My Queer Eye Makeover

This week, I have been miserable and Mother Nature is to blame.

My eyes have been red, my throat has been raw, and my nose and ears have been unbearably itchy. The culprit, the canola fields surrounding my town are in full bloom and are spewing their devil pollen all over my life. I am miserable and I have been stuck indoors all week, trying not to die.

To while away the hours, I have been rewatching the show Queer Eye, which is a beautiful, sweet show that makes me cry every single episode.

So, I am assuming you know what Queer Eye is, Daniel, but for all the people out there who do live under a rock, let me explain. Queer Eye is a show about five gay men who change people’s lives for the better. The original version of this show, called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, focused solely on sloppy, straight men, helping them update their wardrobes and learn proper hygiene. The Netflix reboot, which I have been rewatching all week, has made over straight men, gay men, trans men, and even women. Like the show’s tagline says, it’s more than just a make-over now.

Watching the episode about the woman, I started imagining what would happen if I was nominated. How would the Fab Five help me? What would my episode look like?

My episode would start like every episode, with the Fab Five driving to ambush me. In this scenario, I’m not sure who would have nominated me, but I feel like they would have nominated me because of how externally focused I am. I focus so much on keeping the people around me happy and content that I usually skip taking care of myself.

So the Fab Five would swoop in, see how cluttered and unstructured my life is, and they would make it so much better.

Bobby is the interior designer. He would take one look at my mismatched, college student apartment with piles of junk in all the corners and probably lose it. He would redecorate, finally giving me an adult apartment, and he would set up organization systems for all my books and craft supplies and clothes. He would also help me purge all the stuff I don’t need.

Jonathan is the grooming specialist and I think he would be somewhat proud of me for having a regular skin and hair routine. However, he would probably take one look at my medicine cabinet and throw everything out. I always buy the cheapest options when it comes to beauty products, and I’m pretty sure Jonathan would not stand for that. He would teach me everything I need to know about beauty products and would show me the best places to get things and would teach me how to make amazing beauty products at home. I would be so cool after meeting Jonathan.

Antoni teaches the clients about food and I think he would have the biggest challenge when it comes to my eating habits. He would probably sit me down and explain to me all the things that do not count as full meals that I have been using for full meals. Cereal is not dinner, saltine crackers are not dinner, a spoonful of peanut butter is not dinner. You need to start actually eating food. And of course I would listen and nod and as soon as he leaves, I would eat a jar of peanut butter for dinner. Not all of their lessons will stick. Sorry Antoni.

When it comes to fashion, Tan is the expert of the Fab Five. I’m pretty sure he would appreciate how varied and colorful my closet is, but would be a little confused by how I use that color. I have a tendency to find an outfit that works and then wear it over and over and over again. I need more pieces that I can mix and match for work and for play instead of statement pieces that only look good one way. He would also teach me where to find clothing that actually fits my bizarre body and throw out all the jeans I own that are way too short for my long legs.

Last, but not least, Karamo would just help me get my shit together. He’s supposed to be the culture guru, but more often than not ends up being a therapist for the client. I’m sure he would hear me speak and think to himself, this girl needs to get back into her therapy routine. He would start by helping me find a good therapist and getting my self care routines back so I could properly recharge my energy for once. I think he would also help me layout my career plans, which have been amorphous and undefined since I left college. Karamo would not stand for that. He would sit my butt down, tell me I need to take risks, and lay out a fifty year plan for me. Boom, done, set for the rest of my life.

I so desperately want to meet my five gay fairy godfathers.

-EMS

Advertisements

A Recipe for Self Care

This week has been pretty exhausting and I’m not sure why.

Other than an overnight trip for a conference and some tedious editing, work hasn’t been exceptionally difficult. My home life and relationship have been basically the same, no ups or downs. Nothing awful has happened this week and yet I’m sitting here, feeling miserable and tired.

Yes, the only two shows I watch on a regular basis were cancelled within a few hours of each other, but I’m an adult and will survive. Besides, that type of news wouldn’t leave me feeling this way. When it comes down to it, I think I just haven’t taken a lot of time to recharge this week so now that I have time, I just feel run down and sick and not creative at all.

