2018: Winter Favorites

From January through March, I’ve been enjoying some incredible books, films, music, shows, and more. Here are some of my favorites:

Books:

  • Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson
    The story of the third-eldest Kennedy child, Rosemary, is heartbreaking. If you don’t already know—it’s history, so there’s no “spoilers” here—she was intellectually disabled and struggled progressing passed a certain age in school. She frequently suffered from “fits” both of anger, frustration, and sometimes seizures. The family—or I should say, the father of the Kennedys, Joe Sr.—had her lobotomized at the age of 23. I don’t normally read non-fiction but I’m endlessly fascinated by the Kennedy family and couldn’t resist. Rosemary—and the thousands like her who suffered with similar issues and underwent the horrific procedure—deserved so much better.
  • Rooms by Lauren Oliver
    I bought Rooms because of the cover, I will admit. It’s incredible. And although I was initially intrigued when I first read the back cover, by the time I started reading it, I’d forgotten what it was about except for the fact that ghosts were involved. I wasn’t expecting to like the book as much as I did. It’s brilliantly written, expertly paced, and bounces between such interesting, unexpected perspectives that I was blown away by. It didn’t take me long to read—and as a slow reader, that’s a high compliment. The more I read, the more I didn’t want to put it down.
  • Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
    Again, I bought this book because of the cover more than the book. I’d picked it up while on vacation at a tiny little bookshop in a tiny little town. The idea of a young girl being told that the world and everyone around her was gone, dead, and that only her and her father were left only to discover that it had been a lie was such a great premise. This book is incredibly written and tough to read because you know that, somewhere out there, it’s happened to a young girl for real.
  • Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman
    I’ve recently been getting into comics/graphic novels. But superheroes haven’t really been on my radar—my favorites are The Walking Dead, Saga, and East of West—even though I love superheroes, and you’d think that I would’ve loved them as a kid. But I was more into the television shows/films about them rather than comics. I was given an e-book of Marvel 1602 for free with a purchase—I had my choice of any Marvel comic, and this one, written by Neil Gaiman and set in the Elizabethan era was a no-brainer. I wasn’t expecting to love it and I didn’t even know what it was about until I started reading. Imagine the Marvel heroes—the X-Men, Spider Man, the Fantastic Four, etc.—being born too soon. It’s great and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequels.

Films:

  • Lady Macbeth
    I’ve been excited to see this film for almost an entire year after I watched the trailer—which I enjoyed almost as much as a I did the film itself, maybe more—and I bought it on DVD as soon as I could. It’s such a visually appealing film that anything else about it didn’t matter. Every shot looked impeccable, every frame like a painting. Florence Pugh delivers such an incredible performance. It’s dark, it’s brilliant. I loved every minute of it, even the parts I was horrified by.
  • Lady Bird
    Yeah, yeah—I get it. You know this is a great film. It was nominated for several Oscars. I just have to gush about it because writer/director Greta Gerwig is one of my favorites, one of my idols. She’s amazing and Frances Ha, which she starred in and co-wrote is one of my favorite films of all time. Saoirse Ronan is another favorite that gives one of my favorite performances of all time; same for Laurie Metcalf. This movie is a favorite for life. It’s nearly perfect.
  • Get Out
    I don’t think I’ve ever watched a thriller film that is quite as unique as this—not even as a horror film, just as a film in general. It’s brilliant. Jordan Peele deserved every accolade for it. The performances were great—like Daniel Kaluuya is top notch, Betty Gabriel gave one of the most memorable supporting performances ever and she should have been nominated for something, and Allison Williams killed it.
  • The Skeleton Twins
    I love Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. I never expected to see them in such a dramatic film, especially one as dark as this, and be so incredible. It does, of course, have very funny moments, but ultimately it’s a dark story about two suicidal twins coming together again after ten years of not speaking. It’s really great.

Music:

  • ‘Til It’s Over by Anderson Paak
    I’ve been obsessed with the iHome commercial directed by Spike Jonze and starring FKA Twigs with this song in it. It’s the coolest commercial I’ve ever seen and the song is amazing.
  • Simply the Best by Noah Reid (from Schitt’s Creek)
    This cover of Tina Turner’s song by one of the characters on the show Schitt’s Creek is so so so good. The moment in the episode is so good. I just love it.
  • Make Me Feel by Janelle Monae
    This song is my jam. It is my morning routine song. It is my afternoon pick-me-up. It is the moon, the sun, the stars. Janelle Monae is perfection. The video is bomb. I love it.
  • More by Photocomfort
    A long time ago, I found a band called Photocomfort and downloaded their free EP on Bandcamp. Those songs were super inspirational for me for a long time but I never could find any more about the band and sort of forgot about them—other than listening to the songs I’d already had—and recently, I found them again. The song More is such a different sound from their first EP but I love it.
  • Mystery of Love and Death with Dignity by Sufjan Stevens
    Thanks to Call Me By Your Name and Busy Philipps’ Instagram, I’m in love with Sufjan Stevens and I love these songs in particular. So soothing and beautiful and gentle. Absolutely in love.
  • Mockingbirds by Grant Lee Buffalo
    If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan like I, you’ve heard the town troubadour, played by the lead singer of the band. He plays this song during the Firelight Festival in one of my favorite scenes of the first season.
  • Sober by Lorde
    I’ve been listening to a lot of Lorde lately, her new album Melodrama (okay, not so new, but I’m late, as always) is fantastic. Sober is my favorite song on it.
  • Every Other Freckle by alt-j
    I had alt-j’s album This Is All Yours on my iTunes wishlist after it was recommended to for a long time without ever listening. I’m glad I eventually did. This song in particular is my favorite. It’s awesome.
  • Losing All Sense by Grizzly Bear
    The song is great and I especially love the lyrics here:

“Could I ask of you not to cut into me
Dividing all of my body for me
I was left here to go through all the pieces
Nothing more to spare.”

