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Tuesday, November 5th, 2019
11:39 am - "My enemies are all too familiar. They're the ones who used to call me friend." - LJ Idol Week 5
I've spent a long time trying to figure out the best way to write about the time I spent in a cult.

Would it help people to hear my story? Which parts of it would help?

I feel like I should talk about it but I don't know what to say.

So I asked people. I asked my Facebook friends and the workroom what questions they had.

I don't have time in one LJ Idol entry to write about all of it. In fact, this topic has shown me that I really do have a lot to say, and should probably spend some non-idol time working on it. But Gary extended the deadline, and so I'll try one more time to do a condensed Idol version.

It won't be satisfying. It'll be very Cult 101. But it'll be an entry.

I should start by saying that a lot of the questions I got assumed my cult was religious. Most well-known cults are. You hear "cult" and you think about people lying dead in their white Nikes, or people lying dead in Jonestown, or Tom Cruise.

But my cult wasn't like that. We were more like the Manson family. Just without the murders. Probably.

They were just people. That's the insidious part, and that's what I need to write about - what I need people to understand.

Cults don't announce that they're cults. Cults can just be people. They can be one house. And they can consume you.

For a long time I didn't call it a cult. I called it a "cult-like environment." I felt because of the lack of notoriety, it didn't really count. But reading through the BITE model, aka the gold standard for determining cult status, the alarms in my head scream at full blast.

Behavior Control

-Promote dependence and obedience - check.
-Dictate where and with whom you live - half check.
-Restrict or control sexuality - triple check.
-Deprive you of seven to nine hours of sleep - holy shit, check.
-Exploit you financially - check.
-Restrict leisure time and activities - check.
-Require you to seek permission for major decisions - check.

Information Control

-Deliberately withhold and distort information - check.
-Forbid you from speaking with ex-members and critics - check.
-Divide information into Insider vs. Outsider doctrine - check, though again, "doctrine" is used loosely as there wasn't any written doctrine or propaganda - just the stuff we made up verbally as a group.
-Use information gained in confession sessions against you - check.
-Gaslight to make you doubt your own memory - oh hell to the check.
-Require you to report thoughts, feelings, & activities to superiors - Yup. Yup. Yup.
-Encourage you to spy and report on others’ “misconduct” - check.

Thought Control

-Instill Black vs. White, Us vs. Them, & Good vs. Evil thinking - check.
-Change your identity, possibly even your name - Somewhat.
-Use loaded language and cliches to stop complex thought - "It's only awkward if you make it awkward."
-Induce hypnotic or trance states to indoctrinate - Parties, parties, parties.
-Reject rational analysis, critical thinking, & doubt - check.

Emotional Control

-Instill irrational fears (phobias) of questioning or leaving the group - Check with a capital "C".
-Promote feelings of guilt, shame, & unworthiness - check.
-Shower you with praise and attention (“love bombing”) - check.
-Shun you if you disobey or disbelieve - check.
-Teach that there is no happiness or peace outside the group - essentially.

There are several aspects I didn't list here. They happened not exactly as described by the BITE model but in a clunky, more home-brewed way. While some cult leaders practice this stuff intentionally, I don't know that the people in my particular cult realized what they were doing. I think it was the only way they knew how to live. And I think if they HAD been more intentional, I might have stayed longer.

Again, I don't have time for the full story here. But I do want to at least answer a handful of the most asked questions. So here they are, along with my brief answers:

1) Why did you join*?

I got in because I felt loved. I felt seen. I felt cared for and cherished. I felt special. Unique. WE had it all figured out. WE knew how to live life the right way. We felt sorry for saps out there who felt like they had to go through the motions of cultural expectations.

I felt part of something important. I felt like I had a chosen family that had my back and would carry me through anything I came up against in life.

This, I have learned, is called "love bombing". It doesn't last. But it's such as strong feeling that you spend the rest of your time with your cult trying to get it back.

And it's because of the strength of those feelings that I'm now extremely wary of anyone who tries to make me feel special when they don't know me that well. Who are you? What do you want from me?

2) Why did you leave?

I left because I started to see the cracks. I looked at one particular fellow member. When I'd first joined, he was so full of life, vibrant, beautiful, a person everybody radiated toward. I remember looking at him one day toward the end** and having this stark recognition of how different he was now, how broken. And I realized in that moment if I stayed, that would be me. Maybe it already was.

It still took me several months after that realization to fully get out. Leaving was brutal. They were unforgiving.

3) When did you realize it was a cult?

I never considered it a cult while I was in. As I mentioned earlier, it's only recently I've started to let myself call it a cult. I don't think anyone wants to admit they're the sort of person who could get sucked into a cult, but here's the deal: Unless you are highly, highly aware of the techniques they use, and unless you are highly, highly critical of everything going on around you while they are flooding your brain with dopamine and making you feel cherished in a way you've never felt before, it could happen to you just as easily as it happened to me.

Learn about cults. Watch out for them. And don't think you're safe from them if you steer clear of organized groups.

4) Did anyone's advice from the outside world help you get out?

The thing about being in a cult is no one can really talk you out of it. You feel like you've found this incredible group of people who understands you in a way no one else ever has before. If people had told me I needed to get out, it would have made zero difference.

However, sometimes when I talked to other people about things that happened on the inside and felt normal to me, they would give me confused looks, or say it seemed weird. Hmmm...six grown adults and three children living in a four bedroom house? Three people who directly deposit some or all of their paychecks into one guy's bank account - and that guy doesn't have a job? That's a little strange.

The first time you hear it, you laugh it off - oh, that's just how we are! You don't get it because we've figured out a way to buck the system and you're still IN the system, so you wouldn't understand.

But hearing it from enough people - people whose opinions I respected - eventually, I started to wonder if I was the misled one.

I don't know if it would work for other people. Some might dig their heels in more. But considering that there might be truth in their concerns played a big part in my getting out.

....Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

*I should mention there was no specific moment when I "joined". They didn't initiate me, there wasn't a ritual or anything official, it just sort of happened. I did move in with them eventually, but by that point I was already deep in it.

