Project Life ~ Week 21 ~ May 20-26

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I think these pages hold the record (by far) for fastest pages of 2013! I made them in a single evening/night; they still took me several hours, but it feels great to be going to bed with pages finished on the same night I started them. I was working on them in bed, and my sweetie leaned over to look and said, “You make really pretty things,” and I replied, “Yeah, but they take me so long!” And he just kind of looked at me and I was like, “Oh, right, they take a long time because I’m making them pretty.” Oh, right. 🙂 At any rate, having the Rain kit continues to be awesome, and having everything match and be in a style that I like saves me a ton of time, which I can then spend trying out practically EVERY SINGLE frame I have on one photo, trying to find one that looks good. (I ended up with a kind of painted/silkscreened looking “frame” instead of a 3-D frame – what do you think? Above-mentioned sweetie saw the pic earlier and asked if I was preparing to go mining, which earned him a scowl – I informed him that in that photo I’m a goddess and that’s my third eye!)

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It’s funny to me how many things I incorporate into my Project Life pages now that I thought I would never be interested in. Calendar cards, numbering the weeks, and pithy phrases like “Life Documented,” are some of the features that make an appearance this week that fall into this category. I continue to like the stamped dates and day of the week stickers that remind me of my original paper Project Life. And I discovered a new favorite font for quotes: Push Ups Weak. (I got it for free through the awesome Creative Market newsletter, but it’s normally a paid font.)

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This past week I finally got some real rest (I was on antibiotics, which probably helped since they make me super tired). People with my condition are supposed to get at least 9 hours of sleep a night, but I usually get around 7. So it was awesome to have three nights in a row of 9+ hours asleep! (I track how much of my time in bed is actually sleep time with a LARK device, which I’m not going to link to because I wouldn’t buy from them if I had it to do over again – it’s a good product but not quite right for my needs.) But even after all that rest, I had to leave my Memorial Day camping trip two days early, in tears, because I was so tired and camping took such a toll on my body. Waah. It’s interesting, though – part of adjusting to being sick has been learning to let go of stories like, “But I paid for this, so I have to do it” and “I was so excited about this, so even though it’s not actually fun, I need to finish it anyways.” So I was bummed to miss out on the full camp experience, but once I left I didn’t look back with regret.

I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed as I look ahead to the rest of the summer. So many friendships neglected during the school year that I hope to reconnect with, so many unopened pieces of mail and unpaid bills, SO much stuff still left to do from the fire, and even an incomplete to make up from the Fall, a paper for my Adolescent Psych class. But doing this project is definitely helpful in reminding me to take things one day, and one week, at a time.

I’ll be linking this up to the big Project Life Tuesday roundup over at The Mom Creative, so head over there to check out lots of other inspired PL spreads. The frame I ended up using is from a free CU set that’s still available, so take a peek at my credits list if you think you might be interested in picking that up.

Credits:
Kit: Project Life ~ Rain
Calendar template: Altered Emporium ~ 2013 Calendar Templates Freebie
Circled date brush: MissTiina ~ Date It Anytime Freebie
Brushes used on calendar: Captivated Visions ~ From My Journal: Celeste Stamps
4×6 card template: Scrapping with Liz ~ Simple Photo Journal Card Templates
Frame: Cajoline Scrap ~ CU Paper Frames Freebie
Date brushes: Erica Coombs ~ Office Space
Days of the week brushes made from: Krisi’s Kreations ~ Celebrate Days of the Week Stickers
Fonts: American Typewriter, Amelie, Stamp Act, monbijoux, Rage, Push Ups Weak

Project Life ~ Week 17 ~ April 22-28

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Rain is here! Rain is here! I’ve been trying to think up some cheesy pun involving May showers & flowers, but I’ve apparently given up and am now just running around hollering “Rain is here!”

