Category Archives: Uncategorized

Feeling Tickled

When I was a kid I observed a lot of things about myself that I didn’t think anyone else could possibly understand.  Some were kind of heartbreaking, some a little frightening, and some I decided meant I was crazy but I enjoyed too much to look deeply into.

One such was the “brain tickle.”  I noticed, from a very early age, that some sounds made the inside of my head feel all tingly and weird.  Most of the time it came from certain people’s voices – soft-spoken people, usually, almost instantly caused that tickling sensation (not the same as the low-down tickle, which I didn’t really figure out until I was much older).

Sometimes I’d mention it to other people just to see if maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t the only one, but most of the time I’d get stared at like I was completely banana balls.  Once in a while, though, someone would say, “OMG! I get that too – what the hell is that?”

Only a few years ago I discovered that not only is it a more widespread phenomenon than I thought, there’s actually a name for it:  Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR.  The term is mostly just a “we have to call this something, anyone got any ideas?” (which Wikipedia considers a neologism) which breaks down to “people get brain tickles and we have no idea why and since nobody’s going to bankroll research on brain tickles, YouTube, take it away!”

It turns out there is a thriving and extensive world of ASMR videos on YouTube.  They center around the most common triggers:  soft voices/whispers, sounds like paper crinkling, tapping on plastic, or even Velcro; and role-playing with a personal attention theme like being at a spa, having your head massaged, or getting a haircut.  A lot of people who do these videos also focus on treating insomnia or using hypnosis through binaural recording (which utilizes multiple microphones to simulate a 3D environment) to enhance self-awareness.  Some are utterly silly (like alien abduction role playing), some are healing (reiki/energy healing sessions, affirmations), and some don’t have a theme at all but are just triggering sounds.

The best mainstream example I can think of:  Bob Ross.  If listening to Bob Ross paint (both the speaking and the brush strokes) makes your brain feel funny, you are probably experiencing ASMR.

The interesting thing about ASMR is it’s kind of like asparagus pee; if you’re someone who has the ability to detect it, it can be an intense experience; if you aren’t, you’ll think it’s the goofiest thing you’ve ever heard of.   There’s no clinical evidence whatsoever that ASMR exists or is useful for anything; its effects are purely anecdotal.

Here are some of my favorite videos – my brain apparently loves women with accents. In fact hearing a woman speak quietly with any variety of Indian British accent melts me into a puddle of happy.  (And not in the same way that, say, Tom Hiddleston reading poetry melts me into a puddle of happy – again, that’s the low-down tickle, not the brain tickle. (I mean come on, Sonnet 18? Just kill me now.)

Bob Ross Paints Happy Little Mountains

A Recipe for Aloo Dum Curry

Twilight Forest Meditation

Whispered Affirmations to Shift Your Beliefs

Arabic Spice Shop Roleplay

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Late-night meanderings

So…I’m awake, and I don’t want to be.  I had a horrible dream that combined three of the worst players in my Roster of Sleep-Related Miseries:    a sick/dying animal I couldn’t save, some kind of countdown (which funnily enough usually ends up being that in the real world I really, really have to pee), and someone I’m in love with humiliating me in public for being fat.  (This is usually someone I’ve been hot for for years, or a celebrity crush, or some other Big Important Person who can destroy you in a single sentence, a single derisive “Wait, you mean HER?” laugh.)

When I have dreams like that I feel dazed for a good hour.  It’s strangely easier to have nightmares that are obviously nightmares – horrible things from my past, being eaten by wolves, running from a tornado.  But when the whole thing was a series of dreadful emotions, it’s harder to shake off, because it cuts deeper.  Zombie dreams?  Scary at the time but ultimately unbelievable.  Having a beautiful man tell a big group of people he wouldn’t fuck me with someone else’s dick?  Stuff like that has happened to me while I’m awake, so, it’s harder to dismiss as “just a dream.”

At any rate, it means I’m awake, and I checked my inbox to find a WordPress notice of a comment needing moderation.  It occurred to me I hadn’t looked at my blog comments in months – I catch a few, but never all of them.  I’d like to apologize to everyone who left a comment in the last 3-4 months and it seemed like I ignored you.  I weighed the pros and cons and decided that re-engaging with my audience is more important than dealing with trolls, so I turned the “Email me for every comment” feature and now I should see them all.   I”m so grateful that so many of you have left comments all this while and I hope to be more involved in the future.

Unrelated but related note:

I miss LiveJournal.  I used to be hella prolific over there – I didn’t want a private diary, I wanted what it had, a semi-private place to tell my story no matter how banal or how terrible, with an audience made of people I’d vetted, who had also vetted me for their own. That sense of mutual validation was so important.  “I hear you.”  Sometimes those are the most beautiful three words in English.  I think Facebook sucked the spirit out of online personal content, and while it definitely has its advantages, well, we all know how badly Facebook can blow a goat.