Television:

  • The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
    This show is not perfect. I would’ve changed a million things about it—telling the story in reverse order was unnecessary; if you’re going to have Gianni Versace in the title, it should probably include him more in the story or at least just call it something else if they didn’t want Andrew Cunanan’s name glorified—but ultimately, it’s really great. Darren Criss is such an incredible actor and I think they told an incredible, if not flawed, story.
  • Queer Eye
    The reboot of Queer Eye is incredible and I cried every episode and I love the new crew and I just want more. There are so many touching moments, hilarious moments, important moments. It’s just such a great show.
  • The Good Place
    Let me tell you, I slept on this show like you wouldn’t believe. I was like “Oh that looks funny” then never checked it out. Never bothered. And then I heard just how good it was, so I decided to give it a shot. I’m almost glad that I never watched from the beginning, because binging it through both seasons was necessary. I almost wish I would’ve waited for the third to already be out because this! show! does! not! mess! around! It’s funny, it’s brilliant, it goes in directions that I never EVER would have thought. It’s wild. It’s fun. I love it.
  • Schitt’s Creek
    I casually watched this show for the first three seasons, seeing one or two episodes but never fully committing for no reason other than forgetting it was on. But now I’ve fully invested myself and have watched all of season four every night it airs. I can’t get enough of this show. It’s got such a subtle comedic timing and pacing that isn’t like other comedies. One of the best.
  • The End of the F***ing World
    This Netflix show is wild. It’s dark and messed up and funny. It’s a weird little show about two messed up teenagers who runaway from home. I loved it and I hope this isn’t just the mini-series it’s been planned to be. I’d love more of it.

Other:

  • Skillshare
    I was given a code to get two months of Skillshare classes for 99 cents. It was well worth the dollar. There are so many classes available for any kind of topic you could want. I’ve done some illustration and design classes, even a few that helped with my getting started with freelancing. It’s a great resource, though I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with it once my two months are up. It’s a bit pricier than I would want to commit to. But it’s something I’ll definitely think about.
  • Diet Coke Feisty Cherry
    Y’all, I’ve been trying to cut down on sugar and I know Diet Coke has terrible things in it and I shouldn’t drink it. I used to hate Diet Coke and only drank regular Coke. I’m a big fan. But when I heard about the new Diet Cokes with new flavors, I was sold. There are four flavors and they are: Twisted Mango (not bad, my second favorite), Ginger Lime (tasted like regular Diet Coke to me, maybe a bit of something extra, but for the most part it was just fine), and Zesty Blood Orange (which is the worst and it tastes like orange Emergen-C). The best one is Feisty Cherry and I’ve been drinking it a lot. It has the sweet cherry flavor of Cherry Coke with a bite of peppery goodness in the after-taste. It’s quite nice.
  • Adam Rippon & the entire 2018 Winter Olympics
    I love the Olympics. Every Olympics since I was a kid, my mom and I would watch everything we could. I especially love the Summer Olympics, but this year, I got really into the Winter Olympics. Figure skating, curling, skiing, speed skating! It was such a fun time and honestly, the best thing to come out of it is Adam Rippon has emerged into the spotlight as America’s gay sweetheart and he’s the best. He’s hilarious and every interview with him is gold.

It’s been a long, cold, depressing winter and I’m ready for spring! I’m glad I had these favorites of mine to get me through. It’s snowing right now, in April, but I’m hoping for some sun soon. I need it.

✌🏼

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Health + Fitness: Attempting the Whole30

So some of my goals for the year include being more healthy. I want to be more active, exercise more regularly, eat healthily, lose weight, and ultimately just feel better. Also, fitting into some of the clothes in my closet that don’t quite fit currently would be nice.

There are several things that I’ve done to start off 2018 in the right direction. First, my monthly focus for January was for Health and Fitness. So, I started going on the treadmill everyday and attempted (along with my mother, who also wanted to try it) to do the Whole30.

If you don’t know what the Whole30 is, I suggest doing a Google search about it for the full low down. It’s a very popular…diet? I don’t know if I would call it a diet. It’s more of a…reset. Essentially, there’s a long list of foods that you can’t eat or drink for 30 days straight, no cheats. The foods basically include: all grains, gluten, soy, dairy, legumes, alcohol, and sugar. There’s some more and the details of each category are specific (not only can you not have sugar, you can’t have any sweet substitutes, including honey or agave nectar.) The purpose, from what I’ve gathered, is once the 30 days are over, you’re to start reintroducing these foods slowly to see how they effect you.

So, we decided to start it on January 2nd and do it for the 30 days until January was over. It’s incredibly hard and unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish it the first time we tried. Our dog died on the 9th of January and it was a Rough Time and we cheated—wine and chocolate, obvs.

It was necessary.

After, we decided to keep going pretty much with it—I definitely cheated more than my mother did—and decided to start over after the Super Bowl (our biggest day for food of the year other than Thanksgiving, so I was NOT going to skip it.) So on February 6th, we started over and only made it 10 days.

