Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A (Platonic) Love Letter to Faith Erin Hicks

Dear Faith (and other inspiring creators like you),

I'm writing this open letter because I've tried to say this in a tweet and there's just not enough room. So I figured a blog post gave me enough space to say what I need to say.

I'm an aspiring author. I've wanted to write books since I was old enough to read. That's still my dream.  In particular, I want to write Young Adult books. (Side note: Congratulations on writing one of your own. I'm sure it is amazing.) Like I said, books and writing have always been my passion. But I'm also a procrastinator. And, as I'm sure you are well aware, just because we love to do something doesn't mean that it comes easily to us. It's hard work reaching your dreams and I'm reminded of that on a daily basis.

So why am I writing this? To thank you.

Thank you for all of the amazing artwork you create. Thank you for helping shape stories that resonate with their readers and cultivate imaginations. Thank you for working your ass off bringing beauty into the world. (And thank you for writing a comic that made me want to ship Suki and Sokka, though I will go down with my Toph/Sokka ship.) But I want to thank you specifically for working hard every day on your comics and for tweeting about that.

It feels like a small thing, especially in the face of all the other awesome things you've been busy accomplishing. I mean, you got an Eisner for Superhero Girl this year, and here I am thanking you for tweeting about your work.

But I do want to thank you for those tweets. You tweet quite a bit about your daily struggle with comics, about how you love it but never have as much time as you want to work on it. You tweet about how you wish sleeping and eating didn't get in the way of your creating and about how you hate having to turn things down because there just isn't time for you to draw everything. You tweet about how you wrote a novel during your airport visits because you're drawing comics the rest of the time, but you can't bring your Cintiq to the airport.

And that inspires me. It reminds me that writing is what I love. Writing is my drawing. (Drawing pisses me off too much to be my actual drawing. It's not fun for me, it's just frustrating.) Seeing how dedicated you are to what you love, how dedicated you are to your dream job, reminds me just how much I want my own dream job . . . and I can't get there if I don't have that kind of dedication that makes me write until my hands cramp up and my brain gives out. I can't get there if I don't make myself sit down and write every day. I can't share my stories with the world if I don't ever get to typing.

So thank you, Faith, for reminding me with your tweets and your dedication that we have to work for our dreams and that it's a pleasure to run after them. It's hard and exhausting sometimes, but it's totally worth it if you're willing to go the extra mile.

I'll stop writing this now and get back to revising my actual work in progress and you can go back to drawing more comics instead of reading this rambling love letter from a twenty-something girl in Seattle who's still sitting at her work table in her pajamas.

Thanks again,
Kirsten Erin

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Arrow: Let the MEN Handle This

*This post contains spoilers for the Season 1 Finale of Arrow, just in case I'm not the last one to have finally gotten around to watching it.

     I literally just finished watching season 1 of Arrow after marathoning it all day, so I may not be terribly coherent in this irritated review of the finale, but hear me out, okay? I really like Arrow. I mean, what's not to like? It's Green Arrow, aka Oliver Queen, who happens to be one of the many DC Comics heroes that I have been in love with since early adolescence. It's no secret that I'm a DC Comics fangirl, so it shouldn't be any surprise that I'm really enjoying this show.

     However, I have a pretty big problem with the way the women are treated in the season finale. Essentially, how Laurel, Thea, and most glaringly Felicity are told, "Sure, you could help, but you're girls. Go hide and be safe while the boys handle this."

     I mean, sure it's great that these men are so set on protecting their friends. I would be fine with it if this applied to their male friends too. I mean, seriously! In Felicity's case, she literally volunteers to diffuse the bomb that only she knows how to diffuse and Oliver vetoes it immediately. He had no trouble when Diggle was going to diffuse it. In fact, instead of letting the girl do it, he calls in Officer Lance to do it instead while she talks him through it.

     Thea risks life and limb to go to the Glades and save Roy, literally making her appearance there by hitting a guy upside the head with a glass bottle who was pointing a gun at Roy. Then, when some others need help, Roy tells her he can't let her stay there and help him help them. He tells her to run and she does, making her entire trip worthless and leaving Roy to help the people dying in the bus.

     Laurel's storyline in the finale is the least troublesome, though I honestly still can't figure out why she was in the Glades anyway after literally everyone told her to stay out. Her father begs her to get out because he thinks he'll be going under with the disaster, so I can't find too much fault with her ordeal.