Seriously people, this is such a big deal. I started doing Project Life in 2010, back when there was only one edition. It’s the one they call “Cherry” now, and it only came in paper form. I was so taken with the concept (I had never scrapbooked or anything like that before), and the design was definitely something I could stand – no pastels, nice bold Scandinavian-design-esque graphics, and at the time there weren’t even any cards saying stuff like “This is the good life,” etc., which look nice in other peoples’ layouts but definitely aren’t my style. But the Cherry edition, for all its usefulness and life-changing powers as part of my first PL project, was never “me.” When I showed my album to people I would explain it was a kit, and it only came in this one look, and that’s why there were all these photos of goths and board gamers illustrated with cheerful prints and flowers.

And then over the years Becky Higgins (creator of Project Life) has introduced more and more editions. There was Amber and Turquoise and Cobalt and Clementine and Seafoam and Olive – and I actually found all of them to be less my style than Cherry had been. I even bought Amber (in paper form) and never used it. And then Becky gave us a sneak peek back in January of a tidal wave of new designs that were coming all at once – Jade, Honey, Midnight, Kraft, Blush, Cinnamon, and Rain. As I paged through the catalog I suddenly came across something that made my eyes bug out of my head, you know, cartoon-style.

It was Nisa Fiin‘s Rain edition of Project Life, and I was in love.

bh_rainpp_3What I love about Rain: bold, rich colors; deep purples, blues, and greens; not frilly or flowery, the design is as bold as the colors; slightly doodled style – not enough to look messy, but just the right amount of artistic imperfection; striking patterns (the one I think of as “fish-scales quilt” just kills me); I adore Nisa’s handwriting (and it happens to work very nicely alongside one of my go-to fonts, Indy Pimp); there are cards with words and phrases, but they’re mostly silly and clever, not sentimental, and the best thing about going digital is I can ignore those if I like and not worry about running out of cards.

I never thought there’d be a Project Life edition for me. Since becoming involved in the world of digital memory-keeping, I’ve had the opportunity to see how large the gap is between my taste and most of what’s out there. I’ve made my own PL kits and have happily used all sorts of other materials in making my PL spreads. But WOW. What a difference it made this week to have a whole kit all streamlined and ready to go. For one thing, my digital files for this week are about half the size they normally are. For another, I look at these pages and I feel happy and pleased, something that rarely happens when I put as little work into embellishment, recoloring, resizing, and other alterations as I did with this spread. This was the last of the “tidal wave” of new Project Life designs to be released – I’ve watched in jealous anticipation as all the other kits rolled out and people started to play with them – but boy oh boy do good things come to those who wait!

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The hardest part of this week’s spread was doing the journaling. I got really stuck for some reason and put off writing it for days after the spread was all laid out. Part of it was that I dread writing digital journaling on journal cards with oddly shaped text spaces. As I’ve mentioned before, that is one major drawback for me of digital as opposed to paper Project Life. I had originally wanted to use a handwriting-style font for my journaling (something about hearkening back to my 2010 Cherry days, probably, now that I’m using an actual Project Life-brand kit again) but it looked way too strange and messy with the odd spacing needed to type around the journal card elements. Typewritten font looked much cleaner and less bizarre. I did pay homage to that original album in other ways, however – the stamped dates and small oval “days of the week” labels on the photos are almost identical to what I used (in actual stamp & sticker form) back in days of yore.

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This was another week of having fun with photo apps. I used Photosynth to make a panorama of my room full of garment racks, and Snapseed to tweak and edit most of the photos. I’m linking up this weekend with Michelle Bostinelos‘s fun Saturday Project Life Blog Hop and likely with The Mom Creative’s Project Life Tuesday once Tuesday rolls around. Check both these great blogs for lots more Project Life fun. Michelle in particular is awesome because she writes something interesting about each participant in the blog hop, so her posts are really fun to read!