So, instead of sitting here for hours waiting for inspiration to hit so I can write a long, beautiful blog post about something deep and meaningful, I’m just going to write my quick and easy recipe for a happy, more energetic Emily.

Things You’ll Need:

A laptop

A media streaming service (Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime)

A fully charged cell phone equipped with social media

Face mask, soothing or moisturizing properties preferred

Bubble bath and/or bath oils

Scented candles (any combination with vanilla, tobacco, or leather will work)

Dark beer, preferably with an ABV above 9%

A space without of people

Instructions:

  1. First, fill up the bathtub with scalding water. Think boiling lobster levels of heat.
  2. Add bubble bath or fancy bath oils until the water actually changes color. We don’t care how much the bottle says to add, you triple that amount.
  3. Light all the candles. All of them. Line the top of the toilet, the sink, the edge of the bathtub, the floor. It needs to be a fire hazard for this to work.
  4. Pour the dark beer into a pint glass, making sure the top is foamy like a latte.
  5. Put the face mask on,making sure to cover the forehead and neck. You’ll need to look like a rich lady at the spa in a 90s movie. Think extra, super bougie.
  6. Get in the bathtub and log into social media on your phone. Look at something soothing, like horror movie blogs or Harry Potter fanart.
  7. Set up the laptop and turn on something you’ve seen multiple times. Things like Gilmore Girls, Parks and Rec, Brooklyn 99, Scrubs, or Queer Eye will work.
  8. Kick everyone out of the room and close the door so the bathroom gets extra, super steamy.
  9. Sit in silence and do nothing until you feel recharged.

Estimated time: 1.5 hours

Alright, I’m logging off now so I can go do this. I am definitely in need of a hard reset right now and sadly I can’t just take my brain out and blow into it like a Nintendo cartridge. I actually have to listen to what my body needs, which I’ll admit is bullshit, but what can ya do?

Getting old sucks, doesn’t it?

-EMS

Why I’m the Worst

So, as you know, I missed my post this week. That is the second post I’ve missed on our blogs this month and, by definition, that makes me the worst. Despite being a professional writer and an adult with some semblance of time management skills, I missed both of these posts simply because I was busy doing other stuff.

Earlier this month, I missed a post because I was out to dinner with a friend and ended up hanging out with him well into the evening. This week, I decided to come down to Vancouver on a whim and we didn’t end up getting on the road until 3 so we pulled into town around 9. I dropped in on a friend, had dinner, and then promptly fell asleep without doing any writing.

The absolute worst.

jlw79Also, because this trip was so last minute, I didn’t tell ANYONE I was coming. So many people want to see me when I come into town and by not telling anyone I have disappointed everyone.

The absolute, positive worse.

So, as I sit here at the parents house, waiting for you to arrive while I eat lunch with mom, I am going to list out the many, many things about me that make me the absolute worst. Because that seems like a healthy thing to do. Also, self-deprecation is my first language.

Reasons why Emily is the worst:

Sometimes, I forget that other people like me and want to see me. More often than not, when I make plans to visit, I forget to tell people I’m coming because I assume they don’t miss me. I spent so many years of my life being the odd person, the one that was always kind of an afterthought, that now I am amazed that people will actually take time out of their day to see me. And when they tell me they miss me, I’m like, “What? Fake news. I don’t believe you.”

I take forever to respond to messages of any kind. People will send me a text message or leave me a voicemail and it will be at least 5-7 business days before I respond. Why? Because I get busy and forget. Or I assume people don’t ACTUALLY want to talk to me. Again, I have the self esteem of a bridge troll.

I am completely desensitized to horrific things. I watch so many horror movies, true crime shows, and violent animes that I am completely used to things like gore and blood. Don’t ever look over my shoulder when I’m looking at Tumblr or you will see some gross-ass shit.

I speak in TV and movie quotes. And guess what! Sometimes those quotes come from things NO ONE ELSE WATCHES OR UNDERSTANDS. My recent go to quote is “I’m smort” while pointing at my head. Know what show that comes from? No? Neither does anyone else.

