The Short-but-Epic Trip to USA for DragonCon 2014! (Part 2 – Hello Atlanta!)

After a very comfortable night asleep in a bed that I could actually lay down in (plane seats are not comfy and not made for sleeping) I awoke to something warm and furry vibrating against my hand. I would have thought that my friend John was up to things nefarious and kinky but our relationship is not like that at all. Then I remembered… he has cats.

Three of them, to be precise, and one of them had decided she liked me enough to wake me up in the morning and demand cuddles.

Renlish.com - Jeanne

The beautiful face of Jeanne. (Photo stolen from John.)

Ugh. Impossibly cute. I thought I would miss my two spewkitties at home, and I did, but these kitten cuddles went a long way to starting my day off with a smile.

So after a shower and a repacking all my stuffs, John and I collected the rental car, our other two friends; Tracy and Grant, and then headed out on our four hour trip across a couple of states from North Carolina to Georgia.

And what can you really say about a four hour drive apart from it was long and boring with a few moments of humour interspersed throughout…

That became our theme song for the trip.

Anyway, by early evening we finally made it into Atlanta and the Peachtree area where DragonCon was taking place.

The Atlanta Marriott Marquis, where we were staying, is also one of the five hotels that hosts DragonCon and all of it’s visitors. And it was huge. Really huge.  BIGLY huge.

Renlish.com - Atlanta Marriott Marquis

Looking up into the belly of the beast!

I thought I had been in some big hotels before but the Marriott was something else entirely. It just seemed to keep going. And the hive was already buzzing.

While John was checking us in, I made a quiet remark that the hotel was fairly busy. My friends just looked at me and smiled in that kindly, “You poor, naive thing, you” way.

It was only Wednesday evening, the Con didn’t officially start until Friday…

Renlish.com - Atlanta, Georgia

Goodnight, Atlanta. See you in the morning!

The Short-but-Epic Trip to USA for DragonCon 2014! (Part 1 – LAX SUCKS!)

I’m back!

Actually, I’ve been back a week already but I’ve needed all that time to simply get over the delayed jetlag that has claimed my soul upon my return to be able to even think straight about what I did last week, let alone write about it.

So.

The USA.

It’s fun. Different, but fun. There’s lots of similarities between Us and Them (Us being Aussies and Them being Amurrikans) but on the whole, they a nice – if interesting and slightly strange – bunch.

My trip started with an early morning run to the airport. I was stressed. I’d never had a flight with so many stop-overs before and I could think of nothing else but horror scenarios with my connections. Usually when I’d booked my own flights, I made sure there was no more than one connection to make or I was flying direct. However, that’s simply not possible when one is flying into North Carolina. And after all the horror stories I’d heard about the big and awful LAX, I was in panic mode.

Unfortunately the Manbeast had to get to work so couldn’t stay to keep me company (and calm me down) so after a quick hug and “love you” we went our separate ways.

As I checked in, the guy at the desk seemed to sense my unease (and by “sense” and “unease” I mean was he was watching me pretty much fall apart in front of him) and talked me through the whole damned thing as well gave me a little map of LAX and described exactly where I would need to go to meet my connections. That settled me somewhat. I had a good three hours between flights at LAX. I would have enough time to get lost and find my way at least once…

AND THEN THE FLIGHT WAS DELAYED BY AN HOUR AND A HALF.

It was the last thing I needed. My anxiety took over sometime during the flight and I had a cry because I am a big baby.

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Calm. What my flights should have been like – but weren’t. (Photo from RGBSTOCK).

When we arrived in LAX (that horrible, HORRIBLE airport!) nearly 15 hours later, I was ushered into the express line into immigration and, after a lengthy conversation with a typically surly customs officer regarding internet friendships and how cool they are, I was officially let into the country!

Of course that triumph was short-lived. I had to run-run-run, collect my luggage, transfer it and then make it to the next gate to make my connection all within an hour. No small feat in such a big airport. Thankfully, I made it with about ten minutes to spare – though not without an x-ray scan AND a pat-down by a lovely TSA officer. Yeah, wearing my most comfy but metal-studded t-shirt for the trip? Not the brightest idea I’d ever had.

