Ritual.

In returning to the office these past couple of weeks, I have had an opportunity to reflect on why working from home is so different from commuting, for me. The past two years have done more than disrupt the world economy and way of life for millions of people (myself included). It has brought some things to light about routine and “normalcy” that I hadn’t given too much thought to before.

Disruptions in routine weren’t something I usually thought of as “crippling” or even truly disruptive, before the madness of 2020. Breaking of routine was simply something I had faced before – and would again, no doubt. I didn’t think that my own internal routine could be that thrown off. Before COVID, I was in the best shape of my life, was happy in ways I hadn’t been for years, and I had new projects and goals and people in my life that were helping me move forward with those goals.

And then COVID, and working from my couch, and divorce, and not feeling safe at the gym, and depression.

It took a while. I worked from home for several months – nearly a year – before I started to notice the toll all of the above was taking on my mental and physical health. I was doing my job, but wasn’t doing much else. I stopped exercising, stopped taking care of my body. I went through the motions of doing what I thought I needed to do, but things just didn’t feel right. Things, in fact, felt very off.

These are not new statements; plenty of folks have said it before, and in better words than I. But this is my blog, so you get my words – inadequate though they feel.

In walking through these realizations, however, I have noticed that I’m becoming more intentional with the way I do and think about various things. I have started exercising and working on my fiber art (knitting or crochet) at least a little every day. I am working on my blog regularly. I’ve been doing that silly Wordle puzzle every day, and putting my meds on a cute ceramic tea bag rest before taking them each morning. I drink a cup of chamomile before bed every night.

With all of these daily rituals, I’m noticing a marked improvement in my mental wellness, the number of spoons I have to offer on any given day. Depression, and divorce, and COVID, and insecurities … they are still present – just more muted now.

It has me thinking about how rituals are important. Getting up every morning and doing yoga in my living room – with the added bonus of accountability a la Soph – has done wonders for my work ethic, my motivation, my body. I feel like I can face the day, instead of rolling out of bed right before my first meeting, dreading the experience of waking up. These rituals are new, but they are helping. I need time before I can settle into a rhythm, but I can already feel the improvements beginning to take root.

Rituals are important in other parts of my life, too. For instance, I like to say that I only watch any of Bo Burnham’s specials when I’m drunk or when I’m happy – never both, and never in any other states. And I have to make coffee the long way (via Chemex!) every morning – something about the process.

And a huge thank-you to my new best friend and kitty companion, Cora, is in the works as well. She needs her own shoutout.

What rituals do you have? How do they improve your mental or physical well being?

I’m old!, or, Liz talks at length about Fleetwood Mac

Yesterday was my birthday. I am older™ now.

It honestly feels pretty good. This marks the start of the new adventure that is every year, and I’m excited to set out on this road. This song has been in my head all morning, appropriately:

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too

Fleetwood Mac, “Landslide”

I honestly hadn’t looked at the lyrics of that song until I went to find that quote. I only remembered the part about “Even children get older, and I’m getting older too.” But hey, what do you know, these couple of stanzas are a pretty good representation of how I feel about life in general right now. I’ve been afraid of changing. There has been so much change in my life in the last several years. But it’s necessary for growth, as long as the person I am beneath all this turmoil stays true. Which I believe it has. I think I am, however, definitely becoming bolder. More comfortable in who I am and what I’m doing out here.

A poem has been jangling around my head for almost six months now, and I think it’s about time to start writing it down. Especially now, on the cusp of my new year.

TL;DR: I’m thirty (two), and flirty (too), and getting healthier and stronger every day. Thanks for being with me on this journey!

Some February thoughts

Looking at my stats over the years for February, it seems that blogging during this month almost always gets away from me.

It makes sense, really. This month is my birthday month, and the second of the year. Each January, I have historically posted exciting details about my life and hopeful thoughts for the coming year — and then in February, I suppose, those hopeful thoughts turn into lived realities, and I stop posting as much. The past two years, especially, have been pretty weird as far as Februaries go.