I am incredibly spacey sometimes. This has been an issue of mine since I was a child. Sometimes I get to far into my own head I forget what I was doing. Once, I accidentally let Emmett jump into a pool while I was supposed to be watching him. Thank goodness little kids are buoyant.

I am forgetful. I will tell the same story to the same people multiple times. I’m like an action figure with a pull string. I only have like eight cool sayings and then I start repeating.

I have more I could go into, Daniel, but I think I’ve had enough self deprecation for one post. Sorry for forgetting to post again.

The absolute worst.

-EMS

 

My Distinct Lack of Music

I’m a daydreamer. It’s bad—I would say I’m daydreaming nearly half of the day. If you see me, and I’m being quiet, I’m definitely somewhere deep in my mind imagining vast battles, heroic triumphs, or solemn goodbyes. This is especially true if I’m listening to music.

Cutaway to tiny Daniel sitting in a movie theater with a bowl cut and a slack jaw. Watching [insert movie] and getting caught up in the climax. Those pivotal scenes always punctuated with a score that enhances those moments. The crescendos when the protagonist wins, and the diminuendo when all feels lost.

Half the time, I wouldn’t remember the exact scene in the movie, but whatever song is was gets stuck in my head for the rest of time. This still happens to this day—certain scenes in shows and movies and games have a score or soundtrack that just fucking crushes it.

Furiosa being stabbed and desperately trying not to drop Max.

Raiden facing off against metal gear Ray.

Colonol Mustang bringing his enemy to their knees.

I look at the image and I can hear the music. I know not only the song that plays, but  very nearly the exact part of the song that is playing.

I think I was 12 when our parents bought me my first portable CD player. I listened to CD’s laying around the house for a while, but I soon learned to burn my favorite songs to CD’s. Dad showed me KaZaA and how I could download my favorite songs and then burn them, and that moment basically defined my imagination for a long damned time.

This gave way to MP3 players which I used until 2014. I still have one or two of my borked MP3 players in a box somewhere. For a good long while I used my PSP as my music player. I can remember walking around the adidas campus, listening to music, and daydreaming about stuff.

Then I was given my first smart phone. This changed everything. Not only could I store my own music on my phone, but I could stream music to my phone. My daydream game had been improved significantly.

It’s been a couple years now. I still get lost in daydreams all the time, usually about Rogue Trader, Dungeons and Dragons, or some other thing I need to write. I listen to music and try to carefully curate music for when I’m running a game for my friends. The problem I’m facing now is that I am basically out of music. I’ve listened to everything I have way too many times.

Now that I can search for a song from my phone, I don’t discover music anymore. I’m always listening to the song I was thinking about. I don’t listen to the radio, and I don’t see enough movies or shows to really find more. Now when I find a song I really like, I listen to it on repeat for sometimes hours until I’m over it.

I’ve been using things like YouTube Music and Amazon Music to help me branch out and explore, but it doesn’t really help me find more because that requires me to listen to the music.

961

I am simply terrible at listening to music and enjoying it. Songs take me somewhere—somewhere I’ve been before; somewhere I want to be. New songs struggle to do that. Most of my favorite songs and albums were accompanied by something else, and I’m taken back to that moment while I’m listening. It’s really difficult for me to find new music because it frequently feels soulless or that something’s missing. I think this is a big reason why I don’t like rap and country—it’s hard to daydream over it.

I’m sure someone reading this is like, “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” And I agree! I frequently wish I could switch it off and just enjoy an album for what it is. But that album needs to inspire me, or take me somewhere in my imagination for me to really want to listen to it again and again.

There was a massive period of my life where I was listening to a lot of symphonic metal (black metal or heavy metal depending on who’s categorizing it). Bands like Epica, Nightwish, Kamelot, Within Temptation—most of their songs are metal but include symphonies or choruses. It just makes it feel epic—like a soundtrack. And that really clicked with me. I couldn’t even tell you what half of the songs were about, but the melodies, crescendos, and diminuendos all played nicely to whatever scene was playing out in my head.

