When You Can’t Find It…Make It

geek, History, wedding

I am strictly budgeting my wedding, as a sort of boycott to the extravagance of American weddings.

I am having a hell of a time finding a wedding dress that’s under $700 and that is ACTUALLY a style I want. At this point I am just being picky.

However, I had found “the one” that was about $500 and gorgeous. It was going to be perfect. The company in Ukraine even made it custom to my measurements!

THEN…the dressmaker over DOUBLED the price of the dress

ūüė¶

to $1200

tumblr_o5sfxtarvW1ui5anco1_500.gif

SOOO I will not be ordering that dress

I have also been searching other places for “the dress” but I can’t stand the overpriced and gross polyester nightmares that David’s Bridal sells.

I have looked all over etsy and nothing compares….or I don’t like the neckline

I haven’t seen anything on other websites that blows me away and I want something made from a fabric I can STAND to wear for 9 hours and not sweat all over and feel gross on my wedding day.

Short and curvy I look terrible in strapless

tumblr_ncdmsd061C1s8xbv9o1_500

I want something romantic without being terrible and poofy

I don’t look good in anything without upper support for my large twins….

at this point maybe it would be easier to just make something…..

oh yeah, I do that….

I can sew. I sew pretty well.

I also have been dreaming of making a Chemise A La Reine (18th century style gown)

so….that’s what I’ll be doing.

I just ordered my fabric for $32

Meaning I may make my wedding dress for less than $50….I call it a win

tumblr_nwwcmjvM7n1rhjaxao2_400tumblr_nwwcdjugwu1rhjaxao1_540tumblr_li0o1dRrfi1qf46efo1_500tumblr_meihbz3ln01qatfdco3_400

 

Advertisements

I was always an emotional child. Meaning the simplest things could put me in tears. A dead rabbit on the side of the road. Getting in trouble at school. Getting in trouble at home. Having someone raise their voice at me. Having someone tell me saying something wasn’t appropriate.

I was also anxious and always nervous about doing things wrong. Even as an adult if I get a less than above satisfactory grade or feedback I dwell on it for days if not weeks.

THIS is not a healthy way to deal with the bumps and miscomings of life. Even though I hold myself to an insane standard, that doesn’t mean that I should or that it’s right or even logical.

It’s really unhealthy.

Like screws up your body and makes you exhausted and miserable half the time.

You live in dread and fear and it’s hard to feel like you can be yourself without being criticized, shot down or unloveable.

Granted I also have Post Traumatic Stress from a few childhood incidents, which doesn’t help anything. However, I know my anxious tendencies are not uncommon for my generation and my colleagues.

The problem lies so much in how our culture influences our understanding of how the world works and our place in it. I remember always hearing the narrative that if I worked hard and got good grades and looked perfect and determined, along with praying to god for help, that everything would be okay. My parents raised me in various protestant churches in Teller County Colorado and finally settled at the Methodist Church in Woodland Park when I was in high school. However, with this doctrine of do good and you’ll get your wishes granted. Pray hard enough and it will work out. I found myself feeling like this praying to something wasn’t working for me. Not to belittle anyone’s beliefs, but my self found it hard to want to pray to something I didn’t know if it existed or not and then have it grant my wishes. I didn’t find the comfort there that others did. I did my research on other religions¬†and also found it hard to believe. So I bought into the cult of hard work= great successes.

We’re really in love with this story in the United States. So many of our books and movies and cultural followings surround this idea. So I also bought into it. It has also been called the American Dream, and it’s so far entrenched in our culture that it’s hard to escape the narrative that we’re given our whole lives.

In High School I was informed time and time again that a college degree was a ticket to wealth and well-being. It was a ticket to getting what I wanted. For me that was getting out of loving below the poverty line and into the middle or even upper class (if I worked hard enough) . It meant being able to buy a home, and a car, and pay for my kids to go to summer camp. It meant having a few luxuries, such as trips to Europe and Asia. It meant getting to live a full life. One that I always dreamed of.

I did have one teacher that flat out asked us how much we really thought the American Dream made sense for all of us or for everyone. We all agreed it seemed far-fetched. But we all silently believed we would have our slice of the pie.

