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The Art of Asking: Part 2

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One of the great things about The Art of Asking, are the peeks into Amanda’s personal life. Especially when she talks about Anthony. I won’t give too much away for those who have not read the book yet, but some of the most poignant pieces of advice that Amanda got from Anthony through the years she passes along to us in the book. One of them is a story you may have heard before about a dog (paraphrasing):

There is a man sitting on his porch. Next to the man was his dog, who was whimpering. I asked the man “Why is your dog whimpering?” The man said, “He’s laying on a nail”. I asked “Laying on a nail? Well, why doesn’t he get up?” The man then replied “It doesn’t hurt bad enough yet.”

In life, you don’t want to be the dog sitting on a nail until it hurts too much for you to stay there. Don’t sit on the nail to start, or get off as soon as you find yourself there!

Sometimes I wait around for life to help me along so I don’t have to make the important and scary decisions myself. My last job at the super corporate call center is a perfect example. I made the move from my previous job because they were cutting my hours, overworking me and paying me barely above minimum wage after working there for 3 years. The call center paid about $4 more an hour and came with a chair and a free soda fountain. Shortly after starting at the call center, I quickly realized that being in a cubicle for 8 hours a day was not for me. Also, customer service was grating on me. I don’t work well under constant pressure, and every call was recorded, timed, and graded. I always constantly got marked off for not being fast enough. I need to be ever faster. I soon found myself having horrible bouts of random deep depression coupled with uncontrollable sobbing. All of the abuse I took over the phones day in and day out over and over and over again was building up in me and would let itself out during really inopportune moments. Not to mention the stress was causing me to get new migraine headaches and other health issues. I didn’t want to seem like a wuss, so I cut back my hours to work 3 days a week, but I was still miserable–I was still sitting on the nail, but it didn’t hurt quite as much, so I stayed there. I started to feel even more miserable as time passed, even less appreciated and I still wasn’t fast enough, the goal kept changing and I couldn’t keep up, but I stuck it out for over 2 years.

I would fantasize that the building would burn down, that there would be a saftey threat (no one would be harmed thankfully, but work would be cancelled), there was this uplifting hopeful period when the lease hadn’t been paid on the office lot property and the landlord threatened to seize the property if payment wasn’t received in full (they coughed up the money on time though *sigh*). I imagined some crazy scenario in which I’d be harassed and forced to leave or an equally rare scenario where I would screw up and finally be fired. Anything that would get me out of the job without me actually having to take control of my life and quit myself. I wouldn’t get up off the nail.

Eventually I had an opportunity present itself that would allow me to show my photography in a gallery in New York City, and I jumped at it, I tried to quit the call center before I went on the trip, but corporate America didn’t want to let me go (they probably had to keep numbers up for HR through the next quarter for payroll or something), so, per the manager and the supervisor’s request I was on temporary leave instead of quitting. After the art show in New York, instead of coming back to work (the thought of which made me physically ill), I quit.

I think we all do it at some point in our lives, we all sit on the nail, whether it be staying in a relationship that isn’t fulfilling us, staying in a job that isn’t serving us, not asking for help if we really need it, or whatever the case may be, staying someplace because it doesn’t hurt enough for us to make the decision to move on. But, we need to move on. We need to let go of our fears, get out of our comfort zones, and do what is best for us. We need to trust that we will make the best decision for ourselves, and even if things don’t work out, at least we got up off the nail and tried. You can dust yourself off and try again. (RIP Aaliyah)

You can find out more about Anthony HERE.

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The Art of Asking: Part 1

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I do not care if you love Amanda Palmer or hate Amanda Palmer. I am reading her book, The Art of Asking, for the second time and have only a few pages left. Reading it stirred up my own personal narrator. It inspired me to start writing again, in books, in journals, on postcards and in letters, on here. I’ve been writing non-stop and reflecting on my own life. This isn’t just a book about crowdfunding, it’s about relationships, it’s about life, it’s a bit like a zine, but in book form.

I’m not sure where to begin on what I’ve learned so far from this book, but one of the common themes is about the give and take between people, between artists and patrons, between lovers, between friends, in life. Sometimes it’s really hard to take the gift someone gives you.

I realized that I have started being very open about asking for help after I quit my day job last year. I made a post on Facebook when bill money was tight, and really just opened myself up, no fucks given as to what others might think of the post. Hoping someone would reply:
I’m in a tight spot right now, I know I’m not the only one, I’m not asking for handouts, but I could really use a few sales. If you need something, want something, let me know.

