Author: katwiseman

libra, feminist, and a little bit magic

Some Poems & Some Updates!

Hey, guys! It’s been a super busy week with a lot¬†going on! So I thought I’d do a little post to update you on what’s happening and I figured I’d also throw a few poems in here for ya as well. Enjoy! ūüôā

First Things First…

The Etsy Store!

Many of you may remember last week I finally launched my Etsy store, Kat’s Curious Boutique! In addition to everything available when the store opened, I’ve also got some new paintings up for you to take a look at and buy if you’re so inclined. I’ve included a couple of the new ones below and will be adding some more later this evening. So pop on over there if you’re looking to spruce up your desk or wall with something spacey and/or magical!

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Next We Have…

The Podcast!

I’ve also now got my podcast up and running! It’s called Tales From the Other Side and each week, I’ll have a new episode where I read or tell you a spooky story (mostly ghost stories, but sometimes not). The first episode features Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat,” a story similar to “The Tell-Tale Heart” in its exploration of guilt and the psyche. Give it a listen and let me know what you think!

And Now That¬†That’s¬†Out of the Way…

The Poems!

As I mentioned the other week, I’m planning on getting together a book of poems to submit for publication somewhere before the end of the year. Here are a few rough drafts I’ve been working on and, as before, if you’re experienced with workshopping poetry, I welcome any constructive criticism you may have!

Full Tank 

in knowing how stupid we are
self-deprecation seems dull

i’ve got a full tank
and miles of open highway
but i’m tethered to
fear of the unknown

they say
it’s better to cross a line
than to stare at it the rest of your life

and even if he leaves you in las vegas
with no money and a broken axel
in the end it’s all worth it

(it’s¬†all worth it)

to feel something
than nothing at all

 

day 32 of unemployment

does it smell
like garlic in here
or is that
just
me?

 

the truth must dazzle gradually or every man be blind

you know the sweetest winds,
they blow across the south

through spanish moss & misty morning magnolias
through fields of cotton and tobacco
gently swaying strange fruit

the sweetest winds blow cross the south
where hot blood runs thickest
where turmoil & strife fly rampant
with truth stuck in earth’s red clay

two steps up,
three steps back

so bless our damn hearts
on the wings of those sweet southern winds.

 

third eye eye sore

who are you to sell your soul, baby?
whose skin is on these bones?

i’m searching for a giant smile
hidden deep inside me
i’m searching for the answer to
“where is home?”

My Etsy Site Has Launched!

I’ve talked about opening one for at least a year now and it’s finally here!

As of today, September 29, 2017, you can easily buy paintings, crafts, and bath and beauty supplies created by me at Kat’s Curious Boutique!

In order to get the shop up and running, my listings are minimal at the moment. But I will be adding more paintings and products over the next couple of weeks. Currently, here’s everything you can find at the boutique:

Commissioned Pet Portraits

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This idea came when I painted a picture of my dad’s dog as a Father’s Day present. I really enjoyed doing it and figured when I got my shop set up, why not combine two of my biggest loves: pets and painting?? Pet portraits are done in acrylic paint on mounted canvas and are available in a variety of sizes.

A nonrefundable $30 deposit is needed to ensure the cost of supplies and shipping can be handled, and this deposit does go toward the total cost of your painting. So say your total ends up being $50. After paying the $30, I’d only invoice you for $20 once the painting is finished and shipped.

Zodiac Squares

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What’s your sign? Show it off with these adorable 3″x3″ zodiac squares! Each tiny mounted canvas is painted black with your zodiac’s symbol painted in gold. And behind each symbol is the constellation that corresponds with your zodiac sign. Perfect for your desk or as a tiny wall ornament! You can even glue a magnetic strip to the back and liven up your fridge with them!

Each square is $10 and all zodiac signs are available!

Customized Galaxy Paintings

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I started doing little paintings like this last year and they are so much fun! And with this listing, I’m asking you to have some faith in me. Basically what you’ll do is specify the size painting you’d like at checkout and leave notes about any specific stars, constellations, or colors you’d like included in your galaxy. Then, I’ll create your very own unique galaxy with acrylic paints on a mounted canvas!

