It’s Been a While

I kept meaning to come back to it.

Both cosplay as a whole, and the blog part of my website.

But things often don’t go as planned, and moving from one full-time job to another, to trying to survive during a global pandemic, when your mental health is so-so at best means…plans are just plans.

Sometimes though, you find a moment, and you find some words, and things just happen again. And even if it’s not what you planned on doing, at least you’re doing something.

So, life update!

The last time I actually posted an actual life update was right before I moved into this apartment, and now I’ve been here for three years. My partner, whom I started dating a few months after that, moved in a few months ago, when the back and forth was making less and less sense with us going back and forth into lockdown. They’re great, and if you follow me on twitter (@birdnotchess), you’ll know that already. I mean, if you follow me on twitter, you don’t really need this.

I’ve rebranded! My partner and I are selling things under the moniker Honeycomb Crafts, though we’re mostly focused on masks right now (see: the ongoing pandemic). I’ve been working on stepping away from Olivia’s Atelier as a brand or whatever, since Olivia is no longer my name. It’s weird still having the website around, but I think of it as something of an archive. This is who I used to be, even if I haven’t been that person for a long time.

Pattern by BeeZeeArt, this bat is available for sale on Honeycomb Crafts

May 1st, 2019

I am and always have been more than my cosplay.

Cosplay has given me an outlet to create, to travel, and to make new friends. It has given me opportunities I still can’t believe were real. Cosplay has taught me things about life and friendship, about community, about myself. Cosplay has caused me pain. There were small burns, eye injuries, and respiratory issues from improper ventilation. Cosplay has caused me stress and panic. It has brought me many sleepless nights and lost friendships. It has been a major part of my life for half of it. For nearly 15 years I’ve toiled away at this hobby, for better or worse.

And it feels like I’m done. I haven’t created anything new or substantial in two years. I have attended only a handful of conventions. I’ve neglected the blog. There have been no recent updates to the galleries. And I haven’t missed it in the way I thought I would.

I’m not quitting completely; it is still a part of my life in some way. It just no longer runs my life the way it used to. It’s so far removed from my day to day that I barely think about it. I have other creative outlets: knitting, cross-stitch, some painting. I miss getting excited about events and construction, but that drive just isn’t there. My step back has been a step away. I’m still around, just not taking part.

I still want to write up my neglected blog posts from past events and get the site updated and revived, but…we’ll see.

Life Update 2k18 waddup

With another impending move, I should probably actually update my blog. I’ve got a long list of notes written up from my time at PAX South (which was nothing less than incredible), but I feel I should actually post something of a life update since there hasn’t been ANY content in about 5 months, despite having been to…four cons? I did finish the new graphics and galleries for the costume pages, so you should definitely check those out, but I haven’t put up any new photos.

I haven’t posted a solid life update in more than a year, so I suppose we’re well overdue for one, especially given how many changes have happened. I am still playing DnD with my group as mentioned in the last blog post, and that’s still great, even if we’re all very busy and don’t meet as often as I’m sure we’d like. If you don’t follow my twitter, that’s the only thing you’d know I’d been doing.

I am moving again. I mentioned in my Anime North post that I’d just finished moving again (back in July), but life comes at you fast, and here I am packing my things again. I’m really hoping this is the last time, since moving is expensive and I am tired. I found out I was moving back in January, and had some trouble finding a place but everything is finally settled and I’ll be moving my things later this week. I’ll be on my own again, which is exciting and a little scary, since I’d gotten so used to having roommates. I suspect Luna will be thrilled, however, since she will back to be the only cat.

I got a job? And that’s probably the biggest change, since it has drastically affecting my free time and schedule. It’s nothing big (as in, not in the field I went to school for), but it pays the bills, it’s full time, and it’ll soon include benefits. Working full time while struggling with mental health things is…well, a struggle. I use up all of my upbeat energy dealing with people (customers and co-workers) and then crash when I get home. This has put most of my creative projects on hold, short of cross-stitch which I’ve been doing on my breaks and while listening to podcasts*.

Speaking of cross-stitch, I did put some of my patterns up for free, hiding under the Costumes and Portfolios tab. I’ve been itching to do more for the LGBT+ community, and made these Pride Bees, which I then turned into buttons. I sell the buttons, but I have no problem with people making their own bees for themselves, and actually would love to see more people rocking with the LGB(ee)T. It’s small, but it fills my heart with joy when people come to my table and see that I have things with their flag on it. I’ve remembered them, they exist, they are valid. I see you, and I’m here too. <3

I think that’s most of the major changes? I’m sorry I don’t really have any new content as far as costumes go. I miss making things and taking pictures and there just hasn’t been a lot of that in my life over the past year. I’m more disappointed than anyone, really.

Coming soon: The PAX South post(s), including card game reviews, more love for the Diversity Lounge, and some good ol’ fashioned selfies

*I’m currently hooked on Friends at the Table, though I’m only listening to the Twilight Mirage right now (and, uh, the Clapcasts from the Patreon). I still listen to The Adventure Zone, though I’ve been tending to wait until the mini-arcs are over before catching up? I’m way behind on My Brother, My Brother, and Me, Love and Luck, Wonderful, and Heat Rocks, for my other podcast recs right now. idk maybe I’ll write something about them later but let’s be real I’m very bad at getting things written right now

Dungeons and Dragons – Wild Shape

This is something akin to a life post, since it’s neither review nor convention/cosplay update, but also not since I’m not really going to go into any life details.