I decided to quit because on Day 16 (the day I actually quit) I’d realized that for six days, I’d been drinking almond milk that had sugar in it. I hadn’t been before, but I accidentally bought the wrong kind and didn’t notice—no wonder that iced coffee I made tasted so good! I’ll be honest, the thought of doing starting over that day when I was at the halfway point made me want to die. I actually started to cry.

The thing is, the Whole30 is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The first time we attempted in January, I had a headache for the first three days because of the lack of sugar—yikes, obviously I was addicted and didn’t realize. And I love the idea of the benefits from doing the Whole30. Energy! Weight loss! No inflammation! It seemed like a miracle!

And for those days that I was doing it…I felt none of those things. Which is normal! You’re not supposed to until like after Day 15. But for me, it’s not worth it. It may be amazing for people! I’ve heard and read and watched people on Instagram who love it. And that’s great for them. But for me, not being able to have things that I enjoy—whether good or bad; I mean obviously I love Coke which is terrible for me, but I also love peanuts and beans and things that are good for me!

30 days is too damn long not to have something joyful in my life. Life is too short.

Because those 16 days that I’d done (six not technically counting because of the almond milk, but for me they felt like they were still counting) felt like an eternity.

There was another drawback for me: my mental health. I have a troubled relationship with food and the Whole30 wasn’t good for me. My whole life, with my struggles with anxiety and depression, food was my go-to for healing myself and feeling better. It caused me to gain a lot of weight at a young age and I’ve been dealing with my weight and over-eating for 15 years. While doing the Whole30, I wasn’t able to have any of the food that gave me comfort. And even though I’ve overcome depression, for the most part, I haven’t with my anxiety. And my anxiety was through the roof during those days on the Whole30. I was irritable and miserable and overall unhappy. It certainly didn’t help the first month with my dog dying, but even the second time around when I was doing better with grieving, my anxiety was worse than ever.

There were some positives, though! I lost ten pounds in the first ten days and I lost a total of 17 pounds since the beginning of the year. That’s partly because I’ve been going on the treadmill almost every day (walking, not running—it burns off more fat and doesn’t hurt your joints). But that has a lot to do with me eating (mostly) compliant to the Whole30 since January 2nd. I mean, it’s mostly vegetables and meat. Super healthy. And, because I did the Whole30, I realized how intricately entwined my eating habits and my mental health are—something that I now know I have to closely watch and be more aware of.

Overall, the Whole30 life just isn’t for me. I know of people who do it often, taking a few days or a few weeks off and then doing it all over again, and that’s great! I just can’t be one of those people.

I do have a plan moving forward, however. My next monthly focus for Health and Fitness is in June, but until then, I want to start doing mini-Whole30s. My mother and I agreed that we overall like the concept of the types of food you can eat on the Whole30, but aren’t too keen on the timeframe and certain restrictions.

We’ve decided to modify it to include legumes, corn, rice, and beans, but leave everything else the same. I’m also considering a few sugar substitutes or some things with sugar, because I’ve missed coffee—I can’t drink it black. And we’ve decided that instead of 30 days, we’d do it for 10 days and have a “cheat” day or two, then do 10 more days. I think a lot of it for me was the length—and I know that’s the purpose of it! But the idea of only 10 days is definitely going to help me stick to it without going crazy. We’re not even calling this the Whole30, we’re just committed to eating healthier more often.

Hopefully, with our new program that we made up with the Whole30 as a base, we’ll be able to become healthier, lose weight, and maybe even feel better overall.

Reading Preferences: Format, Structure, + Length

I’ve been a reader for a long time—not as long as most readers I know (I wasn’t the child who stayed up all night reading, who devoured the Harry Potter books; I didn’t even really start reading heavily until I was twelve or thirteen, funnily enough far after I started writing) but I’ve considered myself to be a “reader” for a while. And though I’m a slower reader and haven’t read a ridiculous number of books, of them that I’ve enjoyed, I’ve come to notice a pattern.

I have a lot of personal preferences with books, ranging from genre to length (I love fantasy/sci-fi which tend to be long, but I prefer shorter reads). But what I’ve noticed recently is that the books I tend to enjoy reading more, the books I’m able to read quicker, and the books I “just can’t put down” are all similar in a few aspects.

One: Shorter, quicker reads.

I love me a long, dense fantasy book that keeps me in the story for a long period of time—especially a series. It helps with being totally immersed in the world, keeping my brain within that space even when I’m not reading. I tend to take a few weeks to even months reading a 500+ page fantasy. And while I love them, especially because it’s my favorite genre, I have started to realize that shorter books are more enjoyable to me. The accomplishment of reading a book in a shorter amount of time, being able to read more stories in a year by fitting two or three books in the time it would take me to read one, is way more appealing to me.

Two: Length of chapters and structure.

On the note of length, the most important element of a book that I prefer is shorter chapter lengths. There’s nothing worse for me than picking up a book to find it having 20-30 page long chapters. There’s nothing more soul-crushing. I’ve mentioned that I’m a slow reader, which isn’t technically true. I’m a fairly average reader when it comes to speed. I tend to read in shorter, infrequent bursts, so it takes me longer to read a book, not that it takes me longer than a minute per page or anything. So when I’m reading a book with long chapters, it’s difficult to a) read more than one chapter and b) find a place to pause. With short chapters, I could read two or three in one sitting no problem. In fact, I’m more likely to say “just one more chapter, it’s another short one” so I end up reading even more pages than with the long chapter books. It seems silly but it’s true! Long chapters with many page breaks/scenes are even better than one long chapter. And it’s not just about time with reading, it’s the pacing that makes the book more enjoyable. Shorter chapters tend to have a quicker pace, they tend to make me want to keep reading longer and I end up finishing much quicker.

