Summer Favorites: 2019

Hello!

I was going to make a Spring Favorites post before this one, but this past summer was just too busy for me to even think about it. So instead, I mashed up my spring and summer favorites into one post. Here’s all my favorite books, movies, shows, and more from the past few months!

Books:

  • The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab
    I’ve mentioned that Victoria V.E. Schwab is my favorite author. And her trilogy, Shades of Magic, is one of my favorite fantasy series. The Steel Prince is a comic book prequel to that trilogy. I read the first volume (six or so issues) and really enjoyed it. The world she’s built is incredible and I really loved seeing that world come to life visually.
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers
    The Circle is a terrifying look into our immediate future, or even our present. It shows the worst part of social media and connectivity, an Orwellian glimpse of what companies like Facebook and Google could become — or are already. Although I raced through what is essentially a story about a young woman starting a new job as if it were a spy thriller, I was disappointed in the protagonist’s character arc — which, to me, wasn’t much of an arc at all. Regardless, I enjoyed the book. Even if it made me want to never log in to any social media account again.
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
    The book – or I should say, essay – A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf is one of the best things I’ve ever read. I loved what it says about women and writing: that if they just had a place of their own and the monetary support as men do, they too could reach the notoriety of the great writers of the past, like Shakespeare, for their talents in writing. She brilliantly illustrates this with her essay, imagining a world in which the Bard had an equally-talented sister. It’s a great, important read that I highly recommend to all, but especially those who write.

Film & Television:

  • Killing Eve, Season Two
    I’ve had Killing Eve on my favorites list before but I had to add season two specifically, because it was so good. I’m in awe of the acting ability of Jodie Comer and, as always, Sandra Oh. The writing of this show is fantastic, the dynamic between the two women is genuinely fascinating. And the music??? Ugh, the music is just incredible. I love this show so much.
  • Booksmart
    Y’alllllll this film was hilarious. The writing was smart and it felt real, as of not just this general decade, but of this year. It was one of the better depcitions of teens and coming-of-age stories that I’ve seen. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever are truly two of the best actresses of this younger generation. And every side character’s acting (some of them weren’t even professional actors) was great. Billie Lourd’s Gigi is the best, I think about her at least six times a day. Also, I will be pronouncing Barcelona as Noah Galvin does for the rest of time, as it should be pronounced.
  • Midsommar
    This film was beautiful and disturbing and incredible and horrific. It’s such an experience to watch. A beautifully shot, incredibly designed, sometimes-gory experience. The most beautiful horror movie of all time? It’s a trip and a half. It’s intense. I loved it and never want to watch it again. I was completely alone in the theater which was weirdly great – I was able to sit comfortably while the most disturbing piece of art I’d ever seen played out before my eyes. I was glad to be alone. Other thoughts: Ari Aster is brilliant. Florence Pugh is so incredible in everything I’ve seen her in and she’s beyond in this. And, spoilers: Christian had it coming. I’m really sad about the bear.

Music:

  • Unloved
    Aaaaaand, speaking of Killing Eve, Unloved is a band and a lot of the music played on the show is their own. I love the music on that show and I’ve been enjoying their music a lot. I especially love When a Woman is Around and Crash Boom Bang. These songs were kind of the soundtrack to my entire June and July.
  • Billie Eilish
    My GOD, this girl is talented. Her music is so dark. It’s like depression with a beat. Her videos are real creepy too and I like it. I especially love her songs, When the Party’s Over, Bury a Friend, Ocean Eyes, and of course, the song of the summer, Bad Guy.
  • half.alive
    Yooo this new band is great. Their first single still feel. was my jam for a few months after it was released and now their whole album has come out and it’s so good. Here’s literally just a list of the songs that I’m loving: ok ok?, arrow, creature, RUNAWAY, and ice cold (feat. Kimbra). Soooo good.
  • CJ Bissett
    Ok. So. I know of CJ Bissett through his sister’s YouTube channel. He’s recently just released his very first gothic folk rock album, Arthur & Jane, and I looooove it. It’s an incredible album. Some favorite tracks: So He Waited, Arthur & Jane, Pink Flower, Gimme a Year, and Take it to the Ocean.
  • Foxwarren
    My current favorite song is Everything Apart by Foxwarren. I can’t describe why I love it so much, it just has that perfect tempo and sound that I’ve been looking for in a song. It’s my true match. A perfect song. I also really love their song Sunset Canyon.
  • Vampire Weekend
    And last but not least, Vampire Weekend’s new album (Father of the Bride) came out a real long ass time ago, but I didn’t do a Spring Favorites post so it’s coming up now. I listened to this album almost exclusively during all of May. There was some special moments back during that month and I immediately remember them when listening to any of the songs. My favorites are these: Harmony Hall, Bambina, This Life, and Sympathy.

Other:

  • StarKid
    So this past spring, I had a bit of a mental hiccup and quarter-life crisis. Again. No big deal, it’s fine, I’m fine, everything’s fine. I basically did nothing during all of April. One thing I DID do, is become enraptured by the wonderful world of StarKid. I originally watched A Very Potter Musical when it came out while I was in high school but didn’t know until 2016 that they’d done other shows! It was the “I Don’t Want to do the Work Today” meme from their show Firebringer that allowed me to re-find them. But when I originally went to watch it, I saw that it was two hours long and I didn’t have time, so I saved it for later…then promptly forgot about it. Three years later, this year, I remembered it and decided to watch. It was hilarious. I loved it. I moved on to their other shows, The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals, Twisted, and my personal favorite, The Trail to Oregon! They’re all great. And that led me to find the group the Tin Can Bros, some of the guys from the StarKid crew who make their own stuff together. Their show, Spies are Forever, was so good and featured a familiar face to me, Mary Kate Wiles from my favorite web series, The Lizzie Bennett Diaries. Which leads me too…
  • Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party
    The team of Shipwrecked, Mary Kate included, often collaborates with some of the StarKid and Tin Can Bros crew. So from StarKid, it led me all the way to to find my current favorite web series/film: Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party. It’s a very funny story of Edgar Allan Poe inviting a group of literary guests (anachronistically ranging from Mary Shelley to Hemingway) for a murder mystery dinner party that becomes and ACTUAL murder mystery. It’s so good and funny. It’s the best. I plan on watching it again around Halloween.
  • Nathaniel Drew
    I recently stumbled upon Nathaniel Drew’s YouTube channel and I really dig his videos. He has such a great point of view, has incredibly well-shot and edited videos, and has really been changing the way I look at things. I really appreciate the time and effort he puts into his videos.
  • Nikki Nasty (Nicole Rafiee)
    My new favorite, hands down. She’s hilarious. Her videos are just about her life, being at college, being vegan, jokes about her dad who left her as a child, etc. just stuff like that. She’s so funny and her videos are edited so well. She makes a video about gluing rhinestones to her inhaler entertaining as hell. She’s great!