Unlike the pet portraits, galaxy paintings are listed at a flat rate ranging from $10-$50, depending on the size. But no matter what size/color/constellation you choose, know that you’ll end up with a one-of-a-kind galaxy in your very own home!

Solid Perfumes

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These adorable little perfumes come in three different scents: rose, lavender, and orange blossom. And each cap is hand-painted as shown above so you’ll know exactly which fragrance you’re getting. The perfumes are made up of coconut, almond, and essential oils so they’re all-natural and safe to use on your skin. Just dab a little on each wrist and behind your ears and you’ll have an all-day scent that smells amazing and isn’t overpowering!

Each perfume is $7 and in the meantime, I’ll be mixing up oils and coming up with new fragrances to try!

Coming Soon

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be adding more goodies to the store so be sure to keep an eye out! I’ll also try to get some sales codes and actual sales going as we get closer to the holiday season (and as I figure out how to do that).

But just so you know, you can keep a look out for the following items in the next few weeks:

  • Original paintings! In acrylic¬†and¬†watercolor!
  • Bath bombs
  • Beaded bracelets
  • Other assorted jewelry

I’m also super excited to announce sometime next week (it’s looking like next Friday), I’ll be debuting the very first episode of my upcoming podcast, Tales From the Other Side!! Just in time for Halloween, this weekly podcast will feature me reading you scaaary stories, beginning with one from the granddaddy of horror himself, Edgar Allan Poe.

So since there’s a¬†lot¬†going on in the next few weeks, make sure to subscribe here, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram where I’ll keep you as up-to-date as possible on all the excitement!

In Lieu of a Real Post This Week: TWO POEMS!

I’m trying to post regularly each Friday but today instead of a lengthy post, I’m going to share two poems I’ve been working on this week that are in their “final rough draft” stages.

My next big goal (and possibly last) for the year is to get together a ton of my poems and finally publish a book of them. So far, I’ve got 15 just about ready for publication and over the next couple of weeks I’ll be (hopefully) churning out new ones to put together for one cohesive project.

If you’re into workshopping poems, please reach out to me and let me know how I can improve these guys. If you’re experienced with self-publication or publishing poetic compilations through other means, please also definitely reach out to me because, well, what time I don’t have to spend researching is time that I can use perfecting this anthology! ūüôā

In the meantime, enjoy…

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we thought we could control the night
among the magnolia trees and humidity
we thought we could control life
we thought it’d always be easy

so i rode with you up the blue ridge parkway
but i didn’t come back down
i needed to be left among the blues,
the greens…

to be sad like the stars.

let’s go and kiss the wind you said
let it fill our sails
let’s leave the mountain air behind,
forget the barefoot trails

but i wouldn’t ride back down,
i couldn’t abandon my ghosts
because living means being haunted
and leaving means staying so

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shades of green grey blue
tar red and moon yellow

piano key notes and a growing
string theory section

four quartets play
as the night sky stretches
and fog rolls in

planning, gazing, figuring –
misaligned border lines
deciding feelings precis

e

l

y

.

.

.

when i woke it smelled
of cocoa butter and olive oil,
like cannabis and chamomile
like all the smells of a home i’d created,
built from all the places i’d been

IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Got Catcalled with a Turkey Caller. Twice.

While autumn doesn’t officially start until September 22 each year, we all know everyone considers Labor Day weekend to be the last weekend of summer. White pants and sundresses are now considered fashion faux pas and those of us here in the American south are crafting outfits based on 50-60 something temps in the morning and 80-90 something temps in the afternoon. And so one might think that now the season of skimpier (aka more comfortable) clothing is gone, the season of catcalling will go away. But as every femme person – including some preteens – will tell you, it never goes away.

The first time I remember being “cat”called was the summer after eighth grade. I was thirteen, walking down Main Street in my hometown, and had the audacity to wear shorts and a tank top in 90ish-degree heat with 100ish% humidity. And that’s when I heard it: a “woo-wooo” like I’d never heard before…because it was being done with a turkey caller.