I’m going to try not to let that happen this year. I have a lot of creative projects going on right now, and I’m excited to see them flourish. Namely:

  • The third volume of The Journal of Dungeoneering for Hip and Attractive Professionals is coming along, and hopefully I’ll be able to announce a release date for that soon.
  • I have learned how to use double-pointed needles! I made a pair of mittens!
  • My temperature blanket is so close to being done! The crochet part is finished, I just need to weave in the ends. There are so many ends.
  • I got a new phone, so I am planning to do a photo shoot with the fancy new camera. Pictures of me, of Cora, and of books/journals/crafts incoming!

I made a TikTok for creative stuff, so if you like all of the above and also want to see short videos about it, feel free to give me a follow over there. Mostly it’s all about Cora right now.

Anyway, once again, thanks for coming with me on this journey. More to come!

Liz Makes: Jewelry!

You may recall that I took a lampwork (i.e., glass bead making) class this past fall. It helped me solidify some things that I had been knocking around in my head regarding my own creativity and how I want to actively manifest it in my day-to-day existence. You can read those thoughts in a previous post.

I thought I would show you some of the pieces that came out of that class!

You saw my little sushi and dumpling… I decided to make the dumpling into a necklace for my best friend for Christmas (ssshhhh….. I haven’t seen her this year yet, so it’s going to be a late gift).

And of course the pencil!

And then an assortment of round (and less-than-round) beads that I will eventually make into more jewelry:

I’m really pleased with how all these turned out. I’m vibing with my own creativity lately — and I actually signed up to take another lampwork class today! You haven’t seen the last of this content!

What do you think I should make next? Necklaces, earrings? Which bead is your favorite? Let me know!

Katryam: Winter Stream Schedule

It’s cold outside, and you know what that means:

ZELDA.

I am officially coming back to Skyward Sword, and this time, I mean business. Or whatever cool people say.

Katryam Winter Stream Schedule
twitch.tv/katryam

Monday
Zelda: Skyward Sword
7pm EST

Tuesday
EXTRA! ZELDA!
7pm EST
I'm determined to beat it!

Saturday
FFXIV Dailies
1pm EST

Starting Monday, Jan. 17, I will be returning to that great pointy island in the sky so I can continue waxing poetic about … how Link poops, I guess. I will probably also do some yelling about my latest crochet projects.

Anyway, if you’re into Zelda and streaming and talking about yarn, join me!

Thank You: A Year of Change

It’s pointless to start these kinds of posts with empty words about how this year has come and gone with the agility of a lumbering Blastoise and the quietness of a screeching Golbat. (These things are both true.)

It’s also pointless for me to wax poetic about how I’ve changed in 2021. You were here, too; you lived it with me. So what I actually want to say is: Thank you. Thank you for being here and for supporting me through one of the most challenging–and rewarding!–years of my life.

Let’s see here. In 2021, I…

Cora the cat, a shorthair tabby, is rolling around in the floor with an orange ball of yarn. She appears to be looking up at the photographer in surprise.
“What yarn? I definitely am not doing anything wrong here.”
  • Started streaming regularly.
  • Joined an online group of amazing people who continuously show me they care about me and want to see me grow.
  • Paid off all my debt.
  • Got divorced.
  • Adopted my beautiful cat, Cora.
  • Continued making art, and continued trying to be intentional about the art I create.
  • Grew my own vegetables from seed and planted them in the actual ground!
  • Started! Wearing! Crop tops!

In looking back on this post, the only thing I really haven’t touched yet is self-publishing the novel. I am still working on that. It’s slow going, mostly because I’m dragging my feet on getting a cover designed. It is edited already though, and ready to go! I’ll need to map out the marketing plan ahead of this.

I’m looking forward to the next year. It should bring a lot of positive growth for me and mine. If nothing else, I’m ready to commit to moving more, drinking good coffee, eating good cookies, and living with more joy.

Happy New Year!

