In the world we currently find ourselves in, masks and other face coverings have quickly become an essential item to bring with you when leaving your home. Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Mask? Check! This is especially important now that face coverings are mandatory in Washington state.
Let’s be honest though. Like bras, masks are often hot and uncomfortable to wear. No one really likes wearing them, but we do it in the name of social decency and for the sake of public safety during a pandemic. But are masks a necessary evil, or can they be a potential fashion statement? Instead of looking at face masks as an imposition, maybe we can view them from a more positive angle. This is really an opportunity to let your geek flag fly!
I know you geeks out there love to express yourselves. You are smart and crafty! Think of your mask as a blank canvas. What kind of geekdoms can you proclaim to the world through your mask?
There is a plethora of geeky cotton fabric available from just about every corner of the internet. Or, if you are anything like me, you have a ton of leftover fabric scraps from other projects long finished that were just a smidgen too big for you to toss in the garbage without feeling immense guilt (I knew that fifteen inch square of leftover fabric would come in handy someday! Take that Marie Kondo.).
Once I realized that COVID wasn’t going anywhere, I started researching some basic face mask patterns and found a great video tutorial. I gathered some fabric I had laying around, and made some fun masks that have turned out to be some great conversation starters at work. Plus, I like the added bonus of having a reusable mask. It feels less wasteful, and cotton is a very durable fabric.
I was having so much fun with different fabrics, I decided to buy some more geeky fabric online. There were so many different patterns that it was truly a challenge to choose what to purchase while staying inside a reasonable budget. I ended up with enough fabric to make nearly sixty face coverings! I know that sounds a bit excessive, but I’m glad I ended up getting so much.
Since masks have been made mandatory in public, I’ve started making them to give to family and friends who are not able to make them for themselves. I can’t control much in my life right now, but I can do this. I can look out for the people I love. I can help to keep my community safe by providing this small service. I can make an unpleasant situation a little more colorful. And if that’s all I can do for now, then that is okay.
So, what have you been choosing for your coverings? Let us know how you have been showing some love for your favorite fandoms on your face!
One of the best pleasures in life is curling up with a good book. I love to read just about anything, but some of my favorite reading content comes in the form of mass market romance novels. I know what you’re thinking. You mean those cheezy paperbacks from the grocery store that have a shirtless muscle-head and a fawning woman on them? Well, essentially yes, and I can tell you why. They are fun and easy to read and they offer an amusing escape from reality for a little while. Who doesn’t love to be swept away by a good love story?
With all the changes going on in the world, it has prompted me to take a closer look at the content I consume and who is generating that content. When I look at romance novels, I see a traditionally white female cisgender space, which is no accident. These books have always been marketed to that specific audience, and the statistics can prove it. Eighty-four percent of romance readers identify as female, mostly between the ages of eighteen to fifty-four. Eighty-one percent of readers are white.
The romance novel industry is a billion dollar industry, making up twenty-nine percent of the fiction market. People may laugh off romance novels as trashy or worthless, but there is serious money to be made in the genre.
With the popularity of self publishing, consumers have more agency than ever in deciding what types of content they wish to see. It has never been easier for authors of all kinds to put their work out in the world to be found by like-minded people craving the types of content they are creating. This is the time that we need to make room for other points of view. The content is out there, and we need to find it and support it.
With this idea in mind, and a nudge in the right direction from one of my current favorite romance authors, I decided to indulge in something new and different.
I’m a person who likes to start at the beginning, Unmasked Heart was a natural starting point for me. Riley self-published the book in 2015, and it is the first novel in her Challenge of the Souls series. Like many people, I’m usually strapped for time, so I chose to purchase this book from Audible so I could listen to it while doing chores.
Synopsis (with only a few spoilers)
Gaia Telfair is a quiet, unassuming young lady who has always felt like an outsider in her family. She is treated differently by her father and feels that she looks nothing like her siblings. One day, her father reveals to her, in a rather cruel way, that Gaia is the product of an affair her mother had with a African man who was getting an education in England. Having been raised to fit in with “good English society,” Gaia is shocked by the revelation. She struggles with her new identity, and is desperate to find a place where she can be happy and really belong.
William St. Landon, The Duke of Cheshire and a widower with a young special needs daughter, runs to his family’s country estate to escape a looming scandal. He is being blackmailed over his late wife’s infidelity, and he is being pressured back into marriage by his annoyingly persistent cousin. All William wants is what is best for his mute daughter. He hears through the locals that Miss Telfair is gifted with special needs children, having instructed her autistic little brother with great success, and he is determined to have her teach his daughter.
