Gingerbread TARDISes are cool!

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Before August 2014, I was just a woman with friends who obsessed and squeed over Doctor Who.  I didn’t understand what it meant when someone said that David Tennant was their favorite Doctor.  I had no idea that I could possibly be even more spooked by statues.  And I only had a vague idea as to what a TARDIS was.

Once I finished watching the entire Star Trek: TNG series, I decided that all my geeky friends must be on to something and decided to try it.  I was instantly hooked.  I loved the wit with which each episode was written.  I loved that Rose wasn’t just an along for the ride, do what you’re told, sort of girl.  I loved the jovial snark that hid the deep anguish of Christopher Eccleston’s Time Lord.  It’s probably a good thing that Mike wanted to watch with me, otherwise I would have binge-watched the whole series.  (As opposed to finishing it in 2 months.)

Last year, I made gingerbread houses from scratch for the first time.  I wanted to do that again this year, but change it to something more interesting, more challenging.  A gingerbread Hobbit hole!  Sensing inevitable scream-crying of epic proportions because of such a difficult undertaking, Mike suggested something “easier”: a gingerbread TARDIS.  OF COURSE!  How could I have not thought of a gingerbread TARDIS?  And, as I’m wont to do, I spoke the words that always lead to my doom: How hard can it be?

When I began this blog, I promised I would share triumphs and failures alike.  I’ll call this one a hybrid of the two.  A failumph.  The pieces baked, (my rectangles were 5×9″) well, though not as straight as I would have liked.  The real challenge was getting the royal icing the exact shade of blue befitting a TARDIS.  I had leftover royal blue gel food coloring from Zoe’s 1st birthday cookie monster cupcakes, so I just used that.  
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More accurately, I should say that I just used half a pot of the food coloring, plus some black.  Safe for consumption, but not guaranteed to not turn your liver blue.

Some things I learned
I try really hard, and I know a few things about decorating, but I am by no means proficient at it.  Each horrible-looking project is another chance for me to learn something new to forget about the next time I decorate.  The first thing that I should have done differently is the size tip I used to outline each rectangle.  It was way too big.  Rectangles, that pretty much fit together before they were iced, didn’t fit together properly because the large lines of icing bumped against one another.  It’s part of the reason why I was only able to put together two pieces of the TARDIS.
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The second thing I learned is that, while royal icing is shelf-stable for several days, colors will change.  In this case, the blue became much darker.  It did, however, allow me to learn royal icing surgery.  It finally occurred to my foggy-headed fibro brain, to simply add the white icing to the deeper blue icing in order to achieve the original TARDIS blue I had created.  I would need to remove the dark blue cross pieces from the front panel.  There may be a much better way to do this but, what worked for me was to simply use a food-grade brush to wet the portions of icing that I wanted to remove, and then use a serrated knife to chisel away the unwanted blue.  Once the areas were level with the rest of the panel, I could go over the same areas with the correct color blue.  Water was also an effective tool for spreading icing.  It allowed me to move the icing, which was beginning to harden, to the places I wanted.  I basically painted the crosspieces on with thick icing.
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Remedy less murdery than the Sisters of Plenitude.
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The third thing I learned may seem completely stupid, but I found a way to intersect lines without making them cross.  Crossing any lines always leads to an unwanted bump-ups where they cross.  Rather than crossing them, I soon learned that I should be making L shapes.

I learned that painting with icing and making hundreds of dots can be really therapeutic.  I decided to make the inside of the TARDIS. It’s much more difficult on the inside. Using what I had on hand, I did my best to make the goldish-brown interior walls of 9 and 10’s TARDIS.  (Mostly because that was going to be infinitely easier than attempting 11’s.)  It was a little too yellow, so I painted over it with really watery brown icing.  It gave the brown color the walls needed, without obscuring the gold underneath.  Later I sprayed the insides with edible glitter.  I feel a little bad that I didn’t outline the circles with hexagons, but I felt that would have been obsessive.
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Edible markers are your best friends! Especially with a project that required fitting so many squares and rectangles on the pieces, it was a relief to have edible markers to mark where the ruler said lines should go.  The outside panels weren’t perfect, but they’re a lot better than what they would have been, had I just been eyeballing it.