A female-presenting person (Liz) with brown hair and red-framed glasses takes a mirror selfie. She is wearing a mask, blue shawl, and black and white polkadot dress.
I’m adorable, I know it.

And… I’m back!

… On my bullshit!

In other words, I’m streaming again, after a very nice break for NaNoWriMo, lampwork class for a sprint (half semester), and general mental health rebuilding. Thanks for bearing with me and for coming out to bingo a couple weeks ago.

The TL;DR of this post is that I’m streaming Final Fantasy Wednesday, December 29 at 2 p.m. EST. Join me on my Twitch channel and chime in! Most likely spoilers for Endwalker!

The longer version…

I’ve been wanting to stream FFXIV: Endwalker since it dropped earlier in December, but several things transpired against me…

First, the game audio wasn’t working on my PC. Y ‘all, I did so much Googling. The game sounded choppy… laggy, even… coming through either my speakers or my headset. It was so odd! The problem didn’t start until I downloaded the expansion, so that was one variable eliminated. And it was happening on all of my devices–on just the game.

I did an insane amount of troubleshooting (insane for me, anyway-more than ten minutes). I tried turning off drivers, reloading drivers, uninstalling and reinstalling software, the works. I even reinstalled the entire FFXIV game, because I thought the audio files on my machine might be corrupted. (I had installed the expansion at 4 a.m. and had sleepily discovered that I needed to delete 64 GB of… something!… from my hard drive if I was going to download this massive shit; and I, being a fucking sleepy mess, might have deleted those audio files–who knew??)

Nothing worked.

In the end, it was my gaming controller messing me up. I noticed that the audio sounded… fine … when the controller was unplugged.

So it was something wrong with how the game interacted with the controller. I turned off the audio driver associated with the controller. And it’s been fine ever since.

Anyway, the other problem with the game is the obvious problem of every popular MMO: fucking server congestion.

The top of the image depicts a login screen for final fantasy xiv. It says "The world is currently full. Players in queue: 1,601." The bottom of the image reads in thick green letters over a yellow background: "Three hours later"

Things seem to be calming down a bit, and now that I can pretty much predict how long it’ll take me to get in…

Let’s wreck shit.

Join me Wednesday, December 29 at 2 p.m. EST for an MSQ dump, because I have nothing else to do this week and need to finish the game. Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. Tell your granny: Internet Granma is back and she’s ready to throw down. (And, uh, make out with G’raha Tia. If I have to. I guess.) Spoilers for Endwalker ahoy!

NaNoWriMo Diversion: New Toys!

My NaNoWriMo present to myself this year was a new tablet! Thanks to a Kindle-scarfing puppy, I had the opportunity to get a new e-reader. I was all set on a brand new Kindle, but my friend and JoD4HAP co-editor Alex mentioned that he had recently picked up the reMarkable 2 tablet as an aid for grading papers for his college lit courses, and that he highly recommended it as a tablet and e-reader. After doing some research, I decided that I could afford something nice, and I deserved to treat myself after such a long period of paying off all my debt and getting my finances in order.

So I took the plunge! And… It’s amazing.

A photo of the remarkable2 tablet, showing handwriting on a screen. The content is about Identity and Access Management.

The Pros

  • Writing things longhand (in fact, the first draft of this post was written on it). The tablet will transcribe your written words into text, making that first pass at typing your drafts a breeze.
  • e-reader! I can write in my books!
  • Lightweight and long-running battery. It just feels good in my hands.
  • Fun and useful pen tool that makes me feel very fancy. (It also magnetizes to the side of the tablet! No losing your hardware!)
  • e-Ink technology which means the screen isn’t backlit and it’s easy to read for hours.
  • Fun layering tools that allow you to make notes in your books on separate readthroughs. I used this technique when using the tablet as a guide for a crochet project I was working on. I crossed off each step as I crocheted it, just to keep my place — and then, when I was done, I deleted that layer so that I could do it all over again.

The Cons

  • Kindle eBooks aren’t immediately compatible due to digital rights management (DRM). I will let you do your own research on that. It took some work and massaging to get my Kindle books onto the device.
  • The price (more about that below).

