All posts by Danica LeBlanc

Pod People // Danica on Radio Free Skaro

Hey there folks! We have some exciting news! A little while back, Danica was invited to take part in an episode of Radio Free Skaroand this week, the audio is out there in the cloud, ready for your ears.

Here’s RFS’ description of the episode. (Click here to listen/download.)

Sad news to impart this week, with the death of Doctor Who director and television pioneer Paddy Russell, who directed “The Massacre”, “Invasion of the Dinosaurs”, “Pyramids of Mars”, and “Horror of Fang Rock”, along with many other non-Who programmes on UK television. We also have news of Shada on DVD in North America, the continued audio adventures of River Song, doings transpiring at Titan Comics regarding the Doctor Who comics line, and in Second Chances we look at “The Eaters of Light” with Doctor Whooch host and Edmonton comic shop owner Danica LeBlanc!

Speaking as the “Brandon” half of Submet Industries, I can wholeheartedly say this is worth a listen – especially if you want to hear Danica talk about her (and our) Moffat opinions with some folks who don’t hate the man.

What Kind Of Wife Am I?

Reflections on Bitch Planet: Triple Feature

Recently, I re-read Bitch Planet Volume 2 for WTF+ YEG Book Club. This led me to shamefully admit to the group that I had not been reading the mini-series, Bitch Planet: Triple Feature!, even though the issues were conveniently located in my comics subscription file. I read the 3 issues that had been released so far a couple nights later.

As I was reading the short stories taking place in the world of Bitch Planet, but on Earth rather than the offworld jail of the main series, I couldn’t help but think about my role in this world as a married woman.

It’s not news, and there have been countless articles on Bitch Planet, but here I am anyway.

In my teens, I grew a fascination for 1950’s culture. Drunk on my white privilege, I reveled in boomerang tile and ranch houses, never once thinking of the pervasive racism of the day and gender roles women were forced into. I didn’t dream of being a housewife, but I sure as hell created a future for myself that may have ended that way. Nowadays, I’ve moved past that obsession and only have an attraction to the aesthetic. My current ideal space is a cozy mix of 1940’s minimalism and 1970’s comfort, and deep, earthy tones(oddly, both decades where women were expected to step up to join the workforce and the waves of feminism rose higher).

I grew up with little interest in marriage. I assumed I would get married “someday”, but never put too much thought into it. When I was very young, I believe 28-29 was my “someday” range – perhaps it seemed old enough. Or perhaps I was raised by society to believe that 30 was the End Times for a woman, so never questioned why I had put my nebulous marker ahead of this dreadful milestone. In my early 20’s, I was in a long term relationship with a man who I assumed I would marry. We dated for around 4 years, and it became quite obvious he was never going to propose. Around that age, I was full force into thinking that’s what a relationship needed to move to the next level. Of course, it ended with us falling out of love with each other, so really nothing was going to improve anything.

As it happens, I am currently married. I did not end up a 32-year old spinster. The best man I’ve ever known saved me from the terrible fate of Being Alone In My 30’s(sarcasm heavily implied). I knew marriage could be hard, but I didn’t realize that much of the stress would come from myself. I didn’t realize I had put myself in a box of my own making until I had been married a couple years. I stressed about Having It All. I was bound and determined to work a fulltime job AND cook dinner AND keep the house tidy AND feed the cats. I felt guilty asking Brandon to help out with housework, as if I was shirking my duties. I felt as if I had poured my own glass of the proverbial Kool-Aid and given in to what I thought a wife should be.

It took a long time, and I still have difficulties. Brandon and I are equal partners in many ways. We live together, own a business together, plan together, we make sure the cats are happy together. Reading Bitch Planet has been healthy for me, because I can often readdress who I am as a wife and woman.

I’m going to leave this idea to simmer for a bit. Please leave a comment below if the series has, or has not, made a similar effect on you. If married, did you have to fight against any gender roles to find a comfortable way to live with your partner? If not, how do you see a married you? And if marriage isn’t in your plans, do you have any issues cohabitating?

Comics Are For Kids

“Kids are our future.”

