What Happened at the Antique Shop (Poetry)

The heaviness of the piece

Is more than its weight,

Memories in my hands

Flashing in my mind

In veiled shards of

What history it had witnessed,

The feelings welling up in my heart

And taking form into pictures

As familiar as words

I may have heard in a dream

Until I wonder if these memories

Are actually my own,

Since forgotten

Until now

 

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Ice Cream (Poetry)

Sweet nostalgia

Now forgotten,

Melted with

The burning suns

Of time—

What happened

To those days

Where the price for a wish

Was a dandelion seed,

And we were encouraged

To believe

In fairytales?

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Firepower (Poetry)

Held in

For so long

A roiling spiral

Until the emotions

No longer have a name

Nor have a fuse left

Merely the tiniest spark

And then—

 

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The Monster I Fear (Poetry)

I fear no monster

Of fang and claw,

Wings of bat and fur of wolf;

Of scales and fins,

Spines or gills;

 

I fear no monster

That lurks unseen,

Spectral hands and haunting voice;

Of heaven and hell,

Sunlight or sulfur;

 

It is the monster

Of empty smiles and lofty promises—

Predator, trickster,

Opportunist, scavenger—

That I fear the most.

 

Morrigan Harker

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Hobby or Hustle: A Response to Molly Conway

Disclaimer: All magic has a price, so this article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, so if you make a purchase with my link, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Well met, everyone, and welcome back to the blog! Today, I want to introduce my point with a bit of a story. Earlier this month, I opened my new tarot deck and did a spread to allow the deck to introduce itself (I’m aware of how woo-woo that sounds when I write it out, but humor me please). The first card I drew with the deck was the reversed Ace of Pentacles, which I interpreted as “be careful about new business opportunities”. I had done some Oracle card readings before, and I admittedly wanted to start doing Tarot and psychic readings as a “side hustle” particularly with this deck, so I took this card as a warning that it possibly wouldn’t go as well as I hope (or at all). I also had to think about why I thought it would be necessary for me to make money from Tarot readings—why not just do it because I enjoy it?

Fast forward to yesterday, when I read an article by Molly Conway called “The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles”. Conway explains her opinions on how our generation is pressured to be busy all the time and how we’re encouraged to monetize our hobbies as part of our “hustle culture”. I caught myself saying “yassss” whenever I agreed with something Conway says, and I thought back to when I pulled the reversed Ace of Pentacles, and how we don’t have to turn all of our hobbies into a side job.

In particular, the story that Conway tells about a fellow wedding guest being repeatedly asked if she has an Etsy shop for her handmade clothes resonated with me quite a bit. As an aspiring musician as well as a writer, I’ve often been told things along the lines of, “You’re so good at singing—you should perform at open mics!” or “Your songwriting is so good! You should release an album!” When I hear people say that, I imagine a lot of them mean that as a form of encouragement—more like “if you wanted to become a famous musician, I’d support it” rather than “if you don’t become a famous musician, it’d be such a waste of talent that could make you really, really successful”. Regardless, our cultural mentality of “rise and grind” and “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” allows for a mindset of “if I’m not making money from this, then it’s not worth doing it”. Don’t even get me started on how many people have asked me, “Have you ever thought of selling your knitting on Etsy?”

I also want to elaborate on a similar experience. I’ve noticed a pattern that if ones likes a hobby or activity, one is expected to be really good at it, and I’ve experienced a lot of anxiety from that in my hobbies, even when I don’t have any intentions of making them into a career. For example, I love and appreciate historical costuming and handmade textile goods. I love to sit with my computer and a cup of Russian Caravan tea (Amazon), and binge watch Bernadette Banner’s YouTube videos. However, in case you haven’t seen my Instagram and Twitter when I have an inevitable meltdown in front of my sewing machine, I myself am not very good at sewing, and the pressure to be better at it gets to me in the moment (and that’s not even taking comparing oneself to others into consideration). Similarly, I love drawing and appreciate great art, but I have to choose to be okay with my stick-figure drawing because I don’t need my hobbies to add to my anxiety and my feelings of “not being good enough”. (Before anyone says “just practice and you’ll get better”, that’s not the point here. While it’s true there’s no way around practicing if you want to get better at anything, I also feel appreciating your progress and not putting yourself down for your present skill level needs to be emphasized just as much.) Just like it’s valid to be merely a casual fan of something like Star Wars or The Elder Scrolls, I also feel like doing what you love, even if you’re not that good at it, is also valid.