William begins an unlikely friendship with Gaia, and eventually proposes a marriage of convenience. Will Gaia tell William about the circumstances of her birth? Can William uncover his blackmailer? I’m not gonna ruin it for you! You’ll need to read the book yourself!
My Take on the Book
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Riley does a great job of painting a Brontë-esque portrait of Regency Era British society, and she doesn’t shy away from topics such as slavery, racism, and how special needs children were treated at the time. I found the take refreshing and honest, which is something we need right now. I’m tired of books that don’t paint an accurate picture of the past, and this one gets a big thumbs up from me.
The characters are endearing and believable in their motivations. The pacing was decent and the plot was full of action. Honestly, I think that the biggest thing I disliked about the book didn’t even have anything to do with the actual content. I got the audiobook, and I have to say that the narrator was awful. I kept getting hung up on the fact that she constantly pronounced the word mulatto as mew-LAtto, and it was distracting. The audio quality was also sub-par. This is currently Riley’s only work to be available on audiobook, and I sincerely hope that any other works made into audiobooks can get a little more love.
I will definitely be reading more of Riley’s books. Much of her content is available on Amazon Kindle, either for free or for less than a dollar. I find that a small price to pay to support a BIPOC author that I enjoy. These stories deserve to be told. I’m willing to put my money where my mouth (or keyboard) is and show the romance novel industry that there is a desire for diverse content.
I live in a sleepy Seattle neighborhood that’s known for its historic, small-town charm and strong sense of community. Renting is the exception, not the norm, and many of my neighbors have been here for decades. I once described where I live to someone in the area, and he responded with, “Oh! You mean the rental unit?”
My neighborhood is also dotted with Neighborhood Crime Watch signs, a fact I was only peripherally aware of until a few weeks ago.
When we think of self-care, the first image that comes to our minds is a bubble bath, candles, and a glass of wine. But the idea of self-care is much more than that. Don’t get me wrong—if a bubble bath, candles, and a glass of wine are things that help relax you and make you feel good, by all means do those things! However, there are also a lot of other ways that you can practice self-care in these stressful times that you may not have thought about while you are in isolation.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
The situation the world is in right now is scary and stressful and maddening, so it is okay to feel scared and stressed and angry! If you allow yourself to feel your feelings, you are better able to identify what is making you feel that way so you are able to cope with the situation. I know this sounds a bit obvious, but just let it out!
Limit your News Intake
While you absolutely should stay informed about what is happening in the world right now, try to limit your news intake to one reputable news source. If there are important developments, a reputable source will surely be reporting on it. The problem with seeking out multiple sources is that you will often see the same stories over and over and over again (as well as sensationalist stories to get clicks), adding to your stress and anxiety about the situation. As tempting as it is, try not to stay glued to your newsfeed. Just to take a look at it a couple of times a day to stay well informed.
This can also equate to limiting your time on social media in general. While it is easy to sit and scroll on your phone for hours because there isn’t much else to do (I’m guilty of this as well), you will often come across a lot of people posting about how bored/stressed/angry they are, as well as possible misinformation about COVID-19, which can feed your own boredom/stress/anger.
Control What You Can
A lot of negative feelings in this time are related to a perceived lack of control, so instead of focusing on what you can’t control, try focusing on things that you can control. Clean your closet, organize the bookcase, weed the garden, bake something, etc…. Controlling the heck out of this small stuff will help you feel grounded.
Keep to a Regular Schedule
I have come to find that my time in isolation has felt a bit like that week between Christmas and New Years. Time seems irrelevant and it is easy to get sucked into a nonexistent schedule of sleeping, eating, and sleeping again. To maintain a sense of normalcy, it helps to keep a regular schedule. Wake up at about the same time, eat your meals at normal times—you get it. Then, when this crisis is over and we are able to emerge from our homes, it won’t be such a shock getting back to our normal routines.
Helping others is one of the biggest mood boosters there is. While it seems difficult to help people when we are supposed to be staying away from people, there are a few ways you can help out that take little to no contact. If you are going to venture out to the grocery store, check in with elderly neighbors to see if they need anything. Getting necessities was already difficult for our elderly population, and the current crisis has made it even more so. It only takes a minute to call or drop a note in their mailbox offering help, and they will surely appreciate it. Check in on your extrovert friends over FaceTime or Skype, because I can guarantee you that they are craving social contact. This could also be a great time to take in a foster pet, as adoption rates have gone down dramatically. Look around in your neighborhood for these little ways you can contribute to the cause, because we are all in this together.
