• an awesome find.

    My friend K and I were poking through a vintage market this Saturday when she pointed out a cabinet with some film cameras. In there was this Olympus Mju Zoom 400.

    Not only did it come with a case and the original manual, it was TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS. Cleaned it up a bit, popped a fresh battery and roll of film in it, and it works! I’m excited to see how the pics come out.

  • running from things.

    I’m exhausted. Bone-deep, utterly exhausted.

    The past few weeks have been really good. I’ve seen friends, gotten chores done, met up with people, etc. But I cannot shake this complete and total wiped feeling I have when the end of the day comes. I can barely drag myself out of my chair after I clock out from work, much less bring myself to read and focus on school stuff.

    I’m tried of doing chores. Incessant, forever, non-ending chores. Washing clothes, vacuuming dog hair, putting things away, cooking dinner and cleaning up from dinner, making lunches, making breakfast, organizing and shifting and picking things up. I’m so goddamn tired but I can’t live in a dirty house.

    I love my friends. And to be honest, I haven’t seen most of them since I met up with people from DivaCon. My best friend is coming over tomorrow to sit around and read/study and we’re gonna eat crawfish and as much as I’m looking forward to seeing her, I’m SO TIRED. Oh, and husbando wants me to help him with installing a split-unit AC in the garage tomorrow. Why can’t he call his brother, or his cousin, or a friend? I don’t know. So there’s that, too.

    I just feel like the weight of everything is piling up on me lately, and it’s driving me bananas. And when that happens, I want to do one of two things:

    • Dig in my heels and bury myself away from everyone
    • Run. Leave and go somewhere. As far as I can. Disappear for a week or two. Travel, get on a plane, and don’t look back.

    I’m beginning to get those feelings now, and I need to do something about it. I don’t know what. I guess the first thing is to talk to the husbando and tell him that I need him to step up and start helping out more, start getting groceries and washing clothes and running the vacuum and cooking dinner and picking up after himself.

    Ugh, the more I think about it, the more frustrated I get, and the farther I want to run.

  • cleaning green beans.

    I slept poorly last night.

    I did all the things that should dictate that I would have a good night’s sleep. I wore my C-PAP machine. I went to bed early, around 9:00 PM. I sleep in a dark room. I have two fans, providing a copious amount of white noise. The dogs were curled up next to me, like little weighted blankets or stuffed animals. I didn’t take melatonin or Ambien or any other meds, I simply drifted off. I slept almost solidly, with very brief wake-ups, until my alarm went off at 4:45 AM. No getting up, no tossing and turning.

    I’m sitting here, could practically fall asleep on my desk this morning. I don’t feel bad, but I am tired.

    I dreamed of my grandmother – Maw-Maw – this morning.

    It wasn’t a bad dream. I was at my grandparents’ house, sitting with her on the swing outside, watching as she cleaned green beans picked from the garden. She was smoking, as always, and humming a little song, as always. She didn’t say anything, she just sat, and cleaned, and smoked, and hummed. But she knew I was there. I was the age I am now, and we were just sitting. I watched her. She was built like me, round and thick, wide arms, short hair, round belly. She had her glasses on. She was always so much more tan than me, but that came from being outside all the time – feeding chickens, cleaning the above ground pool in the backyard, picking things from the garden and the blackberries in the woods out back, feeding the cats and the dogs and the kids, swimming in the pool outside. She would slather me in sunscreen when we went outside, preaching about how I didn’t want to get a sunburn, but she was always so tan.

    I said something to her in the dream – I don’t remember what it was now. She laughed, and the fact that I got her to laugh made me laugh too. She still didn’t look at me, she was focused on those beans, but she smiled, and she laughed, and the little wrinkles on the sides of her eyes moved, and I was happy to see her happy. I wondered what she thought of me now, what she would say if she could see me in my late 40s, with my tattoos and piercings and purple hair, back in school, working a good job, married to a good person. I wondered what she would think of my brother, getting ready to have his first child. But I didn’t ask, I just watched her clean the beans.

