The Happiness Project: Joy

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I love it but also it majorly stresses me out. I feel so much pressure to make it perfect and to enjoy it. The money aspect always stresses me out and I usually choose to make Christmas gifts late enough that I’m scrambling to finish on time. 

Then there’s the family aspect. I love my family, I really do but they can also be a bit… Much. I’m from a small town in the interior of BC and things are certainly different there than they are here in Vancouver. I get annoyed with small-town life and none of them seem to understand why I love the city so much. I love visiting my family but it’s also exhausting. So many people and so much going on. I always know that I’m thoroughly exhausted by the end of the holiday season, so I wanted to make it a nice and relaxing month with a lot of things that bring me joy. 

My month was filled with Christmas activities. I kicked it all off by decorating my apartment and my rats’ cage with all my decorations. I treated myself to two advent calendars this year. One from Lindt now that I can eat chocolate again, and a tea calendar from David’s tea. We had our annual craft exchange at the caffe I hang out at. I crocheted a friend a blanket for it, and even though I was a little disappointed that I ran out of time and couldn’t make it as long as I wanted it to be, it still turned out pretty well. My girlfriend and I went to Glow, which is a Christmas light display, and even though it was disappointing, it was a lot of fun. She also surprised me with tickets to go see my first Cirque de Soleil show, which was absolutely amazing. I went to my first work Christmas party. It wasn’t for my own work but a friend invited me to go with them and it was great. It helped that the food was free and that there was a lot of wine involved. My friends and I also held our annual bad Netflix Christmas movie and gin night. Another tradition I did this year was Sistermas. Andrea, my self-proclaimed sister, and I spent the last couple of Christmases together but this year since we were both going home to our families, we decided to have it earlier in the month. I stayed over after Gin night and we went for brunch the next morning before doing some Christmas shopping and going back to Andrea’s for cat cuddles and some Christmas movies. The following weekend was the annual Christmas party with the nerds at the caffe. As per usual we all ate too much food, were forced to watch the worst Christmas short film known to mankind (if you feel like being tortured like we were, go check out “Treevenge”, but honestly, don’t do it), and had a super fun white elephant gift exchange. The last Christmas event I did before going home to my hometown was going to the Burnaby Heritage Museum with another friend. I’d never been and it was so much fun to go with her since she used to volunteer there and told me so much information about it. Naturally, I did celebrate Christmas with my family once I got to my home town, but really all my Christmas activities happened while I was still in Vancouver. 

It wasn’t just holiday activities that brought me joy this month. I tried to find joy in all the little things. Self-care was a huge deal for me this month. I made a self-care advent calendar and didn’t follow it every day but followed it as much as I could. I also continued reading a lot and finished out the year with a total of 140 books read in 2019. Along with reading, writing and podcasting were other things that not only brought me joy in December but brought me joy in 2019 in general. Between this blog, my writing for WWEST, and my writing for Sartorial Geek, I published 31 blog posts. I also launched my own podcast with my co-host Andrea, and we published 16 episodes. 

The last thing that brought me a lot of joy this month was Star Wars. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love everything to do with Star Wars, so between the new movie and The Mandalorian (I love you Baby Yoda!) I was in my own nerdy heaven. I have a couple more posts on the go about Star Wars, so I’m not going to say any more about it here, but it certainly brought me a lot of joy.

I ended the month spending New Year’s Eve with my girlfriend and a friend watching movies from our childhood and eating too much junk food. Not the wild party that’s expected, but I preferred this so much more. 2019 was a year full of challenges, but also a lot of joy. Join me next month for “power”.

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets a Shoe to the Face

It’s been over a week since we got back from Emerald City Comic Con and I’m not even sure if I’ve processed it all yet. To say I was nervous and stressed out over the whole thing would be an understatement. I had been freaking out for weeks beforehand, not only that I wouldn’t finish my cosplays in time, but also that the large crowd of people would make me panicky. I’ve been to conventions before but this was the biggest one yet. Not only was I fine, but I had the best time I’ve ever had at a convention.

