Origami Girl

Sunday, 19 March 2017

In which I've been to Brazil

Copocabana beach, on the day we landed.
Going to Brazil has been on Andy and my's wishlist for a long time now, for many reasons. Andy  used to live there and wanted to show me all his old places, and give meaning and images to the stories. I'd wanted to go there, even before I met Andy, for the wildlife and the beauty. And to top it all off we have a great friend living there, the best man at our wedding who we hadn't seen in nearly 4 years.

So we skipped the sadness that is February in London and went to Summer heat in Rio. We were there for 2.5 weeks, so I'm going to split it into 2 posts so your Internet connection can deal with all the pics!

When we did the same thing of taking a big trip to Japan I blogged about all the small details I noticed about Japan, that were new, that were not commonly known things. But this time, I wasn't keeping a notepad of such things. Instead we were travelling with a friend who knew lots about the local history which I half-absorbed, but I am so bad with names and dates, I just got a general impression. (sorry!)

Not covered in the pictures at all is that I went to a bunch of art galleries, saw a lot of Brazilian art, and developed a sudden interest in Latin American painters which I bought a book on and am still reading. Nor is the copius drinking of cairpirinias, the eating of fejoada and the playing lots of board games covered  - despite being key parts of what made the trip. But what I do have is so many beautiful views, and monkeys.

No trip is complete without visiting Corcovado and the statue of Christo de Redentor.
The view from Jesus' viewpoint.
This is Parque Large - an amazing mini-rainforest, right near Andy's old home.

Taking a walk into the trees
The first time I saw monkeys!

Beautiful Escada de Selaron, a long series of steps completely covered in tiles. 

We went up that cable car to the top of Sugarload Mountain.

where there were views

and art

and monkeys!!!




So much spray it's like clouds are forming!

Then we went to a bird park right next to Iguasu falls.

Chilling in little swings.

Beautiful bromiliads

These beautiful parrots!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

In which I became Sera

I havent really blogged in 2016 but in many ways it's been one of the best years of my life. (For me personally, not so much for the world) And that's partly why I didn't blog. I was doing so many things that I didnt want to spend the time writing about them. And the same with the fashion outfit pictures. I realised that part of the motivation was me taking photos of myself to feel better about myself, to see myself looking good and get validation from the quality of the pictures, and the nice comments. It was also about self-discovery, I was playing with styles, being inspired by others and choosing what to wear so very thoughtfully. I think that I've reached a place of having a lot more body confidence, and so counter-intuitievly I take less pictures of myself.

For a while. I mean, there's always selfies
That being said, I realised today that actually, I just miss it. I miss the diary aspect of it, having that record, just for myself, to see on what I did every year. I also miss photography. It's been months since I went somewhere with my camera (although I also developed a back problem so it's harder to carry than it used to be - that's a different story). I also looked back through my old photos and was inspired by my past-self, and  I want to keep giving myself that chance.

So I'm going to dip my toes back into blogging. I'm not going to set myself any goals of once or twice a week like before. But if there's one thing that's a real highlight it was MCM ComicCon 2016.

 I've blogged about this year after year. But this year was definitely the best ever. I went as Sera from Dragon Age: Inquisition, along with my husband and two talented good friends, also as characters from the same franchise.
 My girl.

Here's the set of my crew, in our classic comparison shots.

Andy as Hawke

Nic as Cassandra

Tom as Alistair

Don't we make an amazing set?  One thing that made this year so good was all being in a theme together. We all looked so good, spot on for our characters. I felt proud of everyone.

One of the things that made this year so good, was that we spent hours hanging out with other Dragon Age cosplayers, and taking so many photos with them. Here's Andy as Hawke, with a whole group of adorable Merrils.

 And me with a group of other Seras, running around and throwing bees.

 And this Dorian wasn't with us, but he is just so spot on for the character it's incredible.

I love my Sera costume, even more than my Erza one, and I desperately want to wear it again some time. I am so proud of the jacket that I made. It's all sewn together, no glue. It fastens on the front with the little clasps and fits properly. I have it hanging up in my home office waiting for another convention, or costume party. And if I get invited to a Halloween event, I'm being Sera all night long again. It's so wonderfully freeing to be her.

I didn't take a lot of work-in-progress shots this year. Not like when I decided to blog the entire process of being Erza! But I do have a little bit of progress shown on making the dress, and even cutting the wig:

Oh, and I think even the weird haircut kind of suits me! I keep thinking... should I get this done for real? But then I remember that the point of Sera is she looks a mess.

I even fletched my own arrow.
Best Comic Con Ever.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

In which I will change again and again

If I have a child I hope to one day turn to them and say
"You are not fixed. You are not permanent. You are not a full stop, you are a continuous line. You have permission to change. Change again and change again."

It's the most important lesson I've ever had.
When I left university I thought that person was who I was set to be forever. "Learning is done now! Education has happened! Now you get a job and things are the same forever and ever."
I thought that all my flaws of bitterness and sarcasm at sixth form were who I was.
I thought that my insecurities would always hold me back.