I do custom work. I bake, cook, sew, paint, draw, photograph, dance, write, I can read tarot cards, pendulums and rune stones, I plan and host events, I model, I have designed cosplay costumes and dresses, I make jewelry, mineral eye shadows, bronzer, bath and body products, I’m a good proof reader and editor, I’m good at selling and working booths, I make greeting cards, zines, collages, inspirational posters. If it’s not listed ask anyway, I may have left it out.

I was contacted by a local comic writer to start doing work on their limited edition covers. His wife came by to give me a demo and drop off the comics and supplies to decorate the comic covers with. While I helped her bring items in from the back of her car, I mentioned being a little embarrassed to be asking on Facebook for work, and she stopped and looked right at me and said “How is the Universe supposed to know what you need if you don’t ask for it?”

Asking is opening yourself up, and trusting that someone will reply with the answer you’re looking for. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. For me, I’m a big giver, so asking was a little backwards for me, but it gets easier with time.

Just this month I had been invited by a friend to The Vagina Monologues. I had never been, and had been increasingly finding myself within circles of women who talked about how great the experience was for them. I posted on Facebook:

Okay guys, I want to go to the Vagina Monologues event this coming Valentines Day. It is $25 for a ticket. I am offering haikus, photographs, zines or sketches for donation towards a ticket. Just send your request, mailing address and donation via PayPal to gothcupcake@gmail.com

One of my friends, his Father is on Facebook and we are friends (he makes amazing tie dye everything, you should check him out, he goes by Splash), I saw the notification pop up that he had sent me money towards a ticket. I shot him a message to thank him and asked if he’d like a haiku or some art and he replied, I’m paraphrasing, “It’s not a sale kiddo, it’s a gift.” I felt like that was solidifying the point of Amanda’s book, being able to accept the gift. Being able to “take the donuts” every now and then. Another friend sent the full amount of the ticket and told me to have a good time. Sometimes, people just want to give, they don’t want to take the flower.

If you haven’t read The Art of Asking I probably seem as if I’m speaking in riddles. I have lots more to say about this book, but I’ll save it for another entry. For now, I’ll leave you with those little nuggets of wisdom and how asking and receiving has been for me lately. I am learning to accept the donuts when they are offered to me and giving back whenever I can! ❤

Have you read The Art of Asking? Have you found it helpful? Have you learned to take the donuts? Comment with your stories below!

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One of the iconic beauty looks of the 60s is the doe-eye look made popular by Twiggy. One of the best ways to recreate this fun retro look is with full long lashes, i.e. a really great mascara!

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I had the opportunity, thanks to Inlfluenster, to try out Rimmel Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara for free, and it was perfect for recreating the Twiggy Doe Eye!

The mascara tube is nice and fat, which makes it easy to hold onto and easy to locate in your makeup bag. The wand has a brush that’s shaped like an hourglass, the rounded shape makes it easy to apply mascara to your lower lashes and does a great job of catching the rogue outer lashes that sometimes get missed with ordinary brush applicators.

Below is my everyday look with Scandaleyes, just a couple quick coats on the and lower lashes. I think my favorite thing about Scandaleyes mascara is the brush, the unique shape has a lot of control and creates thick lashes without a lot of work.

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And this next look is when I went all out Retro, applying it to top lashes and then using a fine eyeliner brush to apply the Scandaleyes mascara in “fake lash lines” under my lower lashes just like Twiggy!

Retromania: Twiggy Inspired Eyes

All in all I had a lot of fun with this mascara and would highly recommend giving it a try! It was due to release November 2013 so you should find it in the beauty aisle of a store near you and start creating your own Retro-inspired looks!

Stay Spooky,

Gothcupcake

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Retromania: Twiggy Inspired Eyes

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Comic Book Review: Calamity Cash

I never collected comic books but I was one of those kids who picked up whatever looked good, randomly, an issue at a time. When I lived in Rhode Island I worked at a comics and collectibles shop and frequented comic book conventions in Boston on the weekends and scrawled my own little comics in my spare time. Needless to say I was excited to have the opportunity to review an indie comic for my blog!

Calamity Cash and the Town With No Name, Part II is the full title of the comic Written by Randall Nichols with art by Justin Cornell.