Okay that’s all my favorites from the last few months! I can’t believe it’s already fall. The leaves are starting to change! It’s getting cold! It’s insane. I’m exhausted already. Stay safe and brace yourself for the coming winter, folks. It’s coming up fast.

✌️

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The Reading Rush – 2019

Hello!

Last week was the Reading Rush (formerly BookTube-A-Thon) and I participated again! It was fun! I read a lot! But still not enough!

This year was tough for some reason. They changed it up, so now there wasn’t the main challenge of reading seven books in the seven days. So it could be any number! I chose five! And it was still extremely difficult for me. I mean, I’ve reached 6.5 books. It shouldn’t have been THAT hard, yet here we are, the Monday after, and I’ve only read 3.5 books.

Here was my TBR and what I actually read:

Saga, Vol 9 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples (COMPLETE)
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (COMPLETE)
The Circle by Dave Eggers (COMPLETE)
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (HALF)
Black Heart by Holly Black (NEVER EVEN TOUCHED)

Here’s the breakdown of my days reading:

  1. Read a book with purple on the cover (The Near Witch)
  2. Read a book in the same spot the entire time (Saga, Vol 9)
  3. Read a book you meant to read last year (-)
  4. Read an author’s first book (The Near Witch)
  5. Read a book with a non-human main character (Saga, Vol 9)
  6. Pick a book that has five or more words in the title (A Room of One’s Own)
  7. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation (The Circle)

I read 928 pages, which is a lot for me, sure. In a WEEK? That’s insane. Sometimes I don’t get that in a month. I’m just disappointed because I didn’t get to all of them. I thought, SURELY, this year, with no 7 books challenge, I could get to 5??? Nope. I was too tired and kept falling asleep while reading by day 4.

Oh well! I still read a lot, had fun, and can’t wait for next year!!!

I will say that the whole little team of two or three who run the Reading Rush do, and especially did this year, an incredible job! The new website is awesome and fun. The new name is great and easier for my family to understand what I’m doing for a week (lol). The whole experience was great. I just wish I’d had more time to read this year!

2019 Goals: Reevaluation and Changes

It’s that time of year again, where I reevaluate my entire life and decide to change my goals for the year. It’s fine, I’m fine, everything’s fine.

So let’s do a quick recap of the goals I’ve set at the beginning of 2019 and where I’m at.

Design

  • freelance work (I’m still chugging along, always in the need of more clients)
  • plan to open online shop (this is a slow process that I’ve been procrastinating on but I think I’m going to focus more on it soon)
  • 1 personal design project a week (52) (I’ve done about 20 so far, having a bit of a hectic June/July, but I think I’ll get back to it)

Writing

  • finish NaNoWriMo ’18 draft (good LORD, this book is long and I haven’t had many days to focus on writing it)
  • NaNoWriMo ’19 (coming in November!)
  • outline fantasy series (I have been doing this and it’s been swell! outline isn’t totally done but I have mostly outlined the big picture arc of the series and the first book’s full outline to write during this year’s NaNoWriMo!)
  • Thoughtless (a book I should be writing) (lololol)

Reading

  • read 52 books (lololol, I’ve honestly been trying to read more I swear – I’ve read 9 thus far, but Reading Rush is happening now and I always read more later in the year it’s fine it’s fine I’m fine everything’s fine)
  • complete trilogies/series (literally forgot this was a goal, but I haven’t really done this yet at all, but I have a few second and third books to read, so maybe?)
  • read more often (I’m trying, okay?)
  • Reading Rush (formerly BookTube-A-Thon) (happening as I type this!!!)

Film

  • watch 30 films (I’m about halfway there, which is great! TWO already in theaters!)
  • write/shoot short film (in process of writing, will decide if I want to shoot it in August???)
  • write feature-length film (probably this fall)

Illustration

  • sketching and illustrating 2 days a month (nah, man I don’t have the capacity – I think my time with illustration has come to an end, I’ve reached my peak, I can’t get any better without more focus and time but it’s all good)
  • Inktober (still doing this because it’s fun!!!)

Health & Fitness

  • walk everyday (have been doing great!!!!)
  • workout 3x a week (lol was doing well but stopped for a few months but back on it!!!)
  • go to bed/wake up earlier (kind of? 7am average is early, right?)
  • 2 sodas a week (I gave this up looooong before April even began but I have to say, most of the sodas I drink now – which the number has gone down significantly, but nowhere near 2 a week – are diet, which ain’t great for me but I’m trying)

Other

  • 1 intake day a week (was doing this for a while and loved it but I think an hour a day would be better? it just didn’t fit within my schedule)
  • grow social media (I’m trying but no one likes me it’s not my fault lol)
  • post regularly on blog (I have been doing this! if you read these posts, you probably could tell. I doubt it though, I see the traffic on this blog and it’s looooow but still!)
  • further learning – 12 posts (killin’ this, I love it so much and this is a great segue….)

