Monday, January 15, 2018

Ahhhhh...another week, another to do list. I'm actually writing this before I start some tasks, so that I can write them here and then cross them off! I'm manipulating my own list to make myself feel better!!!!

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This week :

01. Run, do skip yoga
02. Scan poster board photos and save on hard drives
03. Price frames for unframed artwork
04. Blog posts
05. Travel blog posts
06. Rip some more CDs
07. Post more albums to Facebook
08. Keep reading Moby Dick
09. Figure out database questions
10. Choose newborn photos and print
11. Put together shadow box
12. Touch up bedroom paint
13. Plan road trip and budget
15. Hang artwork
16. Keep planner up to date
17. Make photo books for first three months
18. Finish digital back up
19. Rearrange and reorganize all baby stuff
20. Get donation stuff OUT OF THE HOUSE!!!!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Fat Tuesdays : The Bee and The Fox Follow Up

I want to type this entire post in all caps in the largest font size possible so you know how genuinely delighted I am by the situation. I'm like a girl at a Taylor Swift concert, if Taylor Swift were the funniest comedienne that ever existed...because the FUNNIEST thing is currently happening to me and oh man, oh man, oh man... I can't even express with words.

So, regarding yesterday's post, I received an e-mail from a "lawyer" telling me to take it down (and also my tees) because defamation in the form of libel and copyright infringement. Well, at least one point is moot since they sent the same thing to Spreadshirt and my designs were "rejected". But never you fear, little bunnies, there's a solution for that too.

Let's start from the beginning, here is the e-mail (you will likely have to click on the image to read it) :

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And here is what we need to know about libel :

Filing a lawsuit is one thing, but winning it is another. To prove that defamation has occurred, you would have to first prove that the statement was indeed false. Next, you have to show that the statement harmed you. Then, you have to prove that the person making the statement did not ensure that it was true. If you are well-known, you may have prove that the statement was made with actual malice. This means, it must have been made with disregard for the truth, and with the intention of doing harm to you.

Apparently, the husband and wife who run The Bee and The Fox don't like to be called idiots or hypocrites and don't like to be told that they are patronizing and lack integrity. But like, is it UNTRUE? Man, like I said, we had some e-mails that went back and forth...and I gotta tell you, I couldn't even read them. 'Cause I was so mad by this point. See, via Instagram, I never actually attacked them or said anything mean. I mean, unless you consider calling an excuse "bullshit" is mean, which I don't. And they were SUPER PATRONIZING to me in our messages. But when I e-mailed them, I told a very, very personal story and I apologized and offered to delete all my comments and make amends. But they are not the kind of people who make amends, because the reply I received was super patronizing, EVEN AS IT AGREED WITH ME. (Straight up, she agreed that I should keep trying to ask companies to represent models of size, but I just went about it the wrong way.) I had Adam read them and summarize them because I could not anymore...and then I came up with my solution, which was just going ahead and making their t-shirts on my own.

Actually, first I considered trademarking their designs because I knew they hadn't done so. 'Cause trademarks are public record and their designs are not registered for trademark...mostly because they can't be. Basic sayings in a common typeface can't really be trademarked because they are so BORING that anyone could claim use of them. (Trademark laws are super interesting, y'all.) Also, trademarking costs money and you have to prove you had the idea first, which obviously I couldn't.

So what about that copyright infringement? As I said, it's moot, 'cause they sent the same threatening crap to the site that hosts my designs and my designs have since been "rejected" :

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It's hard to cease and desist copyright infringement when someone already does it for you.

Anyway, WHY DOESN'T IT MATTER? Because Spreadshirt has a t-shirt designer set up so that you can design your own t-shirt in any way you want and have it created and sent to you!

Like I said in my previous post, the shirts are fully customizable. So if you want to make shirts with the same phrases that The Bee and The Fox think they own under copyright law...and if you want to make them better by using a cool font and printing on a pretty color instead of BORING WHITE, then just go to Spreadshirt and design your own!

Oh, and if you're dedicated to seeing me profit from this mess, which I have not yet in any way...just choose one of my shirts and change the design to one of the sayings from The Bee and The Fox and I'll get the commission.

Isn't it nice to know you don't actually have to do business with people who not only suck at customer service but also think they can get away with threatening someone?

Anyway, why would you buy one of their shirt designs when the ones I made are so much better? Also, if you take any of my ideas and reproduce them as your own and open up your own Spreadshirt shop and call me a hypocrite who lacks integrity, rest assured that I will not care. I just really, really, really don't care. When the lawyer said it was clear my "feelings were hurt," I had to laugh. 'Cause no. But I guess someone's feelings were hurt, right?