This one is small, but very important. We all have a heightened awareness about washing our hands, and all that extra contact with hot water, soap, and alcohol based sanitizers can quicklyy take a toll on the skin on your hands. Use a hand cream or body moisturizer a few times a day to keep the skin from getting cracked and itchy. Over-dry hands are not pleasant.
Escape Reality for a Bit
In times like this, we need a bit of escapism more than ever, and it is okay to duck out of reality for a little bit. Read a book, play a video game, or binge watch your favorite television show without guilt! You deserve to be able to relieve your mind with a bit of distraction.
Even if it just for five minutes in a day, it is good to sit down and clear your mind for a moment. If you aren’t well practiced in meditation, try finding a guided meditation on YouTube. Trust me, it really helps.
Self-care is possibly the most important thing you can do for yourself during this time. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t care for others effectively, so don’t feel guilty about taking a few minutes for yourself during the day.
And, as always, GGC is here to help support our community through hope, love, and acceptance. Tell us what kind of things you do to practice self-care at home!
Here at GeekGirlCon, we care about the health and safety of everyone in our community. Currently, The greater Seattle area (and many other places in the world) is facing a battle with COVID-19, popularly referred to as Coronavirus. Now is a good time to review a few ways to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your community as safe as you can. When it comes to germs, sharing is not caring.
Wash Your Hands
This cannot be stressed enough, folks! WASH. YOUR. HANDS. Hand washing is the simplest and most effective way to stop the spread of disease. Follow these simple rules while washing your hands to give yourself the best shot at killing as many germs as possible:
Use hot running water and wet your hands.
Scrub your hands for 15-20 seconds. Yeah, it seems like a long time, but that’s just how long it takes to kill the germies. A good rule is to sing Happy Birthday twice. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, in between your fingers, and around your finger nails.
Rinse well. Don’t touch the faucet when you are done! This can re-contaminate your hands.
Get a disposable paper towel and dry your hands. Use the towel to turn off the water without touching the faucet directly.
If you can’t wash your hands, you can use hand sanitizer with a minimum 60% alcohol base, but nothing beats a good ol’ wash.
Check out this funny old video about washing your hands from the Washington Department of Health:
Cover Your Coughs and Sneezes
Believe it or not, there is actually a right way and a wrong way to cover a cough or sneeze. The best method is to cover your mouth with a tissue and throw it away. If you, like me, often find coughs and sneezes sneaking up on you and you don’t have time to get a tissue, then you should turn your head into the crook of your elbow. This will direct the germs away from your hands while also not spreading germy spittle across the room. Try not to cough and sneeze directly in your hands unless you have no other choice, and please wash your hands immediately.
Don’t Touch Your Face
This is a really, really hard one. We touch our faces all the time, every day. When your eye itches, you scratch it. If you have dry lips, you put on lip balm. Do you see where this is going? Your fingers are the parts of your body that will undoubtedly come into the most contact with germy surfaces, and your face houses the mucous membranes that give germs the easiest access into your body (eyes, nose, and mouth). It is like granting bacteria VIP access to your body. I know it is hard, but please try to not touch your face.
If You Feel Sick, Please Stay Home
Through most cold and flu seasons, we are told to stay home when sick, but are kind of pressured to go about our lives as usual. It is difficult to make the decision to stay home from work or school when there is so much to be done and people who depend on you. But please, please, please stay home if you are feeling unwell. Please keep your children home from school if they are feeling sick. Trust me, no one wants them there and they don’t want to be there.
Currently, the King County Public Health Department has put out a list of Public Health Recommendations to help combat the spread of Coronavirus. They recommend trying to work from home if you can, and to avoid large gatherings of people. We should all stay calm, but be mindful of our habits and surroundings to keep ourselves and everyone else safe.
It is important to point out that, while many people get the cold and flu every year and come out of it perfectly fine, there are also many who don’t. COVID-19 is proving to be similar. While you, a reasonably healthy adult, may just have mild symptoms and will recover on your own, there are those in our society who would not. The elderly, the very young, those who are pregnant, and the immunocompromised react much more severely to common illnesses. If we have it within our power to stop the spread of diseases that may prove fatal to the most vulnerable members of our society, then we have a moral and ethical obligation to do so. So please, protect other peoples loved ones and wash your hands.
Want a little more info? Check out our previous blog post How to Conquer Con Crud for some more tips from GeekGirlCon on how to stay happy and healthy!
Bullying has been portrayed in movies, television shows, plays, and more for years. There’s a reason for that, too. Simply put, “art reflects reality.” Bullying is such a popular topic in media because it’s so prevalent in today’s society. Just how much of a problem is it? According to the Bureau of Justice, about 160,000 teens in the United States have skipped school due to bullying.