Tag Archives: phil

Goblin Charms


There’s a new project afoot in my studio. I’ve unearthed my treasured hoard of “this is the last one” beads and I’m doing something special with them in a new collection of jewelry I’m calling Goblin Charms. Each Goblin Charms piece is unique, and I’m selling this collection only via Instagram and Twitter. They’re literally one of a kind, and made in collaboration with my partner, Phil. When you buy a Goblin Charm, you’ll get a piece of jewelry designed and made by me, in a package with artwork made by Phil.

I believe that jewelry tells a story. When I make things, I’m imagining the person who will wear them, the story that this bracelet or that pair of earrings tells, the story that it will be become part of with a new owner. This new collection has a part of my story in it, as well.

Wear your story, and mine.

valentinesThis is a goblin love story. Fittingly, it starts deep beneath the earth, in a dark cavern veined with hidden treasure. Well, almost. Actually, it starts on the internet. Phil and I met on Twitter. We’re not 100% certain how we actually found each other, but it quickly became apparent that we both love books, extremely dreary weather, Spaceballs, inappropriate jokes, China Mieville, and making things with our hands. After some time, it also became apparent that we love each other. But PLOT TWIST! He lives in Yorkshire, England. I live in Portland, OR. We get to visit a couple of times a year, and we are very grateful to Google Hangouts for letting us be together in our virtual country. But we are in love, and we want to live together.

How are we going to do that, you wonder? We’re glad you asked. It’s a good story. I’m going to move to England. Patience is not my strong suit, and I may have already packed some stuff. But before this can really happen, I need to apply for a visa and we need to save enough money to pay for the visa, a plane ticket, and moving. As I said, we like making things. Phil codes ingenious tools and draws pen and ink monsters. I make jewelry. We’ve decided to make something together to help us reach our goal.

goblin with a ear rings and glassesFor a long time, I’ve been hanging onto a collection of rare vintage Lucite and glass beads. I’ve always meant to curate them into shadowboxes and have a permanent display, but somehow they’ve just stayed jumbled in a box. The truth is that I enjoy making things with beads more than I enjoy just hoarding them to look at. They should go out into the world and live their story there, even if it means they are lost or destroyed or lose their lustre. Beautiful things are meant to be seen and handled, meant to express themselves. I got the box out, and I started making one of a kind pieces of jewelry with these last precious works of art, and so Goblin Charms came to be. As I’m releasing a jewel hoard out into the daylight, I thought goblins were the perfect mascot. Phil draws excellent goblins, and he made a logo for us to use on packaging. Then he drew a small army of goblins festooned in jewelry just for good measure. This stripey lady just above with the John Lennon glasses is my favorite.

The money from each Goblin Charm sale goes straight into our savings account towards the day when we can live together. We are so grateful for our friends all over the world who have been watching our story and wishing us well. From the bottom of our goblin hearts, thank you. Your support means the world to us.


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blaugust #13: what’s the macguffin, morning glory?

Today is Alfred Hitchcock’s birthday. I’ve been having something of a Hitchcock revival this summer. It started when Phil was here, and we got tickets to see a restored 70mm print of Vertigo at Portland’s historic Hollywood Theatre. Last weekend we watched Strangers on a Train. And in between we’ve been watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents on Netflix. It’s been especially fun to watch that with a fresh pair of eyes. The opening sequence and his somber “Good evening” are just so iconic. I love that you can see a wrinkle in the bottom left of the backdrop with his caricature silhouette. The stories are good – most of them, anyway; we’ve hit a bit of a drab spot just now. The best part, though, is Hitchcock’s introduction and follow-up to each episode. Someone else obviously agrees with us, because there’s actually a montage of all 271 intros on YouTube. I have not got 46 spare minutes lying around today, so I didn’t watch it, but I’m ridiculously pleased that someone took the time to make it. We’re particularly enjoying the ones where he takes the piss out of his sponsor just before or after the commercial break. I remember my mom telling me years ago how much Hitchcock resented advertising interruptions on his shows. His dry, straightfaced loathing is hilarious. I can’t imagine any director or writer being able to pull that off now – sponsors are as gods to networks. (Unless you count the fake ads for real corporations that air on Welcome to Night Vale – those are pretty excellent.) But he managed to get away with some plots that horrified those sponsors; there’s a pretty interesting piece about it here.

When we’ve run through those, there are a surprising number of full length films and episodes of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour on YouTube, so I think we’ll be down this rabbit hole for some time. Happy birthday, Hitch! You’re so creepy.

(This is my thirteenth post for the Blaugust initiative.)

family ties.