You’ve all heard this. Whether it’s spoken in response to climate change, supporting girls to begin working in STEM fields or politics, or comic books. While I have opinions on many things, I’m an expert on one thing.

From day one, I wanted my store to have a vast all ages section. And not for the reasons many stores do. I have no interest in putting a child in a corner so their parents could get rid of them for a while. I am not a babysitter. I wanted somewhere kids would willingly go, a space that was all their own. I’m still building on that, but the section has come a long way since Variant Edition opened.

I’ll admit, there have been some drawbacks. Money is tight, so I can only grow the section when I have some room in the budget, but I’ve been able to find some amazing books along the way. There was the time a customer (who has two sons) asked if there could be more books with young boys in them. I had been growing the section for a fictional Young Danica, finding more and more books I felt would have had a positive impact on me as a child. I had neglected to add books with positive male characters. He was also kind enough to remind me to focus on books with boys, sans “punching is the answer” (you would be amazed to discover the number of male-focused books that contain this). I have the weirdest blinders on when I’m ordering, and a lot of my customers who are parents have been helping me immensely.

I’ve been keeping my eye out for books about talking out problems, about girls going in STEM careers, LGBTQ+ kids being loved and accepted, princesses who run their lives, dinosaurs who are helpful friends, anything positive that will help build a kid up strong when the world comes knocking to crush them down. And yes, I look for books that I believe make me stronger, even now.

Business talk time. When I see other comic stores ignoring what is a huge and growing market, I get sad. Angry. Disappointed at their unwillingness to be a better business. Yes, that makes my job easier, but wouldn’t it be nice if all children could go to any comic store and find something magical, just for them? Brandon and I work hard to market comics to all age ranges. It would be so easy (and limiting) to market to people our age and up. People who have been reading comics for decades and are somehow more “justified” to be in a book store. I see a lot of customers stepping on their child’s wonder, possibly destroying a habit before it’s formed.

You can’t raise a reader if you begin by teaching restrictions (and no, I’m not talking about age restrictions – I always read above my age group, but I realize there are limitations).

There is no such thing as a “boy comic” or a “girl comic”. There are stories, and if your child is interested in it, and the content is age appropriate, give it a try. This could be the gateway to a future career. It could be the start of a passion. It could just be a wonderful phase of reading about dinosaurs. We all had those. We’re not all archeologists, but wasn’t it nice to dream about digs in Egypt when we were 8?

Finally, Some Good News

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything, and a lot of that has to do with thinking that I can only write when good things happen. I’m not disproving that today, unfortunately. I am a long way from writing when I’m down, or when things are awful, because I had to keep a lot inside over the past few years and I’m not ready to be “okay” with writing it out.

Let’s stick to the good stuff, and keep on pretending that I’m a-ok and don’t have hundreds of dollars of future money that will need to be spent on therapy.

June was good. It was nice. I even like all the thunderstorms we’re having. Brandon and I are closer than we’ve been in the past, and we’re communicating better, too. It’s not perfect, but what couple is? Tell me your secrets, Perfect Instagram Couple (though still know that I hate you and your perfect-looking life). Rationally, I know every couple has their problems, but DAMN it is a bitch with everyone only putting the good, beautiful moments on social media. Makes a girl feel like no matter how great her relationship is, it is still garbage, and she should just pack up and die alone already.

I FORGOT. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE GOOD THINGS.

Brandon’s an amazing man who has stuck by me, even when he shouldn’t, because I am awful. He loves me for some reason, and I am a cold, unfeeling robot who can’t function properly. This is self-diagnosed right now, but give me time, friends. I’m pretty sure I have dysthymia, which is a low-level depression that can last for years. Starting a business and being a high-functioning depressive is not a great combination, I’ve learned.

Since I’m talking about the store, it’s going really well.  Could always be going better, so if you know anyone who hasn’t been yet and likes reading, please pass the Variant Edition information along. I find when we say we’re doing great, people assume no growth is needed. More customers is always better. ANYWAY, we are doing better. Since the move, the store has been more balanced and only gives me the normal level of stress. Which is the say, high, but not emotionally draining on *top* of all that like before. We’ve been in the west end for about 9 months, and I’m looking forward to celebrating our independence anniversary. A lot of strings have been cut in the past year, and it’s only been onward and upwards.