People talk a lot about self-care on Pinterest and Facebook, and I feel like we need hobbies that let us just do, with no expectation of success in some way, to let us decompress as a form of self-care. Hustling all the time can lead to burnout, and that makes self-care even harder. Have you experienced this mentality before? Let’s keep talking about it, and let me know in the comments what you think!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

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11 January 2021: Edited to remove an affiliate link for the tarot deck mentioned in this article.

Excerpt: THE HOLLOW BONES

Lina then saw Mr. von Essen sitting by the mill pond as he read from a small book. When she smiled, raising a hand in greeting, he tipped his hat and stood up from the grass.

“Miss Evangeline,” he greeted her.

“Our new schoolmaster, Mr. von Essen,” she gave a small curtsy in reply as she turned to introduce the two gentlemen to each other, “This is Mr. Irving, one of my friends from New York City.”

The schoolmaster held out his hand, “How do you do, Mr. Irving,”

“How do you do,” Mr. Irving smiled as he shook his hand, “Miss Lina, I believe I ought to see what my brother is up to.”

“Very well,” Lina smiled, and she saw Mr. Irving walk away before she turned to Mr. von Essen, “Do you not have classes today?”

“We just finished,” he held up the small book he was reading, “I found myself wanting to read my favorites again.”

She strained to read the cover of his book. “Shakespeare?” Her face lit up, “Which one is your favorite of his works?”

He smiled, “It’s quite tragic, but I feel quite partial to Hamlet.”

Her brow furrowed with recognition of the name, “That’s the one with ‘to be or not to be’, isn’t it?”

“That’s it,” he nodded, “Are you familiar with it?”

“I merely perused it,” she admitted, “I prefer ones like Romeo and Juliet, but my favorite is A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

He smiled with an arched brow, “‘I see Queen Mab hath been with you’,” The reference to Mercutio was not lost on Lina, and a giggle escaped. “Is it the fairies that intrigue you?”

She nodded as they sat back down on the grass. “They are both whimsical and dangerous, but they don’t seem to mean harm to people. Compared to those like Hamlet or Macbeth, it seems much more diverting. I always see a warning in Macbeth.” She cut herself short at that. How silly she was to prattle on and on!

Mr. von Essen, however, didn’t seem to be bothered with her brief monologue, and prompted, “How so?”

She shrugged, “The witches’ spell—‘something wicked this way comes’. You probably have heard of the haunted legends in the town by now.”

“Enough of them,” he hedged.

She suspected he was merely being gentle with his words, but she granted a small pardon for that time. “Well, it feels like something wicked may come to Sleepy Hollow, if it hasn’t already. The rumors of the village being cursed have been around even before I was born.”

He nodded, “The hauntings here may even predate the arrival of Europeans to this area. What about Hamlet?”

“When I read it, the idea of ghosts scared me. Maybe reading it now would not discomfit me, but it’s hard to make out the meaning of the Middle English.”

He smiled, “I might be able to help you. Mrs. Van Ripper suggested you were interested in tutoring. Perhaps I could tutor you in Shakespeare’s works as well as psalmody.”

It was Lina’s turn to grin broadly, “That would be quite lovely!”

 

I hope you enjoyed this bit from The Hollow Bones! Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

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A New YouTube series: My Thoughts On It

Well met, everyone, and welcome back to the blog! A few days ago, I posted a video on my YouTube about my thoughts on Netflix’s The Witcher. This video is episode one of a new series I want to start on my YouTube called “My Thoughts On It”, talking about primarily books and movies that, in my opinion, were really good or really bad and why.

I wanted to branch away from the DIY videos because even though I love doing the DIY videos, the creative experiments were taking more time and supplies than I initially would have thought, and with my current schedule being the way it was, I had been in a creative drought for home decor ideas. I also want to keep posting content on YouTube because I love video production and editing, so I’ve decided to start doing things I love, like providing commentary and discussion on my favorite fandoms.