Also, if we're talking copyright infringement, let's talk about this :

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I've already begun contacting Merle Haggard's estate so they can know about it. I wonder if their precious reputations will be hurt by committing actual copyright infringement.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Fat Tuesdays : The Bee and The Fox

Shortly before or after my delivery, I started following a t-shirt company on Instagram; The Bee and The Fox. They make cute t-shirts with cool sayings for about $28 each. Their Instagram feed has a cool vibe and I was really into their shirts, thinking I'd order one for a family portrait shoot this spring (or maybe even a shirt for me and a onesie for the babe). I followed them for about a month, started to window shop on their site, and was really thinking about purchasing a shirt when, of course, I noticed the lack of size representation in their models and on their IG, so I did what I always do and I brought it up with this comment on a post:

hypocrisy01

It was a pretty run-of-the-mill comment that warranted not much of a reply except for maybe, "Thanks for bringing this to our attention, we'll consider it." But of course, as per usual, small businesses run by a husband and wife (or just one person) are almost always also run by idiots who lack basic customer service skills, because this was their reply (and my subsequent reply)...

hypocrisy02

Ok, so from there, what happened was an all out war between me and their followers, some really long and sarcastic and patronizing Instagram messages, a very vulnerable e-mail from me with an apology followed by some really condescending e-mails from them and just, like, a LOT OF BULLSHIT.

I took screenshots of everything, but I'm not gonna post it all here. (You can see it in my Flickr album if you want.) I couldn't possibly organize all of the information anyway, and that's not really the point. The point is :

1. The Bee and The Fox is run by hypocrites with no integrity

2. I can circumvent the entire issue anyway

So, in our IG exchange, where I told them I could just walk down the street and buy tees with their stupid sayings on them anyway and also that their hashtag on IG has over 8,000 posts with all these people of size...and yeah, I sent them about twenty photos. I wasn't the only petty, sarcastic bitch that day, because they sent me equally patronizing e-mails with a whole bunch of photos from their stream, as if I hadn't even looked through their stream. But they also sent me this :

hypocrisy102

Ok, so this is one of the problems when any company or artist is asked to feature more diversity in their models or actors or employees or whatever. It is SUPER EASY to say "we look for X, Y, Z, and those have nothing to do with diversity!" Because, look, obviously, every company is looking to create a great product or image and every artist is trying to tell a great story or WHATEVER. OBVIOUSLY. But it takes work to find representation that is more diverse than the status quo. And also, if you post black and white photos, don't feed me a plate of bullshit about the color in a photo, I'm not eating that. So yeah, this is a standard sort of scape goat, apologetic, hands in the air, "it isn't our fault" kind of response and it's just dumb.

But it shouldn't surprise me because here is a little blurb on their website :

hypocrisy101

Sooooooo...you're using INSTAGRAM, which is a SMART PHONE APP, to SELL YOUR T-SHIRTS OVER THE INTERNET!?!?!

Ugh, the hypocrisy.

There's more, obviously, so much more, but the bottom line is The Bee and The Fox is run by a couple of boring idiots who are attempting to sell a time before the technology they are using to sell their product and also they have no integrity, they're patronizing, and they have idiot followers who don't know what the definition of "attack" is.

And I have a solution!!!

It's a t-shirt shop called "Mama Badger, Baby Frog" (also on Instagram with the same username) and you can buy the same crap The Bee and The Fox makes only BETTER because you can choose your own typeface and the t-shirt you want, or you could buy more creative and interesting t-shirts, and almost all of them cost less!

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Yeah, so I found a company called, Spreadshirt, and it's a place where anyone can create their own t-shirt shop. (It's so easy, it probably took me five minutes to set up my first shirt and design.) You can make your own designs, for free, upload them to their shop and have an entire shop site, FOR FREE, and they have this cool t-shirt designer which means you can take ANY SHIRT and choose the exact product you want (not all boring black text on white tee) and move the text around and whatever.

So, Mama Badger, Baby Frog is my site with lots of cool tees already uploaded, including just a ton of designs I made that are just the most awesome. And I have so many more ideas!!! Or you can just go make your own t-shirt. Oh, and I've ordered a couple, and the quality is very good.

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So the resolution to this Fat Tuesdays is that you don't even need to mess with that stupid company anymore, 'cause I found a way to circumvent the entire process!!! (Also, I have some really great t-shirt ideas, and I'll make any t-shirt you request.)

Monday, January 8, 2018

UUUGGGHHHH!!!

So, what's relevant to my life and my ability to accomplish things....