The price

I won’t lie — it was pretty expensive. There is also an $8/mo fee (optional) so you can connect Google Drive and Dropbox, along with being able to drag and drop stuff on the desktop app to show up on the device. I was canceling a subscription anyway, so I deemed it a doable expense.

I’ve been using this device nearly every day for a month now, and I can unequivocally say that it was the best technological investment I’ve made in quite some time. It’s like having a new computer… or a shiny new notebook that has a blank page for every shiny new idea you have.

• • •

I’m deeply glad that I got it, and I’m looking forward to using it for more focused reading and writing activities!

Artist Statement

For the past eight weeks, I have been taking a lampwork class where I have been learning how to make glass beads using a torch, glass rods, and several kinds of decorating techniques and tools. For a grade in the class, we were asked to write an artist statement about how we feel about art and how we see art working in our lives. This is the statement I turned in this week.


My relationship with art is a story nearly thirty-two years in the making. It sounds dramatic, or overly poetic, or maybe a mix of both, but it’s true: My parents used to joke that I was born five weeks early with a pencil in my hand, ready to start writing, angry that I wasn’t already writing.

I decided I wanted to be a writer at five years old. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew I wanted to do it. I wrote stories about princesses and anthropomorphized Beanie Babies; I asked for paper and pencils for Christmas. When I was eight, I hand-wrote a story into a little red binder I carried everywhere. At sixteen, I wrote my first novel. At nineteen, I started my second. At twenty-four, I successfully defended my thesis (a novel) to achieve a graduate degree in creative writing.

All of my beautiful beads!

And now, I write for a living. If you had told that five-year-old girl she would be writing “internet content” for a paycheck, she wouldn’t have understood. All she knew was she wanted to write. And I’m proud to be able to tell her that I do.

My relationship with art is changing as I get older. Writing isn’t the only way I practice the act of creation anymore. I’m learning how to knit, getting better at crochet, making silly little magnets and jewelry out of perler beads. I have a blog and a Twitch channel and a battery-powered hot glue gun with plenty of juice. All of these things are integral to my creativity, and to the identity I’m actively trying to cultivate at this point in my life.

I feel somehow purposeful in my art for the first time in a while. And the purpose is: Be. Create. Breathe. Take up space.

This year, perhaps more than previous years, I have been given the opportunity to drill down into my creativity and learn new things about myself. After my divorce, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to be perceived in the world and what kind of imprint I want to leave. I think being the kind of person who makes their own blankets, crochets and wears their own scarves, makes their own jewelry… These activities are more than hobbies for me. Now, they are part of my identity.

Beyond everything else, I know this: Art, the simple act of creating, is deeply ingrained in my mental health. When I’m not creating, I suffer. I will go through entire periods of depression and burnout before remembering I need to make something. Anything! 

As you may imagine, the past couple of years have given me more cause to make things. And I’m happy to follow this path for however long it takes!

CGRH Bingo: Winter Wonderland Edition!

Come one, come all: It’s now my turn to host the regular Cool Gamers Retirement Home bingo night!

Save the date for CGRHMas!

It’s appropriate. After all, my favorite season is winter, and my love of all things warm and peppermint-flavored will certainly come in handy. I took a break from streaming in November, and it was nice to relax and concentrate on my writing for a while, but I’m looking forward to getting back into playing Zelda and checking out the cool new emotes I can add.

So, details about the bingo night!

Date: Friday, December 10, 2021
Time: 7 pm EST

Place: twitch.tv/katryam

We will have a cookie decorating contest, several prizes (including ornaments, perler fridge magnets, and keychains, along with a variety of digital prizes, too), and charity wishes for Santa’s Little Helpers as well.

We hope everyone can make it out to the stream! To enter the cookie decorating contest, join the CGRH discord and post your best photos in #cgrhmas. Starting now! Go, go, go!!

Join us at twitch.tv/katryam at 7pm EST!