Tuesday, April 27, 2010


These days, I'm only half here.

Half being the amount of the stimuli I am capable of processing.

Here being the external world.

Michael will finish a sentence. I am aware that he has finished the sentence, but I'll respond either with, "Will you repeat that?" or some nod/smile combination out of shame. I can listen and hear him just fine, but my brain is not performing the comprehend function.

Same goes for books. I have at least five books started right now and none finished. I read a chapter, a paragraph, or a sentence and by the end of it all I have to ask, "What just happened?" I can only reread something so many times before fantasizing about stuffing it in a paper shredder.

Cut to my recent obsession with shorts.

It's called flash fiction.
Extra short short stories.

I found a collection that my mind can digest.

AM/PM by Amelia Gray

This collection makes me feel a little voyeuristic.

For those of you that find yourself people watching and dropping eaves for enjoyment, you'll love AM/PM. Imagine 120 opportunities, day and night, to be an empathic fly on the wall in the most intimate moments between friends and lovers, and with oneself. Whether these moments are hilarious or heartbreaking, they're all totally insightful, in 150 words or less.


Olivia dreams that her body becomes pliable enough that she can stretch very thin and cover most of the rooms of the house. Her body is so thin that the bones are clearly visible, and the veins stretch, and the blood has more distance to travel and as a result, the edges of her body are very cold. Reginald opens the front door, removes his shoes, and takes only one step before recoiling in horror at the chilly mass that is Olivia's body, stretched and waiting. In Olivia's dreams, she controls every aspect of her life.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Newfoundland Pal of the Pen

Now I remember why I stopped sending snail mail.

I had forgotten how slow the rate of the mail's movement actually is.

Sarah of Atlantic Atlantis and I took the Pen-Pal Oath.

Sarah's letter was sent on March 15th from Newfoundland, Canada and reached Chicago over a month later!


Altogether, Sarah sent me a beautiful handmade card, Spiderman and My Little Pony stickers, as well as a Canada sticker I've already found a place for on my Moleskin planner, and an Arctic Blend tea, which I have yet to try. You know that feeling, when you love a gift so much, that you have to force yourself to use it? Someday I'll actually drink the tea, instead of constantly putting it to my nose to sniff.

I <3>

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lifetime of Gaia Worship

As of today, EARTH DAY, I have been celebrating Mother Nature for 23 3/4 years. In other words, for 8,681 days.

I think of my life as a constant celebration of the world in which I live.
What's one day a year, compared to 8,681 days and counting?

You can't change the way you impact the Earth until you really get out there and see what's at stake.


Consider four things that actually matter (via Treehugger) that you can do to improve your stay on Earth, as it's only temporary, but your footprint remains. Drive less, buy local, craft green, and be energy efficient!

Also, go over to The 60/40 to check out Roxanne's many informative Earth Day posts!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010


My Nikon D40 is too big to carry around all of the time.
The film for my Polaroid is too expensive. The lighting for my Actionsampler has to be perfect.
And my Canon AE-1 SLR won't give me pictures right now.

What to do? What to doooooo?

I'm in the market for a cheap (like, really cheap), compact (fits in my pocket), point-and-shoot camera, whose picture quality isn't total crap.

Any suggestions?

In the meantime, here are some old favorites, taken by me with the Polaroid and Actionsampler, that I found myself perusing this evening.




Monday, April 19, 2010

Oolala Apron

Once upon a time, there existed a vintage dress.

A beautiful floral, corseted dress.

Whose warped ribs dug into my sides and gave my chest a silhouette a-la Madonna's pointy bra.

You can't tell in this photograph because clearly my silly grin fools all.

Just for the record.
Beauty =/= Pain

Thus, I cut the damn dress up.
And made another pretty apron, of course.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Humble Park

Do you ever feel as if you have been brainwashed?

Through media, our parents, and our peers we are socialized to have certain body standards. I can't speak for you, but neither does my shape nor my size live up to those standards. This has been a HUGE source of anxiety for me (and most of the women I know) and has left me with feelings of inadequacy and severe discomfort in my own skin.

Let the relearning begin.

When are we going to stop torturing ourselves with extreme diets and exercise? When are we going to value the beauty of all humans regardless of shape and size?

Listen, I am a promoter of a healthy lifestyle. I do not support anyone sitting on the couch all day long and junking out, but seriously, I'd rather not spend half of my life in the gym, or limit the sort of foods I can eat. I was born with these genes and I am not going to take all the fun out of my life working against them. I just want to be happy. Constantly worrying about my body has done too much damage to my mental health.

