Thursday, November 29, 2012

Risks, life, and pink hair.

Last night, I dyed my hair back.

It was time. I loved having pink hair, but the last two months or so I began to get real sick of strangers asking me about it. When I go out to run errands, I enjoy being left alone. It may be that I was an only child until I was 8, it may be that I get caught up in my own thoughts, I don't know. I venture out with as much enthusiasm as a reclusive silent film star living in the talkie age; I want to get what I need so I can return to my own little world as soon as possible. The last couple of months any time I got into line and someone exclaimed, "OH, YOU HAVE PINK HAIR, WHAT DID YOU USE, HOW LONG DOES IT LAST--" I've had violent fantasies of tearing it all out right in front of them, laughing like a maniac, shrieking "NOW IT'S YOURS TAKE IT WITH YOU."

Hey, pregnancy hormones are a roller coaster.

And so, last night after the 900th person (875 of them dudes between the ages of 45-60) asked about my hair, I politely bowed out of line and headed to the hair color aisle to find the shade closest to my locks.

Ahhhhhhh. That's better!

Now, some folks will remember when I dyed my hair cotton candy pink and all hell broke loose back home in New England. For days I faced some pretty heavy criticism, and people said some outright mean things. (Many folks read the mean things and emailed me their sympathies, and I still appreciate that). On the west coast, and for my husband, Mom, and sister, it was my hair and my decision. On the east coast, clearly I'd gone too far and was heading for ruin. AND JUST WHO IS THIS 'JEM' YOU'VE BEEN HANGING OUT WITH THAT'S GOT YOU WANTING PINK HAIR?

Over and over again my reaction was, "I love my natural hair color. And I'll go back to it when I'm sick of pink. I wanted a change, because I thought it would be fun."


Well, it's seven months later....

This is me a week before I dyed my hair pink.

And me this morning...
...Pretty darn close, huh?

Whenever you take a risk, you'll be immediately pounced on by a crowd of people clamoring about why it's going to blow up in your face. The last three years have been brought to me by whatever the heck letter that stands for. When I was moving out west to live with Ryan, he was a homicidal maniac that was going to chop me into bits. When I was going to pursue illustrating full time, I was about to starve to death. When Ryan was going to put his time into a job without health benefits for a year, we were bound to get into a car accident. When I dyed my hair pink, it was a permanent decision that could never be undone. Also, all of my hair was going to fall out. Plus, it was going to poison my insides. And I looked hideous.

Okay, Henny Pennies, take it easy.

First of all, I will never look hideous.

Secondly, I have learned that if you want an interesting life, a fulfilling life, a life you can call your own, you've got to mold it a little and that might mean taking some risks. I played it very safe for a long time, and I took more missteps then than I ever did once I started edging out onto a limb here and there. I still don't take stupid risks. Being a lifetime teetotaler, I've never tried drugs. (Heck, I've never tried alcohol, not even a beer). A lot of people have teased me for that, saying I was being a baby, I was too afraid to try new experiences. Some of them went on to handle themselves just fine. Some of them are one step away from a 12 step program.

(The first step is admitting you have a problem).

So, no, I'm still not for stupid risks. However, I think that when the stakes are high: love, following a dream, running away from waking up every day miserable (WHY NOT JOIN THE CIRCUS); that's the time to take a risk. That's when you learn a lot about yourself, your capabilities, and the people around you. I think you get stronger from those risks, and I think for the most part, life rewards those risks. At the very worst, you fail at something. Really, it's not that bad. If it was a risk that was worth it, that could have changed everything for the better, at least you tried.

My husband taught me a lot of this through his life, and the chances he has taken for his happiness and his career. They're inspiring. He's one of the bravest people I know, given the bold moves he made to get where he is now, and how young he was when he started making them. He was 17 when he struck out on his own, moving thousands of miles away from home to follow a career in video games and art.

So, when you think about it, pink hair isn't really
that big of a f*+4ing deal, now is it?