I looked around and sure enough, there was a large, red truck stopped at a stop light right next to where I was walking. And leaning out of the driver’s side window was a large man, who had to be at least in his late 30s, leaning out of the window with a small device in his hand I recognized as one hunters use to lure turkeys into range. He made direct eye contact with me, put the device to his mouth, and made the sound again. Then the light turned green, he chuckled, and drove off.

So, I guess, really, I was turkey-called.

I was stunned, unsettled, and a little scared – nothing I’d ever felt walking down the streets of my relatively safe, small town.

While my “first catcall story” may be unique in its own way, it’s not as uncommon as you’d think. A study in 2015 found that, of over 16,000 women interviewed in 22 countries around the world, 84% experienced street harassment – or “catcalling” – between the ages of 11 and 17. The study’s results sparked a viral hashtag on Twitter, #firstharassed, wherein millions of women shared their first experiences with street harassment while making it painfully clear that, more often than not, it starts off at a very young age, sometimes even before puberty hits.

Arguably, one of the biggest issues with catcalling is not just how prevalent it is, but how common it¬†also¬†is for women to be told brush it off and take it as a compliment. After all, it just means someone finds you attractive, right? It should be an ego-booster, right? We should all compete for the amount of call-outs we can get while we’re just trying to go about our day,¬†right??

Not exactly. For one thing, despite being constantly told it’s a compliment, catcalling has actually been shown to negatively impact how women think about themselves. A new study published in the British Journal of Social Psychology based on research conducted by the University of Melbourne in Australia attempts to show the possible impact sexual harassment can have on women’s perception of themselves and it ain’t pretty. Over the course of the study, researchers found that “both being personally targeted or witnessing others being objectified was associated with a ‘substantial increase’ in ‘self-objectification,’ proving that these instances of sexual harassment can have a negative impact on the way women think about themselves.'”

Similarly, a study published late in 2016 by the University of Kent found that “sexually objectifying a woman can very well lead to aggression towards women and ‘reduced moral concern for the objectified.'” They learned that this link between catcalling and aggression can begin to develop in the early teen years, leading young people, as they age, to the harmful perception that women are meant to be seen only as sexual objects. And not surprisingly, forming a habit of objectification early on leads to a feeling of entitlement of said “objects,” which can, in turn,¬†lead to violence when the perceived object of your affection doesn’t react how you want or believe they should.

So if the overwhelming majority of women seem to respond negatively to catcalling and the research is there to back it up, why do men do it?¬†Carlos Andr√©s G√≥mez over at The Good Men Project speculates that men don’t realize the damage they’re doing and/or have become desensitized to it, that their male privilege allows them to ignore how “widespread and demeaning” the behavior is.

I definitely believe male privilege plays a factor in the prevalence of street harassment towards women and the unwillingness for them to do something about it. I also believe, based on my own experience and the experiences of women I know and have talked to, that there’s a power dynamic to it as well. These men don’t expect a catcall to turn into a date (or, at least, they shouldn’t); they expect to force their way into a stranger’s life, turning that moment into one all about them. In that moment, they let the person they’re catcalling know they find them attractive and can/could do something about it. Hell, I should know: I was catcalled twice with an object literally used to lure animals to their death.

Ten years after I was turkey-called for the first time, I was walking the streets of my hometown again, back for what I thought would just be the summer after college graduation. Again, I wore shorts, a tank top, and the comfort of someone walking in a place they felt safe. And almost like a memory, I heard it again: a “woo-wooo” made with a turkey caller. I stiffened, turned my head, and there he was: same red truck, same driver. They both had noticeable wear-and-tear from the time that had passed since I’d last seen them.

In that moment, I was 13 years old again and I hated him for making me feel that way. So perhaps it was because I’d found some strength in my past 10 years of growing, perhaps it was to avenge the shy, scared girl I once was who didn’t know how to react – whatever the reason, I didn’t slink away this time. I stared straight back at him, slowly lifted my hand, and extended my middle finger into the air until he sped off.