The controls
For funsies, I wanted to see if I could make the TARDIS controls with what I had on hand.  It was supposed to be my gingerbread house, so why not use candy?  The base was 4 gingersnap cookies iced together, with the two on top and bottom cut out into oval shapes.  The center tower is made of mini gumdrops, a peppermint round, and M&Ms.  It’s absolutely horrible….and I love it.

Sometimes you gotta laugh
It’s safe to say that my TARDIS did not turn out the way I had envisioned.  I put a lot of work, care, and attention into this thing, and it came out mediocre, at best.  (And no, I’m not fishing; I know what the final product looks like.)  So, when pieces began falling off and breaking and the panels wouldn’t fit together, I couldn’t help but just throw my head back and giggle hysterically.  I joked that it could just be the TARDIS that Vincent Van Gogh painted.  Ultimately, I had a much better idea*.
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*I’m aware it’s the wrong TARDIS for blowing up.  Just…just…okay?

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I’m cleaning up the vomit from Christmas fever

We’re back home after our visit with Mike’s family. We managed to pull off a magical Christmas for the girls, which is amazing, considering that we accidentally left half their presents at home. We didn’t want the only things Rachael had to open/be from Santa were books and a coral growing set, so Mike and I upheld his family’s long-standing tradition of going out on Christmas Eve to buy last minute presents. I felt horrible, being a reason for someone having to work; I made sure to profusely thank the woman who rang us up at the toy store.

Of course, my ever precocious Rachael said that she already had the best present she could ever ask for: her family. That, coupled with the genuine gratefulness of our children on Christmas morning, just made Mike and I fill with joy and feel like we forgot the rest of the toy store to give to them. We. Are. Suckers.
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How do you say no to that?

Zoë won Christmas, getting a pretend makeup set and a letter W. Why W? We have no idea. She’s extremely attached to the letters of her name and the letter W. When she opened the W her grandparents gave to her, it was like those videos where kids find out they’re going to Disney World.
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Much more subdued Zoë, as she succumbed to her cold.

As for her pretend makeup set, Zoë immediately put it to good use, giving everyone makeovers.
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I make Pa Pa pretty.

Anyway, real posts are in the hopper, including spiced fudge and a gingerbread TARDIS. And I hope everyone else’s holidays were as wonderful and magical as a 3 year old receiving her W.

A Spoonie Does Disney: Part 5

This is the final part of a 5 part series about my experience, as a spoonie, vacationing at Disney World. Here are parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

I discovered that my love for roller coasters has become tainted. I’ve never been one for the fucking insane most adventurous rides, but I do love a good zero to OMGWHEEEEEEE! with the upside downs and sharp banking. So it was disheartening to find that I was really going to have to suck it up and take some real pain if I wanted to ride the coasters at Disney. (And the ones I rode at Universal Studios at the conference block party. Consider wearing body armor if you’re going on Transformers or the Minion rides.)

The first coaster we rode was the Aerosmith RocknRoll coaster. First of all, holy crap on a cracker, y’all! I think that coaster would have been rough, even without the fibro. It was pitch black for the first 10+ seconds of the ride. I made my throat sore, screaming for my life during that coaster. It ended up being fun, but holy shit was it rough on my neck. The same is true of Star Tours, Everest, and Space Mountain. All a lot of fun, but are murder on the neck and back. The new Seven Dwarfs Mine Cart coaster was fun and much easier on the neck. It didn’t leave much room for my legs, which made for a lot of pain around the curves, as my legs and knees mashed into the lap bar.

Ultimately I would have been sad if I had let my fibro be in charge and hadn’t gone on any of these rides, but the price is pretty steep. I said “shit” and “fucking ow” as much as I laughed and said “whoo”. Drug up in advance, people!