     It just infuriated me watching these extremely capable women treated as something fragile and precious that couldn't handle saving the city like the menfolk. The men, of course, can risk their lives without a question. Oliver doesn't think twice about risking his own life, agrees to let Diggle come with him only after remembering Officer Lance could help, and conscripts Officer Lance knowing full well that he could easily die going in for Felicity.

     So as much as I wanted to, I really couldn't enjoy the finale of Season 1. I expected better of the creators, especially ones that created such dynamic women that I was really enjoying up to that point. Here's to hoping Season 2 rights those wrongs and lets these women reach their real potential.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why I'm Not in the Fashion Industry

     When I moved to Seattle a little over six months ago, I applied just about everywhere in hopes of landing a job, even jobs I knew would be fools to hire me. One such company was Urban Outfitters (yes, I know now that they are quite literally the devil, but I had forgotten in my panic over being unemployed). They somehow made the mistake of brining me in for an interview. They told me to wear something I would wear to work and I wore jeans (I KNOW. I hired people at my last job and I know wearing jeans was the stupidest idea ever) and a cute black top. When I walk in, the three other girls being interviewed looked like they had just stepped out of a magazine. I knew then that I didn't have the job.
     It got worse when the interview started. One of the girls had studied fashion design in Paris. She was interviewing because she wanted to work her way into fashion design from the bottom. Then the interviewer asked us who our style icon was. Everyone went into such depth and immediately had someone that came to mind. The cute girl in the polka dot dress said Zooey Deschanel. I have no idea who the other people were. I bullshitted my way through by claiming I got style tips from friends, which the amateur fashion designer used to save my ass by marveling over how helpful "street fashion" is. Obviously, I didn't get the job.
     Anyway, I told that story because I was thinking today about my strange fashion choices and how much I honestly amuse myself with how I dress. Because, generally speaking, I don't give a flying fuck what I wear. So I tweeted about it:

It got me thinking about other silly reasons I'm not in fashion design and I decided to make a list of a few of them here. Without further ado, here are the top five reasons I'm not in fashion design:

1. Sweatshirt Shirts
     Obviously, I already talked about this, but it has to make the list nonetheless. I love wearing sweatshirts as shirts. They're so damn comfy and warm! I'm currently wearing my "Books Turn Muggles Into Wizards" Harry Potter Alliance sweatshirt as a shirt (which are sold by DFTBA Records). If I owned more sweatshirts, this would be a main staple of my wardrobe. Unfortunately, I only have about four, so I can't. Maybe I should add more sweatshirts to my Christmas Wish List . . .

2. Shoes
     I horrify my best friend on a daily basis (who is a manager at an Old Navy in Texas) on a daily basis by my sheer disregard for footwear. I've never been much of a shoe person, even when I tried. At this point, I have five pairs of shoes: 1 pair of DC Comics Flash Converse high tops, 1 pair of DC Comics Batman & Robin Converse high tops, 1 pair of light brown boots from Target that have crochet flowers on the side, 1 pair of sandals (also from Target), and a pair of grey and pink tennis shoes I bought at Ross.  I find shoes irritating and generally ill-fitting. When giving the option, I will generally always choose the sandals, because they're the fastest to put on. This includes rainy days like today, in which I'm wearing a sweatshirt, jeans, and sandals . . . like a crazy person.

3. Nerd Merch
     I am a firm believer in the fact that if you have to purchase something, you should always try to get it in the nerdiest version possible. I like repping the things I'm into. I'm a pretty nerdy person, which means I will try to get nearly everything to represent one of the various fandoms I'm a part of. Obviously, this easily translates into what I'm wearing. Thus, two out of five of my shoes are DC Comics-related. Two of my four sweatshirts are the Harry Potter one I'm wearing and a Flash one. My two phone cases are a Batman & Robin one and a Wonder Woman one. Even my tattoos are nerdy: one is a paraphrase of a Dumbledore quote and the other is Tolkien's original illustration of the Doors of Durin from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

4. Priorities
     Honestly a huge part of why I'm not a part of the fashion industry is the fact that I have more pressing interests, particularly in where I choose to invest my money. Ask anyone who knows me where I spend most of my money and the first thing everyone will say is BOOKS. It's my passion and it means the world to me. Every time I'm forced to buy clothing, my immediate thought is, "I could buy, like, five books with this same amount of money."