    The big tree that she had in that yard – an oak, maybe? – swayed above us in a light wind, providing shade to us on that swing. Her big blue car that she never drove anywhere sat in the driveway. The propane tank, gray and streaked with rust, sat across the yard surrounded by overgrowth – Paw-Paw was gonna have to trim it back soon, but he wasn’t home yet. The above-ground pool was bright blue in the afternoon sunlight. It was summer, because the school bus that she drove wasn’t there in the yard.

    She just sat there, smoking, humming, cleaning green beans.

    My alarm buzzed and woke me up, pulling me out of her yard, out of the dappled sunlight on the ground, out of the creak of the swing as we moved back and forth, out of the rustle of leaves around us.

    I’m tired because I just spent an entire afternoon with my Maw-Maw, who passed away in 2007, right after I returned from a 2-week trip to the UK. I’m tired because I woke up and the contentment I felt in that dream was gone. I’m tired because I miss her, deeply, even after all these years. I’m tired because I want to cry for the loss, but the dream was so calm and serene that I can’t bring myself to.

    I love you, Maw-Maw. I miss you.

  • dress cult = best cult.

    I’ve been off work this week and it is GLORIOUS. I’ve run errands, had appointments, took care of some chores, and starting tomorrow friends begin coming in town and I get to spend the weekend with my Dress Cult friends coming in town and go ALL OUT with the girly foo-foo stuff.

    Tomorrow night is hangouts at the arcade. Friday is high tea at the Windsor Court, followed by a shopping trip to Magazine and then possibly dinner afterwards. Saturday is possibly a trip to the Quarter (weather permitting) and assorted brunches and drinks. Sunday is beignets at City Park and a trip to the New Orleans Museum of Art.

    It’s awesome how the internet brought together a bunch of cool women who all loved the same kinds of styles and a dress brand, and how some of us forged friendships that span countries – and in some cases, continents. A group of women who are there for each other, who share heartbreaks and joys and everything in between. Funny, amazing, bad-ass, incredible people – each and every one.

    Dress Cult is Best Cult. Always and forever.

  • deleted.

    Today is officially Twitter Deletion Day. I’m currently downloading an archive of all my stuff off of there (why, I don’t know, I guess just because?) and I’ve made my final post letting people know where they can find me in other places, including this site.

    I’ve had this account since June 2007. I originally created it as a planned micro-blog for our UK trip in October 2007, I was planning on texting updates to it from our little Nokia spare phone so people could follow along on our trip. That ended up not happening, but I found a pretty cool group of New Orleans-based users on there and sticking around.

    Jeez, 2007. I’ve had that account for almost 20 years. The only account I had for longer was my old LiveJournal account, which I had until I got the “Happy Anniversary from LiveJournal” reminder this year and was like “oh yeah I should delete that account too”. I don’t remember how long, but at least 21 years, because I told someone that my LiveJournal was old enough to legally drink. Why did I hold on to LJ even though I hadn’t used that account in at least 15 years? I have no idea, honestly.

    As for Twitter…well. It’s always been kind of an off-on thing for a while now, and even though I picked it back up to meet more people in the K-Pop fandom circles early last year, I just can’t deal with the toxicity and negativity that is always all over that platform. Plus, with all the changes that the Muskrat Manchild was making – it was just no longer a good place to be for me. And after a few months of me being on “hiatus” and not posting or going to the site, I wondered, “Why even keep this account at all?”

    Can I just say – that feeling is INCREDIBLY freeing. Getting back to blogging on my own site is INCREDIBLY freeing. Realizing that I can just…go. I can keep in touch with the few people I’m friends with on there, and just – delete the account. Like a bad breakup, just disappearing and cutting all ties from the nastiness and things I don’t like.

    So, with that, it was a good run, Twitter. We had a good go and made some memories.

  • getting schooled.

    I passed my Composition course!

    I’m starting my Fundamentals of Information Security course today, and is it silly to say that I’m really excited? Like this is the first official class for my specific major and I’m really looking forward to learning more about the field I want to be in.

    I never thought I’d be this hyped up to be back in school, ever. I never thought I’d be ABLE to go back to school. But I’m realizing now that maybe I just wasn’t meant to be in school at the time I was there. I wasn’t ready. And I wonder, looking at these kids who roll right to college a few months out of high school, if those kids are really even ready.

