Status Reports & Other Ramblings / disability


the slightly terrifying world of wholesale

I've been working on increasing the wholesale side of WS for a while now, both because it's an awesome way to get my work out into the world and because there are some days when I just don't have the spoons to design things but I can put my hands on autopilot and bingewatch an entire season of something (no I didn't yell at the TV when I ran out of episodes of The Crown, that was somebody else and definitely not me) and the next thing I know there are earrings everywhere.

The problem with wholesale, though, is that it involves contacting total strangers and going HI WOULD YOU LIKE TO CARRY MY SHINIES IN YOUR STORE? and when you live with brainweasels that can be a challenge. And by challenge I mean "possibly I have stress-cleaned my entire house to avoid sending a single email" and while scrubbing the bathroom ceiling DOES need to happen occasionally it's generally not the best use of my time.

But! I have been working on a proper wholesale section and it went live today and WOO I AM AN ACTUAL GROWNUP TIME TO GO WORK ON MY TAXES. I just thought you should know.

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life as a wirebending zebra

A few people have asked about my ring splints lately, so I thought I'd do a quick post about them - why I wear them, what they do, how I made them, and why I'm very unlikely to ever make them commercially.

First of all: yes, I'm a zebra. We don't know exactly what kind of zebra, because my doctor and I have talked it over and concluded that there's really no point in arguing with my insurance company about genetic testing since the treatment options are basically just "don't do that" and "take a lot of pain meds" and, well, I'm already doing those things. 

EDS tends to be somewhat progressive, and this past year I went from being bendier than the average person to having to actively rearrange my skeleton multiple times a day. (If you spend any amount of time with me in person, you'll probably see me casually whacking my kneecaps back into place or trying to get my right shoulderblade back where it belongs.) This summer I spent a lot of time playing guitar while leading services at my synagogue, and one Friday morning my fingers just started collapsing backwards while I was practicing, which was... problematic, to say the least. 

So because I'm the sort of person who grabs a spool of wire and pliers to fix her car's tailpipe, I did what any sensible person would do in that situation: I grabbed some wire and pliers and wirewrapped my fingers. And because all I had was 18 gauge wire (which isn't sturdy enough) I added some extra wire for stability:  

And lo, it worked. I played the service and my fingers didn't slide all over the place, and people commented favorably on my pretty new rings, and I went home and priced out a set of ring splints and then I priced heavy gauge sterling wire and realized I could make several sets for what it would cost to buy a single splint, and given that I tend to lose things, I figured it would probably be best to just make my own.

My first set was 16 gauge sterling, and they worked pretty well for a couple of months, until the day I shoved them in my pocket and forgot to put them on and lost them... uh... somewhere in New Hampshire. (See also "why I decided to just make my own.) I said some bad words, and then I made a new set in 14 gauge sterling, which turned out to be much more stable, and that's what I wear now.

As you can see in that photo, they're sort of a figure-eight shape; I can adjust them slightly to compensate for swelling in my fingers. They stay on surprisingly well, although I do have to pay a bit of attention to keep them from getting caught on things. I had to fish one out of a customer's order the other day (fortunately I noticed I was missing one before I put that package in the mail) and I get them tangled in my hair on a daily basis. 

(I've also gotten stuck to my instruments more time than I care to admit, because I am an extremely graceful and coordinated person.) 

I'm unlikely to ever offer them for sale, for a couple of reasons: one, they are a giant pain in the butt to size properly. I have my own fingers right here, and it still takes me a looooong time to get them shaped and fitted properly. (There's a reason they cost so much.) Also, technically they're a medical device, and there's all kinds of liability involved in that, and I'd rather just not even go there. And working with heavy gauge wire is hard on my hands, which... is kind of the problem in the first place.

But it's pretty useful to be able to fix my own fingers with wire.

 

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on surviving

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm having a rough week. Some of that is the state of the world, but a lot of it is much closer to home: four years ago tomorrow, I had brain surgery.

For those of you who weren't around back then - in the summer of 2012, about a month after my hysterectomy, I went in for what should have been a routine ENT workup, including a CT scan of my sinuses. I got a call less than an hour after I got home from the imaging center: "we need you to come in to discuss your test results."

It is never good when they call you back within an hour of performing a medical test.

