to do lists of the semi-adult: episode 13

to do lists of the semi-adult

One of my resolutions this year is to get rid of the clutter in my house. If I’m not using it and it doesn’t bring me joy, out it goes. I am trying to go slowly but persistently through my house, one drawer at a time (with varying success so far). Jewels and I talk about what we want to clear out of our closets and kitchens, and what we find the hardest to let go of.

Part of my inspiration for clearing out the clutter was a documentary on tiny houses. I don’t want to live in a house that small, but I do want to be mindful of the things I own and buy. Other inspiration came from some discussion on blogs I read about capsule wardrobes, which limits what you wear each season to cut down on clutter and excess decisionmaking that could be crowding your brain.

In between cleaning out my closet, I am reading Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, which I am loving. Jewels just read funny books by hilarious women Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler, plus she’s working her way through Joy the Baker’s new cookbook.

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or by using our feed link. You can also always find them on my Podcast page. You can find me right here at Rae’s Days, on Instagram, and on Twitter. Jewels is at Oven Lovin, on Instagram, and on Twitter.

a good coat

A good coat in the winter is a powerful outfit saver. It doesn’t matter what’s under it because no one will see it while you’re out running errands! This one is Ann Taylor (I think) via a department store. Boots are Jessica Simpson and purse is from Target. The scarf I made myself. Stay warm everyone!

the quiet power of sazed, from mistborn

sazed from mistborn

The Lord Ruler in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series ruled with a literal cloud of depression over his subjects. He tempered emotion through allomancy, a type of magic, and he hunted anything that would disrupt the status quo. In his eyes, all ska were the same, all noblemen served one purpose, and all rebellions were nothing but minor annoyances.

Vin and her crew tried to fight the Final Empire with armies and espionage. But a more subtle, and possibly more important, way of fighting the Lord Ruler was to celebrate uniqueness. To stand out, to aggressively be yourself in a place that hampered joy and hope, was a victory all its own.

Sazed, one of my favorites in Vin’s crew, contributed to the crew’s plan the best way he could–as a servant. Sazed is a Terrisman, the most valued servants in the Final Empire. He is calm and patient. He is smart and kind. And he knew himself well enough to know that when he wanted to fight the Lord Ruler, he could best contribute by using his unique strengths.

Crew leader Kelsier wanted to be the Hero with a capital H–the one in the forefront of the action, a visible leader. But Sazed was just as much a hero by being himself in a place that tried to squash his heritage, joy, and individuality. Kelsier fought the Lord Ruler in front of everyone in a town square; Sazed fought him by translating the text of something the Lord Ruler tried to keep hidden. Without Sazed’s quiet thoughtfulness, the crew would fail wether they had a great leader or not.

Sazed honored his people, and all people, by remembering for them, as a Keeper. The Keepers searched for memories of other cultures, languages, religions, and any knowledge they could find, and kept the memories stored away until the Final Empire fell and people would need them once again. Sazed was always willing to teach and share his knowledge, and he often tried to match religions to the people he knew, to find a religion that fit their personality.

Sazed knew the truth–he knew many truths. He knew that one religion does not fit all, and that by fighting for individuality, he was toppling the Final Empire one unique memory at a time.

I drew Sazed in his formal robes, which he would wear accompanying Vin to a ball. All Terrismen wear similar robes to indicate their status, and their colorful embroidery sounds like a delight amid the gray depression of the mist. My drawing is ink and watercolor in my sketchbook. I might go back in and add more color to it later, but I sort of like the idea of keeping it colorless except for his colorful Terrismen robes.

illustration of vin from mistborn, at a ball

vin from Mistborn

Vin is a survivor. She is resourceful and smart, overcoming beatings on the street to become a valued member of a thieving crew. Vin is a fighter, no matter if she’s stealing from the rich or dancing among them.

There were a lot of things I love, love, loved about Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn: The Final Empire, the first in the Mistborn trilogy, besides the main character, Vin. The storytelling is complex and layered, the world is detailed and interesting, and the characters are human and tragic.

