More than one way to tell a story

Earlier this week I decided for real to quit NaNo and focus on the other things that are important now. Among these things are for example my minions, some of my work, and my mental and physical health. For the latter: I haven’t swum much since but I will today for sure. And for the rest: the minions still seem to be happy enough, my work is still not getting out of hand which is a Win, and for my mental health… Let’s just say that there is more than one way to tell a story.

The main focus of telling stories in our society is usually on writing. It may result in a book or a film or a stage play but the heart of it is still always writing. And then there is the actual ‘storytelling’ art form, for which I have considerable respect and very little talent, but that also comes down to words. It is writing in real time, if you will.

No. I have come to realise that for me this is a limited way of approaching how to convey a story. I have friends who live in the internet, as well as in various places in the US, and they are artists. One is a painter, one makes ceramics. I have mentioned them before. Their work can be classified as ‘folk art’ – I think – and it is quite beautiful. I have some of Shelly Bedsaul’s work around the house in small ACEO’s and I love it. Stacy Morgan’s octopus mugs didn’t make it across the ocean just yet, unfortunately.

Both of these artists, Shelly and Stacy, are very fine storytellers. Sure, they are interesting people enough to fill not one but several evenings of wine, yap and song but that’s not what I mean. I mean that they have a strong opinion about what it means to be an artist, and they have found ways to convey what they have to bring to the world through what they make. With their hands. Actual things that people handle, love and take home. (Although not enough of course so support these artists! Here and here.)

And I miss that.

With all my brainy exercise of sitting behind a computer and trying to mould the world with words, I have forgotten to mould the world in real life: by making things. As I wrote for NaNo I felt myself get resentful towards my characters – never a good sign – because I felt that they were leaning on me to make their decisions. This was odd: usually my characters make themselves and they amaze me with their personalities as the story progresses. Not this time. It was a wait-and-obey situation. That was not good.

So I started making something for myself. I made a notebook. And then another, using a different technique. And then yet another, using yet another technique. That feels good. I need to work on my skills and repeat them over and over until I know what to do right and when I’m doing it wrong but – and this is important! – I want to learn this.

It will not make me rich and famous. But it might just make me a little more happy with how I tell my story.

Pictures of the books I made will be in the next post because I don’t have them on the current device I type this on. Heh. Or you can check out Instagram – see right side of this page.

Morning coffee

While we’re at it, doing this DIY & tips for better living (or at least boobs) thing, here’s what I do for coffee.

Cold brew coffee is supposed to be all the rage these days. I wouldn’t know, I am far from hip(ster) in every conceivable way. Which probably makes me hip again but I couldn’t tell you. It’s like being wise: you never know that you were until you’re dead. So anyway, the internet tells me it’s hip and probably happening and has low acidity and full flavours and I don’t know what else. What I know is that it is dead easy to make and that’s how I like it. So there you go.

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Start with this.

You need coarse ground coffee. Not the fine stuff you put in your old-timey percolator but these big grains. Put them in a container of some sort with water in a 1:2 ratio. For example, one cup of coffee grounds to two cups of water. Do this kind of gently so you make sure all the grounds are soaked. Or shake it a few times, works too. (You want to put the cap or lid on for that, just a little tip.) Then cover the opening with cheesecloth or, like I do, with a tea filter. Because I’m tea hipster like that. And then comes the best part: you wait. For about twelve hours. Yes twelve. Just leave it on the counter. That’s it.

Then do this.
Then do this.

So let’s say you made this in the morning: then drip it in the evening. Likewise, soak it in the evening? Drip in the morning. It’s not like this is rocket science. All you need to do with your sleepy head (morning or evening) is put a filter on a jug and pour the water out of your container onto the filter. Don’t pour the grounds after them, you need just the coffee-soaked water, because…

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…this takes forever.

Seriously, forever. So just pour the water in – if you also put the coarse grounds in there it will be even longer. Don’t be tempted to rush this process in any way. Remember: this is lazy coffee making. Spare your energy.

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That’s it.

You’re done. Put this in the fridge. Then in the morning take a splash of this with some syrup if you want, add an ice cube and milk and start your day. A bottle like this will last almost a work week for me but that depends on how much coffee you need in the morning. Otherwise get your lazy bum off the couch in the evening after dinner and put some coffee and water in a bottle or cafetière (i.e. French press, works too!) and leave the dripping till morning. Because life is too short to worry about it for now.

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Fresh

You think your twenties were/are awkward? B*tch please. Try them with no boobs and whiffy pits. ‘Cause, you know, my awesomenesses were a bit late (they worked all right in the end yeah!) and for some reason all deodorants stopped working on me all of a sudden. I’d stop after just a few hours working and wonder if I’d put any on at all. And I always had, it just didn’t do anything. And that, ladies and gents, is a real bitch if you’re also in the middle of twenty-something existential Angst. It took me ages to find something that worked, Lush, and that cost me an arm and a leg and had so much scented oils in it that eventually it just hurt to put it on. Not ideal. And then… the internet came to my rescue.

I do.
I do.

What I want a deo to do is stop me from being odorously obvious to other people. That’s it. I don’t want to clog any pores ’cause, you know, sweating has a purpose. I don’t need it to give me a nice scent ’cause, you know, I can use perfumes for that. So what I’m looking for is something that cancels any dying-skin-bacteria (i.e. sweat) smells and then lets me go on my merry ways. The following ‘recipe’ is incredibly simple, cheap and one small batch lasts at least two months. BAM!

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What you need.

All readily available. In the Netherlands (where I am) you might not find this brand of baking soda in the supermarket but just go to any toko, Chinese supermarket or Surinam place and they’ll have it. I prefer this brand because the powder is really fine and you want it to be as fine as possible. Coarse grains = not an option. Coconut oil: whatever brand you prefer. You can also use that for your skin, for cooking and baking and a million other things. Cornstarch: again, fine powder is what you need. Other than that: meh.

  • Take 1/4 cup of baking soda.
  • Mix it with 1/4 cup of cornstarch.
  • Mash in coconut oil tablespoon by tablespoon until you get something nice and creamy. Up to 6 tbsp is common but I tend to use less, up to 4 tbsp.
  • That’s it.
Now just put it in a jar.
Now just put it in a jar.

The thing with coconut oil is that it has a very low melting point so if it’s too solid, just keep mashing and it’ll soften. Also it means that when you’re making this when it’s warm, use a little less because it will solidify a little more when the temperature drops. This works the other way too. So better leave it a bit chunky at first. You can always add a bit more coconut oil later if it doesn’t stick. Too much oil and you stand a (small) chance of getting oil on your clothes so I try to limit that.

Every morning after shower or wash, take a small pea sized bit and smear it under the pits. Done! You don’t smell of anything unless you put on a scent yourself. You can add a few drops of essential oil to this recipe if you want. Lemon oil is recommended for its disinfectant properties – if you think you need it, go right ahead. Personally I don’t need to smell of lemons during the day unless I am baking a lemon pie but hey, whatever makes you tick.

Next up will be ‘shampoo’.  Yay! 😉