**I think I was in it for about three years.

(10 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Thursday, October 24th, 2019
12:14 pm - New Zodiac - LJ Idol Week 4
I thought it would be fun to jumble up the traits commonly associated with signs of the zodiac, randomly assign them to new made-up signs, and write descriptions for them.

What's YOUR new sign? Remember, you can only pick ONE, and none of the other traits can apply to you. Have fun!


Spoons are very generous, empathetic people. They're the friend who will buy you lunch when you left yours at home rushing out the door. They're the ones who will listen while you blather endlessly about your ex. But they can also be pretty stubborn. Don't get between a Spoon and their ice cream! Spoons are great friends, but their dynamic personalities mean they're constantly bouncing from exciting adventure to exciting adventure, and can sometimes leave you in the dust.


Tangerines are extremely sentimental people. They love for life and they'll do anything for the people they care about. Tangerines fight passionately for the causes they believe in. Their fiery personalities make them excellent activists, as they're protective by nature. They might try to drag you to the occasional protest. But you could also get to star in their latest poem - as deep thinkers, Tangerines are constantly writing. You might have to shake them out of their reverie every once in a while!


Butterflies are the most gracious of the new zodiac. They'll never miss a chance to send you a thank you card or open a door for you. Kind-natured, they are prone to showering their friends with compliments. You'll always feel beautiful around a Butterfly! But they can be surprisingly competitive. They take their pursuits very seriously and aim for their goals with a laser-like focus. If you're up against a Butterfly for a promotion, watch out! They're in it to win it. But at least they'll tell you what a great job you did when you lose.


Whispers are known for their artistic talents. Whenever you ask them where they got their purse, they always say, "I made it myself!" But they're also quite practical. You'll never see them at the craft store without a handful of coupons to make sure they're getting the best deal, and they know when to put down that bag of sequins so they can pick up some carrots for dinner instead. An intuitive bunch, Whispers can always pick up on it if you're having a tough time (whether you want them to or not). But their natural self-assurance makes them fantastic advice givers, and great people to lean on when times are tough.


No one holds fast to their beliefs like the uncompromising Moose. An independent soul, the Moose chooses a path and walks it without question. Don't try to dissuade them, you'll only bolster their resolve. Many view the Moose as brave, taking risks to stick to their guns where others might cave. Never offer them cheesecake while they're on a diet - you'll open yourself up to a lecture on will power! But the Moose is a good person to have in your corner if you need them. They're quite dependable as they're naturally inclined to follow through with their goals.


If you want your party to be a hit, bring a Pizza! They're naturally funny people, always quick with a joke. Their gregarious personalities mean you'll never feel excluded when you're hanging out with a Pizza. They work hard to make sure everyone's having a good time! Passionate souls, Pizzas are always working on projects that interest them. If they find the right passion project, they can dive into it with enviable discipline. If this happens, make sure they come up for air from time to time!


Everyone envies the resourceful Saturday. They're great people to take on road trips because they always have just the right thing in their bag for any emergency! They are used to dealing with struggle, so they prefer to be prepared. A strong bunch, Saturdays can handle anything you throw at them. They love to tell stories of how they've overcome circumstance, but this can sometimes make them seem a bit dramatic. One spider becomes five, a butter knife becomes a machete, etc. But when it comes to their friends, Saturdays refuse to get in the middle of drama. They remain diplomatic, helping to bring conflict to a peaceful end.


No one feels happier in a crowd than a Magazine! These extroverted, outgoing people always have the latest gossip and can fill you in on the details. When it comes to what they want, Magazines are tenacious go-getters. They know how to work a crowd and get them on their side. If you've ever joined an MLM, it's probably because a Magazine convinced you it was a great idea. They're extremely versatile, able to turn any bad situation into a good one. They know how to take things as they come and roll with the punches.


Fogs are very compassionate people. They want to blanket the whole world in a soft mist of comfort. The fair-minded Fog will bend over backward to make sure everyone gets treated properly and feels included. They're social creatures, always surrounded by people and nurturing their friends and loved ones. As fans of sensual pleasures, Fogs tend toward hobbies that activate the senses - bonus points if they can share them with others! Baking, massage and mixing homemade perfumes are all favorites of a typical Fog.


The most curious, inquisitive group of the new zodiac, Buttons are always digging to learn more about everything. This makes them great listeners - they'll let to you talk about your obsession with The Bachelor for hours because they're genuinely interested in why someone would watch that show. Their widespread interests make them quite creative. You'll never meet a Button who doesn't have five or six projects in the works! Their curiosity has also made them wise: They've gotten themselves into situations the average person might not, and learned a lot along the way. Buttons show great affection for the people in their lives, because they understand the complexities of human nature and respect the flaws of others.


Tongs are the trendsetters, the ones everyone looks to for the latest fashions. Highly imaginative, Tongs aren't afraid of what anyone else thinks of them. Their ideas are always original and unique. They're very expressive, literally wearing their personalities on their sleeve. You'll always know where you stand with Tongs! But if you befriend the Tongs, you'll have a friend for life. Extremely loyal people, Tongs won't let you down. They'll be by your side through thick and thin.


At the other side of the spectrum from Tongs, we have the Sweaters. Sweaters are cozy, gentle people who love to curl up with some hot cocoa and a good book. Analytically-minded, they prefer a night in studying trends in the political climate to a night out partying. They manage to keep an optimistic outlook despite their love of boring data, which can make them good people to consult in a crisis: They'll tell you the facts and remind you that you can do it. Sweaters are always eager to help where they can. You'll often find them volunteering for causes that matter to them, or at least taking the cricket outside rather than squashing it.

(16 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Saturday, September 28th, 2019
12:27 pm - Resolution (LJ Idol Topic 1)
We'll only write at midnight and we'll always do it late.
We'll only write non-fiction and it largely won't be great.
We'll pick through pasts and other pasts to figure out our now.
But probably we'll just come back to still not knowing how.

The heck.
To be an adult.