I have trouble finding new genres that make me feel that way. I will sometimes stumble upon something, but I wear it out way too quickly.

I wouldn’t really call myself a music lover, but music is critically important to my imagination and my inspiration. Half the time when I’m trying to write a quest for one of my games, I need to find the right song first. I’m not sure what music means to all of you, but in many cases I feel like music is an I.V. drip to my soul, and without it my imagination begins to dry up.

#SendMusic

—DTM

Lowering the Bar for 2018

 

Let me just say that I’m super proud of you, Daniel. You did so many cool things this past year and listening to you talk about everything you achieved inspires me to do more with my time.

While you did achieve a lot of what you wanted to do this past year, I feel like I barely did anything. I had some lofty goals at the beginning of 2017, including running a half marathon and teaching myself calligraphy. Did any of that happen? Well, I did read forty books, which is pretty cool. Still feel like I could’ve done more, ya know?

This year I’m going to set goals for myself again, but instead of creating incredibly lofty goals, I think I’m going to keep mine simple. Some may call this lowering the bar, I call this celebrating the little steps I can take to help me reach my incredibly lofty goals.

Here are my incredibly simple, straightforward goals for 2018.

Read more books.

This past year I read a lot and I’ve told myself a couple times that, in 2018, I’ll push myself and read 60 books. Well, we’re only five days into 2018 and I already feel like that goal is too high. I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure by dedicating myself to five books a month.

So, instead, my goal is just to read more. I’d like to read 50 books, but as long as I match what I read last year, I’ll be happy.

I also want to read more horror novels by women and people of color. I realized over this last year that a lot of my favorite authors are white guys, which is just sad. I’m not saying Stephen King and Jack Ketchum and Joe Hill aren’t good writers, I just want there to be more diversity in the books I read. And the only way to make things more diverse is to actively try to make it so. I can’t just hope more women and people of color get popular, I need to work for it. If I just keep reading horror novels with great reviews, I’m going to read a lot of stuff by white guys. I want to give other people a chance.

Watch less Netflix.

Now when I say watch less Netflix, what I actually mean is I need to stop using streaming services to “fill time.” More often than not, I’ll spend a few hours on the couch watching something I’ve seen a million times just because it’s comfortable. It’s safe, in a way.

My goal for 2018 is to do that less. I don’t just want to fill time, I want to enjoy my time and I can do that by only using Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Youtube to watch things that I actually want to watch. Stop re-watching the same things over and over and broaden my viewing horizons a bit. There are thousands of horror movies I haven’t seen and yet I’m re-watching Roseanne. Sad. 

Save money.

This has literally been goal of mine since I graduated college. I just need to save more money so I don’t end up going into debt every time a big bill hits. To help me achieve this goal, I’m going to try to do less retail therapy. I need to stop spending money on things just because I can. Now, I can still buy things I want, but only if I really want them and not because I need to “treat myself.”

I also want to spend less money on beer that’s just for me. I like craft beer because it’s something I can share with my friends. It’s an experience! Well, it’s not an experience when I’m sitting at home watching a movie by myself and drinking a beer I’ve had millions of times before. Basically, I sometimes treat beer like I treat Netflix. I spend my money on beer I’ve had before because it’s safe, not because I’m enjoying it. Of course, I’ll still buy beer for myself once in a while, but I don’t need to be spending $60 a month on Black Butte Porter. I could be spending that on stuff I’ve never had before!

Write more.

Again, this is literally a goal I’ve had since the dawn of time. I just want to write more.

In middle school, I wrote every single day and I had notebooks full of fanfictions and funny stories and poetry. Nowadays, I write like once a week and it’s not because I’m passionate about something, it’s more because I feel obligated.

Well, guess what, if obligation is what gets me writing then I’m going to need more of it.

What I specifically want to do is set up a writing schedule for myself and stick to it. No more of this waiting for inspiration or to feel passionate about it bull crap. That doesn’t work anymore. I need to change up my tactics.