1. Taylor Swift created an app. It's part social network (that has shown just how not perfect this fandom is) and part game...AND I CANNOT STOP PLAYING. As of right now, it has 30 levels and I'm on level 26 (hopefully 27 by tonight). The problem is that once I hit level 20, it started to take days to level up instead of one day. Also, I've dedicated three weeks to playing it now, and like, a LOT of time over the course of those weeks. I just can't stop. I need to get to the top level...'cause there's not much else happening on the app that makes me enjoy it.

2. I've sorted out my marathon training plan for the marathon I want to run on June 3. The thing is, I think the best plan is to run more and to change my schedule. This is really hard for me. Now my rest days will be on my previous running days and I'll be running every day that I had used as a rest day. I totally bombed it this past week...which isn't technically marathon training time. I knew I'd need a couple weeks to get into the rhythm of it, and it's been hard. So I'm hoping to actually stick to it this week. I have to put my brain in the space that this is the schedule I want, which is really hard, because autism.

3. Honestly that Taylor Swift app is taking over my life...and also being so fucking broke and then fucking up and getting a speeding ticket. I feel like I'm moving backward. Plus, some friends had to cancel a visit and I'm super sad about it. OH! And there have been a LOT of doctor appointments lately that I THINK are going to stop soon...but they take up a lot of time and energy.

Totally unrelated to that, I have no idea why, but my Solstice Intimates post keeps garnering comments. Today, I received one on the original post going out of their way to thank Solstice Intimates for showing NOT fat girls but also NOT skinny girls (what the actual fuck) and how THANK YOU and THANK YOU and THANK YOU and also armpit hair. I sent a message to the author letting her know I wouldn't be publishing it, simply because it isn't relevant to the topic since I have NEVER said Solstice lacked representation of color or body hair, ONLY weight, AND THEY HAVE RECTIFIED IT. Like, come on! If you're gonna come at me THANKING a company with whom I take issue and calling me a hater, the least you could do is see that I wrote a more relevant post and go comment on that. I redirected her to the post, told her the comment would be relevant there, but I still might not publish it because I DO NOT CARE ANYMORE...and she called me defensive. Like, she wrote an entire comment THANKING a company that is not me, and I politely told her that I'd already resolved the issue, but I'M DEFENSIVE? (I mean, this paragraph is clearly agitated because of the back and forth, ugh!) Anyway, I told her she needs a dictionary. I'm putting a screenshot of her original, and irrelevant comment below so you can appreciate how someone would come to my blog and post a comment on a post that's a year old, literally thanking a company for an issue that has since been resolved on a site that isn't owned by the company. PEOPLE! (Also, the commenter appears to write a really lovely music review blog that might be worth checking out if you're into music reviews.)

4. I guess I'm just feeling down again and struggling with keeping up with life, and that means this blog ends up by the wayside. So, you know, the usual promises to return...OR WHATEVER. Why do I feel guilty about my own hobby!????? WHHHHHYYYYYY!

As usual, weekly to do list below the hilarious photo for the week.

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Oh, here's my final comment on the matter:

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This week :

01. Run, do skip yoga
02. Scan poster board photos and save on hard drives
03. Price frames for unframed artwork
04. Blog posts
05. Travel blog posts
06. Rip some more CDs
07. Post more albums to Facebook
08. Keep reading Moby Dick
09. Figure out database questions
10. Choose newborn photos and print
11. Put together shadow box
12. Touch up bedroom paint
13. Plan road trip and budget
16. Hang artwork
14. Keep planner up to date
14. Continue to back up and organize all your digital shit
16. Make photo books for first three months
17. Begin that other revolutionary project
18. THAT BIG FUCKING POST ABOUT THAT THING!!!!

Friday, December 29, 2017

The New Year

I think in order to talk about what I want for the new year, what my main resolution is, I have to talk about how we got here ... Adam and I are declaring bankruptcy. We're also currently on unemployment (he is), medicaid (all of us), WIC (me and the baby), and food stamps (for our family). Admitting that and going so far as to say it's a good thing is definitely frowned upon in our culture. When I say that I'm glad about it, that it's an excellent solution to our problems, most people wouldn't really agree. In fact, when I mention these things, as a matter of fact, most people apologize for us. I don't know why. This is a solution to a situation that partially fell upon us and partially we got ourselves into, and quite frankly, it's a good solution.