We'll write it out in poem form and pretend it isn't meta.
We'll joke to make ourselves laugh - corny turns of phrase? You bet-a.
We'll hope we can maintain some form of pre-youthful endurance.
But realistically we know we're hoping for insurance.

My car.
Is due.

(If you want to play with us there's still a day left to sign up.)

(17 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Saturday, September 14th, 2019
12:29 am - Week 0 - Introduction (LJ Idol)
Well holy butts. I'ts 12:30 AM and I'm writing this really quickly so I don't forget to do it. Is this how all of my LJ Idol entries are going to be? PROBABLY until I just totally space and forget one and get kicked out of the competition.


Anyway hi I'm Jess and I'm not going to do anything fancy for this intro because I really just wanted to hang with some peeps on LJ again and that's why I'm doing this. I miss LJ. It'll never be what it once was but as long as there are fine people out there like Gary* with tenacity that won't quit, I'll keep dropping in from time to time.

I couldn't tell you what to expect from me this season except for not much, man. I have a full time job that's far from home, I also run an Etsy shop and attempt to run a YouTube channel in my spare time, and I spend the rest of my free time getting sucked down the irresistible black hole that is Merge Dragons. Do you play it? It's the best. At wasting precious time.

So yeah, welcome to the shit show that is sure to be me writing up a bunch of last minute bullcrap in an effort to stay in the game! Should be fun.

I don't know how much reading I'll get to do this time around but I'll try to read some stuff so I don't feel like a total loser. I'll probably feel like a total loser anyway because that's just been my MO for the past year.

What a chipper and uplifting intro this has been! I'll leave it here so I can go to bed and get some sleep.

PS: I saw Rocketman three times and I've been listening to almost nothing but Elton John's early 70's discography for like three straight months. Isn't Amoreena a baller song? The answer is yes.

ETA: I just went back through my LJ to see how far I got the last few times I attempted LJI and it looks like the last two or three times, I posted an intro post and NOTHING ELSE, HAHAHAHAHAHA. Let's see if I can do better this time. By that I mean make it to week 2.

*If you aren't playing LJI and don't know who Gary is - he's the guy who runs it. I can't even fathom the commitment to running something like LJI for as long as he has. Thanks, Gary. If you want to sign up, you can do it here.

(15 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Sunday, September 8th, 2019
3:39 pm - LJ Idol Season 11
This is a mistake but I'm in!

(2 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Monday, March 4th, 2019
8:03 pm - Every Bob Ross #3 - Cabin Hideaway

BOB ROSS MILESTONE: My first little cabin! As usual, I'm not 100% thrilled with this painting and probably won't be until tomorrow. Bob's paintings seem to require a lot of standing back and taking in the image as a whole rather than getting nitty gritty into details. It's also kind of depressing painting with his right there and seeing how instantly perfect his seems, compared to your trash monster.

This one isn't one of my favorites, it's kind of blah as far as content in my opinion. The colors aren't that exciting, the landscape isn't that exciting. The mountains were painted on instead of palette knifed on, which really I shouldn't complain about given how much I hate the palette knife.

This painting called for another brush I don't have - a big fat round brush - but it wasn't a huge deal. Bob only used it for background trees, and the 1" brush was easy enough to replace it with.

For some reason I really struggled with the evergreens. He used the fan brush for this one, where the first practice painting I did, he used the 2" brush. The fan brush seems a little more difficult to control for me.

I think the next painting I do, I want to pay closer attention to his technique and try to copy that, like how he's actually applying the brushes to the canvas, rather than just trying to copy the end result. (I know you're not really supposed to be COPYING Bob, it's your world, etc. etc., but I still feel the need to.) By the end of all this, I do want to actually be a semi-decent painter. But I should cut myself some slack - this is painting number 3 of 400ish so I have time. Honestly, I'd rather screw up a painting I'm not that excited about than one that I am. I'm saving the paintings I really like for the end, when they'll have a better shot at coming out semi-decent.

Anyway, Bob seemed really rushed in this episode (Season 13, Episode 11). It started kinda oddly, like he was already trying to finish up quickly. My theory is that this was one they filmed toward the end of a shoot, and he'd already done two or three episodes prior, and everyone was ready to get out of there.

Despite the whole episode feeling rushed, you can really tell when Bob is ready to wrap things up, because he starts throwing in as many little details as he can at lightening speed, without very much explanations. I'm kinda frustrated with one of my little stones, the snow looks like it's a dang sombrero rather than a lovely little bank.

I think from set up to tear down, this one took about an hour and a half, so not bad on my end speed-wise.

Okay that's enough blathering about this relatively boring painting. Have a lovely day!

(you have too many thoughts)

Thursday, February 28th, 2019
11:52 pm - Every Bob Ross #2 - Windy Waves
Season 14, Episode 7 - Windy Waves

I did me another Bob! This one was a seascape and holy crap do I hate that friggen' pallet knife. Though during this one, I felt like I briefly figured out what was going on. If you look at the middle bit of the crashing wave, the foamy stuff underneath the wave that's supposed to be like the water rippling to the shore, that's all pallet knife junk. The middle one, I sort of had a moment where I realized what Bob was doing and how he was moving the knife and manipulating the paint and it CLICKED and I was like OH I SEE KIND OF.

And then I totally lost it on the last one. And then Bob kinda slapped on all of the foreground with the pallet knife and there didn't seem to be much finesse at all, probably because he'd spent so much time on the friggen' wave that he was rushing the foreground and the palm trees.

Boy, this entry is all over the place! But I'm trying to get it out before I go to bed. And I'm tired. And Green is already in bed and I'm using the loud clacky keyboard because I LIKE IT but it's probably irritating so I should shut up about the keyboard I'm typing on and talk about the painting.

So this painting called for a brush I DID NOT HAVE. It's like a little nubbly guy, kind of like an eyeshadow brush, but for paint. It's a brush that's pretty difficult to approximate with the brushes I DO have. (A 2", a 1", a fan brush, and a script liner - also I think maybe my script liner brush is too fat? I feel like Bob makes all these delicate lines and mine just look like blobby smeary messes. I'm ending this parenthetical now.)