5. I Just Don't Care
     The final reason I'm not in the fashion industry, is that I just don't care. It's not my cup of tea. I tend to have a pretty big problem with anyone or anything that presumes to dictate what I should or shouldn't look like or wear or be doing. Maybe that's just me being rebellious, but I couldn't care less if you like my outfit. If I like it, that's all that matters. Like I always tell anyone who will listen, confidence is 90% of looking good in pretty much anything. That's why hipsters can wear such weird clothes and still look so goddamn attractive.

     So there you have it: the top five reasons I am not in the fashion industry. The point of this post, besides laughing at myself, is essentially to say this:

     Wear what you like. Do what you like. Be who you like. Don't let others dictate the way you live your life, because life is too short to live like that. Who cares if that bitch in your Math class or at work thinks your outfit looks odd? If you like it, keep wearing it.
     And if you see me sitting at your local Starbucks with my brown and purple hair in braided pigtails, wearing a "Books Turn Muggles Into Wizards" sweatshirt as a shirt, over jeans and sandals, even though it's in the fifties outside and has been raining since dawn; feel free to judge my outfit. Because who I am and what I do doesn't have anything to do with you. I feel good like this. It makes me happy. And that's what matters in the end.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Then Why Would She Dress Like That?

A few months back, I had a discussion about sexual harassment with my dad. By discussion, I mostly mean argument, though that's not even because he was disagreeing with me (he wasn't), but because I get passionate about this sort of thing and it makes it difficult for me to think rationally when someone sets me off.
Don't get me wrong, my dad is totally against sexual harassment and a big part of the discussion was "What constitutes sexual harassment?" because it can be difficult for guys to understand why it's a problem when they are rarely on the receiving end. It's hard to understand the undercurrent of fear when they haven't been conditioned to expect sexual harassment/assault whenever they're out in public. Women, as a rule, are taught to always expect it and hope it doesn't happen, though we know it probably will.

This post is about a question that came up during that discussion that I've heard bounced all over the place: "But if she dresses provocatively, why wouldn't one assume it's because she wants sex? Don't some women wear revealing clothes to promote their availability?" It felt like a hard question at the time and feels like one every time I hear it. That's why I'm writing this post: because I never can get the answer out how I want when I'm having the discussion, though it seems so obvious when I think about it.

The simple answer would be that, yes, some women do wear clothing to let men know they're available or willing. But the operating word here is some. And even if that is why the woman has chosen to dress the way she has, that doesn't mean she wants sex with every male that walks by, either.

I could go on and on about that particular aspect of the question, but I want to address the assumption that this is the only reason a woman would dress provocatively in itself. Because when we assume we know what another person is ultimately trying to say with their clothing and/or appearance without bothering to listen to what the person is actually saying, we end up with a culture that not only ends up making wrong assumptions, but also one that defends rape and harassment with "Well, she was asking for it."

John Green makes it simple, "Imagine others complexly." Though he wasn't speaking to this particular issue, the sentiment applies. When we imagine others based on what we want them to be or suppose them to be, we miss out on who they really are and end up making decisions that could, at best, make us miss out on something that might have been great and, at worst, cause us to make decisions that can alter our lives and the lives of others in terrible ways.

There are a hundred reasons why any given woman may dress as conservatively or provocatively as they do on any given day. The only safe assumption to make there is that she dresses that way because she wants to dress that way. Making any further assumption without knowing or asking that person is wrong and a deeply ignorant way to go about things.

For example, when a woman wears a shirt that shows off her cleavage. That doesn't mean she wants to have sex with you or that she wants you to touch them. It doesn't mean that she's a tease or that she's just trying to get attention. She could be any of those things, but not because her shirt is low-cut. And when you assume you know why she chose that particular shirt without bothering to know her or give her the benefit of the doubt, you're the one who is in the wrong. For all you know, this was the only one of her shirts that is clean or maybe she just thinks it's cute. Maybe she just likes her cleavage and, let's be honest, she ought to because cleavage is awesome. But showing cleavage does not make her less than human and it doesn't give you the right to judge that woman or assume anything about her.

On a related note, dealing with sexual harassment and cleavage, when a woman gets upset at you for looking at her boobs, it's usually not because she doesn't want you to see that she has them. I, for one, like my boobs and don't mind that others do too. What I don't like is when you see them instead of a person. When you talk to my boobs instead of me, it's degrading and disgusting and it often brings up that undercurrent of fear that women are instilled with because we can't be sure you'll take no for an answer. We're upset because you're not talking to me, the person, you're talking to the part of me that you want to do something for you.