The good news was that there was nothing wrong with my sinuses. The bad news was that I had a brain tumor. The original imaging report said it was 3 cm at the largest measurement; when I had a follow-up MRI, it turned out that the largest measurement was 5cm and the SHORTEST was 3cm. 

For those of you who don't speak metric as fluently as I do, here's a visual:

[image: female hand holding a brown and orange beach rock approximately the size and shape of a chicken egg]

(If you're really curious, here's what a 5cm tumor looks like on an MRI. The midline of the brain is NOT supposed to curve like that, just for the record.) 

So on January 28th, 2013, I had brain surgery. There was no alternative. It was horrible and extremely non-consensual and it took about two years of therapy to get my PTSD under control enough that I could function like a normal human being again, and it also undoubtably saved my life. I didn't start having seizures until 5 days before the surgery, which unto itself was nothing short of a miracle.

I got lucky. I didn't need rehabilitative therapy. I didn't have any more seizures. I got back all of my fine motor skills. I eventually got back most of my language and music skills, and while my memory is still terrible, I've figured out how to compensate with external data storage well enough that most people who don't know about the brain damage just think I'm slightly scatterbrained. 

Anniversaries are rough for me. I've been having more nightmares than usual, and I'm definitely seeing heightened hypervigilance. I'm coping, more or less. I have a support network in place. I'll get through it, and life will go on. It always does. But yeah, this is rough.

Today's escapism is a Firefly marathon while I work with Roman glass. Because there is something utterly amazing about holding something that was made by human hands two thousand years ago, and, well... Firefly. 

[image: ornate glass bowl on a wooden surface, full of blue, green, and yellow ancient Roman glass shards, many with heavy patina or encrusted with dusty white soil]

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me

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yet I'm alive

trees have turned the leaves are nearly lost
one big breath and they'll be gone and I've known that for awhile
known that for awhile

It's a very gray rainy day outside, but I'm inside, with a mug of Earl Grey tea and dogs snoring on the rug at my feet, and for the first time in weeks I don't feel like I'm swimming through exhausted fog, because this year I remembered that I have seasonal depression in time to start my meds before the snow sets in. 

Last night this song came up on Pandora, and I immediately went on iTunes and bought a copy so I could play it on repeat for the rest of the night, because... yes. This is what I needed to hear at that particular moment.

 

The divorce drama that I thought was over and done has flared back up again, but I'm handling what I can and letting my lawyer deal with the rest. It is... exhausting.

Between that and the six weeks of respiratory infections leading into the High Holy Days (which, as a choir member, means singing six operas in the span of two weeks) it's been a rough few months. But I woke up clear-headed this morning, just in time to get ready for the WS Anniversary celebration. 

It's been eleven years since I quit my job in the non-profit world to go make art, and two and a half years since I filed for divorce and crossed my fingers and hoped I could survive as a single parent who makes art for a living. And we're doing okay, despite all the bumps in the road. 

I've built the road this far, done the best with the bricks that I had
done the best with the bricks that I had

I have a bunch of ideas up my sleeves for the Anniversary, and since I'm going to the post office this afternoon anyway, I'm going to kick it off a few days early with a flash sale: coupon code RAIN takes another 40% off the already discounted prices on everything in the clearance section.  It's good through midnight tonight, and then it turns back into a pumpkin.

 

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status report: recovering

Hello, world! It's... been a while.  I was sick for most of September (thank you, back-to-school season) and then the High Holy Days and migraines/pain flares consumed me. Lesson learned: I need a full week off work for both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and I'll be planning accordingly next year.

I more or less managed to keep up with subscriptions and shipping, but the past six weeks were pretty much a blur of exhaustion and cough medicine and I owe a lot of people emails. I'm working on that. 

Today is my first day back at work on something resembling my normal schedule, yay! I'll be using it mostly to get caught up on things and plan, although you can probably expect a few new shinies late tonight. 

Looking forward, we're headed straight into the holiday shopping season, and my goal this year is much the same as it's been the past two years: lots of affordably-priced smaller items, a return of the $5 surprise earrings, and no Black Friday sale but instead several other sales, the first of which will be sometime this week when I move a bunch of older stock into clearance.

So that's the state of things, and now I'm off to make some earrings and get them in the mail...

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