Another aspect that is similar to chapter length, is a book broken up into parts. If a book as three to seven parts, I’m hooked. It’s another marker, a goal that I can keep reading to. “Just one more chapter” or “I’m almost done with part two, I might as well read the last two chapters.” The most structured and broken up the book is, the better. There’s nothing worse for me than having to trudge through a 400 page book with only twelve chapters, even if I like the story and end up loving the book.

Three: Format.

The format of what I’m reading is another, though less important, preference for me. I read printed books much more often than I read ebooks. However, I noticed that I read faster on my Kindle reading an ebook than I do a printed book. I don’t know the specifics of it, because I don’t read ebooks often, I just know that I read slightly faster. Maybe the screen? The ease of the buttons? No page numbers? I’m not sure. With printed books, however, I prefer paperback. With hardcover, I take the jacket off so it doesn’t get damaged and keep it in a drawer. There’s something about paperbacks, being able to see the cover throughout the reading process, that keeps me engaged more. It’s strange, but it does. I often buy books because of their covers, or buy certain editions because I love the cover, so to be able to see that and be reminded constantly makes me want to read it more often. There’s also something to be said about the comfortability of a paperback in the hands, or even just one hand, and it’s softer when holding.

The most important one for me, though, is chapter length. It’s such a part of my reading preference that I’ve adopted it into my own writing—I never write long, endlessly long chapters. They tend to meander and slow the pacing of the story. I prefer writing short, concise chapters that keeps the plot moving.

 

Most of these preferences aren’t really anything I look into when buying or going to read a book—I always start with the cover and whether or not it interests me, then I read the back of the book. I rarely won’t choose a book because of the above preferences, but they are a factor to whether or not I like a book or not—honestly, the process of reading and the enjoyment I get from doing it definitely alters my perception of the story. The time it takes me to read it, whether I’m comfortable—it all matters.

2018: New Year | New Goals

Well. 2017 was a YEAR. I’m not thrilled with the goals I accomplished last year. And it’s not that I didn’t focus or work hard enough for them, I realized I just set my goals too high and wasn’t able to reach them. So. This year, I’m doing things differently and I think I’m going to like it much better.

First thing, I’m setting my goals smaller. Because I have so many different categories of goals, I need to think smaller. Quality, not quantity—which is actually one of my new plans for this blog. Instead of once (ish) a week, I’m going to post once every two weeks. Focus on quality, not quantity.

Second, like last year—though I started this almost a third into 2017—I’ll be focusing on one goal more than the others each month. It’ll be my Monthly Focus that I prioritize over the rest.

Here are my goals for 2018:

Design & Illustration

Last year, I had lofty goals that I just wasn’t ready to accomplish. This year, I’m scaling back a bit but have more of a clear, solid plan in place for this year. I wanted to sketch daily, have a full illustration done a week. I just wasn’t going to achieve that. I also had wanted to start freelancing design work and open my online shop with things I designed, but just couldn’t start that up last year. This year, I’m going to do:

  • sketch 2-3 times a week
  • 2 full-color illustrations a month
  • start freelance work
  • open online shop


Writing

My writing goals last year changed so much last year because of a lot of issues (I wrote about them here) and really fell behind. But, fortunately, I redirected and reset my goals and achieved a lot. However, I’d love to go forward this year with more:

  • write 2 short stories
  • finish first draft of Book E
  • finish the draft from NaNoWriMo 2017 (very close to done)
  • complete NaNoWriMo 2018 (and outline in October)

Film

I wrote my second (first completed) short film last year and was so incredibly proud of it. I want to work on more film projects, but just couldn’t do it last year like I’d wanted. And, I’d wanted to see a lot more (new to me) films in the theater and at home. I saw none in the theater and only 21 at home. So, this year, I’m working a little harder on less projects:

  • watch 25 total (in theaters or not) films
  • film 1 experimental short film/video project
  • write a first draft of a feature-length film

Reading

This one is what I’m most upset about. I’ve consistently only been able to read around 20-25 books in a year. I’m not happy about it. I always set my goal to 50 or even just 30 and I never reach it. So, this year, I’m going to do three things: embrace that number, read less fantasy (which takes me longer to read because it’s so long), choose more short books, and, most importantly, stop trying to read the books I’ve had on my list for years that I never get around to. I keep rolling over the books I don’t get to and I’m way less excited to read them because of it. There are other books that have piqued my interest since and I’m tired of not getting to those. So, I’m doing this:

  • read 25 books
  • read less fantasy
  • read shorter books
  • abandon old reading lists

Exercise

Last year, I did fairly well with exercise and health, but I could’ve done better. This year, I’m going to really work at it and set my goals lower. With my monthly focuses, I’m starting off January by doing the Whole30 and walking every day. I’ll slow down for months I’m not focusing on it, but I really like my plan this year.

  • be more active, walk or bike
  • stick to work-out schedule better
  • do the Whole30 at least once
  • go to bed earlier/wake up earlier

Monthly Focus

I’m still working out which month I want to work on what, and I know there will be repeats, several months for writing or reading, but I just have the first six months set. Also, I don’t have anything with design involved with the monthly focuses because, well, it’s kind of my job so I need to focus on it all the time. These are just the side activities.