So I was just trying to make the most of the brushes I had, and that's what I get for literally pulling an episode out of a bucket and going for it without watching it ahead of time to figure out what dang supplies I'll need. But at least I know I need to get that brush. I legit thought I had all the brushes.

He also used the small pallet knife which I also don't have, but that's okay because I think the big one worked just fine, considering the pallet knife stuff is all garbage trash that I hate doing.

I really hope by the end of this, I'm like a god damn wizard with the pallet knife. I hope I don't just hate using it the entire time and never improve with it. It genuinely feels right now like that could happen.

What else is there to say about this painting? There are several spots where I painted above the horizon line, despite Bob emphasizing keeping it perfectly straight to the point where he started the painting with friggen' masking tape marking it out. You probably can't tell in the picture, but I accidentally painted a lot of errant lines over the horizon.

I don't hate the palm trees, they actually came out kind of nice and didn't take any time at all. And really pulled the whole painting together, which up to that point was a single wave and a bunch of slapped on paint for the ground.

OH, today was my first time using the respirator. I bought a respirator to hopefully not die of leukemia like Bob, although I don't think you get leukemia by huffing odorless paint thinner. The respirator was really uncomfortable, BUT, I did not feel light headed and vaguely sick from the fumes when I was done with the painting, which has happened in the past. So good for me!

I hope the weather plays nice so I can do another painting sooner rather than later. I have covered a couple of my white canvases with black gesso, so if I draw a black gesso painting, I'm ready to go! Also I'm out of white canvases that aren't covered in black gesso (I used a white one today instead of the grey Bob brand ones since this painting started with a coat of liquid "grey" instead of liquid white), so I should probably get more of those. I have five of the Bob-brand grey canvases. Oh and I got my huge tube of titanium white, so we'll see how long it takes me to go through that.

I've been scraping off the paints that didn't get used and putting them into baggies and freezing them, so I can use them later. Bob recommended that (freeze them) so I'm trusting him that it's okay. So far the titanium white is the only color I've run out of, it'll be interesting to see what I work through next!

Well this post is long and boring enough, I'll end it here.

(1 sore thumb | you have too many thoughts)

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019
8:05 pm - Every Bob Ross #1 - Snowfall Magic
Hello friends. I have this journal, and I'm doing this project, and I think posting my thoughts about my progress to LJ is the best way to go about things. I have embarked on the goal of following Every Bob Ross Painting Tutorial.

Which honestly is a little bit ambiguous of a goal, because there are Bob Ross Tutorials that aren't official Joy of Painting episodes (he released some hour long DVD specials), and not every Joy of Painting episode is hosted by Bob himself.

The actual painting, plus a lot more babbling, under the cut.Collapse )

(1 sore thumb | you have too many thoughts)

Saturday, February 18th, 2017
1:10 pm - Augh Augh Augh Augh Augh.
So I just did a big project with the closet - I emptied it all out and put my hoop tubing and tape rack in there. I got rid of a lot of stuff, too, but now I'm panicking about the stuff that came out of the closet that we might want to keep and where it will go if we decide to put it back IN the closet.

I'm also panicking about the fact that there is NO good way to store hoop tubing without it getting tangled up and just being generally horrible and I hate it. It takes up so much space and it's so god damn frustrating. I really want to stop making hoops but it still brings in about $250 a month which is nothing to sneeze at. So until YouTube becomes profitable, I'll keep plugging away at this hoop nonsense.

I'm also ALSO panicking because that was one project, but now our house is even more cluttered because all the closet stuff is everywhere and walking is hard and I knew that was going to happen but I also don't know when I'll next be motivated to deal with it. It's like I tackle one small chunk of organization, then I ignore it for a month, then do it again.

Although, now that I've cleared a big chunk of space where my hoop rack used to be, I'm imagining putting my table there. And if my table is there...perhaps I can turn it into a writing station. And if I have a writing station...perhaps I can finish my book.

Maybe I'm not a huge failure after all! But I still have a lot of shit to sort through and figure out homes for and right now that seems impossible. Maybe I should read my Marie Kondo again and calm down a little.

Also you should watch the video I made. It only took like twenty hours of editing!! Hooray!!

(2 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Sunday, February 12th, 2017
4:53 pm - Numbers Are Easy
Financially, I'm pretty dang organized, at least compared to the majority of my peers. While I'm not always as on top of my budget as I'd like to be (case in point: I'm spending the day going back through all of last year's transactions categorizing them in Quickbooks Self Employed as business or personal when I could have done that, oh, I don't know, AT ANY OTHER POINT DURING THE YEAR), at least I have a budget. I know what I can spend and what I need to pretend I don't have so I can use it to pay other things.

Numbers are easy. They are the same no matter what. A six is always a six. Six dollars will always be six dollars. If I set six dollars aside for rent, it's going to be sitting in its little electronic box waiting for me to spend it on rent.

Physical things are much more abstract. They're different sizes. Different shapes. Different consistencies. Some things exist until they're consumed and then they're gone. Some things are in the process of becoming other things.

I'm genuinely shocked that ANYONE can intuitively know what to do with all these things. It's taking lots of studying and research to start to form ideas, and even still, some things elude me.

This post doesn't have a good ending. I like money. My apologies if you hate the number six. How do you feel about numbers?

(17 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Saturday, February 4th, 2017
5:01 pm - Cleaning Vs. Organizing
[lj-angst intro]

So I've been thinking about the times in my life where I was CONSTANTLY posting to LJ or FB or various forms of social media, and mostly they were times when I was avoiding doing something else.

Like school, or work, or projects, or cleaning, etc.

I think I've just developed new forms of avoidance, lol. I don't know if that's good or bad.

What I DO know is I'm not going to stress too much about keeping up with LJ, and post when I think about it, which will maybe be once a week or so.

[/end lj-angst intro] [begin actual post]

CURRENT LIFE GOALS: Getting my house organized.

So dudes, I'm a 32 year old woman, theoretically an adult.

Do you know what I only just learned in the past six months?

That cleaning and organizing are two entirely different things.