But now I am stronger than I ever was. I am mighty. I am better than I ever was. 

"Who'm I better than? I'm better than I used to be,
I'ma keep on getting better so you better just get used to me"

I grew more than I ever expected. As I joke about my pixie cut, or wearing lipstick these things are symptons of something else. Of being who I've always wanted to be. I can wear my silver shoes and dress like a cyborg because I'm no longer afraid to stand out and be noticed. If you want to hurt me because you see me I will fight you back.

I am changing the world. 

I became a little less selfish, a little more self aware, and whole lot more self confident. 

As I thought about this,  I built a theme of giving myself permission. 

Permission to be beautiful
Permission to be bi
Permission to be wrong 
Permission to be right
Permission to be a campaigner
Permission to be depressed 
Permission to be cool
Permission to be ill
Permission to change and change and change.

I have held myself back on all of these over and over, with the concept that I wasn't cool enough, or I hadn't done X things in order to fit into these categories. For every single one of these I built an Imposter Syndrome, a sense that I was never enough. 

And it's messed up. I didn't even see myself as ill enough to see a doctor at times - I would literally say to my husband "there are people who need a doctor more than me". I wouldn't do obvious basic things to make life better because I was never enough.

And this year I saw messages like this: 
You don't need anyone else's confirmation to give your own labels. 

I saw so much beautiful stuff on tumblr, little text posts that changed my world. 

And this year, I'm taking charge. I'm fixing the things that are wrong. I'm going to get therapy. 
I've taken initiative to go and talk at a conference on a campaign issue I'm passionate about. I have confronted my boss about sexism. I have taken on leadership roles. I have fought with all my passion and I have made things change

I have made white men in charge who run their NGOs and their communities listen and change their language and their framing. Become more inclusive and intersectional. To tilt their heads and something in them switches as they too accept that same lesson: You are not fixed. You can do something new.

It feels great.

At the start of last year on Twitter I said something stupid – I said that sometimes I was afraid to speak about feminism for fear of being shouted at for saying something wrong. And someone responded in a way that hurt me: they said that maybe I shouldn’t speak at all then. Maybe it was time I listened. I raged and I sulked, but then I did. I decided to listen.

I decided to try to listen to the feminists I was afraid of, to the anger. To listen to issues that weren’t in my spaces, to trans rights and racism especially. And over the year my knowledge of another world of problems grew. I became sick with hearing about black people being killed by police, and of abuses of refugees. Where I barely knew anything about what ‘trans’ meant, I found myself angrily defending their right to womens' spaces. And that all came from listening first. So thank you for the criticism.  

In amongst all the listening people said a lot of things that really resonated with me and I became aware of a politics of self-love. That isn't a politics of 'I'm right and other people should know so' but a way of accepting who I am. 

So this is the outcome one year of self-love. 

I recommend it. 

You are not fixed. 

Sunday, 31 January 2016

In which I visit Hogwarts


I visited the Harry Potter studio tour last weekend and it was incredible. One of the best days out I've had.

What amazed me the most was how much in Harry Potter was 'real'. And by real I mean a solid physical thing you can touch, not a cgi creature or a computer special effect. Not that the magic was real but still,
the self-chopping carrots in the Burrow
the chamber of secrets snake mechanism door opening
the mandrake roots
the hippogriff
the Knight bus
the Gringott's cart
the self stirring cauldrons in the potions room
all of that was mechanical with working parts and moving pieces.

It was impressive the things that they built and the lengths they went to for 'reality'. There's a depth to the films that I wasn't fully breathing in.
Even the creatures that were CGI had working layers first - take the Thestrals. First they designed them, then made models with moving parts in order to see where the shadows would fall and how they would move, then scanned them into a computer programme and then animated from there. They had 125 people just working in the puppets and animatronics department. Mind blown.

I spent so much of the day with my jaw dropped or my feet bouncing in excitement. Also, I took 300 photos, so whilst I've put some of favourite things here there is so much to see, I don't think I'm spoiling it for you. I'm just sharing my delight.

Those films really were unlike anything else I can think of. People grew up on those sets, and dedicated years of their lives to perfecting them, so I would definitely reccommend a visit if you can. 

They had all the chess pieces about the tour too.
10 points to Gryffindor!

Yup, also real and moving.

I loved all the paintings! What a job. Just doing fine art oil paintings of witches and wizards.

This stuff actually moved. Brilliant!

Magic is Might

Actual Hogwarts Express!
I'm just chilling on the Hogwarts Express. :D

Masks and mandraks

Buckbeak moved its head and blinked eyes and everything

Hogsemede modelling
Architectural designs for the burrow

So this was the moment I nearly screamed in delight, and my jaw just dropped. Walking in on the scale model of Hogwarts that they used for aerial shots.
And take a look at that scale! Look at the people on the steps walking around it.
I could not be more impressed