Jan: Health + Fitness (Whole30 + walking every day)
Feb: Writing (finish NaNo ’17 + short story + work on draft of Book E)
Mar: Reading (at least four or five books in the month)
Apr: Illustration (two or three full illustrations + daily sketching)
May: Writing (feature film)
Jun: Health + Fitness (Whole30??? + walking every day)

I’m very excited about the upcoming year. I have good feelings about it. Here’s to 2018!

2017 Goals: End of Year Wrap-Up

2017 was A Year and a Half™ and I’m glad it’s over, honestly. It was stressful on many levels and my lofty goals didn’t help. But, here we are, ready for the next year to start and glad this one is over.

Design & Illustration

So this entire past year, I’ve been struggling to work out what I want to do with my design career. I’ve known what I want to do, just haven’t yet been able to accomplish them. Though, the last month or two has been more productive. I’ve been redesigning book covers to put up on my upcoming portfolio—I posted about this here—to start doing freelance work and soon, I want to start designing and printing products to sell online (prints, screen printing on totes, cards, etc.) and do more illustration. That’s the goal for next year, and I’ve started putting the pieces together for that. Now, with illustration, while I started out the year fairy well with illustrating and sketching, I’ve fallen off a bit. But, I now know that trying to create a full color illustration once a week and daily sketching isn’t feasible for me right now. So I’ll be continuing on next year, just at a slower pace to keep working on my illustrating skills (I’m excited to start using the new art supplies I received this Christmas!) and updating here. I also worked a bit on hand-lettering, which went okay, but I definitely need to work more on my skills there.

Month of hand-lettering practice: CHECK.
Daily sketches: not daily, barely reached mid-year.
Full color illustrations: 13-14 finished out of 54.

Writing

This has been the most up and down goal of mine this year. I struggled this summer—and posted about that here—and have recently reconciled with my love of writing. I finished the first draft of the novel I started in NaNoWriMo 2016 and completed the NaNoWriMo 2017 challenge of 50,000 words (haven’t finished the draft yet, planning on finishing the last few thousand words in January)! I’ve been working periodically on Book E and have taken December off from writing, just to help focus a bit—I don’t think I would’ve had time anyway, it was a busy month!

Finish NaNoWriMo 2016: CHECK.
NaNoWriMo 2017: CHECK.
First draft of Book E: SORT OF.

Reading

I’m done with trying to read more than 25 books. I didn’t even reach my back up goal of 25. I’ve read 22 books this year and I’m fine with it. I’m honestly tired of being stressed out. Next year, I’m going to set my goal to 25 and read shorter books and just do my best. Maybe someday I’ll be able to get to 50. Or even the 35 I set this year. But all the books I read, I loved—well, most of them—and here they are:

 

Read 35 books: 22. MEH.

Film: Import / Export

I’ve watched 21 new-to-me films this year. None in the theater. I wanted to have reached 25 total, but that’s okay. I’m fine with what I’ve achieved for now. I now know that I just have to stop having such lofty goals. I wrote my short film, Anya, and honestly I’m thrilled with that alone. I didn’t do any other film or video projects like I’d planned, but I’m good with that. I have plans for the future, it’s just not anything I need to focus on right now.

Exercise

I haven’t done that well with exercising. I did really well between February and July, I even lost some weight and felt great. Then, I sort of fell off the wagon. I’ve been able to keep up with my diet fairly well, so I’ve been able to maintain the weight I’ve lost for the most part—the holidays haven’t helped with that—but in January I’m going to try doing the Whole30 and I have a new exercise plan, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with it in the new year.

Instagram

I completed the challenge of posting once a day all year! It sucked. I’m never doing it again. It was mostly fun but stressful, too. I hated doing it. Though, towards the end, I started to enjoy it more with the holidays and being busy and having more things to post about, but those lulls where I did nothing for a week or two but work, I struggled getting enough photos to post. Overall, I don’t regret it. I think the quality of my posts have gone up since before this year, so that’s something. But there’s definitely some posts this past year that I don’t really like, so I’m glad I’m now able to curate my posts better and post just the photos that are top notch.

365 Posts on Instagram: CHECK.

So, that’s my 2017. Goals accomplished, goals failed. One year, hopefully next, I’ll learn to not have such lofty goals and actually be able to accomplish them. Here’s to 2018! Happy New Year!

2017 Favorites: December

It’s the final month of 2017! December is always a busy month with the holidays but I still have a few favorite things to recommend. Here they are:

Ocean’s 8 trailer

So the trailer for the new Ocean’s 8 movie came out—it’s a sequel spin-off of the original trilogy with George Clooney (which I love) but now with an all female cast. I’m so excited for this movie because 1) the cast is insane and I love all of them and 2) it looks amazing. As soon as I heard about it, I was in, so after seeing the trailer, I’m all in. Have to see it. I’ve watched the trailer like ten times already.

Grizzly Bear – Losing All Sense

Recently heard about the band Grizzly Bear (even though I’ve technically heard their stuff before and just never realized until later; I even had a song in my iTunes library that I loved but never got around to checking out the rest of their stuff) and fell in love with the song Losing All Sense. It’s just a great song. Trust. Listen to it.