Within the great story and characters, Sanderson used clothing to help build his world. A uniform helped unite an army, a cloak for the magical Mistborn helped them hide in plain sight, and a dress helped Vin spy on the nobility.

She didn’t need shadows or corners–she just needed a mask of sapphires, makeup, and blue fabric. — Mistborn: The Final Empire

With make up on her face instead of ash, and a shawl on her shoulders instead of her Mistborn cloak, Vin infiltrated the nobility by attending ball after ball. And instead of seeing a streetwise thief, the nobility was blinded by her dress and saw instead a nobleman’s daughter.

Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life – Bill Cunningham

In our world, clothing and fashion works much the same way. I don’t usually need to spy on nobility at fancy balls, but I do need to convince people I’m a professional at work. So like Vin, I dress the part and it helps fortify me for the role I need to play.

The more Vin acts like Valette, her noble persona, the more she realizes that this confident noblewoman is just another side of her. But becoming more comfortable among the people she means to eventually fight–and actually seeing them as human–causes trouble for Vin and her crew as they plan a heist bigger than any they’ve tried before.

I drew Vin going to her first ball, when she realized that the dress and makeup were just another disguise she could hide beneath. The drawing is pen and marker. I would have liked to make her dress a lighter, dreamier blue, but I wanted to work with the markers I already own. I can’t wait to take a look at some of the other uniforms and clothing in Mistborn, and delve into some of the great parts of this complex story.

goals for 2015

I’ve had a crazy busy December and then some crazy busy (and crazy cool) traveling, so I’m a little bit behind on some regular life stuff. Like laundry. And doctor’s appointments. And thinking about the year ahead, or reflecting on the year that ended.

2014 was a huge year for me. I ended the year in a new city and said goodbye to #fatcat, and a million other things that I haven’t processed yet because I’m still handling the first two. But I am happy and grateful to be where I am, and for now, that’s enough reflecting for me. So on to 2015, and the cool stuff I hope to do, try, and continue.

Drink more water. I already drink a lot of water, and this is the boringest of resolutions, but damn if I don’t believe it really helps quality of life.

Read books written by women and/or with a woman as a main character. This is more than just the Bechdel test–I want women to be front and center in my reading this year. I’ve talked a little bit about this in comics already, but I am ready to commit and see how this changes my reading habits, if I feel like I’m missing out on any stories/books everyone else is reading, and how it will change my perspective on life and reading. I have started my year off very well with Mistborn (written by Brandon Sanderson, with the super cool Vin as the main character), and I can’t wait to read more in that series. I won’t say I’ll stick to this for 100% of my books, but it will be a big focus for me this year.

Pare down. I have way too much stuff and too many clothes. So I’d like to keep editing my closet and my things, so I’m just left with what I really want and what really adds value to my life.

Sketch every day. I have already missed two days this year, but I’ll aim to sketch every day at least a little bit, and not to beat myself up if I miss it. You can follow along on Instagram or Twitter.

Have [redacted] amount of money saved by the end of the year. Money is usually on my list of goals for the year, but I’d like to try to save for a concrete amount. (I know what the amount is, just keeping it private for now.)

Go to the dentist and stop being a baby about it. I mean, really.

Continue to reach out to people on the internet and in real life. Last year I started (respectfully, I hope) emailing cool people I saw on the internet to talk about cool things, and it’s allowed me to chat with some wonderful, smart people I admire. It’s not as scary as you think it’s going to be, and it’s stretched my brain in the best ways.

So here’s to a great 2015. Thanks for reading and sharing this truly bananas year with me.

to do lists of the semi-adult: episode 12

to do lists of the semi-adult

Adult Christmas is hard. When you’re little, you basically just have to show up for presents on Christmas morning. Now we have to do the shopping and the cleaning and the cooking all while working full time. If you’re in the middle of holiday stress, you aren’t alone.

Jewels and I are struggling a little to get it all done, but we’re getting there one to-do list at a time. In this episode, we talk about dealing with a crisis around the holidays (everyone’s ok now), when to mail your gifts, and what we do to get ready for the New Year.