My pink hair was nothing like that, it was just a silly dye job that was a blast for a few months. Looking at my before and after pictures though, and seeing really nothing change, got me thinking this morning about risk and experience and enjoying life and I wanted to share. Don't listen to the crowd of land lovers telling you monsters are lurking at the edge of the world. Usually they haven't been to the edge of the world to see that it's actually just round and you can return to where you started anytime you want.

So, farewell, pink hair! Here's a look back. I'll miss it, it was fun!

The first day, brandy-new!


Cotton Candy!!!

Fading to a light pink.

This was my favorite version, when I redyed
it myself and left a 'Rogue streak'.



$9 foam curlers, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? 

Animal Hot Pink!

And some women, women I know and women talking to me in stores, would say "You're so lucky your husband let you do that!" which struck me as awful.


And so now my hair is back to the way it was, and nothing much has changed.


But that's a happy change!

So, there you have it! My hair didn't fall out, break off, or melt away. My body is healthy (I want to stress again: my doctor assured me dyeing my hair is perfectly safe while pregnant, or I would not have). I look exactly how I did before I dyed my hair--the only difference is, I had a lot of fun and I can say I did that now.

There has to be something--something--you want to say that about! So, go do it! As long as it's not like, a stupid risk, like robbing a bank. Don't rob a bank. Do start a small business or ask that one guy out or go on an impromptu road trip to Canada. Get a pet iguana, name him Steve.

All those things you want to do, go do them, because that's the only way anything fun happens. All the rotten stuff? That's what the world hands you. The cool stuff? Those are the choices you make. The more choices you make, the more you control your life, the more cool stuff will happen, and before you know it, that cool stuff outnumbers the rotten stuff 10:1.

Take it from me, kids! Is your shower curtain this cool?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We're having a....

We're having a boy! We found out yesterday, and we're thrilled. It's wonderful to know this person inside me just a little better. It's great to finally let folks celebrate, and let me tell you, apparently having a boy is like winning the gender lottery. At least to hear some of the reactions.

You would think Ryan was a king, and his throne was at long last protected against the barbarian hordes that surged against the gates as the peasants inside cowered in fear that their nation would pass to some weaker distant relation. But, no, lo, a SON! An heir! CONGRATULATIONS, YOU'RE HAVING A REAL PERSON, NOT SOME CHICK!

That's only a very few people though; most are regular happy just as we are, to know and to begin dreaming of this little person. It's a great feeling to say and think "he" instead of "it".

In shop news, my sale this weekend was a great success! Thank you everyone! I sold 19 prints! It was a great start to the holiday season, I was really tickled. I spent this morning filling orders, happy as a clam.

The prints laid out and ready for packaging.

Ornaments I've been tucking into my Etsy orders for the holidays.

The backs of the ornaments, pinecones, snowflakes, and hearts.

One of my faithful assistants, Lupin.

Getting all the shipping materials ready.

Faithful assistant napping on some moving boxes.

We've got some truly hectic weeks ahead of us. If all goes well, we will be closing on a house next week and beginning to move. I'm struck terribly sad suddenly to be leaving our apartment. It's been the first and only home I've had in the west. I love the people in our building, our landlord is great, and it's been a sweet nest for two newlyweds in love.

The neighborhood nnnnnnot so much. As I sipped my tea the other day, gazing out my window and watching a shirtless man in a 'Cat in the Hat' hat yelling incoherently at the police, while struggling to take off his shirt and stumble backwards into a bush, I reflected on our time spent here and the many characters of our neighborhood.

1. Homeless Santa
2. Angry Meth Mom
3. Hateful Couple (they like to yell at each other in the tree under our window, at like, you know, 2am. They're great)
4. Fightin' Pajamas
5. "Guy in the scary clown mask and prom dress who rode his bicycle up and down the street for 20 minutes once." He doesn't have a name, because he doesn't need one.
6. Sir Yells-A-Lot
7. The Window Watcher
8. Officer Forlorn (he just gets yelled at when he responds to problems).
9. The Cat in the Hat (you've already met him).
10. Trouble House
11. The Unseen Cougher.
12. Tinted Windows Ice Cream Van

Elvis hates Tinted Windows Ice Cream Van

Remembering these characters, a change of scenery feels long overdue. However, our actual apartment tucked safely inside our cozy building with our fantastic neighbors, wonderful landlord, and locked doors has been lovely.