Have you ever heard of Health at Every Size?

It's a health approach that sounds pretty much right on for me.
The main principles are self-acceptance, normalized eating (intuitive eating - eating only when you're hungry and stopping when you're full), and pleasurable physical activity.

Michael and I dosed ourselves with some pleasurable physical activity and intuitive eating this weekend. We rode our bicycles against the wind to eat at the [amazing] Flying Saucer in the Humboldt Park neighborhood (there and back coming out to about 10.6 miles). Afterwards, we took a stroll through the actual park.

Humboldt is predominately Puerto Rican. You can see the Puerto Rican flag everywhere, hanging out of windows, flying from cars, and even in an arch over the street.

Like Pilsen, Humboldt Park boasts some pretty rad wall art. This mural is on the side of an auto repair shop!

Michael and I ran into a statue or two (this one is called Home), watched the fishermen across the pond, and played a game of goose, goose, duck.

Let me just tell you, Michael has pretty effin' long legs and arms. No, really. Perfect for climbing, and swinging, and generally getting into trouble.

All in all, it was a pretty successful day. I asked Michael to take some photographs of me in the park to share with my readers, but thereafter deleted every single one.

Of course, self-acceptance is the toughest to achieve.

But, I'm working on it.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Anatomy of Angst in Moorea

Angst ain't so bad now that I'm all grown up.

At the same time, no one said it was easy to harness angst in productive ways. It's something that even I have not quite mastered.

There are days when angst is debilitating for me, when I really contemplate all of the hate, suffering and corruption in the world or when I feel as if who I have become is not quite right.

Yet, for [us] crafters, artists and activists, angst is also inspiring. Our anxiety about the state of the world or our lives often fuels our passions and forces us to act, to do something with the overwhelming feelings inside of us. Out of our angst comes creation and change.

Moorea Seal knows.

For those of you who have not visited Rumination Reading Room, the personal blog of Moorea Seal, what in the world are you waiting for? Get over there!

Moorea made this post a few weeks ago about the best kind of angst.
The kind that gives us power!

I made this painting for her, as a way to relate, to feel connected to her experience of angst, even though she's in the far away land of Seattle (sounds magical, right? So is Moorea).

I named it the Anatomy of Angst in Moorea.

After completing the painting, I contacted Moorea about her angst. I wanted to get a little closer to the emotions of a stranger. She enthusiastically agreed to answer all of my burning questions, and gave her consent to share them with you.

1. Tell me three words that describe your emotional experience of angst.
excitement, frustration, competition (with myself)

2. How do you experience angst physically?
I get crazy butterflies in my stomach like it's nobody business. My eyebrows raise in shock and excitement, my heart suddenly starts pounding, and I just want to let out a giant scream! Sometimes I scream in my pillow or jump around my bedroom. I feel hyper and excited, but in a way that all of it feels held up inside of me. Champagne bottles pop pop pop in my tummy and all I want to do is find a tactile reason to create so that those celebratory bubbles have reason for being there! I feel angry and driven to accomplish something.

3. Name some things in your life that provoke angst in you.
If I haven't been creating illustrations, jewelry making, or singing in a few days I just go nutso. It is in my nature to always be creating and to always be seeking out inspiration. If I have been working hard and nothing seems to be turning out the way I imagined, I feel super angsty too, desperate for inspiration. And then when I finally do find a blog, an illustrator, an artist, a musician or a designer that really innovative and unique, I get those butterflies in my tummy too, ready to begin again on my own work now that my eyes have been refreshed! I guess there are lost of types of angst for me :)

4. Do you remember your first experience of true angst?
Oh man, I've been angsty, stubborn, strong willed and self determined since before I could walk. I have always been intensely independent and have had a fire in me to always pave my own way and do it with passion. My first sentence was "Me help me!" ...it is still hard for me to ask for help haha! And when I was 9 I changed my own name from Ashley to Moorea. Yes, I picked my own name. I had never felt like my name suited me and always felt a bubbling of angst in me to find the name that really embodied who I was/am. You can read more about the story of my name here: http://ruminationread.blogspot.com/2010/03/true-tales-tuesdays.html

5. Do you openly express your angst? How?
I am actually a pretty shy person and am cautious about being very expressive with those around me. But, once I feel really comfortable around friends, I am ridiculously silly and expressive. I feel passionately about many things, from art and music to civil rights to nerdy blog/twitter/etsy/technology chatter. I constantly crave change and progression, so when something inspires me to change, to be better, to work harder, I have to let it out! Sometimes I create a drawing or a painting, sometimes I write a song, I write it out, or I laugh and shout and dance with my friends and sisters.