I discovered this when I started looking for house cleaners, because I decided it would be worth the money to get rid of the insane amount of stress having a ridiculously messy house and being powerless against it causes me on a daily basis.

But it turns out a lot of house cleaners won't clean up around clutter and you're supposed to pick that shit up before they get there. Also they don't do dishes.


But apparently the CLUTTER issue comes from a lack of ORGANIZATION, which I learned from reading "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up".

So after reading that book, visiting the home of a friend who actually has a well-organized home, and watching a bunch of this chick's videos (and being hypnotized by her jawline), I'm all like, I CAN DO THIS.

I can get rid of stuff I don't need. I'm good at that.

I can figure out things that go together in the same category and store them in baskets and shit. (SERIOUSLY YOU GUYS, HOW DID I MAKE IT TO 32 WITHOUT REALIZING I CAN STORE SIMILAR THINGS TOGETHER AND MAYBE THAT MIGHT BE EASIER.)

So anyway, that's the plan. I feel like if I can get my house together, I can get my life together. And maybe start wearing fashionable pants.


Okay. That's my post for the day. What aspect of adulting do you struggle with the most?

(21 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Saturday, January 21st, 2017
8:55 pm - Where did the week go? Up time's ass.
Why is it I used to not be able to stop making LJ posts ten years ago, and now I sit down in front of the thing and I'm like - I don't even know what the fuck to say?

Is it because nothing interesting is happening?

Is this post just going to be more ANGST??? I DON'T WANT TO FILL THIS JOURNAL WITH ANGST.



I just got home from working 5 hours of "overtime" on my day off. It's not really overtime because we technically only work 35 hours a week and take an hour for lunch every day we work, so working an additional 5 hours puts me at 40 hours for the week, which isn't overtime. Hence the quotes.

I did the same thing last week. So these past few weeks have felt like they just slipped by without my really noticing.

I've been spending my spare time working on my video for the week (which isn't going to be finished in time for me to post this week, so I filmed a filler video that just needs a little editing to take its place), and filling my dang hoop orders. I'm really over making hoops, trying to store all the materials takes up so much friggen' space, and taking up spare time making them when I'd rather be working on videos (or, I don't know, doing something without feeling guilty about not working on hoops) is a pain in the ass.

But the extra money is nice.


This post sure was about something, I guess.

What did you eat today?

(6 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Friday, January 20th, 2017
11:39 am - What's Your Writing Process?
So after making my last post, it looks like a lot of people currently active on LJ and reading these words are other writers.

I'm extremely interested in writer's processes. I think everyone has a different writing process, despite the actual process of writing being less discussed than the technical aspects of writing.

Why do you write? How often do you write? What do you do to help you write? Do you prefer drafting or revising? Description or dialogue? Etc.?

For me, I write because I love books and I feel this drive to create things I love consuming, more than any specific love of writing. I like initiating. I like attempting to write something I would actually enjoy reading.

The writing process for me is exceedingly difficult. I often won't sit down to write unless it's inside of some sort of challenge, either external or internal (NaNoWriMo, LJ Idol, or giving myself a specific deadline with people who are holding me accountable to hitting it).

I prefer writing dialogue and I loathe description. A lot of my drafts take place in nebulous worlds with poorly described characters talking and doing things, but not really interacting with their environment.

I like to sit down and bang out a lot of words without thinking. For example, the two drafts of the book I'm currently working on were written in a two months, a week, and another month of furious quick writing.

Then it takes me a long time to pull the things I actually like out of that nonsense and shaping it into something traditionally resembling a story. In total, that process of this current book has taken me eleven years.

I like to sit down with a timer and write as much as I can without looking back. I like limitations - challenges to include certain words or concepts to drive creativity, as I don't feel like I'm particularly creative on my own.

For me, my process feels a lot like throwing words at a screen until they come together in a way that's compelling. A lot of what I write is total crap, and sometimes it's just me literally typing "I am typing until the timer goes off. I have no idea what happens next or what my characters should be doing. I just have five minutes left on the timer."

Plotting really stresses me out and makes me uncomfortable, but I have dabbled in it.

Okay, that's enough of me. What's your process like?

(7 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
10:50 am - On Goals, But Not Really Probably
So people like to say that successful people set goals and review them and work toward them every day but WHAT IF YOUR GOALS GET BORING, is the thing.

That's what I've noticed happens to me and I think is one of the problems I have in setting goals, the fear of it getting boring.

It took five years of having a YouTube channel and posting to it when I felt like it to finally commit to the goal of making a video once a week. I still haven't set a goal about what KIND of videos to make. Or what DAY of the week to post. Just making one video a week is good enough. I figure if I do it enough, patterns will emerge, and I can cobble a channel out of that maybe?

And then there's my novel. I can't tell you how many times I've written down the goal of "Finish my novel THIS YEAR!" Like three or four years, I think, that's how many. See, I can't tell you, because I'm too lazy to look it up.

What I CAN tell you is I've been plugging away at Holly Lisle's How To Revise Your Novel course for however many years, determined to finish the fucker, and then I'll just randomly lose interest. Months will pass, usually three to six months, then it will start knocking on my head again, like, "Hey, come back, finish me you asshat."

It's started to do it again. And every time I work on it, I get these wild ideas like writing is supposed to be my Capital "P" Profession. And then I find something else shiny, lose interest in the novel and writing in general again, and run off into the sunset with the new whatever-it-is.

I rotate around things and keep coming back to them, just never with any reliability or consistency.

Though I really do feel this is the year I'll finish the god damn novel, considering I'm at the re-writing stage now, and I've got pretty rock solid notes on what needs to happen. The biggest hindrance is that Holly insists on hand-writing the re-write, then going back and typing it all in, and I'm normally a "type-like-the-wind-and-accept-whatever-fuckery-flies-from-my-fingers" sort of writer. Handwriting is painfully slow, especially when the sentence is in my head and I forget how it ends by the time I've written the beginning, where at a keyboard I could just bang it out as I think it. Also my penmanship isn't that great when I'm really chugging along, and then there's the fact that my hand eczema likes to flare up sometimes and make writing legitimately painful.