It was a little victory but well worth it. And in the grand scheme of feminist things, getting people to stop catcalling may also be considered a little victory but, given its lasting effects, would be more than worth it too.

 

Image source: Crisis Magazine

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I quit my job, I have no plan, I can handle this. Have a nice day!

Monday, August 28, 2017, I did a lot of breathing exercises. I told myself every positive, forward-thinking mantra I could think of until finally settling on “I can and I will,” a simple but effective encouragement from¬†Jane the Virgin, for at least 30 minutes straight. Then I hit send on the message to my boss asking if he had a moment to talk.

Roughly an hour later, I was in his office explaining how I appreciated the opportunity he’d given me with the job (kind of a lie) but that I needed to take a step back and evaluate my life and career and how neither was going how I’d planned or even wanted (1000% the truth).

Today, Friday, September 1, 2017, is my last day at a job I’ve had for two years and hated for at least one. I made a Spotify playlist for the occasion (if you’re so inclined). In another attempt to prepare myself for Q-DAY (quittin’ day), I read a¬†lot¬†of posts with premises similar to this one. And they all had one thing in common that this one will not: they were all written by someone who spent 7-10+ years on Wall Street (or some equally high-paying job) and/or by someone with access to a trust fund. In other words, all written by people who had the means to take a year or two off, to travel and¬†really find themselves.¬†

That’s not me. I’ve got a phone interview today for a job entirely too similar to this one and I’ve picked up a temp legal assistant gig for a trial next week. But, other than that, I have no job prospects, minimal savings, and no idea what to do with myself about it.

I should be freaking the fuck out, no?

Oh, believe me, part of me is, but it’s a much smaller part than I could’ve ever imagined. In the past week, I’ve bombarded myself with enough thoughts of Plan Bs, Cs, and Ds that not knowing Plan A isn’t that big of a deal to me anymore.

I’ve been saying since basically September of last year that I didn’t want to still be at this job by my birthday in September this year. And like the true procrastinator I’ve always been, I’m cutting it pretty damn close. Especially considering I’ve also told myself, “I won’t be here by the end of the first quarter; I won’t be here by summertime; July is my ABSOLUTE LAST MONTH at this job.”

I said all of this, but there was always something that prevented me from actually quitting: not getting into grad school; getting a dog and having something depend on me for the first time; not getting that flight attendant job; not getting that other flight attendant job; etc., etc.

So maybe that’s why it seems appropriate that I got the kick in the pants I needed to quit while I’m doing a 28-day cleanse. The whole point of this pre-planned diet is to rid your body of toxins by developing smarter, cleaner, healthier eating habits. And it seems removing toxins from one area of my life has made the ones in other areas stand out that much more, made me that much readier to get rid of them.

The place I’m leaving has definitely been a toxic environment for me, one I’ve been stewing in for entirely too long. To be sure, a few of the people have been incredibly nice and supportive; and I’ve seen a few people thrive here. But with my experiences, I should’ve quit long ago and many times over. I lost my voice at a time when I needed it more than ever; as a direct result of this place, I’ve been too miserable for too long.

So maybe it’s the diet, maybe it’s Mercury retrograde, maybe it was hearing my mom’s friends say, “You shouldn’t spend the majority of your time somewhere that makes you depressed” too many (or just enough) times.

Whatever it was, I finally got the courage Monday to walk away and today I feel lighter than ever. I’m ready to rediscover my voice, I’m ready to see what I’m capable of. I’m even okay with stricter financial restrictions and looser employment definitions.

I’m flexin’ my wings and, for the first time, I know¬†I’ve¬†got this.

What I’ve Learned

There’s a reason I’m trying to be real with how little I have planned past the next week or so. Not to come off too dramatic, but I really have been living a half life for too long now¬†because¬†of the misery I’ve subjected myself to in this job. I’d wake up, go to work, be on autopilot all day because I hated what I was doing, come home crushed and exhausted (bad emotions take a toll, y’all), watch Netflix, and sleep. Lather, rinse, repeat. I didn’t go out, I didn’t do anything creative; I just kept myself alive and that was it.