    So, a little background. I originally went to college for an English/Journalism degree back in the 90s. I graduated high school, I had the summer off, and I went to college. Most of my college was paid for by student loans, of course. I had a few other grants and things that I didn’t have to pay back, but it barely covered anything. My grades were – okay. Passable, but not spectacular, so I didn’t have scholarships. My mom refused to get a PLUS loan, since that had to be paid back by the parents, and we couldn’t afford to pay for school. Essentially, if I didn’t take out Stafford loans, I wasn’t going to be able to go. And I wanted to go to college. It was the only way I could get a “real job”, according to my mom and my grandparents and every adult in my life.

    (Funny thing, though – my mom was an executive assistant and didn’t go to college. So was she saying that SHE didn’t have a “real job”? Looking back on that now, that makes no sense.)

    So, off to school I went. I lived in the dorms, even though I was only 30 minutes from home. I didn’t have a car, I didn’t even know how to drive. (My mom refused to let me take drivers ed in high school because she didn’t want to put me on her insurance.) It was the first time I was sort of “on my own”, and I was SO excited. I could do what I wanted! So I did.

    And as a result, after almost two years, I had to leave college because I failed out. I partied, I hung out with friends, I didn’t attend class. It was entirely my mistake, I didn’t have the willpower to focus at the time. I was all about living for myself, for the first time in my life. Well – what I THOUGHT was living for myself. Looking back on it, I don’t know what I was doing. I was hanging on the best way I knew how.

    And after that, I worked. Retail for SO MANY YEARS. Then office jobs, etc. And all those student loans got pushed back, forbearance after forbearance. I finally paid them off in 2015. And I didn’t even finish school.

    The whole time, I regretted failing out. I was foolish, I was stupid, I fucked up. That’s what I told myself for DECADES. Finally, after a lot of therapy and a lot of talking, I realized that yeah, I made a mistake. But I wasn’t stupid. It just…wasn’t my time. It wasn’t for me, at that point in my life.

    I should have taken one of those “gap years”, and worked, and saved, and saw the world. I should have probably taken five gap years. Not traveling and playing around, like most people think when they think of a gap year. Just worked, saw how the world worked, figured out what I really wanted. I was better equipped to make a decision about what I wanted to do with my life at 21 or 22 than I was at 17, even mroe so at 25. The Universe knew that.

    Now, in my late 40s, I know myself better than I did at 17, and I feel more confident and focused. Now is the time I was meant to go to school. Not at 17. Do I regret flunking out? Sure. Do I hate myself for it anymore? Absolutely not.

  • void screaming.

    This morning, while perusing assorted blogs and adding my new reads to my blogroll, I came across this post from Cafelog titled “Blogging without overthinking”.

    I’ve always had plenty of ideas about what to write, but I used to overthink what I was going to publish: Is it interesting? Is it well-written? Haven’t dozens of people already written about this topic? Do I have the legitimacy to talk about this? And so on.

    Well, this hits hard.

    Do you know how OFTEN I have sat here in front of my site and just been like “Ehhhhhh no one wants to read me talk about The Thing. I don’t know enough about The Thing to post it.” Or, worse yet, REALLY wanting to post about The Thing, coming to the realization that I need to research it more, and then getting d-motivated to talk about The Thing after doing HOURS of reading and research?

    For Jebus’ sake, Karen, it’s a post about The Thing, not a damn thesis paper.

    I NEVER had this problem in the early 00s. I just POSTED. If it was three paragraphs or twenty, it got posted. Blathering, squealing about the things I was watching or reading or listening to, telling people what I did that day, ranting about work (this MAY not go over so well now, haha), whatever. I posted to my site, to my LiveJournal, whenever and wherever I could. I talked about fashion and makeup and dates with my boyfriend and going out dancing and posted pictures from my wee little digicam of the random shit I was doing, eating, looking at.

    Then came Twitter. Microblogging! Great!

    Then Facebook.

    Then everything else.