BUT, I'm stubborn and determined to work through the course at least one time as per Holly's specifications, because I like following directions and trusting processes. And I've re-written by hand three or four scenes already, and they were actually kind of fun to do by hand, so we'll see. WE'LL SEE. It's mostly the overwhelm of starting, knowing I've got so much book to do, my handwriting is so slow, and I will have to dive back into the story and figure out what's going on and re-read all my notes and all that shit. But I do it every time I pick the thing back up, so that's what I get for my process being so jacked up, I guess.

I kind of want to dig it out right now, but I have to make hoops. I HAVE to, I have some that are due to ship out today and I've been so bad at getting them out on time. I really wish I could afford to close the shop, but it earns me just enough money to not want to lose those sales. I'm hoping eventually YouTube will earn me what the shop earns me (in my lazy state of not promoting and just getting one to three sales a week, which I can't even keep up with having a real job and a desire to do anything else instead).

Anyway. Now I'm just babbling and bitching. What was this post about? I don't know.

I'm hoping if I keep posting to LJ, posts will eventually come easily again. They used to just fall out of me without any trouble at all, now it's like, "What should I talk to LJ about today?" And I don't know if that's due to losing interest in things or just doing more writing in my personal journals, WHO KNOWS, BRAINS ARE WEIRD, I WISH I STILL LOVED THINGS THE WAY I DID WHEN I WAS TWENTY.

How are you today?

(21 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Saturday, January 14th, 2017
12:59 pm - Hello New Friends and The Death of My Car
I think I have added everyone back who has added me thus far from 2017revival, so we are all on a TRIAL RUN FRIENDSHIP BASIS THING. I think there were too many words there but whatever.

Some further intro-y things, since I'm on my good keyboard this time and not the iPad: I try to read my flist but I'm very bad at it, because I type faster than I read and I get distracted by everything and also being an adult means I feel intense guilt staying up until 2 AM on LJ, a dramatic difference from when I was eighteen and would do that as a matter of course.

Also (and unrelated), I still have LJ skinned to display the Dystopia theme, which looks like this:

LJ Layout

AKA exactly how it looked in 2001 when I first got my journal (confirmed) because CHANGE IS HARD AND I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP. And I would like to add I'm extremely grateful to LJ for letting me keep my old school layout because basically no other website does that, so THANKS LJ, FOR SOMETHING I GUESS. Actually thanks for a lot. I'm glad I've thrown money at you.

Also thanks to fidgety for telling me about the revival thing and then making an epic post about being awake for surgery, you are my hero.

Anyway. Here's the real post part of the post!

Eleven and a half years ago, I got a new car.

I know, because I made an LJ post about it. (Sadly the picture I took is no longer embedded in the memory of the internet.)

Earlier this week, she died forever.

About three years ago, she needed a repair I couldn't afford at the time. So she sat in my driveway while I attempted to scrape the money together. Life kept happening and the money never did, so she sat.

Then around summer of '16, a friend offered to help, I found out she'd still run, I took her to some places who got her functioning again.

I drove her to and from work, happily, blissfully, reunited with my baby.

Then the radiator cracked and it'll cost more to fix her than it will to just get a new car.

When she died, I managed to get her off the highway, where I called Green, who came by and waited with me for a tow truck (which ended up being a $120 tow to take her to her final resting place). I was assisted by the panhandler at the corner who helped me push her into the parking lot of Peach Tree Food Beer Wine Groceries Chicken Cigarettes.

I did not give that man any money because it felt weird? He didn't seem to be asking or implying that I should? But then later when we were waiting for the tow truck, another fellow, extremely flamboyant (so I loved him immediately), strolled up and told us he had some boots he was trying to sell.

I'm familiar with this tactic - when I was working at Subway, there were some homeless gentlemen who would come in from time to time, and we'd give them meatballs to eat despite our managers constantly telling us not to give them meatballs. One of them liked to raid the lost and found at the various hotels he'd stay in when he had the money, and he'd take nice looking shoes and try to sell them. Many times, he would try to offer me shoes to say thanks for the meatballs. I never wanted the shoes, but I appreciated the sentiment.

Anyway, the boots were super cute, black and furry, something I'd never wear. He wanted $10 for them. I told him to keep the boots but I'd give him $5 anyway because he was so adorable.

When I handed him the money, he was like, "Watch what I do with this," and he slid it under his shirt as if sticking it in a bra strap and basically he's the best.

So anyway the point is, Mia's* radiator has a crack in it, it'll cost $700 to fix and there's only a 50/50 chance that'll solve the problem. If it doesn't, I'm looking at another $1,500 to replace the engine.


Mia was born on LJ, and here I will lay her sweet memory to rest.

Well, I mean, I still need to go get my stuff out of her. But yeah. She did a good job. I did bond with her eventually. She took me all across the country, to Colorado, to North Carolina, to California, and back to Texas from all those places. I covered her with stickers with no regard to how that would look after sitting in the sun for seven years. (Spoiler alert - not great.)

She put up with my shit. Any car that can do that deserves a god damn award.

Anyway. I guess that's it for now. I hope you're having a lovely day.

*The car.

(19 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
11:25 pm - Jobs and Time and YouTube
Oh, hello, LJ. You're looking well. Glad to see you still exist.

If you're looking for the riveting follow up to my post however long ago about that Terry Pratchett book - I didn't buy it.


I told myself I have to get my car legal first, and that's turned into a longer and more expensive process than I'd thought.

Anyway. I've been having some job feels again, and you're always so calm and patient with my neurotic inability to happily hold down any sort of gainful employment no matter how firm a grasp I feel I've gotten on this whole "being an adult" thing.

So. I am currently working at a used bookstore. I absolutely love the work and the people and the environment. The customers are great and very rarely are they pains in the asses. If I were the sort of person who could go to work, come home, keep house, cook dinner and go to bed with the satisfaction of a job well done, I'd be the happiest of campers.