I'm very happy at the prospect of a home to call our own, of course, but if you've enjoyed a place you'll be sad to miss it, whatever great new change looms bright on the horizon.

One more bit of news: Today is my 111th birthday! Okay, 31, BUT THAT'S NOT VERY HOBBIT SOUNDING, NOW IS IT? I'm delighted as usual. Some people get really bummed out about birthdays, but how can anyone really ever get upset about a day when they get cake and presents just for being alive? I don't understand it.

Cake + Presents + Zero Effort? = AMAZING

That's a foolproof equation right there. NOW LET ME EAT CAKE!


Friday, November 23, 2012

What it's like to be pregnant....

I have to apologize that I haven't been updating the blog more! We've had a few wild and crazy weeks; I visited RI for a few days, we found out we're closing on the house at the beginning of December, and today is the halfway point of my pregnancy. So we've been unpacking suitcases, packing boxes, and I've been in bed almost every night by 9. Being pregnant is hard work! Ladies, you'll watch a lot of movies about being pregnant, but the most accurate by far is "Rosemary's Baby."

I'm not even being cute, I'm serious. Pregnancy is a beautiful miracle, but it's also a lot of throwing up, being exhausted, phantom pains, sudden bouts of hormonal misery, strangers trying to touch you, and being 40-70% certain everyone is plotting against you. Still, I love it! I'll post some belly pictures soon!

On Monday we have an ultrasound to find out the gender of the baby and then finally, FINALLY, FINALLY everyone can stop asking us.

That will be amazing. I can't even remember what it's like to go a day without someone calling/texting/writing to anxiously ask if we found out if the baby is a boy or a girl yet (as though we're going to cruelly keep that information to ourselves and dress the child in a shapeless sack until they go away to college, only then at last revealing their name, gender, and whether we baptized them or not). Movies and tv have folks believing doctors can find out immediately, (People were asking 1 month in, before genitals even form on a fetus) but it's actually only at 20 weeks that they can see with reasonable certainty. Until then couples face everyone they have ever met asking them daily FOR FIVE TRULY IRRITATING MONTHS.

The only exception was last weekend, when we were out with some friends and our buddy Kriangkrai asked me, "Have you two found out the sex?" And I mistakenly heard something WAY different, and proceeded to say something like, "Oh sure, better than ever!" To which our friends graciously exclaimed, "No, no, you misheard us!!!" before I could go on. That was a pretty hysterical reprieve to the gender conversation.

You can probably tell I'm not great at handling the questions that come with pregnancy. From family and friends, the questions are a little different, and I don't mind them of course! However, from strangers--and by strangers I mean to say every single person you see all day--the questions and responses are always the same:

Question: When are you due?
My response: April

Question: Do you know the gender?
My response: No, we can find out at 20 weeks though.

Question: What do you want more, a boy or a girl?
My response: We're cool with either, we just hope it's healthy.

Question: How old are you?
My response: I'm 30.

So, as you can see, these are less like questions and more like doorways to veiled insults. However, for every ten people asking these questions, there's one calling congratulations across a mall or saying "How exciting!" and smiling to me while pointing to my belly as they pass by. Those people are awesome, they've probably been there, and I'm grateful for them.

I'm most grateful, obviously, for the little moving being inside me, whom is now kicking and fluttering up a storm. I've been able to feel the baby move for about two weeks. Sometimes it's a gentle tapping, other times it feels like a cellphone on vibrate going off in my belly. (Some folks refer to it as 'butterfly wings', but I'm telling you: cellphone). And two nights ago after a yawn and a big, big stretch, there was a hard, startled kick in response. Apparently someone had been snoozing and did not appreciate being suddenly jostled. That has all been pretty incredible.