I will say here and now that whilst I know that people who work at airports are usually the grumpy sort because they’re dealing with Average Joe (and Decidedly-Below-Average Joe) en masse on a daily basis, the folks in American airports take grumpiness to a whole new level. I don’t ask for much but I don’t suffer fools or rudeness gladly, so when I ask for help I expect a civil reply. The grunts and glares and “this is shit you should know, lady” attitude I got were disheartening and infuriating. Anyway.

Fortunately the last connection I had to make in Detroit was much easier and, after a total of 27 hours traversing the globe – but still managing to arrive the evening of the same day and only seeing about seven hours of daylight (talk about a mind fuck) – I was in North Carolina.

And it was deliciously warm! I hadn’t noticed when I first hit fresh air on the continent. I was rushing so much in LA that the warmer temperature didn’t really even register for much of it until I realised that I was feeling a little warm in my cardigan while I was jogging to my terminal. I looked at the sky and thought “Oh, that’s right, it’s Summer here.”

The Weekly Bindi – Week 14 to 18, Cheater’s Edition

Ok, so I lost count with my Weekly Bindis.

In my defence, I had a lot going on. I went on a whimsical weekend with my husband and I was busily preparing for my epic-but-very-short trip to the USofA – from which I am still recovering after getting back a couple days ago already.

But for now, here is a collection edition of The Weekly Bindi. And by collection I mean cheating with one session when my cat was being ultra cute shortly before I left on my adventure.

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

“Zzzzzzzzz…”

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

“You, again with the camera?”

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

“Can’t you just pet me? Here – here’s my tummy… Rub it. You know you want to.”

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

“No belly rubs?”

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“Fine… Then prepare for…”

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“THE FUZZY CHIN!”

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

“She resisted the fuzzy chin. She is more powerful than I thought…”

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

“Fuck it, goin’ back to sleep.”

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“Ooohh, NOW you finally pet me!”

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“Wait… where you go?”

The Weekly Bindi – Week 13 – Of Bindis and Bald Spots

I know that I have fallen behind with my Weekly Bindi.  Pictures have been taken, I just haven’t been able to get on to post them.

See, I am going bald.

Slowly.

Painfully slowly.

But steadily.

It’s a slow-burn sort of agony in the same way that orgasms are a slow-burn sort of agony, only NOWHERE near as much fun.

But it’s that sort of loss where I can see it and very few other people can.  Those who see me every day can see it.

And a few days ago I actually discovered a bald patch that’s appeared.  It’s not completely bald as such, but only the ultra-fine baby hairs that never grow are there. Cue breakdown.

Yep. Very little hair there.

Yep. Very little hair there. But don’t my cheekbones look awesome?

I am not a vain person. I try not to be. But in my life, my one redeeming feature was my hair. Long, naturally honey-blonde, and dense. It’s always been fine but very dense. Not anymore, sadly.

For the past ten or so years, I’ve had a handful bouts of what is called Telogen Effluvium. It’s the natural process of hair-loss but it’s dialed up to eleven. Sadly, each time this has happened, my hair has never fully recovered even though, technically, it’s supposed to grow back as it normally would as hair follicles move out of the resting phase. What has prompted these bouts of effluvium has always been a mystery to me. I know the first time was a reaction to some medication and massive stress. These subsequent times… I am clueless.

And I’m stressing over it.

And of course, the vicious cycle continues apace.

Needless to say, it’s been a distraction.

Anyway, here’s a picture of Bindi and I, cuddling on the couch while watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

"I know you're taking pictures again, Mum."

“I know you’re taking pictures again, Mum.”

So… then THIS happened…

Yes, that is me.

That is me doing a push-up. Yes, my form is bad and I have to reset for every attempt. But look at me, I’m doing a no-knees push-up.

Actually, more than one.

I did several. And I’ve done several more since.

The voice directing me is the heart-breakingly wonderful Kim from MET FITNESS in Cheltenham, Victoria. She brought me goodies on Sunday in the form of yoga blocks and a DVD showing the techniques she uses to help other folk like me. There are no words to describe how great Kim is. How funny, smart, sensitive and simply AWESOME. I am so glad to have met her through another lovely friend. She is such a positive light.

You know those people who just bring a sense of calm and peace and joy to a space just by walking in? Kim’s one of those. And she’s lovely.