Here is how we got here :

When we were dating, Adam had some credit cards and I had some credit cards. Adam had a great job and I was bouncing around as I always do. While we were dating, Adam overspent on some of his credit cards and ended up maxing them out. I was actually doing fairly well financially. Early on in combining our lives, Adam helped me by cosigning on some student loans and I worked to pay off my credit cards, which we did. We were also working on paying off Adam's credit cards, but we didn't make the best decisions. We cancelled one of his cards, so we wouldn't spend on it, but we kept one for just in case. In the meantime, we also opened up a credit card in his name to pay for emergency vet bills, to buy furniture for my mom (she took over both of those card payments), and to make car repairs. We loaned out the credit on both of our Goodyear cards for a friend who was in need...and she would've paid us back, but our friendship dissolved and I cut her off and decided to take on the debt. This was obviously not a great decision.

So, we were not quite in over our heads regarding debt, but we were clearly not in a great position. And then Adam lost his job and was unemployed for a few months while we were planning our wedding. He wasn't eligible for unemployment so paying off our debt took a backseat. He put his student loans on forbearance. We both took jobs at Put-in-Bay for the summer.

We continued to work on our debt, but as always, life can get in the way. After our first season at Put-in-Bay, he was on unemployment for the winter months. He was pursuing jobs that turned out to be far more competitive than we realized. We stayed paying off our minimum payments, and I worked to pay off all my credit card debt, which was not particularly large. Then he went back to Put-in-Bay and I stopped going to college and stopped working because I was pregnant. I mean, I stopped having a regular job with a paycheck. I continued to take gigs as an artist.

Over this past summer, we were still trying to pay down our debt, but we made a mistake that I really think did us in. We would pay off the credit card and then spend on it...because Adam was up at the island and not coming home every week, it was easier to put money on the card for him to use on the island. This ended up increasing our interest and our minimum balance suddenly went from manageable to unmanageable.

Also, I got in an accident in my mom's car and had to pay her deductible, which is one thousand dollars. And we were trying to get things settled for a baby. Plus his car died.

In short, did we make some poor choices and some mistakes? Yes. But we also fell victim to our circumstances.

Right around the time of the baby, I floated the idea of bankruptcy to Adam and he was reticent to agree to it. Both of us feel responsible for the debts we have created (him way more than me, I'm inclined to give everyone a big fuck off, as you know). Also, there is so much cultural baggage tied to declaring bankruptcy. I also started to consider getting back on WIC...which I had during pregnancy and found it to be useless...but since the babe is on formula, WIC would be useful. WIC fully covers our formula expenses. I also considered the possibility of food stamps. I wasn't sure we'd be eligible or how much we'd get, but honestly, any little bit helped. And still, despite these possibilities, with Adam going on unemployment for the winter, our credit debt would be too much to handle. We would have nothing left.

We were in over our heads and we could be very prideful and struggle so hard that we would be able to do nothing at all, or we could admit to our mistakes and take the solutions available.

So this is where we are : currently paying our bankruptcy lawyer instead of paying our credit card debts, we're all on Medicaid (which is super helpful, because it will pay for Adam's vasectomy), me and the baby are on WIC (which takes care of all the food we need for the baby), and we receive $96 per month in food stamps. We are able to pay my two student loans, though Adam's is still on forbearance. We are also able to have lives. We can save to buy a car, but we can also afford to meet friend's for coffee, buy a couple Christmas gifts, repair Adam's boots. Some things are necessary, like shoes, and some things are not, like going out to dinner for my birthday. But everything improves our quality of life.

In the meantime, Adam has renewed his teaching license and is waiting to receive it so he can begin applying for teaching jobs and he has applied to be a postal worker, because we feel like it could be a suitable job. He hasn't given up on the more competitive jobs he wants, but he knows he needs to get a job that will enable us to get off food stamps and medicaid, move out from living with my mom, and buy a car.

I know that I'm supposed to feel ashamed for the position we're in, but I'm not. I contributed to Adam's credit card debt, though we did manage to pay off mine. I contributed to us falling behind because I was in a car accident and had to pay the deductible. It is no one's fault that our cat required emergency vet care or that Adam's car died, but these things contributed to our situation. And the truth is, these solutions are there for a reason. Bankruptcy exists for a reason as do welfare programs like WIC and food stamps and Medicaid. I'm not too proud to take the help that is available to us and I'm not ashamed to admit that we made mistakes.

So for the New Year, my resolution is for Adam and I to get real lives. I need Adam to get a job so we can get off of social service programs, move out from living with mom, and buy a car. I want us to have an actual future and a life. But it's not a resolution that is exactly in my hands. I'm going to stay home and take care of Taran, and I won't stop taking artist gigs, but Taran requires a lot of care right now. So for my part, my resolution is dependent on someone else...but at the same time, I think we can both learn from our mistakes and use these solutions to get us on stable financial footing and not make the same mistakes in the future.