Ryan felt the baby move for the first time last week, and his hand goes to my belly often since. We'll be sitting together on the couch and he will pass his palm over my belly; when we sleep, he curls around me with one hand protectively over my stomach. Whether it's instinct or need I'm not sure, but that's a wonderful feeling too. Since I have gotten pregnant Ryan has cleaned the litter boxes and the rat cages, taken over vacuuming, and helped with dinner (even if it's just to order a pizza which now feels like the most blissful luxury in light of how tired I am sometimes). He's been such a supportive partner; no surprise there to anyone who knows him. Whether I'm ranting about drivers in Washington or sobbing uncontrollably over a Folger's commercial--


--Ryan has been there to hug me, tell me I'm beautiful, and promise I'm not crazy. (Even when I'm totally being crazy).


I've got to stop watching old commercials.... At least until April.

I can't wait until Monday! Aside from finally being able to grab everyone by the shoulders and scream "IT'S A BOY/GIRL ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? IS THAT OKAY WITH YOU? DO YOU WANT ME TO SEND IT BACK?" Ryan and I are really excited to find out the gender so that we can stop referring to the baby as "it" or "this thing" or "you know, the person living inside my abdomen" and finally start narrowing down a name.

It's a truly exciting time! 

Black Friday Cyber Monday Sale!

I'm having a 30% off sale in the shop between now and Cyber Monday! You can visit the shop by clicking here.

I should really name my three little mascots, shouldn't I?

I joked on my FB page that I prefer Cyber Monday because anything you can do in your pajamas is automatically 10 times more fun. I think that's true, don't you? In the past I've been dead set against Black Friday. While I still really dislike the stores that bring their employees in for even one minute on Thanksgiving to prepare for Black Friday, I'm cooler with stores opening early Friday morning and folks spending their day after Thanksgiving hunting for great deals. I'm all about traditions and rituals, and I finally get that for some folks, like my cousin Cindy who told me earlier this month "Black Friday for me is like how you feel about Halloween", today is its own great holiday with its own excitement.

Not that I'm going out today, no way. I spent this morning snuggling beside Ryan under warm blankets, covered in cats. And then I had pumpkin pie for breakfast. It was awesome. I did some work on the shop for the sale, and I plan on spending this afternoon reading 'A Gnome's Christmas', watching Muppet Christmas specials, and checking out some of the sales in my favorite Etsy shops. (Because I don't just sell on Etsy, I also buy way, way too much).

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Nightmarathon's outcome, and the very hectic week!

Hello everyone!

I'm so sorry I never updated you on Nightmarathon's outcome! It was a great weekend, full of games, fun, and spending time with friends old and new in person and over the Internet. In the end, we raised $3,412 for the American Cancer Society! We hope to do this again next year, and now we have a record to beat ;)

Hurricane Sandy played a major role in our week, even out here on the west coast. Ryan and I are originally from Rhode Island, and still have many family and friends there. Our pal Hollis had flown out from Massachusetts for the Nightmarathon. When Sandy hit, his Sunday flight was canceled and he became stranded on the west coast until Friday! We felt terrible that he was suddenly stuck so far from home, but we were also pretty excited to have him with us a few more days.

So, we spent the week catching up, celebrating Halloween, showing Hollis the sights, and generally taking it pretty easy after our 72 hour marathon. Hollis still managed to do homework for his classes, which I think is super impressive for someone stranded 3000 miles away!

Rhode Island was extremely lucky, especially compared to New Jersey and New York. My Mom and Nana lost power for a few days, but their homes are safe and sound. Narragansett was ripped up pretty badly, and that breaks my heart a bit because I love Narragansett so much. I'm still trying to find out if our little apartments in Matunuck withstood the storm. There are pictures of terrible damage all around them, but no photos of them specifically.

I hope all of you fared well through Sandy!