There’s been some changes happening in my life, over the last year or so. I’ve been thinking about it and thinking about it, and I have come to the decision that I want to go back to school.

That’s right! Back to college. Back to the book learning. Since doing “Further Learning” on this blog, I’ve realized how much I love learning and how much I love learning about language, specifically. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve been thinking about going back to school for Linguistics and/or English and creative writing. Maybe something else. I haven’t nailed anything down yet. (I’ve been looking at school’s and doing some research about it, though. It’s weird being a “non-traditional student” going to school later in life at 26. There’s so many questions and it’s not easy to navigate.) But I miss school. I regret not going to college formally. I need a big, wonderful change in my life.

For a few years now, I’ve been feeling restless, feeling like my life has hit a weird stand-still. That stagnant, static life of mine burst to life briefly last summer when the opportunity to live in Spain for just under a year came about. It was exciting and terrifying and I felt like, Ah, yes, finally, my life is about to start. But when that fell through, and the small business I was co-running decided to (maybe temporarily) shut down, I felt that same static feeling wash over me again. I’m just here. Waiting and wanting and unhappy about it.

It took me a while to realize that I don’t have to wait. I don’t have to want. I can do, I can seize. All I have to do is pick myself up and do it. And I’m tired of feeling like I can’t do the things I want.

So I’m going to. It’s going to take some time. I don’t know when school would be happening. I need to figure out all of that and figure out my life as I work toward getting there, because I still need money and to work in the mean time.

That’s my new goal for this year. The main goal. And I’m excited and terrified and it feels great.

My Son, Draco

I’ve become a father. A #PlantDad to my son, Draco.

After many years of thinking about it, I finally decided to buy my first plant. I’ve wanted a house full of plants for a long time and, now, in the Year of Our Lord 2019, I have decided that I needed to begin my collection of plant children.

My first son is named Draco, short for his Latin name, Dracaena deremensis is also called a “Lemon Surprise” for reasons I am not yet sure of. What’s so lemony about the plant? Where’s the surprise??? I don’t know any of these answers. For now, he’s a good boy livening up my bedroom in a nice medium light where he’ll be happy.

I’ve named him Dracaena “Draco” Lemon Challancin. Because I’m extra af.

These are from my Instagram stories from the day I bought him:

I freaked out my cousins with the first story. I didn’t give any context.

Plants are basically easy pets. You just water them. There’s not much of a commitment after that. They brighten up the room. They make it more beautiful. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get a plant!

Anyway, I know a Hufflepuff naming a plant Draco is insanity, but it suits him and fits his scientific name. We went with it and now there’s no going back. He’s Draco. And he’s my son.

Winter Favorites: 2019

Spring is here! It’s still fairly cold and there’s still a lot of snow because I live in The North, but technically, it’s here!! I’ve been doing “favorites” posts on this blog for a few years now and usually struggle to remember things that, in the moment, I would mentally say to myself, “Oooh, this is a cool thing! I should share this in my next favorites post!” and then it would vanish from my brain. I’d sit to write the post and be like, “Um…did I read anything this month?” But not anymore! Now that I’m doing these favorites posts by season instead of monthly, I have a beautiful new spread for each quarter in my Bullet Journal and there’s a whole section to write down my favorites instead of trying to remember them. So I have them all! All in one spot!

Anyway, here are my very organized and all-remembered favorites from this past winter:

Books:

  • Truly Devious and The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
    Maureen Johnson is one of my favorite writers. Everything that I’ve read of hers is smart and hilarious, and for real, she does murder mystery/boarding school stories so. well. I read her Shades of London series (still waiting for the last book; please, please, please) and just started her more recent series starting with Truly Devious and its sequel, The Vanishing Stair. Both are similar (murder with a connection to something historic, a boarding school, YA, female protag) accept Shades of London is set in England and has ghosts. To be honest, I think I loved Truly Devious even more than the first book in the Shades of London series, The Name of the Star—and I really loved that book. Truly Devious is so good that I literally couldn’t put it down (I read this book in two days, which is so rare for me) and I quickly read the second book, too. I’m dying to get to the third, but it doesn’t come out for a year!
  • Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
    Victoria (V.E.) Scwab is my favorite author of all time. Her books are beautifully crafted and inspire me to be a better writer every time I finish something of hers. They’re just so good. Vengeful is the sequel to her adult debut, Vicious, about two college friends who discover the secret to gaining superpowers and they both become villains…and heroes, in their own minds. It’s so good and was a perfect sequel to the first book.

Films:

  • The Royal Tenenbaums
    I know that I’m ridiculous late in modern classic films, I get it, but I haven’t seen much of any Wes Anderson films in my life. Which is crazy, because Wes Anderson films are, now that I’ve seen them, very much My Jam. I’d seen Rushmore many years ago when in high school and Moonrise Kingdom during that Academy Awards year (I used to watch all the nominees before/after the ceremony but haven’t been able to for a few years) and liked both. But I hadn’t taken the time to watch anything else by Anderson until this passed year. The Royal Tenenbaums is, um, one of my new favorite movies. I watched it six times in January. I get it now. I get it. I’ll watch more Wes Anderson, okay?
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona
    I watched this film at a great time for me to watch it: when I was very depressed about not being able to move to Spain for 8 months. Well, it made me more depressed because oh my god, I just want to be there. But also, it made me feel, almost like I’d gone? Not really. But it helped a bit. Anyway, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a great film but it’s made even better by the performance of Penelope Cruz. I mean, she obviously won an Oscar for it, but now I fully understand why.
  • Inside Out
    I was born in the early 90s, so I’m a Pixar kid through-and-through, but I neglected to see Inside Out until recently. It made me cry. A lot. Not as much as Up (like, just thinking about Up for more than ten seconds makes me sob) but still a lot. It’s a sweet, funny classic Pixar film but with probably my favorite concept of any of them. Emotions have emotions!? It’s so good!
  • Call Me By Your Name
    Listen, I read this book at the end of 2017 and loved it. It’s a beautiful story about two young men (one seventeen, the other twenty four) beginning a summer romance in Northern Italy. It’s a great story that explores the teenager’s sexuality—there’s an entire scene, the “peach scene” if you’ve heard of it, that works so well to describe his bisexual feelings for his girlfriend and the man he’s attracted to. Though this doesn’t translate perfectly on film, it’s important in the book. Most of all, I just love the film because of the scenery (and Timothee Chalamet’s incredible performance) because Northern Italy is so beautiful and it happens to be set near where my family is from, and I’m desperate to visit there live there.
  • Design for Living
    I’ve been working on watching more classic films, and just more films in general, but specifically from the 30s to the 60s at the moment. I’ve seen a few prior to starting this (some of my favorites are Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Charade, How to Steal A Million, and Singin’ in the Rain) but really want to see as many classics as possible. So, I started with Design for Living (I’ve been recording sooo many on my DVR that play on Turner Classic Movies channel) from 1933. It’s a pre-Code film (the Hays Code is what they came up with that enforced what was and wasn’t allowed in a film) so it is quite risque! It’s a comedy about…well, a throuple. They mention sex, directly calling it “sex” and the female lead angrily says “fucking” (not in a sexual context) which, to my knowledge, is the first time the f-word was ever in a film! It wasn’t on screen again until the late 60s/early 70s. But other than the SCANDAL of it all, it’s funny and the leads are great, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Also, A THROUPLE. IN 1933.