Right now, Episode 2 of “My Thoughts On It” will likely be about Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies. What are some other books, movies, etc. that you want to hear me talk about? Please let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

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My 2020 Resolutions

Well met, everyone, and welcome back to the blog! Considering I put down my 2019 resolutions in an article last year, I decided it’s now time to do it again for 2020.

My resolutions for 2020:

  • Continue to develop my blog and YouTube channel, but do so with self-compassion and without comparing myself to others. Unlike some content creators I follow (no shade), content creation is not my full time job. While I’d love to continue posting content, I can’t compare myself to other creators that have more time and opportunities and different skill sets than I do.
  • Continue to develop my music and a career in such. I have some ideas in the cauldron about some music videos on YouTube, and I’m hoping to include music more into my life.
  • Continue to develop a daily routine that is sustainable and allows for self-care. This year my mental health recovery was gnarly but still made progress. My goal is to continue with that and develop a routine that helps with recovery and maintaining a healthy headspace.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Let me know in the comments! Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

The Reality of Rejection

Well met, everyone, and welcome back to the blog!

It’s been hectic since I last wrote on here, what with the Thanksgiving festivities here in the US as well as work and preparing for the upcoming holiday celebrations. In addition, I’m applying for my Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing, and while it’s fulfilling and I’m excited for it, the application process is ripping open a wound I need to work on.

With my poetry, I was lucky to have been accepted and that my work was well-received. With my MFA, however, the applications require a portfolio and I’m now questioning everything that I’ve ever written in my entire life. Unlike my experience with undergrad applications, when acceptance can depend on test scores, community service, and other more concrete factors, the portfolio is what determines acceptance, and that can be quite subjective.

I often hear the stories of Stephen King’s rejection nail (#2 in this article) as well as the stories from other writers on my Twitter about the roller coaster ride also known as the querying process, so I understand that rejection is something that writers will have to deal with at some point in their careers, if not often. At the same time, knowing that rejection is going to happen at some point has the same level of dread I feel when I anticipate the jab of a needle at the doctor’s office.

Writing means a lot to me. Sometimes I consider myself a writer before I even consider myself a person. So, if I put that much of my time, effort, heart, and soul into my work and it costs me an acceptance into an MFA program, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong to do so, I’m going to take it personally to some degree.

In some instances in the self-help community, this advice to be persistent in spite of hardships can be well-intentioned but nonetheless a bit invalidating. We as writers put our soul into our work, so to have something so personal cast aside so impersonally is likely going to hurt, and it’s okay to feel hurt about it. What we have to do—and what I have to practice on—is not let that make us close up into our proverbial shells and stop trying.

Have you had to deal with rejection? How do you handle it? Let me know in the comments section below!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

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PHANTOM-Inspired Mirror DIY (VIDEO)

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, so if you make a purchase with the links, I receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Well met, everyone, and welcome back to the blog! I recently uploaded another video to my YouTube channel, in which I made over an IKEA mirror into a romantic, slightly Gothic art installation inspired by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera as well as Beauty and the Beast and Maleficent. I am of the belief that things in my house should be practical as well as aesthetically beautiful, so if I’m going to have a full-length mirror to examine my outfit (and—let’s be real—take a lot of Instagram selfies), why not make it look like something pulled from one of my favorite stories of all time?

The concept I had for this video was that the mirror was from Christine’s dressing room, and that some form of magic was causing real roses to grow from the wooden roses in the frame. This video was inspired by a mirror DIY by Mr. Kate (article) as well as a DIY flower wall tutorial by Lulu Sapphire (video). I also wanted this to be an experiment showing the creative process, rather than a tutorial.

The Mirror Frame

The mirror I used was the Nissedal mirror from IKEA (there are two widths available—I used the wider one). After using some artist tape and notebook paper to protect the glass, I started painting a coat of gold spray paint (Amazon). In hindsight, it was way too windy when I tried to paint the first few coats of paint, so the paint ended up going on unevenly. After some coats of the bronze spray paint (Amazon) from my candelabra DIY on a calmer day, the mirror was finally painted. I also added a clear enamel (Amazon) to prevent the paint from chipping or getting tacky. I also painted my millwork pieces—four corner pieces (Amazon) and one top center piece (Amazon)—with the same colors.