Want a little of your own Rain goodness? As a treat for reading all the way to the end of this post, here is a link to Nisa Fiin’s facebook page, where you can download these gorgeous free journal cards that coordinate perfectly with the Rain kit! And here’s the link to buy the Rain kit in digital form (paper is not available yet – I am probably going to snap up one of those, too, when they release them, just for good measure!).

picture of Nisa Fiin's free Rain journal cards

Credits:
Kit: Project Life ~ Rain
Date brushes: Erica Coombs ~ Office Space
Days of the week brushes made from: Krisi’s Kreations ~ Celebrate Days of the Week Stickers
Arrow: Jen Allyson ~ Noted Doodle Brushes
Fonts: American Typewriter, Indy Pimp

Project Life ~ Week 11, pt 2 ~ Catching up on the fire

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It has been a hell of a week. A hell of a month. Heck, it’s been nearly nonstop crisis/stress/activity for the last two months. Here are my long overdue pages detailing the aftermath of the fire. This is my first “specialized” PL spread for 2013 (one which focuses on a specific story, rather than serving as an overview of the week). When I started this spread, it was going to be a 6×12 insert, like the cool digital half-page inserts people have been making lately. But I had so many pictures I wanted to include, that in the end the pages are still a full 12×12. I’m hoping to do more insert-type pages, but considering I still have an unthinkable number of regular weekly spreads I’d like to finish, I’m pretty excited to have this one done. This was too big of an event in my life to pass by without thorough documentation. These pages are an expansion of the week covered by this PL spread.

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Journaling reads, left side: On Saturday, March 9th, my car engine caught fire, setting fire to the garage and eventually the house. Luckily the firefighters arrived very quickly, the house was saved & no one was hurt – things could have been so much worse in so many ways. When I explain what happened & that there was actually no fire inside the house, people have a hard time conceptualizing why all the contents of my living room were destroyed. Well… The firefighters had to rip the wall down inside to make sure there was no fire, which would then “chimney” rapidly up the wall. This is the death of Victorian homes. I do not begrudge the firefighters for throwing my furniture aside one bit – time was of the essence. Everything in the living room smelled like smoke & most had to be thrown out. I thought I saved everything I wouldn’t be able to replace, but I see in one of these pictures that my beautiful glass window hanging Will brought from Israel got thrown away. Julia’s room has damage, too. Less extensive, but the firefighters went up there to check as well.

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Journaling reads, right side: I’ve already documented the Beauty leaking fuel/kitty litter situation, but here’s a closeup. It was a busy, stressful week. Strangers were coming into my house, and my wordly possessions were leaving it. Goodbye extra-long sofa that has doubled as a guest bed! The first day there was some concern about asbestos in the wall that had been torn down. But the ServPro guy showed me a chunk of plaster – so old they used horsehair as insulation, not asbestos! Vern was the fire inspector sent by XXXXX to look at Beauty. Despite my best efforts I could not get someone from XXXXX. I donated her to KQED so I could have her towed away asap because of the fuel leak, and *then* XXXXX started freaking out about wanting to inspect the car. I was really proud of how many clothes I sent off to Goodwill – in a funny way, it was a good opportunity for Spring cleaning. My bed got thrown away, you can’t get smoke out of a mattress. My whole bedroom is boxed up in a corner now. There were air scrubbers on for days – a constant white noise in the background of my days and nights. I only had one pair of sneakers and jeans for weeks! A sad loss was my Weetzie books, signed when I was a teen by my idol herself. Totally irreplacable.

I’ll be joining up with The Mom Creative’s Project Life Tuesday again this week (yay, accountability!) so check over there for tons more Project Life-y goodness!

Credits:
Homemade template inspired by Kimberly Kalil
Melamine background pattern: Pixeden
Arrows: Deena Rutter ~ Count on Me brushes, Graphics Fuel ~ Hand-drawn arrow brushes
Paper: Rebecca Wagler ~ Daydream Believer
Nametag: Jenn Barrette ~ Try ‘n’ Stop Me
fonts: Rai, Soymilk

Elizabeth McClung 1970-2013

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This is how I always think of Elizabeth: skulls all over, wings, corset, and, most importantly, pushy adoring squirrel. She was serious squirrel bait!