Music:

  • Aurora
    If Hozier and Florence Welch are King and Queen of opposing fae courts, Aurora is their teenage, runaway love child. Her voice is incredible, and I’ve talked about her before, but her new album Infections of a Different Kind (Step I) is so good. Especially the songs, Forgotten Love and Gentle Earthquakes, my current favorites.
  • “Lead, SD” – Manchester Orchestra
    I discovered Manchester Orchestra on iTunes while looking for new music and really dug their song Lead, SD. It’s a bit more of a thrasher than the other songs (like The Gold and The Maze) that I like from their album A Black Mile to the Surface, which is the only album I know of them. Anyway, the song is great.
  • “Monster” and “She” – dodie
    These two songs by dodie are SO GOOD. Her new EP just came out and I love it. She is a beautifully written song that I felt real hard and Monster is a bop. Both great. That’s some good shit right there.
  • Orla Gartland
    I heard of Orla Gartland because she plays guitar for dodie and boy oh boy, her music is top notch. I Go Crazy and Why Am I Like This? are so good. I’ve listened to them a lot and relate to Why Am I Like This? a whole lot. Like a lot a lot. Plus Orla is just so cool. she reminds me of a young Jodie Foster if young Jodie Foster had been in a band.
  • “The Joke” – Brandi Carlile
    This song made me cry the first time I heard it, which is always a good sign of a great song. It’s powerful. I’ve loved Brandi Carlile since The Story, way back in the mid-00s. But I hadn’t heard much of her music since then and kind of forgot about her. Well, she’s just been nominated for a million Grammy awards now, hasn’t she? I don’t think I’ll forget about her ever again.
  • “still feel.” – halfalive
    This song my jammmm. I don’t know where Half Alive came from but I’m glad their here now. The music video for this song is beyond good. The song is beyond good. I’ve been listening to it on repeat. I’ll be sad for the day that I’ll become sick of it from playing it too much.
  • “You’re Somebody Else” – Flora Cash
    I heard this duo sing this song live on a talk show and I loved it, then I heard the TWO different versions (acoustic and original), and I loved it even more. It’s a really nice, mellow and beautifully-sung song.
  • “Give A Little”- Maggie Rogers
    I saw this song and Maggie Rogers’ new album on so many people’s Instagram Stories that I eventually had to give in and listen. It’s a bop. I love it and can’t stop listening.
  • “Moderation” – Florence + the Machine
    Y’all should know I love Florence + the Machine and I was thrilled to see a new single come out. Moderation isn’t really my favorite Florence song but it’s still a great one and I’ll always appreciate new Florence songs to add to my collection like a dragon hoarding gold.

Television:

  • The Alienist
    To be COMPLETELY honest, I’ve only watched the first episode and just haven’t found the time to binge the rest. Also, this show came out in the winter of 2018, I think in January? Anyway, I’d recorded them all on my DVR and just recently decided to give it a watch. The first episode is real good, though it’s hella dark–I mean litereally, I watched it in the day and STRUGGLED to see what was happening. I had to close the curtains and squint. But it’s also dark, dark. But well-acted and intriguing, which I’m always here for.
  • Deadly Class
    Full disclosure, I’ve only watched the first few episodes of this show, too. But I think I like it! I think. I’m still not sure. I don’t know what this show wants to be but I like the premise of a school teaching teens to be assassins and so I’m hoping it will get better as time goes on. Should I really include it as a “favorite”? Not really. But it’s my blog and I can do what I want.
  • Miracle Workers
    I really like this show a lot. I can’t help but compare it to the similar, and so far still superior show, The Good Place, but Miracle Workers is funny, and stupid, and aesthetically cool–like, the wardrobe and set design is killin’ it on this show. It doesn’t have the smarts or heart (yet) of The Good Place, but I still really enjoy watching it because the premise of Miracle Workers is still unique enough, and funny enough, for me to continue to watch on a weekly basis (something I don’t know I would’ve done with The Good Place’s first season, as I binged it all in one go.)