I’ve already talked about three of my cosplays in my previous blog post, and they all ended up turning out really great even if I was worried about wig styling, but now I’m excited to be able to talk about the dress I wore on the Saturday. This dress was really a dream come true. It was loosely based on the idea of a Princess Leia/Cinderella mashup but we generally just called it Disney Princess Leia for anyone that asked.

I’m not really sure how I decided to do this but sometime last year I was on Pinterest and saw a bunch of Leia artwork and one was Leia drawn in Disney Princess style and I knew it was something I had to do. So I recruited Julia as my only slightly reluctant accomplice and started in on what was going to be my biggest project to date. I took a pattern I already owned (for another ballgown I swear I will make one day) and altered it to fit my vision. We ended up adding more panels of fabric to the skirt as the original pattern wasn’t meant to go over the hoop skirt I was planning on wearing underneath it. Sleeves were added at one point and some things that were a part of my original vision were let go. This dress took months out of my life and probably gave me some grey hair while I was at it, but I can’t even begin to explain how worth it, it all was.

It was a childhood dream come true to walk around in a gown and very sparkly heels all day. Julia was dressed as my Prince Charming Han Solo (her idea guys, I swear!) and we were stopped so many times for pictures. Hell we even did a mini photo shoot on the stairs in our hotel. I had a lot of Cinderella feelings okay. I say this every time I cosplay at a con but there’s something really magical about having tiny children come up to you and get really excited about your costume. I had so many little girls ask me to take a picture with them. Normally, I’m terrible with kids but as soon as I’m in costume I weirdly seem to be able to handle them. I even met Jennifer Morrison while wearing the dress and she said I looked gorgeous. Yeah, I’m really surprised I could say words after that.

All in all it was an amazing con and an amazing experience. But I’m sure you have one more question. What the hell is the title of this post talking about? Well, after a whole day of wearing my sparkly heels, I was very excited to kick them off and I accidentally kicked too high and hit our friend Katherine in the face. Yup, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have one klutzy moment.

And now I start preparing for the next con.

Coffee Shop Cynic and the Quest for Romance: or how Alicen almost chopped off her finger

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and honestly, Valentine’s Day is often something that slips my mind because A. usually I’m single and B. It’s in the middle of February which is my crazy cosplay deadline month. Last year my partner and I went all out but this year we’ve decided to just watch movies at home instead. That still didn’t stop me from trying to do something romantic. Yeah… that went well.

It started a couple weeks ago when I was looking at the Hot Topic website for jewelry for the secret cosplay I’ve hinted at before. Couldn’t find what I was looking for but I did find these adorable rings that would be perfect. It’s a ring set and they only come in one size: one ring is a man’s size and the other a woman’s. Well that got me on a whole rant about heteronormativity, but that’s a rant for another day.

I was mad that the Hot Topic ones only come in those sizes so I searched the internet for similar rings, unsuccessfully. Anything I found was either going to take too long to get here, was too expensive, or had the same sizing problem. I was about to give up until my friend, Vanessa, gave me a shred of hope.

I ranted to Vanessa about it and she suggested that I still get the rings because I can get spacers to make the big one smaller. One call to Hot Topic to get the rings set aside, and one amazon order of ring spacers later, and I’m all set.

The next day I go to pick up the rings, barely looking at them, while rushing to get out of Hot Topic before I A. spend too much money and B. have Star Wars mansplained to me again by the guy who works there.

I get the rings home and notice that the size 7 one is pretty small. That’s the one I’m going to be wearing and I have pretty big knuckles. I know once I get rings on past my knuckles they’re usually fine. So I get it over my knuckle and it’s way too tight.

No panic. I go grab the soap and attempt to get it off. Nothing. Grabbed the lotion. Nothing. Now I’m starting to get a little concerned so I text Andrea while I also google “how to get a stuck ring off”.

I found this article and started following the advice on it. Tried oil–nothing. Tried icing and elevating the finger and ring for ten minutes. Didn’t work. I was running out of options. I started joking with Andrea about just chopping off my finger but she wouldn’t let me. So instead I tried the last suggestion on the list that I could do myself. I slid dental floss under the ring and wrapped the end closest to the top of my finger around my knuckle to compress it while I slid the ring off. Or at least I slid the ring off in theory. It didn’t work… cue me hysterically laughing.