Which is not to say Facebook is pure evil or LJ some kind of paradise.  They have their advantages and disadvatages just like any other platform.

I’d go back to LJ, but a) it’s kind of a ghostown now, and b) I think I’ve outgrown it.  Facebook did  everything I wanted LJ to do except prioritize long-form posts of text.   That I guess was where blogging was supposed to fill in the gaps, but my easy confessional style never quite translated.  Now I’m wondering if maybe it should.  If I should start having random rambles and occasional rants, just talk about the weird crap that happened on the way to Target, along with more Nosce te Ipsum type posts.  Throw out the supposed “rules” about what you should post where and when, and just be as random and weird as I actually am.  What would you, intrepid reader, think about that?

I’ll even read all the comments this time.

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Pimp My Planner, Aug 17

Okay, so, I wasn’t sure at first how much I’d like using the Cocoa Daisy inserts – they’re lovely, but I was cautious.  It’s a wide open format, yet already decorative – could I be sufficiently creative with pages that came out of the box beautiful?

I think we all know the answer to that.


I had fun.

I’m pretty much in love with these inserts – the grid background makes it easier to do fun letters, and there’s lots of space for doodles.  I thought I wanted to go back to a vertical Erin-Condren-style layout, but it turns out, not so much!

A few points of interest:

I made a big sheet of stickers for all my TV shows, which will soon start returning for Fall; the only one on right now is Face Off, but soon there will be three or four a night sometimes.  Yay, Fall TV!  I had a lot of fun shrinking down show logos (or in some cases making them outright because the real logo didn’t read well in one inch format).

I also made stickers for Patreon and blog posts that have room for me to make note of what exactly I posted.

The girls are from the “Gorjuss” collection of art by Scottish artist Suzanne Woolcott. The one on the far right in the middle with the pigtails has always been my favorite.  I have quite a few items from Santoro’s Gorjuss collection like notebooks, decorative papers, even a pencil tin – and their packaging is always rife for cutting up and sticking on things like, say, planner pages.  I really liked how the girls fit on the pages.

On the right hand page you can see a dotted rectangle I drew – that was my next item of business.  I knew I needed some checklists every week to keep track of self-care items and other important routine tasks, and while the Cocoa Daisy daily pages have all that in spades, I really wanted to stick with the weekly, so I created a list that would fit where I’d drawn that square.  Weekend days tend to be less structured, so I combined Saturday and Sunday with a “weekend” sticker.  Here’s this week’s, all ready to go:


All those flowers you see are actually translucent washi stickers.

I also made a new weekly mood tracker and goals sticker to go on another page.  I think aside from a to-do list area that’s really all the structure I need, and that leaves me all that space to stick things and draw things and hatch nefarious porpoises.

(I know. Porpoises are mammals and generally not nefarious.)


Another thing I did this week was get rid of some of my dividers and rename others so they’re actually functional.  And I laminated my Ravenclaw binder because it was already getting fuzzy on the edges.  I had put a finish on the drawing itself so that was safe, but the cardstock was kind of weaksauce, so I thought it best to essentially put a condom on it.

As you might expect the Adulting section is where all my budget stuff lives.

Last but not least, as I was taking these pictures I realized my workspace must be one heck of a sight so I thought I’d show you where the magic happens.


Stuffed animals, Distress inks, corner punches, my faithful paper trimmer, Etsy orders in progress, a half-finished Sarasvati shrine (and up in the corner a half-finished Kwan Yin), my iPhone tripod (recent acquisition), bowls full of beads and assorted shrine doodads, about six different adhesives…pretty typical, I suppose.  Although there’s a jar of sandalwood powder, one of myrrh, and another of sand from Cozumel up under the metal shelves, and I would guess most crafters don’t need those.

Or maybe they do. Maybe little old Aunt Martha finishes her cross-stitch, strips naked, and summons the Dark Lord. I don’t judge.

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The Lost…Or Something…Shadow World Extra

As I was posting the latest chapter of Shadowstorm to my Patreon backers, I recalled that one of the minor characters had first been introduced in an Extra.  I went to find the link and include it in the post…only to find it had never made it here to the site.  I’d never even made a pdf of it!

Right after Queen of Shadows came out I took part in a promotional challenge where a bunch of writers were tasked with retelling a fairy tale or fable using their own characters.  That first time I did The Big Bad Wolf, which *is* on the Extras page; a couple of years later I was invited to do it again, and rather than go with some typical romantic fairy tale, I decided to do Aesop’s fable The Lion and the Mouse.

It was short and kind of silly, but I really liked the kid in the story, so I decided to bring him back in one of the books.  You don’t have to read the Extra to know what’s going on in the novel, but like all the Extras, it fleshes things out a bit.  Enjoy!





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