For me, it was never going to be the case that I’d be able to pull myself up and out of these doldrums without removing their main cause. I couldn’t wait anymore for a safety net because it was becoming clearer and clearer that a safety net was what was already holding me back.

I suppose in the next month or so I’ll learn how right I was, learn how much I’m truly capable of without a plan. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve already learned in the hopes that it’ll help you, if you need, to leave a toxic situation, whatever it may be, safety net or no safety net:

  • You really. should not. spend the majority of your time. in misery. Sadness is a real, necessary emotion, but it should not a primary one.
  • Toxicity can be comfortable, but it will eat away at you for as long as you let it until you don’t recognize yourself anymore.
  • Meditation helps so much¬†in ways you may not even realize at first. Do it. Do it now.
  • Serotonin – the chemical that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness – is produced primarily in the gastrointestinal tract (GI) a.k.a. the gut. In other words: eat better, feel better.
  • You have more [marketable] talents than you realize. Remember, “Bigger dummies than you…”
  • You have a bigger support system than you realize, more people cheering you on than you know. If you don’t believe me, at least count me as one of the people on your side. I believe in¬†you.

 

Shameless Self-Promo

So, as you’ve probably guessed, I’ll have quite a bit of free time in the upcoming weeks. If you’re interested in collaborating on anything (writing, film, painting) or need something edited, contact me! Let’s work something out!

 

 

Image Source: Oh My Disney

A Response to the “7 Second Rule”

Ahh, the “7 second rule.” I’m sure you’ve read about it by now: do not think about any interaction you’ve had with another human being for longer than 7 seconds. The post later goes on to include “within reason” to the rule, saying if you were a jerk you should definitely apologize.

The problem is, now I’m in a bit of a pickle. You see, I first read this article yesterday, arguably “interacting” with its author in doing so, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I know, I know, it made me uncomfortable so I was only supposed to think about it for seven seconds and then drop it forever. But, mostly, the more I thought about it, the more it made me want to point out how ableist the whole idea really is.

Because, silly me, I went and told my anxiety about this new rule. About how it should only ever think about little things like that for seven seconds and then put them away like they were nothing, because that’s something I’d like for it to do. My anxiety laughed in my face then not-so-kindly reminded me that these little things are indicative of much greater things that I could never fully comprehend because I’m so dumb and, oh, have I really let myself out of the house looking like that today?

You can’t tell your brain not to think about things; it’s why it’s so hard to get a song unstuck from your head. It’s why meditation can be so freakin’ hard. It’s why if I tell you to think about anything¬†except¬†balloons – unless you’re pretty well-trained in some improv techniques – your brain is going to have a hard time¬†not immediately¬†thinking of balloons. Anxiety takes that reflex and amplifies it to varying degrees. Some days are easier than others, but trouble concentrating on anything other than the present worry and even just controlling worry and letting it go are very real, debilitating symptoms of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety can be caused by a lot of things but ultimately what it does is confuse the fight-or-flight physiological stress response our bodies have when we sense a dangerous or life-threatening situation. Perfectly normal situations turn into terrifying ones because our brains, responding to the causes of our anxiety, have played through every scenario and convinced us to prepare for the worst one. And without medication or therapy or some other way of learning to constantly manage it, our brains will just keep doing that – with our current situation, with past situations, with anything it can think of.

Do you think I – or anyone else with anxiety for that matter – haven’t told myself to just not think about it? You think I – and we – haven’t frequently heard, “Don’t worry about it! It’s not a big deal!” only to hear anxiety whisper back, “You should totally worry about it, it’s a bigger deal than you can imagine. Here, let’s try to imagine…”?

Yes, logical me is aware that thinking of anything beyond my control like that for more than 7 seconds is a waste of time. But please try telling my anxiety that. And let me know how it goes.

I’m sure the 7 second rule is a valid, useful technique for some people. I just can’t believe those people are any of the 40 million adults in the US currently living with an anxiety disorder. And trust me: if anyone’s over-thinking things, it’s us, so it would’ve been nice to have been given some consideration.