My friend Elizabeth McClung died Monday morning. Normally this isn’t something I would talk about online, but Elizabeth was the first person who I met online, never met in person, and considered a real friend. She lived her life publicly and openly, sharing with the world her wry wit, sharp analysis, generous spirit, and raw unfiltered experience, holding nothing back. So it seems appropriate to say something about her here.

Beth hated the word “inspirational” when applied to people with disabilities, so I’ll say instead that she was a brilliant badass superstar who changed my life. I met her through her blog, Screw Bronze, which started out as a blog about her just-published novel, Zed, her life as a champion fencer, and her musings on queer culture and rights. (A sidenote to say, unlike a lot of queer cisgender writers who discuss LGBTQI issues, with Elizabeth the “T” and “I” were a real and present part of the conversation.) By the time I found her blog, in 2007, she had begun her long journey with a terminal disease and the blog had become “An archive of posts regarding disability, lesbian life and culture, wheelchairs, mobility, goth and goth crip fashion, manga, anime, epee fencing, women and LGBT issues”. After some particularly crap stuff happened with her family of origin, she put out a call for family-of-choice; I requested the role of “flakey cousin” and had the honor of being accepted into the fold. Over the years we sent each other many care packages and postcards – Beth was the most inventive, elaborate postcard creator, and kept a spreadsheet of each recipient’s interests so she could tailor the card specifically to them.

The last time I corresponded with her, a couple of weeks ago, I told her, “You and the blog were once one of my few bright spots in a world that had narrowed to the few feet around my bed. Your words and your stories and your strength and your humor and your brilliant, clever, vast mind. You connected me to the disability community online and you were the first person I ever thought of as a friend who I’d never met in “real life.” Knowing you changed my idea of what “real life” is.” I literally learned how to live as a person with a disability from Elizabeth. I discovered through her that there was a community out there I could connect with without ever having to leave the house, and that this experience I was having was not just a quiet, shameful, personal one, but instead part of something greater, something with history and advocacy, allies and people standing in solidarity with one another.

Beth’s wife of nearly 20 years, Linda, put a final post up on Screw Bronze that talks about some of Elizabeth’s many accomplishments, if anyone is interested in reading further about the life of my extraordinary friend. Elizabeth was candid with her friends and readers throughout the years about her desire for affection and appreciation, and about her fears that as she grew sicker, as her memory and eloquence and many of the things that made her “her” started to change or disappear, people would leave her and she would be alone. I feel like her sincerity and honesty in this regard blew a hole clean through the fog of shame that sometimes surrounds admissions of vulnerability and needing other people. I tried to let her know often how much she meant to me, but I wish I’d done this sooner, while she was still alive – stood up and shouted, “Elizabeth McClung is an amazing person! I love her and want everyone to know about her!”

I can’t actually conceive of a world without Elizabeth in it. She’s been dying the whole time I’ve known her, but that means I’ve spent the last six years watching her evade death through, as far as I can tell, sheer force of will. Almost all of my postcards and gifts from her were in my living room, and constituted the bulk of the irreplacable things lost in the fire. We hadn’t been in touch as much since I started graduate school, but, like in many of my friendships with PWDs, we had a general understanding that sometimes you don’t have enough spoons to make contact but that doesn’t mean you don’t care. I can’t believe there will never be an “after I finish school” chapter of our friendship, or any more Elizabeth postcards to replace the ones that were destroyed. I’m guessing this is something I’ll be processing for a long time to come – Elizabeth affected my life in so many different ways that reminders of her and my gratitude to her are everywhere I turn.

The last thing she wrote was “I am a fraction of a fraction – 20% of me at 75% – still enough to regret that everything I was, everything I would be, everything I did unknown all fall into dust; swept by the angel of history.” The world’s time with Elizabeth was far too short, but I know her impact will continue to reverberate onward. Elizabeth, my friend, my cousin-of-choice, my mentor, my guide: you are loved, and you will be remembered.