Fast forward 8-years and here we are. I’m 25, I have a BA in both Journalism and History. I have my MA in International Journalism and I’m only making a little more than my mother did 10¬†years ago cleaning hotel rooms or working as an assistant librarian (my mom only has a high school education, which was earned through home-schooling).

I bought into the cult of hard work=success. It also came with almost six-digits in debt that I have to figure out. All of this while the cost of living in the town I’m in has almost doubled in the last 10 years. While the wage I made in high school at an Ihop is not that much less than my current earnings. I work three jobs to get by. I have my own company as one, and do communications for a local teahouse and non-profit. I love the work I do. It’s all in the field I studied in (communications/Journalism) yet it’s not the way I was brought up to believe it would be.

I believed with my MA I could get that dream journalism job of 40k+ a year, not a massive sum, but combined with my Fiance’s income, we would be alright. We could manage.

The money quantifies the struggle, but the emotional reality is what is hardest. To 15 year old me, I’m failing. Even though it’s systemic as much as it is me. When you apply to 150 jobs and only get 3 interviews, it’s pretty crushing. I have done good work, but somehow I am not breaking through to the journalism field, so I’m nestling in PR and Communications. For good organizations¬†this is rewarding. For the future and potential other customers, it brings up ethical concerns.

Perhaps my point is that I wish someone had told me, and all the other people feeling crushed and beat up: “Nothing is promised.” Literally nothing. You might be the smartest person in your school, or city, but unless you sort of luck out, or have support behind you that makes the right connections, it’s very hard to break free into the life you want.

I’m not giving up hope, I’m just reality checking myself in that this existence is very inconsistent and scattered. Sometimes life will lift you up and up and sometimes life will knock your knees out from under you. Adulting is hard, and none of us survive this thing called life.

So, my recommendation is: make good art, create good work, DO work hard on what brings you joy and knowledge. But enjoy all the little magical things that are around you. My family, Fiance and his daughter, along with my cat, are my bread and butter for my soul. Even with my education and all the things I vigilantly try and learn, that stupid fuzzy creature, the love of my life, and his silly, beautiful daughter are the best things about this existence.

And don’t forget, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be angry, and it’s okay to take risks to try and find your bliss.

There will be tears

musings, Uncategorized

Gentrification in Fort Collins

musings

If you talk¬†to long-time residents or past residents of the bay area in San Francisco you hear a lot of the same stories. Those that stayed and were able to support their families had to acclimate or start something with the big players of the area. Or to put is simply, they got high paying jobs, we’re able to afford the expensive housing, and are likely thriving in the culture there because they can afford it.Those that couldn’t afford the changes in rent are now being pushed to the burbs, if not the street and it’s creating a lot of friction.

The thing is that Homelessness, and those experiencing it, is not higher in places like San Francisco, but reflective of other communities and areas in the United States. Including my city, Fort Collins.

The difference may be largely in tourism and visibility. In San Francisco affluence and poverty sit next to each other, and it’s very visible to visitors to the city. For those in Fort Collins experiencing homelessness, they are often hidden. They stay with family, sleep in cars, or find places in wooded areas to camp, rest, or simply sit. Fort Collins, significantly smaller in size, has the ability to also discourage camping, while a city of San Francisco’s size would lack some of those same resources and also hidden locations.

Regardless of visibility, the problem is similar. As tech companies move in, and rent increases, it becomes increasingly harder for people to make it. Fort Collins, and Colorado, has had a boom in the number of people moving to the state, along with an increase in the cost of living. Due to the legalization of marijuana and the business that has developed from it, the popularity of Colorado has also increased. Then compound it with its natural beauty, progressive views, and friendly people….you see the appeal of moving here.

It’s also much cheaper here than in many parts of California, and ¬†other coastal areas such as New York so it’s appealing as a relocation option.

Except many of those that have lived in Colorado for their whole lives or have been here for more than a decade are feeling the crunch of trying to survive.

I’m not excluded from this.

When I started college in 2011 I could easily find places to rent in Denver for $400 or less. I actually had the ability to choose an apartment, near downtown and close to my school for $600/month and it was luxurious for my needs. Today, 2016, similar apartments in that area rent for upwards of $1200 a month. Meaning the cost has doubled, but income hasn’t.