Other:

  • Package Free Shop
    I’ve been following a more “zero waste” life style in the last year or two, trying to reduce my plastic use in as many aspects of my life as possible–like using reusable bags when shopping, using less plastic wrap, buying less products that come in non-recyclable or difficult to recycle (in my area) plastic, using reusable bamboo cutlery and stainless steel straws instead of one-use plastic, using a bamboo toothbrush, making my own deodorant (it’s very easy), and using shampoo bars and bar soap instead of shampoo and body wash in plastic bottles. Package Free Shop (co-started by one of the first people I discovered online that is “zero waste,” Lauren Singer) is an amazing shop (physically in NYC, globally online) that sells package free and plastic free goods like some of the things I listed above (I just recently purchased a shampoo bar, bamboo toothbrush, and stainless steel straws). It’s a great online shop for a lot of the items I wouldn’t be able to buy anywhere else because of where I live (the middle of nowhere.)
  • Mary Shelley Shirt
    So, this one is mostly telling you about the shirt I designed again. I wanted a shirt that said Mary Shelley is My Homegirl with an illustration of her, a parody of the Mary is My Homegirl with the Virgin Mary. I was upset it didn’t exist anywhere, because I thought it was hilarious, and then I remembered that I could literally just make one for myself. So I did! And I left it up on Redbubble, where I’ll be ordering one for myself, to see if anyone else liked it. (No one has bought it yet, lol). Anyway, I love the shirt and I can’t wait to wear it.

And those were winter favorites of 2019!

Illustration – Progress Update #4

So for the last few years, I’ve been working on my illustration skills. I’ve been slowly getting better with practice. The reason that I wanted to improve, was that I wanted to incorporate more illustration work and styles into my design work. Not only that, I just think illustration skills can make a more well-rounded designer.

Art is something that I’ve loved since I was young. But after high school, I just sort of stopped while in design school. And even before, I was never that good at drawing. I worked hard on it but always felt like my work wasn’t good enough. However, now, I’m thrilled with my progress. I’m nowhere near some illustrators I’ve seen, and may never get there, but I’m happy to keep working and learning and growing as a self-taught, hobby-illustrator.

The images below are some sketches (I mostly do faces; it’s my go-to) and some full-color illustrations I’ve done. The bird is unfinished – I’ll get it it some day – and I did Inktober, which are all the spooky little ones on a few pages.

Here are my favorite sketches and illustrations I did in 2018:

2019: New Year | New Goals

2019 is a brand new year! I’m a big believer in setting goals, not resolutions, and working toward accomplishing tasks rather than setting out to make “big changes” in my life. Last year was rough and, even though I don’t like resolutions, I do like the blank, clean slate a restarting of the calendar can give, even if it’s kind of arbitrary.

Last year, I tried to do too many categories with too many goals to keep up with. I tried splitting my time as evenly as possible between them and realized that some things aren’t as necessary for me to focus on. And I’ve been doing a “monthly focus” where I focus on one thing more than the other each month, but found myself not devoting enough time to each. So this year, I want to focus on three more than that others. My main focuses will be design, reading, and writing — three things that suffered last year, along with everything else, even though they’re more important. I’ll be doing less illustration practice and simplifying my health and fitness goals, but keeping film on the same level. I’ll break it all down below.

Here are the goals I’m setting for 2019:

Design

This year, I’m going to be continuing freelancing on the side — especially in the first few months, as I’m getting a large break from my main source of income with the small business I co-run until summer. So I’ll be focusing on doing more freelance design jobs this winter/spring. With that, I’m hoping to work more toward opening an online store of products (like cards, stationery, prints, etc.) with my designs. It was a goal last year, but I didn’t have the time, and now I have some so I would love to get it going — many steps before that happens, however. With that, I want to start doing some of these designs, and others, outside of work — like the book covers I did for practice/fun a few years ago. I want to do more, with a goal of one a week to keep my creativity going between freelance work.

  • freelance work
  • plan to open online shop
  • 1 personal design project a week (52)

Reading

I never read as much as a I want to. I want to change that. That’s why reading is one of the main goals I have this year. It’s so important for me, not just as a writer, but as a person, to read more. It’s something I love. I’m setting my Goodreads goal for 52 books. I know, I know — if you’ve read my blog before, you know that I’ve done this before and every year, I don’t get anywhere near 50. But I want to focus more on reading specifically. So I hope I can do it. If I just double my reading time this year, I’ll make it. I also want to return to some old reading lists — I have several series and trilogies that I’d just like to finish or continue.

  • read 52 books
  • complete trilogies/series
  • read more often
  • Reading Rush (formerly BookTube-A-Thon)

Writing

This year, my goals for writing are pretty much the same. With NaNoWriMo 2018, though I wrote 50,000 words and completed the challenge, the book itself is far from finished and I’d like to complete it. I’d also like to do NaNoWriMo again this year, outline a new fantasy series that I’ve been thinking a lot about, and continue to work on the book I’ve been working on — or supposed to be working on — Thoughtless.

  • finish NaNoWriMo ’18 draft
  • NaNoWriMo ’19
  • outline fantasy series
  • Thoughtless

Film

I’m more or less keeping my goals for film the same. Instead of wanting to see 25 new (to me) films, I’m going for 30, which shouldn’t be an issue at all because I was able to do 25 easily last year. I’d also still like to do a small, short film project — I wrote one two years ago that I love, but it’s not a feasible film to create on my own — and write another feature-length film, as I did last year.

  • watch 30 films
  • write/shoot short film
  • write feature-length film

Illustration

I’m doing a total change to my illustration practice. I’ve been steadily better in the last few years, which is great, but I’ve been taking too much time focusing on it. Last year, sketching a few times a week, everyday for two separate months, and doing several full-color illustrations a month was two much. This year, I’m going to just do two days a month where I sketch and illustrate for a few hours, and do Inktober with daily prompts. Much more doable with everything else and I think I’ll like it more, as I was getting frustrated that I had to do it every week instead of wanting to.

  • sketching and illustrating 2 days a month
  • Inktober

Health & Fitness

For health and fitness, I’m going to continue to walk everyday — though, the last two months of 2018 were spent doing nothing — and working out 3 times a week. I’d also still like to try to get up earlier and so far, I’ve been slowly going to be earlier to do so (skipping New Years Eve festivities and going to be early helped set that habit and realign my sleep schedule). I’m adding, however, a tracker in my bullet journal on how much soda I drink –both diet and the occasional regular — and would like to limit myself to about two a week instead of the one, sometimes two, a day. I already had three this week, so I’m not doing great, but if I could do without it for the Whole30 for a few weeks last January, I think I can do it.