Tsuro

For Christmas this year, I received a lot of great things, but my favorite has to be the board game Tsuro. I’ve been into games lately and I’m obsessed with this one already. It’s a game of tile with many winding, connecting paths that you lay down on your turn to get your game piece moving around without running off the edge of the board or running into another player’s piece (a dragon); the object of the game is to be the last one remaining. It’s real fun but oddly relaxing, like it’s such a calm and simple game that it’s really easy to just sit back and play a couple—though there can be a few intense moments during gameplay, like when you’re too close to the edge or another player uses a tile that effects your dragon and you have to go down a path that might lead you to the edge. It’s literally my favorite game right now.

Baron Fig

So I recently purchased a new notebook from Baron Fig and I love it. I got the Confidant, medium size, with the dot grid to use as my new bullet journal for 2018! It’s such a well-made notebook, it came in a fancy box, it’s the perfect notebook for me. It’s exactly what I was looking for to be my next bullet journal in the new year. I also bought the dot grid sticky notes that are so handy and so aesthetically pleasing on my desk rather than the brightly colored, blank ones I’m used to having.

So those are my favorites of December! And that’s the last monthly favorites post I’m going to make! I’ve decided that in the new year, I’m going to be posting a lot differently, so it’ll be a favorites/recommendation post every three months or so…that means nothing if you don’t follow this blog and read regularly, which is very few of you—HA! Anyway, that’s the plan.

2017 Favorites: November

November was a VERY busy month because of NaNoWriMo and the beginning of the holiday season. I honestly didn’t think I was able to enjoy anything new this past month because of lack of time to do anything but write write write. But as I looked back, there were a few new things that I could talk about!

NaNoWriMo

This was my second year fully participating in NaNoWriMo (I tried a long time ago once, around 2010, but didn’t have the right novel to work on and I felt overwhelmed, so quit a few days in) and I won! With this being my second time completing the challenge, I can honestly say that it is very difficult but very fun — I think I would probably be able to do it again with even more ease than that last. I could definitely finish it early, because there were plenty of time, I just used that time unwisely a lot of the time. If I worked harder on it, I know I could complete it in an even better time.

Carly Rae Jepsen

So everyone knows who Carly Rae Jepsen is because of her song Call Me Maybe and mostly everyone but me knew how great her second album was. It’s an incredible album and the song Run Away with Me has been on repeat all month. She’s really become an incredible pop artist and I love her music.

Larabar bars

These are not delicious bars. I will be honest. But they are good and good for you. They have almost nothing else in them but three to six ingredients, mostly dates. There’s no sugar in them, nothing bad for you. Just dates, nuts, and some have dark chocolate. They’re also super filling and great for when I’m starving, I often have one just in my bag for when I need it. I’ve been eating one almost every day at work all month.

La La Land

I never really cared to see La La Land, just because it didn’t look that interesting to me, but then it started getting some Oscar buzz and I considered it and then I was hearing the criticisms about it and thought, ah well. I can skip it. Then it was on TV and I really enjoyed it. Sure it’s not perfect, but it’s fun and well-acted and the songs were great. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would and would love to watch it again.

The Witch

This was actually meant to be in October’s favorites, but somehow slipped through. I completely forgot to add it last month. But anyway, the Witch is a thoroughly unnerving film about an excommunicated family in the 1600s dealing with an evil force while trying to live outside the village. It’s an incredible film, something unsettling and harrowing to watch. It’s the best horror film I’ve ever seen, so perfectly acted and directed that it felt like a documentary more than a fictional film. It’s amazing,

2017 Favorites: October

October is my favorite month of the year and it even became my favorite month of this year! I’ve been feeling great, being productive, loving the weather, getting back to my exercise and diet routine, and most importantly for this post, have been finding awesome things to enjoy.

Fitbit bands

Speaking of being healthy again, my Fitbit Alta band broke and for a few weeks, I had just put it in my pocket to count my steps. Sometime at the beginning of October, I ordered a set of six bands from a random brand on Amazon, hoping they’d fit (it was either $30 for a replacement or $12 for six off-brand replacements in different colors, so I went with the better deal) and I wasn’t disappointed. They fit perfectly, they came in six different colors and I even prefer the watch-style buckle to it rather than a snap. They’re really great and such a good deal.

Tabletop

Now, I’ve watched an episode of Tabletop hosted by Wil Wheaton on the Geek & Sundry channel on YouTube before—just one, the Cards Against Humanity episode a year or so ago—but I haven’t seen anymore than that until this month. And now I’ve binge watched more than two dozen episodes, have become obsessed with games again, and have bought two—The Resistance (have yet to play, you need five people and I never have that many people around???) and Sushi Go! (which I’ve now played several times and am obsessed with)—and I’ve put like a dozen games on my Christmas list for family members. I love the show, love games, love it all.

Sushi Go!

And one of those games, as I said, is Sushi Go! It’s the most adorable card game ever. You play like a sushi bar with a conveyer belt, passing your hand off to the person on your right, taking a new card to collect for points. It’s addicting and cute and I can’t even handle how much I love to play it. My sister and I played it for an hour literally yesterday and she’s now hooked. We’re playing again this weekend.