I’m thankful every day for the friends and community that rallied around us, and happy they still come to the store, week after week. There have been constant new faces, and I’m excited for our first summer in the new location, because there are more people who live nearby, more families, and we’re on a better road for both car and walking traffic.

The store has been beating last year’s numbers every month (and if we don’t, we come very close), which as an business owner means a lot to me. It mean we’re growing at a steady and healthy pace. More money in the bank means I can bring in new and unique product, that I may not be able to take a chance on otherwise. I can take more risks, and put money back into the store. This year, it was new lighting and our custom Alberta shelf (can you link to a picture from our Instagram here?). Over the next year? To start, I’d like to expand our All Ages section, and create a more movable store so the shelves can be moved for events and I can rearrange the store easily to keep it fresh and interesting. We’re growing bit by bit, and claiming the space as our own. Making it as unique as myself and Brandon. Making it “us”.

This next good thing is *well* overdue. Brandon and I are taking a vacation in August. I’m so happy to let Randi take the reigns for a week this summer. We’re leaving the store in good hands. My parents are even filling in a few hours that week, so I hope it’s fun for them.

Until next time.

I Ran Away Last Week

I ran away last week

 

I began reading a book

 

I took a walk down to the lake

 

I tried not to think about the future

 

I annoyed some geese

 

I watched a lot of X-Files

 

I tried not to think about the present

 

I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die

 

I bonded with a black cat

 

I tried not to miss my own cats

 

I finished the book

 

I tried not to think about the past

Hopeful and Empowering Comics (Or) Take That, Patriarchy!

I’m making this list because… last year was really, really hard. I think it was hard for most people – and I wanted to share the comics that helped me push through all of the muck in 2016.

These are some books that allowed me find some power within myself.

MOCKINGBIRD (Marvel)

by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk & Various

Elevator Pitch: Bobbi Morse is living her own life, and men try to ruin it. Something something corgis something something Bobbi saves the queen.

Recommended Because: It’s a book that emphatically states that women can and should be the stars of their own story. Bobbi is in charge of her life and makes her own story, and the comic’s reality often reflects that. Also there are so many corgis.


FAITH (Valiant)

by Jody Houser, Francis Portela, Marguerite Sauvage & More

Elevator Pitch: Nerdy blogger who can fly, saves puppies and fights for the greater good.

Recommended Because: Faith is a superhero that’s like me and a lot of my friends – and while she’s not all powerful, she still tries her very best – an important lesson to remember.


PRINCELESS: RAVEN – THE PIRATE PRINCESS (Action Lab)

by Jeremy Whitley, Rosy Higgins & Ted Brandt

Elevator Pitch: Group of women create their own pirate crew and seek vengeance, while learning about each other a long the way.

Recommended Because: It features a group of women who fight for what they believe in within a world that tells them they shouldn’t. Very empowering.


GIANT DAYS (Boom!Box)

by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, Max Sarin & More

Elevator Pitch: Four women in university, living through school and boy drama, and having silly adventures together.

Recommended Because: This series provides a comforting place to live. When you’re with the characters, it feels like you’re visiting friends. Not only  is it the only comic that still makes me laugh out loud during every issue, it provides a good reminder to appreciate the friendships that we build into our lives.


GROOT (Marvel)

by Jeff Loveness and Brian Kesinger

Elevator Pitch: Groot goes on a journey to find Rocket; finds a group of misfits along the way.

Recommended Because: It’s relentlessly positive. The main character might not be able to talk, but he more than makes up for it through his ability to empathize. It’s a story that’s pure and innocent, providing a reminder of just how good we can all be.

These comics are full of hope and resilience – and they provide bravery when you think you don’t have any. They helped me get through the year, and if you’re looking to be uplifted, they might help you too.

Danica LeBlanc // Twitter

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6 Ways My 2016 Didn’t Suck

Let’s be honest. This year has been so much more than a garbage fire. At times, it’s felt like all the post-apocalyptic YA’s novels we’ve been reading have come true, except with no choice between two equally drab men. During 2016, my depression hit a new low, I discovered new and awful triggers to my anxiety, and my relationship with Brandon had a wedge driven into it. So I thought, why don’t I try and focus on the positives? Good stuff HAD to have happened this year. How the hell did I get through it if it didn’t?