  • walk everyday
  • workout 3x a week
  • go to bed/wake up earlier
  • 2 sodas a week

Other

I have a few stragglers for the year that I’m adding here. This year, I want to take one work day each week (I work six days, Mon-Sat) and devote it to solely intake, filling my creative well. Whether that’s watching a film, reading, going to a museum, going for a walk, etc. — just stepping back from outputting and creating, and making sure to absorb (this will obviously help with my reading and film watching goals). This is so important as a creative, and I think sometimes I forget — and wonder why I occasionally have a creative block when working. Another thing is, I’d like to grow my social media following more — I’d like connect more with people and grow my numbers before opening my online shop. I plan on posting the designs I’m doing more often and be more engaged than I have previously. Not only just on social media, but here on this blog. I want to post more and be more active here. Speaking of, another goal is to post about my further learning journey that I posted about a while ago. I’m learning a lot about language right now and want to move on to Greek mythology later this year. My goal is post once a month about things I’ve learned, things I’ve found interesting.

  • 1 intake day a week
  • grow social media
  • post regularly on blog
  • further learning – 12 posts

As I said, I also like to choose a specific month to focus on these goals more than the others. I find it helps, especially with something like NaNoWriMo and Inktober. It makes it easier to let a few things slide and focus on just one each month.

  • Jan: Design (plan + research for shop, freelance)
  • Feb: Writing (NaNoWriMo ’18 draft, outline fantasy series)
  • Mar: Reading (5-6 books)
  • Apr: Design (continue planning shop)
  • May: Film (write/shoot short film)
  • Jun: Writing (Thoughtless)
  • Jul: Reading (4-5 books + Reading Rush 7 books)
  • Aug: Film (write feature-length)
  • Sep: Design (open shop?)
  • Oct: Illustration (Inktober)
  • Nov: Writing (NaNoWriMo ’19)
  • Dec: Reading (5-6 books)

Looking at all these goals has me wondering if I should try to choose a few less hobbies. This is normal, right? It probably is. I’m just interested in a lot of stuff. Anyway, those are my goals for the year.

2018: End of the Year – Goals Wrap-Up

2018 was a difficult year for me. It has had a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs. My dog died, I turned 25, I had a bit of a mental breakdown, I almost went to Spain for 9 months but couldn’t, and I’ve been in a strange, surreal funk since my 25th birthday–almost six whole months exactly. (Side note: I’ve always felt weird about having a birthday in the middle of the year. I can’t ever pinpoint how old I was during a particular year in the past because I’ve spent equally half of each year as two separate ages. I can’t just perfectly do the math in my head from my birth year. I’m bad at math anyway.) All of that and I haven’t even mentioned all the terrible things that have happened in the world. It hasn’t been the greatest year. But at the same time, looking back and from where I am now, I’m doing good. I’m at a good place at this moment in time, on New Year’s Eve, heading into 2019 with a good night’s sleep — no, for real, I’m spending tonight alone and have no obligation to stay up until midnight. I’ll be able to have the perfect start to waking up early and having a more productive year. Begin as you mean to go on, and all that.

Anyway — on to the reason for the post! How have I done with my goals for the year? Well, let’s take a look.

Design & Illustration

I had scaled back from my lofty goals of 2017 and I think I did fairly well. Although, opening my online shop took such a back burner this year that I decided against doing it at all for this year and focus on it next year. I did start freelancing on the side and had a few projects, all gone well. As for practicing my illustration skills, I started off sketching weekly well enough but fell out of the routine after a few weeks. Although, sketching every day in both April and September as my focus for the months worked well, only having skipped three or four days in each month. And I did, unexpectedly, participate–sort of–in Inktober for the first time, illustrating six or seven prompts at a time each weekend and on Halloween. This counted as several illustrations for the month and I ended up with the needed twelve to complete my goal! All in all, I did all right with these goals and I have some ideas and changes for next year.

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

Writing

*deep breath* I really didn’t do well this year. i mean, technically I accomplished most of my goals here, it just seemed like less because the MAIN goal I had was to finish the draft of “Book E” but decided against writing it and to focus on the book I’ve been working on, Thoughtless. So that’s what I started working on but barely worked on it. (It was a really bad year after my birthday, y’all.) Anyway, I did finish two short stories, I finished the draft of the book I did NaNoWriMo 2017 with and I did NaNoWriMo 2018 this year and won! So, I’ll take it. I did my best.

  • write 2 short stories ✓
  • finish first draft of Book E Thoughtless ✗
  • finish the draft from NaNoWriMo 2017 ✓
  • complete NaNoWriMo 2018 ✓

Film

I’m real happy with what I’ve accomplished in this category. Technically, writing a feature-length film is a writing goal, so I did actually write a lot this year! I like the film I wrote, even though it needs a lot of work and I’m not confident in writing in this form yet, but I enjoyed the experience and it was a great start in writing for film. I also did a small project of my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary video — not the short film project I’d wanted to do, but I’m counting it because it was after my birthday and as I said before, not a great time. I’ve done a rough cut of it and like it thus far. It’s just a wedding video but I enjoy the practice in filming and editing something. I also watched 25 new-to-me films! One was even in theaters! Just a quick top five of them: Lady Bird, Incredibles II, Atomic Blonde, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Annihilation, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Okay that was six. Special mention to The Edge of Seventeen, which was a surprisingly great coming-of-age film. That’s seven. I’m bad at this. I just really liked them, okay?