The Resistance

So, can I have a game I never played as a favorite? Because I am. I love this game. I’ve yet to play it, but I own it and as soon as I can wrangle four other people to play with me, I will play it and love it and revel in it. Because I’ve watched so many videos of people playing this game (shoutout to Tabletop again and JKParty on YouTube) and have become obsessed with The Resistance. It’s a game in which the entire group are but two (or more depending on the amount of players) people were actually given spy cards. Through a series of missions with failures and successes indicated by secret voting, either the red spies win or the blue loyal Resistance members will win—no one but the spies knows who each other are, so by bluffing and discussing, the players try to out the spies and choose only Resistance members to go on the missions. I’ve seriously never been more excited to play a game than I am with the Resistance.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

I’ve watched the Syfy show The Magicians since it aired last January and fell in love with it. It’s on my top ten favorite shows list, easily. It’s cool and fun and insane. But the book? Boy howdy, it’s ten times better. But in a different way. It’s Book Better where the show is TV Better. They are equal in goodness by their own category. Because really, they’re two different things and I’ve never seen an adaptation be so perfectly different that I enjoy both. It’s usually one or the other. (Possibly because I’ve seen the show before I read the books? Who knows?) Anyway, I wish I’d found this book while in high school (it had just been publish while I was there) because it would’ve become my favorite book. Easily, I know, this trilogy would’ve become what Fillory and Further is to Quentin in the books. I very much see myself in Quentin, which is a rarity for me. I’m not used to being able to so perfectly identify with a main character. I don’t just love this book, it’s my favorite book. It, for the first time in a long time, has taken the top spot on my list of favorite books. And it very well be one of the very few books that I reread over and over in my lifetime.

And those were my favorites of October!

Young Adult: Reading YA as an Adult

I’ve seen several times articles or thoughts about adults reading YA books. That doing so is weird, or that some read them because they’re “easier plots” or “simpler reads,” or for a bunch of other reasons, some positive, most negative. Reading YA when not a teen has a stigma attached to it, as if a True Adult shouldn’t stoop down to read such “childish things.” (This, I find ridiculous. I read just as many adult books as I read young adult books—there are plenty of “easier plots” or “simple reads” in the adult book range and plenty of complex plots and difficult reads in young adult.)

For me, there’s one major reason why I read young adult: I like it. Another reason is, I write a lot of young adult so I read a lot of young adult. But aside from those, there are two factors into why I still read young adult. The first being…there’s a lot of books out in the world. To be more specific, there’s a lot of young adult books out in the world.

By that I mean, I never, ever, ever, ever could have read every young adult that had ever been published in the seven years I was a teenager. Not even just the ones that interested me—I love fantasy and sci-fi and paranormal and dystopia and contemporary and most in between. And because as time goes on, there are just more of them. Sure, a few fall into the chasm of lost books that no one cares about anymore because NEW SHINY BOOKS arrive all the time, but for the most part, books stay on the shelf. Books are there forever once they’re out. The pile of young adult books to choose from just grows and grows. So every year, each new batch of teenagers has even more young adult books to choose from than the last had.

And with the boom of young adult in the last few decades, this is the case for me:

I’m not a fast reader. I own a lot of books. I own a lot of young adult books. And I still haven’t read them all. I likely won’t ever read them all (thought I’d like to at least read the ones I own). To attest to that point, I have a young adult trilogy that I’ve wanted to read since high school but haven’t gotten around to it yet. And it’s not because I don’t want to read that trilogy anymore. I’ll still read them once I’m in the mood, someday, I’m sure. It’s not because I lost interest in them over time so that now they sit on my shelves collecting dust—like so so so much dust, I seriously need to clean my shelves. The reason I haven’t read them is because…I just haven’t yet. Because there’s just so many books, y’all and I’m a slow reader. I always add to my TBR, young adult and adult and anything I find. There’s just more and more and more of them, all the time. So of course, I couldn’t have read them all while being a teen. So I continue reading those YA books I wanted to read then, now as an adult.

And a lot of those YA books I own, still unread? They’re the first fews books of a series that are still being published.

That’s the second factor. That’s the big one for me.

Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters books. Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass books. The Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson. Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle. All books that I started reading (or I now own but came out during the time) while I was between the ages of thirteen and nineteen and didn’t finish (or in many cases have yet to finish) until after my teenage years.

I’m now twenty-four. I started reading Cassandra Clare’s mega-series Shadowhunters when I was fifteen or sixteen (the optimal age for those books) and I’ll be thirty when the last trilogy starts being published (according to her estimated release dates she’s posted). THIRTY. I’ll be the age Cassandra Clare was when she started writing the books three years before City of Bones came out in 2007. THIRTY. And you bet, I’ll be reading them. Because I love that world, I like those books, and I want to see it to the end.

And look at Harry Potter. There are legions of adult fans who read them as children/teens and still reread them, still pass them down to other adult friends to read for themselves or to their kids. People started reading Harry Potter at different times in their lives, and the books came out over several years, so there were loads of people finally reading the last book at adult ages. I didn’t even read Harry Potter until I was in high school, years after Deathly Hallows had come out.

Also, when I like an author’s writing or world or whatever, I stick with them. I’ll read anything by my favorite author Victoria Schwab, whether she writes young adult or adult, until I die and I can’t read them or she dies and can’t write them. I started reading her books out of high school (when I had just turned twenty) and started with her young adult books, then with her adult books. But if I had been a teenager while first discovering her, nothing would have changed. I still would’ve continued to read whatever she put out while going into adulthood. I didn’t just think, “Oh, I’m an adult now, I need to stop reading those books even though I love them and love the author.” Because that’s ridiculous.

Seven years between thirteen and nineteen is not a lot of time to discover all the young adult books available. And to stop reading them just because you turn twenty would be silly. And that’s not even mentioning the people who started reading young adult books at the age of thirty or fifty and love them. All of it is great. Read what you want and read it without shame.