Fort Collins isn’t looking much different, when I moved here in 2012 we could easily find 2-bedroom condos and homes for rent for well under $1000/month. Today we would be lucky to find anything for less than $1200/month and most likely would pay $1500 or more. We’re not even near major metro lines, businesses, or airports. Instead we’re an odd suburb-like city that mostly functions on its own and for a select clientele.

To break down the issue, it’s that there is no minimum wage specific for Fort Collins or Denver, but rather a state-version that is a whole $8.31, if you aren’t a tipped worker. Federal minimum wage is $7.24, so we’re a little better, but not much.

According to Huff Post in a May 2016 article ( a year earlier it was $19.89), one would need to make $21.21/hour just to make rent. At the moment I make about half that.

To be self-sufficient in Larimer County Colorado, meaning to earn enough to live comfortably, not rely on income-based housing etc. A family of four would need to make over $72,000 annually and this is BEFORE DEBT, so if you have student loans, increase by your monthly payment.

This breaks down to $17.01/hour for 40 hours a week for EACH adult, if you have a 2-parent household. As a single parent you need to make about $30.68/hour or over $64,000 annually.

This also reflects on the cost of homes and who can afford them. My fiance and I earn too little to qualify for a loan big enough to actually purchase anything in Fort Collins that is worth living in. Anything “cheap” enough is a mobile home, a condo with limits on the loans it qualifies for, and maybe a plot of land. It’s a dream I have always had, and one that is probably less and less of a reality.

The extra fun part is when you don’t earn enough to afford everything, but you earn too much to continue qualifying for things like medicaid, food stamps, and income-based housing. Which ultimately means your extra dollars are then used to help you barely get by.

And it’s not just the public feeling fenced in, but small businesses struggle as rent prices rise and wealthy startups are able to move in. Including my favorite asian imports store that is now a tattoo parlour. BECAUSE in Fort Collins, a tattoo business has become more profitable than groceries, clothing and knick-knacks. It’s more popular among the affluent college students as well.

That is when you wish and pray and meditate and apply and get extra credits etc. etc. for that better job that is not guaranteed and not available and you slowly the the existential dread…

Anyway, this is a blog, and somewhat opinion, but the reality is that Colorado is in a position that something has to change or we will be reaching crisis levels in need, and ability to get by. Maybe rent-caps are the answer, and cities investing in more affordable housing and maybe increasing the minimum wage, along with single-payer healthcare.

Which would mean that we could afford to live in a location that we want to live. It would also mean that our taxes guaranteed a health safety net, for everyone, no excuses.

If we paid for university people like me wouldn’t have a request of $700/month debt payment I can’t pay. Maybe we could also make sure our universities were teaching the best level of education to make sure they were educating for real jobs and opportunities.

Perfection is impossible, but we’re so far behind the rest of the developed world as a nation, that we need to figure out some priorities and act on them or we will lack the ability to ever catch up.

END

 

I read an article by NPR that discussed the moral and ethical concerns around having a child in the age of climate change.¬†Read it if you haven’t already.

I have been having these same concerns since I was about 13 and took a child development course in middle school, which meant that I had to bring home a fake screaming baby monster…. Which had the effect of making me really consider the child commitment. A good shock factor for protection, but it also opened the door to talking with adults in my life on the moral qualms on what it meant to be a parent in an over-taxed and mistreated planet.

A dear family friend made sure to inform my sisters and I¬†of our choices. That we had them, first and foremost, and that our choices had an impact on others around us. My family is big and classic examples of midwestern protestants that have babies and their babies have babies all before 30. Therefore the pressure was always on us, and the real expectation pressed on us, to have children in our 20’s and pass on the family traits.

My sister’s and I have always hesitated at this idea. Instead we all want our own time and opportunities to travel, get degrees, and make sure we’re better prepared for children. Then there becomes my climate anxiety on what exactly it means for children in the future.

My fiance has a daughter that is 9, and I think very often how much she will be left with in the future. I think of the recent flooding in Louisiana and how it DIRECTLY was influenced from climate change. It was also personal in that one of my best friend’s had her entire home submerged in water. She now has to figure out what can be saved or has to be destroyed. Yet the headache doesn’t end there, because future predictions and melting ice caps mean that many areas will be underwater, soon and permanently. Including many part of recently flooded Louisiana, parts of Florida, New York etc. Learn more here.

src=”http://www.climatecentral.org/wgts/human-caused-flooding/index.html?utm_source=Robinson%20Creative%20Enterprises&utm_medium=embed&utm_campaign=2016HumanCausedFlIt’s not just the ocean rising, but it is the weather that comes with rising temperatures, melting ice caps, cold and hot water hitting together and more.