My point in this post is basically to point out that people act, dress, and make decisions the way they do for a plethora of reasons and when we assume that, as complete strangers, we innately know what those reasons are, we risk making some major mistakes that hurt ourselves and everyone around us. "Imagine others complexly" and let their words do the talking, not just their clothes. It's rare that we decide a man wants sex because he wore a fancy shirt, a tank top, or shorts above the knee, so let's stop assuming that the only reason a woman wears something that she likes is because she wants it. People wear what they wear because they have chosen to wear it. That is it. It's that simple.

*All pictures were taken off of Pinterest and are not property of the author.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Few Things I've Learned Since Moving to Seattle

I have now been living in Seattle for a little over three weeks now. It's already been one hell of an experience and I really look forward to what is in store for me in the weeks to come. But I figured it would be fun to make a list of some of the things I've learned thus far in my walks around the city and hours spent trying to get my computer to connect to the library wifi.

So here goes nothing:

1) Always wear boots.

I guess this should be obvious, but I'm the kind of girl who likes my shoes to slip on an off. Call me a hobbit, but I don't like wearing shoes if it can be avoided and therefore resent the time spent lacing and unlacing them, not to mention the fact that I don't like tracking whatever might be clinging to them into the house.
However, I have quickly learned that my canvas shoes just will not do when you can expect it to rain at least once a day. It only took me two times of walking home in my own personal puddles to convince me that my canvas shoes will have to be retired to trips downstairs to get my mail or do laundry.

2) Walks are fun!

Exercise is generally not my thing, even if it's just taking a walk. I prefer to spend my free time reading and, back home, taking a walk meant walking uphill to see another boring set of houses in the suburbs. Every walk in Seattle is an adventure, at least to me. I find new things every day and love learning the layout of my neighborhood and the city as a whole.

3) When using revolving doors, keep it one person to a compartment unless you know the other person.

Okay, that should be common sense, but it is something I learned and it was a mortifying three seconds of my life. Chances are, the revolving door compartments are too small for more than one person to fit in comfortably. When in doubt, wait for it to revolve. If you, like me, find yourself in a too small revolving door compartment, stay as close to the back part of it as possible and just do your best not to let the other person realize you're behind them. Also, don't step on their shoes.

4) Wifi is essential.

I tried not to get it. I didn't want to pay for something I could get for free at the library a few blocks away. I wanted to wait at least until I paid my first rent check and all the other bills that are going to come along with it at the end of the month. However, I quickly realized how essential wifi is to my daily life. When the wifi at the library decided it wasn't too fond of my Mac, I gave in pretty quickly. It was either that, or pay $6 a day to get a coffee and mooch off the Starbucks wifi for a few hours.

5) Only tourists use umbrellas.

This sounds like a dumb generalization or pointless cultural standard when you first move here. After all, Seattle is known for being inherently rainy. However, the longer you stay here, the more you realize just why most locals wear hoods instead of carrying umbrellas: the wind.
It's pretty windy over here, especially since we're right off the water. Carrying an umbrella means battling with a stringless kite or having the umbrella turn inside out and make sure you get just as wet as if you weren't carrying one in the first place. Ditch it and deal with the rain. You'll be just as wet without expending unreasonable effort.

These weren't in any particular order and probably aren't very insightful, but they're just a bit of what I learned . . . that and the fact that the vending machine downstairs only takes nickels and quarters for some incomprehensible reason. I figured it wouldn't hurt to share it with you.

Who knows what I'll find out next.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thank God for Excedrin

I figured I needed photographic proof
that I willingly got on a ferry. (Not
that you can really tell I'm on one.)
It's official. I've moved and am currently residing in Seattle, WA.
*does happy dance*
I'm still shocked that this is real life. I mean, I'm sitting in the Central Library, typing away at one in a hundred computers provided for everyone, hundreds of miles from nearly everyone I know and love.
It's wonderful.
I don't know about you, but the fact that I'm a new and unknown face in a big city is so freeing that I can hardly stand it. Of course, I'm still scared and worried about finding a job, but I've made it this far and I know I can make it the rest of the way as well.

So, for those of you who are wondering, I still have quite a few things to take care of. I can barely see the floor in my new apartment for everything that's still lying on the floor. When I left this morning, my cat was sitting on a half-made dresser I gave up on last night when I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.
Today, I drove an hour away to find a place where I could park my car semi-permanently without paying an arm and a leg. To get home, I had to hitch a ride with the owner of the rental space and then take a bus and two ferries to get back to downtown. If you know anything about me, you know I hate boats and tend to avoid any kind of deep water at all costs. Still, I managed it and survived, though I did have to stop by the drugstore on my walk home after acquiring a head-splitting headache. Thank God for Excedrin.

