Friday, May 26, 2017

Semester 4: Why I've Been Gone

Hi friends.

I feel like I can't really move forward with blogging before I explain why I've been gone for the past almost 5 months.  So, herein I shall explain what happened two weeks after my last post.

January 19th was the Thursday of my first week back at college after Christmas break, and that evening I was at the first meeting of the semester for the fashion show at my school.  It was going fine, but I didn't feel too great, as I was getting over a cold.

After the meeting, I felt a sense of urgency to get home, a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach which I dismissed as nothing more than my own exhaustion and maybe a hint of a fever.  So, in a daze, I rushed back to my car, drove home, and promptly put myself to sleep when I got there.

That evening, my family found out my dad had passed away.

All I could think was, "Dear God, don't let it be real" -- but it was real.  It was all too real.  He had been down in Georgia, where he worked 3 days a week, and had caught a really bad cold.  None of us thought too much of it, including him.  But that evening, when the policemen came to our door, we were hit all too severely with how serious his condition had been.

To say I've never cried so hard is a gross understatement.

As that night wore on, my family and I did our best to just breathe.  Before I went to bed, I tried to read the bible -- but I couldn't.  I hurt too much, had too many thoughts and questions racing through my head.  So, instead, I continued to pray and cry.  As I lay in bed, a peace, God's peace, beyond any understanding gently swept over me, and by His grace, I slept for the first time without a father on earth.

That next week was the darkest of my life.  It was a fight just to be able to laugh again.  I didn't go to school.  I journaled.  I grieved.  Family and friends came in.  Funeral preparations were made.  Cards and flowers and food entered our house in a never ending and very welcome stream.  The funeral was the next Thursday.  People said their goodbyes...

And then it was time to go back to "normal," somehow.

Monday hurt so much, as I went back to school.  I was so scared.  I felt fragile, and anything so much as a loud word might have shattered my eggshell-thin exterior.  I felt invisible, and no one could see the unwelcome tears that seemed to constantly lurk right behind my eyes.

I went through the motions of school the best I could -- I took notes in class, I talked to friends.  I told them I was "okay," but that wasn't true.  I hurt. so. bad.  I wanted to quit school.  All I wanted to do was cry my eyes out and die to go be with my dad.  But instead, I went through classes, drove home, and cried once again.

I went through it all again the next day, and got through it as best I could.  But that evening, something changed.  First, I recalled one of the best pieces of encouragement someone had given me:

"Deal gently with yourself."

So, I stopped.  I prayed.  And then I did the next easiest thing I could think of: I took a shower.  There, I continued to pray.  And to cry.  And continued to pray some more.  And in the midst of the warm water, a phrase began to grow stronger and stronger in my mind:

"You're going to be okay.  Not right now, but soon."

An unexplainable joy began to burn in my heart -- deeper and stronger and more assuredly than I have ever known, EVER.  The pain and the hurt and the weight finally lifted from my shoulders, and I knew God was working in me, like never before.  That phrase was the most wonderful thing I had ever heard -- and I clung to it.  It was God's faithful promise of hope -- and, by His name, I knew it to be true!!!

So, I shouted out loud.

                 I went back to school.

                                    I began to heal.

                                                      I spread His joy.

                                                                          I watched movies.

                                                                                           I laughed with friends.
                                                                                                               I completed the fashion show.

                                                                                                                                     I finished the semester strong.

And through it ALL,

So, friends, there it is.  That's why I've been gone.  That's what took place in the past 4 months.  That's where I am now.  And there's still a long, long way to go.

But, now, I think I'm ready to push forward with blogging.  I've missed it dearly, you know.

I will be seeing you very soon to tell you all about the things I've been working on this semester, and what I will be working on this summer.

Here's to God's faithfulness!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Doctor Strange Cosplay - The Final Touches

Hello for the first time in glorious 2017, friends!

I hope you all had wonderful Christmas and New Year's celebrations. I know I did. But now, with just a week left before another semester begins, I'm ready to finish up the chronicles of my Doctor Strange cosplay and start the last half of my sophomore year of college off strong. :)

So, without further ado, let's jump right into a quick post, all about the final touches for my Doctor Strange costume!

First off, and most importantly, we have the necklace, Eye of Agamotto, aka the Time Stone for the MCU's purposes. :)

So, this was from eBay for $10 (yay china), and I kind of love it. It is a tad smaller than the actual prop, but, because I'm smaller/shorter than Mr. Cumberbatch, the smaller size looks much better with my costume, and much less costume-y than a properly sized replica would have looked (big and bulky). Needless to say, I was quite please with this purchase. ;)

The color wasn't exactly what I wanted (a bit too bronze-y rather than gold), so I went ahead and added a touch of gold paint to bring out the color a bit more -- and it really helped. Makes it look much older and much more accurate to the real color!

The other thing I had to add to finish off the Doctor Strange look, were the metal accents near the cape's collar.