  • 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

I set a goal of reading 25 books, thinking I could trick myself into reading more. I usually set my goal to 50 and always fail around around 20-25. And how many books did I read? 23. I just can’t seem to get there, y’all. But I’m setting my goal back to 50 next year and I’m really going for it. I know, I know. I’m a masochist. It’s fine. I can do it, I believe in myself. Don’t you believe in me? (Don’t answer that.) I did read less fantasy, shorter books, and I abandoned my old reading lists that had been eating me alive for not getting to them. That felt good to just read the books I wanted to in the moment as I chose. I even abandoned the newer list I made and just went with whatever I was feeling after finishing each book.

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

Exercise

Boy, howdy. I walked a lot (except for the last two months, I walked almost every day) and I even worked out a bit. I tried the Whole30 and had a mental breakdown because of it and lost my dog after the first week — so I needed chocolate and alcohol. I wrote a whole post about that experience. Overall, I lost a good portion of my weight (though put some back on these last few months because of holidays and not exercising at all) and am proud of that. Even if it’s not as much as I wanted. I’d rather gradually lose weight and feel better than killing myself to lose it quickly. I’m good.

  • be more active, walk or bike ✓
  • stick to work-out schedule better ✓
  • do the Whole30 at least once ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • go to bed earlier/wake up earlier ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As you can see, I technically accomplished a lot of my goals. I just feel sort of meh about them all, though. I feel like I’m exactly where I started last year. I haven’t gone any further in my life or career, not really. This year was rough. But I’m looking forward to 2019. I have a lot of goals and changes I want to make for next year. And I’ll post all about it soon.

✌️

2018: Autumn Favorites

So, it’s the end of the year. Winter Solstice was yesterday, officially ending the Autumnal Season and Christmas is literally around the corner. You know what that means?? It’s winter! And also it’s time to share my autumn favorites of this year!

BOOKS:

  • Sabriel by Garth Nix
    I’d heard of Sabriel a few times over the years, briefly, but didn’t go further than a quick scan for it at the bookstore when there but never bothered to search for it online or anything. It had just been one of those books I had on my giant mental list of books to read. Well, after hearing about it again, I decided to actively put it on my to read list and search for a copy. I finally–as in months later–found a copy at a Goodwill, an enormous bind-up of the first three books in the series, then a trilogy. I didn’t know much about the trilogy except that there was necromancy involved and gates in “Death” but I didn’t know what that meant. This book immediately shot up to top of my “favorite books of all time” list, easily in my top ten. It’s such an incredible world the world Nix has created with an interesting, unique magic system. It’s such a great story and wonderfully executed. I’m incredibly sad I hadn’t heard of it or cared to hear of it while in high school, because I would’ve eaten it right up. But I’m at least glad that I found it now.
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    Quite possibly my favorite read of the year. This is a long, dense book and I read it in a month–which for many people is ridiculous, but I’m a slow reader and often read many books at a time, and for me this book would’ve normally taken several months if it were any other story. I’m a sucker for collegiate novels, for books about murder, and for books about secret clubs–this book has all of those things and it sucked me in hard and I, most of the time, didn’t want to put it down. I read it in large chunks of fifty to seventy-five pages at a time, which is a lot for me. Though I wasn’t a fan of the end, it didn’t disappoint me too much where I disliked the book because of it. The journey getting to that end was well worth it enough for me to consider rereading the book sometime in the future, which is something I rarely do.

Films:

  • Alien: Covenant
    Okay, so I know Prometheus is not the greatest movie of all time. I get it. I’ve read enough articles about why people disagree with me on liking it, but I’m not a complete idiot. A lot of it wasn’t great. But it’s still one of my favorites and I liked it a heck of a lot more than any of the other Alien sequels (seriously, I only like the first Alien and not the others (okay, I guess Aliens is good, too)–and don’t get me started on the crossover with Predator, ugh.) Prometheus has a lot of elements that I love, it’s gorgeous to look at, and I can look past its faults and see the goodness in it, whatever it was they were trying to say with the film. Now, Alien: Covenant? Its sequel? It started SO GOOD. The first half of that film was incredible. I couldn’t believe how good it was! And then…it just…hit a wall of crazy and I couldn’t make sense of how it had gone so bad and so wrong so quickly. Even still, I enjoyed watching the entire thing, even if I only thought the first half was good. I don’t even know if it was directly at the halfway point, it was just shortly after they found David. That’s when it started to go down hill. I loved it anyway, though.
  • Incredibles 2
    Seriously, just forget Marvel. I want seven Incredibles movies, a spinoff series, and a television show. I love this world so much, from this family to the rest of the supers. Everything from the animation, the music, the style, the story. Everything is good and I think I like this movie even more than the first. And The Incredibles is on my Top Five Favorite films of all time. That’s how much I loved this movie.
  • Maggie’s Plan
    I’m a huge fan of Greta Gerwig–from acting in Frances Ha (another of my Top Five Favorite films of all time) to writing and directing Lady Bird, she’s fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie’s Plan. She’s great it in, obviously, and Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore are equally great. It’s a funny and, at times, frustrating story to watch unfold, which made it a really enjoyable film to watch. I love movies that make me want to climb inside it and give advice to the characters. Not to fix or change what they’re doing because the movie is bad, but wanting to inject myself into the story because I’m so invested that I’m frustrated I can’t talk to them to help out the situation. That’s this type of movie–and I really liked it.

Music:

  • Feel it All Around by Washed Out
    This is the song used for the opening credits of Portlandia, my favorite sketch-comedy shows. It’s also one of my favorite songs. It’s mellow and repetitive, an easy song to get lost with.
  • Human by dodie
    Dodie is one of my favorite singer-songwriters and her latest song Human is astoundingly beautiful, in both sound and lyric.
  • Love is Blindness by The Damn Truth
    This cover of Love is Blindness was used in an ad for Yves Saint Laurent fragrance a few years ago and I was obsessed with it–a lot of people were, according to the comments section of the video. After finally figuring out the band, I wanted impatiently for them to release it as a single. Then I forgot about. But THEN, I recently remembered about this song and looked it up and they’d released it a year earlier! It’s so good.
  • Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea by MISSIO
    I first heard this song on an episode of How to Get Away with Murder and just loved the sound of it throughout the scene it was playing in. After listening to it all, I couldn’t stop. It was on repeat for a solid week.
  • Monster Mashup by Pomplamoose (feat. Tessa Violet)
    I’m in love with this Halloween-themed mashup of Thriller and the Ghostbusters theme song (and some others). It’s such a great, fun version of these songs.