At the moment, this is my happy.

You know what? I’m still fat but I’m way stronger than I thought. My naffed-up back and hips will not rule me. I will chip away until I am comfortable in my skin, wherever that may be on the scales or the measuring tape.

My goal is to do twenty of those without stopping to reset.

I’m working on it.

I can do this. I CAN do this.

The Weekly Bindi – Week 12… and corsets… and OMGI’MGOINGTOAMURRIKA!

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

“I’m cuter than that kitten you’re watching on Youtube, right mum? RIGHT MUM?!”

I actually can’t remember what video I was watching, but I was cackling away and then all of a sudden I felt the SCRAMBLE-THUD of Bindi on the bed. She started on my hip and slowly worked her way up my back until she was within petting reach and purring happily into my ear as I obliged her.

And then of course I flipped the webcam on and took a couple of shots. She didn’t mind so much. It’s cold now and I was the warmest spot in the house.

Anyway… last weekend I went to OzComicCon at the Melbourne Exhibition Buildings in Carlton in search of all things geeky and nerdy and, joy of joys, I found it! I have become somewhat obsessed with cosplay after my first experience playing at SupaNova a couple months ago and I’m now part of Facebook cosplay group where some local talent show off their amazing work and works in progress for up-coming conventions.

Sadly I didn’t get any pictures at OzComicCon because I was simply unprepared for the amount of people there and the crush inside the exhibition hall but the bro in-law and I are planning a visit to Armageddon to take pictures of the awesome cosplayers that show up there. And I know there will be many!

The other reason I went to OzCC was to go looking for bits to add to my steampunk costume.

Because…

Renlish.com - DragonCon

DragonCon. ATLANTA, GEORGIA, USofA, BABY!!!!

I am going to DragonCon!

I’m going to AMURRIKA!

Yes, due to the extreme kindness and generosity of a dear, dear friend, I have found myself America-bound for one of the biggest conventions in that country.

AND I AM STOKED.

Because I don’t really have the body to be comfortable cosplaying most of the characters that I like, I am sticking with what makes me look good and feel good and to that end, I’m joining the American steampunk ranks and revisiting my steampunk costume. Steampunk is huge over in the States so I’m hoping to see some amazing stuff at DragonCon.

As my original corset is looking somewhat sad at the moment, I decided to go corset hunting at OzCC with one of my mates and my mother and, at Wonderland Corsets, found the most glorious corset I think I have ever seen and when the helpful shop lady strapped me into it, it looked like it was made to fit me. I had a perfect hour-glass, my boobs looked awesome and my back-cleavage all but vanished. I bought it immediately. Who wouldn’t?

Renlish.com - Corset of Wonderment

Steel-boned gorgeousness.

I cannot wait to wear this baby out with my new, pimped-out costume.

The Weekly Bindi (and friend) – Week 11

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The only way you can see Dugite’s stripes is if you put false ones on her. She is actually a stripy tabby.

“…She can only disguise, and only for those eager to believe whatever comes easiest. She cannot turn cream into butter, but she can make a lion look like a manticore to eyes that want to see a manticore. Just like she put a false horn on a real unicorn so they can see the unicorn. I know you. If I were blind, I would know what you are…” Schmendrick, The Last Unicorn, Peter S Beagle

Life is a Paradox

I love the message this guy has for us.

He kind of reminds me of a wildman version of Gene Wilder.

 

The above video is posted around the web and the guy is described as being mentally insane.

He’s far from it, as you see here.  With another important message.

“All the pretty things!”

This weekend just past, I had the delightful chance to experience a new market event as somewhat of a guest of honour.

Err. Well, no, not really. Hehe. More of a serial pest than a guest of honour.

But Nuffnang and Piccadilly Market had come together to allow 10 bloggers (including yours truly) to check out what is a new-to-the-area artisan market now being held in Williamstown. Being a local yokel, I said yes to the invitation (twice, I was so chuffed) and scampered across to Williamstown to see what it was all about. And I was so glad I braved the bright but chilly weather. The morning included a lovely, yummy breakfast and then a fun scavenger hunt which took us all around the market to look at all the pretty things!