It’s all around not great news, and YES we are taking a few good, and feel good steps by countries signing contracts and reducing their output. However, the reality is that our children and grandchildren are going to have a lot of issues to sort out.

In Colorado we may not have the ocean to worry about, but rising temperatures in the summer pose risks to human wellbeing, crops, livestock and water supply. By 2050 they’re expecting summers in Colorado to be significantly higher than they were previously. Meaning we can expect a lot more 100 degree+ days. That also causes issues to snowpack in areas that typically have snow reserves later into spring and summer will then run off earlier, which can disrupt natural growth patterns and farming.

Precipitation is harder to determine, but Colorado has had many droughts over the years and with various parts of the state growing dramatically in population, and there being more need for natural resources, it could be the perfect storm for a difficult life.

So here is the kicker. With current estimates on life expectancy, it’s likely I’ll live to be around 80. Or until about 2071. If I’m 32 when I have kids, they’ll be 10 in 2043 and maybe will have kids within a decade of that. If projections are where they expect, for a 2050 estimate of hot, dry, and scary changes their 30s, and possibly their life with those repercussions are frightening.

That’s if things DON’T get worse than they’re expecting. Which, so far, isn’t looking promising.¬†Yet many, myself included, want to be hopeful that times will be ok. While many scientists point out that it’s all too little and far too late. Therefore it haunts me to think that we may just be running out of time to be here and any children I bring into the world will have to fight much harder just to survive.

Terrible images flash into my mind of Mad Max, The Road, and the Book of Eli; desert landscapes, little hope, and near starvation. It’s an abysmal and depressing idea, that may be closer to reality than science-fiction.

Finally, I will leave you with that trailer for This Changes Everything and have you mill about that even though the United States could face terrible strife, it is nothing compared to the horrors that poor countries will have to face and the untold millions that will suffer as a result of our selfishness and lack of care.

No one can know for the future but maybe, just maybe, we could take this all more seriously and make choices, vote, support and demand action to make the hit a little less.

 

Land of Death and Destruction- Climate Anxiety

colorado, Environment, musings, Uncategorized

Land of Enchantment Part III

family, new mexico, Photography, Travel, United States

The final day was spent starting the day with a trip to the last two museums on my list, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the International Folk Art Museum. 

The first was home to a massive amount of history and artwork dating back to prehistory and into modernity. It not only showcased the long story and history of native peoples but also the current conflicts and issues that exist. I especially appreciated a section that called out cultural appropriation and stereotypes in modern american culture.

The plaza outside of the museum was equally impressive and an enjoyable visit all on its own. Full of life-size and larger statues it paid testament to native culture, struggle and existence, a story that often is overlooked and misunderstood.

The folk museum provided a great blend of other stories, and the fact it had a folk-art element meant that it reflected the tale of the average person and not that of another identity. Rooms were filled to the brim of a variety of cultural expressions including miniatures, needlepoint, dolls and much more.

After musuem land it was time to PARTY!

We started the events with a surprise mass, and wedding for my great aunt and uncle. We finished with food and sangria at their home in rural Santa Fe. I got to see cousins that live in Germany and England that I don’t usually see and talk with other cousins I didn’t know too well. All around it was a success and very enjoyable for all involved.

And sadly the next morning ment driving home…until next time Santa Fe!

Part I, Part II

 

Land of Enchantment Part II

Allergen-free eating on the road, new mexico, Travel, United States

The second day was an early start to the day and driving to downtown before the tourists invaded. I also wanted to talk to the Native American artists that sat outside by the Palace to sell their goods to locals and tourists alike. This was a great opportunity to learn how the system worked and how it provided artists the chance to make money directly and control their art.

I ended up buying a small pottery egg from a woman that had a turtle and fish on it, representing life and sustainability. The price was great and it felt awesome to support local and small artists. As an artist and from a family of artists, this direct connection meant a lot.