Just a note : Adam read this post and approved it, 'cause I don't share our business without him knowing, duh.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Baby Boy VI

Dear Baby Boy,

FOUR MONTHS TODAY!!!!

You are four months old today, and while I am sure your body is growing, I feel like you're mind is what's really growing. You are so bright and aware and so damn entertaining!

Things you are doing :

Still laughing...including having a total laugh fest with Dad-O
LOTS of kicking
ROLLING OVER!!! Both ways, even
Trying to eat, literally everything!
Reaching out and grabbing things, like Dad-O's glasses
Noticing my tattoos as well as patterns on fabric
Noticing the cats
Eating LOTS
Really exploring the physical world around you
Smiling at me (and Dad-O) often
Sleeping a lot, oftentimes through the night
Trying to reach for and hold your bottle, albeit unsuccessfully
Pushing up to standing when held in our laps
LOTS of cooing, like an actual conversation as we coo back to you
Occasional squealing

You've met a considerable number of people, but we mostly chill at the house. We went for a walk on a snowy day and your little cheeks ended up chafed, so we're hanging out in the warmth of the indoors. There's still a lot to see in our apartment, and people do come visit, but you're a little homebody right now. We do go out on the occasional lunch or brunch date with a friends, though.

Your world is still pretty small, but life is still really good.

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Hey Mama,

FOUR MONTHS!!! There were days, in the beginning, when you didn't think you'd make it this far. Now, a lot of those fears (instilled by the very medical professionals who should be educating you) are fading. Constant fears that the Babe will die in his sleep are much fewer and farther between now.

However, that medical system continues to fail you. It took you so long to finally get in with someone and he doesn't take your insurance! You have a back up, but the guy seems like a total asshole, so I doubt you'll do more than one visit with him. Running would probably help, if only you could prioritize that...and maybe if everyone else would too. Some days, you feel down right normal...but most days, something is just a bit off. It's still hard to focus and hard to accomplish multiple tasks at once. You feel you lean on Adam to do housework maybe more than you'd like.

Here is the thing : Don't feel guilty about this. Being pregnant, having a baby, and raising a baby while also having autism, anxiety, and depression...and being treated incredibly poorly by the medical community who is also failing to provide you with the support they told you to seek...man, that shit is hard. It's Adam's job to help you during times like this, just as you would happily do the same for him.

Oh also, this social contract of being a mother is ridiculous and confounding. People ask the DUMBEST questions and you just sort of toss out answers, hoping they will stop. If only there were an instruction manual...FOR THEM! Maybe they'd stop being annoying.

Ok, but all in all, you're pretty fucking successful at this. You have a bright and charming lil' babe-o who is growing and developing and it's all fairly delightful. So if life could just calm the fuck down a little bit, that would be helpful.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Gearing up for the New Year...

Lately, I really feel like I have not been able to focus at all. I feel like I have nothing going on and somehow, I'm struggling to accomplish it all. I mentioned this to mom today, and she said that she thought I had so much going on that she was surprised I was on top of it. So then I felt less like a crazy, unproductive person.

The New Year is always a big time for me. Partially 'cause I'm gearing up for my birthday in January (40 this year!) and partially because I love goal setting and all that, it's just a big time for me. I LOVE setting goals and looking back at my year and trying to catch up.

With all that in mind, THIS week, I'm gonna do my usual to do list (which has grown by a lot) AND I'm gonna do an update of my 1001 Things. So let's get that goal setting going!

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This week :

01. Run, do skip yoga
02. Scan poster board photos and save on hard drives
03. Price frames for unframed artwork
04. Blog posts
05. Travel blog posts
06. Rip some more CDs
07. Post more albums to Facebook
08. Begin Moby Dick
09. Begin database
10. Choose newborn photos and print
11. Put together shadow box
12. Touch up bedroom paint
13. Take passport photos
14. Make marathon training plan
15. Plan road trip and budget
16. Hang artwork
17. Keep planner up to date
18. Continue to back up and organize all your digital shit
19. Make photo books for first three months
20. Being that other revolutionary project
21. THAT BIG FUCKING POST ABOUT THAT THING!!!!

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101 Things Update

Completed:
039. Write and publish all labor/delivery/etc. posts
---> See all of them here!
088. See Cleveland Symphony Orchestra in Severance Hall
--->Bought tickets for my birthday!!!!

To complete in January:
007. Plan UK trip
008. Plan Romania Trip
009. Plan Norway Trip

17, 18, 20, 21, 27 Private

060. Learn how to meditate
061. Learn one stupidly complex yoga pose

089. Contact Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Board about experiences as an autistic adult

Not doing:
063. Make baby blanket/snuggy/thing --->Turns out, they are fairly unnecessary