I’ve been playing DnD 5E with a group of local friends since early Spring and it’s been pretty wonderful to get back into it. The last time I’d been playing, 5th Edition had JUST started coming out, and if I recall, we started when the DM Guide wasn’t even available yet. I was playing a Trickster Domain Cleric that I absolutely loved, and I’ve got this wonderful backstory built out for her. But real life happens, and eventually the campaign came to a halt and didn’t get picked back up. I still want to write more of her story, and maybe bring her to another campaign, but this time I wanted to try something completely new.

In nearly all role playing games, I tend to play as roguish characters. I like to strike fast and use ~subterfuge~ and pick locks and all that jazz. I didn’t go entirely out of my comfort zone, which would have me playing something closer to a warrior (so slow!), but instead went for something a little more on the magical side. I’ve been playing a Druid, and it’s been a challenge, but one I’ve been enjoying.

Their name is Gem and they are a green dragonborn.

All of this is just an extremely roundabout way to say that I’d been having trouble remembering to use my Wild Shape, and then found that the available resources for what beasts I can turn into, what my restrictions are, and anything else I might need are all over the place. There are a handful of beasts in the Player Handbook, but the more comprehensive list is in the Monster Manual. I hate having to lug books around (which is why I got an app for my spells), so I decided to put everything together myself.

In conclusion, I’ve made a Wild Shape guide for Druids in 5E DND. It has the basic limitations and when certain abilities unlock, the size categories, beasts organized by size and then name (up to CR 1), and then the Circle of the Moon-specific guidelines at the end with the beasts over CR 1 (so if you chose Circle of the Land, you can just not print those pages). It’s a little hefty, at 21 pages total, but unless I’ve totally missed something, it’s everything you might need. If I have missed something, or there’s a glaring error (I am only human and typed most of this up by hand), please let me know and I’ll update it promptly!

Mind the Mess!

I’ve got to post about Anime North and ColossalCon still, which were both amazing, but I am currently in the middle of moving! (Again, I know.)

Additionally, the website is getting some much-need, long overdue revamps, so uhhh idk watch your step (this is the Internet…) and my apologies if it takes longer to find a thing. I think the search function works.

Commissions are OPEN!

But I have Venus for sale in my etsy store!

An Extended Hiatus – The Good Bits

I promised I’d follow up the last blog entry with some positive notes. Not that it lessens the unfortunate negative impact 2016 has had on my life, but it is good to note things weren’t all bad. So here we go.

January: I attended PAX South in San Antonio for the first time, thanks to my friend Jay. We were vending in the Diversity Lounge, which was also my first time selling my own wares at a table. I learned a lot about what I could improve on for the next time, and really appreciated the experience it gave. I met some other awesome ladies (Chiara and Allegriana), and also got to see Texas.

February: We planned and executed a weekend winter photoshoot adventure. We had a campfire, freezing butts, lots of chocolate, and pizza. I had the best companions for the drive there and back in Amanda and Toast, and every time I listen to Hamilton I still think of our additional commentary. (“I have THREE FRIENDS!”)

March: Through my friends at Skyleaf Creations, I was able to attend the March Toronto Comic Con and see some people I hadn’t seen in a long time. The con itself was meh, but hang outs were always appreciated and excellent, and I also got to wear Imai Cosplay‘s Hawke costume, which is remarkable.

April: Undoubtedly the best month for me. I attended both Emerald City in Seattle for the first time, and returned to PAX East since I’d missed it last year. Emerald City was quite possibly the best convention I’d ever been to, both in terms of the actual con, and in my own personal experience. It was my first time travelling alone and leaving most of my plan to the wind, which was an exhilarating experience. Special thanks to Cara and Emma for putting up with me during the weekend. PAX East was super different in which it felt like I had too much to do because EVERYONE was there. I was once again selling things in the Diversity Lounge (though it was a little last minute), and I actually attended some panels this year. PAX is always something of a a whirlwind, and I am super looking forward to some of the games we have coming out soon.

May: Anime North happened. My sister bought me a pass so I could actually go in, and it was nice to spend so much time with her at a convention.

June: YetiCon! We hiked in the Blue Mountains and that was super rad.

July: Sailor Moon Celebration happened! I equipped the Cosplay for a Cure group with costumes and we looked rad and it was super good. I also finally moved out of my shitty apartment, even if it meant putting my stuff in storage and couch surfing until I found my new forever home. A huge shoutout to Chris and Sarah for hosting me for two months, and for my brother for the month and a half after that while I finished my placement.

September: I attended Tony and Zeena’s wedding, which was beautiful and magical and one of the best weekends I had this entire year. I felt so blessed and things were so good.

October: I finally started my Paralegal placement, which was the last time I needed to complete my diploma. I made my plans to move, and attended the Silver Snail Halloween Party as my sorta last Toronto hurrah before leaving the city.