First off, let me let you in on a secret: There is no part one.
“It’s our little conceit to start en media res, and a nice throwback to our youthful days when we’d often buy comics and be missing a part 3 of 4, or a 1 of 6,” says author, Randall Nichols.

The opening of the comic gives a little bit of background as to where “part 1” would theoretically have left off. It is best described as a fast-paced, action packed story arc complete with explosions and sprinkled with a bit of humor.

The cover art is actually done in the same style as the rest of the comic, (rare to find sometimes!) with pointalist shading true to classic comic printing styles of old and presented in black and white.

The fight sequences keep you on the edge of your seat, without losing the reader in the action. I don’t want to give too much away, but Calamity Cash is most definitely worth picking up, a great read with a grind house feel. It left me wanting more!

It also helps that the guys who collaborated on the comic are really awesome guys (they even signed my copy for me!).

If you’re interested in checking it out for yourself the comic is available for purchase on Randall Nichols’ blog, as well as on Justin Cornell’s blog.

You can also follow Randall on twitter.

Both gentleman are working on new projects so stay tuned to their blogs and twitter to find out more!

Stay Spooky,
Gothcupcake

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Comic Book Review: Calamity Cash

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Holga 135 Review

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My introduction to Lomography was through the Holga 135. I can’t quite remember what made me interested in Holga cameras or why I suddenly became obsessed with them, but I do remember looking them up on-line, visiting all sorts of websites and finding all manner of Holga cameras. Then a trip to Urban Outfitters with a friend allowed me to see the new Holga 135 cameras in person and I fell in love. I was tight on cash that day and decided against purchasing the Holga I had fallen in love with at the store–and regretted that decision for MONTHS after!! Until I found the very same Holga 135 for sale on eBay slightly used. I couldn’t pass it up. September 27, 2011 I won her on eBay.

The Holga 135 camera is mostly comprised of plastic, so it is lightweight and easy to tote around. The functions are fairly straightforward as are the instructions in the little pamphlet that came with my Holga 135. Accessories for the Holga 135 are inexpensive (most can be found for less than $20) and the ability to shoot with 35mm film makes it user friendly even for the laziest lomographer since some drug stores still offer 1 hour photo developing services fairly cheap. I chose to start out with a 35mm camera as I was already familiar with the film.

My biggest challenge was getting used to the view finder being right above the lens and getting used to the fact that I need to pay attention to where the lens is pointed for closer shots rather than making sure I can see the whole image in the viewfinder. Many of my shots were off center due to me trying to be able to see everything through the view finder rather than making sure my subject was centered in the lens. Easy n00b mistake.

I also quickly discovered the limitations of the Holga hot shoe flash and at the same time learned a valuable lesson about ISO. The Holga 135 does best with 400 ISO film. The colors are rich and vibrant and the effects the cameras are known best for (light leaks, dreamy imagery, vignetting, etc.) are more apparent in bright settings (either during daylight outdoors or with use of the flash in close proximity indoors).

Here are a few shots I had taken at dusk with black and white vivitar 200 ISO film in my Holga 135:

ImageNotice how hard it is to see the subjects? The flash is not strong enough to photograph at this distance. I was also using a filter, which is not recommended for night time shots with low ISO film!
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This shot was taken the same night, at much closer proximity with use of the flash. The photo is much better.

ImageAbove is a photo from my first roll of film with my Holga 135, it was taken with Kodak 200 ISO color film. Notice the vignetting in the corners and the bright saturated colors! (Note: There is also a Holga 135BC which is designed to create Black Corners (hense the BC) on every photo, I wanted the effect to happen naturally in photos so I opted for the regular Holga 135)
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Multiple exposures are also possible with the Holga 135, just snap photos one after another without winding the film after each shot and you will have multiple photos on the same frame. I turned the camera at angles to achieve a spiral effect with the above multiple exposure. Image

Above is an example of a shot taken with the Holga 135 flash indoors using Kodak 200 ISO color film. Notice the vignetting and the grain which give the photo a vintage look and feel.

ImageTo compare, this photo was also taken indoors using a flash with the Holga 135 on Kodak 400 ISO color film. There is far less grain to the photo, the subjects are crisp and the colors really pack some punch.

All in all I find the Holga to be a definite conversation starter. People always compliment on my cute quirky Holga and I enjoy adventuring with it and progressing with my photography with the Holga. I would definitely recommend it.

Stay Spooky,

Gothcupcake

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