But the problem is, I want to do so many other things. SO MANY. And this job, no matter how perfect, takes 35 hours a week (plus an hour each way for travel) away from my time to do those other things. And keep house (A JOKE). And cook dinner (WHO HAS THE TIME??). And still hang out with the friends I really care about.

I know, I know, there's never enough time.

But as someone who spent three years working from home, I can tell you it's a hell of a lot easier to make plans with your friends when one of you has a fairly open schedule.

Not to mention I still have that side business, making hoops, on top of the irl job, which takes even more time away from the things I really want to do.

Which right now mainly consists of making videos for YouTube and growing my channel.

Listen, LJ. I'm not complaining, not really. I am grateful to have a job I actually like, and not having to stress about finances is pretty blissful most of the time.

But I think when I told myself in the beginning that I could see myself working here until I retire from working forever, I think I was fooling myself.

But I'd like to work here as long as I can, while hopefully building up a nice income from YouTube. And maybe - one day being in the position where spending all that time at work is causing me to lose potential YouTube money.

Look, I know YouTube is a long shot. But I didn't know if I could get myself organized and motivated enough to build a sustainable Etsy shop, and I did that. It took several false starts, but once I decided to commit, I did it.

I have already had my several false YouTube starts. My attempts and failures have garnered me nearly 3,000 subscribers, which is more than a lot of would-be YouTubers have.

And now I've got the commitment behind it. I've committed to a video a week for a year, and I'm fifteen weeks in. I thought committing would be scary, but mostly I just find I'm wishing I had enough time to do two or three videos a week and grow faster.

My content is still pretty all over the map and disorganized, but I know if I keep doing it, I can make it a thing. I can make it not just a dream. I have already earned one $100 payout (which I got in 2015) and I'm less than $20 adsense dollars away from my second.

I am earning real money from it. Granted, it's drops in the bucket chump change compared to how much work I put in, but it's real money. And the work is fun. And I know if I keep at it, it will grow to be larger and larger amounts of money.

So here is my current plan: Get to where I'm earning enough money through YouTube that I can quit making hoops, thus freeing up a bit more time for videos. Then just keep growing the channel. Perhaps strategically schedule vacation days to have more time for making videos. And maybe, one day, quit in a blaze of YouTube glory.


With gratitude.

Because I really fucking love my coworkers.

It's not a super elegant plan and it's not going to happen anytime soon probably, but just getting it out of my head and in the LJ archives helps it feel more real.

Follow your dreams, kids.

Even if they change every five god damn minutes.

(you have too many thoughts)

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016
7:50 pm - I Need Advice, Livejournal.
Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors and probably the person I most aim to emulate (or draw inspiration from, etc.) when I write myself.

He wrote his first published novel when he was 17. When he got more popular, he re-wrote and re-released it in his 40s. This revised version is very easy to get a copy of for very cheap.

For years, I've really wanted to have a full rough draft of one of my favorite author's published works, just to see the differences between that initial inspiration and what finally stayed on the page, and how they differ, what was dropped, added, etc. I'm very interested in examples of the revision process - while there's tons of examples of "finished" writing, there's not a lot of examples of "in-progress" writing.

So basically, having a copy of the original version seems as close to a "rough draft" I'm likely to find from an author I admire, and comparing it to the re-written thirty years later version seems like a fantastic example of "in-progress" writing.

HERE IS THE PROBLEM: Copies of the original unrevised 1971 version are out of print and only available in Britain, for the most part. And run $700 - $1000 on Amazon.

I did some digging and found a few copies available in the $220 - $300 range on another site.


Since I'm interested in having the two stories to compare more than "owning a first edition zomg", I'm thinking of buying one of the "cheaper" $200ish editions, copying it surreptitiously at Kinko's (perhaps in several trips so they don't get suspicious), then reselling it for the $700 price point.

I have copied an entire 500+ page textbook before once so I know it's possible and that I have the stamina for it.

I have $600 set aside to cover anything I might owe in taxes, so technically, I "have" the money. If I were able to resell the book - even for exactly what I paid for it - by February, it wouldn't make a dent financially. If I could sell it for $400 - $700, I'll have made a profit, possibly a hefty one. Condition doesn't seem to make a difference on what people charge for these since they're so rare and sought after.

The major variable is how long it would take to resell and how much I could resell it for, but I feel like overall it's not a TERRIBLE idea, just kind of a SCARY idea because it's a pretty big initial investment without a 100% GUARANTEE not to fail.

Is this worth doing? For the sake of learning to be a better writer maybe? I mean, I paid $200 for the revision course I'm taking my book through, this is only a little more than that AND I will (ideally) get the money back. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

(3 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Sunday, March 27th, 2016
1:15 pm - Jobs, and My Thoughts Thereupon
I think if this journal had a title, it'd be, "Jess's Complex, Ever-Evolving and Often Obnoxious Thoughts About Jobs".

THEY ARE A THING I THINK ABOUT ALL THE DAMN TIME. Especially now since I have a "real" one again.


I'm pretty sure I've figured out why that is. More than almost every other job I've had save for one, PJ's is really well organized. Well organized training, well organized management, really clear and easy-to-follow guidelines on how to get into those management positions and beyond. Also they pay really well for promotions (considering other jobs of a similar caliber).

From the start, they are like, "Hey, you could spend the rest of your life here and we'll show you exactly how and you have to do next to no THINKING" and it's pretty great, I'm not gonna lie, it's pretty great.

If you're a teenager and you've never had a job before and you dove right into this environment, it'd be SUPER EASY to be like, "Yes, this is where I belong, THEY GET ME, PIZZA 4 LYFE."

I'm going through management training right now to become a shift lead, because why not. I can do the job, there's lots of support for managers here, and it's a few extra bucks an hour. I just got my first paycheck at my new pay level and like....dudes....bills are paid. Things are cool for this week, at least.

For a long time I have said I prefer freedom over money. But after spending three years with as much free TIME as I can throw a stick at, worrying about where money was coming from took up a huge chunk of it.

Now, I've got this job, and I know as long as I just go in when I'm scheduled and nothing horrible happens, I will have enough money to pay for the things that need paying for and maybe a little extra.