Novemeber: I finished my placement, and I moved! I live in a house! In a new city! It’s pretty great.

December: I received my diploma, and I graduated with Honours.

And I’m still here.

An Extended Hiatus – What’s Going On?

TW: Suicide, depression, rape, long post

2016 has been a whirlwind of emotions. The first half of the year, while still containing the same undertone that infected this whole mess, feels like a whole other lifetime ago. I travelled. I saw friends. It was great.

But, as anyone who follows me on any other form of social media knows, those were some of the only good things to come out of this year for me. 2016 literally started with my mother calling me to tell me about the divorce. January 1st, about 6pm, “Did you see your father’s post on Facebook?” I hadn’t. I’d been sleeping all day. “We didn’t want it to come to light like this but…” The following day brought a phone call from my father. He was devastated. It was a shitty start to what was ultimately the worst year of my life.

I entered my last semester of my program, still keeping cosplay on the backburner, but taking on commissions for some income. I attended PAX South at the end of January…and then pretty much stopped attending classes.

While I make no attempt to hide the status of my mental health, under the belief that talking about it helps to end the stigma toward it (after all, no one has a problem talking about getting a cold), how bad things were apparently still went unnoticed by many people. Since October 2015, I can think of at least 5 separate occasions where I had been seriously contemplating suicide. I was diagnosed with depression when I was 16, and while I had moments of “I wish I didn’t exist,” this was the first time the frightening reality that I wanted to be dead was a problem.

I was in counselling. I had been since February last year, after what I refer to as “my very bad summer” (wherein I had been seeing someone who did not understand “no”, which was right before I started college again in 2014). I was back on anti-depressants for the first time in 10 years. (Fortunately with a doctor who was willing to find the right one for me, as well as offer additional counselling and insight.)

But that was it. My two mental health professionals were essentially all I had as far as “support system” went. My family was in turmoil; my sister and I were also dealing with my father’s mental health issues, as he struggled with depression and suicide. I had been growing more and more distant from my main friend group since “the bad summer,” due to all sorts of reasons both related to my mental health and friend politics that still confuse me to this day. Things were not good. I dropped all but two of my courses, and I barely survived the semester.

I enrolled in summer classes, desperate to get my schooling done since it was the last semester and it was so close. I closed commissions. I tried to focus on schooling. But then…my apartment issue. Between abusive roommates and my manipulative landlord, the mold, the fire hazard, the lack of windows or fresh air, the water damage from the washer overflowing from bad repairs…I needed out. Unfortunately, the freelance work I do on the side had dried up, with promises of contracts being pushed off indefinitely. Making for another stressful semester.

My parents moved out of the province, with one going to each side of the country. I was unable to find a new apartment, and at the end of July, I moved my things into a storage unit and was very fortunate to be able to stay with a couple of friends. I finished the semester, while still struggling to secure my placement to finish my program proper. My mental health continued to decline. My birthday was spent alone and crying. I had to cancel PAX West, despite having my flight and tickets. Things did not improve.

With a mess of email/phone tag, I did finally secure my placement, but not until the end of September, and not starting until mid-October. By this point I had to move to stay with my brother, having overstayed my welcome with the other friends and having no other options. My commute to my unpaid job was an hour-and-a-half to two hours each way from my brother’s apartment, which was taxing. I did finish the 133 hours required for my placement, however, and in mid-November I finally moved into a new home.

Unfortunately things did not get better with the “main friend group” over time. I largely feel lost and alone when I think about my social situation, and the local cosplay community. It’s an odd feeling.

Commissions: While I am mostly settled, I am still unsure of when/if I will be opening commissions back up. In the event that they do open again, the prices will be raised. While I do enjoy seeing how happy and how good everyone looks in their fukus, I unfortunately can no longer afford to undersell myself and my work, and would like to even remotely break even when taking my time into account.

TL;DR: My mental health has been shit. For the first time in my life I no longer have a family home which is super uncomfortable. Depression is no joke. I probably won’t be at any GTA cons next year. Commissions may never open, or prices are gonna go up. I am going to write a happier post later, since there have been some good things, and I want to shed some light on what got me through this extremely trying year.

Mid-Summer Break

As much as I love cosplay, I went straight from school to finishing commissions to six straight weeks of cosplay events and cons. It’s time for a break!

The next confirmed convention for me is DragonCon! I’m not 100% sure what I’m wearing yet, but I’m super excited. Keep an eye on the events page for lineup and con updates.

Meanwhile, got new pages up for Swimsuit Moon, Sora, Misty, and Inquisitor Trevelyan. I’ve got more things I still need to get on the site, but this is a good start. Enjoy!

2015 Update

Been busy updating everywhere else that I haven’t been using the blog portion of my website. Whoops!

I went to 14 conventions in 2014 and that was too many so I’ve been taking it easy in 2015. Also started school again in September, so there was that.

Been focusing a lot on commissions and Dragon Age costumes. Also decided to start taking videos of things! Here’s my first video, which was of our Dragon Age weekend shoot the last weekend of June.

Took a lot of footage at Atomic Lollipop so hopefully I’ll put that together soon. Next up is ConBravo! Woo!