Television:

  • American Horror Story: Apocalypse
    I’ve had a love-no thanks relationship with American Horror Story, only having seen a few seasons in completion (one, three, and eight) but for the most part, love the ridiculousness of it. I was particularly excited for this season because it took two seasons I loved and had watched, season one and three, and crossed them over. Now, this season wasn’t great–the end in particular irritated me. But for the most part, it was fun to watch and I enjoyed getting more of the witches from Coven. I wish it was just a show about them, tbh. And I also enjoyed the addition of Cody Fern, who is a phenomenal actor–I loved him in The Assassination of Gianni Versace this past year.
  • Single Parents
    I was pleasantly surprised to love this sitcom as much as I did, and am continuing to do. It’s hilarious, I love the characters, all the child actors and their characters are amazing and hilarious. All the adults are funny. Everything about this show is good and I didn’t think I’d even like it! It’s a cute show!
  • The Walking Dead
    The Walking Dead has had its ups and downs…and downs. But I’m in this for the long haul. I read the comics, I love the characters and world, and I’m going to stick it out. I decided this during the Negan Era, the worst two seasons the show has had, in many people’s opinions, including mine. There were some bright spots, but for the most part, I was just waiting for it to be over. And now that time has come! We’re getting a new start with this show and I’m digging it thus far. Rick leaving worked for me–even how they did it–and I like their big ideas with his character. I like where they’re going. I love the time jump, even! The Whisperers’ introduction was one of the best of the show in this new era! I’m ready for this show to get good again and I have–hesitantly–high hopes.

Other:

  • Fracter
    Now, if you know me, you know that I’m not into many games. But recently, in the last few years, I’ve found a few apps for my phone that I really enjoy. Fracter is one of them. This game–which I’ve already completed and am impatiently waiting for a follow up, if they were to have one–is phenomenal. The design of it alone is incredible enough to consider playing. The look is what drew me to it and I stayed for the puzzling levels that kept growing and growing in size to an overwhelming finale. I couldn’t stop playing it!
  • Two Dots
    The other game I play often is Dots & Co, and this sequel to the original puzzle game Dots, has now become my new obsession. Two Dots has a similar vibe and style to Dots & Co, but has different features and mechanics that are great. I really enjoy playing it whenever I have some extra time in a car ride or when I can’t sleep.
  • Anker – Wireless Keyboard
    Because my Macbook recently called it quits, I’ve been using a desktop for the first time in–well, since I was thirteen and used my parent’s computer to chat with friends on MSN. I miss the portability of a laptop, though, and for writing it’s sometimes essential to get out of the office. So, I bought a wireless keyboard to connect to my iPad and I love it. It’s so much better than using the keypad built-in, which takes up half the screen when I use the Scrivener app, which is the program I use to write in. It’s a great keyboard that connects automatically, lasts a while with battery, and I haven’t had any problems with it so far.

And just like that, autumn is over and winter has begun. The year is nearly over! It’s been an interesting year and I can’t wait to see what films, books, and music I’ll be enjoying next year.

Further Learning: A Post-School Journey of Education

I’ve never liked school. I mean, I liked some subjects, like English and art, but thought history was boring and wanted to bash my head in during math. But what I didn’t realize until after I was finished with school, was that I actually liked learning. I loved it. I just wasn’t learning what I wanted to, what I was interested in. I realized this during Art History while going to school for design. It was my favorite class. I’d always thought I hated history, but what I thought of as “history” was what we learned in high school — quite literally, the boring parts. I loved learning about architecture and art, what society was like hundreds of years ago in different countries, different cultures, and how they changed. I realized how much I actually liked to learn — and not just about history, but other subjects I was never taught.

So, I didn’t just want school to stop and learning about interesting stuff I liked to stop with it. After finishing college, I decided that I was going to keep learning about the things I was interested in. I made a list of all the subjects I had an interest in and wanted to learn more about.

I’ve always loved Greek Mythology (I had a semester-long class in middle school about it and fell in love) but have always wanted to learn more, I’ve been interested in language, religion, history, and a whole bunch of other topics.

Here’s a rough list:

  • Language
  • Greek Mythology
  • Ancient Rome
  • Egyptian Mythology + Ancient Egyptian History
  • Witches (Salem; European Witch hunts)
  • Monsters and Legends
  • Religious History
  • Modern Cults
  • Scandinavian History
  • Norse and Celtic Mythologies
  • British History
  • Symbolism and Iconography
  • History of Ancient China
  • The World Wars
  • Evolution
    PLUS A LOT MORE

I have set out a plan and have already started reading books on the subjects that I’m interested in. To start, I read one of my first non-fiction books, Penny Coleman’s Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts: A History of Burial — which was a fascinating read about how we’ve treated our dead in the past, how other cultures do, and how it has changed. Afterward and since, I’ve started with the topic of language. Linguistics and etymology have always been an interest of mine and I’ve been loving learning more about it. The schedule so far is continuing with Language for the rest of 2018 and early 2019, then start with Greek Mythology around mid-2019.

And, because I document a some of my life here on the blog, I decided I wanted to post more about my new journey. That’s the plan starting in 2019, a new series of posts documenting my journey: the books I read, articles, films, documentaries, etc. along with my thoughts, things I found interesting or learned, and a general overview of each subject. I’m very excited about this!

First, however, we have to get through the rest of 2018. This was just an introduction. I have a lot of posts about NaNoWriMo (it’s coming so soon!) and wrapping up the year before then. I’m hoping the first posts about Language will start in the beginning of 2019!