And I can spend my free time not fretting so hardcore about money, but like, doing things for fun. Hobbies and shit. I haven't really had any hobbies for a while.

Past me would be like, "HOW DARE YOU SUCCUMB TO THE MAN, HOW HORRIBLE, BLAHHHH," but I feel a lot more relaxed and HAPPIER being allowed some time to focus on shit that isn't hustling for that dollar.

Having a job is a lot easier than trying to be an entrepreneur.

Not that that's going to stop me.

But instead of stressing over NEEDING to come up with something other people will want so I can pay my bills, I can focus instead on stuff I enjoy and see if I can mold that into something to make some extra cash.

I've been doing a bit of daily vlogging on my YouTube channel, and I had an idea for a direction my channel could go in - away from hoops but still potentially income-earning.

And I'm working on my novel again. I've busted out the tarot cards and I'm doing readings on all my main characters to really dig into who they are, and it's taking the book into a more focused direction I'm really excited about. I still have to force myself to work on that when I'm otherwise just lying around browsing Pinterest, but at least I don't have to feel guilty I'm working on it and not shit for Etsy.

(Green has taken over most of the Etsy stuff as well, taking another burden off my back while not eliminating a source of valid income.)

For now, this job is good enough. In her book Refuse to Choose, Barbara Sher talks about how having a "good enough" job is a great way to support your hobbies. A job you don't take home with you, pays the bills, and doesn't make you crazy.

I used to rage against that idea. "NO JOB IS GOOD ENOUGH, ALL JOBS SUCK YOUR SOUL AWAY!!! AUUUUGH!!!"

But right now, I get it. Right now, this job isn't driving me crazy. I actually enjoy it sometimes. I work with great people, and if I wanted to, I could continue taking steps up to keep challenging myself at work, hopefully not get bored, and earn more money so I can set stuff aside for when I'm old and not physically able to work at a breakneck restaurant pace.

And I can come home and relax, work on things that light me up and make me feel like me again, and keep moving forward.

I just wanted to get my thoughts on this out of my head. This shouldn't be epiphany-level shit, but for me, it is.

(9 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

Friday, December 25th, 2015
10:26 pm - Being Human
Today was delightful, best day I've had in a while, but now it's ending and I'm feeling stressed out. Stressed that I didn't do enough with a delightful-feeling day (even though all the things I did were exactly what I wanted to be doing). Stressed that I don't know the next time I'll get to have a day like this.

I think the point of vacations is to reinvigorate you to go back to work recharged, but I've never felt that way. To me, vacations always remind me how much I don't want to have a job or responsibilities, and just spend all my time relaxed and doing things I enjoy.

Obviously, that's unsustainable.

And the "real job" I have right now honestly isn't that bad. It's just somewhere I need to be at a specific time for a set number of hours, and those are hours I can't spend doing things I like. At least for the most part I get to spend them with people I enjoy, which helps a lot - great coworkers really amp the work experience.

I've been thinking a lot about the concept of "passion". People seeking self-employment are often told to follow their passion.

I used to think my passions changed all the time, and I couldn't stick to anything, but after reading "Refuse to Choose" and learning I'm a scanner, I know that's not really true. My TRUE passion is something else. Something that connects all those things.

After dwelling on it the past couple of days, I think my true passion is learning how something works and getting really good at it. I REALLY, REALLY enjoy the process of diving into something, picking it apart, learning how to do it, and getting to the point where people who are also good at the thing are like, "Hey, you're really good at this thing. You could do GREAT THINGS with this thing."

It's a combination of all of that. The learning. The getting good. The praise. Man, I wish the praise weren't as huge a part of the thrill for me, but it is. I don't know if that makes me a bad person or just a person person, but there we are.

It happens with jobs, even though I am constantly trying to escape them. I usually love the first three months, or at least the experience of the first three months (if not so much the hours). I enjoy learning the ins and outs, proving I can do a good job, pushing my way to the head of the pack, getting the praise of my supervisors, being promoted or moved to a new position due to my skills...and once that happens, I start to get bored. I've done the fun part. The learn/improve/be praised part.

Then I want to find something new and do it all again.

I'm not entirely sure where the connective tissue is between the things I get obsessed with, though. You'd think, given that general process, I could pick up anything and enjoy the hell out of it. I probably could if I put in the effort. But sometimes I try to learn something and I don't feel enthused by it, so I drop it. And the more things start to look the same, the less interesting they are (IE: The concepts of tatting are not that different from crochet, so I'm less inclined to learn it).

I don't know if there's a good solution to this. I don't know if there's a way to turn a passion for getting just good enough at a thing to receive adulation into a sustainable career.

Right now, I sort of feel like I'm going through this process with building a business. I worry once I reach a point where I feel like I've done it, I've created a successful business, I'll get bored and not want to continue running said successful business.

Blergh. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, it's just something I've been mulling over and wanted to get out.


I hope you all had lovely days as well! Hopefully ones that didn't end in an existential crisis.

(1 sore thumb | you have too many thoughts)

Monday, November 16th, 2015
2:43 pm - LJ Idol Intro
IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN! The time when I actually get back on LJ for an extendedish period, but just to make posts for a contest that only people from that contest actually read! HOORAY!!

I'm Jess, and I have absolutely no clue what my writing style is. LJ Idol is where I prove that, consistently, from week to week. Do I write wacky crackfic? Insightful non-fiction? Wacky non-fiction? Insightful crackfic?


I do know I like capslock. And parenthetical statements. (Though I haven't used any yet this intro.)

(Wait. Fuck. Nevermind.)

I make hula hoops as my day job, and I recently started a second job at a POPULAR CHAIN PIZZA JOINT WHICH SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS to help pay the bills hoops weren't covering. Which means I have EVEN LESS TIME THAN USUAL for Idol shenanigans.

(Can every topic be the intro topic? I feel like it's always my favorite.)

Come with me on a journey through uncertainty, bad decisions, and poorly thought out ideas!

(And if you want to play, too, SIGN UP HERE!)

(57 sore thumbs | you have too many thoughts)

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