Now, my goal is to write a novella and maybe a book of poetry by the end of the year, but that goal comes later. Right now, my goal is just to write more than once a week and to start writing things for myself rather than for work.

Take time for education.

Like I said in my last post, I work at an institution that gives its employees access to college level courses for $5 and yet I’ve only taken advantage of that a couple of times.

Of course, I have big, lofty goals for my education like going back to grad school and becoming a certified cicerone, but for now I’m going to start simple. I just want to make more time for my education, take more time to learn new things because it’s fun.

There are so many free online resources I can take advantage of. Last year, I was enrolled in a introduction to law course and a course on HTML coding for free through Coursera. Did I finish either class? Nope!

That just means I need to make more time for it.

Do more things with my time.

And to wrap up my 2018 goals, I just want to do more things with my time. Right now my free time is taken up mostly by Netflix, reading, crocheting, and work, which means I’m incredibly boring. I want to change that. I want to do more.

Some things I’m planning to do more of this year, mostly because it will give me things to do during the time I’m usually re-watching Gilmore Girls, are play more video games, get back into drawing and painting, listen to more podcasts, and try out different types of exercise besides running. I want to be an interesting person and right now all I can list under the hobbies section are reading and crocheting.

So there you go, those are my goals for this coming year. Yep, I pulled the bar way down for this year, but it’s worth it if in January 2019 I can look back and feel like I accomplished something. Setting myself up for failure isn’t a good thing. 

-EMS

 

My Reading List in 2017

I had big plans at the beginning of this year. I planned to go back to school, to teach myself calligraphy and knitting, to establish myself as a freelance writer.

Did any of this happen?

Nope.

However, I did reach one goal. At the beginning of the year, I decided I wanted to read more. When I was younger, I was a voracious reader. I basically read a book a day and it was magical. I lived at the bookstore and giddily marked book release dates on the calendar. Reading was my whole life! 

Well, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped reading as much. I would love to blame this on my new responsibilities, like my job, my home, and my bills, but it really comes down to the fact that I’m just not as interested in reading as I used to be. When I get home from work, I prefer to sit on the couch and watch Netflix or goof around on my phone to reading. Reading is just not as magical as it used to be for me.

So, in 2017, I decided to dedicate more of my spare time to reading. I didn’t want to overload myself, so I set a very reasonable goal of reading 40 books by December 31, 2017. That’s a little more than three books a month. I could do that.

And guess what. I did it!

In 2017, I read 40 books. It’s the only one of my 2017 New Years resolutions I kept and I’m incredibly proud of myself.

Now, I know fifteen-year-old Emily would scoff at such a low number.

“Only 40 books?” she would say. “I can read that may in half the time.”

Well, fuck off teenager Emily. I set myself a goal and I achieved it, so you can take your elitist bullshit and shove it up your ass. 

And, guess what! I still managed to binge all the Netflix shows on my list. Talk about good time management! I was able to be a responsible adult, read more, and still be a lazy bum and watch Netflix for ten hours straight. 

In 2017, here’s what I read:

  1. The Troop – Nick Cutter 
  2. The Wendigo – Algernon Blackwood
  3. Cannibals of Candyland – Carlton Mellick III
  4. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
  5. Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger – Stephen King
  6. Dark Tower II: The Drawing of Three – Stephen King
  7. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  8. Gumption – Nick Offerman
  9. Midnight Crossroad – Charlaine Harris
  10. Day Shift – Charlaine Harris
  11. Hannibal Rising – Thomas Harris
  12. Red Dragon – Thomas Harris
  13. Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
  14. Hannibal – Thomas Harris
  15. Off Season – Jack Ketchum
  16. Offspring – Jack Ketchum
  17. Red – Jack Ketchum
  18. Helter Skelter – Vincent Bugliosi
  19. Horns – Joe Hill
  20. 1984 – George Orwell
  21. It – Stephen King
  22. Treasure Island – robert Stevenson
  23. Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  24. Boneshaker – Cherie Priest
  25. My Friend Dahmer – Derf Backderf
  26. Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman
  27. The Gothic – Nick Groom
  28. Supernatural Horror – H.P. Lovecraft
  29. Wicca: A Guide – Scott Cunningham
  30. Apt Pupil – Stephen King
  31. The Exorcist – William Blatty
  32. Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
  33. Welcome to Nightvale – Joseph Fink
  34. The Long Walk – Richard Bachman
  35. Stormfront – Jim Butcher
  36. Fool Moon – Jim Butcher
  37. Grave Peril – Jim Butcher
  38. The Beast Within – Edward Levy
  39. Thinner – Richard Bachman
  40. NOS4A2 – Joe Hill