This was quite a last minute thing, and the pieces are so far from screen-accurate it's hilarious, however. I think they do look better than nothing. ;)

Also: why yes, these are the cape clasps modeled after Anna (from Frozen)'s cape. ;D

Again, I added a bit of paint to bring out the gold color and age them up a bit.

Finally, the only thing left to add to the costume were pants, so I just utilized a pair of black jeans already in my wardrobe, and they worked splendidly (did I mention this costume cost my a grand total of a few dollars over $100? *cries* *but worth it*).

Welp guys, I believe that wraps up Doctor Strange!

OH except for pictures, of course! I actually visited some friends over New Year's and we did a mini photoshoot with the costume (nothing too fancy), so keep an eye out for those pictures to surface sometime in the near future... :D

Until then!!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Doctor Strange Cosplay - Boots and Belts

Happy belated Thanksgiving, friends!!

I hope you all (minus you poor international peeps who don't have a Thanksgiving -- I'm sure you're still very thankful ;)) had a wonderful time with family, ate lots of good food, and gave thanks to God for it all.

My Thanksgiving was absolutely wonderful, as well as the week-long break that surrounded it.  I've just got two more days of break before heading back to the grindstone for three weeks, hopefully to finish the semester off strong.  But before we think about finals and all that nonsense, let's talk about some leather accessories in this second-to-last post about my Doctor Strange costume. :D

In the wise words of many a cliche movie: let's do this!

First, the boots -- a vital part of any superhero's crime-fighting get-up.

(seriously if you know of any superhero that doesn't wear boots you're probably wrong)
(WAIT Quicksilver wore running shoes)
(okay point overthrown)
(but he's dead SO IT STILL STANDS)
(dear quicksilver rest in peace but you shoulda worn boots k hun)

Sorry, little rabbit trail there but it illustrates the importance of boots for superheroes.  You die without them.  WHICH IS WHY I got an extra cute pair for my fem Doctor Strange:

As I did with my fem Captain America costume, I went with heels to further accentuate the feminine look I was going for.  Plus make me almost 6 foot like Benedict (bahahah i'm not even kidding these heels are 4").

I looked around a ton online to find exactly what I was looking for, for under $30 (because budget), but everything I liked was just too expensive.  So, after a while, I figured I'd just go with some black suede heeled boots I already had... which would have looked nice, but not nearly as nice as these.

SO a few weeks before the movie, I stumbled upon a listing of this pair -- on sale for $20!!  Now, I had already seen them a thousand times, never less for $40, on various marketplaces online, and it was just chance that I happened to do some more research the very day they went on sale.  So, I mean, it sounds stupid?  But I think it was a God thing.  He cares about what we care about, and don't you forget it. ^_^

As far as looks, these are exactly what I was looking for.  Comfort?  Mmmmm not so much, but after a few days of wearing them, I broke them in/got used to the height of, like I said, four inches (I usually top out at 3.5).  BUT TWENTY BUCKS.  So I'm very pleased. ;)

Now, for the other item of business for today: the many belts of Doctor Strange!

The materials for these I bought from various places.  The main attraction, the braided double belts with the tassel down the front, I got from Amazon as two 55" belts, which I then altered with cuts and velcro to create the final shape.

To round out the collection (there's a total of 3 belts in all, I think), I also got a simple dark brown braided belt from Amazon to alter (seriously belts are too expensive in real stores), and a 1/2 yard of some black faux leather from Joann to create the background belt.

For both the braided belts, I utilized the belt loops from the original belt constructions to hide the seams where they would attach with some velcro.  Plus, this emulated just a little bit the metal-embellished look of the real costume!

When I started unraveling the main braided belt to create the tassel, I ran into some problems.  For one thing, it literally took *for* *ev* *er* -- like, I woulda been unraveling that thing for two days straight.  PLUS, what I did unravel looked really limp, not at all like the lush tassel in the original costume!

SO, I headed back to Joann and bought some plain black yarn to unravel and use instead by attaching it to the main belt at the braided section (seen below).  It didn't take nearly as long to unravel the yarn, AND looked twice as pretty!  Yay for problem solving on both time and money budgets. ;D

For the "background" wide leather belt, I just did a rectangle type pattern, sewn into a tube and finished off on the sides.  This simplicity was entirely due to time constraints (I was also working on a pretty major essay due the day before the premiere... bahahahah priorities).  I'm considering going back now and taking my time to make it more detailed and screen accurate.  But, as it was, it served it's purpose and I don't think anyone cared except me. ;D

OH!  And one last thing that was just a detail, but really did make all the difference (to me, at least -- hah!!): I used some brown paint (don't laugh i'm very creative with my methods) to distress/age the belts from flat black into something much more dimensional.  Like I said, to me, it really made the belts look SO much more convincing, as well as better match the real costume!

(before on top, after on bottom)
And after all that (seriously, who knew this would be such an intense part of the costume???) here's the (almost -- minus the tape!) final look:

One more post to go in the saga of fem Doctor Strange -- see you then!! :D