Line up, everybody!
After my experience of standing in line for Soarin’, I wanted nothing to do with standing in any line for very long. If we couldn’t fast pass something, or the wait was longer than 30 minutes, we just didn’t do it. We did a fast pass for the Aerosmith coaster, so not a big deal. We hit a big snag in our plan when we arrived at Everest at Animal Kingdom. No fast passes were available, and waiting in line was going to be almost an hour. But then, an awesome cast member at the fast pass kiosk told us about the single rider line. It’s one of the few rides in Disney where you can get in a separate line if you’re planning to ride by yourself. You become a seat filler with the odd numbered parties who all want to go together. Mike and I ended up on the same coaster, just different cars, and only waiting about 10 minutes! I’ll be honest, when we started going backwards in the dark, I wish I had had Mike’s freckled arm to squeeze until his arm would break. But overall, it was really fun and we were able to cross that coaster off our list.

At the new 7 Dwarfs Mine coaster, waiting in line for an hour was just fine because I had my wheelchair by then and the line was wheelchair accessible. But, as is the case with many older buildings and walkways, Space Mountain’s regular stand-by line is not wheelchair accessible. So a cast member directed us to the fast pass line to get a return time, as the new fast pass line is wheelchair accessible. I think they wrote the time down wrong. Rather than an hour wait, we only waited 15 minutes. Make sure that whomever is pushing you up and down the steep angles the fast pass line takes is in peak physical condition. Mike was a trooper, hoofing it up those inclines and preventing me from become the physical comedy trope of a person in a runaway wheelchair on the downward slopes. At one point, the rubber grip on one of the handles came off while going downhill, which made things interesting. After we managed to avoid fiery collision, Mike parked me and went back up the line to find it. It’s terribly awkward to be sitting by oneself next to a line of other people. I should have started quacking to emphasize my current state and make everyone feel better.

After our arduous journey over hill and dale for many a fortnight, depleting our skeins of Tang and supply of freeze-dried lembas bread and limbs quivering from all that they had to endure, we finally reached a place of rest on the Mountain of Space. There we found rest from the kind mountain villagers, who prepared us for the next phase of our fantastical journey. We hobbled toward the space pod, which would carry us to our destination, only to find our path blocked. Downcast though we were, we found comfort in the continued care of the villagers. The town crier regularly took to the village main square to announce how the work to clear our way goeth. As I rested in my transport, I felt the growing unrest from a faction of villagers. I worried that their dismay would turn toward me. After all, had I not walked from my transport to the space pod? Had we not taken our place in line before those who had waited what seemed like lifetimes? But we stayed the course, stalwart and sure, for the road had been hard and our journey far.
But what to my great joy when the town crier sent forth word that the way was open and our journey into the stars was to recommence! Into our pods we settled; such great anticipation leaving all aquiver. We began, and the wind blew my hair. I felt the chill of dark space fill my nostrils and promise thrills beyond imagination.
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Suddenly, cool, blue light flooded the sky. We were enveloped in the beacon that was foretold, the beacon that would let all who passed know that their hard work could be put to rest. It was time for the prize for which we had waited so long.

And then we zoomed around in the dark. It fucking hurt, but damn it was fun.

True or false?

Trigger warning for sexual assault.

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He was tall with dark, curly hair. For some reason, he had become my drunken make out buddy at a couple of parties. The time he tried to feel me up, (we were both sober) I pushed his hands away. That’s as far as it ever went. I never wanted anything more. Then, one night, it went farther than I wanted. We were, or at least I was, drunk at an apartment party. I went with him into his brother’s room, which only had an air mattress and a couple of boxes. I remember just going in with an intention to sleep. But we did start making out and fooling around. I was tired and didn’t really want to, but I went with it. I remember him suddenly saying, I want to fuck you or I want to put my dick in you. One of those two. He didn’t wait to see how I felt about it. He just put on a condom and went in. I didn’t want to have sex with him. I didn’t say no. I didn’t really feel like I had the power to say it. I didn’t struggle. In my mind at the time, if I didn’t fight it, then there wouldn’t be a chance for me to lose the struggle and it actually become rape. When he was finished, I sheepishly emerged to go to the bathroom. The few people who were still out in the living room laughed at me because of the noises they heard. I peed, went back in, and went to sleep.
When I’ve recounted this story to friends, they’ve told me I was raped. Honestly, I still live in the land of Plausible Deniability, which is Regrettable Sex adjacent. It still makes me feel, at the very least, unsettled when I think about that night.