  1. I left an emotionally abusive relationship where I was treated as less than a person, repeatedly reminded my hard work was worth nothing, lied to and gaslit afterward, and finally screamed at when I attempted to change the situation to something positive and quasi-functional.
  2. I started a part-time temp job with an agency in July, and the company took me on as a permanent part-time employee in November. It’s a small company, and the people are nice. They understand that the majority of my time is focused on Variant Edition, and I work hard and am present the two days of the week I am in the office.
  3. I paid off my student loans back in July. I had been paying them off for nearly 8 years, and they had become an expense I felt was going to be a part of my life forever. Even though I was making very little money the last couple years, it felt really good to take control of one thing in my life and I guess detach myself from at least one financial stress.
  4. I’ve begun to take the occasional day off from the store. It’s a steep learning curve, but I’m trying to ease back into taking some time for myself.
  5. I see friends more often. Money still holds me back from a lot of hangouts, but a lot of people understand I’m working with a really tight budget right now.
  6. I saw the goddess Beyoncé in concert! Even though the weather was horrid, it was still quite the experience. I’ll remember it fondly forever.

When the world feels like it’s falling apart, there’s not always an incentive to pull up my bootstraps and keep going. I hope 2017 is better for me. I say that every year, but I think we all do that. I may not have positivity, but I will try to have hope. Oddly, those two things are quite different for me.

In 2017, I will find some hope.

Minimalism is a Privilege

I’m usually a big cheerleader of minimalism. But what if it’s the only realistic option?

Brandon and I have been paring down, spending less, and trying to minimize every part of our lives over the last few years. Although I still believe I can always get rid of more Stuff, I’ve hit the point where I have to stop. For now, anyway. Even though I have completed my student loan payments(more on that later in this post!), because I’m making very little income, it’s hard to truly appreciate the moment. I’ve started to wonder if I need to start selling things to continue experiencing my current lifestyle. Let me tell you, that lifestyle consists of having an apartment and occasionally buying bus tickets for temp work – I’m not extravagant, even when I can afford it. I’m understandably a bit concerned about my future, but mostly worried about when the hell I can get my hair cut again. Serves me right for getting an asymmetrical cut that I need to get trimmed once a month(I love it, but probably should have waited until my income was more stable).

Think about all the minimalism tips out there. Think about all the ways to “save” money. Go thrifting instead of buying new – yes, but you’re still shopping and spending money. I generally hit up the Goodwill once every season, but only if I need something specific. The Latte Factor only works if you are already spending $5 a day. That would be a luxury for me right now, and I find it wasteful even when I do have that extra cash(it’s…been a while since I’ve had extra cash). Clothing swaps are the best and, in my opinion, the most fun way to find clothes – but it’s a gamble if your friends aren’t all the same size(which isn’t realistic to most friend groups anyway).

While my current minimalism may be somewhat “enforced”, it’s not the end of the world. Even if I feel like I’m struggling, I know I’m not alone. Brandon and I are going through some tough times right now, but we’re going to make it to the other side together. Things will even out, mainly because I believe they have to, after all the drama we’ve been put through. (Seriously 2016, why are you so awful for everyone?)

My financial goals are small. I’d like to be making enough income to start saving again. Literally any amount would be acceptable – even $5 a month. I’d like to have a bit of money socked away by October, so Brandon and I can take 2 or 3 days off for our anniversary. A vacation isn’t realistic until next year(fingers crossed we have the time and money for a whole week off), so I’m keeping my expectations low. I’ll say I’m going to pay off my credit card by the end of the year, but I’ve been putting more money on it lately, so I will simply see how close to $0 I can get. Next year, I’d like to be able to pay it off every month. But we’ll get see what the next 6 months bring us, yeah?

***

Now for some good news! I PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOAN!!!