    And suddenly…I was afraid to post. I felt like it was all futile. No one was reading, because my life was BORING and nothing to look at. Another plus-sized woman, getting older, chattering about the banality of her day. Who cares? it’s not all about you, Karen. No one cares. Only post GOOD things, BIG things, things you are qualified to talk about. Only post hot takes or snark or memes.

    Where the FUCK did this fear come from? Can I blame it on social media, or the fear of not wanting to be lumped in with anyone too vapid or too vain or too stupid? I don’t know. I do know I got TIRED. Tired of having to keep up with tweets and posts and pictures and people. Too many sites, so little time, all just…screams into the void.

    But there’s SOMETHING beneficial about screaming into the void, isn’t there? Scream therapy. Grabbing the pillow and just yelling into it. The mind clears, the breaths even out. The stress is released. Is anyone there to listen? Does it matter? The pent up feelings is released and that’s the ultimate goal. Doesn’t matter if someone hears. If they do, and they take the time to commiserate, great. Otherwise, it’s still good.

    Last year, I started cutting cords with things and people that didn’t benefit me. And I found in late 2023 that a lot of that was standard social media. I found an article about the Indieweb and Mastodon and discovered that there were still people who enjoyed the simple act of screaming into the void and seeing if someone yelled back. Stop thinking, and just TALK. Stop wondering if it matters to everyone. If it matters to ME, that’s the important part. If it matters to someone, fantastic. But otherwise, just let it out.

    I’m going to scream into the void a lot more this year, without fear, without overthinking. I’m gonna talk and yell and holler whenever I like. No matter how big or small. I’m gonna stand on this little cliff-side space here online and just…let it out.

    If you’d like to come by and holler into space with me, that would be lovely. I’ll make coffee and put out a picnic blanket to sit on. The ground can get chilly up here, after all.

  • the evolution of online BFFs.

    Decided to join this month’s Indieweb Carnival and talk about Digital Relationships. Thanks to Manu for hosting!

    I can’t tell you how many people I have met that have turned up their noses at digital relationships, saying they aren’t nearly as connected or deep as in-person relationships.

    To that, I call bullshit.

    Almost all of the people I know and call close friends in my life I have met online, or I have developed a deeper connection because of being online. I would have never considered how much the internet and using it for connection would have affected my life the first time I sat in front of a computer.

    I grew up in the 1980s. The first computer I ever got on was an Apple IIe back in my Gifted classes in like 4th-5th grade, I think? But the first time I really connected with a person at the other end of the keyboard was when I was in college (well, the first go-round anyway) back in like 1994 or so. In my first Journalism class at SLU, the professor insisted that we use the school’s Journalism Usenet newsgroup to pull up his weekly quizzes, and we would have to copy the questions from there, post them into an email, and send him the answers.

    Well, what started as me getting on Usenet for class turned into me joining a few other newsgroups, namely the one. Through that group I met a few people online and started emailing them. One guy, Pierre, was in school in Toronto, Canada, and we hit it off. We even wrote each other handwritten letters when I was on summer break and couldn’t get to a computer. Of course, once I left college, I left the newsgroup, and never heard from him again. I often wonder what happened to him. I’ve tried doing a little Google search now and again, but I don’t want to risk contacting the wrong person. “Hey, by any chance, were you into Tori Amos back in like 1994-1996 or so?” Yeahhhhhhh no.

    After that, there were so many connections. Chat rooms, ICQ, AIM, forums, LiveJournal, my old personal blogs, comments, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr…

    Some of my most memorable connections were with people in the assorted things I’m into.

    My husband – who I did meet in person first – we became good friends through AIM chats and forum posts in our old Vampire LARP forum. A few months later, we started dating. We still message each other on Discord daily.

    On Facebook, I connected with a group of awesome people through an old group devoted to the vintage-inspired brand Trashy Diva. One of them is my best friend now, and we see each other at least once a week (we got together for dinner last Saturday). Others that live all over the country, I’ve gone to visit. From DC to Seattle…Dress Cult is Best Cult. Now we may not all be as utterly devoted to TD as we used to be, but we still stay in touch, and in fact, one of them is coming to visit me in March and we’re gonna spend the week hanging out, getting fancy every so often, and even getting tattoos together.