Check out the video to get an idea of what it’s like:

A lovely lady by the name of Janina Lear has been running the market out of Deakin Uni in Geelong for the past four years and this was the first time the market had been held in Melbourne – and I’d have to say it was a crazy success from what I could tell.

There was around 60 stall-holders for this market, all beautifully arranged in the ballroom and function room of the Williamstown Town Hall. There is a clear focus on quality and original hand-made artisan clothes, jewellery, toys, decor and homeware, food and more. If trash ‘n treasure markets aren’t really your cup of tea, this little gem might be just the ticket.

As I said in the beginning, we were supposed to be doing a scavenger hunt, but to be honest, I got so completely distracted with all the pretty things that I forgot to go in search of what was on the list (even though I stumbled across a few by accident).  And sadly, my reluctance to enter the modern age and get a smartphone so I can play with Instagram truly bit me in the bum this day – there were prizes up for grabs for the best Instagram picture of the morning and I couldn’t complete! WAH!

To top the morning off, the folks at the market had very kindly  contributed to the biggest goodie bags I think I have ever seen for us all. Everything from fudge by The Fudgeman, pompom garlands from Dear Mabel, gorgeous steampunk necklaces from Run Wild Horses, bags from Saquito, lip balms from Bellalu, earrings from Gabby,  soy candles from Love & Light and so much more.

You can find all of the stall holders links, including many more not mentioned right here.

Thank you, Janina and Nuffnang for arranging our gathering.  Even though I am a small-fry, non-professional blogger, I had a fantastic time and can’t wait to get down to Geelong to see the Piccadilly there too.

Piccadilly Market is on again in Geelong on August 3rd and in Williamstown on November 9th!

Here’s a MASSIVE photobomb of some of my favourite bits from the market.

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Piccadilly is held in the gorgeous ballroom of the Williamstown Town Hall

Williamstown Town Hall is a beautiful building and I confess in the 17 years that I have lived in the area, I’ve never gone inside!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Breakfast! (Omnomnom!) And our little scavenger hunt sheets.

Quiche, yoghurt, fruit and chocolate. That’s my kinda breakfast!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

The beautiful scented soy candles from Love & Light.

Things that make you go “Mmmmm…”

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Seagals gorgeous little stand was filled with crafty, colourful odds and ends such as Scrabble tile bookmarks and hand-made gift tags.

Too much colourful fun. Loved the Seagals stand.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Fell head over heels for these TEEEEEEEEENY-tiny little street lamps from My Fairy World. Perfect for a wee fairy garden.

Actually, I fell in love with EVERYTHING at My Fairy World.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

My favourite print from Copenhagen Delights – this was a gorgeous little smock dress/top for a little girl.

The clothes from Copenhagen Delights almost made me want to have kids to wear them. I’ll have to borrow my friends’ children, I think.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Can you believe this is dog food? I was like “YES! COOKIES!” and then “Awww, maaaan!”

Fabulous doggy treats from Pooches on Pakington.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Some of the printed gift tags from Dear Mabel.

Dear Mabel had a gorgeous array of handmade decorations.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Apple Pie soap, anyone? (Oh, HELLS yes.)

Yummy soaps from Tubtime Treats.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Little Puddles had the most adorable stand that was filled with a plethora of goodies in cotton-candy colours

Little Puddles was definitely one of my favourite stalls – so colourful and sweet!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Possibly some of the best smelling lip balms I’ve ever tried.

Everyone needs Bellalu lip balm in their lives.  We scored a jar of the watermelon one in our goodie bags and… well, I died.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

A handful of my favourites from Gabby – Handmade Resin Jewellery.

Beautiful pendants from gabby.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Another sweet stand filled with quirky shelf toys, prints and jewellery.

Bird & Blossom

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

I wasn’t the only blogger drooling over these bags from Sophie Taylor. Fell in love with that pale mint one!

Sophie Taylor

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Gorgeous knitted clothes and hand-made jewellery from Lauren & Angie.

Lauren & Angie

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Got one of these beautiful vinyl bags from Saquito in our gift bags – SCORE!

Saquito

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

I need that sausage dog cushion in my life. Lilly Pilly Designs

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Some of my favourite designs from Miss Moi Jewellery.

Miss Moi

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

I FOUND STEAMPUNK!

I get super-excited when I see anything assemblage like the jewellery from Run Wild Horses.