Phil was here for one of our precious few-and-far-between visits two weeks ago. And in a very rare turn of events, my entire immediate family was here as well, for a reunion. Our visit was much too short and, of necessity, really intense. But it was so good to have everyone in the same room together for a little while, to get to introduce Phil to my family, and vice versa. The kids, in particular, really bonded with him. We got some very precious one on one time with one sister, who lives overseas, and a morning at the zoo with my other sister and her family. There was a lunch with my parents, and a couple of gigantic family dinners and game nights. In amongst all this, we caught a few nights to ourselves as well. Two visits to Killer Burger in Hollywood for peanut butter-pickle-bacon burgers, a night out to celebrate Shana’s birthday, and a sold out show of Vertigo on a restored 70mm print at the Hollywood Theatre. Much, much too short, but very important time and I’m so grateful we had it.


gamers buddy system.


I talk about my niece a lot. She is precocious and pithy and imaginative, and I love to tell the whole internet about her. Sometimes I need the hive mind to decipher what she’s saying, and sometimes I just think everyone needs to know about it immediately. Just lately, though, I’ve realized that I don’t talk as much about her older brother, my nephew. Partly that’s because for most of the year, he’s in school during the day and I don’t see him as much. Partly it’s because he’s a quieter person than she is. But I am prodigiously proud of him. He’s smart, patient, and good natured, and I think I learn something every time I talk to him. He absorbs every detail about things that interest him.

He also plays a lot of video games. In fact, that’s the only time he’s not patient. He’s still good natured, but he’s fiercely competitive, and he will gleefully roll right over anyone whose skill or investment in expertise is less than his. He’ll encourage you to play with him, but he will not accommodate your weaknesses. It’s infuriating and hilarious, and I love to see the confidence in him when he’s talking about his home territory. This past week, when Phil was here, I finally got to see the two of them play some games together, and it was glorious.

My initial interest when I started playing video games was twofold: I wanted something I could fall into as immersive relaxation therapy after hard work, but more importantly I wanted a vocabulary and a skill set that would let me bond with my nephew. A few years, a lot of rabbit-hole conversations with Phil, and many game experiments later, I’ve learned enough to know what I look for in a game I’ll really enjoy. I have the vocabulary to listen to my nephew and to occasionally even be able to offer him advice or suggestions.

So it’s a pretty sweet part of my day when he sidles up next to me and his serious small face cracks a missing tooth smile and he boasts his latest triumph – conquering a tough board in Mario, or outwitting Enderman, or his newest dinosaur acquisition in Jurassic Park. I like to get the update while we’re dropping the day’s shipping off at the post office, or unloading the dishwasher together. Sometimes we talk strategy. Sometimes we debate how much real life money is reasonable to spend on what is essentially a picture of a dinosaur. Sometimes we talk about how he interacts with other gamers. Sometimes he just wants me to watch him play so he can show off his mad skills.

And sometimes I bribe him to do the hissing Dilophosaurus thing on camera by telling him he can use my iPhone to play a game. It’s shy kid economics. I love the boy.

I’ve been smiling for 730 days.

006Two years ago today, I made a phone call.

Phil and I met on Twitter in, as best we can establish, early 2011. We followed each other and starred tweets and chatted sometimes, like you Twitter do, and after some months the chatting became more frequent, more habitual. One day I noticed some tweets I particularly liked about a book he loves, and I decided to read the book. I read it, I loved it, and I had a lot of things I wanted to say about it. So I asked if I could email him, and he said yes, he’d love that. We began a correspondence that quickly outgrew the one book and tumbled over into conversations about other books and music and stories about ourselves and what we did and who we were and what we thought about all sorts of things.

That first email grew into hundreds of emails and thousands of words, and after a while that didn’t seem like enough. So we started playing an online game together as well.  And then he worried that maybe he was pronouncing my name wrong, so I recorded a short message with a memo app and sent it to him, and he sent one back and we carried on with that for a while. And then a day came when that wasn’t enough either and we wanted to talk to each other and see each other properly. So we set a date and an approximate time and then…

Well, and then I freaked out. Our story is a great story. It’s incredibly romantic and I like telling it. But it’s also our real life, and there is no question that it’s a pretty intense thing to fall in love with someone who lives 6,000 miles away from you. And I know now what I wasn’t entirely aware of yet in that middle of June two years ago: I was already in love. I knew Phil was very important to me. I knew I was important to him. I knew I really wanted to talk to my friend, to see him smile, to find out what a real, natural conversation between us would be like. But I was also afraid to take that step out of the written world and into the real one, because I had no idea what was going to happen after that.

So I was nervous. I was nervous in the days before the appointed date. I was nervous on the morning of the appointed date. I was nervous and taking a walk around the block an hour before the appointed date. I was unbelievably nervous and chewing on my lower lip as I pushed the connect button and waited and waited and waited while Google Hangouts did its distinctive little dialing ring. And then there was Phil, and right away he was so familiar to me, and we were so happy to see each other and hear each other.

That first date lasted six hours, and we didn’t stop grinning at one another the entire time. It’s been two years now, and we still, from time to time, lapse into silent grinning. We are far apart, and he likes to say that we’re playing this relationship on heroic difficulty, but we are happy. We are so lucky. We’ve built a life together in this in-between space, and we’re working and planning for the next stage.

I’m so grateful for that phone call, for this man, for our life. I love you, Phil. You make my face go like this:
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