I'm still searching for a job and definitely feeling the pressure about getting one soon, but it's a load off my shoulders to have a place where I can park my car that isn't timed. I mean, getting up at 6am, throwing on a hoodie and jeans, and running to the car lot where I parked it the night before just to pay for a few more hours would've gotten old really fast. I was sick of it as soon as that alarm went off this morning.
Now I just need to find that job that will stem the flow of cash trickling out of my savings account, get a Washington State driver's license, order some checks, and figure out where the hell the dumpster for my apartment is. Oh, and I should probably finish assembling my dresser before I alphabetize the rest of my bookshelf.

I have a lot to do in the near future, but I look forward to seeing what Seattle life has in store for me.

Friday, February 14, 2014

I'm Moving!!

The best picture I managed to take of the Space Needle!
I know it's been a right age since I've written anything on this blog. I'm not exactly the best at keeping up with the twenty-thousand things I do on the internet (especially when it comes to writing: my passion and my bane).

Curled up in a chair at my parents' apartment in Paris, I am forcing myself to actually sit down and write this partially because I miss doing this, partially because Mom hasn't woken up yet to go to the bookstore with me, and partially because I've been too stressed in the last few days to do anything but think about this move . . . so I might as well get something productive accomplished from it. 

So here's the big news: I'm moving to Seattle. 

The first question I get every time I tell someone this bright bit of information is: "Why Seattle?"

It's a fair question, but one I find a bit difficult to answer. It's a lot of little things combined, I suppose. I've grown tired of living on the outskirts of Dallas and it was time to get out of my parents' home (even if I was the only one in it, seeing as they live overseas). I wanted to move to a big city and have a bit of a fresh start in a new place. 

Seattle seemed like the right place for a plethora of reasons. I've always liked the idea of Seattle. It's the coffee capital of the nation and known for it's quirkiness and love of art/artistic expression. It's rainy, but I've always loved the rain more than the sun. It's a new place, far away from the old, where I can decide for myself where to go from here.

I should also mention that it is the #1 most literate city in the world. If you know me, you know that's ridiculously cool. I mean, we are talking about a girl who is both an aspiring writer and librarian here.

The second question I normally receive is: "So who lives in Seattle?" Meaning, who do I know in Seattle?

The answer to this one is much easier. I know no one. I'm not moving up there to be with anyone, nor do I need someone else to go with me in order to make it. I know that people have the best intentions when it comes to this question, but I want to make it clear that I can do this on my own. Of course I've received helped from my family and my friends, but this is my adventure to take and no one should ever let fear of doing something alone keep them from doing that thing which they desire. This is your life; live it.

Lastly, people generally end their inquiries not with a question, but with a comment: "Wow, that's really brave of you. I would be too scared."

Let's get one thing straight here: I am scared shitless. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I have spent the last few days having a near heart attack because now that I've gotten my apartment pegged down, this is real. (Not to mention, I am literally going to have 2.5 days to pack and say goodbye to everyone because I can't come home early from visiting my parents.)

I struggle with anxiety on a daily basis. It's a constant staple in my thought process and therefore definitely a big part of my life. One thing it has taught me, though, is that fear of a thing shouldn't always keep you from taking part in it. I have a long way to go in overcoming my personal anxiety, but I sure as hell don't want it to keep me from living my life. Therefore, I have to make the conscious effort to subvert it.

This, of course, doesn't mean that my anxiety about the move won't keep me up at night of put me on the verge of panic attacks (if you've never experienced one of these, count yourself lucky).

Let's also keep in mind that I'm predisposed to at least be a little more well-versed in something as big as this. After all, I've moved away from everyone I know more than once. And let's not forget just how many schools I transferred to and from. I still get asked if I was in the Witness Protection Program when I tell people my school history. It's one big, jumbled mess.

I guess the point in that is that I don't find myself particularly brave. I'm just unwilling to stay where I am out of fear. I'm filled with wanderlust and a need to explore that, for now, outweighs the terror of being the new girl once again.

And if I have to move back or decide Seattle isn't for me after my year's lease is up? Well, then that's how the cookie crumbles. I won't view it as a failure, but as an adventure and a risk I'll be glad I took. I'd rather know I tried than forever regret being to afraid to go.

Well, if all else fails, at least I'll still have my cat. She's coming with me at least. ;)