In our lightning round, Jewels talks about finishing her amazing Starry Night cross stitch. I have been reading Sex Criminals and ODY-C, and Jewels has just caught up with Serial. We both cooked last week–Jewels made beefy mushroom soup and I made a delicious pasta from Blue Apron with cauliflower and capers.

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or by using our feed link. You can also always find them on my Podcast page. You can find me right here at Rae’s Days, on Instagram, and on Twitter. Jewels is at Oven Lovin, on Instagram and on Twitter.

more women please (on women in books and comics)

comics rae's reading

I love the Harry Potters, the Quentins, and the Kvothes of the literary world. They are believable, flawed characters who are a hell of a lot of fun to read about. But sometimes I just get tired of watching boys have all the fun and get all the glory.

Not to say there’s not terrific women characters in these books as well. Harry Potter, the Magicians, and the Kingkiller Chronicles (my small, biased sample) all have really interesting, varied women who do real things that influence the story.

But I want to see more leading ladies.

This doesn’t mean we need fewer great adventure stories with men at the helm, it means we need more of them with women leads. It doesn’t take anything away from the complexity and enjoyment of what’s already out there to add to what’s already good. More women, more diversity, more stories. Because from that we get sharper and more human storytelling, which can only be a good thing.

A few weeks ago I asked on Facebook for recommendations of books with women leads (specifically fantasy or quest adventures because that is what I like). We came up with a great list that includes Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Mary Robinette Kowal’s glamourist histories, the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, and more. (And I’m assuming we all already know about Divergent and the Hunger Games.)

I haven’t read all the books we talked about–I’m putting Mistborn at the top of my list. What I have read this year that I’ve been really excited about is comics. I’m relatively new to the comics world–I first read Saga and Sandman last year–and I wish it hadn’t taken me so long. The books I’ve read this year have diverse, provocative storytelling based on complex human (and not so human) characters.

And by chance, just about every series I’ve picked up this year has a woman lead: Saga, Sex Criminals, Wytches, and ODY-C.

I couldn’t have planned a better introduction to comics than Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, if I tried. It is a creative, complex space …saga (sorry!) and it’s touching and funny and brutal and smart. Hazel, the daughter of two lovers who are on the run from their warring home planets narrates Saga, so we are literally in the head of a woman telling this story. Alana, Lying Cat, Izabel, Gwendolyn and more (more! there’s so many great women in this comic I can’t even list them all) make sure that women are not only included, but they are at the forefront of this story.

In many fantasy stories I get super bored reading sex scene after sex scene from a straight man’s perspective that focuses on the size and shape and smoothness (barf) of some girl’s breasts. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals is just as dirty as it sounds, but the perspective on sex (and life) comes from Suzie, the main character who can freeze time when she orgasms. Sex criminals is full of sex and crime (obviously, I guess), but it’s really a story about being vulnerable to another person and being brave enough to share your fears and secrets with the world. It takes themes of gender issues, sexuality, and hiding who you are and mixes them with bank heists, sex toys, and intergalactic police.

I love horror, but finding leading women in horror is few and far between. (Can you think of some? Let me know). Lucky for me, Scott Snyder, Jock, and Matt Hollingsworth’s Wytches’ lead is a young girl, Sailor, who moves to a new town where something is lurking in the woods. Sailor and her family are trying to escape a tragedy and make a new start, but the wytches don’t appear to forgive and forget. Wytches takes on fear, bullying, and family–which at times can be pretty scary, am I right?

I heard some buzz about Matt Fraction and Christian Ward’s ODY-C before I read issue no. 1, which just came out a few weeks ago, and, boy, is it earned. The absolutely stunning art accompanies an updated version of the Odyssey. Set in space, this Odyssey is full of women. Just about every character is a woman (or a sebex), and there’s warriors, lovers, parents, and, of course, Captain Odyssia. It was a blast to read and I can’t wait for issue no. 2.

If you, like me, are thirsty for new and exciting characters of all kinds, please check out some comic books. If I never picked one up I’d be missing out on some of the best stories of the year.