I want to thank everyone who left comments here, on Twitter, and Facebook. Writing about this kept me motivated, and I kept it a priority because of you. While I am not left with a lot of money now, it’s been a huge relief to get that debt off my proverbial plate.
Here’s hoping July and the last half of 2016 is better for all of us – financially and emotionally.

The Long Road

I’ve known I needed to get back into therapy for nearly two years now. This was at the same time as I was opening a business. I’ve been funnelling all of my money, time, energy, and mental bandwidth into the shop – with great results. Unfortunately, I have less and less to give. A big reason I’m working temporary contracts is the ability to save some money. Eventually, I’d like to have enough to start spending on myself again. And while nail polish is fun to purchase sometimes, I’m aiming for something that truly relaxes and reinvigorates me. I don’t mean to diminish anyone. If nail polish is your self-care, you do you. When I have time to sit down, and the world doesn’t feel too hopeless, painting my nails is one of my top choices for making myself feel a bit better.

I’ve tried a few different things that people seem to respond to during self-care, but so far, nothing works better than a few hours of Netflix and not thinking about my problems. Which I’m pretty sure is more avoidance, rather than taking care of the problem(whatever it may be that day). Whatever, I’m a long way from getting proper recovery, and this is what I can afford and have time for at the moment.

Pretty sure I worried some of you in my previous post. I’ve been dealing with depression all my life – you think I’d be able to handle it by now – and This Too Shall Pass. There are some things in my life I can’t control, and I’ve improved at not focusing solely on those factors and scenarios. Doesn’t mean the stress and horror of life doesn’t paralyze me occasionally, but I’m getting better at concentrating on that tiny little light at the end of the tunnel.

Yes, I desperately need someone to talk to, but we are all going through something right now, and my patchwork explanations must be focused at one person as soon as they comfortably can be. I’m going to try my best to write sometimes, and hopefully, the whole story can come out at some point(if you want to hear it).

Hey, remember when I used to write about organization and decluttering? That was fun.

Anyway, please leave your preferred type of self-care in the comments below. I’m curious what everyone does to get through the day.

Going Through The Motions

So….

I’m averaging a post once every two weeks or so, and that’s pretty much all I can give you right now. My depression and anxiety have kicked into high gear, and I’m going through way too much to properly deal with. This will not be a post about getting better, faking it til I make it, or any other mental health bullshit that I simply cannot handle at this time. All positivity has left the building.

Not sure what’s worse. All the triggers I’ve discovered lately, or the fact that a lot of days, I don’t want to get out of bed. I have created Store Danica for this purpose. She is functional, cheerful, and everything is Great! She is how I get by. If you’ve been in the store, that’s who you get. Not sure if I should keep her a secret, but since my face doesn’t hide emotions well, I’m pretty sure a lot of you know something’s been going on. Currently, I have no ways of coping with any of my mental issues, so a lot of Netflix is being watched. Reading is tough for me. I can’t concentrate, and I end of skimming most things – which means less enjoyment. I used to be able to immerse myself in stories. I could imagine a tiny movie in my head while I read. Now, the images are scattered and few. I’ve lost so much.

In addition to all this, my imposter syndrome strikes daily, and of course my problems aren’t important. Of course others have it worse, and what even are you complaining about, you stupid girl? You’re a bit sad. You’re not dying. You’re not being shot. Everyone else deserves self-care, a healthy body image, and fun. You, who are unworthy of relaxation and joy, must suffer through your days. I am trying SO hard to find that tiny light of goodness – you know, the one at the end of the tunnel that isn’t a train?

Pretty sure it’s worse now I have a support network of kind and caring women – that I am totally ignoring because they can’t know the real me. If I haven’t called or tweeted you in a while, it’s because I’m horrid and push away everyone good in my life when the depression hits. Even my goddamn cats. I say terrible things to them, and have a short fuse even when I’m home. I love my cats more than anything in this ugly, violent world, but that’s apparently not enough to be kind to them.

I have no more kindness to give, friends. I cannot bothered with your life problems because I am too busy not dealing with my own. I’d say I’m sorry, but I really don’t have the energy. My brain is full of depression, anxiety, thinking about how to make the store better, trying to get to sleep before midnight, loneliness, sadness, and trying to occasionally be a useful human adult person. It’s not going well.