In 2018, I’m thinking about aiming for 60.

Happy holidays, everyone!

-EMS

The Art of the Collage

Do you remember making collages in elementary school? I remember making collages for everything. I cut up so many magazines to make collages for my favorite books, my favorite movies, things that made me smile, and so on. I honestly remember making collages for fun outside of school because I was a huge nerd, chopping up old catalogs and newspapers we had hanging around our house.

Now I did not keep a single collage I made when I was younger because I never really had any reason to. I may have hung a couple up in my room if I liked the pictures, but any time I cleaned up my room the collages were usually the first thing thrown into the recycling bin. Collages were fun to make, but useless to hang onto.

I would guess it’s been about fifteen years since I made a collage and suddenly, in the last few weeks, I’ve had a very strong urge to make a collage. What I want to make is a vision board, which is basically a collage, but with a purpose.

And I’m super excited about it.

vision board 1

Example! Mine’s probably going to be a little spookier, cuz I’m a spooky lady.

A vision board is a tool to help you visualize and focus on your life goals. You can use any type of surface you want, like a cork board, the front of your fridge, or even a Pinterest board. The only thing you have to do is put it somewhere where you can see it every day. A vision board is meant to remind you that you’re working toward something and to never give up.

Now, if I make my vision board, I want it to be on a poster board. Something that I can easily hang near my bed and see everyday.

I know what you’re thinking, Daniel. Why do I even want to make a vision board?

Well, because I recently found some of my personal ‘to-do’ lists and I have had the same life goals for the past few years and have made zero progress on them. Zero, zilch, bagel. Nothing to show for these goals I’ve had since I was in high school.

It made me realize that something needed to change. After looking back over the last decade of my life, I realize my issue isn’t lack of skill or time. It’s lack of motivation. It’s because, after a long day of work, I come home, sit on the couch, and zone out watching Netflix. Yes, in the morning, when I first get up, I might think to myself, “Today’s the day! When I get home from work I’m going to do those amazing things I’ve wanted to do for years and it will be amazing!” But after eight hours in the office, all I can think about it relaxing. About grabbing a beer and chilling on the couch.

Well, hopefully, a vision board will change that.

Now I realize a vision board is a bit of a cheesy idea. It’s definitely something young white women on Pinterest do and they fill their board with cliche sayings like, “Go on more adventures” or “Love my husband more.” But you know what, I might be a white woman, but that doesn’t mean my vision board has to be useless. I am going to put concrete, tangible things on my vision board so that every day I wake up and the first thing I see is my to do list.

Wait…this is the most type-A thing I’ve ever done….Oh well, if the anxiety shoe fits.

Anyway, some things I’m going to include on my vision board/life to do list are:

  • Write a novel. I’ve literally had this as a personal goal since I was six and, in the past twenty-one years, I have written zero novels.
  • Become a certified cicerone. This is something I’ve been toying with since I started getting into craft beer. Not only would it basically certify me as a beer snob, it would also open doors to freelancing for craft beer magazines and marketing for small breweries. How cool would that be?
  • Run a half marathon. Literally been talking about this for a year now and all of my attempts to stay on a training schedule have fallen apart.
  • Go back to school. My current job offers an employee discount on college credits and, when I started, I told myself I would take advantage of that. Well, in total I’ve taken two classes. Been here almost five years.

That’s just the beginning, Daniel. I have so many things I want to put on my vision board and I’m excited to get started.

What would you put on your vision board, Daniel?

-EMS