    The Loki fandom on Tumblr landed me two good friends that I still talk to 10 years later. I lost touch with them for a bit, but we always reconnect in little ways.

    Most recently, I’ve been connecting with people over Discord, mostly in the K-Pop fandom, and I’ve gotten really close with a few of them. I’ve visited a few, met up with some of them during concert trips, and even had one come stay with me in October when I ran my ATEEZ cupsleeve. I got to show her around New Orleans and get her some good food, which is always fun.

    Some of my good friends I still haven’t met! We only communicate online in assorted ways. We text, we send each other memes and voice messages and emails. I count them as some of my very best friends and they have been there for me in some of my darkest moments.

    I see these relationships, these friendships, no less than any other in-person friendship I’ve ever had. I even commented to my hairstylist last week that it is an utter pain in the ASS to make friends as you get older. It’s harder to find someone that you have a connection with randomly, in real life. Online, you can discover people that are in the same circles as you, and you already HAVE that thing in common, making striking up a conversation much easier and smoother. I’m too much of an extrovert to totally write off meeting people in person, but I have to admit that making those initial connections digitally is much easier.

    Don’t write off digital relationships. They’re just as critical for connection and meaningful friendships as an in-person relationship.

  • one year.

    One year ago, I was in the lowest space mentally that I’d ever been. I was desperate and scared and hated myself so very much. I wanted to…not be. There were other things happening in my life that was exacerbating the problem, but I felt entirely, totally alone. I was surrounded by people – my best friend, my husband, people I talked to online, coworkers. I was even seeing my therapist regularly.

    But I felt like they’d all be better off without me around.

    One year.

    If you ask me how I came out of it, I can’t tell you. It wasn’t easy. I got a psychiatrist. I started telling my husband and my best friends about how I felt. I added a second therapist that I started seeing weekly for a while. I focused on work. I focused on my mental health. I made slow and steady and regular changes. I got medicated – well, even more medicated.

    I clawed and scraped and scratched and fought through whatever pit I was in. If people weren’t willing to help me up, then I left them behind.

    One year.

    I told my therapist today, “It’s amazing what one can happen in one year.” When I left her office, the sun was shining, a little breeze in the air, the traffic on the highway was backed up. And I took a picture.  There’s lines in my face, my lipstick is kind of worn off, my eyeshadow is smudged.

    One year, and I’m still working on being better and getting better.

    One year, and I’m still here.

    And I’m actually glad to be here.

    Picture of Karen. She has a purple bob hairstyle, is wearing a green patterned dress and a navy cardigan, and is smiling at the camera.

  • i’ll read it.

    One of the things I missed the most about the personal internet of the early 00s was the fact that you could lose yourself in finding some REALLY good blogs just through poking around other pages’ links. Forget diving down a wiki hole, I loved falling down a blog hole. So many people, all over the world, sharing little snippets of their lives.

    While poking about today and looking for new blogs, I came across this post from Manu:

    “I don’t know what to write about” and “what if no one will read it?”. These are the two most common reasons why people don’t want to start a personal blog. I already addressed the first one, so let me tackle the second one in the easiest way possible: I’ll read it. If you decide to start a blog in either English or Italian, I’ll read it. I don’t care about the topic. Start a blog, write something, send it to me, and I’ll read it. And you’ll have your first reader. If you add an RSS feed to your blog, I’ll add you to my reading list, and I’ll keep reading what you post. As soon as a bunch of you have blogs, I’ll compile a list and make it available on this site. Hopefully, more people will read what you write. But I promise you that if you start writing, you’ll have a reader.

    One of the concerns that I feel most bloggers have is that their words that they put out will just be lost in the ether. You put yourself out there day after day after day, week after week after week, and you find…silence. Nothing. It’s intimidating as hell. It makes a lot of people give up personal blogging and online journaling.

    So, I’d like to offer myself up as one of your first readers. If you have a blog, drop me a line and let me know. I’ll read it. I only have two requests:

    1. Your blog must be in English (I wish I could read other languages, maybe soon!)
    2. If your blog has an RSS feed, let me know so I can add you to my reading list!

    Let’s connect and maybe have a good conversation or two. 🙂