6. Do you feel angst is always a bad thing? How has angst inspired you?
Oh no angst ain't bad! Angst is a great thing. It is that thing inside of you that drives you mad in the best sense possible. It is that part of you that begins to erupt when you feel like your stagnancy has lasted too long. Its that powerful drive that kicks in when you have been bored for too long. Angst gives you something to fight against, to overcome. It is the launching point from which I begin each task, each project, each experiment. Angst is like the most intense competition you could ever feel. It isn't competition with anyone else, it is simply you fighting against yourself, driving you to achieve what you have yet to even begin!

7. In moments that you want to rid yourself of angst, what sort of
activities help?
Making a list of things I want to accomplish. Momentary things, things to be completed today, this week, this month, this year, this lifetime. I love checking things off. completing something that was driven by angst is the most satisfying accomplishment. :) Making lists of people who inspire me. Singing along with crappy music and doing impersonations of pop divas. Jumping around the house with my roommates and dancing to r&b and hip hop from the late 90s and early 2000s, think Nelly, 3LW, JLo, Usher etc...And then once that's all done, draw, make jewelry, play guitar, write songs, sing, paint. anything physical and tactile.

Get Angsty!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Folks, I didn't mean to go all MIA on you.

Guilt =/= Productivity

Admittedly, I'm tired and stressed.

My writing and language skills have been in the OFF position this week.

Craft/Brainstorm mode has been switched to ON.

The benefits of this mode will reveal themselves soon, my loves.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mystery Brew

My boyfriend is an artist, a creator of craft beer.

I'm fairly certain that Michael wakes up thinking about beer. Now, he's not an alcoholic, because he does not drink all day long, but he sure does talk about it a lot. I know for sure that he goes to sleep thinking about it since he began reading about the science of brewing. I've been around during a few of his brew sessions, but have still not caught on to the process completely.

From what I gather as a mere photographer and laywoman, it's a lot of adding ingredients to a big ol' boiling pot of water and allowing it to simmer for a period of time specific to each ingredient, which comes out to about an hour (for a Belgian Wit, similar to Blue Moon or Hoegaarden, malt extract from barley and wheat, wheat, hops, coriander, and orange peels).

Dry Malt Extract

Liquid Malt Extract

Pelleted Hops

Flaked Wheat

Orange Peel

Full Leaf Hops

Hops are my favorite part of the brew process ... and, really, beer, in general. The aroma and taste is so strong and delicious. For those Tom's Deodorant users out there, you may already know that hops is the main ingredient, used as a natural deodorizer. Although, I wouldn't recommend eating your deodorant.

Chill your concoction, add live yeast, ferment in a jug (called a carboy) for a week, and bottle! One should wait at least a week before serving the beer. Michael and I have found that the longer we allow the beer to condition, or continue to ferment, in the bottles, the more complex (and better) it tastes! Mmm.


If you haven't caught on, I am a beer enthusiast.

With the boyfriend to thank.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Riding in DIY Style

Today was my first bicycle ride of the season!

And it felt effing fantastic! Seriously, since the ride through my neighborhood this morning, I've been more energetic and happier times infinity plus one! The sun was shining, the wind was calm, and I fixed my bike up real pretty over the weekend (reference this post for a before shot). Riding around in style definitely makes me a more confident biker, something that is totally necessary on busy Chicago streets.

Originally, I had intended to repaint my bicycle. Realistically, I knew I'd never get around to the work involved in prepping a bike for new paint, like sanding, taking it apart, etc. Instead, I cut up an old dress that was in my fabric box and sewed some frame covers to match! As you can see, I've got a red chain, red grip tape, and red details on my tires, too!

Check out that backdrop!

The Pilsen neighborhood, where I live and thrive, is covered in murals. Pilsen is an exuberant Mexican community and absolutely amazing for so many reasons, but the art is one that is really apparent, even to mere passers-by. Now that the weather has improved, you should expect pictures of my favorite wall art from around the barrio. I'd actually like to do posts featuring many of the neighborhoods throughout Chicago, as they are all so different, and all so vibrant.

Pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican Calendar