Maggie Stiefvater posted a great thread today on Twitter (which is the reason I started thinking about this topic today) that I like. I think there may be an even deeper reason to why adult adults (the people who started reading young adult at thirty or fifty) gravitate toward YA. This is an interesting take on the topic, I agree with it. But I think the vast majority (as you can see from even her poll at the start of the thread) are freshly adult adults. Her first books came out when those 18-24 years olds were young teens. The first Raven Cycle book came out when those 18-24 years olds were 13-19 (and her first YA books were published much earlier than that, which likely led people to the Raven Cycle books to begin with). They probably followed her as a writer and continued to read her books from teenhood to adulthood, as I think is most common, and is exactly as I did.

The point I’m trying to make is that there’s this weird “mystery” to why so many adults read young adult books and it’s really not that big of a mystery. Young people still read them after phasing into adulthood. It’s really as simple as that.

(I very well could be wrong. I don’t have any data to back me up. This is just an opinion post.)

2017 Goals: Checking In – 9 Months

It’s sort of hard to believe that 2017 is nearly over already. We’re at the point where autumn is starting, the holidays are coming soon, and before we know it – it’ll be 2018. A weird, weird thought.

With my goals, this third quarter of the year has been both great and terrible. I’ve been working on my goals much better by breaking them up by month, but saw them suffer a greatly in the months where they weren’t the focus. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a balance. Also, two thirds of this quarter was a part of one of the busiest summers of my life. I’ve a lot of catching up to do by the end of the year.

Design & Illustration

 

I’ve not been doing great in this category. Though I’ve been doing some freelance work, I haven’t been able to do what I want with design just yet. As for illustration, I’ve all but stopped doing every day sketching (which I miss and want to do more of again) and I haven’t done many full illustrations, either. I wanted to do one a week (or at least 50) but I haven’t done many more than the last check in. But it’s okay. I’m going to work harder and make more of an effort to reach my goals. And with having more time now that summer is over, it’ll be all okay.

Writing

 

I’ve been writing again! I explained in an entire post about my struggling relationship with writing this year and that lasted through August, but then in September, it came back to me. July was supposed to be for reading and writing, but it ended up for mostly reading. In September is where I had the most time to write in months and fell back in love with it. As a planned writing focus month, September had always been the month I planned to finish writing the first draft of the novel I started (and won with) during NaNoWriMo 2016. I conquered the challenge and wrote 50,000 words in a month, but the book was nowhere finished (about halfway) so I began the journey to finish it in September. And while I didn’t quite finish (still working on it into October with a few thousand words left to go), I wrote nearly every day for that month and it felt great. I think of all my goals and plans, I’m most proud of battling my relationship with writing and coming out the other end back in love. My plan for October is to finish that draft, write a few short stories, and outline for NaNoWriMo 2017, which will be all of November’s free time, and I’ll be taking a most needed writing break in December, just writing when I want with no real goal. I need to write without a plan, without a set target for just a minute. Then I’ll get back to goal setting in the new year.

Reading

 

I’m doing well with reading!!! As of right now, I’ve finished 18 books. That’s worlds away from the 5 I had read by the middle of the year. I lowered my goal to 30 on Goodreads but only because I didn’t want to think about too many books. I’m not worried about not reaching 30 but I am worried about not reaching 35. It may be like 32. So I just adjusted so I could quickly bump it to 35 if I get there. It makes sense in my head. October is another reading month and so is December, so I’m hopeful.

Film: Import

 

I’ve been watching films left and right this year, just none of them in a theater. I’m starting to think I should just forget about that goal. Actually, I am. Forget the five in theaters goal, I just want to see more films period. I can’t seem to get to the theater lately and that’s fine. Next year, I’m setting the goal to a total number and ditching the in theaters and at home distinction. I’ve watched 17 fils so far this year, so I’m only 3 away of my goal (and I literally have two new DVDs so that won’t be hard, plus I always get movies for Christmas and watch them between then and the new year, so I’ll definitely reach a total of at least 25 which is my total films watched goal. So that’s okay with me. I think I’m going to just have a total films number next year.

Film: Export

 

I haven’t made a single film projected. I started one, I started a new video, but lost interest. I started planning more, but lost interest. It’s just not my priority this year, and that’s okay too. I wrote Anya, my short film and that’s good enough for this year. Maybe in the next few months I’ll be inspired to do something else, but I know it won’t be anywhere close to three videos.

Exercise

 

I’ve been falling behind on this one. I’ve gained some weight back, I’ve been going for less walks, and stopped tracking everything with my Fitbit and MyFitnessPal app. But in September, I started to use Audible which helped me get back into going for my morning walks, listening to some audiobooks while in between podcast episodes (also bringing up my read books!) and that’s been great. In October, I’m planning to start a new diet plan and get back into it so I don’t lose control over the winter with the holidays, as I’ve done in the past.

Instagram

 

Still posting one picture for each day, still liking it. Thought, it’s becoming more and more difficult to remember to post every day, and I end up having to scramble and post like five in a row to catch up. Quality is being affected, so I’ll be working on that.

So far, this year is going not how I wanted with goals. But does it ever go well? I do think with every year, I’m learning what works for me, so next year, I know what I can handle, what’s attainable and what’s too lofty. It’s disappointing but I’m okay with that. I have a lot of interests and plans and goals and I just have to learn how to balance it all.