DSC_0028

I talked to others about their goods and how they made things. There were silver workers, pottery masters, jewelry makers, weavers and everything in between. If you want to REALLY shop native goods, then this is the place and the best way to do it.

I then hit a few more shops looking for a thank you to the neighbors for loving on our cat while we were gone and I found a small place that sold local arts such as tin work and jewelry made from dried corn. All of these made great little souvenirs and it was enjoyable to be shopping so early and away from the crowds and chaos.

Before it was too hot I also walked the few blocks around the center of town, photographing and enjoying the soul of the city. One that dripped with art and culture and history. The entirety of it brought me a sense of peace and joy that I miss living in a newer city. The sensation reminded me of the same sensation I receive when I’m in Europe. Traversing ancient pathways and soaking up centuries of movement.

Late that morning some other relatives arrived for the celebrations, so the afternoon was spent eating, talking and doing some more sightseeing.

We spent a significant part of the afternoon looking at the old and famous churches of Santa Fe, including the Loretto Chapel, known for its staircase. Gothic in style the church has a classic charm to it.

Then we visited the OLDEST church in the United States, San Miguel Chapel. Which not only has the claim to being the oldest, but also is home to a 14th century bell from Spain, and some beautiful old art from the colonial time period.

We finished the day at the OLDEST home in Santa Fe, which was perfectly sized for someone short like myself and was a darling walk in the lifestyle of early Europeans that settled in the area.

Finally, we returned my aunt to the hotel and Ryan and I were able to have a date in Santa Fe. Which, naturally,deserved being full of tacos (American-Mexican) and margaritas. We ate the most amazing fish tacos I have ever had at Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill¬†(that also had an awesome Gluten-Free menu.¬†Then we finished with a quick visit the art museum and a walk around the old part of town.

Part I, Part III

Land of Enchantment

geek, History, musings, new mexico, Travel, Uncategorized, United States

A few weeks ago I had the great luxury of being able to go to Santa Fe on a road trip with my fiance. The main reason we were going was for a family get together/surprise 50th anniversary party for my Great Aunt and Uncle, the second reason was the excuse to get away for a long weekend and do something different.

I am very much an artistic and creative person. It’s kind of my reason for living so the chance to go to a city dripping in art, that wasn’t in another country, was like an elixir of joy and artistic energy that I desperately needed. Since graduating from my MA degree things have been…rough, to say the least. So I have been trying to find energy and joy in the small things.

From the Fort, Santa Fe is between a 6-8 hr drive depending on traffic and route and if you obey speed limits.

Photo Jul 20, 6 47 20 AM

We left at 4am on Thursday and got to Santa Fe at about 10:45am with a few pit stops so I could pee, stretch my legs and get a little something to eat. We also stopped at a tourist center in Raton for a few guides on where we were going and what to do.

The nice part about leaving so early was that traffic was minimal and not backed up in Denver and Colorado Springs. This made everything easier and less stressful. It also meant we got to Santa Fe at a good time to get lunch at a local diner called Joe’s, and see the New Mexico History Museum.

Joe’s offered some amazing huevos rancheros ( a go to for me) with the most amazing green chili! Ryan got a bison burger and all around the staff and environment proved to be comforting and tasty. They also offered an EXTENSIVE list of Gluten-Free options (extra win).

The history museum was also a fantastic adventure. Stations off of the plaza in the oldest part of the city it starts in the Palace of the Governor’s and winds into newer buildings as it moved forward in history. The collection of native arts and Spanish influences paints the picture of how New Mexico changed under European influence and they spent a good amount of time discussing the conflicts that it brought. For instance the Pueblo Revolt was very influential in the history of New Mexico and the Americas.

Photo Jul 21, 2 24 28 PM

Casta paintings represented the different “races” and categorized them into hierarchies depending on one’s ancestry of Spanish, Native American or African.

Ryan found much of the military history intriguing and enjoyable and we finished the trip through time reflecting on the Nuclear test sites around New Mexico.

For dinner we ate some food we brought with and stayed the night in the well-priced and well-maintained Super 8 that sat about 15 minutes from downtown. The best part was the artwork that covered the hotel by a P S Romero. The large sun piece over the front desk was the best, and I desperately wish I could own it.

Photo Jul 24, 9 18 01 AM (1).jpg

Added bonus: mini murals were painted throughout the hotel!

Part II