Yay. It's totally cool when bosses blatantly lie to you in interviews.
Once lunches are removed, I think the longest day I've had was 6 hours and the shortest day was 3.5 hours. Generally it hovers around 5 hours, which, as you know, is still pretty far from the 7.5-8 that most people refer to as a full day. This issue is only exacerbated by the fact that I'm a janitor for show dogs and my boss is probably insane.
It's almost midnight and I'm tired and my back hurts, but I'm excited for tomorrow. I'm excited for what the day will bring and excited that I'm actually excited about it.
I'm spending all day tomorrow listing on eBay.
That's exactly what I did today and I'm shocked that I'm not sick of it. Normally eBay and I have a love/hate relationship and after listing for a few hours, I'm annoyed with it. After today I'm exhausted, but content. The kind of content that only comes with knowing that I spent an entire day working hard and being productive. The kind of content that comes from feeling like I've made a difference, that I've made a definite stride in the right direction. It's a great kind of content.
Last week, any time I decided to list some things, I just grabbed a couple items off the top of the stack. It was productive, but not satisfying at all. I saw no difference, so I lost my motivation and wandered off to do other vaguely useful things.
Today I took a look at the stack and tried to determine what would make the biggest impact. I found a box of dolls and a box of Shojo Beat magazines and got to work. I spent hours sorting the dolls and accessories (I seriously over-complicated it. My listing is really organized, but do people really need to know exactly how many hair clips, necklaces, and bracelets there are for the dolls instead of just X accessories? It was a lot of over 500 items xD), but that's one huge box done. The magazines took all of fifteen minutes to list and there went another big box. The stack in my room is at least two feet shorter now and I love it. Suddenly things don't seem quite so overwhelming anymore; they actually seem manageable. I listed some small things today, too, but it even felt more rewarding to list those since I had already made a big difference.
I guess this might be common sense for some people, but I always get so overwhelmed that I just start doing something, anything to make things better, without considering what will make an impact. I get so absorbed in details and the little things that I really can't see the forest for the trees. So if any of you happen to have the same problem, try to start with something that will make a big difference! It's awesome!
Do you do the things that will make the biggest difference first, or do you use some other order?
(And seriously, those posts and bloggers I mentioned in my Inspired post definitely played a hand in this. After being pretty busy all weekend, I came to this week feeling ready to fight!)
The blogosphere is a wonderful, wonderful place, y'know?
Right now I'm struggling with trying to move out on my own. I'm currently unemployed and looking for work, but securing a job in my area with this economy is far from easy. I have a ton of things to eBay that should be able to bring in something, but it's so easy to get discouraged looking at the massive pile of stuff (I'm a recovering pack rat). Some days it feels like I'll never be able to move out, or at least not anytime soon.
I've also been struggling with my weight for the past three or four years. I managed to gain over fifty pounds in three years and the thought of trying to lose it all is daunting. Again, some days it feels like I'll be overweight forever.
I don't want to live my life like this. I want to be able to go to the beach in a bikini and return to an awesome apartment. I want to make enough to support myself and stay healthy at the same time.
The past few days have been pretty productive, but I know I can do better. I'm doing useful things and I'm making some progress, but my heart's still not fully in it. I haven't been inspired.
Wednesday evening I came across a fantastic post by Angie on Lariats and Lavender. She wrote about how we can reach our goals if we just stay positive, if we stop simply wishing and start doing something. I needed to read that. I think part of what holds me back is that I feel like there has to be some quick and easy way to reach my goals, but that simply doesn't exist. I keep wishing, but I need to be doing, or doing more.
After reading her post, I started looking around at some other posts that inspire me. Posts that make me feel like I can do this. These are the ones I rounded up and I hope they'll inspire you, too!