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The flowers and millwork pieces, all unpainted

The windy first day of painting also added another problem. Underneath the notebook paper, some paint got onto the glass. I was able to wipe it away with acetone, but if you use acetone, be sure to use rubber gloves (not plastic gloves like I used in the video—acetone can damage plastic) and work in a well-ventilated area.

There were some things I wanted to do in this project that I ultimately decided against doing. For instance, I had the idea to de-silver the mirror edges to give it more of an antique feel. I decided not to do that, because it’s hard to do indoors, and it’s difficult (if not impossible) to reverse if I decided I didn’t like it. For this project, I left the glass as it was, but I may try it if or when I revisit this project in the future.

After cleaning off the acetone residue with glass cleaner, it was time to add the millwork. I measured the center line for both the mirror frame and the top center piece, and then I added felt pads so the bottom edge didn’t scuff the floor. (I initially thought I’d hang the mirror on the wall, but I ultimately decided to leave it on the floor to add to the “Parisian chic” vibes as I observe them on Pinterest. It also doesn’t help that that would have likely required drilling holes into the wall, and I didn’t want to do that.) I also laid down a plastic sheet to protect the floor from any stray drops of glue. Once everything was ready to go, I attached the millwork to the frame with Super Glue. You can also use E-6000 or any other strong adhesive.

As I came to realize, this part was much easier said than done. The pencil marks I made to mark the center lines were so hard to see that I ended up eyeballing the center piece (oh, well—I tried). There was also another hiccup; the top center piece didn’t sit flat against the frame so I had to mortar one side down with hot glue. This gives the optical illusion that it’s tilted ever so slightly, but I didn’t mind that much. Let this be a warning to work quickly with Super Glue because it dries fast.

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Screen capture from the video

With that, the mirror frame is complete! At this point, the mirror would probably look good as it is, but I want to take this to the next level, so it’s time to work on the roses.

The Floral Arrangement

This part was more challenging than I thought it would be. While these flower stems from Michael’s (similar product) were beautiful and fit almost perfectly into the look I wanted, I was very frustrated with them during this process. With many fake flowers, the leaves, structural pieces, and individual sheets of petals all separate with relative ease. These hardly separated at all, which made it much harder to paint them than it needed to be. It can be done, but if you want to do this quickly and (relatively) painlessly, flowers that separate into individual pieces and put back together easily would likely be your best bet.

My initial plan was to spray paint the stems with the metallic colors and then spray paint the roses red (no Alice in Wonderland reference intended). In between coats of paint on the mirror frame, I added some small pieces of aluminum foil to protect the blossoms from the metallic spray paint. I then sprayed the stems and leaves the same colors as the frame.

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The flowers with spray painted stems

It was when I went to paint the blooms that I realized my cunning plan in fact had a critical flaw. In hindsight, it would have been easier to paint the blossoms first and then paint the stems to cover up any stray paint. Desperate to make this work, I wrapped the stems and leaves in foil and plastic wrap to protect them while I tried to spray paint the flowers anyway. To my further horror, I came to realize the red spray paint I had chosen (Amazon) was too bright for the aesthetic I wanted. I then made the bold, slightly reckless decision to paint the blooms by hand with acrylic paint.

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Screen capture from my video footage to show you the shade of red as it came out of the can.

I used a lot of naphthol crimson (Amazon) and a whisper (seriously—it’s potent) of dioxazine purple (Amazon) to make a rich burgundy color that went better with the aesthetic I wanted, and then proceeded to paint the rest of the blooms with this color. Take your time with this, and definitely wear gloves, unless you want your non-dominant hand to look like a crime scene. The painting process took me about three hours total.

Phantom Mirror DIY: Paint Mixing
This is to give you an estimate of how much purple I used compared to red. Seriously, a little goes a long way.

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Finally, I cut the flowers into individual stems and used clear 3M hooks to keep the flowers anchored to the frame and guide them up the wall. After some rearranging, it’s done!

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I may revisit this project at a later time to see what can be improved, but I’ll also be honest: this came out way better than I anticipated. As a craftsperson, I often get caught up in my fears that it’s not going to come out as I’d like, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how well it came out. Hopefully, this will inspire you to start a project you’ve been hesitant to do; maybe you’ll surprise yourself. I’d love to see what you come up with, so let me know in the comments, or tag me on Instagram and Twitter!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

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