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve no doubt heard of or read the Rolling Stone piece involving the story of Jackie, who says she was gang raped at a UVA Phi Psi party. Anger and outrage from across the nation have rained down upon UVA, one of a handful of universities under a federal Title IX investigation for the mishandling of sexual assault cases on their campuses. You’ve probably also heard about the retraction Rolling Stone issued, essentially throwing Jackie under the bus, rather than owning their shoddy reporting. Suddenly, trust in Jackie was “misplaced”. Her friends and support group now no longer believe her story because some details may have changed. Details like whether it was 5 guys or 7 guys who gang raped her. You know. Things that a survivor who endured hours of trauma should be exact on, otherwise it totally didn’t happen. Jackie’s credibility has also been thrown into question because the members of Phi Psi have responded to her claims with a resounding, Not uh!!!! They have said that they do not use gang rape as a rush initiation ritual. And you know that if they did, they would be sure to admit it. They also say they did not have a party on the day in question. They conveniently don’t have the records from two whole years ago to back up that claim, but they’re a group of highly influential rich boys with a lawyer, a national chapter advising them, and have had two weeks to rally. So you know they’re telling the truth. I’m not going to go through each and every refuted claim. Suffice it to say, it’s very odd that everyone seems to suddenly doubt Jackie because of what Phi Psi says.

I’ve seen a few rape culture myths trotted out in relation to this story. There are the classics:
– Why didn’t she go to the hospital?
– Why didn’t she go to the police and press charges?
– Why doesn’t she name the guys if she’s telling the truth? What does she have to fear if she’s telling the truth. *gasp* She must be hiding something.

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My new favorite, though, is: She probably has false memories. Some details have changed over the past two years, so clearly she’s “remembering” things that didn’t happen. (Let’s just be real, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if Phi Psi had a few false memories of their own.)
I guess that is the logical argument to make if you want to call someone a liar without actually calling them a liar. So let’s break down why this is bullshit and tell armchair psychologists where they can shove their armchair.

1) Eyewitness testimony can be unreliable IF they witness a crime or fleeing criminal from a distance and/or it takes place too quickly for the brain to process it. It is then that someone’s brain may try to fill in the gaps or are susceptible to suggestion. That certainly doesn’t apply here.

2) False memory diagnosis was developed, in part, by Sigmund Freud. It posits that memories of sexual abuse from childhood may be repressed. When they are recalled, false memories may present themselves. Taking it a step further, false memory syndrome is when someone bases their life around a false memory. The latter would certainly describe Jackie’s case. The problem is that there is no accepted empirical literature published, nor is it a diagnosis within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-5). So…..no.

3) Our brains are so wonderful, in that they are capable of denial. When trauma is too much to handle, our brains will protect us by kicking back the information as bogus, (common in cases of sexual assault.) Another protective action our brains take is compartmentalization. Your brain will say, I can’t handle this right now, so I’m going to set you aside and ignore you. Over time, these memories become shrouded in cobwebs in a darkened corner of one’s mind. It’s still there; it still affects you…your psyche. But it becomes increasingly difficult to pull back out and deal with it. Your brain fights back, continuing to try and protect you. But once you begin to deal with it, you may find you remember things that you meant to banish forever.

It is insulting to suggest to a survivor of sexual assault that they may be unintentionally making things up. It’s effectively patting them on their heads, handing them some cocoa, and saying their little women brains and wandering uteruses don’t know what they’re talking about. It takes away what little power the survivor may feel s/he has left; it is the power of knowing their own story.
I told my story at the beginning because I don’t remember a lot of things. I don’t remember what day or year it was. I don’t remember what or if I said anything to anyone right after it happened. I don’t remember the guy’s last name anymore. But there is one thing I remember with absolute certainty:
It happened.

If you have, or even think you have, been the victim of sexual assault and need support or don’t know what to do, please call the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.