I was pretty tempted to just grab my biggest knife but I’m the only one who thinks that was a good idea so I grabbed my coat and started heading to the mall instead.

Once I got to Brentwood the first jewelers I saw was Michael Hill. I walked in there hoping they could help me and was sorely disappointed. The one woman didn’t even look up at me, she just kept asking me if I’d tried soap or lotion. The other woman started freaking out saying, “Oh my god, it’s so swollen! I don’t want to hurt you! I can’t even look at it!” I knew no one there was going to be any use to me so I kept wandering the mall.

There’s two more jewelry stores in Brentwood so I looked in both and walked into Rodan. The store was full of suave men who were more than willing to help me. I calmly explained the situation while one of the gentlemen cut off the ring. Okay, that’s a lie. I totally sounded hysterical while I was ranting the entire story at him. He just kept calmly trying to cut off the ring. At one point I remember saying, “And I just wanted the rings for cosplay!” and he just calmly replied, “I don’t know what that means, ma’am,” and kept sawing away at the ring. I’m sure he’s been telling his friends about the weird woman who he had to cut a ring off of who wouldn’t shut up about heteronormativity and cosplay. Anyways, because the ring was cheap, he couldn’t put it back together and resize it but he did file down the cut edges for me and reshape it slightly so I can wear it.

I barely lasted two days before telling Julia this story. Forget surprising her for Valentine’s Day, this story was too ridiculous to not share. However, it doesn’t end there. Not long after I told Julia the story we were doing a trial run of said secret cosplays and I grabbed our gloves so we could put them on. It took me a moment but I looked down at our hands and started hysterically laughing. The rings were for nothing because we’re wearing gloves! Sigh. At least it makes a good story. Also, I’m stubborn as hell and we’re totally wearing the rings over the gloves.

“Someone has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, fly boy.”: How Princess Leia taught me how to be a feminist

As most people who know me know, I’ve always been a gigantic nerd. I was watching nerdy stuff with my mom pretty young. We didn’t always get along (read: we fought a lot) but my favourite memories with her all involve her showing me movies and TV shows she loved.

One of those movies was Star Wars. I remember once when I was little, Mom called me over and told me to find something called “Star Wars” on the shelf of doom (my nickname for the shelves of VHS tapes of movies and tv shows my parents had recorded over the years). Needless to say I loved it. I can’t remember too much from the first time I ever saw A New Hope (past me being mesmerized by it and wanting a pet Wookiee) but I do remember staring wide eyed when a bad-ass princess saved herself and sassed back at the male leads. I was so fortunate to grow up knowing there were female characters like Leia that I could look up to. To steal a phrase from my friend Andrea, she was the “self rescuing princess” I needed for a role model. Let’s just say, I wore Leia buns for a while…

She taught me that it’s okay to stand up for yourself. It’s okay to be snarky and sassy and abrasive. I suddenly didn’t have to choose between wanting to be a princess and wanting to be a hero: like Leia, I could be both.

Fast forward 19 years or so and I haven’t changed a bit (except now I wear full Leia cosplay instead of just Leia buns). Two years ago I went to go see The Force Awakens by myself (three times, but who’s counting?). I remember my reactions to that a lot more clearly (as I narrated to my girlfriend the other night when we were rewatching it) but one thing didn’t change. Just like with Leia, my eyes grew wide when Rey came on my screen. When I figured out she was the protagonist of the film I could have cried of happiness (Okay, okay, I totally did cry, but don’t tell anyone).I was so happy that a whole new generation of little girls can grow up with Rey like I did with Leia. I love seeing them cosplay her at conventions. I love seeing both little girls and boys get excited when they see her. It’s amazing and warms my Hoth-like heart.

I can’t wait to see The Last Jedi in a couple days and remember just why I love this franchise so much. It’s going to be so bittersweet now that Carrie is gone I’m prepared to cry, but I’m also prepared to grin like a fool. My girls are going to be on screen again and I don’t know if I can handle it!